Saturday, July 9, 2022

June Lake Sprint-Ariel-2022

Date/Location:
July 9th, 2022 – June Lake, CA
Distances:
Swim 750meters – Bike 8 miles – Run 3.1miles
Time:

1:20:30 (16:56 – 3:04 – 29:53 – 00:58 – 29:37)

Place:

1st W10-14 (out of 2); 5th/55 Overall

Teammates:

HALF- FCA: Anna Soares, Robin Soares

OLY – FCA: Troy Soares

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THE SWIM

Burr! I shiver as a cold breeze sweeps over me. I take a step in the water. It’s still freezing, but a little better compared to the first two times I adventured into the water. Today I’m doing the June Lake Sprint Triathlon. I say a final goodbye to dad and head out into the icy water. The race director told us that the water is 68 degrees. I think it feels more like it’s in the high 40’s. The men line up first. Anna did assure me as she ran out of the water earlier that it’s warmer in as you get farther out. I sure hope so. God, please help the water not be that cold and please keep me warm. I should be wearing a wetsuit, but instead I’m wearing a speed suit. I’m kind of regretting that decision. I wait for my start knees deep in the water. A lady walks up to me. She kindly offers me advice and assures me that I will warm up quickly. The race director sends off the men, so I walk up to the starting line. I position myself right behind the first row and then dunk myself quickly. I see dad waving at me, so I wave back. “30,” the race director starts the countdown, “20… 10, 9 8, 7,” Ahh, icy butterflies panic in my stomach. “3, 2, 1, go!” I dive into the water expecting that awful icy shock. It’s not cold! Praise God! I immediately warm up. Thank you, God!

The girls in my race pass me, there all starting off really fast. Now, I’m in the middle of the pack. I pay close attention to my surroundings, so I won’t get kicked in the face. Uh oh, I have a new problem, I’m not cold anymore, but it’s super choppy! Anna warned me, but I was not expecting this. A wave crashes over me as I take a breath. I gulp down a ton of water. I look up to see where the buoy is and check my approximate place. A wave comes at me, but I dive as it hits. God, please help calm these waves. I focus my attention on Him. The waves feel calmer! It’s no longer loud and rough. Thank you, God! He made it kind of peaceful. I look up again. The buoy is close. I notice that I’ve been passing people.

The water feels rough again. I round the buoy and the water is now even more choppy. It's hard to swim. I remember to focus on God and I focus. The water is calm again! Maybe God wants me to focus on Him and then He’ll answer my prayer. I swim and focus on God. I round the final buoy in the water and spot the buoy on the beach. I swim faster because I’m close. I remind myself again, that it’s not about the place, it’s about God. The water is shallow and it continues to get shallower. The water is so shallow, I can touch the ground! I see people walking to the beach, which it still a bit away. Finally, I get up and run. I dive back into the water and swim a bit more. The water is super shallow now, so I get up and run. I see Dad and wave. I give him a thumbs up to convey that I’m ok and not frozen. Dad informs me that I’m 5th women out of the water. Wow! Uh oh, I don’t know which button to press on my watch. I ask Dad, but he doesn’t know. I desperately press random buttons. Yeah, I found the lap button. My feet don’t feel cold, but as I sprint up into transition, I can’t feel the rocky sand below my feet.

Once in transition, I take my speed suit off and put my socks on. My hands don’t feel cold, but there hard to move. I finally put my shoes on. The bike next to me belongs to a girl my age who is part of a relay. They’re swimmer comes out of the swim and tags the biker, who takes off. It would be cool if my transition was just as fast. It takes me a bit to get ready. I grab my helmet and my bike and run out of transition.

THE BIKE

I get on my bike and bike up a hill up to the campsites. I bike out of the campground and push up a winding hill. I arrive at a turn being controlled by some police. I make a sharp right and power up a hill. I reach the top and then bike down the other side. I pass the girl’s relay biker and I say good job. The road curves and I can see the lake! I bike by the lake and I see Dad’s race, the Olympic, start. It’s cool to see Dad’s race start even if I can’t specifically see him. I power down a hill and catch some people. The downhill turns into an uphill. The people pass me back. I reach the top of the hill and see a sign that says fire danger is high today. That’s not good.

I can see the town! I bike into the town. It’s a cute little town. All the homes look like off the grid houses. I don’t see any riders though. They disappeared when I wasn’t looking. I hope I didn’t miss a turn! There are no markers, but there no parking signs. Some people in a log house cheer me on. Okay, I must be on the right track! I speed down the town streets. The town is coming to an end. I pedal out of the town. I bike around a lake. It can’t be June Lake. It’s to small and not as pretty, but I didn’t know there were more lakes. This course is like a roller coaster. Up and down and up and down. I see another hill. A young boy and two older ladies pass me. I try to stay with them. I fall back because they are going too fast, but I keep pushing up the hill. I watch them speed up the hill.

The houses are very pretty around here. Up ahead there is fancy neighborhood. Each house is huge and has a slight rustic look. I really like the designs. However, there aren’t many plants, so the neighborhood looks plain and gives me a desert feeling. Here comes another hill! I am exhausted and worried for the run.

Yeah, I made it to the top. Another hill? I pedal up it. My legs hurt. Finally, I reach the top! I have only a short downhill until a huge hill. I push the downhill to get momentum and speed up the hill. Almost there! I made it! There’s a nice long downhill. I speed down the hill, which winds back to the stop sign worked by police. I make a sharp right turn and power down the winding hill. The wind is against me, so I crouch down to be more aerodynamic. I see sprint competitors are still going out from the swim. There’s the campground! I pass the campground booth and enter it. I speed down the hill into transition. The bike dismount is close. I can see a volunteer yell at me to slow down. I slow down a little bit. Right at the sign I fly off my bike and run into transition. That is the fastest dismount I’ve even done. I sprint to my transition spot and rack my bike. I overhear the girls relay team next to me saying they have no place to put their bike, so I tell them they can move my bike as I get up to go run. I don’t know if they heard me. I fasten my race belt and run out of transition.

THE RUN

I see the two old women who passed me on the bike up ahead. I’m having trouble running because the ground is the sandy beach. I look ahead. It looks like most of the course is on the sand. I try to have good footing as I run across the beach. It takes a lot of energy because you have to push harder to make up for the small amount of grip. I pass an aid station. I run up a little hill covered by some trees and then across a dirt lot. I see a hill, but not only a hill a tall, sandy hill. I run up it. My feet keep slipping. I see people walking up ahead. This part is like one whole long hill that’s sandy. I keep running up it. The two women that passed me on the bike are walking. I pass them. It’s hard to run up the hill, but I don’t want to walk. The hill gets steeper. I walk a little bit and then run again. I walk again for a little bit and then run. Finally, I reach a flat part. It turns into a steep hill up to the road. Thankfully there are rocks. I use the rocks as grip and I push up the hill.

At the top I realize I’m now on the bike course. With the help of the volunteers, I cross the road. The road is down hill which refreshes me. I see some people already coming back. I tell them good job and smile at them. I let my body pull me down and store up energy. Another boy my age passes me. I try to stay with him, but I soon fall back. My foot feels like it’s falling asleep. That’s probably because it was numb. Ugh, this is really uncomfortable. Finally, it’s not asleep anymore. I turn onto a dirt path and keep running. I see a lot of runners I saw earlier coming back so I must be close to the turn around. I see the turn around. My watch is also close to 1.5 miles. I say good job to runners. I keep running. Finally, I reach the turn around. I turn around. One of the older ladies that had passed me on the bike starts gaining on me. She passes me. I try to stay with her. We run back on the path and see a lady. I tell her good job and she tells us to keep it up.

