Sunday, March 17, 2019

Auburn Criterium (Troy) 2019

Date/Location: 3/17/19, Auburn
Distance: 40min (14mi)

10th (45+/55+ 3/4’s)
9th (45+ 3/4’s)
2nd (45+ 4’s)

Teammates: Chris DeMattei, Lance Loveday, Robin McKinney, Brian Rouse, Anthony Brantley

I had concerns for last week’s race at Bariani and the Lord answered my prayers and kept me safe.  Well, this week, I’m more concerned.  I feel I should always do this race because it’s in our back yard and put on by our team.  It’s my 4th one (2009 got dropped early,2010 4th & super exciting,2013 4th but barely hanging on).
This course cater’s to my strong points of descending and cornering.  But the technical, narrow turns behind the downtown businesses can bring disaster as well.  A crash at 35mph can send you into a sidewalk curb, with multiple broken bones.  At Monseraet 3 yrs ago I crashed at similar speed on a turn without sidewalks, landed on dirt and still broke 6 ribs and punctured a lung.  I learned lessons from that crash, but the most important one was to slow down.  Not the speed, that was fine, but to slow down in life.  The Lord put this on my heart after that crash and it made sense.  I had been too frantic the week before, and during that race, making quick decisions without being focused on the Lord.  The hasty decision to pass on the inside of that turn without considering the sharper angle was my own fault.  I have a lot of faults, that’s why I need to be focused on God before, during and after a race.  He helps me make good decisions and gives me the strength to carry them out.
This week wasn’t one I’m proud of.  Lost sight of God’s plan a number of times, responded to people in anger, and wasn’t joyful as I should be.  Considering this leading into the scariest race of my season.. no, I do not want to dive through dangerous corners without the Lord. 
I’ve repented, spent time with God, and apologized to family. They’re fully supportive of me and all prayed for me.  This morning the Lord reminded me with verses that He is my strength and refuge and it’s not by my bow but it’s the Lord who is the reason for victory.  I’m committed to keeping my focus on Him throughout the race, listening to Him, and being concerned for others, as He is, not just myself.  Others have fear, too.  I will try to help them with prayer, advice or encouragement, and mostly with not crashing them out – that would be terrible!
I arrive early to be the first on the course. Robin is already there helping our Victory Velo team set up the race.  She’s done with her work and helps me by patrolling the Cherry Ave corner so I can take some fast runs at it.  If she raises a hand it means there is a person, car or object in the way.  Otherwise, I can go full speed through the blind turn.  I descend the hill picking up speed fast and lean into the turn.  I look into the turn, where I want to go, and refuse all the instincts to look at the fast approaching sidewalk on the other side of the road.  Looking there causes the bike to go there.  And if something does happen to cause me to go wide, like debris on the road, a slight mechanical issue, or a wrong angle taken because of another rider, I must fight to stay in the turn.  Fighting means getting the focus back on the target and on God despite everything telling me I’m going to crash.
After a few runs, I hit one perfect, at full speed, and thank God for a great warm-up.  I talk to some teammates and remind them to check their tires before each descent – a low tire is tragic in sharp corners.  I head home to take care of some chores and come back for the race at 9am.  I’ll be able to make church with a fast change after the finish.
Robin & the girls are watching.  The group is large with 3’s and 4’s.  I’m surprised that I’ll be racing with respected teammates like Chris DeMattei and Lance Loveday who I don’t normally because they’re 3’s.  I pray for safety, for success for my teammates, for no crashes and that I’ll focus on God. 
My strategy is still undecided.  All week I’ve wondered if I should lead the descent on the first lap when others are still unsure of the lines and get a gap in hopes to fatigue the others.  But maybe a surge in the corners before others get familiar causes extra risk of someone crashing.  Plan B is to just take it easy a couple laps.  On the Borland stretch before the descent, the decision is made for me.  The large pack is tight and I’m boxed in.  Smiling, and feeling God’s closeness, I know it’s Plan B, just descend with the group (28 mph).
Lap 1. 3:16. Teammate, Anthony, attacked on that first descent getting 10 secs ahead.  I’m definitely intimidated by the 3’s.  I know I don’t have the solid training coming into this and, as I told team owner, Dan Tebbs, beforehand, “I just have to figure out how to get up that hill 13 times with this group”.  The climb is tough and the descent is scary.  I’m mid-pack and this time we go down faster (33 mph).
Lap 2. 2:46. 33 mph in the corner is fast for a pack.  These riders are good.  Different from the 5’s 6 years ago.  The talent around me is impressive.  Being near Lance, Chris, and Anthony makes me nervous.  I don’t want to get in their way and should help them if I can.  I make an effort to know where they are and give them a space to come out or a lead wheel when I can.  Anthony leads and attacks often.  He’s strong and a fast descender.  Chris D. is always in good position and can motor across the top.  Lance makes an attack off the front, which I could never match, so I do my part to block the group as best I can.  We descend (34 mph).
Lap 3. 2:52. The climbs are tough and the group stays large, but I’m able to get near the front.  I’m breathing hard and wonder if I’ll last but if I’m going to lead the descent, I have to be near the front to attack.  I’m now following teammate Brian Rouse [who will go on to win the race].  This time I head down the hill in 4th (32 mph), but in the 2nd sharp corner I’m surprised when a guy passes on the inside. Definitely some daring riders.
Lap 4. 2:48. Ok, I’ve got to try to get off the front.  On Borland, I make a move on the outside.  Others go, too, but I get to the descent first, just barely.  Whoosh! (37 mph) I feel ‘G’ forces push me down to the frame.  A great left turn… followed by a right. Mind focused on God, eyesight focused into the turn.  Feeling fast coming by the Victory Velo shop with the pack strung out behind.  Robin and the girls are cheering loudly.. but it is very short-lived as Ron Fallon, right behind me, quickly sprints by at the line and the rest swallow me up, too, as we start the next lap.  However, I know making them chase will add fatigue and help me later on..

