Waseca Triathlon Race Report

>> Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We loaded up the boys at 5 a.m. on Sunday and hit the road for 90 minutes. We dropped boy #2 with Pharmie's Mom, and boy #1 with my folks. Pharmie hit the water, and we were ready to race!

A quick dip 2 minutes before her start.

Angela and Pharmie - they were both doing the "1/3 Iron" race: 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike,
and 8.8 mile run. Pharmie's done a ton of Half Irons (and 2 Fulls), but this was Angela's longest tri!

Pharmie starting! 11 WEEKS POSTPARTUM!!!

Pharmie breathing at the bottom.

A cool shot of the next wave starting.

Angela starting. You see her, right? She's the one in black with a blue swim cap.

Angela for real.

Swimming off.

The 1 mile swim with swimmers coming back.


As those 2 were swimming, Matt and I started the sprint race. We only had to do a 0.25 mile swim, a 14 mile bike, and then a 4.4 mile run. I lined up to the outside. FAR to the outside. And it worked well - I had clear swimming at a nice angle to the first buoy. I swam VERY straight on the way out. I popped up to sight a few times on the short back-stretch because I couldn't spot the small buoy I was supposed to head towards. I probably lost a few seconds, but then I was back to swimming hard and straight.

In the meantime, Pharmie and Angela were hitting the beach:

Pharmie! (Ben, is that you back there?)

Go Hunnie!

Angela running past!

Matt started in the wave in front of me, but my Mom (who was running the camera) missed him on the way out of the water. So to those women (and select handful of men) who stop by ONLY for photos of beefy Matt, you'll have to scroll a little farther. No photos yet. My apologies.

Me running out after a decent swim.


I saw the other 3 bikes were gone, so I knew the ladies made it out fine (I wasn't worried about Matt). I sat down as to take off my wetsuit without incident with my sore/weak ankle. I knew my T1 time would suck, but I didn't want to hurt anything by trying to save 15 seconds in transition.


There's a decent run out to start the bike (and then there's a long run back to end it), so I spent the first few miles watching my average climb. We turned away from the lake, and there were cattails just WHIPPING around in a low area. So yeah... it was windy. The bike curved around a lot, but the wind was mainly at our side or slightly to our back on the way out. With a mile left before the turn-around, it was COMPLETELY at our back, and I cruised - my average speed rose by 0.5 mph over that mile.

I like to count how far back I am in out-and-back races, and I was 19th at the turn-around. (It's not an exact science because I started in wave 2, but it's still a good mental game to see where I'm at and try to improve upon it.) Matt (who started in the wave in front of me) was riding in 5th!! Solid work, Matt! The first mile back STRAIGHT into the wind was brutal. I swear I wasn't going more than 10 mph at times. But as we twisted and turned, we sometimes got a break from the wind. I watched someone in front of me get pushed sideways 10 feet by a gust that we ran into as we rode past a grove. It was nasty. I was glad I was only riding 14 miles and not 34 like Pharmie and Angela!

I caught 5 riders on the way back, but I think they were all relay riders who started in the wave in front of me. Regardless, I worked my way into 14th by T2. Here was my overall average every 1/4 of the bike:

- Mile 3.5: 20.8 mph
- Mile 7 (turn-around): 21.3 mph
- Mile 10.5: 20.7 mph
- Mile 13ish (with a mile left): 20.8 mph

In my "pre-race plan" post, I mentioned that I wanted to go REALLY hard on the bike. But I didn't know if I'd have the guts to push that hard. And you know what? I didn't have the guts. I pushed hard, but not INSANELY hard. It wasn't much better than average. I think the wind scared me just a bit and kept me from going TOO hard. Excuses, excuses.

I never came close to catching Matt on the bike (no surprise), and he ran into T2 a few minutes before me:

Me dismounting. DON'T GET EXCITED: that's just her hand.

Those girls were SOOOOOOO jealous of my sweet shorts.


Kinda slow: I ran gingerly in my bike shoes with my weak ankle, and then I nearly forgot my race belt as I was running out, so I turned around to grab it.


This was the big "question mark" for the day! Would I crash and burn? Would I know what pace to keep? Afterall, the run segment of this race was going to be my longest run in 3.5 months! Yikes. I tracked down 2 relay runners in the first mile to move into 12th. My first 2 half mile splits were 3:19 and 3:11 for a 6:30 first mile. Not bad.

I finally saw Matt 2 spots in front of me. I caught 11th place, and then caught Matt just after an aid station when he stopped to walk. I spanked him as I went by (as is customary to do among friends or those with sweet asses). I caught another guy and we both exchanged "nice job"s and "way to go"s. Then a few steps farther, he said "Oh, Steve Stenzel!" I waved and laughed. We talked post-race, along with Matt. Apparently, he follows me on twitter. I said "I passed you 2 at about the same time." The guy (was Kevin your name?) said to Matt "Oh I don't remember you." Matt had changed shirts, but he said he was the one stopping to puke. The guy said "Oh yeah. In the blue. I remember you." Gross. Awesome.

