Sunday, July 31, 2011

California International Triathlon (Troy)

July 31, 2011 – Treasure Island, CA
Swim 1.5km – Bike 40km – Run 10km
2:19:08 (26:23 - 01:10 - 1:09:11 - 1:02 - 41:22)
CJ Halsey, Carrie & Steve Chavez, David Slothower, Jody Galvin
This is an inaugural event at a well-known triathlon site, the Shadow Cliffs Park in Pleasanton.  In the 90's I did many Tri-4-Fun sprint triathlons at this park and always enjoyed the clean lake, the rural roads and the trail running.  Now I get to do it in an Olympic Distance version and I can't wait!  Robin & the girls & I go down the day before, register, check in at the hotel and play in the pool.  Robin cooks a great dinner in our hotel room.
Race day, I ride to the park in the dark for my warm-up.  It's Sunday, the Lord's day, and I'll be missing the great sermon from Eric Van Patten at our church.  It's also the kidney transplant anniversary & I've been racing well ever since.
I've been working on my seat position and still making adjustments.  At the last race on Treasure Island, my position wasn't right and all I did was look forward to the run.  This time I go back more to my traditional position with the raised front and I think it's going to work.  The 7mi warm-up is good.  It's a warm morning.  The temperature is perfect.
My goal is to make the bike more enjoyable by 1) being comfortable on the seat and 2) not coming out of the swim dizzy with exhaustion.  So I plan to be more relaxed in the swim.  Even if I have to give up a couple minutes, I'll surely make up 3 min with a better bike.  My other goal, as always, is to be a servant for Christ.. ready to share His love in some way.
I bump into Nick, the announcer; our good friends, Dave & Francie Campbell, volunteering; Team Chavez (Carrie & Steve) and their daughter, Madison, who is volunteering body-marking and finisher medals; and Jody and Lindsey, friends we met at the Auburn Triathlon Iron Prayer.  Race director, Ryan Coelho, is busy at work.  I got to pray with him yesterday and am hoping the Lord blesses him with a smooth, safe event.  He's really trying hard to do a good job while balancing the trials of life the same way we all struggle to.
Robin & the girls arrive and we all meet at the FCA Endurance pre-race prayer on the beach.  About 10 of us gather to pray for each other and the race.  Now it's into the water.  It's nice, about 74 I think.  I do a gentle warm-up and position myself at the line in the 2nd wave.
110731_ca_int_tri_troy_swimGo!  The course is an easy triangle to navigate and the water is great.  There's some bumping for a while, then I get a good draft, but after the 1st buoy I'm mostly on my own.  I using longer strokes, calmer breathing, and less kicking.  Ah, it is much more enjoyable than cold Pirate's Cove.  I feel like I'm going easier but not really any farther back.  Maybe it's just because of my sensitivity to water temperature, but I am just loving this venue right now!  I make the final turn and it's a long straight shot to the swim exit.  My arms are getting sore but I'm not gasping.. much more controlled and relaxed.  I step up and, to my excitement, kick my wetsuit off with 1 kick each!  Onto the beach I high-five Anna & Ariel and am smiling as I run to transition.  Great swim!  For the first time this year, I skip both the jacket and socks.  It makes for a much faster transition.  I'm off on the bike!
I climb out of the park, get into my shoes and get to work.  I'm determined to go much faster.  20mph at Treasure Island was not right.  I should be at 22 or greater so I'm going to work on that today.  A mile in and a guy already flies by me.  I pick it up and pace him for a while.  I'm looking forward to this course as it traverses Hwy 84 to Calaveras Rd / Hwy 680 which is a great route.  Looking down it's strange to see my bare arms.. no jacket.. and perfectly comfortable.
We fly down a corkscrew ramp to the Blvd. below.  Then a left down a dead-end road behind the Livermore Airport which is kind of cool.  We loop through a business area and navigate a couple U-turns.  The streets are nice and empty.  Just flying along with no cars to worry about.  At the turn-arounds I see Steve Chavez behind me.  Wow, a 4min head-start and he's already catching me.  Then a 2nd guy flies by me.  I pick it up again.
Back onto the blvd at mile 8, I check my time.  I don't have my Garmin speedometer but that's ok.. today is about "less is more".  I calculate roughly that I've already made up a couple minutes on my Treasure Island performance.  Great.  Now it's onto 84 and the significant climb.  I'm looking forward to it.  I work hard and pass a few people.  I'm determined not to let anyone else pass me.  I'm surprised that the winding road Robin and I once toured is now a new freeway!  At least it has a nice shoulder.
Whew!  Over the top and flying down to the town of Sunol.  I see a guy far ahead and watch the time to see how much I'm gaining on him.  Little by little I finally pass him right before the turn onto Foothill Rd heading towards Pleasanton.  This brings back great memories when I used to ride from Milpitas to Walnut Creek to visit my Grandmother.  It's a great road.  And another guy goes flying by!  I try to keep up.  That's ok, just have to push for one more hill and then we're done.
