Saturday, March 26, 2016

Copperopolis Road Race–Robin-2016


March 26th, 2016 – Milton, CA


2 x 21loops


Cat 4, 3rd


Trixie Bradley

This marks the 5th year Troy and I have done this road race…and 7th year Team Soares has done road racing on the Victory Velo team.  It’s always the day before Easter.  Nana Sue (Troy’s Mom) and Papa Ray always babysit for us in Discovery Bay (1 hour away)…and the next day we all go to church to celebrate Christ’s death and amazing Resurrection!

We head out on our “date” to Milton.  It’s so beautiful this time of year.  Lush green hillsides with amazing wildflowers.  We get there and find our FCA teammate, Trixie.  This is the second ride we will be doing together this year…yeah!  Her tube has a slow leak so Troy helps her change it.

Then it’s a quick warm-up before Troy starts his race.  We pray together and I see him off.  “Go Troy!”  Ten minutes and I’ll start!  Quick break and stretch. I find Trixie and we pray for our race.  There are 8 of us gals ready to roll!

Ready, set, go!  In moments we are turning left onto the “cobblestones” or should I say patchwork of filled potholes!  I know what to expect by now with the terrain.  However, you NEVER know what to expect in a road race.

Trixie and I ride close together.  I feel afraid I might make some sort of mistake and take her out so I try to give her space.  She is really comfortable riding close and I am not…something I need to work on especially if I ever have a chance of finishing the Coffee Republic men’s ride back at home!

The long hill hits and I tell Trixie to stay connected.  A girl in from Team City goes off the front and flies up the hill in a commanding fashion…so much so the rest of us seem to be afraid of redlining it more than we currently are!  I break off with 2 other girls, an Oregon gal and JL Velo gal with red hair. 

The hill continues and one of the girl says she wished she had studied the map to know this was coming.  I tell them, “almost to the top and when we hit the reserviour, we are there!”.  I also let them know that there is a hill at the end of the loop and descent of course.  That descent is a doosy with the patched potholes!

Soon, we do crest the top and see the Team City gal way off in the distance.  Soon she disappears.  The red head and I trade off leading to the cattle guards and backside of the course.  Once we turn to the backside I tell the Oregon gal to take a turn.  I feel bossy but to get through this course without help is exhausting…I spent one year alone out here.  Oregon takes a turn and after that she helps.  The whole time we barely talk…which is different from year’s past.  That’s okay, I’d rather not talk and save my energy.

We get to the big hill.  We stay together to the slight down before final section of the climb.  I’m able to pull ahead.  My descending skills are WAY better than the past but I still usually get behind on this section so I want to be in the front going down.

Here it comes!  Self, try not to brake…Lord help me!  I start descending and the Oregon girl passes me.  She doesn’t get too far ahead so I can tell she’s a bit cautious too.  It makes me slack and hit the brakes several times.  This descent actually gets easier mentally every year and though I’m braking a bit, I’m not terrified like the past.

At the bottom I slack again to get some nutrtition and I realize that the Oregon girl pulls away.  Now I got to go and catch up.  Darn!  I finish the first loop…yeah!  One more to go!  Back to potholes!

As I close the gap, a girl goes by that I don’t recognize from the start.  Who is she?  The Masters Women were the last group of girls to go 10 min after us. She seems to be too young to be a Masters woman though.  Weird!  She pulls away with ease and in my confusion I let her go.

I catch up to the Oregon gal and the red head girl catches us.  We don’t discuss the mystery girl but I’m sure we are all wondering.  We do the big climb again.  These 2 gals are strong so there is no getting away from them…work together!

Off in the distance we see the mystery girl and she seems to be merging with the Master Men 1/2/3s.  As a rider, you are only allowed to work with your own group.  So, if she indeed is staying in their pack, that is cheating…too hard to tell.  Oh well.  She might not even be part of our group anyway.

The backside we continue to trade the lead.  A couple of Master stragglers go by.  After they pull ahead some I match their pace.  I’m not drafting or too close but I am using their momentum to get us going.  I really want to finish as soon as possible and not prolong it any longer!

