Saturday, April 22, 2017

CEM Rescue Run 5k (Troy)

April 22, 2017 – Grass Valley, CA

1st Place, 40-49 (2nd Overall)
Anna, Ariel & Robin Soares, Elizabeth Katsura, Lauren Langhofer
The whole family is ready to run here at Christian Encounters Ministries.  This is a very special place and the entire 5k is run through the ranch property.
CEM is a place for troubled youth.  They come here, or are brought here, and live and work on the ranch for a couple years or so.  The staff is a loving, serving group, that relies on Jesus for guidance and help in turning around lives.  Two of our FCA Endurance Auburn teammates, Caryn and Suzanne, are full-time staff here.
As runners roll in and we meet people at the FCA Endurance tent, I ask Charlie, the anouncer, how the turn-out is looking.  “A little less than last year” he says, “but it’s still 20 min until start time.”  I was really hoping it would be a record turn-out because because of all the lives I’ve heard touched by this place.  20 min is not much time, but we stop and pray for runners to keep coming.
Robin, Anna, Ariel, and I are ready at the start.  Charlie announces that the turn-out indeed has exceeded last year!  Thank you, Lord.  He tells a little about the ranch.  He eventually asks everyone who knows a young person that committed suicide to raise their hand and for everyone else to look around.  It is shocking how many there are.  He goes on to say, “This is why we are here.   There are youth that need the love of Jesus.”  After a quick prayer, the race starts!
My achilles has been sore so I’m careful on the gravel section.   I pass Robin and Anna is right ahead of me.  Ariel is behind us.  Up the first steep section, there are quite a few kids that went out fast and are breathing real hard now.  I pull ahead.  Then it’s down and around, through beautiful narrow trails, over bridges and creeks.. it’s an incredible setting here.
Around the lake I’m surprised that Anna is still close behind.  Our first race together, head-to-head and I’m impressed that this 11 year old is pushing me!
I get a gap on her starting the next big climb, up through the ropes course area of the ranch.  My achilles is getting sore so I stop to tighten my shoe.  Anna is right with me again, “Great job, Anna! Pace yourself and have fun.”
Mile 1: 7:41. Running along the canal now I try to pick it up and move up to 2nd place.  My main focus is extreme appreciation for this event with all it’s volunteers young and old.  It’s so much more than a race, it’s a family happy to serve others, whether with Dixie cups of water, a big cheerful smile, or going the extra mile with you in the hardest point of your life.
I see Pastor, Scott Gallagher, from my old church in Grass Valley!  He prayed for me and helped me in one of my toughest years when I was in college.  There are a lot of caring people associated with this place.
I’m about to turn-around and climb to the highest point.  I hope to see Ariel as I head back.  This is a tough course and she’s by herself.. actually hoping she’s made some running friends on the way. 
Mile 2: 6:57. Up ahead is a young man in the lead.  He wears an Agony Ride shirt (another fundraiser for this ranch) so I can assume he lives or works here.  I really want him to do well.  But I also try to catch him.  I get real close as we climb, but then we hit the canal again and he picks it up. 
We match pace for a while, while high-fiving some going the othe rway, until the long downhill to the finish.  He really flies, with that young daring attitude, unafraid of the rocky turns and drops.  I’m both happy for him and trying my best to catch him.  At every tricky turn there is a cheering happy volunteer.  The course is marked and supported well.
Mile 3: 6:34. We weave through the last scenic trail section before hitting the flat straight-away to the finish.  These twist and turns were my last chance to catch him but he actually pulls ahead.  We both sprint all out and finish 1 – 2, a few seconds apart.
I finish in 22:02.  I’m really glad one of their own can claim the victory and I’m super happy with 2nd.  And then I’m really surprised to see Anna come in only 4 runners behind me!  Quickly followed by Robin.  We all go out and cheer on the rest of the runners.  Ariel comes in sprinting with 3 others.  We all got pictures and awards and met some great people and made some new connections.
The best part of the day was getting a tour of the main lodge and then hearing the testimony of a young man about to graduate from the ranch.  He was a guitar player without a father who saw his future playing gigs in bars and hanging with musicians with little hope.  At his most rebellious, he had a radical encounter with Jesus one week during his stay at the ranch and after that everything turned around.  The joy and hope in his voice was beyond understanding.
Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity today to see so much more than race medals and competition.  I realize that this life we all live is a competition, one that can’t be won alone.  So thankful there is Jesus and those He sends to insure our victory.


CEM Rescue Run 5k–Anna & Ariel - 2017

April 22, 2017 – Grass Valley, CA
Anna 24:12 PR! (34:33, 2015)
Ariel 42:55 (PR 38:29, 2015)

