Sunday, July 28, 2019

Ironman Lake Placid (Troy)

Date/Location: 7/28/19 – Lake Placid, NY
Distances: 2.4m S – 112m B – 26.2m R
Time: 13:12:00 (1:11:18 – 9:27 – 6:52:18 – 6:05 – 4:52:51)
Place: 71st/224 (50-54 age group)
Teammates: FCA – Robert Palmer

Much concern going into this race.  Learned a lot from June Lake Triathlon 2 weeks ago – to have faith and a better attitude. So even though I have Achilles bursitis on my right heal which has impeded running for months, I’m having a good attitude and trusting God for this race.

My family has been very helpful and supportive in training and the week leading to the race.  Robin got us a great suite near the race site and continues cooking us great healthy meals.

Lake Placid is a great venue!  Ice rink where the 1980 “Miracle” hockey team played.  Oldest (since 1999) Ironman other than Hawaii.  Easy single-transition staging near the lake.  And beautiful dense green forested hills.

Race plan is (physically) relax and conserve until the run, (spiritually) remember “It’s not my race” and trust God that it will get better even when it looks bad (ministry) look for opportunities to share my hope with others, (nutritionally) drink, fuel and salt a lot to prevent energy loss.  The key is to focus on the Lord which ensures everything will work out for good, this is His will for me (Prov 3:6 “in all your ways submit to Him and he will make your paths straight”, Rom 8:28 “..all things work for good for those who love God..” , 1 Thes 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will..”)

Last run: 2mi with Anna out-n-back on the steepest climb into town.  My heel hurts.  I use my speed-walking technique.  It’s tough but June Lake was steeper and, as a result, very encouraging.

Last ride: 10mi to Goldie Locks and the 3 bears hills. At first, I get lost and end up on a golf course and then on a mtn bike trail.  Resist getting frustrated and remember God’s good plan.

Swim.  1.2mi swim with Robin & Anna.  Very relaxed and it goes great!  There is a cable which is wonderful and relaxing to follow.

FCA Iron Prayer:  I get the honor to speak, along with 3 others.  Because I know an Ironman can be full of dark, disheartening moments of wanting to quit, my encouragement was to faithfully give the race to God so you can be assured it will work out for good.  This has played out for me multiple times.  When I give up.. I regret it.  When I continue to have hope in the Lord, surprising wonderful things happen, like feeling better, running faster, or seeing the reason behind something that didn’t seem good at the moment.

Race morning: I spend time reading the Bible. My reading plan, Luke 1, is about the Lord’s instruction for the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ and the angel says to Mary, “Anything is possible with God.” – which is posted on the Ironman signs at the start.. except for key part about God. 

Robin walks with me to the start.  I’m not as clear race-minded as past Ironmans.  I forget what goes in which bags and some things I’m going to need.  But I do remember an emergency trash bag for rain & cold, I feel comfortable with the arm-warmers plan for the ride (water temp about 67 and same for air temp when starting the ride), and I have lots of Vitargo for the bike and run.


Goals: 1:12 s – 8:00 t1 - 6:22 b – 7:00 t2 - 4:58 r – 12:47 total


The Swim (goal 1:12 and relaxed)

I spot Ariel in pink in the crowd before the start! My goggles are fogged up even though I got a complimentary treatment from a vendor sporting the best anti-fog on the market.


I’m in the 1:10 wave and looking forward to a relaxing swim.  However, with 2,500 athletes, I soon find that it is crowded throughout the swim!  I try to get near the cable but everyone wants to be there and it’s crazy.  Despite arms flying on both sides, feet kicking in front and hands hitting me from behind, I try to relax to the turn. 

1100yds.  At the turn I start to think, “this isn’t so bad, It’ll be easier now..” and bam! someone hits my inflamed achilles bursa.  Ow!  The pain lasts for about 5 minutes.  And then bam!  hit in the goggles, but  fortunately they didn’t fill with water.  I have to laugh and stay on guard.  I’m remembering to focus on God and trust that this is HIS race, not mine (because anything God does turns out well).  Looking at my watch I’m right on my 1:12 goal pace.

I’ve been relaxed and conserving.  But on the way back I want to swim the cable so make a push ahead of a group and get there. Yes!  Near the cable and don’t have to sight.  It’s beautiful and relaxing.. the best way to swim.

2200yds. 1st lap done.  The turn around the dock is super congested.  This is where we run (I walk.. my foot hurts plus staying relaxed) across the beach and start the 2nd lap.  Surely I can get near the cable now.  Sometimes I get it but I guess 1:12 pace is just a popular goal.  So many swimmers and it seems none are satisfied where they are at.


With the rash guard on I’m a little warm.  I let in some cool water periodically.  I continue to keep my legs high, relaxed arms, and take calculated breathes when the coast is clear (so not to get punched).  I follow drafts, which haven’t been hard to find in this crowd. 

3300yds. 15 min to go and I assess: I’ve stayed relaxed, my hands don’t feel strained like the last Ironman, and heart rate is lower.  I’m still getting pushed around by other swimmers.  Suddenly my Garmin watch is feeling loose.  Under the water I look to see the strap is 1/2 way broken!  It had broken in 2 places a couple days ago and I super-glued it.  Now an expensive part of my race is 1 glue joint away from sinking to the bottom of the lake.  Immediately I stroke gingerly with my left arm while pulling harder with my right.  Trying to keep away from the many flailing arms around me… one blow to my wrist is all it would take.  I pray.  I feel content with it.  I’m trying and I feel the Lord will take care of me.  Now just a few more yards to… the Garmin is still there…


4400yds, Finish. (1:11:18, 49th plc, 500th overall) I’m standing on sand! 

T1 (goal 8:00)

I pull my wetsuit sleeve carefully off and wetsuit strippers yank all the neoprene off of me.  Thank you, Lord for a nice swim.  Many are running but I walk.  My foot does hurt but I’m fine with fast-walking.  A few others do, too.  I lube up, arm-warmers, fuel, sunscreen and take my bike to the mount line.. (9:27 T1)

The Bike (goal 6:22 and fuel and stay limber)

It’s a fast, zig-zag route down out of town.  Pretty technical and exhilirating.  I see my family on the way out.


Soon we’re climbing and it’s longer than I imagined.  Robin rode the course yesterday and really liked it.  I feel slow but I remember the same feeling at Boulder.  There will be faster sections later.  Just trust and take it easy.

Mile 7. (63rd plc) I see Winter Olympics sights like the long jump ramp, the biathlon shooting range, and many flags.  Pretty cool. 


Mile 9.  flying down a descent (270ft) followed by breathtaking views of dark lakes shadowed by lush-green forests shooting straight up alongside granite cliffs.  Beautiful.


Mile 11.  An even better (1100 ft) descent!   4 miles of 39 mph surrounded by beauty.  Staying relaxed and not trying to maximize speed, just enjoying the ride.  It’s an easy gradual descent along a scenic river to mile 25.  My rt hamstring feeling a little tight but by rocking my hips to the rt more it feels better. 

Mile 26.  (67th plc) As we climb Hwy 86 I’m feeling optimistic about my new riding position.  Suddenly my rt knee starts to hurt!  This happened during a training ride last month and got bad enough where the rt leg was useless. Climbing speed was cut in half.  I pray and remember to trust God.  Having an injury that could flare up any moment and cause misery is a sure way to keep me relying on God!


Mile 29. The 8 mile out-n-back on Hazelton Rd is cool!  Along a river on smooth rollercoaster-like roads, sandwiched by dense dark forests, with endless bikes speeding in both directions!  The only thing not great is my knee getting a little worse.

Mile 40.  We go through the town of Wilmington.  People out cheering.  I’m supposed to be going easy but am now standing.. that’s because I need a porta-potty and can’t find one.  Good news is I’m drinking a lot of fluids!  Temperature is great, when it gets too warm, a dark cloud comes over or a cool breeze. 

Mile 43. (84th plc) I get my break at an aid station and also stretch both legs.  Now for the 12 mile climb back to town.  The highway is beautiful, along the West Branch Ausabie River.  Wind is picking up in our face, trying to bring thunder clouds with it.

Mile 51. Goldie Locks and the 3 bears (4 little climbs to town).  On Momma Bear I comment that I’m glad there’s only Pappa Bear left.  The guy next to me blows it off, “Momma Bear, Pappa Bear, they aint nothing”.

