Sunday, December 4, 2011

CIM Relay - Robin & Troy

December 4, 2011 - Sacramento, CA
Marathon - 26.2m
2nd, Coed Open; 27th OA Relay
Teammates Liesbeth Magna & Leonie Alesci

Robin, Leg #1 - 5.9 Miles

The relay tradition continues and it's been 13 years since my college roommates Liesbeth, Leonie, Kristin and I first entered this event!  It's fun to look over the years and our history (see below).  I'm doing what's becoming my traditional first leg.  I love the start…seeing all the hustle and bustle…looking for folks I know doing the entire marathon.  This morning I got to give friend and CIM pacer (3:10) Michael Cook a ride to the start.  He's got one of the most important jobs today and he's looking forward to it.  I'm also cheering on old track buddies, Beth Bourne and Shannon Cody. Beth is looking to go under 3 hours and Shannon is looking to get an Olympic Trials qualifier.

Michael and I park and run to the start.  As we get to the warm pacer tent, we say our goodbyes and I head out for a warm-up run.  Local TV channel KCRA is already out interviewing folks.  I run past and wonder if I'm on TV and if Leonie is watching from home.  I hear a familiar voice, Eric Gleason, announcing.  Good to see Eric here.

Okay, time for the start.  I see Michael from afar with his group.  I think about other friends and pacers, Lee McKinley (3:30) and Tim Twietmeyer (3:35).  I pray that they have a great day along with Michael!  I look for Beth and Shannon as the pro runners enter the arena.  I see Beth and I'm so excited.  I give her a hug and tell her I'm praying for her race today.  She tells me that I 111204_cim_startshould try to stick with her pace since our team goal is also to go around 3 hours.  Good idea but I'll have to see how my legs feel.  Time to go…ready…and go!

The first mile is crazy and there are people everywhere!  It's always hard not to go out too fast!  I can amazingly see Beth ahead.  The plan is to keep her in my sights and then see what happens.

Mile 1 is 6:47.  This is perfect.  I'm going to hold this!  I can still see Beth so I'm at a good pace. I realize that I'm running on part of the Coffee Republic Bike ride.  I'm amazed that I never noticed before.  Somehow things look different with hundreds of people around me. 

Mile 2 is 6:49.  I'm getting into my groove now.  Thanks God!  I decide to pick up the pace and catch up to Beth.  As I reach her, she's chatting with some other runners and looking relaxed and strong…I'm so happy to see that!  I continue on and decide to see what I can do.

Mile 3 is 6:28.  Great!  I'm feeling strong and try to keep this pace.  The road undulates a bit and I focus on form and the Lord.  Thanks Jesus for helping me do this despite my lack of preparation at times leading up to this!

Mile 4 is 6:32.  Yeah!  I tell myself that this is the last real mile.  Once I hit mile 5, it's less than a mile! 

Mile 5 is 6:31.  Wow, thanks for the consistency Lord!  It's getting harder to push myself yet you give me that extra boost I need to keep it up.  Now it's all about looking for Troy and the girls.  I'm so excited to see their faces!  As I approach the relay exchange area, as I remember from years past, I don't see Troy.  Oh boy!  I keep running around the corner and see up ahead the real exchange area.  It looks like they've changed it.  Hey, there's Troy and the girls!  Yeah!  I hear my watch beep for 6 miles, 6:24…alright!  I get to Troy and he takes off my chip and heads out.  Go Troy! 

The girls and I wait for Beth to go by and cheer her on.  Now it's time to get to the finish line!  This will be exciting!  Thanks God for a great start to the day!

Troy, Leg #2 - 7.6 Miles

Anna & Ariel are with me, bundled up and ready for the hand-off from Robin.  I love doing this CIM relay.  Robin gets us off to a fast start and then we have to stay with the fast marathoners which is inspiring.

I warm up some and set my pace for 6:24, the same pace I was fortunate to keep at the Turkey Trot 2 weeks ago.  Today's leg is a little longer but I feel like I can keep it.  I stretch near the relay check point while the girls play in the crisp morning air.

We see the wheel-chairs and hand-bikes go by and then the stars of the show.. the world class marathoners.  Amazing!

We're positioned.  Anna's got Ariel in the stroller, between the marathoners and relay runners, alerting me to when Robin is coming.  Only a dozen relay runners come through when we see her!  Time to go!

After a smooth hand-off, I'm off.  It's chilly but gloves and arm-warmers are perfect.  I'm so pumped up it's hard to know what pace to do.  But my Garmin virtual partner keeps me right on pace. The road is perfectly straight for 2-1/2 miles, you can see a mile ahead.

1mi. 6:25. I'm breathing hard, running fast, right on pace, but can I keep this up?  Seems like I'm exerting too much energy.  Anyway, I have to keep it up because the team is counting on me.  I look around and am inspired by the marathoners.  They're on sub 3hr pace!  I only have to keep this up for 6.5 more miles and they have about 20!  Especially impressive are the women near me as sub-3 is rare for the female age-groups.  They're well-trained machines.  Smooth and effortless.  Meanwhile, I've got the pedal-to-the-medal, forcing my body to keep the goal.

2mi: 6:31. I'm staying on pace according to my virtual partner.  I'm not looking at my splits (downloading my splits later, however, I see that I'm actually behind pace.  Will have to figure out why..)

3mi: 6:33. Good, but to keep on pace I have to accelerate on each small descent to make up for the inevitable slow-down at each little climb.  Descents are the only place I can go any faster.  Fortunately, there's a slight downhill from here on out.

4mi: 6:25.  That was a great part of the course, I love the little town area we just went through… music, aid station, turns and dips in the road.. a fun little part.  Each aid station is important as I'm working hard and need lots of fluid.

5mi: 6:21.  My best mile yet.  The road is curving more.  I'm focusing on God and remembering to smile and relax and appreciate all He has done for me.  He really does help me race better and do everything better when I focus on Him.  I am most thankful for my foot problem of 10 yrs being healed.  It's been 2 yrs now with no pain at all and I give the credit to Jesus Christ.  A real answer to prayer.

6mi: 6:32.  There was a dip and a climb.  The climb undid all gains.  But I'm almost there and have to start digging now.. the finish is straight ahead..

7mi: 6:28.  I go through the "1/2 Marathon" point at 1:25 which is cool.. this is Robin's goal for the Davis Stampede in 2 months.  I've got to be ready for the hand-off now.. almost there..

7.5mi: 6:21 pace. I see Liesbeth.  My leg: 48:13. I pull off my running belt and quickly wrap it  around her as we meet.  She swaps the ankle chip and hands me the keys to her car (with a note where it is) and she's off!  Another perfect transition.  Wow, that was great, and I don't feel terrible.  I jog to the car and am pumped to get to the finish line to see how we do!  Thanks, Lord, for another great result which again is better than I should have had.

Catch Us If You Can!


Go CIM Pacers: Michael, Lee & Tim!


Go Shannon* and Beth (*Shannon qualified for trials!)!


