Cinco 'Du' Mayo Duathlon Race Report

>> Monday, May 07, 2012

Or, "I Thought Big Guys Weren't Supposed to Be Able to Run Fast!"

Or, "How Long Can I Hold Them Off?!?"

Pharmie had to work this weekend, so I got the car packed Saturday morning with Henry in the Baby Bjorn:

So unimpressed.

Then I took him to the sitters, and I headed off to the race. I ran into a lot of old "race buddies," and quickly got set up in transition.

4th "nervous poop" of the morning... but who's counting...

Old HS buddy Tim!

Lisa, who's all dressed up to volunteer
AND who took the majority of the following photos for me! Thanks Lisa!!

First off were the LONG COURSE athletes doing a 5K run, 20 mile bike, and 5K run:

Lots of familiar faces in the front in this photo: Diane, Omar, Charlie, Dan, Sam, and Chad.

Heading out of the park.

I warmed up a bit with Nordica (one of Henry's flirty ladies) and we checked out the course. We were doing the SPRINT COURSE which was a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, and 2 mile run. The runs were the same out-and-back that went like this: up a hill, down a hill, turn around, up a hill, down a hill. As I was waiting for the race to start, I was full of nervous energy. I tweeted this:

And the next 4 photos that Lisa took show my nervousness:

Nervous energy - pacing with a cheesy grin.

Nervous energy - awkwardly playing with my hands in front of strangers.

Nervous energy - dancing??... I don't know WTF I'm doing here.

Nervous energy - even my tongue was nervous.

"5... 4... 3... 2... 1... GO!!!"

That's Nordica in the red, white, and blue shoes to the left.


I was right up there, and I ran side-by-side with these 2 strangers:

NOTE THOSE 2 STRANGERS!! I'll be talking about the "tall guy" (#240) and the "guy in black" (#222) a bit later. We ran out of the park, and twitter peep Kyleen grabbed a photo:

I jumped in behind "guy in black" who was behind "tall guy." I quickly got around "guy in black" to move into second. My next thought was "Dang - guys THAT tall with THAT broad of shoulders are usually NOT fast runners, but they can usually KILL it on the bike. I'm doomed."

I was right on "tall guy's" tail as we crested the hill at the half mile mark. He really didn't seem to use the downhill too well, so I started "striding it out" and worked my way past him (saying "good morning" on the way past). I had just taken my first lead ever in a duathlon!!

We rounded the cone at the turn-around (at 5:45 - right where I wanted to be!), and I nearly laughed out loud! (I believe the kids say that as "LOL" these days.) There was a classically trained guitarist serenading us from the ditch!

Seriously. Awesome.

I said HI to lots of my "race buddies" on the way back towards transition. Lots of complete strangers were happy to see "the guy in the shorts" currently in the lead, and they'd shout things like "IT MUST BE THE SHORTS!" and "NICE JOB, MR. PINK SHORTS!" I loved it. :)

Nearing transition, a stranger (who I'd talk with later and learn his name was Craig) snapped a GREAT photo of me and shouted "it's for your blog!" as I ran past. Check out this beautiful image:

Majestically and gracefully flying (with "tall guy" in second behind me).

Kyleen got another photo of me that looks equally effortless and smooth:

Ready to turn into the park.

I hit the edge of the park, and Lisa saw me coming:

Off in the distance.

I didn't realize I had THAT much of a lead - there's no one visible behind me yet.


I threw on my bike shoes and fumbled with my new aero helmet strap. I ran out of transition still in first place. And it's obvious from the photos that I haven't worn my new aero helmet before… it seems to really sit on top of my head too much. I need to adjust it. See:

Mounting my bike.

Awkward helmet… but LOOK at the focused look on my face!!

Heading out of the park to start my ride.


Turning out of the park (from Kyleen)

The thought HAD entered my head: "Steve, hold off some of these bikers, and you MIGHT be able to win your first duathon!! I wasn't counting on anything (especially with my "0 miles biked" in April), but I was really going to TRY to hold off the bikers!

Well, "tall guy" came flying past me near the top of a hill around mile 1 or so. I tried to keep him in my sights, but soon he was gone. I was being passed by a lot of people, and it wasn't until about half way through that I realized some of them were "long course" athletes doing their second lap of the course - they had started 35 minutes before us "short course" athletes. So even though I'd been counting those who passed (I think I was up to about 8), I don't know how many of them were racing me or how many were in the long course race!

