Saturday, December 12, 2020

Elf Run Virtual 10K–Ariel - 2020


12/12/20 Sacramento








Anna & Troy Soares


“5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go!” mom yells. I start running on a small path, with Anna and Dad in Riverbend Park. I’m doing my first 10K; it’s called the Elf Run. Sadly, it is virtual, that’s why I’m running with Anna and Dad. Mom will meet us at the finish line. We are still doing the race where it was initially, which is Sacramento. The race starts in Riverbend Park next to Eppie’s Great Race memorial and ends on a smaller version of the Golden Gate bridge. Dad, Anna, and I turn onto a long bridge called the Harold Richey Memorial Bridge. Many people are running, walking, or biking. Some cross-country runners pass us. Dad tells us about the Eppie’s Great Race. Finally, we get to the end of the bridge.

The bridge is connected to a bike path. While running on the bike path, I began seeing numbers on the ground at every half mile. My dad told me that they were telling you how many miles until you reached Sacramento. He said when the numbers on the ground say eight, I would be at the bridge. Before we reach mile one, Anna and I take a restroom break. I don’t have to go, but the next bathroom is a long way away.

Next to the bike path, there is a small dirt path. Sometimes I run on it because there is no room on the bike path or I accidentally start running on it. We start talking about Wyatt’s race and how he would be running much more than me. He would be running about 17 times more than me. He would be running 100 miles.

IMG_20201212_100010493_HDRAt mile 3 I began to feel a little tired. Anna and Dad motivate me by telling me at Mile 4 ½, I would get to eat my honey gel. Anna and Dad start to joke around. They talk about, what if some were to lie on a bench and sleep then catch up to the people in front. Anna decided to do that. She lied down on a bench until we just passed, then she got up after about 10 seconds and ran after Dad and me. When we get to another bench; she does the same thing. This time Dad gets a picture.

I’m feeling more tired now. The miles and ½ miles are going by really slow. I have reached mile 4. There’s a bathroom there. Dad asks me if I have to go. I tell him I don’t. Anna reminds me that it’s only ½ mile until I get to eat my gel. I keep looking for the 9 ½ marker, because that means I can eat my gel. The trail is shady now. Finally, I get to the 4 ½ mile marker. I get to drink my gel. I open up my gel and start eating it. It's honey and it tastes so good especially after running for a long time. I keep eating it slowly, because it’s hard to eat something while running. There are a couple short hills. They're small but feel big. Dad tells us to run down the hills and coast up the other side, so we don’t waste energy. Anna starts talking to this lady. We pass the lady. Anna tells us that the lady was doing a marathon and that there was a virtual marathon going on.

I look up on the path and see someone in yellow. I realize it’s mom. It’s starting to get less shady. Now it is less shady. I have reached a ½ mile. I run under a bridge. I can see the “Golden Gate” bridge.  I start running faster. The bridge gets closer and closer. I get on the bridge. I can see where I’m supposed to finish. Anna runs ahead to get a picture. I’m right behind her. I sprint. The finish line is right in front of me. I cross it.

My time is 55:49.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wild Turkey 10k (Troy)


11/26/20 Beale’s Point


5.8mi (~10k)




7th male


Anna Soares, Suzanne Hartley

Wow, because of the COVID shut-downs, this is the first in-person race I’ve done since the beginning of March!  We’re so appreciative to have the opportunity to do this.  The local running store, The Aid Station, is putting this on in conjunction with the State Parks at Beale’s Pt near Granite Bay.  It’s a perfect, slightly breezy and cool morning. 


Our FCA Endurance teammate, Susanne, is also here.  Robin, Ariel and Oscar will support as Anna & I run.


We watch Susanne take off with the 5k race.  The 5 of us pray together and commit to give God the glory in all our efforts.  Now it’s our turn.  We have our masks, get our temp checked going into the corral, and space out at the start line.

Our watches are set for 8:00 pace.  Race director, Paulo, gives the signal and we’re off!  We take off and stow our masks as we head over the levy to the fire-road below.  We’re a little chilly but the hill ahead promises to warm us up.

I’m so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to run again!  My right heel had gotten more painful over the last couple years until I wasn’t running at all by the end of summer.  Our friend and champion runner, Baily Cossentine, gave me some advice on running form and I was able to start slowly jogging again.  And then later I was given a stretch that helped even more.  These are gifts from God and I have a greater appreciation for running because of it.  Not only am I able to run longer with Anna, but I can actually keep up as well Smile

Mile 1. 7:42. I have to stop as my right shoe is tied too tight.  Eventually I’m able to catch up to Anna but it isn’t easy.  We’re on the fire roads to the Water Tower Hill which I expect we will climb straight up.  We comment on the runners ahead.. we see 2 women and 6 men.

