Last Tri of the Year: St. Croix Valley Olympic Triathlon

>> Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sunday morning, Pharmie and I were up well before the sun to hit the road for Hudson, WI. We were going to race at the St. Croix Valley Olympic Distance Triathlon, which promised to be pretty small (there were 111 athletes and 8 teams). Hudson WI from St. Paul MN is only about 25 minutes, so we were there in no time.

We checked out the swim that was in the St. Croix River (it’s in a big bay, so there’s no river current). Here’s the 6-buoy, 2-lap swim headed off to the far left before the sun rose:

We got our race packets and got body marked. We ran into training/racing buddy Jen, and her and Pharmie got body marked together.

Jen and Pharmie with men writing all over their hot bodies

I got my transition area set up, said “Hi” to Suzie who I met at the first “Splash and Dash,” got changed into my tri suit “onesie,” threw on my wetsuit, and it was time to go! I wished Jen, Suzie, and Pharmie luck down by the water, but I only got a kiss from Pharmie. There were just 2 waves for the 111 racers: “men” followed by “women and relays.” They let me into the first wave. ;)

On your marks, get set, GOOOOO!

I was swimming. I started to the FAR left, which was way to the outside. I LOVE swimming in clean water. I didn’t sight too much, so I ended drifting farther left. I was WAY left of the final buoy when it was time to turn right. (Yeah, Julia, now’s your chance to tease me for liking to swim so far to the left again...) I never had a chance to warm-up or pee in the water before the race, so in the first half loop, I had to get myself to relax enough to pee. And it was good.

I finished my first loop in 14:09, and I knew the second loop would be slower (it always is). So no swim PR. I peed twice more on the second loop. I also got a little bit of seaweed wrapped around my chip at one point (most of the swim is about 5 feet deep, so if there are weedy patches, they are right under us). I ran up the beach and across the timing mat in 29:30 to the cheers of Sarah and Evan from the CVA Triathlon Club.


Popular local multi-sport announcer Jerry MacNeil was announcing the race over the PA system. As I was pulling my wetsuit off, I hear “...and there’s Steve Stenzel of St. Paul in T1. How ya doing, Steve?” I shouted back to Jerry with a smile: “Good Jerry! How are you?” as I was trying not to fall over. “Oh, I’m great Steve! Have a good race!” I was pretty dizzy from the swim, and it took a few tries to get my left sock on.

(After the race, Pharmie said that Jerry was commenting on her GREAT balance over the PA system while she was in T1 a few minutes later: “...and there’s Pharmie showing MUCH better balance than Steve!” Ha! Thanks Jerry!)

I heard Evan cheering for me again. I grabbed what I needed, and I was off and riding.


I KNEW it was mostly uphill for about 4-6 miles, but I FORGOT that while riding - I was dejected at the average I was holding for the first few miles. Around mile 3, I was at an 18.0 mph average and I already had heavy legs. Boo. That was depressing. I was starting to think my lack of biking over the last 2-3 weeks was REALLY going to show.

It leveled out a bit, and turned into just a bunch of rollers. As with most of my races this year, I worked on pushing HARD on the bike. Still, I was being passed a little more than I wanted to be. Here are some averages I remember at different parts throughout the 25 mile ride:

- 19.0 mph at mile 6
- 19.5 mph at mile 12.5 (halfway)
- 20.0 mph at mile 19
- I THINK I got up to 20.4 mph for a bit
- 20.3 mph at the finish

Oh, Pharmie and I both saw a BIG DEAD SNAKE out on the bike course, and I didn’t think we had snakes that big around here!! Ish.

In the last half mile of the ride, I went to get one last drink from my water bottle. As I was getting ready to bring it to my mouth (about 6 inches from my face), I hit a big pothole that I did NOT see coming. I SQUEEZED my water bottle out of instinct and I got covered in water. I swerved hard, nearly lost it, but managed to stay upright. That was close. Just a few feet farther, I saw Jen’s hubby, John, cheering on the curb. (After the race, he asked, “Hey, was that YOU I saw nearly wipe out?” Yes, John. That was me.) I was glad to be done riding after that.


I ran my bike in and racked it. I saw and heard Sarah and Evan cheering for me, so I waved and said “Thanks!” I threw on my running shoes, grabbed my race belt, and was off in a HURRY. I had a much better T2 time than my T1 time. Time go catch some people!!


You all know this: I love to run. I love “reeling in” athletes on the run during a triathlon. I was catching a lot of people pretty quickly. My legs were pretty heavy from the bike, but I was running pretty well. I hit mile 2 in 12:30. I needed to try to hold that pace.

The run was about 2.5 miles out and 2.5 miles back with a mile+ loop at the farthest point out. So there was no “3.1 mile turn-around cone.” The mile markers weren’t very evenly marked, but I would have hit the 3.1 mile point around 19:42. Nice! And I was building my pace! I was still passing people left and right. I knew I was going to negative split the run. I was running strong! (I mean I hurt like hell, my heels were sore, and my quads got tight running up that last hill with 0.9 miles left, but I was trying to go strong.)

There was no one behind me or in front of me in the last 1.5 miles, so it was hard to push myself. I ran hard to the finish, but if someone were near, I would have probably gone a little harder. I hit the 3.1 mile mark around 19:42, and I ran the last 3.1 miles in 18:34 for a nice negative split, and a total 10K time of 38:16. I felt like I was running well, but I didn’t feel like it was anything spectacular. But it ended up being a run that was about 1:15 faster than my previous “oly tri run” best. That’s a GREAT feeling as I’ve been gearing up for the TC 10 Mile in 4 weeks!!