Just before the last hill, the 2 gals pass these two guys.  We hit the back hill and one of them passes us back.  Again, I let him pull ahead and then match his speed.  I’m able to break away from the girls.  At the final descent, the girls are nowhere in sight….Go!!  I barrel down and look back, again no girls.  It makes me slack and hit the brakes a bit.  What are you doing?!  Go!  Finally, Iet it rip and fly down. At the bottom, still no girls! 

I finish alone but strong!  Thank you Jesus!  The red head (Jess) is next and the Oregon girl (Sophia) is after her.  I congratulate them both including the Team City girl who took off in the beginning.

The mystery girl was in our race and started late!  She passed the Team City girl out in front and beat her by 10 min.  Now that’s impressive!

Soon Trixie comes and finishes with a smile.  Great job Trixie!!   

Copperopolis RR M45+ (Troy)


Date: 3/26/16

Location: Milton, Ca

Distance: 42 miles

Place: 6th

Such a cool race.  Despite the bumpy roads, it is a race we both look forward to.  It has hills, which I usually do well going up, and coming down.  Although I’m not feeling very strong with limited training in the hills this year.

My plan is to 1) not get dropped because I’m not paying attention like at Barianni 2) Don’t push the hills early on like usual – hide my cards until the last hill before the descent.

Robin and I pray before the start and then we’re off!  There’s about 35 in my group.  As we roll along the bumpy flat section before the first hill, I pray that Robin has a good race with no flats.  Last year was amazing, her cable broke, she had to climb in hard gears and finally stop and get it figured out, and then the Lord allowed to win the whole thing!

I’m surprised how nice the bike and my legs feel.  I adjusted my saddle tilt down before the race and it’s taking a little to get used to (didn’t want hamstring to strain again).  Up the climb we stay together.  Around the lake I meet a guy I used to race a lot of triathlons against back in the 90’s.  Mark Pietrofesa.  I don’t have any team members and neither does he.

I stay around 10th position, only minimal pulls, laying low, low key.  The descent goes well.  I pull ahead, test out the finish line and now we go around the final time.

I took 2 big bottles this time and still I’m almost out.  Always drink a lot here.  I don’t get water at the aid station.. mistake.  Up the hill, feels like the first time, but I’m 3rd guy to the top.  Purposely not gettnig in front.

Mark goes by and pushing me, alerting me to go with him.  I sprint but am totally gassed when I catch up.  The pack jumps and is on us.  I realize I’m not going to be able to do any breaks.  Don’t have enough energy.  Around the lake, Mark keeps attacking.  He gets 1 guy to go with him, but it’s not enough.

A couple miles from the final hill before the descent, the key hill for me, where I got dropped before, Mark makes a big move, and 20 secs later a guy goes off to him and they have a break!  Good for him.  Wish I could be apart but I need it for the hill.

Coming up to the hill, with 2 out and away, I’m tired but know it’s all about this 1/2 mi climb.  Dear Lord, I must give you my full effort, whether it’s enough or not, if it’s all for you, it is enough.

Go!  I dig, it’s going ok, except a couple wrong gear shifts.  1 guy pulls way ahead but I can hardly tell with my eyes half closed and gasping for air.  Can’t stop.. all the way to the top.  Standing, burning, just get over and it’s all down-hill to the finish…  I hear 2 guys behind me.

I’m over!  I start to pick it up.  The 2 CBRE guys are with me.  Ok, let them pull.  We go back n forth.  Now, down the steep crazy bumpty descent.  The big guy has been working all day.  He’s pulling the skinny guy – the one he wants to cross first.  The skinny guy goes ahead and tucks.  I see his chain come off.  I yell but there’s no way anyone can hear anything with the wind and bumps.  Fortunately he realizes it.  His teammate slows with him and I go by on the left.

Soon they are back and we are together at the bottom.  Whew!  Now, just use them, stay calm.  Another guy catches up to us.  Now there’s 3 that just finished, and then us 4.  200m, still behind.  100m and go!  The big guy is spent and pulls off.  I stay behind the skinny guy.  The late-joiner passes us both.  I finish 6th overall.

Thank you, Lord!  It’s so great to have followed the plan and been able to give 100% effort on the last climb.  Spent all my energy steadily to the finish.  And no technicals or crashes!

