MDRA Mudball Classic Trail Race

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Or "Where's the Mud?"

Or "Oh That's Right... Trail Running is HARD!!"

Sunday was the MDRA Mudball Classic. It's a 4 mile trail run in Theo Wirth Park in Minneapolis. But let's rewind to Saturday night.

Saturday, Pharmie hosted a bachelorette party for her sister, and I knew a bunch of (potentially) drunk women would be spending the night at my house. So I took action and asked Pharmie's aunt if I could spend the night at her house. That was smart for 3 reasons. 1: No 3 am wake-up call by drunk women. 2: I spent all of Saturday out in her area judging an art contest, so I was close to her house already. 3: She lives near Theo Wirth Park (kinda), so it would be a quick drive to the race site on Sunday.

Pharmie's aunt was actually at the bachelorette party for most of the night, so I arrived at her house and I was alone. Proof Pharmie's aunt knows me WELL: she left out a bag of chips for me. Proof Pharmie's aunt DOESN'T know me at all: she also left out an "O" Magazine:

Sunday morning, I got to the race site and parked in the free parking about a half mile away. I jogged behind old-school local running legend Kirt Goetzke as we headed to the race:

When I was walking past a family near the race site, the "dad" said "Hi Steve!" He introduced himself (SHOOT, I've already forgotten his name - Dave, maybe - comment with your name if you're reading this!) as Dan, and we chatted for a bit. He was trying his first trail race. I bumped into Molly and her hubby right away too. Then Heidi from the MDRA caught my eye as I was waiting in line to register and she franticly asked, "Steve! Did you bring your camera?!" Of course I did, Heidi! She bumped me to the front of the line to fill out my entry because she needed someone to take some photos of the kids race, which was about to start. Molly teased me: "Oh la la - 'Front of the line' VIP treatment for Steve in a Speedo!" Ha! Thanks Molly!....

Racing buddy Chris and I ran up to the kids race to take photos and cheer. I swear that EVERY mom now-a-days has some sort of "flip" camera to take video of their adorable child! They were everywhere! The kids lined up for the start, and they were off! The "big kids" did 2 loops for 0.5 miles, and the "little kids" did one loop for 0.25 miles. Here are 3 quick photos from the kids race:

I hope the family of this next kid finds this post. He's been going full throttle for 1/4 mile with still a 1/4 mile left to race, and he's FLYING! But he doesn't even look like he's working at all! I LOVE this photo:

And here are 2 adorable boys finishing the 1/4 mile race:

If you want to see all my photos from the kids 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile race, click here to be taken to the slideshow on my Examiner page.

Well, I threw my camera back into my bag, and got ready to run my race. Now Heidi was up by us, and she was snapping photos. Here I am (off to the right in white) as I was in between chatting with the guy in the white hat (who beat me by 4 seconds at this race last year), and this super nice high-school kid with the poofy hair on the other side of me:

Here's another angle. Don't you love the high tech "Finish" sign? I LOVE low-key races like this:

(You can also see Kirt [second from the left] and Rick Recker [topless on the far right] in that photo - two MN running legends.)

"On your marks... [ringing bell]"

We were off. The race is four 1-mile loops on a hilly, winding trail. The high school kid - David, if my mind serves me - and I chatted for the first half of the first mile. He'll be doing his second triathlon this year, and I'll be seeing him out at the Gear West Duathlon too. Two weeks ago, his coach took him out for his FIRST OPEN WATER SWIM OF THE YEAR!! Awesome! David, it was nice chatting with you! See you at the GW Du.

So I felt like I was running SUPER easy. I was in the lead pack of 5. Soon, 2 guys fell off the lead (including David), and I was running in third, just behind first and second. I thought the pace was too easy. I was wondering when I should pass them. But I'm not used to running on hilly trails, so I didn't REALLY know how to handle this.

Mile 1: 6:17. Feeling great.

Over the next mile, it started to feel harder. This is where my "non-trail running self" started to realize he was running on trails. ;) All those little climbs and sharp turns were already taking their toll. I was still running in 3rd, but I was already working pretty hard. I didn't know if I could maintain this pace.

Coming down the hill to finish the second loop, Heidi snapped a photo of me:

Mile 2: 6:12. Hold on.

At the start of each loop, there's a downhill followed by a nice little climb. On that climb, I looked ahead to 1st and 2nd, and I looked back to 4th behind me. I was about 12 seconds from the lead and 10 seconds ahead of 4th. And I was hashed. I just tried to maintain that pace.

We were passing "lapped traffic," and I still had enough energy to say "hi" to about 80% of the people out there. Everyone seemed to be enjoying this GREAT day! I was watching 1st and 2nd slowly pull away from me in the distance.

Mile 3: 6:20. Depressed that I had 1 more lap to go - I was hurting.

So I felt like I had 3rd place locked up: there really wasn't any way to catch first or second (I couldn't even see them now), and there was no sign of anyone behind me. I just tried to keep it strong. I definitely stopped saying "hi" to most of the runners now - I was out of breath. I passed Molly near the end of the race, and said "Go Molly" under my breath. (She teased me later, saying that I could have NOT passed her and still came in 3rd... ha!)

Mile 4: 6:14. That was tough. But a good race!

Total: 25:04
3rd out of 76 overall
2nd out of 3 in the 20-29 age group

(The MDRA is an "older" crowd, so yes, there were only 3 guys in that 10 year age group!)