Lap 5. 2:51. I stay near the front again but this time another guy, Don Dumaine, attacks to Cherry Ave, and 2 follow.  They really pull ahead as I try to navigate bikes throught the descent (31 mph).
Lap 6. 2:58. Don continues his attack on the climb and gets 7 secs ahead.  I continue working hard to stay near the front near teammates Anthony and Brian.  I’m with 4 guys descending (33 mph).
Lap 7. 2:42. Don is back now with the group.  Again I descend behind a few guys (32 mph). About 1/2 way done now.  I’m so thankful for my cheering family.  The girls call out that “God’s got your back!” which is so true because I surely can’t guarantee a safe exit from these corners.
Lap 8. 3:08. This time Anthony and another guy, James, attack the climb and get 9 secs ahead by the top of Cherry Ave.  I descend in a tight pack of 4 (32 mph), and, as always, am just glad to get to the bottom without falling.  I’m not concerned that they are still 8 secs ahead.
Lap 9. 2:51. We start to gain on them by the next descent.  Again I come down in a group but push the speed a little more (34 mph).  The pack has gotten smaller.
Lap 10. 2:52. The last faster descent helped.  3 laps to go.  I’m feeling good, and thanking the Lord for being with me and keeping riders safe. The pack is together on the climb.  The group is slowing, conserving energy, but If I’m going to finish well with my weak sprint, I need to keep them pushing.  Anthony and James are back.  I’m setting a faster pace. I’m behind the leader, Anthony, across Borland.  I’m tired but I need to attack the descent.  I pull-around and get there first.  Through the first turn (35 mph), maintain across, hug the 2nd turn, and keep pushing up the straightaway to the line.  With Brian Rouse on my wheel I cross first for my first ever prime!
Lap 11. 2:57. 2 laps to go! I’m breathing hard.  I need to conserve.  Which means following guys in the turns, which is getting scarier.  As the race progresses I notice guys going wider on the turns… it seems fatigue is causing them to lose some focus.  If they judge their line wrong and hit the brakes, it can disrupt my line.  On this descent (29 mph) a couple guys have some close calls.  With the Lord’s help I’m staying focused.
Lap 12. 2:56. On the final lap, everyone ramps it up and I get stuck about 15 back in the climb.  The pace across Borland is painful but the Lord keeps me on a wheel.  I’m going as fast as I can and fortunately stay on that wheel.  This is much different from the cat 5 races I’ve done here in the past.. they weren’t so eager to hit the descent first.  This group knows how important that is.  I move up to 12th as we turn onto the descent.  I pass a guy right before we soar down and through the hard left (34 mph).  I see some sketchy corrections but I force my eyesight to stay on my line.  Clean turn.  Into the 2nd turn, the guy in front of me loses focus, hits brakes and goes wide.  I stay on the inside and move into 10th.  A clean exit and now sprint for all I’m worth.  Thank you, Lord, that I’m on my teamamte, Anthony’s, wheel.  Others are coming up on me but I stay with it and finish 10th right behind Anthony.
Lap 13. 2:34. Wow, that was the fastest lap by 8 secs!  Exhausted but exhilirated!  Thank you Lord for getting me through that safely.  I’m so thankful because I didn’t deserve it but God is faithful and answered my prayers.  I hear that 2 riders did crash in the last turn right behind me.  I pray that they are ok.  After congratulating teammates and prayers with family, I change and am excited to get to church to worship Jesus – I’m so thankful!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Winchester Circuit Bike Race-Anna-2019-1st Bike Race!

Date/Location: March 16th, 2019 – Meadow Vista, CA
Distances: 4 x 4 mile loops
Place: 5th Women Cat 4/5

Before the race starts, I'm getting a little nervous. Thankfully there are only adults racing so I might be able to stay up with them. There are only a few people here, it seems like some didn't show up. When the race director says go, we start to slowly head up the hill. I'm staying with the group but it feels a little difficult just from the beginning. When we get to the top of the hill and start going normal race speed, I draft behind everybody. I'm staying with them pretty well.  We hit a large uphill and I try to shift into my small gear but my shifter isn't working. I fall behind the group a little bit. I finally get it to work but the group is too far away for me to catch up. I try to catch them but I'm not getting anywhere. I see a girl up ahead who is also falling behind the pack and I catch up to her and draft behind her on the down hills. I'm feeling okay because I have someone to bike with. I see my Dad and smile and keep biking. Later we get to a steep downhill.  So far I've been able to go down all the downhills with no brakes. I start going down it with no brakes but there is a tight turn that is scary and I put on my brakes a little bit. When the road straightens out, then I let go of my brakes and coast all the way down. I catch back up to the girl I was biking with. She didn’t brake on that hill. We go up and down and then we hit a large uphill. About halfway up the hill, I can see the finish line for the fourth lap. Ariel and Mom are there and they cheer me on. I keep biking up the rest of the hill.