At 1.5 miles we’re cheered on by Robin and Ariel with Oscar looking so eager to join in!

2 more men pass us and another woman is now running along with us.  She pulls ahead effortlessly on the ups but then fades back on the downhills.  It’s like she’s doing a casual workout.

Mile 2. 7:35.  The course now takes us around the Water Tower Hill and up the gradual side rather than the steep side which is nice.

Although I’m running much better, I have to constantly remember my form of shorter stride and quick pull-back of the fore-foot strike.  If I don’t, I start to feel pain.  Anna pulls ahead on the climb but I work hard to keep close.

Mile 3. 8:45. Down the steep descent is treacherous but no problem for Anna.  We’re on pace but it’s getting harder.  I remind Anna to drink and I do as well.  Everyone carries their own water  (no aid stations).  It’s good to hear Ariel cheering up ahead and see Robin and Oscar as well. It’s hard to talk but I smile and am so glad to see them.

Mile 4. 7:27.  I watch my footing as we descend again into the trails.  A guy ahead asks which way to go and Anna is quick to point out the ribbons for all of us to follow.  After a while at another intersection she sets us straight again.  I’m glad someone is paying attention.

Mile 5. 7:50.  I realize, with Anna’s kick, if I’m going win, I’m going to have to pass her a mile out so I make my move now…  I get ahead, but only for a while.  Then she takes the lead again, but goes off course.. This time it’s me that points the way, but she loses little time and takes the lead again.  Now it’s the final hill (and I realize the race will be a little short).  I watch and hope as Anna charges the hill trying to catch the #2 woman.  I also give it my best. 

Over the top and we’re cheered towards the finish.. although I get confused where to go because I see Anna coming from behind some trees… I guess she went the wrong way.. but it all works out.  She finished 3rd woman and I finished 7th male.

Thank you, Lord, for letting us race again after almost a year and letting my foot get better to run!

Wild Turkey 10k (Anna)


11/26/20 Beale’s Point


5.8mi (~10k)




3rd female


Troy Soares, Suzanne Hartley



3, 2, 1, Go. I start running and take off my mask and put it in my vest. As I'm doing this my headband/ear warmer starts to fall off. I grab it just in time. I'm running with my dad and I hoping that if it's God's will that I can beat him in the end. I’ve just recovered from a hip injury and I'm hoping that it won't act up to in the race. We start to run down below the side of the Levee and we get ready to run back up it. It's pretty cold out but this uphill will hopefully warm me up. At the top of the hill, I'm all warm and my dad and I start to count and memorize the people ahead of us. I know that there are two girls ahead and one girl next to me. If I want to make the podium I'm going to have to stay ahead of the girl next to me. Running around the road and over across another Levi.


I've run here before with my cross country team and it was pretty flat. But we're going on another part of it where there are more trails so it will get pretty hilly. My dad has a lot of people ahead of him and it will probably be pretty difficult for him to get on the podium.

Mile 1. 7:41. As we're running along we start to pass the 5k’ers that had gone before us. I'm kind of surprised were passing them so soon. By now I'm starting to get a little bit ahead of my dad. I'm feeling pretty good and trying not to go too fast so I have energy at the end.

As I go around the corner I see Mom, Ariel, and Oscar in the distance. My dad caught back up and now we're running together. We go past mom and Ariel and they cheer us on. Now we're going out on the trails, it's about to get hilly.

Mile 2. 7:45.  Yes, only 4 more to go.  The girl is still next to me and I've found out that on the uphill she pushes it pretty hard but on the downhills, I can get ahead of her. I try to use the downhills to my advantage. As we continue running, my dad tells me that we're going to be going up a super steep hill that leads to the water tower. When we get close to the super steep hill we pass it. My dad says that the course is going to have us go down the steep hill instead. Supposably the other side is an easier climb, yay. My dad reminds me to drink some water, it's a good thing he does because I probably won't drink for the rest of the run. As we make the loop around, we're all mainly staying together. There are a few people in the distance and the girl still right next to us.

We run up, down, and around.  We turn and start going up the other hill to the water tower. I recognize this spot from the Chanoko 5 mile run. It is a pretty hard climb and I try not to let the girl get farther ahead of me. She pushes it up the hill but as she gets close to the top she starts to walk. Now is my chance. I tried to push hard up the hill but not enough to waste a ton of energy. I'm able to just pass her as I get to the top.


