Headed to Israel for a Half Ironman

>> Tuesday, December 31, 2013

About 2 months ago, I was contacted by some people from Kinetis regarding the 2014 Israman Negev triathlon in Israel.

Long story short: they're sending me to Israel in a few weeks to cover the race! I just got my plane ticket confirmation a few days ago. I don't know our exact itinerary, but I know that I'll end up in Tel Aviv with 4 other bloggers after 3 flights. Then we'll spend a day or 2 in Jerusalem, stop back for a costal tour of Tel Aviv, and then take a quick (4th) flight to Eilat to do the race. After that, it's 4 more flights to get back home (Eilat > Tel Aviv > New Jersey > Chicago > St. Paul). You all know that I can't run much now (coming off a big injury from back in Aug/Sept), but I'm doing the swim portion (1.9K) IN THE RED SEA!

The race is in Eilat, Israel, which is at the southern tip of the country at the northern tip of the Red Sea. Just 2 miles east from the center of Eilat is Jordan, and about 8 miles west is Egypt:

Here's a video from the race website - Eilat is shown at 0:23, and race footage starts at 0:40:

Direct Link: http://youtu.be/OkuJPAVHpcA

I asked if I could do the swim and then just drop out, but the race director set me up with a biker and a runner, so now we have a TEAM! I found out (using Google Translate because some of the race info is in Hebrew) that I've been teamed up with a 56-year-old male biker named Ran from Tel Aviv and a 43-year-old female male runner named Sharon from around Jerusalem:

UPDATE: Someone who reads Hebrew contacted me told me that Sharon above is a man, so I'm sorry I just assumed he was a woman! Sorry Sharon!

One interesting thing about the relays is they are split by sex (which is normal), but then they are split up once more by age: if everyone's age added up is under 119, they're in one group; and if they're 120 and above, they are in another. They even have a relay category for families (parents, children, grandchildren, and in-laws).

I've been swimming more this winter than I usually do because of my recent swim-off against that pro-triathlete fella, and that extra yardage will hopefully be helping me out in a few weeks when I'm racing in the Red Sea. (See the swimmers in the video above between the 0:40 and 1:00 mark to see what I'll be doing, and to see how beautiful the water looks!)

Israman Negev has a half iron distance and a full iron distance. The cut-off time for the full is 23:15, which is quite a bit longer than the 17:00 cut-off at Ironman-sanctioned races - we'll see how long I can last at the finish line on race day and the next morning! Oops, their cut-off is 17 hours just like an Ironman - 23:15 is the time of day (after a 6:15 start). Their full iron distance race was named "1 of the 10 best iron distance races IN THE WORLD" in 2010 by Triathlete Magazine! So this should be good.

Stay tuned for more on this! I'm PSYCHED!! Thanks Kinetis for sending me!!


5:00 a.m. Christmas Run

>> Monday, December 30, 2013

I woke up early at my parent's house and couldn't get back to sleep on Christmas morning. Pharmie went back home Christmas Eve in a snowstorm with her sister's family because she had to work on Christmas, but Henry and I stayed at Grandma's house another 2 nights to celebrate Christmas with a lot more family.

So I headed out for a quick run at 5 a.m. after a snowstorm on Christmas morning. I didn't have any reflective gear, but you can see lights coming for MILES if you go running in the country in southern Minnesota. When I got out to the main highway, my view 3 miles back towards town looked like this:

A little glow from my hometown of just over 2,000 people.

And the other direction looks off towards nothingness:

Really, that's looking straight down the highway.

I had nearly a 3 mile run - my longest since early Sept! Here's the view looking back down my parents snow-covered driveway with my footprints in the fresh snowbank (heading towards the machine shed) from when I left on my run:

A snowplow went by a few minutes after I finished running (as I was still walking).

Since then, I've had another run where I was able to go from 17 minutes of running to 20 minutes of running. I'm REALLY close to 3 miles of constant running now! Hopefully, by the end of this week I'll be running over 3 miles at a time!

