Pace Calculator Issues

>> Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This is not a rant. Repeat: this is NOT a rant. I don't get "fired up" about this, but it's just worth noting. And none of this is "ground-breaking" info - just my take on the topic.

Before the half marathon on Saturday, I was told by 2 people that I SHOULD be able to run a sub-1:20 half marathon based on my recent Meet of the Miles 1-mile time. And that's part of why Chad called me a sandbagger with my DREAM GOAL of a 1:25 finish. I hoped I could go 1:25, but sub-1:20 would have been impossible. But the numbers SAY I should be able to do that.

Here's what they're talking about: here are my equivalent race times from the McMillan Running Calculator that many of you are familiar with:

My 13.1 equivalent performance based on my 4:53 mile

The problem with that is that these predictions assume you've trained up for that distance in the same way you trained for the shorter run. Here's what it says on their site: "Do keep in mind that a 5K runner is unlikely to run the equivalent time in the marathon off of 5K training. The runner would obviously need to train for the marathon to accomplish this equivalent time." This is all obvious, but when I'm only putting in 20-25 miles / week (a lot of that in the past was pushing a stroller at Henry's pace), I can bust out a speedy 1 mile, but there's no way I can just say "Yep, now I should be able to run a 1:18 half." Also, if I trained the same way for the half as I did for the 1 mile, I'd get soooo injured soooo quickly. I cannot run as many miles as McMillan wants me to without getting hurt.

Just because I'm stupid, let's really test the McMillan Running Calculator. There are plenty of people on this planet right now that can run a 10-second 100 meters. According to McMillan, they'd SHATTER world records at the marathon distance if they "trained" for it:

A 1:54 MARATHON time for those that can do a 10 sec 100. Yeah, no prob.

Sure, that's a little "out there" of an example. But what about using Ryan Hall as an example. In April of 2011, Hall ran the Boston Marathon in 2:04:58. Then, in May, he came to town to run the TC 1 Mile. Here I am with Ryan and Sara Hall a few hours before the race:

The pace calculator said that he should be able to run a 3:42 mile based on his recent marathon time:

But Hall ran a disappointing 4:17.2 (and finished last place in the elite wave). That's a big difference.

And this highlights my issue.

Ryan Hall is "distance" trained, and he couldn't pull that speed out of his legs on his distance training.

I have a bit more "speed," but I don't have the endurance, so I can't run the longer races as fast as this calculator says I "should" be able to. I simply don't put in the miles. (Oh, and I'm NOT saying I have more speed than Hall... I just might have more "speed vs endurance" whereas Hall has more "endurance vs speed" based on our own abilities.)

I started this post by saying "this is not a rant" (even though I'm using the "rant" label at the bottom of this post), and what I mean is that I'm never really annoyed when people think I can run something at a certain pace because this calculator says I should be able to. It IS a good thing to look at when comparing the difference in some races. I use it quite often.

But the more miles between the comparison, the farther off it can be. You could get a good sense of your 5K time based on a 1 mile race (that's over 3x the distance, but it's only about 2 miles more). Same with comparing a 5K to get an anticipated 10K finish (2x the distance, and only 3.1 miles more). But a half marathon to a marathon is quite a jump - that's SUBSTANTIALLY different training that McMillan is asking you to do in order to hit their predicted time.

That's not all bad. And it's kinda obvious. But if you're just comparing possible race outcomes without MAJORLY changing your training, then it won't give you 100% accurate answers. And that's kinda where I fall. I didn't change many workouts going into the 1 mile race, and I just made sure to get in some long runs before my half marathon. All the "middle stuff" was about the same.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I talk to Coach Jen about some of these issues in this post from Sept of 2010. Here's just part of that post:

Here are some other numbers to back up my points. Below are 3 screenshots from the McMillan Running Calculator. They show my estimated times based on my back-to-back-to-back races this past spring: a 5K, a 4 mile, and a half marathon:

Estimates based on my 17:11 5K

Estimates based on my 22:42 4 mile

Estimates based on my 1:22:52 half marathon

Notice: My 5K time says that I could do a half marathon in 1:19:26, but that’s WAY FASTER than I could do.

On the flip-side, my half marathon time says that I should do a 5K in 17:56, but that’s WAY SLOWER than I just did.

