Sunday, May 15, 2022

TBF Folsom Triathlon (Troy)

May 14, 2022 – Granite Bay Beach
Swim 1.5K – Bike 40K – Run 10k

2:34:28 (28:27 – 2:57 – 1:14:00 – 1:05 – 47:59)


2nd / 20 age, 25th / 269 o/a


FCA: Flor Hodges, Robin Soares;

Dana Haldeman, Dave Campbell


Robin and I show up at Granite Beach, our most enjoyable place for racing and only 25 min from home.  Wow, Folsom Lake is up, there’s no wind, and it’s a perfect day! 

TBF does a great job of putting on races.  I thank the Lord for letting me have a great experience here just 3 weeks earlier at the short Ice Breaker Triathlon.  He gave me a feeling of being fast again, even in transitions which I’ve become notoriously slow in.  Today, the whole venue is ratcheted up.  There are vendors, a full transition, and course signs were out days ago letting communities know we’ll be racing through.


Setup and warm-up goes well.  Anna and Ariel arrive on their bikes to cheer for us as we start down to the water.  We find teammates Flor Hodges & Erica Chan and gather to pray.  It reminds me about why I race and how I want my priority to be glorifying God over seeking advantages and places.  Another neat thing today is that my 50+ age group is the first wave.  The first wave is very exciting, for spectators, too, but it’s usually the youngest athletes.  I remember the thrill when I was racing the 25-29 age group.  Now I always expect to start much later… except for today as we lead the race underway.


Go!  I high-step through the water until I can dive a couple times and then finally get to swimming.  I try to push hard from the start like last time.  I even get some draft.  But the buoy is twice as far as last time and soon I’m feeling winded.  I’m still not great at staying on toes so I settle for trying to swim with good form on my own.  The it’s going well.  I feel a little chill at times.. which makes me push a little harder (scary memories of being cold!)  The swim feels really long but I try to spend this time thinking about God and knowing it will be over soon and the real fun will start.  I’ve made it a point not to bump into other swimmers, so everyone can have a good time.  It’s great to see the shore finally coming and I’m now standing… which leads to the hard part.. taking off my wetsuit while being dizzy from breathing so hard.  I forgot to put Pam non-stick on so the wetsuit is sticking everywhere.  While I struggle to peal off the neoprene, I see our good friend Dave Campbell run out of the water.  I’m happy to be near him as he’s a good swimmer (and a very good triathlete that challenges me every time even being 10 yrs older than me!)


I run fast barefoot to my bike, wincing when stepping on rocks.  I pass a friend, Eric, I know from my age group.  I only put on arm warmers which still takes time but a lot faster than all the other stuff I sometimes have to wear.  I love warmer weather!


Wow!  This is so much fun.  Flying out of the park.  A girl goes by me strong.  We race on Auburn-Folsom with traffic which has me a little scared watching the girl and others in front with cars very close to them.  A couple guys pass me.  I keep trying to push but they all may be faster than me.  But as the miles go by, I’m actually catching and passing them.  And the girl.  Now, on Laird Rd, through the curving, undulating, shady stretches, it’s invigorating!  The combination of fast speed and still not being able to focus well because of hard breathing makes it a little risky, kind of like a rollercoaster where it’s fun even though you think you could die!  I look to the Lord, make sure He’s my priority.  I smile in awe that He would let me have so much fun.

On King Rd it’s gets hilly, and maybe not as much fun, but I’m still passing other riders.  Now through rural roads to Newcastle.  I drink, remove my arm warmers and prepare for the tough climb of Power House Rd.

Yay! Passed the climb and now it’s all downhill on my favorite stretch of Auburn Folsom Rd.  It’s a beautiful day and I’m thankful for God allowing my body to function well and trust in Him that my hip will hold up in the run.

The highway patrol has traffic stopped to allow the left turn onto Twin Rocks Rd.  Appreciate that.  One last push, and then through the sandy section (I think back to my training ride a week ago where I went the wrong way and road 3 miles on a gravel, wash boarded road which served as great practice for riding this particular stretch).