Spectators are crowding the top of Pappa Bear, it’s a tunnel of encouragement!  Soon after I see Robin and the girls cheering.  I ask them to pray for my knee.  They hold up signs with verses reminding be to focus on the Lord and be lifted up on wings like eagles.  Amen.



Mile 56. 1/2 way.  (3:13, 85th plc).  A couple minutes behind schedule.  I re-fill with special needs and then zoom down out of town.  I see Robin and the girls again just before leaving town. 


Ok, the knee is a problem but trusting the Lord and knowing that everything could get better the next loop.  I’m optimistic and envision pushing a little harder along the descents and flats to make that big climb at the finish doable.  But the knee is really slowing me down. 

Mile 61. (92nd plc) I stop to stretch on a guardrail.  A woman I’ve ridden most of the course with today says hi and goes by.  She’s same age as I but makes the bike look so easy.  I see her a few more times but she gets farther ahead as my bike ride gets really uncomfortable now..  the scenic hills aren’t so appealing anymore, the easy pedalling of the first loop is now a struggle, and the little hills are now punishing.


My attitude remains good. I tell the Lord that it is His race and I trust Him.  Even if my leg completely goes or I crash right now for some reason… I will still praise You and be glad for the opportunity to persevere.  It is hard to say but I mean it.  Nothing can ruin the Lord’s race.

Mile 85.  I start the cool out-n-back and imagine how much fun it would be to fly through it.. but I’m just struggling to keep some kind of pace.  And now the bottom of my left foot hurts - a “hot” spot – perhaps caused by the extra pressure compensating for the knee pain.  While coasting I try to massage the bottom of my foot.  All the while calculating how much off the pace I am.. 10 min, 20min, …

Back through Wilmington and along the river.  Suddenly, the thunder clouds open up and dump a few hundred yards ahead of me.  I bike right through what feels like a car wash.  Then it happens again.  After a while the heat comes back, the headwind stops and the roads are steaming with rising mist.  Crazy. 

Mile 98. On the final 12 mile climb, I have to stop a couple times to stretch.  I also notice my brakes rubbing a bit.  Picking up grit during the rain made the rub noticable.  And I can’t adjust this type of brakes on this bike.  I try to ride very still because a little rocking makes these carbon wheels flex and rub.  But God has a reason and I will press on!

Mile 110.  I see my family again!  I’m so glad to be almost done with the bike, they ask how the knee is doing and I say it’s fine. 


I finally coast into T2 and dismount. 6:52:18, 113th plc (60 passed me), 31min behind schedule.


T2 (goal 7:00)

Before they take my bike they ask, “Do you need anything from it?”  My mind is foggy and I come up with “No”.  My legs are painfully stiff and I can’t even jog!  I walk through the long transition.  The hope was to finish limber, but with 1 leg hurt and the other doing more work, I’m really tight.  Volunteers are great!  They put sunscreen on me as I secure my shoes. (6:05 T2.)

The Run (goal 4:58, drink, walk aid stations and hills, and remember “it can get better”)

This is one of the most daunting things for me.. to be starting a 26.2 mi run, at the hottest part of the day, when it’s already uncomfortable walking. But the Lord has shown me before that He can get me through it.  On top of that, I realize I put my bottle of Vitargo drink in the wrong bag and didn’t grab a bottle from my bike when the volunteers asked me.   So I have no special drink until 13 miles.  I speed walk.. then I jog. it’s downhill.. the easiest mile.  People are cheering loudly.


Following the plan, I don’t think about how far to go, just the next aid station. Most importantly, I focus on the Lord and the song, “Crown Him King of Glory”, which I modified with, “it’s not my race to win.. it’s all His”

I don’t even look at my watch (which is still hanging on by a thread).  My run feels like only a shuffle but that’s not the point, the point is to keep trying… and be a light, a help to others if I can.  I see the 4th and 5th pl men getting near the finish.  An age group woman is running ahead of me.  She drops her nutrition.  In my condition, stooping could pull a hamstring, but I feel it’s good and pick it up for her as she starts running back.  I’m ok, God is faithful.

Mile 2.2.  10:17 pace. we turn onto River Rd.  No cars or bikes.  Along a river.  Plenty of shady spots.  I’m happy I’m able to appreciate the great course that it is, even in the discomfort.  I’m grateful that my rt heel isn’t hurting at this pace, but my other achilles heal, my left calf and my hamstrings are bothering me.  If I try to run faster, then I feel my rt heel as well.   I check my pace for the first time and am pleasantly surprised that it is 10:30.  Even with the walking every mile.  I don’t want to see 17 and 18 minutes splits like I had at Tahoe 4 yrs ago!

Mile 3.  9:53 pace. I hear, “I know that guy!” and see that it is Pastor Jim Koenig from Lake Placid Baptist Church which held the Iron Prayer 2 days ago.  It’s uplifting to see many of the church out serving so happily like they do every year I’ve heard


Mile 5.  10:57 pace. The church has 2 aid stations!  This one is decorated more and has signs of “Love, Peace, Prayer”.  I see some of the missionaries I had met, an FCA gal from New Jersey and Spanky & Melinda from Maryland.  I fill them in that the Lord is getting me through the run and for them to pray for my hamstrings.

I make the turn-around and continue running for each aid station, then walking, celebrating to the Lord that He got me there, fueling (salt, water, and a Hammer gel, orange or grape) and then running off in search of the next aid station.

All day I’ve gotten periodic shout-outs from other racers that see my FCA “competing for Christ” jersey.  It’s a reminder of another goal, to represent Christ which means to love others.  I’ve see other athletes hurting and have prayed quietly for a few of them, but I haven’t gotten a chance to really talk to someone.  I make an effort to talk to a guy running my same pace.  He sees the FCA and figures out what it is but says he’s never heard of it.  I wait for an opportunity to talk about how important it is to me.. but then an aid station comes and I lose him.  Hmm, that didn’t work.

Mile 8.  11:12 pace. We running towards the Olympic ski jumps.  These things are magnificent and crazy at the same time.  Rising high above a nearby mountain peak, the 90m and 120m towers make me glad I’m doing an Ironman rather than having to ski down one of those!


Mile 9.  11:59. (90th plc, moved up 22 plcs) A big hill.  Actually looking forward to it because I get to walk!  I use my power-walk and make pretty good time (14min/mi).  At the top is waiting the best prize… my family!  I tell them God is keeping me going and the foot is ok.


Mile 10.8. 12:00.  The bigger hill.  Another power-walking section (14min/mi).  There’s crowds of spectators yelling loudly and kids giving high-5’s. 

Mile 11.4. Needs bag.  Bottle of Vitargo.  I ignore the 2nd bottle which was supposed to be in my run gear bag.  Vitargo is very easy to digest and never gives me stomach problems.  It’s plain but I flavor it with Hammer Fizz electrolyte tablets.  And this time I froze it before the race to help keep it fresh.  Taking my first gulp I realize freezing was a mistake!  It must have crystalized and turned into a disgusting warm slush.   I force it down anyway because to fuel with anything else is a risk..

Mile 13.4. 11:21. (84th plc) Ah!  So glad to be going downhill out of town.  On the flat section, it’s hot.  There are spray stations set up on the other side of the road.  I refrain from crossing the road and interfering with athletes coming the other way. 

Soon I hear the wonderful Superman theme from a trumpet down the road.  It’s Anna!  It really lifts me. 


Robin checks in with me.  Ariel runs along effortlessly getting me on video.  And now the 2nd, and last, descent for me to River Rd.

Mile 15.2.  11:57. (82nd plc)  At the bottom I stretch on the guard rail before starting on the scenic road.  “This race is not mine to win…. all that I have is His…Crown Him King of Glory”  Everything hurts but I’m focusing on the Lord and know, for that reason, that “All things will work for good” Rom 8:28.  To be realistic, I consider the worst.. a calf or hamstring pull forcing me to limp along, or an upset stomach and vomiting, or twist an ankle and collapse.. I pray and commit to God that even if that happens, I will praise Him for I trust it will still work out.  In fact, I’m doing pretty well in the run and possibly because the rt knee pain which slowed my bike, but then disappeared for the run, saved the strength I needed for this leg.

Mile 16.  12:25. I say hi to Pastor Jim and others.  I also pass FCA TeamMate, Robert Palmer on his first lap.  He is encouraging to see.  I’m also encouraged to see big numbers on the mile markers.  On each out-n-back I’ll suddenly hear, “Hey’s 50’s guy!” and look up to see the 50-54 woman who biked so well, now miles ahead on the run.  It’s helpful.

