First Race as an "Elite:" my North Mankato Triathlon Race Report

>> Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thursday, my parents came up and spent the night. Then they took our boys to my in-laws' house for the rest of the weekend on Friday morning. Friday afternoon, we got this photo from my mother-in-law:

Grandma's caption: "Helping grandma wash the apples we had picked up this morning."

The race was Sunday morning, so we slept in on Saturday (I couldn't sleep past 7, but Pharmie slept until 8:30!) and then went to breakfast. I Instagrammed this on Saturday morning:

"Brunch without the boys! This pretty lady and I went to Sonora Grill,
and I had 3 tasty tacos (chicken, shrimp, and tongue)."

Sunday morning, we had a quiet car ride sans-kids 90 minutes south to Mankato. We did this race with a whole lotta family last year, with 2 people doing it individually and 6 people forming 2 teams:

Pic from last year's race report. LOOK AT HOW TINY CHARLIE IS STRAPPED TO ME!

This year, it was just Pharmie and me. My stomach was churning on the way down, and I almost stopped in Jordan. But it was a bit better by the time we drove through. But then it got worse again. We quick stopped at a gas station in St. Peter, and I did some gross stuff:

Sorry Holiday gas station!

Set up pre-race.

I was a little nervous because as I posted last week, this was the first race where I signed up as an "elite" and got to go off in the smaller first wave. I just didn't want to embarrass myself. I got to the water late and only had time to do like 4 strokes before turning around to get to the starting line.


I took off on the inside (which I never do) because it was a small wave and I was feeling confident about my swim. A few seconds later, I realized I'd veered WAY to the inside and I now was off-course in the middle of the pond. Oops. I swam back to the course and totally nailed another swimmer. Oops again. Sorry! Post-race, I told Pharmie that if anyone was laying dead on the bottom of Hiniker Pond, it was because I put them there. I think I straight up murdered an athlete on Sunday.

Pharmie (on the right) looking over the 1st wave of swimmers.

As I sighted a bit more at the first turn, I realized I was in 3rd place. Nice. Another swimmer caught me on the back stretch, and I was fine with that. I rounded the final buoy and turned for shore with no problem. I swam a bit straighter and was happy with my effort. I hit the shore as the 4th out of the water:

Pharmie coming out of the water a few waves back.


This was decent. "Decent" means I didn't get stuck in my suit, and I had a slight flying start on my bike.


My "flying start" got me around a biker who out-transitioned me, but he quickly passed me right back. I caught another biker about 2 blocks in. After that, it was a quiet ride. Most of the ride was along winding roads along the Minnesota River. There were always just little hills. I never felt good on this ride. I never got into a rhythm. It always felt harder than it should have.

As I noted a few days ago in this post, I knew there was a HILL in the middle of the ride:

THEE hill wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be - it reminded me of the Trinona Time Trial climb up Garvin Heights, but a lot shorter. I hit the turn-around at the top of the hill in 5th place and with a 18.9 mph average. Yikes. But then I bombed down the hill between 39 and 40 mph, and my average was 19.5 a minute later.

I was riding a little too far to the left on a winding road around mile 9 when someone passed me and I felt bad for potentially being in his way. He even shouted "HI STEVE IN A SPEEDO," so he knew me. Dang. Then I was passed once more around mile 10 to be put back into 7th. (There were waves behind me and relay teams in front of me, so I didn't know my ACTUAL place, but I was 7th from the front at this point.)

My overall average looked pathetic. Here it is each quarter (and before and after THEE hill):

- Mile 3: 20.0 mph
- Before climbing the hill (mile 5ish): 20.4 mph
- Mile 6 (turnaround): 18.9 mph
- After coming down the hill (mile 6ish): 19.5 mph
- Mile 9: 20.1 mph
- Nearing transition: 20.4 mph

My nephew Ian was waiting for me to come in off the bike, and he had a good look-out spot in a tree:

Riding back to transition.

I had a good flying dismount at the line, and I was off and running!
Thanks for the cheers and the photos, Sis!


This felt fast. I wanted to catch some runners and make sure no one from any waves behind me would catch me. I was on a mission. A 0:30 transition is pretty good for me!


The guy who passed me last on the bike wasn't too far in front of me. I caught him and said "THIS IS GOING TO GET A LITTLE WARM" in the first half mile. Once we got through some trees and onto the street, I saw the other guy who passed me on the bike (the one who I felt bad for possibly being in his way). I set my sights on him.

My first 2 half mile splits were 3:07 and 3:06. I got up to the other runner right around the 1.5 mile mark (with another half mile split of 3:04), and I apologized as I passed him. Between breaths, I got out "when you passed me *HUFF* I was riding too far left. *HUFF* Sorry!" His exact words were: "Ha! No shits given!" Awesome. I like him. Now that I had NO ONE in front of me and we were heading up a few small hills, my last half mile of mile 2 was slower: 3:13. My run didn't feel as bad as my bike, but I still had hoped to be a bit faster.

We finished along the end of the bike course, and Pharmie actually passed me and said "HI" as I had about a half mile left. I was working hard because I knew someone could have started in the wave behind me (3:00 back) and been 2:30 behind me, which means they'd beat me by 30 seconds. I just had to go hard. My final 2 half mile splits showed that: 2:58 and 2:41.

