Saturday, April 18, 2015

CEM Rescue Run 5K

April 18, 2015 – Grass Valley, CA

Ariel 38:29, PR! (Previous PR 41:17)

Anna 34:33

Robin 23:52


Ariel, 4th in Age Group

Anna, 1st in AG

Robin, 1st in AG


Ben & Ellie Nickel, Lauren Langhofer, Ron Terrell, Troy Soares


I'm at the starting line.  The race director is saying let's pray.  Then he says "go"!  I started running and Ben was running ahead fast.  Dad caught up to me.  Ben started slowing down and I ran ahead on some bridges. 

I was on a canal and saw Anna and Ellie on the other side.  Then, I ran to the other side.  I saw Ben and Daddy and said "look at me Daddy."  Then Daddy said to Ben, "let's try to catch her!" 

I ran and ran up a hill and down a hill.  Then I can see the finish line.  I heard Mommy yelling and I saw her.  I crossed the finish line.  I was super tired.  I got food and then I got rest.  I got 4th place. 


I'm with my friends, Ellie and Ben, and my sister Ariel.  We go to the starting line. Ariel and Ben are teamed up to run together with my Dad.  Ellie and I are going to run together.

They say "go" and Ellie and I take off.  We go up a hill, then another hill and then another hill.  Then it's mostly flat. Ellie and I cross 4 bridges!  It was fun!

Then were running on a canal.  The canal was fun because we saw the water and thought it would be fun to go down it on intertubes.  And then we go up another bridge to another road above the canal.  We keep running and I see Ariel running down below.  I say "good job Ariel"!  Right behind Ariel is Ben with my Dad!  I say "good job, you're almost there!" 

I heard Mommy shouting because she had finished the race.   We ran up to her and gave her high fives.  Then we started running faster because the finish line is up ahead.   Ellie and I finished together.



It's been a long time since I've tried to run short and fast.  It's fun to have our girls and the Nickel kids here supporting a great cause, CEM

We all line up.  Ready, set, go! 

The first mile is tough.  Trying to run hard and go up short steep climbs is difficult.  I'm breathing hard from the get go!  The front pack is full of teens.  Slowly I catch up to one of the girls and another guy running in full fishing attire.  There is one more girl ahead of me.

Mile 1 is 8:04.  My body says ouch!  I catch up to the final girl and she doesn't relent for me but makes me work for it.  She is tough and I tell her good job as I pass.  Finally we get to a flat levy.  What a relief!  Now I need to push it hard but part of me says this is good enough.  I make myself pick it up anyway.

Mile 2 is 7:23.  Good!  We turn off the levy and onto a fire road on the other side.  As I run back, I can hear Anna and Ellie singing as they run along...what energy!  I tell them good job and they say "we can see your yellow shirt!".  A little further, I hear Ben chatting with Troy.  I yell good job and Troy yells good job back.

There are 3 teen boys ahead of me now.  I'm trying to close the gap but it's slow going.  Off the fire road and back to levy.  Soon I'm going downhill!  Go, go, go!  The teens are flying and pulling away.  I'm trying to push with what I have left. 

Mile 3 is 7:05.  I run past a volunteer and I hear him say, "your supposed to be on the trail".  I look to my right and see a trail.  Oops!  I turn around, run back uphill and get on the trail.  I tell the volunteer he should move down to the trail so others won't make the same mistake.

I can see the finish!  I push hard and cross the line.  CEM staffers and friends are waiting and cheering: Caryn Galeckas, Charlie Cazin and Suzanne Hartley. Wow, that was hard but a good effort!  Now it's time to go back and cheer on the kids!



