Sunday, June 14, 2020

Rock Tahoe Virtual 1/2 Marathon-Robin-2020


6/14/2020 Auburn, CA


13.1 Miles (1/2 Marathon)




18th (Women)


Troy Soares

This is our 2nd virtual race this season. I’m not a big fan of virtual racing mostly because of the variance of results but today I get to do it with Troy and get help from my friend Karen Nickel and Anna. It is also good practice for my longest and hopefully last virtual race. Next month I’ll be doing a family supported Ironman to raise money for one of our favorite ministries, Christian Encounter Ranch.

The goal is to try to maintain 8:20 pace, which is what I did in the 10k of the Virtual Olympic Distance Duathlon.  I feel nervous but I want to remember that nothing is more important than Jesus and my family. It’s easy for me to the let the stress of racing overwhelm me to the point of neglecting my godly responsibilities. Trying hard to overcome that and I know with the Lord’s help it is possible. And this morning there is a family issue that needs to be dealt with that makes me late getting out the door for a warm up. I don’t pass with flying colors but I see some progress made. I actually find I have ample time to get ready. Thank you Lord! That is your grace and mercy!

We have made a two-loop course that passes by our house so that we can get aid easily. Karen will do the first loop and Anna and Oscar the dog the second loop. The three of us pray for the run ahead. Praying for Troy’s foot to feel good and Karen’s hamstrings.

Ready, set, go! It feels good starting out. We even are able to actually all chat together. I am pleasantly surprised. I know as we get further along that will change! I realize that I again forgot to set my Garmin to show the current mile pace. All I can see is the overall mile pace. That is probably mentally better anyway. This way I cannot micro manage myself.

Mile 1: My watch beeps first for 8:00 .. Troy’s beeps further and says 8:11. Big difference! This watch has always been generous in pace and distance. I know by the end there will be a difference between Troy and I and it won’t be fair. Virtual racing is just hard to manage!

It’s nice not to have Oscar to focus on today for Troy. He is a very competitive dog indeed and loves to lead. He’ll get his chance with Anna. I think it’ll help Troy’s foot stay stable by not having to make sudden movements with Oscar this time.

Mile 2: 8:26  (Troy’s is 8:25). Up along Auburn Folsom it’s nice and flat. We near a section where I took a hard fall a month ago. I actually ended up scraping my chin because my hands didn’t catch me in time. I make it by the spot.

We hit the big hill of the course. It feels good but I know it will get harder next time.

Mile 3: 8:02. Troy’s is 8:00. Interesting!

I continue to feel strong and am able to talk pretty comfortably! Karen is my steady running buddy. She clicks off the miles smoothly and consistently.

Mile 4: 7:49  (Troy’s is 8:09!) Just over two miles until home. The next dreaded hill is Perkins Way. It doesn’t visibly look tough but the grade can reach 6%! This will be torture next time. A little later Troy jokes that Karen can turn off and run to her house. This is the road we use to get to each other’s houses.

Mile 5: 8:41. Karen tells us about a house fire in this neighborhood. Troy and I realize it’s our fellow track runner Tia. We are so sad to see the house roped off. Everyone got out safely…praise the Lord!

Mile 6: 8:09. Almost home! I feel good. I’m still chatting comfortably and we are maintaining just under 8:20 pace.

As we run up to our house, Anna is waiting with Oscar and Ariel has an aid station set up. I stop to get an orange and fill up my water bottle. We say so long to Karen and head out. It was a pretty quick transition but we lost some time. It’s tough climbing up Twietmeyer Hill (steep hill on our street).

Mile 7: 8:55. It’s starting to feel more difficult. Anna’s fresh energy is so helpful and the downhill from home. She takes on the work of managing Oscar and keeping my goal pace. Soon we are climbing what looks like a false flat along the abandoned road along the river. This is tough and I flash back to the Resolution Run where we had to run this section after a tough climb.

Mile 8: 8:17. Troy tells us we are behind pace. Part of me thinks this is good enough. According to my watch I’m running under 8:20 pace which is faster than my 10k at the duathlon. I know I cannot settle and need to keep trying.

Mile 9: 8:17. We hit the hill on Auburn Folsom up to Indian Hill. It’s so tough and I fall behind Troy and Anna. Troy tells us we are still off pace. I am able to surge through the Sawka neighborhood with Anna. Troy stops to stretch. He catches back up as we climb back up to Indian Hill.

Troy is surging ahead now. Anna is with me and helping me to hold on.