110731_ca_int_tri_troy_bikeThe time is looking good.  Up the Bernal Rd hill.  It's tough but I'm excited about my performance and pretty sure I've accomplished what I set out to do.  Flying down through the neighborhood we turn onto Stanley and see the water slide park of Shadow Cliffs.  I push all the way to the entrance and then quickly pull my feet out and stretch my calves momentarily.  I was sure to drink all my Heed.  Francie Campbell is calling the "Dismount!" and it goes smoothly.  I transition well, again going without socks.
The run feels harder than at Treasure Island.  The bike effort is noticeable.  But my biggest concern is focusing on God, not discomfort, pace or position.  With His help I have the best chance of running like the wind.  Ah, the familiar rocky paths.  But many more people.. that's because the Sprint Distance race has also hit the trails at the same time.
A guy goes by me and I pick it up a bit.  I know it seems impossible now but I can catch him later if I keep up hope.  The cool thing is that my rt calf which has been acting up in previous races is great now!  And my left Achilles which was sore last week is also great!  We hit a long stretch along a back road where the Sprint athletes are also riding by on the bike.  I can see the guy with orange shoes ahead.  I'm encouraging the other runners I pass and some of the bikes going the other way.  Then I happily see my friend, Dave Slothour, ahead.  He's doing the sprint.  I tell him I'm glad to see him as I go by and he jokes how humiliating it is to have me going twice as far and twice as fast.
Up ahead I finally see the Sprint turn-around and then 1/2mi after that is the Olympic Distance turn-around.  This is where I pass the guy in orange shoes which is kind of a surprise but confirmation that anything is possible.  Then I see Dave Slothour ahead again and go by him with the same happy routine which really gets him complaining, "..if that wasn't humiliating enough, you're passing me 2 times?"
Getting back to the main levy, I hear breathing and fast feet behind me.  I stay calm, focusing on my own breathing, not letter his cause mine to speed up.  I fuel up at the aid station and he passes me for a moment, but I surge ahead knowing if I can hurt for a 200 yds. I can relax a little later.  However, the surge is also made difficult from the blister rubbing on my shoe.  I forgot Vaseline on that seam.  It's bothered me most of the run but those things always feel worse than they really are.  At the final turn-around, I see Steve behind me.  I encourage him and am glad his Achilles problem has gotten better.  I'm also glad I've managed to stay ahead of him.  But to beat him, I need to finish 4min ahead.. that's going to be close..
Coming down the shaded finish area, people are lining the path.  Anna pops out of the crowd, grabs my hand and matches my pace.  And then there's little Ariel holding up her hand.  She grabs it but forgot to start running.  The crowd, adoring the scene, goes from "Ahh" to "Ohh!" when Ariel goes into a nose dive as my momentum yanks her off her feet.  Fortunately I hold on, stopping in time so she didn't hit the ground.  She recomposes and the crowd cheers as we take off again for the finish.  Ah, it was a great a race.  I loved the course.  And I love having all 3 smiling girls to welcome me to the finish.
Steve was gaining on me and closed to within 1 minute which means he beat me by 3!  I'm glad he's having a good comeback.  Later, I was surprised to hear I was 2nd in my age group.  I rushed to the stage but Anna was swimming.  She was sad she couldn't go up with me.  She's always telling me to go fast to get an award.  Hopefully she knows she's part of my biggest award.
The FCA Endurance booth had good traffic.  The Kid's Zone was popular and met some great athletes at the table.  Most importantly, we were able to share what we're most excited about, that Jesus has made racing so rewarding.  He is the reason Why We Race.  And we want others to be able to feel the fulfillment He gives regardless of the placing in the race.  Because life is tough.  It's like a hilly course where you sometimes can't bear to push over one more climb.  There were 2 men with marriage issues that I was able to pray with.  I know the result of that will be more strength from the Lord to deal with the climb ahead.  If nothing else happened today, that alone was worth the trip here.  Thank you, Lord, for being the reason.
Go CJ, Steve & Carrie!
Name Race Age Group Place Swim Bike Run Time
CJ Halsey Oly M20-24 2 27:36 01:04:39 36:17 02:10:24
Steve Chavez Oly M50-54 2 24:19 01:10:51 38:47 02:16:45
Troy Soares Oly M40-44 2 26:23 01:09:11 41:22 02:19:08
Carrie Chavez Oly W40-44 1 31:04 01:12:25 43:49 02:30:17
Jody Galvin Oly W30-34 16 31:36 02:00:23 01:17:53 04:00:53
David Slothower Spt M50-54 3 08:33 36:31 45:34 01:33:18

