Loony Challenge Weekend: RACE REPORTS for the TC 10K and 5K

>> Monday, October 05, 2015

My lovely Pharmie and I raced the TC 10K and TC 5K on Saturday. We did this last year with her brother and (then) fiancée Angela (now wife).

In the past few months, they bought a house and had a lot of overseas work trips, so they bowed out of the Loony Challenge this year. So it was just my wife and I:

Pre-race selfie.

We witnessed a forklift deliver this massive rack of finisher medals.

Blurry (because it was dark-ish) traditional potty shot.

We chatted with some buds in the starting area - here's fast
swimming buddy Aaron G. who was also doing the Loony Challenge!

2,300+ people with me in the starting chute ready to start the 10K!

Welcome to Minnesota: it was a little breezy and 40-45 degrees.

One of the guys who lined up next to me was runner buddy Evan. We met a few years ago, and he's a pretty fast runner. AND HE WAS DOING THE LOONY CHALLENGE! And so was this other guy wearing a Boston Marathon jacket, and that's never a good sign. I was ready to RUN HARD.


The rising sun lighting up the Cathedral.

Behind the "Loony" runner in the Boston coat. "Well, gotta keep up with him, I guess..."

My first half mile up the hill by the Cathedral was 3:02.7, and my next was 3:05.1 for a 6:07.8 first mile. I was hoping to hold 6:15s-ish, so not a bad start.

Still behind the Boston guy on Summit (before the first mile marker).

Still behind the Boston guy heading downhill and then back up to Dale Street (around mile 1.3).

Mile 2 was surprisingly fast: I ran half-mile splits of 3:03.5 and 3:05.8 for a 6:09.3 total. I knew last year, I had a slow mile 3, so I was REALLY happy to see a 6:15.9 mile 3! We turned back around and realized that we were being slightly pushed by the breeze on the way out.

Finally NOT the Boston guy in front of me! I passed him somewhere around mile 2.
This is just after the turn-around near Hamline Ave.

I tried to draft behind this tall man in yellow, but I wasn't behind him for more than a block before thinking I should/could be going faster. So then I hopped out from behind him, only to run right next to him for a long time. Pointless. I'm not good at the finer points of racing. Or lovemaking.

A half mile later, the blvd between the 2 directions of Summit Ave came together, and
we were running towards the rest of the runners who were still heading out.

Still just hopping around with the tall guy in yellow.

My 4th mile got a little slower, but I was trying to make sure I had some reserve for the upcoming 5K and then the 10 Mile the next day. I told myself to not worry about running FAST, but instead concentrate on running WITH GOOD FORM. Mile 4 was 3:06.7 and 3:10.6 for 6:17.3 total.

Then it got lonely:

Looking down from Dale Street, with our final hill in the distance.


Evan in front of me.

Serves me right.

But the funny thing is (and this is totally true) that I had the thought "Well, if someone beats me, I'd much rather have it be someone that I know."

Mile 5 was even slower: 6:21.3. I was pretty pooped from going out at a decent pace to stay with Boston guy, and now I wanted to try to stay with Evan. I hope I wasn't being dumb.

On Evan's tail on the freshly paved part of Summit with less than a mile left.

Still with him heading down the hill by the Cathedral.

Still with him crossing Kellogg Ave.

My final mile was 6:04.3, and the final 0.23 miles to the finish was at 5:41 pace. I finished just behind Evan, 7 seconds faster than last year. But this race was very different from last year's: last year, I was slow in the middle and gently/easily added speed near the end. This year, I was faster at the start, and just slowly died throughout.


Steve Stenzel, TC 10K

6:12.24 / mile pace

21 out of 2324 overall
21 out of 878 men
8 out of 145 in the 30-34 age group

I had to wait around for an interview that I was going to do for a local live morning show, so I grabbed a selfie with the 2 hilarious Medtronic cheerleaders:

Totally channeling Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri.

Post-interview with Todd Walker from Fox9. Pharmie finished her 10K FIVE minutes faster
than she thought, so she was pulled into the interview too! I'll share a video link if it surfaces.

