Falls Duathlon Race Report

>> Monday, April 29, 2013

Or, "That's a Lot of Spankings."

Or, "Getting Lucky on the Bike."

Or, "FINALLY a Good Year in Cannon Falls!"

As I loaded the car on Saturday morning, there were still drifts of snow in the alley from Tuesday:

I hate you.

You don't need to watch all of these following videos (they're really for Henry's Grandmas), but look at what our side yard looked like on Tuesday morning:


... and then look at what it was like just 3 days later on Friday (the day before the race):


Anyway, it was going to be a beautiful day for a race: it started in the 40s, quickly climbed to 60, was going to top out in the 70s, and he wind was forecasted to be 2-3 mph. FANTASTIC!!

I was the first car to pull into the race site.


There was a lot of dirty snow still piled around transition.

A pre-race tradition.

Pro triathlete arch-nemesis Devon Palmer showed up to race:

I'm actually not sure what we're pointing at. I'm obviously pointing at nothing. NOTHING.

Regarding that picture: I may dress flashy, but I don't have the gall to wear a shirt with my own name on it. Devon. And being one of his sponsors is "The Gold Guys," notice his homemade spray-painted gold visor. Apparently his sponsors "sponsor" him and then make him do arts-and-crafts to advertise for them.

Oh, then he racked his bike RIGHT next to mine! Here are 3 bikes worthy of "bike porn" status with lowly ole' Goldilocks in the middle:

l to r: Sean's new Trek, Devon's BRAND new QR w/ disc, my Goldilocks, and Ben's QR w/ disc.

High school buddy Tim was there to race, and we chatted during a nice little 2-mile warm up. I took my camera and got a shot of the 1-mile mark of the first run with "the falls" that we run past:

Kinda ugly right now, but much nicer when things green up.

I stretched a bit, had some Roctane gel, sipped on my Roctane drink, decided to go sleeveless with arm-warmers (see the photo of Devon and I), and got to the front of the pack for the start of the race. I lined up right behind frienemy Devon, and I rubbed his butt for a few seconds for good luck. Or because I had a booger in my finger, but shhhhhhhhh... don't tell Devon. No, but really, it was for luck.


It looks like I'm leading, but I was in 3rd with Chad Millner and Devon in front of me.

Next to Jake (675), with Ben (red visor) and Erich (tall w/ shades) in the mix.
And I think that's Sean in the red to the far far right.

I started out in 3rd, and soon I was back in 8th. I was a little surprised - I thought I had some decent speed right now, and I hoped to be a few spots better than that. I felt like I was really pushing the pace. Sure enough, I hit my Garmin-clocked mile 1 in 5:34!!!?! Yikes. I eased up a BIT, but still keep the pace up. I passed someone to move into 7th overall, and came running into T1 with another 5:30 split, but that was just under a mile.

About to hit transition.


Nothing fancy here. Grabbed what I needed and was ready to suffer on the bike.

(These last 4 photos were from Debby - my wife's college roommate's Mom. Thanks Debby!)


I started the bike in 6th place (a guy in front of me dropped his chain trying to mount, so I got gained a spot right away). As I said in my post on Saturday, I "hope to be able to keep count of the bikers passing me." And that's what I did. Two caught me in mile 1, 2 caught me in mile 2, no one caught me in mile 3, 2 more caught me in mile 4, and then no one caught me until RIGHT at the 7-mile turn-around. I was THRILLED to have lost only 7 spots (pushed back to 13th) half way through the bike!

The wind was LIGHT, but I figured there was a bit of a tailwind on the way out because I hit the turn-around with a 22.0 mph average. It wasn't HORRIBLE on the way back, but it was noticeable. At the turn-around, I was slightly depressed to see a big pack right behind me. Over the next mile, Sean and Jake both passed me, and Ben and Tim both passed me WITH A SPANK. Yes, I live among friends who like to spank. So I knew it was coming. I was happy that all the spankings happened in the 2nd half of the bike, though - I held them off for a while!

After that big pack (and lots of spankings), just a few more people caught me. I was back in 21st overall. I was really happy with my bike speed - I wasn't great on the hills, but my overall speed surprised me. My 5 mile Garmin splits looked like this:

- 13:36.7, 22.0 mph
- 14:19.7, 20.9 mph
- 11:05.2, 20.8 mph (3.84 miles)

Jake and I went back-and-forth a few times in the final miles, but he ended up rolling into transition just before me.


That's Jake (42) running in front of me coming into T1 in 2011 when we first met at this race.


THINGS GOT A LITTLE INTERESTING JUST BEFORE T2!!!! I saw Jake 50-100 feet in front of me pulling his feet out of his shoes (like most "good" duathletes / triathletes do) as he was riding with 2 blocks left so he could run into transition barefoot with his shoes still clipped to his bike to save time. (You know what I'm talking about.) I had the DUMBASS thought of "Oh, I should try that right now too."

I've never done this. I've never even practiced this. What the hell was I thinking?

I unstrapped my foot from my left shoe and put my foot on top of the shoe. Then my foot slipped a bit and I accidentally made a pedal-stroke with my shoe hanging off the pedal. That made the shoe hit the ground and pop off and go bouncing off the road at 21 mph behind me. Everyone was yelling "SHOE, SHOE, SHOE!" I knew someone would probably get it to me (I have faith in humanity like that), and I just kept going.