Around the corner to the finish. Apparently these women liked my shorts.

Another photo from my sister after we'd chatted for a bit and I'd caught my breath.
You can't tell just HOW sweaty I am. Thanks Sis!

So I was the 5th to cross the line. But there were 2 relays that finished in front of me (but I didn't know that at the time - I suspected I had 1 in front of me). I waited to see if anyone finished within 3 minutes of me or 6 minutes of me from the 2 waves that started after me. No one did. It turns out the 2 people who passed me on the bike actually started in the wave behind me. I passed them both on the run, but I only got a minute ahead of one of them (Mitch, the one who I felt bad for cutting off on the bike). So I was the 3rd individual to hit the line, but Mitch's time was 2 minutes better than mine, so he took 3rd and I took 4th. (The guy who I passed right away in the run who started in the wave before me ended up dropping a few spots and ended up 7th overall.)


Steve Stenzel, #3421, Male, 34, St. Paul

- 0.25 MILE SWIM: 7:15, 1:39 pace, 8th overall, 1st in age group
- T1: 0:53, 13th overall, 1st in age group
- 12 MILE BIKE: 35:40, 20.2 mph, 19th overall, 2nd in age group
- T2: 0:30, 15th overall, 1st in age group
- 3 MILE RUN: 18:14, 6:04.5 pace, 2nd overall, 1st in age group

TOTAL TIME: 1:02:30
4th out of 131 overall
1st out of 8 in the 30-34 age group


• This was yet another race this year with a solid swim. My re-commitment to swimming since last November has shown at about every race. Last year, I did the swim as part of a relay at this race, and my swim time was only 10 seconds faster then. (And I bet at least 5 of those seconds were made up sprinting up the beach and hill to transition - I didn't "sprint" at this race because I still had to bike and run.) This is like what happened at the Waconia Triathlon this year where I swam 6 seconds faster this year doing the whole race by myself than I did last year doing JUST the swim as a relay. Even got this tweet from a fast-swimming friend:

Too bad I have to stop swimming now to let my elbow heal. Dang.

• It took me a day to figure it out, but I think I know why I felt so crappy on the bike. First of all, take a look at this screenshot of the top 9 finishers and their bike splits. Look at the bike "rank." Which one stands out like a sore thumb as the only non-single-digit ranked bike split? Yep, mine:


So I didn't borrow my wife's race wheels because she was racing. I thought that had something to do with it. Being I've had some calf issues for the last 3 weeks, I didn't do much the week before the race, and I thought that could be part of it too. But then I realized that I went on a moderate 18 mile ride 2 days pre-race after not doing much that week, and I think that's the biggest part of it. I needed to go shorter and easier 42 hours before racing. My crappy bike split was a combo of all of these things, but mainly doing too much too close to the race. Oops.

• I didn't feel great on the run, but it was still the 2nd fastest overall. So I should shut up.

• I can't tell you how I placed as an "elite." There's no distinction in the results. FinalStretch puts on great low-key races, and it's why I didn't see too much problem registering as an "elite" for the first time. I know the guy who won (by almost SIX MINUTES) was in my wave, and MAYBE the guy in 2nd, but the rest of our wave might have been just clydesdales, athenas, and relays. Among the elites, I may have placed dead last. I'm cool with that.

• The "relay" competition was much stronger this year than when we did it last year! Our 2 "family relays" finished 2nd and 3rd in 1:15 last year, and that time this year would have been good for 7th and 8th! Wowza

My calf got a little tight, but not so tight that I couldn't cool-down. So I started jogging the course backwards as a cool-down as I looked for my wife. Soon, we were running to the finish together:

Just off the frame to the left is a guy she went back and forth with all day,
and she couldn't quite reel him in before the finish. But she had a great kick!
(And yes, I am THAT pale.)

Post-race with my sweetie!

Pharmie getting her award for 2nd OUT OF 14 in her age group! She was passed
by 1st half way into the run, so she LED her age group for a while! CONGRATS HUNNIE!

Me with my 1st place age group medal.

So freakin' adorable.

We packed our stuff, hit the road, and went to pick up our boys from Grandma's house (where they were having a great time). We knew we were getting close when crop dusting planes flew less than a hundred feet above us:

Ahhhh... I'm home. (Sidenote: this freshly re-paved highway goes past my parents
and in-laws houses, and I still need to bring my bike home sometime to ride it.
#SmoothRiding #AvoidTheRumbleStrips)

When we picked up the boys and left Grandpa and Grandma's during their nap time, Henry was passed out less than a half mile away. No joke. Charlie was cozy and fell asleep before the Pink School House (5 miles away).

So lets recap: a great night sleep without the boys on Friday night, a date on Saturday, a little bit of diarrhea, my first elite race with an age group win, my wife with a 2nd place medal, and 2 passed out boys for a long car ride back home. WHAT A GOOD WEEKEND!


Shinianen 4:16 PM, August 11, 2015  

Nice work! I particularly like, though, the photos of the boys washing apples. They are so cute!!

HairbyJenniferC 2:42 PM, August 16, 2015  

Pharmie is looking great! Nice job you two!

HairbyJenniferC 2:42 PM, August 16, 2015  

Pharmie is looking great! Nice job you two!

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