Mile 10: 8:18. Anna veers off and heads home to get Ariel. They plan to meet us towards the end. I am trying to pick it up to catch Troy but I feel like I’m maxed out.

Mile 11: 8:17. Ugh, Perkins Wy Hill! I feel like I’m crawling up the hill. Troy is running strong and maintaining his lead. I just keep trying my best and trying not to settle.

Mile 12. 8:33 (Troy’s is 7:58). So close now to being done. I won’t be able to catch Troy but I’m still digging deep. Thank you Lord! Almost done! Now I’m on Maidu and doing our Mile TT course. I think about being fast.

As I turn onto Burlin, I can hear Anna and Ariel cheering behind me. I think they thought we were coming from a different direction. I wave hoping they can see me. It’s too hard to turn around and look for them.

I realize it will be a bit short. As I hit the house I’m at 12.7 according to my watch. I see Troy running beyond.

Mile 13. 7:32. I finally hit the 13.1 but I see Troy still running. He is clearly ahead of me but my watch thinks different. I continue to run until he stops. My time is still faster than his, but he ran further. It’s a bit frustrating for me that my Garmin is unfair, but Troy doesn’t mind. Well I know I ran faster compared to my Duathlon so I’m happy. Thank you Lord!!


Rock Tahoe Rock-n-Roll 1/2 Marathon–Socially Distanced (Troy)


6/14/2020 Auburn, CA


13.1 Miles (1/2 Marathon)




52nd (o/a)


Robin Soares

On Mar 6th, at Robin’s Napa Valley Marathon expo, Ariel spun the wheel and won an entry to a race we’ve never done, the Rock Tahoe 1/2. 

It would be perfect for Robin’s upcoming Ironman prep, and it would be a beautiful getaway race.  So Robin & I signed up.

As we all know, the next week marked the beginning of the end of racing as we knew it. 

So Rock Tahoe became a virtual race that each athlete would do on their own.

We would miss the beautiful gleam of Lake Tahoe, the crisp air of the mountains, and the motivating beat of the bands that play along the course.

But we would still train and push ourselves to the best of our ability.. and see how our results stacked up against a thousand others.

Just as the coronavirus ceased all race gatherings, Robin suffered a dibilitating running injury which allowed her to bike only for 2 months… and since pools were closed, that was the only exercise she got.

At the same time, my right foot heel pain got worse and really limited my running.

By June, though, thanks to the Lord, Robin was back to running well! 

But my heel still limited training.  It didn’t stop me all-together.  Thanks to my daughter, Anna, she continued dragging me out the door to keep up with her training which helped me. 

I got in a couple 10mi runs and, ready-or-not, it’s time for the 1/2 marathon.

Robin created a great 2 loop course in our neighborhood.  Only 850 ft of climbing which is as flat as Auburn gets.  We suit up in FCA Endurance yellow. 

At 6:45am we’re warmed up, fueled up, stretched and ready to start.  Karen Nickel joins us for the 1st 1/2.

We pray.  I specifically ask the Lord to give me, and the rest of us, the appreciation for His goodness even when it hurts.. and I know that it will.  I want to remember and be thankful even when it isn’t going as well as I would like.. because I am so blessed just to be able to train!


Robin is going for an 8:20 pace if possible and that sounds like a good goal for me, too.    It’s a great start, especially being able to run with Karen and catch up on things. The temp is perfect and the 1st mile is downhill.

Mile 1: 8:11. Ahead of pace but hills to come.  I push ahead a bit in anticipation... but then my foot hurts a little so I stop to stretch.  I catch back up at Railhead Park.

Mile 2: 8:33. Not bad for climbing. Average is 8:21.

Mile 3 & 4: 8:00, 8:09. Doing great. Picking it up because of mile 5 hill ahead.  Perkins is a steep hill, I watch my form and my foot holds up.

Mile 5: 8:46.  Glad that hill is over! (although have to do it one more time)  And our average is 8:20. Perfect!

Mile 6: 8:19. Coming down our street I thankfully see a makeshift aid-station setup by our girls.  Cold water, oranges, I grab a Honey Stinger.  Karen is done.  We really appreciated having her run 1/2 with us.  Anna joins us with a very happy dog, Oscar!  Usually I run him but Anna is taking charge so I can focus on just surviving the run. 

Mile 7: 9:03. Even with the faster running on the Maidu Rd downhill, it was a slow mile due to the aid-station stop.

Mile 8: 8:23. Back at Railhead Park. Average is 8:25 which means we’re 40 secs behind.  But Robin’s Garmin has different mileage and says she’s actually right on pace.

