Final Race in the Loony Challenge: the TC 10 Mile

>> Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Before leaving the house the morning of the race, I tweeted this:

I forgot to leave some cash in our car that we left near the finish line, so I had to stuff a 20 in my crotch for the race so I'd be able to buy some snacks while waiting 4+ hours for Pharmie:

My wife and I hopped on the light rail (which was PACKED with runners - more so than last year) and got dropped off about 15 minutes before my race started. We grabbed a quick photo before splitting up:

I ran to find college buddy Dena who was hoping to run the 10 Mile in about 70 minutes. We chatted about inappropriate things (like we did in college) before the gun went off.


First, Dr. Folske said it'd be best to take it easy up the hills and just "let some people pass" me. Running hard up hills would make my achilles angrier quicker. So I have Doctor's orders to be wussy on the hills. Nice. I can do that.

Second, after getting through the worst of the hills and onto Summit Ave, I wanted to up the pace and start running harder. That's around mile 5.5. I noted last year when I first did the Loony Challenge that I could have ran the middle miles harder, but was just a little too timid (unsure of how long my tired legs would hold up).


Pharmie saw me just a block after the start:

As I was running, I thought about my overall Loony time goal: "OK, my total is 57:27 after the 10K and 5K. So that means I'd have to run sub-1:02:33 to break 2 hours. And 1:02:30 is 6:15s, so LET'S SEE IF I CAN DO THAT!" I was still planning on starting a bit easier, keeping a solid pace in the middle, and then running hard to the finish - the last 3 miles are usually quite fast for me on this course.

I chatted with Casey from my Y early on in the race - she's never raced with me and she LOVED my shorts. Mile 1 was a good start in 6:19.5. I'd been doing a lot of my longer runs with portions at 6:20 pace, so I'm "comfortable" at that pace. Just after the first mile marker, we crossed the Mississippi River. I ran next to Tom R for a bit, and we chatted as we came to the short nasty hill across the river. Here's a photo from Terrance showing the pack in the 10 Mile Championship race in front of us climbing that hill:

It's steep.

One of the lead females on that hill, and you can see by
the retaining wall in the background that it's PRETTY steep!

Terrance didn't see me until I was just past him, but he tagged me in a photo where I'm in the background:

I'm the one in pink. The one who doesn't appear to be moving at all.

I let Tom pull away up that hill, and I let 2 other runners pass me. Then we enjoyed some downhill under the Washington Ave Bridge along River Road to the mile 2 marker. The hill didn't do much to my splits: mile 2 had half-mile splits of 3:10.4 and 3:10.2 for 6:20.6 total. Not bad.

But then we climbed THEE HILL on the course: the hill behind Coffman Union that climbs for a WHILE! I counted as people passed me: 15 got me on that hill. But I caught MOST if not ALL of them in the next half mile. THAT hill DID show up in my splits: that half mile was the slowest of the race in 3:26.3, followed by a pretty speedy 3:03.1 to make mile 3 6:29.4.

Photo from Marisa just after the 3rd mile marker.

I threw away my throw-away gloves, and I had my hat in my hand. It was a PERFECT morning for running. Mile 4 looked great with splits of 3:08.1 and 3:03.4 for a 6:11.5 total. I was getting ALL kinds of cheers for my shorts, and lots of cheers by name too. I didn't see everyone shouting for me, but of those I did see, I only recognized about half of them. Going under the Lake/Marshall Bridge, Emily shouted for me, and Greta did too. Greta referenced my tweet above shouting "THOSE LEGS DON'T LOOK HEAVY, STENZEL!" Oh, they felt heavy! Brian B grabbed a photo of me coming up the hill after going under the bridge around mile 4.5:

Just after that, I passed a woman saying "Oh, this is starting to hurt." She agreed. Then as I got a few more feet in front of her, she saw my shorts and responded to all the "NICE SHORTS" shouts I was getting by saying "hey, those ARE nice shorts!"

I hit the 5 mile mark in 31:59 and I was a little bummed with that split. I was HOPING to negative split the race (as I've done 3 out of the 4 years I'd ran it in the past), but I was worried that I was currently on pace for about 1:04. (Mile 5 was 6:23.9, which was slower too.)

I hit Summit and upped the effort. I was really working hard. But it wasn't showing in my splits: mile 6 was 6:27.9, and mile 7 was 6:26.2. My goal of 1:02:30 was slipping away, but I had to keep reminding myself that I was still having a decent race AFTER racing a 10K and 5K the day before, and that 1:02:30 was a pretty lofty goal.

Also, with around a 5K left, my left calf started getting a little tight. My right calf followed suit just after. They both got sore/tight and stayed there, so I was never in fear of having to stop. I actually thought that if I had to stop and walk ever, I might be done running in this race all together; my heels would probably tighten up too much right after stopping to walk that it'd be too painful to start running again. I knew I'd be pretty tight post-race, and I tried to keep thinking about my form.

Nipply bright photo from Terrance at mile 7.5.

Confused-looking, double-chinned, super un-sexy looking photo from Joshua at mile 8.

Mile 8 was FINALLY a bit faster, but still was only 6:10.3. And then mile 9 was a bit slower again at 6:17 (last year, I was sub-6 at this point). This race was harder than last year's; I can't say "Oh, I could have pushed more around mile X." Nope. This was appropriate suffering all the way through. I just wasn't in as good of shape this year.