Mile 3. 8:33. My legs are like jello when I go from pushing up a hill to flat and they're exhausted. We start to go down the super steep side. It might have been better that we'd come up this side because we're running so fast down it and it's kind of dangerous. My dad tells me not to twist an ankle. I normally twist ankles a lot but I'm going to try to keep my feet firm here. I go down dodging the rocks and trying to keep a good speed so I can gain distance from the girl behind me. My knees are kind of getting a little sore going down this, but I'm almost to the bottom. I see a guy in front of me turn back onto the trail and I follow. We get back onto the trail we were on and start running back towards the levee where Mom and Ariel are. I'm feeling pretty good and we are almost done with this course. I see a younger boy who had started in the lead, I put him as my target. As we run around curves, uphill, and the downhills I'm slowly gaining. I pass him and tell him good job. I also hear my dad's breathing behind me, so he caught up to me again. I don't hear the girl so that's a plus. I know we're getting close to Mom and Ariel.


Mile 4. 7:33. We see Mom and Ariel and they cheer us on. They tell us that a friend of ours is up ahead. They also tell me I'm the third girl and should try to catch the second girl. Right now all I want to do is just stay ahead of the girl behind me. Sadly we don't continue on the levee and we go back on the trails where it's nice and hilly, boo. There's a guy up ahead and he looks back to ask where to go, I see a flag on a bush branch and tell him to go left. As we go through the winding trails we come to another intersection and the guy starts to go the wrong way. I quickly tell him to go left where the flag is. They have really bad markings, there's no chalk, there are only little flags in different spots to tell you where to go. They need to do a better job next time at marking the course. As we continue on the trails I continue to keep my eyes open for the flags to help guide the people behind me the right way. Later after the race, I found out the girl behind us got a little bit lost because she couldn't see where we went.

Mile 5. 7:44. We're so close to being done! But now it feels like I'm in a dream and I'm trying to run but I'm not going anywhere. My legs are dead and it takes so much effort just to move them. I hear my dad behind me and I tell myself I'll have a good attitude if he beats me. Surprisingly I stay ahead of him for a little bit but then he passes me. I get right on his tail though and I don't let him get any further ahead of me. We're coming up to a downhill and I'm able to get ahead. I know the downhill will help me get a teeny bit ahead of him. I run down the trail and across a road and continue on the trails. I can see the Levee way up above and I know we will soon have to run up it. I'm on a winding trail and I try not to let my dad pass me. I continue to force my legs to move and I have no idea how much longer my legs can go. I'm trying to keep my form good but I'm very tired. Hopefully, if it's God's will I will not be hurting my hip right now. I go around the corner and I see a girl ahead of us starting to go up the levee. Okay, this is the last hill and then the finish line. I know I just have to stay ahead of my dad. As I'm running my dad tells me that I missed the little cross-part over the small rock gorge. I jump from where I am and I make it over. Too bad I had to jump and use some of my energy.


I'm coming up to the levy and I try to get my legs going pretty fast. It's like God is pushing me up that hill because I have energy and once my legs started moving they didn't stop. I didn't know if they could keep me going this speed all the way up the hill. The top of the hill keeps getting closer and closer and I'm hoping I can just keep this momentum to the top. I know my dad is not close behind me for now. I get to the top and I'm tired. I'm not sure where to go. I see a trai off to the left so I start going down it. I get to the bottom and I realize I went to the other side of the finish line. I curve back and go into the finish line and finish. I went a little bit of the wrong way at the end, but it didn't add much distance, I still had the same race distance as my dad's.


I finish the race and collapse after pointing to God going through the arch.

God gave me a lot of strength especially up that Levee and now I could just rest and get my calories back at Thanksgiving. I thank God for giving me a great race, keeping my hip well, helping me get 3rd, and letting me beat my dad. The course was a little short so if it was the right distance my dad could have beat me, who knows. Happy Thanksgiving!

Praise The Lord For He Is Good His Love Endures Forever

Friday, July 24, 2020

Agony Ironman–Robin-2020


7/24/2020 Folsom, CA


2.4M Swim – 112M Bike – 26.2M Run


13:56:31 (1:15:32-9:03-7:07:02-5:37-5:18:56)


NA (=


Karen Bonnett Natraj

Today is the day!  My race goal this year was to compete in the Ironman Santa Rosa race on July 25. Unfortunately (but really fortunately), that race has been cancelled. I still wanted to complete the distance of 140.6 Miles (2.4 Miles Swimming-112 Miles Biking-26.2 Miles Running) and so I felt God leading me to do the Ironman distance for Christian Encounter Ranch (CER).  Our family has been friends and supporters of CER for many years.

Christian Encounter Ranch is a domestic mission organization with the unique purpose of discipling and counseling troubled young people. These young people come to CER with major damage from families, society, and/or their own poor choices. As a domestic mission, we are dependent on the loving generosity of mission-minded ministry partners.

