Sunday, May 19, 2013

Auburn “World’s Toughest” Half–Robin

May 19th, 2013 – Auburn, CA
1.2mi S - 56mi B - 13.1mi R
5:48:00 (36:16 – 3:27:03 – 1:41:18)

Long Course: Karen Nickel; Jody Galvin;  “Wet, Wheeled & Wild Relay” (Trish Sepulvedo, Sarah Conover, Mo Bartley)
Olympic Distance: Troy Soares, Dave Campbell
Today, Troy and I get to ride down to the start together. We meet Karen Nickel on our way and we enjoy a nice downhill to the start. Karen will be competing in only her 2nd triathlon and a long course at that! Awesome! Things are already bustling down at Rattlesnake Bar when we arrive. Dave Campbell, daughter and granddaughter are there and we enjoy catching up. He’s racing the International with Troy and hopes to keep Troy racing scared. I see multiple winner of the duathlon, Clarence ?. He tells me that Jamie Whitmore’s testimony yesterday at the Iron Prayer was exactly what he needed to hear…especially with the injuries that have plagued him this season alone. I take some time to stretch my hamstrings and reflect on the day ahead. Soon I see Trish and her dad. Trish is the swimmer of a women’s relay I helped put together. She’s excited for today. Then Sarah Conover, the cyclist for the team arrives. We figure out the logistics for their relay exchange and then it’s time to get to the water before Troy starts. The swim start is down on a beach to the right of the boat ramp. It’s a nice place to begin and will clearly cause less of a traffic jam this time around. Just a few minutes before Troy starts in the first wave, Karen, Victor (met at Iron Prayer) and I pray with him. It is so awesome to be able to thank the Lord and ask for His blessing…what a wonderful freedom that is! Troy jumps in the water. I see Ariel’s friend’s dad, ?, run by and wave. He jumps into Troy’s wave. So cool to have so many locals competing today! Ready, set, go! Karen and I run into Jody Galvin who is attempting to make all the cut offs today in the half iron. We pray with her and help her get set in her wetsuit. Time for the mandatory warm-up. I like to warm-up for the swim so it’s no big deal for me. The water is pleasant and calm. Today it’s a one loop course which I am looking forward to. The Swim Okay, time to go! Karen and I line up in the water with the other half iron women and relay folks. Trish is poised for a fast start. Ready, set, go! I get a good start and find a brief draft. Troy told me to focus on the draft but today it seems like that is going to be tough. I turn at the first white buoy and the sun shines right in my eyes. Thankfully the course is lined with yellow buoys and I can find my way along. I’m alone and the water is mostly clear so I can put my head down and get my stroke going. At the next white buoy, it becomes really hard to see ahead. I make it to a shady spot and then am able to see an orange buoy in the distance. So are the buoys to look for orange now? I’m a little confused but there are more yellow buoys along the way so I just focus on swimming beside those. Once I’m closer to the orange buoy, I can see other swimmers going around it. Okay, good, this is right. I round the orange buoy and start making my way back to the dock. I’m feeling a little tired so I try to focus on good form. I see two fluorescent orange buoys now. Which one do I swim around? As I get closer, I can see swimmers going around the first one. The other must have been placed for the mini tri folks. Yeah, there is the boat ramp! Almost done! I bet Trish is out and Sarah is already on the ride. I’m feeling stronger and feel like I’m gliding better. The finish is here and I run out and take off my wetsuit. Again, I struggle to get it off my ankles but finally do. I run up to my bike, get my gear on and run out. I’m able to mount my bike and get my feet in my shoes smoothly. Thanks God! Let the climbing begin! The Bike
Wow, 56 miles to go!  The first 6 miles of this bike is uphill and tough.  It will be a real test to see if my taper really paid off this week.  There are some folks along the way walking the steep parts and I try to encourage them.  I’ve ridden this section often lately and I remind myself that there are opportunities to get moving and be in my aerobars…and I feel like I utilize these sections well.  I’m able to also pass a few girls along the way
Mile 7.  The tough climb is done and I’m riding by T2.  There is Francie Campbell directing traffic…”hey Francie!”. 
I haven’t seen any gals in a while and wonder if they are coming up behind me.  I see the first guy in the International race go by.  I hope that means Troy is near too.  There he is!  “Go Troy!  You’re two”.  He passes with a big smile on his face and says “go Honey!”  Yeah, I’m so excited for him!
Further along I see Dave Campbell.  “Go Dave!  You’re 10!  You’re 10!”
Mile 14.  I’m at Lake Arthur and still see no women.  There are a few guys out here and I’m working on reeling them in.
Mile 21.  Finally in Weimar!  It’s always hard to ride up Geisendorfer Road but it’s done!  I looks like my mph is down from last year’s race but I’m seem to be staying ahead of a lot of women.  I get to Canyon Way and get aero.  This is the best place on the course to fly and I take full advantage…weeee!
I’m getting really close now to these 3 guys.  Every time we get to a hill, I get closer…and more hills are coming.  I see our friend Bob directing traffic for us cyclists.  I smile and wave.  To Tokayana Way where we climb over to the Bear River Canyon River Campground.  I catch 2 of the guys…yeah!
Mile 28.  I’m trying to fly down to the campground while keeping my speed under control.  Please protect me Lord!  One of the guys passes me back.  I make it to the bottom safely…thanks Jesus!
On the long climb out, I pass the two remaining guys.  Yeah!  Now, will the pass stick.  It remind myself that I only have a few more tough hills left.  One at a time!