I turn back onto the road. I’m starting to feel very tired. I want to walk, but I feel God telling me not to because that wouldn’t be my best, so I keep running. I’m now running up the downhill I enjoyed earlier. The older lady starts to get some distance from me. I’m only half way up, but my legs are exhausted. I see a girl my age running down the hill. I tell her good job and she cheers me on too. I’m almost to the top! I’m running so slow a fast walker could probably beat me. I’m almost there. Yeah, I made it! I turn back down the sandy hill and let my momentum carry me. Ahh, I’m going pretty fast. It’s hard to stop because of the bad grip. I run on the outsides of the path to slow myself. I say good job to the runners running up the hill. Finally, I reach the dirt lot. The older lady is pretty far ahead. I start to sprint. I run down a small hill and land on the beach. I sprint across the beach, giving my last bit of energy. I sprint into the finish line. Thank you, God!! I finish! That was an amazing race thanks to God. I ended up getting first in my age group with a time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. I even got 5th women overall!

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June Lake Olympic Tri-Troy-2022

Date/Location:
July 9th, 2022 – June Lake, CA
Distances:
Swim 1.5K – Bike 25 miles – Run 6.2 miles
Time:

3:05:26 (30:00 – 5:32 – 1:24:11 – 1:15 – 1:04:26)

Place:

4th M50-24 (out of 5); 29th/72 Overall

Teammates:

HALF- FCA: Anna Soares, Robin Soares

SPRINT – FCA: Ariel Soares

The whole family is racing this morning.  We camped in the tent last night after a 4 hr drive and arriving at dinner time so not much sleep.  I get up early to help Robin and Anna with breakfast and their bikes since they’re doing the 1/2 Ironman starting at 7.  Ariel is doing the sprint at 8 and I’m doing the Olympic at 8:30.

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The high mountain fresh air and beautiful views make this an epic get-away race venue.  But the water is frigid cold at the shore.  We hear it’s warmer farther out.  Robin and Anna start and I hope they don’t get too cold.

Ariel’s swim is shorter so she’s going without a wetsuit.  I hope she doesn’t freeze!

Everyone is out on their bikes now and it’s time for my race.  I do get in the water for a quick swim even though it’s really cold.  We start in knee-deep water.  I look to the Lord, He’s the only reason I can race with a smile, He makes everything we do have purpose.  I look around and encourage everyone to have fun.  Go!

THE SWIM

Immediately I’m having trouble getting enough air.  I swim fast for a hundred yards but then feel the difficulty.  Soon I’m falling behind, really working hard for air and just not feeling snappy.  At the first turn it gets really choppy which makes it even harder to get air.  After the 2nd turn we head back to the start for lap 2. Wow, Ariel did this first lap and made it look easy, I'm already tired.

On the 2nd loop I start getting cold.   I don’t know how Ariel did it without a wetsuit! At the final turn I’m cold and tired but keep trying my best.  I’m glad to get to the shallow and start the long walk out. 29:31 is pretty slow for me but I did my best. I keep my suit on till transition to stay warm.  It takes me forever to get it off.

THE BIKE

Good, on the bike, wearing my jacket. All is good except for the fog in my head. When I get cold in the swim and then am working hard, I can't focus well on the situation. It's like tunnel vision. I'm biking through the beautiful town of June which kind of looks like Switzerland. The road is getting curvy and one sharp turn in particular takes me by surprise. I can tell I'm going around a corner but it's like I'm watching a movie. It's scary because I don't really feel like I'm in control. I thank the Lord that I get through it okay.

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It takes 5 or 10 miles before I can start thinking clearly & warming up. The surrounding hillsides are beautiful and the many lakes as well. Although they're lower than 2 years ago. There are a lot of bikes around and I notice many of them are older styles, not flashy. Many racers today seam easy-going and either very experienced or first-timers. It's a great group, and reminds me how great a sport triathlon is. It's something anybody can do, is really fun at moments and helps you learn a lot about yourself, and hopefully also about how important the Lord is for getting us through life.

I reach the highway and take off my jacket. Quite warm now. I’m very tired. It's a gradual climb and windy and seems to go forever. Robin and Anna have to do this twice. I wonder if they're behind me or in front. A few cyclists pass me which is a sign of how tired I'm getting. I think back to how well Ironman Des Moines went but I don't feel as comfortable now. I finally turn onto the road to June Lake and one more short climb I turn into the park and descend down to transition. Have a great dismount. 1:24.  it's always exciting switching to the run.

THE RUN

As I head out onto the beach Ariel is there cheering for me and says her race went well thanks to God. I thank God For letting it go well for her. now I pray for Anna not to have bike problems and Robin to not have hamstring problems. Just a week ago she had to walk during a 7-mile run race because of it. I'm praying for a miracle that she can get through this tough 13 mi run.

I look forward to water starting the run but the aid station isn't open yet. It may be because the half Ironman hasn't come through yet. Up the steep sandy hill to the main road. It takes my breath away but I practice my fast walk pace.

It's a different course this year. So now it's mainly downhill to the entrance to our campsite. Now we turn left onto a gravel fire road I've never been on. This is where Ariel turned around for her run. It's quite hot and I really need water.

1.5mi. I drink three little cups of water. It's very cold which is nice. My run is not feeling good. I don't know if it's the elevation or fatigue but I'm very thankful I'm not doing the half today which I actually thought I was just a day ago. This course is kind of boring unlike previous years climbing up into the mountains where wildflowers and shady trees await you. But now we turn through a small grove of trees and it's nice for a quarter mile.

2.5mi. in the sun descending a sandy trail I suddenly feel light-headed. I've never felt this before and part of me welcomes it and just wants to fall down and go to sleep. No, I quickly remember talking to Ariel about not giving up with the Lord. I won't give in. I start doing anything I think might help. taking off my hat raising my arms in the air getting pumped up focusing on the Lord. Slowly it goes away and I feel back in control. That was weird.

3mi. At the turnaround I can see Robin in the distance at 1.5 MI. I yell but she can't hear me with the wind. I drink a lot of water and realize I have to conserve and monitor my effort.

4mi I see Robin and get a quick thumbs up from her which is an answer to prayer. I turn and jog with her for a bit to find out the hamstring is hanging in there. I'm praising God and so happy that she's able to run this well so far. Now I start figuring out how far back Anna will be. It's her first half Ironman so expect her about a half an hour behind Robin at best.

4.5mi more water at the aid station and heading back to the road. There's Anna! I quickly tell her all I was thinking about for her. "Anna, remember to drink a lot, walk The hills, conserve. You have plenty of time." She also had a running injury with her hip but she looks great and again I thank God for that.

Up the long Hill. I have to walk every minute to keep from getting too light-headed. I don't mind not being able to push hard as I  like to because today is really for Anna's 1st Half and Robin's prep for Hawaii Ironman. God did a miracle for me a month ago at Iowa and I couldn't be happier. But this light headed thing does make me want to check my health (kidney?) when I get back home. [Later tested positive for COVID]

Now it's all down hill and I'm done! Just don't fall on the steep sandy section. Ariel is cheering at the finish. Thank you Lord for getting me through without collapsing!

Now Ariel and I get on our bikes to go cheer for Robin and Anna!

