Saturday, July 28, 2012

Full Vineman Triathlon (Troy)

July 28, 2012 – Windsor, CA
2.4mSwim - 112m Bike – 26.2m Run

10:39 (1:06:00-2:41-5:34:45-3:51-3:52:25)


2nd, M40-44


Dale Jackson, FCA Teammate - Bill Severi

Comeback Day
It's pretty exciting, as well as ominous, waking up to an Ironman event, 7 yrs since my last one. That one was Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2005. I struggled on the bike going into the wind, and my foot problem made the run a physical and emotional gauntlet. But I finished it… in my slowest time of 10:49:09. 4 years later, after continued prayer and hope, the Lord caused my foot to suddenly start getting better after 10 yrs of pain. Since then I've been ramping up training, without pain, for this day, which I owe to the Lord, and to Robin for the support as Ironman training takes important time away from family.

Although I've felt sluggish all week, with little pains popping up here and there (this is normal peculiarity during the taper before a big race), I know I'm ready. My bike and needs bags are prepared. My bike has new tires & chain.  Thanks to Robin's help and encouragement, it also has a shim to help the seat stay up, a drink system straw (which I had lost) and a new cog set. I didn't want to use the cog set which includes a 28T granny gear because that's just embarrassing. No offense to grandmas, but they call it a granny gear because you need it as you get older to go up hills. I've been using a top gear of 21T for 12 years so a 28T is a big change. But Robin insisted.

Encouraging Reflections
My recent training has been good. 3 weeks ago the San Diego 15k race left a good memory for fast running and the TBF Tri-4-Real verified my bike position was finally dialed in. Then 2 weeks ago I had a good 20 miler and recently a good lake swim. Of course I'd like to have more long runs and long bikes under my belt, but knowing I felt "comfortable" in some of these last hard efforts is a great encouragement. The biggest encouragement, however, is knowing that my family and the Lord is supporting this effort.

Iron Prayer
Yesterday, at the FCA Iron Prayer, we only had 1 person arrive. But his testimony fit perfect with the topic, "Life and Triathlon Isn't Always Fair". Fortunately, our Lord, Jesus, shines in unfairness. He's experienced it all, and, in our lives, creates great encouragement from "unfairness". John Garza lost his 28yr old daughter to sudden cancer, but, through it, has seen his Faith grow and thrive for the first time in his life.  He's raising money through Team in Training and sharing his testimony for Christ to others.

Solomon spoke in Ecclesiastes about unfairness. One example he used was people voting in a bad king to replace a wise king just because of fickleness.  This is unfair for the hard-working king. Triathlon mishaps like flat tires, re-arranged equipment in transition, or sudden sickness on the run are things we may see as unfair after we've put so much work into preparing for the race. In my most important Hawaii Ironman 2003, my bike seat slipped down 7 times. The new method I used for keeping it in place was actually making do the opposite and slide down more. It was my final effort to reach my goal of 7 years, why would that happen?  Or why should my foot hurt for 10 yrs? In that case I didn't complain but continued to trust the Lord.  The amazing result was that my goal was still reached and the memory became a great milestone in my life of wonderful blessings that don't make sense at the time. The Bible says the Lord knows how to give the best gifts.  The most worthwhile accomplishments in our life often come from perseverance through unfairness.

1000 Fast-Looking Triathletes
We arrive in Guerneville at 5am. It's the day before Anna's birthday. She opens her present, a razor scooter that she can ride around all day, and then I head to transition. At registration yesterday I was reminded how many finely-tuned athletes show up at an Ironman distance event. So many gaunt, long-muscled endurance machines. I guess I fit right in. We're a funny looking crowd. I set up my transition. Porta-potties are not too busy yet. I run a little. Swim a little (the water is warm, 70 deg., no fear of getting too cold). 008Soon, there's not much to do but wait with my family. 003They're huddled together staying warm. We pray.

The Swim
Waves are leaving 2 min apart. 009I make my way to the start, float over to the right side of the 106 starters in my age.  Before I even know it, the horn blasts! Go! It's under way. Up-river looks foggy but the buoys are still clear. I miss the good drafts. I'm just trying to stay calm for a while. 012Soon we're moving through other waves. 1/2 way to the turn and I hardly see any silver caps in my group. My goal is 1:10. Most of my 1/2 Ironman swims have been 34 min.  I'm going to have to stay focused.  Robin said I'll probably go faster than 1:10. That's encouraging, but I'll need a draft for that to happen. Just when I think all the faster swimmers are long gone, a silver cap comes right by.  I'm able to jump on his feet! It's so great having a pull through the chaos of slower swimmers and walkers (yes, the river is shallow and despite being against the rules, some are choosing to walk).  I'm glad my draft guy isn't succumbing to the temptation to walk. It's like God sent this guy to give me a draft.  Thanks, God.

After the turn, we head back down-river to the start. Weaving through the crowd of walkers.  Scraping my hands on the bottom.  I lose my draft. Bummer. Cruising, open water, under the bridges and finally I see the purple and green of the Vineman T1 transition area. I check my watch, 30min! Great. But I'm not to the start yet, the transition and people lining the beach goes on and on. 32min and I make the turn.

Lap 2 and the mysterious draft
Back up river for lap 2. I have to push if I'm going to match my current pace without a draft. I'm getting hot.  Letting water into the mouth of my suit really helps… the cool over my chest and arms is a boost. At the turn buoy again.  50min. 15 min left to get 1:05.  I think I can do it but it's going to be hard. I need motivation. Suddenly, and shockingly, the same guy I drafted earlier comes swimming by me! After a 1/2 hour, this faster swimmer was behind me? Thanks God! I have to sprint to catch up and stay with him. It's great motivation. Even though I'm tired, having to focus on his feet takes my mind off the remaining 1000yds left to swim. Soon enough we're going under the 2 bridges lined with spectators.  There's the finish line! Wow, he pulled me all the way and made the new goal 1:05 possible. I walk to the beach, kick off my wetsuit to the cheers of the crowd and head to my bike. Surprisingly I’m 9th out of the water! It seemed the group had left me behind at the beginning. What a great start!

