Sunday, April 29, 2012

Auburn Marathon – Robin

April 22, 2012 – Auburn, CA
Marathon (a bit short actually)


1st (and only woman) in the 35-39 age group
3rd woman o/a (only 29 Marathoners & 12 Relays)
Jessica Bonner, Jim Kepfer, Lecile Eklund

Though I’m doing the marathon distance for the 2nd time in 6 days, it feels different.  Instead of being surrounded by thousands upon thousands of runners, I’m surrounded by fewer than 50 people.  It’s more intimate. I feel at home.  I’m side by side with some of my favorite Auburnites: Jessica Bonner, Jim Kepfer and Lecile Eklund.  The plan is to run 9:28 pace on this 3 loop course. It sounds do-able but, coming off of Boston, having warm conditions again and an increase of hills.. I’m not sure.  It’s in the Lord’s hands and I really just want to glorify Him with a happy heart and good attitude. 

We line up in ARD park and I see a local professional runner, Brad Poore, doing the race.  “We know who is going to win now!”  Ready, set, go!  Jim and I start out together.  We are chatting about Boston and I’m enjoying sharing our story but I realize I’m already running too fast.  I tell Jim to go ahead and I force myself to slow down.  That must be a good sign…I hope.  I see Anna & Ariel as I pass the backside of the park.  They are waiting to give me high fives and also enjoying the fives they are getting from other runners.  When our hands finally make contact they squeal in delight...I love that!

My Squealing Girls!

Mile 1 is 8:50.  Slow down!  Not a problem with Maidu Rd. coming up.  I’m impressed to see our Police Chief, John Ruffcorn, on Auburn-Folsom directing traffic.  It’s not an exciting job but he’s doing it with a smile!

Mile 2 to 4 is 9:14 average.  I feel comfortable physically and mentally it’s nice to be running in my neighborhood…there are no surprises!  A cycling friend, Tom, rides up and visits with me.  He’s not sure that I made a good decision.  I just smile and tell him that I am hopeful that I’ll finish and not injure myself. I can see Lecile ahead and there is no sign of Jessica and Jim. I hope they are feeling strong!  There are some slight changes of the course that I don't mind like skipping the steep climb on Herrington Dr. and adding a section going right past my buddy Courtney's house.  But she’s not home today.  I head back down Maidu and we are directed through the fire station at the bottom.  A nice touch and a good distraction.  Another good distraction is going by my church behind the Maidu Market. 

2012-04-24 001 2012-04-22 018Mile 5 is 9:03.  Up Auburn-Folsom I go!  I see the girls and Troy as I pass the park.  Anna grabs my hand and runs a bit with me while Ariel waits for a high five.  It just inspires me!  Troy tells me that Jessica is leading the women's race...yes!  I hope that I'll get a glance of her which will be hard on this course.  I turn into the fairgrounds and am surprised by the steep hill awaiting me.  I forgot this was here!  Ugh!  At least it's short and there is an aid station at the top!  No sign of Lecile or the other girls I saw ahead. 

Mile 6 is 9:16.  I hope to make it to downtown by 8am to see the local bike shop riders of Victory Velo heading out for their Sunday morning ride.  As I run behind the store, I see one of the guys and wave.  On the front side of the store there is Victory Velo's neighbor, the Auburn Running Company, running an aid station.  Local runner, Carey, hands me some water as I run by.  I splash the water on me as I'm starting to feel it warming up.  As I run by the Wells Fargo thermometer, it's reading 67 degrees.

Mile 7 to 8 is a 9:02 average.  I'm still feeling good and still trying to hold back.  Lord, thanks so much for keeping me going!  I make it back to the park only to head back out again.  I don't see Troy and the girls and wonder if they are on Auburn-Folsom waiting for me.  They not there either.  Looking back to the park, I see Troy's yellow shirt.  I wave and he waves back.  I know that Anna and Ariel are just a few minutes from doing their kid’s race.  I hope they have fun!

Mile 9 is 9:04.  As I run by the church, Pastor Eric and some of his kiddos pull up next to me to cheer.  It's a nice boost to see them.  He tells me that he'll be talking about our Boston Marathon story ironic considering I'm running a marathon!  I'm glad Troy will make it to the second service of our church this morning.  I’m also hoping I’ll finish before it starts! 

Mile 10 is 9:01.  There is the police chief again!  Wow, he's still here!  I can see Lecile again and the other ladies.  I pass two of the them on my way to and up Maidu.  When I reach the aid station at the top, Lecile stops to get her bottle filled up.  "Good job Lecile!" 

2012-04-24 001 2012-04-22 043Mile 11 to 13 is a 9:01 average.  Wow, Lord, this is feeling good!  I still feel like I have to hold back.  I decide that I'm going to try to bring my overall average down to 9 minutes.  I pass through the fire station again.  As I approach the park again, I see my friends and neighbors, the Richards.  Their kiddos Anthony and Anna did the kids race with the girls.  They are all proudly wearing their medals.  I give them all high fives and then my Anna grabs my hand and runs with me again.  Wow, that was boost!  Troy tells me that Jim and Jessica are running together and she is still the lead woman.  And, there is a young girl trying to chase her down.  I know she can hold her off!

