First Race with BOTH Boys: The MDRA Lake Johanna 4 Mile

>> Monday, March 14, 2016

Saturday was a beautiful day here in Minnesota: 50-something when we woke up, and 64 degrees by 11 a.m. for the Lake Johanna 4 Mile. This race is put on by the Minnesota Distance Running Association, and is free for members. Since we have a "family" membership, we had most of our family race (while Mama had to work). The race is just over 1-lap around Lake Johanna north of St. Paul:

Fueled by fish sticks from the night before. #Lent

Changing Charlie in the "play zone" bathroom at the Y before going to the race.
I dropped them off to play for a bit just so I could stretch out and loosen up pre-race.
(Henry's not sulking - he's just waiting by the door for me to change into my race shorts.)

The stroller caddy loaded up for the boys: raisins, Smarties, applesauce, nuk, etc.

Henry was all ready to race. Charlie was all ready to get out and play.

I knew it'd be a bit hilly, so I knew this was about to suck with the stroller.

We ran into Jared, Laura, and toddler Julia at the registration table. Jared was the one who I mentioned in a post last week regarding our "Dad-off" handicapped race: he would race with his 1 child, and I would race with my 2. But he went for a long run that morning, so he was hoping for 7s and conceded in the Dad-off. Laura sweetly tried to calm a screaming Charlie who just wanted to go run into the lake.

This was just a "fun," no-pressure race, but I still wanted to push hard. I had 3 goals:

1. Don't get injured.
2. How close to 6s can I get? Probably not under, but can I get 2 or 3 half-mile splits under 3:00?
3. Top-10 finish.

(With regards to that 2nd point, I knew there was a slow downhill around mile 1 or 1.5, and then that nice downhill to the finish, so I hoped to drop those splits under 3:00 [or under 6:00 pace]. I figured I'd be somewhere between 24 and 25 minutes overall.)

Charlie was screaming in the stroller. He loves stroller runs, but he loves trying to run into open water more. And he saw the playground equipment there as we were unloading, so he just wanted to go play. (Henry, on the other hand, wanted to play too, but he's old enough to reason with and to understand that we're going to run hard for 25 minutes first, and THEN we can play. Henry was a CHAMP.) As we lined up, I felt bad that Charlie was making so much noise (I knew he'd stop as soon as we started racing), so it was nice that another Dad popped down and tried to cheer him (and me) up. Kirt G (local running legend) was just behind us in the starting chute, and he said "You call THAT lung capacity kid? I've heard your Dad scream louder during races!" That helped lighten the mood before we started.

I lined up about 20 people back from the start, and Rob E said "ON YOUR MARKS... GOOOO!"

I immediately jumped around about 10 people and settled into 9th place. (I'd MUCH rather line up too far back with the stroller than be "THAT Dad" who lines up too close to the front with a big, bulky tank and then can't keep up the pace and just gets in everyone's way!) About a half-mile in (just as we were getting ready to climb for a bit), I snapped this photo:

Frozen Lake Johanna to the left, racers to the right.

I passed that kid in yellow to move into 8th around the half-mile mark. My first half-mile split was 2:57.0. "Nice. Going out hard." Casey from my Y was screaming for Angie (the female ahead of me in black in that photo above), and then she laughed when she saw me go by. "WHAT?!? Ha! Amazing Stenzel! Keep it up!" The second half of my first mile was 3:09.3, for a first mile of 6:06.3.

We turned east, and I slowly passed another kid around mile 1.5 to move into 7th. We were on nice roads getting ready for a gentle downhill before another little uphill. Here's Angie in front of me, with a few more in a pack a block in front of her:

Well, I was hoping one of those splits would be under 3:00, but mile 2 was 3:07.4 and 3:04.3 for 6:11.7 total. That (happily) would be my slowest mile of the race.

We ran onto busy Snelling Ave, back off onto some side streets (with a few turns, but with some nice downhill sections), back onto Snelling again, and then off onto the road where we'd be climbing for a while. Here's another photo of Angie ahead of me around mile 2.8:

Rougher roads and a slight uphill. It would level off around that corner,
only to CLIMB A FAIR AMOUNT MORE until mile 3.5.

Through some of those little downhills off of Snelling, I ran a 2:59.0 half mile, and then starting this climb I ran a 3:08.5 for a mile 3 split of 6:07.5. "Not bad! Sub-25 was what you were hoping you could do, but now you might be in line for sub-24:30. Go. Suffer. Hold on."