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June Lake Half Tri–Robin-2022

Date/Location:
July 9th, 2022 – June Lake, CA
Distances:
Swim 1.2miles – Bike 52miles – Run 13.1miles
Time:

5:58:01 (34:16 – 5:21 – 3:00:06 – 2:36 – 2:15:41)

Place:

1st W45-49 (out of 2); 4th/13 Overall

Teammates:

HALF- FCA: Anna Soares

OLY – FCA: Troy Soares

SPRINT – FCA: Ariel Soares

It’s been 3 years since we last raced here at June Lake. It’s such a beautiful place to camp and race. And this year I’m racing the half here for the first time but the distance is familiar. Anna on the other hand is racing her first half ever. She has been planning on racing this distance for years and finally the time has arrived. She gets down to transition before me to set up. I join her a bit after and squeeze myself in a spot across from her. I look around and see some old school road bikes among some of the fancier bikes. I also see transition sites with unique character such as the stuffed plastic box with Gorilla tape inside among the items. The person I’m next too has a huge towel with all their gear laid out. It reminds me of the days at Wildflower and our local TBF Racing Company.

Anna and I head down to the water together for a brief race meeting. I think the race director says the water is 58 degrees. Yikes! I ask him to repeat the temperature and I hear him say 68 degrees. Phew! I can handle that! The race director says it’s mostly going to be a shallow swim and people can run if they need to. It’s a two loop course.

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Ariel and Troy join us and we all pray together. Troy is doing the Olympic Tri and Ariel is doing the Sprint Tri. This is a big day especially for Anna. We want to remind ourselves of where our strength comes from and who this is for, Jesus. I need to keep Him my focus today. I strained my hamstring a week ago in a run race and haven’t been able to run all week. If I can run today, it will be a miracle. There has been continued difficulty lately and I have been lacking sleep. I just know if I get through today, it is on His strength.

As Anna and I wade into the water to the start buoy, I am concerned. Even with my booties on my feet, it sure feels cold! I’m also concerned for Anna. She doesn’t have any booties or an extra cap like me. I should have checked in with her earlier and made sure she had enough gear. She has low body fat but she does have youth on her side! I decide not to warm up but just jump in cold turkey.

THE SWIM

Ready, set, go! We are off. The first few moments are cold but I quickly adapt and get comfortable. The water is shallow to the first buoy. I finally get into a good rhythm. As I head to the second buoy, I’m expecting my watch to click off 500 yards any minute. It is not until I almost reach the second buoy that my watch clicks off. There is just one more buoy not too far away to complete the first loop. I can tell already that the swim is going to be short.

I make it back to the start buoy to begin the second loop. My watch clicks off another 500 and I see my pace is faster. I feel stronger than I have lately swimming open water. I am having fun!

I make the last turn and I’m heading home! About 100 meters from shore the water is getting shallow! Soon, I’ve hit bottom. I get up to run but it’s hard and the shore is still off a bit. I fall back into the water and try to swim. I do this about three times before I get up and run awkwardly the rest of the way to the shore. I’m feeling a little cold so I opt to keep my wetsuit on to my transition spot. As I run out Ariel asks me how the water was. I say “cold, but not too bad.” It was about 1800 meters which is 400 yards short of 1.2 mile swim.

I race to my bike and begin the struggle to take off the wetsuit. My hands are a bit cold so they are not working great. I find a spot to plop down and yank it off. I put on a jacket and a beanie. I am about to put on gloves when I see Anna enter the transition area. I want to get a head start because I know she’ll be catching me on the run.

THE BIKE

I run out of transition and start biking uphill out of June Lake Park. Halfway up the hill I shift and my chain drops. I calmly turn around and bike down the hill and shift again to pop it back in place. Ok, good to go. Thank you Lord for giving me peace in that.

I turn onto June Lake Loop. I feel cold riding through small downtown June Lake. It’s shady along here and the air is cool. I’m shivering some. Every time I hit some sun it’s so nice! I play leapfrog with a guy. I pass him on the uphills and he flies by me on the downhills.220709_june_lake_half_robin_bike

After some up and down, it’s mainly flat or downhill. There are 3 other small lakes I ride by. So pleasant and quiet…until around a corner I see a man in the middle of my lane walking slowly across the road. I say “heads up” and slow down. I get around him safely but that was a surprise. I pass a camper campground and all is quiet.

At the last lake, it’s all sun so I warm up some more. This lake water level is really low but there are still boats out there. Soon I hit a patch of gnats that lasts for a mile at least. Not too bad thankfully. I’ve been passed by some men. The guy I played leapfrog with has pulled ahead now. An old competitor/friend of Troy’s rides by me, Duane. He and his girlfriend are camping right next to us. “Good job Duane!”.

I think of Anna often and am praying she’s not too cold. She’ll like this part of the course having more sun!

Eventually this fun flat/downhill section comes to an end where I turn onto a highway for 6.5 miles. This is basically an uphill trek to near the start to begin the next loop. I catch up and pass the leapfrog guy and Duane. Even though I am definitely undertrained, my hilly Auburn training is still helping me today!

The temperature is comfortable, but the jacket is still nice. I grind my way back to the turn. So glad for a change of pace! I look at my watch. Troy should be the swimming now. I hope he’s not cold! There is a chance I will see him on the bike. I hope to get to June Lake before he come out on the bike so we can see each other.

I turn back onto June Lake Loop. More climbing up to June Lake. Ugh! Downhill ahead! I make it to the top and look for Troy coming out of the park. I see some fast-looking guys and try to gauge if Troy could be ahead of them or behind them. He could be ahead of me already and then I’ll never see him.

I go through downtown June Lake and there is a lot more cars and activity because it’s late morning now. I dodge a few cars and safely ride out to the other lakes. It’s surprisingly quiet out here now even at the camper campground. I hope Anna is feeling strong and that her nutrition is working out. There is much to learn and figure out in an half iron race!

I’m getting passed by a handful of Olympic Distance riders including a girl but no Troy. He must be ahead of me. I’ll look for him on the run. I’m hoping I can catch some of the riders passing me on the highway. I hear a strange noise behind me and as I look back I’m startled to find a shirtless rider going by blasting music. That's totally against rules but it is a low key race compared to Ironman brand races so you can get away with a lot…including drafting. I see this guy jump on the wheel of another rider going by. “Oh brother!”. It’s hard not be annoyed but I look to God and focus on what I need to do.

I hit the highway and expect to catch some riders. I begin to really feel fatigued. This is hard! I catch a few riders early on but that is it. The girl that passed me is nowhere to be seen. I feel discouraged but I feel God remind me that this race is a gift and that the run could be a walk. I have to trust Him and keep doing the best that I can.

I find some relief as I turn off the highway and enjoy a brief downhill before the climb up to the lake. There are more cars passing here as it is close to noon and folks are coming to visit the lake and town. I have to ride by the lake one more time into town before I pick up the course that Ariel did for the Sprint. It’s a right turn to take me around the lake. I’ve never ridden it and don’t know what to expect. What I am met with is a series of hills. It is brutal but I know the run is near. Even though I don’t know if I can run, I am looking forward to getting off the bike. I can see the bike isn’t going to be the typical 56 miles but about 52. With the 7,000 feet of altitude and hills it makes it feel like 56 to the body.

Downhill! Yay! I see runners now crossing the road. I see a guy that pulled out ahead of me right at the lake earlier running. Troy must be out here! I look for him on the road but soon the runners disappear off on a trail to the left. It sure looks hot and unshaded out there! That’s where I’ll be in 20 minutes or so! I should run into Troy out there somewhere.

I turn back towards transition. I slide my feet out of the shoes as I descend back to my spot. I have a good dismount and hobble to my rack. The hamstrings seem ok. I hear “Ariel Soares, first place” over the mic and look over to see her getting her award nearby. I cheer “great job Ariel”. Not sure if she heard me.