Mile 14 is 8:49.  My average pace is close to 9 flat!  As I run through the fairgrounds, I see the lead bike for the first woman and, just before I turn a corner, can see Jessica's blue shirt.  "Go Jessica!"  How exciting to be doing her first marathon and winning it, too!  I take my first gel and follow it with water.  I make sure to pour water on my head at each aid station.  As I go through downtown again, the temperature is now 75 degrees...warming up!  The clock tower is playing some beautiful music!  I wonder if it does that every Sunday or if it's just for us.

120422_auburnmarathon_robin_downtownMile 15 to 16 is a 9:09 so my overall average actual goes up.  That last loop, I'll give it what I have and who knows what that will look like!  I run into the park and see the Richards.  Their encouragement means a lot as does that of all those hanging out at the finish line.  I get a “sponge bath” this time which feels great! 

Mile 17 is 8:46.  Alright, last lap now!  Here comes Brad Poore!  Wow, he's still way ahead and finishing strong.  As I run by the park, I can hear the cheers for him as he crosses the line.  Awesome!

It's been great running along Auburn-Folsom.  Many friends have driven by cheering for me.  Like the Liden Family, the Korns, and my neighbor, Jennifer.  And now here's Troy and the girls driving by.  I love to hear their cheers and encouragement! 

Mile 18 is 9:05.  I'm no longer holding back but trying to speed up.  I realize that going faster is not going to be an option, but maybe I can hold the pace.  I see Kat at the top of Maidu.  "Thanks so much Kat for being out here!"  I turn into the neighborhood again and there is my wonderful family cheering.  It gets me excited!  I take my second gel...that helps some! 120422_auburnmarathon_robin_auburnfolsom

Mile 19 to 20 is a 9:18 average.  Ugh!  Though it's hard to stay focused, I remind myself to smile.  Today is a gift from Jesus and to be able to do what I've done is from Him.  I see my family them!  Kat is with Lecile encouraging her to press on.  It's been a tough day for her...her stomach is feeling bad...been there and that's not easy! 

Mile 21 and 22 is a 9:15 average.  I'll take it!  I'm going to squeak out every bit of energy that I have!  I'm not looking forward to the fairgrounds hill but it's my last time!!  As I make it to the top, I walk through the aid station to make sure I get a good drink of Gatorade 120422_auburnmarathon_robin_finishand pour some water on my head.

The last few miles of every marathon is a mental challenge for sure!  I have to remind myself that the end is near!  I can tell that the distance is going to be a bit short and today I don't mind. 

Mile 23 and 24 are 9:35 pace.  The temperature is now 85! Just keep going!  Thanks Jesus so much!  I smile and wave one last time to the volunteers at Auburn-Folsom.  One more climb into the park to the finish.  This is tough!  I can see the finish!  As I run across, I look up and thank the Lord for this day!  I'm done!!


Way to Go Jessica, Jim & Lecile!


Name Age Group Place Time
Jessica Bonner W20-24 1


Jim Kepfer M45-49 2


Robin Soares W35-39 1 3:48:45
Lecile Eklund W40-44 2 4:31:41

Auburn Marathon Kids Race (.53 Mile) - Anna & Ariel


2012-04-24 001 2012-04-22 022I’m at the starting line. I’m by my sister, Ariel. My friend Anthony shows up. I think if Anthony runs with his little sister I will beat him, but if he doesn’t run with her, he might beat me. We all posed for pictures. The race starts and I am in front of Anthony. But then Anthony passes me. But I keep running and I see him the whole way around the lap. Anthony crosses the finish line first and I am second. It doesn’t matter to me that he was 2012-04-24 001 2012-04-22 028first because I was the first girl and he was the first boy. After I finished, I gave Anthony a high-five. I also give some other kids in the race a high-five. Now I’m going back on the race course with Anthony to find Anna (Anthony’s sister) and Ariel. But I see my friend, Ellie, crying. I ran with her back to the finish line. Before we cross the line, I make sure we go through together.

ARIEL'S RACE - Time: 8:10, Pace 15:30

I’m at the starting line. I’m standing next to Anna. They take pictures. At the start, I grab Daddy’s hand. I run fast. I’m running with Daddy. I didn’t stop. Anna (Anthony’s sister) is behind me. We’re both having a good time. We run around the pool where Anna swims. Now it’s getting hard. I see Ellie running in front of me crying. Now we have to climb up 2 hills to get to the finish. I’m running as fast as I can. I see the finish line. I feel happy. 2012-04-24 001 2012-04-22 034I run through and break the banner. Then I got a medal. It was a big, big medal. I was thirsty and got some water and ate some oranges. I think of Anna (Anthony’s sister), she was behind me. Then we went home. I enjoyed the day.


