City of Lakes 25K Race Report

>> Monday, September 10, 2012

Pharmie worked this past weekend, so a new sitter stopped by at 6:30 yesterday morning to watch Henry. He's had a little fever that we thought was from teething (but later found out it was a little bug), so he hasn't been his normal self for the last 2 days. We both hoped he'd do OK with the sitter.

I only got to the race about an hour early, but runners are more laid back than triathletes (or so I've witnessed). Here's the empty starting line of a race with 700+ runners just an hour pre-race:

The sun coming up over Lake Harriet. Bea-u-ti-ful morning!


Back in the car, ready to unleash my "Pinky and the Brain" shorts.

I ran into a bunch of "race buddies," and there were a few new blog friends that introduced themselves. I ran into Nathan C who was doing the "Grand Prix" series as well, and we were hoping to start out together. We were both hoping to go out around 6:30 pace and go from there.

There was confusion at the start. Someone shouted GO, and the people in front didn't hear it. So someone else (maybe a runner) shouted GO about 5 seconds later, and off we went.

Nathan and I were side-by-side, and soon we had caught up to Amy (who also was planning on going out around 6:30 pace). I introduced those 2, and the 3 of us ran together and chatted until around the 2nd mile marker.

• MILE 1: 6:16.2.
• MILE 2: 6:23.7. "Those were both a bit faster than my 6:30 goal, but not so fast that I'm concerned."

Obviously, I wasn't thinking "Oh great - SUPER FAST RACE, here I come!" This distance intimidated me, and I wanted to keep it easier in the early parts of this race so I'd be able to finish without a major bonk later on.

• MILE 3: 6:23.9.
• UNOFFICIAL 5K SPLIT: 19:50. "Well, if we're running five 5Ks, then if I keep them all at 20:00, I'd finish with my GREAT goal of 1:40:00!"

I had let Nathan and Amy go around mile 2, but I sort of "found my groove" and caught back up to them in the 4th mile. But shortly after turning off of Lake Street, they started pulling away again. "Nope, let them go Steve. Run your OWN race - you don't want to go too hard here..."

• MILE 4: 6:22.8.
• MILE 5: 6:25.5. "Solid splits! The last 4 miles have been within 3 seconds of each other!"

It felt good knowing we "just" had 10 miles left. (25K is 15.5 miles.) I was feeling alright. My feet hurt a bit, I had the SLIGHTEST side-stitch forming, and my quads were a little tired, but I had to tell myself that THIS is was "good" felt like. "Keep it steady."

• MILE 6: 6:24.2.
• UNOFFICIAL 10K SPLIT: 39:53. "Still on pace for 1:40! CAN YOU HOLD THIS?!?"
• MILE 7: 6:29.3.

My splits had been slowing a little, but I still felt great about my time. I was hoping to be able to hit 6:30s, and I was holding splits faster than that so far!

I glanced at my Garmin at the half-way point of the race (around mile 7.75), and I think it read 49:53. That put me just a FEW seconds ahead of my "best day" goal of sub-1:40:00. But I was slowing up.

I had to have a "talk" with myself here. I was starting to hurt, and I was afraid I'd be slowing up. (I didn't think I'd BONK, but I WAS slowing down.) I had to say "Steve, your on pace right now to hit your BEST DAY goal of sub-1:40:00. WHAT IF you slow down? WHAT IF it starts to hurt and you finish in something like 1:43. That's still not bad for your first 25K! You had hoped to break 1:45! Suck it up, don't be hard on yourself, stay mentally strong, and just do what you can!"

• MILE 8: 6:30.0.
• MILE 9: 6:33.9.
• UNOFFICIAL 15K SPLIT: 1:00:02. "TWO seconds over your BEST DAY GOAL! Don't let these miles slip away here, and you still have a shot at 1:40!"

Mile 8 was my slowest mile, and then mile 9 was slower. But that included the climb between the lakes. We were now on our final lap around the lakes, and I wanted to GO! The race was 2.5 loops around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, and now I just needed to do 1 more loop around Calhoun and most of a loop around Harriet to get to the finish line. I had 6.5 miles left, but it felt like I had less. Here's the map of our 2.5 loops around both lakes:

A younger guy had caught me, and we joked about my shorts. A spectator cheered "NICE SHORTS!" and I said "Thanks!" I then told the guy running with me "Oh, I guess I just assumed that was for me..." We laughed and got back to work. He pulled ahead and was running GREAT lines through the winding streets around the lake. I tried to follow his steps and not run farther than I had to.

• MILE 10: 6:30.4.
• MILE 11: 6:21.0.
• MILE 12: 6:25.3. "Good! Bringing the times back down! It's all mental now Steve... don't give in!"

While coming up to the 11th mile marker, we were running on Lake Street. I saw Nathan WAY up there - I'd lost sight of him and Amy before the end of the first loop (by mile 6 or 7). A pack of 4 or 5 runners had passed me just a bit before, and I was holding on to the last guy in that pack. He was probably only about 5 feet tall, which was oddly kinda nice - I could run right behind him, but still see over his head as to what was coming. He totally pulled me to that 6:21 mile! (My fastest mile since the opening mile!)

I ran up along side of him and said "It's all mental now! Stay strong!" He said something like "Yeah, but I'm running out of 'strong!' Ha!"

