Saturday, April 19, 2014

Copperopolis Road Race (Troy)

April 19th, 2014 – Milton, CA
2 x 21m loops
9th, Cat 4 M45+
Krag Rasmussen
They call it the "Paris-Roubaix" of California because the potholes in the road resemble the cobblestones in old European towns.  Robin & I still like this race because of the hard climbs and the scenic setting.
We meet up with Teammates, Shayne & Charity Marshall.  It's a beautiful day as we prepare to start the 42mi race at 11am.  It's 2 loops of very rough rural roads with a big climb and descent each loop.  I feel confident that I can do well because I'm good at climbing and descending and I don't mind the bumpy roads.  I'm not good at breakaways and sprints.  I'm picturing cresting the climb on the 2nd loop with a few other guys and then working together across the top and down to the finish.
Robin, Shayne & I pray before the race.  We look to God for safety as the bumpy descent brings with it risk of bad injury.  Shayne's 35+ group goes.  Now my 45+ race starts with about 25 of us.  I meet a friend, Krag Rasmussen, from early triathlon days in the Bay Area.  Other than him, I don't know anyone else.
The roads are bumpier than ever.  I stay way back.  Up the first big climb everyone's going pretty fast until the last mile.  I end up in front, focused on lifting my legs and being efficient.  The pack is together but I crest first and that makes me more optimistic that I can get away with some others the next time around.
A Cushman-Wakefield guy, Jim Forester, comes alongside and says, "you don't have your team. Do you want to work together?"  I'm feeling great and agree, but am surprised that he meant right now.  We pull ahead and rotate pulling and get a gap.. but the pack quickly catches us and Jim & I make a deal to do it again the 2nd lap.  Great, I have an alliance :)  Now I hope I don't get "voted off" because of it.
Some guys take a wrong turn in the farm area so the pack slows up and waits for them.  The pack continues to go very slow all the way around the top.  I pull faster periodically to see if other guys will work but the group is pretty set on saving up energy.
On a short climb before the big descent, the pace picks up but I stay calm and crest in 2nd position.  I pass the leader and now have the descent to myself.  Everything going as planned.  Until my chain falls off because of the harsh bumps.  I'm able to pedal to get it back on but loose a couple positions.  Flying down the hill I get back in front but loose the chain again.  I realize I'll have to keep pedaling the whole way to keep the chain on.
The climb through the finish always makes the end hard.  We coast through town and start the 2nd climb.  I want to get water from neutral, as I brought only 1 bottle (bad idea) but someone grabs it just in front of me.  After he drinks 1/2 of it he asks if anyone wants it.  I hesitate before saying yes and it's too late.. he tosses it.  Oh well.
The climb is hard.  I'm really getting tired.  I envisioned pushing it and breaking away with others, but now I find myself wanting to do no more work than necessary.  Robin & I were just talking about the discomfort that is a part of racing, when you have to go to that painful place and it's scary to face it, but you do come out the other side.  I remind myself now to go where it's most uncomfortable and God will restore me later.  I start pushing more.  Soon I'm leading the climb again.  I feel like I could easily blow up but I stay focused on good spinning and it works out well.  And at the top I do recover and feel restored. Thank you, God!
I look around, though, and don't see Jim, my alliance, to make any move with (turned out he flatted).  Of course part of me doesn't want to make a move because I'm tired.  The group is going slower than ever.  I take a turn at the front and watch 2 guys make a medium effort break.  I let them go hoping they'll get away and then I'll break to catch up to them.  The pack stays behind me not making a move.  But the 2 off the front start looking back and slowing up.  Inside I'm saying, "Go, Go!  Get way out there".  But they end up coming back.
Then there's a gradual hill which I attack hoping to get over with a couple others.  Over the top, I look back and see 1 guy!  "We got a break, let's go!"  But then I see around him and the entire pack is right on him in a single line.  That didn't work.
Later, a small guy, 2 others and myself try an attack.  We get a small gap but then we break up because 2 guys pull too hard and gap another.  Plus the pack is smart.  They don't do much work but they immediate bring back any real threats of a break-away.  We turn West into the head-wind.  The pace slows even more.  Again, myself and another guy surge to see what will happen.  After a couple pulls the pack catches and goes by and I almost get dropped!  It surprises me how tired I am that I almost couldn't hang on.  That's it, no more working until the final climb before the descent to the finish.
The small guy takes off!  Alone, into the wind.  Pack does nothing.  Someone says, "Poor guy, no one can stay away in wind like that."  Another says, "He's not a threat, he doesn't time-trial much".  His short legs are spinning like crazy.  He comes back a little and then surges ahead farther… and then, after a short rise, he gets a big gap!  I'm really impressed and only wish I had legs that could sustain a solo effort like that.
Getting near the final climb.  I'm tired, but still confident I can get to the front on this hill.  Suddenly 4 guys attack the hill, catching me off guard.  I react but find myself 6 or 7 back, not able to match the speed.  They're dropping us!  Another guy tells me, "Come on! We can do this! We can make it happen!"  I admire his enthusiasm when I can barely muster an slight, "ok".  He's a great example of how we should react in tough times.. be positive even though deep down we feel hopeless.  I push as hard as I can.  Eyes closed sometimes.  I stay on his wheel but that's all I can do.
Finally, over the top, I get some energy back and do some pulling to share the work.  Into the steep technical sections I pass another guy but also get pashed by someone in the chase pack that caught us.  Far ahead the small guy is still leading, with the pack of 5 chasing.  And then myself and another guy.  And then the chase pack of about 10 more.   It's a crazy bumpy, descent.  My chain falls off again but I massage it back on.  The other guy and I work together.  I'm so tired but I look back and see the pack coming.  Gotta go, gotta push.  The final rise before the finish.  They're bearing down on us.  The other guy is giving me a good pull but I can barely hang on.  I dig deep.  100m to go.  A flyer off the chase pack catches me and goes by.  But we're able to hold off the pack and I finish 9th.  The little guy that went off the front.. finished 2nd!  Wow, that hurt, but what a great workout.  Thanks, God, for keeping us safe, and helping me through those painful moments.

