>> Monday, October 04, 2010
Or "Attempting a Sub-60 10 Mile"
Or "Well, At Least My ELBOWS Don't Hurt!"
I'll have more photos up as soon as possible, so check back...
This was the BIG TEST! Unless you've been DEAD for the last 8 weeks, you know that Jen Harrison agreed to coach me for (essentially) free as long as I did what she said so she could "see what she could do with me." She trained me, we discussed my "mental issues," and she got me ready for the big day.
I tried to be "laser-beamed focused" as Jen kept telling me to be. My mother-in-law dropped the 5 of us runners off at the Metrodome on a chilly 39 degree morning (I was doing the 10 Mile with Matt, Nancy, and Megan, and Pharmie was doing the marathon - her 11th straight Twin Cities Marathon!!) I got in line for a pooper, took my second nervous doody of the morning, and did a little warm-up outside of the Dome. I ran into Kortney on the way to the start, and then Pharmie appeared near the starting line. I ran into Jill, Kerry, and my
arch nemesis racing buddy Jenny Wilcox.
"Runners, on your marks..... GGGOOOOOOO!!"
We were off. I jumped around a few people that were in front of me who had no business being in front of me. I ran past Jenny and shouted a few words to her over my shoulder: "Have a great race, Jenny!" (I was NOT supposed to be "chatty" during this race, but I only said 4 more words over the next 10 miles.) She shouted back, "Go get em' Steve! SUB-60, BABY!!" I pumped my fist in the air and kept going.
When we were nearing the first mile marker, I figured it MIGHT be a little slow. I had to dodge a lot of people in the first 3 blocks, and after that, I didn't go TOO hard.
Mile 1: 6:10. "Keep those negative thoughts from brewing, and just pick up the pace over the next mile."
In fact, for my most recent "reason I'll go sub-60" as seen in my last post, I wrote this:
The race can begin too fast or too slow, but you know how to get it back in control. In your last half marathon, you started with a 5:44 mile, and that didn't ruin anything. If you start with a 5:40 or a 6:20, all is not lost. Work it out - you know you can. Mile by mile.
The problem with keeping a list of reasons why you'll do really well is that you CAN'T help but let sneaking thoughts into your head that are "reasons you'll crash and burn." Really. It took a lot to keep those ideas from taking over.
Mile 2: 5:36. "Wait, WHAT?!? Ease up a bit, big boy. There's a lot of race left!"
The next mile was a longer uphill followed by crossing the Mississippi. I told myself to throttle back a bit and not kill myself going up that hill. I "worked the hill," but didn't go nuts. My breathing was quickened by the top, and I used the bridge to calm it back down.
Mile 3: 5:41. This is where I started to believe.........
I had already built up a 33 second cushion (17:27 at mile 3), but I was smart enough to know that NOTHING'S a "gimme" at mile 3. Unless it's a 5K. Then, maybe. But not in a 10 mile. I did NOT think, "Oh, if you hold this, you'll go sub-58!" No, I knew better. But I DID like the little cushion I was building. I was running at a good clip, but my breathing was in control (something Jen and I worked on).
I came up to "The Wall" just before mile marker #4, and the guy with the microphone (someone I did NOT know), started shouting to the crowd: "...and here comes Steve Stenzel!! He's looking for sub-60 today! Go Steve!!" I was all smiles! Kris and Mark were there to cheer me on! This was the stretch that I ran a LOT on my training runs, and I think that helped. I really tried to keep the pace strong here, and knowing the terrain made that easier.
Mile 4: 5:52. "Holy hell. This might be possible yet...."
Coach Jen had told me that miles 1-4 were to to be run with "one gear left," miles 5-8 were to be "all out," and then just "hold on" for miles 9 and 10. I DIDN'T just suddenly up the pace. There were 2 decent little hills in the next mile, and I still wanted to keep it a LITTLE easy. Don't get me wrong - I was NOT running "easy," but I wasn't sprinting "balls to the wall" either. I was really pushing the line.
I made it up those 2 hills. (Well, up one bigger hill, down a bit, and then up a more gentle hill.) I was starting to feel nervous about my sub-60 goal.
