Inspiration For A Broken Boy

>> Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mister P (AKA Wedgie), who is training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene in just a few weeks, recently said something about getting real sick of Black Sabbath’s song “Iron Man.” And I can’t really blame him. Mister P noted that if that song is playing on the loud speakers as he’s coming to the finish, he’ll stop and wait for the next song. Hilarious.

A few months ago, when Ironman (the movie) was first being advertised, that same song would pop up near the end of the ads on TV. Probably much to Mister P’s chagrin, it always took me back to my Ironman last year. Only it wasn’t taking me back to my finish. It took me back to 78-year-young Frank Farrar’s finish.

(please watch all 49 seconds)

Frank is nearing the arch in the distance at the start of the video, just as Ozzy’s Iron Man is starting to play. I’m standing near the finish line with my camera in the air, recording a video. Frank runs through the cheering crowds on his way to finishing Ironman WI. Just before the finish line (and directly in front of me), Frank stops, takes off his hat, and bows to the roars of the crowd. What a guy. In the process, he nearly collapses. He turns around, and crosses the line as the official last place finisher of IM WI 2007 (in 16:56:37).

I was screaming. I was crying. I still tear up each time I watch this. It takes me back to the entire day that was Ironman. I wanted to share this video with you all. If Frank can do this, I can reach my goal at Grandmas Marathon in just over 3 weeks, bad heel and all.

Mister P, don’t worry: this was the only time during the entire evening that I heard this song being played. As for you, this will be your run in a few weeks. Enjoy it. Absorb it all. It will be your moment.


Grandmas Marathon Training Update

>> Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Well, I completed my scheduled 17.5 mile run yesterday, but it wasn’t pretty.

My heel was quite sore by mile 9.5, and I was considering stopping before mile 11. But I knew it was now or never - that marathon is sneaking up. So I pushed through it. I didn’t even cut my run a mile or 2 short - I went as far as planned. My pace was where it needed to be: I ran it in 2:02:09, which was just under 7:00 / mile.

I learned something else quite strange: when I stopped for a minute, my heel would get MUCH more sore and tight when I started back up again. I stopped for about a minute for a gel about half way through the run, and again with about 5 miles left. Both times, when I started back up, I nearly had to limp for a half mile. I learned my lesson (the second time), so those last 5 miles were a straight run home, with NO stops what-so-ever (not even for red lights). I knew if I stopped, it would only get worse. I suppose my achilles was just tightening up, but I was surprised how sore it would get from a 45 second stop. Does this sound weird to anyone?

Bottom Line: There IS some good news: My pace was right where it needed to be (around 7 / mile). And except for my achilles, everything else felt GREAT (my muscles, my feet, my breathing, etc). And I learned that I could work through the pain.

And some bad news: My achilles hurt like a mother on that run, and I don’t want to permanently hurt it. I can run it into the ground up to and during the marathon, and then I can take it easy for a while (my longest event after that is an oly tri). But could I do permanent damage by training through the pain?

Today, it’s pretty sore. In a few days, I’ll try a tempo run. Then I’d like to shoot for 20 or 21 next week as my final long run before the big day. Is this smart? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks y’all!


Apple Duathlon 2008: More Photos and Official Results

>> Monday, May 26, 2008

Here’s how I fared this past Saturday at the Apple Duathlon:

• 97 out of 269 overall
• 63 out of 233 in amateur competition
• 6 out of 15 in age group

• 18:47 5K run at 6:03 pace - 37 overall
• 1:00 T1
• 1:08:03 33K bike with 18.1 mph ave - 159 overall (ouch)
• 1:02 T2
• 19:34 5K run at 6:18 pace - 26 overall (sweet!)

1:48:25 final finishing time (PR by 6:05!)

Jeez, ya think my biking needs work? I suppose it would have been good to get in a ride or 2 in the last 4 weeks (seriously, my bike computer still had my time from the Winter Begone Duathlon on it when I cleared it before this past weekends race). Right now I’m really in “marathon training mode.” Once Grandma’s Marathon is in the bag, I’ll be working on that shitty bike time. For serious.

Here are some photos from Apple’s website that show Matt and I starting:

You can see my homemade achilles warmer,
and Matt is barely visible right next to my head

I’m on the right, and Matt’s in the navy top behind me
(nevermind my moose knuckle...)

In another interesting note, if you do a Google search for “apple duathlon photos,” three images pop up at the top. Two of them are from my race report in 2007, and the third is an ass:

I don’t know what to make of this...