I happily see Anna cheering for me and, knowing Robin is behind me somewhere, tell her to tell Robin I love her.   I hit the final stretch in the park…


Good dismount, socks & shoes take a bit, grab gels and hat and I’m off


Great to see Francie Campbell, volunteering at the run start.  Ariel is cheering for me as I start onto the trail.  It takes about a mile before things loosen up a bit.  I have to watch my form so my hip doesn’t hurt.  I try to run “tall” on the right side and push off with my right toe. 

Mile 1. 7:51. Coming through the transition area I grab a lot of water, appreciate those helping and cheering, and am thrilled to see Ariel encouraging me and taking pictures – thank you, Lord, for the blessing of support from my family.

I push through the brief trails and hit the pavement section where I try to lengthen my stride to gain on runners ahead.

Mile 2. 7:57.  It’s warming up.. water at the aid station.  Now onto the fire roads.  They start off tame and shady but will soon become abrupt up and down hills.  I pass a guy who passed me on the bike.  Now I see the leaders returning and start counting to see what place I’m in.. it would be great, I think, to be top 10.  But I’m happy for whatever place I’m in because the Lord is allowing me health and endurance to push my body which it was made to do.

Mile 3. 7:51. Seeing more runners, mainly younger, but I see a couple that may be my age group. The turn-around.  I’m in 12th place.  They probably should have water here.  I’ll be ok, but it’s getting hot and imagine others will need it. 

Mile 4. 7:38.  Ok, got to push it now.  2mi back.  I see Eric, then Dave Campbell (glad to see him running fast, despite some setbacks he’s had), then Dana, then Flor.  Now the tough part. I keep positive and practice good form even on the really steep sections.  There’s Robin!  I’m so glad to see her.

Mile 5. 7:55.  I grab more water and now hit the best part, the single-track trails leading to the finish!  I push with all I have and smile, feeling the Lord close and thanking Him for all his blessings – especially for my family!

Mile 6: 7:12.  Thanks, Lord, for a great mile.  Now the final sprint.. thank you, Lord, for a great race.. and my final race before my Ironman next month.  It’s a confidence boost today after setbacks and injuries.  I finally feel ready to endure the Ironman again after 3 years!IMG_20220514_105955847_HDRIMG_20220514_111920329

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Folsom Triathlon–Robin-2022

May 14, 2022 – Granite Bay Beach
Swim 1.5K – Bike 40K – Run 10k

2:47:15  (29:55 – 1:25:02 – 52:18)


2nd of 9 (45-49), 57 of 269 (Overall)


FCA: Flor Hodges, Troy Soares;

Dana Haldeman, Dave Campbell

Feeling excited to race with Troy today but I am tired. Good sleep has been alluding me lately. I'm trusting in the Lord and just going to see what He does today.

Troy and I drive down. Anna and Ariel are biking down soon. Anna would be racing but she has an important track meet coming up she's getting ready for. It's nice to have the whole family together on race day!

Troy and I register and test out our bikes before we rack our bikes. All seems to be well with our bikes thankfully.

We are a bit late to transition so we can't be next to each other. I am just a few places from fast and sweet Dana Haldemen. Dave Campbell and wife Francie say hi too. Francie is volunteering as usual. FCA teammates Flor Hodges and Erica Chan are here too. We gather at the water for prayer. Anna and Ariel get there just in time to join. Love this sweet fellowship!


Troy takes off in the first wave. I'm right after him. I'm hopeful I won't be cold since Troy survived this same lake almost a month ago. I opt not to warm up to avoid standing around cold.


Race director, Bill counts down fast as always...10, 9, 8...Go! I get a great start and head out with a nice draft.

My first 500 out to the first buoy is a sub-9 min. Awesome! After the first buoy, it's a long swim to the next one. I find myself side-by-side another swimmer. I cannot put pace them. We follow each other out to the next buoy. I am not getting cold thankfully and actually feeling really comfortable for once!

Just before the next buoy it is a sub-9 min again! Thank you Lord? My training has been subpar due to many difficulties surrounding our family and so this kind of pace is a gift from the Lord!