Age Group


ROBIN SOARES 23:52 W40-44 1ST
RON TERRELL 29:07 M65-69 1ST
ANNA SOARES 34:33 W0-9 1ST
BEN NICKEL 41:27 M0-9 1ST

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HITS Napa Open Triathlon (Anna Soares)

Date/Location: 4/12/15, Lake Berryessa, Napa, Ca
Distances: 100m Swim - 3mi Bike - 1mi Run
Time: 18:19
Place: 3rd girl overall
I've been a little nervous about this race.  Swimming out around a buoy is scary but will be ok as long as there are other people.
150412_hits_open_before_AnnaI have my tatoo race number on, I'm wearing a swimsuit and bike shorts and my transition is ready.  Dad is trying to fix the shifting on my bike. Looks like he's having trouble.
At the water start I see the buoy.  It's so close! No problem!  The race director talks to us a long time and says they wanted this race to not be scary, so that anyone could say, "I can do that!"  He tells us to line up with the men first, then the women and then the kids.
I meet another girl named Anna.  She has a full wetsuit.  Mine is working but it's so tight because I used it when I was 6 yrs old.  I put my face in the water, it feels so cold!
150413_hits_open_swim_anna_smSwimGo!  I'm swimming with good strokes.  I'm not getting bumped much.  Then I switch to breast-stroke because I like that.  After getting around the buoy I continue breast-stroke for a while.  Now that I can breathe good, I go back to freestyle all the way to the ramp.
I run up while Dad pulls my zipper down.  My friend, Leo, is running with me, even helping me by pushing me up the hill.  But Dad tells him not to.
At transition it's hard to get my tight wetsuit off.  But once I do, I put my race number on, my helmet, and can get on my bike quickly.
150413_hits_open_bike_anna_smBikeI think the ride will be so long.  I see some of the other kids I saw at the start.  It starts off with a hill and then, leaving the park, it's flat.  I keep biking to the turn-around. I'm surprised that we turn so soon.  This seems so short!  I get to the hill I climbed up and go shooting down! I see Mom and Ariel cheering for me and I hear Dad cheering. 
150413_hits_open_run_anna_smRunI jump off my bike, put it back, take off my helmet and start running.  After going around the whole transition area and then going by Dad and Mom on the way out, I already have a side cramp.  Ow!  Dad says to try and ignore it.  I'll do the best I can.
I don't know where the turn-around is.. but, again, I'm surprised to see it's only at the top of the hill!  This is really short!  I'm going to be done soon.  Running back, all I have to do is go up a little hill to the finish.  Yay, I'm done!  And my sister, Ariel, is there volunteering to give me my medal.
It was neat having the race be shorter than I thought.  150413_hits_open_finish_anna_smI can't wait to tell my friends at school that they can do it, too!  The swim is only 100 meters, the bike is 3miles (which seems short) and the run is 1mile (which doesn't seem like 1 mile).

HITS Napa Olympic Distance (Troy)

April 12, 2015– Napa, CA
1.5km Swim – 40km Bike - 10km Run
2:24:16 (27:00 – 1:11:17 – 40:50)