Anna: 1st Female & First Place 10-15yrs
Ariel: 1st Place, 0-9yrs
Robin & Troy Soares, Elizabeth Katsura, Lauren Langhofer
ARIEL 170422_cem_5k_start10, 9, 8, …3, 2, 1, go!  Everyone starts going.  I go straight, run around a cone and go up a hill.  This hill is a long one.  It gets flat and then we go downhill. I get to a metal bridge and cross it.  Then I get to a wooden bridge and cross it.  Then we run on this big grassy lane.  There is the 1 Mile marker. And then, I get to the canal.  After running on the canal for a little bit, Elizabeth from our track group catches up.  We start running together on the canal.  We get to an Aid station and we get water.  I start walking to drink my water and Elizabeth does that too.  She asks me “do you want to run now?” and I say “yes!”.  We start running. We get to the turn around.  We see this girl with earphones on and she misses the turn.  Volunteers try to stop her but she cannot hear them.  Elizabeth says “oh, well”.  Then we go up a hill which takes us above the canal.  Elizabeth says “I cannot wait until we see the smiley face!”.  That's were the course no longer has hills!  We see people in front of us. A teenage boy is trying to encourage his friend.  His friend doesn't seem to go faster and runs behind.  We pass both boys. Then we hear my mom cheering.  Then we see her.  She says we are almost to the finish.  We exit the canal and go down this grassy hill.  We go down a road to trail. 18156058_10212757639117184_4713978911305965069_oSoon we hear people cheering.  I tell Elizabeth that we'll sprint when get close to the finish.  Those boys are right behind us.  We sprint but they sprint too.  I start going faster.  I hear one of them say “we're going to get beat by a 10 year old!”.  They slightly beat us. I tell them “I'm actually 8.”. They said “we almost got beat by an 8 year old!”. Ps. I was 1st place in my age group.  My whole family got first place in our age group! 170422_cem_5k_ariel_award ANNA Mom and I line up near the front. Mom tells me not to go out too fast. I see 3 three boys there about my age and I hope to pass them all. 5,4,3,2,1,GO! I take off but not too fast. I run around the cone and start running back and I pass one boy. Then I start running up a big hill and I pass another boy. I run down a hill and pass third boy. I am running close behind my dad and he says ‘how did you get up here so fast?’’ We run over some bridges and on some trails. When we get on the grass straight away, out of the corner of my eye I see something yellow fall to the ground. Then I feel one of my braids coming apart. I realize that the yellow thing was my hairband. I take out my other braid and make my hair into a ponytail. I run up some sand and keep running up the trail. Finally, I get to the canal. I run by a aid station and get some water. 170422_cem_5k_annaSoon my mom catches me and we start running together. Mom is running fast but I am able to stay with her. We run along the canal, come to a cone and run around it. We run up on a trail above the canal. We run downhill and uphill. Mom keeps asking me “where is the smiley face?”. The smiley face means no more hills. I remember where it is from last year. I’m too out of breath to answer her. Soon we see it! I run down to the aid station and try to grab some water but cannot. We keep running down the canal and see people running towards us because there is an out an back section. Then we turn off the canal and start running down the 18121326_10212757739439692_7768438922469853496_olong hill to the finish line. Mom says “go for it…running downhill is your specialty!”. So, I sprint down the hill, turn on a small trail and see the finish! I sprint as hard as I can to the finish line. I point to God as I run through. Thank you God for helping me! I am the first female and first in my age group! 170422_cem_5k_anna_award

CEM Rescue Run 5K–Robin–2017

April 22, 2017 – Grass Valley, CA
24:24 (PR 23:59, 2016)

1st Place, 40-49
Anna, Ariel & Troy Soares, Elizabeth Katsura, Lauren Langhofer
Always fun coming to the CEM (Christian Encounter MInistry) Ranch!  Not only do we get to race/see with our Tuesday Track teammates, we get to support an awesome ministry impacting the lives of teens! 
Our FCA teammates and CEM counselors, Caryn Galeckas and Suzanne Hartley, have done another great job setting up this event!  Looks like a bigger crowd this year!  We also get to race with our track friends Laurn Langhofer and Elizabeth Katsura!  CEM asked us to set up our FCA booth and share our ministry with the racers.  Such a great honor to share how we race for Christ!
We all line up on the start line.  Another friend and CEM counselor, Charlie Cazin, tells us about CEM and how it’s impacting lives.  Then the leader of CEM says a prayer for all of us!  What a pleasure to hear Christian music playing and to pray at a race…very special and unique indeed!
The question this year is Anna going to surpass me today…very likely and possible!  Anna lines up on the front row of the starting line.  She whispers that she hopes to beat the boys her age next to her.  I encourage her not to go out too hard and just see what happens.  Troy and Ariel are just behind me. 
170422_cem_5k_startReady, set, go!  The kids, including Anna, take off!  I know the hills that are ahead so I’m going to be careful.  Troy quickly catches up to Anna and passes her but she surges and stays just behind him for a bit through the first big hill.  That first hill is tough and some of the boys are falling off pace. I sure hope Anna isn’t going too fast!
We get a little reprieve as we tour the outskirts of the campus and go down and around a pond.  Anna is still ahead of me looking strong…and the first female!
Mile 1 is 8:24.  Pretty good…a bit faster than last year which is encouraging.
170422_cem_5k_robinAnother climb up to the canal trail…phew, tough!  Anna is just a little bit ahead.  I close the gap and catch her just past the halfway point.  Her little cheeks are red and she’s tired but still smiling.  I tell her I’m excited to see the smiley face which indicates no more hills to the finish!
We turn off the canal to a road above it.  Mile 2 is 7:36.  Anna is doing a great job staying with me despite being noticebly tired and quiet.  I don’t have to hold back at all. 
This road is rolling. I’m so ready to be done with hills!  I ask Anna several times “where is the smiley face?!”  FINALLY, we see it spray painted on the ground!  Yes!
We get back on the flat canal and continue to be in step with each other.  As we exit the canal, it’s a nice continuous downhill.  I tell Anna “downhills are your specialty, go for it!”  She takes off and I cannot keep up.  Down, down, down we go!
I can hear the finish line announcer.  Anna turns off the main road and onto a path to the finish.  I’m not too far behind but still too far to catch her.  I watch her finish and point up to God.  So proud!  It’s a very special moment to see my daugther surpass me.  Thank you Lord for being able to witness this!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Copperpolis–Robin -2017