Anyway, I hit the mile 2 marker in 6:31 (3:14 and 3:17 splits). I told myself I'd be happy to hold 6:30s, and that I THINK I could negative split this run! There were 2 more guys WAY up there, and I think one of them was Matt Lilla who just barely beat me to take the 30-34 age group win last year at this race:

These 2 photos are from my 2013 Waseca Tri race report.

Couldn't quite catch him last year!

I didn't want a repeat of last year - I tried to pick up the pace. But my next half mile split was 3:19 "Dang, I was hoping that was 15 seconds faster." The next half mile was 3:09, for a mile 3 split of 6:28. But I passed Lilla around the mile 3 marker. He pushed me hard toward the finish - I did NOT want him to catch me, and I didn't know what my kick would be like being this was my longest run in 3.5 months.

At mile 4, I glanced back. Lilla was no where in sight, so I had 8th place locked up. I was SLOWLY closing on the 7th place runner, but I was running out of space to catch him. I gave it a good push, but finished 19 seconds behind him. My mile 4 splits were 3:14 and 3:06 for a total of a 6:22 mile. I got my (slight) negative split, and I finished the final 0.4 to the finish (really more like 0.26) at 5:46 pace.


Steve Stenzel, 33, M, St. Paul
- 0.25 MILE SWIM: 7:06, 1:37 pace, 11th fastest overall
- T1: 1:34, 26th fastest overall
- 14 MILE BIKE: 41:28, 20.3 mph ave, 17th fastest overall
- T2: 0:54, 22nd fastest overall
- 4.4 MILE RUN: 27:22, 6:15 pace, 6th fastest overall

TOTAL: 1:18:16
8 out of 91 overall
2 out of 8 in the 30-34 age group

My Mom didn't get a photo of me coming to the line, but she snapped this one of me chatting with other athletes just after I finished:

Lilla (3rd in our AG), me (2nd), and Tim (1st).

The guy who I was TRYING to catch was Tim, the guy who I was afraid was going to catch me at my first duathlon win last spring!! He told me he looked back around mile 4 and said to himself "Shit - that's Stenzel back there!!" I was gaining on him (I ran 90 seconds faster than him), but I ran out of race course to pass him. So I was 19 seconds from 7th overall and an Age Group win.


• 11th fastest swim?!? Nice! I felt good swimming, and it showed in the results. Matt's been swimming better too - when we first did this race together 4 years ago, he swam in the bottom 12%. This year, he was in the top half. That's great progress!

• This windy bike was my slowest ride at this race. But it was windy. Windy. 39:50, 40:15, and 41:06 in the past 3 times, and 41:28 this year. OK. Fine.

• Had I transitioned better, I would have made up the 19 seconds that I was behind 1st place in my age group. (I know this isn't a "given" - he could have heard me coming and kicked harder in the final stretch.) My T1 was actually SLOWER than Matt's, and that never happens. T2 was a mess, and I took a drink and nearly forgot my race belt (but still beat Matt here by over 30 seconds, which is more normal). Seriously, I gave up an age group win by being too nonchalant in transition. Lesson learned.

• This was my 2nd fastest overall finish at this race! In 2010 and 2011, I finished with the exact same time of 1:18:27. Last year, I was faster with a 1:16:38 finish. So to feel far from 100% and still finish decently on a windy day is fan-freakin-tastic!

• Anyone who runs slower than me might be annoyed at what I'm about to say: I'm actually kind of pissed at how fast I was able to run. My 27:22 this year was my slowest run of all 4 years here (26:05, 27:05, 27:08), but not by much. Last year was my fastest run with a 5:55 average, but I was running lots of speedwork, coming off a super fast road mile, and doing long runs of 11 miles. This year, coming off of 11 months of being injured and 3.5 months of just running a few easy miles at a time, I was only 20 seconds / mile slower. And as I've mentioned already, my longest run since early April was 4 miles. Why train so much only to be a little faster? (I'm not REALLY asking that question, but yet... there it is.) And for what it's worth, I've been biking a LOT more lately, and that's helped my running too.

Matt came to the line shortly with a Clydesdale division WIN by 9 minutes! I'll have more photos of him and photos of our 2 ladies finishing the 1/3 Iron distance race posted shortly. Check back for those!

UPDATE: HERE'S Part Two of the race report with photos of everyone else finishing.


Viator 7:37 AM, July 29, 2014  

Yep. That was me, and "back there" was the dominant theme of my race day, I'm afraid. I knew I had a zig-zaggy swim (as is my habit), but I didn't realize how much so until I looked at my GPS data last night and saw that I'd done an extra 300 yards. So, we'll just call it an awesome training day!

Hats off to you, Pharmie, and Angela for great races! Fun meeting you all.

T 4:18 PM, July 29, 2014  

given that you said you were taking transitions "easy" so as to not screw up your ankle ... i wouldn't be so pissed at being "nonchalant." :-p

Steve Stenzel 10:32 PM, July 29, 2014  

Nice meeting you too Ben! Love/hate to see my GPS on days like that.

And T, you're right. I could have been smarter in T2, but I did kinda need to take it easy in T1.

saroy 9:33 AM, July 30, 2014  

I ask that same question about my swimming. I can go months without swimming and still do basically the same pace. So why train??

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