I can go shorter and harder, but when I go longer, I end up easing back a little. (And I know, the McMillan Running Calculator is NOT an exact science. I HAVE heard things about needing to run a ton of miles to be able to hit your predicted McMillan times.)

BUT, for what it's worth, notice that the difference in a predicted marathon time between those 3 screenshots is just over 7 minutes... 7 minutes isn't THAT big of a difference in a marathon. At least I don't think so. I'd LOVE to have any of those times in a marathon!

And to make one more point in DEFENSE of the pace calculator: note the different 10-mile times it gave me above based on my 3 races: 59:49, 1:00:24, and 1:02:24. Those 3 races were in the spring of 2010, and I ran my best TC 10 Mile in the fall of 2010. I've been saying that I'm faster at the shorter races, so my 10-mile time SHOULD be somewhere between my 4-mile prediction of 1:00:24 and my half marathon prediction of 1:02:24. But being I worked with Coach Jen for 2 months leading up to the 2010 TC 10 Mile, she actually got me to put in the "distance specific" training where I was able to do a 59:05. So... I guess if you train for it like McMillan says... you CAN hit their predictions.

It's just that I so rarely train so specifically for 1 race. I guess that's my problem. :)

Any thoughts on working with a pace calculator?


The 2012 Securian Run Half Marathon

>> Monday, January 30, 2012

Saturday was the Securian Run Half Marathon (the 2nd race in the MDRA Grand Prix series that I signed up to race this year). Pharmie signed up to do the 10K, and Henry was going to go hang out with Auntie Steph and Uncle Jon.

I got our bottles ready early in the morning:

Yes, mine's the pink stuff. Shut it.

That's my "Roctane Drink" in my "Jen Harrison" bottle, and Nuun in Pharmie's QR CD0.1 bottle. Oh, and speaking of "Roctane Drink"... there'll be a giveaway of that in the next few weeks, along with some sweet shades...

Anyway, Pharmie and I got to the race and started taking off our winter jackets to leave in the car. Two nice folks (named Amanda and Jeremy) popped out of the car next to us in the ramp and said "Hey, we didn't know we be parking next to YOU! We follow your blog!" We chatted for a moment, and Amanda took a pre-race photo for us:

Yep! Rockin' the "Tutti Frutti" shorts for the race!

We ran into SOOOOO many other local "race buddies" as we walked around pre-race! I almost don't want to start listing off who we ran into because I'm sure I'd accidently miss 1 or 2 people! I warmed-up a bit (on a 21 degree and slightly breezy morning), and I found some porta-potties being set up for the Winter Carnival parade. Sweet! There were 50+ porta potties, and not a line in sight! I peed, and headed back to the starting line.

I bumped into LOTS of people I knew at the starting line, but I chatted with JMatt and Tom the most. If you're a local, you may have seen JMatt before. He races in a FULL SUIT sometimes. Here he is a few years ago finishing the TC Marathon in his suit:

And here's a photo that has both Tom and JMatt in it:

Tom with the shaved head, JMatt to the right, and... is that...
2x IM World Champ Macca in the middle?!? Why yes. Yes it is.

Their race plan? Start off around 6:45 - 7:00 / mile pace, and pick it up near the middle. That was pretty much my race plan, so I was going to stick with them!

"On your marks..... GO!!"

Off we went. We headed up the long, gentle hill along the river. JMatt looked at his Garmin near the end of the first mile and said to Tom, "Ok... NOW we're down to 6:45 pace..." We started a little strong and hit mile 1 in 6:38. We turned to head around Rice Park where the Winter Carnival takes place. We immediately saw fireworks and heard big booms! Everyone cheered! Unfortunately, they fired the fireworks again when we were less than 100 feet away from them, and JMatt and I nearly died from the BOOM! We hit mile 2 in 6:39 and got down to the river.

Photo from last year's race report when I ran with my camera
(it was sunnier this year)

We were chatting with each other and other runners now-and-then. We ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:02 and 7:03. I had hoped to keep all my miles under 7, but that wasn't bad. I have to admit... I WAS thinking about trying to up the pace. But I didn't know what I could do being I've been running less lately, and I didn't want to "blow up" before the end. Luckily, miles 5 and 6 were faster: 6:39 and 6:45.

We had been running out INTO the wind since mile 2. And there was a pack of runners forming behind us. In fact, the 1:30 pace group had fallen-in right on our heels. We were the "wind breakers" for everyone! JMatt joked that we needed to start a paceline and everyone needed to take their turn in the front.