Anyway, if you haven’t already read it, my full Apple Duathlon report was posted yesterday, so scroll down to check it out. Tomorrow, I have a long run scheduled. We’ll see how the left achilles holds up.


Apple Duathlon Race Report

>> Sunday, May 25, 2008

Or, “Yet ANOTHER windy duathlon”

Or, “Breaking the curse of 1:54”

Yesterday was the Apple Duathlon. My alarm went off at 4:45 am, Matt showed up an hour later, and we were headed off to Sartell. The Apple Duathlon is a 5K run, 33K bike, and 5K run (in miles: 3.1, 20.5, 3.1). It was going to be another windy duathlon. At least this one was warmer.

We pulled into the lot around 7:15 with plenty of time to set up. Last year, I woke up at 3:30 am and couldn’t sleep, so I was out to this duathlon SUPER early. Here was my bike set up in transition last year:

Big Rhonda all alone in transition in 2007

This year, Matt and I got our stuff set up:

Notice the sweet, bright blanket between our bikes. It made spotting our bikes easier and kept our socks from getting all sandy. When I walked into transition with the quilt before the race, the volunteer at the edge of transition joked, “What...are you gonna take a nap in T2?!?” I didn’t think it sounded like too bad of an idea.

We sat and stretched a little. I put on my homemade achilles warmer:

We noticed grills and stacks of buns, which was ONLY a good sign for things to come:

Matt ever so cautiously asked if I could pin his race number to the butt of his run shorts. He pulled down his warm-up pants and stuck his ass in my face. So what did I do? I took a photo:

Matt heard the camera shutter, and he called me gay about 6 different ways.

I also ran in to blogger CY. We introduced ourselves. Our cars were actually parked nose-to-nose in the lot. She WON the Gear West Duathlon last weekend, with a time that was just a minute and a half slower than Matt’s and my team time!! Way to kick ass, CY! I asked her if she could do the same today, and she wasn’t as sure - there was a lot of competition at Apple.

Well, time to race.

We headed for the starting line. We were in Wave 3. We saw the elites take off (including CY), then a wave of 30-40 males, and then it was our turn.

I had a goal to work for this year. This was my third consecutive year racing this duathlon. I finished in 1:54:30 two years ago, and 1:54:36 last year. This year, I had to break 1:54. My biking skill is worse this year, but my running game is much better. Time to see what I could do.

- 5K Run:

The announcer shouted GO, and off we went. Matt and I wished each other good luck. I took it easy for the first part of the run. A few blocks in, at the top of a hill, I counted that I was in about 12th place in our wave. At the first mile marker, my watch read 5:51. That was pretty fast. I slowed up (a little). Mile 2 was 6:20. That was better. I finished the 5K 8 seconds FASTER than the 5K last weekend where I was teamed up with Matt and running it nearly all-out - the course last week was off-road and tough to run. I caught a few more from our wave and came into transition in about 6th place in our wave.

- T1:

Nothing fancy here. I grabbed my bike gear. I noticed that Matt’s Hammer Gel had fallen off his aero bars, so I picked it up and placed it back on his bike. Time to ride.

- 33K Bike:

I was planning on pushing myself on the bike again. I pushed harder than I was used to 4 weeks ago at the Winter Begone Du, and that went well - I realized that I could push pretty hard and still be able to run the last run. My first 5 miles were done in 15:29, and my next 5 were done in 14:00. I was averaging 20 mph at the half way mark, which is good for me.

There was some good news and some bad news at this point. The good news is that we had gone through the worst of the hills on the course. The bad news was that with about 8-9 miles left, we turned into the NASTY ASS wind. That wind was in our face for the entire ride back into Sartell. It wasn’t fun. I battled through it as I watched my average drop.

About a mile or so from Sartell, Matt came up on me and passed me. I knew he was having a decent day. I was hoping he was going to catch me on the bike. (Matt told me after the race that he was up to a 22.5 mph average at the half-way point, and his average speed dropped to 20.5 by the end.) I rolled into T2 about 2 blocks behind Matt.

- T2:

Matt was still in T2 when I ran my bike in. We exchanged some curse words about the wind. He took off, and I was just a few seconds behind him. At this point, I realized that I could waltz my way to an Apple PR (breaking 1:54). And I also figured that if I pushed hard and banged out a decent 5K, I could break 1:50. So off I went.

- 5K Run:

I caught up to Matt as we turned out of the parking lot. I said, “Ya feel that? That feels GOOD!” Matt didn’t agree. Again, we wished each other luck, and I ran off.

The first mile of the second run is historically my fastest mile of a duathlon. My legs feel heavy and I feel like I’m not moving, so I push even harder. This duathlon was no different. I didn’t know how fast I was running until I hit mile 1 in 5:44. Sweet. And, I didn’t even feel my achilles until half way through the second run. That was good news too. The only bad news was that my lower butt / upper hamstring was getting pretty tight. I worked through it, and it wasn’t a real problem. I ran hard to the finish.

Yesterday, I earned a couple of Personal Records on this course for this duathlon, and 1 Personal Worst:

5K Run: 18:47, 6:03 pace, Apple PR
T1: 1:00
33K Bike: 1:08:03, 18.1 mph ave, Apple PW
T2: 1:02
5K Run: 19:34, 6:18 pace, Apple PR

Total: 1:48:25, Apple PR by over 6 minutes!

6th Place in my Age Group
97th Overall

My bike time was just a few seconds slower than it was last year, but my 2 runs were both a couple of minutes faster. I hung around at the finish for Matt, and he came in under 9 minutes later, with a finish time of 1:57:07 for his second official duathlon (much longer than the short course that he did at Winter Begone). Way to go, Matt!!

Nothing left to do but eat:

All-in-all, I had 9 slices of pizza, 1 hot dog, and a bunch of Oreos. When one of the ladies handed me my first few slices of pizza, instead of saying, “Thank you,” I said, “I love you!” I meant it. Then, Matt and I both grabbed 5 bucks and got a massage. This complete stranger groped my ass for 5 minutes:

And Matt got sloppy seconds:

Seriously though, that woman worked out some stuff in our legs. We loved it! That was a well-spent 5 dollars! Matt’s thinking about NOT doing the duathlon next year, but instead he’ll show up with $50 and spend the morning on her table. Not a bad plan. Not a bad plan indeed.

We stuck around for the awards (none of which we won) and the prize drawings (none of which we won). I said goodbye to CY and congratulated her on a 3rd place finish in a time of 1:36 (if I’m remembering correctly). Matt and I hit the road back to St. Paul.

After a few miles, I said, “Oh, look who’s coming up on our tail!” It was David Thompson and Hannah Sullivan (is it creepy that I know what they drive?). David is a FREAKIN’ ROCKSTAR of multi-sport events in Minnesota. He’s won Lord knows how many events, and was recently featured in Triathlete Magazine (the one that had pros and semi-pros posing with their equipment and talking about the gear they like). And his wife Hannah is great at these events too - I could use her speedy bike legs!!

Anyway, as they were passing us, I looked over and waved. Hannah waved back with that “I’m being friendly and waving back but I don’t really think I know you” wave. Matt and I got to talking about those 2. It’s a little lewd, so I’ll whisper it, and you can stop listening if you’d like to. Here it goes:

Their sex life must be AMAZING! I mean, those two could both go forever! They could go for hours! No, days! No...weeks! They could have sex for longer than the Olympics are on TV. In fact, if “mixed doubles sex” were an Olympic sport, they’d be bringing home gold for the US. If “singles sex” were an Olympic sport, I’d rock it, but that’s a different story...

OK, enough whispering about that. But, come on, you know what I’m talking about! And as a side note, David is a good, very courteous driver: he used his blinker and drove in the right lane except when passing. Nice guy. Good fella. Sweet couple, I’m sure.

On the way home, I figured that it’d be smart to take a little ice bath once we were back. So I picked up 10 pounds of ice, poured a cold bath, jumped in, dumped the ice on top, and turned into a woman for 10 minutes (you know what I mean...don’t make me spell it out):

Oh, and just as I was hopping in the tub, I saw the smiley face that I asked to be drawn on my right calf after the body-marker wrote my age on my left calf. So I quick snapped a photo:

Today, my muscles are a little sore, but my heel and knee both feel OK! I think I’ll head to the Y for an upper body workout shortly, and I’ll try a longer run on Tuesday. Check back to see how that goes. And I’ll have more photos and more official results when they come in. Thanks for reading everyone!!

p.s. I feel creepy when I said I know what David and Hannah drive. I only know that because they parked near us last weekend at the Gear West Duathlon, and we briefly talked as we were all unloading our cars. I’m not a super creep. Really.


