THEE Big Race: The TC 10 Mile

>> Monday, October 04, 2010

Or "Attempting a Sub-60 10 Mile"

Or "Well, At Least My ELBOWS Don't Hurt!"

I'll have more photos up as soon as possible, so check back...

This was the BIG TEST! Unless you've been DEAD for the last 8 weeks, you know that Jen Harrison agreed to coach me for (essentially) free as long as I did what she said so she could "see what she could do with me." She trained me, we discussed my "mental issues," and she got me ready for the big day.

I tried to be "laser-beamed focused" as Jen kept telling me to be. My mother-in-law dropped the 5 of us runners off at the Metrodome on a chilly 39 degree morning (I was doing the 10 Mile with Matt, Nancy, and Megan, and Pharmie was doing the marathon - her 11th straight Twin Cities Marathon!!) I got in line for a pooper, took my second nervous doody of the morning, and did a little warm-up outside of the Dome. I ran into Kortney on the way to the start, and then Pharmie appeared near the starting line. I ran into Jill, Kerry, and my arch nemesis racing buddy Jenny Wilcox.

"Runners, on your marks..... GGGOOOOOOO!!"

We were off. I jumped around a few people that were in front of me who had no business being in front of me. I ran past Jenny and shouted a few words to her over my shoulder: "Have a great race, Jenny!" (I was NOT supposed to be "chatty" during this race, but I only said 4 more words over the next 10 miles.) She shouted back, "Go get em' Steve! SUB-60, BABY!!" I pumped my fist in the air and kept going.

When we were nearing the first mile marker, I figured it MIGHT be a little slow. I had to dodge a lot of people in the first 3 blocks, and after that, I didn't go TOO hard.

Mile 1: 6:10. "Keep those negative thoughts from brewing, and just pick up the pace over the next mile."

In fact, for my most recent "reason I'll go sub-60" as seen in my last post, I wrote this:

The race can begin too fast or too slow, but you know how to get it back in control. In your last half marathon, you started with a 5:44 mile, and that didn't ruin anything. If you start with a 5:40 or a 6:20, all is not lost. Work it out - you know you can. Mile by mile.

The problem with keeping a list of reasons why you'll do really well is that you CAN'T help but let sneaking thoughts into your head that are "reasons you'll crash and burn." Really. It took a lot to keep those ideas from taking over.

Mile 2: 5:36. "Wait, WHAT?!? Ease up a bit, big boy. There's a lot of race left!"

The next mile was a longer uphill followed by crossing the Mississippi. I told myself to throttle back a bit and not kill myself going up that hill. I "worked the hill," but didn't go nuts. My breathing was quickened by the top, and I used the bridge to calm it back down.

Mile 3: 5:41. This is where I started to believe.........

I had already built up a 33 second cushion (17:27 at mile 3), but I was smart enough to know that NOTHING'S a "gimme" at mile 3. Unless it's a 5K. Then, maybe. But not in a 10 mile. I did NOT think, "Oh, if you hold this, you'll go sub-58!" No, I knew better. But I DID like the little cushion I was building. I was running at a good clip, but my breathing was in control (something Jen and I worked on).

I came up to "The Wall" just before mile marker #4, and the guy with the microphone (someone I did NOT know), started shouting to the crowd: "...and here comes Steve Stenzel!! He's looking for sub-60 today! Go Steve!!" I was all smiles! Kris and Mark were there to cheer me on! This was the stretch that I ran a LOT on my training runs, and I think that helped. I really tried to keep the pace strong here, and knowing the terrain made that easier.

Mile 4: 5:52. "Holy hell. This might be possible yet...."

Coach Jen had told me that miles 1-4 were to to be run with "one gear left," miles 5-8 were to be "all out," and then just "hold on" for miles 9 and 10. I DIDN'T just suddenly up the pace. There were 2 decent little hills in the next mile, and I still wanted to keep it a LITTLE easy. Don't get me wrong - I was NOT running "easy," but I wasn't sprinting "balls to the wall" either. I was really pushing the line.

