Sunday, March 15, 2015

2015 Bariani Road Race–Robin

March 15th, 2015 – Zamora, CA
2 x 14loops

Cat 4, 14th

Great to be back at Bariani!  Bummed that Troy is sick and cannot compete today.  He and the WP_20150315_003girls are supporting me.  Thank you God for that!

My group is the last to go.  It’s not quite as big as last year but still a big turn out.  Last year I got dropped within the first 5 miles because I stayed in the back and missed a big move at the front of the pack.  This year I need to put myself closer to the front and watch for movement.

WP_20150315_002The girls and Troy wait at the start with me.  We pause and pray…for protection and focus on Jesus.

Ready, set, go!  It’s been a while since I’ve been in a road race and I’m a little nervous about the close quarters.  I pray for peace.  I’m doing a much better job already paying attention to what the group is doing.  We get to the spot where I lost the group last year…a series of zigs and zags in the road.  I am a bit cautious on the rough road but am able to keep my momentum and stay with the group. 

I am struggling a bit to stay up front.  Girls seem to get antsy and then start moving up.  I then find myself in the back and have to look for opportunities to move back up…which is hard when the field is taking the entire right lane and it’s difficult to pass without going over the yellow line.

Finally the road straightens out and the road gets much nicer.  The speed increases and the group splinters for a moment.  I’m pleasantly surprised how I can surge well to catch back up with the pack.  Still, no one is trying to make a big move.

WP_20150315_007(3)_cropWe make the last turn to finish off the first of two loops. I know that Troy will be looking to see if I’m trying to stay close to the front so I move up to just behind the leader. I see Troy and the girls waiting on the hillside.  He tells me good job. 


This gal continues to lead for the next few miles.  Soon the group gets antsy and girls start moving up.  I find myself close to the back of the pack again.  I have to wait until the road gets better and a little wider before I can move up. 

The group starts ramping up again.  I get ready to surge but get stuck behind a rider.  I say “on your left” like in triathlon but she doesn’t move.  Eventually, I get around but the main pack has taken off…oh dear!  I get in my drops and dig deep. I am very slowly gaining on the group.  I’m surprised again that I have the leg speed to do this.  Thanks God!  Little by little I close the gap and catch back up just in time for the last stretch to the finish.

I see a few gals take off and the rest of the pack stays back.  I wonder if I should go after them.  It would be nice to get out of the pack.  It’s starting to get a little squirrely back here.  I barely miss hitting a girl that comes out of nowhere on my right. I want to get out of this craziness! 1.5K to go, yes, I’m going for it.  I take off and start chasing them down.  Uh-oh, my legs are pretty tired from that last chase…and those girls are further ahead then I thought…and I look back and the pack is looking pretty ominous! 

I catch up to the girls about the same time the peloton does.  The peloton flies by like the 3 of us are standing still.  I get into my drops, put my head down and go as fast as I can.  I can see the pack moving further away…incredible!  I put my head down and continue hammering.  As I look up again, there is a girl on the ground…oh, no!  I roll by her and see that somehow her handlebars got stuck between the back wheel and frame of another girl.  How this other girl is standing up and not also down on the ground is a mystery to me.  I can see help is on the way so I continue to dig. 


I can see a girl coming up alongside me so I push harder.  I’m able to beat her by a half a wheel length at the line.  Wow, thank you Lord!  It’s good to be done and not on the ground!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 Land Park Criterium (Troy, M35+ 4)

March 14th, 2015 – Sacramento

35+ Cat 4, 25th of 50

Going into this race I'd been sick for a couple weeks with a chest infection.  I practiced my cornering the week before in my neighborhood.  Robin and the girls monitored a couple corners so I could try them at high speed.  Last year I crashed on a high speed left turn so that was the main focus.  The test went good.  But the next few days I was coughing worse.  So in today's race I will be careful not to push too hard and hope the next day I feel better, not worse.

My other concern is the chicane - a tight left-right turn that causes many crashes on this course.  Last year with 2-to-go I led through this corner on the outside, but was then crowded by 2 riders on the inside that almost pushed me over the curb.  I hit the brakes and stopped in the gutter, but 2 others not far back went down.  I'm determined not to let that happen again.

The announcer talks about how this race has been around for decades.  Wow, I imagine how many crashes there have been over those years.  Right before my race there is a bad crash in the Cat 5 Elite.  This is a video shot by one of the guys in the crash.!5837&authkey=!AHsF14n0ohy9YTA&ithint=video%2cmp4 

There remains a rider that is being mobalized for the ambulance coming.  Therefore the Cat 5 race is cut short.  I pray that he'll recover well from this and that the condition isn't too bad.