The Bike
WP_000292T1 goes well. Earlier I gave my backpack to Robin so I only have to pack my suit, goggles & towel into a bag. I'm nice and warm from the swim but the foggy air is 20 deg colder. I put on my FCA Endurance jacket that Robin bought me and run to the mount line. I'm glad to see Robin right there. We mount at the bottom of a steep grade. Others are having trouble starting.  That granny gear Robin bought me is already earning it's keep… it allows me a clean start up the hill! I'm off… but then 1 shoe comes off the pedal while trying to put my foot in. I catch it with my foot.  When this happened at San Jose, I had to get off and lose time. But this time I keep calm and keep rolling.  I grab the shoe from my foot, cross my leg over the bike and put it back on. Great.

Calculating Speed, Heart Rate and Gear Ratios
At the next steep grade I use the granny gear again. Terrific.  I'm feeling good about the ride.  I'm watching for holes so the bumps don’t knock my seat down. The jacket is working great. My pace is moving up to target. There's no wind so I set a goal of 20.5mph for the first loop and 18.5mph for the 2nd, to get my goal of 19.5mph. The scenery is great. I pass a couple riders but there's not many around. My position is feeling pretty good. And, again, I'm thanking Robin for my new cog set.  Even though the granny gear is not used a lot, having it at the top allows other gears to be used that I couldn't before. Without leaving the big chain-ring, I can now access 23T and 25T when before I was limited to 19T. This means a lot less shifting!  To pass the time, I work on a math problem:  calculate my anaerobic threshold heart rate. It was 165bpm at Ironman Canada 16 yrs ago. My max then was 194. That makes 85%. Minus 85% of 16 yrs is 14 less beats. 151bpm. Don’t go over that.

The Back Side - Feeling Strong But a Little Nausea
120728_vineman_troy_bikeCanyon Rd, about ½ way around, is the first of 2 significant climbs. I’ve been riding well and now sit up to take the hill easy. A guy (50yr age group) goes by and excitedly tells me, “I’ve been chasing that yellow jersey for 20 miles! I’ll help do some of the lead work now”. He’s a nice guy decked out in orange with yellow socks. It’ll be easy to keep him in my sights. Quite a few pass me on the climb, but flying down the backside I make up positions.

This East back-side of the valley is flat & smooth.  The wind is mild but I still try to be aero and efficient. I have 2 riding positions: up and forward, or down and back. Down and back worked good at the last TBF race I did so I try to re-enact it.

I’m drinking Hammer Sustained Energy, which always works great for long distances, but I'm also taking some Perpetuem Solids and banana. My stomach is getting a little nauseous. I try a bite of peanut butter cookie Laura Bar (peanut butter sandwiches used to be an Ironman favorite of mine). I decide I better stick to fluids rather than risk more stomach upset.

Everything else is going great, I’m at 20.4mph, and approaching Chalk Mtn, the 2nd real climb. I take my first rolling nature break, take off my jacket, and drink fluids to lighten the bike. Now I’m ready to climb… making sure to stay below 151bpm. I drop below 20mph ave by the top and set to work getting it back. I fly down the bumpy backside and finally turn towards Windsor with 8 miles of flat to go till our needs bags. A bunch of guys pass me, but I’m busy putting sunscreen on. Another good idea from Robin. She bought me a little tube and gave me her Bento Box to store it. This will be great because the wetsuit scraped it off my shoulders, which would later burn, and that takes energy out of the run. I’m happy to take a little time now to maintain the run later.

Special Needs
Coming into town, I’m near the guy in orange. I plan my needs bag transition: drop the jacket, bottles, sunscreen, and coffee Perpetuem Solids; pick up new bottles, strawberry solids, Sportslick and running shorts (the last item is because I forgot to put them at T2. This is the only legal way to get them now). The volunteers are great, holding my needs bag. I apply Sportslick where it really counts; prompting the guy in charge to say, “It aint a pretty sport”. And now I’m off to catch the guy in orange. He's finishing the 1mile out-n-back when I start. Then I see Robin and the girls driving up. I’m so excited because I’m 8 minutes ahead of schedule and thought I’d miss them. I give them a thumbs up to let them know the bike is going great!

WP_000295Seeing Friends
Through the bumpy, shady, rural section. Another rolling nature break. I pass the Raford Inn of Healdsburg, where we’re staying and wave to our friend Rita and some of the guests looking out for me. It’s been great having such support while staying there. I know this section of road well from warm-ups around the bed-n-breakfast.

The Perfect Position
Now, back on the main loop, I set to maintaining my pace until the East side where I expect headwinds to drop it down. Before I get to Canyon Rd again, I find the perfect down-and-back position. It feels comfortable, relaxed, aero and my speed is maintained! Thank you Lord! Then, in a funny turn of events, I catch the orange-guy near the same spot he caught me before. I tell him, “I’ve been chasing that orange jersey for 20mi!”

Up Canyon Rd hill, drinking plenty. I’m excited to see Robin and the girls at the top! Yay! I tell them it’s going great and then fly down the back. Ok, this it the hard part. Flat, smooth, but some headwinds. I get into my down-and-back position and hardly feel the wind! I feel like I could go forever this way. I think of my ultra-cycling friends, like Jeff Landauer. Usually I’m uncomfortable, having to force the speed at this point. But instead I feel good. 022Another guy tells me “good job, good work”. I do feel like I'm doing a better job than usual.  I just thank the Lord for an answer to prayer.. being comfortable.. and keeping the seat up.. it looks like the shim, from an old Coke can a co-worker had given me, is working. Another thing Robin encouraged me to do!

Emergency Stop
97mi and I’m still at 20.4 mph. Whoo hoo! But a road block is ahead with a dozen riders waiting patiently. An emergency vehicle is parked across the road with a whirling helicopter right behind it. It’s blades narrowly missing the trees on either side. Inside the whirlybird is an injured cyclist that had crashed. While he’s being stabilized, the helicopter waits to take off. And we put our Ironman on hold without any complaint. It is Impressive that none of us hard-charging racers appear upset. I think it’s because we all know that guy could be one of us and that being able to walk again is a lot more important than a little competition. We move to the shade, stretch and drink. My average slowly drops from 20.4 to 19.8 but I realize that extra speed was a gift from God, not something I had counted on. Maybe this is why He gave me the fast pace.