Mile 18.  10:54. I say hi to those at the LP Baptist Church aid station and tell them prayers are working.  I make the turn and come back to the same aid station. 

Running is very difficult now which makes the celebration even greater when I see an aid station. I put my arms out a bit and just worship each time, thanking God for another mile done and the chance to walk soon and fuel up. 

In this moment I hear a voice next to me, “I like the verse on your shirt”.  Without even looking I reply, “I’m thanking the Lord for getting me to another aid station, I couldn’t do it without Him.” I feel prompted, get her name (Logan) and then ask her if she’s dealing with any pain or difficulty that I could pray for her about.  Still running, she looks at me and just stares for a while.  Right when I’m thinking I was too forward and offended her, she says sincerely, “that would be so wonderful”.  Her expression is so full of appreciation.

She goes on to say that the difficulty she deals with is mental illness of anxiety and depression.  This makes the typical ailments of calf strains and nausea, which I expected her to say, seem childish.  Without mental illness I know how dark the moments can be on an Ironman run.  My thoughts prior to the race of this run section haunted me with bad memories of Tahoe 4 years ago.  I can only imagine how much more disheartening it would be if I was already battling depression every day.  I pray that God will calm all her anxieties and give her peace.  And that she can be sure that God’s in charge now and promises joyful moments ahead. “Hope does not disappoint..” Rom 5:5

Mile 20. 11:00. Her pace is a little faster and helps me.  I tell her about FCA and the Iron Prayer and how I’m trusting God with my race so that whatever happens I know will work for good.  She enjoys the conversation and the miles go by faster which is a huge blessing for me.

Mile 21. 10:21.  A big hill is coming.  I’m looking forward to it because it means I get to walk!  As we turn onto hwy 73 we see the climb.  Logan walks the hills, too, but says, “we walk at the sign”.  The sign is part way up the hill. 

Mile 22. 11:29.  At the sign I power-walk the rest and, as I crest the hill, I hear the trumpet playing!  There’s my great family.  I’m so glad to see Robin and tell her God is holding everything together for me.


Mile 23. 11:21.  Walking the hill doesn’t change my pace much.  As we anticipate the coming descent which begins the climb into town, Logan says, “I can’t get my head around the fact that we’re going to be done soon!”  Such an exciting thought.

Mile 23.7. The final climb!  I walk strong.  Surprisingly it looks more and more like I can break 5hrs for the marathon.  This makes me go faster but I feel I owe a lot (like an extra 10min) to my running partner and I feel the Lord leading me to ignore the time goal and be a support to her.  Logan sees her loved ones cheering and says for me to go ahead.  I feel released to go now and try to push.. but the feet both complain when I go too hard. 

Mile 25.  10:37. I can’t believe it, only a mile left!  I make the turn-around and am excited that the final stretch is not a mile like I thought.  Thank you, Lord!  I’m really going to finish this thing which loomed over me for months.  Not just finishing, but accomplishing the goal of truly giving the race to God and trusting Him.  It’s a great feeling.  The crowd is loud. 

Mile 26. 9:56.  As I round the speed-skating oval track, Logan taps me on the shoulder and runs by.  I’m so glad she stayed strong and caught me so she can finish proud.


Finish!  (4:52:51 run, 13:12 total, 72nd plc) Ah, the finish, compliments of the Lord.  A joy that reminds me more and more how faithful God is despite the momentary struggles.  All the hardships during the race just made this extra special.

202_3rd-2560503-FT-2962_159296-30897466 **

Robin and the girls take care of EVERYTHING for me and I lie down on the grass recalling Ps 23 “The Lord is my sheppard, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures..”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

TBF Tri For Kids #2-Ariel-2019

7/14/19, Rancho Seco Park, Herald, CA
50m S – 4mi B – 1mi R

23:49 PR! (Previous - 25:12)


2nd Female, 1st Femaile in Category


TeamMates/Friends: Casey & Ruth Boatwright

Written by, Ariel Soares

(This is a girl’s race story about finishing the 2nd Tri for Kids. Age 10.)

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go! I start swimming through the water trying to get ahead. I keep trying to swim straight towards the buoy but the sun is in my eyes and it's hard to see. I keep swimming finally I get back on track I go around the buoy and come out of the water. I run as fast as I can to transition.

I put on my and shoes race belt and my helmet and bike out. I start biking out, but then my pedals stop moving. I don't know what's happening but it is not supposed to happen. People are trying to fix my bike. Finally, they fix it, so I jump on my bike and bike as fast as I can.

As I bike I sing a Christian song that keeps playing over and over in my head. I pass some of the kids. I bike down and up and down and up hills. Then I bike over a bunch of speed bumps until I'm on the bridge. I see Ruth. As I pass her I say "good job." I try to keep my pace. I see Shantelle coming back (she's really fast). I pass a lot of people as a go across the bridge. I keep biking. I pass the place that we pay at before we came into the park. I keep biking until I get to the turnaround.


I'm still singing the worship song. I see a boy ahead of me. I try to pass him finally, I pass him. I go pass the paying booth again. I bike to the bridge. I go across the bridge going as fast as I can. I see these little kids, I say "good job." I bike over the speed bumps again and then up and down and up and down the hills. I can see more kids in front of me but I don't know if they are in my age group. I bike to transition.

I take off my helmet and run out onto the run. I can see kids ahead of me. I try to pass them. I see this boy that I remember that my family used to call Lego boy because he used to wear a Lego outfit. I pass him. I get some water and keep running.

I start running down a path. I keep running straight then I turn then I go up and then I can see the turnaround. I go around the turnaround and then head back I see this girl but I'm not sure if she's in my age group or if she's not. I start to run faster. I keep trying to catch her but she's kind of far away from me so it's going to be hard to catch her. I see Ruth going out. I run faster and faster. I quickly go faster and finally, I pass the girl.


I go back onto the grass right past aid station. I sprint into the finish. I was the 2nd girl in my whole race and first in my age group.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

June Lake Olympic Tri-Robin-2019

7/13/19, June Lake, CA
1.5km S – 40km B – 10km R

2:55:49 (28:13 – 1:54 – 1:19:37 – 2:11 – 1:03:53)


1st, F 45-49 (Out of 9); 1st Overall (out of 69)


OLY – FCA: Anna Soares; Sharley Simpson

KIDS RACE – FCA: Ariel Soares

LONG COURSE – FCA: Troy Soares

This is our first time at June Lake Triathlon in June Lake, CA.  The long drive was tough and longer than expected due to a wrong turn so wondering if it’s all worth it.  But as we arrive I see it was worth it.  The first person we see when we exit our car is Whit Raymond.  Whit is a long time race announcer and well known in the Ironman circuit.  It’s great to catch up and introduce him to the kids. We attend the race meeting which is well run and very informative.  Clearly the run is going to be tough…hilly, sandy and at altitude!  Next, we set up camp at Oh Ridge campground right next to the lake.  It’s beautiful and windy!  It’s hard to set up the tent but with all four of us working together it’s a success.  The forecast shows little wind tomorrow.  We pray for good sleep.  It's usually noisy at campgrounds and hard sleeping on the ground.  I’m thanking God for giving me peace this week for Anna’s race.  I was questioning whether it was going to be a good experience as her first Olympic distance tri because of concerns of altitude, car traffic and health.  After reading past race stories from other triathletes, those concerns were eased.  And Troy felt confident as well about her ability to do it.  Ultimately the Lord made it clear that we had His blessing.

Amazingly the camp is very quiet and we all sleep great!  We thank the Lord for answering that little prayer.  Troy and I get up first and I help him get ready.  Once he leaves, it’s time to get the girls up and going.  I make sure to find the time to get in the Word even if it’s short.  The three of us head down to find Troy and pray.  We see Troy’s small wave of half distance athletes take off.  The water is absolutely still and beautiful.  I’m looking forward to getting in with Anna in an hour. 


The time flies by and it’s already time to get in the water!  Anna and I walk out to the start in the water.  Anna asks if we should fill up our wetsuits with water to loosen them up.  I don’t feel like it but know it’s a good idea so we do.  Ohhh, that wakes me up.  The men take off first and we are 5 minutes behind. 

I don’t like to train in the pool but I love to swim open water.  I felt calm until now and am starting to think more about myself and less about Anna.  Lord, help me not to get self centered.  We pray together.

Ready, set, go!  As I swim off, I look over at Anna.  She looks good.  I know she’ll do great!

