Saturday, July 8, 2023

TBF Tri for Real #2–Anna - 2023

July 8, 2023 – Herald, CA
Swim 1.5K – Bike 25 miles – Run 6.2 miles

2:35:48 (30:50 – 1:21:46 – 43:11)


1st, 19 and under; 6th Overall Woman


Dave Campbell, Dave Leroy

Today I'm doing the TBF Tri for Real Triathlon! This will be the only Olympic distance I will race this summer and I'm really excited to do it! My Mom and I got here with plenty of time so I've already done a bike warm-up, a run warm-up, and now I just have to do a swim warm-up. As I do, I notice how warm the water is with my wetsuit on. It's going to get toasty out there. I line up for the run-in swim start and I see Mom on the sidelines excited for me to race. We had already prayed beforehand. She is volunteering today but hopefully I'll still get to see her during the race.


The race director counts down and I take off into the swim. As I'm running through the water I start to realize that being in the front of the swim pack wasn't a good idea because I'm not a strong swimmer. I get into the water and start swimming hard in order to not get trampled. I have people swimming over my legs and it takes a few minutes before everything calms down. I try to relax and get into a rhythm for the long swim ahead. My goal today is to give my best effort for God and I'm going to try to talk to Him constantly during the race. As I'm talking to God, I feel him remind me of my Dad's swim strategy of trying to get your legs and arms to work together in rhythm. I try this as I swim toward the first buoy. There's a swimmer in front of me going about my speed so I try to draft off them. I feel God reminds me to be respectful of the swimmers around me and not to trample them as I was trampled in the beginning and so I try not to hit their feet as I draft behind them. As I’m swimming, my hip is actually really sore as I’m kicking my legs. Although I do know that my swimming has never made my hip worse, it just irritates it sometimes. I'm praying that Lord willing, this pain is actually a good pain and that my hip is warming up in the swim and will be ready to go for the run.

After a while, we get to the buoy and turn around it. I start to feel God telling me that I should just focus on my own swimming and not worry about drafting anymore. I'm starting to get quite warm in my wetsuit so I try to put water in my suit. I then start a routine that every time I sight the next buoy 10 times, then I'll then let some water in my wetsuit, to cool me off. I don't want to overheat so early in the race. This swim stretch is the longest, but I focus on swimming smoothly and well for God. Eventually, I finally get to the second buoy and I turn towards shore. It's very bright and it's hard to see where the buoy is. I swim for a while following other people before finally seeing the buoy myself. I continue to stay in rhythm. For some reason, everything seems to get a little busier as I catch up to some of the older swimmers from the wave in front of me. I keep hitting this guy's feet because he goes back and forth a lot. I finally get myself around him so I don't have to constantly run into his feet.

IMG_20230708_084127888I get about halfway to shore and start to notice how the seaweed comes up to meet the water every once in a while. It doesn't get all the way to the surface, but it's pretty close to my fingertips as I pull through the water. As I get closer to shore I can start to brush the seaweed with my fingers as I swim over it. I noticed some of the other swimmers swimming farther around it to avoid the seaweed, but I don't mind. I go all the way around the buoys and head into the last 20 ft to shore. I swim in as far as I can before my hands start hitting the sand, then I stand up and start trying to take my wetsuit off. It takes a few seconds before I can find my zipper and then I pull it down. The one problem was as I unzipped my zipper, I accidentally pulled my tag with my swim number, 253 off. So now I have to take off the entire wetsuit holding the swim tag in my hand. Not the most ideal situation. I finally get the wetsuit off, hand the volunteers my swim tag, and run out of the water.

IMG_20230708_084231590Now it's time for the bike. I go sprinting up the shore to the transition, passing someone who I think is wondering why I'm running so fast to the bike transition. I get to transition, get on my gear, and then realize one of my water bottles is not on my bike. I run over to my bike bag, which isn't too far away, and put the water bottle on my bike. And then start heading towards the bike exit and stop quickly to buckle my helmet. My bike kind of falls over, but I pick it back up and then start to mount my bike. Mom's cheering me on as I head out for the bike. I haven't practiced my bike mounting for a while, but it's all going smoothly thanks to God. As I'm biking along, I coast every once in a while to slide my feet into my bike shoes that were already connected to my bike. Once my feet are buckled in, it's time to go. I grab some water and some electrolytes on my bike and get into the aerobar position.

I enjoy the downhill out of the park before turning onto the long stretch of road I will be on for the next 10 mi. It's a little bumpy but I don't notice it very much as I bike along. I decide to get into a habit of drinking water and electrolytes every 4 miles. I then check in with God and ask Him what he would like me to focus on now. I feel like He's telling me to work on my Dad's biking technique of lifting my legs up more instead of putting pressure on my feet as I pedal. I can already notice my shins starting to feel sore, so I feel this technique should really help take some of the pressure off them. This technique is not always easy for me because I like to put more pressure on my feet when I bike, but I want to do my best effort for God so I focus on lifting my knees up more.

Every once in a while, I'll pass someone on the bike and tell them good job, but right now it's mostly other people passing me. I make it my goal to smile a lot because I'm grateful for being here and to say good job to those who pass me or those I pass. Even though I'm not a super strong swimmer, I am still faster than some of the other swimmers, who are amazing bikers. My swimming and my biking aren't my strongest, but I can still perform well in both of them thanks to God. I'm looking at my watch and I'm going around 18 mph pace. I don't want to burn myself out too much on the bike, but right now the pace feels comfortable. I'm biking over rolling hills which aren't my favorite in biking, but at least I get lots of mini downhills.

