Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wildflower Long Course (Troy, 2016)

Date/Location: 4/30/16, Lake San Antonio, Ca
Distance: 1.2mi S – 2.2mi R - 56mi B – 10.9mi R
Time: 5:44:54 (S 35:51 – T1a 3:37 – R1 16:53 – T1b 0:45 – B 3:09:44 – T2 1:22 – R2 1:30:22) (run total: 1:48:13)
Place: 11th AG / 93rd OA
Teammates: TeamMates: Karen Nickel, Lori Bergenstock, Suzanne Hartley, Caryn Galeckas, Scott Hodson, Stephanie Ganzenhuber, Kris Soderstrom, Doug Soderstrom,  David Fraser, Jon Cartmell, Robin Soares, Reynold Lewke, Brandon Lewke
Friends: Tana Jackson, Mark Pietrofesa, Darrin Gil
I feel calm going into the race.  Coming to Wildflower, I was really tired and tight.  But the last 3 days of camping and light workouts helped rest and loosen me up.  The best part is that our friend, Karen, arranged to have our kids watched so that Robin & I can race the Long Course together!
6:20am - Robin & I ride our bikes to transition.  It’s a beautiful day.  Transition is smaller than previous years.  I see Darrin Gil and Derek Liou.  7am - Robin & I get on the shuttle for the swim start at Harris Creek.  This is the 3rd year having the split transition due to low water levels.  In fact, Lake San Antonio Park is now only opened for Wildflower each year.
7:30am – Robin & I spend time reading the Bible and praying.  We realize how important it is to give God our time before we give our time to racing.  Especially at Wildflower since we’ve seen Him so much at work here every year.  I  have great anticipation for what He is going to do in our races.  Our FCA Endurance team has been gathering in our campsite each evening to pray for all the prayer requests collected at the booth in the Expo each day.  My prayer request has been that I remain aware during the race to the opportunities God gives me to help.  I don’t know what that looks like, maybe praying for someone during the run or helping someone prepare in transition.
After the National Anthem, and a pre-race prayer (invocation) by a pastor, the announcer, Julie Moss, alerts all to the FCA pre-race group prayer at the top of the ramp.  V__4C82(1)About 9 gather together, including a friend, Mark Petriefosso, that I recently reunited with at Copperopolis.  We pray for the race, athletes, and concerns we have.
8:15am - Robin heads off for her start and I’m 10 min behind her.  The pros are coming out and I cheer for Derek Garcia, a great humble guy that we would sure like to see win some money here.  I warm up.  The water isn’t too cold.  I line up in the middle and surprisingly in the front.  Usually a couple rows back, but I notice everyone else is reluctant to move up so I take the position.
Go!  I run in, high-step a few times and dive.  I try to stand again to take another dive but it’s too deep.  This mistake slows me down.  I sprint best I can but the fast swimmers behind me start pushing through.  I can’t stay ahead and soon they swim right over me.. pushing me down.  I’m not surprised.  What was I thinking starting in the front-middle at Wildflower?  I regain my pace but can’t stay on anyone’s feet.  There they go.. looks like the whole pack is swimming away.  I felt like I could hang at HITS Napa, but I’m getting dropped here.  I try the glide-stroke, but doesn’t feel good this time.  My arms are just weak.
Troy_SwimAround the buoy I turn too sharp and head for the return-bouys momentarily.  Now, back on the right path, I look for a draft.  1/2 way out I finally find a guy.  He’s swimming crooked but at least I can hang with him.  I try to keep my feet high and relax my breathing.  The water has a slight chill but very comfortable.  I’m sure this next bouy is the turn-around.  No, another one.  My watch already says 17min.  I know I’m slower, but this course also feels long.
Around the turn, I still have my draft guy and he’s carving a path through other swimmers.  Soon the relay swimmers come motoring by.  Man they are fast.  Can’t even get a draft.  I think about our friend, Lori, doing the relay and hope her open-water experience is going well even though the course is long.  I keep working hard and with a couple bouys left see 1.3mi on my Garmin.  The swim is long. That’s ok, not really looking forward to a steep run up the ramp anyway.. rather keep swimming.
I stand up, rip off my cap & goggles, hit “lap”, pull off the top part of my suit.  Now the whole thing.  And up the steep ramp to my stuff.  Heart racing.  Socks & shoes on.  Arm-warmers.  Stuff in the bag.  Troy_Run1_1Now the rest of the way up the ramp.  What a climb.  Get water, and off onto the trails.
