Saturday, August 24, 2013

Run on the Sly 20 Mile Run (Robin)

August 18, 2013 – Pollock Pines, CA
20 Miles
20 Miler – Bryan Hacker, Kristin Kolster, Rich Alesci, Tim Twietmeyer
1/2 Marathon – Mo Bartley
12K – Carolyn Goulding
As I pull up to the starting area, it’s already abuzz.  I say hi to Rich Alesci.  He’s running the 20 miler with me.  It looks like it’s going to be a good crowd and lots of pretty scenery.
I am a bit nervous this morning.  My first concern is having enough energy to run 10:30 pace on such a demanding course, and then follow it up with a training ride.  I’ve put in two hard rides over the last couple days so my legs are tired.  But Troy says if I race hard today I can cut some miles off my ride today.  That would be great! 
My other concern is mental toughness.  It wasn’t until last night that I realized the 20mi course here would take as long as a marathon!  I just didn’t think about the significance of that.  Ultimately, it’s in the hands of Jesus.  I trust He will work it out for good…whether it’s a fast or slow day.
130818_runonthesly_robin_startI run into Carolyn from our Tuesday track workouts.  She’s doing her first trail run.  As I line up at the start, I see Rich and friend, Bryan Hacker, both doing the 20 miler as well.  I introduce Rich and Bryan and tell them that they will be great pacers for one another. The 50K runners and 20 milers start together.  The bibs are different shades of blue but it’s still easy to tell them apart.
Ready, set, go!  We start running uphill immediately.  I feel surprisingly good and comfortable!  I’m near two 50K gals and a 20 mile gal.  I see neighbor, Tim Twietmeyer, come up alongside and we chat for a bit.  Soon he takes off.  Not long after him, the 20 miler gal takes off, too.  Wow, she’s way out of my league!
Pretty soon the course levels out some and we are running on a nice, wide fire trail.  I smell smoke from the American fire 35mi away in Foresthill but it’s not too bad. 
Mile 1 and 2 is an 8:52 average.  It’s way too fast but I feel great.  I even have a fun conversation with another 50K gal who is a mom.  I know that I have to purposely pull back, though, so I let her go by.
Another gal goes by and I cannot see her bib.  I wonder what race she is in.  I’m either 2nd or 3rd woman at the moment.  That’s cool, but there are many miles to go!  I continue to feel great.  I hit the first aid station and grab a cup of Nuun.  As I leave, I hear a girl cheering for me.  I look and smile.  Although she looks familiar, I cannot place her.  I head down the road with my cup.  Then I realize I can’t drop it.  The announcer, and friend, Courtney Cardenas, had said “you pack it in, you pack it out!”.  I hold onto it for a mile until I see a volunteer monitoring the course.  I ask her if she would take it and she says yes.
130818_runonthesly_robin_runMile 3 and 4 is a 9:27 average.  Better, but still ahead of pace.  I don’t worry too much because I feel so comfortable.  I’m going to stick with this pace.  The smoke seems a little worse now.  Another runner and I joke about if this is what smoking is like.
Mile 5 and 6 is a 8:35 average.  So far it has mostly been gradual downhill terrain.  Later, of course, that will mean more uphill, ugh!  I’m surprised that I continue to feel so comfortable!   
I see the next aid station so I quickly take an Espresso Hammer Gel.  I stop briefly to drink some water, leave the cup, and resume running.  A guy passes me and proceeds to run straight off the course.  There are signs that clearly point left but maybe he’s a volunteer heading to his car?  Then I hear him say, “oops!” and realize that’s not the case.  I apologize to him for not saying something to help him sooner.
Suddenly the course goes down and it’s steep!  It’s rocky, too.  I struggle to move quickly.  I wish I could have my friend, Courtney Loveday’s, quick feet reflexes!  Soon I make it down and we start our journey around the lake.  I hear a runner behind me and try to keep moving so they won’t need to pass.  As the trail opens up again, she goes by and it’s a 20 mile gal in stripped compressions socks.
Mile 7 and 8 is an 8:59 average.  The trail along the lake is slightly rolling but it really feels flat coming from Auburn.  I catch back up to the compression sock gal and I can hear more runners behind.  The compression gal stops and let’s us all go by.  And a little further down the trail I ask the runner behind me if they want to pass.  I hear a gal’s voice say “okay” and she runs by.  She’s wearing a red shirt and glasses.  I’m not sure what race she’s in.  Maybe I’ll see her later?