Saturday, July 9, 2011

SF Triathlon @ Treasure Island (Robin)

July 9, 2011 – Treasure Island, CA
750m Swim- 20k Bike- 5k Run
1:07:04 (9:15-1:53-33:42-1:14-21:00)
It's always nice to be here on Treasure Island despite the cold air and water.  What's even better is serving at the FCA Endurance booth with Troy and others while my beautiful girls play around us!
I don my wetsuit, pray with my family and head down to the start.  I wait until the 5 min warning and then I jump into the cold water with the 30-39 year old women.  It's cold but bearable.  I seem to be having great swims this year despite my lack of swim training.  I thank the Lord for that and for the great coaches at RAM (Rocklin Masters) He's put in my life.  It seems like my form is much more efficient...pushing the water through and keeping my head down.  I'm excited to see what I can do!
Ready, set, go!!  I get a good start with the chase pack while two girls have taken off.  I just focus on form and a strong kick.  I reach the buoy ahead of the pack and pass one of the two girls as I make the turn.  I can see the 1st girl out front and make the effort to catch her.  I keep my head down with only minimal glances ahead.  It's a bit risky but I feel like I'm keeping a good line today.  By the last buoy, I've closed the gap.  I kick more and continue to focus on form.  I get to the stairs in 2nd and am helped out by some great volunteers.
110710_sftri_sprint_robin_swimI kick of my wetsuit off right at the swim exit and sprint to my bike.  As I get there, I see the first girl struggling to get out of her wetsuit.  I ask her if she needs help and she declines.  I put on my FCA jacket.  It's not very aerodynamic but I'd rather be warm!  I yell to Troy as I pass the FCA booth.  He waves and says "go"! 
As I run and start to mount my bike, I notice that one of the rubber bands holding my water bottle on my aerobars is on the ground.  I stop and put it back on as fast as I can.  A girl from my age group passes me.  I am able to slip my feet into my shoes which are already on the bike.  Okay, here I go!  Within meters of starting, I realize that I never filled up my aero-bottle...rookie move!  I grab my back water bottle and squirt as much Hammer Heed into it as I can.  Now, let's roll...finally!  I've got 3 laps to do.  Around mile 2 a girl in my age group goes screaming by me.  I increase the tempo to try to keep her near.  Within a few more miles she's a dot on the horizon.  I don't let it faze me and continue to keep pushing.  It's a little hard today without my bike Garmin to give me feed back but at least I have my run Garmin giving me mile splits.  I seem to be holding around 3 min per mile which is about!
There are a few young kids (7 to 8 yrs old) out here and I'm amazed!  They are happily 110710_sftri_sprint_robin_bikebiking away out here!  It would be hard to let my girls swim in the bay at that age.  Wow!
On the 2nd lap, another girl goes by in the 30-34 age group.  Again, I try to match her cadence but see her pedal away too.  I'm hoping on the run that I'll be able to catch some of these girls.  I can feel that the wind has picked up and is blowing North-East.  It's hard to push South and West but everyone has the same problem. 
On the 3rd lap, I can see that the course is going to be short the 12.4 miles.  I start to wonder if I have another lap to do.  After some thinking (which is hard for me to do when pushing hard), I realize, that this is definitely the last lap.  It's just going to be a couple miles short.  Another girl in my age group goes by but this time, I'm able to keep her in my sights.
I finally pull into T2.  I'm actually able to pull my feet out of my shoes and jump off...yes!  I run to my row of bikes but I don't see my red towel.  Oh dear.  I stop and take a good look.  I see it...barely!  My wetsuit was covering it.  A rookie move once again!  I get my shoes on and go!  As I pass the FCA tent from afar, I try yell to Troy.  He doesn't hear me as he's chatting with some folks.  It's so easy to get distracted.  I missed Troy coming out of the water yesterday!
I feel good running!  I see the girl I was keeping near on the bike (Santa Cruz Tri Club) and push to catch her.  Surprisingly, I first pass another girl in my age group.  I don't remember seeing her on the bike.  Maybe there was another swimmer out there I missed, huh?!  I see a girl coming back towards me looking strong.  That must be the girl that passed me early on.  I hope I can catch her!  I've got 2 laps to do it.
110710_sftri_sprint_robin_runMile 1 is 6:37.  I see the speedy cyclist coming back. She's running strong and it's going to be hard to catch her.  I make the first turn-around and head back. I catch the Santa Cruz girl and tell her good job. 
110710_sftri_sprint_robin_run2As I complete the first loop, I see Troy and the girls.  I give them all high-5s and tell Ariel I'll see her soon...she's finishing with me today.  Her first lone finish!
Mile 2 is 6:31.  I am so thankful that I can run fast pain-free!  It was only a few weeks ago that my back and tail bone were hurting from a fall over a month ago.  I cheer on the young kids who are running now.  They are just continuing to plug away.  The speedy girl is heading back and still has a good distance on me even though I have closed the gap.  Well, 2nd place is just fine.  As I make the turn around, I notice another girl in my age group coming up.  I've got to get some distance on her so that Ariel and I can have a cushion at the finish line.
Mile 3 is 6:32.  I can see Ariel ahead getting ready for me.  I push hard to get to her.  She starts to run and stops to grab my hand.  I look back and it's all clear!  Her little legs go as fast as they can.  We cross the finish line and she proudly gets my medal.  What a day!  Thanks Jesus!!  Then it turned out the girl in front was in a different (30-34) age group.  Surprisingly I finished 1st in my age group.