Yesterday we watched Robin conquer the full Aqua-Bike race.  It's beautiful here camping at Lake Berryessa, but the water is cold and the morning was in the low 40's.  Robin did the normal procedure of stripping her wetsuit at the water's edge, but she was freezing on the first 25 mi of the bike. I should've had her run up the 400m boat ramp IN her suit to stay warm.
Today is my turn racing the Olympic distance.  Learning from Robin's race, I'll stay in my wetsuit.  My Teammates, Kris Kennedy and Flor Hodges, are also racing.  As well as the phenomenal, Dave Campbell.  He tells me he's taking a 5min handicap on me since he's 10 yrs older.  He'll surely beat me in the swim and run, my only hope is the bike. The race director, Mark, holds a pre-race prayer for anyone interested.  He always gets a big turn-out for it.
Kris and I warm up our arms but don't get in the water.  It will make for a slow acclimation during the race but will save us from shivering at the end.  It's 2 loops of 750m.  Robin and the girls will be cheering for us.  My training has been minimal but I'm still excited to see what I can do.
140412_hits_oly_swimwarmup_troySwimGo!  It's a good course that doesn't go into the sun.  The water is cold but not like the ocean.  The swim isn't feeling comfortable yet.  I'm only 1/2 aware of drafting opportunities.  I try to imagine slicing through the water.  It helps a little.  After the 1st loop I do my best to scamper out and race across the carpet, high-five Anna & Ariel and dive back in.  It goes well and helps my motivation for the 2nd loop.
Part way into the 2nd loop I feel good.  I'm in the groove.  I'm warm and energized.  But after 200m it's gone.  It was short-lived.  Now I'm getting cold and tired.  Oh well, no surprise, but I am almost done and it's been good swim for the little training.
I come out in 27min (57th overall), 2min behind Dave.
Up the ramp in my suit.  At transition I put on my jacket, thick wool socks and gloves - which are the hardest part.  Robin and the girls are such great supporters.  Off onto the bike!
BikeIt's a simple out-n-back to the end of the Berryessa Lake Rd.  I'm cold from the swim, heart rate is high, causing my vision to narrow, and my glasses are kind of smeared.  This all makes it hard to see, despite beautiful bright sun.  Across the bridge, up the hill, look out for the camera man in the middle of the road!  I'm doing my best just to keep riding straight and not hit anything.  I also want to be able to see friends racing in order to cheer for them.  As the heart rate comes down I can focus better.
Last year the rolling hills didn't bother me at all.  But this time I'm noticing they're pretty tough.  About 4 miles in I pass Dave and say Hi.  I don't think he's going to give me much so I better push it.  I feel pretty good on the bike, trying to re-create the comfortable speed I felt at Ironman Tahoe last year.  I go back and forth with a couple of guys.  One in red that I keep an eye on.
I make the turn-around and look for Dave.  The sun in my eyes with smeared glasses makes it hard.  I see Flor not far behind me!  I may beat her in the swim, but she's as fast as me on the bike.  Pretty awesome.  There's Dave!  Not far behind.  I better pick it up more on the way back.
I'm getting tire and hoping for the bike finish.  140413_hits_oly_bike_troy_smThe guy in red pulls ahead and another guy also gets away from me but I push really hard on the descents to keep him close.  Finally back across the bridge and into the park.  I stretch my calves on the way in.  And now it's time to transition… (1:11:17, 33rd overall)
T2The coordinator says, "I bet you're warm now" as I run my bike by.  I am, the jacket worked perfectly.  Now I strip it off, along with the socks, gloves, glasses.  I put shoes on and grab my hat and Hammer gels. 
140412_hits_oly_runstart_troyRunOff on the run.  I'm motivated because I know Dave Campbell can catch me.  I've get to get as far ahead as possible to fend off the attack.  Robin and the girls give me a great send-off with High-fives as I run by the spectating area.  I haven't run a fast 10k in a long time but so far it's starting off good.  I hope to stay under 7min pace.
Mile 1: 6:48. A mile in I catch the guy in red.  He's bigger and struggles on the first big climb.  I encourage him and mention the long downhill to come.  At the top, though, I realize it's not for anther mile.  This is a tough course.  I'm staying below 7min pace.  I'm trying to pick up my heals behind me, breathe deeps and keep up the pace.  I wonder when I'll hear Dave's voice.140413_hits_oly_run_troy_sm
Mile 2: 7:42. With only 2 aid stations I make sure to drink a full cup.  We climb the big hill at mile 2 and now it's all down-hill to the turn-around.  It's great!  A tall guy passes me with even better descending skills.  I have to keep pushing because Dave is fast descending as well.
Mile 3: 6:21. I make the turn and hear Jamie Whitmore cheering for me!  She's on her bike with a couple other Gutzy-Tri athletes supporting the many competitors she's trained for this race. 
I push hard as I start the LONG climb back, hoping to catch up to Jamie.  But she effortlessing climb ahead on the bike.  I'm surprised not to see Dave for a 1/2 mile on the way back.  When I see  him he says he had a poor bike.  I tell him he'll make up for it on the run.  But he's about 8min back so I think I can keep the 5min gap I need to win.  The climb isn't as hard as I anticipated.  Reprieves here and there help.
Mile 4. 7:19.  Great time for a hill!  I make it to the top, with a big push, as another big athlete passes me.  I get into his draft and try to stay with him.  I'm tired but remind myself it's pretty much down-hill to the end.
Mile 5. 6:36. I see Kris climbing on his way out, looking comfortable. I tell him "less than an hour and your first Olympic distance will be under your belt!"  Hitting the bridge, in the last mile, I give it my best, I pass a guy and stay close to the big guy.  I make an inside move and get into the park ahead of him.
Mile 6. 6:00.  No looking back now, just go!  Near the finish, enjoying the cheers and reflecting on my great appreciation to the Lord for granting me a great race, some people yell, "you gotta go, he's right behind you!"  I push  with all I've got, without looking back and sail through the finish, where Anna is volunteering and making sure she's the one to put my medal on.  Wow,a great day. (40:50, 25th overall) (2:24:16, 22nd overall, 2nd age).
Athlete Time Place
Troy Soares 2:24:16 2nd
Kris Kennedy 3:03:48 18th
Dave Campbell 2:32:02 2nd
Flor (Maria) Hodges 2:28:18 1st overall