Mile 9 and 10 is a 9:14 average.  I continue to feel good.  I get into a good rhythm and I pass another runner.  Soon, I hear “is that Robin?”.  I look up and see my buddy, Leonie Alesci.  “It’s me.”  She’s been waiting for her hubby, Rich, but she knows now that she’s missed him.  I tell her he’s got to be way ahead.  She tells me that I’m the 6th woman (for the 50K and 20 mile combined).  Pretty soon, there will be a turn off so I hope to know my actual place then.  Possibly 3rd or 4th…
I come up on a road and for a moment don’t know where to go.  Fortunately, a guy standing there tells me to go up the road.  After running up a bit, I see a little boy with his dad and he directs me down another trail.  I make it back on a trail.  I can see the turn off ahead along with aid.  Lots of folks are cheering here and it’s a nice boost.  I take my last Espresso gel and drink some water quickly.  Then I’m directed to the right and down another really steep hill.  I try to keep my feet light and get down as quick and safe as possible.  I’m relieved to get to the bottom.  I really could use some uphills instead of these descents!
Mile 11 and 12 is an 9:23 average.  Suddenly I find myself at a river crossing.  My shoes WILL be getting wet.  There are not enough rocks to avoid it!  I go for it and my feet get fully submerged.  We cross over and then, soon enough, cross right back over again. Was that really necessary?  My feet are soaking but it was a nice little ice bath I have to admit.
I wanted “up” and now I’m getting it.  The climb starts.  I look back as I ascend a switch back.  I see 3 girls right behind me.  Oh my!  I focus on driving my arms and leaning into the hill.  I come around a corner and the girl in red ahead of me is walking!  I pass her and tell her good job.  The trail flattens for a moment and the girl starts running again.  I continue pressing and we hit another climb.  Soon I don’t hear her foot steps.  I may be 2nd or 3rd right now.  Wow!
The trail comes back to the same road I crossed.  There are no helpers here and it seems a little dangerous not having someone directing traffic.  Fortunately there are few cars.  The trail flattens out again and we go through a campground on the lake.  Eventually we climb again.  This side of the lake is much hillier for sure!
Even though it’s getting harder, I still feel strong.  I am able to catch up to a few guys that are walking.  The hills in Auburn are relentless, but they sure help prepare me for days like these!
Mile 13 and 14 are a 10:04 average.  Hey I’m almost running my goal pace on these hills.  Wow, Jesus, I am amazed how you are making this race go so well!  Thank you!
Mile 15 and 16 are a 10:17 average.  The course continues to climb mostly and my legs continue to be able to respond!  I come back to the same aid station where the guy took the wrong turn.  I stop and a volunteer helps me fill up a flask full of Coke.  This was the plan for the last aid station.  I was so glad to have had Heed with me in 3 flasks.  I still have some left in one but the Coke should pull me the rest of the way.
130818_runonthesly_robin_run2I’m basically running back the same way I came out.  Lots of 1/2 Marathoners are heading towards me.  They started an hour after us.  One guy tells me I’m the 2nd woman.  If that’s the case, I’m a distant 2nd.  That 1st place gal must be very far ahead!
Mile 17 and 18 are 10:20.  I’m averaging under 9:30 for the entire race. Wow!  Thanks Jesus! 
I turn a corner and see that fast gal and she’s walking up the hill!  I am floored!  This seems so unreal.  I thought for sure I’d never see her.  Could I win this race?  I try to push that thought out of my mind.  My left knee is having some pain near my IT band.  This is an issue I’ve dealt with in the past.  Lord, I am content with any outcome.  I am so blessed to have even caught her.  I go by her and tell her good job. 
The trail levels out and then we are directed down a steep hill.  She passes me going down.  She looks like a gazelle.  I try to match her pace but my knee starts to scream at me.  I back off and try to get comfortable again.  It’s hard to watch her slip away.  On the other hand, I never thought I’d be here so there is nothing to be sad about.  Besides, anything can happen as the Lord just showed me.
Soon the trail levels out again and I get into a good groove.  Then I see my left shoe has come completely untied.  I try to run carefully so that I don’t trip myself.  Suddenly, I step a certain way and my knee screams really good this time.  I slow up and get comfortable again.
130818_runonthesly_robin_finishMile 19 and 20 are an 8:36 average.  I can hear footsteps behind me and wonder if those other girls are catching up.  I slowly surge and put in one last push.  I know it’s less than a mile to go now.  I push harder and see the finish.  Go, go!  Just as I cross the line, two 1/2 marathoners fly by.  Those were the feet I heard.  It all worked out so great, Lord!  2nd woman!  I couldn’t have asked for any better!  Thank you!
Name Race Age Group Place Run Time
RICH ALESCI 20M M30-39 4TH 2:54:57
BRYAN HACKER 20M M50-59 1ST 2:55:39
TIM TWIETMEYER 20M M50-59 3RD 2:57:06
ROBIN SOARES 20M W30-39 1ST 3:12:58
KRISTIN KOLSTER 20M W40-49 1ST 3:22:08
MO BARTLEY 1/2 MARA W50-59 1ST 2:06:09
CAROLYN GOULDING 12K W50-59 15TH 1:49:13