Trinona Race Report: Part 2

>> Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This post picks up where yesterday's post left off...

I had given my wife's cousin Grace a sheet of paper with my "expected" finishing times on it so she knew when to be looking for me. It was similar to what I had posted last week:

- SWIM: 27:00 - 30:00
- BIKE: 1:14:00 - 1:20:00 (18.6 - 20 mph)
- RUN: 37:00 - 39:00
- TOTAL: 2:22:00 - 2:33:00 (which includes 4 minutes of transition time added in)

It was time to see if I could live up to those numbers....


0.93 Mile Swim:

I was going to take it easy for the first half of this race, ESPECIALLY during the swim. I have NOT been putting in the "pool time" that I should be, and I've only had 3 swims that have been over 1500 yards (they were 1700-1800 yards). I didn't want to go out too hard and die - quite possibly LITERALLY die - during the swim.

Here's a photo Grace got of me starting the swim with the rest of my wave:

That's me standing in the middle.

Swimming. I'm "touching heads" with the guy standing with his hands on his hips.

I swam far to the left in order to have "clean water." And it worked. I was TOTALLY by myself for the way out to the first buoy. I liked that. There was a SLIGHT chop, but nothing to complain about. I worked on keeping my movements easy and sharp and purposeful, and I concentrated on not over-rotating to breathe.

I rounded the first buoy far to the outside, and hit the "back stretch." I got a LITTLE side-stitch on my right side, and I eased up a little. I smiled to myself: "Save the side-stitch for biking up the bluff!"

I rounded the next buoy (to make the turn for shore) pretty well. However, my ability to swim a straight line deteriorated on my way back to the shore. I just kept HORRIBLY veering to the left. I was still swimming "comfortably" and I wasn't running into any other swimmers, but I could not hold a straight line. That added a fair amount of time - especially when I had to swim parallel to shore to make it into the swim finishers chute. Dang.

I popped up on the beach to my watch reading about 27:00 flat. That's the best I could have hoped for!!!


I was pretty dizzy, but that's normal. Grabbed my bike and took off.

Awkward, but at least it shows I was RUNNING with my bike.

24.8 Mile Bike:

Off I went.

The first 5.5 miles or so were on small rolling hills. I kept getting more and more bummed out because I kept having to go into my "granny gear." I had to drop down to my granny gear 5 or 6 times in those first few miles, and my average speed was crap! Luckily, at the turn-around around mile 5.5, the volunteer was shouting "Around this cone, then enjoy the wind at your back!!!" And sure enough, he was right. I watched my speed pick right back up as I was doing 25 mph on the flat.

- 17.2 mph ave at mile 5.5

It was faster on the way back towards transition. We didn't make it all the way back before we turned off. The course was a little out-and-back followed by a clockwise loop:

So before getting back to transition, we turned to go up THEE HILL.

- 18.8 mph ave at base of hill (around mile 10)

THEE HILL is "Garvin Heights," one of Bicycling Magazines "Top 100 Climbs in the US." Here's what the elevation and grade look like:

Average of 9% grade, topping out at nearly 11% in some areas.

(For you "locals" riding in St. Paul, that's about as steep as Ohio Hill [7-9% grade], but about 2-3 times longer. And that's not quite as steep as Ramsey Hill, which is 11% and hits 13% near the top. My wife told me these things based on her PowerTap data.)

Grace and I drove up the hill the night before, and she said "You have to BIKE up this tomorrow?!?" Driving it actually made me feel better about having to ride it - it was long, but it seemed "doable." Here's a photo that I posted on Saturday showing some Trinona Time Trial bikers about 1/3 - 1/2 way up:

So I hit the hill, and I was out of the saddle ASAP. My bike was creaking and groaning, and I had to look it over for a moment as I was riding to make sure nothing was rubbing and everyone was OK. I think it was just complaining about the stress it was under. I wasn't far behind one guy, and we stayed close the whole time. No one passed us, and I passed him near the top. He actually shouted back about half way up: "How you doin' back there?" "I'm hurting" I responded. He laughed, and we kept at it.