I hit 8 mi, drink break! Only 4 miles from the turnaround. I then hit the smooth pavement. It reminds me of a movie quote from Cars, “it’s-a like it was paved by angels". It is so smooth and seems to make biking easier. I'm starting to see some of the leaders head back on the bike. They're crazy fast. I'm starting to feel more tired and the hills feel harder even though they're the exact same as all the other ones I've been climbing. The downhills are also not feeling as easy. But I keep my focus on God and I keep pushing on because I know I'll get to have my gel at the halfway mark, 12 mi. I also remember Mom telling me that when it feels hard you'll never know when God might allow it to feel easy again. As I'm biking, my transition pal who set up right next to me, bikes by. We both tell each other good job.

Now up ahead is the railroad tracks. I know how to bike over railroad tracks but last year I made the mistake of not checking behind me when I swerved to go perpendicular over the tracks. Before I go across the tracks now, I look behind me and I'm happy to see no bikes or cars. I cross and then thank God that I got over them safely. I also pray that he keeps all the other riders safe. I'm getting closer to the turnaround and the downhill is feeling nice, however, it seems like there's going to be a big hill on the way back. I finally hit the turnaround and start heading back. A lady passes me right at the turnaround and we both cheer each other on.

As I start biking back, I'm so excited to eat! I pull out my peanut butter-flavored gel and try it out. I wasn’t sure if I would like it. It actually tastes good, definitely peanut buttery but also some other flavors that taste good. When I first picked this gel, it looked pretty big compared to other ones I've had in the past. But as I finish the gel now, my stomach tells me that it wants more. I didn't realize that I'm actually quite hungry and that gel is only a packet of energy, not a packet of fulfilling food. I tell my stomach and my muscles to wait a little bit before they feel the energy boost.

As I'm biking back, I start to realize that this hill, which I thought looked so big, isn’t bad at all. I thank God for giving me the energy to get over this hill. I also see the railroad tracks again and successfully cross them with no cars or bikes behind me. I thank God again. I know I'm not too far from finishing the bike and now I have new energy to push on. I weirdly start to pass more people, even after being passed so many times myself. I continue to say good job to those I pass. Of course not too long later, I do start getting passed again. One person is an 80-year-old guy. I remember my Dad always telling me how much respect he has for the older people who can bike so fast. Especially the ones on normal road bikes, not the fancy tri bikes, like what I'm riding. I was passed by one of those bikes too in the beginning.

Eventually the smooth pavement ends and now I can really feel how rough the road is. But I can't change the scenario so I smile and push on, focusing on biking my best for God. I have really enjoyed talking to God during my race today and I think of it like I'm in the cockpit of a plane checking in with my pilot. Always asking Him how I'm doing on fuel and what He wants me to do next. Right now I need to again focus on lifting my knees, my shins are still sore but getting better every once in a while. As I’m drinking my water and electrolytes, I can finally start to see the twin nuclear towers in the distance where the park is. Almost there! Right now there's a pretty heavy headwind, which is starting to make the bike feel more tiring. I didn't mind it so much before, but now that I'm almost done and running out of energy, it makes it harder. I originally thought that we had a headwind on the way out, but I was wrong about that. I check in with God again and feel like He's asking me to think of a verse. I think of “the Lord is my strength” (Ps 28), “I shall not be in want” (Ps 23), and “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). But the verse “I shall not be in want” sticks out to me, and reminds me that I'm doing this race for God not to get a medal or to get an age group or overall award.

A few miles later, I make the turn into the park.  Yay! Almost there! Now I have to climb the hill into the park, which I've heard is the hardest part of the bike course. However, for some reason, this hill feels great to my legs and I just power up it. I thank God for giving me this boost and making this hill feel like a piece of cake. I get to the top and start biking across the levee. Now it's time to start thinking about the run. I shift into a lower gear and start to make my legs spin faster to refresh them for the run. I drink some more electrolytes, unbuckle my shoes, and slide my feet on top of my bike shoes. As I'm biking closer to transition, I coast a little bit and stretch out my calves. I shift into an even easier gear to loosen up my legs and then hop off my bike into transition. I accidentally bike a little farther over the dismount line on accident and apologize. I see Mom and she asks how the bike went, I tell her it went great. I take my bike to my bike rack, put my run gear on, and take off.

As I'm running out, I ask if it's okay to take a quick detour off the run course to the restrooms across the road and the race helper guy says yes. I quickly run across, use the restroom, and get back onto the run course. As I head out, my legs feel slightly numb, but also great. I look at my watch and realize I'm running 7-minute pace and under. Way too fast. About 4 days ago I did a 12K run and did 7-minute pace and it was a hard pace to hold, so I'm assuming after doing the swim and bike, 7:30 pace should be good. As I'm running, I tell people good job as I pass them knowing that it is a blessing that God has made the run my favorite part. When I get to the mile marker I'm still running at around 7-minute pace but my legs are feeling good and comfortable. I now decide that I will stay with this pace for as long as my legs can hold it because I feel so good right now. I don't want to go any easier than my best for God and I feel God telling me that this pace is ok.

At the aid station, I grab some water, drink 1/4 of it, and pour the rest on my head. It wakes me up and I keep running. The run has rolling hills just like the bike. Normally I don't like rolling hill runs, but today it feels great. I let my legs go on the downhills and then conserve a little on the uphills. All I have to do is not twist my ankle. I get to the second aid station, drink about 1/2 of the water, and then pour the rest on my head again. Now I get to run on the bike course for the small out and back. As I'm running down the road I see two ladies running back from the turn around, they're probably about a half mile ahead of me but maybe if I can stay at this pace I'll be able to catch up to them. Speaking of my pace, I'm still on 7-minute pace which is a miracle and I'm feeling great. I get to the turnaround and head back up the road.