THE RUN

I exit transition and pass by Ariel and tell her congrats and “God is good”. The first 150 meters is sand. I carefully jog through and test out the hamstrings. I feel soreness but no sharp pain thankfully. I hit the big climb. It’s steep and a bit sandy but shaded too. I see a guy coming down the hill fast. Wow, that has to be the top Olympic Distance guy coming back to the finish already! Wow!

At top, I hit the pavement and merge with the half riders coming in. I wonder if I’ll see Anna.

Mile 1 is 11:44. Not bad for trudging up a steep hill with a sore hamstring! Thank you God!

It’s a nice downhill to the trail. I make the turn and head out into the unknown. The first aid station is here and the turn around for the Sprint. A part of me would like to turn here. I have to do this course twice. I grab some chips. It’s warm already but the main concern is the hamstring. So far so good!

I count 3 women coming back with half bib numbers. They look strong and are clearly far ahead.

Mile 2 is 10:04. Not bad! The hamstring is holding up! I climb up a pretty good hill. As I crest, I can see Troy coming back to me! He is smiling. I go by and start going downhill. He turns around and starts running with me to see how my hamstring is doing and give me some encouragement. I appreciate him so much for sacrificing his race to check on me! He heads back. So glad he is almost done!

A guy comes alongside and says “I need that guy running with me and encouraging me!”. I smile and tell him “you can have that encouragement right now by praying. God is always there to encourage us anytime.” We run together for a bit. He points out his daughter running toward us. I tell him my daughter is racing too.

I see a woman coming back in green. I recognize her from registration. I tell her good job. Maybe I can catch her.  But my focus is not on being competitive on the run but to get through it.  There are 11 miles to go and I don’t know how the hamstring will do.

Mile 3 is 10:49. I come upon another aid station. To my far right I see a timing mat. It’s confusing what to do so I ask the girls at the aid station. They tell me I have to run pass them and follow the road around to the timing mat and back. Weird, but ok I think. I hit the mat and turn back. I can see runners in the distance. It’s the beginning of the trail over there. Wow, funny how I feel so far away from the beginning of the trail but I am actually so close!

Mile 4 is 10:58. Slight climb. The hamstring is hanging in there. Thank you Lord!  There is Anna!  She looks strong.  I tell her good job and remind her to focus on her form.  Her hip has been an issue lately and she wasn’t sure what she’d be able to do today either.  It’s possible she can catch me!

I have not needed to walk at all yet! I need a restroom. There is a porta potty ahead and someone is exiting right when I get there.  Score!  

Mile 5 is 11:59.  I exit the trail and am relieved to be back on pavement for a short time…even though I have to climb. About 2/3 up I see a rock slab on the left side of the road.  I make a note to remember that spot on my 2nd loop.  Next time I’m here I’ll be so close to the finish line.  I turn off the road and get to enjoy the downhill back towards transition/finish. 

Mile 6 is 10:46.  Hamstring not getting worse but it reminds me that I am unable to run fast.  I fly down hill and see the girl in green!  We intersect at the turn around/aid station. “Good job!”. I can see the finish line…not yet!  I grab some oranges and get out ahead of her.

I trudge back up the steep, sandy hill.  It’s not bad especially since I am still running.  Thank you God! What a blessing!

Back to the road for a nice run downhill! 

Mile 7 is 11:45. I see Troy and Ariel on their bikes! It’s hot and they have already raced.  They must be so tired but still they are out here cheering!  I tell Troy my hamstring is hanging in there, praise God!  Back to the trail.

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Mile 8 is 10:03. I see the top three girls again and they are further ahead of me.  They seem to be spread out exactly the same amount as last time I saw them. I’m pretty sure now that I am in 4th place.  There is Anna!  She is motoring!  I hope to hold her off.  It’s going to be close!  I won’t be able to go much faster than this.  I tell her she’s in 6th place and that there is a girl in green that she can look for.

Up and over hill to the turn around point.

Mile 9 is 10:49. I grab some chips and pour water on my head.  I turn at the timing mat and get to head home for good!

Mile 10 is 10:14. Up and over once again!  I just have a straightaway now and then the climb to the rock slab!  There is Anna.  Man, she has not slowed at all it seems.  I am so proud of her and thankful that the Lord has sustained her today!  I think I will safely make it back ahead of her but she will be close!

Mile 11 is 11:05. I’m so tired but I just have to push a little more.  There is Troy and Ariel cheering me on. 

I’m on the road and looking for the slab.  Thank you Lord!  I have not had to stop and walk at all!  The hamstring is tender but hanging in there!

I’m at the top and hitting the trail!  It’s all downhill now!

Mile 12 is 11:00.  I can see the finish line.  The course is short some but I don’t mind so glad to be done! So blessed that the hamstring hung in there!  Thank you Lord!

A group of ladies are cheering and jumping up and down for me.  It’s so sweet!  I see Troy and Ariel cheering me in. 

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I cross the line and point up to God!  Thank you Jesus!  Troy is waiting and I fall into him and hug him tightly.  I start to cry tears of joy! 

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Now, time to focus on Anna.  Troy and Ariel jump on their bikes to go look for her.  Just a few minutes later I see Anna coming into the finish.  Bummer, I wish I can call Troy and Ariel back.  Anna finishes only 5 minutes behind me! Amazing!  I hug her and tell her we and God are so proud. We find someone with a phone and call Troy.  They hurry back and we all celebrate together.

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June Lake Half–Anna-2022

Date/Location:
July 9th, 2022 – June Lake, CA
Distances:
Swim 1.2miles – Bike 52miles – Run 13.1miles
Time:

6:05:06 (38:25 – 4:18 – 3:20:11 – 3:34 – 1:58:36)

Place:

1st W15-19 (out of 1); 5th/13 Overall

Teammates:

HALF- FCA: Robin Soares

OLY – FCA: Troy Soares

SPRINT – FCA: Ariel Soares

Today I'm doing my first Half Ironman! I'm feeling pretty ready for this race, but I have a hip injury. The farthest I have been able to run is 7 miles in one week before the race. I'm praying that God will sustain my hip through it. My mom is also doing the Half Ironman and she has a hamstring problem. We're praying that both mom and I can get through it without our injuries. I show up on race day with tons of time so I'm not rushed. I head down to the water to start the race. The water is freezing! I’m getting used to it slowly, as I walk through it. The race director starts the race.

THE SWIM

I dive into the water and feel the shock of the cold water on my face. I was not expecting it to be this cold. The beginning of the swim is very chaotic. I see people all around me trying to swim even though it's really shallow. I try my best to remain calm and focus on God. All I have to do is get into my rhythm and I will be fine for the rest of this swim. It is a square course and so far, not choppy at all. I get to the first buoy and know that I'm 1/8 of the way done. We have to do two loops. On the second stretch, I draft behind a swimmer in front of me. I enjoy this while it lasts but then they start swimming off course. I realize that I'm starting to burp more, and throwing up a little bit. I hope this won’t last long. I feel fine, maybe it's the altitude.

I get to the next buoy on the backstretch. The water is really choppy, yet there are no boats. I guess it's just the wind. I try to think of myself like a kayak, as dad always tells me. This stretch takes a little bit more of my energy. I finally finish the stretch and head back towards the shore. I'm almost done with my first loop! It feels like the waves are pushing me along but also dragging me back a little bit at the same time. As I get closer to the shore, the land comes up to meet me really fast. I am careful not to touch the ground with my hands because it's so shallow. Finally, I reach the buoy and I turn around and start on my second loop. I try to wave as I’m swimming to see if Daddy or Ariel will notice.