Team Soares Hanging Out

2011-12-05 001 2011-12-04 0022011-12-05 001 2011-12-04 0072011-12-05 001 2011-12-04 028


Year Team Name Relay Div Place Time Teammates
2011 Catch Us If You Can Open Coed 27 3:05:14 Robin Soares (Leg #1), Troy Soares (Leg #2), Liesbeth Magna(Leg #3) and Leonie Alesci (Leg #4)
2010 Catch Us If You Can Open Coed 2 3:13:32 Robin Soares (Leg #1 & 2), Richard Alesci (Leg #3) and Leonie Alesci (Leg #4)
2009 CATCH US IF YOU CAN Open Coed 3 3:08:47 Kevin Magna (Leg #1), Robin Soares (Leg #2), Richard Alesci (Leg #3) and Leonie Alesci (Leg #4)
2008 CATCH US IF YOU CAN Open Coed 21 3:27:28
Robin Soares (Leg #1), Courtney Loveday (Leg #2), Richard Alesci (Leg #3) and Leonie Wynhoven (Leg #4)
2007 RIONIE AND SOARES Open Coed 3 2:58:55 Robin Soares (Leg #1), Troy Soares (Leg #2), Richard Alesci (Leg #3) and Leonie Wynhoven (Leg #4)
2006 CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Open Female 1 3:00:54 Robin Soares (Leg #1), Megan Canova (Leg #2), Liesbeth Brouwer (Leg #3), Leonie Wynhoven (Leg #4)
2005 DAM GIRLS & GUYS Open Coed 2 3:00:36 Robin Soares (Leg #1), Dick Kirkpatrick (Leg #2), Megan Canova (Leg #3), Leonie Wynhoven (Leg #4)
2004 DAM GIRLS & GUYS Open Coed 14 3:32:15 Troy, Robin, Liesbeth Brouwer, (?)
2003 DAM GOOD RUNNERS Open Coed 21 3:06:50 Troy-Robin-Leonie Wynhoven-Liesbeth Brouwer
2002 DAM GOOD RUNNERS Open Coed 76 4:13:14 Robin, Dave Funston, Kristin Funston, Leonie Wynhoven
2001 DAM GOOD RUNNERS Open Coed 21 3:56:56 Robin Heidt, Dave Funston, Kristin Funston, Leonie Wynhoven
2000 Un-Named Open Coed 49 3:48:04 Kristin Matthews, Dave Funston, Leonie Wynhoven, Robin Heidt
1999 DAM GOOD RUNNERS None 88 3:44:09 Kristin Matthews, Liesbeth Brouwer, Leonie Wynhoven, Robin Heidt
1998 Dam Girls None 46 3:28:58 Kristin Matthews, Liesbeth Brouwer, Leonie Wynhoven, Robin Heidt

Note: The CIM Relay Races started in 1991.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Davis Turkey Trot Baby stroller Race - Robin

November 19, 2011 – Davis, CA
Dave Campbell, Leonie Wynhoven
2011-11-27 001 2011-11-19 003Could this be the last year Ariel will tolerate being in the stroller?  Will Dave Campbell and granddaughter Rachel get us this year?  Can Ariel and I set a record on the new course (old record 20:23)?  We'll have to see!  It's going to be exciting!
Troy, Anna, Ariel and I pray for the race.  Whatever happens is in His hands and we know that is most important.  I toe the line with Dave & Rachel, college-roomie, Leonie Alesci, and son, Reid, and former Davis High athlete, that I coached, Justin Morejohn, and son, Jeshua.  The new course looks to be better scenery and longer stretches which is good when pushing a stroller.
Ready, set, go!  It's on!  Justin takes off with the leader and Dave and I stick together.  Within the first 1/4 mile, I notice that my watch is going nuts and saying I'm running 13 minute pace...yeah right!  Well, I'm just going to have to go by feel and hang close to Dave.  Dave asks me what pace we are doing and I tell him I'm not sure because of my crazy watch.  I hope I'll have some information by the first mile.   
Ariel is doing great and is content all bundled up in her snow gear.  I hope this doesn't change.  Dave's son-in-law, Josh, is also racing but his little Isabella is crying.  Her dad has to slow down to figure out the problem.
Mile 1: 6:30.  Dave gives me our split.  Good start!  It looks like my watch is working 111118_davisturkey_stroller_robinarielgood after that first split.  I'm feeling good so I make a move and go past Dave.  I'm moving at sub-6:30 pace and I don't know if I can keep it up.  I ran sub-6:30 pace alone a few weeks ago but pushing 50lbs of extra weight (with stroller) is a whole other animal!  Dave catches up, passes us and takes off.  I can't go with legs are starting to loose power!  Ariel is doing great and I try to encourage her with the little breath I have.
111118_davisturkey_stroller_robinariel2Mile 2 is 6:27.  That's great but now the wheels are slowly starting to come off!  Lord, please help me hang in there.  I trust Your plan and I'm going to continue giving what I have.  Dave and Rachel have a good lead on us and don't seem to be getting tired.  I just gotta hang in there.  I find that it's hard to catch my breath and I start gulping in as much air as I can.111118_davisturkey_stroller_robinariel_finish
I can see the finish now!  I cannot go any faster and I'm just trying to survive.  As I get closer, I see that I can still make it under 20:23!  I dig down!  Mile 3 is 6:41!  Ugh!!  I cross the line at 20:12.  Yeah!  THANK YOU, JESUS!! 
I can hardly breathe and sit down to catch my breath.  I congratulate Dave on his 1st place finish in his age group and 5th overall.  I see Justin too and congratulate him on his 1st place in his age group and 2nd overall.  Leonie soon comes and her and Reid have a great finish...2nd Mommy overall!!  Yeah!  What a great day!  Now time to watch Troy, the girls and Reid race!
Go Dave and Leonie!

Darn Dave!  He, he!
2011-11-27 001 2011-11-19 012
Name Age Group Place Time
Dave Campbell M50-59 1 19:56
Robin W30-39 1 20:12
Leonie Wynhoven W30-39 2 24:01

Davis Turkey Trot 10k (Troy)

November 19, 2011 – Davis, CA


Christine & Kayden Kelly

2011-11-27 001 2011-11-19 014I'm more excited to be here for Robin's benefit rather than mine.  She's been training smart in preparation for her attempt to set the women's course record in the baby jogger 5k.  I, on the other hand, haven't been feeling great the last few weeks and my workouts have been haphazard.  My original goal was breaking 40min, but now I'm claiming a new realistic goal of breaking 41min.  40min as the surprise goal, 41min as my planned goal.

Anna & I watch Robin & Ariel run a perfect race and, although losing out to our good friend, Dave Campbell, they did set the record!  I'm really proud of Robin because I didn't think she could go faster than last year with Ariel another 10lbs heavier.

Now I warm up for my race.  The sun is coming out.  It's becoming perfect running weather.  Only slight breeze.  I shed many layers.  I do some strides and start to feel fast again.  Always amazed how that happens.  Feel slow for weeks and then, right before a race, feel fast.

Go!  I high-five Ariel on our way to the first turn.  I'm focusing on perfect lines through each turn.  Preparing for good position.  Watching the road camber.  And trying to see how long I can match my Garmin "virtual partner", set to 6:27 pace, my ideal goal.

I keep my eye on the lead woman, which I've always found to have a smart steady pace.  The 2nd woman and I are going back and forth.  There's a lot of men up ahead.  But by mile 1 a few are already starting to come back.

Mile 1 6:27.  Wow, I'm surprised that I'm feeling good.  My breathing is more controlled.  The legs and body don't hurt anywhere.  My temperature is perfect.  Only problem is that I'm thirsty.  I think I can maintain this pace.  I'm going to go for the sub-40 goal!  I take Gatorade at the 1st aid station.

Mile 2. 6:22.  I've found another guy to match pace with.  We're starting to go back and forth.  As we enter the "green belt" path (a beautiful walk/bike path around Northern residential Davis) the many turns require some surges ahead to get the inside lines.  We dip down and up through some sub-ways.  It's nice to get a change of speed periodically.  My breathing is staying controlled which is a good sign.  This course is new this year so there's a lot to watch for to make sure no mistakes are made.

111118_davisturkey_10K_troyMile 3. 6:28.  1/2 way done.  Now I can try to work a little harder.  And I need more fluid.  Next station I get both water and Gatorade.  The course is great.  I'm starting to get a step on the guy next to me.  And we're also catching a number of guys ahead.  I see a couple Del Oro High School runners and try to stay behind them.

