Get in Gear 10K Race Report

>> Monday, April 30, 2012

I can't believe this was only my SECOND EVER 10K! I've done a lot of Olympic Distance Triathlons that end with a 10K run, but I've only done 1 other "stand alone" 10K.

It was going to be a cold, damp, and windy day, so I packed all different kinds of shirts. The only thing that was certain is that I was wearing my calf sleeves (which help my weak Achilles AND they keep me warm) and my new "Pinky and the Brain" shorts. Henry rubbed my shorts for good luck before I left the house:

I drove to NEAR the race site. I parked across the Mississippi River from the race, and then I jogged a mile across the river to get my packet. I also sent out the following tweet and picture:

No joke... I'm live-tweeting from inside of one of these...

It was true. I actually pooped and felt the "blue liquid" splash back against my butt cheeks. Super. I now have some sort of anal disease, I'm sure. But instead of being upset about that, I smiled for a pre-race porta-potty picture:

I snapped a quick photo of the finish line being cranked up as I headed back to my car to drop off the rest of my gear:

I walked and ran back to my car as my face was being pelted with sleet. Yep, the rain had turned to sleet. But that was just fine with me: sleet doesn't get you as wet as rain! And I love these cooler temps (lower 40s), so all was right in my world... as long as it didn't start raining TOO much.

I decided what to wear, put on my race number, peed a little into my Jen Harrison water bottle (What?... I had to go!), grabbed some "throw away gloves," and jogged BACK across the river to the race. So all-in-all, I had 3 miles of warming up, so THAT was good!

I popped in line about 20 feet back from the starting line behind LOTS of speedy "crazies!" The 10K had over 3,600 runners, and the half marathon (starting along with the 10K runners) had over 1,200 runners, so there were about 5,000 of us lined up!


My goal was to take off easy, but not TOO easy. The first thing I had to do was shoot around a number of 60 year old women who apparently lined up right at the starting line who had no business being up that far (I accidentally nearly ran one lady right over!). I felt like I was doing a good job with my pace. I came across the first mile marker and checked the time...

MILE 1: 5:56. "Good! My first 10K was at 5:55 pace, so this is GREAT right now!"

It was just lightly raining / sleeting, and the race felt good so far. I was really "running the tangents" as REAL runners say. I really know those roads along the river, so I hit the angles well. I realized around mile 1.5 that I was slowly passing a few people - it wasn't that I was any faster than them, I was just running better lines.

Mile 2 had a nice "usable" downhill, so I was hoping for a decent time. I was still keeping it a BIT easy, but I was working a little too.

MILE 2: 5:59. "Still good. A bit slower than I had hoped... but still good."

The next mile had us turn and cross the river, and this was the only real stretch that was into the wind. I tucked in behind a guy in orange and had him break the wind for me. I felt like the pace was a little too easy, but I was just trying to conserve a little energy into the 15 mph wind high up on that bridge.

I was looking for Pharmie and Henry across the bridge. I knew that if it wasn't too cold and wet, Pharmie was going to go out for a run with Henry and plan it so that they could see me on the far side of the bridge. Part way across the bridge, I spotted Henry in the Baby Bjorn that Pharmie was wearing! She snapped a photo of me:

I had just passed the woman in yellow and the man in orange
(who was breaking the wind for me most of the way across the bridge)

I ran past with a big smile as Henry was transfixed on me (or my shorts), and I yelled "HI HENRY!!!!"

It was such a fun boost to see those 2!! Later, I apologized to Pharmie for not saying hi to her, but she didn't even remember that. :)

MILE 3: 6:12. "Damn. WAY too slow. Up the pace now!"

FIRST 5K: 18:47. "Had hoped to be more in the mid-to-lower 18s, but just go harder now!"

I worked up the steepest hill on the course, and then back down the other side. I tried to really keep a solid pace.

MILE 4: 6:00. "Come on... suffer a little and go faster!"

The road was starting to get a little slick from the rain and sleet, but I just tried to keep to my tangents. I was a tangent running mo-fo.

MILE 5: 5:46. (overall time: 29:56) "Yes!! I think you saved too much in the first half, so USE THAT ALL NOW!!!"

I was going back and forth with an Asian man in orange (seen in the foreground in front of me in that first photo of me crossing the bridge), and he said "go get em" when I passed him for about the 3rd time. I said "back and forth... keep after me" as I pulled away. I worked my way up the hill to the Ford Bridge back to the park. The wind was at our backs now for the final stretch across the bridge, and I tried to use it. The bridge was a little slick, but I was flying. I shot past a few other runners.

Just across the bridge... really hurting... but not looking TOO bad.

When I was part way across the bridge, I noticed someone that looked like Scott a few blocks ahead. Scott was the "Grand Prix" racer who JUST beat me at the last Grand Prix race (as I recently showed here). There was NO WAY I was going to catch him before the finish, but I just ran with everything I had. He ended up finishing 30 seconds in front of me.

