Loony Challenge Weekend: RACE REPORTS for the TC 10K and 5K

>> Monday, October 05, 2015

My lovely Pharmie and I raced the TC 10K and TC 5K on Saturday. We did this last year with her brother and (then) fiancée Angela (now wife).

In the past few months, they bought a house and had a lot of overseas work trips, so they bowed out of the Loony Challenge this year. So it was just my wife and I:

Pre-race selfie.

We witnessed a forklift deliver this massive rack of finisher medals.

Blurry (because it was dark-ish) traditional potty shot.

We chatted with some buds in the starting area - here's fast
swimming buddy Aaron G. who was also doing the Loony Challenge!

2,300+ people with me in the starting chute ready to start the 10K!

Welcome to Minnesota: it was a little breezy and 40-45 degrees.

One of the guys who lined up next to me was runner buddy Evan. We met a few years ago, and he's a pretty fast runner. AND HE WAS DOING THE LOONY CHALLENGE! And so was this other guy wearing a Boston Marathon jacket, and that's never a good sign. I was ready to RUN HARD.


The rising sun lighting up the Cathedral.

Behind the "Loony" runner in the Boston coat. "Well, gotta keep up with him, I guess..."

My first half mile up the hill by the Cathedral was 3:02.7, and my next was 3:05.1 for a 6:07.8 first mile. I was hoping to hold 6:15s-ish, so not a bad start.

Still behind the Boston guy on Summit (before the first mile marker).

Still behind the Boston guy heading downhill and then back up to Dale Street (around mile 1.3).

Mile 2 was surprisingly fast: I ran half-mile splits of 3:03.5 and 3:05.8 for a 6:09.3 total. I knew last year, I had a slow mile 3, so I was REALLY happy to see a 6:15.9 mile 3! We turned back around and realized that we were being slightly pushed by the breeze on the way out.

Finally NOT the Boston guy in front of me! I passed him somewhere around mile 2.
This is just after the turn-around near Hamline Ave.

I tried to draft behind this tall man in yellow, but I wasn't behind him for more than a block before thinking I should/could be going faster. So then I hopped out from behind him, only to run right next to him for a long time. Pointless. I'm not good at the finer points of racing. Or lovemaking.

A half mile later, the blvd between the 2 directions of Summit Ave came together, and
we were running towards the rest of the runners who were still heading out.

Still just hopping around with the tall guy in yellow.

My 4th mile got a little slower, but I was trying to make sure I had some reserve for the upcoming 5K and then the 10 Mile the next day. I told myself to not worry about running FAST, but instead concentrate on running WITH GOOD FORM. Mile 4 was 3:06.7 and 3:10.6 for 6:17.3 total.

Then it got lonely:

Looking down from Dale Street, with our final hill in the distance.


Evan in front of me.

Serves me right.

But the funny thing is (and this is totally true) that I had the thought "Well, if someone beats me, I'd much rather have it be someone that I know."

Mile 5 was even slower: 6:21.3. I was pretty pooped from going out at a decent pace to stay with Boston guy, and now I wanted to try to stay with Evan. I hope I wasn't being dumb.

On Evan's tail on the freshly paved part of Summit with less than a mile left.

Still with him heading down the hill by the Cathedral.

Still with him crossing Kellogg Ave.

My final mile was 6:04.3, and the final 0.23 miles to the finish was at 5:41 pace. I finished just behind Evan, 7 seconds faster than last year. But this race was very different from last year's: last year, I was slow in the middle and gently/easily added speed near the end. This year, I was faster at the start, and just slowly died throughout.


Steve Stenzel, TC 10K

6:12.24 / mile pace

21 out of 2324 overall
21 out of 878 men
8 out of 145 in the 30-34 age group

I had to wait around for an interview that I was going to do for a local live morning show, so I grabbed a selfie with the 2 hilarious Medtronic cheerleaders:

Totally channeling Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri.

Post-interview with Todd Walker from Fox9. Pharmie finished her 10K FIVE minutes faster
than she thought, so she was pulled into the interview too! I'll share a video link if it surfaces.

When TC in Motion asked if I could be interviewed between my races, I mentioned that I was planning on going back to my car to get a foam roller to roll out of my legs. I asked if they had a spot I could store a roller during the races, so I got access to their HEATED media tent. Nice. I grabbed the roller and hit my butt and heels well, and then got ready for the 5K.


I didn't run with my camera for the 5K (just like last year). I was hoping for around 6:00/mile pace like last year, but after that pretty fast 10K, I didn't know what would happen. My first mile was right on: 2:57.3 and 3:04.3 for 6:01.6.

