Lake Waconia Triathlon RACE REPORT!

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2015

If you didn't hear the story, here's how Pharmie and I came to race this triathlon on Sunday:

A few weeks ago, we signed up to do the "By George" triathlon on Saturday.
Lisa L was all set to watch our boys because she owed me babysitting duties from when I beat her at the indoor tri this past March.
On Thursday, we got an email from the race director saying the race was cancelled.
Lake Waconia was on Sunday, and we figured we'd try to race that (even though it was longer distance).
I looked for a new sitter for the boys for Sunday, and Grandma Monica volunteered.
On Saturday, I loaded up the boys and met Grandma between her house and our house, then registered Pharmie and I to race on Sunday.
We had a peaceful night sleep on Saturday night, and then got up to race the next morning.

The boys were having fun overnight at my in-laws. Saturday was my wife's hometown celebration, so Grandma got to show off the grandkids. And Henry "helped" Grandpa run the putt-putt course:

Pharmie and I got to the race on Sunday, got set up in transition, and I headed to the potties:

Barefoot in the wet porta-potty. Gross.

I ran into Justin (race buddy from the Lake Marion Tri and hubby of a one of my wife's college friends) and he snapped this photo of Pharmie and I ready to race:


I was in the 2nd wave behind the elites, athenas, and clydesdales. I started as the FARTHEST swimmer to the outside (to the left) because it really was no farther to the first turn WAY out there, and I like not bumping into other swimmers. I went out pretty fast, and (accidentally) stayed too far to the left most of the time - I tried cutting back in to the right, but I just kept veering left. Here's a photo from the start of wave 3, and I'm 100% sure I'm the 1 little speck near the white boat towards the left:

Really. That's me. I like open water. Obviously.

I didn't do the best about swimming a straight line, but I was swimming pretty STRONG. My pace seemed good. I swam a bit straighter on the way back to shore. This was a rare swim where I did NOT bump into 1 other person! Nice.

I hit transition 6 seconds FASTER than last year at this race where I was only the swimmer for a relay and swimming ALL OUT! Yep, I figured I could do that. If you've been reading my blog in the last few months, you know my swimming has been improving.

Running in from the swim. (Pic from Suzie Fox's Dad.)

My lovely Pharmie coming into T1, looking focused.


This wasn't too pretty. I got caught in my wetsuit. Oy.


As I noted in the bullet-pointed list that started this post, the "By George" tri that we were originally going to do was shorter: 0.25 mile swim, 13 mile bike, and 5K run. I was most concerned about the bike at this race going from 13 to 20 miles, and going from pretty flat to moderately hilly. Example: the timing mat starting the bike was at the end of the run out, so we were able to mount and start biking pretty quick, but STILL my average was only 16.x mph after a mile. Yikes. Pharmie and I were ready to suffer (a little more than we wanted to) on the bike. (Also, because I was racing with my wife, I didn't get to borrow her front Zipp 404 - I was riding on stock wheels.)

I passed 2 relay bikers and got passed by someone older than me (outside of my age group) before mile 5. Just after that, I got passed by a good number of guys (the leaders of the wave of 40+ year-old men that started behind me), and 1 was in my age group - he was wearing blue and I needed to keep him in sight for the run. (Later, I realized that this was the guy Justin introduced me to pre-race.) He zoomed out of sight quickly. We turned west for a few straight miles into the slight breeze - it wasn't bad by any means, but it knocked my average down a bit. The good news about the straight west stretch was that it was the flattest part of the ride - the rest had lots of little hills.

By the end of the bike, no one else in my age group passed me. I thought MAYBE I was in 3rd in my age group - I've been swimming well, and I don't think there were many people in front of me coming out of the water. Still, the plan was to catch a lot of people on the final 4 mile run. Oh, and here were my overall averages according to my Garmin every 5 miles throughout the bike:

- Mile 5: 20.8 mph
- Mile 10: 21.8 mph (just down from 21.9 as we had just turned into the wind)
- Mile 15: 20.9 mph
- Outside of Transition: 21.0 mph (it dropped down to 20.9 on the run in)

Hilly, then flat and into the wind from miles 9-14, then hilly again.