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 HITS Full AquaBike–Robin

April 11, 2015– Napa, CA
2.4m Swim – 112m Bike

7:53:41 (1:10:19 – 4:07 – 6:39:14)



This is an extreme way to start the season and test my fitness in part of the Ironman.  It has been fun camping with the family and catching up with the Beare family from last year.  The morning is cool and breezy.  I wake up early to make oatmeal and coffee.  Then I head to the van and spend time reading my Bible.  I love this new routine of putting the Lord before my racing.

I head to the start and get my stuff laid out before transition closes…helmet, glasses, jacket, gloves and beanie.  My biggest concern is being cold so I hope this is enough…it’s definitely not as cold as IM Tahoe.

I leave transition and find a table to put my wetsuit on.  I pick the same table as Christian Beare.  Cool!  We get the chance to catch up a bit.  Soon Troy and the girls find me.  Team Soares prays together and then I head down to hear race director, Mark Wilson, give us instructions. I love how he keeps the crowds quiet and engaged.  “If you see that red buoy right there in front, say AY!”  The crowd answers back an enthusiastic “AY!”  Cool!  At the end he invites folks for prayer…even cooler!

Time to go!  I haven’t warmed up or even tried to feel the water.  My swim stroke has been off at the pool so I’m not sure how it will go. 

It’s a mass start!  Ready, set, go!  Whoa, it’s a shock starting.  I have to force my face in the water.  It’s packed going out to the first buoy.  At times I find myself having to veer off  to the right to go around a swimmer going off course.  I don’t get bumped or hit so it’s fine.  On the first loop, I feel like my form is coming together nicely and I don’t feel cold. 

140411_hits_aquabike_swimfar_robinI make it back to shore and run along the green carpet and back to the water (VIDEO).  There are only about 20 of us doing the Full course so I am relieved to see a guy that jumped into the water before me.  I push to catch up and get the draft…nice!

I draft off this guy for half of the next loop.  I’m feeling cold now but form still feels solid.  I try to pick up the pace and attempt to drop my draft.  I end up giving him a nice draft all the way to the finish.  We’ll just call it even (=140411_hits_aquabike_swimfinish_cold_robin

As usual, I take my wetsuit off right at the water’s edge.  I’m getting very cold!  I take off running and Anna and Ariel follow along.  Their smiling faces are always a highlight!

At my bike, I struggle to put on all the gear.  The gloves are the hardest and I ask Troy if I should skip them. He tells me to put them on little by little. 

THE BIKE140411_hits_aquabike_bikestart_robin
I finally make it out of T1.  I am soooo cooooold!  I cannot feel my feet at all which means sliding my feet into my shoes on the bike is not going to happen.  I pull over and detach my shoes from the bike and put them on.

Even the hill a mile out does little to warm me up.  I’m moaning because it’s so uncomfortable and so hard to focus.  God please help me through this!  After 5 miles I start to seriously consider quitting.  But, I know that is not an option.  There are so many people that I try to encourage to keep persevering in their own lives/racing.  Quitting would be such a let down to all those people!

Pretty soon, I see the first half distance riders coming back.  A gal I just met, Sena, is looking strong leading the women!