A lot of runners are cheering me on which makes me want to cheer them on even more. I get back onto the gravel/dirt road area and then turn onto a side single-track trail that runs along the lake. It's a little more technical than what I've been running on today and there are a lot of sharp turns which are hard to do when you're running so fast. But I check in with God and I feel like He's telling me not to slow down, but to be in control of my running form with the terrain. As I pass people in the single track I also try to be respectful and not cut them off. The single track is pretty wide though so that helps. Then I start having the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom again. But as far as I know, there are no restrooms out here. Maybe I can hold it till the finish, another 3 mi. I then come around the corner and I see a big brown building up ahead. I was shocked to see what looked like a bathroom. It’s pretty close to the aid station, but I don’t remember it being there last time. I quickly use the restroom, get water at the aid station, and keep running. I thank God again for putting that bathroom structure in the right place where I needed it. I still have more single track for probably another mile and a half before I get back onto the rolling hills road. There are a lot of mini bridges here which are very pretty, but it's hard to enjoy them as I run by so fast. I'm starting to feel fatigued a little, but I focus on my effort for God and not slowing down. Sometimes I feel my ankle slip to the side because of the slated terrain, but God keeps me from injuring it badly. As I think about the finish, I remember my Dad telling me that when he did his first half Ironman, he remembered laying down on the ground and not being able to get the pain to go away. That's how I'd like to finish today, giving it my all.

IMG_20230708_104543812IMG_20230708_104545541_BURST001I pass a sign with two miles to go. I jump back onto the wide rolling hills road, no more single track. It feels so much nicer to run on an open road. I’ve also noticed that my hip is feeling great, which is such a blessing! It only felt tender once so far on the run. Up ahead, I see a female racer that was one of the two that I saw during the out and back. I pick up the pace trying to catch her. The verse “I shall not be in want” comes back to my head and reminds me that I'm racing for God, not for the awards, and that these athletes he puts in front of me are to help motivate me. I eventually catch up to the lady after getting water at the last aid station. As I run by, she says “I've been waiting for you to catch up to me”. I laugh and tell her she's doing an amazing job.

I keep running now, picking up the pace knowing I have only a mile to go. I then get to the half-mile left and I look ahead if there are any more ladies in sight. I then see one lady far up ahead and the first thing I think “she's too far away to catch before the finish line”. But then I remember that anything's possible with God and He's put her there to help me run faster, not necessarily so I can beat her. I pick up the pace even more, pushing my legs to go faster to get as close to her as I can. With a quarter mile to go, she’s still a good ways ahead of me, but I have gained on her. I know I'm so close to the finish and with 20 meters to go, I can see her finish. I finish strong pointing to God and smiling all the way. I'm so thankful that he gave me such an amazing race with people to motivate me and kept me from past injuries like my hip pain and weak ankles. I’m also shocked by how fast I ran, but I know it was from God. I'm all overjoyed and now I get to rest the rest of the day. Thanks also to my Mom who supported me through the race.

Praise The Lord For He Is Good His Love Endures Forever


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

2023 Crown City Classic 12K - Anna

Date/Location:July 4, 2023 – Coronado, Ca – Racing Since 2011
Place:2nd/15 F15-19, 9th Female Overall

12K: Robin Soares, Troy Soares

5K: Ariel Soares

4th of July 12k 2023

Today the 2023 Crown City 4th of July race begins and Ariel and I take off from the start line side by side. Ariel is running the 5K and I am running the 12K, but we're both going for the same goal pace. My goal is to help Ariel stay on pace for the first mile and a half before her turnaround and then to try to continue on at that pace for the rest of my race. As we run over the start line, we run under the beautiful American flag as we start the race. I'm watching my pace on my watch trying to find the perfect gear in my legs that will hit 7-minute pace. Ariel's behind me now, but I can hear her breathing and I know she’s right with me. We run under the Coronado bridge and start to run around the golf course. So far I'm hitting 7 minute pace accurately and I thank God for that. I don't want to go any faster than 7-minute pace in order to conserve Ariel's energy for her last mile and a half without me. As we're running, this guy goes by with a stroller blasting some fun music. I think he's from the second wave because he goes flying by. I tell him “nice music” and then I said something like “If anyone can keep up with him you'll have a personal DJ”. Ariel and I then get onto the main road still running along the golf course. We go by the first aid station and I don't grab anything because I know they'll be another one further out. As I'm getting close to the 5K turnaround, I look down at my watch to see how far I’ve run and realize I never started it! The pacing was the only thing working because it just goes off the speed I'm running. I quickly start my Garmin so it starts tracking my miles and average speed. I tell Ariel good job as she takes the 5K turnaround and I continue on.