I was 45 and 36 seconds behind 1st and 2nd, and I was 1:21 ahead of the next runner.

Heidi was at the finish with her camera. I finished, and then put my hands on my knees as I caught my breath for a few seconds while still in the finisher's chute. Heidi snapped a photo as soon as I stood up, as I was turning around towards her, and this is quite possibly this worst photo of me EVER at an event!!!

...but it does show exactly how I was feeling...

I chatted with Heidi and others at the finish, and I cheered in the other runners. I saw Chris emerge over the final little hill, and I got some photos of him finishing the race:

Down the hill

Around the final corner

Headed into the chute

I guess I haven't mentioned it yet, but it was a different course from last year's race. We went the opposite direction this year, and we skipped the nice, mostly flat grassy area along I394. Instead, we had many more sharp turns as we weaved and weaved through the "middle" of the course. And there were more little hills this year. Here I am at LAST YEAR'S RACE as I was trying to catch 3rd place, coming to the finish from the opposite direction:

(That same guy finished 1 spot in front of me this year, too!)

Hitting the line from the OTHER way last year

So most people I talked to agreed that it was a tougher course this year. Not "better" or "worse," just "tougher." (That explains why I think I'm in better shape this year even though I ran the race 16 seconds slower.)

Not too far behind Chris was Molly who finished as the 5th female:

We all hung around and chatted. I headed down the trail to the road:

Heidi caught me and officially introduced me to Rick Recker, someone I'd been wanting to meet for a while. (In 1961, he was the youngest member of the MN Road Runners Club at 15 years old. He's been the president of the MDRA twice, he's finished over 2,300 races, and he's 6th in the world for number of races he's certified [more than 900]. Local. Running. Legend.) The great thing was Rick and Heidi thanked me in a round-about way, because they said Dome Running numbers were great this year, and they think that's in part to all of us bloggers spreading the word. Rick, it was GREAT chatting with you! (And you too, Kirt!) I hope to see you again before Dome Running next winter!

(Running history side-note: The MDRA Magazine "RunMinnesota" has a GREAT article about running in the 60's this month. Click here to be able to read the magazine online, and go to spread 30-31 (pages 21-22) to see article. The stories of Minnesota's "running forefathers" are so interesting! 40-50 years ago, there were no running stores. Runners LITERALLY took apart many different kinds of shoes and put together the pieces that would make the best running shoe! That's crazy! Every runner in the Cities knew every other runner in the Cities. Pat Lanin had a great quote regarding that: "...if we saw another runner, and we didn't know them, we'd stop the car and get out. This was an emergency." Runners were true hardcore outlaws, and everyone else thought they were crazy.)

Well, it was time to head home. Chris and I walked back to our cars together, and we talked Ironman training on the way. (Chris is doing IM WI this year!) David, the high-school kid spotted us and said good-bye. As I was ready to hop in my car, I realized that I didn't get a photo of me in a porta-potty! What would a race report be without a photo of that?!? So I snapped one final photo in the Wirth Beach john:

Great day for race! It was GREAT talking to everyone out there!! And remember, if you want to see all my photos from the kids 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile race, click here to be taken to the slideshow on my Examiner page.

Thanks everyone! Have a great week!


Christi 9:35 AM, April 20, 2010  

Great job on the race and thanks for the porta-potty shot. I would have been sorely disappointed without it! :)

Chris H. 10:53 AM, April 20, 2010  

This is great, Steve! Thansk for the support out there - it was fantastic to see you and all the fine folks of MDRA out there.
As we were leaving, I saw you turn around and run for the porta-potty - I figured it was for the picture ;)

Take care & be well, my friend!

Steve Stenzel 11:27 AM, April 20, 2010  

Ha! I DID have to pee too.... Thanks Chris!

teacherwoman 11:38 AM, April 20, 2010  

Sounds like a great race! Nice job!

Love the shot of the kid flying with little to no effort! 11:42 AM, April 20, 2010  

Did you notice that both the guy that said hi to you before the race and the high school kid are both named "David/Dave"
50/50 chance that you are right on one of them. Not too shabby!
Good job on the race!

CoachLiz 12:40 PM, April 20, 2010  

Congratulations on a podium finish!

Running Kid #245...What the HELL??!!?? He looks like he is, what, 6 or 7 years old??? He has a photo with "air" under his feet. I never get race photos like that. And he is wearing a long sleeved shirt and track pants!!! He has to be smoking hot in that getup but you would never be able to tell it by the look on his face. He has that calm, serene look you get right before you open a can of soda that someone has shaken up and will spray all over your face and clean white shirt. And what's with that strange look in his eyes??? Is he really an alien rather than a child?

Um, I beg to differ on your claim of Heidi's photo being the worst photo of you EVER at an event. I have another photo in mind and I am just going to keep the image of that photo locked away in my memory. We don't need to go back there.

Matt Ellenberger 1:43 PM, April 20, 2010  

Crap. That race was last Sunday? I thought it was this Sunday. Oh well. Solid race steve!

Carolina John 7:56 PM, April 21, 2010  

those are some great shots of the kids steve! That one flying kid has really good form.

good job on a fun race!

Anonymous,  8:33 AM, April 22, 2010  

It was fun meeting you! I've been reading your blog for a while. you were close on the name, it's Dan.

Steve Stenzel 11:49 AM, April 22, 2010  

DAN! Sorry I forgot your name! Hope you had a good run!

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