Mile 15 – At the turn around of the first out and back, I’m feeling more focused but still a bit cold.  Thank you Lord for making it get better.  I’m starting to catch some half riders.  I’ve been passed by 3 Full men.  My average mph is around 14.  Ugh!

140411_hits_aquabike_bike25mi_robin140413_hits_aq_robin_bikeMile 25 – See a half rider fall over going up a short hill in the distance.  She gets up and moves off to the side by the time I get there.  She says she’s okay.  Poor dear!

Mile 30 –  I’m flying down the first hill I climbed.  I see Ariel running in a nearby parking lot.  Troy and the girls cheer me on as I head out for the next out and back.  Nice to see them.  I gesture to Troy that I’m doing so-so.  I am feeling cold but the most comfortable so far.  I’m getting my average mph up…in the high 15 range now!

Mile 43 – I make it to the next turn around.  My average mph is just above 16.6.  I finally feel comfortable and ready to shed the gloves and beanie. I really need to stop and use a restroom.  There is one porta potty and a guy is getting into it right as I roll up.  Oh well, there is a park bathroom right up the road…gotta make it there!

I stop and use the bathroom as fast as possible.  I expect my average mph to take a big hit, but I get back on and it says 16.6!  Wow, thank you Jesus!  That is encouraging!

This part of the course is wearing on me.  All the ups and downs make it hard to get into a good rhythm.  I try to remember Troy’s advice to use the speed from the downs to climb half way up.

140413_hits_aq_robin_bike_specialneedsMile 56 – I make it to the end of the first half of the ride!  My special needs bag is waiting and so is Troy!  All the things I’ve been thinking about telling him I forget.  I take off the jacket and grab some more bottles while telling him how cold it was.  Time to go!  One more round! I’m at 3:20.

I feel tired but much more focused.  I want to bring my average up and finish under 6:40. Riding along I feel something hit my chest and sting me.  A bee or wasp and it’s stuck in my jogbra!  I must look ridiculous trying to find it.  Finally I do before any more stings occur.  Ouch, that hurts!

The faster riders come along soon.  We all acknowledge each other because we are among a few lonely riders!

Mile 71 – Back at the turnaround.  The sting is starting to feel better.  My average is creeping up close to 16.8.

Mile 86 – Making the turn to the last out and back!  Yes, thank you Jesus!  I now reward myself with a Caramel Macchiato gel.  Yum!  I’m feeling stronger and stronger as I go!

Soon a CHP comes along and asks how I’m doing.  I smile and give him a thumbs up.  He disappears around a corner.  Soon I sense a car is coming in close.  I look back and see a huge white truck coming by very close.  As he passes, he guns the gas and gives me a black diesel gas cloud.  What a jerk!  Lately I react poorly in these situations but I do nothing.  As I’m praying that he will be stopped before he does that to someone else, another CHP leading the lead rider comes along.  I wave him down and tell him what happened.  He says he’s going to radio ahead…hope so!

A few miles later, there is my CHP friend on the side of the road with the white truck!  Wow, I’m totally shocked. The truck’s hood is up.  I pull over and let him know that I was the one he bothered.  The CHP tells me he’s got it under control (gave the guy a fix it ticket Troy found out later).  I thank him and continue on.  I hope this guy doesn’t come after me later!

Mile 99 – I’m turning around for the last time!  Yeah!!  My average is all the way up to 16.9! 

On the way back, I feel great.  Those rollers are not as bad! 

Almost done!  Breaking 6:40 is going to be tough.  I’m going as fast as I can!

Finally back in the park.  I’m flying down the road and I’m at 6:39!  I hammer into T2.  I did it!  I hear a volunteer say, dismount. Oops!  I put on the brakes but slide out on the gravel.  I manage to fall gracefully…though it’s still embarrassing! 