Mile 4. 6:23.  This is going great!  It's getting hard but I know I can speed up each mile now.  This mile 5 is the hard one.  Got breathe deep and stay focused on control & form while maintaining pace.  Then the last mile I can stop thinking much about control and just give everything I have left.  Way up ahead, there's a loop around a park area and I can see 2 fast guys probably a couple minutes ahead.  Are they the leaders?  Were they Africans?  No, this is just a local race, but it always feels bigger when you're in the moment and things are going well.  I thank the Lord for giving me a good race today.

Mile 5. 6:22.  Ok, it's the last mile and I can just throw any fuel left on the fire without thinking about form and conservation.  Just go, go, go.  Everybody is picking it up.  It's a long, long straight stretch with the finish line way in the distance.  There's Robin, Anna, and Ariel past the mile marker.  Robin's going to be so excited to see me coming in under 40 min!

Mile 6. 6:12.  Ah, that was a great mile. Thank you, Lord.  I give Anna & Ariel and high five and give it all I've got to the finish. 

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Mile 6.2.  Finished.  Under 40min.  That went so much better than I expected.  I continue jogging to warm down and I'm happy nothing is hurting.  But tomorrow it will.  That's ok.  It was a great day today Smile

Go Kayden & Christine!


Name Age Group Place Time
Troy Soares M40-44 5 39:32
Kayden Kelly M35-39 7 44:49
Christine Kelly W30-39 1 1:01:00

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Run For A Safe Haven - Robin

November 5, 2011 - Sacramento, Ca
1st, W30-39
I needed a 5K to get ready for the baby stroller race at the Davis Turkey Trot.  This could be my last year pushing Ariel so I want to make it count and try to break the record of 20:23, as well as holding off my friend, Dave Campbell, who will push his granddaughter.  My goal is to try and run under 20 minutes today (sub 6:27 pace) without Ariel, and later run close to 20 min with her.  It's a bit of a stretch considering I've had a tiring week following the Victory Velo Duathlon.  It's in God's hands so any result is His will as long as I do my best.
I had the family stay home and get some extra sleep.  With only myself to worry about, I get to the race early and can take my time warming up and stretching.  I get to watch the kids races, cute! 
It's really cold!  I opt to wear my beanie.  I really wish I had some gloves too!  I have to keep my jacket on until the very last minute to keep some warmth despite my shorts and short-sleeves!
On your mark, get set, go!  The horn goes off and we take off.  I hear the horn go again and wonder if there was a false start...which would be surprising considering this is a pretty low key race.  The horn continues to blow off and on and no one is stopping.  Okay, it must be someone having fun back there. 
We are running through very flat Land Park.  I know this course well from the Zoo Zoom 10K.  The nice thing today is I only have to do one loop...short and sweet!  A Fleet Feet girl, another girl w/headphones and 2 guys take off at a fast pace.  I decide to hold back and stick to 6:27 pace for now.  Another Fleet Feet girl and a guy in gray pass me.  Liking their pace better, I stick to them.
Mile 1 is 6:27.  Okay, that felt good.  Let's see what I can do now.  I catch up to the 2nd FF girl and we run together for a bit.  We are getting closer to the headphones girl so I pick up the pace to catch her.  I pull up on headphone's shoulder and tell her good job.  She surges and I surge back and push the pace to pass her.  I now focus in on the guy in gray and close the gap.
Mile 2 is 6:17.  I'm feeling strong but I'm unsure if I can go any faster.  I only have one mile left so I go for it.  I pass the guy in gray and look ahead to the next guy in blue.  As I look down at my watch, I can see I'm running sub 6:10 pace...I'm excited but I know I'm on the edge.  With 1/3 of a mile to go, I catch the guy in blue and tell him to push it to the end.
Mile 3 is 6:09!  Wow, I can see the clock and I'm going to be under 20 minutes!!  The blue guy and I are neck-in-neck.  We both surge to the finish and he nips me at the line.  I give him a high five and tell him good job.  Wow, Lord!  Thanks so much for the chance to run this fast!  It should help prepare me for what's to come in Davis.  We'll see!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Victory Velo Duathlon - Robin

October 30, 2011 – Auburn, CA
Run 5.5m - Bike 9m 

2:09:30 (48:30-1:21:00)

2nd Woman
Claudia Sidijaya, Glenn Carnahan, Jamie Frink, Todd Allington, Troy and more!

Troy and I ride down to the Confluence in the dark to drop off our bikes and then run to the start.  I can tell on the ride down that my body feels pretty beat and then on the run back up Stagecoach it doesn't get any better.  Still, I'm hopeful that things will feel different in the race.  With Christ, anything is possible.  That means He can get me through the race if I feel great or  awful.  It's about persevering in any situation.

Since Halloween is tomorrow, Troy and I have dressed up.  He's a new kind of "Spiderman" covered in cobwebs and spiders.   I'm a bumble bee with antennas, wings and a stinger to boot.  The whole group of "racers" line up in Downtown Auburn in front of Victory Velo bike shop.  This event is free and unofficial.  It always draws a talented crowd!

Ready, set, go!  What a sight we are in our costumes!  Our friend Todd Allignton is a banana, and Jamie Frink is a fairy.  There is also a real Spiderman, another bumblebee,  a  cheerleader  and a country hick.  I can tell within the first mile 3 things.  1. There is a really fast girl, Dawn, 2. I don't feel so hot and 3. I need to use the restroom.  Still, I don't let it stop me from pushing as hard as I can.

Mile 1 is 7:53.  Just 4.5 miles to go...ugh!  Now that were are on the Western States trail, I try to focus on my footing and the scenery.  Troy, Todd, Dawn and some other guys are long gone.  I pray for Troy and hope that he doesn't twist his right foot out there.

Mile 2 is 7:37.  I still feel yucky and I can see today is going to be all about persevering through the discomfort.  I think about the Ironman.  With the way I'm feeling now, it seems so out of reach.  Glenn Carnahan and his 2 dogs are catching up.  I'm amazed at the pace those dogs are holding!

Mile 3 is 7:58.  I decide to make a quick stop since I cannot hear Glenn.  It helps improve the comfort level but I still feel beat.  The trail is getting more narrow, curvy and rocky which slows me down.  I still have trouble running these trails...even with all the experience. 

Mile 4 is 8:42.  Ugh!  I just need to survive!  Help me Lord!  I'm following a few guys and they take another trail to the left.  It seems wrong since we are now climbing again, but I hope they know better.  Soon it's apparent that we took the wrong trail since we end up on Hwy 49.  It actually is fine by me since I don't have to run on the rocky trail anymore.

Mile 5 is 8:29.   Almost there!  I can see the bike transition.  I don't know if I should smile or cry.   The pain of the run is almost more appealing than riding my mtn. bike on the Lake Clementine loop...I still haven't acquired a lot of confidence on the bike.  Troy and I practiced this loop 3 weeks ago and I struggled.  I decide that when in doubt, I'll jump off and run with my bike.

I get to my bike, stuff my shoes in my bag, hand them off to Jay Garrard in his lederhosen and ride off.  It's neat to be riding under the highest bridge in CA, the Foresthill Bridge.  I do jump off  the bike in a spot that's rocky, narrow and on a cliff.  Now it's a long climb to the top of the loop.  This climb felt great when I practiced.  Now, it feels like torture! 

I catch up to a father-daughter duo on their tandem mtn. bike.  "Nice work guys!" Wow, how did they do that narrow section?!  The dad is wearing a skirt and the daughter is dressed as an elf with a Santa's hat on top.  I wonder if they are going to do some of the more technical parts of the ride.  A friend, Dave, passes me and rolls ahead like a machine.  "Good job Dave!" 