I made it up those 2 hills. (Well, up one bigger hill, down a bit, and then up a more gentle hill.) I was starting to feel nervous about my sub-60 goal.

Mile 5: 6:02. First 5 miles: 29:22. "OK, this is where it's going to get 'mental.' Push through this, Steve."

I ran up the short little hill that starts off the next mile. I uttered 2 of my 4 words that I mentioned at the start of the race: "Hey Terrence..." I saw Terrence up ahead with a camera. He grabbed a photo:

40 degree nipples and chest sweat
(and spilled water from aid stations...)

I made the 2 turns to Summit Ave, and I was looking straight down Summit for the final 4.5 miles. Summit is really familiar territory, so I felt at home.

Mile 6: 6:17. "Don't let TOO much of this time slip away!"

I was in pain. I had to look at my watch and TELL myself "Steve, you've got like 24 minutes of suffering to go. 'Man up' and just do this!" I was hurting. My breathing was still mostly pretty good - at times it would get a little fast, but then I focused on slowing it down a little.

I spoke my final 2 words during the race near Fairview Ave: "Hey Steve!..." I spotted swimming buddy Steve H. He cheered me on. Katie was just past him, and she smiled and waved. I forced a smile back. Later, her boyfriend said "Katie told me that you looked like you were hurting when she saw you...." It's true.

Mile 7: 6:10. "OK, it's getting a little too 'real.' Your cushion is down to 10 seconds. Get on it."

Bad news: I was hurting. Good news: I was still JUST ahead of my goal time. If I could keep it strong, I'd have it. And the worst of the hills were over! Now there were just a few small rollers left. But seeing a 6:17 and a 6:10 mile back-to-back made me a little nervous. So I focused on the "good." Honestly, I thought, "Oh, my elbows don't hurt. They feel nice. OK, good - I can do this." Really. That sounds dumb, but I just tried to find SOMETHING that didn't hurt and focus on how GOOD that felt. So my elbows it was.

I got a HUGE surprise in the next half mile. My swimming buddy Kathryn suddenly appeared shouting my name! She told her son to shout for me, and he let out the cutest "GO STEVE!" as I ran past! I HAD to smile! Here are some photos that she took:

Yes: calf-sleeves and arm-warmers with the yellow shorts.
It's an odd mix, I know. But it worked on this chilly morning.

Yep, that's a little above-the-crack swass

Notice in those photos that I was being passed. It happened a lot down Summit. I was slowing up while others were kicking. I was spent. I REALLY looked forward to seeing people I knew around mile 8, and then I just hoped that I had enough left in the tank for the last 2 miles. It was all mental. I kept saying "OK, 13:00. You can do this for 13 more minutes." I spotted Katherine on crutches cheering for me just before mile 8. Note to spectators: want to be spotted? Prop yourself up along the road with a crutch under each arm and cheer your heart out - the runners going by will NOT be able to miss you! ;) Thanks for the cheers, Katherine!

Mile 8: 5:46. "This hurts. 12 minutes. Come on."

I ran up to the next intersection to LOTS of cheers. Swimming buddy Julia (yes, that's 3 different "swimming buddies" I've mentioned!) was cheering with Jen. And I heard Sean (and possibly Chad) screaming for me from across the road. Julia put this photo on Facebook and labeled it "You were too fast for the iPhone!"

I ran the final little gut-buster of a hill leading up to mile marker #9. I was hashed.

Mile 9: 5:50. "33 second cushion. I think I've got this, but go. Just f*cking go."

I was ahead of my goal time. I'd have to run my slowest mile of the race on this downhill section to NOT hit my goal. But I really didn't know if I could do it. I wanted to stop and walk. I told myself to get to my family (around mile 9.55), and then I could walk down the hill for a minute if I needed to. I REALLY didn't know if I could make it. I was maxxed out and holding on for dear life.

(And this one house along Summit was BLARING "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" by Shaina Twain, and I wanted to punch that radio in the face.)

