First 2 Races in the Loony Challenge: My 10K and 5K Race Reports

>> Monday, October 06, 2014

My "Loony Challenge" weekend started with a 10K and a 5K on Saturday morning. I ran with my camera for the 10K, so I have some photos to share.

Saturday morning, it was 38-40 degrees and SUPER windy. It was kinda brutal walking to the race start:

Pharmie, Angela, and Matt walking across a BREEZY I94 bridge. Matt and I were doing the
"Loony" (10K, 5K, 10 Mile), and the ladies were doing the "ULTRA Loony" (10K, 5K, Marathon).

Our backs showed our "loony" labels.

Cute portrait of Angela (left) and Pharmie (right). (Really, they were in there.)

We all huddled for warmth and got a quick photo:

This doesn't look cold, but looks can be deceiving.

The other 3 hopped back a bit in the starting chute, and I grabbed a spot closer to the front. I grabbed 2 quick photos before getting lined up:

A selfie with Marie! She's an old "race buddy," and she was doing the "Loony" as well.

We got ready to go. I had NOOOO idea how I was going to "race" this race. If you remember, I interviewed 3 people who have done back-to-back-to-back races like this before, and I figured I'd race the 10K and 5K at "about 85-90%." But what does that really mean? How would I feel? I knew I'd be racing totally by "feel," and, as I said in my prediction post, I'd maybe feel GREAT with a 37:xx, or feel like I was overdoing it with a 40:xx. Who knows. I was nervous, but excited.


I was too far back. I hopped onto the curb to pass a lot of people in the first block or 2. Then I found a good place to be:

We got up the hill, and my first half mile was 3:08. That was a decent place to start. I was hoping for around a 38:30, which is 6:11 pace (3:05.5 / half mile). I found myself in about 16th place overall, and I figured I'd see if I could "settle in" right there and feel comfortable.

Nearing the first mile marker (in front of my former college).

Starting down a hill, then up another to Dale Street.

My next 3 half mile splits were 3:07.9, 3:05.4, and 3:12.7, which makes mile 1 6:16 and mile 2 6:18. That was a bit slower than I had hoped, but I knew the downhill to the finish would help get back a little time. I wasn't worrying too much about my pace, really. I hit mile 3 in 6:25, and I hoped that'd be my slowest mile. They had a 5K clock out there, and I (unofficially) ran past that at 19:45, about 30 seconds slower than I'd hoped (on pace for a 39:30 10K).

After the turn-around, with the same guy in front of me.

Lots of people running out as we're headed back.

The woman in blue with her hands up was SCREAMING for "Steve in a Speedo!!!"
(Later, I'd learn her name was Laura after she contacted me through my Facebook page).

Mile 4 was 6:07 (3:06.2 and 3:01.7) and mile 5 was 6:15 (3:08.8 and 3:06.8). The nice thing is that I made a friend somewhere around mile 4. It was a guy running hard but not "all out" because he's doing Whistlestop Marathon next weekend. We chatted a bit. He kept me from going TOO hard and frying my legs early in this long race weekend. It was great timing to make a race buddy.

As my new friend and I were running with less than a mile left (again, about in front of my old college), a guy came up behind me and said something like "Awwww mannnnn!" My new friend and I laughed - I think we both assumed that he felt great he was gaining on me, but then saw my "Loony Challenge" label on my back, and that made him feel less "special" about catching us. But it turns out it was speedy Don Sullivan who was doing the ULTRA Loony Challenge. He said "I spent the last mile trying to catch you because I saw the label on your back, but you're REGULAR Loony, and I'm ULTRA Loony. I'm hoping to win this thing: shooting for sub-40 10K, sub-20 5K, and a sub-3 hour marathon." Don kept going in front of us.

Don in the yellow in front of us with just over a half mile left.

I was upping the pace, but FAR from sprinting to the finish. I was working, but felt good. I made it a point early on to make sure I was "running EASY," and I didn't ever want to run HARD: if I wanted to pick up the pace, I still had to relax and make sure it felt easy.

Across Kellogg at mile 6 and into the long finisher's chute.
(With Don in the ULTRA Loony Challenge still right in front of me.)

About to hit the finish.

Mile 6 was 6:02, and the final 0.22 was 1:14 (5:39 pace). So I sped up, but still was feeling good. I resisted the urge to kick, which was hard - there were 7 people within 20 seconds in front of me. But I was being smart and thinking about my entire weekend of races.


Steve Stenzel, TC 10K
38:40, 6:14 pace
16 out of 2101 overall
1 out of 130 in the 30-34 age group

I passed 89 runners, and was passed by 2 runners between the start and the finish.

NEVER have I started running so soon after finishing a race - I was cold right away and needed to keep moving. I was PERFECT during the race, but I couldn't stop. I ran back towards our car and got a few photos of other people racing:

Heading down to the finish.

Using the downhill past the Cathedral.

These goes Angela!

I nearly missed Matt! Go Matt!