April 15th, 2017 – Milton, CA
3rd, Women's 4
Brandi Cleland
So awesome to be able to race here with Troy.  Thanks to Mike and Trixie Bradley!  They are watching the girls today…so grateful! We get a late start and the GPS says we'll only have a few minutes to spare to get ready for the race. Usually that would make things stressful for me but I feel calm trusting the Lord will work it out.  Troy has gotten little sleep lately and I knew the extra sleep could make us late. We drive winding Hwy 49.  As we get closer, Troy and I pray for our races. We finally make it with 15 min to spare for the start of Troy's group.  He jumps out of the car to get registered.  I park and then get registered/ready myself.  I see Victory Velo teammate Brandi Cleland.  Yeah, I won't be racing alone!  Troy's race is supposed to start but there are no race officials in sight.  Well, looks like we are starting late.  We had plenty of time after all!  His race finally starts 25 min late.  Looks like around 20 guys in his group. As my group waits a bit longer to go, I fill in Brandi and a few girls around us on the terrain.  I stress that the beginning and the last descent on the course are very bumpy due to the numerous potholes that have been terribly patched.  The rest of the course really is fine.  Once they know what to expect the first loop, the second will be fine.  Two girls introduce themselves to me.  One, Jennifer, has no team affiliation and the other, Jill, is on the JVelo team.  Both have on bright blue colors. Ok, we're next! The official tells is about the course and rules.  He suggests that we might take that final descent “neutral” which means don't race it because the pothole patch job is bad …it's really up to us…well, taking it easy, that's probably unlikely. Time to go!  We roll out and hit pothole city.  Jennifer pushes the pace immediately and Jill is close behind.  I'm huffing and puffing already!  I hope I can keep up on the first climb.  Brandi is doing a great job staying in the pack and I'm struggling just to stay with everyone. After the feed zone at mile 2, the climb starts.  Jennifer continues to push the pace and girls start to drop including Brandi. Darn, I want to help her but know I need keep up so I push to try to hang on.  Jennifer and Jill are pulling away.  I dig deep and catch up.  Looking back there is nobody now.  Jill asks me where the top is.  I hesitate giving her too much info because I don't want them to try to ditch me.  I try to be vague about it saying “it's coming” and getting a sarcastic response “well duh!”. We reach the top.  Top three!  I hope I can stay with them the whole way and hold at least the third spot.  I suggest we take quick turns pulling (or leading) along this mostly flat section.  It works well for a bit but soon they are riding so fast that I cannot even get up to the front to lead…I'm getting too tired. I do all I can to try to rest and stay on their wheels and not push. I don't know what these girls might be plotting so I try to stay on their good side by telling them what to expect next on the course. I stay with them the entire backside of the course and continue to try to rest.  I make sure I take turns blocking the wind to make it appear that I am helpful and an asset.  We get to the last climb before the final descent. I tell them about how there is a slight descent before the very top.  They are pushing the pace going up.  It seems as if they can climb like that all day!  At that slight decent they are flying and I'm having trouble keeping up. This is indicative that they are going to cram me on the descent…and they do.  I keep thinking about what the official said and find myself braking a lot.  As usual, my bike is vibrating violently as I roll over all the patched potholes.  Jennifer and Jill are way out there now!  It's unlikely I'll catch them.  Thanks Lord for protecting me and getting me this far.  If I can hold this position, I can still get 3rd. A girl from our group catches me.  She tells me she can handle those descents but not the climbs.  She suggests we work together as we start the second lap.  Hum, I don't really want to work together especially if she can pass me on that final decent. I feel conflicted having these thoughts, they are so selfish….and ironic considering that this entire weekend is symbolic of the greatest selfless act in all of history, Christ dying on the cross for my sins!  I choose not to verbally commit to working with her.  I'll just push the long hill here and if she can stay with me, then I'll need to work with her on the backside.  The girl jokes with me not to mind her crying as she climbs.  This is a good sign I can pull away. As I reach the top, I look back and I'm all alone. Yeah!  I just need to push any remaining hills to distance myself more from anyone else in our group.  An older guy from the Auburn area tells me I'm about 2 min behind the top girls.  I tell him thanks…doubtful I will catch them.  I actually am able to see them off in the distance. On the backside, I catch a teammate of that older guy.  He tells me that we both are not in contention for placing and that we should work together.  I tell him I'm actually in third place and that I shouldn't have any advantage.  Even if I am last, I still shouldn't break the rules. He apologized for assuming I was in the back.  We yo-yo back and forth all the way to the final climb. He's very chatty and wants to talk but I'm trying to push and want to conserve energy. For several miles I can see Jennifer and Jill in the distance.  For a time it looks like I'm catching up but by the last climb they have disappeared.  It doesn't seem like there are any girls behind me but I push the hill just in case…I would like a good cushion going into the descent! I leave that older guy behind as I climb and catch up to another guy.  I pass him and put on a gap to the top.  I'm thinking I might hold him up on the descent but he'll just have to pass me.  I get rolling faster the second time around but still get passed by that guy.  I try to match his pace and follow him down.  I still break but not as much. Hold on!! I make it to the bottom and push it.  I take a look back and it's totally clear!  Thank you Lord!  Now go! I push as hard as I can all the way through the end.  I see Troy waiting.  I point up to God as I finish.  Thank you Jesus!!