Back with BIG NEWS soon!!! Hope everyone had a good Christmas!


The LAST "Dome Running" Ever

>> Saturday, December 28, 2013

If you've followed my blog for a while, you've seen me post about "Dome Running" every winter. The Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) charges $1 for runners to run the roughly 600 meter concourse around the Metrodome as a way to get out of the cold from around Thanksgiving through March. I've done my share of speed work at the Dome over the last couple of winters.

Since the Vikings are getting a new stadium soon, the Metrodome will be demolished shortly. Thursday night was the LAST "Dome Running" ever. Pharmie, Henry, and I had to stop by for the ceremonial "last lap" at 7:55 pm.

New construction underway for the new Vikings stadium next to the Dome.

Just after I took that photo and went up to Pharmie's side, the excavator operator held the bucket up right by our heads, waved, and honked. Henry was in HEAVEN!! They had 3 excavators and a bulldozer running (all seen in that photo), and there was an endless train of semis driving down there to haul out dirt.

Devoured cake inside.

I'll miss this sign (always up at "Dome Running" to tell you how far you've gone).

Good ole' Rick Recker surrounded by lots of cameras.

Lined up for the final lap.

Some final words from Rick. Pharmie said she got a little teary.

Rick leading the final lap around the Dome.

Pharmie and Henry running the last lap!

Little dude cheated.

Lots of "last lap" runners.

Taking a ride with Daddy for the last 1/3 lap.

Trying to catch back up with everyone else around the curve.

All done.

Henry still wanted to do a little running!

Our final family photo in the Dome.

FLASHBACK: Nearly 2 years ago, here was our FIRST family photo at the Dome (from this post):

Hanging out with Mom or Dad during intervals.

Pharmie and I did intervals where our break was hanging with Henry as the other was running. It got the job done!

Then one final stop to watch the construction for a few minutes before heading home.
Henry could have stayed there all night!

RIP Dome Running. You were going strong for 31 years... let's hope you can start back up in a new stadium in a few years!


Friday Funny 645: the 10 Commandments for Runners

>> Friday, December 27, 2013

What commandments have you broken? I'm guilty of #7. (Yeah, I know... shut up.) And I think every runner is at least a little guilty of #5.

Check out "funnies" all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


Friday Funny 644: 15 Kinds of Swimmers

SwimSwam posted this list of (possibly unfortunate) kinds of swimmers you'll find in the pool:

Here are 15 common swimming characters we find in our lanes on a day-to-day basis–

The Meet Swimmer. The crunch time performer, the athlete that stands up on the blocks at meets and swims times that do not correlate whatsoever with the times they perform in practice.

The Thrasher. The workhorse of the team, this swimmer proudly bears the mark of the all go, no quit athlete, even if it is a one arm drill set. While they pump out max effort on everything they do, for the Thrasher this doesn’t always correlate to maximum efficiency and speed in the water. Has a sometimes strained relationship with The Meet Swimmer as a result.

The Mental Gamer. Will talk about how out of shape they are, how crappy they feel in the water, just how awful of a day they had... and then proceed to smoke you for the entire set.

The Tahiti Break. Swimming behind this person is a nightmare due to the 8 foot swell that follows them in and out of the walls. Swimming beside them however, gives you a golden draft with which you can go for a nice leisurely surf on.

The Lane/Board Puller. Backstroke sets are a favorite for this swimmer, as they will take every opportunity they can to pull on the lane-rope. This swimmer will also often pull into the wall with five full strokes on kick sets.

Flipper. Often this person has chronic shoulder injuries that may or may not be acting up; regardless, they will find the first reason they can to strap on fins for the rest of the workout.

The Undisclosed Injury. This swimmer usually jumps out of the main set at some point, most often after someone has passed them. Cited reasons generally include injury, illness, or vital text message. Can usually be found enjoying a nice warm shower while the rest of the group finish the practice.

10 Second Tom. Forgets the set, interval, and/or when they left. Consistently seeks clarification on set specifics. “How many was that?” is a common refrain.