When TC in Motion asked if I could be interviewed between my races, I mentioned that I was planning on going back to my car to get a foam roller to roll out of my legs. I asked if they had a spot I could store a roller during the races, so I got access to their HEATED media tent. Nice. I grabbed the roller and hit my butt and heels well, and then got ready for the 5K.


I didn't run with my camera for the 5K (just like last year). I was hoping for around 6:00/mile pace like last year, but after that pretty fast 10K, I didn't know what would happen. My first mile was right on: 2:57.3 and 3:04.3 for 6:01.6.

We hit the turn-around, and I noticed Evan wasn't far behind me. Like "just a few seconds" not far. My legs were pretty tired, and I started thinking about the 10 Mile the next day. I concentrated on form like I did near the end of the 10K. No heel strikes. Mile 2 was slower: 6:14.6.

I finally cracked 6 in the final mile: 5:58.4. And my final 0.11 to the finish was at 5:43 pace - that's fast, but far from "all out sprinting" fast.

Oh, something gross happened in the final 2 blocks of the 5K. The woman who came in as the 2nd female was running just in front of me to my left. I saw her cock her head back over her left shoulder for a second, and then bring it back to the front again. "Ummm, I think I better get a little farther off to her right side," I thought to myself. Sure enough, a second later, she cocked her head back again and barfed over her left shoulder. And then again. And then again. Three little chucks over about 5 seconds. She NEVER slowed up or broke stride, and that was the final 0.11 where my Garmin at me at 5:43 pace. Solid work, speedy barfing woman!


Steve Stenzel, TC 5K

6:05.00 / mile pace

32 out of 2696 overall
31 out of 980 men
4 out of 115 in the 30-34 age group

I turned around as soon as I finished, and guess who was RIGHT behind me. Yep. Evan. And he started a few seconds farther back, so he actually beat me. TC in Motion shared this photo of the female winner on their Facebook page:

LOOK IN THE BACKGROUND - that's Evan and I about 40 seconds after we finished:

I SWEAR I'M NOT PISSED HERE! I must have been "in between" faces and just caught at a
weird time. I wasn't pissed that Evan finished right with me. I swear. Pretty funny, though.

JUST before I was going to grab my camera out of the media tent so I'd be ready to get a photo of Pharmie finishing, THERE SHE WAS crossing the finish line! She beat her 10K time by nearly 5 minutes compared to last year, and her 5K time by nearly 2 minutes! Way to go Pharmie!

Lots of 5K runners heading down the hill toward the finish.

The finish!


• Pharmie was a few MINUTES faster at these 2 races than she was last year, but I was just a bit slower. I was 7 seconds FASTER in the 10K compared to last year, but I was 16 seconds SLOWER in the 5K, so I was 9 seconds slower overall at this point. That was quite comparable, so I was fine with that.

• Evan had a 0:03 lead on me after these 2 races. He was 0:01 faster in the 10K and 0:02 faster in the 5K. But I knew he was a better distance runner, so I wasn't holding my breath that I'd beat him in the 10 Mile the next day. Still, we were both ready to RACE on Sunday!

• My achilles held up OK over these 2 races! The day before, I finally was able to see Dr. Folske for some much-needed A.R.T. on my heel. He didn't work a MIRACLE, but I was happy with how well it still felt after the 10K. Here was the scene the day before in an Instagram of mine:

Caption: "Wrangled these 2 during a final Dr. Folske visit before racing this weekend.
#DadLife #TC10Mile #LoonyChallenge"

• Even though my achilles didn't act up, my legs were HEAVY the rest of the day. I ran pretty hard. In fact, most people doing the Loony said something like "yeah, I wasn't planning on running that [the 10K or 5K] THAT hard/fast!" I figured my 10 Mile could suffer a bit the next day, but I did what I had to stay close to Evan.