Before our start of 50 riders, I notice a guy on a pink bike and think he must be pretty good to be confident on that color.  Robin and the girls are at home, but we pray over the phone.  My Victory Velo teammates, Chris DeMattei, Dan Brown, and Jeff Sawyer are racing with me.  We're off.  I'm #239.

Right off the start, the guy on the pink bike attacks and gets a gap.  1/2 mile later, in the first left-turn of the chicane, we see him crashed on the grass 50ft off the road.  Wow, that's embarrassing to crash with the whole road to yourself.  Although my crash at Montserrat was embarrassing, too.

The video attached is from another rider's camera.!5836&authkey=!ADZe5XtXpiQhelw&ithint=video%2cmp4.

You can see me in Victory Velo blue.

I ride near teammate, Chris, most of the ride and the corners all go well.  I thank the Lord for helping create good space around me each time.  There's only 1 close call the whole race.  Michael O'Rourke was riding with us as an instructor and at times would coach us through the corners.  I was happy with my cornering and was able to use it to my advantage at times.

Now almost every other lap had a prime.  I would come around the last turn in good position, but always get passed by everyone's great sprinting abilities.  It wasn't helped by my skipping chain at high efforts.  I just had the shifters and derailleur replaced but something is really wrong.  But I understood it to be God's way of keeping me to my promise of not going 100%.  If I was able to sprint my hardest, I'd probably make my chest infection worse.

I finished 25th.  Chris finished the highest at 15th. I was really happy to finish safely and not see any bad wrecks.  The guy on the pink bike never re-joined the race but I'm sure he wasn't too hurt since he landed on the soft grass.  The next day I was feeling a little worse so didn't do the Bariani Race, but my wife, Robin, did so you can read about it in her story Smile

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2015 Napa Marathon–Robin

March 1st, 2015 – Napa, Ca
Marathon – 26.2 miles
8th (17th Master like last year)
Other Teammates:
Karen Nickel
I meet my partner in crime, Karen Nickel, outside my hotel and we warm-up running and do some stretching/drills.  It’s quite awesome to be right next to the race start!  Karen and I are able to come back and use a normal bathroom!  Karen is so sweet to brush Ariel’s hair and braid it!
The big question mark is my hamstrings.  Since CIM I’ve had to admit that they have become a chronic problem.. a real injury.  Also since CIM, I’ve taken bigger steps to work on the problem…strengthening exercises, massage and drills.  All have helped improved the problem but none have completely solved it. 
Yesterday Troy ran my typical 1 mile prep-run.  We tried to find different ways to make the hamstrings not bother me…shorter stride, fast, slow, wiggling hips, less bounce.  Not one particular thing seemed to solve the tender hamstrings.  But we did agree to back off the pace if the hamstrings flared up dramatically. I was a bit discouraged and thought about possibly using Ibuprofen.
Later on that night I felt the nudge from the Lord to focus on Him and trust him.  First came from Karen, who inspired me to wake up earlier today and read my Bible before the race.  Second came from Troy Outman who said not to focus on the hamstrings but on the Lord…the significance of this would not be realized until the first 1/3 of the race.  I also decided to not bring any ibuprofen and just have faith the Lord will help me.
Karen and I head back to the start line and wait.  Troy and the girls show up and we all pray.  Troy and I review today’s plan…go out at my goal pace of 8min/per mile, try different changes to stride/form to minimize discomfort if it comes, and back off the pace to lessen any discomfort.  So I really hope that I’ll miraculously have no discomfort or very minimal discomfort…that would be success!
Okay, time to go!  We’re off! Amazing how easy the first mile of a marathon goes by!  Unfortunately, I can already feel the hamstrings.  They are tight and sore.  Time to try out some methods from yesterday…shorter stride first.
Mile 1 is 7:58 (7:46 last year).  Last year I went out aggressively and faded at Mile 16 because of the hamstrings and lack of energy.  It’s weird to slow down the pace but hoping it will yield great results!
Mile 2 is 8:06 (7:44).  Slight hills have slowed me down but able to pick it up more now.  Hamstrings still bothering me.  The stride change has helped some but not much!  I catch up to Karen and say hi briefly but have to let her go.  She’s doing a great job pacing herself and staying patient.
Mile 3 is 7:55 (7:43).  Hamstrings still there.  Still on pace and happy about that!
Mile 4 is 8:02 (7:42).  Still there!
Mile 5 is 8:03 (7:43).  Still there!