I make the turn and head back to shore! I make a good push and try to get past my swim buddy. We are neck and neck all the way. My watch clicks off another sub-9 split! Thank you Lord!

I get to shore and get my wetsuit off. I hope I don't get cold on the way to transition!

I feel good running up! As I run into transition, I see Dana leaving. I'm not too far behind! Cool! I get everything on pretty quickly and start to try to get the jacket. It's too hard to get on and it is pretty warm now.


It's nice riding out. I feel warm...yay! I head out to Auburn Folsom Road. I know this whole course so well so I think I can handle every inch. As I take the right turn on Auburn Folsom, I don't slow down. As I turn, I find it's too sharp. Instead of braking I go wide into the lane of traffic without looking! I don't even know if a car is coming. Jesus is watching over me, there are no cars! I can't believe I did that.  It is a good lesson in humility.

The ride up to Auburn Folsom feels good.  I see Anna riding down the other side.  She’s cheering and waving.  Love her!  I’m getting passed by quite a few guys but no women so far.  At Cavitt Stallman, the CHP have us safely crossing traffic to make the left.  There are a lot of cars out and about already.

The course meanders up to Horseshoe Bar Road.  It’s a short climb up to Val Verde but it usually is tough.  Today though it’s actually really fun and goes by fast.  Thank you Lord!  I’ve been past by two women now and I hope I can hold others off.

Almost to the top of the course!  I turn onto Power House Road for the final big climb.  I look for the cow with the huge horns.  I see him but he’s tucked away in the back of the property.  I hope other riders notice him.  He’s quite a sight. 

At the top of the first part of the climb, I see Troy’s co-worker, Katherine.  She not racing but training for Ironman Canada.  She cheers me on.

The road goes down and makes a sharp left before the last climb.  It’s a blind corner.  A guy flies by me on the left side of the road towards that corner.  I yell at him “heads up for cars”.  He seems to react to my words part way through the turn.  I thank God there are no cars coming!

I make it to Auburn Folsom and enjoy the fast descent.  This is the most fun part of the course!

After a few miles, I notice that traffic is backed up.  I hope no one is hurt up ahead.  Then I realize that I’m turning left again soon and that is why all these cars are waiting.  Phew!  The CHP once again are doing a great job getting us across safely. 

The last few miles are tough.  The road is up and down all the way to the back entrance to the park.  And once at the park, we have to ride a dirt road for 1/4 mile.  At the end of the dirt road I see Anna waiting for me.  She cheers me on as I turn towards transition. Now it’s flat for the duration.


I pull into transition and pull my feet out of my shoes just in time to dismount.  I am able to run pretty well to my spot.

I am able to make a quick transition and head out for the run.  I hear Ariel cheering for me.


As I leave, I’m amazed how fast I am running.  At first I think my watch is malfunctioning.  I really am going sub-8 min pace!

I’m running back towards where I saw Anna as I entered the park.  There is Anna!  She’s actually directing runners while cheering.  I give her a high five as I turn to go back towards transition. 


Mile 1 is 7:56!  Wow!  Thank you Jesus!  This is a gift! 

I run back past transition and see Ariel again.  I feel strong!

Mile 2 is 8:14.  It would be great if I can average in the low 8 min pace range.  That would be over a minute per mile faster than my last race!

I start to look for Troy as I start the out and back section of the course.  I should see him soon I think. I have seen only a few guys though. I turn a corner and there he is! Wow!  He’s way up there!  “Go Troy!  Praise God!”  We give each other high fives.

Mile 3 is 8:09. Right on pace!

I see some girls coming back.  Soon I see Dana. She looks great!  I tell her good job.

Just before the turn around I see one of the girls that passed me coming back.  I smile and say good job.  I think I can catch her.  This puts me around 2nd or 3rd in my age group.  It depends on whether someone is in front of Dana.

Mile 4 is 8:21. I’m just over 8:10 pace.  I hope to hold that.  I’m heading back and am able to catch that girl.  I tell her good job again. 

Mile 5 is 8:17. So close now to the finish.  I feel strong. Thank you again Lord letting go so well despite being tired!  You are so amazing!