I was ready for some rolling hills on the bike. But everyone after the race was saying "Wow… that was a little more challenging than I thought it was going to be!" It ate me up. I tried to keep the effort level pretty high throughout. I was really "spending" my legs. I was just looking forward to some decent downhills coming back into the park.

I looked at my computer each quarter of the bike portion, and here's what my overall average was at those miles:

- Mile 2.5: 19.1 mph
- Mile 5.0: 19.5 mph
- Mile 7.5: 20.2 mph
- Mile 10.0: 20.0 mph

As I entered the park, I saw "guy in black" running up the hill out of transition. "He's got a solid lead, but I HAVE to gun for him!!!"

I NEED TO ADMIT SOMETHING HERE THAT I'M NOT TOO PROUD OF. But it's the truth, and being I tend to share EVERYTHING (note porta-potty picture above where I stated it was my 4th poop of the day), I should mention this. Many times in multi-sport races, I'm well behind the elite athletes, but I'm ahead of the "middle-of-the-pack" athletes. I usually finish in a bit of an alone area with few people around. I end up finishing HARD, but not always "all out." Going "all out" would not gain me any more places, and now that I'm getting older, it helps keep me from getting injured. So, honestly, when I'm finishing a multi-sport race and no one is around, it's not uncommon for me to go about 98% - it's HARD, but not "everything I have."

Well, at this race, I was going to give 110% and try to win this damn thing! I didn't want to give 98% just to wonder what might have been. I wanted to go out and give EVERYTHING and see what happened! I hope this "98% vs 110%" stuff makes sense - I think I'm describing as well as I can. So I was ready to go NUTS on the final run!!

Down into the park.

Getting ready to dismount.


Jerry MacNeil was shouting over the loudspeaker: "There's Steve Stenzel in the lead of the sprint race! Can he hold on for his first win?!?" I yelled over to Jerry: "There's at least 1 guy in front of me!"

And you can tell I meant business about giving 110% by my T2 time! I'm NOT a fast transitioner!! For proof, let me offer my IM WI transition times: I spent about 20 minutes in transition, and I was fine with that! Looking through the results of this race, I had the 4th fastest T2 time!! Yep, I was NOT going down without a fight!!

Leaving T2 with some competition right on my tail.

Clawing at a cup of water…

The volunteer handing me the water is TOTALLY checking out my ass. Totally.


It was time to REALLY go hard to catch that guy in front of me! I ran up the little hill out of the park with heavy legs:

Once I got out of the park and around the corner, I saw the "guy in black" about 3 blocks ahead of me. I was running hard, and I was running out of air! My legs were heavy, but I was able to make them move. The biggest issue was that I couldn't catch my breath! I just tried to run as hard as I could while consciously trying to breathe.

I was gaining on him fast!!! Only 2 runners were running back towards me (heading to the finish), and they were "long course" athletes. "I'm GOING to catch this guy, and then can I hold on TO WIN MY FIRST DUATHLON?!?!?!?"


I had forgotten ALL about "tall guy."

Suddenly I saw "tall guy" heading back towards me from the turn-around, and I was still a minute or more from the turn-around cone when I met him. So he had a 2-3 minute lead on me with a mile left. "Let's see… he was on my tail for the first run, so I'd probably only have to run about a 3:30 mile to take the win. Whatever. I can do that." Yeah. Right.

So I was bummed that I wasn't going to win, but I was STILL about to catch "guy in black" to move into 2nd, and that's still BY FAR the best I've EVER done in a duathlon! So you're NOT going to hear me complain! I hit the turn-around in 5:54, and passed "guy in black" shortly after. "Nice running" he said enthusiastically as I passed.

"Tall guy" didn't seem THAT far up the hill, so I thought he was maybe bonking. I did NOT let up! I was still giving 110% thinking that I still had a chance at winning. (And I wanted to make sure I held off "guy in black" and anyone else just behind me coming out of T2.) But when I got to the top of the hill with about a half mile left, "tall guy" was no where to be found. He was well on his way to a victory. But I fought him with all I had.