I’m now on my second loop and its colder. I guess it's colder closer to the shore than when you're out in the deep parts. I try to focus on my strokes more and get into a good rhythm for this last loop. So far, I'm not feeling very tired and I’m swimming at a consistent pace. I’m coming up to the buoy. I notice something under the water. It scares me. Oh, it’s just a tree stump. I wasn't expecting anything to be in lake. I turn around the buoy and head out towards deeper water. I’m still burping a lot, but a least it’s not getting worse. I notice the beautiful landscape around me. June Lake is really a beautiful place with green trees, bright sun, and rolling mountains. It is quite stunning.

I turn at another buoy to do the last fourth of the swim. This is the choppy part. I prepare myself for this and use extra energy to kayak as best I can through the waves. Every time I come up for air, I try to raise myself up high so I get no water in my mouth. I can feel the waves slamming against me a lot, but that's okay. I finally get to the last turnaround and head towards the shore! It's not that far away! I try to give a good effort as I near the shore. My feet are super numb. I hope I can warm them up somehow when I finish the swim.

The water gets shallow quickly, but I'm determined to keep swimming. Swimming is faster than walking and I'm already in a rhythm. I see a lot of adults ahead of me standing up and walking the long way to shore. I keep swimming. It gets shallower and shallower and I’m not even to the shore, but I keep swimming. I'm swimming like a frog with my hands out to the side of me because I'm an inch from the ground. It still feels faster to swim than to walk though. Now that I’m close to the shore, I stand up and take off my wetsuit. I'm done with the swim! I see Daddy and Ariel cheering me on. It makes me excited to see their excitement. As I'm taking off my wetsuit, I take my Garmin watch off to make it easier. It's a little bulky and the wetsuit doesn’t slide over it well. I put the Garmin in my mouth and take off the wet suit. I finally get the wetsuit to come off my feet. The crowd on the beach starts cheering for me. That’s really funny. I grab the wetsuit and run towards transition. My feet feel really numb and it's a little awkward. As I run up to transition, I tell Daddy to warn Ariel about the choppy water because I don't want her to have a hard race.

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I’m close to transition. A race director tells me that I'm the 10th woman out of the water. This is pretty amazing, because last time I was really slow at the swim. Thanks God, for giving me a great swim! I go to my transition spot and put on all my warm clothes including a jacket. I'm still really cold from the swim, but I'm not shivering.

THE BIKE

I jump on my bike and head out for the two-loop bike course. Everything is two loops today, and if I had to do an Ironman, it would all be four loops. That would take me a long time! It helps me appreciate the two loops more. I know that at the beginning of the bike course, you bike through the town and the forest before heading out to the long sunny stretch. Right now, all I want is sun, so I'm not really looking forward to riding my bike through the forest. I bike quickly down the hills looking for all the sun I can find. I know I need to stay hydrated on the bike, but I'm too cold to drink or eat anything. All I want is to get in the sun.

The shade lasts longer than I like and now my stomach is hurting. It feels like a huge stomach cramp, but not like I’m nauseous. I know I should probably eat or drink something, even though the cold makes me not want to. I pull out my favorite peanut butter bar and scarf it down. That should last me to the end of the shade. I reach the sunlight and I enjoy soaking it up. All I want now is it to get warmer. I don't care how hot it gets, as long as I'm warm.

I start to drink my water and my electrolyte drink. Dad says I need to stay really hydrated because we're at altitude. I'm not very good at drinking water, but I'm going to try my best today. The main problem right now is that my stomach still has a cramp. Not only does it feel awful, but it makes biking in aerobars very uncomfortable. Despite the fact that I am not feeling well, I do enjoy the pretty scenery around me. These mountains are huge and there seems to be a lake at each turn. I enjoy watching people and boats hang out around the water as I bike by. I see all these cute little chipmunks that keep running across the road. I really want to take one home and make it my pet. I could even walk it on a leash even though it's only an inch tall.

I hit a shady ravine. I bike through it quickly because I'm still cold. I can see the highway in the distance! When we first drove here, I thought the highway would be a horrible, hot and sunny stretch. Now I think it's going to be the best bike stretch ever.  And even better I have my jacket on so I shouldn't get sunburned. I stop right before the highway, use the restroom, and get some water. I start biking again and turn onto the highway stretch. I catch up to a biker ahead of me and pass him. He passes me back. Whoops, I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. I try to continue to keep a steady bike pace. My dad told me that on the first lap, I need to be consistent and on the second lap I could push more if I want.

The highway is becoming a slow incline. This incline isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I bike to the top easily. Up ahead I realize that there is a bigger hill to come. I have to travel up switchbacks! I remember this from 3 years ago when I did the Olympic Distance. The switchbacks are hard even in my easiest gear. I focus on the top and push up the hill steadily. I pass the guy who originally passed me before. I tell him good job.

Praise the Lord, I finally get to the top of the hill! The flat at the top seems slow and tiring. I turn up ahead and start to head back to June Lake. I’m almost onto the second loop! I bike right towards another hill! Where did this hill come from? I tiredly bike up the hill. I get to the top and start the second loop of the bike course. This time I'm not very cold and I enjoy flying through the town in the shade. It’s easier to enjoy the scenery of the trees! There are a bunch of Olympic distance racers who join the Half Ironman racers on the course. I look for my Dad but he might be too far ahead already.

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I zip through the trees and arrive at the next aid station. I use the restroom again and get more water. I'm glad I'm staying hydrated. I continue biking through the trees for a little longer. Now the sunny mountain stretch up ahead doesn’t seem that nice anymore. This time I take off my jacket and gloves. I’m at perfect temperature now. I continue to enjoy the view and watch the chipmunks run back and forth. My stomach is feeling better now and thanks to God for that. I notice that my bike shorts are too tight. I'm wearing bike shorts over my tri shorts to make the bike more comfortable. I'm planning to take the bike shorts before the run. Instead of making the bike more comfortable, it’s actually putting pressure on my stomach. My calves are starting to hurt really bad. Normally the pain fades, so I ask God to help the pain go away. The pain leaves completely. Thank you, God!

I keep biking knowing I'm almost done. I got closer to the highway, which doesn't sound as enjoyable as it did earlier. I hit the aid station again and use the restroom for the third time. I also get more water. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. I hope that I'm not drinking too much because I don’t want to flush out my electrolytes. As I turn onto the highway, I notice a sign that I didn't see earlier. It says that June Lake is 6 miles from here. I thought the highway was a lot shorter than that. I guess I have six miles till I get back to June Lake. The sign also says that Los Angeles is 326 miles away, so by the time I get to June Lake, if I want to, I can bike 320 mi to Los Angeles! However, I don't think I'll do that today. I start the long tiring stretch on the highway. Up ahead I see someone in yellow and I think it's my mom. But it’s actually a competitor that passed me not too long ago.

I start the slow incline. As I'm biking up it, I pass a girl in my race. I tell her good job and we go back and forth. I pull ahead. I've seen her a lot during this race. She's a great athlete. Now I just have about three more hills left of this Half Ironman bike course. As I start the switchbacks, I pass a guy that passed me before. He is wearing a gray t-shirt. I make it up the hill! Thanks to God giving me energy and I got up the hill pretty fast! I reach the flat and I savor it. The guy in the grey t-shirt passes me back. I stay near him and pass him back again.

I turn towards June Lake. The man and the guy with the gray t-shirt and I continue to go back and forth. We start climbing the hill up to June Lake and I tell him I'll see you on the downhill as I pass him. I get to the top. The man turns towards transition, so he must be doing the Olympic. I keep going to complete a small loop before I finish the bike. I bike through town for a third time. Now I see no bikers because there are very few half athletes. At the bottom and try to use the bathroom again, but someone's in it already.