I can feel the finish is close. There is Troy and Anna ahead cheering me on.  So nice of them to run out to me!

Mile 6 is 8:16. Go, go, go!  Ariel is cheering me on.  I push hard and cross the line pointing to Jesus.  Thank you Jesus for an amazing day!  I do not deserve this!  So good to be done!


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Winchester Circuit Race, 50+ 4/5 (Troy)

May 7, 2022 – Meadow Vista, CA
4 x 4.5 Mile Loops
3rd, Cat 4/5 50+
Robin Soares, Robin McKinney

I’ve never done this bike race, although I watched Anna do it 2 years ago.  Winchester is a beautiful community built on the side of a hill.  I expect fast descents and high-heartrate climbs.

After a 100-point week (about 20 hrs of training) I'm tired and wonder how I'm going to push up these hills. Robin is racing with me, and has to ride Anna's bike because the derailleur cable on her bike broke and I couldn’t fix it.  My concerns are small compared to hers riding a completely different bike.  At least it used to be her bike 4 years ago before she gave it to Anna. 

Robin and I pray before I start.  We know how dangerous bike racing is and would be very scared if we didn’t have the Lord looking out for us.  We are so thankful for His guidance and protection.


I meet 2 guys in my category, David from Santa Cruz and Wilson from Irvine! 

The Start

We start and climb in neutral to the top and it feels very hard. The race is immediately on and I hurry to catch up.  The group calms down and stays together for now. The downhill is very fast (44.6 mph). My race is made up of both my 50+ category (8 riders) and the 60+ category (8 riders).  Most of the riders near me are 60+.  I only notice a few 50+ to keep my eye on.  It's going well but I notice I definitely do better on the downhills than the up hills.  On the first big descent it’s surprising how fast the speed picks up.  A guy swerves in front of me and reminds me to keep an eye out for situations where a wheel can cross.  The pack is tight.  On a climb, Wilson in my group looses his chain and drops way back.  Now, at the end of Lap 1, the steep climb back to the top is very hard.  I don’t want to think about doing this 3 more times.   I'm breathing very hard and have to stand.

Lap 2:  David, from Santa Cruz, in my group goes ahead.  Others joke that he doesn't have to worry because “we're” all older. I realize I'm surrounded by 60+ and should go with Dave because this pack may not chase.  I go after him.  I’m not a fast sprinter but there’s a good downhill and I’m able to catch up.  I tell him “I'm here” and he says “good”. We work together the 2nd lap but he accelerates over the top of a hill and I get gapped.

Lap 3: I’m all alone doing the best I can to catch back up.  Staying as aero as possible and maintain good speed into the climbs.  I look back and see a chase group catching me!  This humbling realization makes me smile and talk to God.  I realize I was feeling like Dave and I had 1st and 2nd.  But there's always work to be done and this teaches me never to think it's going to be easy.  I needed to be more humble.  This is good and I pray that God does show me humility. Proverbs 11:2 “when pride comes then comes disgrace but with humility comes wisdom.”

The chase pack catches me.  A 50+ guy, Brian Hamilton, pulls ahead.  A couple 60+ also pull ahead of me.  I tell them good job, as I push hard myself.  On the final climb of lap 3 I'm able to pull ahead.

Lap 4: I give a huge effort near the top knowing that it's now or never.  I get on Brian Hamilton’s wheel. Thank you, Lord! I stay behind him most of the way down to the bottom of the course, catching some needed breathe.  I can still see the leader, Dave, ahead but we're making progress on him. Before the long downhill, Brian pushes over the top ahead of me and I can't stay with him. He's got better power for surges. But my bike is working well on the downhills and I'm able to catch him and go by but at the next Hill he catches me again. Okay this is it. A small climb and then the final big climb.  I pray the Lord will give me strength. I remind myself there's lots of possibilities and that I feel good overall even though my body says I don't.  It's a painful climb.  I use the best form I can.  David is way ahead, but Brian is only 50 yards ahead.  In the final 200 m now..  I'm slowly gaining, but my Sprint is not strong because my legs are dying.  I still give it all I have and I finish only eight seconds behind him for 3rd.