A bit later, JMatt asked me "Steve, how are you feeling? You're our barometer here!" I smirked and said, "I'm OK... But I'm starting to think 'stupid' thoughts..." I think JMatt knew what I meant - I was thinking of speeding up a little. He said "Oh, I LIKE 'stupid thoughts...' Ha!"

During all of his, Henry was having a good time with Auntie Steph and Uncle Jon:

Henry feeling his cousin kicking in Steph's tummy (she's due in April)

Cheesy dudes!! :) Thanks for taking care of him Steph and Jon!

Anyway, back to the race...

JMatt and I (and maybe Tom, but I couldn't tell) took a gel around mile 6. After getting that down, we had a final long gentle-ish uphill to tackle before the turn-around. (It was partway up that hill that we got incorrectly turned around last year at this race making it only 11.6 miles. I was chatting with some folks near that point, and when I asked Kirt how he was doing, he said "Horrible! Where's the early turn-around this year?!" Ha!) I was going to work up that hill a bit. I slowly pulled to the lead of our pack, and slowly started to up the pace. We hit mile 7 in 6:45. I thought that was pretty good considering that long hill. Shortly after, we rounded the cone at the turn-around. That's when I started hammering. I found another gear. We were now running WITH the wind, and it felt like I had no wind-resistance at all; I was running the same speed as the wind. I was going to make this next mile FAST. I was pulling away from the pack I was leading. At mile 6, I was 1:48 behind my "best of all possible races" goal pace (which would have me finishing in 1:25:13, or 6:30 / mile average). I lost a little ground with my 6:45 mile 7, but I WAS going to take a bite out of that over this next downhill mile!

Sure enough, mile 8 clocked in at 6:08. "NICE!" But that good feeling didn't last long. Mile 9 was 6:48. "What? I didn't slow up THAT much!" I was a little disappointed, but I felt better as soon as I hit mile 10 in 5:43! So mile 9 was long, and mile 10 was short! (That's happened a lot at this race - the mile markers can be a little inconsistent.) If I was running 6:30s (my AMAZING race goal time), I would have been at 1:05:00 at mile 10. Well, I was only 1:14 behind that pace!

Side note on my "race:" Before the race, Michael told me that him and I were "called out" on Chad's blog. Both Michael and I blogged that we'd like to be around 1:28 with 1:25 being our "great day" goal. Chad called us sand baggers and said "I'm betting they'll both break 1:25." (The 3 of us all raced together at the Meet of the Miles.) But during the race, the BIGGER STORY FOR ME was that Michael and I were both doing the "Grand Prix" series. So the more people I beat in the Grand Prix, the better my scoring would be. At the turn-around, Michael was about 2-3 blocks in front of me. I tried to keep him in sight, but I was NOT gaining much on him. For the final 5 miles, I made him my rabbit.

Mile 11 was downhill, and it was fast too: 5:56! But after that mile, we leveled out and I was hurting. I was depressed that there were still 2 miles left. I gained a LITTLE on Michael, but not much. And I was pooped. I knew my next mile could be a bit slower.

Another photo from last year's race report,
in the middle of the "lonely stretch" before downtown.

Sure enough, mile 12 was 6:13 - still a good pace, but maybe not a pace that would let me catch Michael. The great news was that I KNEW I was going to "winter half marathon PR," and I was only 24 seconds behind my CRAZY goal of 1:25:13 (6:30/mile ave). For a moment, I thought I MIGHT even be able to break 1:25!!.....

.... until THAT hill.

There's this killer 1-block hill that runners have to climb to get back up into downtown with about a mile left. I was TRUDGING up that hill thinking "Nope... not going to BREAK 1:25... but there's Michael at the top! Still go for him!" I was now under a block behind Michael! (But yeah, I know... if I was about 2-3 blocks back at mile 7, and now under a block behind him at mile 12.3, I'm running out of time to pass him.) Rounding the second-to-last corner by the Farmer's Market, I was just over a half block back.

I pushed and pushed, and TRIED to catch Michael. But I couldn't get him. He got me by 9 seconds. Nine. Freakin'. Seconds. I did the final 1.1 miles (including that hill) in 6:58 (6:20 pace).