I get to the top for the second lap. We go downhill and uphill and I feel great. I see a girl up ahead who is falling behind the group. I want to catch up to her. After a little bit, we finally catch up to her. We all bike together.  I see Dad as I'm going downhill. I hope he saw how well I was drafting. I am noticing how the other girl we caught up to is great at descending but not too good at climbing. We get to the steep hill and I again try not to break. When we get to the tight turn it also seems a little slanted. I break a little bit but after the turn, I let go of my brakes. I have to catch back up to the girls because I lost some speed from breaking. I easily catch back up. We go up and down and then get to the steep uphill to the finish line for the 4th lap. We passed the finish line and I see Ariel & Mom cheering me on.

At the top of the hill we just catch up to a girl and she starts to take off.  Since she is such a great descender, she gets away quickly and is soon ahead. I try to speed up to get close to her but cannot. My first partner ends up catching me later. It was almost as if I went hard for nothing. I keep biking with her trying to see if there's any way I can gain more distance on the hills. We got to the steep hill and I try not to break again. But when we came to the turn, I break.  After awhile we get to a steep hill before the finishing hill and I start to pull away. I want to catch up to the girl ahead. I push really hard on the hill and am able to catch up to her before the big finishing hill. I bike past the finish line and see Ariel and Mommy cheering me on.

It is the last lap. As soon as I got to the top of the hill, I try to pull away from the girl that is a good descender but she catches up to me. This time I don’t  let her get away and I draft off her. I stay with her as much as I can on the downhills and stay with her on the uphills. I try to not to pedal as much as she did on the downhills to save energy for the last bit. I am pretty sure I can get her at the end because she is not a strong climber. When I get to the super steep hill I really didn’t want to break at all.  On the way down I don't break! Even so the girl still gains distance ahead of me. I am not worried though because if I can catch her before then I can catch her again. I pedal hard and catch back up. We hit the hill before the finish and I start to pick it up. She tells me to go and finish strong. I push it up the hill and then get a little break on a downhill. I hit the finish pushing really hard. I finish and can't wait to lie down!  Praise The Lord For He Is Good, His Love Endures Forever.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Barini Road Race (Troy)


March 10th, 2019 – Zamora, CA


2  x 20mile loops


10th,   Masters 45+ Cat 4


Paul Brown & Robin McKinney 

My first bike race of the season.  Not many miles under my belt but I did ride extra this last week.  My main concern is not crashing (like I did the last time I was here) or causing a crash.  I know deeply that my best protection comes from the Lord.  With Him I know everything is meaningful, without Him.. I would not enjoy the unpredictability.

Getting near the race site I see the course has changed.  It’s on this main road and groups of pros are finishing up coming towards me.  They look muddy and miserable.  I drive a different route to the parking area and get registered with my number.  Despite my concerns for myself, I stay aware of the volunteers, official, and the many riders that make this possible.  Everyone has their concerns and I want to do whatever possible to appreciate and help others.

I talk to some riders, see teammate, Paul Brown, warm up on the trainer, call Robin and the girls to pray (they’re at home).

Even though the weather is good now, it sounds like the road is muddy and slippery in sections.  I’ll have to be extra careful.

Lining up, I also see teammate, Robin McKinney.

Go!  I’m careful to pay attention early on to keep from getting dropped like I did years ago.  The pace is easy.  What a relief.  On the backside there are big potholes full of water.  I hit one unexpectantly and it really jars the bike.  That can cause a pinch flat which is what caused my crash last time.  After many glances at my tire and bouncing myself, I feel confident it isn’t flat. 

The pace is still very manageable but thinking about racing tips I realize 1) I shouldn’t be this far back – more risk of crashes and 2) if the pace doesn’t pick up, it will be dangerous at the finish.  Suddenly there is confusion at the front near an intersection.  Some go the wrong way through it while us at the back make the right turn.  This puts me up near the front.  Official has us go neutral to re-group.  Thank you, Lord, for improving my position.

Rolling hills feel good to me.  Despite being out of shape, I’m pleasantly surprised I’m surging well on the rises.  I stay near the top 10. 

We descend, there’s some changes of position, and then I hear a noticeable thump which I register quickly as the chilling sound of someone crashing into the pavement without notice.  With the wind and speed we’re going I can’t look back but I ask those around me if there was a crash and nobody seems to know.  I hope it wasn’t but I have a feeling it was and immediate concern that somehow I caused it.  I think about how your year can change instantly just with someone’s sudden move or loss of focus.  A sad thought.  I pray for whoever it was if it was a crash.

We turn onto the entrance road and hit some tough little hills.  The front group surges and although I do well up the last KOM climb, they push at the top and I can only hold onto 1 wheel in front of me and he’s lost the group as well.  But he pushes hard and thankfully bridges up, bringing me, too.  Whew!  It settles down and everyone looks back to see that the 10 of us have a gap.

Onto lap 2 the lead pack starts a rotating pace line.  Thank you, Lord, because this means we won’t be attacking each other, but rather working together.  I don’t know if my legs can take any more attacks.  It’s a great paceline!  Some guys pull through too hard but I keep voicing directions to ease up so not to punish the guy that just pulled you.  They listen and one-by-one, everyone starts getting it.

In the rollers (my friends) it’s going well.  But then a Folsom Bike guy pulls through too hard.  I tell him that if he doesn’t ease back he’ll be forced to lead.. he doesn’t so I get behind him and he pulls quite a ways.  Very strong.  I’m not that strong so am careful to only pull a short bit. 