Mile 6 is 8:14 (7:48).  Still there!  I try slowing down the pace now that all the “changes”/adjustments I’m making mechanically are not changing anything.
Mile 7 is 8:06 (7:48).  First big cheering section of folks.  I look for Troy and the girls.  They said they would be there halfway but checking just in case they got an earlier start.  Getting frustrated with my hamstrings!
Mile 8 is 7:53 (7:44).  Getting really frustrated!  This race is not looking successful.  No matter what I do, the hamstring still bothers me!  Here is another spectator spot.  If I see Troy, I think I just might stop and cry.  No Troy…guess God wants me to keep going.
Mile 9 is 8:03 (7:44).  I’m feeling God tell me to pick up the pace.  I protest in my mind, “but my hamstrings hurt and this race is a basic failure because of that!  Why even try?”  Then I remember a text from Troy Outman last night…focus on God and not the hamstring.  After a few minutes of thinking about that, I start to get it.  Success today is going to be focusing on Him WITH the hamstring discomfort.  Okay, this changes everything!  Let’s pick it up like He says. 
Mile 10 is 8:04 (7:48).  After ramping up for a half mile, the discomfort is steady and unchanging!
Mile 11 is 7:59 (7:43).  Okay, now I’m getting back on pace!  Pain still steady!
Mile 12 is 7:57 (7:51).  Attitude has totally changed!  I feel hopeful and joyful…thank you Jesus!  I cannot wait to share this with Troy.  I’m SO glad I didn’t see him earlier with that bad attitude…God knew!
Mile 13 is 7:56 (7:43). Didn’t see Troy at the halfway point.  Hope all is okay with the girls!  They have their bikes and scooters so I hope they didn’t get hurt somewhere along the journey to find me!
Mile 14 is 8:09 (8:02).  A bit slow but just climbed a hill.  Hamstrings steady!!  I’m amazed at how quickly the miles are going by!  Thanks God!
Mile 15 is 7:58 (7:42).  Back on pace!  Another spectator spot!  I see a kid on a scooter!  It looks like Ariel…yeah, they’re here!  I get to Ariel and give her a high five.  I high five Anna and Troy asks me how it’s going.  “The hamstrings hurt.  God is saying this is going to be a part of my race, make the best of it.”  Troy says “great job honey!”
Mile 16 is 8:11 (8:07).  Finished another hill…phew!  These little hills sure seem bigger as the miles pile up!
This is where I started fading last year.  I’m so happy that I’m not feeling like that!  Thank you God for keep the hamstrings steady and helping me continue to push the pace.
I think I see Karen up ahead but doubt it’s her.
Mile 17 is 8:03 (8:15).  Feeling the pain but feeling strong and very thankful.  Hard to believe now that I could be happy with the hamstring issue…and be feeling stronger than last year!  I realize that I’m not feeling other usual aches and pains…amazing!
Mile 18 is 7:49 (8:15).  Praise you Lord!  The miles are rolling by! 
Mile 19 is 7:57 (8:14).  I think that is Karen.  I hope she’s okay. 
Mile 20 is 8:02 (8:21).  The Wall!  Wow, still steady!  I’m getting closer to Karen.  Last year she caught up to me around now.
Mile 21 is 7:55 (8:40).  The turn off is coming soon!  Not many miles left to run! 
I catch up to Karen and find out her hip started hurting out of the blue!  I pray for her and myself…that we can persevere and glorify the Lord in our pain.  I decide to continue to push the pace and encourage her to hang in there.  I know if I go there is a chance that she’ll feel better and have someone to aim for.
Mile 22 is 7:58 (8:28).  The turn off is coming!  Wow, only 4 more miles…I can do that!  These miles continue to roll by!
Mile 23 is 8:09 (8:58).  I make the turn.  Soon I hear someone calling my name.  I see Troy!  Yeah!  I tell him I’m feeling strong. He tells me “21 more minutes left to run!”
Mile 24 7:54 (8:51).  The miles are not flying by now.  Typically this happens way earlier in a marathon so I am thankful it’s only with 2 miles to go.  I set some goals to keep me focused.  I want to run the next mile at 7:55 and then the last mile under 7:50.
Mile 25 is 7:54 (8:21). Yes, under 7:55!  I should be able to go under 3:30 at this rate…but feel God remind me that 3:30 is just fine too.
Mile 26 is 7:39 (8:03).  I’m really pushing it but 3:30 is going to be tough.  I turn the last corner and see the finish in the distance.  Go, go, go! 
150301_napa_marathon_finishI cross the line just over 3:31.  I’ll take it! Thank you God!  I look behind me and there is Karen all done!  Wow, she did feel better and she did chase me down.  I chased her down last year and she chased me this time!  Last year we were 11 seconds apart and this year 25.  We are meant to finish together!
Thank you Jesus for an amazing day!  I never expected it to turn out so well!  Walking around now I feel all kinds of soreness and pain all over my legs.  The hamstring issue really took center stage and helped me to overlook all the other discomforts.  Wow!  All I can say is WOW!
Name Age Group Place Time Goal Met Exceeded or Close Boston Qualifier
Karen Nickel F35-39 11th 3:31:51 Close YES!
Robin Soares F40-44 8th (17th Master Again) 3:31:26 Close YES!