Sammy Save-Up. We all know this swimmer. Coasts along for 90% of the set or workout, quietly awaiting his or her turn to smash out a near personal best time on the least repeat, even while everyone knows precisely what he or she is doing.

Warm-Up Hustler. It’s hard to get mad at this swimmer. After all, it is difficult to get frustrated with someone who wants to swim hard and fast. It’s just, well, maybe they could swim that fast during the main set as well.

Wolverine. This swimmer has neglected cutting their finger and toe nails for far too long; giving swimmers next to them the occasional unwanted under-the-lane-rope surprise with those horrific claws.

The Nudist. This swimmer will let her swimsuit age far beyond the point of decay; to the point that it is see-through in some not so appropriate areas.

Butt-crack Bukowski. Time to pull that suit up, or perhaps it is time to get a new one. Either way, no one really wants to look at the top half of your butt-butt.

The Specialist. A swimmer who is an average swimmer, but is simply out of this world at kick or pull. While you may be able to out-swim them, they lap your butt up and down the pool in pull sets.

The Eager Beav’. Claim to fame is being the first person in the pool, or the first one to start a set, often times before the coach has finished explaining it.

One of the commenters added this:

The Editor. The master’s swimmer who edits every set just to her preference.

I've been guilty of that... along with "10 Second Tom" and "The Nudist." FRIENDLY REMINDER TO CHECK YOUR SUITS, PEOPLE!!

Lots more funnies on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 643: New Year's Resolution Advice from a Dog

I'm the king of 2, 9, and 11.

Check out more funnies on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 642: 8 Facebook Notifications We NEED

Mashable shared 8 Facebook notifications that we need now:

More funnies on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


A Christmas Truce

>> Thursday, December 26, 2013

One final note about Devon: he's not that bad. We're calling a truce. He's been a great competitor throughout these races.

Here are 2 more photos that Jared got just as the swim off came to a close:

I swam a 1:09.6 100 and Devon swam 125 in 1:10.4. At that pace, Devon did a 100 in 56 seconds. That's nuts. What a swimmer. (It's funny - when you watch us race in the video, we don't look that fast. A 56 second 100 isn't impressive looking at it on tape. But he was cruising!)

At the end of my 2013 Gear West Duathlon race report where Devon and I first went head-to-head, I ended with a few final points. The last point was to race against a friend / foe like this sometime. Here's what I said:

I've challenged friends to races in the past, but never something like this where 1 person (pro triathlete Devon Palmer) is obviously WAY better than the other(s). You could always say something like "OK, we're both training for this 10K, but you always finish 2 minutes in front of me at that distance. If I finish within 2 minutes of you, you buy me dinner." Or what-not. This is a fun way to stay motivated among friends and push yourself. And you could choose to partake in smack-talk if you want... that's not a requirement. (But I have to say that it did make things more fun.)

I still agree with all of this that I said back in May. This is something that I'd still recommend to do with a friend or frenemy. I've put in more yards than I usually do this time of year in the pool. It's extra fun motivation. Try it! Our race (actually, our 2 races: this swim race and the duathlon back in May) shows that you don't even need to be the same speed. We just agreed on a handicap and went from there. It's a GREAT way to keep your butt moving!

It's been great racing with you good-buddy, Devon.

So Devon's agreed to stop making horrible allegations about me, and I agreed to stop making sweet love to his mother.

... at least for the rest of 2013.


Christmas Surprise Tree

>> Wednesday, December 25, 2013

We've had a funny little tradition in our house for the last 10 years or so. Each Christmas Season, we get a pre-cut, pre-wrapped Christmas tree, and then we just see how it looks when it thaws out.

"The Skinny Tree" of 2009.

2010: wrapped up with Kermit checking it out.

2010: once it was decorated.

2011: unwrapped but still frozen. (We put the tree in that corner in 2011
because 6-month-old Henry's baby swing was where we usually put the tree.)

2011: decorated.

"The Wispy Tree" of 2012.

2013 before and after.

