Liberty Olympic Triathlon Report

>> Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Well, it’s been a few days - time for a race report!! Pharmie and I both did the Liberty Triathlon on Saturday: she did the Half Ironman distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run), and I did the Olympic distance (0.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run).

We were out the door just after 5, and we were to the race site just after 6. We KEPT running into people that we knew, and that was slowing us down a lot! We weren’t complaining - we LOVE seeing all kinds of friends at races. And now that we’ve been racing and blogging for a few years, we always know a bunch of people.

We got mostly set-up in transition, and snapped a photo:

I hit the porta-johns, and I remembered that’d I’d have to pretty much completely disrobe to be able to do ANYTHING in my tri suit. So I think this sort of photo will be one of my new standard race-day photos. Here’s me with my tri suit around my ankles in the pooper:

We got down to the water, and we were hanging out with friends: Julia, Kate W, and Pharmie were starting shortly, as they were all doing the Half IM. Miss Allycat was hanging around to cheer for BF Ryan who was also doing the half. Jeremy and I were starting off in the same Olympic wave, and his family (including his new 4 week old!) was there to cheer. And Jen was starting a few waves after us, getting ready to do her first Oly! It’s GREAT knowing so many people at a race!

The first 5 Half IM waves took off, then there was a little break, and shortly after that Jeremy and I were getting ready to go. Ally snapped a photo of Jeremy and I next to each other as I was taking my pre-race pee. Apparently, I stand awkwardly when I pee:

I was ready to push hard but to still have fun during this race. At the Apple Duathlon a few weeks ago, I was in the mindset to have 15% fun, 85% hard race. And I finished that race very proud of my effort. Standing at the start of Liberty, I was thinking I’d have 30% fun, 70% hard race. I wasn’t putting as much pressure on myself for this race. But it was still going to be a good effort!


Mark sounded the siren from his bullhorn, and we were off! Immediately, I was thinking “what the hell am I doing HERE?...” I was towards the inside, and I like swimming in clean, open water. I’ll swim WAY to the outside if it means I have to worry less about colliding with other people. In the spot where I was, I was surrounded by people. I should have started about 50 feet farther towards the outside. Damn it.

I tried to settle into a rhythm. At NOLA 70.3, it just took a minute or so to get comfortable. Well, with all the sighting I had to be doing, I didn’t get comfortable for a long time. My breathing wasn’t the best. I was swimming EASILY, but still working too hard. I was finally getting comfortable near the turn-around. I think I started feeling better because I relaxed to pee. Really.

I hit the middle of the short back-stretch (the halfway point) and glanced at my watch. It read 12:59. WHAT? I looked at it again. Sure enough, I was having a pretty good swim! It wasn’t “crazy fast,” but it was shaping up to be a solid swim! Heading back towards shore, I found a lot of clean, open water, and I was swimming with good form. My second half of the swim is never as fast as my first half, but I still was swimming strong. I ended up shooting out of the water in 27:42, and I ran up the beach and over the timing mats with an official swim split of 28:07. Nearly a 4 minute oly swim PR! Nice!

As I was running out of the water, I heard someone cheering me on. I thought it was Miss Allycat, but it turned out to be rockstar duathlete/triathlete Cathy Y. She snapped this great photo of me exiting the water:


I knew my transition times would be slow because of my sprained thumb (see post from Saturday night). I was a little slow in getting off my wetsuit, and in putting on my socks. I was off in 2:06.


They kept saying that this was a “technical, hilly ride.” I was prepared for the hills, so they didn’t seem that bad. It was just CONSTANT rolling hills. The “technical” part was that you were always turning. There was never a chance to get into a rhythm - rarely did we ever go more than 1 mile straight before turning or veering.

After a few miles, I was averaging over 19 mph on the hills. I told myself to ease up in case the hills started to take too much out of me. I passed Pharmie’s friend Ann after a couple of miles, and then immediately passed Pharmie too. She shouted “Jeremy passed me 4 minutes ago! Go get em, hunnie!” I was passing WAY more people than usual, and that made me feel great! Then I realized that I was passing a lot of people that were doing the Half IM, so then I felt less great. Oh well.

Here are some stats on the bike:

- 19.3 mph average at mile 5
- 20.5 mph at the halfway point (mile 12.5)
- flew out of my left cleat at mile 18. WTF?
- 20.6 mph nearing the finish
- 20.5 rolling into transition

I was QUITE happy with my performance on the bike. I was a little depressed from mile 10-15, but at mile 15, I kicked it in with the thought of only having 10 miles left. (I passed about 10 people in 1 mile around mile 15.) I came up on Jeremy around mile 20, and he said he was having a rough day. He took off again in front of me.