I continue on and turn at a different turn for the last, small loop of the course. This hill is really steep and it is like Virginia Road in Auburn. I bike up it and cruise down the other side. It's kind of annoying how the course goes up and down. The course flattens out and I can see runners at the head who are running next to the bike course. I try to look for Mom or Dad. I don't see them running yet. I see the guy in the gray t-shirt who passed me on the bike earlier running. I tell him great job and encourage him to keep running. I cruise down the downhill towards transition. I think the bike miles are going to be a little short. Maybe I should bike extra. No that's a bad idea. I'm already very exhausted. I ride into transition and hop off my bike. I'm done with the bike.Yay!

THE RUN

I take off all my warm layers and notice that there is a sunscreen bottle that wasn't there before. Mom must have put it there so that I wouldn't get sunburned. I put some on my face before I head out. Surprisingly my legs don't feel numb at all! I exit transition, I see Ariel waving at me that I'm going the wrong way. I realize that I went through the swim exit not the run exit. Whoops. I'm glad Ariel waved me down. I turn around and head through the run exit. I wave to Ariel and throw her my water bottle. I hope she had a good run and I appreciate all her encouragement.

Before I start a long, sandy hill, I quickly use the restroom. I head up the hill. Since I'm doing my first half distance, I've decided to walk the hills and run everything else. I run part way up the steep hill and walk. Finally, after a while I get up to the road. There are bikers riding down the road. I start running. The road is a nice downhill. I reach one mile and take my first gel! I've never tried it before, it's supposed to be apple pie flavored. It tastes exactly like apple pie. However, I don't really want apple pie right now, but I slurp it down for energy. As I'm eating the gel, I don't notice that the guy with the gray t-shirt is running back towards me. He tells me good job and I yell great job back to him. It's cool to see someone familiar during the entire race.

I get close to the bottom and see that the run course curves onto a sandy trail. I look in the distance and see someone in yellow. I bet it's my Dad. As I get closer, I see him running. I have to use the restroom, but hopefully we'll meet before I go so I don't miss him. We run into each other and he gives me advice to keep drinking during the run. He’s been so supportive the entire race. I tell him good job as he takes off to the finish. I quickly use the restroom and head out. I'm running pretty fast on the flat and enjoying it. I get to the first aid station and drink some water. Even though it's a small amount, it seems like a lot. I should be drinking two small cups to stay hydrated. I will do that at the next aid station.

I continue running on the sandy trail. I don't like that it's very unstable. I'm used to running on hard packed trails, not sandy, uneven ones. There are a few more hills. I run to them and walk them. On my second loop if I still have energy, I'll try to run more. As I descend a hill, I see Mom up ahead running towards me! We check to make sure that our injuries aren't bad. I continue running to the next hill, which I walk. I get to the top and enjoy the downhill. The trail continues into the forest. I t's nice to go in the shade. Sadly, the downhill ends and the sun returns. I'm praising the Lord for letting my hip is feel great, even with uneven ground.

I finally see an aid station up ahead! I drink two cups of water and have some chips. They tell me I have to run over to a mat and then come back. I run over the mat and come back to the aid station and grab some oranges. They're delicious! I also grab a sponge for my back. I head back on the sandy trail. I fast walk through the shady forest and then jog down the hill. As I pass runners, I try to see if any of them are in the half. I see mostly Olympic runners. I finally notice a half distance girl racer that I had passed. I climb another hill and now it’s flat. I go by the aid station again. I get two cups of water and a banana. Before I turn onto the road, I use the restroom. I wait because someone's in it. After I'm done using the restroom, the girl in the half has passed me. I run up the hill and catch up to her.

I reach the top of the hill and see my mom running towards me! I’m not sure if I've gained on her. She tells me that I'm in six place and she's in 4th. She mentions a girl in green ahead of me is in 5th. I see the girl mom was talking about. She is quite a ways ahead. It doesn't seem very likely, but I'm not going to give up. Dad always tells me not to give up, no matter what. Even if I don't pass her, it'll be a good challenge to get me through this race.

I start heading down the sandy trail. It's really steep. I see Dad and Ariel. They're cheering me on very enthusiastically. I appreciate their support. I tell them that my goal is to catch the 5th place runner. I try not to twist any ankles or pound too much for my hip, as I go down the steep downhill.

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I get to the bottom and turnaround at the aid station. I get two cups of water and another orange. I head back up the steep hill. I walk the hill and run on the flats. I see Ariel and Dad again and they cheer me on. It's my last time up this crazy hill. I don’t want to eat my gel, but dad says I should eat at least half.

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I walk on the pavement and I pull my gel out. I head down the pavement road and sip my gel slowly. Both of my gels have strong flavors, but it's fine if I eat them slowly.

I get to the aid station at the bottom of the hill. I only take water. I realize that if I look right, I can see the turn around. I see my mom over there by the other aid station. I think I'm gaining on her a bit. I'm also gaining on the 5th place runner. The next two hills that I normally walk I try to run halfway up. I keep up a strong pace. I’m not giving up. By now, my ankles are hurting really bad as if I twisted them. I think it's from all the uneven grounds. I stop and walk to see if they'll feel better. I also pray that God will heal them up because this injury will slow me down.

I make it to the forest and run down the hill towards the aid station. I reach the flat section and see my mom running towards me. I tell her good job. I see the fifth-place runner and smile at her. She waves back. I realize I probably should have said good job while smiling, or it could have been taken with bad intent. I finally get to the turn around. I turn and run back to the aid station. I head out at a fast pace. I run through the forest with a few walking breaks. I leave the forest and run fast down the hill. I think about what God wants me to do at the end of this race that he is blessed me with. I feel he is telling me that whether or not the girl is close, give it my all by running up the entire pavement section all the way to the finish.

I run over a hill and see the aid station. With my goal in mind, I run towards it. I get to the aid station and take only one cup and keep running. I can see the girls ahead and keep up the pace that God has allowed me to run. I start running up the pavement hill. I know it won't be too steep for long. I pass the girl and tell her good job. I continue running for God. It's a blessing that I could be in 5th place, but the main goal is running for God. Even though it hurts, I make it up the entire hill without stopping. I get to the steep, sandy hill. I want to run down it fast, but I don't want hurt my ankle or hip. I ask God to keep them steady. I'm try to run flat-footed on the sand area so I don't twist any ankles and not pound that hard.

I finally get to the bottom of the hill and hit the sandy stretch to the finish line. This part is hard because I’m not good at running on sand. God makes it feel easier. I run towards the finish with all my effort and finish for God. I'm blessed that he didn’t let me get injured and gave me an amazing half Ironman. I finished at 6 hours and 5 minutes, only 5 minutes behind my mom! This is only possible work God.

Praise The Lord For He is Good, His Love Endures Forever!

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5th overall, 06:05:06, Club:  FCA Endurance

Swim:  00:38:25

T1:       00:04:18

Bike:    03:20:11

T2:       00:03:34

Run:    01:58:36

Youngest athlete, 17th

Friday, July 8, 2022

Crown City 12K - Robin -2022

Date/Location:July 4, 2022 – Coronado, Ca – Racing Since 2011
Distances:12km
Time:1:10:31 (9:27 pace)
Place:9th
Others:12K: Anna Soares

(Story below...)


It's been a rough week. A lot of difficulty and challenges. God has been sustaining me and helping me to press on. It's also hard because Troy and Ariel couldn't make it and Grammie has retired from doing this race.

My hamstring is sore warming up. I noticed that yesterday on a short run. I hope it will improve as the race goes along. Anna's hip is feeling tender. She's going out conservatively and will try to pick it up towards the end. She'll start with me.

We find our way up front through the thick crowds. It's packed as usual.

The race director gives his traditional Independence Day movie speech. So funny! Never gets old.