The water is chilly but I quickly adapt.  The water is crystal clear.  I can even see some fish swimming.  I remember that I’m at altitude and take an extra breath every third stroke like I did at Tahoe in 2013.  I seem to be in the thick of it.  Pretty soon I notice a girl in a sleeveless wetsuit just ahead of me to the right.  I pick up and move right.  I get in her draft and it seems to be a perfect fit!  I follow her all the way to the first turn buoy.  The water is deep here and the mountain above is casting a huge shadow.  I feel unsettled by the darkness but know that the Lord is with me.  I continue to follow my sleeveless friend to the next buoy. There is a group of guys turning also so I loose her for a moment.  I’m feeling strong and wondering if I can pass.  I try and almost succeed but she seems to shift into another gear.  I tuck in behind her again. 

The finish line is in sight.  I am amazed how perfect this draft has been.  Not once have I even touched her toes or bumped into her.  My friend picks it up and I follow. I swim right until my hand touches sand.  Then I’m up and running.  I run over a sandbar into a small pool of water.  I take off my wetsuit there.  As I’m struggling to get my last leg out I can hear Whit explaining to the crowd that some triathletes take off their wetsuits at the water’s edge.  I wish I could demonstrate better.  I finally pry it off and slip on my flip flops.  It’s a long sandy and rocky run to transistion.  I’m really glad I had Anna and I do this!

I see Ariel as I enter transition.  She’s been volunteering all morning there.  It’s great to see her smile and hear her encouraging voice.  I make a quick transition and then I’m off. 

(Swim: 1st in AG, 7th OA Females)


I run out of transition with my bike shoes on.  I haven’t practiced with the shoes on my bike so not going to try.  Out of the campground, up the road, turn and along the lake.  I can see swimmers down below.  I ride through town and see folks having breakfast and coffee.  Suddenly I see a truck in the road backing up.  He’s making room for a car pulling out.  I stop and he stops.  The car we are waiting for seems to be struggling to figure out what they are doing.  Several racers just go around and continue on including a girl in navy.  I decide to follow since no cars are coming in the other direction and this seems to be taking too long. 

The scenery is just beautiful.  Just love these little lakes along the way.  I am feeling strong and get into a good groove.  Several male cyclists pass me.  I go back and forth a bit with a Santa Barbara Tri guy.  I don’t see the girl that passed me.  I am not concerned and am just happy to be able to race today.  I think about Anna and pray she is safe and doing well.  I wonder if Troy will catch her on his 2nd loop of the Half.

I’m getting close to Hwy 395 and the only aid station.  I’m out of water and am working on my Perpetuem.  Two riders fly by.  One might be a female.  As I watch them head down the long straightaway, I can see they are drafting off one another.  Frustrating but nothing I can do.  I pull up on the aid station and ask for water.  I’m going too fast and I knock the water out of the volunteer’s hand and it hits the ground.  I shout “so sorry!”.  Bummer!  I should have done that better.  Hope I have enough fluids to make it to the end!

As I bike along the highway, the riders that were drafting are no longer together.  I catch up to one and pass him.  Soon I catch the other rider who I thought was a female and it’s actually a guy.  I sense he’s trying to stay with me and I pick up the pace.  As the hill gets steeper, he drops off.

This is probably my least favorite part of the day.  The bike lane of the highway has bumps every few feet and the road continues to go up.  My Perpetuem is getting low but I think it will last.  I am passing several riders that passed me.  I can see I’m gaining on some others.  Finally, I see riders turn off the road up ahead.  Looking at my Garmin I know once I turn, there isn’t much to go!

I make the turn and enjoy a downhill.  Yay!  The road is much smoother here and the scenery is much prettier.  I notice that I am catching up to a female rider in orange.  As I make the turn to head back to transition, a volunteer says that the girl is the first female.  I wonder about the other girl in navy.  So maybe I’m the 3rd female?  Exciting!  Lord, this is a gift!  I haven’t been training a lot especially on the bike due to supporting Troy, the girls and my father-in-law at home.  My Perpetuem is gone.  It worked out great.  Better get water in transition!

I continue to catch up to the girl in orange.  As we turn into the campground, I see her pulling her feet out of her shoes.  I do the same.  I am pleasantly surprised how well I get my feet out on top of my shoes. As I hit the dismount line, I am able to jump off easily…but my back is really stiff.  I hobble to my spot.  I quickly grab all my gear and hit the porta potty.  I utilize the “break” to put all my gear on.  I give Ariel a high five as I run out of transition.  I grab water and off I go! 

(Bike: 1st in AG, 3rd OA Females)


As I head out on the run, I can see the girl in orange ahead. I didn't lose too much with my pit stop.

Pretty soon we hit the first big climb that everyone seems to complain about. It's steep and sandy. The top sprint athletes are flying down the hill and I'm passing a variety of racers going up. I come upon an 83 year old woman. She is power walking up and looking strong. I tell her good job. I think about my 80 year old mom and how she's still racing 5Ks and doing great. I also think of my father in law who is turning 86. I couldn't picture him out here!

I make it to the top. Yay! I turn on Northshore Dr. Runners are going both ways and Sprint and long course cyclists are finishing up their ride. I see the girl in orange. We hit the first aid station together. I make sure to get water. She takes off and I follow. I'm feeling strong and make a pass. I tell her good job.

Mile 1 is 10:14. Downhill we go! I see runners crossing the street and heading on a trail. Up we go again!

I start on the trail and run up to the next aid station. Runners are starting to walk here and I pass them. I am able to continue running slowly and plod my way through the sand which makes it much more challenging. I wonder where the top is.

Mile 2 is 11:26. This climb is still going. I look up and it just keeps going. Determined to continue my slow run, I trod on. I am able to pass a few athletes. Close to the top it gets too hard to run so I hike it for a few minutes. This makes that first hill seem like nothing!

Finally the top. It takes a few moments to get my legs used to running faster again. It's just gorgeous up here. I am feeling great and am thanking God! I thank Him for his beautiful creation.

I pray for Anna and Troy. I'm concerned that Troy's foot is really going to bother him. Lord, if it's your will, let him not have pain and enjoy your creation.

Mile 3 is 10:56. After some downhill, it flattens out. I see the next aid station tucked in some shade. Good timing! I get some electrolytes.

I see a guy in my race ahead. I catch up to him but before I can pass, the trail becomes a super steep downhill. I let him lead the way. This kind of terrain is not my favorite and scary. I try to skip down the hill and jump over the rocks. The trail eventually gets less steep and widens. I hear some footsteps behind me. I move over and a long course guy flies by. He must be in first place.

Mile 4 is 10:37. I continue to watch the long course guy continue to fly down the hill. I can see another aid station.  This part of the trail is so much easier to navigate then the technical top. I make it to the aid station.  I appreciate the water! 

The trail turns and it follows along Northstar Dr.  I’m actually gaining on the long course guy a bit.  I feel like I need to go the bathroom…my inside is not feeling good at all.  I’m so close now.  I can make it.  Please Lord help me just push through.

I see that we are going to turn off onto the road again.  And I see that girl in Navy from early on in the ride running up the road!  Can I catch her?  Lord, it’s up to you.  My insides are still feeling bad. 

I make it to the road and I can see that girl walking up the hill.  Lord, I think I can catch her.  I hear Troy calling my name.  I look up and see him climbing the monster hill.   I cannot make out what he’s saying exactly but I know he’s saying encouraging words and something about Anna doing well.

I catch the girl 2/3 of the way up the hill. There is an aid station ahead.  I pass her, tell her good job and grab water.  I don’t look back as I continue up the hill.  I know I’ve got to get down that sandy downhill that i ran up.

Mile 5 is 8:50.  Here we go!  I push down the hill, even though I feel out of control and my insides hurt.  I feel God telling me to not look back and just go for it.  I fly down the hill. It flattens out and I can see the finish.  I’m catching up to the long course guy even more.  It’s great to have someone to focus on ahead of me. 

Mile 6 is 8:31.  Go!  I push as hard as I can and try to smile.  I turn into the finish shoot and look up to God.  As I cross the finish line in the sand I hear Whit saying I’m the first woman.  I am floored.  Lord, that is a gift.  This is all your doing.  Nothing can explain this result other than Jesus.  Thank you Lord!


June Lake Olympic Tri-Anna-2019 (1st Olympic Distance!)

