Sunday, May 15, 2016

Auburn Tri Long Course–Robin-2016


May 15, 2016 – Auburn, CA


Swim 1.2M – Bike 56M – Run 13.1


5:59:10 (32:25 – 2:19? - 3:25:11 – 1:47 - 1:57:30)


2nd/7 (5th Overall)


Mini: FCA TEAMMATES Dave Fraser, Mike Bradley

International: Dave Campbell, Elise Winter, Farah Avasarala;FCA TEAMMATES – Flor Hodges, Mike Pirnat, Troy Soares

Toughest Half: Richard Kane, Jesse Moore,

Toughest Half AquaBike: Trixie Bradley, Troy Outman

We are up bright and early and soon biking down to T1.  Teammates Dave Fraser, Mike & Trixie Bradley are with us.  It’s so awesome to roll out of my own bed and bike down to a race start!

This year I make sure the first thing I do is get body marked.  Last year I totally forgot!!  Troy and I do a warm-up run.  We gather all of our FCA teammates for WP_20160515_06_35_37_Proprayer time.  It’s so awesome to share this common bond of racing for Christ!

Down to the swim start we go and are just thanking the Lord for WATER!  Last year we had to hike out way past the boat dock.  Now we can get in right next to it!



I pray with Troy and then swim out to the start.  It’s great to get in a nice warmup on the way!  I meet up with Trixie.  After moving to the left of the group and getting some instructions, we are off!  It’s a crowded start but soon I’m taking off with 2 other girls.  There probably is another gal out there somewhere in front but all I see are these girls.  We swim along the shoreline as told and head out to the first buoy.  I’m amazed that I’m still with these gals and that they are swimming straight…a rare occurance!  With the men’s wave still far ahead, I can basically put my head down and go!  I’m feeling great and strong!

imageAt the second turn buoy, I’m still swimming well and right with those girls.  As I make the turn and the sun is in my eyes, I loose sight of the girls.  To complicate things, there are a lot of guys here and Int. swimmers coming up as well [later I realize Troy was now ahead of me].  I finally find the girls but they are off to my far right.  The next turn buoy is an orange pyramind.  I look up and see a triangle and go for it.  I then look for those girls and they are heading further right.  Maybe I have something wrong. I lift my head high out of the water and look right.  Oh yeah, there’s another pyramid to the right…oops!  I head right and chase them down.

Robin_swim exit 2016By the last turn buoy, I’m all caught up!  Now it’s just a push to the finish!  I’m still feeling great and strong.  A quick glance at the watch tells me I’m close to swimming under 32 minutes!  I close the gap on the 2nd girl and chase the first girl to the boat ramp.  I hit my watch and I’m just a tad over 32.  Yeah!

I partially pull off my wetsuit and run up to my bike passing the 1st girl.  As I run in, I see Troy Outman heading out.  I get to my bike and throw on my jacket.  It’s not cold but also not comfortable.  After HITS, I’d rather be warm!  As I exit, Francie Campbell is there cheering me on.  She tells me that Troy is ahead of me and to go get him.

This course is not the called the “World’s Toughest” for no reason.  The first 7 miles are virtually uphill!  My shoes are on the bike and I’m actually able to slide my feet in.  The last few times I was wearing socks and I couldn’t feel my way into my shoes.  Note to self, bare feet are better!

160515_auburntri_lc_robin_bikeA few miles up the road I see Troy O.  He’s having trouble with his chain dropping already. I pray for the problem to resolve.  A girl from the Oakland Tri Team passes me and I am able to pass her back.  I pass another girl with a Braveheart Tri Club Jersery with a sword on the back.  That’s a cool jersey!

I make it to Shirland Track and hit the steep hill.  Always a toughie but I make it. Once at the top, I enjoy the down.  The goal is to push the flats and downhills today so I’m looking forward to these parts of the course.  I see Troy O ahead of me and suddenly a squirrel comes out of nowhere and heads right for him and another guy passing.  At the last second the squirrel turns around and heads back.  Oh, thank you Jesus!  That was close!

A girl in pink goes by FAST!  She’s clearly a bike specialist.  I know I cannot match her on the bike but maybe on the run?