I stayed in my bike shoes at dismount because we had to run across a short bit of gravel. I grabbed my run stuff, and felt like I was clodding out of transition. I was HOT.


We started up a little hill, and I kinda thought that was the only hill out there. "We're running around a lake - it's gotta be pretty flat, right?" Man, I was so wrong. It was hilly and hot.

I saw the man in blue in my age group just about 1 block in front of me about a half mile into the run, and I caught him easily around 0.75 miles into the run. Sweet. Time to pick off more runners. My first 2 half mile splits were 3:03 and 3:17 for a 6:20 first mile, and my next 2 were 3:03 and 3:08 for a 6:11 second mile. I was catching a lot of runners. There were MANY more runners out there than at the Capitol City Triathlon a few weeks ago where I only caught 1 runner in the last mile. And I was catching people in my age group! I didn't know I had that many in my age group in front of me! When I started the run, I thought I *could* be in 3rd in my age group, but I caught 3 or 4 guys in my age group on the run before the last mile!

My 3rd mile had half mile splits of 3:09 and 3:09 for a 6:18 mile. Then with less than a mile left, I heard something I'm not used to hearing in triathlons: there were footsteps coming up behind me. My ego said "Oh, that must be a relay runner coming..." because I really can't tell you the last time I was passed on the run. Really. It's been years. Well guess what? Not only was it NOT a relay runner, but it was a 30-year-old in my age group. F*ck. I tried to keep up, but he just blew past me. Serves me right for thinking "he must be a relay."

He pulled away, but I reeled him back in a LITTLE before the finish. Still, he was well out of reach. My final mile clocked in at 3:00 and 2:34 (for 0.48 miles - 5:25 pace). He ended up 6 seconds in front of me at the finish:

Me in my bright shorts back there.

Hitting the line 6 seconds later.

Trying to live.

Basically, the dips in speed are hills. You can see where I upped the pace after mile 3 to try
to hang with the guy who passed me, topping out for a while between 5:11-5:15 pace.


Steve Stenzel, #2721, 34, M, St. Paul, MN

- 1/2 mile swim: 15:38, 1:47 pace. 44th overall, 28th non-elite, 4th in age group.
- T1: 1:47, 59th overall.
- 20 mile bike: 56:00, 21.4 pace. 53rd overall, 37th non-elite, 9th in age group.
     [Garmin: 19.47 miles, 20.9 mph average]
- T2: 0:55, 33rd overall.
- 4 mile run: 24:26, 6:06.5 pace. 7th overall, 2nd non-elite, 2nd in age group.

- Total: 1:38:22

24th out of 215 overall
11th out of 197 non-elite overall
3rd out of 15 in the 30-34 age group


• This race was pretty uneventful for me. Talking with Nicole H post-race, she was disappointed that nothing "hilarious" happened to me. Sorry Nicole. The swim was fine. The bike was hilly. And the run got hot. Being passed by someone in my age group on the run was the most eventful moment.

• I forget who I was talking to post-race, but someone nailed it on the head when they mentioned that it was just "1-click shy" of being TOO hot. It was warm. The run was a sufferfest. Times were a bit slow. But it wasn't too detrimental.

• I have a random "elite wave" complaint. It's hardly even a complaint. I thought about not even mentioning this. But here I am anyway. Wave 1 was elites, relays, athenas, and clydesdales. Note that in the results above and in the official results, I'm marked as 3rd in my age group. But when giving out awards, they disregarded anyone who signed up as elite and lumped them back in with age groupers. So at awards, I was technically 5th in my age group because Bennett and Josh beat me, even though they went off in the elite wave. (Both nice fellas!) So I was racing them in my age group, even though they had a 3 minute start - I could have been leading my wave, but still not first in my age group. That sucks a little. (Sidenote: I'd never be able to catch them anyway!) I'm not trying to make a big deal out of this, but it's a little annoying. If there's an elite division and wave, shouldn't that be it's own category at awards? (Like at the Oakdale Duathlon earlier this spring.) I wish there was more standardization regarding this at races. (And with the idea of "do we or don't we take the top-3 overall out of age group awards?" That's different at every race.) Again, I'm not trying to "start something" or make a big deal out of this, but it's just been a random thought in my mind since the race. No big fuss. I love Final Stretch races, and race director Mark is AWESOME. This may be the first less-than-perfect thing I've ever said about his races, and probably one of the last. LOVE his races, and hope to do 1 or 2 more this summer (looking at Waseca and North Mankato).

