Rocky's Run 6K Cross Country Race Report

>> Monday, November 05, 2012

Yesterday was the LAST race in the MDRA "Grand Prix" series. I figured I had about all the points I could get (because the series only takes your best 10 finishes from the 14 races, and I'd already raced 11 races), but I thought I try to tackle my first 6K CC race.

Pharmie worked this past weekend, so I got a sitter for a few hours during the race. Before the sitter came, Henry was super "hammy" in his "lumberjack" romper:

I got to the race site (the U of M golf course), and found a VERY appropriate spot to park:

The view from the driver's seat.

Pre-race business.

I ran into SteveQ, grabbed my packet, and looked at the race map:

Looking around, it LOOKED like a CC meet. I got to the race at the same time as a couple of high-schoolers with (presumably) their coach, and the U of M's female CC team was all camped out:

My heel was ODDLY achy, so I thought a good, long warm-up was in order. I took off backwards on the course. The entire course was marked on both sides with white paint, so as long as you didn't cross any lines, you wouldn't get lost. Here's the spot just after the start and just after the 1K mark (see map a few photos up) where the race crossed itself:

A big, green intersection among some small rolling hills.

Some small rollers later on.

Twisting and turning with a "crooked," angled trail in the distance.

Another small little hill. Not HILLY, but not flat either.

I turned around and headed back. This was probably one of my longest warm-ups ever at around 3 miles. Here's the view between 2 U of M flags with the finish about 200 meters in the distance:

I ran into Angie (a friend from the tri-world) who was there to cheer on some friends. So she took my keys and camera for me! THANKS ANGIE! She grabbed a photo before I headed to the start:


It was just under 40 degrees, and that's perfect race weather! I wore my good ole' hat, a thin long-sleeve top, some "throw away" gloves (from my brother-in-law who's a meat cutter, so we joked that they were my "meat gloves"), my "Tutti-Frutti" shorts with Under Armor under that, my calf sleeves, and my Injinji rainbow socks. Decked out, baby.

Angie snuck some photos pre-race: here's Jeremy and me among LOTS of U of M runners.

"Oh Jeremy, there's my friend Angie...."

This looks like it was a few of us against a ton of U of M runners!

So I was thinking of my race plan during my warm-up. Being my heel was a little achy and I didn't want to do anything stupid, I wasn't going to "go nuts" at this race. I sure wasn't just going to JOG it, but I wasn't going to suffer HARD for 20 minutes either. I told myself to go out "solid" (but not crazy fast), and then pick-off the runners starting at about the 3K point.

Oh, and we got the best pre-race advice from the U of M CC coach: "Oh, and if you fall down.... get back up." Noted.

"ON YOUR MARKS......" *gunshot*

I SWEAR this is an unedited, uncropped version of one of Angie's photos:

I'm BARELY in there, and it looks like I'm creepin' on a bunch of 20-year-olds!

Do you know what's distracting? Running behind a lot of college runners in "bun shorts" (or less). Coaches and family members along the race course kept shouting "Eyes up! Eyes up!" to the runners, because it's easy to slow down if you're just looking at your feet right in front of you. I half-smiled to myself thinking they were maybe yelling "Eyes up!" to me.......


I held a pretty horrible line through that first km. As that map above shows, the first km is a big clockwise loop, and I spent the whole time running to the left (the outside). I'm not a great racer.

I glanced at my watch at the 1K mark: 3:46. Not bad, but not great.

• MILE 1: 6:10.

Even though I said I'd start picking off runners after 3K, I'd already caught a few in the first mile. I wasn't "going nuts," but I was running strong. And I saw Eric P about a half-block in front of me, and I decided to try to keep him in my sights. (Eric and I chatted a bit during the Rochester Half Marathon a few months back, where he beat me pretty solidly.) I really didn't think I'd have a shot at beating Eric, but he was doing the Grand Prix series too, so he was just a good "rabbit" for me to keep in sight.

I nearly biffed it going down a quick steep hill. (There were 2 sharp downhills back-to-back, and being I survived the first, I got too cocky on the 2nd.) My 2nd km was around 3:52 (according to my little glance at my watch), and my 3rd was over 4 minutes. "OK, stop worry about you individual km splits and just run, dumbass."