Copperopolis Road Race (Troy)

April 15th, 2017 – Milton, CA
6th, Masters 45+, 4
I feel the least prepared for this race than any before.  Unexpected events all week and then up late doing taxes.  But it is something Robin & I have done together for a number of years and the Lord has blessed each race.
First we stop at the Bradley’s to drop off the girls.  Trixie prays for our race and specifically asks that God does something amazing in my race that is beyond expectation.  My first reaction is wishing she didn’t say that because I’m thinking there’s no way anything big can happen when I’m this exhausted and weak.  But I quickly realize nothing is beyond God and I should be grateful for the prayer.
Last week I was rested for the HITS Napa Aquabike and it turned out to be miserable.  Although I was so thankful to be able to finish it.  A mistake for that race was not spending time reading the Bible and listening to God beforehand.  This morning I make sure to get in the Word.  This is something Robin started years ago and has been such a good way to go into a race.
To our surprise, the GPS says we’re going to arrive when the race starts!  We planned wrong.  Nothing we can do but hope for the best.  I’m so tired, I sleep on the way as Robin drives the winding hwy 49 towards Angels Camp.
Robin makes good time and we arrive 20min before the start.  Rush to get ready, registered, and line up watching the earlier riders race by.  Robin and I pray with fellow Victory Velo Teammate, Chris DeMatei.  I appreciate his work ethic becoming a good rider (now in the 1-2-3’s) and I appreciate him as a brother-in-Christ who prays for our races.
I make sure to have 2 full bottles and food.  Despite it being cool in Auburn, it always gets warm on the climb here and I usually run out of water.  There wasn’t time to warm up so I hope the race starts slowly.  I stretch the best I can.  Go!
We’re off.. but slowly.. which is good for me.  There’s only about 20 riders in this Cat 4 group.  And 1 Cat 5 rider.  He was the only one to show so they put him in our group and if he finishes, he wins.  I congratulate his win ahead of time, telling him I’ve been racing since 1995 and have never won a race!
In years past I felt I pushed too early and was gassed by the last pitch before the descent.  So today I plan to hang back and not reveal any strengths (which should be easy since I feel so weak).  The group is going very slow.  It’s a perfect warm-up, casually climbing the big hill.  The road is the worst I’ve seen it.  Known for it’s pot holes and patches, this year it has fresh patches which fling oily gravel all over us.  Pebbles bounce off our legs and even hit our face.
At the top, the pace doesn’t pick up much.  And the group has dwindled down to about 10.  It’s just a mellow ride, which is a blessing and alows my body to prepare for some hard efforts to come surely.  I’m able to coast even, get more comfortable, and catch back up.  At the 1/2-way, we turn West and another group catches us and moves through.  Suddenly one of their riders goes down hard and the pack swerves.  Thankfully I avoid it.  I see the rider get up off the ground, ask him if he’s ok, and then hustle to catch back on my gruop.
I’m already thanking the Lord for allowing me to hang on easily.  And I tell God that I will hang back until the 2nd big climb and then push ahead and see what happens.  However, before the last pitch, before the descent of lap 1, I start leading, anxious to pick up the pace.  I realize this is not the plan I agreed to, and pull back, letting them go ahead down the hill.
Chip and seal is flying everwhere.  And my chain is falling off the big ring to the small ring.  All the comotion makes for a hair-raising descent down this already treacherous road.  But we all roll through the end of Lap 1 safe and I start eating and drinking preparing for a big effort soon.
The Cat 5 guy goes off ahead (really showing how slow we’re going).  I eat more Cliff Blocks.  I bide my time.  Waiting for the “Feed Station” sign at the start of the big climb.  Go!  I push the pedals in steady thoughtful circles.  Faster but still efficient.  Over the first bump I see I have a 5 sec gap!  That’s cool!  I keep pushing, pass the Cat 5 guy, and feel very motivated, comfortable and excited – opposite of what I felt this morning.  This is already far from what I imagined.  And even if they catch me and drop me, there are only 6 of them now so I would be 7th which is great.
1/2 way up the big climb, breathing harder now, I glance back and see them!  Oh, no, here they come.  3/4 up, a motorcyle official goes by and I ask him how far back they are.  “30 secs” he says.  That’s good!  I’m really happy with my push all the way to the top, but now is the hard part.. 10 miles of flat holding off a pack of 6 working together.
I ask the official again what the gap is and he says he’ll take a time split for me but will also give that information to the pack.  I agree, as it’s only fair, but kind of hoped they would just forget about me.  As he takes his position ahead, I give an extra push in order to build a larger gap.  If they’re going to get a split, I want it to look like I’m pulling ahead.  After I reach him, I ease up some.  Let’s see what happens when they get the news.
Mile 30.  15 mi to go.  The official says the gap is 1:30!  I’ve never been in this situation before.  I envision all the Tour de France races I’ve seen where someone goes off the front.  And I ask the official the question every break-away wants to know, “Is it enough?”  We both laugh because it’s impossible to know.  [Later, viewing Strava, I could see the race play out behind me and, sure enough, after they received the time-gap news, they picked it up a little]
Riding along by myself, staying low and remembering thoughtful pedal cycles, passing some other lone riders… I’m truly amazed that God could make this so exciting when I was so unmotivated starting.  It’s the most exciting race ever.
Mile 33. Cresting the 1/2 way point, with only 6 miles more to the beginning of the descent, I look back and don’t see the pack.  If I can just get to the descent, I can rest and bomb down the hill to a possible win!  I’ve been drinking and pacing well [Strava would later show I have a 1:40 lead]  I can keep up the push.  Thank you, Lord!
From out of nowhere, I see a small rock in the road, and, since I looked at it, I hit it!  Bam.  “Lord, please let my tire be ok.”  Pssst.  I’ve pinch-flatted!  Although a significant problem for this break-away, I instantly feel very content.  I had no expectations and definitely didn’t deserve to have my best race. This has been all God’s doing so there is no reason to complain.  But I will do my best tire change ever and keep up the hope!
I jump off, rip the tire off with a huge effort, grab a new tube, partially inflate it with my mouth and install it.  Strangely, it feels softer than a “one-breath-inflate” should feel.  I get it on and apply the cartridge inflator just as the pack whizzes by!  I inflate it instantly, and instantly it un-inflates!  The new tube had a hole for some reason.  There’s goes my hope to at least catch the group.
I get a patch and start sanding the hole.  My teammate, Chris DeMateii goes by and checks in on me.  He’s alone, just like me, I guess we’ll both be not finishing with a pack.  I finally pump up my tire and start pushing, determined to give God my best effort even on my own.
Mile 36.  I see a radio man with a pump alongside the road and ask to use it to top off my tire so that it’s safer for the descent.  But using it only causes all my air to stream out and it won’t inflate.  The pump is broken.  I pump up my tire again using my hand-held and head off again.  With a soft rear wheel I descend more cautiously.  It’s still a crazy ride and I get to the bottom thanking the Lord for safety.  There’s another loan rider near me but I have a race to win.. even if in my own mind.  I charge the final pitch to the finish line and give it everything I’ve got!  200m.. 100m..  I’m done!
Thank you Lord for the most memorable bike race of my life.  I’ll never know if I could have held them off, but what I do know is that it wasn’t my doing anyway, it was a gift from God, showing me something I never expected even when I thought a miracle wasn’t possible today.  And my patched tire suddenly deflating while waiting at the finish for Robin.  Wow, it held up just enough to get me down that crazy hill.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