I'm feeling good and fresh right now, which is a blessing, but I'm trying to stay exactly on 7-minute place in order that I don't blow up later. I'm running behind these young adult athletes who I think train with the military in Coronado, and they're having fun and randomly run off the course to jump over an electrical box and then get back on course. I guess they can never do a normal run, they always have to do some parkour with it. The race course then turns towards the Coronado boardwalk and we run along side road. This is the long straightaway before the turnaround. I see an aid station up ahead and when I get there I grab a cup. I take a sip and realize it's Gatorade! I dump it out and keep running. I always like to get plain water and for some reason forgot to ask for water. I just assumed that they were holding water because they were just standing there with a cup in their hand. My mistake. Now I have to wait to get water till after the turnaround. I continue to run on the road focusing on my 7-minute pace. The pace is starting to feel less easy and more tiring to hold. I'm almost halfway and I keep pushing on. The course moves onto a small bike path along the ocean. As I'm running I can see up ahead a little overlook spot that I stopped at last year to stretch my hip. Last year was the first time I did the 12K and I had hip problems the whole time, I was grateful to finish though. This year reminds me how grateful I am of my hip not hurting right now! I feel my hip is slightly tender, but no pain which is great! As I get close to the turnaround, I see the top female finisher leading the entire race coming back! She must be a pro. As she runs by she's smiling the whole time. That's what I try to do to my races, always smile. But I have a lot of respect for those who are running at incredibly fast paces and still giving a smile to those around. I eventually see the guys behind her and the next few women. Eventually, I get to the turnaround and start heading back.

Halfway! As I'm running back I see Dad and tell him I'm tired. We cheer each other on. He tells me I'm 8th woman overall. Not too long later I get passed and go into 9th place. I don't mind because I'm staying consistent at my pace right now. As I'm running I can start to feel a knot form in my quad. This makes it harder every time I pull my legs forward. It's not too bad though and I only have 3 mi left. I know with God I can push through at this pace even with a sore quad. This also reminds me of Ash Bartholomew who finished Western States this last weekend. When he finished he was hunched over and probably running in extreme pain, but he had been running like that over 3 mi before the finish. So I can easily finish with a tight quad bugging me. The pace is starting to feel harder but I start to get my legs moving faster than they have been. Now all I have to do is keep them moving at this pace. I get to the aid station and this time get water. Yay! I only drink a little bit in order not to get a side cramp and the rest ends up spilling on me anyways. At least it cools me off. I can also feel that my hip is still tender, but I know that as long as I stay consistent at this pace, it should be fine. I can start to see the golf course now as the course turns and starts to go around it again. My pace is actually dropping slightly which is surprising and definitely God’s strength. My legs are quite tired now, but I know I can't slow down because then I won’t be able to get back up to my 7-min pace. As I'm running, a guy runs by and he's barefoot! He's been running the whole 12K with no shoes! It looks painful but he must be trying to complete some challenge. I eventually pass the girl who passed me, and tell her good job. There's another girl up ahead who I pass as well. I appreciate how God's put these ladies in front of me to help motivate me towards the end. My favorite part about this race is that it's really flat, however, it makes speed bumps seem like big hills after running flat for a while. Kind of funny. Eventually, I see the 5K turnaround and now I'm a mile and a half from the finish line!

230704_crown_city_15k_anna_near_finishI push on telling myself I'm almost there and giving my best effort for God. I'm starting to run by a lot of 5k runners now and the road becomes a little bit more crowded. I try my best not to get in the way of them as I run by. The course eventually turns back into a bike path under the Coronado Bridge. I'm so close! Every once in a while I try to say good job to the runners next to me as I'm running by them. After passing under the Coronado bridge I know I'm so close even though my legs feel like they're dead. I try to pick it up a little bit knowing that I'm almost done! I've been hearing someone's breathing behind me and I think it's one of the ladies who's about to pass me back. I don't worry about looking back though because I'm already giving my best effort. I get close to the finish and the lady goes flying by me. I have no idea how she has that much energy left but she reminds me of me in a cross-country race. I get to the finish and sprint in giving credit to God for getting through this race. Thank you God for an amazing race!

Praise The Lord For He Is Good, His Love Endures Forever230704_crown_city_15k_anna_finish

Monday, July 3, 2023

2023 Folsom International Tri - Troy


May 13, 2023 – Granite Bay, CA
Swim 1.5K – Bike 25 miles – Run 6.9 miles

2:30:49 (27:13 – 1:16:02 – 47:33)


2nd, M 55-59


Dave Campbell, Joshua Ridder

It's been a long time.  I reflect on the reason I race.  It's for God's glory.  There's even more opportunity because Anna & Ariel hear me often say to give their best effort to God.  Even when it hurts, we have to be honest if we're really looking to God or just focusing on our comfort.  I have an opportunity to be an example.

I haven't gotten much sleep.  I rode the tri bike a few times and did 1 6mi run recently and did 1 2000 yd swim in the last month.  Have a hand-me-down wetsuit I've never yet and is very tight.  But what's great is I have my family and it's good right now.  I've been praying for all of them and God has let us grow closer together in the last 3 weeks.

I bike into the park while family waits in long line.  I warm-up running and it feels great!
The Ridder's are here!  That's such a blessing. Joshua is racing (Robbie isn't here).

I get down to the water in good time before 1st wave.  Wetsuit is VERY hard to get on, takes a lot of water. The water isn't that cold. Someone helps me zip it up.  So tight.  I pray.  I know I must always stay focused on Him and be ready to stop and help someone or just encourage and most importantly be a good sport, smiling for others and representing well.

The swim goes well. Good sighting but don't try hard to draft except for times God puts someone ahead of me.  It feels too hard to do it all, just glad the breathing isn't out of control and I can see where to go.  1/2 way I actually feel a little cold, but otherwise this tight suit keeps me warm.  I calculate my pace about 1:40.  I try to pick it up the last 1000 yds.  Hoping to break 23, then 25..

