Saturday, March 30, 2013

CA 70.3–Robin

March 30th, 2013 – Oceanside, CA
Swim 1.2m – Bike 56m – Run 13.1m

5:20:59 (30:50 - 3:00:00 - 1:43:57)


11th / 112 (10%)


Troy Soares

It's my 4th time here in Oceanside.  I was nervous fitting in a lot of things before the swim start including setting up 2 transition areas.  But of course, the Lord always works things out beautifully.  After setting up T2, Troy and I set up our team tent in the club area right by the finish line.  We bike a mile to T1 where we squeeze our bikes onto the racks.

Good news!  The water temperature is around 63 degrees!  Thank you Jesus!  We were expecting mid 50s so this is good to hear!  Troy and I still put disposable heat warmers in our bike shoes and on our aerobars just in case.  We also have FCA race jackets ready to go as well.  Oh, and the new secret weapon for fighting the chill for me (old to Troy) is an aero helmet.  Will the aerodynamics help today as well?  Well, I’m not too concerned about that but it’s a nice plus.

Not much to do now except get on our wetsuits and find our waiting swim waves.  I’ll have a 12 min lead on Troy.  That’s a good challenge for him to catch me on the bike.  Before we part, we pray and give hugs/kisses.  “Catch me fast, Troy!” is the last thing I say to him.  

After weaving my way through a long crowd of athletes, I finally find my wave.  I’m getting excited to start.  I haven’t swam for over a week since we just spent the week at Disneyland and at my folks in San Diego.  It will make me more tired coming out of the water but I have confidence that I will be fine…especially with Jesus with me the whole way.

It’s finally our turn to swim out to the start.  Oh, cold!  But my face doesn’t shriek when I put it in the water so that's a good sign!  I put myself on the front line, far right.  Ready, set, go!  I get a good start and it looks like I’m near the top group. 

The first 10 minutes is great.  There are few swimmers from previous waves to dodge.  I focus on pulling through on the stroke. It’s hard to know where I am in my age group but I’m guessing near top 10.  There is a girl with a gold streak on the back of her wetsuit and I try to keep her in my line of sight.  I hope to catch her by the end. 

It’s getting more congested out here.  I try to look up more often so I don’t run into anyone.  But I have to keep my head down as often as possible to get a good rhythm…it’s a tough balance.  The gold girl is still ahead but it seems like I’m closing in.  I make the final turn and it’s time to head home. 

I’m finally gaining on her but also gaining on a lot of other waves.  Suddenly a swimmer shoots by.  Wow, the next wave behind us is here already?!  I better get on his feet for as long as I can.  It doesn’t last long and I’m soon watching his bubbles.  Another guy goes by and I am able to keep up for a few minutes.

130330_ca_70_3_robin_swimSoon, I’m rounding the last corner and the finish line is ahead.  The gold girl is not too far ahead…yeah!  I’m happy with my effort and look forward to getting on the bike. The volunteers help me as I run out of the water.  They unzip my wetsuit.  “Thanks!”  I pull over and take it off.  It gets stuck at my feet but I get it off pretty fast and run to my bike.

I struggle a bit putting on socks and jacket.  I shove my swim gear in the race bag they gave us and run out of transition.  Another struggle getting on my bike and putting on my shoes which are already attached to the bike. 

130330_ca_70_3_robin_bike1Finally, I’m off!  Thank you Jesus!  56 Miles to go…it sounds daunting!  A fifty-something gal flies by me.  Wow!  I catch her on the first hill and hope to stay ahead.  We ride onto the Camp Pendleton Base.  That gal flies by again and I watch her pull away.

130330_ca_70_3_robin_bikeThe warmers seem to be helping minimally in my shoes and on the aerobars.  The warmers on my aerobars look like a female product and I want to drop them at the first aid station.  Too embarrassing.  The jacket and aero-helmet has made the most difference keeping me warm…and accountable.  With “Competing for Christ” on the back of the jacket and the FCA stickers on my helmet, I have to be a "light" and watch my conduct/attitude.

Over the first 4 miles I see my average is over 19 and my cadence around 90rpm.  I didn’t have a goal pace and I don't remember my fastest time here.  But I hope to finish under 3 hours.  I need to average about 19mph.  We’ll see what happens!

Mile 5: 18.7mph average.  We hit the first hill.  It’s short and drops my average, but I’m able to gain that back and them some over the next 5 miles! 