San Francisco Triathlon (Troy)

July 9, 2011 – Treasure Island, CA
Swim 1.5km – Bike 40km – Run 10km
2:28:08 (28:12 - 3:06 - 1:13:29 - :53 - 42:28)
CJ Halsey, Christy Floyd, Cory Floyd, Dale Jackson, Dan Perkins

This is a great destination race for us.  We have a hotel we like in Emeryville, the views from Treasure Island are spectacular, and the kids enjoy biking around the expo area and swimming in the pool.

Before the race Saturday morning, I'm asked to give the morning prayer to the athletes.  I ask God to help me know what He wants the athletes to hear.  As I look around at the many types of athletes - the beginners, the challenged (handicapped), the seasoned vets, and those with look of concern due to not being prepared due to injury, emotions, or just a crazy life right now.  I feel like His desire is for them to know that He cares about each one, wants to give them accomplishment and joy, but, most of all, wants them to look to Him for a moment so He can talk to them, inspire them, and comfort them, about the race today and about the bigger things He wants them to succeed at in their lives.  I can't get that all in there but I pray thanks for the opportunity we have, for a moment of reflection on Who makes it possible and for help from the Lord for comfort, strength, and accomplishment.

Some athletes also gather quickly for the FCA Endurance pre-race prayer near water's edge.  Our good friend, Pastor Dan, is here; our TeamMates Clyde, Denise, Cory, Christy and Jeff Cooley; and first-timers and veteran racers for today and tomorrow's race.

Dan and I, and my good friend, Dale Jackson, are all in the same wave together. We span 10 yrs so seldom get to race side-by-side.  Dan & I get in with 4 minutes to the start.  Some quick sprints in the water and then I wait at the line, trying not to get chilled in the cold Bay water.

Go!  Good start. I'm doing well at swimming straight.  I try to draft but soon loose it.  Nearing the first buoy, I notice how this Pirate's Cove really looks like it's name; with the lush vegetation dropping sharply to the shaded parts of the water and a large spooner-type sailboat looking deserted in the middle.  Cool.