• I was glad I wore my wind-proof briefs under my shorts. It was in the lower-to-mid-40s, and I didn't want to worry about Pepé getting too cold. And really, when do you ever overheat and think "oh, if only my junk and ba-dunk were cooler." Never. You never say that. So I added that extra layer of warmth down there and happily went on with life.

We got home, relieved the babysitter, and Henry sat to stretch with me:

I love this guy.

Then we went out for breakfast:

And to the park. (And then both boys got haircuts too.)

Back with my TC 10 Mile report soon, as well as how the Loony Challenge ended up!


Three Quick Pics from the TC 10K/5K (and Loony Series Standings!)

>> Saturday, October 03, 2015

Well, Mama, Henry, and Charlie are all sleeping upstairs right now. Pharmie and I had some decent runs this morning at the TC 10K and 5K as part of the "Loony Challenge." We were also BOTH interviewed on live TV between our 2 races by Todd Walker from the Fox9 Morning Show. (I'll share a link to the video if they put that segment online later.) Here are 3 quick pics:

Pre-10K photo with the Cathedral of St. Paul in the background.

I ran the 10K with my camera like I did last year. This is just before mile 4 for me
and the guy in red on the far right as we're heading back towards the finish,
and ALL these people heading out are around mile 2.5. Quite the scene!

Breakfast with the family post-race.

As far as current "Loony Challenge" standings go, I know I'm NOT leading like I was last year! A friend showed up at the start line who I didn't know was doing the Loony, and he beat me by 0:01 in the 10K, and then by 0:02 in the 5K! And there may have been more Loony runners in front of him. He and I might have a good (painful) race tomorrow! I place my chances at about 8% to beat him because he's more of a distance runner - I thought I'd be a few seconds faster in the shorter races where I tend to be stronger, but he's already got the lead! (At least he's got the lead on me; who knows how we stand in the series overall.)

TOMORROW SHOULD BE FUN! I've got the TC 10 Mile left, and Pharmie still has to run the Marathon!


Friday Funny 988: Making a New Friend (at the TC Marathon)

>> Friday, October 02, 2015

This is a different sort of "Friday Funny," and it's timing is appropriate because this weekend is the TC 10 Mile and TC Marathon.

Over a year ago, I started chatting with this tall, skinny, 40-something runner from my Y. She was always there on a treadmill when I was there. We'll call her "L." Turns out she's pretty fast: a bit after we got to chatting, she went off and ran a 3:18 marathon. Nice.

L and her hubby.

I first mentioned my blog to L shortly after last fall's "Kitten Mile" because I knew she'd get a kick out of my race report. Since then, she'll sometimes *like* a post or leave a comment on a link on the Steve in a Speedo Facebook page.

One time after she liked something on Facebook, I thought I'd snoop through her profile. I wasn't her friend, but I was curious to see her boys, because we've shared lots of "raising boys" stories.

I got to one profile picture, and I laughed SO hard. I couldn't wait to tell L what I saw in her pic!

I found her back at the Y a few days later, and practically ran over to her. "L, do you know that I'm in one of your profile pics on Facebook?"

She gave me a sideways glance. "Are you in the background of one of my race photos or something?" she asked.

"Nope," I said. "I'm POSING with you, and our arms are around each other!"

L was stunned. "WHAT?!?"

Then I told her what pic it was:

That was back when my wife's family and I would cheer in farm animal costumes for the marathon runners. And that was 6 years before I knew L. I'm the chicken. Too funny! Her photo was captioned like this:

Here's links to lots of FARM ANIMAL photos from years past if you want to take a look: 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

L's racing this weekend, but not at the TC Marathon. Good luck, L!

Stop back for updates on Pharmie's and my races tomorrow and Sunday. I'm doing the Loony Challenge (the 10K, 5K, and 10 Mile), and Pharmie's doing the ULTRA Loony Challenge (10K, 5K, and Marathon). My heel has really been acting up this week, and I saw Dr. Folske earlier today for some last minute A.R.T. work on it. He told me I can run through some pain on Sunday in the 10 Mile. Yikes! I'm worried!