HITS Open Tri–Ariel & Anna - 2017

April 9th, 2017 – Lake Berryessa, CA
Swim 100 yards – 3 Mile Bike – 1 Mile Run
ARIEL – 25:54
ANNA -17:31 PR! (18:19 in 2015)
ARIEL - 1st in Age group 9-10 Girls
ANNA – 1st Female Overall
WP_20170409_11_42_32_ProI am feeling scared for the swim because it's so cold.  The race director says 10, 9, 8,…3, 2, 1, go!  I dive in and the first thing I feel is cold!  I pop my head up out of the water and I start panicking.  I try to swim freestyle but I can't because I can't breath right.  Another 170409_hits_open_ariel_swimracer hears me panic and she pushes me ahead.  I feel better but still am panicking.  I try to do freestyle again but can't so I do doggie paddle. I get around the buoy that way.  Then I realize I can do backstroke!  I do that all the way back…taking breaks to turn over and look for the shore. I make it!  I get out of the water.  Dad hands me my Garmin and Mom unzips my (shortie) wetsuit.  I run into transition, take off my wetsuit and get gear on for the bike. WP_20170409_12_37_37_ProI run out of transition with my bike. I start biking up a hill. A person directs me left onto another road. I see Anna biking back. She’s behind 2 girls and doing well. Anna says, “There’s someone behind you. Don’t let her catch you!” The girl catches me and passes me. She’s older than me. We both pass a girl on the way to the turn around. Then we come to the turn around. The girl in front of me takes a big, sharp turn and falls to the side into the hillside. She gets helped up and gets going before I even reach her. Then I pass her on the way back. WP_20170409_12_45_58_ProBack into the park and down to transition. Guess what? The girl passes me again and gets into transition first. Luckily, she had more things to do to get ready for 170409_hits_open_ariel_runthe run. I get out of transition first. On the way out, I pass a girl and her dad. I go up the hill and that person directs me to the right this time. It’s not long until I see the turn-around and I pass a guy. I look back and see a boy and his mom. I pick it up and make it to the turn-around first. It’s not long until I make it back to the park. I run down the hill and see a man dressed as Buzz Lightyear. He directs me to the finish and I run as fast as I can. I finish the race! I feel good. P.S. I got 1st Place in my age group and Anna got 1st Female Overall!     
ANNA’S STORY WP_20170409_11_42_03_Pro3, 2, 1, go!, the race director counts down.  I start running to the water and jump in.  Burr, it's cold!  I keep swimming and my face starts to hurt.  I keep trying to put my head in but it's so cold. I have to lift my head often.  When I get to the buoy I have to lift my head more because It's so crowded.  Once I got around, I try to put my head down and swim to shore.  I see WP_20170409_12_32_03_Proground below and I start running towards transition.  I pull the zipper down and the wetsuit a little bit.  I see my red towel I placed to dry off.  I don't use it because it's faster not to and I feel fine. I get into transition.  I put on my bib, helmet and shoes.  I 170409_hits_open_anna_bikehad my jacket in case I feel cold and I don't so I leave it.  I run out of transition, get on my bike and start pedaling uphill.  I pedal hard down the road and see a girl on the side with her bike.  Her chain fell off and I ask her if she's ok.  She says something but I cannot hear her.  She doesn't seem to understand what I said.  WP_20170409_12_40_14_Pro I bike out of the park and down the road.  I make the turn and I pass a man on his bike.  He soon passes me back.  I enter transition and take off my helmet.  I see the girl who lost her chain come into transition.  I better hurry up! I run out of transition.  I see a girl and that man ahead of me.  I know I'm in third.  I run up the hill and turn on to the street.  The girl and guy 170409_hits_open_anna_finishare way closer.  I keep running and see the cone up ahead.  I pass the girl and guy and run around the cone. I turn back and start running down the hill.  I'm surprised to be in first!  All the sudden, I hear the man running up behind me.  So I start sprinting and he is sprinting.  He has longer legs than me and he out sprints me to the finish.  I cross the finish pointing up to God.  I still got second place, my favorite number, and was the first female overall. 


