Final Race in the Loony Challenge: the 2014 TC 10 Mile

>> Tuesday, October 07, 2014

So my 10K and 5K race report left off with me stripping down to shower. After that, I iced my ankle a bit (it was feeling just fine), and then Pharmie and I went out for a good breakfast:

Pancake, meat, eggs, and fruit for Pharmie, meaty omelet and toast for me.

Then we did one of the best things we could have: we stopped at the "Great Metropolitan Backrub" for a quick 20 minute massage each. (It's a "pay-by-the-minute" fully-clothed massage place just down the road from our house.) We both had our legs rubbed out a bit, and I had some time spent on my hip/sacrum issue from over a year ago. We both said we could have went for an hour, but we didn't want to have jelly legs for the race the next day; we just wanted to be loosened up a bit. Twenty minutes was probably about perfect.

Then, because the boys were at Grandma's house, we went back home and took a nap. I slept for an hour (the longest nap I've had in YEARS), and Pharmie slept for almost 3 hours. It was glorious. I foam rolled my legs and iced my ankle once more. I mowed the lawn in the evening just to "flush the legs out," and then I came in and stretched a bit. Then it was off to bed.

Sunday morning, we went to Matt and Angela's place, and the 4 of us hopped a ride on the Green Line Light Rail to get to the start. They were offering free rides to runners with their race numbers on, and the train was FULL OF RUNNERS at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning:

OK, it doesn't look that packed, but it was full. And more got on at the next 2 stops.

Sporting our trash bags to stay warm at the race site.

Standing around, we ran into a ton of "race buddies," and I can't even mention them all because I know I'll miss a few. Nice seeing you all! Matt and I kissed our ladies goodbye (and good luck), and we took off to get into "corral 1" for the 10 Mile. Aaron G was pissed I wasn't in my shorty yellow shorts, and former student Jeremy was annoyed by that too. But I told them I went with the pink plaid shorts again because they covered THAT much more leg on a chilly, chilly morning. Multisport queen Diane H saw me and laughed - I was wearing a kinda ugly Apple Duathlon shirt to throw away when I warmed up, and she was too! (Different year, but just as ugly. Great race, but uggo shirts.) Multisport king Dan A came over and asked what I was hoping to run. I said sub-1:03, and he said he'd run with me. He's doing Kona this next weekend (the Ironman World Championship), and he had to run at a certain heart rate without getting too fast, so he was hoping to hold himself back to around a 1:03. We lined up side-by-side.


Pharmie and Angela were standing on the right side of the start, but I was on the left side, so we didn't spot each other. Pharmie snapped a few photos on her phone as we took off:

A second after the start.

Runners starting the 10 Mile.

Lots of runners.

Matt held back near the back of corral 1. There he goes!

Blurry Matt again. (This was his first time in corral 1, and he loved it - he said he
got passed by a few small groups of people a few miles into the race, but he
thought it was the perfect place for him to start.)

I had to hop around a few runners right away - there were people at the front of corral 1 talking about how they'd run a 75:00 if they had a great day. Dan and I split up around the first or second turn. I didn't know if he was ahead of me or behind me. We turned onto the bike trail that was sort of the start of the "detour" this year because of the washed out area along River Road, and we hit the Mile 1 marker right away. EVERYONE around me (including me) said "uhhh, yeah... that was short." Every mile marker past that was right, but mile 1 ended up a little short. My Garmin half-mile splits said 3:01.2 and 3:04.4 for a 6:05 first mile. "Uhh, that's a bit fast right now. Back off on this uphill across the bridge because you do NOT know what your legs will feel like by mile 5 or 6!"

Mile 2 consisted of crossing a footbridge, going up a NASTY short climb on the other side, and then coming down a gradual hill on the far side to get down low behind Coffman Union (in the area known as East River Flats). My half mile splits show the climb and then the downhill: 3:17.6 and 3:01.0 for a 6:18 mile. Now we had our longest climb back up from the flats, and I had my slowest half mile split of the day (3:24.0), and then we were back on relatively flat roads (with a little downhill) to get up to the mile 3 marker. Mile 3 was 6:30. Right at the mile marker, I heard lots of cheers and knew it was my wife's co-worker/running buddy Laura before I saw her:

Notice I was still running with my "throw away shirt." I took it off a few feet
into the race, but waited to throw it until an aid station. So I threw it just after this.