Ready, set, go! Anna and I take off and run under the huge American flag. The hamstring does not feel good but I push on. I want to help Anna get out at a good pace. We run under the iconic Coronado Bridge.

Mile 1 is 8:22. The top 5K runners are already flying back. Anna says it's too fast for her hip and tells me to go ahead. My hamstring isn't warming up. I hope it does.

Mile 2 is 8:31. The hamstring is actually getting worse! I slow way down and it still hurts. Anna goes by and wants to slow down for me. I encourage her to keep going and she does.

I'm now running past the Navy base and heading out along the Strand towards Imperial Beach. Man, this hurts! I stop to stretch.

Mile 3 is 10:05. The top 12K runners are heading back already!
I try to pick it up a bit. Runners are constantly going by me but I'm not stressing about it. I'm really concerned about being able to finish this race. 

I see Anna smiling coming back. I hope the hip is ok! I give her a quick high five and she's gone.

I make it to the turn around and I'm just counting the miles constantly. I want to stop!

Mile 4 is 9:23. Lord, please help me get through this. It is so hard to focus! I think back to all the struggles. I miss Troy! I wish I could see his face right now.

I try every so often to look for women ahead I could pass. Trying to be competitive, however, is not much of an option right now.

Mile 5 is 9:47. I try all kinds of different ways of running to relieve the pain. Nothing consistently is working. It's not worse, thankfully.

Mile 6 is 9:43. Back by the golf course. I see the bridge. I want to be there now and be done!

I make it to the bridge. Thank you Lord! Almost done!

Mile 7 is 9:39. Hang in there! Finish line ahead! I see Anna waiting for me straight ahead.  Thank you Jesus! So good to stop! But also so good to experience God's help because when life gets hard, stopping isn't an option.

Crown City 12K - Anna -2022


Date/Location:July 4, 2022 – Coronado, Ca – Racing Since 2011
Distances:12km
Time:1:02:42
Place:2nd
Others:12K: Robin Soares
(Story below...)
Today I am going to be racing the 12K for my first time at the Crown City classic race. Sadly this year the race is 2 days before the 4th of July, instead of on it. I guess they couldn't have the race on a Monday. My mom and I are hanging out together at the start line. I have a hip injury and she has a hamstring injury. We're both going to get through the race with the Lord's help. I'm planning to stay around a 9-minute pace and my mom is planning an 8:30-minute pace. The race starts and we head out running under the flag. I always love touching the flag at the start of the race. 

We get out on the course and I'm pushing my pace to 8:30 to stay with my mom for a little bit. It's really cool that we get to run with each other this year. As we get close to running under the bridge, we pass a group of drummers playing for all the runners. They do this every year and it's really appreciated. 

We head out further onto the course and start running around the golf course. Usually, I do the 5K and I only run a little bit around the golf course, but now I get to run around the entire thing and beyond. At the 5k turnaround, 1 1/2 miles, my hip starts to feel a little sore. I drop back from my mom to take it easier. As I'm running, a lady runs by me and tells me that she likes my jersey. I tell her thanks and God bless.

After running for a while, I start to curve towards the end of Coronado. We are now running by the pier. I remember hanging out here with my cousin and uncle watching the parachuters. Up ahead I notice my mom has stopped by the side of the road stretching. I ask her what's wrong and she says her hamstring isn't loosening up and it's just staying tight. I pray that God will help her be able to keep running. 

I continue ahead now hoping that she'll follow close soon. I am now at the end of the pier running on a long highway road at the end of Coronado. This eventually will connect to Imperial Beach. As I'm running along, my hip is starting to bother me a lot more. I decide to try to find a spot to quickly stretch it. I see a spot off the side of the road and I stop to stretch my hip. I start running again continuing to focus on my form. I have been going at a slow and mellow pace for most of this race in order to keep my hip in good shape. Now I'm going to try to pick it up these last three to four miles and to try to give my hip a different feeling. Up ahead I see the turnaround. I'm so excited! I turn around and start heading back. 

As I'm heading back, a girl younger than me passes me. This reminds me to keep picking up the pace. I pass her and start running with an older girl going my pace ahead of me. We run together for 2 miles. I enjoyed talking to her about Coronado. I try not to talk to her too much though because I don't want to tire her out. And soon start curving back by the golf course.

I've started to pick it up and run further ahead. The younger girl then passes me again and I run on after her. I catch up to her and then to the lady who commented on my FCA Jersey. I talked to her for a while too and enjoyed being able to run and talk with great athletes. The younger girl than passes me again, so I take off casing her. I'm so close to the home stretch now as I pass her. My hips starts to hurt a little bit more and I take a quick stretch to help get me to the finish. It is pretty sore now, but not like injury pain, just distance pain. I run under the bridge and push towards the finish. I run through the finish and give God the glory. I'm really happy that I was able to finish this 7 ½ mile race. This has been my longest run for the past few weeks because of my hip. I’m glad got God got me through this. My overall time was 1:02:42, with a average pace of 8:24. I was also blessed with being 2nd in my age group. 

Praise The Lord For He Is Good, His Love Endures Forever!


Ironman Des Moines (Troy)


Date/Location:June 12, 2022 – 
Des Moines, Iowa
Distances:2.4m Swim - 112m Bike - 26.2m Run
Time:11:56:25 (1:07:46 swim - 10:35 - 6:00:29 bike - 9:40 - 4:27:57 run)
Place:14th of 90
Others:Erica Chan

Walking 1mi in the dark with Robin to the race start, I have no plan except trusting Jesus.  I strained my left perineal tendon when I twisted my ankle in a pothole 3 days ago when we arrived.  Robin and I went for a run as soon as we flew into town and I was looking back and stepped in a hole.  The quick pain went away rapidly and I praised God as I was still able to run and finish 3 more miles.  But the next day the pain gradually got worse as we walked around town.  It was so subtle at first I thought it was just the walking shoes I was using. I started massaging and stretching it but it just got worse.  Then I remembered the pothole and how I had strained a perineal tendon many years ago and it took a month to heal.  We got a support sock, ace bandage, professional massage, ice… I elevated it, rolled it out and lightly stretched it.. a lot of which was advice from Anna who has lots of experience with twisted ankles.

Well, it’s race morning and it’s sore just walking.  I don’t dare try running on it.  But I really feel like God is going to do a miracle.  Many times God has used my Ironman to leave a lasting memory of His faithfullness with me.  He has often rescued me from the misery of pain and hopelessness of finishing, to an exhilirating finish and the powerful experience then served me well for months to come.  So with appreciation, yet apprehension, I figured I would go through the same today, racing along until my plan completely fails and all the wheels fall off and I have to rely on Christ fully and He rescues me and I learn my lesson to rely on Him from the beginning instead of just when it gets hard.  The scary part was not knowing when that moment would come or had bad it would get.  But yesterday it was like the Lord said, “this time you’ll know ahead of time what the problem will be and you’ll rely on me from the beginning”.  It was actually very relieving to understand that maybe my twisted ankle was the dark moment.. so I don’t have to wonder what will go wrong.. it already had and now the Lord may do a miracle and bring me though the problem even before the race starts!  That was my prayer.

I check my gear bags, adding a salted sweet potato to my bike jersey, then add bottles to my bike and try running just a little in the grass… still hurts.

Robin meets me at the swim start where we bump into Ben from Iron Prayer and pray together.  Iron Prayer was such a blessing, it was amazing to gather with 15 people that somehow heard about it, usually through word of mouth.

Wetsuit on.  The water is 74.  Will be a challenge just to stay cool.  Robin is right beside the railing as we slowly walk to the rolling start.  This is it, Lord, I just have to stay focused on you the whole time and love the athletes around me like you do.