Oh what's that? You want PROOF that I was giving 110%? Well here you go. Remember that photo from Craig where I was leading at the end of the FIRST run? It was this one where I looked "majestic and graceful:"

Floating. Fast. Sensual. Pink. Plaid. Perfect.

Well Craig snapped another photo from the same spot on the second run where I was giving it my all. Now I looked like this:

Ahhhhh!! Kill it with fire!!!!!!

I hit the park and headed into the finish:

Coming into the park.

Looking fast.

Looking about 10 years older than I really am. And I think that's a Mexican Borat behind me….

A final photo from Kyleen just after Lisa (volunteer and picture-taker) gave me a big hug!!!


Steve Stenzel, #299, 31, M, St Paul

- 2 MILE RUN: 11:31 (5:46 / mile and 1st fastest run)
- T1: 0:38 (T for 8th fastest)
- 10 MILE BIKE: 30:57 (19.4 mph and 5th fastest bike)
- T2: 0:28 (4th fastest)
11:36 (5:48 / mile and 1st fastest run)

55:08 total
2nd out of 139 overall
2nd out of 15 in 30-39 M age group


- Fast runs: I had the first fastest run by 19 seconds, and the second fastest run by 48 seconds.

- Pretty even splits: I had noted in my pre-race post that I had hoped to pretty evenly-split the runs. Well I NAILED the first run with 5:45 and 5:45 mile splits (11:31 official)!! And I did pretty well in the second run with 5:54 and 5:40 mile splits (11:36 official) - the first mile was slower as it usually is for me when my legs still feel so heavy.

- OK bike: Fifth fastest bike split is pretty good, so I'll take it. Guess who had the fourth fastest bike? Racing buddy Nordica out-biked me! Nice job, Nordica! AND she finished as the first female in 4th place OVERALL!

- Safely in 2nd: I had no real shot at first - "tall guy" finished over 2 minutes in front of me. But I had no danger of being passed back and losing a spot - "guy in black" was 60 seconds behind me.

- Second overall IN A SMALL RACE: All of the real speedsters did the long course, and it was a small race. So I know I'm not some sort of "duathlon god" for placing 2nd. But I'm still proud of it! :)

I chatted with LOTS of friends post race, and I stopped to congratulate Dan and Sam who finished first and second in the long course race:

Then I grabbed Tim and Omar and we did a nice cool-down together:

Cows on our cool-down.

I told Tim and Omar that this one would be called "Athletic Asses and Cows."

I got back to the park and had to get going to pick up Henry. So I missed out on the TACO FEED after this race!! This smelled SOOO good as I walked away:

So that's how I finished my best duathlon ever. I'll have more photos in the next day or two.

In the meantime, if you want to see more photos from the race, check out my Examiner article (with slideshow) about the race, and "like" the St. Paul Triathlon Examiner on Facebook.

Happy Monday!!


Travis 7:48 AM, May 07, 2012  

I've always said winning a race comes down to a strategic moment where you totally decide to push above and beyond what you are capable of. Every single win I've had comes down to one definite "move" that happens during the race. (Haven't had too many, but a good handful)

No doubt in my mind that you will snag that ellusive "W" some day (in the not too distant future) because you have the mental attitude and ability to get it done.

I totally understood the 98% vs 110% part of that and it was WELL written (and documented in photos) Good work this weekend, keep plugging away and it will come. No doubt

The Triathlon Rx 7:58 AM, May 07, 2012  

You SKIPPED the taco feed?? I believe that's where kids now say, "WTF?!" Next time call me, and I will babysit at the race. In exchange for a chicken taco. :)

Awesome kick and placement PR!

TriMOEngr 8:29 AM, May 07, 2012  

Fantastic race! I did my first du in early April and it was a small race that was fun even if I was a long way from a podium (it is a bit demoralizing when they are handing out the trophies while you are still trying to finish the course).

HairbyJenniferC 9:15 AM, May 07, 2012  

My adrenaline was pumping just reading this! Congrats on the awesome race!

Ann 2:27 PM, May 07, 2012  

Like I said on The Twitters, I 100% believe you did so well from your strategic pre-race pooping. The #4, #2 helped you secure the #2 spot. Also - you are SO SPEEDY, I can't even believe it.

Congrats on a well-deserved 2nd-place finish!! :)

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