Finally, after 2 tough miles I'm almost at the top.  Suddenly, Aaron from the VV bike shop flies by!  Wow!  "Go get 'em Aaron!  You can close the gap!"  I get to the top and now it's serious!  I have to ride some technical descents and I'm almost wishing I was still climbing.  I do pretty well and mostly stay on my bike more than last time.  I'm not having tons of fun because I'm tired and stressed...but I know I have to keep a good attitude and keep going. 

The trail ends at Old Foresthill Road.  I can either turn right to ride down the road or go straight and pick up the technical trail again.  Anything goes in this race and so it wouldn't be cheating.  But when I practiced last time, I actually did okay, so I have to do the trail!  This time around I find that I'm more cautious and tentative... maybe it's because I'm exhausted?!  I get off my bike a lot more in sections along the cliffs as I think back to Troy's warning to be careful. 

I finally get back to the road and am relieved!  All I have to do is climb up Stagecoach...I can do that!  Ha, ha!  I'm so wiped out that even this climb that seemed so easy weeks ago is killing me!  Halfway up I see Troy.  I'm grateful for the company, though, it's hard to smile and be happy.  It's good practice for when I'm exhausted in life to continue being joyful and continue looking to Christ.  I can feel the Lord helping me dig down and find that joy to continue and not just stop and throw my bike over the edge. 

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  I cross the finish line with Troy and no one else in sight.  The other finishers are long gone.  Without Jesus, I can imagine I'd be bummed out and mad about how the day went.  I put my head down and thank the Lord for his help and catch my breath.  That was one of the hardest races I've had in a long time and I'm actually grateful for the experience.  I really wanted to take shortcuts, which I could have without penalty, but I continued to suffer because I knew it would make me rely on the Lord more than ever.  Thanks,  Jesus, for always being there for me especially when things are tough!  Now, I'm going to lay down for a while and rest.  Ah, good times!

Victory Velo Halloween Duathlon (Troy)

October 30, 2011 – Auburn, CA
Run 5.5-Bike m

1:35:30 (41:51 - 1:30 - 52:09)

2nd Male
Glenn Carnahan, Jamie Frink, Robin, Todd Allington & more

We've both been looking forward to this "unofficial" event.  It's my 3rd year.  I love how simple and challenging it is.  No registration, no numbers, no busy streets.  Dan Tebbs just says "go" and we head for the trails.

The course goes from Downtown Auburn into the canyon, following the Western States trail down to the confluence where the transition to mountain bikes takes place.  Then it's around the hilly and technical Clementine loop and back up Stage Coach to the finish.

Robin and I leave the house an hour early, with lights on our bikes, we ride 6mi to the run-to-bike transition.  The sun is about to come up and the temperature is not too cold.  We lock the bikes and start the run ascent 3mi up to the start at the shop.  Robin and I really enjoy being able to run together up the hill with the sun rising and hardly a soul to be seen.  Robin's a strong climber so we're always at the same pace on an incline.  Finally, we make it to the shop where a couple dozen die-hards are ready, in costume, despite no publicizing of the event.  It's just a local tradition.

There's funny costumes, and clever ones.  I'm "web man", covered in webs and spiders.  Robin is a bumble bee.  I'm trying to defend my title from last year against young Zack and Spiderman, Steve.  But Zack isn't here.  Neither is Kayden, a new threat since he's added running to his mountain biking prowess.  But Todd Allington is here and I'm well-accustomed to his dominating speed at the track and road biking.  However, he's wearing a big banana costume which has got to be inhibiting.. it could be my only chance..

Dan Tebbs welcomes everyone, takes a picture and gives a simple "go".  We turn immediately up steep  Cherry Ave.  I start off faster this year trying to keep up with Todd.   I'm working hard and surprised that so many are also taking the hill so well.  Most of the group are cyclists that hardly ever run but they're all running great this morning.

I'm expecting to see Robin the bumble bee not too far back but I'm surprised to see instead another bumble bee right on our heels.  It's Dawn, and she's keeping up with Banana man, Spiderman, Waldo and myself, Web-man.  We jump onto the railroad tracks and I pull ahead of Todd, trying to run light-footed across the treacherous rocks.  Fortunately my strained foot injury from a couple months ago has gotten much better.  Just in time for this difficult run course.

Mile 1: 7:32. I'm leading but that's because Todd doesn't remember the route.  I take us along the NID ditch and then drop down into the Western States Trail.  I'm really focusing on my foot placement, trying to be careful as I bomb down the trail.  I've got to push the descent because Todd can easily pass me on the climbs.  Waldo, Spiderman and Bumblebee are right with us.

Mile 2: 6:56. Mile 3: 7:19. I'm really breathing hard as we round Robie Pt and finally drop down the treacherous section to the river.  It my oxygen deprivation I make a momentary wrong turn but quickly get back on track.  Todd slows a little, still seeming to prefer me leading.  He's waiting his moment for the flat part at the bottom.  I hit the flat wider section and try to pick it up knowing Todd will do the same.  But after another mile I'm actually getting a little gap on the chasers.

Mile 4: 7:15. The magnificent Foresthill Bridge is looming in the distance, marking where our bikes are waiting.  I'm darting through narrow sections and then back onto the wide trail.  I bet it looks cool to see a guy bursting out of the brush with webs and spiders all over him.

Mile 5: 7:08. At "No-Hands Bridge" we climb up to run along Hwy 49.  I'm the first to emerge and again wonder what the drivers in the cars must think seeing a guy running down a trail with spiders on him.. but then realizing it's the 8ft banana costume behind that's really attracting attention.

Mile 5.7: 8:10. On the final stretch I was feeling it.  I find my keys and get ready to unlock my bike.  Breathing hard and transitioning, I notice Spiderman has already headed out on the bike.  A minute later I'm on my way.  T1: 1:30.  Gotta catch him.  But can't crash in the process.  On the left is a 100ft drop to the river.  The trail is lined with sharp rocks.  Robin and I did it a few weeks ago and that helped.

I'm doing well and start the ascend about 30secs behind Spiderman.  I want to slow down but the climbing is my only advantage and I must give it my all.  I finally catch him 2/3 of the way up but have to keep pushing.  It's a long technical descent and he'll surely be gaining on me.

Climb: 22:00.  At the top, totally winded, I start the descent a little out of control.  Come on, stay focused, crashing is not in the plan.  There's lot of fun jumps but I avoid them this time.. going too fast.  Through the rock-gardens.  Through the giant culvert pipe under Foresthill Rd.

Suddenly I hear the bouncing shocks of a bike behind me and, just in time, I pull over to see Spiderman, Steve, shoot by and carve through a giant berm I've always been too scared to take.  Quickly realizing I've got to stay close to him to have a chance of winning, I step it up and take the berm. Cool!

Culvert Trail: 7:34.  Now, on Mammoth Bar trail, I'm going faster than ever before.  Desperately looking for a glimpse of Spiderman.  Parts of the trail reveal fun new thrills at this speed.  The periodic rises can be used to sail smoothly over the rock parts instead of bouncing around through them.  It's just a really cool trail with lots of potential of going faster the better one gets.

It's going well.  Surely will be a PR for me.  But Spiderman is no where in sight.  Exhausted from the strain of holding onto my bike, I cruise by the confluence where some of the supporters tell me I'm only 30secs back.  With 1 tough climb left, I think I can catch him.

Mammoth Bar Trail: 7:06 (16mph)   But starting Stagecoach, my excitement is diminished slightly by the fatigue that has set in.  Looking up I can see Spiderman and am surprised how fast he's going.  Passing by Glen Carnahan running with his dog, he encourages me but I comment about how fast Spiderman is going and he agrees that he just flew by.