Every year CER puts on the Agony Ride, their largest fundraiser.  IM Santa Rosa was scheduled for the same weekend as Agony so the timing is perfect.

(The) annual Agony Ride is an opportunity for (CER’s) partners to participate in (their) vital mission. Some of (the) staff and approximately ninety other riders attempt to push their limits by riding as far as they can in 24 hours. The Agony has become more than just a personal challenge; it now stands as a pointed demonstration of Christ's love for our students as well as a witness for Christ in the communities of the Sierra Valley."

This year, due to COVID, the Agony Bike Ride is virtual.  Instead of a huge support group helping all the riders in one place, about 95 riders & support crews are spread across 22 cities around the country (and even in Uganda!).  My Agony will be unique in that part of my ride will include a swim and a run.   The best part is the great motivation I have to finish this “race” - the kids, the staff and Christ leading it.  I found a group of riders that are meeting in nearby Lincoln for their Agony Ride.  They included the Blackburn Family (Tom, Grace and Amy) from our Life Group (Bible Study).  We incorporated their SAG stop and part of their 20 mile loop course into my bike course towards the end.  I really hope to connect with the Blackburns if the timing is right!

My IM training buddy, Karen Bonnett Natraj, decided to join me for the whole distance!  She’s training for an Ultraman (320 miles over 3 days vs. 140 miles in 1 day for an Ironman) so my Ironman distance should seem short to her.  Karen is starting at 6:30am and I am starting at 7am with the hope we’ll connect at the Agony SAG later in the day.

I wake up early to spend time with Jesus.  It’s been a tumultuous few weeks.  Last week I injured a tendon on the outside of my left knee.  It hurts all the time.  It hurts to walk up or down hill/stairs and it basically hurts to run.  I was able to get in 7 miles this past Sunday.  After 4 miles, it seemed to improve but still hurt.  On Monday of this week, someone broke into my car at Rattlesnake Bar (which is the start of my Agony IM).  They stole my phone, house keys, purse, wallet, library books and clothes while I was swimming.  Some fishermen saw what might be the suspects’ car.  Then our security camera got footage of that car driving by our house 3 times later that day.  That was really concerning because I knew they had my house keys.

Now it’s race day and I’m carrying my father-n-law’s cell phone (I still don’t have one) so Troy can track me.  I’m still mad at myself for so much being stolen and feel vulnerable to what could happen next.  With all this floating around in my mind… if it wasn’t for Jesus, there is no way I could get through this race today. 


Karen heads out with her neighbor, Landy, as support in a kayak and Ariel supporting on paddleboard.  Ariel knows the course and is leading Karen while also being a visual for passing boats.  I’m up soon!  Anna will be leading me out on another paddle board.  The water continues to drop drastically each time I come here.  Today, I have to walk further out in order to get in the water. 


I get to the swim start.  Julie, a friend who trains with Karen and I, is there to send me off and take pictures.  Troy is also there ready to send me off.


Ready, set, go!  Here we go!  No turning back!


As I follow the paddleboard out of the now small cove, I also look for the landmarks Troy told me about.  On an average swim out here I try to get sub-10 min per 500.  Often on the way back it can be even slower.  I’m hoping this is not the case today!  Today, I would like to stay at sub- 9 min pace for the entire swim.

The first 500 is 8:43. Yay!  I’m feeling good.

The 2nd 500 is 8:38.  All right.  Anna is doing a great job staying straight and keeping a good pace. 

The 3rd 500 is 8:08!  Wow!  Great!  I can see Ariel heading back now with Karen. 

The 4th 500 is 8:43. Almost to the turn around!  Anna tells me it’s time but looking at my watch I decide to go a few more yards just in case I’m short coming back.  I turn around and wonder what my pace will be like coming back.

The 5th 500 is 8:08 again!  Nice! 

The 6th 500 is 8:44. I can tell I’ve slowed a bit.  I really try to focus on pulling the water effectively while keeping my head down for as long as possible. 

The 7th 500 is 8:58.  Just barely under 9!  Got to hang in there!

The 8th 500 is 8:57.  Oh boy, so close now.  Don’t want to lose my groove!  At my best in an Ironman surrounded by thousands of athletes I can do a 1:06 total.  I’ll be over 1:10 today but I’ll take it for swimming solo with no draft.  


Just a little bit more!  I can almost see the finish.  I can see Julie videotaping me as I come into the cove.  I’m pushing good now.  Anna pulls off and I’m here!  It’s a 1:15 swim. I take off my wetsuit then get out of the water and start the long journey to my bike.



I get to my bike and see Karen head out.  I grab my bike gear and run to the bathroom.  It takes me 9 minutes to finally get all ready to go!  That rivals my cold IM Tahoe T1 in 2013.  Ok, time to go!