• MILE 2: 6:21. "Dang, a little slow. But it's a CC meet, and how often do you run CC? Just keep trying to catch runners, and don't worry about your time."

At one point, the CC coach out there shouted at 3 of his girls I'd just passed: "OK now, stay with that guy!!" I gestured back towards them as if to say "Come on! Hang on! Let's go!"

• MILE 3: 6:16. "OK, 3/4 of a mile to go. Goal for the finish: don't get out-kicked by any college girls."

We turned and were now heading straight back towards the finish (although we couldn't see it because of the rolling hills). I was gaining on a small pack of CC runners, and I passed them with just over a 1/4 mile left. I had another bigger pack in front of me, and I was closing in.

Mid-pack with a bunch of CC runners.

Trying to get through a few more runners!

Running past someone I was behind in the last shot.

I think the only one from that group that I didn't catch was the one in the yellow long-sleeve top and maroon tights who was leading the pack 3 photos up. Yes, I'm bragging about catching a bunch of girls. Deal with it. :)

• FINAL 0.78: 4:36. (5:53 pace)


Steve Stenzel, #1807, 31, M
6K: 23:25
6:17 / mile average
22 out of 163 overall
1 out of 5 in the 30-39 age group

As I was walking back towards Angie to thank her and to get my camera, Jeremy came running past to the finish! Nice race, Jeremy! He told me that I must have started out slow, because he kept me in sight for a while. But really, all of these longer runs with Henry lately have REALLY helped my endurance, but they've killed my shorter-distance speed.

We saw SteveQ finish, and then the 3 of us talked for a moment. Then I ran over to Rick Recker who was working by the finisher's chute. I asked him if he saw Ben Merchant at all. Ben's the SUPER speedy runner who was making a late-season run at winning the "Grand Prix" series (he'd only ran 9 races up to this point, so he needed this as his 10th). Rick said he'd talked to Ben about a week ago, and Ben said he might have to miss this race. And Rick didn't see him at the race! Rick smirked and said "He just gave you a big gift! Congrats! The series IS all about finishing off the entire season..." So we've got to wait to make sure I'm not missing something, but there's a good chance I just won the 2012 MDRA Grand Prix series!!


I never caught Eric, but he pulled me nicely. He finished 20 seconds in front of me. That will be enough "Grand Prix" points to move him from 6th to 3rd (I believe), just a FEW points behind Goetzke! Nice work, Eric!

I caught MOST of the U of M women's CC team after starting behind all of them. Angie told me there were only a few in front of me, and I was surprised to hear that (I thought there were more). Once we'd spread out, I had no idea how many were in front of me. It turns out that 6 women 18-22 years of age beat me. I'm OK with that.

I got home to Henry shortly after the race so we could go hang out with family, so I didn't stick around for awards. I was surprised to see that I'd placed FIRST in my age group, but it wasn't surprising to see there were only 5 other guys.

After the race, they had THOUSANDS of cookies to giveaway. They WANTED you to grab a bag and fill it with cookies. Check this out:

Notice extra cookies stacked against the wall to the right,
and the college girl at the upper-left filling her bag with cookies!

I'll post as soon as the final official "Grand Prix" results are posted. Hoping for the best!... :)


TriMOEngr 8:17 AM, November 05, 2012  

Damn you're fast. Damn that is a lot of bootie shorts (and less). Damn that is a lot of cookies. Way to go on a solid race! Best wishes for the final win of the series.

SteveQ 10:32 AM, November 05, 2012  

I'm pondering whether or not to write my own race report; Beckett's "Molloy" is a good substitute.

Carolina John 11:41 AM, November 05, 2012  

wow. Any race that comes with that many hot college girls and cookies is where I want to be. Excellent choice.

Jeremy Reichenberger 2:30 PM, November 05, 2012  

I look downright pleased to see your friend Angie in that photo. Hahaha. What a dork.

SteveQ 11:07 AM, November 06, 2012  

I couldn't help it - I looked up the Facebook page of my favorite booty-shorted college runner. And there was a "Like" for sveral political candidates I abhor. I think they call that "wood whiplash."

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