Nearing my family, I first heard Annie shouting for me. "Gooooo Steeeeeeeeeeeeeve!!" She had my camera and started snapping photos:

Last year, when I MAY have run the race too easy, I had lots of smiles and waves for them. This year, I just had a grimace as I tried to spot the finish line off in the distance:

Down the hill, slight curve to the left, under the
HUGE flag, and towards the finish just in front of the capital

I heard a HUGE cheering section for me to my right, but I didn't see who they were. I was too focused on the finish. I heard my name a few feet later, and saw it was Mark (and his daughter, Cassie) from the races that I've done. I booked it past them and towards the finish.

I was about to realize my goal.

And it hurt like a kick to the face.

Mile 10: 5:36. "Holy hell. How did I still have THAT left in me. We'll call that 'hill aided'."

Official Results:
Steve Stenzel, 29, St. Paul

59:05 total time
5:55 average pace

43 out of 7017 overall
43 out of 2706 males
18 out of 458 males in the M22-29 age group

(Unofficially: 29:22 first 5, 29:43 last 5)

I went through the finisher's chute, bumped into Todd, grabbed some salty nuts, and started walking back towards my family with my mylar blanket wrapped around me and my race t-shirt filled with food. Sure, I was a LITTLE bummed that I let so much of my initial "cushion" disappear in those middle miles, but I was happy with my 59:05.

Holy cats. Fifty-nine O five.

It wasn't until part way back up the hill towards my family that my time had fully sunk in. My eyes welled up a little, and I just cheered for other runners coming to the finish.....


Krista 7:32 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great job and great race report! Congrats on meeting your goal big time!! How long until you start thinking sub 59??

Marie-Claude 7:33 AM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations!! You did it!!

Nate,  7:34 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great job Steve, hope you enjoyed the salty nuts...

Unknown 7:35 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great report!! You looked strong anyways!! COngrats on your awesome finish!

Christi 7:40 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great job Steve! I was so excited to see your twitter announcement yesterday! And your report today was great!

jenez_world 7:41 AM, October 04, 2010  

that is just fantastic !! awesome effort. i am still trying to get over the shorts !!

Benjamin 7:41 AM, October 04, 2010  

Well done!

Next goal? ;)

Kitzzy 8:06 AM, October 04, 2010  

Yay! Go Steve! You are my hero! :)

Christopher Hawes 8:13 AM, October 04, 2010  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Hawes 8:14 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great race post and great job on meeting your goal. Congrats Steve

jen 8:14 AM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations Steve. What a perfect race for you. You worked so hard in training and you earned this success!!! Great race report. Congrats again. :)

The Boring Runner 8:23 AM, October 04, 2010  

GREAT race Steve!! Way to execute based on plan.

I especially like the "if coach jen doesn't kill me she'll make me stronger" tag.

BTW - Good lord....18th in the age group!? I'm 29 too and I can't WAIT to turn 30. Our age group is killer!

Thomas 8:42 AM, October 04, 2010  

"Goals are like a kick to to the face" - that is going up next to my bike trainer for the coming winter months. Way to reach and make it! Congrates!


Betsy 8:47 AM, October 04, 2010  

Ha! Did you see how CLOSE I was to predicting your time? I am like the nostradamus of race results.

BIG TIME congrats to you. You were trained and ready but even more importantly you executed! Huge physical and mental break through!!!

Diana Tries-A-Tri! 8:47 AM, October 04, 2010  

AMAZING WORK STEVE! Huge congrats!

kT 8:48 AM, October 04, 2010  

That was a great report--I felt like I was there with you, only without the actual suffering. It's amazing to me how good your form is in ALL the pictures--speaks well to your core strength. And finally, you really must have been beat to just leave that "salty nuts" reference as is.


Kurt 8:53 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great Job Steve. I feel like this should be a movie.

Unknown 8:57 AM, October 04, 2010  

Congrats! Good race recap - I love the mile-by-mile commentary.