God protected Robin & I and our good friend, Trixie.  We rely on Him so much because we know there’s no gurantee no matter what precautions are taken.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

‘16 Barianni Road Race (Troy)


3/13/16, Zamora, Ca






26th of 35


Robin McKinney, Chris DeMattei

I get a ride to the race with 2 Victory Velo teammates, Greg and Chris.  I’m feeling really unprepared.  I’ve been focused on the marathon training and didn’t start riding again until 4 days ago!  Besides being a little out of bike shape, I’m concerned about the dangers of pack riding.  On top of that, it’s going to be windy and raining.

Besides the concerns and fears, I do know the Lord wants me to try my best with what I’ve got and most importantly to represent Him.  We arrive and it’s not raining. Greg’s reviewing the radar and it’s looks like rain at the start.  The wind is cold.  I stay in protected areas around the Barianni Olive Oil processing equipment.

Greg, Chris and I warm-up for 8 mi.  I get my rain gear figured out, stretch some more and head to the start.  Standing in the rain, I’m already shivering.  I go off by myself and pray.  I’m reminded of my crash 2 years ago at the end of a week where I wasn’t giving God my time and was making decisions hastily.  The crash was caused by a hasty decision.  I calmly listen to the Lord now and remind myself not to make knee-jerk decisions.

I see Greg off in his 35+ 4’s group.  Standing next to Chris, we encourage each other.  I know he’s a Christian, too.  We pray together.  The official warns us of the potholes filled with puddles.  Then he sends us off.

I’m in the back, slowly starting to roll-out, reminding myself to be calm, not to get caught up with all the surges.  In this wind, nothing will probably happen until that 3rd loop, hours from now.  But they’re starting pretty fast.  There’s already a gap in front of me.  No worry, I’ll pick it up some more.  Hmm, are they really surging right before we turn into the wind?  I slow down, ready to coast up to the group as they turn into the wind.  But instead they take off!  Now, into the fierce wind, I’m still 10m back and struggling.  I give it all I have but my legs aren’t responding.  Like they’re as surprised as I am.

Mile 1: I’m getting dropped.  Only a mile into the race and I’m gonna have to ride 41 more by myself?!  Surprisingly there are others behind me, including Chris.  He and others sprint by on both sides of me and I don’t latch on.  Muscles burning, surprised, not aware of what’s going on.  Sure enough, the pack, tight together is pulling away and I think of 3 things:  I prayed for safety and this is as safe as it gets now.  How embarassing.  And I could quit. 

But I know I must continue and have hope, anything could happen.. somehow.  Then Robin McKinney goes by.  What’s he doing back here?  I jump on his wheel and we start working together.  Thank the Lord I have someone to work with.  Into the stiff wind, I don’t say anything or even look at him when I rotate through.  I’m embarrassed I lost the group.  But soon a couple others that fell off the pack ahead now join us.  We’re trying to get a good rotation going.

Mile 3: Turning into the tailwind section, Robin hammers and we’re making good time.  I help him whenever I can.  He’s really motivated even though we can’t see the pack ahead. 

Mile 13: Stragglers WP_20150315_009_cropkeep falling back to us and by the 2nd loop we have a good rotating group of 8 or 9!  Thanks, God.  This is actually great because we all know we need to catch up so we’re working well together, unlike the lead pack which is probably playing games with surges, attacks and soft-pedaling. 

However, we do have a couple guys not pulling through, breaking up our smooth operation.  But we say the right things to them and keep communicating until we’re all working together, for the most part.

Mile 26: On the 4mi southbound section, with a strong wind from an angle, we execute an effective eschelan – a sideways rotating paceline.  Everything is going well, but it is still a lot of work.  I take a gel and am drinking a lot.  Legs are getting tired.

Mile 34: On the final northbound tailwind section, my left hamstring is starting to hurt.  I keep telling myself, “pick up the knees, pick up the knees”.  Fortunately the group isn’t hammering and I’m able to sit-in.  I try stretching my leg but nothing is working. 