140413_hits_aq_robin_afterThank you Lord!  You sustained me yet again!  Awesome to be reunited with family!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Copperopolis Road Race–Robin

April 4th, 2015 – Milton, CA
2 x 21 mile loops

Women’s Cat 4, 1st

Troy and I drop the kids off at Nana Sue's house and head to our race. Feeling tired from the late night and early morning. We were supposed to stay the night but delayed our trip to fix up a 1940's trailer we bought to haul all our FCA and camping gear to races. I slept on the way to Nana's and Troy is now sleeping on the way to the race. We've done this race for at least 3 years now. It's the bumpiest course I've every been on!

Not regretting getting up early to spend time in the Bible and with God. My good friend Karen Nickel has recently inspired me to do that before workouts and races. I haven't always made the time but when I do, it feels good and starts the day right!

We get to Milton which is in the middle of nowhere off of Hwy 4. The hills and fields are green and full of wildflowers...beautiful! After registering we run into a teammate, Chris DeMattei. Troy will be working with him in the Masters 45+ 4s. He kindly gives us some water since we forgot to bring extra.

I see Troy off and line up for my group. There are about 10 of us. I notice a girl smiling with her blond hair looking a bit disheveled under her helmet...great to see genuine smiles at the start! She looks inexperienced but you never know.

Ready, set, go! We roll off the line and turn onto the "cobblestone" street. I remember what the official told us at the start..."there are no gaping holes but a lot of patches". It's quite a ride.

Right away the blond (Sarah) takes off! At first the pack just sits back, but a few girls get antsy and take off to catch her. Then the rest of the pack goes. This goes on for the next few miles. I look at my heart rate and I'm in the high 160s. Wow, didn't expect to be going this fast. At this rate I'm going to blow up!

The hill keeps going and is getting steeper. Sarah keeps forging ahead and catches up to a group of guys. The rest of our pack falls back but myself and another girl work to catch her.

Heart rate continues to stay high but I figure I'd risk it to be able to go off the front on the backside. Soon the guys take off and it's just Sarah and I. I find out that this is her first race! She's very nice. We agree to work together and take turns pulling... she takes off a bit fast when it's her turn to pull so the benefit is minimal. I'm getting tired!

Eventually we are caught by 2 girls at mile we are 4. Shortly after, I go to switch gears/cogs in the back and I hear a loud click. I try shifting again but the shifter won't budge...I realize the shifter cable broke. I look down and see I'm in my smallest and hardest cog in the back! Oh dear, that will make climbing very difficult...and i might not be able to climb at all! I'm glad I can still shift the front chainrings!

Lord, what do I do? Maybe I should stop when I finish the first loop? I have a full iron distance aqua-bike next weekend and that's 112 miles on the bike. I don't want to mess that up. I ride on with the girls and just before the hill begins I stop to try to manually move the chain over. It immediately goes right back to the small cog. Well, that settles it, cannot change my circumstances.

I get going again and the girls are gone. Lord, this is going to be a tough and long climb! How am I going to do this? I'm actually surprised how strong I feel.

Just when I'm still wondering what to do, I've made it to the top of the hill...and I'm feeling great! Okay, Lord, You're telling me to keep going. I don't know how I'll be able to do another loop ... And go up that big hill at the beginning.

I'm cautious and a little slow descending the backside of the hill. The road is so bumpy that when you pick up speed your whole body rattles and it's hard to even see.

I can see the girls in the distance. Maybe I can catch them. I feel the Lord telling me to go for it. The second loop begins! I slowly make ground on the girls. I pass the water station on an uphill and a guy says "way to go...muscling your way up!". I tell him that I'm stuck in this gear and he says "oh, no!". It is an "oh, no" but I'm not mad or upset because I know the Lord is allowing this for a reason.

The climb continues to go on and gets steeper. A race official in a van comes up behind me. He is taking his time behind myself and some other riders. He's sweeping the course to check on things.

Just when I've caught the girls, I get to a really steep part of the hill. I'm unable to muscle through it without having to possibly fall over and without holding up the van. I pull over and ask the official if he can possibly help me as he slowly drives by. He pulls over and I explain my issue. He says, "I can probably lock into another gear". I tell him great. He slowly gets out of the car and slowly makes his way around the van. I'm not upset or angry that he's not hurrying. I know that God has a plan here.