Returning to the park, Ally saw me again, and she snapped this photo as I rolled by (and that's the race director, Mark, in red in front of me who I waved to):

The only bad news of the day so far was that my stomach was getting upset. Half way into the bike, it was unsettled. I had to remind myself to keep talking in liquids and gels to be ready for the run. It wasn’t that I was taking in TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE - I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. So I just made sure to be taking in enough, and I hoped my stomach would work itself out on the run. Hopefully.


Everything was pretty normal here. I saw and heard 2 of my “CVA Triathlon Club” participants, Sarah and Evan, cheering me into transition! I smiled and gave a little wave. I had a rock inside my sock, so I took the time to take off my sock, find the rock, and put everything back on to start the run. I threw on my new Saucony racing flats, and I was off in 1:13.


Miss Allycat was out cheering for us on the run. I caught up to Jeremy pretty quick. I asked how he was doing. He said he felt like he was going to puke. I told him my stomach was pretty unsettled, and that if it gets much worse, I’d have to puke too. Yay: puke-fest. I felt like I took it a little easy on that first mile to get my stomach back to normal.

Mile 1: 7:05. “Dang. That’s too slow for me.” But there was a pretty big hill, and I was trying to get my stomach in line, so I wasn’t too pissed.

My stomach started feeling better, and I was upping the pace.

Mile 2: 5:51. “Mile 1 might have been a little long, and mile 2 might have been a little short. But my stomach’s feeling better! Go get em!”

Mile 3: 6:30. “Good. Hold that for now.”

Mile 3.1 (5K turnaround): 19:52

I only walked about 4 steps at the turnaround cone when I was taking a drink and thanking the volunteers. Other than that, I was running the entire way. I was really hoping I could do a sub-40:00 run. But these little rolling hills started feeling bigger and bigger!! The great thing about an out-and-back run is getting to see everyone else: after the turnaround, I saw Steve H from the Y, then Jeremy, then Jen pretty close behind, then Ann. I cheered for all!

The tri suit was holding up, and so were the new shoes. I was getting a little hot, so I was dumping water down my back at each aid station. And my tri suit zipper was opened quite far, with my chest hair wafting in the breeze. It was quite romantic, really. Like a scene from “The Notebook.” Rachel McAdams was running right next to me...

(The splits are weird from here on because on the way back, I took them from the mile markers of the half IM course...)

Mile 3.1-4.1: 6:30. “Good. ‘Holding it’ like I wanted to! Now pick it up!” The hills magically got bigger on the way back. Really. Magically bigger.

Mile 4.1-5.1: 5:47 “Can I go sub 40?? It’s time to GO!” I knew it’d be close. I just went hard.

Coming down the final hill back to the water’s edge was rough: I nearly biffed it on the loose woodchips as I was running so hard. At the bottom of the hill was Ally with a sign that read something like “You make Spandex look GOOD!” I loved it! A quick glace at my watch revealed that I’d probably end up over 40:00, but under 41:00. Damn. I still pushed it hard.

But as I hit the line, I realized that my math was wrong! I finished with a run that was over 39:00, but under 40:00! I had my sub-40:00 10K!

Steve Stenzel, number: 580, age: 28

Swim: 28:07 (1:43/100yd), 84th fastest
T1: 2:06
Bike: 1:12:09 (21.6 mph official, 20.5 computer), 67th fastest
T2: 1:13
Run: 39:33 (6:22/mile), 18th fastest

Total Time: 2:23:06

Overall Place: 37 out of 194
Age Group: 9 out of 15
Gender Place: 35 out of 135

Notes compared to last years Olympic distance tri (which was on a much flatter course):

- Nearly a 4 minute swim PR
- Over a 4 minute bike PR (on a hiller course this year!!)
- Over a 3 minute run PR (with way more rolling hills!!)
- Add in some much faster T times, and that’s an Olympic PR by 14:27!!! And that PR is from a much more challenging course! I’ll take it!!

It’s a little depressing that I’ve been getting faster and faster, but I still placed in the bottom half (nearly the bottom third) of my AG. That’s really not getting me down - I’m just happy that I’m moving in the right direction!