Sweat was POURING off my eyebrows down into my sunglasses and off my nose. My lower back was getting SORE cranking up that hill. We were in the hot sun, protected from the wind, and not making any breeze ourself by going 6 mph. It was brutal. (But in a good way.) FINALLY, we crossed the timing mat at the top of the hill. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: Trinona has a "race within a race" that they call the "King of the Bluff." They have a mat at the bottom and top of the hill to see who can do it the fastest. Awesome. I came CLOSE, being only 2:32 behind the fastest man up that 1.2 mile hill. 2:32 is pretty much nothing over 1.2 miles... right? Oh wait.

- 16.1 mph ave at top of hill

GOOD NEWS: we had crested the hill! BAD NEWS: now we were "on top of the world" (500 feet higher than we were a mile earlier) riding straight into the wind! Crap. We rode another 5 miles or so into the wind on top of the Mississippi River Valley. We we finally turned to have a side-wind a few miles later, my average speed had dropped to a level that no one likes to see over an Oly Tri ride:

- 15.9 mph ave at mile 15ish (finally turning out of the wind)


Meanwhile, back near transition, Grace got Henry to take a little 45 minute nap. He woke up all smiles ready to play while I was out there working:

With a side-wind and a tail-wind, I was able to help my average. And the giant downhill helped! I was taking a drink of water when I realized I was right at the top of the big speed-zone. I quickly shifted and used the hill. I was happy with my nearly 44 mph top speed down that hill. Then I heard people on BeginnerTriathlete saying they hit 48 and 51 mph. And post-race, I heard one of the race marshals say "the lead motorcyclist had to hit 55 mph to stay in front of first place going down that hill."


That's crazy.

- 17.5 mph ave at mile 20ish

We were at the edge of town, and there were mostly downhills with a few quick, surprising little climbs around a few corners. I got back near transition and thought I should check my computer one last time:

- 18.0 mph ave nearing transition

I had hoped for 18.5 to be the slowest I'd be (as seen at the top in my note to Grace), but I was less than 2 minutes behind that goal on a hot and windy day. So be it.


1: I COULD have been faster out there. I "gave it a good effort," but I was too scared of my limited "multisport training" to go TOO hard, so I didn't go nuts. By the end of the race, I was happy I didn't push any harder on the bike, but finishing the bike I was hoping I wasn't just being a pansy.

2: I drank SOOO much out there, and was still thirsty. It was hot. I drank a bottle of "Roctane Drink" pre-race, finished my bottle of water on the bike, finished my bottle of slightly-concentraed Gatorade on the bike, and even took a bottle at a "bottle exchange" at the top of THEE HILL and chugged 3/4 of that before pitching it. I had 50-60 oz of fluid during my 80 minute bike ride!! (Not counting what I had pre-race.) And I had 2 GUs on the bike too. I was ready for a bit of a bonk. (Oooooh the foreshadowing.)


Grace caught me rolling into transition like a graceful, colorful, hairy-legged, oddly-hatted ballerina:

Nothing out of the ordinary here: I just changed shoes and took off.

6.2 Mile Run:

My legs were heavy, but what's new? I didn't feel great, but maybe that would go away. I drank 2 cups of water right out of T2.

I was passing people left and right. Some were people I knew, and others were strangers who knew me. (In case you're not aware, the shorts kinda give me away.) I was taking Gatorade at the aid stations, and dumping water all over my body.

My first 3 miles looked like this:

Mile 1: 6:26
Mile 2: 6:32
Mile 3: 6:22

That was good.


I was bonking from the combo of heat and lack of endurance training. I knew it was coming on from around mile 1. I just kept up the pace, hoping I could hold it off. I knew that was a dumb idea - I thought to myself "Steve, that's like saying you're low on gas so you'll drive home at 120 mph to get there before you run out. How is it you're a college professor?!?..."

I stopped to walk twice in the next mile. Mile 4 was the slowest mile I'd ran in a race in a long, long time: 8:38. That's usually my slowest cool-down pace after THEE roughest of speed work. Dang.

I walked twice for less than minute each time in mile 5, and that was a 7:19 mile. I didn't know if running harder and then walking was better, or if I should simply back way off on the pace and try to keep running.

I told myself I wasn't going to walk in mile 6. "It's straight back to the park and the finish line - you can do that without walking!" But I found myself deciding to walk at the next shady spot. And this time, I walked for 2 minutes. Still, mile 6 ended up being 7:21.

I turned off the trail and onto the road that would take me to the finish line. I spotted Grace running up to the road (out of the shade where she was with Henry) to get a photo of me:

I felt WAY worse than that photo shows!