I never give up, though, and 1/2 way up I'm trying my best and still looking for the masked web-slinger.  There are more walkers/hikers out and it's nice to see their smiles when they realize there's a costume parade racing by.  But Spiderman is for real and today he's true to the hero of his character as he wins the climb to the top.  Who has heard of Webman anyway?

Stagecoach Climb: 15:00.  Anyway, I was really happy with my race and finished 30 secs behind in 2nd.  My transition could have been better.  And the last climb.  Just have to train for those things next year.   I love this event.  But now I want to find Robin to know she made it down without crashing in any of the rock-gardens.  Finally I see her and am so happy she made it, with only 1 practice run this year.

Ironically, I was a "man with spiders" and finished 2nd to Spiderman, while Robin was a bumblebee and finished 2nd to another Bumblebee.  Afterwards, we got the kids and all enjoyed a BBQ lunch behind the Victory Velo Bike Shop.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Granite Bay Triathlon (Robin)

September 25, 2011 – Granite Bay, CA
Swim .75m – Bike 13m – Run 5m
1:39:56 (20:06-42:16-37:34)
Ann Downey, Hal Tacker, Jesse Moore, Messersmith Family
I drive down ahead of the family because they have to leave for church as soon as I'm done.  I park a few miles away and bike into the Granite Beach park.  It's the first chilly morning in a long time, requiring me to wear my beanie and warm-ups.  The first person I see as I bike up is Dave Campbell.  Besides being a great competitor, Dave and his wife Francie are regular volunteers for TBF.   It's always great to see them!
I check in and squeeze myself into a bike rack. After chatting with my nice "neighbors", I get body marked and head out for a warm-up.  I'm debating whether or not to wear my FCA jacket to stay warm on the bike.  As I run more, I can tell I'll be just fine without it.  On my way back, I see Troy and the girls arriving.  I give them hugs and then run back to finish getting ready.  I see kids starting a race and I wonder if that's the 1 mile kid's race Anna was supposed to do in a 1/2 hour.  I check in and found out that they changed the time...but didn't post it.  I'm disappointed but I know that God's in control and somehow this will work out.  I find Anna and Troy 5 minutes later and tell them to get started now and go for it.  Anna is not upset but up for the challenge with Daddy by her side.  They take off without knowing the course and it's not marked....I pray that they find their way and have a good time.
Ariel and I go back to transition and finish my final preparations.  We then wait for Anna and Troy at the finish.
(meanwhile.. from Troy: "Anna and I are running along the trails, hoping to eventually see the other kids running.  Anna says she's not going to stop and sure enough runs the whole way.  I ask her where the course goes because she did it last year.  Together we piece it together and the fun we have exploring the route makes the distance go by quicker.  Heading back, Anna is still running and coming out of the trees she shows how much fun she's having by running over some bike jumps.  Now she sees the finish area and, picking up the pace, runs towards Ariel waiting near the finish.  Hand-in-hand, with the announcer cheering, a big smile on her face and pointing up to God (like she practiced at home), Anna finished strong with Ariel.  We never did see the other kids in the race)
  Within 12 minutes we see them coming!  Yeah!  God helped them figure out the course!  Ariel crosses the line with Anna...what a joy to see 2 smiling faces!  I tell Anna good job.  We all pray and then I head out to do a warm-up in the water. 
As I'm getting in I see a familiar face.  It's Jesse Moore, a UCD running teammate and co-coach from Davis High.  It's been a long time but he looks the same.  I find out that he's a bike racer now and a coach.  Cool!  It's his first triathlon today so I tell him to enjoy. 
As I warm-up, I think how funny it is that I dread swimming the pool because it's often cold but I love getting in the water to race.  God has been so generous in giving me some great swims this year despite my once a week visits to the pool.  He's also blessed me with some great coaches (Chris Breitbart and Tracy  Battistessa) who have been great help in refining my strokes.
At the starting line, I line up next to 11-year old Katelyn Messersmith.  It's a family affair at these races.  Her brother, Ryan, and dad, Martin, are already out there and her mom, Karen, is in the wave behind.  Katelyn has a great attitude and is very smiley.  I know she's going to have fun out there.  Race director, Mark, tells the group that there are 2 girls today that will be battling it out and will be way ahead.  I hope to at least keep those girls in close range. 
Ready, set, go!  I see a few girls going out front so I push hard to get on their feet.  Other girls come around me and soon I'm sandwiched in between.  I panic for a moment as they are almost right on top of me.  Help me Lord stay calm!  I push hard and pull out ahead.  Soon I notice that these girls have drifted off to the right...phew!  The water is choppy so sighting is hard.  I mostly keep my head down and try quick glances to avoid swallowing water.  I round the first buoy, which was farther out than expected, and have no idea if others are's too hard to look for the blue caps. 
At the last buoy, I get too close and it bonks me in the face.  That woke me up!  I can see the finish and put my head down and focus on pulling the water.  As I breathe left and right, I glance 110925_granitebaytri_robin_swimto see if there are any blue caps...I don't think I see any.  I can see the bottom getting closer to me and I'm sure I can even stand up now.  I keep going until my hands touch the bottom and I jump up and run ashore.  I'm able to whip my wetsuit off...yeah!  As I run up the beach I hear Mark say "second woman".  Alright!  I run up the beach and there's Troy and the girls.  "You're the first woman" Troy says. I tell him "actually the 2nd woman"... just to set the record straight(=
I jump on my bike and head out for 2 loops.  I see Dave and his son-in-law, Steven at the "hot corner" directing bikers.  Dave cheers as I go by.  I get aero for the first flat stretch.  Then I start hitting the undulations and tight turns.  Troy tilted my seat up a bit and I'm feeling more comfortable.  The first loop is going well and is uneventful.  Riding into the backside of the course, I make note of the first girl as she's riding out.  She looks strong but I'll see if I can close the gap.  I look down at the 20.6mph average on my Garmin and make another goal to hitting 21mph average on the next loop. 
I roll back to the hot corner and Dave cheers and Steven jokingly boos me...that's a first(=  Halfway out on the course I see a guy walking back with his bike.  It's too dangerous to stop here to help.  I decide to look for him on the way back but pray someone else will help him. As I make a turn to go to the far backside of the course, I see a girl turning left instead of right out of that back section.  Whoa, she just cut the course!  I soon see the top girl at about the same point so that means I'm not loosing much time, if any, to her!
110925_granitebaytri_robin_bikeMy average continues to hover around 20.6mph so I push harder to get it up.  Then I hear something fall off my bike.  I look back and there's my bike bag with my tire repair stuff on the ground.  Bummer.  I make a turn for a short out and back and wonder what to do.  If I leave it till later, I might never see it again...a problem.  Also, someone could easily hit it and possibly crash...bigger problem!  I decide to go get it.  Once out of the short out and back I hang a left instead of going straight.  I pull over, wait for others to pass, and then grab it.  But now I find myself at the same spot where that girl cut the course.  If I continue left, others will think I'm cutting the course.  So I go right, instead, and ride the short out and back section again so that there will be no debate over me cutting the course. 
That added a good 2 minutes to my time!  My average is down 2 mph and the lead girl is farther away now.  I trust that God has a plan and I remember the guy walking his bike.  Well now I have easy access to my bike bag.  I don't see the guy but I run into a girl walking her bike.  "Do you need anything?", I ask.  "A tube", she says.  Well, that I can do!  I stop and pull it out for her in a snap.  As I bike away, I realize I didn't even ask if she knows how to change her tire.  I look back and ask her if she can do it herself and she says yes.  Alright, I feel better to continue.
I push hard down the last stretch.  Dave cheers and Steven boos as I come in...ha, ha, what a moment!  I make a decent transition and run out.  I'm struggling to get on my running Garmin and hat.  I put off figuring it out as Anna joins me for a bit and gives me a high five.  Troy and Ariel are cheering in the background.  This is awesome!  I love my support crew!
Once I get my gear settled, I focus on a girl ahead.  I work my way up to her and tell her good job.  I pass her but she hangs on behind me.  Maybe I'll have some company...which is a good motivation to push it! 
Mile 1 is 7:01.  That's great but it sure hurt to get that.  I doubt I can hold this pace especially as it gets hillier...I'll try!  Though this course is brutal, it sure is beautiful.  I love being along the lake!
110925_granitebaytri_robin_runMile 2 is 7:29.  Again, that hurts and I haven't got to the sandy beach yet!  I see a group of guys ahead on this narrow trail and I catch up to them right when they hit the sandy stretch.  I now have room to pass but it's really difficult to move.  I slowly make my way by them..."good job!".  Once back on the road along the lake, I see runners coming back.  Oh yeah, this is the long out and back part...ugh!  Well, at least I can see the competition and it's not too hilly.  I see the first girl coming back and I tell her good job.  She looks strong and it looks like she's well ahead.  I'll keep pushing because you never know!  I make the turn around and head back to the big hill on the course.
Mile 3 is 7:10.  Painful, but good!  I continue to push hard because I know the hill is going to slow me way down.  Here we go!  Light feet, look into the hill, use your arms!  It's still hard but doesn't seem as long as years past.  Up and over...down!  This is a steep and slippery downhill!  I wish I was my friend Courtney who can easily run down this!  Instead I slow way down and try to go down sideways...pointing my toes down like Troy always says.  I slip...Jesus, please keep me in one piece!  Thankfully I make it to the bottom!  Ahhh, flat ground! 
Mile 4 is 8:22.  Okay this is the last mile!  Think Tuesday track!  I just ran a 6 minute mile with the help of my friend Jim Kepfer this week so I've got to push hard!  I try to ignore the discomfort and focus on navigating the narrow trails on the way back. 
Mile 5 is 6:41!  Thank you Jesus!  That's great!  Now it's time to finish!   I see Anna and grab her hand.  We run across and hug. Ahhh!  That was great!  I see Troy waiting in the car....time for church!  I run Anna over there and say goodbye and tell them I love them.  What a day!