Copperopolis Road Race – Robin

April 19th, 2014 – Milton, CA
2 x 21m loops

5th, Cat 4


Charity Marshall

It’s a special treat today because Troy and I get to head to a race without the kids. Easter is tomorrow and they are having fun at Nana Sue & Papa Ray’s house. The cousins are there, too, so there is much fun to be had!

Off we head to Milton, a small farming & ranching community near Angels Camp. This race is well known for its very bumpy roads…pot hole upon pot hole upon pot hole! I don’t remember it being that terrible after the first 5 miles and before the last 5 miles. It’s a 2 loop course. Each lap is about 21 miles.

We get to the site and get ready to ride. The Marshalls, Charity and Shayne, are here too without kids. Charity, Troy and I go out for a warm-up. It’s a beautiful day and these off-course roads are nice and smooth!

Troy and I do some last minute prep and then head to the start. We find Shayne and pray for our races. Today, safety is key and most importantly putting Christ first. Charity and I see Shayne and Troy off. Their categories are around 20 guys, not the usual 50. As the girls line up I wonder where they all are and I say “is this it for the girls?”. Yes, it is…wow, only 8 gals!

Ready, set, go! We casually roll out and within moments turn onto the severely bumpy road. I am not very surprised and remember this well. No one is in a hurry to lead the race. We climb the first hill comfortably. Charity takes a turn at the front. We hit a patch of smooth pavement…ahhhhh, that’s nice!

On the backside of the course it’s still calm. Charity and I get a chance to chat about the Good Friday service at Elevation church we missed. The roads back here seem bumpier than I remember. Still, I feel really good and start mentally preparing for the downhill. Troy said that this downhill is the main part of my race. I’ve been descending with more confidence and skill than ever so I hope it goes well!

We are still together as we climb. I take a turn at the front and try to stay relaxed. Just before the top, there is a brief downhill and I push ahead and descend well. Charity goes by and tells me to go with her. I get on her wheel and try to stay close. We climb for a short time and then it’s time! Charity takes off and I try to stay with her. Soon, my bike is vibrating violently as my speed picks up.  I panic on a few turns and grab the brake.  It really does little to settle my nerves.  A few girls fly by and I try to keep them as close as I can.  I’m descending better here than ever but I’m still fearful.

Near the bottom I let it rip and pull back to the girls.  I’m able to make contact.  Soon all 8 of us are together again.  The road is nice and smooth here for once!

We head back to the start for loop 2.  We turn back onto the bumps.  We start the 2nd climb and I feel wiped.  It’s so weird because I didn’t feel I was pushing really hard most of the first lap. The bumps start to feel like a bunch of little hills and it is wearing on my mind and body.