7/13/19, June Lake, CA
1.5km S – 40km B – 10km R

3:16:31 (33:30 – 1:07 – 1:32:09 – 1:34 – 1:08:10)


1st, F 1-14; 9th Overall (out of 69)


OLY – FCA: Robin Soares; Sharley Simpson

KIDS RACE – FCA: Ariel Soares

LONG COURSE – FCA: Troy Soares

I start to walk out to the water. The water isn’t that cold and it looks pretty clear. There is a big rock in the water and I climb it before I start. I look over all the swimmers and see a girl about my age I met yesterday. I go over and talk to her. This is her first triathlon but she is on a swim team and has been running and biking. After talking to her I go over to the start with my mom. We get water in our wetsuits so they will come off better. The announcer starts to countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go!

I start to swim. I feel good in the beginning but I remember that I have a long way to go. I try to draft off people in the beginning, but they are either too fast or to slow. I enjoy the swim. It is very clear and I can see the bottom of the lake. I see a lot of big sticks that have sunk to the bottom. After a while, I turn at the first buoy. The next buoy is a long way away. The water starts to get deeper. I draft off a swimmer ahead of me for a little while. The swimmer then goes to the side. I don’t follow her because I want to go in a straight line. As I get close to the next buoy, I start to see so rocks underneath me. But the rocks aren’t that high up. I get to the buoy and turn around it. A guy behind me goes on the other side of the buoy without knowing and we sort of collide.

There are two more buoy's ahead of me before I turn into shore. As I am swimming, I try to draft but it doesn't go that well. After some time, I start to see the bottom again. I look at the bottom of the lake while I swim. I see something moving and realize it’s two fish swimming together. I have reached the buoy and head for the last one. I feel a little bit more energy and keep swimming. I make it to the last buoy and go around it. I start to swim into shore. I see the rock that I climbed before I started swimming. I use the rock as a buoy and swim towards it and the arch. The bottom of the lake is getting shallower. I wait until my hand's touch to stand up. Once my hands touch the sand I stand up and run towards the arch.

Before I get there, I take off my wetsuit. I run through the arch and put on my flip flops. From there I run on the sand around transition and then into transition. In transition, I put my socks and helmet and take off. As I am running out of transition I remember I forgot my arm warmers. But I am warming up so I continue without them.

I start biking up a hill and put my bike shoes on. I continue biking. I make a turn and start to bike around the lake. I'm biking on the road I saw cars drive on while I was swimming. We go down a long hill and I enjoy it. It's a little cold because I still wet from the swim but the wind is drying me off. I go to another hill and there's a sharp turn. I'm in the bike lane and when I make the turn I skid a little bit on the debris. Praise the Lord I didn't slip!

I continue down the hill and bike through a town. Up ahead I see a car and truck at a stop sign. One of the cars goes and I'm sure the other car will wait for me to pass. The car does not wait though and doesn't even look in my direction when it starts to drive. I have to slow down in order to not run into the truck. I somewhat go around the truck. A biker behind me comes up and says “what a jerk”. I'm pretty sure she got slowed down by the truck too.

We go down another hill and I enjoy it. The hills are nice but I know that uphills will come. I see a waterfall up ahead, it's very pretty. There's water coming out of the rocks and then the waterfall goes right back into the rocks. There are a lot of small lakes along the road and it is pretty. We are biking around another lake now. The lake is not as big as the lake that I swim in. Looking ahead I see the mountains which are very pretty. The road looks like it is going between two of the mountains. I continue at my speed passing some people and others passing me. I make sure to drink my electrolyte water to keep hydrated. As I get closer to the mountains, I finish my first water bottle. I keep biking while switching my two water bottles. Now I can grab my other water bottle better. 

I bike through the mountains and continue. I'm on a flat road and I can see the highway in front of me. I also see an aid station coming up. As I get closer, I try to  decide if I should grab water or not. There is a biker getting water and both people at the aid station are helping her. It wouldn't be a fast transition to get water, so I decide not to.

I keep biking and make a sharp right onto the highway.  I am biking on the side of the highway and it is bumpy. There are a lot of cracks on the road. Up ahead I see a hill. It looks steep but not that bad. I bike towards the hill and start climbing it. A guy doing the long course goes by me and say “I like your handlebars.”  I say thanks and look at my handlebars. My handlebars are orange and his are orange too. I call back “I like your handlebars too”. I keep biking uphill and bike around a turn. As I go around the turn I see the hill continues even farther. I am already tired and I don't want to go up the hill. But I know I will eventually get to the top. I continue drinking my water and biking.

After what seems forever I see the top. There's a lady in front of me and I reach the top as soon as she does. I say “finally we get to the top” and she agrees with me. I thought I would enjoy the top of the hill but it is windy and it's almost like I'm still climbing the hill. There is a small downhill but it doesn't feel like one because of the wind. Up ahead I see one biker climbing up a steep hill and I think, when is this going to end. But I realize other bikers are turning before the 2nd hill, so that must be someone else on their own bike ride.

As I get closer to the turn, my Dad comes up behind me. We talk and I tell him I'm drinking a lot of water. I turn right then onto a road. I know I am close to transition. There is another hill up ahead but it doesn't look as bad as the highway hill. I see my Dad start to climb the hill ahead of me. I get to the hill and start to climb. The hill is a little tiring but it's not that bad because I know the transition is close. A lady and I go back and forth on the hill until we reach the top. At the top, my Dad goes straight because he's doing that half Ironman course and I go right. It's downhill and I start to recognize the campsite area.

I continue biking down the hill and get closer two the downhill to transition. I almost missed the turn because no one's really directing it and I don't know if it's the correct one. But people start yelling at me as soon as I don't turn right away so I turn. I go downhill and take my feet out of the bike shoes. I slow my bike down and jump off. I run into transition and rack my bike. My mom's bike is a little too close to my side so I kind of have to push it over as I'm putting my bike on. I take my helmet off and put on my shoes, race belt, and hat. I grab my gels and start running. I take a quick detour to the restroom and then run out of transition. My sister, who's volunteering, cheers me on as a runout.

I run down some steps and onto some sand. I run across the sand to a single-track trail. On the trail, I take one of my gels. I run on the trail until I see aid station up ahead. At the station, I grab water and turn to run up a steep hill. The hill doesn't look that bad, but it is covered in sand. As I'm running up, I feel like I'm slipping backwards a little bit. It is a calf killer and I walk some of the hill. I see people running down and they are going fast. Too bad I can't go fast upward.

After a lot of climbing, I finally reach the top. I run on the road to the next aid station. I grab water then continue. I go downhill and it is a fun break. As I am going downhill, I see my Dad biking uphill on the half Ironman course. He says good job to me and tells me to drink water and pour water on my head. I smile and say ok. After the long downhill, I go up a short hill which leads to a small downhill. I see a turn sign and turn over and get onto another single-track uphill. This is also covered in sand and does not look fun. I run up it to the next station.  As I get closer to the aid station, a man at the aid station says “wow you're really old” just to be funny. The truth is that I am the youngest competitor. At the aid station, I grab water and an orange. I then continue up the hill. It looks like it's never going to stop. It reminds me of climbing up from the river at home except with sand. I run some but mostly walk it. My calves are really sore. A lady at the front of me is fast walking up the hill. I don't know how she could fast walk when you keep slipping a little bit backwards from the sand.

When it gets a little bit flat I pass her in a man ahead of me. But then it gets steep and I walk a little bit. When I finally get to the top I start to run. There is a pretty Pond and it looks very inviting because I'm very hot. I take a gel to get some energy back. There's an aid station up ahead and I get water and an orange. I go through the trees a little bit and then start going downhill. The downhill is like switchbacks and you have to be careful you don't go too fast or you might run over the edge. It is really rocky and I try not to trip or fall. My ankle hurts a little bit but I just try to relax it. As I'm running downhill I have to stop sometimes because I'm going so fast. Since I got water to aid station I start to have some cramps. After a little bit of running the cramps fade away. It sometimes feels overwhelming because of the pain, cramps, and the heat. But I just go to God and he helps me not to freak out about it.

After about a half-mile going steep downhill the trail widens out and is a gradual downhill. A half-marathon runner passes me he's going very fast.  I see an aid station up ahead and run towards it. The downhill is still steep but not as bad. I grab water at the Aid Station and someone asks if I want water on my back. I say yes and a man puts a water-filled sponge on my back and I feel refreshed. I am at the bottom and I run on a sandy trail next to the road.  After running on the sandy trail I cross over where I crossed before and start heading back. I'm getting excited because I am almost done and I can't wait to be done because it is very hard.