I also reflect on my first Hawaii Ironman in ’96 when I had to serve a 4min penalty after the bike. The position foul had been unintentional but I made the best of the rest with stretching and drinking. Everything still worked out great. The 8min delay today may actually have a few minutes benefit in the run. But I am starting to feel the heat pick up when the chopper throttles up and lifts off. I’m amazed at the steadiness, hovering between the tall pines, carefully but powerfully rising.. and then whisking the fallen rider off to the hospital. The CHP gives us the go and the now 25 riders take off to finish up our ironman bike.

Surge to the End
I’m back ‘n forth with the first 6 guys, trying to avoid draft situations. Hitting the Chalk Mtn climb, my heart rate (159) exceeds the threshold (151). I have to ease way back, into the Granny gear again, to bring it barely under the limit. The guys go ahead but after the top I use the free-speed again to move back towards the lead. One guy in a “BODIES-The Exhibition” skin suit gets far ahead. I’m averaging 12 BPM higher then the 1st loop on these final 15miles.  WP_000299Definitely not as comfortable as before. With 5 mi. to go, I ease up, take lots of fluids and Enduralytes and prepare for the run. We’re pretty close together as we run into T2. I'm in 2nd place!  2:41 bike split (20.1mph) and 13th fastest in my 40-44 age group.

Robin and the girls are cheering, telling me only 1 40-44 has gone through so far. Wow! I hear the crowd commenting on the sudden pack of riders finishing.  They're unaware of the accidentWP_000302. I ask Robin to pray for the injured cyclist and then head off to the changing tent. For the first time since ’96, I change into running shorts.  I'm looking for every way possible to make the run more comfortable. I head out and now am 3rd place.

The Run - Loop 1 - Pumped Up, and then Deflated
I'm excited to take on my strong leg. I leave my needs bag (with Sustained Energy) for later loops 2 and 3. My first miles are 7:30 & 7:50 which are way under my planned 8:30 pace. But it feels ok. I’m eager to get 1 loop out of the way.

Our friend, Noel, out from Texas supporting her club, is on a bike and encourages me, “you’re rocking it, Troy. I think you’re in 10th. You look great!” I’m thankful but I know there’s a long way to go. Still, I start counting the guys coming back, excited I might actually be 10th.

A young tall guy passes me and compliments my race. I recognize him from the bike. I’m smiling, positive, motivated. I decide to stay with him to help pass the miles. But up the hills my heartrate forces me to back off. He’s the age I was at my first Ironman.  I remember those 14 extra heart beats to work with.

2 miles in and the fun is wearing off. I assess reality. I have a tender rt hamstring that I’m nursing by shortening my stride. The ball of my left foot is generating a hot-spot intensified on the climbs. And my stomach is nauseous. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. Now I try to hold off taking in anything until I can get my Sustained Energy starting the next loop. My heart rate and my speed are dropping.

At 3.5 miles there’s a steep hill. I remember it from my ’93 ½ Vineman experience. It was a 106 degrees and every step my feet hurt, as if I was barefoot on the hot road. I walk the hill. Now I longingly look for the turn-around.  Finally, there it is!

35:35 going out. 7:54 / 143bpm ave.

Working Together
Ok just have to get back. But it’s feeling long now.  I quit keeping track of my position which has dropped way back. I wish I was back on the bike so I could coast. Down the steep hill I find myself next to a woman in Barb’s Race. We're running the same pace and start talking. This helps greatly to pass the miles. Kelly, from Orange County, is here with her club.  They were going to do the Aquabike but it was full so they had to do the triathlon. She’s nursing a strained knee. After 3 miles she has to slow down. I pray for her knee and am sorry to leave her behind as she really helped keep me going.

WP_000304Finally nearing the school. The ¼ mile of off-camber is hard on the sore legs. Coming into the turn-around I see Robin and the girls. Such a joy to see. I tell Robin I’m hanging in there but inside I’m wondering how am I going to get around that brutal loop 2 more times. My pace has only dropped from 8 to 9 min/miles, but looks to go higher.  I get doused with water and then grab Sustained Energy bottles from my needs bag.

39:44 coming back. 8:50 / 140bpm ave.

The Run - Loop 2 - New Encouragement
Robin yells, “You’re going to get your 2nd wind!” I head out, drinking SE and thinking about that. Yes, I guess it could get better. I decide to start guessing my pace for each mile.  I think about only 1 mile at a time. 9:33. Ok, the next one I’ll try for 9:15. 9:05, whoo hoo! This mile is hilly so how about 9:30.. 9:32, good. Things are going better. The Lord has answered prayers again. My hamstring feels fine, the ball of the foot is ok and my stomach is getting better. The legs are very sore but they actually don't feel worse going faster. I make a good effort before the steep hill and reward myself with another walk. This is the only place I’ll walk. The stretch to the turn-around is hot and flat.

40:28 going out. 9:00 / 140bpm ave.

The Leader is Bonks
029The pace held pretty well going out.  But I'm really hot.  I’m now stopping at every aid station to get thoroughly drenched with the hose. I have a sun protector flap on my hat and have been using water / ice on the head, but the dousing works best to bring down my temp, and therefore my pace. By the next station I’m hot again. The tailwind back helps bring some sub-9 miles. I haven't tried to know what place I'm in. So many guys are going by, but what loop are they on? At 16mi I’m running with a guy on his first loop. He points out that we’re about to pass the 1st place guy. Sure enough, there’s the “1st Place” bike waiting for the leader to start running again. He’s a lap ahead of us, 2 miles from winning the race, and he’s breaking down. That’s gotta hurt. As I finish my 2nd loop, Robin and the girls cheer again and this time I’m optimistic as I tell her “I’ll be back in 1:20” which is a 9min pace.  That would finish my marathon in under 4 hrs.

39:47 coming back. 8:51 / 139bpm ave.

The Run - Loop 3 - Coke
Making the turn I hear the announcer say, “The leader is coming. He’s got 45 secs to break 9:30 and win $4000! Let’s bring him in!” Wow, he’s barely able to run… but he just barely makes it! I drink the rest of my S.E. and head out playing my pace guessing game. I get a couple good sub-9 splits and then the glorious 20mi mark! I get to drink Coke. Umm! Slowly some energy comes back to me. I start pushing a little more. Again I reward myself with a walk up the steep climb and still manage a sub-9. I make the turn-around and they ask if I’d like to come back again. I joke, “No, I’m never coming back here again!” They laugh but I’m truly glad this is the last time coming out here.