One of the girls, in a Metromint kit, pulls ahead on the climb but none of us are concerned.  In my mind, she will come back eventually.  Soon another gal in black and fruit covered kit (pictures of fresh fruit which is making me hungry) takes off so I ride with her.  I don’t know where Charity is and I hope she is close.  It takes all of me to concentrate on the fruit girl.  When we get to the top, I look back and no one is in sight.  The Metromint girl is way out there and now I’m doubting we can catch her.

The fruit girl and I chat and decide to work together.  After a few miles, I feel really tired and loose contact.  When I look back I see 2 girls coming up on me.  I decide to let them catch me and hope that I can hang on.  I still don’t see Charity and I hope she’s got some of the other girls to work with.  She’s strong and will persevere for sure!

I do okay working with these girls but I feel really tired again and fall off.  I realize that I’m making a terrible mistake letting up because I need help to get to the finish.  I push to catch up again but it appears I missed my chance.  They make a turn up ahead.  As I make the turn, I see a huge trailer intentionally pulling out in front of them.  I am angry for the nerve of the guy doing that when all he could have done was waited 20 more seconds…but at the same time relieved that I get to catch up.  Thanks God for a break!

Together again, we ride towards the last climb.  The Metromint gal is a small dot and the fruit girl is getting smaller too.  Probably won’t catch either of them now.  This means I have a shot for 3rd to 5th place.  Knowing my weaker descending skills and sprint skills, it’s going to be tough to get 3rd.

Up the last hill, we stay together.  Once at the false top I try to pull ahead but they are right on me.  Up again to the real top and now it’s time to descend.  Help me Lord!  I get there first and hang on tight.  I brake again on a sharp turn and the girls go by.  I manage to keep contact going down. Again, violent shaking…a few shout outs to Jesus and I make it down…and still close to the girls!  Yeah!  I pull in close and wait for a chance to go.  The finish is near!

We climb a short hill and go down the backside.   I know gravity is a friend that I don’t want to neglect so I push it even though I have 500 meters to go.  It’s a short climb to the finish and I dig as deep as I can.  The girls fly by and I cannot keep up. They finish 3rd and 4th at the line.  I come across in 5th with a smile and happy to be done.  Thank you Lord for the protection and good ride! 

Charity comes soon after.  Unfortunately the gals she was working with quit and turned back.  I knew she would stay strong and finish strong.  Great job Charity!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

HITS Napa Valley Half (Troy)

April 12th, 2014 – Lake Berryessa, Napa, CA
Swim 1.2m – Bike 56m – Run 1/2 Mara

4:56:10 (32:13-2:08-2:43:05-1:41–1:37:01)


1st/18 M45-49; 9th OA


1/2IM Aqua Bike: Ryan Moll

It's the first time at this race.  The HITS (Horse Shows In The Sun) organization started creating lower priced triathlons that offered every distance.. even Ironman.. at each venue.  Usually when you offer more for less, the result is not very impressive.  However, getting our first look at the race site, we were impressed.  Professional signage, organized layout, and even mini-chairs at each athlete's transition area!  I signed in, met the CEO of the race organization, and reviewed the course.  Berryessa is beautiful and has a lot of water, compared to other reservoirs during this drought. The run is straight-forward on a rolling, rural road along the lake.  The bike is also along the lake and through Pope Valley.  Robin & I have done the ride before.  We love it but it's narrow and cars can be a problem.  We learn that it is open to traffic during the race.  This is the one concern.

I've tried to get extra sleep this week.  I don't feel energized and wonder how I'll race fast for 5 hrs tomorrow.  We set up camp, the girls meet some other kids and play, and then we go to sleep early.

WP_002514In the dark morning I eat and make final preparations.  It's cold but will get hotter this afternoon.  I ride a couple miles on the bike.  Set up my transition.  Run a 1/2 mile.  And then figure out how to get my Tri-Tats race numbers on me.  Actually very easy and very professional looking.

The transition director is reminding us that transition is closing.  I go as fast as I can but still am 2 minutes late in leaving.  Down at the water I warm up a little and then join the group to listen to the race director.  Robin, Anna & Ariel are here!  It's great to get hugs and a picture.  The race director says there are 30 doing the full ironman distance!  The rest (220) are doing the Half.