I head out with motivation.  I have a goal of getting a moving time of 6:30 hours.  With stops I hope to make the cumulative time less than 7 hours.  I’m wearing my new FCA tri jersey and race cleats.  I’ve got my race wheels on.  Time to move!  It’s a good climb getting out of the park and there are a few small climbs that follow.  Once I hit 5 miles I’m just under 15mph.  Got to pick it up now.  As I pull up to the new light at Cavitt Stallman, I can see the light changing.  I surge and get through before it turns red.

Around Mile 10 I see Julie taking pictures.  I smile and wave.  I can see Karen up ahead.  Looks like we’ll cross paths sooner than expected.  I follow Karen for another 6 miles.  Everytime I get close, she gets through several stoplights while I don’t.  In a real Ironman there is no stopping for traffic, they stop for the racers.  I don’t have that luxury today.

Finally I catch her as she makes a turn off Auburn-Folsom.  We ride together through this short detour to get over to Prairie City.  Once on Prairie City, we part ways as I pull ahead. As the terrain turns rural, the shoulder disappears and the road is rolling which makes for many blind areas for cars coming behind.  This is one of 2 of my least favorite parts of this course.  It is necessary though to be able to enjoy a lot of great roads and a great bike path.  We choose Friday for racing today to avoid weekend traffic on the roads and on the run course later.  It’s not terribly busy but the cars that come by are moving fast.  I try to put my hand out to slow them down if I know that there is a car coming from the other direction.

I make it through the worst of it and turn off this road.  I’m still concerned about Karen so I pull over for a moment to see if she makes it.  I see her and she looks good!  Thank you Lord! 

No stoplights for miles now!  Yay!  Now I can tuck into aero position and push.  For the next 8 miles I get my moving average to over 17 mph.  Just one more yucky section to go through.  No shoulder and rolling hills.  Fortunately I get passed by just a few cars here and they pass safely. Thank you Lord!

I make it to Jackson Hwy and push again.  The first opportunity for a bathroom break is coming up.  I pull over and there is Julie!  We chat a bit and then I’m off again.  She can see that Karen is not too far behind on her phone. 

At Mile 38, I hit a stoplight at a major road.  Darn.  I get going again and get stuck again just a little further down the road.  I can see the bike path from where I am at but I’m stuck here.  My moving average is still 17 but with the pit stop and these lights, my overall average is more like 16.4.

Ah, the bike path!  This place is basically deserted on weekdays and I just tuck in again and get moving.

It’s over 10 miles of bliss. I do have to cross Sunrise Blvd but am able to do it quickly since the road is clear at that moment.  I really need a bathroom.  I keep looking.  I go through the narrow dark tunnel safely, phew!  As I exit, I find a spot. 

Just a little further around Mile 50 is the first Soares official Aid Station.  I see my family!  Anna is playing her trumpet while Troy and Ariel wave and cheer.  Thank you Lord for my family!  I know it’s not easy supporting at real Ironman events and this is even more difficult.  They have to track me and Karen somehow.  Glad Julie was also available today to help! They hand me fresh bottles but they are still completely frozen.  I take one and tell them to let the other thaw until the next Aid Station.  I grab a few snacks and it’s time to go.  Hugs and kisses and time to go!

Over to the Folsom bike path I go. It’s about 5 miles.  It’s pretty quiet because it’s Friday late morning.  I don’t try to hammer through here out of respect for folks who are recreational. 

Finally I exit and head over and through a nice and quiet neighborhood in north Folsom that Troy and I discovered.  It gets me to the start of the competitive Coffee Republic ride route.  

The next Soares Aid Station is at a park ahead. Perfect timing, bathroom needed again.  I pull in and don’t see the family.  I head out again but still no family.  I saw them 10 short miles ago so I guess it was too hard for them to make it.  I press on and trust God that all is well and I will see them all soon!

I catch the light at Douglass just in time.  The ride is nice and quiet until I pass Cavitt Stallman.  It gets narrow and turns into a climb.  The cars are actually pretty nice here today so not too  stressful. Thank you Lord!

Now I’ll ride through Rocklin and over to Lincoln to the Lincoln Agony Ride Main SAG. 


Mile 68.  As i’m riding down Granite Dr. in Rocklin, I see Troy!  They found me!  I pull over and get my extra bottle and some food.  That is a nice boost!  I’m good to go until Lincoln.

As I am about to enter Lincoln I take advantage of another bathroom stop.  I am sure all these stops are adding up!  Once I pass the Agony Main SAG, no more stops I hope!  In Lincoln there are few miles with stoplights and I pray I can make it through them all! I get ready to do some surging. 

God answers my prayers and I make it through all the lights!  It took some hard sprinting to do it but it was good motivation to move! 