We get to the spot where I heard the “crash” sound and sure enough, there are 2 ambulances and we have to come to a stop to let them finish up and pull out.  I’m so sad to hear that 3 guys went down hard and only now are being transported to the hospital.  Some in our group are complaining that we have to stop, possibly losing our lead, but I try to remind us all that some guys got really hurt.  I spend more time praying for them and their families that are probably getting news and rushing to the hospital.

We roll again and hit the entrance road with the final hills pending.  I know this is where moves will be made.  I feel confident for the hills.  But the lead out is a fast pace and I’m already struggling.  The official tells us to go neutral (ease up) on the hills because some Cat 5’s are passing us.  Whew!  Thank you, Lord, another reprieve.  However, even with the slow down I still get dropped on the KOM climb.   My legs just had enough.  At the top I struggle along with the group way out in front.  I still give it all I’ve got knowing that any moment I could go from 10th to last if the chase pack catches and it would be a lot of work for nothing.  Go, go, go.  It hurts just like the marathon.  Finally, the finish!  I cross without the chase pack catching me and am so happy to hold on to an undeserving 10th.  God truly answered my prayers with protection, helping me into position, and giving me more strength than expected. 

After calling Robin and the girls, the last thing I pray for is some knowledge that it wasn’t me that causes that terrible crash.  Just 5 minutes after the call and prayer, I meet up with some Folsom Bike racers that tell me that it was a Rio Strada rider that caused it right near them and they even confronted him with it during the ride.  Still so sad but a relief that I didn’t cause it.  I still pray that they recover well and have no lasting injuries from it.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Chanoko 5 Miler–Anna-2019


3/9/19 – Auburn to Granite Beach


5 Miles




1st Female, 1st in AG (14 & Under Females); 4th Overall Woman


31K: Robin Soares; 50K: Ardelle Seely

I am getting ready to go. I take off my jacket and give it to dad. The yellow fuzz that was on the inside of the jacket is stuck to my black arm warmers. It’s not that bad because it matches my FCA outfit. I get to the start and I'm ready to go. I’m going to try to do a 7:10 pace.

10, 9, 8, … 3, 2, 1, Go!!!! I start running, one of the runners takes off sprinting.  I don't think he's going to hold that pace all the way through. I start running up the hill and turn on to the levy at the top. I run across the Levy feeling strong. I am keeping my 7:10 pace and think I will be able to keep it all the way, maybe. In the beginning, there are trails with water and I have to jump over them. It takes up some of my energy. We start going up some hills and down others. At mile 1, I am starting to feel tired. I am not staying with 7:10 but I am not really worried because I planned that I might not be able to keep the pace.

There is a steep uphill which tires my legs out and then another steep uphill which also tires out my legs. My stomach starts to feel bad and it's somewhat slowing me down. I try not to slow down, but my pace gets slower. I am keeping a 7:40 which isn’t that bad.  I then run on a trail that goes by a beautiful beach. Even though the view is great, the hills and downhills never stop. I am getting tired and I think I should have drank more water. When I finally get to the last 2 miles, I'm excited because the turnaround should be coming up soon. I start to look for the man who sprinted ahead, because if he kept up the pace he should be coming back by now. I see him shortly and tell him good job. A man passes me but I don't mind. I just try to keep going my pace. After a while, I see the turnaround at the top of a hill.

I get to the top and turn around and start to run back. As I am running back, I see all the people behind me.  I don't see any women close to me and so maybe I'll be the first woman! Although I'm feeling content whatever place I get, all I need to do is focus on God.  My pace is a 7:55 but I don't let it get me down and keep running hard for God. In the Bible, it talks about how we should give our all for God and that's what I'm going to try to do today, even though I'm going slower then expected. 

After about a half a mile another guy passes me, but I keep him in sight. I think about maybe I can pass him in the end, but I am content if I don't.  We get to a steep hill and he starts walking, but I decide not to walk because I want to run the entire thing. Even though I am running up the hill, I am going the same pace as he is walking. At the top of the hill we keep running and then hit another hill. He walks again but I run. My stomach still doesn't feel well but I don't slow down. 

I'm about a mile and a half away now.  I remember that my cross country races are that long. But a mile and a half seems longer now then when it did during cross-country. The man starts to pull ahead I'm not worried about trying to stay with him. At a mile left I try to pick it up. I get to an aid station and get water. I drink some and pour the rest on my head.  About .6 miles away from the finish, I start to smile for no reason and feel new energy. I'm sure it's a gift from God. I have an average of 8-minute pace but I'm going faster than 8-minute pace now with my new energy. My shoe comes untied, but I don't stop to tie it. I turn into a parking lot and I see the man far ahead of me, I don't mind.  I think of God and keep running. As I get close to the end of the parking lot, I see kids running the happy kids duathlon. I can see that I am running on the same trail as they're on. I check the time and know that I won't be able to see Ariel because she's probably already on the bike. I look behind me and see no women. Even though I won't get my goal time,  I'll get a good place.

I hit the trail and now am .4  from the finish line. I start to run faster.  I pass some kids doing the duathlon and keep running.  There's a big puddle up ahead and only one way to get around it. There is a kid in front and she lets me go first. I yell back “thank you”, that was really nice of her!  I can now see the long straight away to the finish. I hit the straightaway and start to pick it up. I pass a few kids running. As I get closer I see my Dad. I see the finish and start to sprint.  I feel really happy and smile. I sprint in and point to God to give the credit to him, for he helped me finish. I pushed the last mile and was able to get my average pace down to 7:55.