Steve Stenzel, #1215, 30, M, St. Paul
6:30.99 / mile pace
21 out of 830 overall
5 out of ?? in the 30-34 age group

5 race notes:

• It was a "winter half marathon" PR by nearly 3 minutes! I ran a 1:28:05 about 3 years ago in Rochester, and I WOULD have ran a very similar time to this 1:25:22 last year if the race hadn't been cut short. So officially, it's a "winter half marathon" PR by nearly 3 minutes! (My actual half marathon PR is 1:22.)

Guess what Michael's finishing time was. Just guess. Yep, Michael finished in E.X.A.C.T.L.Y. my "dream time" of 1:25:13. What are the odds?!? I would have LOVED to have made up those 9 seconds, but I'm super happy with how I did. Michael told me after the race that he knew "me and my 4:53 miler legs" were coming for him, so he knew HE had to work! I love that we worked off each other! He was surprised I got THAT close to him, and told me I must have had a KILLER second half. Which brings me to my next point....

The race wasn't a TRUE out-and-back, but doing some math based on my mile splits, I figured out just how much I negative split the race. I ran the first half in 44:31 (or 6:47 / mile), and I ran the second half in 40:51 (or 6:14 / mile). That's a pretty extreme negative spilt. And I KNOW the second half was so fast partly due to trying to catch Michael! (Along with the wind at my back.) So thanks for the pull, Michael!

I counted my foot-strikes twice throughout the race: once around mile 3-4, and once near mile 7 at the turn-around. Both times, I had 183-184 foot-strikes / minute, which is actually slightly on the high side. I used to be around 165 which was leading to some heel-striking issues, and 180 is ideal. So this was just fine; I wasn't over-striding in this race.

Shortly after I finished, JMatt came through the finishing chute. And Tom wasn't far behind him! (JMatt was within a minute of me, and Tom was within a minute of him!) I think we were all happy with the times we were able to throw down! Nice running with you guys!

I found Pharmie and she was happy with her 10K finish! She finished in 55:50 (9:00 / mile), which was good for 131st out of 358 overall! (Check out her blog for her race report.) We ran back to the car (freezing cold because we were covered in sweat but were no longer hot) and drove to pick up Henry. He had a good morning with Steph and Jon. He zonked out on the way back home:

Once we got home, I "refueled" with some amazing new technology..... technology that pumps the crust full of cheese:

I'll post race photos (of me in the "tutti frutti" shorts running with JMatt and Tom) when they come in! Thanks for reading!

Oh, and if you haven't entered the Gu and Pearl Izumi giveaway yet, click here to enter! I'll be picking 2 winners mid-week!

- CLICK HERE for my 2011 Securian Run Half Marathon Video.
- CLICK HERE for my 2011 Securian Run Half Marathon Race Report.
- CLICK HERE for my 2010 Securian Run Half Marathon Video.


RACE DAY!! (And New Year's Cards)

>> Saturday, January 28, 2012

I've set this post to publish while we are getting ready to start today's race. I'm using this as a final reminder to myself:

- Start conservative and build if you can. Don't be stupid right away.

- Try to keep them all under 7 / mile, but be ready (and OK) with anything.

- 6:30 / mile puts you at 1:25:xx, and that'd be SUPER! Start slower than that and see if you can build to faster than that during the latter part of the race. (Hopefully it's not slick and windy... that'd take it's toll.)

- Check your footstrikes a few times throughout the race to take your mind off the "hurt" of racing. You've done a decent job over the last 9 months at bringing your footstrikes up from 165ish to 180ish. See if you can keep that up to avoid too much heel-striking throughout the race.

- Remember, just HAVE FUN! Your "A" race this year is competing in the entire MDRA Grand Prix series... NOT just this one race.

At last year's race (where I did the half and Pharmie did the 10K just like we're doing today) is where we announced that Pharmie was pregnant:

Pharmie coming to the finish with her "Henry bump!"

And since I'm showing off old photos, I just put together our last 5 year of New Year's Cards. Check these out for a bit of a trip down memory lane:

2008: that's my first 70.3 and 140.6 on the right. (Click the photo for a larger version)

2009: the year of "Steve's Ass" being prominently displayed on our New Years Card.
(Click on the photo for a larger version)

2010. (Click the photo for a larger version)


2012. (Click the photo for a larger version)

Of the 23 photos in our past 5 years of cards, 5 didn't contain photos of Pharmie or I (they were "cats" or "Henry and cats" photos). Of the remaining 18, HALF (9) were at races and 4 more were during some sort of training session. Awesome.