The man kindly works on the bike. He is concerned that locking it might mess up my shifting. I assure him it's okay. We work together to shift the chain and derailer up 4 cogs. I tell him it's perfect and thank him for the help. I get on my bike at least 3 minutes after and attempt to catch the girls.

It is so much easier to climb and I'm glad I stopped and asked for help! Thanks Lord for your perfect timing back there! I have this amazing amount of energy! I fly up the rest of the hill and feel fresh at the top. I can see the girls on the road way across a field...they are out there! I get in my drops and hammer.

I feel so amazing. I am in awe at how the distance between the girls and I is fading. I seem to be getting stronger as I go. This makes no sense! I was exhausted at the beginning of the race chasing Sarah. Then I've climbed 2 sets of hills with the last going for miles and getting steeper as it goes. This IS all Jesus! I have no doubt in my mind. I should be tired and fading!

I've almost caught them. They can look back and see me now and take off if they want to. They don't seem to be looking back and they don't seem to be picking up the pace. I start to think, I could be on the podium...whoa, is that even possible? Here I was thinking I couldn't finish the race and now I'm thinking I can be on the podium. Only with Jesus is something like this possible! there is no one in sight behind me. I'll be 4th at least.

I catch up to the girls almost in the same spot where my cable broke! Praise Jesus! We continue on together and they are surprised I made it back. The last hill is approaching and I decide to push it and see what happens. As I hit the hill, I start pushing. I am still feeling fresh and strong...this continues to blow me away! I soon sense that I am alone but I don't look back. I feel the Lord saying to look back at the top but not before or after that. So that is what I do though it is so tempting to see what's going on behind me! It's great to have the cog moved over because I can actually spin my legs. The top is near and I'm wondering if I'll have the guts to fly down it this time.

At the top I look back and there is nobody! Wow, could I actually win this race? Seems inconceivable but anything is possible with Christ (Philippians 4:13). I start down the hill and I'm not scared! The descent actually appears to be less steep than all the times and years I've done it. The bumps are shaking the bike violently but I'm calm. There is a few spots I brake briefly but mostly I'm pedaling hard and bombing down. This is crazy! I start crying tears of amazement and joy. Thank you Lord!

The road levels out and I get into my drops and hammer. I have no idea what is going on behind me. Am I going to get caught? I'm competing as hard as I can and pushing with all I have! I don't look back at all and leave the outcome up to Jesus. I pass the 1K to go sign, still in first. I see the finish line. I have to go uphill to get there and I'm digging deep, still in first. I push hard not knowing if I've got it. I cross the finish line in first and in shock! Lord, can this really be happening? This is a gift! Thank you so very much! 15 secs later, the others are finishing.

As people come up and congratulate me, including the 3 girls, I have to tell them it's the Lord who did it. Some look at me like I'm crazy...I guess you can say I'm crazy for Jesus. There is no way I can take the credit for this win. The circumstances and the energy I had was supernatural. The lesson is you never know what the Lord is going to do even when the outlook looks poor. Keep focusing on Him and see what He does.

Copperopolis Road Race (Troy)

April 4th, 2015 – Milton, CA
2 x 21 mile loops

Masters 45+ 4, 8th out of 25


Chris DeMattei

This has become a nice yearly tradition.  Drop the kids off with grandpa & grandma (my mom), do the race together with Robin and then spend a fun Easter weekend together with family in Discovery Bay.

However, being sick this last month, I haven't gotten much training in and know the hills of this race may prevent me from staying with the pack.  I may have to ride alone if I get dropped, but it will still be a great workout.  On the other hand, If I'm very careful to conserve energy, knowing when not to chase and just sit-in in the pack, I could make it to the end with the group.

It's about 4 hrs of driving before we get to the Milton race site, which is a cute, rural group of buildings in the middle of nowhere.  Fortunately, Chris DeMattei is here from my team, Victory Velo, and he's racing with me in my event.  We raced together in the Land Park Criterium 2 wks ago.

I make sure to have 2 bottles.  I've gotten dehydrated hear before.  The temps are cool but the climbing and wind really dries you out.  Robin and I pray before the race.  The realization for potential crashes is always a concern but we feel an ultimate protection giving our race and everything to the Lord.