I run up the hill and then get a nice downhill. There's a long uphill ahead and since I already walked a lot, I challenge myself to run all the way up it. As I run up the hill my legs hurt. I don't want that slow me down so I push through. I get almost the top and there is an aid station. I stop just to grab water and continue on. I pour the rest of the water on my head and it gives me new energy to keep running.

I continue running upward and then I get to run down a little bit. Up ahead I see the downhill Sandy trail to the finish line. I'm very excited that I'm almost done. I hit the sandy trail and it is a steep downhill. I run down jumping over rocks as I go. I see others walking up the hill and I know how they feel because I had to walk up it too. As I'm going downhill I almost run into someone who was also running downward. It is a tight turn and I am going very fast. I don’t run into her, but say sorry for almost running into her.

There is a little flat spot and then it's downhill again. I can see the aid station up ahead but don't grab anything because I'm so close to the finish line. I run around the aid station and get onto a small trail. I can see the finish line at the end and my mom and sister waiting for me. I run on the trail and then onto the sandy beach. It's so sandy it's hard to run. I get into the finish line shoot and I am running as hard as I can through the sand. I finish pointing into God. It was a hard race and God kept me stable through it all. My Mom and sister both did well in the races and my Dad did amazing in his Half Ironman with God's help.

Praise The Lord For He Is Good His Love Endures Forever.


June Lake Kid’s Triathlon-Ariel-2019

7/13/19, June Lake, CA
100m S – 2mi B – 1mi R

20:17 (3:45 – 1:48 – 7:37 – :30 – 6:35)


2nd Female, 1st Femaile in Category


OLY – FCA: Anna Soares, Robin Soares; Sharley Simpson

KIDS RACE – FCA: Ariel Soares

LONG COURSE – FCA: Troy Soares


10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go! I start swimming.  I am one of the only ones wearing a wetsuit. I go as fast as I can trying to get in front of the pack. I go around and orange buoy and start heading back. I'm in second place right now. Right behind the first boy. I swim in between the two orange buoys I started at. Then I swim until I touch the ground. I start running in the water. I run on the sand and back into the water to the place where I put mom’s flip-flops she let me borrow. As I take off my wetsuit, kids in my race pass me. I get on the flip flops and run into transition.



I get my shoes on and my helmet on and bike out onto the bike course it’s kind of hard to follow the race course. I keep passing people. I go around a turn around. I pass the transition and go up a hill. I bike faster and faster. I see a turnaround up ahead. I bike around the turnaround and start biking fast again. I can see the people ahead of me and the first-place girl. I bike as fast as I can. I know that transition is close so I bike faster. I see transition so I slow down and I get off of my bike and run with my bike to my transition spot.



I take off my helmet and start on the run. I go down some dirt steps with a bunch of rocks. I almost fall. And then I’m on a trail. I can see the first-place girl ahead of me. I run faster through a trail with plants on both sides. I can see the aid station far ahead of me.

There is a boy ahead of me. It looks like he has a cast on his hand. I can also see him holding his side. Looks like he has a cramp. When I get closer, I can hear him crying. As I pass him, I tell him to take slow breaths. I get to the aid station and get some water. I start heading up a very steep hill. I can see the girl walking at the top. I start running faster until I get close to her. I think she heard me coming because she turns and looks at me and starts running. I go around the turn around. I start getting closer and closer. We start going back down the steep hill. The girl starts to slow down on the hill, so I pass her. I go as fast as I can down the hill. I go back to the trail and now I can see the Finish. I hear someone behind me and I know they're close so I go even faster. I start running to the finish. It is very sandy so I can't go that fast. A boy behind me sprints past me. I sprint as fast as I can into the finish. I am the first girl overall and third overall over everyone.


June Lake Triathlon–Half Ironman (Troy)

July 13th, 2019 – June Lake, CA
Swim 1.2miles – Bike 52miles – Run 13.1miles

5:51:44 (36:07 – 4:09 – 2:48:57 – 1:36 – 2:20:53)


1st 50-54M (out of 3); 6th Overall


OLY – FCA: Anna Soares, Robin Soares; Sharley Simpson

KIDS RACE – FCA: Ariel Soares

We arrive at incredibly beautiful June Lake.  And what a treat to run into Whit Raymond, one of our favorite announcers in triathlon.  To have such a lively, talented announcer at a small event is a great privelege.

After the race meeting we set up camp and I start complaining and worrying – mainly about the significant wind blowing, it will surely chill me on the bike, and I don’t have the right jacket, and I didn’t get enough sleep, and my foots going to hurt like last week…

I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s completely still and quiet.  The full moon is reflecting off the water and the snow covered parts of the mountain.  This "Oh! Ridge” campground has been the quietest we’ve ever stayed at (maybe because it’s all athletes and everyone races the same morning).  I sleep very well.  Thank you, Lord.

Race morning, attitude improved, read the Bible, kiss Robin goodbye and head to the 7am start for my race.  (Robin & Anna will start the Olympic at 8am and Ariel the kids’ race at 12).

There is no wind at all.  The water is glass.  The volunteers are cheerful, no lines at the porta potties and everything, including the shuttles of athletes who didn’t camp, seems to be running smoothly.

Although there’s about 250 racing all the events, only 50 of us get ready for the Half.  I talk to a couple guys doing this hard course for their first one.  I jog a little and my foot hurts.  I spend a good amount of time stretching and then down to the water.  It feels really cold this morning!  I wish I had booties… until I go to the start area it feels much warmer, like 65.

I run back to pray with Robin, Anna, and Ariel.  I appreciate their prayers for me and I pray I remember it’s not my race, my life, my goals.. it’s the Lord’s, which should free me from worrying about it and instead focus on Him so others can see Him through me.  I’m reminded of the song “Crown Him” which says,

“It’s not my life, to live. It’s not my song, to sing. All I have, is His For all eternity” and goes on to say “It’s not my weight, to bear..”  worrying is the heaviest weight.

The Swim

I feel ready.  There’s only 30 of us starting.  Go!  I start calm and relaxed.  It’s easy to sight and the water is so clean and clear.  We go around the short sprint course and then head out for the Olympic course.  I’m breathing deeply, and sometimes every 2 strokes instead of 3 or 4 because we’re at 7500 ft.  Racing at altitude is like missing every 5th breathe so have to make up for it.  A woman behind me is swimming backstroke.  Amazingly she’s drafting off me without being able to see me!  That is a good way to get more air.  A guy next to me is swimming with only the lower 1/2 of a wetsuit.  The swim course is wonderful.  The shadow of the mountain blocks the sun so sighting is never a problem.  Most of the course is shallow.  I see a couple fish darting around and lot of rock formations below.  I think about God.  I’m joyful.  I’m calm. Sometimes I feel like I might get cold but I actually stay comfortable to the end.  I see 30 min on my watch and hope I can finish soon.  I push more at the end but mostly the swim was low effort which should help the rest of the race. 36:07. 11th place.

After a jog through the entire transition site (to make it fair for everyone) I put on only my light jacket (I’m not cold and there’s no wind, thank you, Lord!) and am happily off on the bike.

The Bike

Immediately I can sense the thin air by how fast I accelerate downhills.  Biking at altitude is a thrill because the speeds are faster.  But even more so on this course because it’s so beautiful!  Along June Lake, through the cute town of June Lake with people starting to sip coffee under awnings.  Along Gull Lake, sailing under evergreens… It really does feel like a “Tour de France TT below the Alps” as a previous athlete wrote in his race story from last year.

Curving along the base of mountains, I make it through one really sharp turn and hope Anna negotiates it ok in her race.  Then I catch view of Horestail Waterfall above to the left. Amazing!


Then Silver Lake on the right and the huge Grant Lake which seems to drop off the edge of the hills at the end.  It’s a little chilly but warming up a little.  I think of Anna and hope she will be comfortable in her race suit.

Now onto the shoulder of Hwy 395.  Even though it’s a main freeway, it’s a very wide shoulder and not concerning.  I’m warm and take off my jacket.  It’s a slight climb for 6 miles and I try to be efficient and take it easy.  It was such a beautiful easy cruise along the lakes that I’m looking forward to doing the 2nd loop!  After a short difficult climb to June Lake, and insuring I’ve finished 1 large bottle of Vitargo, I excitingly start the loop again now with Olympic Distance riders to pass.  Through all the scenic spots this time I try even more to take it all in.  I also remind myself “stay calm, stay calm” so as not to push.  The race starts with the run.