Swim:

The lady letting athletes into the water one at a time looks at me and says, “It’s a good day for a swim”, then the buzzer beeps and her hand goes down.. I head into Grays Lake.  First, because we weren’t allowed a warm-up swim, I have to stop and let water into all areas of my wetsuit which makes it easier to swim.  It’s weird standing in the water preparing as 1,000 other athletes anxiously wait their turn to dive in behind me. 

Water's really comfortable. I find a draft behind the woman who's swimming very straight. Around the first buoy I can see the arch in the distance we will swim under. Add some excitement. I can feel my sore ankle as I'm kicking, it reminds me to trust completely in the Lord. Under the arch I can hear the timing beep as it records my split. Around the final buoy I struggle a bit to find another draft. Drafting is really conserving energy I think I can get the 110 goal. Approaching the peninsula I'm looking forward to running on the sand which hopefully will be faster than swimming. As I climb out of the water though it's difficult to transition to being upright. The dizziness fades as I form some semblance of jogging. I volunteer hands me water. Thank you! There's Robin right up against the fence. So cool to be this close to your family in the middle of the swim. Okay back in for lap two. Wow only 33 minutes this is great pace. I draft off a guy this time but he doesn't swim very straight so I keep looking for someone else. Again the arch is it good goal to site on and I realize it won't be long now. Around the final buoy. very tired now.

Under the beach again more water and see Robin again and now to dive in for the final Sprint of the finish. I tried to pass the guy I was drafting. He's swimming to the left pushing me off course. I can't get ahead. Father and further off course finally flip onto my back and roll and find myself perfectly on his opposite side. He continues slightly off course allows me to finish ahead.

T1

Happy to be on dry ground I start jogging grab my support sock and put it on and as I continue Robin asks about my foot and I realize it's better than it was this morning. Thank you, God. It's still feels like it could go any moment so I'm very careful to jog straight. Transition takes a while as I put on socks, arm warmers and the sweet potato in my pocket for lunch. I grab my bike and continue jogging slowly for another 300 yd. to the exit.

Bike

Weather is perfect no wind and this course goes through a pleasant park along the river. It's easy now but I realize it's going to get real difficult later so I start relaxed as others push ahead.

Out on the main roads there's no traffic, no wind it's fairly flat and I think Robin would enjoy this race. Thank you God and I'll continue to thank you even if I get a flat or have problems. I noticed before the race my front tire had a lot of cracks in the rubber.. never know what might happen.  One large street we travel is the Veterans Parkway with large monuments of folded flags to honor our service men and women.

 

As we head west, the terrain begins to roll more with cornfields and cute farm houses. Reminds me of Field of Dreams. The guy next to me is riding a road bike without aero bars. I would be very slow without mine. Another guy near me is drafting off someone in front. A while I finally remind him to either pass or drop back.

Although many pass me these first 30 mi., there are a number of riders I keep seeing as we go back and forth. A girl who has the best aero position of anyone I've seen; the guy who drafts sometimes but otherwise is very talkative to everybody; and a guy without aerobars who seems to effortlessly go just as fast, prompting me to joke with him, “you’re making me feel guilty.”

I’m drinking my bottles of Vitargo, 1 each 90 minutes.  I’m also eating a sweet potato, something Robin discovered that works good for each of us.  Energy is good but seat comfort isn’t.  I consider adjusting my seat but don’t, remembering how I felt God telling me to just have faith in Him and stick with the setting.  I’d like to average 18.6 mph, a speed Robin has done multiple times in the past in order to get 6 hrs.  The conditions are great, no wind, but my current 18.9 average will surely take a hit when I do find the headwinds.

The talkative drafting guy starts talking to me about how easy the 2nd 1/2 of this course is because he rides it a lot.  Something about the last 30 mi being all downhill.  It’s such a nice thought but I can’t trust that.. especially from someone who drafts.  I push ahead..

40miles.  We turn South and hit wind.  It’s tough.  At 56mi I get 2 more Vitargo bottles at Special Needs.  Fast pitstop thanks to the great volunteers.

60miles. We finally turn East and the wind isn’t as bad.  My aero position still isn’t feeling right and I want to switch to my more powerful forward position, but I know that would only last 25 miles or so before the chafing got so bad.  I decide that at 85miles I’ll switch to the more powerful position.  Just gotta make this work for another 20 miles..

I shouldn’t, but I keep thinking about what the “draft” guy had said… “a big hill and then 30 mi of downhill..” so at every hill I wonder if this is it..

70miles. There are 3 riders ahead of me, spread legal distance (5 bike lengths between each), and I use them to leapfrog ahead, catching the draft a bit while passing in the alotted 25 seconds.  Then later they pass back doing the same.  Legally this motivates us all to go faster. 

80miles.  My aero position was feeling weak, annoyed me much of the ride.  As soon as I tried to spin faster, I’d get out of position and uncomfortable. But instead of trying to spin faster, I tried pushing a bigger gear, but at the risk of burning out.  I went faster while remaining comfortable!  This is a gift from God, thank you!  To most people, being a little uncomfortable on a bike seat may not seem like something needing God’s help, but it can start to feel like torture.  After 4 hrs of pushing hard it can feel like you’re rocking side-to-side on sandpaper,  or your back, as my friend, Sean Depana, used to describe it, can feel “like knives stabbing you over and over”.  Trying to adjust to relieve that pain can then lead to leg pain that feels like barbed wire under your knee caps, or guitar wires up the back of your leg snapping back and forth on your nerves.  And all this is just biking, then there’s the run, with a strained ankle tendon which could hurt every step – and there’s about 50,000 walking steps in a marathon.  A scary thought to do without help.  So I’m talking with God throughout the ride, not just because I want His help, but because my goal is to do His will, even for inconsequential things like riding position.  Doing His will is the only goal I can confidently achieve, all other goals can fail, but His will doesn’t fail.  And it’s so good… and surprising what joy can result from it.  Right now my aero position is working well and I’m motivated and going faster. 

85 miles, as I promised myself, I try my more powerful forward riding position, but it surprisingly feels worse.  I quickly abandon it for the aero position that’s working so well, thanks to the Lord.  Normally I have to stop pedaling and use lube during the ride to relieve the “sandpaper” feel, but I haven’t at all today.  And my average speed is going up instead of down.  And my outlook is going up instead of down..

90miles.  I’m exhausted.  But I have to push the bike because I might not be able to run.  This may be my last chance to give a good effort.  I really want the bike to be done, but then I don’t know if my ankle can run.  All this keeps me focused on the Lord, because He is the only one that can help me and has so many times before.  This is the reason I do Ironmans, as training to rely on Him and not myself, which is something I easily forget in the 2 years between each Ironman.  Thank you Lord for your patience with me.

95miles. There’s Robin!  She runs over to the side of the Road.  She’s brings such a smile to my face.  I tell her it’s going good.  Thank you, Lord, for her.

97miles.  It’s an out-and-back time-trial zone here.  I remember there’s a prize for the fastest bike split here.  I feel like I have nothing left, but I at least try to keep steady and do what I can.  I really can’t wait for the turn-around.  Ah, finally, heading back, only 10 more miles!  Robin sees me again and it’s big boost.  Earlier I was at 17.8 mph average and lost hope of breaking 6 hrs, but with the bigger gears I’ve been catching up and realize in great surprise I could break 6 hrs!  Through the beautiful park I push hard… it’s going to be close… I can see the transition area… 1 min left to 6 hrs… oh, we have to bike around transition to the back… the extra 1/2 mile puts me slightly over but I’m still really thankful and excited to have been that close.  Thank you, Lord!