Saturday, September 3, 2022

Biz Johnson 1/2 Marathon (Troy) 2022

September 3rd, 2022 – Susanville, CA
13.1 Miles



2nd M50-54; 11th/59 Overall


Marathon – FCA: Robin Soares

It’s still dark in Susanville. I see Robin off on the shuttle to her Marathon start at the other end of the Biz Johnson trail, a 25 mile section of Southern Pacific Railroad converted to a beautiful running path.


I’m doing the 1/2 marathon which is an out-n-back starting at the end of the trail in Susanville.   It’s a small crowd, and a small starting line, right on some remaining railroad tracks and next to a parked caboose, a centerpiece for this historic area.


Go!  Because it’s small, about 100 runners, I had thoughts that I might be able to run at the front, but quickly I start falling back remembering I’ve been nursing a strained calf muscle I got at the Lake Tahoe Tri after crashing on my bike.

1mi 8:50. I’m still really happy to be running and to experience this trail I’ve always wanted to run for years.  It goes along the Susan River, between the mountains, at a steady 3% grade for the whole distance.

2mi 8:38.

3mi 8:47. break #1. At about 3.4 mi I feel my calf start to flare up.  I have to drop the pace from 8:45 down to 9:45.  It can handle that.

4mi 9:27. At 4.5 mi we go through the first tunnel.  So impressive to think of them blasting out this hole through the mountain. It’s also a cool relief from the 75 deg sun that has come up.  It’s quite dark but lanterns on the ground light the path.  At 4.9mi we go through a 2nd tunnel as well. These are the highlights of the race for me!

5mi 10:01. break #2

6mi 9:58. I see the leaders coming back.  I count 15 and think how great it would be if I could catch up to top 10.

7mi 9:33. The turn-around is high-spirited with great volunteers, music and food.  I take some Cliff Blocks and orange slices together… tastes like a fruit salad! delicious.  This is the 19mi mark of the marathon but we don’t see any marathoners coming yet.  I pray for Robin knowing she’s probably a few miles behind me now and I won’t be able to cheer her on until the end.

8mi 8:00.   It’s noticeably easier running back down the 3% grade.  I feel I can push the calf more.  I pick it up and it’s going so well. Thank you, Lord!  Slowly catching up to others.  I pass a couple ladies and a guy.  break #3. Yay, I get to run through the tunnels again. 

9mi 8:16.  I get drinks from the 2 aid stations along the way and thank the young volunteers.  I’m in 12th place and the next runner is way ahead so I try to pick it up..

10mi 7:36. Wow, great mile!  The marathon leader catches and passes me (he’s running a 2:51 marathon pace which is 6:32 pace)

11mi 7:53. I’m not giving up.. I can still see 10th place ahead and even though the miles are running out, you never know what can happen

12mi 8:00. I no longer feel the downhill grade, I’ve gotten used to it so it just feels hard again.  Just 1 mile to go.. gotta give it my all..

13mi 7:45. That was a great push.. but the guy ahead is out of reach.  Now just have to climb a little trail to the finish without straining my calf..

Yay, done!  Thank you, Lord for an exciting race even with a weak calf.  I’m very sore, but excited to go out and see Robin finish now!


Bizz Johnson Marathon- Robin-2022

September 3rd, 2022 – Susanville, CA
26.2 Miles



2nd/7th W40-49; 15th/55 Overall


1/2 Marathon – FCA: Troy Soares

Thanking God to be able to do this race.  It was a last minute find and worked perfectly with our busy schedule.  It’s a point- downhill race though slight. This is much better than trying to run a marathon on my own at home where it’s hilly!  It’s been a stressful and challenging week. Last night, we arrived in Susanville late to find our hotel room was occupied. The hotel was totally booked so we had no where to stay.  Fortunately, we found another room at another hotel quickly.  We didn’t get much sleep but were grateful for a bed! 

We arrive early to check in for the race.  Since it’s going to be a hot day, they have moved up my race start an hour to 7am.  I say goodbye to Troy and get on the bus to get to the start.  It’s a point to point so I’ll be back here in 5 hours.  Troy’s half marathon is an out and back and he starts an hour after me.  I wonder if we’ll see each other. 


I read the Bible and pray on the way over.  I want to honor Jesus today.  Even though I’m exhausted He can help sustain me.  I hope to go sub-9:30 pace and get under 4:10 for the marathon. but I’ll take up to 10 minutes for a 4:22.  I try to snooze for the last few minutes of the drive.

We arrive at the start.  It’s a trailhead for the start of the Bizz Johnson bike trail.  The railroad used to go along this trail. CA Congressman Bizz Johnson worked for years to create a trail. It’s 25 miles long which means we have to do a out and back in the beginning to make the 26.2.  The profile of this run is downhill.  It is slight but consistent.  Troy did point out on the map this morning that there is a hill at Mile 20. 