So I came to an awkward stop, unclipped my other shoe, and went running into T2 with a sock on 1 foot and a bike shoe on the other. Sure enough, while I was still in T2, Chad came running over to me with my rogue run-away shoe and put it with my stuff. THANKS CHAD!!

Also, those piles of snow I showed earlier in the post were now melting and sending rivers of water down through transition. Here's a photo I took right next to my bike just after the race - you can't get a sense for how much the water's moving, but this was a mini river!

So I left transition with a soaked left foot.

My bag was soaked.


I was in 21st place. I won't lie here: I was really hoping to crack into the top 10. (The last 3 years I did this race I finished in 12th EACH TIME!) I had some work to do. But I forgot to rip off my arm warmers during T2 - I was distracted by the whole losing-a-shoe fiasco. So I pitched them next to a pole just off the course and planned to get them after I finished.

Tim and Jake were RIGHT in front of me, so I spanked Tim and said "hi" to Jake. (I don't know Jake well enough to be touching his swimsuit area.) The next pack of people were about 2 blocks in front of me. I was running hard. I caught up to that pack at the top of a hill before mile 1. I spanked Sean and Ben as I ran past. Ben teased and said "What TOOK you so f*cking long?!?" I hit the first mile in 6:08.

Almost right away on the second run, I was out of breath. I was feeling OK otherwise, but I just couldn't catch my breath. I was really working to stay strong out there - I wasn't getting too depressed, but I WAS worried that I'd have to stop and walk at some point of this final 3 mile run. I was really trying to push the pace. I hit mile 2 in 6:01, and I knew I'd be sub-6 for the final mile.

With about a half mile left, I thought I was running in 12th. "I CAN'T finish in 12th place AGAIN!!" I saw a pack of 3 up in front of me. I really gave it hell, but I only caught one of those guys, so I finished in 11th - JUST out of the top 10.

Coming to the finish.

The next person in front of me (who beat me by 10 seconds) was Erich, the duathlete who came in first at last year's Cinco DU Mayo Duathlon where I came in 2nd! He smiled at the finish and said "I KNEW you were coming!! If this race were another quarter mile longer........"

Erich and I talking post-race. (Thanks for the photos, Jess!)


Steve Stenzel, St. Paul, 32, #644

• 2 mile run: 11:04 (5:32 pace), 7th overall
• T1: 0:40
• 14 mile bike: 39:09 (21.5 mph), 30th overall
• T2: 0:58
• 3 mile run: 17:26 (5:49 pace), 4th overall

1:08:56 total
11th out of 185 overall
6th out of 37 in the 30-39 age group

*Note: the transition times were combined in the official results. It had 1:38 listed for both of my transitions combined. Based on my watch splits, I divided them into 40 and 58 seconds.


- A nice day at this race made for my fastest bike split in the 4 years I've done this event. I was over 47:00 in 2009, I just broke 43:00 in 2010 (the windy year), and I barely broke 42:00 in 2011 (the wet year). So to finish with a 39:09 split was a BIG improvement. But that IS mainly because of the weather.

- The final run was harder than the last few years. A bridge was closed that we SHOULD have crossed on our way back to the finish, so we had to go back a different way. If anything, it made the final run a bit longer (it still clocked in just under 3 miles according to my Garmin). But we had an extra short but STEEP climb before going up another small hill and then running down to the finish. The other way was just more gently uphill without that gut-buster with a half mile left:

The "gut-buster" at over 8:00 pace.
Then I finished with my final few seconds under 5:00 / mile!

- I was only 11 seconds behind Devon in the final run. I would have LOVED to have beat him in one thing at the race, but I guess I'll have to settle for beating his team at the Gear West Duathlon in a few weeks.

- I actually beat speedy Chad Millner in the 2nd run! He won this race the last 3 years, but Devon showed up to beat him this year. (Chad beat Devon last year at this race.) My theory is that Chad tried to keep up with Devon on the bike and shredded his legs before the final run. Still, anytime any results show me faster than Millner, I'm thrilled!!

- Looking at all 4 years I've done this race, this year I had my fastest 1st run by 27 seconds, my fastest bike by 2:40, and my fastest final run by 13 seconds to PR by exactly 4 minutes!! My old PR was in 2011 when I finished in 1:12:56. What a good start to the multisport season! And now my 4 times racing this event look like this: 12th, 12th, 12th, and 11th!

Back with more photos from shoe-saving buddy Chad shortly. And a giveaway's happening soon too!

UPDATE: I just posted a slideshow of images from Chad on my Examiner page. Check it out HERE!


Benjamin 6:54 AM, April 29, 2013  

Ha, catching up in the trash talking department! "Pointing at NOTHING" - class :D

Steve Stenzel 6:59 AM, April 29, 2013  

Thanks Benjamin! I'm personally proud of the "arts and crafts" burn just after the pointing statement. :)

Unknown 10:02 AM, April 29, 2013  

Great race report Steve. I check your blog out almost daily for a dose of laughter. Congrats on the PR!

Anonymous,  6:38 AM, April 30, 2013  

I was wondering who's arm warmers those were

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