39:34 going out. 8:48 / 139bpm ave.

A Fire is Lit - The Perfect Target
I look ahead. Runners everywhere. But amidst the slogging crowd I see I guy in grey I recognize. He passed me early on and seems to have come back a little. I pick it up but can’t seem to make ground on him. I can barely see him. Pushing the heart rate up.  I have to get sprayed down at each station to keep from overheating.  But I make it fast in order to stay in the hunt. 2 miles to go and I’m running much better.  7:30 miles!  I'm determined to cut into his lead. I don’t know if he’s in my age but I just feel I must give it my best effort.

Just having a goal, both difficult and achievable, is a blessing. It gives me something to focus on. When you think of races, you often remember your last miles and if they were your best effort. It may be 2 years till I race an Ironman again.  I don't want to think for 2 years about 2 miles I eased up on.  I must give it my all!  Much time, preparation and effort has gone into this race.

120728_vineman_troy_finish41 mile to go and still not gaining. I look down and give my biggest effort yet in the race. When I look up at 25.7 miles, there he is! Just behind him, I ease up for a moment to catch my breath.  Then I go for it! I tell him “Good job” and surge forward with all I’ve got. I feel God telling me not to look back but just to do my best. So I sprint. The end of a 10-1/2 hr effort and I’m sprinting. People cheering. I’m almost done. He may be far behind, or right with me. I just need to sprint. Yay! There’s Robin and the girls.  Normally they'd run with me but I see they're not going to this time. So I continue with all I’ve got.. and yay! I’m done!

36:41 coming back. 8:09 / 149bpm ave.

Thank You, Lord, I'm Done!
WP_000307Thank you Lord for getting me through those lowly, exhausting miles and providing incentive, as the runner in gray, that brought out the best in me those last 2 miles. Miles to remember the next 2 years. Turns out he was in my age group and chasing me. I was 2nd by only 8 secs! Even with the struggles midway through the run, it was still the fastest 40-44 split. One thing Robin and I try to remember to make us always push hard is that “you never know what’s going to happen” Today I was surprised what happened. It was more than expected. I give credit for that to the Lord. Thank you, Jesus.

I was 2nd out of 106 (14 didn’t finish).  16th overall.





Age Group





DALE JACKSON AquaBike 6:36:19 M50-54 1st 1:08:53 5:23:53 NA





2nd 1:06:00 5:34:45 3:52:25




M45-49 7th 1:08:15 5:40:27 4:20:21

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tri For Kids Triathlon - Anna

July 8, 2012 – Rancho Seco Park, Herald, CA
50meterSwim - 4m Bike - 1m Run



2nd, Girls 6 and Under

Getting Ready to Go

120708_tbf_kidstri_anna (3)120708_tbf_kidstri_anna (6)120708_tbf_kidstri_anna (12)


I just got in the water and I’m swimming.  Lots of kids are walking but I’m swimming.  I’m going around my first buoy and I’m feeling great!  I’m swimming, swimming and then I run out to my bike.  I had to stop because Daddy had to unzip my wetsuit.

Now I’m running to my bike and taking off my wetsuit.  I don’t know what to do next so I grab my bike shorts and put them on.  I got my bike shorts on and then I put on my shoes.  I put on my helmet and then I put on my Camelback.  I almost forgot to put my bike number on.  I grab my bike and run down to the bike start and start biking.120708_tbf_kids_anna_swim


I went out on the bike course and I was biking and I found a friend.  We are biking together and talking.  On the way back, I found a girl that fell.  My other friend takes off and I stay with the girl and help her take her shoe lace out of her tire.  I biked with this girl the whole way back and we finish together. 


When I am going out the girl that fell down takes off.  I grab some water and drink a little bit and try pour the rest on my head.  I give Ariel a high five and start the run.  I’m going to look for my friend that I started the bike with.  As I’m running up the hill, I can see my friend.  We run together up and down the hills.  She says her foot hurts and I tell her about God…”if you believe in God, God will help you”.  I say this two times to help her know.  I hold her hand and we finish together.  That was a great race!

Watch the race…

Coronado Independence Day 15K (Robin)

July 4, 2012 – Coronado, CA
15km Run



7th, W35-39


Troy Soares

This race is starting to become a yearly tradition for Troy and I.  It’s nice to be able to race together without the girls.  They are sleeping soundly back at Grammie and Papa’s house and will soon be awake and having fun. 

It’s difficult finding parking on the small island of Coronado but we finally squeeze into a spot with my Mom’s small car.  As we jog to the start and later back to the car to drop off gear, I can tell that I’m not feeling peppy.  In fact it’s hard to motivate myself to run a proper warm-up with pick ups. 

We line up together at the start and pray.  I give Troy a hug and flash him a smile.  I notice a girl on the front line decked out in red white and blue…she has a skirt and crazy socks that’s hard to miss.

120704_Coronado15KReady, set, go!  Close to 1200 of us jump off the line.  I’m swallowed up in the crowd quickly.  I notice that same girl that was in front of me in the crazy outfit just passed me.  How did that happen?  Wasn’t she in front of me?  Is she part of a set of twins?  I guess I’ll soon find out on this out and back course.  Not long after we begin, the course narrows significantly.  Folks are calling out obstacles like poles and holes…it’s nice to see that kind of courtesy and care! 

Mile 1 is 7:00.  For someone going from 1300’ in elevation to sea level, this should feel much easier!  I try to stay positive and thankful.  I can see Troy way in the distance and hope he’s feeling better than I am!

We run along the Coronado golf course where folks are already lining up for the big fireworks show tonight..dedication!  Mile 2 is 7:00.  Why do I feel so yucky?  I think back to my recent runs and I realize it’s almost been a week since I last ran!  Oops!  I guess I’ve been doing more biking and swimming lately.  Well that explains a lot but I must not let this bit of knowledge sabotage my race.  Lord, help me to push hard and persevere!

