Falls Duathlon Race Report

>> Monday, May 02, 2011

Or, "The Face-Off with the Former Gymnast"

Or, "Well, at least it's not as WINDY as last year..."

Before leaving home for the race, I put a "Toe Cap" on my sore toe. I've found these things REALLY help with toes that are beat-up from rubbing on socks / shoes:

Matt, Pharmie, and I hit the road in the rain. On our way down to Cannon Falls, it would POUR, then let up a little, then POUR again, then let up a little, etc. When we were pulling into town, the rain had pretty much stopped. But then it started up again. Boo.

We bumped into old and new friends right away. Ross and I like to get there early for prime pickings in transition:

Ross's red bike and my lovely Goldilocks

Customary pre-race porta-potty shot

Matt trying to stay dry on a chilly, rainy, windy day

Julie and I pre-race

If you remember my post from Wednesday, Julie and I decided to have a friendly duel at this race. I passed her last year at this race just 200-300 meters before the finishline, and she was going to try to hold me off this year! I LOVE races like this!!

We all stood up under the City Pool overhang to try to stay dry as transition was filling up. Here was our view back down to transition:

Awkward photo of me stretching next to Ross
(I look like I belong in a musical...)

Matt in a WET transition area as Ross and I did a quick ride to test our bikes
(my running shoes sitting there were already soaked through)

Me, Ross, and bro-in-law Matt just before heading to the starting line

Side note: if Ross looks familiar to you, it's because you have a great memory. You saw him last September in my Mosquito Man race report. He was the one in the photo from the start where I said: "Note the guy with the monster stride right next to me - he won the race." Here's that photo, and I think we're both wearing NEARLY the same outfits for this race:

Damn it - that sun SURE looks nice after the wet race we had on Saturday..... ;)

I shook Matt's hand and wished him luck. He told Julie not to beat me too bad because he didn't want to hear me whine all the way home. ;) Chad Millner (last years winner) rubbed my bright shorts at the starting line for good luck. I hope that becomes a new tradition. Just no rubbing in the front, folks. Keep it PG.

Race director Mark B sounded the bullhorn, and we were off!!

Chad, Mike (who I had just met), me, Dan, Ross, and Mario


I was pretty quickly back in about 12th place. I slowly worked my way up. After about a half a mile, I was just in front of Mario, and I was in 6th place. I felt like I was WORKING. My goal for the day was to go hard the whole time, and not worry about my perceived "lack of endurance" coming off my injury. I was just going to GO. I found myself breathing pretty hard, and getting a little concerned if I was going too fast. I didn't worry about it, and just held the pace.

I was right behind this TALL man, and he had a MONSTER stride (the guy to the far right in the photo above). When you're running very close to someone, it seems to be instinct to try to MATCH their stride. That was not the best for me. Remember my PT advice regarding shortening my stride? I tried to ignore his slow foot strikes and keep my own feet speedy. It was hard.

Nearing the end of the run, I was getting a little warm. Someone passed me, but then I kept up with him, and Mario and I passed the guy with the mammoth stride. Here we are heading into T1:

Mammoth-strider we just passed (#8), Mario, me, and the guy who just passed us all


I caught Ross in T1. Here I am putting on my helmet as he's getting ready to make like a baby and "head out:"

Running across the wet gravel out of T1

FLYING START!! F*ck yeah.

I'm not that coordinated. I really don't do flying starts. Pharmie asked after the race if I had planned on doing a flying start. I told her that the thought came to me JUST as I was running out of T1, and I actually nailed it! Yes!

Julie was right on my tail:

And Matt was just behind her:

Matt throwing on his bike shoes....

.... and getting ready to ride!


It wasn't until a few minutes into the bike that I realized I never looked at my watch after the run. Quickly doing the math, I realized my run wasn't too bad (which was good, because I FELT like I was working!). The ride wasn't too windy. We had a cross-wind for the start, and it slowly became a bit of a tail wind. The roads were wet, but not slick.