I think about Robin and Anna who are somewhere ahead on this loop.  I calculate what Anna’s times might be and then look way ahead and see a yellow outfit climbing up Hwy 395!  Yes!  That’s her!  I yell a couple times but she can’t hear me.  I’m supposed to be going easy but I push more hoping I can catch her before she pulls off to the bike finish.  I catch her right before the down-n-up to the finish.  “So glad to see you, Anna, how’s it been?”  “It’s going great.  But that was a big hill.  I wasn’t able to get water but my 2 bottles will be enough”  Thank you, Lord for keeping her safe in her first Olympic Bike leg.

Robin is probably starting the run, Anna is heading to T2, and I get to go along the Lake and through town a 3rd time (which is so cool) and then turn along the back June Lake to the finish.  It’s very hilly along the back but I didn’t realize it provides great viewing of the run course and runners!  At first the trails don’t look so hard, but then I see a ferocious trail climb and even the climbs on the paved road look hard.  And there’s Anna!  Looking strong despite the heat and hills.  This is a cool bike course!  A big descent to T2 alows me to stretch, finish drinking, and pull out of my shoes.  2:48:57 bike, 9th fastest and now in 9th place.  Dismount.  Lose a shoe, go back and get it, change into my new NB 860’s (since last week’s Crown City Classic run proved the 880’s weren’t helping my injury).

The Run

I start to the trail but remember my plan to take a bottle. I go back, grab a bottle and hope the timing mat doesn’t get confused.  Starting through the spectator area I already notice my foot feels so much better than last week!  Thank you, God!  I see Ariel cheering for me which really makes me smile.  I’m feeling optimistic to take this crazy trail climb they told us about.  But wait, it’s sand!  A steep climb in sand.  The great news is that I’ve been practicing walking steep parts lately.  So I power walk the slippery climb.   Many runners are flying down.  I try not to get in their way.  I’m really happy about the effort and pace I’m able to put out walking and soon am at the top.  I drink my bottle and then fill it 1/2 way up at each aid station. 

The wind has picked up now and I’m thanking God for it.  Imagine that, I was cursing the wind yesterday and now it’s a blessing because it’s cooling me off during a hot, hilly run!  I see more Half Ironman athletes biking and many Sprint and Olympic runners coming back.  Way up ahead I see Robin coming up the road.  I yell but she can’t hear me.  I turn onto the ferocious, sandy hill climb and start my power-walk and then turn-around to see Robin down below on the road, “Good job, Robin!  Anna’s about a mile behind you”  she waves and smiles.

I’m breathing super hard and drinking a lot of water, and pouring it on me.  This bottle is great!  The trail keeps climbing!  I can’t believe it.  I’m passing many that are resting along the trail but my power-walk really allows me to keep going and doesn’t hurt my foot.  Thank you, Lord.  They said this course was like Wildflower but at 8000 ft.  But it is much harder.  It’s almost a joke that someone could run up this, but maybe they can.

It is all worth it at the top!  Running through meadows with low-ground-cover and patches of wildflowers.  Small lakes back-dropped with snowy mountains.  A light cool breeze under a bright sun.  People are happy to stop and let me pass.  I guess everyone wants to rest.  I stop and stretch my hamstrings and try to get a rock or something out of my shoe.

The best part – downhill!  It starts calmly, zig-zagging through beautiful single-track, but then intensifies with steeper sections and almost getting out of control… and then it just drops off!  Some sections I have to carefully step down rocks.  And then back to very steep sandy descending.  This can be very dangerous, but I always love challenging downhills.  I feel excited and trying to descend faster than others gets the adrenaline going.  Wow!  Finally at the bottom.  I take Heed and water and start the run along the road back to the start.

At the spectator / finish area, where we have to go do it all again, I’m actually looking forward to it!  The walking worked so well and the running along the top was so fun, it’s actually appealing!  Thank you, Lord, only you can turn something daunting into fun.  I see Robin, she’s so happy for me and tells me she was able to win her race and Anna did well, too.  I ask Ariel how she did and she laughs because she hasn’t raced yet. 

A good time seeing family and now back up the climb.  Now there aren’t many runners out.  I see some Half Ironman runners coming back behind me.  Others Olympic runners are walking.  I’m also taking Endurolytes which they provide at the aid stations.  I hit the huge climb again.  This time it is more work and the pace slows a little but I push through.  Thank you, Lord!  I stretch at the same rock, take a Honey Stinger and then hit the big descent.  Stomach gets a little uneasy.  Starting on the trail/road back, for the first time, I’m feeling fatigued and uncomfortable.  But I ease up and feel good again.

Now I’m overwhelmed with humility and regret for my attitude yesterday.  I have a great talk with God.  I realize how faithful He has been and unfaithful I’ve been.  I ask for forgiveness for my worrying yesterday and plan to start over and trust Him more next time.  I realize that having a bad attitude beforehand ruins even a good finish because of regret.  So the only way to finish the day completely good is to start with a good attitude beforehand.  It’s a special time repenting and feeling God’s encouragement along that hot and hilly road.

Over the last climb, now I’m excited!  Flat and then down.  I grab a gel and my whole race belt falls off.  I hug my bottle by my side while trying to put the belt on but it falls again and my bottle falls and gets covered with dirt.  Everything is going wrong.  I manage to wash off my bottle top so I can hold it in my mouth while putting my belt on and finally taking my gel.  Ok, re-grouped and back to the fun part… steep sandy downhill.. through the grass.. onto the beach..and painfully quick-step over the sand to the finish!  Thank you, Lord, for forgiveness and provision!  Run was 2:20:53, 4th fastest. 6th place overall.

Not only did the Lord bless my race, but all of our races.  Humbled and grateful.  And a BEAUTIFUL race venue!

IMG_20190713_125137772_BURST002IMG_20190713_125137772_BURST020IMG_20190713_125358622_HDR190713_JLT Troy podium

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Crown City 12K-Robin-2019

Date/Location: July 4, 2019 – Coronado, Ca – Racing Since 2011
Distances: 12km
Time: 54:49 (PR, 2017, 53:17)
Place: 2nd/40
Others: 5K: Anna & Ariel Soares; Jan Heidt;
12K: Troy Soares

This is our 9th year racing here!  Time has flown by!  Parking is tough this year since we left a bit later than usual and there seems to be more racers. 

Anna, Ariel and Grammie (my Mom) are doing the 5K.  Troy and I are doing the 12K.  This year all racers start together.  Usually they break up the 5Kers and 12kers.  We all pray as a family for the Lord’s favor and blessing. We then split up to find a place at the start.  Anna and Troy head to the front.  I stay back with Ariel to give her comfort in this huge crowd.  I haven’t been able to get in much speed work outside of our once a week runs with our track group.  Not sure what to expect.

I love how this race shows respect to our Flag and country.  We all get to run under a huge American flag at the start. They take the time to read off names of those recently killed in the military.  Then a 13 year old boy plays the national anthem on his trumpet.  Anna has been doing the same at swim meets.  I’m sure she’s impressed as well.  Then there the yearly speech from the race director taken from the movie Independence Day.  He puts his own twist on it for the runners.  Great fun!

The top runners start but they stop our group as we approach the start line.  It’s a bummer to be separated from Troy and Anna.  We’ll have to wait a few minutes.  Ariel feels bad for holding me back but I tell her it’s not a big deal since it’s chip timing. 

Ready and go!  Ariel and I hold hands and run under the huge American flag together.  Then I say goodbye and run ahead.  It’s not long before I hear her voice behind me “hi Mom!”.  “Wow, Ariel, good job!  Be sure to pace yourself”.  She stays behind me for a bit and points out Troy in the crowd ahead of us.

I’m catching Troy within the first 3/4 mile.  That means his Achilles is not doing well.  I run alongside him and pray that the Lord will make it get better as the race goes on.  It’s extremely unusual to see him hindered in a race.  I am sad for him.  He tells me to run my own race. 

Mile 1 is 7:28.  I feel strong.  I know I want to break 1 hour for this race so I must average under 8 min. 

I see Anna heading back and it looks like she is in the top 5 women.  We wave to each other and I tell her “good job!”.  There is a girl that looks about her age right behind her.  I know she’ll finish strong because her focus is on Jesus.

Mile 2 is 7:17.  I continue to feel strong and I’m not straining at all. I have a few Clif Bloks to keep my energy steady.

I see a cat running towards me on the opposite side of the bike path I'm on. We pass each other as if we were 2 humans running. Funny!

Mile 3 is 7:27. I catch up to two Captain Americans. It's overcast but I'm warm. They must be burning up! I'm surprised how good I feel. I am passing quite a few runners as I go along. Thank you Lord!