Mile 37: As we turn into the rollers, 4 mi from the excitement of the finish, I realize it’s not going to happen.  I tell Robin McKinney I  have to fall back.  Sadly I slow, the pack rides into the wind.  I get off and can barely stand on my left leg.  I lower the seat and try to stretch.  I creep along slowly.  The only thing that eases the discomfort is standing.  I don’t want to do damage so I don’t mind going slow, but if I don’t get back before 2, I won’t be able to brief my Robin on what to expect and plan for in her race!  Plus I wouldn’t want her to be wondering about me as she starts.  I try to push just short of hurting it.  Watching the clock.  It’s going to be close.

Mile 40: Finally I make it to the last 1.5mi stretch, into the wind, to the finish.  The volunteer on the corner is very encouraging, even though he knows I’m last.  “You should all get a medal for competing today!” he says which I appreciate.  This is the longest 1.5mi.  I stand most of it.  I creep across the finish line and make sure they can see my number.  And I keep going.. got to get to Robin before she starts.  Fortunately I don’t see the women lining up yet.  I catch Robin warming up at the van and all is good :)

I learned some good lessons, but most importantly I learned, again, that things can always get better and to be ready for it.  I wanted to give up in the beginning, but then got into a great paceline group.  I did finally have to drop off the back but up to that point was good!

‘16 Barianai Road Race–Robin


March 13th, 2016 – Zamora, CA


2 x 14loops


Cat 4, 17th


Trixie Bradley

Rain, rain, rain today! The girls and I are driving to Zamora, Ca. The rain seems to be tapering off! Troy is racing now and I hope he's feeling good! We get to Bariani Olive Tree farm where race registration is but I decide to drive down the road a bit to hopefully see Troy finish his race. We park and I open the door to super windy, this is brutal!! After waiting for 30min, we don't see troy so I get ready to race. Another 10 min and still no Troy. I need to register so we'll have to miss it:/. We drive back down to registration.

I'm excited that Trixie Bradley is racing with me. I was hoping to warm up with her but got to wait for Troy. As I'm just about to jump on the trainer next to the car, there is Troy! It was a rough ride for him: getting dropped, fighting wind and a pulled hamstring. Even so he's still smiling and thanking Christ. His attitude always inspires me!

I ride to the start and find Trixie. The wind is whipping good and the rain is starting up. I'm not terribly pumped up to race especially after a long trail race and conditions. The course is rectangular which means some stretches we'll have the wind at our faces and others at our backs. We will do it twice. We roll out in "neutral" (or non-race mode). On the next turn, it's on!

We make the left right into the wind and rain. I find myself mid-pack and exposed to the elements. I get to the right side of another gal and get a break.

We turn right and head over an overpass. The wind is at our backs and girls start taking off. I hang on to the next turn. I hesitate too long here and loose the main pack. My attitude sours and I start to think negatively…"all alone now, why try?". At that moment I regroup with a few girls. Okay, thanks God for the reminder it's not over yet.

After a series of turns we have a good straight stretch. I can see a small pack of girls ahead. Hum, maybe we can catch them. Feeling hopeful!

V__E462We turn back into the wind/rain and it feels like we are climbing. We catch a girl and then reel in a few others along the way. Now it feels like a race! I try to conserve energy but put out some effort to share the load...otherwise the other riders will get upset.

We turn back towards the finish line. As we go through the finish and onto our second loop, I see Troy and the girls braving the conditions to cheer us on. One of the girls tries to get us organized taking turns pulling the pack from the front. We do get organized for a few miles. I try to encourage them by reminding them that once we turn at the overpass, we'll get a break from the wind. And maybe I should've kept that to myself because 3 of the girls, including the one who wanted us to work together, take off at the overpass. I'm able to hang on to the next turn and through the twisty part. I see Troy and the girls again at one of the turns. What a great boost!

Once the road straightens out again, the 3 girls put on a big surge and I'm unable to hang on... PING, like a button popping off! I see the other girls behind me and try to signal them to catch up. They seem toasted so I go it my own.

The 3 girls have made the turn back into the wind and I have confidence that I can catch them there like last time. I'm working to catch them but don't seem to be making any ground. Don't give up, it's not over yet. God please let me be able to catch them by the end.