Mile 83.  I thankfully find the Agony Main SAG tucked away in a business in a very quiet neighborhood.  Troy and the girls are there along with the Blackburn Sag: son Donald, his girlfriend Hannah and Susan from church.  Although I am feeling the need to get this ride done, I take a few extra minutes to say hi to everyone and enjoy some fresh fruit. 


As I leave, I am feeling like I need to hurry.  As I look the overall time on the bike I can see that all my stops now add up to 30 extra minutes!  Although my moving speed is 17, my overall speed is under 16 mph! 


I see Karen as I head out.  Since I’m rushing I decide I don’t want to wait at the light to turn left.  Instead I decide to turn right to make a u-turn.  Bad idea!  There is a dirt median.  I start to try and a Sheriff goes by.  Oops!  I wait in the middle until he passes.  I feel God telling me that this race is for His Glory so I don’t need to take risks to get to the finish. I decide I will wait next time and let Him determine the remaining stops.  He knows my hearts desires.  I leave it His hands now.

Now our route will take us on part of the Agony route.  I hope to see the Blackburns! 

Mile 90.   I see a pack of riders coming toward me.  I look closely and see Tom!  I think he’s with his daughter Amy.  I wave and he waves back.  A few miles down the road I can see that I’m catching up to another pack of riders.  Could that be Grace?  I know that they are going to turn off and go in a different direction soon.  I push hard and am able to barely catch up in time.  It is Grace!  Pull up next to her and say hi.  I say goodbye and we part part ways.  Thank you Lord!  What perfect timing!

Mile 95.  I have one last big climb ahead followed by a few smaller climbs.  No more breaks, the stops are up to the Lord.  Just going to get to T2 as soon as I am able.  The climb up Sierra College to English Colony is tough and hot and my average speed suffers.  I don’t mind, I’m at 100!  Just 12 to go! 

Mile 103.  Short climb up King.

Mile 107.  Short, steep climb on Dick Cook.  Back on Auburn Folsom now!  I only get a few miles of flat but it’s a nice break.  Soon I’m turning on Twin Rocks.  This is it!  I make it to the backside of Granite Beach park and hit the dirt path to the park road.  Nice, a flat to the finish!  I’m going to be just over 6:30 for the moving time and just over 7 hours for the overall average.  Almost exactly what I was hoping for!  Thank you Jesus!


As I’m pulling into the Granite Beach Parking area, I can see Troy and the girls have just arrived.  They see me and quickly grab some of my gear.  I can see the staging area.  Ariel and Julie are there. I pull over and park my bike.


Ariel accidentally hands me the wrong bag.  I describe the right one to her and she races off to get it.  She’s back in a jiffy.  I run to the bathroom to change into my run gear.  I decide to do a full change for the run to be more comfortable.   I’m off in a little over 5 minutes.



I head out while it’s getting hot but I feel NO PAIN yet!  Praise Jesus!  This is awesome! I hope this is a lasting trend!  I’m also averaging sub-10 min per mile pace for the first few miles. 

My next Aid will be at mile 7.  Sounds do-able but soon I realize that I won’t have enough water for the journey. 

At Mile 3, I’m still running pain free but almost out of water.  I’m still averaging sub-10 pace.  Beale’s Point is ahead but to get to a fountain I have to go pretty far off course.  I rack my brain for a place to stop.  I remember there is a Watershed Museaum coming up.  It’s got to be closed but maybe there is a drinking fountain there that works. 

Around Mile 4, I get to the museum and see a fountain.  Please Lord, let it work!  it does!!  Thank you Jesus.  I am able to fill up my bottle and wet my hat.  That was so needed!

My Garmin tells me the battery is dying. Oh dear!  I will see if I can grab Anna’s Garmin.

I am at around 10 min pace with the stop but get it back down to sub-10.  I finally make it to the first Soares Run Aid Station, the Lake Natoma Inn.  Troy has booked a room so we can get ice and bathroom access…and the two of us get to stay here alone tonight.  Something to look forward to!  I can tell that he just got there and Julie as well.  Ariel takes me into the bathroom.  I try to go. They fill my bottle and give me some oranges.  I ask for my tube sock filled with ice to wear on my neck.  They cannot find it so Troy puts some ice in my hat.  Before I leave I ask Anna if she can loan me her watch when I see her next.  Of course she says yes.  Troy shows me the way to the bike path. 

As I head out, I realize I forgot to tell him about my knee!  Although the sun is so hot, it is so nice not to also be in pain!  I have energy and I’m just around 10:15 pace with the stop.

