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Texas Flyers at the inaugural Houston Inline Marathon

johnnyChen's picture

It was a fun and relaxing weekend with a nice hotel.
Wish more skaters were there.

photos by Shelley Kautz:




My chip time wasn't in the result no doubt because I cross the finish line too many times.

Here's the log:

_The Objective
2007 was a great racing season. I completed my 3 big events: IMCDA, HHH, A2A. I debated on goal for Houston Inline Marathon while feeling fat and happy from Halloween sugar. I didn’t want the chaos of a marathon race. Other options include:
1. get pulled by the Texas Flyers train in pro pack. This would involve declaring Tonya as honorary man so she could skate with us.
2. race the half distance
3. focus on helping teammates to have a good marathon time
The pro pack plan was scraped due to travel issues and injuries. I didn’t want to sprint against 7 and 9-year-olds. I promised Scarlett I’d pull her. My conviction wavered when I saw the size of the half-marathon trophy. Fortunately the Zen Buddhist in me reminded me I don’t need to be attached to another chunk of molecules.

Danny decided to stay in pro division even without the team puller. I love the boy’s spirit.

_Open Division
The road surface didn’t look bad but skaters went down left and right near the start: I saw young Phil and recently injured Jerry on the ground. Not good. Scarlett and I took our time. I planned to go slow the first lap of the 6 laps. I wanted negative splits.

The supposedly flat course was more challenging than anticipated with 2 U turns and 4 climbs per lap. Scarlett and I held a steady pace and slowly pick up Young Phil, New Chris, Shelley, and other random skaters. Couple skaters offered to pull; none seemed steady enough to follow.

We saw Hillary happily cranking on the other side of the street. Spectators and pro skaters cheered us on. Nothing but good vibes in the air. Suddenly Scarlett lost balance and torn the race number off my thigh. Hopefully the number wouldn’t end up caught in someone’s skate. Then Hillary went down after potty break. The street’s feng-shui worked against the Flyers that morning. I talked to a less happy Hillary as she made her way back to the start.

_Pro Waves
The pros started while we’re still on the course. Teenagers with 3 lungs dictated the pace for pro men. Brenda fell near the start; Tonya waited for her. They ended up doing a 2-person time trial. Danny lost his pack and enthusiastically skated his first pro division race solo.

_Half lap to go.
A few skaters in our pack started to “attack.” One actually asked me when he should sprint if he wanted to beat the guy who just left the pack. I found myself coaching complete stranger seeking advice during the race so he could beat me. I didn’t care. I was here for a team skate, and my teammates were doing well. Our pace line cross the line around 1:43. No unnecessary risk, no crash. Mission accomplished.

_Active Spectator
Before start, the announcer said we could skate as many laps as we wanted. I didn’t know if she was joking, but this was a rare chance for me to watch the race from the course. I jumped on the pro pack behind some very tired skaters. I slowed down before the downhill under the bridge to see rest of the pro racers. Chris and Duane’s small chase pack barely held 20 mph. More scattered racers struggled hundred yards behind. How hard was the first lap!?

Rob Bell, Mr. this is my taper exercise before Ironman next week, threw a flyer with more than 3 laps to go opening a huge gap. He smiled and waved at me like he was just warming up for the race. I marvel at the distance between gifted athletes and rest of us.

Danny stopped to re-lace a boot. Tonya stopped to remove a piece of white stuff caught in wheels. Duane and Chris’ pack was down to 3 skaters. Races seldom go according to scripts. I accompanied Danny for a few miles and saw the lead pack strolling on the other side probably going at 15 mph, toying with the people they dropped earlier.

Pro women pace line was a pretty pink blur of 4 skaters. The 2 Powerslide girls sprinted at end of lap 5 as if it was end of race. The move separated Debbie Race and a local skater; neither was able to close the gap.

_Long Distance Time Trialist in the Making
Danny was on lap 5, tapping out steady progress while the pro pack barreled down toward the finish ready to swallow everything in sight. Danny hammered and avoided being lapped by seconds.

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