Cap'n Tan Lines 8:59 AM, October 04, 2010  

Wow! You are one fast dude. Well done. Well done.

Audrey 9:03 AM, October 04, 2010  

I "like" this! Congratulations! I'm glad your elbows did so well!

Gabriel Losa 9:11 AM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations Steve!
I´m pretty happy for you!!!

Ange 9:21 AM, October 04, 2010  

completely impressive and inspiring.

Michelle 9:39 AM, October 04, 2010  


FANTASTIC!!!!!!! I had to FORCE myself to just keep reading, rather than skip to the bottom to see the results. What a great RR, and what a GREAT race!!! NICE job, man!!!!!

Kris 9:41 AM, October 04, 2010  

Congrats Steve!! We were talking to Bill Wenmark (ALARC founder and the guy on the microphone) about cheering for you going for sub-60 so he wanted us to point you out. Glad it gave you an extra boost :D Awesome run!!

GoBigGreen 9:46 AM, October 04, 2010  

Steve! you WERE in the pain locker at mile 8 I am so proud of you:) Yes!! Super job!

drdave 9:49 AM, October 04, 2010  


Loved the race report, riveting!

Jeff 9:54 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great job, man! Not sure about the "bumped into Todd and grabbed some salty nuts" bit, but great job! :)

rueschmike 10:03 AM, October 04, 2010  

Congrats on the new PR - looks like you caught the gentlemen that passed you in the Kathyrn's pictures as he appears to be the second runner behind you in Annie's pictures!!

Michelle 10:16 AM, October 04, 2010  

"my eyes welled up a little"....
Heck, I would have been bawling like a baby. I am SO PROUD of YOU! Yes!
But, seriously, we've got to get ride of those shorts!!
Celebrate! You deserve it!

Alili 10:29 AM, October 04, 2010  

You're a MACHINE! Nice work Steve. :)

Greenking17 "TRI-harder" 10:32 AM, October 04, 2010  

Steve, you are awesome! Loved reading this post...great job 'suffering' through the pain. taht is tough stuff my friend. Time to celebrate!

SteveQ 10:34 AM, October 04, 2010  

Way to go! I almost missed you as you went by (then I spotted those famous yellow shorts). You looked both focused and relaxed and I thought "He's got this, if he doesn't decide to snap photos the whole way." That last downhill sure helps, doesn't it?

Jennifer Harrison 10:53 AM, October 04, 2010  

I know I am the one who is supposed to say, "I knew you could do this, blah blah."
But at the end of the day - YOU did all the hard work - and were absolutely focused for 8 weeks.
You earned this PR - and of course it hurt - damn! Winning hurts, SS!

It was a pleasure working with you.
you will miss me.
I will miss you. (hee)

The door is always open.

REST UP and eat your junk food now.

And, not many things in sporting life are as good as:
Setting a goal and achieving a goal...while it is simple, it is a huge accomplishment.

So, enjoy this success! AND, again, congrats to you!

PS your form looks great for this race!

JP Severin 11:09 AM, October 04, 2010  

Wow. EPIC. Love your work. This RR choked me up. I am so happy for you. Way to go to the well. Inspiring stuff.

Spokane Al 11:38 AM, October 04, 2010  

Awesome Steve. And like JP - your report caused me to choke up a bit as well.

Nelson 11:47 AM, October 04, 2010  

Great job Steve, way to knock it out of the park...wait I think I'm mixing my sports up...but you know what I mean.

You're a true inspiration.

Bill 12:45 PM, October 04, 2010  

See Steve, you didn't need luck.

Well done! Revel in the knowledge that you did it!

teacherwoman 12:56 PM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations, Steve! Well deserved... well deserved!

Great race report.

He said "sweaty nuts". hehehehe

Alyssa 12:58 PM, October 04, 2010  

YES!!!!!! Awesome, Steve! Congrats!

Kim 1:02 PM, October 04, 2010  

wow steve, CONGRATULATIONS! so well deserved!