Mile 4 was 3:11.6 and 3:12.7 for a 6:24 total. Sometime around the mile 4 marker, I started running with James (seen looking at his watch in Laura's photo above). He saw the "Loony Challenge" tag on my back and asked how I was feeling after the 2 races the day before. He was hoping for about a 1:03 finish as well, so we stuck together. He'd never done the TC 10 Mile, so I told him that miles 6 and 7 can be deceptively slow on an uphill false-flat, but that we get a fast downhill mile to the finish. We chatted off and on for the next 5 miles.

We hit the mile 5 split in 31:03, but again, that included a slightly short first mile. I was hoping that 1:02 was possible! (That'd be a slight negative split.) Mile 5 was a bit slow: 3:08.3 and 3:22.6 for a 6:30 total. A twitter buddy got some photos of us just after climbing the hill at mile 5:

Fall colors abound!

Close-up of James and me.

Ugh. My knees are still collapsing and my hip is dropping. Damn.
Still need to work on my leg/butt strength.

James pulled away a bit as we hit Summit Ave, but I was still feeling OK. Mile 6 was 6:26, and mile 7 was 6:21. I never lost sight of James, and actually caught back up to him just before the mile 7 marker (a block before Hamline). I told him "this is where we turned around in the 10K yesterday, so we've just got a 5K left." He asked if I was ready to start my kick. I told him I was feeling pretty good, but wasn't sure how much my legs had left after the 10K and 5K the day before, so we didn't start kicking yet (but we DID start slowly upping the pace).

There were lots of people cheering just after Lexington (with about 2.5 miles left). One was Shinianen, and she got a few photos of me and James:

With a smile and a wave.

I swear there were more people than just James and I racing!! There were 8,500 other
racers out there, but I guess they just kept their distance from the pink shorts.

We were slowly speeding up. Mile 8 was 3:02.7 and 3:04.4 for a 6:07 total. After the first half of mile 8, I announced our split to James: "3:02 half mile - nice! Let's keep that up."

We ran up and down and up the hills that I ran yesterday near the 5K turn-around, and we ran nice even splits for mile 9: 2:59.3 and 2:59.7 for 5:59 total. Now we were up our last "noticeable" hill, had a half mile of winding (mostly) flat roads, and then a nice downhill to the finish. I started to pull away from James, but I was happy knowing that it looked like we'd both be ahead of our goal!

This was the first point I started to worry about my place in the "Loony Challenge." "What if someone started in front of me and they've just been pulling away since the start? I had over a 2.5 minute lead, but what if someone is going to break 60? I can't settle in here - I've gotta go!" My breathing was OK and my legs felt OK, so I felt like I SHOULD be going faster. But I felt so heavy on any little hill, and I was doing all I could. It was just a general "exhaustion" that was keeping me from speeding up too much.

Photo from Coach Gary with about 0.7 miles left. Still smiling!
(Here's FINALLY a photo without James in it - he was just behind me at this point.)

This was the first year in about the last 10+ that we didn't have family cheering near the Cathedral! Our family has been a great cheer squad over the years, but now that kids are in the mix, everything gets a little harder. Grandma didn't make it out because she had our boys for the weekend - THANKS GRANDMA MONICA! So I was pleasantly surprised when I STILL heard cheers from our normal cheering location! It was Jennifer and Pete (my Gear West Du partner last year), and they both got a photo of me running past:

Flying! Thanks guys!

That last photo is a little blurry, but it keeps alive my traditional photo next to the Cathedral parking lot:

My other 3 TC 10 Mile races: 2009, 2010, and 2011.

I hit that last mile hard. I saved a bit much in the middle (a usual problem of mine), so now I had a decent amount of energy to still spend. Because of the short 1st mile, I finished with mile 10 being 0.9 miles in 4:56, or 5:29 pace! (The first half of mile 10 was 2:52, and the last 0.4 was 2:04 which was 5:09 pace!)


Steve Stenzel, TC 10 Mile
1:01:42, 6:10.2 pace
98 out of 8581 overall
15 out of 548 in the 30-34 age group

At the 5 mile mark: 120th overall, 18th in age group.
(So I caught some people on the way to the finish.)

I passed 38 runners, and was passed by 41 runners between the start and mile 5.
I passed 18 runners, and was passed by 1 runner between mile 5 and the finish.

James finished just 25 seconds behind me, just over 1:02, well under his 1:03 goal! Nice running with you James! And congrats! I talked to ALLLLL kinds of "race buddies" in the finishers chute area after that. Everyone was asking if I felt like I had the "Loony" win or not. I felt pretty good about it, but was hesitant to feel TOO good until it was official. Dan A found me, and he ran a 59:59 to get ready for Kona this weekend. Crazy! I tried to stay warm, and then hit a porta-potty. My stomach gave a good rumble about 20 minutes after finishing, and I had to take care of something in a biffy. Luckily, it didn't start churning until post-race!