Mile 6.  The first set of climbing is done!  I turn on Auburn Folsom Road and look for the girls.  They might be waiting with Karen and her kiddos. The girls got to sleep over there last night.  Sure enough, there they are! I start waving so they know I’m coming. Anna’s holding a sign that says “I can do all things through Christ”.  I wave and smile.  What a great boost!

I pass T2 and sort of wish I could stop here like the Mini folks!  I see Elise Winter’s husband, Greg, and their kids.  “Hello Team Winter!”

Mile 10. Crossing over Foresthill Road.  So impressed already by the volunteers, CHP and Auburn PD.  Things are running so smoothly.  I feel safe and encouraged! 

I already see the top International guy coming back!  Wow, might see Troy soon!  As I climb up past Lake Arthur I see him!  He’s flying and smiling!  He’s got to be top 4 or 5!  Nice!  And, just a bit after him comes Dave Campbell.  He looks strong and is definitely top 10!

Mile 15.  I see our friend Sam at the International turn around.  He’s so ethusiastic, love it!  I wish I could turn here!  Just keep climbing!

Mile 20.  Geisendorfer Road!  This is one of shortest but steepest climbs on this course!  I am so relieved to get that over with.  Now for my favorite part of the course, Canyon Way!  This is where I can get in my aerobars and try to hammer. 

As the road turns into a climb, I see my old college running teammate, Jesse Moore, coming back already on his bike!  He’s about 10 miles ahead of me by this point!  Blows my mind!  I still need to climb up to Colfax and bike in and out of the Bear River Campground!

Mile 25.  Down to the Bear River Campground I go!  I’m a bit too cautious but do get some good momentum at the bottom that is until I see a dog off leash.  It seems ready to chase me and takes a few trots towards me.  I tell him no as I slow around the turn and he backs off.  Dear Lord, please protect others from this dog.  May there be no accidents!  I try to get my speed up before I start the climb out. 

I climb well out of the campground.  There is a lot more downhill ahead now but still plenty of ups!

Mile 40.  Boy, Canyon Way is tougher on the way back than I remember!  That Oakland girl from the beginning of the race passes me.  I’m unable to match her pace but I’m not giving up hope!

One last major obstacle ahead, the out and back on Lake Arthur.  The turn for this part of the course is WELL marked and well supported…which is good for those who might not know this part of the course well. A guy goes by smiling and says, “you must be the leader since you’re wearing the yellow jersey”.  It takes me a moment to get it and then I laugh and say thanks.

Part way up the road, another girl passes me. At the same time, that girl in pink flies down the road.  Wow, she’s still looking strong!  And she’s followed by another girl in black.  Never saw her.  She must’ve had an amazing swim.

Further up the road I surge and pass the girl back.  I make the turn and hammer down.  I see another girl, blond, coming up the hill fast!  At the same time, the other girl passes me back!  I dig deep and try to keep her close.  Shortly after the blond gal passes.  Don’t get discouraged!  Keep fighting!  This bike is almost done!

Mile 50.  So close now!  Those 2 girls are out of sight but I’m still focusing on pushing the downs and flats hard.  I’m happy with my last miles and start switching focus to the run.

I dismount while keeping my shoes attached to my pedals successfully.  I’ve got some work ahead of me.  I likely have 4 women to chase down unless some of them are Aquabikers.  I hear Stephanie Artis cheering.  My legs feel like jello!  I don’t feel I pushed the bike too hard yet my legs say different.

Again, proving to be the “World’s Toughest”, the course goes right onto the Western States Trail.  I was thinking no problem but with my wobbly legs, this is going to be hard to navigate!  After a half mile, I hear footsteps behind me.  I look back to see if I need to pull over and before I know it, I trip and fall.  I go down on my right side.  The guy behind me asks if I’m alright as he goes by and I say yes.  I quickly assess the damage…torn up knee and a sore hip…likely a cut there as well.  I keep going and try to stay focused on my footing.

Mile 1 is 8:34.  I was hoping to average 8:15 for the first 5 miles but I don’t see myself being able to do that.  I’m getting negative.  Lord, please help me stay joyful.