Mile 10: 20.1mph.  Yeah, I like that number!  On an out and back section at mile 12, I see a guy helping another fix a tubular flat and his bike is across the street!  It looks like his bike needs a flat repair as well.  I hope they can work together and get back on track quick.

Mile 15: 19.7. I’m feeling pretty strong as I roll along the stretch parallel to Hwy 5.  A lot more guys start to pass me and some from Troy’s age group…but he was in the last wave of 3 in his age group because of our last name.

Mile 20: 20.2!  Yes! I’ve got a good rhythm going.  I’m starting to wondering if I can hold this pace for a good chunk.  We’ll see.  The first “no pass” zone is coming up.  A few riders pass and then slow down..ugh!  I have to drop back 3 bike lengths before I can pass.  I drop back and then surge.  I barely get ahead of them before the zone.  Phew, thanks God!  I ride through without anyone close ahead and can push this section.

Mile 25: 19.9mph.  It was a little climb getting to the backside gate of the base.  Here is where we ride by the Marine barracks.  I appreciate the sacrifice these guys make being out here day in and day out with few breaks.  It starts to roll a bit now. 

I know most racers are dreading the “big hill” of the course which is a 12% grade.  It will be a challenge but coming from Auburn it’s not overwhelming.  As I approach, it’s a sea of riders all the way up.  It’s a game of dodge and forge ahead.  People are weaving, people are walking, and I see a guy just fall over.  A wheelchair athlete has music blasting from somewhere on his hand cycle…pretty sweet set up!  As I about reach the top, I remember my high school coach telling me to push up and over the crest of hills.  I pick it up and peddle hard into the descent.  I also remember Troy telling me to push the downhills when others coast.

Mile 30: 19.3mph.  Boy that hill killed my average but I feel confident I can make it up over the rest of the course.  I soon realize that there are more hills after the big hill…I must have blocked those from memory.  My average continues to drop…ugh!  God reminds me that it is still possible…just under 19mph is what I need to hold.

Mile 35: 18.5mph…and dropping.  My hamstrings are bothering me.  I’m getting discouraged with my average.  The Lord reminds me that I’m wearing my FCA gear and that I need to smile and show others that I’m racing for His glory and not mine.  He also reminds me of the Iron Prayer service where it was mentioned that the pain that Jesus endured on the cross 2000 years ago is nothing compared to this.  If He can suffer and still encourage the criminal on the cross next to Him, I should certainly be able to smile out here and appreciate this moment.

Mile 40: 18.2mph.  By mile 42, the hills are over…thank you Jesus!  I’m able to start building my average back up.

130330_ca_70_3_robin_bike2Mile 45: 18.6mph.  Getting better!  About six girls I passed one at a time on the hills are now passing me as a pack!  Wow!  Then 2 guys ride by with the one on the back not pedaling at all…come on buddy, at least pretend you’re not drafting.  I have only seen one race official today and it was miles ago.  There is nothing I can do but focus on my own race.

Mile 50: 18.7mph.  Slowly inching up.  The feet warmers are irritating my feet because they’ve been rubbing for miles.  I really am looking forward to the run!

Mile 55: 18.7mph.  It looks like I’ll be real close to 3 hours.  I’ll take it.  Thank you Jesus for getting me through this!  I push hard to T2.  I pull my feet out of my shoes as I approach the dismount line…feels so much better!   

My transition is pretty smooth.  I take a quick unplanned “break” at the porta potty. Once I’m on my way I feel pretty good physically but a little disoriented mentally.  I almost miss the turn for the first out and back.  As I run to the pier and down a ramp, I see Troy coming back.  He is smiling and looks strong.  We cheer each other on.  I love seeing him!

130330_ca_70_3_robin_runMile 1 is 8:42.  That’s pretty good considering my break.  It is super crowded on this stretch of the narrow Strand.  There are runners going both ways and cyclists finishing.  I just try to make myself as narrow as possible to squeeze through.

Mile 2 is 7:36.  Back to the pier and up the ramp to the top and onto Pacific…an added bonus…just what my legs want.  I pass T2 and go straight this time.  Back down to the Strand and there is the FCA Endurance tent!  I can see my Dad waiting for me and I wave and he waves back.  I give him a high five as I go by…great boost!  I can see the girls playing in the ocean with Grammie watching.  That is way more fun for them then watching the race!  Down the strand I go and then another climb up to Pacific.  So far the hard pavement isn’t getting to me. 

Mile 3 is 7:43.  Keeping my eye out for Troy heading back on his first loop.  I start to get concerned a bit.  Maybe I missed him somehow.  There he is but it seems like he should be further ahead.  “Pray for my hamstring" he says.  “I will!”  I know that means the hamstring he strained at the Davis Stampede 1/2 Marathon is threatening to make him walk.  As we part, I pray for him.  I start noticing more that my hamstring soreness I experienced at the Stampede is setting in more. Lord, please help us both continue!

Mile 4 is 7:44.  The course is different from several years ago.  We run past the end of Pacific and up into another neighborhood.  I note that the aid station here has Coke…that will be great the last few miles!

Mile 5 is 7:44.  I continue to feel strong but the hamstrings are starting to hamper my stride.  A bit of an incline along here adds to the loss of momentum.

Mile 6 is 8:00.  Lord, help me to smile and focus on You.  It might be getting harder but I still, like You Lord, should be joyful in my pain.  I get back on the Strand and strain my eyes to see the FCA tent.  Eventually it comes into view.  Our “Why Do You Race?” flag is standing very tall and waving.  Lord, I know I race for You and I race to persevere through the feeling of wanting to let up and even quit.  I see my Mom this time but no girls…they are still playing.  I still get a high five and smile from my Mom which is another boost!  I get confused at the next intersection and start to go straight.  I see the finish line…oh dear, wrong way!  I turn around and head back.  Did anyone notice?  Yeah, like a hundred people probably!

Mile 7 is 8:17.  Back up Pacific, to the pier, and down to the Strand.  Ugh, it’s like torture to the legs!  The bright spot is seeing Troy again smiling.  He looks good so it must be better…I hope!  Again, it’s very crowded along here.  I can see others are hurting and are just trying their best to put one foot in front of the other.  That's why I choose not to ask anyone to move over, but instead opt to dodge and jump up (a big jump actually) onto the sidewalk.  Then a guy comes barreling through yelling impatiently, “on your left!”  With that kind of energy, I think he could find another way through.   Okay, one last time up the ramp to the Pier, along Pacific and down to the Strand.  I see Dad waiting and no girls.  Another high five and another boost!

Mile 8 is 8:01.  Okay, I’m not totally cracking.  Thanks God for keeping me going.  I just need to run out and back one last time!  Yeah!

Mile 9 is 7:59.  On Pacific, a girl comes alongside at a good clip.  I pick it up and match her.  She says “good pace, I’ll need you to get to the finish.  We can work together.”  I agree with a smile but still try to glance at her calf to see if she’s in my age group.  “Don’t worry”, she says, “I’m in the next age group”.  Busted!  I tell her “either way, it doesn’t matter, we can still push each other”.  I find out her name is Carrie. I pull ahead and she comes with me.  “Great job Carrie”. 

Mile 10 is 7:48.  Carrie surges and I struggle to match.  She pulls ahead but I keep pushing.  There is Troy!  “It’s better” he says.  Yeah, thank you God!  I look forward to being reunited with him at the end!

Mile 11 is 7:47.  Carrie has put a good gap on me and is already heading back.  “Great job Carrie!”  On my way back I’m sure to grab the Coke.  It’s Coke all the way back baby!  It’s nice and cold…but bubbly and not flat…”burp”…”excuse me”. 

Mile 12 is 8:06.  Ugh!  This is tough!  Lord, help me to press on!  Carrie is now a dot on the horizon.  No matter, I need to keep giving it my all!  I grab more Coke at the next aid station…yum and “burp!”. 

I’m finally back on the Strand!  The hard pavement has been punishing but I’m almost done!  Yeah, finish line here I come.  I start to worry that the girls would finish with Troy which means disqualification at Ironman brand races.  I feel the Lord reminding me that He has always worked out the finish line situation…the girls have always finished with us when the timing was right and we’ve never had to pick and choose…He does that for us. 

130330_ca_70_3_robin_finishI see the booth and the girls!  Everyone, including Troy, is smiling and waiting.  I give Anna a high five and just miss Ariel’s hand.

Mile 13 is 7:57.  I push as hard as my sore legs can go!  I cross the finish line!  Thank you Lord!  That was the best, doing that together with you!  You rock Jesus!