Wetsuit came off legs great!  Surprised.  Sandals, smile, run happily to transition.

The bike is good, I don't have the tunnel vision like before!  I try to listen to God on how to bike.. Safely.. And with good form.  I don't covet others' placing and just try to push the correct way for God even when I want to slack off.

I catch a few people before Newcastle area.  I pass someone on the steep Powerhouse descent and then back-and-forth. Auburn-Folsom is a great ride back.  I realize I might break 1:15 (20mph ave I think).  The end comes sooner than I thought.  Thank you Lord.

The run starts off uncomfortable (I forgot to tighten laces so stopped on the trail) but I get into a better groove.  It's getting warm.  

I see Ariel & Anna at 2mi aid station and I'm really happy.  The rollers get really hard along the lake but I just keep talking to God and giving Him my best effort.  Trying to get from 7:50 pace to 7:30.. But rollers are pretty tough.

See Robin happily at 3mi aid station.  Tell myself 4mi is the time to pick it up and run like it's a 5mi race.  It's hot now and I know other runners way behind me are suffering more since they started later.  God keeps me going.  I try to pick it up.

5mi I see the girls again, get lots of water and electrolyte. Glad to have 1 mile to go. Guy says the other guy ahead is in my age group and he's a nice guy.  I tell him that when I pass him.  I push hard the last .5mi knowing he could catch me again.

Incredible race and God let it be so much fun!  True joy when you're right with God and doing it only for Him.

I ran back and helped Anna and Ariel at the aid station for an hour and then came back and picked up my 2nd place award (missed most of award ceremony).  

2023 Resolution Run 5K - Ariel


January 1, 2023 – Auburn, CA



1st Woman Overall


Anna Soares, Caryn Galeckas, Hunter Glass, Suzanne Hartley

The race director begins the countdown, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!” I start running at a slightly fast pace knowing the course will never be this flat after a mile. All the little kids start sprinting with excitement. I’m not worried I’ll catch them soon when they die. I watch the top 5k guy that wins every year quickly disappear from view as he easily runs his fast pace. 

I try to enjoy the slight downhills knowing soon I will have to run straight down. I run down Goliath, the steep XC hill. It’s nice to run down it instead of up it, but it is treacherous. I lean back and focus on taking small steps. I say a little prayer to God that He will keep me from slipping or hurting myself on the downhill. I’m nervous about going down because it’s easy to take big steps and I don’t want to reinjure my shin. 

I soak up the last slight uphill and then begin my rough mile-long descent. I remember not liking the downhill last year, so I trained running up and down Eagles Nest once. I think that helped because so far this downhill isn’t as bad as I suspected. There is only one girl ahead of me. She looks fast but also seems to be running the downhills slower than me. Maybe I can catch her and get some distance in front of her going into the hills. Who knows she could be a great hill climber, but cautious on downhills. 

A boy my age sprints past me. He has an interesting way of running. He skips and bounds down the hill. His technique is working because he’s catching the first lady. I couldn’t do his form or I’d likely injure myself. The gap between the top lady and I is shrinking. I’m only 20ft behind her. I’m getting the hang of taking short steps, so I speed up. I’m getting super close. I pass her and tell her good job, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she was laughing in her head. Thinking kids are always sprinting ahead, I’ll catch her. I’m kind of scared that I may think I’m going at a good pace, but really I might be wasting my energy. 

I think we're close to the bottom of the hill because I’m approaching 1 mile. Now I’m kind of sad because I just got comfortable running downhill and the 0.1 miles are speeding by. I wish this hill was longer, which is kind of surprising remembering how I was super scared of the downhill earlier. I round the corner and see the end of the downhill and the first hill. Oh no!! I power down the hill to get a good start on the uphill. As I run up the hill, I watch in amazement the little streams flowing down the path from the previous rainstorm. They're really pretty. As I splash through them, they refresh me. 

It is nice that at the top of this hill, the trail is not that hilly, but nice and rolling. One of the boys who passed me, in the beginning, starts walking. I tell him good job as I pass him. He tells me that a muscle is acting up. I soak in the nice trail because I know this luxury won't last long. 

There’s the beginning of the hills. Thankfully a mile and a half have already gone by, so just a mile and a half of climbing. I begin up the first hill. I’m feeling good, but moving slowly. I glance at my watch and hope these hills don’t make my pace drop too much. My goal is 9 min pace and right now my average pace is 8 min pace. 

A kid passes me. Oh wait, I know that kid. That’s a boy, named Matt, on Anna’s XC team. He goes up the hill like it’s easy, which makes sense. I try to stay with him, but I stop because I don’t want to tire myself out already. I keep up my steady pace up the hills. 

Up ahead there is a group of people running. I’m guessing they're in the 10k because I didn’t see them at my start. Hey, it’s Caryn Galeckas. Caryn is at the head of the little pack. It’s surprising to see her already. As I pass her, I tell her good job. Surprised, she tells me that I caught her too soon. 

Up ahead I see an intersection. 5k straight; 10k turn right. I go straight. I run up a little steep hill. I even have to use my hands for balance. I reach mile 2. Just one mile left. I push up the hills and soak up the downhills. I'm really dying now. The hills are starting to burn. I know I'm kind of close. I keep pushing even though my legs are dying. I know I'm almost there. 

I run harder and reach the final brutal hill. I push up it. It's super hard. Yes, I made it! I see Leah, Grace, and their friends. I smile at them and run up the slight hill. One more hill. I race up a small hill and onto a sidewalk. I pull into a sprint and race to the finish. Yeah, I'm done. My time was 28:27(it was .1 long).  I got first girl overall.