Back with a race report soon!! Have a great weekend!


Friday Funny 276: Nice Abs

>> Friday, January 27, 2012

Oh wait....

Pharmie and I are heading off to the Securian Winter Run tomorrow! I'm racing the half marathon, and Pharmie's doing the 10K! Keep an eye on my Twitter page and my TwitPics page (both are also embedded on the right side of my blog), because I'll maybe send out a pic before and after the race.

Oh, and I hope to race with the "Tutti Frutti" shorts on the outside of my tights, so if you're down there for the race, you'll be able to spot me:


Friday Funny 275: Sexy and I Know It

If you're a "regular" here, you've seen this video. It's my 2 brothers-in-law and myself cheering for the TC Marathon in farm animal costumes while dancing to "Sexy and I Know It" after the 3 of us had just finished the TC 10 Mile:

Direct link:

Well, there are a lot of spoof videos to this song. Here's a pretty "clean" one from Elmo called "Elmo and I Know It:"

Direct link:

"Uh-huh... I make art!" Nice. Love it.

And here's a slightly dirty one (really no dirtier than the original) called "Gassy and I'm Bloated." This could possibly be labeled as "genius." Really.

Direct link:

(You might need to log in to YouTube/Google/Blogger to be able to view this last one due to possible age-restrictions put on this video.)

What a great way to start the weekend... :)


Friday Funny 274: Baby Bjorn

Sure... I do PLENTY of things with little Henry in our "Baby Bjorn," but THIS is a bit too much...

And on that note, here are some safe baby handling tips:


'Sh*t Triathletes Say' & My Half Marathon Plan

>> Thursday, January 26, 2012

I've probably said about 1/4 of these. This is great:

Direct link:

Let's talk strategy for the half marathon this weekend. Here are some POSSIBLE splits:


6:19 / mile pace = 1:22:48 (my current 13.1 PR)
6:30 / mile pace = 1:25:13 (what I'd be THRILLED with)
6:43 / mile pace = 1:28:03 (my current "winter" 13.1 PR)
6:52 / mile pace = 1:30:01 (what I REALLY hope to break)

So I hope to go out "easyish" around 1:30:00 pace. Then I should be able to pick it up near the middle and work my way down. Running 6:30 / mile pace would land a GREAT finishing time, and I really don't think I can quite hit that. But, throughout the race, I'll probably note how "far back" from that I am - it's easy to do the math and say something like "Every 2 miles should be another 13 minutes, so at mile 8 I should be at 52 minutes. Well, I'm at 54 minutes, so I'm 2 minutes off my 'thrilled' goal right now."

If you remember, I got in some good long runs through December and early January, but I haven't done much of anything in the last 2 weeks. So I'm not sure that I'll have a good "feel" for what pace I'm supposed to be running. I'll try to watch my splits and keep it around where I HOPE to finish. Last year, I kept all my splits under 7, and I'd like to do that again (if possible).

In the end, I really just want to have a FUN race and not put too much pressure on myself. As he said in the video above: "I have a race this weekend, but it's just a 'B' race." :) Ha! And Pharmie's racing the 10K at the same race, so we'll both be out there together!! Go Pharmie!!

Oh, and little Henry got his first haircut on Tuesday night. He was a CHAMP!

If you haven't done so, make sure to enter yesterday's giveaway!! Thanks everyone!

p.s. I think I'll wear the "Tutti-Frutti" shorts over my tights for the race. Snazzy! :)


An "Island Paradise" Giveaway!

>> Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yeah. That's right. Steve in a Speedo can send you on an island adventure.

Wait, no I can't. I definitely can NOT. Nope. Can't. Sorry.

Here's what I CAN do. I can make you THINK you're on an island adventure.

Mid to late January is the most depressing time of year. I hear a "report" about that on the news every year: something about Christmas being over, holiday bills coming due, spring still being a long ways off, blah, blah, blah.

So how about 20 "Island Nectar" Gu Roctane gels?

It will let you dream of warm, sandy beaches with it's tropical flavor.

And just in case you're like me and stuck someplace cold, how about a BRIGHT Pearl Izumi Thermal Run Hat to "brighten" your winter mood?