Praise the Lord for he is good His love endures forever.


Happy Kids Du #4–Ariel -2019

Date/Location: 3/9/19, Granite Bay
Distance: 1mi R – 3miB – 1mi R
Time: Ariel: 30:00 (Previous PR 29:58)
Place: Ariel: 2nd, 9 & 10 Year Old Girls

1st Run

10, 9, 8 … 3, 2, 1, Go! I run straight trying to stay with Kiali. She is faster than she was last time. I feel like this pace will be hard to keep but I know if I go slower, she will get farther away from me. The wind makes it tough but I keep trying to catch up to Kiali. She is so fast every time that when I try to get closer, I just seem to stay in the same place. We turn on the trail. It’s really muddy. I try to keep Kiali in sight. Sometimes I start to feel I can pass but then can’t. I go down a hill and I remember from last time I raced on this trail that it was a flat dry spot but when I come to it, it’s not dry. It looks like a lake! But good thing there is a path around it. I go up a hill and down a hill. There are two boys behind me. I run faster to get them farther away from me. I run through some rocks and see Daddy. I run down the long path to transition.


I bike out of transition hoping to pass Kiali. Then I go down a hill. I go on the long flat road. By the road, there is road work going on and there is a big tractor there. I see her up ahead. I bike faster but the wind is tough. I come to this big turn then up and down some hills. Then I come to this big turnarund which is a large turn that goes up and down. I start to go around a tight corner and then all of a sudden this lady comes around it at the same time on my side of the road! She is on the wrong side and good thing she didn’t bump into me but she went straight into the boy behind me. I go back on the up and down hills. And back to the big turn. I keep biking and get on the long road. Then I go down the hill and into transition.

2nd Run

I run out of transition. My foot starts to hurt and it starts to get hard to breathe. There is a wind that seems to follow me around. I run straight trying to stay close to Kiali. The wind makes it tough but I keep trying to catch up to Kiali. She is so fast every time I try to get closer, I just seem to stay in the same place. We turn on the trail. It’s really muddy. I try to keep Kiali in sight but that’s not going too well because my foot has started hurting a lot. I go down a hill and see the puddle that looks like a lake. I go around it again. I go up a hill and down a hill. My foot is really hurting. There are two boys behind me so I run faster to get them farther away from me. I run through some rocks and see Daddy. I run down the long path to transition. I am happy to be the 2nd girl.


2nd In Age Group


2nd In Series


Chanoko 31K–Robin-2018, 4th Year!


3/9/19 – Auburn to Granite Beach


31K (Approx 19.5 Miles)* – *GPS cut out on watch




1st (40-49 Females); 4th Overall Woman


5 Mile: Anna Soares; 50K: Ardelle Seely

I’ve been at the starting line of this race 4 years in a row!  Each year it seems to get harder to get pumped up for this race.  I’m not very excited about being on the trails for over 3 hours.  I do know God’s creation will be beautiful out there even with the mud I’ll likely find.

I see Troy and the girls off from home before 7am.  Anna is racing the Chanoko 5 Miler in Granite Beach at the same time I start my race up here in Auburn and Ariel has her last duathlon in the Happy Kids Du series.  We pray together before we part ways.  So comforting!  Troy tells me that they will communicate with me on our walkie-talkie app Zello.  The girls did the same for Troy in the last mile of his marathon at Napa last week.  I’m looking forward to hearing about the girl’s results while I’m running! I drive myself to the start just a few miles from home this year.   

At the starting line I run into Ardelle Seely from our track group.  So nice to see her smiling face!  She’s doing the 50K!  Wow, I have great respect for those going that distance! Seems so much farther than my 31K!  Funny how ultra folks continue to try to convince me that the longer distances are easier.  Not going to happen!  Sure, you are running a slower pace, but you are out there for a really, really long time.  To me, the time spent on the trails seems much harder than the actual pace.  Last year I put my goal time between 9:34 to 10:08 pace.  I’ll see what happens today.  Hope to be below 10:08 pace!

Ready, set, go!  The first 3 miles is basically downhill so I want to capitilize on it and use gravity and put some fast miles in the bucket.  Got to be careful not to overdo it and wipe myself out!  Two women are ahead of me.  One is only wearing shorts and a tank top!  The rest of us seem to be wearing gloves and beanies.  I guess she’s cold resistant!

Just after 2 miles, I hit Stu’s Trail.  After running on asphalt and packed gravel, it’s the first trail we run on.  It’s good practice before the technical stuff comes.  I’m averaging around 8:10 pace. 

Going down Cardiac Bypass is tough with small boulders but I get into a good grove.  I run past the picnic bench where Troy and the girls set up an anniversary breakfast overlooking the canyon below.  A runner in front of me enjoys the view as well and takes a quick snapshot of the scene. 

Soon we merge with Cardiac trail and continue down.  I hit a patch of mud and feel myself slipping.  It’s a scary moment where I think I’m about to tumble down the hill. I recover and immediately thank God for His protection!

I make it to the river and am averaging 8:20 pace.  Funny to be at a slower pace at the bottom of the hill but the terrain on the way down was not smooth.  I pass a woman and now I’m in 2nd.  Soon after a guy passes me and he’s flying.

This part of the trail along the river to Rattlesnake Bar is my favorite.  I don’t feel like I’m enjoying it as much as I like because I am really too focused on not getting stuck behind someone, or worse, someone getting stuck behind me. I also am feeling fatigue from two nights of not getting enough sleep. 