I like this run for getting warm before the bike.  I picture Robin getting on her bike now.  While running the “lake path” I watch the bikes going out and turning up Beach Hill, looking for Robin.  The sandy sections I take small quick steps and works well.  Already I realize I need food.  The final climb up the 2nd ramp is tough!
At my bike I grab Clif Bloks, helmet and glasses and run to the exit in my socks.  As I mount, the volunteers are yelling at my friend, Keith Hansen, who dropped his Cliff Blok.  He’s a powerhouse on the bike.  I’m thinking there’s no way he’s coming back just for that but he hears them and calmly turns around to retrieve them.
It’s great flying through the finish chute and out onto the road as people are cheering.  Keith catches up pretty soon and motors ahead.  On Beach Hill I try to climb well, remembering a recent practice ride on the Auburn Tri Course where I climbed out of Bear Creek Campgrounds well.  I read, somewhat out loud, the FCA Endurance Bible verses on the signs that we placed yesterday.  Hoping they will help others put their thoughts on God.  Also wondering if they will make some mad.  Can’t be worried about that, God is good and His Word is always good to hear even if we don’t want to hear it.Troy_Bike_3
On the open road, but I’m not feeling comfortable.  Saddle position seems all  wrong.  Will have to make the best of it.  We’ve also got a head-wind.  Boy this is going to be tough.  I read more of the signs that other TeamMates placed.  They remind me that God has plans for me I don’t even know about and my prayer earlier that I would be ready to be used by Him.  Some signs build on each other, “Have you ever wondered..”  “About the meaning of life…”  “Life is a journery..”  “Where are you in the journey of life?…”  But the next sign is blown over by the strong wind.  For a moment I think about picking it up but know I should save my stop for something more important.
I do the best I can despite not feeling comfortable.  I go back-and-forth with a couple guys.  Some go blowing by.  My swim was slower so most of the fast ones are already ahead.  I still have a big goal… catch up to Robin!  At 18mi, into aother tough headwind, I see a guy with a messed up bike.  Immediately I feel prompted this needs my help.  It’s a weird feeling to be stopping when every part of your body is saying “What are you doing?!”  If it was a tire change, I’d be long past, but this looks major.Troy_Bike_1
His derailer has disentigrated.  Pulley pieces scattered on the road.  Derailer hanger is bent so far it is rubbing against the cogs.  The chain doesn’t go through the derailer anymore, but it’s not broken.  The guy is calm and good-natured.  He hands me the pieces but there’s no way we’re re-building this.  I get the one allen key I have and use it to pry the hanger on his frame away from the cogs.  It’s now like a fixed-gear bike, with a slipping chain, in almost the hardest gear.  At least he can pedal slowly and get to the next aid station and call for tech support.  Thanks, God, for allowing me to help in some way.  As I push on into the wind I see race support coming the other way.. hopefully he’ll get to finish his day.
Mile 20. With the 5min stop and Robin being well trained on the bike, it’s going to be hard to catch her but I’ve got to try.  If I don’t, she’ll think something happened to me.  I’ve been drinking my nutrition quickly and getting water.  I can’t eat or drink enough today.  Unfortunately they don’t have food here at mile 20.  I know there are bars at 26.  Can’t wait.
Mile 22.  Through the rollers.  This is where I caught Robin last year but no sign of her now.  I’m still having trouble pushing power.  I get a little groove going fast down the hill at 25, past the gas station and the, now-closed, North Shore Inn.  It’s sad to see the effects of the drought and lake closure.  I also, unaware, passed TeamMate, Jon Cartmell, on that descent.  On the climb, Bob goes by but I don’t recognize him. “Remember me?  We camped next to you 2 years ago.. you inspired me to do this race!”  I tell him, “Terrific, now look at you, you’re riding better than me”.  Finally, at the full aid-station.  I take everything.  Banana, orange, cliff bar, another banana.  I scarf down the bananas and settle in for another fast descent.
On the back-stretch. Usually my favorite section.  But struggling with comfort.  Saddle problems are leading to knee problems.  I stand up for some relief.  I eat the rest of my food.
Mile 36.  Into the canyons.  Finally out of the wind.  Peaceful.  Get more water, eating Clif Bloks.  Ok, gotta try to move up.  Average is 17, way below my usual goal of 20 at this point.  I need to catch Robin before the end of the bike or I may never catch her (she’s a fast runner).
Mile 41. Arm-warmers off.  Up Nasty Grade.  Getting warm.  I push the hill well and look for Robin at the top.  I think maybe I see her...  I push hard on the next 2 as well.  I look down the hill at bikes zipping by in the distance and think I see Robin.