All the runners make a b-line for the restrooms including myself.  I feel like I’m having digestive issues but get some relief.

The race director gathers us and gives us the run down of the course.  There are less than 100 of us and some folks are running a 50K which means their out and back is much farther.

Ready, set, go!  We take off.  Within a half mile I have to use the restroom again!  As we head back to the Bizz trail there is a porta potty and I quickly pop in and out.  Onto the trail.  The trail is flat and has some gravel. At Mile 2 we run through a burned area.  So sad. 

I enjoy the quiet morning and watch the sun come up. There are a few runners around me.  I think we are all taking in the beauty.

By mile 4 I’m averaging 9:28. Yay! 

I get some water at the first aid station at Mile 5.  The trail is so nice.  I’m running through a forest and enjoying the downhill grade. I don’t feel the downhill but I can see it reflected in my pace.

The digestive issue pops up again. I have to make a brief stop and I’m on my way again. 

At Mile 8 there is another aid station.  I get some water and grab some potato chips.  Digestive issues again so I hope the chips will help. I’m averaging 9:26 pace.

Another stop at Mile 9 and I hope that is the end.  I am trusting God and doing my best.

At Mile 11 I get more water and chips.  I’m averaging 9:25 pace.  Thank you God! 

I can hear a horn in the distance like you would hear at a pro soccer match.  There must be another aid station with a lot of people.  As I think about it, that doesn’t make sense.  I’m in the middle of nowhere.  After a while I figure out that it’s cattle lowing!  Ha, ha!  That’s funny right there!

I’m feeling good but by Mile 13, the issue comes back.  I’m averaging 9:24.

I get to the Mile 14 aid station.  It’s a the first trailhead I’ve seen. I hit the porta potty there hopefully for the last time.  I get some water and chips and continue.

I come up on another burn area at mile 16.5 and it lasts until 19.5.  So sad  The burned trees along the trail have be leveled.  The sun is hot and without the tree cover it’s intense.  So glad we started early!

At Mile 19 I’m averaging 9:23.  Thank you God that I can continue to hold this pace and that haven’t had any more issues.  I’m tired but feeling good.

I can see that the trail is heading towards a highway.  The trail goes down and under the highway.  I finally see the hill.  It’s short but steep and with deep gravel.  It’s a challenge getting up that.  I’m rewarded with an aid station.  I get water and more chips.  The half marathon turn around is here.  I think Troy is long gone now.  I wonder how many half marathon runners I’ll catch up to. My average is 9:23. 

At Mile 22 is another aid station.  I get water and chips.  I plan on getting cola at the last aid station.  I’m averaging 9:24.

I ready to be done!  The old railroad bridges and 2 railroad tunnels keep me distracted. The tunnels are so cool inside and dark.  There are lanterns lighting the way!

At Mile 24 is the last aid station.  They don’t have cola.  Bummer.  That’s ok, I’ve got the Lord.  I’m averaging 9:24.

I have passed a few half marathoners and have caught a few marathoners that are struggling.  I encourage them as I go by.

So close now!  I should be under 4:10. Yay! 

With 1/2 mile to go I see Troy waiting for me.  It’s so nice to see him.  He tells me just a little further I’m done. 

I turn off the trail and head towards the finish. There it is.  I see the clock at 4:07.  I push as hard as I can.  I finish at 4:07:38. Thank you Jesus!


Friday, September 2, 2022

Tahoe Tri Olympic-Troy -2022

August 28, 2022 – Lake Tahoe, CA
Swim 1.5K – Bike 25 miles – Run 6.9 miles

3:05:26 (19:00 – 5:32 – ? – 1:15 – 1:02:00)




HALF- FCA: Robin Soares

OLY DU – Dave Campbel

The whole family is at sugar pine State Park in Lake tahoe. It's been hot down in Auburn but it's 45 degrees here at 5:00 a.m. . We swam in the water yesterday. it wasn't that cold. I find my old wet-suit has 2 big holes in it. another reason I'm glad it's not freezing water. Still I'm pretty cold in my wetsuit standing on the beach. Anna and Ariel are great support. We all pray with Robin as she starts her half Ironman distance, her last big prep before Hawaii. Our friend Courtney Cardenas is announcing and gives the signal for Robin's group to start. I pray that she's comfortable during the swim and has a safe bike and her hamstring doesn't hurt in the run.


I have to do some sprints on the beach to keep from getting too cold. The girls send me off and I carefully walk over the rocks into the water deep enough to swim. Walking on The rocks here is difficult. I pray as I want to do God's will and the countdown starts and we're off.

I don't want to be out of air this time like at June Lake so I breathe exaggerated early on and take it easy. I'm not cold. The water is so clear and it's peaceful looking at the sand below. I never get a draft. I'm not fast. But it's an enjoyable swim. I try to glide more and be efficient. We get around the final turn buoys and head towards the finish. I push harder and have a couple Summers next to me to work off of. The problem at the beach is all the rocks but they cleared a path for us to walk up. I sit in the water to take my wetsuit off but I still struggle. Looking forward to a different wetsuit. But also glad I'm not freezing. I finally stumble out to the cheers of my daughters who point to where my shoes are and I grab them and head up to transition.