Mile 2 is 8:55.  Ugh!  My fear of falling on this sometimes rocky trail is not helping.  I wonder where the girls are.  I know once I near the Murphy’s Gate turn, I’ll get to see.  I’m really looking forward to the FCA Endurance aid station there.  Seeing familiar faces will be a boost. 

The course is wider here, mostly smooth and level.  Should be able to pick up the pace but it’s hard.  The girl in pink is coming back and she looks strong!  Wow, I was wrong!  She’s a runner too!  Not far behind her is the girl in black also looking good.

Mile 3 is 8:36.  I see the Oakland girl heading back and nobody else!  Okay, two of those gals that passed me were AquaBikers. 


Almost to the aid station.  V__179BI see a poster “Don’t think of them as hills but as mounds of opportunity”.  Ha, good one!  “Go Robin!” It’s our Auburn FCA Endurance leader, Kris Kennedy, cheeing for me using a cone as a bullhorn.  There is lots of cheering, lots of cow bells and lots of smiles.  I’m wonderfully overwhelmed by my teammates and track buddies.  It’s a great boost!


Heading back I see a girl coming behind me and she looks strong.  I remember her, the Braveheart girl.  Got to try to hold her off!

Mile 4 is 8:21.  Wow, running great.  I hope this boost lasts!

Mile 5 is 8:53.  Off the wide main trail and back on a narrow, rocky trail.  Many climbs ahead and I hope it’s an opportunity to catch the Oakland girl!

The Dam Road!  That’s it’s name for real!  Okay, here we go, time to climb!  I pass the guy from the bike that commented on my yellow jersey.  He’s still smiling and he encourages me as I go by.  I tell him good job too. 

I see the Oakland girl ahead!  Wow, maybe I can catch her!

Mile 6 is 10:01.  Ugh!  Once at the top it’s down to the green gate.  I see the Oakland girl in the distance.

Mile 7 is 10:03.  Yeah, an aid station!  I take my gel.  I’m almost to the gate and the Oakland gal is coming back.  She’s looking better but I still have a chance.  She tells me good job and smiles.  I do the same.  So nice of her! 

As I turn at the gate and head back there is the Braveheart girl coming fast.  She looks pretty young.  Hopefully she’s not in my age group…still, need to fight to stay ahead no matter what!

Mile 8 is 8:35.  Nice to see a sub-9min split!

Time to go up again…but this time to Troy’s aid station.  I’m hurting good now! 

I see Ellie Nickel and the girls up ahead.  I can tell they are having fun!  Got to smile even though this is tough.  I give Ellie a high five.  Ariel runs alongside me all the way up to the booth…I’m impressed but too tired to tell her. 


Troy comes alongside me too and I tell him I feel terrible.  “You’ve got a girl right in front of you.  Go after her.”  I want to say no way out of frustration but I say “okay”…because deep down I know he’s right that there always is a chance. Anna hands me a cup of Coke and my buddy Karen hands me water.  I see lots of familiar faces from church.  I tell them thanks.

Right as I turn the corner and head up to the canal, the Braveheart girl passes…and she has a 40 on her calf.  Oh dear, she’s in my age group.  I have Troy in my head and I try to pick up the pace but I feel maxed out.  Just keep trying!

Mile 9 is 9:52. Come on legs!!  I’m alone now with no one in sight.  I see a track friend, Ann, as I head back towards T2.  She cheers enthusiastically for me…much appreciated!

Robin_run_mi10_2_2016Mile 10 is 9:35.  Past T2 and the finishline I go.  Just one more short loop and I’m done.  I’ll get to see Troy and the gang one more time.  I hear folks cheering for me. 

Mile 11 is 9:08.  Not bad!  I’ll take it!  I just want to finish this thing!  One last climb to the aid station and it’s pretty flat after that!

Ariel_spongegirl_aidstationI make it back to the Aid station. I try to give most of the crew high fives and smile.  Troy and the girls are smiling too.  He and I know that it’s been a tough run.

Mile 12 is 9:45.  Ugh!  Almost done!  I pass Ann again and she encourages me to keep fighting.  I make it back to T2 and know the finish is near!  I see the finish and try to “push” through.  I cross the line looking up to the Lord and thanking Him for getting me through. Yes, indeed the “World’s Toughest” is done!

Note: during the race, our friend, Dave Holloway, was flying above and took this picture: