O'Gara's Irish Run 8K Race Report

>> Monday, March 21, 2016

Or, "My FIRST Race on an Running Team!"

Or, "Battling Past Some Usual Race Buddies."

Or, "Debuting Some NEW Shorts!"

After a beautiful and warm 30 days or so, we woke up to this on Saturday morning:


I Instagrammed this: "Not the preferred view when heading to a road race... #OGarasIrishRun"

Many of us were talking pre-race about the icy footing and wondering if it would be an issue. Well, it really wasn't, so don't be nervous. I got inside O'Gara's Pub and found some of our YWCA running team:

In our jerseys for the first time!

And YES, that's a new pair of shorts! They are orange and green, and they KINDA look nude at first glance. Here's a pic my wife took of me post-race once I got back home:

Wearing my multi-colored arm warmers from my triathlon in Israel 2 years ago.
For the time being, I'm calling these my "nude shorts."

I grabbed one quick photo of the start of the race course before putting some clothes and my phone back in the car:

An icy situation up and over that hill 2 blocks in the distance.

I chatted with SOOO many "race buddies" briefly before the race. I got in line with everyone else, and found myself next to cyclist extraordinare Pam N. We commented about how NICE AND WARM it was crammed tight next to all of these bare-skinned athletes even though it was only 30 degrees. Soon, the pack lurched forward to the starting line, and we were off!

444 8K runners and 184 5K runners = 628 runners taking off! (This pic is from Tom Rs
camera - he had a friend on top of the bridge seen in the last photo. Thanks Tom!)

Same photo, only with an arrow. Hey, that's me!

The pack hitting the hill. I'm still visible to the right.

Now I'm REALLY visible as I dodged a puddle!

That's my foot in the lower right. Next to Jenna (63) and Nathan (90),
with Angie next to Nathan, and Evan just behind him in orange.

I worked up the hill and past a few friends. Nathan and I chatted on the downhill - he asked what I hoped to run, and I said 29:30. Shortly after, I realized that I had posted that I hoped to run 29 FLAT. That would be around 5:50 miles, or 2:55 half miles.

My first mile was solid: 2:49 and 2:53 for a 5:42 mile. Nice. A good opener.

The street was a bit icy/slushy in spots, but staying in the car tire tracks was good. Nathan and I were still together running in a pack of 6: the 2 of us and 4 women. Being this race is the MN USA Track and Field season opener, it draws out the speedsters. Mile 2 was slowing up a bit, but still OK: 2:54 and 2:59 for a 5:53 second mile.

Suddenly I realized that Evan was running past. (My race buddy who beat me in every race at the 2015 TC Loony Challenge, and who I was able to beat in my final kick 2 months ago at the Securian Run Half Marathon.) THIS WAS THE FIRST I REMEMBERED THAT THIS WAS A "GRAND PRIX" SERIES RACE AND THAT I NEEDED TO TRY TO BEAT MY FRIENDS WHO WERE DOING THE SERIES! Those friends include Nathan and Evan! I was so concerned with this being our first race as a team, that I forgot I needed to be racing hard for the series too! Well, time to try to stick with Evan!

Mile 3 included the turn around (in front of my old apartment): the first half was slower in 3:01, and the second half was where it needed to be in 2:54 for a mile 3 total of 5:55.

Here's a pic from Tom R again that shows the thin trail of runners heading back toward the finish (we had to dart off the frame to the right to go under a little overpass on Hamline so they didn't have to stop traffic on that busy road):

Cathedral and downtown in the distance.

My splits were slowing up. This is usually where I start kicking and passing people, but I think this is where my lack of speed work showed up. I had no "long kick" like I've had in the past. My next half mile splits were 2:56 and 2:59 for a 4th mile of 5:55. Sub-29:00 wasn't possible. But MAYBE sub-29:15 was possible (my 8K PR). I was going to try to stick with Evan and earn some Grand Prix points.

Up and over the final bridge: Dan Greeno (228) out kicked Jeremy (330) by
3 seconds to take the win. IN 24:42! THAT'S 4:59 PACE!