Unknown 3:02 PM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations!!! The way you wrote that report you had me thinking you didn't pull it off, but you killed it! So, back to cinnamon crap cereal? And "Chipotle". There. I said it.

B. Kramer 3:05 PM, October 04, 2010  

Totally fucking awesome. Great job. I love that moment when success sinks in. Cheers!

Jennifer 3:50 PM, October 04, 2010  

YAY!!!!!!! So happy for you!!

FinnyKnits 7:05 PM, October 04, 2010  

Hell Em Effin Yeah!

Great, great job and congrats on nailing down that PR.

Wes 7:17 PM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations Steve. I recognized those yellow shorts right away :-)

Unknown 7:50 PM, October 04, 2010  

Super Job, Super Steve!

"I...bumped into Todd, grabbed some salty nuts,..."

I am laughing too hard at that to really respond with anything more clever....

Robin 8:31 PM, October 04, 2010  

Congrats on reaching your goal! I just love reading a race report with a happy ending!

Michelle 8:34 PM, October 04, 2010  

Congratulations, it's been awesome following you as you trained and achieved this goal!!!

Julie 9:04 PM, October 04, 2010  

You are a freaking machine Steve! Way to go:)

Edwin 2:05 AM, October 05, 2010  

keep up the good looks splendid

Regina 6:52 AM, October 05, 2010  

Wow, wow, wow!! I felt like I was right there. I even felt your pain, oh wait, that was my sore legs from Sunday's HIM. I guess it helped make reading your race report feel all the more real, ha!

Congrats on reaching your goal and a PR I am sure? I know you worked REALLY hard for it. Now go and enjoy some of that crap cinnamon cereal as a reward!

Jumper 2.0 7:41 AM, October 05, 2010  

An awesome goal accomplished! I love the mile by mile commentary. I, personally, could never remember all that to comment on. Or at least not specifically.

What's next?

Now according to, you should be able to run a 2:45 marathon!!!! ;-)

I'm kidding. Now is the time to relax and bask.

Steve Stenzel 8:58 AM, October 05, 2010  


Core strength apparently equals good form! I've been working on my core, and lots of you commented on my form! Awesome!

"Salty nuts" was just something I was going to leave alone....

Krista, sub 59? I don't know... it's totally possible, but I don't know if I want to try that next year already.

Betsy, your predictions are AMAZING! It was running through my mind during the race. Really.

Jumper, don't even start...... ;)

Thanks again, everyone!

Ironman By Thirty 9:04 AM, October 05, 2010  

Way to go!!! I can't even imagine running sub-6's. I'm barely hitting 6:15 in a 5k let alone 10 miles...

Love the nice bike shorts tan line. It is really noticeable in one of the pictures. It really adds to the ensemble.

Anonymous,  10:09 AM, October 05, 2010  

Funny, I actually remember you at the finish line! I think you stick out in my mind because of the red shirt/yellow shorts. :) haha! Fantastic job on getting your goal time! Woohoo!

Chad 12:23 PM, October 05, 2010  

AWESOME job Steve!!!

In those 5 photos, you mentioned getting passed, however, if you go down 2 more photos, you're in front of that guy.

Julia 1:41 AM, October 06, 2010  

I see so many people talk about goals they want to accomplish, but in the end it's always a lot of blah blah blah talk. Then they start listing all the reasons that it didn't happen (and of course it's never ever their fault!). I love they way you defined your goal, decided what you needed to get you there and then just nailed it. Jen was lucky to work with you too!

Sara Cox Landolt 9:54 AM, October 06, 2010  

This was an incredible race report. It was SO fun to read. Wow, congratulations on your finish and breaking 60. What a gift!

Badgergirl 1:11 PM, October 06, 2010  

Loved the race report! Congrats on sub-60 Steve!

Jeri 1:56 PM, October 06, 2010  

congrats on a stellar race and some stellar man thigh. hah. I definitely didn't feel like walking, so that's a sure sign I wasn't working v. hard compared to you. :p Congrats again!

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