The guy in front of me snaps some more pictures on our way.  I’m pretty amazed how quickly and smoothly he takes the shots! I hear Troy on Zello tell me that Anna was first female overall and that Ariel has a half mile left to go in her race and is in a close 2nd. Yay!  A little later I hear my phone ring and I think it’s from our caregiver agency… possibly with an issue concerning Troy’s dad, Al (Pappy), at home.  I don’t answer it because they are supposed to call Troy next. 

Miles 4 and 5 have some tough climbs.  I go from 8:23 to 9:00 to 9:27 pace.  10:08 pace is not too far away!  I hope I can hold on.  I remind myself to focus on the Lord. 

Miles 6 and 7 are pleasant and with few climbs.  My pace goes up to 9:33 and then back down to 9:31. There is a woman getting closer and I am feeling pressue to stay ahead.  I start to think more about myself and results.  I feel tense.  There are quite a few runners doing a training run in the opposite direction.  They are very gracious and pull over.  They will have to do this a lot in the next several miles.  It must be a bit frustrating!

I make it to the PG&E hydro electric station.  The trail is wide, flat and smooth.  The woman is right behind me now.  I try to use this flat spot to pick it up to bring my pace down a bit.  As I’m about to hop back on the trails to Rattlesnake bar, there are two gals cheering.  “Yay, it’s the 2nd and 3rd women”.  In my heart, I am not really happy but groaning.  I hardly even notice my favorite little spot, Avery’s Pond.  I’m just pushing to stay ahead. 

I make it to Rattlesnake Bar and the trails narrow further.  I tell the gal behind me to let me know when she needs to pass.  I just sense she’s itching to get around me. She cheerfully says no and that it’s a good pace.  I feel more stress.  I further feel stress as I wonder why I haven’t heard from Troy on Zello.  Hoping nothing went wrong at home with Pappy

Soon, we hit a mud bog.  This spot is always muddy so I’m not totally shocked.  This spot is wide.  The gal goes by and takes off.  I tell her good job and feel some relief.  However, I am not being happy for her or having joy in my heart.  I’m at mile 9 and at 9:34 pace.  I stop at the aid station to get my bottle filled up and tuck in my shoe lace on my right foot.

53541723_10157057374874437_8050954503165313024_nTrying to stay ahead of 10:08 pace is obviously a loosing battle.  By mile 12, I’m at 9:54 pace.  I must be approaching the Meat Grinder.  I never really know where it is exactly.

The next mile is a tough climb that ends at an aid station. I smile to the volunteers as I pass on aid.  I notice they have Coke.  I hope to see that at future aid stations. 

I’ve been ahead of the guy taking pictures but he passes me.  Soon I come upon the guy who flew by me at mile 4 and pass him. 

I’m now at 10:07 pace at Mile 13 and feel pretty discouraged.  I come around a corner and loose my footing and fall down.  It’s not a bad fall and nothing seems hurt but it shakes me up emotionally.  I just feel like quitting.  I start to tear up and get mad.  I could walk and call Troy to get me but I ask the Lord to help me to just keep going and just keep trying.  Lord, I need you!

Mile 14 and 15 are technical and must be the Meat Grinder.  I’m at 10:26 pace, ugh!  I am trying to get my legs moving but it’s just really hard.  The legs are really hurting now.  The photo guy pulls away.  He has an amazing ability to run these tough sections.  Another girl passes me.  Forth woman now but maybe some of those girls ahead are doing the 50K. 

Just past mile 16 I’m at Doton’s point parking area.  There is an aid station there and I grab Coke.  I see the girl that just passed me come out of the bathrooms and head off towards the 50K turn off.  The camera guy also takes the 50K route.  So maybe I’m the 3rd girl?  I’m wondering why I haven’t heard from Troy and I’ve convinced myself that something happened with Pappy.  I pull out my cell phone and call him.  I don’t get him but he calls me back.  I told him I was worried that something happened and he tells me everything is ok.  I tell him it’s so hard and that my legs are hurting.  He assures me that that is normal for the end of a marathon effort and to just keep pushing through.  I tell him I’ll see him in 20 min because I have 2 miles to go.

My watch tells me I’m at 10:38.  I’m so discouraged but I just keep pushing and asking God to keep me focused, keep pushing through the pain and help me have a better attitude. 

It seems like the end of the race is near!  I’m surprised because I’m just over 18 miles.  This is supposed to be close to 20 miles.  Sure enough the finish is near!  I’m so ready to be done but worried I missed some of the course somehow.  I don’t see Troy and the girls as I approach the finish.  I didn’t think I would be done yet!  I cross the finish.  I ask the TBF race folks if my distance of 18.6 is correct and they say 19.5-ish so close enough.  Well, thank you God for helping to finish this tough day!  I love You!

Soon the family comes running over and gives me big hugs.  So nice to be reunited!  