2012-04-24 001 2012-04-22 040

Monday, April 16, 2012

116th Boston Marathon (Troy & Robin)

April 16, 2012 – Boston, MA
Robin & Troy: 3:37:21
Robin 574th W18-39; Troy 669th M40-44
Carrie Chavez, Diane Perun, Karen Messersmith, Laurie Abrams, Tom Harper
[Troy] I was here 16 years ago with my training partners, Dick Kirkpatrick and Clint Gaver. Now it’s very special as I’m here with Robin, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary by running this prestigious race together! The race organization is top notch. The expo was great, volunteers are everywhere helping and the whole town is supportive and excited about the race. It is surely the “Superbowl” of running.
We’re at the FCA Chapel Service.  It’s the day before and this is definitely the highlight leading up to the race.  There’s about 50 people here in attendance at the Marriott. Robin is opening by speaking about FCA Endurance. Now I share my testimony about how I was an obsessed triathlete before putting Christ at the center of it all, and how I saw so many blessings as a result, including the opportunity of the kidney donation. Now we listen as the regional FCA lead, Fouad, who organized this all, gives a great sermon and reminds us, as we’re pushing up Heartbreak Hill tomorrow, to remember that Christ first conquered it all when He carried the cross up Calvary hill and had His heart broke for all of us so we wouldn’t suffer as He did. This is most important for us to remember tomorrow.
2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 004It’s race morning. Amazingly, while in line for one of the 500 busses transporting us to Hopkinton, we bump into Isabelle. We had met her and her husband last night at the pasta feed. The chance encounter with friends would recur throughout the day. After an hour trip to the start, everyone was thinking, “wow, this is a long way”. 8am and the temperature is heating up fast. The race director had sent out warnings to all the runners to opt-out or re-plan for a slower pace. Today is going to be one of the hottest races ever. Robin and I are fortunate to have our Hawaii Ironman experiences to draw on and, even though we haven’t had heat to train in lately, we know what to expect. We 2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 011plan on starting out with our planned pace and there adjusting for 7 min slower (3:30) if the heat really does make it difficult.
After a nap in the race village, we prepare to head for the start area. Amidst 20,000 others, we bump 2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 012into Michelle from the FCA Chapel Service yesterday! What a great encounter! We pray for our races and the opportunities the Lord will give us to be a light to others. We jog the .7 mi to the corral staging area and immediately feel the growing intensity of the heat. It’s over 80 degrees, no breeze, and bright sun. It feels like Hawaii all right. We’re drinking a lot of water. Runners are looking for shade.
The elites and the first wave start. We take our place in the 2nd corral of the 2nd wave. It’s really exciting now. Robin and I pray. We’re running the whole thing together, but each of us wonders if we’ll hold the other one back.
2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 018Go! Can’t believe it, we’re running the Boston Marathon together…it’s surreal! Spectators are everywhere, even in this rural starting mile. It’s a descent right off the bat and we’re amazed at the long sea of runners ahead of us… and that’s only 1 corral, a thousand runners! To think there are 8 corrals behind us and then another 9 behind them. We’re trying to run relaxed and easy at an average 7:40 pace. We’ll drink at every station. Mile 1 doesn’t have one. We’re already hot by mile 2 and very glad to get water. I down a whole cup and we both pour a cup or more on our head.
2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 021 - CopyIt’s a beautiful day. The crowds and townsfolk are amazing. The kids have their hands out for high-fives and it reminds us of Anna and Ariel. Everyone is cheering. It makes you smile so much. And you could give high-fives all the way to Boston, but we also know we have to conserve energy. We know hydration & fueling & comfortable pace are critical today. The race director has placed large road signs saying “HOT, HOT, HOT. DRINK LOTS. SLOW THE PACE”.  We are feeling pretty good at the moment and we wonder when that’s going to change.
At 5K (3.1mi) we are at 7:41 pace.
At 10K (6.2mi) we are at 7:42 pace.
120316_bostonmarathon_soares2At around 10 miles, our pace is slowing a little to 7:44. My knees are hurting. Robin’s hamstrings are tightening. We’ve been drinking and dousing and every station. I’ve already peed 4 times! Robin hasn’t, despite the good hydrating. We stop with the Gatorade every other mile as both of our stomachs now don’t feel good. We don’t have our drink of choice, Heed or Perpetuem, so we have to be careful with the sugary Gatorade.
I’m so impressed with the race organization. The aid stations are staggered. First on the right, then 100 yds later, on the left. It eliminates the bottleneck and gives a chance for hitting 2 stations each mile. We just hit the left ones at first. Sometimes Robin goes first, sometimes me. We stay close together so when we splash ourselves we get both of us. The stations look well stocked and we pray that those in the back get all the water they need as well. The townsfolk and firefighters have chipped in hoses, mist tents, and are handing out ice…we so appreciate their big hearts for us!  I’m feeling the heat the most in my legs.  We take every opportunity possible to get wet. Even ice in our hats. All tricks learned from Hawaii Ironman. And we look for shade from the buildings or trees.. something not available in Hawaii.
We just passed through the Wellsly Women’s College with thousands of women cheering loud enough to hear them a ½ mile away. They all had signs, many saying, “Kiss Me..” for all sorts of funny reasons. I wasn’t about to kiss any of them, my greatest supportive woman is running by my side.