We pass the beautiful Hotel del Coronado and run along the strand.  Soon we are turning left into one of the naval bases.  Mile 3 is 7:02.  I see the skirt girl ahead along with a blond girl.  I hope to catch up while on base.  I am able to catch a few other girls but it’s tough. We run past some military folks getting ready to do some morning exercises.  I try to say thanks for your service but it’s hard to annunciate the words.  I think all they could hear was some mumbling and could only see a painful smile…probably a scary sight!

Mile 4 is 6:57.  Yeah, better, but boy this is painful still!  I start seeing the leaders heading back and do they look fast!  This race is clearly a big club event and you can see the different sponsors and teams represented.  There are 2 girls in the top 15…impressive!  I’m looking forward to seeing Troy.  I see the girl in the crazy skirt coming back in the top 20 and another girl in a crazy skirt still heading out just ahead of me.  Yes, twins!  Cute!  Here comes Troy!  He’s smiling and looking strong!  I muster a smile and a high five. 

Mile 5 is 6:57.  That’s not bad.  Lord, this is tough.  Help me to have a “happy heart” despite the difficulty!  The skirt girl and blond girl continue to allude me but I don’t give up.

Mile 6  and 7 is a 7:03.  I’m so ready to be done!  Just when I’m letting the negative thoughts pour in, the Lord provides a distraction.  A guy goes by and I just get on his shoulder.  It gets my legs moving again and my focus back.  Though he eventually pulls away, I’m closer to the blond girl.

Mile 8 is 6:58.  Better!  Thanks God! 

One more mile!  I keep trying to push but it’s difficult.  A girl goes by and I cannot react.  Lord, I know I can make it!  Though the wheels are coming off, I’m still pushing with what I have.  I see Troy as I approach the end.  Mile 9 is 7:05…ugh!  There’s the finish line.  It seems so far away but finally I’m there and I’m done!  THANK YOU GOD!  Phew, now it’s time to rest!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

TBF Tri-For-Real (Troy)

July 8, 2012 – Rancho Seco Park, Herald, CA
1.5kmSwim - 40km Bike - 10km Run

2:08:24 (23:30-1:04:40-40:15)


1st, M40-44


Dave Campbell

We're at Rancho Seco County Park, in the shadow of the giant reactor towers!  Before my race I get to watch Anna do her first open-water triathlon!  It's amazing watching her swim in a lake, with all the bumping that goes on with mass-starts, and round a buoy and sprint for the finish.  She races up and carefully goes through her transition just as planned and now is out on the road.  Very exciting… but I've got to warm-up for my race now.

I run and stretch. No time to bike.  Last night we had to camp a 1/2 hour away because the gates closed here.  So we didn't have as much time to prepare for our races.  But I feel like it's going to be good anyway.  My focus is on the bike.  It was my weak link in my last race so I've changed my seat position and hope for good results today, my last race before my Vineman attempt in 3 weeks.

I rush down to the water.  Swim a hundred yds in my new, warmer wetsuit.  The water is already warm so I'll actually have to make an effort this morning to stay cool.  I fill my suit with water, pray, and line up.  This is the "Over 40" wave with 100 athletes. I hear my friendly competitor, Dave Campbell, but can't find him in the crowd.

The Start:

Go!  It's a wide start and a nice straight shot to the buoy.  I feel like I'm swimming fast.  I pull ahead of a guy next to me, round the buoy and head into the sun on the long back stretch.  I never find a good draft.  I'm side-by-side with the guy next to me, which is helpful when I try different techniques to see which is fastest with less energy.  Periodically I pull the neck of my wetsuit down to let in some cool water.  I'm very warm.

Around the final buoy I let the guy next to me get ahead and stay in his draft to rest up.  With 200 yds to go I make my move by him and go all out.  He picks it up but isn't close enough to get my full draft.  Good effort, good plan.  I come out of the water in 23:30, 9th (1:15 behind Dave), I get out of my suit well, and Anna and Ariel are there to cheer for me :)  I have a good 021transition and I am out on the road.

The Bike:

This is my focus.  At San Jose I couldn't get into the groove.  I've adjusted my seat since then.  So far it's going well.  I absorb the 6 speed bumps heading out of the park.  On the open, rolling roads, I have a tail wind.  Goal speed going out is 25.  Last time I raced this course, I passed guys going out and then got passed coming back into the wind.  So I have to save some energy for the return.  I'm looking for Dave.  There he is.  He always has great aero position.  12 yrs older than me and still hard to catch him.

"Good job, Dave!"  I pass Dave, 55yrs old, but another 50yr old passes me.  Now I pass a 44yr old (my age group).  Can I stay ahead of him on the way back?  Nearing the turn-around, it's nice to be so familiar with the roads, since we drove them last night and this morning returning from our camping at Camanche Lake.

On the bike is a good time talk to God and go over the previous day and the days to come.  I realize He takes care of everything so why do I get frustrated and grumpy, thinking things aren't right sometimes?  I always look back and see its futility.  I want to look back and see someone always joyful, relying on the Lord.  Thanks, God, for this good time together on the bike.

I make a good turn-around and see Jeff, the 44 yr old, right behind me.  Slight headwind now.  This is where I have to make it count.  I work my position.  I focus on the road just slightly ahead when going up the rollers.  It's working out, I'm maintaining a good speed, even into the wind.  I'm not slowing as much as I did at SJ.  I'm staying ahead of the 44 yr old.

Towards the end, I'm staying above 23mph and realizing that the goal has been met today!  I finish in 1:02:12, 4th in the above 40 wave.  I felt much better on the bike and am excited to hit the run now.

The Run:

After a great transition, Anna & Ariel cheer me on and Anna tells me she got 2nd!  Wow, I didn't expect that.  I'm pumped up and still feeling inspired from the great run race in San Diego.  I don't know what place I'm in but am ready to catch a few.

Mile 1: 6:50. I feel great, confident, motivated.  I encourage those from earlier waves that I'm passing.  It's a warm day but I'm trying to ignore that.  I drink at every aid station.  Now I see 2 guys far ahead.  I time it.. 1min ahead.  I can catch 'em.

Mile 2: 6:38.  I check the time again and I'm only 40 secs back.