Transition is slow as expected. I put on arm warmers and a jacket. 


out on the road it's chilly but I use my sleeves as gloves and I'm okay. I don't have as much brain fog as I did in June Lake which is good. Thank you Lord. I feel like I'm picking up speed each mile. I'm passing more and more riders which means my swim was pretty slow. There's a lot of climbing but it's going well. About 9 MI on the course before Emerald Bay I go up a long climb and and pass Patrick a triathlete I raced with many times.

At the top of the climb we head towards an incredibly spectacular view of Lake Tahoe. Granite rocks on both sides dropping into a sharp hairpin right turn with the lake looming below.

In 2015 the last time I was here I hit a bump and flatted right before the turn. This time no flat and I'm excited to drop in. It's definitely a sharp drop to the right. But the road has great tractions so I lean into it. Suddenly I feel my rear wheel slipping out surprisingly. I start to tip to the right when traction suddenly is caught. I expect to high side and fly over.. which would be bad. But then just as suddenly the wheel slips back into the right course and I'm in control again. "Thank you Lord!" I say.  I quickly put it behind me and prepare for the sharp left turn that immediately follows. As I start to lean I hear a weird sound from my rear wheel like a scraping. But I'm committed and go in to the turn. Immediately my rear wheel slides out like on ice. As I go down in slow motion I know that the tire had gone flat as this has happened a few times before. I hit hard on my hip but then slide so gracefully on my butt. That's also a memory I have from crashes where it feels so smooth as you slide until a second later you realize skin is scraping off. And that's when I hope to stop sliding. I get untangled from my bike and pull everything to the side limping. Ugh the sudden pain of road rash. I quickly go to work on the wheel but I'm shocked to see a 7-in gash in my tire and my carbon rim with jagged splinters. Okay not so easy. Meanwhile Patrick and other riders that I saw earlier go by. They are all so friendly and considerate asking if I need anything. I tell them I'm fine because there's nothing they can do. Is my race done? I go through the motion of fixing the rear flat anyway and put a little bit of air in even though the tire won't stay on the rim. Yep I would need a new tire or a new wheel to finish. 

I  notice the tire isn't what I usually use and remember I had it on Robin's Wheels but during preparations accidentally switched it to mine. I don't know if it was the tire's fault but I think to myself that I'm sure glad it was on my bike and not Robin's. I pray for Robin that she's having a good ride I know that she is concerned about all the cars on this narrow road.

I try to walk down to a safe place to hitch a ride but it's very difficult. Bikes are going both directions and cars as well. there's not room to even walk. I have to wait for a break and push my bike down the road. after about 20 minutes and seeing those same riders now coming back towards the finish I catch a ride with a very nice couple in a truck. On the way back maneuvering around the many triathletes on the road I see Robin. I'm so glad to see her smiling. I tell my rescuers about her but I don't wave because if she sees me in a car she would be overly concerned. It makes my day seeing her Smiling, knowing she's having a good ride.

I get dropped off and run in my socks for the 1/4 mile to transition and sadly turn in my chip to Francie Campbell (how fortunate, a volunteer who is also such a good friend, for this sad moment)  Anna and Ariel both see me quickly. They get caught up on what happened and suggest that I wear something to cover the now indecent openings in my shorts. 


I put on the only thing I have, sweatpants. The girls say I'm displaying a good attitude and I tell him, well that means the race is successful after all, that makes me happy. although I'm DQ'd, I go out on the run and will make sure not to get in anyone's way. Ariel comes a little ways with me and I'm so happy to hear that she ran the run course earlier while we were on the bike. It's a beautiful trail through the state park so I'm glad she got to experience it.

I gradually start picking it up. Since my light-headed experience at June Lake I want to see that it doesn't happen again. I run with a gal for a while who is pretty competitive. I pull ahead, trying to ignore the swelling on my hip and the hot sweatpants as the air is really heating up. Actually I'm so thankful to be able to run that it's a joy to push hard. If I would have high-sided in that first turn I could have easily broken a collarbone. I remember these trails from 2015 when I was doing the 13 Mile course. It's nice to know it's only 6.9 today. I see the out and back that that half Ironman athletes must do. I remember how tough that was and hope Robin enjoys it more than I did the last time. 

Through a lot of nice single track and then cross the road for a short mile to the finish. I pull off before the finish to where Ariel is waiting and I'm glad to be reunited with them. It was a great run I never felt dizzy and I'm glad for the experience.

Robin comes in on the bike and she's doing great and we cheer for her on the run and all enjoy some time at the lake afterwards. Thank you Lord for making a great day out of a potentially bad one.