Jeremy’s family and my 2 tri club students were at the finish to cheer me in. I went to talk to my students afterwards. Watching the triathlon got them SUPER PUMPED to race in their first tri in a few weeks! (And I knew it would!) I cheered all my friends across the line. Then I grabbed some food and waited for Pharmie to finish her long ride. Jeremy and I spotted her coming towards T2:

I ran into transition with her to see how she was doing. Her times were where they should’ve been, and she was ready to run! (The whole time, I was thinking how glad I was to be done!...)

I went to get changed out of my tri suit in a porta-potty. The bottom of my feet were pretty sore, so I snapped a photo of a little hot spot:

Yes, I’m barefoot in a porta-potty.
Yes, that’s after I got changed out of my tri suit.
So yes, that means I’m completely nude in that photo...

They had the Oly awards shortly after. Steve H from the Y got 2nd in his AG, and Jen, who had just finished her first Oly, placed as the 6th female and got 2nd in her AG!! And Pharmie’s friend Ann was the 1st place Athena! Way to go you guys!!!

I ran to go get another burger before going to find Pharmie at the run turn-around. Here’s my second burger (I was too excited to take a photo before taking a few bites):

I hopped on my bike and got to see Pharmie (and new running buddy Joe) at the turn-around:

I followed them for a minute or 2 on my bike. Here they are running through a big clearing with other racers (they’re running away from me on the right):

I came up behind them for one more check: “So you’re doin OK? Alright! See you at the finish!”

I went back to the finish area, and I bumped into Julia right away. She was getting ready to go spread some cupcake cheer!

During the Half IM awards, we learned that Julia finished 4th overall!! And she WON her AG during her FIRST Half IM!! Here she is getting her award:

Top 3 in the 40-44 AG

I chatted with Julia and her fiancé quite a bit after the race. She was afraid to take off her socks and look at her feet. This is why:

Yeah, that’s a HUGE blood blister with a regular blister over it! And her second and fourth toenails were purple. That’s nasty, Julia! Why would you let me take a photo of that?!? ;)

I sat in the shade near the finish line and cheered in all the Half IM finishers. Here’s the final stretch of the run, nice and flat, going left to right on a small paved trail along the lakefront:

Right around when Pharmie hoped to finish is when she came running by!!

Congrats Pharmie!!

She was a little beat up, but she was OK. We loaded up the car, stopped at a gas station for some chocolate milk (one of the best recovery drinks!), and headed home. We showered up and actually took an hour nap together! (The nap was together, the shower was not.) I’m not much of a napper, so this RARELY happens!

Back with official race photos shortly! Oh, and make sure to comment on yesterday’s post to get your hat thrown in the ring for a $75.00 gift certificate!


Matt (No Meat Athlete) 6:07 AM, June 16, 2009  

Great race recap! I'd love to do a tri one day (but first I have to qualify for the Boston Marathon), and seeing all these pictures and following your race is very inspiring! I just found your blog, glad I did.

Anonymous,  7:18 AM, June 16, 2009  

All your hard work is certainly paying off. Great job and way to PR. Congrats to Pharmie too.

jen 7:52 AM, June 16, 2009  

Congrats Steve!! What a strong race. Way to blaze through the hilly bike course. And I am always amazed at your run speed, wow! Great job out there. Thanks for sharing the report!

Kim 8:17 AM, June 16, 2009  

steve, awesome PR!!!!!!! your age group all across the world is uber competitive, but i have no doubt you will grab some hardware soon! :) congratulations to you and pharmie!

Carolina John 8:21 AM, June 16, 2009  

great PR steve! 15 minutes on a tougher course will make your tri club students stand up and cheer. way to go brother.

Lindsay 8:38 AM, June 16, 2009  

yet another impressive tri! i still can't fathom how you run so fast after swimming and biking. congrats to both of you on strong races and that huge pr!

RBR 8:40 AM, June 16, 2009  

I have been reading your blog for well over a year now and you have yet to gross me out. Today, my friend, with the barefoot porta-potty shot, you got me.

Actual, physical shudder.

I am a high school biology teacher it is tough to gross me out.

Congrats on a HUGE PR and a great day!

tfh 9:03 AM, June 16, 2009  

Awesome race-- and Pharmie looks great, too!

Christi 9:43 AM, June 16, 2009  

Steve I love your blog! Your humor is infectious and your love of triathlons is so apparent! Thanks so much for sharing your pursuits!

tri_al 10:10 AM, June 16, 2009  

super race report, super blog :) i'm fellow blogger/tri-er/photographer. i haven't taken my camera to events before but you've just changed all that! super

duchossois 10:27 AM, June 16, 2009  

Congrats on a great race, and an excellent report full of interesting if not always pleasant photos.