Mile 9: 8:30. Foot is hurting and legs are really sore now.  This is where it gets tough to smile and be positive, but I remember my prayer at the beginning and that the Lord will give me the strength to remain positive and appreciative. Thank you, Lord.

Mile 10: 8:20. Really getting tough but only a 5k to go. But being 50 secs behind means it has to be a faster 5k.  I encourage Robin and start to pull ahead.  She’s also picking it up but not able to match.  I hope she’s able to catch me, maybe on the hill.  Anna pulls off and heads for home to be at the finish for us.

Mile 11: 8:13. That helps! 8:24 average… and the Perkins hill ahead!  After the hill I really push hard through the flat neighborhoods, trying to make up time.

Mile 12: 7:58. Great! 8:22 average, 24 secs behind!  Robin is not far behind me.  Some good downhills now so just have to maximize them for a fast last mile.. it’s working.. back to 8:20 pace.. but the distance is short so I have to go beyond the finish line and circle back..

Mile 13: 7:34. Now at 8:18 average!  And finishing..

Finish: 1:49:09 (8:18 pace) Robin and I basically finish together, even though I had to go a little farther to make my Garmin show 13.1.  Thank you, Lord, for letting my foot hold up and allowing me to hit the goal!


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Mock 1/2 Ironman Race–Robin-2020


6/6/2020 Granite Bay, CA


1.2M Swim – 57M Bike – 13.1M Run


6:26:17 (36:36-5:04-3:36:03-5:30-2:03:04)


NA (=


Julie Linn Visger, Karen Bonnett Natraj, Troy Outman

Today is going to be a good test of fitness doing a half iron distance for practice. I'm excited that some of my swim buddies are joining me for the whole event: Julie Visgar and Karen Bonnet. Our friend Troy Outman will do the swim and bike.

We are swimming at my frequent and favorite swim spot, Rattlesnake Bar. This park has been closed but just opened up yesterday. We can actually park by the water now instead of biking in. The boat traffic on the water here should be minimal (compared to bigger areas like Granite Bay). It's cooled off quite a bit which is nice! It's overcast for now.

My Troy prays for all of us and then we get in the water. At 7am we start...3, 2, 1, go! I feel great right out of the gate. Troy O. leads going out and I'm close behind. As I leave the inlet, I look at my watch and see I'm under 1:40 per 100 yard pace. Wow!

I start to catch up to Troy O because he's having to stop to fix his goggles. I pass the trees and get close to the turnaround point. I'm still under 1:40 pace! My watch says it's time to turn now but I'm not sure if I've reached the correct rock landmark that my Troy mentioned. I go a few yards more and then head back. Troy O. is not far behind and he appears to continue up river. I'm going with my watch's distance and not letting that concern me.

I feel just as strong coming back which has not been the norm for me here at Rattlesnake Bar. I see Julie and then Karen. They are swimming steady and strong. I get back to the inlet and glance at my watch. Still under 1:40. Thank you Lord!


I get to the dock and take off my wetsuit and run up to my bike. I take a bit long getting ready since I'm changing into a bike jersey and putting on a jacket (due to cooler temps). I send Anna off to start the bike and I go to the restrooms.  As I hop back on my bike and start I hear a bunch of air leave my front tire. Uh-oh! I ride back to the car and Troy pulls off the tire and we debate whether to change wheels or repair. First we try to repair it but realize we don't have long stemmed tubes that will work with the race wheels. So we opt to switch wheels and readjust the brakes. In the meantime, Troy O. has finished his swim and has headed off on the bike. I tell him to let Anna know I'm coming. Julie and Karen are getting ready to roll. While waiting I switch my jacket to arm warmers. Feels better now.


This is a good heart test. I have found myself easily irritated and frustrated lately and I know it's bad. I feel God saying He's checking my attitude and that this is my chance to turn things around. It takes a lot to focus on Him but I know it's important especially to those watching…like my kids and friends. Finally Troy gets my bike dialed in and I head out. I appreciate his help so much because you cannot get this kind of support in a real race.


It feels good to be on the road even with the tough climb out of Rattlesnake Bar. I wonder where Anna is and pray that the Lord is keeping her safe. I see Troy, and Ariel tells me that Anna is just ahead, and that Troy O is 3 minutes ahead. About 13 miles I see Anna just after I turn on Laird. She looks strong and is doing great on her "new" tri bike. This is first real ride on her new steed. So far, so good! Thank you Lord!!