SWIM: Go!  We jump in and many pull way out in front.  I can't see the buoys but the lead kayaker is a big help.  It seems like we keep turning to the left even though it's a straight shot to the far buoy.  I can't get a draft all the way to the first turn.  Finally I find some feet on the 2nd leg of the triangle.  Now I'm feeling better and thanking God for a good draft.  1/2 way across the 2nd leg, I feel my chip strap coming loose and stop to check it.  I loose my draft but make a huge effort and actually catch back up. Yes!  But then WP_002517someone takes it from me and now I battle for other drafts.  On the last leg to the finish I'm feeling strong, thanks to the drafts, and decide to go on my own for a more direct route.  I push hard but, almost to the finish, I realize I haven't gained ground and should have stayed in the draft.  Even though the swim seemed to take forever, I feel good about it and hope I come in near my 30min goal.  I exit, the cheering is great, the ramp is carpeted. 1/2 way up I shed my wetsuit where Robin & the girls are.  I finish 19th, 32:14.

T1: I transition, grab my bike and decide against my light jacket since I feel comfortable.  I run out on the gravel in my socks, jump on an go.  2:09.

BIKE: I head out and start the climb up towards Pope Valley.  I'm breathing hard still from the swim and even slightly dizzy.  Otherwise my legs feel good and I'm optimistic.  It's overcast so no sun yet.  After 5 mi I realize that I'm slowly getting cold and should've taken my jacket.  My 140413_hits_half_troy_bikepace is still good, though, and I'm praying for sun.  At 10mi a guy is drafting me.  He comes alongside sometimes and then goes back.  I tell him to "pass or stay back".  He says, "I'm trying to but you're too fast" and then he proceeds to take off, easily pulling far ahead.  I see the leader coming back and take a time check at the "hub-caps house".  At the turn-around I'm really uncomfortable.  Goose bumps and muscles getting stiff from the cold.  The suns pokes out 2 times which feels good but doesn't stay.  I'm 12th place and 12min behind the leader.  I'm getting passed more now.  The road is great and scenic vineyards are all around.  I look forward to climbing back up to the lake to generate some heat.  Over the top then high speed down to the lake road, I see Robin and the girls cheering and taking pictures.  That makes me smile and motivates me.

This 1/2 of the ride is rollers along the Lake.  The hills are never that long.  It works good for me.  I'm feeling more comfortable and loosing up.  I pass the guy who earlier was drafting me.  After getting quite a ways ahead I hear his tire pop and look back as he stops to change it.  I'm really feeling the groove now in the aero-position.  I'm thanking God for making me comfortable.  I maintain a flat, thigh-pushing effort into the roller and over 1/2 way up the climb, come out of the bars to sit-up for the last bit.  Each hill goes by fast and I'm passing people.  At the 2nd turn-around I'm 9th place!  I had taken another time-check of the leader and now am 19min behind.  But ahead of my own goal of a 2:50 bike split.  I'm getting excited at the though of coming in early and push even harder.  I catch a guy in white and we go back-n-forth on the last rollers.  I try to drink as much of my Sustained Energy before coming into the park.  Wow, that was a great ride (despite being cold part of it).  I finish 8th with a 2:43 bike split (7th split).

T2: I forgot to stretch on the bike so my calves are tight.  I stretch just a second but gotta get to work.  Shoes on, grab Garmin, Hammer gels and hat.  Onto the run.  1:42

RUN: Feels good.  Watch says I'm right on schedule.  If I can run a 1:40 as planned I'll finish in 140413_hits_half_troy_run5 hr flat.  I'm so glad to see Robin and the girls in front of the camping area along the road.  High fives.  They say I'm in 7th (turns out to be 8th) and ahead of schedule which is really motivating.  I can see the guy in white up ahead.  He stays on the right side of the road (must've been a rule I missed)  I finally catch him and want to run with him since there's no one else out here except the great volunteers at the 1 mile aid stations.  I learn his name is Andrew.  He tells me the run has really tough rollers.  I feel pretty confident and may pull ahead of him. 

At 2mi my feet have finally thawed out from the bike.  Before that, it felt like my shoes were too tight or socks were bunched up.  Now they feel good.  Suddenly a tall guy goes by pretty fast.  Andrew takes off to try to stay with him.  Too fast for me but I pick it up some and hope I can out-last them.  The balls of my feet are feeling hot, especially on the uphills.  I try to make up for it on the "downs".

The green hillsides and beautiful blue lake views are really pleasant.  Temperature is perfect.  I'm running well, hamstring is holding up, but each mile Andrew pulls farther ahead and the tall guy even farther.  1/2 way to the out-n-back, the leader is coming back.  I count each runner and tell them their place.  I just want to get to the turn-around and feel like every step is getting me closer to home and being done.  This is tough work.  But God is making go better than expected.  I'm trying to give Him my best effort.  Running the tangents (but staying on the right side of the road) and using good form (running from the core).