Follow-up: After looking back on Strava I discovered that my watch’s GPS failed the last 4 miles of the run.  I actually averaged around 10:13 pace!  While I thought I was going signiificantly slower than last year, I was actually going faster!  Out of all 4 years, this was my second fastest time!  Thanking God for a great result and asking Him for forgiveness for my bad attitude.  Lesson learned, keep persevering for Christ and you might be pleasantly surprised!  Thank you Lord for an improvement over last year!  And, Troy and the girls were talking to me on Zello.  The connection must have been bad and I never heard their encouragement and results of Ariel’s exciting race.  Another lesson to never assume the worst!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Napa Marathon 2019, Troy


3/3/19 – Calistoga to Napa, CA


Marathon (26.2 Miles)




14th of 120 (50-54 Men), 113 of 954 men overall.


friends: Sam Louie

Another family tradition.. spend the night in Calistoga and then one of us runs the Napa Marathon in the morning. This time it’s my turn.  However sickness and injury curtailed my training so neither Robin nor I are feeling confident about this.  But I am confident that the Lord will be with me and will help me because He has EVERY time.  Without the proper training more will hurt, more will go wrong, and there will be more temptation to slow down.  But that is when I become so reliant on God, when I know I can’t do it on my own.

The 4 of us have a great time in the giant hot tub outside the hotel.  The room itself is fun with the the kids immediately building a fort and sleeping area.  Reading my story about my last Napa Marathon 2 years ago I recall the hip injury I had and the stiffness right from the start of the race.  The Lord made that race go amazingly well.  Although under-trained, the nice thing is I don’t have an injury this time!


After a good night’s sleep, we wake up to no rain!  The start is 7:30, a 1/2 hour later because of a 1/2 marathon they’ve added this year.  After a 1/2 mi jog from the hotel I’m at the start w/Robin & I the girls and we meet up with Sam Louie.  Sam does have an injury.  We all pray together and desire to focus on the Lord and maintain an attitude of appreciation no matter what.

Go! I start between the 3:20 and 3:25 group. My goal is 3:25-3:29.  3:29 is what I could expect from the training I did, barring any sudden injury.  I see Robin and the girls a little down the road.  They are a huge support!  There’s a lot of good runners.  It’s humbling thinking of all the hard work people have put in over the months in order to run strong today.  My phone in my rt. pocket is bouncing against my hip. Annoying but hopefully I’ll get used to it.  It’s the best way for the family to track me.

Mile 1. 7:35. Feels good. It’s supposed to. Don’t let this feeling result in going out too fast. The 3:20 group is a ways ahead. Tempting but not right. Temperature good. FCA shirt, arm warmers, FCA beenie, gloves, shorts.  May rain towards end but not a problem.

Mile 2. 7:40. My goal pace should be 7:45 at best to 7:55 max in order to break 3:30.  I accounted for the 2 extra minutes this course seems to always add.  However, this time I’m going to hug each turn in the road to see if it really is 26.2.

Mile 3. 7:36. Because I’m behind the 3:20 crowd, there’s no one around me which makes it easy angling from one side of the road to the other. There are a lot of turns. Countryside is always beautiful.  Although the vineyards are extra soggy this year.  I hear the pacer ahead telling his runners about the advantage of running the tangents.  However, in a group, they aren’t able to really maximize the shortcuts.

Mile 4. 7:41. I’m under my “best” pace, which feels good, but could also be a warning.  I’m right behind the 3:20 goup and think to myself, “I’m in with a bad crowd, but it’s so tempting”. Not that they are bad, they’re just bad for me Smile

The mile markers are closer to my Garmin distance which means I’m not adding distance in the turns.  It really does make a difference. Although it’s tough on the ankles because of the camber.  I remember this spot a few years ago when I had to lie down and stretch every 4 mi.  Even that was a great race thanks to the Lord! 

A young lady goes flying by like she’s in a relay.  Wow, perhaps she started late.  I wonder if I could catch her down the road.  No, it looks like she’s keeping that fast pace.  Super strong.

Mile 5. 7:53. I see a funny sign, “Make Running Grape Again!”.  It makes me smile thinking of all the creativity that goes into helping runners get to the finish.  The 3:20 group is pulling ahead a little.  I need to conserve.

Mile 6. 7:53. I prepare for a quick bathroom break. It feels good to stop, but must keep pushing.  Only 30secs lost.  I can still see the group ahead.


Mile 7. 8:01. I hit 8min pace because of the short stop. That’s ok.  My rt hip is a little sore.  Is the bouncing phone causing me to compensate? I try to ignore it.

Mile 8. 7:40. I see a funny sign with a picture of Dory from Finding Nemo, “I’m never running again.  Oh, look, a race!” and another one, “A tough run always ends, but tough runners keep going”.  I’m drinking at every aid station.  Water and food are very important.  Group is about 20 secs ahead.

Mile 9. 7:43. I’m so glad to see Robin & the girls [@ Pope St].  I tell them I’m doing good and they’re excited to see how close to 3:20 group I am.

Mile 10. 8:00.  My rt hip is really starting to hurt now.  I’m steadily slowing.  I hear the 3:25 group coming up behind me.  I think that I can join them when they swallow me up.  But instead they overtake me and keep going.  Oh, no, this is bad.  Not using all cylinders.  8min pace is hard. Could get worse and change the race dramatically.  But this is exactly the type of moment I knew would come.  Where I must pray, trust God, and not give up hope.  I pray earnestly.

Mile 11. 7:59.  I see Robin & the girls [@ Zinfandel] and tell them they can now pray for my rt. hip, and also my foot arch.  I know they are praying.  And they can see the situation because instead of being with the 3:20 group, I’m now behind the 3:25 group.  I pick out a spot ahead and stop to stretch my hip and pray.  Starting up again, I’m surprised how much better it feels.  I push it a bit and it holds.  Thank you, Lord!  Now, to try to catch the group..

Mile 12. 8:24. I’m matching the 3:25 pace but not benefitting from the group because they’re 20 secs ahead.  I’ve got to push harder, breathe harder, faster turn-over.  This takes a lot of faith!