I cheered for the other bikers when I saw them coming back at me. I counted that I was in about 15th place at the turn-around. I only got caught by 2 more people after that, so that was GREAT for me! Here were my averages 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and at the end of the bike:

- 20.6 mph at mile 3.5
- 21.8 mph at mile 7 (turn-around)
- 20.4 mph at mile 10.5
- 20.0 mph nearing mile 14 (near transition)

THE SCARIEST PART OF THE BIKE WAS WHEN I MET A SEMI!! I saw the semi coming at me on the other side of the road, but there was MORE than a whole lane between us, and I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. Well it WAS a big deal, and the blast of wind nearly rocked me off my bike! The water it was kicking up felt like a shotgun blast to the face. I DRASTICALLY swerved and nearly lost it. When I met another semi a few miles later, I got up into my hoods, really braced myself, and I took it much better.

While I was still out there, Ross came in off the bike in 3rd, and he was making the strangest face in the photo that Pharmie took:

Matt never caught me on the bike (he DIDN'T last year, but he DID 2 years ago). Last year, Julie caught me just after the turn-around. Around mile 12 of the 14 mile ride, I was starting to feel my lack of endurance, but I also realized that I hadn't been passed by Julie yet!!! I could possibly WIN this battle!!

Nearing transition, I STILL hadn't seen Julie, and I was afraid that she had wiped-out or flatted. So I glanced back. "Oh, I see a red jersey back there." So I glanced back again:

"Yep! That's Julie!!"


Running back across the wet gravel with a big ole mooseknuckle:

If you ever needed proof that I'm a "friendly" competitor, here's a photo of Julie coming into T2, and I'm putting down my helmet while looking up and smiling and saying "GO JULIE!!" You can see "JU" on my lips in the photo:

Julie smiled big and said "Nice ride, Steve!!" "You too, Julie!" And then, with heavy legs, I started running out of T2 while adjusting my number:

Julie and I hit the final run within 10 seconds of each other:

Matt got in from the ride and hit transition:


"Holy hell, my legs feel heavy." I know, I know... that's the nature of multi-sport. But I just felt heavy and slow. I just needed to keep moving forward and not get too depressed at potentially slow mile splits.

It took a few blocks before I could even see someone in front of me. And that was a good sign - now I had someone to chase. I only passed 1 guy in that first mile. And in that first mile, I met the top 3 guys headed back to the finish. Chad Millner was really helped by the "good luck" rub of my shorts because he took some time off his course record from last year!!! And Ross was running in 3rd!

Chad about to take the win!

Ross heading in for 3rd place!

So I passed 1 runner in the first mile, and saw that I was coming up on a pack of 3 runners near the turn-around. The leader of that pack was #8: the same guy with that monster stride from the first run! He was the one I was after. (Not that I had anything against him - he was just far enough up there that I THOUGHT he'd be a good "rabbit" to go for.)

My first mile was 6:19 and I was OK with that. (Last year, my slowest mile was 5:59.) I only passed a few more people in that second mile, which was 6:07. And I was still moving OK. I met Matt, and we exchanged pleasantries. I was getting HOT on the run. At the turn-around, I poured water on my head and down my back. I kept trying to unzip my shirt even more, but it was as open as it went.

I saw #8 in front of me, and I was BARELY closing. As we hit the edge of the trees (with about 100-150 meters left), I PASSED #8!! I was working hard, and I had gotten him! Here we are about to turn into the chute:

I think he's smiling at my shorts

Giving it my all around the final turn

#8 giving chase

Normally, when you pass someone with 100 meters left, that person says passed. Well, not #8. I could tell by the crowd's reaction that he was REALLY giving chase, but I was doing all I could. Here you see how close I am to the finish, and how far he is behind me:

He's closing!...

Those monster strides gaining on me!

He powered back out of NO WHERE! That finish looks CLOSE, but it went to him. HE GOT ME. Do you know why? Because of the ankle that we had our timing chips on. Looking closely at those last 2 photos, you see that his "chipped ankle" hit the line while my "chipped ankle" was in the air:

Well, I was still pretty happy that I was able to close with a 5:50 final mile.