The gap does narrow by a small margin going into the last turn to the finish. I've got 1.5 miles to catch them. I start to stand for 10 sec and sit for 10 sec. Slowly, I'm ganging on them. Up, down, up, down...keep going...have hope...Lord, please give me strength! I catch one of the girls! WP_20160313_0162 more. I am so tired I can no longer stand up. I put my head down and dig. Go, go, go! The finish is right there. I dig deep and just narrowly miss one of the girls. Thank you Lord! I was able to catch up, push hard and get some great experience today! Looking forward to Copperopolis. Trixie had a solid day...didn't go to plan entirely but she's eager to race Copperopolis next too.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

‘16 Chanoko 30K–Robin


March 12, 2016 – Auburn, CA


30K (20 miles actually instead of 18.6)




2nd, F40-45 (Out of 8)


Nicolette Del Sarto, Ronnie Nauert, Stephanie Artis

Troy and the girls drop me off at the Overlook/start line. Anna has her 3rd Duathlon this morning starting a half hour after my start. I'll finish at her finish line hours from now at Granite Beach. I have something to look forward to when the miles get tough! I'm excited to experience the trail from Rattlesnake Bar to Granite Beach...especially the part known as the Meat Grinder!

There are a few familiar faces out here like Stephanie Artis (friend, Freeplay Magazine founder/editor), Ronnie Nauert (Skyridge School Parent and Mr. Pickle runner for the Jog-A-Thon), Nicolette Del Sarto (Tuesday Track, Spartan competitor). The morning is perfect! No rain as of yet! Race director Mark Shaw takes our picture and walks us down to the start line.

Ready, set, go! We head down old Pleasant Ave towards Cardiac Bypass. Before we hit Cardiac Bypass, we jump on Stu's Trail (named after Brad Kearn's dog). Stephanie is ahead of me. I opt not to go with her because her pace is too quick for me.

The sun comes out and it feels warm! I actually need to take off my gloves and beanie! Ronnie passes me on the way down to the river trail to Rattlesnake. I'm slower on trail descents because of my fear of falling...which explains my reluctance to mtn bike downhill. Soon, I'm running along the river alone.

160312_tbf_chanoko_30k_robinIt's so beautiful here and there is a lot of water after the big storm. Fortunately the trail is not muddy but just wet thanks to the DG type of dirt. I’m able to pick up the pace in many spots that are relatively flat and rock free. I go through the Newcastle Powerhouse and onto Avery's pond which means I'm very close to Rattlesnake Bar. My average pace to here, mile 9, is 9:14. The pace is increasing but glad to be under 10min per mile. The sun is going away and I'm getting cold. I try putting the beanie back on but that's too warm still.

I cross Rattlesnake Road and soon find myself in unchartered territory. I'm very thankful for the pink ribbons on the course now to guide me. There are little trails heading off in different directions along the way. Now I can see how Troy got lost around here years back! I'm all alone still and wondering how Stephanie is doing. Wonder if Ronnie is close by.

It’s more windy here so my pace is slowing down. I am focusing on my footing yet I find myself tripping often but not falling thankfully. Where is this Meat Grinder thing? I see a few trail runners heading towards me. I say hi and ask them where it is. "In a few miles. You'll know it when you see it!". Hum, must be really steep. I'll keep looking!

I'm still running solo down-river but there are lots of trail runners and hikers coming up. They are all very courteous and encouraging. Nice to have company!

Mile 13, I'm under 10min pace but it's creeping up. Soon, I'm in a very rocky and winding area. It's not hard in effort but hard to navigate. Maybe this is it. Troy and others said there were big granite rocks along the trail and that is what I see. If I wasn't so cautious I could go way faster here!

Mile 16: The sun is out again. I'm over 10 min pace. I try to be positive and thank God for this beautiful day and chance to run this trail. It's quiet on the trail again.

I know that I'm near the Granite Beach area when I reach the far back parking lot where the TBF Tri bike turn around is. There is an aid station here and people! I get distracted and totally ignore the cones telling me where to go. The aid station workers shout out to me "wrong way". I get back on track for a moment then get confused again. The helpers shout "left". I can see the signs and markers clearly now. So weird it just didn't make sense for a moment!