I hope to have a quick 10K and 5K post-race update tomorrow afternoon, so stop on back! Happy weekend!


Friday Funny 987: Protest Signs

More funny stuff posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


Friday Funny 986: "There... I Fixed It!"

More funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


My Dead Toenail is Fully Dead

>> Thursday, October 01, 2015

Last week, I posted that I had a toenail turning purple. It was a bit sore on my next 2 runs, but not bad.

Now, it's FULLY dead and doesn't hurt, so it won't be an issue for the races this weekend:

Oh, but my achilles is still achy, so I'm still hoping for the best for race weekend. I'm seeing Dr. Folske tomorrow for some A.R.T., so hopefully that will loosen me up nicely.


2015 Loony Challenge Goals

>> Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Let's lay this all out.

Last year (the 2nd year of the Loony Challenge and my first time doing it), these were my times for the 10K, 5K, and 10 Mile:

38:40, 18:38, 1:01:42 = 1:59:00 total

But, as I mentioned shortly after the race in this post, the 10 Mile was accidentally a little short. My 1:01:42 was equivalent to 1:02:34. So my adjusted Loony time would really look like this:

38:40, 18:38, 1:02:34 = 1:59:52 total

Last year, "sub 2:00:00" was really the best possible goal, and I was able to get that. Barely. Here are my hopes for this year's race this weekend. I like to have multiple goals and see HOW many I can hit. Let's start with the easiest goals and move towards the "if it's a good race" goals:

• FIRST: finish all 3 races. My achilles flared up on my easy Monday run, so I'm not running again until the 10K on Saturday (and I'm trying to get in to my A.R.T. Doc today). I just want to get to the finish line of all 3 races.

• SECOND: try to win the series. Last year, out of the initial 500 who entered the Loony Challenge, I came out on top by over 7 minutes:

I don't think I'm in QUITE as good of shape this year, but 7 minutes is a decent cushion. Depending on who shows up to race, I have a chance at winning again, so I'm going for it.

• THIRD: sub-2:02:00 series finish. That's over 2 minutes slower than last year. I think that's very do-able. I COULD be slower, but I really don't hope to be.

• FOURTH: try to keep my times close to last year's. With the effects of overtraining that I'm currently feeling (as mentioned in Monday's post), I don't know how possible this will be. My 10 Mile time might end up a little down the crapper. We'll see.

• FIFTH: sub-2:00:00 like last year. If these overtraining issues don't really do anything to affect my legs come race day, it's possible to be close to last year's times. I think.

• SIXTH: race PR of sub-1:59:52. This is only 8 seconds faster than my 5th goal, but I'm 99.4% sure this is impossible. Again, we'll just have to see. So this goes down as my "best possible goal" for the race.

One "downside" to this year's Loony Challenge vs. last year's is that the boys are staying with us this year. Last year, we were able to ship them to my Mother-in-Law's house for the weekend, and we were able to go out for breakfast after the 10K and 5K, get a quick massage, TAKE A NAP, and then roll into bed at night before the TC 10 Mile (and Marathon for my wife) whenever we wanted to. So Pharmie and I will be starting the TC 10 Mile/Marathon a LITTLE more pooped than we were last year.

Keep an eye on my tweets and my Instagram over this weekend for updates! Hoping for the best!


My Sister's First Half Marathon

>> Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My sister is running the Mankato Half Marathon in less than 3 weeks. It will be her longest race ever! She's ran a few 5Ks, and generally keeps her runs at 6 miles or less. She just ran her first 10 mile training run, and is doing 12 with a group next weekend!