Heading towards the 2nd buoy I start to get cold.  I work harder to try getting warmer.  After turning and heading back to the start area, I'm wishing it was only 1 lap because I can't go any faster to get warmer.  But I know I'll be able to do it.  Just keep working and soon it'll be done.

I think of the new triathletes that came to our FCA-Endurance pre-race prayer.  I know I'll see some of them afterwards and how it's always great hearing their feedback.  I usually hear that, after the prayers, the swim wasn't as hard and the whole race was a good time.  Their smiles and appreciation are reminders to me and others how good it can be, putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, having to rely on God, having to be desperate for His help, and seeing Him come through.

Sure enough I make it around loop #2.  Arms pretty tired now.  Closing my eyes to focus more on the final push to shore.  Breathing hard and wobbly, drag myself out onto the stairs and begin my jog to the transition.  It's good to be done with the swim.  Dale finished 2min ahead.  Dan finishes 30 secs behind me and in transition I can see him also changing from swim to bike.  Wow, I hope I can get out at the same time.  What a boost to ride with Dan.  But I'm struggling a bit to get my jacket on and Dan runs out with his bike.  Finally, I'm running out, too, 30 secs behind him.

Mounting my bike, I'm wobbly.  Taking the first turns takes a lot of focus.  Riding through the cold air I'm so glad to have my special jacket Robin got for me this year.  But I've been noticing in races that the first 20min on the bike I'm somewhat gasping for air and struggling to ride a good line.  My head feels cloudy and my vision seems narrowed.  It's probably just the recovery period from the really hard effort in the swim.  If I trained more in the pool, it probably would be better.

The course is 6 laps of continuous 90 degree turns, covering the island.  The West wind makes it challenging.  I can't seem to go faster than 20mph.  After 2 laps I see Dan Perkins 1-1/2 minutes ahead of me as we pass on one of the out-and-backs.  Desperately trying to keep the gap and decrease it.  But each lap he pulls farther ahead.

I'm not feeling comfortable in the saddle.  I had made some adjustments for racing in the hills at the Auburn Triathlon, but now on the flats, I feel like I'm sliding forward and not settled into a power-stroke.  I bear it and just try to push harder.  Starting the last lap, I'm over 4mins back and now just focusing on the run.  I'm looking forward to it.  One thing about the bike leg not feeling comfortable, it makes the run leg so appealing.  I can't wait to fly!

I come into transition 5min behind Dan, 6.5min behind Dale.  I make a good flying dismount.. which hurts the cold feet hitting the ground.  I make a good transition, thinking the whole time that Dan is out there getting farther ahead.  I take off and immediately see Anna running over to pace me on my way out.  She's getting to be a fast runner and her excitement just makes me more eager to put down some fast miles.

We run along the water's edge.  It's cool and sunny.  Perfect conditions.  At almost 1mi, I see Dale and then Dan coming back.  I cheer for both of them, but also check my watch to record how far behind Dan I am.  I get back to the spot and see I'm just over 4min back.  This is going to be tough but I'm going to keep cutting it down.

My calf starts hurting.  So early this time, compared to the past couple races.  I just look to God and realize these races are never my own.. He's in charge.. if I feel confident, it may be His will I slow down.. if I feel terrible, it may be His will that I race faster than ever.  Remembering He's in charge comforts me and I'm not daunted by the faltering calf.  After while it's gets better and I start running faster.  I finish lap 1 of 3 and Robin & Anna yell that I'm 4 min behind Dan.

The next time I pass Dan and Dale on the backside, Dan has caught Dale, but both of them are running well and remain quite a ways ahead.  At the landmark I check again and see I'm 3 min back.  Only a couple miles to go.  Always hopeful because "you never know what might happen".  Finishing lap 2 of 3, race announcer, Julie Moss, asks, "There's Troy Soares.  Is this your last lap?"  I motion yes and she continues, "it's always a great feeling when you know there's only 1 to go".  With another high five from Anna and the family I'm off to knock out this lap.

I get farther down the backside before seeing Dan, but he's still over 3 min ahead.  I've also been seeing many of the challenged (disabled) athletes.  Running on prosthetics.  Amazing.  One in particular has a smile on his face the whole time.  Inspiring.  I make the turn and head for home.  I won't catch my 50-yr-old rivals, but I want the fastest time possible.  Anna jumps out to run with me and we both fly down the finish chute.  I point to God because it's really his race and He's #1… the best I can ever do is #2.