Name Age Group Place Run Bike Run Time
Ann Downey W40-49 1 14:29 43:04 40:46 1:38:19
Hal Tacker M50-59 1 14:18 42:17 41:58 1:38:33
Name Age Group Place Swim Bike Run Time
Ryan Messersmith M14 & U 1 18:25 40:38 39:07 1:38:10
Jesse Moore M35-39 25:21 36:36 36:50 1:38:48
Robin Soares W35-39 1 20:06 42:16 37:34 1:39:56
Martin Messersmith M45-49 21:28 41:09 39:11 1:41:48
Karen Messersmith W35-39 23:40 52:41 47:56 2:04:17
Katelyn Messersmith 14 & U 31:12 1:04:41 58:44 2:34:37

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Folsom Cyclebration (Robin)

September 17 & 18, 2011 -
Folsom, CA
11m Time Trial; 40min Circuit Race
12th in series
(8th in TT; 13th in Circuit)
Time Trial
I'm looking forward to seeing what my body can do today in the TT (time trial), especially considering that my tri bike is covered in a layer of dust.  I've been cycling but not focused much on the tri-type events...and this is as close as you can get to a triathlon in cycling.  I'm so thankful and grateful that my good friend Courtney is here to watch Ariel.  Anna and Troy are at a work reunion party in San Jose so it's just me and my baby.  Courtney's husband, Lance, is going for the top 3 in the Omnium (3 stage race: Criterium, Time Trial, and Circuit Race).  I hope he gets it!  This weekend, due to Troy's reunion and my avoiding the criterium, we are each competing in 2 of the 3 events.  We'll still get an overall score, but will be at a disadvantage.  My ultimate goal is to keep close to the Lord and give Him the glory no matter what.. good or bad.
I run into Victory Velo teammate Todd Allington and he warns me about a fence, after the turn-around, that sticks out onto the bike path we'll be riding on.  I note it but don't think much of it because, much to my disadvantage, I look up a lot on the tri bike and never get too focused on the ground.  I ride over to the start.  It's just a little tent on a virtually abandoned bike path.  We line up and get ready.  I'm the last in my Womens 4 group.  We leave on 30 sec intervals.  There are all kinds of fancy disk wheels, skin suits and aero helmets.  I'm just glad to have aerobars!
As someone holds my bike, I clip in and get into cool!  Ready, set, go!  I take off and get into my aero bars.  Within a few miles, I can tell that 30 seconds is actually a lot of 110918_cyclebration_tt_robintime.  I don't make much progress in catching the girls ahead but I keep trying.  I see that fence that Todd was talking about.  It's much closer to the finish than I thought.  I'm averaging around 23mph.  It's a hard pace to hold but I'm hoping to keep it up and also hoping that I'll have a tail wind on the way back to help.  This path is mostly flat with some small rollers.  They're enough to get you out of rhythm and tired.  I notice that I keep having to slide back in my seat.  I'll have to have my "mechanic" fix that later.110918_cyclebration_tt_robin2
As I approach the turn around, I can tell that I've made some progress on catching a few girls ahead.  I make the sharp turn with my left foot clipped out to stay balanced.  Not a good idea because my foot slips when trying to put it back in.  It takes a few more seconds to get positioned and clipped in.  Well, next year I'll work out the kinks(=  I see the next wave of women coming out.  I just need to keep ahead of them...another thing to keep me motivated.
I discover that there is no head wind and my 23mph average is dwindling.  I keep pressing on and close the gap.  Around mile 8, I pass one of the girls ahead of me.  I tell her good job.  She doesn't have aerobars which makes this tougher for her.  We go up and over an overpass and I see a rider down...right in front of that fence Todd was talking about.  Oh no, she hit it!  As I coast by I can see that she's unconscious and there's blood on her head.  I want to stop and help and pray with her but I can see there are volunteers with her already and I'll just be in the way.  Reluctantly, I continue on.  "Lord, please help her!"  Things like that put things in perspective.  The results don't matter especially when someone is in need.  It's really hard to continue but I try to anyway.  I continue to pray for her all the way to the end.
I cross the finish line and it's bittersweet.  I'm glad to be done but I'm concerned for her.  I ride over to the guys in Lance's group waiting to go next and warn them about the fence.  I should have mentioned it when I started my race but I hope that it can be avoided by others.
Thank you Lord for your protection!  Please keep that woman from harm and heal her quickly. 
Circuit Race
2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 004This is as close as I'll ever get  to a criterium!  This is a 2.4mile continuous loop that we'll be doing for 40 minutes.  It's a great course with a little bit of everything.  I'm hoping that the corners will go well today!  I'm still a bit nervous with the close riding.  I'm thankful for all the experience with the fast-paced Coffee Republic ride (that I get dropped on) and the Victory Velo Tuesday morning rides.  Ultimately, I need to keep my focus on the Lord so that He can help keep me sharp out there and a good example.
We roll out and quickly we are up to 20mph.  I'm hanging back trying to get a feel for the group.  It's not a good idea because I start falling off the draft and having to push hard to get back in.  I make an effort to put myself in the pack.  I see Troy and the girls as we head back in from the first loop.  He's not giving me any special instructions yet so I'll keep doing what I'm doing.
The group keeps pushing but I don't feel like there is a sense of urgency on their part.  I'm hovering in the middle of the pack just waiting to see what they will do.  I'm not sure if I want to even try to lead it.  This is a Women's 4 and a 35+ race.  This means I might be up against some ex-pros so I don't want to overdo it. 
We're coming up on 3 laps to go and I find myself leading out front on the backside of the loop.  I keep the pace steady and try not to create a stir by trying to take off...even though they might not follow anyway.  Eventually I'm eaten up by the pack. 
As I see Troy I motion that there are 2 laps left. I can feel the tempo picking up and the few teams here getting ready to make a move.  I plot my move for the last lap and decide that on the only uphill on the backside of the course would be a good place to push.  110918_cyclebration_circuit_robin
I see Troy and the girls one last time and I hear him say to put myself in the top 5.  Okay, this could be tough but I'll give it a try.  On the hill I push and get ahead with another girl.  Going into the turn, I don't feel comfortable and brake a little...a bad thing to do!  I make it but it gives me little confidence for the next big turn.  I'm in the top 5 rounding the corner and I slow again slightly and find that the girls ahead are turning really wide which pushes me closer to the barrier.  I hear a "watch it" as we keep swinging farther.  Right behind me I hear a bang followed by 2 more bangs.  Oh no!  That did not sound good!  I look back and see 3 girls on the ground.  Did I cause that?  I wasn't' sure so I hesitate and wonder if I should stop and help.  I see that there are 3 volunteers on them so I decide to continue.  Please Lord, help them!  I pray that they are not seriously hurt.  By now, I'm out of the draft and pushing with all I have to catch up.  I cannot close the gap but I know I've got to keep pushing regardless.
On the last turn I'm trailing but I push and actually pass another girl who spent herself getting her team up front.  I cross the line and feel relieved to be done but terrible for the girls that crashed.  The whole group goes around again on a cool down and by the time we reach the crash site, it's all cleaned up...that's good because that means there were no serious injuries.  Thank you Jesus!  What a relief! I hear the girls talking and they felt those girls crashed because the front pack swung wide which flung the rest of us off towards the barrier.  Still, I know that I need to work on not braking into the turns.  Thanks Jesus for keep me upright!  Phew!