She's running for a cause. She's running with a group from her church to raise money for World Vision, who's trying to make sure everyone in the world has access to clean drinking water. Here's a video from World Vision that explains what they do:

If you're interested, here's a link to my sister's donation page. She's trying to raise $1,310 (13.1 miles X $100). Here's what she says on her page:

So I've decided to run the half marathon this October! Even at the beginning of July, I was adamant I would not run a half marathon. Sure, I enjoyed jogging 3 miles or doing aerobics a few times a week, it was my stress-relief: I felt better, slept better, ate better, laughed easier, yelled at my kids less. Doing more than that wasn't on my agenda. Then several random people starting asking me in July if I was going to run the half marathon this fall. "NOPE!" I replied with a smile. But, something in my heart was changing...then just a week or two later, it was announced at my church that Team World Vision would have a team running to raise money to get clean water. Heart pulls. I knew that God wanted me to join in the running to help others.

So I'm doing it! I'm running with Team World Vision to help provide clean water for communities in Africa. The needs are real, but we believe that we can end the clean water crisis in our lifetime.

$50 = clean water for 1 person.

Will you invest in the future and provide clean water for 1, 2, 3, or even more people in Africa? We can help change lives, together.

Thanks for your support!

World Vision is a non-profit who puts 85% of every dollar back into helping their cause. They have received positive press about how much of their donations go STRAIGHT into their cause, and not towards things like office expenses or advertising.

Anyway, go here to give if you can, and GOOD LUCK SIS in 2.5 weeks! I'll let you all know how she does!



>> Monday, September 28, 2015

Yep. I ramped up my miles pretty quick after my little achilles injury 2 months ago, and I'm feeling the effects of overtraining.

The first and only (or at least "worst") time I've been overtrained in the past was going into my first TC 10 Mile in 2009. I was naive. I ran most every run "all out." Just over 2 weeks before that race, I did a 9.5 mile tempo run. A few days later, I did a 5 mile tempo. Ten days pre-race, I did a "practice" 10 mile, and felt dead throughout. Now I know it was because I was training too hard leading up to it. (And WHO does a "practice" 10 mile race 10 days before your "real" 10 mile race? Sheesh.) I was running 2-3 times per week, and every run was HARD.

Now I'm smarter. I'm running a little more often (still just consistently 3 times per week), and every run has a warm-up and cool-down. I'll do an easy run if the legs need to be flushed out. There's more emphasis on distances and not just speed. Six years ago, I wasn't injured and didn't have kids, so I was getting in all the runs I could want, and I only covered about 70 miles in September. This year, I'm nursing an injury and working around "stay-at-home Dadding" and teaching, and I'm already over 89 miles with possibly 1 more run before the month is over to take September to maybe around 94 miles.

This year's overtraining is different than 6 years ago. Six years ago, it was about tired muscles from ALWAYS being worked so hard. This year, it's about sluggish legs from adding on miles so quick, mixed with sheer exhaustion (felt when not running).

Achilles injury on 7/20, then finally did something about it the week of 8/3 and started to build
my running back from there. Biking is all over the place, but running slowly builds.
(And remember, I stopped swimming 7 weeks ago because of my elbow.)


Exhaustion example #1: In the last few months since Charlie's stopped breast feeding, I've been the one getting up to give him a bottle in the middle of the night. (Don't give me a medal - my wife works full time and I work about 1/6 time, so it's literally the least I can do.) Once about 10 days ago - for the FIRST time ever - Charlie woke up and I nudged Pharmie out of bed to deal with him because I was just too tired. And then I felt so guilty in the morning. Oops. Sorry Hun.

Exhaustion example #2: For the last 3.5 years, I've been getting up once a week at 2:44 a.m. to go to Adoration at my church. (I really only mentioned it once in this post 3 years ago.) After church, I sometimes go out and make photos, and sometimes I workout. Before this month, I think I've maybe skipped ONE workout during the 4 a.m. hour over the last 3 years because I've been too tired. In the last month, I've skipped TWO.

(And I'm not extra tired for any other reason. I've had no stress to start the semester. I'm sleeping a good amount at night. In the past when I've been running this far, I'm FAR from this exhausted. I'm certain this exhaustion is from ramping up the miles too quickly [possibly mixed with doing more "distance" speed work when all summer I was only racing shorter triathlons] without giving my body time to get used to the build.)

