Sunday, May 22, 2011

Auburn Triathlon World's Toughest (Troy)

May 22, 2011 – Auburn, CA
Swim 1.2m – Bike 56m – Run 13.1m
5:27:56 (40:46-4:48-3:05:40-1:02-1:35:38)
Diana Hassel, Rochelle Zolna
The day before, I practiced riding the first 6 mi up from the swim start.  Last year this is where I got very chilled and had to stop at my house for warm clothes.  This time around I was trying out a new seat position and was comfortably dressed.  I did it under 25min.
The race is starting at 6:15.  Strange weather this year again threatening a cold spell but it's looking to be a good day, although the water is about 60 deg due to the heavy snowfalls.  It's nice to be able to ride from our house to the start for a warm-up.  I stretch, get prepared, see friends like Dave Campbell, Rochelle Zolna and Lindsay who I met at the FCA Endurance Iron Prayer held yesterday at registration.  Walking to the swim start I see Robin arriving.  She had to stay behind to wait for the baby sitter and to make sure little Ariel's fever had gone down.  Everything is looking good.  Her sprint race starts after mine.
I'm wearing a rash guard and a neoprene thermal cap.  I warm up in the water before the start, but then the start is delayed 10min.  I start to shiver while talked with Lindsay.  She's doing her first big triathlon and is all smiles, despite probably being the only athlete not using a wetsuit.  That's tough.
Go!  This time I start at the front of about 100 swimmers.  It's often hard to find the course here with fog and the sunrise, but today there is a stand-up surf paddler leading the group and no fog or sun to blind us.  The paddler makes it so easy to swim straight.  I just wish I was faster because at the first buoy the paddler is now too far ahead to guide me.  I'm already getting cold, sighting to the 2nd buoy is difficult, and the neoprene cap chin strap is making breathing difficult.  I'm starting to lose ground.  Being uncomfortable hampers my swimming. 
Around the 2nd buoy and it's a long stretch back to the start for loop #2.  I can tell this swim course is going to be long.  I feel like there's no way I can make a 2nd loop.  But I focus on 1 buoy at a time.
I round the start buoys and look at my watch underwater.. 22min.  So much for the 34min swim goal.  On shore, Robin sees me make the turn.  Just moments earlier, she watched as the first wave of the sprint triathlon was sent off directly into the path of the long course swimmers turning for their 2nd loop.  There were a lot of near-miss head-on collisions.
110522_auburntri_lc_troy_swimEven though I felt like I couldn't do a 2nd loop, now that I'm on the 2nd loop, I'm pushing on and doing fine.   Don't like being cold and struggling against the chin strap but I believe God helps me press on.  I round the final buoy and make the long push for the finish ramp.
This time I run all the way to transition with my wetsuit.  At Wildflower I was so winded after the swim I had no energy to kick off my suit and got tangled.  I try to catch my breath while jogging.  Then focus on getting it off at my bike.  I put on my special FCA Endurance cold-weather bike jacket, socks and my aero helmet which adds warmth over traditional helmets.  I'm not going to freeze-out this year.
I take off on the bike with a goal of climbing well; thinking about my front wheel pulling my legs up and over the pedal stroke like on a Spinerval bike.  I'm wearing the MyAthlete tracking unit so that Robin and others can see my progress (Robin will be done with her race at 9:30).  It helps as a motivator to ride and run well, knowing others are watching.
110522_auburntri_lc_troy_bike2I quickly notice 2 problems I have. 1.  I forgot again to change my cassette to larger cogs.  At wildflower I had to suffer up the hills in my "flat course" 21 tooth big cog and now I'm going to have to do it again.  Oh well, it'll only make me stronger.  2.  I'm so winded after the swim that it takes 7 miles before I can get my heart rate down.  I need to swim train more or I'm just getting older.  It's difficult to negotiate biking when your heart is pounding and your head's in a fog.  At 6 mi I'm at 26min, close to yesterday's time and enjoying the flat section of Auburn-Folsom Rd which replaces the extra climb of Maidu.  Every year the Auburn Triathlon course changes a little.
We race by the finish line at Railhead Park and begin the climb to Colfax.  The steep hills are tough.  I'm not feeling comfortable on the seat.  My hamstrings are getting sore.  At 12mi I stop and quickly (only 30sec) adjust my seat back down 1/2".  Yesterday I raised it which was a mistake.  Sure enough, I'm feeling better already.
The weather is great. No wind, a chill in the air, lots of sun.  At 25mi, my jacket has done it's job and now I strip it off, tie it around my waste, losing no time, and feel invigorated with warm muscles pushing through the cool air.
Finally I'm at the top of the Bear River loop.  Only 5 guys have already headed back so I'm hoping I'm in the top 20.  Surprisingly I take a wrong turn (to the left) before remembering which way we do the loop.  I fly down to the river, passing 2 guys in the process and paying note to the boulders at the bottom where I saw a guy crash the year before.
Climbing out of Bear River, up Plumb Rd, I really focus on keeping the pressure on the pedals.  I have to stand often but minimize it as much as possible.  I continue to encourage others.  God is giving me energy today after a late night and busy day.  Thank you, Jesus.