HITS Olympic Tri–Robin - 2017

April 9th, 2017 – Lake Berryessa, CA
Swim 1.5K – Bike 40K – Run 10K

2:51:29* (27:26 – 7:17 – 1:23:41 – 1:33 – 49:21)*Swim split long in results




Other Teammates – Dave Campbell

Another early start. It's cold but not raining! After a quick breakfast, I head down to transition.  Wow, the racks look full in here already!  I see some folks leaning bikes up against fencing…guess I'll do that too.  I find a great spot on fencing near the swim in and run out area.  I see Dave Campbell.  Great to see him here!  We discuss what we are wearing.  Dave measured the water at 56…ouch!  With the air temp in the mid thirties, it's going to make for a cold day.  Since Troy's race yesterday was so hard to watch with him and all the others dealing with the cold and rain, we decided that I should dress warm.  I'm wearing a rash guard under my wetsuit.  After the swim I'll take it off and put on a shirt, FCA bike jersey, arm warmers and jacket.  I'll also slip on some tights, gloves and a beanie.

Now its back to camp to do some quiet time.  I read Hebrews 11-13.  It's Palm Sunday today.  So important to remember Him and His sacrifice.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and Sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I am so grateful for His sacrifice and so glad that when I look to Him, nothing should make me afraid…including cold conditions!  I read further…

“Never will I leave you; never I will forsake you.  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper;  I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”

Yes, I have help today from Him. And even if it is hard, I can endure it!

WP_20170409_07_55_15_ProDown to the swim start to put on my wetsuit.  The sun is shining which is so nice mentally especially after yesterday!  Troy, the girls and I find Caryn Galeckas and Suzanne Hartley for prayer.  I thank Him for His Word’s promise that He is my Helper and Faith booster.  They all pray that the cold won’t be too bad.  We also pray for Anna and Ariel and their races later today. 

It looks like my wave is starting so I run down into the water and find a spot.  The director says that this is the 39 and under wave.  Whoops!  I run back to Troy and put socks back on.  One thing I learned from IM Tahoe, keep the feet warm as long as possible! 



Now it’s my turn to go.  I get a spot towards the front.  It’s a two loop course. The previous waves are already starting their second laps.  Wonder how our waves will do when they merge.  Ready, set, go!  I jump in and the cold hits my face hard.  I want to lift my face but I resist the temptation.  There is no problem when I reach the previous waves.  I actually am able to use them the sight to the first buoy.  There seems to be plenty of space and I’m able to keep my head down a lot. 

To the first turn buoy, my face has stabilized and I feel great!  Thank you Lord!  I am passing a lot of swimmers.  It’s hard to say who is in my age group because the 39 and under women have the same color caps.  I get to the last turn buoy and I’m heading back to shore.  Despite the many bodies, there always seems to be an open path.  This is so similar to Tahoe.  It’s like God is opening up doors for me.

I start the second lap and continue to pass swimmers and find open paths.  I am amazed that the Lord is making this so great especially since I’ve averaged about one day a week in the pool.  The rest of the swim is great and I feel like I’m able to push hard to the shore.  I cannot see my time as I get out.  It seems to be in a weird mode.  I keep my wetsuit on to my WP_20170409_08_28_15_Protransition site…a lesson learned here a few years back.  Watch is still weird.  I cannot seem to make it switch from Swim to the T1 mode.  Oh well, will figure out.  I put it on my bike.  As I pull off my rash guard, I realize my jogbra is loose…thank goodness it didn’t come off with the rash guard.  I try to fix it but my fingers have little feeling!  This will have to wait until after the bike!  I get all my gear on…I cannot see the time but I guess it’s over 5 min (7 min in results!).  Time to go!


WP_20170409_08_35_56_ProI run out of transition with bike shoes on and mount at the line.  My Garmin isn’t showing the bike portion…I swerve trying to fix it.  Ooops, better be careful. Finally I press some buttons and it switches…but still cannot make it show MPH or time.  Oh well, too cold and too late to do anyting about it.  Focus on the road!

I exit the park and now the fun begins.  It’s sunny, yay…that and extra clothes take the edge off the cold.  My legs feel sore and tired.  I just got to push through anyway.  I have no idea of pace so I just try to pass and look for women that appear to be in my age group.

I pass a guy with a Facebook jersey.  As I veer back to the right side of road, I sense something.  It’s that guy trying to pass me on the right…fortunately we just miss each other…surprising both of us.  I tell him that you must always pass on the left.  I hope he heard me.

170409_hits_oly_robin_bikeAbout 5 miles into the race, the sun starts to go away and it gets cold.  Now, I’m so glad I took the extra time to put on clothes.  A girl goes by fast and I make an effort to stay close but she’s too fast and/or I’m too slow. 

At about 10 miles in, I see the top guys coming back.  Wow, they are hardly wearing anything and they look cold!  Not too long after them I see Dave Campbell.  He’s looking strong but cold too.

Another girl passes me and I’m able to keep contact all the way to the turn around.  Soon, I’m passed by another girl.  I’m able to maintain contact through the climbs with both girls until the big downhill.  I don’t see them after that. 

The sun finally comes out and it feels good!  I get passed by a girl in white that I passed miles ago.  It’s hard to keep my head in the game but I know I have to keep trying.

Just a few more miles to go!  I am looking forward to getting off the bike.  I hope the run will feel WP_20170409_09_59_48_Probetter!  I see the girl in white pull over ahead.  Her chain fell off…bummer…I hope she can get back on quick!

Finally, I turn into the park and head in to transition.  It feels warm now so I take off the tights, jacket, arm warmers and beanie. 



Yeah, I’m out of transition and heading out on the run.  I’m able to get my Garmin in run mode WP_20170409_10_03_33_Probut still cannot see pace. I decide to restart my watch in regular mode so I can track my mile splits…I’ll really need that info now.  Now, I’m back in business!  The distance will be a bit off (0.2) but worth the sacrifice.

Two fast girls pass me and within minutes they are way out there!