Mile 13. 7:29. I see the starting area of the 1/2 Marathon.  I’d like to feel like I was fresh, just starting a 1/2 Marathon now but the truth is.. this is going to be tough.  1:42:39 for the 1/2.  I’m gaining on the group now after a good mile, but a hill comes and they pull ahead.  This tells me I’m near my max and they have extra energy to maintain pace on the hill.  I try to max the downhills to gain on them.


Mile 14. 7:45. I eat a Hammer Gel.  A little early, but I need it.  Creative pitstop goes well. I push really hard and finally catch up to the group!  Thank you, Lord!  Being with a crowd is very helpful.  The methodic beat of the dozen feet around me makes it easier to pace.  If I start to fall back, I quickly get near for fear of being left behind.  It’s tough but gotta stay with them.

Mile 15. 7:29. A steady hill.  This time I stay with them.  The pacer tells us good job on the hill.  When I go for water the pacers also go for water but they drop back a little to give us room.  They seem worry-free & unstoppable to me, but seeing them getting water makes me realize they’re human, too, and must be careful to do everything right to get the job done.  They catch back up and lead us again on the steady, unchanging pace. I see my family again [Oakville Rd], tell Robin thanks for the prayers, the hip is feeling better and give her a kiss.  Anna & Ariel are running and taking videos of me at the same time Smile

Mile 16. 7:56. The mile markers are getting farther away from my Garmin miles.  We are limited to only 1 side of the road now.  Does the official course use both sides of the road?  I eat a Hammer Gel and tell myself just 3 mi to my favorite mile.  I try to envision the face of Jesus surrounded by His glory.  The more I do, the better I feel.  When I feel confident and try to push the pace, it starts to hurt, and so go back to focusing on Jesus. 

Mile 17. 7:51. A good downhill now. Just 2 miles.  Like my neighborhood run with Anna.  I see a guy walking.  He’s says it’s ok but I tell him I’m praying for him.  I do and I wonder how his race is going to turn out.

Mile 18. 7:30. I eat a Hammer Gel. My favorite mile 20 is coming up but I want to be ready for it.  I stop again for a quick stretch.  I know it’ll be hard to catch back up, especially on a climb, but I can do it.

Mile 19. 7:45.  Yes! This marks the start of my favorite section, the climb to the “wall”.  Most dread this part but a couple years ago God gave me a tailwind and it felt so good it left a lasting good memory.  It’s also downhill after this!  I catch the group, even on a hill!  Thank you, Lord!  That’s a huge boost for me.

Mile 20. 7:37.   Over the top I celebrate to myself and pull a little ahead making the most of the downhill. I know these next 3 miles are hard!  With the group again I focus on the Lord while also making sure to stay in step with the 20 pounding feet around me.  Now it’s all flat to the 23mi turn..


Mile 21. 7:37. Hard miles for me. Sustained by God.  Looking forward to the police lights indicating the turn at mile 23.  That’s where I bear down and race it in.  2 years ago that approach worked great.

Mile 22. 7:47. Going good, just hang in there. Can’t wait to see my family.. there they are!  I tell them it really hurts now but I have to keep focused on Jesus.  I won’t see them again until the end.  Ok, the turn, and now I need to start pushing.  It hurts the same but I’ll get down faster.

Mile 23. 7:46.  With eyes practically closed, I turn it on.  Go, go, go.  I find myself a little ahead of the group.  But must stay the course.  Consistent.  It will be over soon.  I see a guy walking who looks like he was fast.  I pray for him.  Only 2 miles to go!


Mile 24. 7:52. There’s a guy I’m pacing off of but he’s pulling ahead.  I feel like I’m going so fast but It’s the same pace I started with.  I can’t wait for the turn to the final mile.  I’ll being able to think of that like the final interval at our track workouts.

Mile 25. 7:54.  Ok, this is it.  Eyes practically closed.  Slightly raining.  People cheering from their houses.  And then I hear Robin’s voice, “You’re almost there, Troy. Keep pushing. You can do it. I love you.”  Wow!  She’s using the walkie-talkie app on my phone to encourage me from far away.  And then I hear her say it again.  I thank God for the wondersul support my wife gives me and it fills me with determination to give it all I’ve got.  Right as I start picking it up I hear Anna coming through my phone as well, “Allright, Dad, you got this, run for God, you’re a ‘Try-Hard’”  Ah, that is so sweet!  I’m flying down the road now.  Into the neighborhood.  Both legs are hurting. 

Mile 26. 7:43. Around corner.  There’s Robin and Ariel!  I yell at Robin, “That encouragement on my phone was so helpful!”.  Then I see that young lady I last saw at mile 5.  She’s running slower now as I go by into the final 100 yds of the race.  Down the finish chute I’m so greateful for the Lord’s help through the day.  The hard work is over.  I smile and point up and throughly enjoy crossing that line.

Wow! Under the goal by a minute.  Such a surprise.  1:41:18 for the 2nd 1/2. Negative split by a minute.  When the hip slowed me at mile 10 I was sure the rest would be slower.  Thanks, God.


After the race I tell my family how much the walkie-talkie encouragements from Robin and Anna helped me.  But Robin tells me that she didn’t talk to me, that only Anna had the phone and she was at a different location.  I don’t know if God had me hear her voice or how it was, but it was a burst of encouragement hearing her words.. however it was that i heard them.  Thanks you, Lord.