On my way back to Canyon Way, I see Karen.  She seems to be further back than expected.  She is smiling and looking great though!
Mile 35.  Ugh, Canyon Way is not as much fun this direction!  I’m a bit disappointed that my bike average is still lower than last year.  I still have hope to be able to work that down over the remaining miles
Mile 42.  I make the turn to the 5 mile out and back.  For a moment, I actually am confused by which way to go.  I know it’s right but I can see how folks can get confused in a split second decision.  Maybe I’ll see Sarah flying down.  This is the last long climb…yeah!  Last year I really pushed hard here and try to again this time too.
I see a few gals coming down the hill.  Hum, duathlon folks?  It’s hard to tell so I use it as motivation to push harder.
I make the turn at the top and tuck into my aerobars.  I don’t see Sarah so I know that she’s way out there now and creaming folks!  As I’m heading down the hill, I can see some ladies behind me.  Lots of motivation to push now!
Mile 49.  Going up the last tough hill…yeah!  There are folks cheering and an aid station at the top.  It’s what I need to get up and over!  My average pace is slower than last year but it seems like I’m in a good position…maybe even the top lady? 
Finally, the finish line is here!  I successfully pull my feet out of my bike shoes again!  Troy set out my T2 gear so I follow his directions to the spot.  Yeah!  
The Run
I run out a bit stiff but feeling descent.  Now it’s time to see my family at the aid station and find out where I am.
Mile 1 is 7:50.  I’m feeling strong and hope I can keep this up.  Last year the first lap of the 3 loop course went great and then I fell apart.  We’ll see what happens.
I make the turn to the aid station and see Troy. He announces to the crew that I’m coming.  He runs up alongside me and starts to put sunscreen on my shoulders.  I see Anna and her friend Lily with water and I grab one from both.  There are so many familiar faces, young and older.  There is Ariel too!  I wish I could stop and hang out.  At least I’ll be seeing them 2 more times!  Troy stays with me and gets the sunscreen rubbed on good.  Wow, what treatment!
Mile 2 is 7:30.  The downhill helped that split for sure.  I pass the Sac Tri Club Aid station.  They do a great job as always too! 
I see Mo coming and cheer her on.  Their relay is doing so awesome!
Stu’s trail is all cleaned up and looking good.  I’m able to maintain some speed running through there.
Mile 3 is 7:38.  Great!  I pass those few ladies I saw on the out and back of the bike course.  I  see now that they are duathlon.  Could I be first?   I see a gal coming out on the course and she has a big smile and encourages me.  I encourage her back.  I think I remember her going out on the bike.  That is sweet of her to cheer!
Mile 4 is 8:03.  The climb out of the canyon felt great.  I feel like I could do this loop again just as fast…but time will tell.  I pass a girl going out and wonder if she was the race leader.
Mile 5 is 7:54.  A tad slower than the first lap but I’m still feeling strong.
WP_000574As I get out to our aid station, I see our friend Ellie Verdi from the track letting folks know I’m coming.  This time the kids ask if I want to be splashed and I say yes.  The water flies and it feels great.  “How is Karen doing?”  I find out they haven’t seen her yet…hum, where can she be?  Troy tells me he thinks I’m leading the race. Wow, that would be awesome Lord!
Mile 6 is 7:32.  Though my pace is just seconds off of the first loop, I’m still hanging on.
Mile 7 is 7:48.  Stu’s trial once again!  I see that gal again and she gives me some encouragement.  What a great example she is!
Mile 8 is 8:10.  I don’t see Karen and wonder if I should try to tell the race officials when I get to T2.  I feel the Lord telling me it’s going to work out and now to worry. 
I hit T2 for the last time.  Next time I get back, I’m finishing!
Mile 9 is 8:08.  I can tell that this loop is going to be a challenge.  I’d love to go my fastest but I’ll get what I get out of my legs.
WP_000575I see my favorite aid station for the last time.  I get another splashing and plenty of cheers.  I find out that Karen is on the course and doing great.  Praise God!  Troy tells me I’ve got the lead and to continue running strong.  Wow, to think I could win this again is humbling and an honor.  Lord, thank you no matter what!  My bike was slower today but my run has been right on!
Mile 10 is 7:54.  I finally allow myself to grab some Coke a the Sac Tri Club aid station.  I fold up the cup and decide to carry it further down the road. 
Mile 11 is 7:52.  I drink the Coke I was able to carry.  Aw, that tastes good!  I want more!  It’s good motivation to push back to the aid station.
I see that sweet gal one last time.  She’s still smiling and encouraging me.  I also pass another gal on her 2nd loop that I remember from the Folsom Long Course last year.  She’s also very encouraging and sweet!
Mile 12 is 8:22.  I get my Coke finally…yummy!  Just a little more climbing and I’m out of here!
I can see the finish now!  I’m pushing with all I have.  I don’t hear the announcer saying yet and I wonder if they know.  As I approach the finish I look up to the Lord and thank Him.  This is all you Jesus!  Thanks for a great day!
I cross the finish!  Yes, I am done!
Name Race Time Age Group Place Swim T1 Bike T2 Run
ROBIN SOARES HALF 5:48:00 W35-39 1st 36:16 2:08 3:27:03 1:14 1:41:18
KAREN NICKEL HALF 7:02:09 W30-34 2nd 45:20 3:03 4:06:30 1:57 2:05:18
JODY GALVIN HALF 8:38:26 W30-34 6th 59:14 6:32 4:43:13 2:11 2:47:14
WWW RELAY – TRISH, SARAH, MO HALF RELAY 5:06:56 WOMEN 1st 29:36 1:38 TBD 00:40 1:43:48
TROY SOARES INTL 2:26:43 M45-49 1st 24:44 1:28 1:17:51 00:48 41:50
DAVE CAMPBELL INTL 2:36:50 M50-54 1st 26:15 1:54 1:25:36 00:40 42:22
ANDREA IVAN INTL 4:43:56 W55-59 3rd 44:57 7:23 2:03:31 5:28 1:42:36