At mile 9, I realized that I could break 1:03 if I ran a sub-5:40 final mile. It's a downhill finish, so I thought it was possible. My final mile has been 5:40 or faster each of the previous 4 years I've done this race. I gutted it out. But the first HARD half of that mile was 3:01.9. Dang.

At the Cathedral, I heard some cheers for me. Pete was there to get my yearly "running past the Cathedral" photo:

Thanks Pete!

It's a traditional shot, see:


2009, 2010, and 2011. Now I have a photo at that spot from all 5 years. :)

The second half of the last mile was fast (as it always is down that hill towards the finish): 2:40.4 for a 5:42.3 final mile.

Marisa's photo of me suffering down the final hill with 0.2 to go.

Tom R sent me this photo of me in the finisher's chute saying the
"camera got focused on the crowd, perhaps an American Flag bias?"


Steve Stenzel, TC 10 Mile
1:03:05, 6:18.50 pace
106 out of 9150 overall
15 out of 537 in the 30-34 age group

31:59 first 5 miles, 31:06 final 5 miles.

At the 5 mile mark: 129th overall, 18th in my age group.
(So I caught a few people on the way to the finish.)

I passed 165 runners, and was passed by 6 runners between the start and mile 5.
I passed 22 runners, and was passed by 2 runners between mile 5 and the finish.

Guess who was waiting for me just across the finish line? Evan was RIGHT there! I never saw him all race, but he just finished 14 seconds faster than me! (Remember, he was doing the Loony Challenge and had a 0:03 lead after the 10K and 5K the day before.) I had NO idea I was so close to him! But I raced a good race and could NOT have made up those 14 seconds, let alone made sure to finish at least 4 seconds in front of him to beat him in the Challenge. He had a slower 2nd half of the race, so I apparently was catching up to him (he ran a 31:19 and 31:31, so I was 25 seconds faster than him over the last half of the race).

I chatted with LOTS of "race buddies" in the finisher's area, and got an official post-race finisher's photo with Dena who was 33 seconds over her goal. I was 32 seconds over mine:

Instagrammed just after the race: "Happy with my 'personal worst' 10 mile time at the
#‎TC10Mile today. Calves were screaming with 5k left. 2:00:00 was my best possible
outcome for the #‎LoonyChallenge, and with my 38:33 10k and 18:54 5k yesterday,
I'm unofficially at 2:00:32. Now, who wants to massage my legs?..."

Post-race, I NEARLY headed into the medical tent because my calves hurt so bad. But then I realized it was far from a medical emergency, so I just toughed it out. But I DID get in line at the massage tent! I laughed when I got to the front of the line and could see in the tent: there were plastic-lined tables and mattresses on the floor all over the place (maybe 60 in this tent?), and it looked like a make-shift medical tent from World War II. Really. I immediately wished I had my camera. I got a great lower-half rub-down by a nice woman who's name I'm forgetting. THANK YOU MASSAGE WOMAN!


• NEVER have my calves been so sore after a race. My quads were sore and tired (which is to be expected), my hamstrings felt just fine, but my calves were SUPER tight. I couldn't properly walk down steps the next morning, and they were bad all day. Yesterday (2 days post-race) they were better, but far from perfect - they maybe went from an "8" on Monday (just shy of limping) to "6.5" yesterday on a 1-10 pain scale. And maybe they're a "5.5" today. As long as they keep feeling better, I'm not worried. If they stall out, I might have Dr. Folske rub them out.

• Never felt good/fast in this race. My legs were slow/heavy from the start because of the 10K and 5K the day before. I just never fell into a rhythm. I'd feel good 1 mile about a good split, and then crappy the next.

• I ran the 10 Mile about as good as I could have. I think my slowest final mile ever at this race shows that. And the fact that I perceived an "up" in the effort around half-way, but my times didn't drop at all. I was not being too timid - I raced about as good as I could have throughout. And I don't say that often.

• The cashier at Nina's Coffee Shop had no idea that I paid for my hot chocolate with a sweaty crotch $20. (See first photo in this post.) That $20 stayed put nicely. And there was no odd chafing.

I went up the hill past the Cathedral to cheer for the marathon runners. I walked back and forth a lot (covering nearly 4 miles) which was good for my tight legs. I stretched them out really well twice too. Soon, I spotted Pharmie:

Looking focused in the pink.

Running off towards the finish! (Right in the middle.)

A photo I Instagrammed yesterday from mile 26 of the Marathon.

She finished with a 10K, 5K, and Marathon time that were ALL better than her times last year when she first did the "Ultra Loony Challenge!" She still had hoped her marathon was even faster, but she was OK with her time in the end.

We got home, put the boys (and Mama) down for a nap, and then Charlie showed off his fresh haircut that night as he looked like a pimp with beads and a snake in the playroom:

Post-race pizza.

I'll end this race report with a photo my wife posted Sunday night:

"Twin Cities Marathon #15 is in the books! This one hurt early, probably secondary
to the 9.3 miles raced yesterday as part of the Ultra Looney Challenge.
Thanks everybody, for your well wishes and a special thanks to those who
came out to cheer! The spectators truly make this race special."

Back with the conclusion of the "Loony Challenge" series shortly! (Here's the link to my first 2 Loony Challenge races if you missed it - I ran the 10K with a camera and took a few photos throughout.)


CountryCityCindy 8:22 PM, October 08, 2015  

stinky $20. should have marked it with to track the stink around the country!

ha ha !

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