Ice Ice (Ice) Baby

>> Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling too good. So I figured I’d go outside in the late afternoon and trim some grass around the front railing. The railing had other plans. It jumped out of no where and attacked me:

This is 6 hours after the attack,
after most of the swelling had gone down!

So, as I do every night, I laid in bed and iced my heel and my knee. Only this time, I added a third bag of ice to my forehead.

I’m such a dolt. Maybe I’ll have a sweet “racing stripe” for the duathlon this weekend. What a way to use (waste) my 200th post.


Gear West Duathlon Photos

>> Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Here are some more photos from the Gear West Duathlon on Sunday, where Matt and I took second in the team competition (sorry the images are so small, but that’s all they gave):

At the 5K start (on the far left)

Again, on the far left

Matt on the 28K bike

Matt working a hill

“Snacky Treat”...I mean...“Matt” on the bike
(That’s for you, Missallycat!)

The lowest point in the run, along the pond

A few strides later

Up the final hill, sprinting to the finish

Grandmas Marathon Training Update: Yesterday, I HAD to try a longer run again. It’s getting to be crunch time. I thought about trying 12. Pharmie thought I needed to push it more and go something like 16-18 miles. She was right - the marathon is just over 4 weeks away, and I can’t keep putting off my long runs. So my plan was to go out 6 miles, head back to home for 12 miles, and then see if heel was doing OK and consider another few miles. Well, it was getting pretty sore by mile 10-11. At 12, it was pretty rough, but I wanted to test it - I mean, it’s really now or never when it comes to some of my longer training runs. So I got out another painful mile and a half for a total of 13.5 (in 1:33:40). The pace was where it needed to be, but the heel wasn’t quite having it. I’m pretty bummed about it.

So the plan for now is this: no running, biking, or swimming until the duathlon this Saturday (just a little strength training, some icing, some stretching, and a lot of rest). The two 5K runs during the du shouldn’t be too problematic. Then, take 3 days off, and try a long run again on Tuesday. I’ll go from there.

So check back Saturday night or Sunday morning for my Apple Duathlon race report. As I mentioned in the last post, Matt and I (Team Happy Pants) are going out there to race together, only as individuals this time (not as a team). Wish us luck!


Gear West Duathlon Race Report

>> Sunday, May 18, 2008

Or, “Another cool, windy duathlon”

Or, “This is more of a ‘cross country’ race than any of my cross country races in high school!!”

Or, “Holy crap, Pharmie - that’s A LOT of photos!”

Pharmie and I had a great pre-race meal last night: we stopped by “Grand Ole St. Mark’s Day” where we each had a burger, and we split a big strawberry malt and some fries. THEN we both had a piece of homemade pie (blueberry and pumpkin). We were ready to race!

We got up around 5:30, and loaded up. Matt (Pharmie’s brother) came over to ride out to Orono with us - Matt and I were doing this duathlon as a team: I was going to do the runs and he was going to bike. When we got out there, Pharmie learned that the race-day registration had filled up, so she couldn’t compete. Dang! She had put off registering to see how she felt after her 20 MILE RUN YESTERDAY! And you people think I’M the crazy one in this relationship! She was bummed at first, but quickly realized that it was probably all for the best that she couldn’t compete. Also, because she couldn’t race, she’s the one responsible for all the following great photos of her hubby and brother! Thanks Pharmie!

Matt and I got set up in transition. Our official team name was “Team Happy Pants.” Yep, that team name was my do-ins. It was STRANGE not having to worry about the bike - that was Matt’s job today. I just needed to have my run stuff ready. Here we are stretching out before the start:

I’m getting my achilles stretched and loose

And here’s Matt and I when the race was about to begin:

The Wardrobe:

OK, so here’s my story. I start teaching a summer Color Theory class at the College of Visual Arts tomorrow, so I figured I would wear an outfit made up of the subtractive primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. I’m such a geek.

A super geek ready to race

Notice in that photo that I’m NOT wearing my Under Armour shorts under the short yellow shorts. Pharmie was worried that something would happen. She was afraid that “something” would pop out and be dragging along the trail. Don’t worry, everything stayed in place. No children had to be scarred.