2023 Virtual Napa Half Marathon - Ariel

March 5th, 2023 – Auburn, CA
Half Marathon

1 of 1

I line up at the starting line for my first half-marathon. The starting line isn’t as crowded as a typical race. In fact, there is no one at the start except me and my pacer. That’s because I’m doing a self-supported half marathon. The race director is mom, the starting line is a crack, and my pacer is dad on his bike.

“Ready!” Mom yells. This is it. “On your mark! Go!” I start running at 8:30pace. I’m pretty sure there will be hills ahead so I want to give myself a little head start. I feel very energetic, but I know that probably won’t last long. Dad catches up with me on his bike. He bikes right next to me. Rattlesnake road is beautiful. I’ve only ridden this road on my bike, but I see more of its beauty by running it. All the houses are so lovely and last night’s rain makes everything look so unreal. I see a turkey fluff himself up and giggle.

Dad advises me to let myself go on the downhills. I try it and it helps. I see mom up ahead and I look at my watch to check the distance. Wow, that mile went by fast! The first mile is just barely past mom’s car. Mom cheers me on as I pass her. I give her my best smile and keep running. Dad pauses at the car and then catches up to me.

I run along lots of farmland. I can see some animals in the distance. I hear water rushing ahead. I reach the canal with the rushing water. I see a hill up ahead. I pick it up a little to get a good start on the hill. Ugg, this hill is harder than it looks.

Yay! I’m at the top. I look at the mansions that sit at the top of the hill. They're gorgeous and huge, but the land still look desolate. I let myself go, on the downhill.

Finally, I reach the Y. My family nicknamed it that because it’s an intersection shaped kind of like a Y and even has a warning sign before it with a Y on it. I take the turn fast because I'm always scared of the cars you can’t see that take the corner fast.

I go up a gradual, but tough hill. Downhill! Up ahead I see mom and Anna. There at mile 3. It’s so nice to see them. I get a little water and a snack.

I keep running down a shaded road. It’s really pretty. I pass some huge houses on Newcastle road. I know I’m almost to Auburn Folsom. I see the horse stables ahead. I always love passing them. It would be cool to ride a horse. I’ve only ridden one once and I remember it was fun. I take the time to soak up the view as I run past. The property is huge.

I run past a house with two palm trees and start running down hill again. It a super long downhill. I soak it up. I come to an intersection and my watch beeps. I look down at it and see that it was warning me to turn left. I hug the corner and start down Auburn Folsom. It’s about 3.5 miles right now. I tell dad I have to use the restroom soon. Dad notifies mom and then goes back to biking in front of me.

He does a good job at distracting me as I run down the monotonous road with stories and jokes. He also has me focus on one mile at a time. I try to stay at 9 minute pace. My watch beeps again for me to turn onto Horseshoe Bar Road. I see mom up ahead. They have a bathroom set up for me. I use it quickly. I grab some orange pieces and then start running faster to make up time.

I hit 5 miles a little after the aid station with a 10:30 last mile. Even though I’m running pretty fast I feel slow. I turn onto a little road. The little road is squished between two rows of houses. The paved road stops leaving a hard packed dirt road. The road leads behind the houses. They have really pretty backyards around here. We pass multiple pools. I see the end of the trail up ahead. We pass another backyard. This house grabs my attention. It looks right out of a movie. It’s super fancy, but not modern at all. It had a fountain in the middle of this path. Kind of like a government house style. It also had a fancy basketball court, but the hoop was short. Dad and I imagine a little kid lives there.

I see the road up ahead. We turn onto the road. I look across the street and see a big house with a half

court basketball court. 6 miles! I merge back onto Auburn Folsom. I run by a fancy neighborhood. I’m feeling better and energized. Dad got me focused on staying on pace the whole mile 7.

Mile 8! I glide down a hill watching my pace slowly get faster. I do that with every hill I run over. There’s a hill coming up. I power up it. At the top, I see a huge pond in front of a fancy neighborhood. I push down the hill. Dad tells me that up ahead is the castle. I’m excited. Every time I've passed it, I've been either bike or car. Both too fast to see everything about the castle. I examine it as I pass by. It’s gorgeous and huge. Dad and I brainstorm about it’s possible owners and uses.

Mile 9! Dad and I have come up with so many theories of the Palace. Possibly a set for a movie, a club, or a house of a very lonely, wealthy, old man. We pass another fancy neighborhood. So many wealthy neighborhoods on Auburn Folsom.

My watch reminds me again to take another left. I turn onto Twin Rocks road. Mile 10! Yay, I’m so close! I look at my pace and see 8:29. Wow, I really picked it up! I turn into Hidden Valley, a pretty neighborhood. Thanks to God I’m feeling surprisingly good. I have lots of energy left somehow. I keep my pace 10 seconds below 9. Anna starts running with us at mile 11. She tells me lots of things to make me laugh. We continue running on Morningside Drive for a while till we finally get back on Auburn Folsom Rd. I’m feeling really good.

Mile 12! Yay, its basically one mile left. My excitement fuels me up a very slight uphill. I see mom in a parking lot. She cheers me on and offers me water. Up ahead I see an intersection. Dad warns me that when we turn there will be a tough hill all the way to Granite Bay Park. I turn at the light onto Douglas Boulevard. Here we go. This is where I leave it all out there. I push up the hill. No kidding that this hill is long and grueling. I’m already tired and I’m not even close to being done. Anna and Dad keep encouraging me up the hill.
I move onto a path along the road. I’m grateful for the shade. Especially, since it’s starting to get hot. At least I feel hot. I power up the hill. Almost there! I made it past the hard part.