This is a two loop course with some pretty good hills. I know it won’t feel too bad this first loop but will feel much harder the second time. I stop at Loomis Basin Park for a quick pit stop and then hit the road and head up Swetzer toward Penryn. Halfway there the climbing starts. I climb up to Taylor Road for a quick and steep downhill on Rock Springs. They just chip-n-sealed this road last week and I'm relieved to see only little gravel. I hit the "big" climb and I feel strong.

Finally back to Auburn Folsom and the start of the 2nd loop…ahhhh, love the downhill!! I see a work crew here and am concerned that there will be some obstacles when I get back here.


I start to notice the wind is picking up now and I am feeling some pretty good gusts. This is the downside to the cooler weather. I'm still wearing my arm warmers and totally comfortable.

I stop at Loomis Park again and head out. The 2nd time on the climbs is really tough and I am yearning for the downhill. I know Karen is not a fan of the Rock Springs and will be "enjoying" the climb as little as I am…ha, ha! I haven't seen Troy O and I figure that he is already done riding the 2 loops and on his way home.

I finally get to Auburn Folsom and it's super windy! The side wind gusts are so strong that I cannot even get in my aerobars. I feel like I'm holding on for dear life. At least this is the end of my ride. Seven miles to go! I start thinking that this is about the time that the Coffee Republic group should be coming by. I look back and see a blob. I wait a moment and look again and the riders are right there! I hold on as they scream by. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to get my momentum up when the rear goes by and I am left in the dust. Wow, that is humbling!

I get to Twin Rocks Road and make the turn towards the park. So close! I get to the dirt trail entrance and bike in. I remember sprinting this section in fear last time because Anna was on my tail. Today there is a group of guys on one-wheel motorized boards coming right at me. I try not to panic and trust they will get around me fine.

I make it to transition yay! I'm glad to get off this bike. The wind has made the last bit unpleasant. I pray for Karen and Julie who are still out there. I spend a lot of time in transition changing into my run gear. I'm really surprised how many people are out here enjoying the lake. Anna patiently waits to start the first of three 4.27 mile loops. Troy warns me that he marked a steep short section on accident but that it still gets me to the right trail.

Finally we are off! I feel pretty stiff and sore but hope to loosen up. I can see that Troy and Ariel have marked the course out here pretty well though there are a few spots that could use a little more clarity. Anna does a great job encouraging me and keeping me occupied.

We run through the boat dock parking lot and it's super busy. There seems to be people everywhere!

Mile 1 is 9:10. I get the pleasure of running up the steep accidental trail. Good times!

Mile 2 is 9:12. Anna and I make it to the shady trail where bikes are not allowed. It's much quieter over here!

Mile 3 is 9:04. We are just beyond the horse staging area. The trail is still quiet here but there's less shade. We see Troy ahead taking pics and cheering us on.


Mile 4 is 9:01. Anna is leading me back to the start. She's a great pacer! We decide to grab a water bottle with flour to mark up the course on the second loop as we run. I get back to the car and Karen is there ready to start her first loop. I grab the bottle of flour and go. Karen starts right behind and Anna stops to use the restroom.

Mile 5 is 10:23. I'm marking the course as I go.  I just don’t want my friends to get lost.  I'll give the job to Anna when she catches up. I hit the accidental trail and man it's tougher this time. I’m barely able to maintain a run up it. Pace has slowed this mile.

Anna catches me. She lets me know she's going another mile for a total of six.

Mile 6 is 9:41. Anna brings me through and then turns off the trail. I thank her for the help. I soon run into Troy who tells me that Karen is now ahead by a mile by accident because she took a wrong turn. I tell him Anna headed back to the car.

Mile 7 is 9:20.

Mile 8 is 9:27. I haven't seen Karen yet. In the distance I see Anna on the trail. She waves the flour filled water bottle at me. I take that to mean she's continuing to mark the course. She's too sweet!

Mile 9 is 9:26. It's hotter now and I'm definitely more tired. Glad that my pace is just under 9:30.

Mile 10 is 9:54. I get to the accidental trail and this time I'm walking. I am wiped out but manage to get running again after the top.

Mile 11 is 9:21. I am on the quiet trail when Troy shows up to run with me!  Soon we see Karen in the distance. She's got a strong pace and it takes me a while to catch up. I tell her great job.

Mile 12 is 9:26. Home stretch now, but I do know I have a big extra even when I get to the car to make 13.1.

Mile 13 is 8:46. I'm like a horse itching to get home. I am surprised I'm able to pick up the pace for the last .1. Yay! Thank you Lord!! So good to be done and have that under my belt!