Mile 1.2 is 7:57.  Feeling pretty stiff.  Feet still feel frozen.  I don’t feel great but it’s only the beginning.

I see a  girl heading back now so I start counting.  Dave coming back and looking strong.  I tell him to “go chase down those young people”. 

Mile 2.2 is 8:05.  Happy with that since it was on an mostly uphill stretch.  Still feel stiff.  Still counting places, up to 18 now.

It’s downhill now to the turn…ahhh!  At the turn around, I determine that I’m in 29th place.  It would be great to move up to 20th but realistically with how I feel, it would be great to get up to 25th. 

Mile 3.2 is 7:25.  I pass one girl…28th!  Now I’ve got to climb out of here.  I see other girls coming the other direction.  One of them looks fast. 

I get another girl…27th!  A girl I don’t remember seeing flies by.  I try to match her pace but she’s just too fast…28th.  A guy comes up on me and I’m able to stick with him. 

Mile 4.2 is 8:00.  That guys pulls me up to 27th.  I can see 2 more girls ahead.  I think I have time to catch them…hoping I don’t get caught.  More climbing.

Finally a downhill!  I tell that guy that might have been the last big hill.170409_hits_oly_robin_run

Mile 5.2 is 7:33.  Happy with that split!  Running out of time to catch those two girls.  I try to push harder!  The guy takes off and I cannot match him this time.

I catch one girl before we get to the park…26th.  Coming into the park I’m so close to the last girl.  I hear the crowd shout “beat her” to the girl and “go get her to me”.  So close…a guy pulls up alongside the girl and she slows.  I pick it up and pass her.  I hear the guy tell her to get me.  I dig deep and don’t look back.  I don’t know where she’s at. 

170409_hits_oly_robin_finishMile 6.2 is 7:04.  I sprint hard and get 25th!  Yeah!  Thank you Lord!  Actually, I realize I didn’t point up to Him at all in thanks and I feel convicted.  Lord, this truly was a gift and I give you all the credit!!



Saturday, April 8, 2017

HITS Napa Full Aquabike (Troy)

April 8th, 2017 – Lake Berryessa, CA
Swim 2.4mi – Bike 112mi
10:03:03 (1:20:14 – 14:24 – 8:28:26)
(stopped for 1:06 total on bike)
1st (only aquabike finisher)

This race tested me for sure.  First, we camped in the pouring rain.  Robin had to keep getting up to dry up water coming into the tent and move kids around.  Morning prep for the race was dry conditions thankfully, but about 40 deg with 57 deg water.  I had lots of clothes and was prepared / concerned for coming out of the water very cold.

So thankful to pray with our FCA Endurance team (Robin, Caryn, Suzanne).  Not worried about my undertrained body, but very concerned about being chilled.

WP_20170408_06_59_00_ProRashguard under my wetsuit, thermal swim cap, but wishing I had my booties.

Go!  Only about 20 in my wave.  It starts slow as all of us seem to hit the water in slow motion.  The shock of the cold water hurting our face and causing us to sputter before getting into a normal stroke.  I never feel like I find my stroke.  I can tell this is going to get to my core, but after how long?

Visibility is poor.  Buoys are minimal (4).  After the first turn, and a woman in the next wave passing me, the 5 swimmers ahead of me stop in the fog wondering where to go.  As we get going again, I can tell I’m already in survival mode.  I have no snap, no eagerness to draft someone, and not much awareness of where I am.  Thermal swim cap is tight and causes some claustrophobia.

I’m already thinking about quitting after the 1st loop… but I can’t because my kids are watching.  I just can’t see how I’ll go a 2nd loop without getting hypothermic.

My feet are burning / stinging now.  My hands feel funny.  I’m heading to shore.  Takes forever.  WP_20170408_07_38_36_ProWP_20170408_07_38_52_Pro

But as I near the dock I can hear Robin yelling loudly for me.  And for the next 5 minutes I feel confident about starting the 2nd loop.

1/2 way to the 1st buoy again I can’t believe that I’m heading back out.  Not feeling too much.  Definitely not swimming fast.  Just trying to keep moving.  The sun is out now and the 2nd bouy is easy to see.  The final stretch to shore is very long and my body is getting stiffer, tightening up.

WP_20170408_08_20_45_ProI touch the bottom but I can barely stand up.  It’s slow motion.  I walk out in a cold daze looking for my shoes while my family cheers for me and gives me direction.170408_hits_fullaqua_troy_swim

I’m so cold that it doesn’t even take much thought deciding I’m about to wear my wetsuit for the bike!  Thick socks, jacket, beenie, shoes – difficult to get on, gloves – VERY difficult to get on.

WP_20170408_08_37_40_ProIt’s raining, there’s no sun, my core is chilled and I’m hoping I’ll warm up quickly with this wetsuit on.  Climbing the first hill I start to observe the others.  The 1/2 Ironman leaders coming back are wearing only tri-suits, without gloves.  I go by a woman also wearing just a tri-suit and she says, somewhat in shock, “This is my first one”.  I go by a skinny guy who put on a long sleeve running shirt but is still freezing and barely able to hold a straight line.  I’m praying for the other racers as well as for myself.  I don’t know which hurts more, my cold or seeing so many with exposed skin.  Even with my wetsuit on I can’t warm up except for my legs.  But I know I won’t go hypothermic.  I’m praying for the sun for the other racers’ sake.