Mile 17:  I look at my Garmin and see I'm past 17 miles. The race is supposed to be 18.6 but it looks like it's going to be longer based on my experience doing the triathlon. At least my pace is getting quicker here since the trail is smoother here.

Pretty soon, there are a bunch of mtn bikes sprinting towards me. It startles me. I try to move out of the way quickly but it's hard to make quick movements with these sore legs...that's when I realize that my legs are feeling trashed. I'm surprised they didn't slow down when they saw me.

Within the next 1.5 miles I'm seeing a lot of mtn bikes. The majority are courteous which is great. I just cannot seem to focus well on running straight and I have to make sudden movements that are painful. I finally get a quiet moment and feel myself falling to the ground. Oh no...I brace for the fall. I land hard on my right hand and my middle finger gets hyperextended. I get up and look around and there is nobody. I wipe myself off and continue on. I feel like I want to cry and the tears start to fall. Come on, almost there...let's get this done.

I know I’m close when I see Troy on the road up ahead. It looks like he's heading out for his bike ride already. I get sad and give him a weak smile. As I cross over to the trail, I can see that he's watching me from the road and following me back. Oh good, I want to hug him!

160312_tbf_chanoko_30k_robin_girls_finishI'm almost at 20 miles. I guess the good news is I got in a 20 miler?! I make the final turn and Anna and Ariel are waiting for me. They grab my hands and we finish together. Aw, thank you Jesus I'm done! That turned out to be way harder than expected!

Happy Kids Du #3 - Anna

Date/Location: 3/12/16, Granite Bay
Distance: 1mi R – 3miB – 1mi R
Time: 30:55 (8:16 – 13:00  – 9:33)
Place: 2nd overall
Teammates: n/a


Go! And off we go onto the dirt path heading to the trees. It was chilly so I kept my jacket on in the beginning.

This time I wanted to beat the first place girl. I could see the first place girl in front of me. She was turning on the path through the trees. Soon I was on the path following her up and down. We crossed a street and I could see the path leading to the transition spot.

WP_20160312_006I was getting hot with my jacket and gloves on so I took them off and held them while running. I drop one of my gloves but I pick it up. I saw my dad and tried to give him my gloves but he told me to keep holding them to transition. So I did. I put my jacket and gloves by my bike and graded my helmet got my bike. I took it to the line and jumped on and I was off.


WP_20160312_008I bike up the hill and turn. I bike across the bridge and I see the first place girl. I keep biking and it looks like I am not getting close. I bike off the bridge and turn and bike down the hill. Now I cannot see her at all. Turn & twist, I keep biking. Uphill downhill turn and twist. I get back to the bridge and I can see her in the distance. I get back to transition and jump off my bike and take off my helmet and start running.

WP_20160312_010It rained the night before and we had to run in a big puddle and there was no way out. I ran through puddle without caring about it but I did fall with my hands on the dry side. I kept running and saw her in the distance. I crossed a road and kept going on the trail. I come out on the big open dirt road and I see her!


I keep running but I don’t think I can beat her. Someone on the course tells me to catch her. But I do not think I can get her.  I keep running we are now on the trail. I go up a hill and around and see the finish I run and finish. Dad told me that I was about 20 seconds behind her. I got 2nd.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Napa Marathon (Troy)


3/6/16, Calistoga, Ca


26.2mi R




10th AG / 105th OA


Troy Outman, Karen Nickel, Clyde Floyd, Cory Floyd, Carrie Chavez, Elizabeth Katsura, Scott Ekhardt, Autumn Yoder

Rained hard all night but quiet this morning.  I woke in the middle of the night and my rt. achilles was sore walking.  From that decided to wear my Superfeet for the race.  Got good sleep the last 2 nights so energy shouldn’t be a problem.  Quiet time with God – something Robin started doing many races ago and has become and important part of starting a race.

start_groupOur friend, Karen Nickel, and I jog/walk a mile to the start.  Storm clouds to the North, blue sky to the south - the direction of the race. Terrific, no trash bag, so soggy feet!  Going to be a great day.  We quickly find Troy Outman, Autumn, Clyde, Cory, Elizabeth, and her daughter Mari. 