• All that being said in my last point, I'm still really happy with how I placed. I knew Waconia was a bigger race that attracted some big names. So 3rd or 5th in my age group (depending on how you look at it) and 24th overall is FINE BY ME! Racing has been pretty good to me this spring so far!

I had just passed speedy elite Ann on the final downhill to the finish, so she finished just behind me:

Oh God... WHAT'S THAT?!?...

Huffing and puffing does not make my body look good. Gotta work on this #DadBod.

Gear West Bike and Tri buddy Sean snapped 2 photos of me as I was heading back into transition to get my camera so I could photograph my wife finishing:

The right leg of my jammer is a little pulled up because that's where I stuff my
empty GU wrappers while biking (between my tri shorts and my "tutti frutti" shorts).

This is uncropped and unedited from Sean. He said "Now I just want one of the shorts!"
(Also notice the 4 cups of water that I downed after finishing. I was HOT!)

I grabbed my camera and got back to near the finish:

A big pack of runners coming in just a few minutes before my wife.

Pharmie making the final turn to the finish!

Hitting the finish. Congrats Hunnie!

In the shade after the finish.

For the 2nd race in a row, I got to have Kevin O'Connor's blueberry pancakes post-race!

Changing clothes in another porta-potty. I'd never seen a small hole like that before.
I took it as a challenge - I peed down it. (No, not really. I pooped down it.)

The top 3 women: Suzie (who's Dad took the photos of Pharmie and I coming out of
the water and of me finishing), Kortney (3rd), and Bridget (2nd).

3rd (Bennett) and 1st (Matt) overall. 2nd overall was Kevin, and he was still making pancakes.

Then Pharmie and I loaded up and took "the back roads" straight south for a half hour to get to Belle Plaine, MN where we were going to meet her Mom and the boys at Emma Krumbees restaurant:

Charlie across the table from me just after we got there.

Kisses from Grandma. Thanks Grandma Monica!

I almost bought 3 things at Emma Krumbees... THIS...

... THIS (directed towards Henry)...

... and THESE (for me).

One thing I DID buy was this frosted cinnamon roll that was as big as my head.
This is when it was half gone. Look at how big it is compared to my hand.

Thanks for taking the boys for the night, Grandma Monica! We had a lazy Saturday night, and then a fun (WARM) race on Sunday morning!


J.K. Beam,  8:57 AM, June 30, 2015  

I don't think I know your political orientation - but I could probably guess. You don't take too many sides or stances here. So I'm happy to see you giving your thoughts about how the race delt with the elite wave. Hanlded it well. Yes, that's not usually how it should go, at least not where I race either.

And I can't say I'm sorry that you got passed on the run. Now you know what it feels like to be a swimmer like me! lol

Steve Stenzel 2:30 PM, June 30, 2015  

Ha J.K.! I try to be slightly offensive, but not go much beyond that. I didn't know I was not taking too many sides. But I think I see what you're saying. And I LOVE BEING A RUNNER and not a swimmer for that very reason! HA! Thanks for the comment!

Doc 6:46 PM, July 01, 2015  

I think your critique of the race medaling is perfectly reasonable, and I like how you hedged it on liking the races/director/company. I also wish for a little more standardization in races around the area - wave assignments, medaling, etc. I agree Final Stretch is an excellent company making triathlon accessible for a lot of people. I agree their races are well-run and the race director seems very kind and enthusiastic. I also like to think that that company and those races are 'friendlier'. I love Waseca. I've done it four times and I think I saw you and your wife last year. This year it's later in the season. Next time you talk to Mark, can we find out why? I loved that Aug 1st weekend time slot - it was perfect before a 1/2 Iron. Now it's a week after my long course, and I don't think I'll be up to doing that amount of time on the bike :)

Steve Stenzel 7:31 AM, July 02, 2015  

Doc, I'm not sure why those races got moved. Like you said, I think they were on better weekends before. You probably DID see my wife last year! We were both there. Say hi next time!

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