So glad to get to the top.  I see a volunteer I think I know from the track.  Flying down now, I'm thinking about the out-and-back at mile 45.  I'm going to be efficient and maintain a good average.  I'm trying to get a 3:10 bike split and need an average of 17.5.  At the top it was only 16 and now it's closer to 17.  Gotta keep it.
Great out-n-back!  Only 1 tough hill (the Lemond hill) left.  I get over it and move into 16th place in the process.  Coming through town I see the volunteers again.  Still enthusiastic!  The race is well staffed.  Surprisingly I see I'm going to break 3:10.  But also see that the course is a mile short this year.
110522_auburntri_lc_troy_t2Coming into transition I see Michael Cook cheering and taking pictures (he took many great pictures of Robin & I today).  He tells me, "100% on the run, you can do it!"  Yes, this is the main event.  I've set my sights on really taking the run fast.  Robin had a great time of 1:35 (actually discovered later 1:41) two years ago as a relay and I hope to match it.  That would be 7:15 pace which is my goal for my marathon in 2 weeks.  The marathon is the key event this season so I need a good effort today to help my Boston qualifying effort.
110522_auburntri_lc_troy_run3I think the run course is a little easier this year.  First it's along the NID ditch, then drop down to Maidu, run by the aid station put on by our church, eLevation, and then onto the sloping dam roads which I love running so much.  I pass a couple more guys and believe I've moved up to 14th place.
I love the long gradual descent.  It's the steep down sections that bother me.  Ever since screaming down Lynch Hill at Wildflower and then stepping into a hole on a training run, my right foot has been tender and sensitive to downhill and uneven trails.  At the intersection of China Bar Rd and the dam rd. we do a small trail loop called Stu's Trail.  I really focus on the footing and just hope I don't hurt my foot.
Back on the wide road I try to push the long climb.  What I lose in not screaming down hills anymore, I have to make up in going up.. which doesn't hurt my foot.  While climbing I see Taylor, a kid who I met before the Iron Prayer yesterday.  We encourage each other and even pray for each other's race.  The Lord has really created a lot of memorable and encouraging encounters during our racing with FCA Endurance.
I'm watching my pace drop down from 7:15 to 7:17 and start to think the goal is unreachable.  At the top, I look again and now it says 7:14.  Ha!  You never know what's going to happen.  Garmins aren't always accurate.  Finishing lap 1, we run around Railhead Park where everyone is cheering and the sprint racers are finishing and then head out for loop 2 of 3.  It's a great venue by looping through the spectator area.
110522_auburntri_lc_troy_runOk, loop 2, I have to push now to keep this pace.  I watch my footing along the ditch and head down to the aid station.  There's Robin, Anna and Ariel and many friends and kids from the church!  All cheering for me.  I ask, "How's Ariel" and Robin says with a smile, "She's good" and I see Ariel smiling.  Thank you, Lord.  It's invigorating to know she's feeling better after the high fever last night.  Anna gives me a terrific high-five, I grab Cytomax and water and take off down my favorite part.
I see our neighbor Tim Twietmeyer running and checking out the race.  "Hey, Tim, you want to take over for me?"  He laughs and says he wouldn't go that fast but he's fast at everything he does.  It's just great having many friends out here to cheer for us.  I see Rochelle and Diana doing great in the women's field.
I finish loop #2 a little off pace and realize it's going to take a huge effort to get it back.  It's exciting to start my last lap knowing this is it.  It's been hard but it's going great.  I feel better then at Wildflower.  But the pace is wearing on me on the way down. I remind myself that anything can happen.  And that things can get exciting at any moment.  I think, "what if when I finish Stu's Trail I suddenly see 3 guys in my age group?  It could happen".  And then, sure enough, while on the loop I see a group of guys up ahead. I get on the main road and go!  One by one I pass them, getting motivated with each pass.  Indeed a couple of them were in my age group.  I grab "coke" at the last age station and then do my best for the final climb.  My achilles is a little sore so I have to be careful with the effort.  A 1/2 mi from the finish and I pass another guy.
110522_auburntri_lc_troy_finish1I'm so glad to almost be done!  Onto the soccer field, around the corner and there's the finish.  Thank you, Lord!  I hear the announcer, Brad Kearns, say, "And there's Troy Soares… hey, I didn't know he was that fast.  Last year Troy made history by being the only athlete to stop by his house during the bike leg and get extra clothes.  As long as he entered the course where he left it, it's allowed"
It was a great day.  I was comfortable on the bike and did get my 1:35 goal on the run (it may have been a little short).  I was 12th overall and 3rd in my age.  The next few hours were great as I helped at the 1st aid station with my church and got to cheer on others we met at Iron Prayer like Rich, Lindsay and Jody.  Jody persevered to be the last finisher, doing it even without run support towards the end.  It was a rewarding experience for her and the others and for me and Robin.  Thanks, Lord, for the blessing.
Go Diana!
Go Rochelle!
Name Age Group Place Swim Bike Run Time
Troy M40-44 3 40:46 3:05:40 1:35:38 5:27:56
Diana Hassel F40-44 1 38:57 3:13:24 1:50:54 5:47:30
Rochelle Zolna F45-49 2 40:47 3:32:38 1:52:01 6:12:14