The leaders (and lead biker) heading down the hill
to the finish (with some 5K runners in front of them).

I was slowly sneaking up on Evan coming up to those quick sharp turns to head under Hamline with a half mile left. At the base of the bridge, I ran up along side him and said hi. He pulled away up the hill (showing my lack of hill work with my tight heels). As we came to the top, I started catching up again. Here's Tom's photo from the top of the bridge:

Evan and me to the right.

Close up.

Passing a 5K runner with an unfortunate "tuck."

Close up. Evan has some of THEE BEST "final kick" faces.

I got past Evan just a few seconds later, and I pulled away a bit towards the finish. (BTW, I pulled past Grand Prix buddy Nathan before the turn around, and finished 40 seconds in front of him.) Here's a screenshot from the finishing video showing the gap between me and Evan just before the finish line:

Garmin pace: slow up the bridge, fast down, and then slow at the turns under
Hamline at 0.5 miles. A dip at the turn-around, then slowing to 7:01 pace
up the hill at the end, and ending at 4:54 pace down the hill to the finish.

My final mile was faster, but not SUPER fast: my last 2 half mile splits were 2:58 and 2:51 for a mile 5 total of 5:49. (An 8K is JUST shy of 5 miles, but my Garmin read exactly 5.0 miles.)


Steve Stenzel, #582, 35, M, St. Paul

5:54.06/mile pace
(5:52.00 Garmin pace for 5.00 miles)
14:41 first half, 14:39 second half

65 out of 444 overall
62 out of 231 males
7 out of 26 in the 35-39 age group
(first race in the new age group!)

Start to turnaround: passed 69 runners and was passed by 1.
Turnaround to finish: passed 5 runners, and was passed by 0.


• I thought I had a PR (and I tweeted that I did post-race), but then I remembered my 2012 8K finish of 29:15. So I was 5 seconds from a PR. Dang.

• Speaking of twitter, Evan tweeted me post race. He's ready to race again:

Oh, and Josh tweeted me too. He was cheering at Lexington (mile 1 and mile 4).

• I was happy to just have 1 half-mile split over 3:00. Running up to the turn around from mile 2.0 - 2.5 was 3:01, and the rest were sub-3:00. I thought about how it'd be nice to try to keep them all under 3:00, but didn't make that any sort of race goal. And I was decently consistent: all half-mile splits with within 12 seconds (2:49 through 3:01). And my mile splits were within 13 seconds (5:42 through 5:55). I had a negative split by just 2 seconds. Pretty consistent.

• My team did well! We had enough runners to score a full men's, women's, and masters' team. I'll be back with a post showing more photos of them, as well as our team results.

• My legs held up well for the race. Sure, it was a short race, but it contained some speed, and I haven't been doing much speed work lately. If anything, my lack of speed work made me legs feel BETTER post-race. (By not doing speed work, my final kick isn't nearly as fast, which in turn makes me hurt less once the race is done.)

• My left calf was a LITTLE tight/sore the day after the race, but nothing unusual. I was hoping it wasn't even going to hurt, but I DID just race. I need to give it a few days of rest, some rolling and massaging, and then start some easy runs. I should be OK.

• Finally, my cat gave me a nice post-race lick-down. This was the scene for 20 minutes as I was starting to type this up on Saturday afternoon:

There's a joke in here along the lines of
"being so hot that pussy licks ME," but I'm not going there...

Leaving the race, I jogged a bit of a cooldown, and then I got home. During the race, my sister came up with her family, and so did my parents. We were heading out for a birthday lunch for me (my birthday was the week before). We went to Davanni's for pizza, and then stopped by "Taste of Love" bakery between Izzy's Ice Cream and Choo Choo Bob's right in our 'hood. I had this blueberry vanilla donut in the lower right:

Henry's cream filled roll had SOOOO MUCH CREAM!

From Instagram: "Cake pops make him happy."

It was a decent day at the race, and a great day with my family!


SteveQ 10:34 AM, March 21, 2016  

I'm starting to think that the main advantage of being a tall man is not having to do the half-squat with hands crossed in front of my crotch pose you always see in these group shots.

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