MILE 6: 5:42. "Good. Now just this little uphill to the finish. Wait... UPHILL?!? F*ck."

I had NO ONE in front of me, but I was still pushing the pace. With about 10 seconds left, someone went FLYING past me! That NEVER happens that late in a race, but he totally got me!! I heard his name called over the loud speaker, and it was Ryun Hess. That was the same guy who passed me in the closing seconds of the Free to Run 4 Mile in 2009! He got me again! Here's Ryun on the left and me on the right half way into that race:

Anyway, he congratulated me after we had finished, and asked if I remembered him. I said "Yeah, and you got me at the line the last time we raced too!" He apologized, and we both laughed as I said "No, don't apologize! It's a RACE! Ha!"

My watch read 36:46, and that was my EXACT 10K PR from 2.5 years ago! I'd have to wait for the official results to see if I PRed or PWed.

It turns out, I PWed.

Official Results:
STEVE STENZEL, Age: 31, Residence: ST PAUL, MN
5:55.18 pace
86th out of 3,654 overall
12 out of 233 in the 30-34 age group

Mile 4 to the finish:

Here's a photo from racing buddy Willie that shows her heading to the finish (she wasn't that far behind me, so I'm up there somewhere past the finish line):


- I got a LOT of "I LOVE YOUR SHORTS!" from the spectators as I ran by! Sometimes, I'd pump my fist and they'd cheer again. One (frisky) middle-aged-woman gave me a cat-call. I'll take it. :) People liked the shorts! And I did too!

- 10Ks freaking hurt. One-mile races and 5Ks get the suffering over with pretty quick. Ten miles and half marathons you can "settle in to." But a 10K hurts. I kinda like it. :)

- I MAYBE saved too much in the first half of the race, but I was pretty happy with how I everything worked out.

- I had a SOLID negative split! (Maybe because of my previous point....) I did the first 5K in 18:47, and the second 5K in 18:00! And the second 5K has more hills!

- The "blue liquid splash-back" from the porta-potty didn't seem to give me any sort of anal disfunction. So that's good. But it didn't burn off any unwanted body hair either, so that's bad. :)

I got back to my car, put on some dry and warm clothes, and got home quickly. Pharmie and Henry were still gone! They were having a good long run together! Here's a photo that Pharmie snapped once she got Henry all loaded back into the stroller after watching runners go by for 30 minutes:

A few minutes down the trail, and he was passed out:

I snapped a photo of Henry and Pharmie getting home JUST as Henry was waking up from an hour+ nap:

Pharmie was wet; Henry was cozy, warm, and dry.

I grabbed the little dude, and he congratulated me on a solid race:

Back with the official photos and the "Grand Prix" standings once they come in.

If you want to see more of the photos that Pharmie took at mile 2.5, check out the slideshow in this article.


Jeremy Reichenberger 7:21 AM, April 30, 2012  

I found I hated and loved this race for the same reason: too many people. Since I'm injured I thought I'd stay away from the front of the starting line (I didn't want to be in the way.)I got stuck behind 1000 people, so I spent at least the first mile just weaving around and getting stuck behind slow folks - so that really killed my time. I think my first mile was 8 minutes?

However, I did like the feeling of passing tons of people - and the race didn't hurt that bad (besides my left leg/knee issues) because I didn't get to go as hard as I could have because of my injury and all the people in the way distracted me.

Another reason why it was a great race: they gave away free ice cream. I'm a sucker for ice cream.

Good race Steve! Bummer I didn't run into you! Maybe I'll see you at the next one! Hopefully I'll be fixed by then and can ACTUALLY race. :)

The Triathlon Rx 7:33 AM, April 30, 2012  

If there's some secret to finding that perfect balance of going out hard enough/saving enough for the finishing kick... well, whoever got it is doing a good job of keeping it a secret! The elusive mystery that leaves all of us wondering "could I have gone harder??"


Annnyways. I think that's a mighty solid race my friend!! This is a race full of "big timers" ... and I think you're officially in that category!

TriMOEngr 8:18 AM, April 30, 2012  

I will never cease to be amazed at people who can run a 10K in nearly the time I run a 5K. Awesome race! Great pics as always.

gfreerunner 8:39 AM, April 30, 2012  

Nice recap and congrats on an awesome race!

kT 9:21 AM, April 30, 2012  

Great race--that is a pretty legit time for a PW! And did you really say "have him break the wind for me?"

Merrilee 7:59 PM, April 30, 2012  

I subscribed for the race commentary, but I stay subscribed for the porta-potty pics. And Henry, dang he's cute!

Steve Stenzel 7:05 AM, May 01, 2012  

Thanks everyone! The Triathlon Rx, I don't think I'm up with the big timers yet, but maybe someday! :)

Willie 8:55 AM, May 02, 2012  

2nd 10K ever? nicely done! I clearly remember in the first mile seeing you and thinking, "Yes he wore the plaid! and dang he's taking off fast" Good for you! I'm working on the speed/endurance combo but I'm coming along.

Cheers to a good Grand Prix year!

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