Health example: Since March or April, I've only had 1 cold. Until recently. Then in the last 2 weeks, I've had TWO colds. I may still have this one next weekend for the races. Tip: don't run next to me this weekend because you may get a snot rocket blasted on you. Accidentally, of course.

Training example: By the time I got to my last long run 9 days ago (of 11.5 miles), miles ran at "race pace" were hard. Not because I was running them too fast, but just because my legs were super heavy all the time. Three weeks ago, my easy runs started feeling harder than they should have. But I just had to get the miles in.

So, how will this affect me this weekend at the races? Who knows. I'm not going to think about it. Maybe it will go away with a week of rest. Maybe my legs will feel like heavy crap bags in the first of my 3 races this weekend. I suspect if I feel any overtraining effects this weekend, it will be on Saturday in the 10K or 5K when I'm trying to go shorter and faster - my legs will already feel a bit tired on Sunday in the 10 Mile after doing the 2 races the day before, so I don't think I'll notice anything different. I hope. We'll see.

Back with some "Loony Challenge" goals in a day or 2!


Date Night with Henry

>> Saturday, September 26, 2015

Last night, I had a "date night" with just Henry. Before having kids, I heard of parents having once a week/month "date nights" with their kids, and I didn't think much of it. I thought it was cute, but that's about it. But now, being the stay-at-home parent all summer and for all but about 9 hours a week, I TOTALLY GET IT. There's a good need for 1-on-1 "date nights."

I realized it on Wednesday, before there was any thought of a night out with Henry. On Wednesday, Pharmie didn't work, and she took Charlie to his 15-month check-up (and shots). So it was just me (not me AND Charlie) getting Henry from pre-school. Right away on the car ride back home, the mood was different. It wasn't about keeping Charlie content; Henry and I could just chat about anything. (Sure, I'm chatting with a 4-year-old, so we weren't talking politics or the Pope's visit to the US, but the conversation was STILL more "mature" than when I'm with both boys.) And when we got home, we could do WHATEVER we wanted: we checked the veggie garden, played in the sandbox (with water, which Henry doesn't get to do much when Charlie's around), and even went to the front yard to weed the garden in the blvd (something I can't do with Charlie wobbling around). Through all of this, I was able to really "connect" more with Henry. That spurred the thought of an upcoming "date night."

We just got a "Chinook Book" coupon book from a friend at the Y, so we planned on using some coupons out of there. The plan was to use a free Metro Transit pass to take the light rail to the Mall of America, and then use a coupon to go to Sea Life Aquarium in the mall. Henry was pumped.

Before going, I set out Charlie's bottle and Mama's "bottle" for when Charlie got put to bed.

Running up the escalator to the light rail station.

On our 25 minute train ride to the mall! Henry loved it. We got to see a plane take off right over
us as we went past the airport! (His only other time on the light rail was to go see fireworks in July.)

Running from the trains at the light rail stop at the mall.

We made it down to Sea Life Aquarium about 45 minutes before it closed, but that was enough time. Henry didn't want to touch the starfish or sting rays in the tanks we could put our hands into, but he liked some of the upcoming tanks, like the jellyfish and seahorses:

Counting seahorses.

Running to see the sharks in the tunnels!



Right on top of us!

Needless to say, he loved it.

Freshwater tanks.

This was Henry's face as he realized there were 2 alligators just 5 feet in front of his face!

Pizza upstairs after seeing the fish.

... and a frog cookie for dessert.

We ended with a run-through of Legoland. This is a wall of different containers
of Lego blocks that you can mix-and-match to fill a tub.

He looks bored, but he wanted us to sit on either side of the train station to see
if the train would come in on his tracks or my tracks first. I won.

A cozy selfie on the ride back home (20 minutes AFTER he's usually in bed with lights out!).

The last photo of the night: Henry stole my phone and took 10 selfies like this.

Back with a final training update soon, because the "Loony Challenge" is NEXT WEEKEND!

(Check out my final "Friday Funny" from yesterday to see guys doing not-smart things at the gym.)



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