Folsom Cyclebration - Criterium & Circuit Race

September 17 & 18, 2011 -
Folsom, CA
Criterium, Cat 5 (40min) & Circuit Race, 35+ 4&5's (45min)
Crit - 15th, Circuit Race - 14th
(32nd in Cat 5 series & 28th in Cat 35+ 4&5's)
I arrive with plenty of time to warm-up, check out the course and be ready.  The only other crit I've done is the hilly, technical Auburn Criterium.  I've always had some concern for flat & fast crit courses.  Today's is a .6mi flat loop with gradual corners.
I'm glad my friend, Vince Hoffart, is here as he's always helpful in knowing what to prepare for.  He also fills me in on his tire failure in the last race we did together.  I know he's a good sprinter so his strategy today will be to focus on the last 2 laps.  For me, not having a powerful sprint, I think I will just try to keep the pace up so the group at least goes into the sprint spread out, giving me more of a chance.
Most racers warm up on wind trainers near their car.  I still prefer the old-fashioned way of riding 2011-09-18 001 2011-09-17 001around the neighborhood.  I head down Folsom Blvd, cut onto the American River Bike Trail and am enjoying the beautiful trail… while avoiding the many runners and bikers.  Before I know it I've gone too far and don't know where I am.  I go off-roading down a trail and pop back out on the main street and get back in time for the race.. with my heart beating a little faster.
Robin, Anna and Ariel are here now.. they're the best supporters!  They pray with me, take my extra gear and cheer to the start line.  Michael O'Rourke gives us pointers on how not to cause crashes (Cat 5's are the "beginners".. we need pointers).  And then we're off!
First I try to get comfortable with the group and the2011-09-18 001 2011-09-17 014 turns and changing positions.  All while trying to stay well in the draft to save energy.  Each time around I hear Anna, yelling the loudest, "Move up, Dad, you can do it!"  Even though the goal is usually to remain in the middle until the last laps, I'm going to have to do something impressive in front of her for all that cheering she's doing.
The first thing I try is pulling ahead in the 90 degree corner.  My strong point is corners and descending, but it's not going to help much today.  2011-09-18 001 2011-09-17 015I do get well ahead in the corner, hoping to tire the group by catching back up, but it's just too much work for the effect it has so I don't focus much on that plan.  Instead I try to stay near the front.   Chasing everyone moving up and sometimes pulling but only shortly.
I make sure to come through the finish in the lead sometimes which gets Anna all excited, although the pack knows that it doesn't mean I'm any closer to winning.  On the next lap I come through in 2nd place and Anna yells, "Get back up there Dad, you can do it!"   It makes me smile every time.  Bike racing is confusing enough for me, let alone a 6-yr old.  I can hear Ariel and Robin cheering for me as well but Anna's yelling 2011-09-18 001 2011-09-17 010instructions like she's got money on this race.
With 2 laps to go, Vince finally moves up near the front and the pace picks up.  I definitely want to be near the front as well.  I make a daring move across some bikes to get to a prime position.  I was clear of their front wheels but it wasn't a smart move and they let me know, "Hey!"  (Afterwards I apologized to the group.  Don't want to set bad examples).
So we're winding up with 300m to go in a sweeping left turn.  I expected the sprint to start at 200m but it began 50m earlier and caught me a little off guard.  But I dug deep, staying in the saddle at first (I can't sprint 250m) while about 10 guys went by me.  At about 150m I gave it my all and did pass a few guys burning out near the line.
Wow, that hurt a lot but it's a really cool rush flying across the finish line at over 30mph and costing with the whole group for the next 200m and continuing the cool down.  I was satisfied with my finish of 15th out of 31.  I thanked the Lord for keeping us safe.  Someone crashed near the finish last year and broke a collar bone.  Nothing is ever for sure.  I'm so glad the Lord is in charge… I just have to keep it that way.
2011-09-18 001 2011-09-17 0232011-09-18 001 2011-09-17 025
In order to get to church, I had to change my category to 35+ Cat 4/5 and race the 5:30pm event.  This turned out to be awesome because it meant I got to ride with Lance, Todd, and Kevin.  And also other teammates, Robin and Ron.  But Lance, Todd, Kevin and I have ridden a lot together and I've watched them improve so much, moving to Cat 4, winning races and setting high standards.  All with humble and appreciative attitudes.  So now I get to ride with them and they've included me in their sprint strategy… I'm to lead out after the round-about with .8mi to go, with Kevin taking over at the bridge, then Lance going at the final 300m corner and Todd hopefully taking the sprint.  This is perfect!  I knew I had no chance in the sprint so just wanted to be a help somehow.  Now I'm nervous, figuring out how I can get clear in that turn #6.
Robin, 2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 010Anna, and Ariel are here again, and strategically stationed at the round-about turn where a lot of the action will be.  We start the race and the pace is slow.  It's fine with me because I don't have plans for the final sprint.. mine starts way early.. and hopefully when they don't expect it.  My plan is to hide in the pack until the right moment.
After a few laps, getting the feel for the turns and the riders to avoid, I do a practice run leading out on the Sibley-Blue Ravine turn, through the round-about and around my "key" 2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 016turn into the straight.  It goes well, but as I pull to the left to let the pack come through, I unexpectantly hit my pedal on a curb.  It shocks me but I recover fine.  Then I hear the crash way behind me, on the other side of the road.  I see him go down hard, sliding into the other curb.  I slow as 2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 025my instinct is to go help him, but the support vehicle is already out and by his side and I remember Robin going through the same dilemma this morning, feeling the need to stop, and then having to catch back up.
I work to catch back up.  Feeling terrible that my jostle may have rippled through the peloton.  I talk to a guy who was nearest the crash in order to find out.  His rear 2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 022wheel was actually the downed rider's demise.  That's what happens when you overlap the wheel in front of you and that rider suddenly shifts.  I still felt like I caused the "shift"
After a few more laps and successfully "sitting in", it's 1-to-go and our Victory Velo team is together and near the front.  But Todd is now pulling.  I'm thinking he's supposed to be resting.  I can't leave him out there.  He might burn out 2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 032and hurt the plan.  I'm the sacrificial guy so I better get up there and block some wind for him.  So I do.  But now I'm in front way before my time.  I've known all along that I can't last a mile at the front and sprint, but I don't know what else to do. 
I'm leading the pack on the back stretch, trying to keep the pace high.  Now I'm thinking, "I can do it, I'll lead and then I'll sprint and the plan will work great".  After we cross the railroad tracks and ascend to the turn onto Blue Ravine Rd, the Bicycle Plus team makes their move.  It was the perfect place.  I was already taxed and the slight climb was enough to neutralize me.  It was also a risky move as 4 of them made the pass in the middle of the most dangerous corner.  This is where 3 girls in Robin's race went into the barriers.  Then, right in front of me, I see their lead rider clip an inside pedal, loose control momentarily, hit the barrier, throw his whole team into disarray, and then, somehow, recover and accelerate back into the pack.
Everything was out of control now as every team was taking advantage of the chaos.  Instead of my vision of going into the upcoming round-about in a single, swift line, I was deep in the pack desperately trying to get clear to move up.  Out of the round-about and there's my "key" corner ahead.  But 1/2 my team and 1/2 the pack are ahead of me.  Still, I grunt it out and do my best to move up and sprint but I can't make it happen.  My legs are burning up now.  Kevin has come around.  Todd and Lance are up ahead trying to catch up to the leaders.  I'm just hoping they can get there and sprint to a good finish.
In the last corner I give it all I have for the very long final straight-away.  It looks like everyone is ahead and they're all too far to see if our blue-and-white made it to the front.  I finish, huffing and puffing and re-group with my team.  I'm disappointed that I didn't execute the plan.  I'm concerned for the hurt rider.  And I'm thankful that no one else got hurt.  I was so close to the other team almost crashing, and the chaos afterwards, it's amazing to me we're all ok.
2011-09-18 002 2011-09-18 036Todd is an animal.  He says, "I feel fine, I still have more in the tank" while my legs are quivering.  I guess I could have left him on the front and he still would have sprinting well in the end.  This is the experience I need.  I have a great team that's very appreciative.  And it's a thrill to be in a bike race and come out ok.  I also heard that the rider was knocked out but came to and wasn't badly hurt.  And that his fall appeared unrelated to my commotion.
I learned a lot this weekend.  Bike racing is risky and happens in a split second sometimes.  It's addicting, too, imagining the perfect the plan and wanting to keep trying until it happens.  Only if the Lord wills.  That's what matters.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Davis Labor Day 10K (Robin)