The final 90-degree turn came right at mile 3.5, and it meant the rest was downhill. Casey was up at the top of that hill, and she ran with me for a minute, cheered me on, and warned me that it was kind of a nasty corner. I was happy to see that final long uphill half-mile split was 3:05.5. That could have been much worse/slower. I glanced behind me, and it didn't look like anyone was going to pass me. I used my stroller momentum to catch up to Angie for the first time all day. My front wheel was right next to her for about 45 seconds, but I couldn't hold on. I shouted "Go Angie," and she cheered right back to me. She lead me into the finisher's chute for 7th place, just on her heels. And then Charlie IMMEDIATELY started screaming "OUT! OUT!"

Oh, and Angie (and that hill) pulled me nicely. That final half mile was BY FAR my fastest of the day at 2:44.8, making the final mile 5:50.3. I didn't "save too much" for the kick - it was so fast because of that nice usable downhill with the stroller.


Steve, Henry, and Charlie Stenzel
34, 4, 1, M, M, M

(Garmin "chip" timed - more like 24:18 "gun" timed)
6:03.95 pace

7th out of 100-something overall
1st out of 5 in the "stroller" division
(according to how many strollers Jared spotted)

Pretty normal pace graph: starting fast, relatively even in the middle, slowest
around mile 2.75 (at 7:26 pace), fastest down the hill at mile 3.75 (5:06 pace).

We got away from the finish line ASAP because of Charlie's loudness (sorry everyone!), and we jogged back and cheered Jared and Julia to the finish:

He looks better here than I did at any given moment of my race.

Oh, and a random selfie to show you my bright outfit:
my Israel "Israman" Tri shirt and my "Tutti Frutti" shorts.

Then, we FINALLY made it to the playground:

That's the life.


• I put forth the SOLID effort I wanted to at this race. At the Securian Run Half Marathon, I took it easy the first half before killing it on the second half because I was worried about my calf. At the "Half Fast" Half Marathon (turned 25K), I held a "solid pace" through the final miles, but didn't build to any sort of "fast" finish because I didn't want to get injured after going an extra 2.5 miles. So finally at this race, I was able to start hard and really make myself suffer throughout.

• In case you're wondering, I pushed over 100 lbs of child/stoller for this race. Henry is 38.4 lbs, the stroller (with a few things in it) is 38.0 lbs, and Charlie is 25.8 lbs. That's 102.2 lbs total, and that doesn't include some extra snacks, keys, cameras, etc. (But it's not like I just added 102.2 lbs to my 160 lb frame - this added weight was on wheels, so it was easier.)

• The hills with the stroller (note last point) sucked, but weren't killer. On some uphills, I leaned more of my bodyweight on the handlebar because I felt like death. The double Chariot doesn't have a handbrake, and it maybe got a little fast on some downhills. (The single BOB stroller that we have does have a handbrake, and I accidentally hit sub-5:00 pace on a downhill in a 5K in 2014.)

• This was my 3rd outdoor race in 2016, and all 3 have been in shorts! Jan, Feb, and now March. Nice.

• I talked a lot during this race. Henry likes to chat. So I was EXTRA out of breath. We talked about the numbers on the mile markers, he asked how I was feeling, we talked about how much was left ("Dadda, does that '3' mean we've gone 3 miles, or do we have 3 miles left?"), and I pointed out a train going over a bridge in the distance at the top that final hill at mile 3.5.

We played for a bit (meaning I chased around Charlie to keep him from drowning), we got some candy from a stranger (he seemed nice), and then we grabbed a "Dads and kids" photo before leaving:

Jared with Julia, and me with my boys. It was bright.
(Image from Julia's twitter - yes, she's on twitter.)

That's a sweet "official race vehicle."

Walking back to the car with the dudes.

If I slide the back seat way up in my car and break the double Chariot into 4 pieces
(front wheel, handlebar, caddy bar, and main stroller), it all fits in my car.

Now time for a few days rest, maybe 1 run later this week, and then the "O'Gara's Irish Run 8K" on Saturday. It's the first race in the USATF Minnesota series, so I'll really try to kill it! Back soon with the official results and maybe some photos of me racing if there are any (so I can actually have some PROOF that I raced with the boys!).


Shinianen 10:11 AM, March 15, 2016  

"Dadda, does that '3' mean we've gone 3 miles, or do we have 3 miles left?" - that's one smart kid! Great logic skills.

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