Pretty soon I see the top runners heading back. There are a lot of strong guys. Soon I see a few girls coming along. One of them looks older than gives me hope that I can continue to run strong as I age.

Finally, the turnaround! Ok, now it's time to see what's left in the tank.

Mile 4 is a 7:15. Good split but will I be struggling soon? As I head back, the crowds of runners are thick. Glad to see such a great turnout!

Mile 5 is a 7:19. Still feeling great! Once I hit 6, it's just hanging on.

I look at my watch and I can see I'm picking it up! Wow, this is of the Lord! I have not been able to train consistently due to busy summer schedules for the girls, taking care of Al, the house addition/remodel and most importantly trying to help Troy train for Ironman and start a new position at work. This is a gift that God is giving me out of His great love for me!

I can see the Coronado bridge! It's almost over!

Mile 6 is a 7:14! I'm negative splitting this the back half of the race. Unbelievable!

I can see a gal ahead quite a ways. I'm going to try to catch her if possible. Great having a carrot out there to motivate me to push!

Mile 7 is a 7:07! Oh my! I dig deep and remind myself the discomfort is temporary. Even though I'm pushing hard, I don't feel like I'm straining.

I'm catching that girl but I don't have enough real estate to bridge the gap. I push nonetheless and make the final turn to the straight away. I can hear the girls cheering. I smile and keep going running all the way through to finish. Thank you Jesus for such a wonderful race!

Crown City 12K-Troy-2019

Date/Location: July 4, 2019 – Coronado, Ca – Racing Since 2011
Distances: 12km
Time: 1:07:10
Place: 22nd/30
Others: 5K: Anna & Ariel Soares; Jan Heidt;
12K: Robin Soares

I wake up in beautiful San Diego, but find my right heel is bothering more than ever.  I’ve been stretching and wearing different shoes.. it appears to have worsened it.  I’m also very tired.. as usual it seems.

We finallly find parking and I have to make a last-minute decision to switch shoes as the new ones are casuing a blister.

We jog to the start to meet Jan, Anna & Ariel, and my foot hurts a lot.  I stretch, we listen to the great pre-race “independence day” speech, hear the National Anthem played by a 13yr old Boy Scout on the trumpet and his dad on keyboard, and then we pray as a family before our start.

My story from last year’s race started with:

“My concern is my right heel and hamstring. It’s been bothering me.  We all gather and pray. I know each race for me is much more than a personal hobby or goal, rather it’s a chance to test my faith and a chance to be an example for others…. God always uses each race and He’ll use this one somehow and it will be a blessing.”

Today is really going to test if that statement is true.

Go!  We start by running under a giant American flag.  I can see Anna surging way ahead, she’s trying to go 6:30 pace.  Last year I averaged 6:42 pace which was a blessing because of my hamstring and foot issues.  But right away I’m forced to go much slower. 

I’m passed by about 50 runners and I’m asking God what my task is.  I know I’m to always give God my 100% effort, despite what the speed looks like.  And I’m also feeling it’s important to show gratitude to be able to run.  There are disabled entrants being pushed in strollers and of course there are those that couldn’t do this race if they wanted to.  I’m supposed to be ready for an Ironman at the end of the month and yet I feel like it’s my first running race, just barely moving along.  But I’m trusting God that there is a purpose in this and I must have a great attitude so I smile.

Mile 1. 9:17. Robin and Ariel started in the 2nd wave and now pass me.  Robin is very encouraging.  She knows how it must feel.  It’s great having Ariel run with me.  We go the same pace to the 1.5mi turn-around for her 5k.  She sees a “25min 5k” pacer go by and says to me, “That’s looks nice”.  I’m glad she’s comfortable enough to think about going faster.. but can she really catch them?  A few minutes later I say goodbye as she makes the turn-around.  I hope she feels energy and has a great race!

Mile 2. 8:38.  I haven’t looked at my watch, but it feels like 10 or 11 min pace. Very slow for me.  But I run proud.  I focus on good form and encouraging some others around me.

Mile 3. 9:11.  I see the leading men go by, with a young bushy-haired kid charging from a ways back in 2nd.  I wonder if he’ll catch him.  Then I start counting the women to see where Robin is.  This part seems so long.  My legs are hurting, probably from compensating.  I would love to see the turn-around soon.  There’s Robin!  I’m smiling.  I’m making the best of it, thanking volunteers, and being impressed with everyone that can run so fast.  Finally, the turn-around.

Mile 4. 9:02.  I look down and am pleasantly surprised to see I’m averaging almost 9min pace.  that’s better than I thought!  And if I can pick it up, I could go under 9.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me a little carrot to shoot for.

Mile 5. 8:56.  It’s all painful now.  But I know the Ironman will be like this – don’t think about how you’re going to finish it all, just think about keeping this effort and at some point I’ll be done.

Mile 6. 8:57.  Yay, just got to get to the bridge and then a 1/2 mile to the finish.  I’m passing 5k walkers now.  I know Robin, Anna, and Ariel are at the finish line waiting for me.  Maybe Jan is finished, too?

Mile 7. 8:44.  I’m surprised I’m actually running a little faster.  Thank you, Lord.  I’m proud of my effort and glad that I’ve had a good attitude.  I hope those around me see someone pushing hard and having a successful race.  And not someone who is remembering going 20min faster the year before.  Because what I want more than anything, is to hear God say, good effort, good attitude.

Finish:  Robin and Anna cheer for me.  Anna says, “I hope I can always have a good attitude like you, Dad”   Robin tells me great job.  Wow, such great support! 


It wasn’t the speed I was expecting, but it was the race I hoped for.  One to feel good about and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments afterwards.  Robin and Anna got 2nd place, both going faster than expected.  Ariel did catch the pacer and got under 25min for a PR.  And Jan won her age group!

Thank you Lord for a good day.  And God Bless the USA.

Crown City 5K-Anna-2019

/Location: July 4, 2019 – Coronado, Ca (Racing here since 2014)
Distances: 5km
Time: 19:40 PR! (Previous PR 20:24, 2018)
Place: 2nd (72 Total), 1- 14 Girls
Others: 5K: Ariel Soares, Jan “Grammie” Heidt;
12K: Robin  & Troy Soares

Coronado 5k

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go! I start to run. I run under the American flag and reach up and touch it. I start running at a 6:35-minute pace. I feel good and confident. I run onto a sidewalk and start passing people. There is a 21-minute pacer behind me. I want to get 20 minutes so I make sure to stay ahead of the pacer. The sidewalk goes along the beach and then under a bridge.

After the bridge, we run on a bike path alongside a golf course. I see a young girl up ahead. I try to slowly catch up to her. At the end of the bike path, I catch up to her. I then turn onto a road and keep running.

I see two girls about my age ahead of me. I slowly gain on one of them. I go by the 1st-mile marker sign and have 2 miles left. I see an aid station up ahead. I pass the girl at the aid station and grab water. The other girl is still pretty far ahead but I keep a steady pace and try to gain.

SportsPhotos_DSC_2810After a while the turn around comes in view. I see people running back and one is a girl who is about my age. But right now I am focusing on catching the other girl. I get to the turnaround and go around. I gain and finally pass the girl in front of me. I know she is close but I don’t think she will stay with me. I only have that older girl in front of me.

I keep running and then see Mom. She gives me encouragement and I kept running. My mom and Dad are doing the 12k so they are going a slower pace. I then see Ariel and Dad running together. Dad told me I was in 2nd. I keep running and see the aid station. I grab water again and continue running. I pass the 2-mile marker and am getting closer. As I am running, people cheer me on. One person tells me I am in 4th overall. I can see the girl in front of me. She is running strong and I don’t think I can catch her but I am going to keep running fast.

I see the bike path up ahead where we turn. I keep running. I know I’m under my pace and I give thanks to God. We run on the road a little longer until we turn on the bike path. It starts to get hard but I keep up the pace. I run on the bike path until I get under the bridge. I run under the bridge and onto the sidewalk. I can see the finish line and the girl ahead. I know I can’t catch her but I give a good effort. I run by people and turn onto the grass. I run hard in and point to God. I am thankful for Him giving me a good race. I see the girl who was ahead on me and tell her, good job and that I couldn’t catch her. I got 19:40 for my time, and my pace was 6:20. I got 2nd in my age group and 4th overall. Thanks to God I had an amazing race.

Praise The Lord For He Is Good, Is Love Endures Forever!