We hit the turn-around, and I noticed Evan wasn't far behind me. Like "just a few seconds" not far. My legs were pretty tired, and I started thinking about the 10 Mile the next day. I concentrated on form like I did near the end of the 10K. No heel strikes. Mile 2 was slower: 6:14.6.

I finally cracked 6 in the final mile: 5:58.4. And my final 0.11 to the finish was at 5:43 pace - that's fast, but far from "all out sprinting" fast.

Oh, something gross happened in the final 2 blocks of the 5K. The woman who came in as the 2nd female was running just in front of me to my left. I saw her cock her head back over her left shoulder for a second, and then bring it back to the front again. "Ummm, I think I better get a little farther off to her right side," I thought to myself. Sure enough, a second later, she cocked her head back again and barfed over her left shoulder. And then again. And then again. Three little chucks over about 5 seconds. She NEVER slowed up or broke stride, and that was the final 0.11 where my Garmin at me at 5:43 pace. Solid work, speedy barfing woman!


Steve Stenzel, TC 5K

6:05.00 / mile pace

32 out of 2696 overall
31 out of 980 men
4 out of 115 in the 30-34 age group

I turned around as soon as I finished, and guess who was RIGHT behind me. Yep. Evan. And he started a few seconds farther back, so he actually beat me. TC in Motion shared this photo of the female winner on their Facebook page:

LOOK IN THE BACKGROUND - that's Evan and I about 40 seconds after we finished:

I SWEAR I'M NOT PISSED HERE! I must have been "in between" faces and just caught at a
weird time. I wasn't pissed that Evan finished right with me. I swear. Pretty funny, though.

JUST before I was going to grab my camera out of the media tent so I'd be ready to get a photo of Pharmie finishing, THERE SHE WAS crossing the finish line! She beat her 10K time by nearly 5 minutes compared to last year, and her 5K time by nearly 2 minutes! Way to go Pharmie!

Lots of 5K runners heading down the hill toward the finish.

The finish!


• Pharmie was a few MINUTES faster at these 2 races than she was last year, but I was just a bit slower. I was 7 seconds FASTER in the 10K compared to last year, but I was 16 seconds SLOWER in the 5K, so I was 9 seconds slower overall at this point. That was quite comparable, so I was fine with that.

• Evan had a 0:03 lead on me after these 2 races. He was 0:01 faster in the 10K and 0:02 faster in the 5K. But I knew he was a better distance runner, so I wasn't holding my breath that I'd beat him in the 10 Mile the next day. Still, we were both ready to RACE on Sunday!

• My achilles held up OK over these 2 races! The day before, I finally was able to see Dr. Folske for some much-needed A.R.T. on my heel. He didn't work a MIRACLE, but I was happy with how well it still felt after the 10K. Here was the scene the day before in an Instagram of mine:

Caption: "Wrangled these 2 during a final Dr. Folske visit before racing this weekend.
#DadLife #TC10Mile #LoonyChallenge"

• Even though my achilles didn't act up, my legs were HEAVY the rest of the day. I ran pretty hard. In fact, most people doing the Loony said something like "yeah, I wasn't planning on running that [the 10K or 5K] THAT hard/fast!" I figured my 10 Mile could suffer a bit the next day, but I did what I had to stay close to Evan.

• I was glad I wore my wind-proof briefs under my shorts. It was in the lower-to-mid-40s, and I didn't want to worry about Pepé getting too cold. And really, when do you ever overheat and think "oh, if only my junk and ba-dunk were cooler." Never. You never say that. So I added that extra layer of warmth down there and happily went on with life.

We got home, relieved the babysitter, and Henry sat to stretch with me:

I love this guy.

Then we went out for breakfast:

And to the park. (And then both boys got haircuts too.)

Back with my TC 10 Mile report soon, as well as how the Loony Challenge ended up!


SteveQ 10:06 AM, October 05, 2015  

Wish I could remember the name of the underdressed guy; I've raced against him for decades.

Steve Stenzel 11:40 AM, October 05, 2015  

Yeah SteveQ, I recognized him as being a familiar racer. But I didn't get his race number.

Carolina John 11:52 AM, October 05, 2015  

yea it was so cold out there, I don't see how that guy raced at all. You people are very thick skinned.

Shinianen 4:17 PM, October 05, 2015  

Your little boys are just adorable. Those smiles!! I love it.

Twin Cities In Motion 6:17 PM, October 05, 2015  

Awesome post. Nice work, Steve. Can't wait to read your next post!

- TCM Staff

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