10mi. I find that I’m so tense from the cold that my neck is hurting and the restrictive wetsuit doesn’t help.  It’s also starting to chaff the back of my knees. The rain keeps coming.  I see a Cal Poly female racer on the other side with a flat tire, trying to fix it while standing in the rain in just a tri-suit.  Poor girl is going to get so cold.  Robin and the girls go by cheering so wonderfully.  They are amazing.  At the turn-around I’m not feeling good and wishing to just dry off and curl up in my sleeping bag.  But I know I must press on, benefiting from God’s direction every hour of the day.  It’s the only way.  I see a guy walking with his bike and tell him to wave down my wife in the van.

WP_20170408_09_46_55_Pro20mi.  My hands and feet are super cold.  My gloves are full of water.  I see a bike at a small store and turn around and go back realizing it’s a chance to warm up.  A guy is hundled up inside, just a tri-suit.  Indeed it is warm.  I ask for some plastic bags to wrap my feet in.  The warm concrete floor feels good on my feet.  I head back out.  After a while my wetsuit is really chaffing.  I get off to adjust it and to pour water out of the bags that were supposed to keep my feet dry.  Robin pulls up with the girls and the guy I talked to in the van.  She asked me if I want to get warm but I can’t get outside assistance.  Along the road I see many abandoned bikes – riders that got rides from spectators and will come back later for the bike.  Firetrucks and ambulances are also flying by both directions.  I continue to pray for those with hypothermia.  170408_hits_fullaqua_troy_bikeFinally up to the lake and dreaming of getting to my camp for some warm clothes. 

30mi. Supposed to go right but I go back to camp (an extra mile).  I strip off everything and put on all the dry clothes I have left.  I dry out the bags and find 2 more for my hands.  My teammate Caryn is sadly also in her tent but her race is done.  She got so cold she couldn’t use the brakes anymore.  I head back out and the sun is trying to come out.  I’m feeling better. WP_20170408_13_14_28_ProBiking along the lake now.  Trying to pass some people that got ahead while I changed.

40mi.  I remember riding here on the 1/2 Ironman and the Olympic distacne and feeling so good on this up-and-down section but today it feels really hard.  At the turn-around I get water, Hammer Fizz and 2 Hammer gels.  They taste great and I’m really hungry (not a good sign).

WP_20170408_12_20_57_Pro50mi. Feeling warm now. Took my rain jacket off.  Eager to get to my needs bag. I feel softness.  Looking down at my race wheels, the same ones I crashed on 3 weeks ago because I couldn’t see the flat, this time I know what to expect and can tell I’m losing air.  I try to change the tire quickly, but then find my cartrige inflator is missing.  I have no way to inflate the tire.  A girl goes by without saying anything.  After a while a guy (Paul) goes by and lends me his inflator.  I’m going again and pass him a mile later.  I roll into the park, exchange bottles, adjust clothes, and am more optimistic about the 2nd half – WP_20170408_13_22_49_Promaybe it will be faster than the 1st where I lost 2 hrs over my expected time.

60mi.  It’s starting to rain again but I try to go faster towards a patch of blue sky ahead.  Robin and the girls are on the side of the road talking to a motorcyle CHP.  Later they tell me that he WP_20170408_13_56_37_Prowas in charge of the last rider – which was me!  Anna tells me there’s a guy ahead I need to pass.  I pick it up, with even more motivation knowing I’m at risk of missing the cutoff.  Robin tells me there’s a bike tech van ahead with a pump.  I pull WP_20170408_13_57_05_Proover and get my tire topped off.  Now, back to getting out of last place.

70mi.  I pass a guy and hope to pass a couple more way ahead.  I get more Hammer Gels at the turn-around where Robin and the girls are waiting.  They tell me that they helped a number of WP_20170408_14_27_44_Proriders who dropped out due to cold.  it’s been a crazy morning.  It’s raining hard again and I put my FCA jacket, gloves and plastic bags over my hands.   I’m drinking my Sustained Energy about a bottle every 25mi.  I’m getting pretty slow now as my neck, knees and hamstrings hurt.  Very uncomfortable.

80mi.  I trudge back up to Lake Berryessa.  The abandoned bikes have all been picked up.  I’ve now bike farther than any training ride and just have a 24 mi out-n-back to complete.  Hoping to finish before 5pm, still 2 hrs later than expected.  I see Robin and the girls, they have awesome posters they made for me. They’re the best!  I tell them “2 more hours”.

My stomach isn’t feeling that great either.  But I think about the 10 hills and start counting them off.  I try to get in the aero-bars on the descents but my neck hurts. 

90mi. I pass a few guys (they’re all doing the full I believe).  I can’t wait to be done.  I recite Ps 23 (“you make me lie down in green pastures..”)  The Lord is so good.  I know He’ll get me through this and he will take away the discomfort soon.  Just need to focus on Him and not get down.

100mi. I make it triumphantly to the turn-around!  More Hammer Gels.  I ask the guy there to massage my sore neck but that’s a little too personal I guess for him.  Oh well, Press On!  As I leave I see 3 guys coming up behind me.  I make it a goal to stay ahead of them.  The weather is better now and the only difficulty is just getting up each of the 10 rollers.  The lake is pretty, at it’s highest level in years.

110mi.  Only a few miles to go! And then I can rest and be warm forever! (sounds good).  I fly across the bridge and roll down into the park. WP_20170408_17_05_39_Pro I finish about 5:15pm.  Over 10 hrs!  I used to be able to do an entire Ironman in that time.  The girls help pack up my transition just in time for a very powerful cold downpour!  The hardest one yet.  We’re take cover under a tent but I feel for the 3 guys I saw out there behind me.  1 of them comes rolling in but the director says all the others are after the cutoff and will be picked up.  Whew, I just made it in within 15min of the cutoff!  Thank you, Lord!  It felt miserable out there at times but I feel so good to have kept going and finished what I set out to do.  Thank you for allowing me to complete it.