These Thermal Run Hats are made with fast drying, odor absorbing P.R.O. Thermal fabric with Minerale (unreal technology that makes garments and gear incredibly more breathable). They come in black, red, white and screaming yellow. The winner here will get "Screaming Yellow" since it's UBER bright and actually useful for these winter months when it's darker and you need more bright pieces to be seen.

The winner of this giveaway will get 20 Island Nectar Gu Roctane Gels and one Pearl Izumi "Screaming Yellow" Thermal Run Hat:


*said in my best "infomercial" voice*

The people at Gu and Pearl Izumi have TWO sets of gels and hats to giveaway!

I'll give one set to a random commenter on this blog post, and I'll give another set out to those "social" folks hooked up in all kinds of social media. If you "like" Gu and Pearl Izumi on Facebook, and then send out this tweet...

Island getaway? Nope. How about some great tropical @GUEnergyLabs and some @pearlizumikody gear from @SteveinaSpeedo?!

... you'll then be in the running to win ANOTHER set of GUs and a hat. I'll pick a winner from those that sent out this tweet.

So that's 20 Island Nectar Gu Roctane Gels and a great Pearl Izumi hat for a commenter on my blog...

... and ANOTHER 20 Island Nectar Gu Roctane Gels and a great Pearl Izumi hat for someone who "likes" Gu and Pearl Izumi on Facebook and sends out that tweet!

Quick side note on this Gu Roctane.... Roctane is my gel of choice for hard workouts and racing. I mentioned all my details on that in my race day nutrition post. I'll have 2 Gu Roctanes on me for my half marathon this weekend.

*Gulp* THIS. Weekend...... Crap.

OK, comment NOW (on this post) to be entered to win, and LIKE Gu and Pearl Izumi on Facebook and send out that tweet to be entered AGAIN (if you'd like)!! (Your blog comment can be anything - if you comment "Unicorns are just Horny Horses," you're entered!) I'll pick 2 winners in about a week - sometime around Wednesday, February 1st. Check back to see if you've won! Thanks for entering everyone! And thanks to Pearl Izumi and Gu for the sweet gear!!


Don't Be That Awkward Runner

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2012

OK, OK, OK.... I've been saying there will be a giveaway this week for about a week now. I'm being held up on the other end. Sorry for the delay. I'm going to stop saying "there's a giveaway coming SOON" and just wait until I can say "there's a giveaway NOW!" But there isn't a giveaway right now, so I can't say that just yet. Sorry for being a douche.

To apologize, here's a video of awkward running strides. Don't be one of these guys:

Direct link:, sent to me by Kelly Z.

I think I can be a little "dandy" at times, and at the end of a longer race, I think I've moved a little like "stiffy" before. Hey, it happens.

Back soon with some goals for this weekend's HALF MARATHON!


Race Week! Half Marathon This Weekend!

>> Monday, January 23, 2012

The second race in the MDRA Grand Prix is this upcoming weekend. I had some great long runs over the past month (including a confidence-boosting long run 9 days ago), but I haven't done much since, and that has zapped any confidence built from those recent long runs. I'll just ease into the race this weekend and see what I can do.

Last Tuesday, Pharmie and I headed to the Metrodome for some intervals. We brought Henry again, and he hung out with one of us as the other ran hard:

Blogger buddy Steve Q was finishing up his run when we got there, so he hung out with Henry too:

I love their matching smirks! ;)

Here was my workout:
(remember, the Dome is about 600 meters around)

- 2 lap WU: 2:52, 2:55

- 10:19 stretching while Sarah did 2 laps.

3 x 1800:
- 2:03, 2:04, 2:03 = 6:10
- 3:11 rest
- 2:05, 2:04, 2:01 = 6:10
- 2:54 rest
- 2:04, 2:06, 2:00 = 6:10

- 4:51 rest
- 2:46 easyish 1-lap CD

Talk about consistent!! Each 1800 was 6:10 on the nose, and that equals about 5:29 / mile pace. AND that was 12 seconds faster (on average) than when I did a similar workout 2 weeks before!

Henry with Pharmie after she finished her intervals!

So Saturday is the half marathon! I'm still HOPING to set a "WINTER half marathon PR" of sub-1:28. I think I'll start out around 1:30 pace (6:51 / mile), and hope I can drop in with a negative split. Who knows. We'll see.