There WERE people all over, they were just in the shade of the trees next to Grace.

So I bonked on the run, but my first half and second half don't look THAT horrible. I ran the first half in 20:09 and the last half in 23:53. It felt more dramatically different than that.


Steve Stenzel, Saint Paul, 31, M, #110

SWIM: 27:39
- 102 out of 292 overall
- 82 of of 272 non-elites
- 14 out of 39 in the 30-34 age group
Swim thoughts: fast for my lack of swim training (2nd personal fastest oly swim split - just 5 seconds off my swim PR)! Focusing on form helps!

T1: 2:20

BIKE: 1:21:54
- 19.0 mph (18.0 on my computer)
- 135 out of 292 overall
- 115 out of 272 non-elites
- 24 out of 39 in the 30-34 age group
Bike thoughts: I could have pushed harder, but I think I felt the "bonk" coming on. I simply needed more miles of training. But, all things considered, I'm OK with how I did. The climb of Garvin Heights was brutal, but a fun challenge!!

T2: 1:36

RUN: 44:03
- 7:06 / mile average
- 34 out of 292 overall
- 14 out of 272 non-elites
- 6 out of 39 in the 30-34 age group
Run thoughts: I'm such a good runner right now, but that doesn't matter if I can't be in shape enough for a swim and a bike before that run. I had hoped to be about 5-7 minutes faster here, and that's quite a bit. Totally lost it here.

TOTAL: 2:37:30

- 71 out of 292 overall
- 51 out of 272 non-elites
- 11 out of 29 in the 30-34 age group

And as an added set of numbers....

79th overall
69th male

I walked back to Henry and Grace. I saw Grace sitting with Henry, and I thought she was comforting him. "Oh crap... Henry's been crying this whole time!..." Nope, I was wrong. He was giving Grace KISSES, and he was in a great mood! He came "scooting" over to me as soon as I sat down:

This is how he moves! And it's SOOO cute! (But of course I'd say that.)

"No Henry, Daddy's legs probably taste pretty horrible right now..."

Ready to nibble on a clover flower.

Grace's post-race photo of me. Gross. A nipple and belly fat. Super.

I immediately headed back to transition to get my stuff because Henry was going to be ready for a nap shortly and we had a 2.5 hour drive in front of us. On my way to transition, I found "podium girls!"

My wife gave me specific instructions of "no hookers or blow" when I was away at the race, but she said NOTHING about podium girls!

I got packed up as Henry and Grace were playing:

We dropped Grace off in Rochester, and Henry and I drove the rest of the way back to St. Paul. He slept the whole way! Sweet!

Now, it's time to rest my legs a bit and try to heal up some of these little aches before the Life Time Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon and 2 more "Grand Prix" races next month.

- CLICK HERE for part 1 of this race report.
- CLICK HERE for my Examiner article (and more photos) from Trinona.
- CLICK HERE for a slideshow of photos from the first ever Trinona Time Trial.


Katie 8:26 AM, June 12, 2012  

Awesome race report! I definitely think this race will be on my to-do next year!

Andy Koch 9:41 AM, June 12, 2012  

Good job Steve! Very nicely done! It was pretty hot out there, but I think I escaped the worst of it, went out in wave 2. My favorite portion of it was bike, it was just beautiful and speedy after the turn around. I did the sprint, and that hill looked scary just passing by the base of it before the turn back to transition.

I was SO impressed by this race. This was my first Lifetime Fitness race, and definitely not my last. The race organizers and amenities were great.

I used to think the best post race food was bananas, but now I think that it is watermelons. Never seen that before at a race, but it is genius!

JFord 9:53 AM, June 12, 2012  

I hit 51 mph on my bike at IM Brnason 70.3 in the rain. It was the most scared I have ever been on my bike!

Sarah 11:23 AM, June 12, 2012  

Great race report! If my bike ever hit 50 mph, I'd be FREAKING out! ;)

P.S. Your little guy is TOTALLY adorable! He must by Momma's little charmer!


Steve Stenzel 3:27 PM, June 12, 2012  

Andy, nice work out there! Yeah, the watermelons WERE a good idea, especially in that heat! I had 2 as I left the finish area. But I still stand by my comment from about 2 years ago that Cheez Its are THEE best post-race food! :) Ha!

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