Mile 3: 6:19. We make the turn-around and I'm getting closer to one guy while the other pulls away a bit.  I also see Dave Campbell behind me.  Wow, he's closer to me than I thought he would be.

I'm working hard and confident I can hold the pace.  I'm thanking the Lord for making my running possible.  For years I endured a painful achilles heel ailment and now I run pain-free.  Thank you, Lord.  And He's always helped me run well in the heat, as uncomfortable as it is.

I catch the 50yr old, Steve, that passed me and put 4 min on me on the bike.  I'd love to ride like that when I'm 50.

Mile 4: 6:23. We're on the dry, winding single-track trails near the lake now.  I've got the next guy in my sights.  I feel like I'm doing great and not slowing down but I'm mindful that anything can happen.  I can slip, fall, cramp, or get injured in some way.  So I continue to thank the Lord and appreciate what He's already done for me.  I make my move and pass the guy, finding out that he's 39, and not in my age group.  Maybe I'm close to the front in my age group?

Mile 5: 6:19. I don't see anyone else ahead except for a relay runner that I'm trying to catch but is really running fast.  I drink as much water as possible at the aid station.  I cheer on the runners going the other way.  My legs are getting tired but I have to push with everything now as there's only 1/2 mile to go.

Mile 6: 6:31.  I see the spectators.  I hit the grass and try to sprint.  There's Anna ready to run with me.  She starts going and I have to pick it up even more to catch her.  It's a perfect connection and we sail in the finish.


Thank, you, Lord. All the credit goes to you. I finished the run in 40:15, 2:08:24 overall, 3rd in the above 40 wave and 1st 40-44.  This was my last race before my big even, the Vineman, and what a boost it was.  First, to gain confidence in the run at the Independence Day 15k, and then to nail the bike and the run at this tri… I now feel ready for the Ironman!035

Great Job Dave!




Age Group








1st 23:30 1:04:40 40:15



M55-59 1st 22:14 1:07:54 42:09

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Coronado 15k (Troy)

July 4, 2012 – Coronado, CA
15km Run



6th, M40-44


Robin Soares

I'm glad to be on vacation in San Diego where Robin's family lives.  With busy work & longer training, I'm tired.  But today we have to race.  It's a great event.. large turn-outs.. patriotic.. very competitive. I look forward to it but maybe I'll just take it easy.  I don't feel like I can run fast.

The kids are with Grammie and Papa as we drive to Coronado Island.  It's a little foggy & cool.  We warm up & stretch.  Runners are coming from everywhere, filling the large beautiful park along the bay.  The race announcer says "It's a perfect day for running!"  True.  Last year was a little hot.  I remember being way back (99th) at the 1/2 way turn-around and then making a big effort that felt good and moving up to 50th at the finish.

Before the start a guy talks to us about his big marathon come-back he's making after injuries.  He mentions fast times & his goal to "crush" everyone in his age.  We're interested to see how he does today.

120704_Coronado15KThe National Anthem is sung.  We line up a few rows back in a crowd of 1200 and pray together before the start.  Go!  Right off the bat we have to sprint just to keep up with the field.  The grass course funnels down to the bike path.  Nicely winding along the water, then the golf course, then onto the roads.  I'm behind a small woman that seems to use no energy to maintain this pace.

Mile 1: 6:40. On the road now I focus on efficiency. I try to match her running style by thinking "light".  I lean forward slightly and try to "fall-ahead" while tapping the ground just enough to stay afloat.  Nice thoughts but my engineering brain knows that 165lbs turns into over 300lbs every step.  The real help comes from the Lord.  When I focus on Him, I feel more capable, relaxed and joyful.

Mile 2: 6:05. Wow, that was a fast mile.  I'll continue focusing on efficiency and the Lord above.  The woman is pulling ahead but I keep her in sight.  I'm starting to pass a few runners. I see the guy we spoke to before the race and he says to me, "I'll probably turn at the 5k mark.  Don't want to push it."  Interesting.  Now we turn onto the Navy base and start thanking the military volunteers for their service.

Mile 3: 6:35. We head back and forth on the straight roads in the base.  I still see the fast woman farther ahead and hear someone say, "… first.." to her.  Maybe she's the first woman.  Now I feel better for being able to stay with her.  But as we turn the corner I start to see other women already heading back to the finish!  Maybe what they said to her was, "51st".

Mile 4: 6:33.  I encourage the runners heading back.  I plan to pick it up after the turn.  Counting runners I find I'm 50th.  Great improvement over last year.  That feels great.  I start ramping it up.  I'm happy to see Robin on the other side and we encourage each other as we go by.

Mile 5: 6:27.  Good to see the pace picked up some.  This is the fun part because last year I remember picking off so many runners on these straight stretches.  I feel good.  I'm moving up.. 44, 43..

Mile 6: 6:10.  Wow, great mile.  I'm thanking the Lord for feeling so capable.  We head off the base now and I know it's only a few more miles.  I hope to move up to under 40th. Go, go, go.  I try to relax and lengthen the stride.  But I'm starting to feel some soreness

Mile 7: 6:20.  Onto the sidewalks now.  Some people are cheering.  I see the woman ahead a little closer.  I start to keep splits to see if I'm gaining.  I'm in 40th now and still gunning for the next runner ahead.. 39th..

Mile 8: 6:14.  Another great mile.  Onto the nice curving road.  I'm slowly catching her but she's also picking up the pace.  38th now.  I see the talkative guy that was downgrading his race to the 5k.  Looks like he stopped altogether and now is chatting away with the volunteers.  Funny.  We make the turn onto the bike path.. Here we go!