Oh, it’s so good to be done!  Thank you, Lord, you gave me an advantage on the descents and helped me do better than I expected on the climbs.  And no crashes! God is good!


Winchester Circuit Race-Robin-2022

May 7, 2022 – Meadow Vista, CA
4 x 4.5 Mile Loops
4th, Cat 4/5
Troy Soares


Troy and I are excited to try out this course in our backyard!  Anna raced here back in 2019 when she was 13 years old!  Hard to believe she’s now 16 years old and driving!

I am definitely undertrained for this race.  I’m also riding Anna’s bike because my shifter cable is broken from my previous road race.  Life is so busy that there is little time for the necessary upkeep.  I am trusting the Lord in the race today.  Troy has an Ironman in one month so I know his time is limited right now.

Troy and I warm-up together and I discover that Anna’s bike won’t shift up and down in the chain ring.  We rush back to the start and look around for a screw driver to fix it. Troy asks around for one and I dig around in the car and find one!  Thank you Lord!  We get it fixed and head to the start.  I’m racing with a few categories of women which include the fast Category 2/3 women.  They look fast and so do their bikes. The rest of us are 4/5 Novice… a few juniors, a 50+ and another few that look a little younger than me.  This should be interesting!  The 50+ gal asks for advice on the course.  I told her I haven’t done this race before but trying to push the downhills is important.  I love to share ideas but in bike racing people often avoid it to hide their strategies with others. A part of me says you shouldn’t share that but I know that’s my flesh talking.

Troy will start shortly before me.  I hope that his group doesn’t lap me! We ride neutral, which means we stay together, until the start at top of the steep hill.  I try to stay with the main pack but those fast girls are already pulling ahead.  They will probably have to wait for us at the top.  But once the first girls get to the top an official says “go!”.  Uh-oh, I better pick it up.  It’s too late, a pack of 5 take off and I’m left behind.  I hope I can catch them on the first hill.  I might not be in the greatest shape but I can climb well.  I pedal hard on the first set of downhills and pull away from the other girls behind me.  I can see the top 5 going up the first hill in the distance and they are flying!  I keep pushing regardless in hopes someone falls off later.

This course is beautiful and quiet at 8 in the morning. There are volunteers at every street corner.  I love that because of such great volunteers I don’t have to deal with cars as I try to bomb the downhills.  I am resisting the temptation to brake and just go for it.  The curves in the road are smooth which make for a nice experience! (First lap Max Speed is 40.3)

I make it around to the climb to the finish line.  Ok, one lap done.  I cannot see any girls ahead and I can barely see a girl behind.  I think this is pretty much how it’s going to go the rest of the race unless someone ahead of me cracks.

The second loop I try to improve on the downhills.  I see nobody ahead of me.  On the big downhill, a pack of riders are coming up on me.  I always get really nervous when riders are passing on a steep downhill.  I pray and hold my line as far right as possible so I don't cause them to go over the double yellow line.  They pass and all is well.  Phew, thank your Lord!

I finish lap 2. It’s getting harder climbing up from the finish to continue the loop.  At the start of Lap 3, I pass a young junior rider.  Her mom is now riding alongside her encouraging her up the hills. This is a tough course for a kid!  And a little way down the course is the other junior struggling along as well.

I can see some other riders falling back in the distance. I wonder if one of them is from my group.  As I get closer, I can see it’s two guys from Troy’s race.  They are both really struggling but not giving up. I’m gaining on them.

Once again on the steep downhill, I look back and see a rider bombing towards me.  It’s only one rider, and I’m more comfortable with this being my third time on this descent.  He goes by and I glance at his number and see he is in Troy’s race.  He finishes the race and I continue on to Lap 4.  I look back for Troy but don’t see anyone.  I pass the two guys and continue on. 

I am for sure absolutely alone.  I am tired and consider cruising the rest of the way.  I know that I am doing this for Jesus so I need to give my best effort for Him!  I push hard all the way through.  I cross the finish line with no fanfare but I look to the sky.  Thank you Lord!  I gave my best for you!