Oh, and here are 2 bonus Henry photos from this weekend. Pharmie had to work, so Hank and I hung out together all weekend long. Saturday was DEFINITELY a "sweatpants" kind-of-day for BOTH Henry and me:

And here's Henry sitting on the kitchen floor as I put the finishing touches on a pot roast I was making:

Race this weekend!! Back with my "Securian Run" half marathon report in a week!

Giveaway in a day or 2! There's some sweet stuff hopefully coming your way to help cure you of the "winter blahs" shortly.... so check back for that!


Can You and 2 Speedy Friends Beat a Pro Triathlete?

>> Sunday, January 22, 2012

I LOVE this idea that Gear West Bike and Tri is promoting (and hosting). It's a simple "contest" that goes something like this:

1. Sign up to race a triathlon as a relay with 2 friends.

2. Finish that race in a time that is better than Gear West's "in house" pro triathlete David Thompson (DKT).

3. Win swag.

DKT on GWB&Ts blog

Here's some info from Gear West's blog:

Simply register your relay team to compete against David Thompson on the same course at the same time. All you need to do is have a relay team with a faster official finishing time than David’s finishing time and your team will win the following items:

1. 1 Blue Seventy PZ3TX Swim Skin or Reaction John Wetsuit.
2. 1 Pair of Continental GP4000 Tires or a Giro Savant Helmet.
3. 1 Pair of Run Shoes valued up to $100 at Gear West Ski and Run store.
4. Free entry into the same event the following year for your team or one team member.

Matt contacted me and said: "I would like to say team Happy Pants has a shot....... but I am also realistic." I feel the same way. A quick look at the numbers will tell you that DKT is MUCH more amazing than Team Happy Pants. At the 2010 Gear West Duathlon (where DKT and Team Happy Pants both raced), DKT posted a 17:10 first run, a 26.4 mph bike average, and a 16:30 final run. Team Happy Pants turned in a 18:53 first run, a 23.3 mph bike average, and a 16:53 final run. (I was proud to have the 3rd fastest final run, only behind DKT and Patrick Parish.) We finished 7 minutes behind DKT! (And the race only took about 75 minutes, so a 10% difference is pretty big!)

You maybe haven't heard of pro triathlete DKT, but he's no slouch. He finished FIRST in the Rev3 series in 2010, and had a great year last year. At Hy-Vee 5150 Championship Triathlon in Iowa this past summer, the 3 people who finished just BEHIND him were Matty Reed, Chris McCormack, and Andy Potts. Yeah... you've probably heard of THEM.

Click here for details on this "Beat DKT" idea. And sign up if you can find some speedy friends.
Click here for DKT's blog.
Click here for an article about DKT finishing Rev3 Cedar Point and winning the series.
Click here for a slideshow of DKT at Rev3 Cedar Point.
Click here for a story about his "secret food" that he used at his first Iron Distance race... it's interesting...

Back with a GIVEAWAY in the next day or 2 (hopefully...)!!!


Winter FINALLY Came to MN

>> Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thursday, we woke up to temps that were 10 to 15 degrees BELOW zero here in Minnesota. Add in the wind, and the windchill was 20 to 45 below zero!!....

And this guy (Justin Schuetz) decided to take his beard for an epic bike ride:


(The icy beard makes him look really old, but I'd guess he's around my age from the non-icy photos I've seen.)


Friday Funny 273: Bill Gates is Coming On To You

>> Friday, January 20, 2012

On a totally unrelated topic... if you haven't seen yesterday's post about life-long exercise, click here (or scroll down) to check it out.

There's a GIVEAWAY coming sometime next week! Check back for that!


Friday Funny 272: It's Best To Just Fit In

I imagine it to be like this every time I "manscape."


Friday Funny 271: You Can Do It!


Reason #2,682 To Be a Triathlete

>> Thursday, January 19, 2012

(The first 2,681 reasons have to do with semi-legitimate reasons for men to shave different parts of their body. But you already knew that.)

This image speaks for itself:

This image is part of an article that Laura McIntyre (a physiotherapist and 2:52 marathoner) recently wrote about. She noted that "20 weeks of resistance training in older adults can result in a 1 kg increase in lean body mass. This is in contrast to a 0.18 kg annual decline that often occurs with a sedentary lifestyle beyond 50 years of age."