Yeah, I’m less than a mile away. I pick up the pace. Anna also picks it up too act like another racer. We
speed through the gate. I run down the road and turn at the first turn. I’m almost in a sprint now. I race down a hill and then into a parking lot. Anna races me to the imagery finish. I sprint my hardest and finish! I successfully stayed under 9 minute pace. I actually got an 8:50 average and finish with a time of 1:55:39. Thanks to God for an amazing race.

2023 - CER 5K Run for Hope - Robin

April 22nd, 2023 – Grass Valley, CA



5th Woman Overall


Troy Soares, Delaney Seeburger

Troy and I drive to the remote and beautiful campus of Christian Encounter Ranch.  It's always a blessing to do this race, see friends, and support an amazing ministry.  We connect with our friends Suzanne and Caryn and a few from our track group.  Worship music is playing in the background.  This is a unique race and such a blessing.  I am not in great shape right now but I will still do my best.

We line up and Outreach Pastor, Zach, prays for us. Ready, set, go!  The first quarter mile is flat but it quickly changes and climbs up steep.  My goal is to keep running even if it's slow. I pass up several kids that got out ahead of me.  

We meander through the campus.  The footing is tough in some spots but I survive.  It so hard climbing up to the canal but I keep going. Mile 1 is 11:09.

Ah, it's a nice break to be on the canal! Thank you God for giving me energy!  I enjoy the solid footing and flat terrain.  I'm able to pick up the pace and get moving.  I grab some water at the aid station.  At this point, there is another canal trail that runs parallel above me that runners come back on.  I look for Troy but it's hard to see much.

Eventually I make it to the upper canal trail.  The hunt is on for the smiley face. Once you see the smiley face, it's all downhill from there! Mile 2 is 9:35. I'm happy with that!  

I'm surprised that there are still some hills along here.  Thank you Lord for helping me hang in there!  Finally, there is the smiley face!  I'm relieved for the downhill.

Soon, this upper trail ends and merges with the lower canal trail at the aid station. I enjoy the flat and then have to go downhill which is not my favorite for my knees.  Quick feet and focus on getting the toes down on the ground.  I make my way down to the finish line. Mile 3 is 9:43.  I sprint to the finish and Troy, Suzanne, Caryn and others cheer me in.  Thank you Lord for the challenge!  I'm glad to be done!  Troy had a great day!  He got 3rd overall!  

2023 CER Run For Hope 5K - Troy


April 22nd, 2023 – Grass Valley, CA



3rd Male Overall


Robin Soares, Delaney Seeburger

I love coming to the Christian Encounter Ranch for their fundraising 5K run. Also it's challenging and beautiful Cross country course. 

Robin and I aren't in the best shape so line up in the middle. There's always a great introduction beforehand to the purpose of the Ranch. Knowing that your efforts are about to help the wonderful students that live there makes the motivation increase.  

We start off at a casual pace and at the first steep climb I tried to be efficient and conserve energy. Coming over the top there are a few young men always ahead and a woman near me who is making quick work of the technical single track. It fills me with joy looking around at the recreation areas and peaceful places of solitude. Thinking of the struggles we've had this last year, I find myself wanting to spend a few days here to spend time close to God.

I feel like I'm running better than expected as I approach the Long Hill up to the NID canal. I push well and am greeted by some cheering students directing runners.

It's flat now. I thank the Lord that I feel good physically. I'm able to talk to God, and He encourages me to trust Him more. I haven't been trusting Him enough. Right this moment up ahead at the first aid station as I get closer I realize that's the smile of Scott Gallagher! Scott was a great Christian encourager for me in college when I also was not trusting God enough. He was also from my church growing up. As I go by I tell him it's so good to see him. There's so much I'd like to talk to him about that I even consider stopping my race.. but I decide to look for him afterwards.

I crossed the canal and passed the young man ahead of me. I think I might be in first place. I look down across the canal to try to see Robin running. 

I finally see the :-) which indicates it's all downhill!

I cross back over grab some water and get ready for a fast descent. I feel really good and all the credit goes to God. I wind down through the fun single tracks and pop out onto the levy along the pond to the finish line. 24:03. 

I'm glad to finish and immediately pray to thank God.  There were actually two runners far ahead so I finished third. I go back out to see Robin come down the hill. Discourse is usually easy for her but since her knee injury earlier this year she has to be careful on any run. She's had a great attitude about it which is inspiring. 

Robin and I take some time to sit down in one of those peaceful areas of solitude on the ranch property. Talking and praying and thankful for each other.

2023 Resolution Run 10K - Anna

January 1, 2023 – Auburn, CA



2nd Woman Overall


Caleb Dickerson, Daniel Buettner, Dillon Holloway

5K: Ariel/Robin/Troy Soares, Caryn Galeckas, Hunter Glass, Suzanne Hartley

Today I'm doing the Resolution Run 10k. I get to run it with a lot of cool Colfax XC runners and a teammate of mine. We start off the run and everyone's having fun and joking around. It reminds me of the Placer XC team.

We run down the long pavement downhill for about a mile. I'm staying up with the top Colfax runners for right now. Another guy and a girl pass us and take the lead. By the time we get to the trail, I'm still right behind Dillon and running with his friend Daniel. As the trail flattens out and eventually starts the climb, I catch back up to the girl in front of me and tell her good job.