Mile 9 and 10 are good.  But just before Mile 11, I feel like my heart is racing.  I remember that I have the heart rate monitor going and I click over to it.  My heart rate is over 170!  I’m not running too hard, I’m running too hot.  I decide to walk to get it under control.  I pray for God to bring Troy to help me.  In a few minutes he appears towing the aid station in a bike trailer.   Thank you Lord!  Anna is with him and she gives me her watch as Troy fills up my bottle with water and my hat with ice.  I use a bathroom and then continue on.

Troy shows me the loop. Anna reminds me that I’m doing this for the kids at CER.  Right!  This really is agony right now but it’s temporary.  I tell them that I am running pain free and that is a gift.

As Troy and Anna stop to adjust the trailer, I get ahead.  I turn the corner and there is a perfectly clean yet damp tube sock in the middle of the path.  I pick it up and thank God.  I can now have my ice sock!  Troy and Anna show up and they fill up the sock with ice.  Ahhh, that’s nice! 

Troy takes off to find Karen and Anna stays with me. 


Mile 13 to 14.5 back to the hotel is brutal.  Although the hills on a normal day are small, they are tough today.  I walk the uphills to keep my heartrate from skyrocketing and drag myself through the flats and downhills.  I see Karen and she encourages me.  I know she’s hurting too but yet she’s smiling and cheering me on.  I smile and return the encouragement.

I make it to the hotel for aid.  Julie and Ariel give me water and cold bananas and oranges.  Yum.  Anna and Ariel head out with me.  My watch dies and I turn Anna’s on.

We are heading out on the other side of the Lake Natoma.  It’s touch and go.  I’m running ok one moment and then walking the next.  I try to eat Clif Bloks but they are too sweet and I cannot keep them down.  Chips and oranges are good.

Troy catches up and attaches the trailer to Anna’s bike. He tells us to look for a clockwise trail known as Mississippi Bar.  He mentions Shadow Glen Stables parking area.  I think I’ve got it.  

We come upon a bike path going off to the right.  Maybe this is it.  I really have to go the bathroom so I turn.  Troy said there is a bathroom out here…but have to find an alternative.  Once we are a half mile up the trail, I realize that this is going counter-clockwise.  Oops!  We figure we can just do it backwards. 

We get to the Shadow Glen parking area.  Yay!  There is a horse stable here and folks being taken out on rides.  That looks like fun!  I see a road with cars driving by.  That must be Greenback Road.  That’s probably not the way to go.  I pick a trail going by the stable.  Pretty soon we see a maze of trails and have no idea where to go.  I hand the phone i’m carrying over to Ariel and ask her to call Troy.  Anna continue to be positive and look for a clear path.  I decide to walk so I don’t get too far in the wrong direction. 

We don’t have the right trail and are lost but Troy tells Ariel for us to head towards the lake.  We pick a path and go.  Since I’ve switched watches, I’m not exactly sure what mile I am on.  Maybe Mile 20?  With this mishap, will I get the right miles?  And even know if I have enough miles?  Anna trys to assure me it’s going to be okay and I blow up.  “I don’t know how far I’ve gone or if I’m going to be short”.  I see tears well up in her eyes.  I apologize and hug her.  “I’m sorry Anna!”  She immediately forgives me.

The trail is getting really narrow…too narrow for Anna to get through with the trailer.  She decides to find another way out while Ariel continues to follow me.

Finally, we are back on the main bike path.  Anna finds us.  I start to run pretty steady again.  We run into Troy and explain everything.  He thinks I am only a 1/2 short so I decide to take on more before I run the last miles in Downtown Folsom.  Karen and I are really far apart now.  It’s getting dark and we realize that he needs to stay with her to show her the right way to go.  That means he won’t see me finish.  It’s a tough decision but the right one.  He takes back the trailer and we part ways.  Ariel heads out with me while Anna gets instructions for the final miles. 

I head out and see Karen, and Julie is running with her.  We encourage one another as we part.

I decide to swich entirely to drinking Coke.  Ariel tries to give me the Coke several times while biking with me but one of us keeps dropping it.  I hand her my water bottle and tell her to fill it up halfway.  We have a successful exchange!  I continue to run pretty steady througth it all.

Anna catches up.  We send Ariel across the walking bridge back to the hotel while Anna and I do a little extra to make up for the 1/2 mile.  Finally, we get to cross the bridge and turn on the Johnny Cash Bike Trail (JCBT) to finish up the last 2 miles.  Wow, almost done!  It’s getting dark.  There are a few shady characters up ahead and I tell Anna to stay close. 

This is a tough mile!  It’s a climb up the JCBT!  I’m surprised.  I am tired but able to run pretty well.

Finally, it’s flat!  We run through some quiet downtown neighborhoods.  It’s nice and cool and quiet! 