Troy_Bike_2Mile 46.  The long crazy descent.  Trying to get away from a guy trailing me so tuck the best I can.  The wind gusts have been treacherous on descents.  I’ve been thinking of Robin and those 60mm rims she’s riding.  If I could have caught her earlier, I would have swapped front wheels with her.  I wish I had checked the forcast.  I thank the Lord I haven’t seen her crashed because the wind blew her wheel out from under her.  1/2-way down I see Tiana Rockwell.  She’s a good rider so Robin must be doing well.  A gust blows me almost over the double-yellow.  Should’ve known, this spot has had many wrecks over the years.
Mile 48.  Feeling tired after that adrenaline rush downhill.  Gotta get in a groove and push.  I think I see Tana Jackson up ahead.  “Hi Tana!”  She always has a smile and looks like she’s having fun.  Now I know Robin is doing well.  Inside the park, up the final hill, I push it, pulling away from Tana, one last try to find Robin.  Around the hot-corner, the Gold Country Tri Club is always cheering loudly.  Drink all my fluids.  Down Lynch.  No sign of Robin.
A good dismount.  Hard running across the rough asphalt in socks.  Shoes, hat, gels and off.
Getting hot.  Legs stiff.  Feels difficult.  Don’t draw conclusions until at least mile 1.  I make a plan to praise God in celebration after each mile (the old course miles, not the “continuation miles” from the first run).  Thank you, Lord, for another mile!   I get water at every station.  The volunteers are amazing.  Full of energy and plenty of cold water and splashes.
Mile 2.  Down to Harris Creek.  Looking up the hill I wonder if I see Robin far ahead.  I’ve got to catch her.  Thank you, Lord, this is great motivation and you know how I need it.  Down through the campgrounds onto the single-track along the dried-up water-way.  Across a canyon I see her!  “Go Robin!”  Terrific, now, to gain on her.  Each curving section I can see her.  Her run looks great.  She’s passing guys.  I’m praying for her hamstrings, that they will feel loose.  I’m gaining slowly.
Troy_Run2_1Mile 4.  Yay, time to eat first Hammer Gel.  I need it.  Now into the steep trail sections.  It’s tough but I’m not going to walk.  The hills bring us a little closer but still too far to talk to her.  I periodically yell encouragement so she knows I’m still back here.  My hamstring suddely twinges.  I have to push and be careful at the same time.  Finally, over the top and down the steep path into the pasture.  Robin looks back while descending which is hard to do if your hamstrings hurt so I take that as an answer to prayer that her legs feel ok.
Mile 6.  Another gel and lots of water.  She’s 40 secs ahead.  She’s helping me have a better run than I could do on my own.  6.5 mi, the first FCA-E Bible verse.  Helps.  Almost to the campgrounds.  The cheering is helpful.  Through the hot corner and now up the paved road.  After pouring lots of water on me I feel good and power up the hill.  Great push!  Down through Redondo Vista, Robin is only 25 secs ahead.  People cheer for her and when I come through they tell me, “catch your TeamMate!”  I tell them she’s my wife and they say, “Catch her!  Wait, don’t catch her!  Let her win!”  It makes for a lot of laughter.
Mile 8.  Into the overflow camping area, I see another woman 30 secs ahead of Robin.  I yell to Robin and she motions that she knows.  I zip it and prepare to see if she can do it.  Boy, this is exciting.  Onto the main road with 2 miles to go, I’m only 10 secs behind and feel like I’m in a media car watching 2nd place prepare to pass 1st place.  And there she goes… she’s up alongside, they both look at each other, I imagine Robin says something encouraging.  She pulls ahead.  But the other girl matches pace.  What’s going to happen?  Robin picks it up some more and looks like it’s going to stick.  A 1/2 mi later I go by the girl, still trying to catch up to Robin.
Mile 10.  Finally, starting up the last hill before the descent down Lynch, I catch Robin!  At the same place that she caught me last year.  Amazing!  God, you are so clever and wonderful.  I can’t describe how joyful it feels to be running together.  I’m almost completely out of breath, can barely talk, but I know we both feel the same way… this is so cool!  We start flying down Lynch and she sees another girl far ahead.  I tell her, “Give it your best shot”.  The pace picks up and now the quads are slamming down the hill.  So glad when we get to the flat and stop the torture.  The girl remained far ahead.  Now we enter the chute and enjoy the finish.  Anna & Ariel jump out and join us with big smiles.  For the 2nd year in a row, thanks to God, we finish as an entire family!Troy_Robin_down the finish chute1Troy_robin_finish_2