Here are my official stats:

Steve Stenzel, bib 989, age 28

0.93 Mile Swim: 29:38
T1: 1:39
24.8 Mile Bike: 1:12:43 (20.3 mph ave)
T2: 0:47
6.2 Mile Run: 38:16 (6:10 / mile)

Total: 2:23:00
Overall Place: 15 out of 111
Gender Place: 13 out of 83
Age Group Place: 2 out of 9


- I had the 3rd fastest run split, only behind the first 2 finishers who both went under 2 hours.
- It was my first AG award in a triathlon!! THAT was exciting!
- And it was an Olympic Distance PR for me! (Only by 6 seconds, but a PR is a PR, right?)

Sarah and Evan cheered me across the finish line. Shortly after my finish, Jen came running through with a PR as well! I went back into transition so I could get my camera for when Pharmie would finish. I snapped this shot of Evan and Sarah hanging out near transition and the finish line:

I had to get some calories in me. I hit up the “Hawaiian Luau” and had 2 huge pork sandwiches:

As Sarah, Evan, Mark (the race director), and I were chatting, Pharmie came streaking by to the finish, trying to hold off the guy behind her:

You can see the elbow of the guy giving chase on the far right

Pharmie PRed by 10:02!!! Way to go, Hunnie!!

I had to get a shot with Evan and Sarah before they took off. Here they are laughing at my post-race stank:

Soon I was called up to the bandshell for my AG award. Here I am being announced as 2nd in my AG by Jerry while Mark shakes my hand and congratulates me:

Here I am displaying my sweet spoils:

Anyone need to be timed?

Pharmie and I packed up and hit the road. We stopped at the Louisiana CafĂ© in our old neighborhood for lunch. I had a chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries, and a “cinnamon roll muffin” for dessert:

Just a few hours later, Pharmie finished my leftover sweet potato fries:

That evening, we had some of Pharmie’s siblings over and made a hearty meal. I grilled “foil veggies” (potatoes, carrots, onions, and seasoning wrapped in foil), beef burgers, turkey burgers, and 3 different kinds of peppers:

Yep, Sunday was a good day filled with great racing and delicious food. Who can argue with a handful of Oly PRs and hearty grub? NO ONE, that’s who!!

Have a great short week everyone!!


duchossois 8:00 AM, September 08, 2009  

Big congrats! You know I like it when you talk about passing people on the runs. (I am all about the running.) Thanks for the great report.

TriGirl Kate O 8:04 AM, September 08, 2009  

Huge congrats to Pharmie! That's awesome. Those sweet potato fries look delish, and so does the bbq you set out. Hoping I get to see you in November.

Kim 8:08 AM, September 08, 2009  


10 minutes at an Oly is HUGE - so pharmie is a rockstar. and you, my friend, are smokin on the run. awesome job.

Coach Liz 8:33 AM, September 08, 2009  

Your "onesie" comment made me spit O.J. out my nose this morning. Thanks for the laugh!

Congratulations to you and Pharmie!

Anonymous,  8:49 AM, September 08, 2009  

Way to end the tri season on such a great not. Pharmie did awesome too!

JP Severin 8:54 AM, September 08, 2009  

amazing race you two... steve- keep running... you are coming on in a huge way!

Maria 8:54 AM, September 08, 2009  

way to go on the PR's and the AG award!! the food looks good as always!

X-Country2 9:01 AM, September 08, 2009  

Great work! (Man you kids eat WELL!)

Carolina John 9:23 AM, September 08, 2009  

15th overall, 13th male? so only 2 chicks beat you? Just think steve, if you were more of a girl you could have had a top 3 finish.

well done brother! PR 's are a great way to end the tri season.

Christi 9:43 AM, September 08, 2009  

Great job Steve!!! You and Pharmie had great days!

Runner Leana 9:58 AM, September 08, 2009  

Wow, congratulations on a smokin' fast race! All that food looks delicious to by the way!

Amy - the gazelle 11:13 AM, September 08, 2009  

nice job on the PR! And the food, of course. I plan all of my long runs around where I will be getting my post-run meal :)

GoBigGreen 11:17 AM, September 08, 2009  

Wow I wonder what would happen in my gut if i ate all that after a race. I am not going to try!
Good job and ya know, i would easily swim left if it meant i could run that fast in a 10k!
You did GREAT!!!
So a few more OWS's coming,just BECAUSE WE CAN!

Charisa 12:18 PM, September 08, 2009  

CONGRATS!!!! What an awesome run you had!

Kelly 1:44 PM, September 08, 2009  

Sounds like you guys did awesome! Way to go Pharmie too!

Rob 2:40 PM, September 08, 2009  

Great race report, times and photos of the food! You just don't seem to get that food that looks like that here in the UK!

Regina 3:05 PM, September 08, 2009  

Congrats on the PR. Holy crap, you are a super fast runner!

I'm still trying to figure out how you pee AND swim at the same time...Physical impossibility for me.

Congrats to you lovely lady on her big PR too! Way to end the season big!

joyRuN 11:24 PM, September 08, 2009  

CONGRATS to you & Pharmie!!

Those sweet potato fries look sooo good.

Unknown 8:47 AM, September 09, 2009  

congrats to both of you!!

Anonymous,  2:09 PM, September 09, 2009  

Hi Steve,
I really enjoy your blog as you seem to be able to mix triathlon and real life really well! I'm looking around for a good core workout to help me recover from a bad IT Band injury, any suggestions or things you like to do for your core (other than eat doughnuts?).

The Boring Runner 1:14 PM, September 11, 2009  

Reading this post around lunch time was NOT a good idea.

(oh! Good job BTW) :)

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