At 20K (12.4mi) we are at 7:47 pace.
At the ½ way point it seems like a very long run already and the pain is building. Can we get an even split the next half? The people are incredible. Even standing out here in the hot sun.. for hours. Lot’s of college students. Kids holding oranges, water, licorice. Frat houses offering beer. I see a runner accept the offer and they cheer wildly. Someone even built a Fenway Park replica…cool!
120316_bostonmarathon_soares815 Miles we are around 7:50 pace.  We’ve been looking forward to this… our lunch date. A Hammer Gel for each of us. And we’ll try to continue this every 2 or 3 miles. We’re both hurting pretty good already. My knees and now my IT Band. I’m concerned that I’ll come up lame and not be able to finish with Robin. I pray that Robin’s pain subsides even if mine doesn’t. But I know she’d rather stay back with me than finish alone so I pray that we can both stay strong.
We’ve been remembering God and turning our thoughts to Him periodically. It’s easy to want to just focus on the ground and ignore the world and even God. But I know He’s brought comfort and success before in these difficult times, so we must keep focusing on Him. We also set our sights on seeing Karl at mile 17.5. He’s an old family friend of Robin’s and had us over for dinner 2 nights ago. If we see him, it’ll be such a boost for both of us.
Mile 17. We recognize the area as we turn on Commonwealth. Karl had driven us on this series of hills, including Heartbreak, and we’re so glad he did. We’ve been anticipating and preparing for the challenge. Actually, with Robin’s sore hamstrings and my hurting IT band, we actually dread the downhills and look forward to the uphills. Robin’s strong on the ups and I pump my arms to stay with her. It makes the time go by faster having a periodic challenge, rather than trudging along a never-ending straight-away. We start looking for Karl. There’s crowds of people on both sides. “Team Soares!” “Karl!” There he is. He used the MyAthlete tracker and nailed the timing, starting his video at the perfect time. It’s his birthday today also. It was great to see him.. and we would have liked to stop.. but there’s work ahead as we climb the first tough hill.

At 30K (18.6mi) we are at 7:57 pace.
Mile 19. I just want to hit 20. I’ll feel like we can make it if we’re not walking at 20. Robin 120316_bostonmarathon_soares5emphatically says, “We’re not walking”. That’s pretty brave knowing how much her legs hurt. But for now it’s good having these ups and downs, it’s a task:  work the ups and take it easy on the downs. Usually the strategy is the opposite, but legs hurt too much to “work the downs”.
Heartbreak Hill. Mile 20.5. I love watching Robin hit the hill. I think it takes her back to her High School XC days. Her coach always emphasized the hill, all the way over the top. I’ve never seen Robin shy away from a climb. She inspires me to keep up with her. I have to, because I’m the encourager, telling her she can make it to the end, so I can’t drop back. I’m the faster runner normally, so I’m technically the pacer for us. If I’m hurting this much, I know Robin is hurting more. We need each other right now. I encourage us to smile to help our outlook. And we do indeed recall from yesterday that Jesus climbed the ultimate “Heartbreak Hill” for all of us.
Mile 21 we are now around 8:06 pace. We’ve made it past the hills. And being beyond the wall we know we’ll make it, just don’t know what it’ll look like. We know these are the ugly miles. The long straightaways are discouraging. Yet, the crowds are yelling longer. I wish I could enjoy it more, but it’s hard even to turn and look at all the encouraging faces. After Mile 20, we’re seeing more and more 1st wave runners walking. But now as we pass Mile 22 and are slowing down a lot, we’re also seeing a lot of runners passing us. We’re impressed with how well they paced themselves so that they can finish strong now. We have steadily slowed down, but we’re not going to crack. We’ll be running all the way to the line.
I’m telling us to run for landmarks. A light, a cooling tent. Every step, every block gets us closer. The miles drag out. The scenery is a blur. I don’t see the people even.. except for every time I hear a “Go Team Endurance!” and then I’m reminded of my family in Christ all around me and I turn to give them a thumbs up or a “God Bless!” There have been many recognizing FCA and cheering for us. There have also been a few with encouraging scripture on signs. We know it’s all God’s way of encouraging us.
Mile 24. These miles are so hard. We see the giant “Citgo” sign in the distance marking downtown Boston. I want to see our hotel at Mass Ave. It will mean a turn soon onto the famous Boylston Ave stretch for the finish.
120316_bostonmarathon_soares_finish3Mile 25 we are at 8:13 pace. Robin is grimacing but also trying to smile, practically with tears in her eyes because each step hurts. I’m trying to help by getting us water & Gatorade and picking the next landmark.. it helps me forget about my pain. Finally, I see our hotel ahead. But this also means the tunnel… we drop down (ouch!) and then climb up, turn right, and are now on Boylston! It’s only 1/2mi but looks SO far away. We run and run and it’s not getting closer. The crowds on both sides of the road are going crazy. For a runner, it’s both the worst and the greatest feeling in the world. We’re over our 3:30 goal, and now realize we’re also over Robin’s 3:35 qualifying time. “Team Soares!” Right before the finish we see Cheryl from our Auburn track group cheering us in. Great timing. And now we’re there, finally, at the finish of the Boston Marathon!
We did it. So many things could have gone wrong that didn’t. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to finish together in a good time. Right now we can barely walk and it’s starting to feel worse than running. But we’re done. My IT band had been threatening but then subsided. I believe God made it possible. We’d soon learn how bad it got for so many, and more and more we appreciate what God allowed us to do, because it was never a guarantee and we definitely don’t deserve it.
120316_bostonmarathon_soares_postfinishphoto 2
Go Diane, Carrie & Laurie!
Go Tom & Karen!