September 5, 2011 - Davis, Ca
4th, W30-39
Hal Tacker,
Kathy Kelly Roggenbuck
It's always good to be back in Davis even if I'm not feeling well rested or stretched!  The girls are really excited to race and we are excited to watch!  Poor Troy is on crutches today because he sprained his ankle on the trails jumping over some rocks and brush yesterday.  He is still joyful and smiling and I know that it's because he's focused on Christ...and trusting His plan.  It's a good reminder for me that's it's all about Him out there today.  Our buddy Hal Tacker is here doing the 5K.  He injured his plantar fascia this year and had to miss out on a lot of run races.  Today he's back and curious what he can do with minimal run training. We all pray together before the race. 
I run into an old college teammate, Kathy Kelly now Kathy Roggenbuck.  It's great to see her!  She moved back here 10 years ago and is raising her family.  She's now back to teaching after staying home with her kiddos.  I'm reminded that it was Kathy that introduced me to Rancho San Antonio back in the Bay Area.  What an awesome park!  I miss it!  I also run into the coach at Davis High, Bill Gregg.  It's always great to see his smile and enthusiasm!
All the racers line up (5K and 10K).  Before we start, there is a small ceremony honoring some Japanese visitors, a yearly event.  I see their sign reminding us of the devastating earthquake and I am humbled.  I've been complaining lately about being behind on tasks at least I have a home and a healthy really puts things in perspective!
My goal today is to run under 43 minutes (under 7 min pace).  I spent the last few days painting in our garage and I didn't make it out yesterday for my usual 1 mile pre-race run.  We'll see what happens!  Ready, set, go!  It's a narrow start with speed bumps and a wooden ramp to get up onto the bike path.  I breathe a sigh of relief as I make it through.
I feel nice and comfortable at 6:54 pace and I hope I won't be suffering later on. I've got Troy's 110905_davislaborday_robinGarmin on this time as mine ran out of battery...oops!  As I pass some of the Japanese visitors, I cheer them on.  I see Beth Bourne up ahead directing the 10Kers and 5Kers in 2 different directions.  "Hey Beth!"  She cheers me on, encourages all the runners as they go by and directs them at the same go girl!
Mile 1 is 6:54, I think.   I'm getting used to the settings on Troy's watch.  I set the mile alert thinking it would give me splits but it's just an alarm. 
I still feel good and focus on pace and not on passing runners yet.This race benefits several local high school cross country programs including Davis High which I coached back in college.  The kids from these teams are out in full force at every possible corner, turn, intersection, you name it!  They are also cheering with such great enthusiasm which reminds me to smile.  I once told my top runner at DHS that she was smiling too much in the race and not focusing enough.  In retrospect, now as a racer for Christ, I've learned you can be a tough competitor with a joyful and humble heart.  As the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Competitor's Creed says...
I am made to strive, to strain, to stretch
and to succeed in the arena of competition.
I am a Christian Competitor
I face my challenger and as such, with the face of Christ.
I do not trust in myself.
I do not boast in my abilities or believe in my own strength.
I rely solely on the power of God.
I compete for the pleasure of my Heavenly Father,
the honor of Christ and the reputation of the Holy Spirit.
110905_davislaborday_robin2"To compete for the pleasure of my Heavenly Father" was something that the late Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) used to say and he smiled, smile on!
Mile 2 is 6:53.  Wow, still feeling good!  In just a few miles I'll try to push the pace.  It's nice and flat out here.  Coming from hilly Auburn, it makes my legs feel light and fast. 
Mile 3 is 6:54.  As I look ahead now to see if there are some women to pass, I see one not too far ahead.  I feel fatigued more so I take a Espresso Hammer Gel for a kick.
Mile 4 is 6:53.  I'm ready to pass the girl and I'm tempted to sneak by quietly and quickly to make the pass last.  I feel it's not the Lord's will so I make it a point to encourage her even knowing she could go with me.  The pass does stick and it feels good that I did  it a better way.
I can see a few girls way ahead.  Chances are I won't catch them but I press on anyway as if I can. 
Mile 5 is 6:45.  Alright!  Now, I remember Troy telling me that the last mile is the time to pretend 110905_davislaborday_robin_finishI'm on the track back in Auburn on Tuesday nights.  I try to run with good form and fast.  The last mile always seems so much longer in my mind, funny how that works!  It hurts but I still put
on my smile. Those girls are closer but still far.  Keep pushing!
Mile 6 is 6:38.  Go!  Last lap on the track Robin!  As I round the last corner, I see Troy and the girls.  Anna is ready to run in with me.  I grab her hand and we sprint to the end.  Yes, thank You Jesus!  I'm so wiped out but I still give Anna a hug and thank her for finishing with me.  What a good day!  Now it's time for the girls to go!
Go Hal and Kathy!
Name Race Age Group Place Time
Hal Tacker 5K M50-59 3 20:42
Robin 10K W30-39 4 42:36
Kathy Roggenbuck 10K W30-39 10 54:13