WP_20160306_06_55_00_ProStretch.  Get a few strides in.  2 years ago I got to run here with Robin and 20 of our friends for her “40 at 40” event.  Back then my hamstrings were the problem but today they are fine.  My concern is my achilles.  When it flares up, I have to slow or stop and walk a bit.  I’m not too worried.  Whatever happens, God will get me through.  I also know I have friends praying for me so more reason not to worry.

A group of us pray together.  Then the race has their “invocation” - not a real prayer, more like self-focused meditation.  We really want the opposite, to be focused on God and encouraging of others.  Now the wonderful National Anthem.  Now check the laces, stretch a little more, say a quick hi to Carrie Chavez, and time to go..

We’re off. I quickly find Troy Outman and we run side-by-side.  Weather is perfect.  I have 2 shirts, arm warmers and gloves, but soon I’ll be shedding some of it.  I set my virtual partner for 7:30 pace.

Mile 2: 14:39. I push the pace on a descent and my rt. achilles flares up near the bottom!  This is surprising;  not only early in the race but on a descent rather then climb.  I ease off and shift weight to my left leg.  Troy and I enjoy some chatting and appreciating the sun and weather.  He pulls ahead on uphills and I catch up on the downs.

Mile 4: 14:24. The miles are going by quickly.  I know it won’t feel that way at the end but it’s nice thinking they will.  I try to run the tangents when there’s not other runners in the way.  Otherwise I think the extra distance in the turns is why my our Garmins beep before the Mile Markers.  Troy & I are drinking every (2-mile) aid station.  Now we both pull off for a porta-potty.  Fortunately 2 are open.  We go in and come out at the same time.  Only 15 secs lost.

Mile 6: 15:10. About 45 secs ahead of pace.  But I know I’ll have to be at least 1 min ahead of pace in order to compensate for the extra distance / long mile markers.

Mile 8: 14:46. We match pace with 2 young girls from UC Davis doing their 1st marathon. Their goal: 3:35 (8:10 pace).  What are they doing at 3:16 pace?  They ask us questions about the race.  We give tips, but I don’t want to say, “you should be 4 min back”.  I just hope they don’t blow up.  Eventually we pull ahead which is good so they might run easier.

Mile 10: 15:17. I have to use the porta-potty again.  I tell Troy I’ll try to catch up.  This was an important stop, but I make a good transition so not too bad.  But I do miss the water hand-off.  Fluids are important to prevent cramps and tight legs.  Troy is 40 secs ahead.  This is good motivation to slowly catch up to him.

WP_20160306_08_52_48_ProMile 12: 14:44. I see Robin & the girls!  They have inspirational signs. They are the best support. I’m glad to tell Robin the shoes and Achilles are working good.  She’s really happy to hear that.  About 20 secs behind Troy now at the 13.1 mi mark.  1:37:41 (1:38:20 official time).  This is the same time I did 2 weeks ago at the Davis Stampede 1/2 marathon after being sick.  I feel better today!  I take a Hammer Gel.  Umm good.  At the 13.8mi aid station I make sure to get Cliff Blocks for later in the race.  Troy gets farther ahead.

Mile 14: 15:07. Downhill.  Making up time.  I’m getting sore all over (knees, legs in general) and starting to slow.  I decide to try to push for a while and see what happens.  I’m breathing harder, pushing the steady climb up to mile 16.  I’m not concerned with energy as long as I keep eating and drinking.  I take a Cliff Block.  I’m gaining on my pace.

Mile 16:  15:08.   I’m within earshot of Troy and tell him “Good job!” from behind.  I finally catch up and am reunited.  I’m breathing pretty hard for this early but at least the achilles and left calf (starting to tighten from the compensating) is holding up.