Name Age Group Place Time
Troy Soares M40-44 669 3:37:21
Robin Soares W18-39 574 3:37:21
Diane Perun W40-44 288 3:54:02
Carrie Chavez W40-44 362 3:57:41
Laurie Abrams W45-49 215 3:58:20
Tom Harper M60-64 231 4:23:20
Karen Messersmith W45-49 949 4:40:31

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Copperopolis Road Race (Troy)

April 7, 2012 – Milton, CA
2 laps, 42 Miles

6th, Cat. 5 Masters 35+

Victory Velo Teammates:

Women 4: Robin (2nd); 35+ 5: Rich Hufford; Master 55: Bill Vaughan (31st), John Chappell (29th), Ron LeBard(18th); CAT 4 Master 45: Gary Carpenter (25th), McKay Florence (35th), Randy Floyd (11th), Randy Millard (15th); CAT 1/2/3 Master 45: Jim Blakenship (7th); CAT 3: Jay Newton; CAT 4: Lance McPeak; CAT 4 Master 35: Barton Andrew (4th); CAT 5: Aron Yevuta (2nd), Clinton Hamilton (14th), Dan Garcia (3rd)

The first bike race of the season.  Robin & I did it last year and, despite the terribly bumpy roads, we liked it.  The course is challenging, technical in places, and scenic.  Fortunately, as beginners, we only do 2 laps (22 miles each), while the pros have to do 5 laps!

Last year I pinch-flatted in the first mile and spent the rest of the race trying to catch up, which actually went well, as I moved up to 10th.  This year I pump our tires up to almost 115 and 120 psi to keep from pinch-flatting.  I have an old rear tire.. I hope it holds on the screaming, bumpy descent.

After a 12mi warm-up, I line up with my Cat 5 35+ group of about 25 guys.  I meet new teammate, Rich.  He has wider 25c tires which are good for this road so I tell him he’s dialed in.  Robin’s comes up and we pray for our races.  We’re both most concerned with safety considering Boston Marathon is next week.

Go!  We roll out and I find myself in the front heading into the first climb.  The group is very mellow, unlike the early quick pace of last year.  I move back to the middle and start trying to pick out the strong ones that I should stay close to.  I feel like the climbing will be my advantage from my Auburn riding as well as just being a guy that’s ok with suffering.  Just when I think I know who the climbers are, different guys keep coming up to push the pace.  But I do make it to the summit with the first 3 guys and we quickly get into a rotating paceline along the high valley.

It’s short-lived as the rest of the pack catch up.  How easy this will be riding comfortably in the pack rather than being on my own last year.  I speak too soon as a ShowAir guy lays down a painful pace at the front.  I’m struggling to keep the speed.  This isn’t easy at all.  I’m reminded that in bike racing there’s someone ready to take advantage of every section of the course.  The small guys on the climbs, the big guys on the flats and the past mountain bikers on the descents.

Rounding the lake at the top, yet always seeming to be in a head wind, we head back towards the last climb before the bumpy descent.  There’s only 7 left in our group!  2 guys are chatting comfortably at the front while I’m breathing terribly hard and hoping I’ve got something left for lap #2.  There’s a guy in a Trek jersey with a rear-view mirror and a retro bike.   This may be his first race.  He’s probably a strong rider on training rides and decided to try racing.  He’s not pulling but finally gets forced to the front and doesn’t seem to realize he should pull-off to take a rest.  Riding behind him while he’s pulling us into the headwind, I feel sorry for him instead of accepting his sacrificial help.  He’s a beginner and I don’t want to see him “used and abused” and shelled off the back so I tell him good job and to pull off.. leaving me to pull some.

2 guys pull off the front going into the last climb.  I try to climb steady.  It’s hard.  The guys behind me are still chatting.  Is it that easy for them?  But then I’m pulling away from them and gaining on the 2.  If I can catch them on the descent, 3 of us could get away.  Over the top I’m anxious to start flying down.. this is where I can make up ground.  I catch and join the 2, but the rest of the group also catches us.  We’re all chattering down this crazy pot-holed hill.  Sometimes it’s hard to see because of the vibrating eyeballs.  I’m surprised that everyone is descending just as fast.  At the bottom we’re still all together and roll through the finish area and into lap #2.