#163 - Steve Stenzel, 30, M, St. Paul
2 mile run: 11:27 (5:44 pace), 6th overall
T1: 0:42
14 mile bike: 41:49 (20.1 pace), 24th overall
T2: 0:41
3 mile run: 18:19 (6:07 pace), 7th overall
1:12:56 total

12th out of 131 overall
4th out of 13 in the 30-34 age group

First run PR by 4 seconds.
Bike PR by over 1:00.
Second run PW (personal worst) by a few seconds.
Overall PR at this race by 18 seconds over the last 3 years!

I took off my chip, and Pharmie got an epic shot of the amazing shorts:

Julie came to the line just over 2 minutes after me, so I had gotten her in our little duel!

Thanks for the race, Julie!!

Matt and Jared (from GW) emerged from the trees together.

Awesome. Matching post-race butt shots. We put the "ASS" in "FantASStic race!"

It hadn't rained much DURING the race. There were a few drops on the bike (along with a TON of road-spray), and just a few drops on the second run. Things started to dry up a bit by the end of the race. But Matt and I (and every other competitor there) were SOAKED through. So we quickly changed back at the car. Here I am all cold and wet changing out of my race gear:

And here's Matt putting on some sweet, sweet undies after changing behind a towel:

We stuck around for awards (we were 4th and 5th in our age groups, so we didn't win anything) and for prize drawings (again, no luck), grabbed a hot dog and some Goldfish crackers, and finally hit the road back to St. Paul.

Julie, Matt, and my lovely Pharmie post-race

CLICK HERE for my Examiner article about the race, along with more photos not seen here.

Thanks everyone!


Mario 8:56 AM, May 02, 2011  

Great recap and photo's. Cool shots of the photo finish with the timing-chip placement! As for the photo of the shorts, no comment. It was a tough day out there, but still fun. And thanks for posting photo's at FB--since I was tagged, I borrowed some for my blog, but I did link your blog as a "Thank You" for the pulling in run 1 :)

Anonymous,  9:24 AM, May 02, 2011  

I love the picture of you stretching and holding the umbrella!!
Nice race!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman 9:54 AM, May 02, 2011  

Awesome recap! And congrats!!

As always, love the shorts!

B. Kramer 10:13 AM, May 02, 2011  

Sorry you got re-passed, but those are great shots of the finish. Next time, two timing chips! Cheers!

SteveQ 10:31 AM, May 02, 2011  

Interesting finish! Perhaps you should carry your chip in your hand and throw it across the finish from 10-20 yards out (and, yes, I've considered doing just that to get a PR).

Rachel 11:59 AM, May 02, 2011  

Great race, and fun pics! I hate running in the rain and the damp, so you're my hero. For now.

Evan Roberts 2:55 PM, May 02, 2011  

hard to tell from the rear, but it looks like by the conventional torso on the tape measure you would have won. you were cheated! :)

Anonymous,  3:20 PM, May 02, 2011  

Please tell us that #8 with the big stride who chased you down wasn't 3rd in the 30-34 age group??

Michelle 7:09 PM, May 02, 2011  

Lovely! Tell Pharmie she doesn't even look pregnant! Nice shorts. All around a fabulous report!

Jeff 9:00 PM, May 02, 2011  

Nice recap! This was my first real race and I experienced the exact same 'semi blow' you wrote about. Just about knocked me off the bike. Glad to hear it wasn't just me!

ALB Tri Me 9:33 PM, May 02, 2011  

Love the race report Steve. Congrats on the PR and the race altogether!

Pretend this is real 8:16 AM, May 03, 2011  

Great race! Bummer about the finish, but hopefully next time the scales will balance out in your favor.

Iron Girl Nyhus 1:19 PM, May 03, 2011  

I was laughing so hard at some of your photo descriptions that I spit all over my computer screen :)

Anonymous,  4:44 PM, May 03, 2011  

Great race report, Steve! It was nice to meet my "blogging hero." :)

Anonymous,  4:45 PM, May 03, 2011  

Great race report, Steve! It was nice to meet my "blogging hero." :)

Jay 10:12 AM, May 04, 2011  

"make like a baby and head out"

chocked full of lol

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