Here's more of what Laura has to say:

Lifelong intense activity is encouraged. A Canadian study looked at highly trained lifelong (30+ years) runners and compared them to healthy recreationally active young and age-matched controls. They looked at the number of motor units which consist of one nerve together with all the muscle fibers it stimulates. Normally the number of motor units gradually declines with age. The masters runners had a greater number of motor units compared to their age-matched controls and a similar number compared to the young. The authors concluded that lifelong high-intensity physical activity has the potential to limit the loss of motor units associated with natural aging well into the 7th decade of life.

Older athletes are pushing the limits of what was previously thought impossible. At this years Scotiabank Toronto marathon 100 year old Fauja Singh finished the marathon and 80 year old Ed Whitlock finished in an astonishing 3:15. For most sports there is a well-maintained but declining sports performance well into the 60’s years of age. Rowing has shown well-maintained performances into the 70’s.

The view that at an advanced age, load-bearing intensity should be reduced in order to avoid injuries and chronic overuse is widespread and not supported by recent evidence. Healthy aging adults should be capable of safe participation. The risk of side effects is very low if the dose is adapted to the client. However, adults who are pregnant, frail, have a disability or a medical condition should consult a health professional to understand the types or amounts of physical activity appropriate for them based on their exercise capacity and specific health risks or limitations.

As is generally accepted for novice trainers of any age, resistance exercises should initially include a period of low volume and low intensity before gradually progressing over time. Once familiar with resistance exercises a classic training program consists of 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions at an intensity of 70 to 80% of a maximum lift where the maximum lift can be assumed. A selection of 8 to 10 exercises performed on 2 non-consecutive days per week is recommended. Optimal training in older adults is fundamentally similar to optimal training in younger adults.

Older adults may need more recovery days and reduced frequency of either high volume or high intensity training. Cross training might be particularly useful for the recovery days.

Lifelong exercise has many benefits. Get out there and enjoy your training.

Actually, that's the majority of what she had to say... I wanted to quote almost all of it. For more on this (including references), go to Laura McIntyre's article here.

Now, as she says, get out there and enjoy your training!


Me? A Calendar Fold-Out Model?

>> Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Close, but not quite.

In my last post, I noted that Matt, Henry, and I made a quick run out to Gear West Bike and Tri on Saturday. While we were there, we picked up the new "Gear West Midwest Multisport Calendar" with Dan Hedgecock all over the cover:

You may recognize Dan from my "Kitten Mile" a few months ago:

Wow. That photo. Too many stories.


As Matt, Henry, and I were heading home, Matt was flipping through the calendar. "Ha! You're in here!..." Matt said. Just inside, there was a list of Multisport Resources, and I was the 4th from the top!!

It says:

Steve in a Speedo -
Steve Stenzel's blog gives a unique take on racing and training. He has a huge following because of the way he makes us all relate to his perspective on what we all do as endurance athletes. Perfect for when you want to look at the lighter side of racing.

I had no idea they were putting that in there! Thanks for the kind words, Gear West B&T!! And I find it really funny / odd that I'm 4th from the top - ahead of DKT (their great in-house pro-triathlete), Slow Twitch, USA Triathlon, and! Ha!

Further inside the calendar are photos of lots of people I know. There are 4 I want to show. First, here's Claire Bootsma:

She can be seen in that "kitten mile" photo above, and she also whipped my butt at the Waseca Sprint Triathlon this past year:

Kortney Haag has a great spread in the calendar:

You might remember Kortney from my Gear West Duathlon Race Report, or from my post of some of the super muddy photos that showed up after the muddy race. Kortney lost her shoe during that race:

(Oh, and we still have an empty container that Kortney brought over [along with her boys] for Pharmie and I just after Henry was born - it was filled with a delicious quinoa and chicken dish! We'll get back that to you sometime, Kortney...)

I didn't see Tracie Kent much this past year, but she's in the calendar:

Here she is about to take 3rd in the Chisago Lakes Triathlon in 2010 (where we were cheering on Matt at his first tri):

Finally, speedy Chad Millner was also featured in the calendar:

Here we are in an awkward awesome photo from "MN Tri Night" about a year ago:

Is it awkward that his wife took this photo? Maybe...

IDEA FOR 2013: Maybe I should put together a calendar of awkward photos of all of my speedy acquaintances. Sort of an "uncool" version of Gear West's calendar. Or... if I still want my "racing buddies" to talk to me... maybe I shouldn't...

Oh, and there's a GIVEAWAY coming next week! Check back for that!



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