This time I make sure to stay near the back going into the climb.  I’ve got to conserve everything I’ve got.. and then pull away on the hill with anyone that will go with me.  I need water.  It’s warm out today and my legs already feel like they’re dehydrated.  Beginning the first climb I head to the neutral feed zone but 2 guys ahead of me take the 2 bottles being handed out.  The volunteer says, “Sorry, only got 2 hands” as he turns around to get more and I cruise by.  Bummer but I come to grips with the reality that I’ll have to survive on no more water.  At the last moment, another volunteer appears with a bottle!  Thanks, God.

Starting the main climb, I’m humbled to find that the guy being dropped off the back… is me!  I can’t keep up.  These guys played their cards well and saved a good effort when it was needed.  6 of them, including the Trek rider go ahead.  I’m breathing hard and fighting the voice inside saying, “it’s ok, go at a comfortable pace and ride the rest of the loop by yourself”.  I remind myself that a lot of pain now to catch and joint part of the group would prevent an hour of pain riding by myself around the windy section at the top.

It’s hard, but I focus on the Lord.  He makes me feel better, I feel encouraged to keep pushing hard… “you never know what will happen”.  I use a new technique of standing up more, pedaling gently, to help control my breathing.  Surprisingly, nearing the top, I find the riders coming back.  I’m back in the pack!  I’m so glad to see the top. I’m exhausted.  Then the top rider, Dan, flats and is out of it.  6 of us are together.  But the ShowAir guy takes a massive pull again and I’m dropped!  Along with Justin, the mountain biker, behind me.  He comes around as I’m shaking my head and realizes that, because of me losing the draft, he also is dropped.

Justin pulls me for a while.  I take short, weak pulls.  Far ahead the pack split into 2 leaders, 2 in the chase and then us 2 falling farther back.  Once we realize we can’t catch them and can’t be caught, we start talking.  He’s experienced in MtnBike and Cross but new in Road racing.  Another nice gift from above, having someone to help me finish when I could have been left for dead back there.  We’re still working hard.  I keep trying to push the pace because I want to know that I gave it everything I had today.  But since he pulled so much, I’ve already decided to not challenge him at the end even if I found enough energy to do so.

We fly down the descent again.  I’m praying my wheels and bike hold up as I hit pot-hole after pot-hole.  I try to pull ahead just to see if I can but he matches every move I make.  1km from the finish he surges ahead.  I give it all I have but it’s nothing.  I still want it to be a good showing at the finish but it’s as it should be, Justin 5th, myself 6th.

Whew!  I’m wiped.  Exhausted.  The ShowAir guy took 1st.  The Trek guy, Eric Lin, I think is actually an experienced race who took 3rd!  My 6th place is one of my highest yet in a road race!  Thanks God.  And thanks most of all for answering our prayers for safety.  With Boston Marathon on the line next week, it’s SO great to be done with this race without injury.  20min later Robin comes racing into an exciting finish.  She had pulled away with another girl on the 2nd big climb and they both finished 1 – 2.  Way to go Robin!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Copperopolis Road Race - Women Cat 4

April 7, 2012 –  Milton, CA
2 laps, 42 Miles

2nd, Cat. 4 Women

Victory Velo Teammates:

35+ 5: Rich Hufford, Troy Soares (6th); Master 55: Bill Vaughan (31st), John Chappell (29th), Ron LeBard(18th); CAT 4 Master 45: Gary Carpenter (25th), McKay Florence (35th), Randy Floyd (11th), Randy Millard (15th); CAT 1/2/3 Master 45: Jim Blakenship (7th); CAT 3: Jay Newton; CAT 4: Lance McPeak; CAT 4 Master 35: Barton Andrew (4th); CAT 5: Aron Yevuta (2nd), Clinton Hamilton (14th), Dan Garcia (3rd),

Troy and I are back on the bumpy roads of Milton.  I don't feel the same intimidation factor this year.  Last year this was my very first road race ever.  I am still nervous.  With the Boston Marathon just a week away, a crash would not be good.  We take the time to thank the Lord and pray for His protection and His peace.  This weekend we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice He made.  It is something I'll definitely be reflecting on, especially if I’m feeling like I've had it out there. 

I line up with a group of 11 women.  I’m the only Victory Velo racer for the girls today.  I chat with a girl Megan from the East Bay.  She's not feeling great already today and I encourage her to be hopeful that she'll feel better than expected.  You’ve got to always hope that things can turn around even when they don't look good.  So many times, I've ended up doing better than expected.  Especially when I’m focused on what counts, "competing for Christ".  I've seen Him help me time and time again when things just didn't look good.  Have to keep pressing on!

We're off!  As we make the first turn, the fun begins!  Boy, it's bumpier than ever!  For those that are new to this course it's a rude awakening and you can hear the surprise.  As we climb up to the feed zone, I feel like I'm back on my mountain bike bouncing over rocks and ruts.  This time it's just one covered pot hole after the other mixed in with some open pot holes.  A girl says she's not looking forward to doing this the whole time.  I assure her that it's only the opening and closing miles of each loop that are the worst.  After several miles, we arrive at some smoother pavement. We are well into the first main climb.  A girl in black surges and 9 of us are able to answer the call.  Last year, 3 girls took off and I found myself in a breakaway.  This time it looks like we are all well matched.  I am relieved that I'm not having to work hard early on.