I was happy to finish within 3 min of Dan and 2 min of Dale.  I'm impressed and happy for Dale who is racing fast.  He had a very bad calf problem for a number of years but he never gave up.  We were roommates for years and enjoyed training/racing together.  Now we can race head-to-head again and he's proving to be a challenge to catch.

I talked to Jeff, the smiling challenged athlete, afterwards.  I showed him the FCA tent and we talked about God.  He professed to be an atheist but thinks believing in God might be good for some.  I just tried to convey how it's not a "belief" or "fad" to me but a real active guidance in my life.  Jesus really helps and is consistently "right".  Something that "mankind" tries to do but is forever lacking.

"Thanks, God, for giving Dale and I the ability to run again after many told us it was over.  Thank you that athletes without legs can run again.  Thank for always being right so we don't have to guess."


Go CJ, Dale & Dan!


Go Team Floyd: Cory & Christy!



Name Age Group Place Swim Bike Run Time
CJ Halsey M20-24 2 28:04 01:04:29 38:41 02:13:09
Dan Perkins M50-54 2 28:48 01:09:01 44:10 02:25:00
Dale Jackon M50-54 3 26:04 01:10:29 47:12 02:26:15
Troy Soares M40-44 3 28:12 01:13:29 42:28 02:28:08
Cory Floyd M25-29 13 32:32 01:18:18 52:10 02:47:42
Christy Floyd F25-29 14 38:10 01:35:23 01:09:08 03:29:28

Monday, July 4, 2011

Coronado 15K - July 4, 2011 (Robin)

July 4, 2011 - San Diego, CA
Troy Soares

What a fun treat to be able to race with Troy...and to have the kids taken care of.  It's so logistically much easier!  After searching for parking for 15 minutes, we squeeze into a spot with my Mom's little Scion!  We jog to registration and get set to race.  I don't feel very energetic but I am excited for the adventure.  I've never raced this distance so it should be interesting!  Especially since I don't have my Garmin, my tech crutch, or a Hammer gel.  Troy's advice is to cruise the first 3 miles and then act like I'm doing a fast 10K.

There are quite a few folks out here today!  We line up near the front behind a girl that looks like a pro triathlete.  There are a few other girls here with big headphones on.  The announcer is telling the group to line up according to pace and to not to become a speed bump.  I wonder about those girls but you never know!

They play the national anthem and I thank God for this great country.  Troy and I say a prayer and it's time to go!  Ready, set, go!  I get out quick and settle into my pace.  The girls with the headphones pull away along with a bunch of other runners.  I should talk...I'm the speed bump!  We jump on the bike path and go under Coronado bridge.  I'm feeling good and hope I'm running about 7:30 pace. 

Mile 1 is 7:26.  Alright!  I just need to keep this pace for 2 more miles.  I see the girls with the big head phones and they're still pushing hard.  I'm impressed!  I tell them good job but I don't think they hear me.  I can still see Troy in the distance.

Mile 2 is 7:19.  Good.  I'm feeling comfortable and at the moment not very competitive.  Here comes the first aid station.  I grab a Gatorade and hope it gives me some more energy.  Pretty soon we turn off into a Naval base.  Cool!  It's always a treat to go behind the scenes!

Mile 3 is 7:42.  Huh?  I feel like I was holding the same pace.  Well, time to pick it up anyway.  I start by looking for the closest girls to pass.  I start to feel the competitive juices start to flow.

Mile 4 is 6:54.  Alright!  The lead runners are already coming back!  Wow, they look strong!  I see the pro tri gal in 2nd place.  She looks great!  There are a lot of folks coming back!  I hone in on 3 girls and work to pass them.

Mile 5 is 7:00.  I see Troy coming back and we high five each other.  He also looks good!  I've passed 2 of the 3 girls by the time I make the out and back.  I push to catch the next.  I tell her good job.  In the distance there is a blond runner and I make a new goal.

Mile 6 is 7:18.  That seems off.  Oh well!  I decide to try to catch the blond girl by mile 7 and then push hard to the finish.  Along the way, I see some tough folks.  A girl that must be about 7 years old, a girl running with a broken arm in a sling and a Marine with his full gear on.  I'm impressed!