Mile 9: 6:04. I've moved into 37th place after passing the "effortless woman" and telling her her stride was inspiring.  I pass a guy, moving into 36th. I curve around to the park with the cheers of many spectators.  Onto the grass and the guy I passed moments ago now comes sprinting by.  I give my best sprint but I'm out-matched. Did I break 1 hr? Close, 1:00:30.  37th pl (6th in my age).  Thanks, God, that was exciting and unexpected.  I feel great!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Silicon Valley Triathlons - Robin

June 23 & 24, 2012 –
Morgan Hill & San Jose, CA
Sat - Long Course Relay 1.2mSwim
Sun - 1.5K Swim-40K Bike- 10K Run

Sat -  33:13

Sun - 2:32:05 (26:18-1:51-1:17:40-2:13-44:03)


3rd, WRelay

4th, W35-39


Long Course - FCA: Jessica Bonner, Karen Nickel, Les Wong, Marilyn Watson
Other: Kathleen Calkins, Kathy Winkler

Olympic - FCA: Christy Floyd, Clyde Floyd, Cory Floyd, David Fraser; Other: Tana Jackson

Long Course Swim - Saturday

I’m excited to swim for my friend, Karen Nickel, today. I hope to beat Troy’s time…it should be close(= The girls are probably still sleeping back at the Ridder’s house. It was so nice of them to keep the girls at their place so I can focus on the event! Troy and I drive out towards UVAS. We stop at the long road leading to Karen’s campsite along the way. I pick Karen up and drop Troy off. This way they both are getting warmed up on the bike.

Before the races begin, Troy and I lead the FCA Endurance sponsored group prayer. It’s the perfect way to start the day and remind us and others it’s all about Him. It’s so nice to be here with many FCA Teammates, new friend and old friends. In addition, I’m with my training partners this season, Karen and Jessica Bonner.

I tell Jessica to stay with the pro racer, Kathleen Calkins. Kathleen is a super sweet gal that is also super fast. I know that Jessica and her will be well matched for the swim. Troy takes off in his race first and I warm-up for my race. I run into fellow relay racer, David, that I met in transition. He is excited for his first triathlon experience. We swim over to the start and wish each other well. It’s a small field of relay racers and Aquabikers.

Ready, set, go! A few swimmers sprint ahead and I do my best to keep them in my sights. For a moment, I think I’ve got a draft but then the swimmer drifts off to the left. I opt to stay the course since I'm good at swimming straight. I wonder if it’s to my advantage or disadvantage to swim alone. I make the first buoy feeling strong. Out to the next buoy I focus on my stroke and keep my head down as much as possible. I’m passing swimmers from the previous two waves now. I don’t notice any swimmers from my wave which means those swimmers ahead of me have pulled far away.

By the 3rd buoy, I’m feeling tired but I continue to put my head down and reach out with each stroke. I’m still passing other swimmers and wonder if I’m swimming faster than Troy. I can see a few swimmers from my wave and it motivates me to push hard through the last buoy.

I can see the swim finish now and I remind myself to go for it. Karen is waiting for me and don’t want to let her down. I’m kicking hard and trying to maintain efficient form. Soon I’m at the shore and I stand up and run straight up into transition…there’s no need to take the wetsuit off today. I hit my watch and see 33:13. Yes! I’ll take it! I hope that trumps Troy;) I run up to Karen, take off the chip and put it on her ankle. “Go Karen!” She runs out of transition and off she goes.

I wait for David to finish and cheer for him and his teammate, Issac, who is taking off on the bike. Now it’s time to head back to check on the girls. It’s going to be a long, fun day!

Finish Strong Karen!


International Tri - Sunday

Today Troy and the girls drop me off at the same road as yesterday.  I bike in. I’m a one-man band today. I’m not as excited. Mostly I’m feeling tired from the long day yesterday and late nights catching up with old friends. I know that it’s not all about me and I pray for reminders of that.

I set up my spot and run into Tana Jackson and fellow FCA teammates, Clyde and Cory Floyd. We all meet up later at the pre-race prayer. Troy and I again lead the group. I feel led to thank the Lord for giving us all the ability to race even with the challenges we face daily with health or circumstances. Anna prays for the group to have fun today…what a sweetie! The sun comes out as we wrap up the prayer. It’s a beautiful morning!

Today while I swim, Troy and Anna are going to practice some open water swimming. Anna is doing a kids triathlon in a few weeks and she will have to swim 50 meters in a lake. I warm-up and then swim over to the family to give Anna some encouragement. Anna is putting on her spring suit and Troy his full wetsuit. I hope Anna is warm enough!

I get to the start of my race and line up with the other ladies in purple caps. I’m wearing an almost new wetsuit sent from our friend Patty at I’m hoping it will make me faster than my old one. Ready, set, go! I go out quick and tuck in behind another swimmer. At the first buoy, I’m alone and I can see a few purple caps ahead of me. I’m really noticing that my arms are tired. I expected to feel more recovered but it makes sense because I swam over a mile yesterday. The wetsuit may make me faster but my body is going to make me slower.

I’m passing quite a few swimmers from the other waves. There is one purple cap way out in front of me. I use the same strategy as yesterday to put my head down and stretch out my stroke. I’m relieved to see the last buoy is much closer than yesterday. I’m swimming about 0.3 miles less today…yes!

120624_siliconvalley_inter_robin_swimI’m finally heading to the shore and I am looking forward to getting on the bike. A swimmer from the wave behind me goes flying by and I get right on his heels…wow, he’s an aquabike or relay guy several waves back! I stay in the draft even as he pulls away. I feel like I woke up from my slumber and I continue to push to the finish. I get out of the water ready to pull off my wetsuit quickly. I struggle to pull my arms out and then I cannot seem to get my legs out either. I have to pull it off with my hands. (I realize later that I never put “Pam” on the suit to make it slick…rookie mistake).

I run up to my bike and pull on my new FCA Endurance race jacket. I struggle to pull it on but it’s well worth being warm out there! I run out with my shoes on my bike and manage to put my feet in will swerving very little. I’ll need to work on that more in the future!

Starting out I feel great! I get aero and pass a hand-full of riders out there. It is quite chilly even with the jacket and I’m really glad to have it! After a few miles a girl passes me. I make an effort to catch back up but she is too strong. Before the first turn at 5 miles, I’ve been passed by several different girls. My legs are tired and are not able to respond. I can feel the frustration setting in and I am reminded of how often I tell people that with the Lord, even a bad race day is a good day. I see a girl with a flat and I ask her if she needs help. “I need a tubular tire.” “I don’t have one, I’m sorry!” I feel bad riding on. I pray that bike support will find her out here. Lord, my bike is still working, forgive me for being a grump!