Alisa 10:51 AM, June 16, 2009  

Great PR! Your run was so speedy, wow!

I love reading all of these Tri reports. I am so inspired!

Marlene 10:57 AM, June 16, 2009  

Congrats to all! Sounds like a great event. (I always enjoy your thorough race reports.)

GoBigGreen 11:00 AM, June 16, 2009  

I know how much you love feet shots so if I hadnt let you take that pic you would always be wondering..
So fun to see you and congrats to you both. You and Pharmie always spread the cheer at the races.
Rest up and cu soon!

Jennifer Harrison 11:32 AM, June 16, 2009  

GEEZ! you guys rock! Of course, I had already knew Julia rocked her 1st 1/2 IM!!! But, you and Jen did well too....congrats and the pics are priceless! Hope you warmed up.


Eric 11:42 AM, June 16, 2009  

Two port-a-potty shots and peeing in the where are the shots of you peeing on the bike????

You are killing me....with laughter.

Sanitize those ugly feet.

Unknown 12:34 PM, June 16, 2009  

Great job with the big PR! From the photos, it sure looked like a perfect day for the race.

Unknown 12:38 PM, June 16, 2009  

Congrats on the PR. And to Pharmie also. I think I need a shower that I have see a picture of your feet while you were naked. I was more concerned about whatever kind of stuff you might pick up from being barefoot in a portta john.

X-Country2 12:52 PM, June 16, 2009  

You and Pharmie make tris look like so much fun! Congrats to you both!

Diana 12:52 PM, June 16, 2009  

Nice race-congrats to you and your wife! Love the photos!
That foot looks nasty, I can feel the pain through the photo!

E-Speed 1:30 PM, June 16, 2009  

Great job to you and Pharmie! And as always awesome report.

Irish Cream 3:03 PM, June 16, 2009  

Awesome job, Steve :) Congrat to both you and Pharmie on awesome races!! You kill me with your race reports . . . you really do!

Bootchez 4:32 PM, June 16, 2009  

Another great race and another great recap. And, hey, YOUR feet seem like my old friends at this point, but I just don't know how I feel about pics of other people's feet. Thumbs up on the portapotty views though -- I guess you're never really alone when you've got that camera.

Anonymous,  5:33 PM, June 16, 2009  

"Teacherwoman" sent her readers your way. Great race report! Now I know why I avoid the tri. . . too much pee in the water! ;) Your port-a-potty photos cracked me up. I am glad to know, though, that I'm not the only one who has done a full change of clothes in one of those.

Badgergirl 9:37 PM, June 16, 2009  

Loved the race report and pics! Congrats on the race!

Anonymous,  10:00 PM, June 16, 2009  

I love your blog- always makes me crack up. Thanks for sharing your race report! Christine

The Boring Runner 10:42 PM, June 16, 2009  

Great post!!

I think that she has you beat on the gross foot pics - hands down. Although, after walking without shoes in a port a pot, you'll be catching up soon enough!!

brendaj 11:48 PM, June 16, 2009  

Nice job. It's bad enough I have to use porta potties sometimes let alone being reminded of them by you!

KK 10:08 AM, June 17, 2009  

Congrats to you and Pharmie and the rest of your peeps! That is so amazing that you PRed by over 14 minutes on a harder course. I mean, whaaaa? Way to go!!!

Funny about the hills getting magically bigger on the way back.

I too think that people in my AG are getting freakishly good-at Kansas 70.3 last weekend there were like 10 girls who finished under 5 hrs. Whaaa? Where do they get these people??? Anyway, I feel your pain on your AG finish. But you PRed by a lot so that's what's important!

JP Severin 1:10 PM, June 17, 2009  

you are really coming along this year. keep it up. make sure not to overcook it.

teacherwoman 5:40 PM, June 17, 2009  

Nice job on the PR! WAHOO! And, great photos as well!

Charisa 9:21 PM, June 17, 2009  

Pretty FUN! Congrats!! And you are lucky to know Julia - she rocks :)

MissAllycat 12:07 AM, June 18, 2009  

I am behind the times. I STILL haven't blogged about being a spectathlete. :)

Congrats on your kick ass PR! Great to see you again...looking forward to peeing with you in Chisago. ;)

Run For Life 9:21 PM, June 20, 2009  

Good job on the Oly and Pharmie looked strong in the 70.3 pics, too!

Barefoot. In a portapotty. Ick.

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