We get to the downtown where lots of people are enjoying outdoor dining.  Anna annouces “Ironman athlete coming through”.  I hear some cheers.  This is neat!  It really reminds me of the finish of Ironman Coeur d’Alene.  I’m so close now!

Anna assures me that we are close to the hotel now.  We get to the parking lot.  I see Ariel, Nattu (Karen’s husband), and our swim buddy Christa and her husband Dan.  They cheer me in and Christa announces “You are an Ironman”.


Thank you Lord! So, so good to be done!  Yay!  Cannot wait to see Troy and cheer Karen in!


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Firecracker 5k

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7/4/2020 Auburn, CA


5K (just under)




7th? (Male)


Cossentine: Bailey & Matty; Gallo: Emily, Enzo & June; Ganzenhuber: Gannon, Steve, Zachary; Nickel: Ben & Ellie; Soares: Anna, Ariel, Robin; Anna, Bernie, Krista & Julie Sopky; Mona Baughman, Caryn Galeckas, Suzanne Hartley, Jennifer Wright


Usually we’re in San Diego on the 4th but because of the coronavirus we’re in Auburn and the blessing in disguise is that we get to participate in Karen Nicke’s Firecracker 5k which gathers food for the Interfaith Food Closet.  Robin and the girls are excited because they’ve never done it like I have the 2 years I wasn’t able to go to San Diego.

The loop is an easy-to-follow, but not so easy-to-run, familiar route around the Skyridge Neighborhood.  The Nickel’s mark the course with lots of personal touches. Registration looks very official and social distancing for coronavirus is in play.

Unfortunately, my right heel is really bothering me and I can barely jog for a warm up.  But I will do what the Lord allows me to do.

Some of us gather and pray, trying to keep our hearts and minds on Jesus, especially when the competition of racing can distract us.

Karen plays the National Anthem on the banjo.  It’s a special moment.

Now it’s time to start.  There will be some fast running ahead with 4 Placer High School runners, 2 HS runners from Stockton, and Baily Cossentine (a national champion pushing a baby stroller). Go!

Oscar and I start off and quickly end up mid-pack.  On the climb up Maidu Rd, I meet the runner next to me, Scott and we encourage each other.  Oscar is annoyed I think that we aren’t running faster, but this is as fast as my foot can go.  Scott and I talk about running, training and run training with dogs.  I pass Ariel and Ellie running together.  Down the long hill, up the other side and now the short steep “50 yds of fun”.  My foot won’t warm up but the Lord is good and I believe I’ll run again without pain one of these days.

In the neighborhood I pull ahead of Scott, but near the finish he’s able to catch up and it makes for a great finish… even though he did beat me by a toe.


We got to cheer a lot of friends today and then afterwards cheered the younger kids in the “1 Mile” race.

God is great, today is great, and we still live in a great country with great heros that gave us our freedom!

Firecracker 5K–Ariel-2020


7/4/2020 Auburn, CA


5K (just under)




6th (Female)


Cossentine: Bailey & Matty; Gallo: Emily, Enzo & June; Ganzenhuber: Gannon, Steve, Zachary; Nickel: Ben & Ellie; Soares: Anna, Robin & Troy; Anna, Bernie, Krista & Julie Sopky; Mona Baughman, Caryn Galeckas, Suzanne Hartley, Jennifer Wright


5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go! I start running. I see Ellie a little bit ahead of me, so I catch up to her and start running with her. We turn to the right and keep going straight. Ellie and I are running together still. We run down a hill by the fire station. Ellie points out the chalk signs they made before the race.

We turn to go up a long hill. I hear Daddy behind me. I turn around and see him getting closer. He passes us. At the top of the hill, we keep going straight and pass a different Anna, Anna S, that is Ellie's friend. She starts running with us, but then gets far ahead. We start going down a long hill. Ellie points out some more signs. One says go, Ariel. I tell Ellie I'm going to go fast down this hill. I pick up speed. Ellie catches up with me again.

We pass the green gate and go down the hill. I see Anna S again. She stops and waits for us. Anna S starts running with us too. I go a little faster down this hill and then we start running up a gradual long hill. Ellie gets a cramp. Anna S and Ellie start walking. I keep running.

After a little bit, they catch up to me. We go a little farther. Anna S starts walking and falls behind. We turn up a steep hill and when we get to the top. I tell Ellie I'll see you at the finish. I start going faster. I see another one of Ellie's friends up ahead and I want to pass her. I keep a good steady pace. I run up a small hill and then down a hill. I turn onto a neighborhood road and I can hear cheering. I sprint faster and I see Ellie's friend ahead. I sprint up a small hill. I'm pretty sure I can't catch her but I still try. I turn and sprint into the finish line. Almost. I finished with 28 minutes.