I start to drop Daniel and keep my eyes on Dillon. I run with Dillon at Tuesday Night track and I know he is a very fast runner, but I also know that I have good endurance. My goal is to stay with him as long as I can without depleting all my energy early on. In the past, I've had trouble with going out too fast for a long run and today I want to practice being a lot more consistent on the uphills and downhills in the beginning. That way I can have more energy towards the end. I don't even have a pace goal, I'm just going off the feel of my legs and body. I can start to feel the burn of this hill, but it's not overwhelming.

Up ahead we turn past the aid station and head out on the out-and-back section. The aid stations have water, but no cups. That's why I'm carrying a water bottle today. I knew carrying a water bottle might be tougher when running, but it's good practice for triathlon season. Even though I don't want to, I practice taking sips here and there so my body can get used to taking water throughout a long-distance event. 

There's still another hill ahead and I slowly grind up it keeping my pace consistent. At the top, it flattens out a little bit as we start to run around Robie point. Dillon is about 50m ahead but not dropping me yet. I'm really enjoying this run today because it is the start of a new year and I have been blessed with the ability to run fast by God and give Him glory through it. No matter what happens today, I get to enjoy running it right now for God. Running around Robie point is one of my favorite parts because it's a lot easier than running straight up a hill. It's got some rolling hills in it, but overall it has a consistent elevation.

As we get behind Robie Point, I really know this section well from doing mile repeats here. I know it's about a mile from here to Murphy's gate, which is where the 10K turnaround is. I know this section will be a slight uphill the whole way up, but it's nothing too steep that will burn out my legs. I'll also have a nice refresher on the downhill back. I'm still keeping Dillon in sight as I'm climbing the rolling hills. There are a lot of people out walking the trails today and they cheer me on and I thank them for their encouragement. I try to be considerate as I run by them. This section of the trail is quite muddy and there are tons of puddles. It poured all last night, but today was a beautiful day, a perfect way to start January 1st. However, it did leave the shaded section of the trails very wet. This was fine with me and I try to avoid them as much as I can, but I don't worry too much about getting my shoes dirty. I notice ahead that Dillon is just running straight through the puddles. I guess that's one way to do it. Your shoes are going to get wet anyways.

As I get close to the turnaround, I see the top man running back. He's flying. He's going to be tough for Dillon to catch. I see Dillon turn around and I tell him good job. I then turn around after him and start heading back. I see the girl who was originally in front of me in the beginning and I tell her good job. I also see my teammate Caleb and Dillon's friend Daniel running together. I cheer them both on and continue. As I'm going back I try to tell every runner I go by 'good job' and to smile. One of the easiest ways to give God glory is to smile so that's what I'm going to do today.

I enjoy the slight downhill as I head back toward Robie Point. I see Sophie who runs on the Colfax team and cheer her on. She's doing great today. I also see two more Colfax runners and cheer them both on. I start then to climb up the Western States trail to go over Robie Point, a different way back on this out and back. I start climbing and see Dillon running back asking if he's going the right way. I tell him he is and he continues to head up the Western States. Poor guy, it's not easy on the body to have to backtrack during a race. Western States is a hard climb and starts to test my body's strength. I know I'm over halfway so it's okay to be feeling this pain. I know I didn't go too fast in the beginning.

I get to the top of Robie and head down to the other side. I'm really careful of the rocks because this is the spot where I broke my ankle 2 years ago. I'm praying to God that I don't twist anything today because it's so easy with all the rocks out here. I get to the bottom of the hill and continue heading back to the beginning of the out and back. I see my friend Suzanne from FCA. I cheer her on and keep running. I'm still doing my best to tell everyone 'good job'. I get back to where I left off at the beginning of the out and back and head on the trail that will take me back to the start/finish line. 

I only have 1.2 miles to go, but there are a lot of hills ahead. The one problem is I have all these 5k runners I have to now run past. I do my best to be considerate as a run by them because I know they're in just as much pain as I am. I can still see Dillon up ahead and I'm proud of myself for keeping up with him for so long. I try to continue telling all the 5k runners ‘good job’ as I pass them. I pass our neighbors and I'm especially proud to see them running the Resolution Run. Even though this next mile is going to be long, I know every part of it. I know all the uphills and downhills and can map them out in my head because I've run it so many times. I create checkpoints for myself and to look at my watch to see how far I have left.

As I hit these tough hills, I power up them with all the juice I have left in my legs. I then run a little bit downhill and then right back up. At the bottom, there's this huge river which I just splash right through. My feet are soaked enough. I do wonder if my heavy shoes are making it harder on my legs. I keep running up the trail and now I have one long hill left. However, this hill is completely all mud and you can barely get any traction as you run up it. Halfway up I see these little girls who are probably 5 years old running the 5K. I cheer them on impressed to see them working so hard.

I now have the last steep part of the hill left and I power up it to see a surprise waiting for me at the top of the hill. My friends from school are here cheering me on. I also see an old friend, Hunter Glass there. I thank them for cheering me on and run all the way up to the top of the hill. I start running hard on the parking lot sidewalk to the finish. I wish I could push more right now, but my legs feel quite dead. I try to make myself pick it up and sprint hard into the finish line pointing to God. 

This was a great race and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed running for God and giving it my best effort. Dillon did amazing getting second overall and still finishing a good ways in front of me. The rest of the Colfax runners and my teammate did amazing. Can't wait to continue in this year 2023 and all that God has for me in it.

Praise The Lord for He is Good, His Love Endures Forever!