My lovely Pharmie heading to the finish!

Lots of 10K runners.

The juggler! (We have a guy who will do races juggling the entire way!)

So I jogged a bit, got some clothes out of the car for Matt and Angela, and we got ready for the TC 5K! The 10K started at 7:30, and the 5K was at 9:00. We all lined up again. I was smarter this time about lining up closer to the front (notice the "passed 89 runners, passed by 2 runners" stat in my official results from the 10K). BUT THIS TIME, THERE WAS A ROW OF MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS ALL THE WAY ACROSS AT THE FRONT OF THE LINE. Oh well. A number of us teased each other saying things like "Try not to throw too many elbows and take out a little kid!" At least we were warm all huddled up at the start.


I wanted to run around 6:00s if I could for the 5K. My legs were heavy up that hill past the Cathedral, but I was doing OK. I went out harder in 5:58 for the first mile (2:57.3 and 3:01.2). Again, just like the 10K, I had the lead woman just in front of me. I jockeyed for position with a few guys, and was usually somewhere around 15-20th.

At any little climb, my quads felt a little tired, but like the 10K, I just tried to mentally make sure I was running easy. Fast, but "easy." After turning back towards the finish, I ran mile 2 in 6:05 (3:01.2 and 3:04.1).

With about a half mile left, I head some BIG screams for me. Before I could see who it was, I thought "that sounds like Lisa." And it was. She snapped a photo of me as I ran past:

She captioned it "Crushing his 5k today - crazy if that's what injured looks like."

If you're smiling that big with a half mile left in a 5K, you KNOW you're not working TOO hard. I wasn't happy with the first half of my 3rd mile (3:05.3), so I used the downhill towards the finish to have a speedy last half to mile 3 (2:47.4) for a mile 3 total of 5:52. I ran the final 0.11 to the finish in 0:39, or 5:59 pace - NOT going too crazy.


Steve Stenzel, TC 5K
18:38, 6:00 pace
20 out of 2575 overall
2 out of 96 in the 30-34 age group

I passed 59 runners, and was passed by 0 runners between the start and the finish.

I walked back up the course and found Steph and Jon (my wife's sister and hubby). We all cheered together until all of us racers were back together, then we got 1 final shot before going back to the warm car:

After our 10K and 5K.

Shortly after getting home, the preliminary "Loony Challenge" results were posted, and I was at the top:

There were 411 total finishers (500 registered), and I was 1st and Matt was 83rd.

In the ULTRA Loony, there were 96 total finishers, and Pharmie was 61st and Angela was 25th!


• My "easy" 10K pace was just about 2 minutes slower than my 10K PR. I'm NOT saying I'm in great shape and could have easily PRed "if I tried." No. I'm saying that there's apparently a big difference in those 20 seconds per mile.

• If you want to do one of these races, do the 10K. The 10K was great. The 5K feels like you just get up the hill and get settled in, and then you're turning around. But the 10K was nice - we got to enjoy a lot of Summit Ave.

• Ummm... 1st and 2nd in my age groups! Wow! And 16th and 20th overall out of 2000+ and 2500+!! I felt pretty good about that.

• After these 2 races, all 4 of us felt pretty good. We worked our bodies, but our legs had something left for the next day of racing. (We hoped.) I felt like I did what I had to do - I put up some decent times, but didn't go TOO hard. I was still really curious how I'd feel the next day for the TC 10 Mile, but I was happy to have a 57:18 total time after day 1 when I predicted I'd be at 57:30.

When I was ready to hop in the shower, I had to laugh at how ridiculous I looked - I had my calf sleeves on along with my pink plaid shorts, and I also forgot I had arm warmers on UNDER my long sleeve shirt. So here's what I looked like as I was stripping down while having a hot drink before showering:

Starting a fashion trend.

Back with my TC 10 Mile report and the wrap-up of the Loony Challenge shortly! Will I be able to hold on for the win? How will my legs feel for the 10 Mile? All will be answered soon...


Terry 8:14 AM, October 06, 2014  

I can vouch that you were smiling during the 5k, I saw you coming the other way at what must have been about the tail end of your second mile.

I got passed by the juggler at mile 19 yesterday. He was in an Alan Page jersey and juggling three footballs. I watched him trot away from me seemingly effortlessly up that hill to get on the Franklin avenue bridge, while jugging three freaking footballs.


Shinianen 10:28 AM, October 06, 2014  

Awesome job! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the 10 mile. ;-)

Randy,  3:32 PM, October 06, 2014  

What! No port-a-pottie selfie?

Steve Stenzel 9:17 PM, October 06, 2014  

Randy, I thought of that too late! I ran TWO races on Saturday, had a camera for the first, and totally forgot to take a photo! But at least I got one after the 10 Mile in the bathroom at the Cathedral, so make sure to stop back tomorrow or Wednesday to see that. :) Hope I didn't let you down too much. I'm pretty upset at myself for breaking the tradition.

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