Oh, and just before I passed him, Carissa snapped a photo, and I felt good enough to SMILE 11 miles into the race:

• UNOFFICIAL 20K SPLIT: 1:20:05. "FIVE seconds behind your BEST DAY goal!! Do you have enough speed left for this final 5K?!? Good thing it's the hilliest part of the course... sheesh."

My feet were KILLING me. I knew I had something nasty growing on my toes and on the balls of my feet. I tried not to think about it or let it alter my stride.

• MILE 13: 6:29.1.
• OFFICIAL HALF MARATHON SPLIT: 1:24:33. "Huh. Faster than the Rochester Half Marathon. Go figure. Now go!!"

(I bonked hard at the Rochester Half Marathon 2 weeks ago and finished DEAD in 1:25:45.)

Starting the 3rd loop sucked. The only part of the lakes we did 3 times was the HILLIEST part. Super. The final time through those hills was rough. Once we leveled off, I knew there was only about a mile left. Time to suffer and get to the line! GO HARD FOR SUB-1:40:00!!!

• MILE 14: 6:33.1.
• MILE 15: 6:26.4.

I looked at my watch at mile 15. It read 1:36:45. That meant if I kept a 6:30 pace, I'd finish RIGHT at 1:40:00! I saw Nathan over a block in front of me, and I knew I couldn't make up that in under a half mile. But I was going to use him to pull me.

I was giving it everything, and I felt like I was moving pretty good. My feet were killing me, I was barely getting enough air, and I kept looking for the finish. BUT I WAS GAINING ON NATHAN! I actually ran past him with about 100-200 meters to go, and he gave me a cheer. I felt bad that I couldn't reciprocate because I was "red-lining" so hard that I couldn't even get out a grunt. I just kept running hard in case he (or any other "Grand Prix" racers) would catch me. I hit the line and glanced at my watch.......


Holy crap. I nailed my "best possible race" goal of sub-1:40 with 10 seconds to spare! I was thrilled!!! I could hardly walk, but I was thrilled! :)


Steve Stenzel, 31, St. Paul, MN

1:39:50 chip time
6:25.60 / mile pace
1:24:33 half marathon split
(they had a "certified" half split out there)

7th out of 33 in the 30-34 age group
51st out of 439 men
57th out of 720 overall

Here's my pace chart:

The big dip at mile 12.5 is climbing the hill between the lakes (same reason for the dips at 2.5ish and 6ish too). And then the BIGGGGGG dips around mile 13.5 are those dang hills on the south side of Harriet. As everyone said, they got BIGGER on the final loop.

I walked back to my car because I could NOT run - my feet were hamburger (photos shortly). I dropped a few things at my car and then did a little CD jog, then stretched while watching runners go by. I snapped a "successful race" photo back at the car:

I heard an appropriate song on the way home:

Oh, and I'm not proud of it, but I took a detour on the way home:

Henry did OK for the sitter, but then he felt worse later in the day. These are NOT normal photos of Henry:

He laid like this (between my compression-socks-laden-legs) for nearly 10 minutes!
Poor dude!

Remember this post where I mentioned I'm best when I run consistent splits in a race? Well I did that at this race. Check out these 5K splits:

1st 5K: 19:50
2nd 5K: 20:03
3rd 5K: 19:59
4th 5K: 20:06
5th 5K: 19:45

And I passed a lot of people in that final 5K. I only passed a few people "bonking" earlier in the race, but mostly I was slowly being passed all race. But the final few miles were a different story. For example, Nathan hit the 13.1 mark 0:45 before me, but then I finished the race 0:08 seconds ahead of him. I made up 0:53 on him over the final 2.4 miles!

So the bottom of my feet were beat-up and were hurting me after mile 8ish, but THIS little guy on my toe wasn't making my race any better either:

Back with more from the race shortly. Now it's time for a little rest...


gfreerunner 8:11 AM, September 10, 2012  

Way to go Steve!! Those are awesome splits!! Glad I could grab that pic for you! :)

Liz Phelan,  8:27 AM, September 10, 2012  

I'm one of the blog friends you met yesterday. Thanks so much for cheering me on at the half marathon point. That helped me to push a little harder for the last 2.4. Congrats on your awesome time!

TriMOEngr 8:55 AM, September 10, 2012  

Congrats on a great race. Hope Henry feels better soon. Nothing so sad as that lethargic laying around on a little one so normally full of energy.

KellytheCulinarian 9:16 AM, September 10, 2012  

I'm so excited to hear another athletes shares my love of Taco Bell! I really should be sponsored by Taco Bell.

Colin 9:40 AM, September 10, 2012  

Congrats, nice race! Those "Pinky & The Brain" shorts are definitely an eye-catcher; I had the dubious pleasure of chasing you & them around the lakes for the majority of yesterday's race!

Anonymous,  2:38 PM, September 10, 2012  

Congratulations! You rock!!! But I miss the yellow shorts!

l 9:47 PM, September 11, 2012  

My wife and I were complaining about the traffic conjestion around Lake Calhoun on Sunday on our way to church. "Oh, there's a race today - I think Steve in a Speedo is running" I said. Sure enough just as we approached the Lake we saw you speed by in your Pinky & the Brain shorts. Money.

Sarah 1:17 PM, September 12, 2012  

Steve- that's fantastic! Nice job!

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