Merry Christmas everyone! Get off my blog and go hug a loved one! :)


Devon Responds to Me Kicking His Butt

>> Monday, December 23, 2013

I posted my race report and video from the "swim off" against pro triathlete Devon Palmer last week on my blog. And Devon has responded. Here are his words (taken from this post) broken up and followed by some of my comments:

The Curious Case of Steve Stenzel

If you have not seen the race footage of The Gold Guys Duel in the Pool you can see it here. All you really need to know is that the finish was agonizingly close and unfortunately Steve touched the wall first.

Obviously I did an excellent job establishing a fair challenge as the swim off could have gone either way. If you’ll remember at our first challenge at the Gear West Duathlon Steve established a ridiculous handicap that gave his relay team an insurmountable margin. But Steve’s sneaky ways are not news. Losing this swim challenge was challenging emotionally. Making things worse, Steve and his posse of professional online bullies are not exactly gracious winners.

OK, that handicap was AGREED upon, and Devon and his team even cut THAT handicapped time short - they cheated from the start. And I have no control of my online bullies people of the internet.

Thinking about the race afterwards I began to have some questions. I realized that while the challenge was set up justly due to my thoughtful and intelligent handicapping perhaps Steve had done something to get an edge. He did not cut the course. He did not use a motor. What else could he do? Sadly it would seem the only reasonable explanation is doping. If you look carefully the evidence is all there. And you know me, I am not one for spurious allegations. How do we know Steve use performance enhancing drugs to win the challenge? Review the facts below.

Exhibit A: Steve did not submit a urine sample for drug testing. Failure to submit a sample is usually treated as a positive.

Umm, but I did submit a urine sample. We both did. You don't remember this Devon?...

Thanks to Jared for getting this photo to prove that Devon is a liar.

Exhibit B: Steve’s Chest:

Steve does not even try to hide the fact that these are fake. Look at them. Clearly some sort of substance was used to enhance his performance in this department.

They're called "push ups" Devon. Look it up. Try one someday.

Also, I remember you using some lewd language implying that you wanted to have sex with them before our swim off. (This is no joke, people.)

Exhibit C: Steve has a cutthroat, competitive personality and also a clear scruple deficiency. That is to say, he wants to win at any cost and he doesn’t care whose feelings get hurt along the way. We know Steve will do anything to win, as seen by his dubious handicapping at our first challenge. We also know Steve has loose morals. Despite being married he has repeatedly alluded to an affair with my mother. And if the affair didn’t happen, then we have evidence he is a lying liar. Furthermore, to gain an advantage in the build up to the race he hired a squad of professional bullies to hassle me online. This is a guy who will go to any length to win.

All I have to say is...


Exhibit D: Suspicious Sideburns:

Look at those chops. You know who else has those? Jonathan Vaughters, former pro cyclist and current team director for Garmin-Sharp. Vaughters is a doper and liar. You know who else has those chops? Bradley Wiggins, a massive jerk who is more than likely a doper. Science has shown that sideburns are an indicator of willingness to dope and being a pompous and unpleasant person.

Case closed. Steve used Testosterone or Estrogen or HGH or HGTV or something we haven’t even heard of yet. Since it was not an officially sanctioned race, the results will stand but I will forever refer to Steve as the winner* not as the winner.

Yes, you got me. I use 1080P.

What does all this mean? Upon further reflection, I realized it just means Steve cares. To go through all that trouble for our challenge means Steve cares alot. About me and about us. It matters alot to Steve. That isn’t such a bad thing. I’ve always said that Steve is the worst but how could someone who is the worst care so much? Could it be, and this sounds crazy, that Steve is the best? Or at least not the worst? Second or third worst? Just look at this photo of us together:

We both have handsome, well furred chests. Maybe we’re not so different after all? This is making my head spin and I need to take more time to think thoughts and feel feelings before coming to any conclusions.

Is Steve the worst? The best? Who knows!

Damn it, I love our handsome well-furred chests. Maybe you're not so bad Devon. But you probably are.

p.s. Say Merry Christmas to your Mom, and tell her your Dad I say "hi."



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