Toeing the start line, literally

5K Run (3.1 miles):

The gun went off, and I was running. I shared the lead for the first few blocks (the only straight and flat part of the run), and after that, I had the lead the rest of the way. The run was NUTS!! It was SO OFF-ROAD! After 1 kilometer of nice, paved road, the run became solid trail, grass, gravel, wood chips, and muddy trails through the woods. At one point, we had to cross a little creek on a few pieces of 2x12 lumber that looked a little iffy. Here’s the run course, and you can see how many sharp, nasty turns we had to do in the area that’s labeled as a “marshland:”

Here’s Matt getting ready for the bike while I’m out on the run:

During my run, I had one guy on my tail the whole time, and he caught me about a quarter mile from transition. He passed me as we headed up this one, last, nasty hill:

(this photo is from later on in the du)

I followed him into transition, and finished just 1 second behind him:

I was pretty happy with my time, considering the nasty, rough, off-road conditions.


I ran up to Matt, he dropped down to take the chip off my ankle, and he strapped it to his leg:

Matt’s behind all the bikes, taking off the chip

Then Matt was off on the ride, only seconds behind the first place team:

28K Bike (17.4 miles):

Matt was out on the bike. He said it was hilly and windy. He had ridden the course this past week, so he was ready for the hills. A bunch of us from the relay teams hung around in transition. We all were laughing because we felt guilty that our team members were out there in the wind, and we could just hang out for a while.

One of my legs got a little muddy and scuffed up by my shoe during the nasty, muddy run:

Pharmie snapped this sweet photo of the short shorts as I was walking away from her:

How do you spell “Bow-chica-wah-wah?”

I put on some clothes to stay warm during my break, and then cheered for the other athletes:

The guy next to me was the first place runner

Chatting with some of the other relay teams:

The guy who finished just in front of me chatted it up during our down-time. He was a nice guy. He was a runner by trade. He didn’t even have a bike. I didn’t feel too bad getting beat in the run by an actual runner. He just finished Boston 4 weeks ago, and he’s thinking about trying out some duathlons and triathlons (on his own - not as a team). He asked how good my biker was. I told him he was hoping for a 49 or 50 minute ride. He said that’s what his biker was hoping for too. We both smiled, and I said, “It sounds like we might have a race here!”


A few minutes before Matt was scheduled to come in, the other biker that had gone out just before Matt came riding in, and his runner took off. I figured that was it - there wasn’t any way that I could catch him. I stripped down when I knew Matt was close...

...and it wasn’t long before I heard Pharmie shout “STEVE! HERE COMES MATT!”

Matt headed toward me

I took off his chip, and strapped it on:

We had a good transition strategy worked out for passing the chip. We had the second fastest T1 time, and the 3rd fasted T2 time.

4K Run (2.5 miles):

Even though the other runner had a 2 minute lead on me, I wasn’t throwing in the towel. I went out pretty hard, thinking that I could have a great run or that he could bonk, and there’d be a chance to win this for Team Happy Pants. I saw him on one of the loopy areas, and he was running strong. At that point, I knew that Matt and I pretty much had second place locked up with no real chance for first. That doesn’t mean that I slowed up - I still was going for a good time and a strong run.

The second run was brutal. The wet, muddy areas from before now had 400 more feet that had traveled over them. It was a MESS. I’m not complaining - I enjoyed the harshness of the course. It was just a hellish run for everyone.

I headed for the finish, and heard Pharmie and Matt cheering me in:

Official Results:
Team Happy Pants: Steve Stenzel, Matt Linder
Overall Team Place: 2 out of 16
Division Place (Male/Male Team): 2 out of 9

5K Run: 2nd place: 18:55, 6:19 pace
T1: 0:37
28K Bike: 5th place: 48:32, 21.0 mph ave
T2: 0:29
4K Run: 2nd place: 17:24, 6:34 pace
Total: 1:25:55

We were 2:23 out of the lead, and Matt and I were talking afterward that there wasn’t any way for us to have made that time up: their runner was better than me, and their biker was better than Matt. I was happy with my first run time: it was right where I wanted to be, and only 1 second off the lead. Matt was happy with his bike time: he finished about 30 seconds faster than he had hoped. My second run time was rough: the course was more beat up, and so was I. I had hoped to run that about 1:30 faster, but that wasn’t in the books today.

Nothing left to do but eat: hot dogs!

I wanted to take a photo like this at the end, but I figured it could be inappropriate:

There were a lot of official photographers out on the course, so check back in a few days: I hope to have more photos up! Oh, and look for Matt and I (Team Happy Pants) to be doing the Apple Duathlon next weekend (only we’ll be splitting up the team to compete individually - I can be the “Happy” and he can be the “Pants”). Thanks for reading!

p.s. SUPER BIG THANKS to Pharmie for the great photos above! She took a ton! Thanks Pharmie!



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