We start out and immediate start our acclimating to the bumpy roads.  My plan is to stay 5th to 10th in the group and try to stay out of the action.  The big hill is harder than ever.  I focus on good form, steady effort.  Glad to summit.  Now just sit-in and let others do the work.  With minimal training I could easily wipe myself out doing too much work early.

My teammate, Chris, stays near the front.  He works to keep the pace up and covers any big moves.  3 guys go off the front and Chris starts a rotation at the front to bring them in.  But we can tell they aren't serious about it and I tell Chris to ease off and we'll catch them on the next climb.  He looks at the big guy in the group and agrees he'll struggle on the climb.  Soon we are all back together again.

On the climb before the big descent, after sitting-in across the top, I push it a little bit and summit with the leader and draft him going down.  Another guy pushes the pace saying he wants to catch someone but I didn't know someone was off the front.  But I join him anyway and we alternate bombing down the hill.  The 2 of us get a 10sec gap by the bottom.  The pack regroups and rolls through the finish of lap 1.  Chris tells me he got dropped on the descent but it's his first time here and that descent requires getting used to.

The 2nd time up the big hill is difficult.  I don't get water at the aid station thinking I have enough (will prove to be a mistake).  The Cushman-Wakefield team starts pushing the pace.  Suddenly their key rider throws a chain and pulls over and another teammate stays back to work with him to catch up.  Their 2nd best rider takes off up the hill and Chris stays with them.  Both of them pull far ahead.  I'm just struggling to stay with the main pack.  I focus on efficiency but am breathing very hard.  Thankfully the pace mellows.  Chris comes back but the Cushman-Wakefield guy is still pressing on.  We all crest together and now try a rotating paceline to real in the flyer.

It doesn't work well.  I'm 3rd guy.  Then Chris rotates through perfectly.  But no one ever follows Chris, leaving him in the wind each time.  The motorcycle official gives us splits and we're surprised to see the C-W guy is gaining 10 secs on us each mile!  I don't care about 1st place, I just want to have enough energy to sprint with the pack.  Chris says he's feeling some cramps and I tell him to ease back concerned he'll blow up before the critical final climb before the descent.

Chris tells me he will help me to the climb so that I have a chance for 2nd place.  That sounds great and I'm willing to give it my all, but inside I know I'm not qualified to fulfill it with my lack of training.  I sit on his wheel pulling only so briefly.  The rest of the W-C team sit way back, because of their rider off the front.  We get to the final climb and it's time to go with everything we've got!  But it's me that's cramping now!  My quads.  I had been trying to shake them out earlier but it's clear my body is taxed.  5 guys leave us behind and there's nothing I can do.

Exhausted, at the top, I pray that I can be alert enough going down not to do something dumb.  2 guys pass me and we work together.  I get a gap on them at the bottom but prepare myself for them coming by fast.  I've got to be ready to jump on.  There they go, I'm on their wheel.  3 of us approach the 100m to go.  I'm in good position.  We all jump… but my quads seize up!  I let up and they work.  But when I push they cramp.  1 guy pulls ahead but the other is slowing down so I finish in the middle.  8th place from the leader far ahead, the 5 guys in the chase pack and then 1 guy in our group.  Chris finishes in 10th.

I'm glad to be done and thankful to the Lord for doing better than expected, not getting dropped completely and, most of all, protecting me from crashing on the descent.  I feel like I let Chris down because he worked so hard to pull me along and then I could stay with the break-away on the climb.  If it wasn't for him, I would have cramped up earlier.

We both come back to the finish and witness Robin hammering in to win the Women's 4's!  I'm amazed!  She's never won a race and usually gets dropped on the big descents like this.  And then she tells me about losing all her gears at 12miles into the race.  The total opposite of my race where I conserved and used all my gears efficiently to save up energy for the end, she used up tons of energy early on standing up on climbs and somehow was able to catch up and continue on for the win.  Truly orchestrated by the Lord and we are humbly grateful to be there to experience it.