Mile 7 is 6:49.  Alright!  I push more and my body pushes this is uncomfortable!  Thank you Lord for helping me through!  I know with You, I can persevere!  I pass the blond girl and look to another girl ahead.  She appears to be slowing down so maybe I can catch up.

Mile 8 is 7:13.  Okay, don't hold back.  I push and I can see that the other girl is pushing, too.  I'm giving it all I can as I head back under the bridge.  I see Troy and he tells me it's like a cross-country finish on the grass.  Thank you Lord for this day!  I cross the line spent and happy.  Wow, that was tough but fun!

Independence Day 15k Run (Troy)

July 4, 2011 - San Diego, CA
Robin Soares

Robin & I line up on an open field for the Coronado Independence Day 15k run. It’s a beautiful park along the San Diego Bay with the grand Coronado Bridge in the background. We’re visiting Robin’s family. Right now Anna is with her cousin, Anika, and Ariel is with Grammy. This is a date for Robin & I… running Smile.

Our plan is to run easy for the first 3 miles and then pick it up and race hard for the final 10k. Robin tells me that San Diego is known for fast runners and that this race will draw many USA Track & Field competitors. In other words, we’re not going to win. But the field doesn’t look that big, or that competitive. There’s a 15 yr old girl and her mom, both wearing large Sony headphones, ahead of me right behind the start line. The announcer tells everyone to move back unless you’re trying to break records. I’m thinking this pair is going to drop back real quick.

Go! We run 200yds across the grass before funneling onto the bike path. During this time it seems everyone is running by me.. instead of dropping back like I thought. They must be going out too fast. We pass under the mighty bridge, along a park and onto a stretch they call the “Strand”. I can’t believe that the girl and her mom are still ahead of me running effortlessly. In fact, it looks like hundreds of runners are ahead. Do they all know that this is almost a 10 mi run? Maybe they think 15k is like a 5k.

I’m running about 7:15 pace and trying to make it feel easy but it’s a little harder than expected. I’m having a great time, though. It’s hard not to when you’re on vacation, running a race in perfect San Diego weather, and knowing your best friend is running close behind you. I look back and, sure enough, I can see Robin’s yellow singlet a few hundred yards back.

I finally pass the girl and her mom. At 3 miles I psych myself up and pretend I’m starting an important 10k. A volunteer is telling us, “you’re almost there!”. A runner laughs at the fact that we’re not. Another runner says, “we’re closer to the finish than the start”. Again I think to myself, “Does he know this is a 15k.. that’s 9.3mi. We have a long way to go”.

We turn onto the military base and see soldiers in formation. Some of us say “thanks” as we go by. Along the water and then back inland. Now I see the leaders coming back. Wow, already! I start counting. I notice my left calf is starting to cramp. This was a serious problem at the marathon. It’s concerning that it’s starting so early. I focus on good form, relax, and use my rt leg more.

At the turn-around (half way) I’m in 92nd place. I set a goal to work my way up to 50th. This really helps motivate me. I high-five Robin going the other way. I start passing people, counting down. Instead of dreading the long straight stretches, I look forward to them because I can see more people to pass.

Thank you, Lord! My calf isn’t hurting anymore. I can run all-out. Among the runners going the other way is a soldier running in fatigues and with a full pack. That looks hard.

At 7mi I’m only up to 65th place and I actually want the race to be longer because I may need more pavement to meet my goal. I keep pushing towards each runner ahead. At 8mi I’m at 51st place. Just one more! There’s a pack ahead but they’re hard to catch. Finally, just before going under the bridge again, I catch them. 50th. 49th. 48th.

We hit the grassy finish area and I can’t catch anyone else. I sprint. I hear people behind me. The crowds are cheering. I finish and quickly pray, thanking God for allowing me to run so well despite a busy week and the calf problem. It’s hot so I quickly get water. I feel pretty good and am able to jog back to see Robin (unlike at the marathon when I immediately had to lay down).

Wow, there’s Robin, so soon. Go Robin! There’s a girl just ahead. I see Robin pump her arms faster and give a huge effort. We both ended up 6th in our age groups. We both raced hard and really enjoy being able to do it together. What a great start to a fun day ahead. We’re both looking forward to a nap first, however.