120624_siliconvalley_inter_robin_bikeI turn on Oak Glen and ride out to beautiful Chesbro Reservoir…I find myself thinking, "it's the only beautiful thing as there is a headwind and many riders ahead"  There I go again, being negative, Lord, help me to be content.  I see several girls riding back from the out-and-back section. I see an FCA jersey…I think it’s Cory Floyd. I try to continue to push the pace as much as possible despite being a ways back. I still feel the chill even in the sun.

I make the right turn to the out and back section. It’s narrow here that no one can pass. To make it even more challenging, it’s a downhill so the cautious riders are going really slow. I remind myself that I have been in the "cautious rider" category so don't get upset if I have to slow down. I make the turn and start to pass the riders ahead little by little.

At the top, I am able to pull ahead of a few riders. I see Clyde Floyd approaching. “Go Clyde”. He’s a fast rider and I expect he’ll pass me. It gets me motivated to ride harder to try and hold him off. Soon, I’m back on UVAS/McKean Rd. and the head wind continues to be strong. I’m trying not to be negative but hopeful. A girl in a Facebook jersey goes by and then settles into a slower pace. I pick it up and pass her. In a few moments, she attempts to pass me back but I push hard to keep her from getting past my front wheel. I don’t want to go back and forth, having to back off each time she passes. I want this to stick so I keep up the effort. It’s a good challenge that has me motivated. Thanks God, it was a good way to get my mind back in the race.

Knowing someone is chasing me down, it makes the rest of the ride on McKean go by faster. I turn off into the neighborhoods just before the finish. I continue to push hard. The road has cones for us but it’s such a narrow section, that in order to pass, I have to go outside the cones. It also makes me focus on looking ahead at where I want to go.

I sense a rider coming up on me and I pick it up. I assume it’s the FB girl so I press hard when I see a wheel coming up on me. I hold them off for a moment and then they pass. It’s actually a guy and he kindly tells me “nice colors” in reference to my jersey. “Thanks and good job to you!” As he goes by I notice another rider right on him. This other rider is clearly drafting off of that nice guy. I try to pick it up so I can tell him to stop. They are going too fast so all I can do is shout…breathing hard, I can only get out, “drafting!”. Then I feel a little silly, probably the emotions of the moment, not really my job to tattle-tale. If this is a pattern with this guy, then he will get caught. God sees and knows all.  I’ll let Him handle this.

I’m relieved to see T2 approaching. I’m tired and running doesn’t sound so great but it does sound better than being on this bike! I find my rack but I don’t see my bag. This is a 2 transition race where we drop off our T2 bags but can't actually place them. I rack my bike on the next rack over and look around for the bag. I find it under a bunch of bags. That’s going to cost me some time. I rip it open and get my gear on.

120624_siliconvalley_inter_robin_run2I head out feeling slow and unmotivated to run fast. I see Jessica Bonner at the FCA booth and wave. It’s nice to see a familiar face. It looks like the girls and Troy didn’t make it back in time to see me head out. I’ll see them hopefully in 45 minutes if it goes well.

On the way out to the first mile, a girl in black with a 38 on her calf goes by quick. I can’t let another girl in my age group go by without a fight. I pick it up and get on her shoulder. Well, Lord, now you’ve given me another motivator…thanks! It’s hard to run this fast but it’s worth a try. Mile 1 is 7:37 even with the boost.

The girl seems to be bothered by me hanging out on her shoulder. She picks up the pace and I continue to hang on…mostly because she’s slowing down through the aid stations. We hit the out and back. I start looking for Tana and other familiar faces. Soon I see Clyde. “Great job Clyde”. Mile 2 is 6:50.

The girl pushes harder and breaks me. I wish it was more like Troy yesterday when he did that to another guy. I try to hold the same pace and keep pressing on. I see Tana…”I’ll see you soon”…I anticipate her passing me in the near future.

I make it back out to the lake. First out-and-back, done. Thank you Lord! There is a girl already heading to the finish line. She must be first. Mile 3 is 6:59. I feel extremely uncomfortable so I know I’m doing what I can. I just try to keep my eye on the girls ahead of me. I pass a few of them going out to the perk ponds. The girls heading back are looking FAST! I see Megumi who I beat at Wildflower. She’s quite a ways ahead now but I can’t be discouraged. Next I see Maria Hodges. She is the wife of Troy’s old boss at Humpty Dumpty’s Kitchen in Grass Valley. She’s been trying to make the Philippian National Tri team and she’s probably looking to make this race count. “I think you’re 9th, good job!”.

Mile 4 is 6:55. I make it out to the ponds and can now see that I’m most likely in 14th behind the 120624_siliconvalley_inter_robin_run3girl in black. As I make the turn and head back, I can see 2 girls running really fast behind me. I have another reason to push it…thanks Lord! It hurts bad but I’ve got to hang in there. I see Tana again and tell her good job.

Mile 5 is 6:52. Ugh! One more mile! Why does the last mile always seem so long?! I have no idea what is going on behind me and I don’t dare look. I keep looking ahead and trying to catch the guys I see ahead of me. I get to the lake and see the finish line…almost there!

120624_siliconvalley_inter_robin_runMile 6 is 6:55. I hit the bridge…yeah! I pass the photographer and he cheers me on. I don’t hear him cheer anyone else on so I can safely say I’m all alone. I can’t let up because I see Ariel and Anna waiting for me. I try to tell Ariel to go but she waits for me. I tell Anna to go and she starts moving. I catch up to Ariel and know that she cannot run very fast and the finish is 100 meters off. I pick her up and catch up to Anna. I hold Ariel tight and dig deep to keep her in my arms. Once we are almost to the finish, I put her down and we all finish together. Wow, what a tough day Lord but what a great ending! Thanks so much! 120624_siliconvalley_inter_robin_finish






Go Christy, Clyde, Cory, David & Tana!





Age Group





FCA TEAMMATES              

























FCA Endurance Relay -ROBIN SOARES (Swim)KAREN NICKEL (Bike/Run)



W Relay





















































































OTHER TEAMMATES              
Kathleen Calkins LC 4:24:56 Elite W 1st OA 28:55 2:28:23 1:23:56
Kathy Winkler LC 4:46:37 W45-49 1st 28:53 2:43:38 1:30:45
Tana Jackson OLY 2:34:35 W40-44 3rd 30:15 1:15:12 44:51