140413_hits_half_troy_run4Finally I see tall-guy and Andrew coming back.  Turn-around is at the top of a hill.  At each station I drink water or Heed and pour water on my head.  1/2 way.  It's a lot of downhill now!  I'm in 9th place.  If I maintain pace I'll break 5hrs.  It's a beautiful view coming down.  Feet feeling better.  I calculate I'll need to be at 4:37 at 10mi in order to break 5 hrs.  I focus on running each climb well and counting down the miles to the 10mi sign.  I cheer for each person running the other way.  I see some people I met beforehand and I see our friend Richard Kane.  It's tough out here by yourself but it is a beautiful run.  There's 10mi.  And I'm way ahead!  Terrific.  I also remember Andrew telling me it's all downhill with 1-1/2 to go.  I'm really looking forward to being done.  At 11mi I'm surprised to see 4:44 which means it's going to be close!  I pick it up but then with 1.1 mi to go I've got 12min left.  The markers may be off.  But I'm going to break 5!  Yay!  Thanks, God, I finish so happy to be under the goal and feel like I was relying on Christ the whole way. 

I finish 9th with a 1:37 run split (16th split) and 4:56:10 total (1st 45-49).  I'm exhausted.  I do a little jog with Andrew to cool down and then collapse on the ground with my great girls feeding me and being great support.  Thanks, God, for keeping my hamstrings working and giving me a WP_002532good feeling on the bike.

But the thought of the 30 doing the Full haunts me.  I see a couple head out on the run after I've been lying down resting for an hour.  We pack up our camp go to the awards and see a couple more head out on the run.  It's 75 deg now and many people are leaving.  I feel compelled to help these runners out.. so we drive the run course and cheer for the Ironmen starting and the 1/2 Ironmen finishing.  It's great to see their smiles after encouraging them.  It's hard to imagine just starting the hardest part of the race when I feel exhausted and ready to go home.  I hope they make it.  It's nice to have a lot of cheering, but sometimes in life we have to endure on our own.  It's nice to know that with Christ we are never actually alone.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

STAR Education 5K–Ariel & Anna

April 5th, 2014 – Roseville, Ca
Anna 27:14 PR!
Ariel 41:17, 1st 5K Ever!
Girls 0-14 Age Group:
Anna 1st
Ariel 6th

Other Teammates:

Dave Christensen, Leah Westphalen, Mommy



We got there and put raffle tickets in some bags to win some prizes.  Then we went over to the starting line.  We got to the starting line really early.  We stretched and then we lined up. 

The guy directing the race said “ready, set, go” and we all ran.  We were zig-zagging along a trail.  We saw a little boy who was trying to pass us.  We ran into a shady spot and when we turned, we didn’t see our friend Leah. 

Mom said “I hope there is an aid station” and then we saw the aid station.  I took some water and drank some and poured it all on my head. 

When the race was almost over, we saw Leah.  Leah told us she took a wrong turn.  When we were close to the finish line, we saw Anna cheering for us.  I crossed the finish line.  I got some water and they took of my tag that was on my shoe.  And, then I got some food. 

After that they were doing the prizes and we won a roller skating pass.  That’s all!



We were confused where the starting line was but we figured out where it was.  In the beginning, there weren’t many people there except for my family and our friend Leah and her mom.  I did some stretching on a wood pole.  Then more people started coming to the starting line.

The starter said “ready, set, go”. There were still a few people still coming to the starting line.  I started running.  I felt good and had no cramps.  There were some children in front of me and some behind me.  I started running fast.  I was ahead of all the kids and I was with a few grown ups.  I kept running and there was this lady I was staying with.  But soon she went faster and ran ahead.

I was almost alone but I could still see some runners ahead of me so I could see where to go.  I was looking another way and a runner went past me and said “good job”.  I said “thank you”.  I saw a soccer game going on and I saw some people there looking at me. 

I kept running and got to the aid station. I drank some water and poured it on my head.  They were surprised I was with the grown-ups.

I kept running and lots of cars were passing me on the road but I was on the sidewalk.  I was alone but I still could see the runners ahead. There were two ladies walking a dog and I ran past them.

Up ahead I saw a runner running through some trees.  When I got there I saw a runner turn up ahead.  When I got to the turn, I realized I was really close to the finish.  I started running straight and I turned again and saw the finish.  It was right there.  I ran really fast and I finished!  It was awesome!

Then I waited for Mommy and Ariel to finish.  I saw Mommy running with Ariel right by the finish.  When they finished I was surprised that Ariel had an awesome attitude.