I walked back to the base of the Cathedral hill to set up camp to cheer. Just after 9:00 a.m. (just over 2 hours into the 10 Mile), THIS is how many people were still heading to the finish:

I found Matt, and he was happy with his 1:22 finish! We walked up to the Catherdal to change:

Changing clothes in the basement of the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Then, it was time to cheer for a few hours. We watched the lead men go by in the marathon, and then then lead woman came by in a CLOSE race:

Leader on the left, 2nd just over the shoulder of the motorcyclist, 3rd to the far right.
All within a block of each other with 0.3 miles to go!

Then we got cozy, busted out the snacks, and cheered for the next 3 hours:

Yes, I just might have Oreos in my hand.

From Instagram: "This is how I'm cheering for the TC Marathon. #DontJudgeMe"
The best response from a twitter friend was "I’m totally judging you,
and my decision is that you make great choices."

Speedy Don Sullivan on his way to win the ULTRA Loony Challenge. He hit his goals that
he told me during the 10K the day before: sub-40 10K, sub-20 5K,
and sub-3 hour marathon. He ran a 2:56!

Race buddy Lance on his way to a sub-3 hour marathon too!
(He's the guy who won the Lake Marion Tri where I placed 3rd overall.)

Angela on her way to a sub-4 hour marathon!! Congrats Angela!!

LOTS of marathon runners.

I spotted Pharmie in the distance (in the light blue just left-of-center).

Go Pharmie!

On her way to finish her 16th marathon with a smile! (Breaking 5 hours!)

Pharmie and I at home later with our 4 medals from the weekend. The Loony medals are sweet.
My "Loony" medal is all sliver, and Pharmie's "Ultra Loony" is black. Cool.

Race shirts and medals.

Some neighbors dropped off 3 cupcakes to congratulate us on our races. Thanks Reid and Darcie!

Post-race meal from Instagram: "When the bag gets shiny like this, you know it's
gonna be a good meal. #WeHaveTheMeats"

From Instagram: "I think this is what they mean by "active recovery." A day after the TC 10 Mile
and the "Loony Challenge" weekend, I dug up 4 loads of dirt to make room for a
paving stone patio, and then unloaded the loads into my neighbors yard
so they can re-grade around their house."


• I say this after most "longer" races: I could have pushed more in the middle miles. Usually I say I could have pushed more in miles 6-8. But my slow miles this year were 3-6. I was just timid to push too much on already tired legs. But in the end, I could have pushed more. I maybe could have ended up around 1:01 flat. Who knows. Related to that...

• I'm smiling in HOW many of those photos above? I didn't run TOO hard. Yes, I was working, but I did as instructed by last year's Loony Challenge winner when I interviewed him: "Stress less, enjoy it more, and take it all in!" I couldn't get myself to go too hard because my legs were just tired/heavy/slow from the races the day before. Because I ran a little too easy at the beginning, I had a negative split: 31:03 for the first 5 (that was a little short, so maybe more like 31:30 pace), and 30:39 for the final 5.

• This is the first race where I made a "race buddy" for the majority of the race. My wife likes to do this a lot, but I usually just chat with a few random people. Running with James for miles 4-9 was the longest I've ever spent with someone during an event. It was nice - a little relaxing.

• I'm giving myself a week off, but then it's time to keep working on my leg/butt strength. I'm not happy about that hip-drop that I see in that one photo from the middle of the race. I don't want to let that go too much - that will lead to another injury.

• The TC 10 Mile is one of my favorite races. The course is great. The support is great. Running along the Mississippi River as the leaves are changing is great. It's just great. Great great great. Great.

If you missed it, here's my race report from the 10K and the 5K - the first 2 races in the series ran the day before. (I ran the 10K with my camera.)

Back soon with how the "Loony Challenge" turned out (and my thoughts this series as a whole). Spoiler Alert: it's good news for me!


Shinianen 6:36 AM, October 08, 2014  

Oreos, Swedish fish and Arby's? You sure know how to refuel!

Nice race. And thanks for the shout out!

BTW, I just got my recap up:

Carolina John 1:06 PM, October 08, 2014  

Those pancakes are seriously impressive. Almost as impressive as the 1:01 finish time! Rock on man. Excellent job.

Anonymous,  8:43 AM, October 09, 2014  

I have considered doing multiple races next year and my niece just started going to IPR so this is going to be in the running!!! Great job!

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