Mile 18: 14:42. I take my 2nd Hammer Gel.  The final Cliff Blocks aid station is near.  Need to make sure to get a bunch and keep eating during the last miles.  I’m drinking 1 to 2 cups of water each station.  No Gatorade (makes me nauseous).  Even without I sometimes feel a little nauseous.  I grab Blocks, get 2 waters, and this puts me behind Troy again.  But I know it’s about time for him to pull ahead anyway as he is better trained.  Still I make the most of the final descent before the “Wall”.  I’ve been looking forward to it.  I actually like this climb.  And I like the gradual descent on the other side.  I’m so motivated I really push.  I’m thanking God for getting me to this point and giving me energy.  I’m hardly losing any time on this hill. Then I push a little too hard and the achilles starts to hurt.  Ease off.

Mile 20: 14:48. wow, at the top!  And didn’t lose time.  Thank you, Lord!  Troy’s really strong on the hills and is 20 secs ahead.  Everything is sore and I don’t want to pound this descent but I’ve got to to stay on pace.  At the bottom the real hard part starts.  No more ups or downs to change things up.  Just flat tough miles.  This is where I just want to zone out.  I want to slow because of the painful knees, thighs, calves.  I recite Ps 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”  I let go of wanting any placing, any accolades, or possibly catching Troy.  I just want to give the Lord my best with a smile.  I tell myself the pain I feel isn’t real.  If I covered it up with something, I would run just fine.  So I ignore it and start running stronger.  Only a 5k and I’ll see my family at the 24mi mark!

Mile 22:  15:10. Really want to slow down. I drop to almost 8 min pace.  This road goes forever. But I can see police cars far ahead where the road turns.  I can’t wait to make the turn for a change in scenery and a straight shot to see my family.  As I make the turn, I’m pushing harder.  Over the small bridge, through the shade, glad to see Mile 23.  But now it’s a tree-lined straight-away and the urge to slow down hits hard again.  The left calf is tight.  The knees, quads and hips are sore.  “The Lord is My Shepherd..”  Ignore the pain and push.  Pace getting back to normal.  Pushing harder takes more energy but hurts less.  There’s no slowing now.  If I slow, the miles only become longer.  I round the turn where I thought Robin would be.  Must be farther down.  Push, push.  I’m ignoring the pain but the legs are getting fragile, wobbly.  Just looking around is hard to do.  I keep drinking and eating and breathing hard and pumping my arms.  I’m 30 secs ahead.  I see Troy getting a lot closer.  I encourge him and tell him to keep pushing, it’s almost over, the pain will stop soon.

Mile 24. 15:34.  As I go by Troy, trying to keep the hammering going, I realize his pace is much slower, maybe 9 min.  I hope he can pick it up.  I see Robin and the girls ahead!  I want to swerve over to them but just thinking about it makes my calf start to tighten up.  Anna tells me every step gets me closer!  Robin is cheering and excited to see me still on pace.  Ariel cheers with that great smile.

WP_20160306_10_06_25_Pro_smMile 25. 7:25. 1 more mile!  I’m surprised I’m still hammering. I feel like I’m sprinting a mile at 6:00 pace but I’m just maintaining my 7:30 goal pace.  Briefly some cold rain comes, despite the sun.  I don’t care, only 1/2 mile to go.  I pass a few more people.  Many are really slowing down.  I’ve been there.  But I’m so happy to be keeping pace this time.  Maybe the best last miles I’ve ever had.  I even pick it up in the last 400 m and now am almost 1 min ahead… perfect.. I might get 3:17..

Mile 26. 7:23.  Coming into the school, people cheering, the thought of being done soon, so thankful to God for not having this be a suffer-fest, but letting me be able to keep hammering so the miles go by faster.  I see the clock just turns 3:17…  and I’m done!  3:17 exactly.

My legs are thrashed and painful but couldn’t be happier.  Troy finishes right behind me.  Later we all are reunited in the gym.  Great to hear that Karen’s race went well despite months of injuries.  Even saw the 2 girls from UC Davis – they got their goals.  And the rain starts pouring, just after most finished the race.  What a day.

Name Time Place
Carrie Chavez 3:12:01 2
Troy Soares 3:17:00 10
Troy Outman 3:20:56 21
Scott Eckardt 3:46:20 49
Karen Nickel 3:46:40 17
Autumn Yoder 4:08:34 22
Clyde Floyd 4:21:07 30
Cory Floyd 4:21:07 71
Mari Katsura 5:09:51 105
Elizabeth Katsura 5:09:52 50