Mile 5: 6:02. First 5 miles: 29:22. "OK, this is where it's going to get 'mental.' Push through this, Steve."
I ran up the short little hill that starts off the next mile. I uttered 2 of my 4 words that I mentioned at the start of the race: "Hey Terrence..." I saw Terrence up ahead with a camera. He grabbed a photo:
40 degree nipples and chest sweat
(and spilled water from aid stations...)
Mile 6: 6:17. "Don't let TOO much of this time slip away!"
I was in pain. I had to look at my watch and TELL myself "Steve, you've got like 24 minutes of suffering to go. 'Man up' and just do this!" I was hurting. My breathing was still mostly pretty good - at times it would get a little fast, but then I focused on slowing it down a little.
I spoke my final 2 words during the race near Fairview Ave: "Hey Steve!..." I spotted swimming buddy Steve H. He cheered me on. Katie was just past him, and she smiled and waved. I forced a smile back. Later, her boyfriend said "Katie told me that you looked like you were hurting when she saw you...." It's true.
Mile 7: 6:10. "OK, it's getting a little too 'real.' Your cushion is down to 10 seconds. Get on it."
Bad news: I was hurting. Good news: I was still JUST ahead of my goal time. If I could keep it strong, I'd have it. And the worst of the hills were over! Now there were just a few small rollers left. But seeing a 6:17 and a 6:10 mile back-to-back made me a little nervous. So I focused on the "good." Honestly, I thought, "Oh, my elbows don't hurt. They feel nice. OK, good - I can do this." Really. That sounds dumb, but I just tried to find SOMETHING that didn't hurt and focus on how GOOD that felt. So my elbows it was.
I got a HUGE surprise in the next half mile. My swimming buddy Kathryn suddenly appeared shouting my name! She told her son to shout for me, and he let out the cutest "GO STEVE!" as I ran past! I HAD to smile! Here are some photos that she took:
Yes: calf-sleeves and arm-warmers with the yellow shorts.
It's an odd mix, I know. But it worked on this chilly morning.
Yep, that's a little above-the-crack swass
Mile 8: 5:46. "This hurts. 12 minutes. Come on."
I ran up to the next intersection to LOTS of cheers. Swimming buddy Julia (yes, that's 3 different "swimming buddies" I've mentioned!) was cheering with Jen. And I heard Sean (and possibly Chad) screaming for me from across the road. Julia put this photo on Facebook and labeled it "You were too fast for the iPhone!"
Mile 9: 5:50. "33 second cushion. I think I've got this, but go. Just f*cking go."
I was ahead of my goal time. I'd have to run my slowest mile of the race on this downhill section to NOT hit my goal. But I really didn't know if I could do it. I wanted to stop and walk. I told myself to get to my family (around mile 9.55), and then I could walk down the hill for a minute if I needed to. I REALLY didn't know if I could make it. I was maxxed out and holding on for dear life.
(And this one house along Summit was BLARING "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" by Shaina Twain, and I wanted to punch that radio in the face.)
Nearing my family, I first heard Annie shouting for me. "Gooooo Steeeeeeeeeeeeeve!!" She had my camera and started snapping photos:
Down the hill, slight curve to the left, under the
HUGE flag, and towards the finish just in front of the capital
I was about to realize my goal.
And it hurt like a kick to the face.
Mile 10: 5:36. "Holy hell. How did I still have THAT left in me. We'll call that 'hill aided'."
Steve Stenzel, 29, St. Paul
59:05 total time
5:55 average pace
43 out of 7017 overall
43 out of 2706 males
18 out of 458 males in the M22-29 age group
(Unofficially: 29:22 first 5, 29:43 last 5)
I went through the finisher's chute, bumped into Todd, grabbed some salty nuts, and started walking back towards my family with my mylar blanket wrapped around me and my race t-shirt filled with food. Sure, I was a LITTLE bummed that I let so much of my initial "cushion" disappear in those middle miles, but I was happy with my 59:05.
Holy cats. Fifty-nine O five.
It wasn't until part way back up the hill towards my family that my time had fully sunk in. My eyes welled up a little, and I just cheered for other runners coming to the finish.....