The 9 of us stay together up and over the hill.  On the back side, the pace feels leisurely.  Several packs of guys catch us and we just move over and let them pass.  There is little talking.  I think we are all wondering who is going to make the next move.  Again the road turns bumpy.  I totally forgot it was rough on the backside too. 

Eventually we make it to the last climb.  A unattached rider pushes up the hill and I stay close as do the rest of the girls.  I'm 3rd coming over the top and shortly I'm passed by the rest of the group.  Descending is my weakness. Mostly out of fear.  This road doesn't help with the MANY bumps.  I hold on tight and put my weight back.  I'm flying down the hill but it's no match for the group.  They are way out there by the time I'm halfway down.  I'm praying that the Lord keep me upright.  On some sections, my bike is vibrating violently and I brake some to feel more under control.  I am thankful for the XTerra tri I did last weekend.  It really has made a difference today.

At the bottom, I get to work catching up.  I bridge up to one girl who has fallen back and I tell her to get on my wheel.  I pull her close to the group through the start of the 2nd lap.  She takes over and gets us the rest of the way. 

The 2nd lap I can clearly feel the fatigue setting in...and I know having to catch up didn't help.  I get an Uber Bar down and some Perpetum.  I have to get ahead of the pack somehow before that last descent or I'll be way back.  I'm just waiting for some opportunity to get away.  We climb through the feed zone and I grab some water.  These bumps feel like they are sapping my energy.  Ugh!  I cannot wait to get through this section.

As we start to climb, the girl in black surges once again.  I pick it up and try to stay close.  I don't know what's going on behind me.  I don't even give it much thought.  If I can just stay with her maybe we can create a breakaway that can stick.  Halfway up the climb I look back and I don't see the pack anymore...good stuff!  I cannot quite catch the girl in black but I keep pushing to keep her from getting away.  We make it to the top and she looks back and motions for me to catch up.  After a few minutes I'm able to.  I start to pull and she asks me if I need a break.  I tell her I'm okay.  I never know how long to pull so I just stay out front until she passes.  We kind of start to sense when the other needs a break and take turns pulling each other to the backside of the course.  I tell her that we need to push all the hills to stay ahead of the pack.  It works well because there is no sight of the group.

We introduce ourselves and I learn that her name is Erin.  Being honest (maybe too much so), I tell her "just get me to the hill and you can take it.  I'm a terrible descender."  She says "I am too, let's inspire each other to go faster".  Sounds good to me!  We continue to work well up to the last climb.  I still have a little left in the tank but not much.  Erin surges on the hill and I cannot keep up.  I just want to have a good cushion on the rest of the girls at the top so I continue to give what I have. 

I make it to the top.  "Lord, please help me do this one more time.  Whatever happens, I love You!"  I hold on tight once again and go.  My goal is to do little breaking.  I manage to hold to that well until the middle.  My body is shaking so hard that I can barely see where I'm going!  I have to slow down but even then the shaking is still strong.

Finally, I get to the bottom and to smoother ground.  I can see Erin in the distance.  I look back and it looks clear but I push hard anyway.  1K to go!  Yes!  200 to go!  Alright!  I surge to the finish in 2nd place, and thank Jesus!  Wow, I'm so glad it's done!  Thank you God!

2012-04-10 001 2012-04-07 003

Sunday, April 1, 2012

X-Terra Real Mountain Bike Triathlon - Robin

April 1, 2012 – Granite Beach, Granite Bay, CA
1/2mSwim - 13m Bike - 3.5m Run

2:14:42 (14:20-1:29:40-30:41)


1st, W35-39

What a nice change today is from yesterday!  It's cold but the sun is shining.  Poor Troy suffered through some crazy wind and rain here at Granite Beach in the Dos Dirty Du.  He's out here supporting me today.  What a blessing to have the whole family behind me! 

I had Troy help me in preparing for this.  I do not consider myself a very good mtn. biker and my practice rides with Troy were difficult at times.  Yes, there was even a time or two I wanted to toss my when Troy took me down some very steep trails, or I wimped out on some obstacles or got stuck right in the middle of a puddle.   But, my skills have improved immensely from last year and I have him to thank for that!  I realize how silly a bad attitude is.  It is better to have fun with learning new things rather than staying focused on how inexperienced I am.  All in all, I'm feeling better this time around even with, yet again, very muddy trails.  Another helpful change is disc brakes and clip in pedals.  But, of course, the Lord is my ultimate strength and help today!

The water is a nice 48 degrees!  Thanks to yesterday's wind, all the cold water at the bottom of the lake was churned up!  I should be good with my neoprene cap, neoprene booties and rash guard under my wetsuit.   The big issue is the cold water on the face...ouch!  Today is a mass start and I'm hoping that I don't get pummeled.  While Anna volunteers in the transition area, Troy, Ariel and I pray at the water's edge.  It's a good reminder to slow down and put any anxiety in His hands. 

I stand in the water a few minutes putting my hands in the water and splashing my face.  This is going to be interesting!  Troy has me line up to the far left away from the crowd and a straight shot to the first buoys. 

Ready, set, go!  The first 5 minutes I feel like I cannot breathe.  I take a breath on every stroke 120401_xterra_robin_swimand pray that I don't panic.  Part of me wants to turn around and head for shore.  Please Lord, help me get through this.  By the 2nd buoy, I'm feeling more comfortable and am able to pass more people.  Surprisingly, there is a nice open path ahead of me and I just seem to slip through the crowds.  I am able to keep my head down for long periods of time without even having to sight.  Wow, thanks Jesus!  This is fun!

I make it to the last buoy and I really hit a good rhythm.  I feel great all the way in and when I jump out don't even feel like an ice cube...thanks to the booties...which are also great for running up a sandy, obstacle-filled beach!

I get to my bike and begin, hopefully, the slowest transition of my season.  Since it's 48 degrees outside as well, I put on a jacket, long fingered gloves, leg warmers and beanie.  In addition, I have to fiddle with the GoPro Camera on my bike.  Finally I'm ready to go!  I have 2 loops today and they are shorter this year since the backside of the course love lost for me! 

120401_xterra_robin_bikeThe first set of obstacles I hit are nice big mud pits and puddles.  There is the photographer there, thankfully giving helpful advise on where to go and when to gun it.  I also remember Troy telling me to sit up and lock my arms.  I make it through...praise Jesus!  Phew, just one more time on that one!

I pass Dave Campbell volunteering as I head up the first climb..."Hey Dave".  I make it up and over and now the rocks are coming..  I'm able to navigate most of them well.  On one tough, rocky ascent, I power up in hopes of finally making it (since I couldn't do it in training).  I'm almost there and someone flies by on my right.  I panic and go left into a pile of rocks.  Timber!  I fall over to my left but I am fine...yeah!  "Are you alright someone says?"  "Oh, yeah, thanks!"  I get up and run until I can get back on. 

The next big obstacle is a big rock that I have to drop off.  I actually did it in practice Friday so I know I got this!  I make it!  Then as I try to make the following corner, someone passes me on the right and I head for another rock pile.  Thankfully, I'm able to stop myself and get going again.  Thanks God!

I am actually having fun even with having to run through a few really rocky descents!  The next big hill is not that bad and I actually make it over a pile of rocks that I wimped out on before.  I make my way back to the start and see my happy family waiting for me.  Okay, one more loop.  I just need to make the same obstacles and I'm good.120401_xterra_robin_bike5

Mud pits and puddles...check.  Climb up steep rocky ascent...check, but I do got passed again here but don't fall this time.  Rock drop off and sharp turn...check, even with getting passed again here.  Big rock pile...big check this time, I ride over it smoothly.  Running through same obstacles...check.  Simple zig-zag trails...check, but lost my concentration and ran into some rocks and watched a girl pass me.  I try my best to catch the girl but with little success.  No worries though, I still have the run!  I'm heading back to transition and hear my family cheering me on.  I also hear other spectators shouting out their recommendations on how to tackle the puddles at the end.  I panic and almost fall in. Back up, I bike in to transition.  Thank You Jesus!  I made it!!!

Transition is easy this time.  I rip off all my muddy layers and head out with a mostly clean outfit.  I give Anna a high five. Troy tells me I'm in 14th and encourages me to pass at least one girl. I struggle with my race belt since I forgot to adjust it since Troy borrowed it.  I miss the opportunity to call out to Ariel...silly being so focused on something so little.  I re-group and thank God for this race. 

120401_xterra_robin_runThe girl that passed me comes up alongside.  I tell her good job.  I'm not wearing my Garmin to save some time (I took up so much time in T1).  I have no idea what pace I'm running.  I'm pushing hard but I focus on keeping my breathing controlled and my body relaxed.  Soon, I'm pulling away from the girl and reeling in some men.  I don't see any women and wonder if Troy told me to pass one because all of the women are way ahead.  Finally I see another woman and am able to pass her.  Then within 5 minutes I see 2 more women and pass them too.  Up the big hill to the water tower is brutal but I try to remain focused. 

I finally make it up and over.  I struggle down the steep backside and try to channel Courtney Loveday's technique.  It goes okay but could be better!  I have no idea how many miles I've gone but I know the finish is getting close.  I see another girl and pass her going onto the single track trail.  I guess I'm in 12th place now.  Just when I'm about to see the final stretch, I see 2 more girls!  I pass them as fast as I can because I know that I need a good cushion...Anna will be waiting to run in with me. 

I see Anna waiting and I tell her to go and that I'll catch her.  I catch her and she runs hard to the finish with me.  Wow, she's getting fast!  We cross the line and I give her a huge hug!  Thank you Jesus for helping me get this done and with Anna beside me and Troy and Ariel cheering from the sidelines!