Race Report: O'Gara's Irish Run

>> Monday, March 27, 2017

Or, "The First Race in the USATF MN Series."

Or, "The Ugliest Race in St. Paul."

I'm not quite ready to "race" hard on my sore knee/quad, but I was ready to run a LITTLE BIT hard for my team at this race. (We had 4 guys signed up, and you need 5 to score, so I was #5.) I heard an appropriate song on the way to the race:

The side of Starbucks near the race. The woman in purple at the front-right did
ALL she could do to teach me "dive starts" at our old gym years ago. Thanks Andrea! :)

The back of O'Garas had this vent that was spewing out the BEST greasy breakfast smell!

I convinced Nicole to share a porta-potty with me for my traditional pre-race photo.
She a good sport. (Yes, we both had our pants around our ankles. Yes, I'm also a liar.)

In Saturday morning's post, I noted I didn't want to run too hard to hurt my leg/knee, but I wanted to test it a bit. I noted that I figured and hoped I'd run a bit easier and finish around 31:15 - 32:30. I really tried to keep that in mind all morning pre-race, because I kept feeling the urge to RACE.

Oh, and the 2nd line in this post notes that this is "the ugliest race in St. Paul." That's my own title for this race. It's meant (slightly) in jest, and I live in (and love) St. Paul, so I can say these things. It used to run down historic Summit Avenue with it's great boulevards and large mansions. Now it runs down Selby Avenue - a super generic street that is parallel to Summit. In my race report below are 13 photos showing how unattractive this race is.

Ugly photo 1 of 13: looking back toward the start from 2 blocks down the race course. Lovely, no?

Lined up at the start!

Heading up the bridge within the first half mile.

Ugly photo 2 of 13: to the south of the bridge: warehouses and RR tracks.

Ugly photo 3 of 13: to the north of the bridge: this crapfest (with an auto salvage yard in the distance).

Ugly photo 4 of 13: a U-Haul rental machine shed.

Ugly photo 5 of 13: running under Hamline Ave. At least it's a NEW bridge.

Someone bumped my left arm a bit. Then they bumped it again. I looked back, and gym buddy Casey was trying to say hi. So I took a selfie before mile 1 with her:

• MILE 1: 3:04 + 3:07 = 6:11. That was pretty fast, but I was feeling pretty good. I figured I'd be slightly slowing up as to not hurt myself.

Ugly photo 6 of 13: getting ready to cross exotic Lexington Ave.

Former Olympian Carrie Tollefsen turned around on her way to an 18:31 5K finish.

These drummers were full of energy. Although their beat was too fast to run to.

Ugly photo 7 of 13: this was once a rented 3-classroom space from CVA (the school I used to teach at).

Once we crossed Dale, the neighborhood got a bit cuter. (I lived 4 different places within
2 blocks of this part of the race course.) Here are the leaders coming back on the left.

SteveQ out to spectate. (And I lived in that yellow house to the right for a year.)

• MILE 2: 3:09 + 3:12 = 6:21. Well, so far, I have perfectly ascending half-mile splits. But the pace felt easy enough (I mean, I was still breathing hard) and my leg felt OK. Happy so far.

More people headed towards us, in a cuter neighborhood.

The turn-around RIGHT in front of where I used to live in my college days.
Also, that's tri-buddy Suzie Fox rounding that turn!

Ugly photo 8 of 13: I *tried* to make a photo of teammate Michael, but
only got this photo of some sweet plaid drapes in some shop next to a dance studio.

Teammate Anne (and still right behind Suzie, but I didn't realize that yet).

Teammate Dina.

This was when I realized that was Suzie in front of me. I ran up and said hi!
(And this is right next to my former favorite pizza place in that neighborhood.)

Ugly photo 9 of 13: back in front of that concrete former CVA building.
But butts make it better. Casey is giving chase to Suzie and Sara.

Ugly photo 10 of 13: a water stop in front of some unattractive brick buildings.

Ugly photo 11 of 13: I didn't know "vegan graffiti" was a thing...

Casey made a move on Suzie!

I made Suzie feel better by taking a selfie with her. (I look gross mid-blink,
but Suzie's still cute as ever with 1.5 miles left while running sub-6:30 pace. NBD.)

Sidenote: I posted about Suzie last month when she set a half marathon world record with a double stroller! I didn't get a chance to ask her more about that at the race this weekend. Congrats again, Suzie!

• MILE 3: 3:15 + 3:07 = 6:22. Well, I held those perfect ascending half-mile splits through the turn-around at mile 2.5. But I didn't care. I just sort of ran with the pack I was in and kept the pace solid. I thought a few times "Yep, this is just slower than tempo pace," which is where I wanted to be.

Ugly photo 12 of 13: come visit beautiful St. Paul for sweeping vistas like this.

These policemen at Lexington were the BEST. They were really cheering a lot. And after
the 2nd one saw my camera, he did a double bicep flex (but I missed that). Thanks officers!

• MILE 4: 3:11 + 3:17 = 6:28. Slowest mile of the day. But keeping the pace I needed to. I kept shouting up to Casey to GO because she was racing some women around her! (I think she caught 1 person she hoped to but not another.)

Ugly photo 13 of 13: running in a 30' long pothole heading to the bridge near the finish line.

I caught that woman in front of me up the hill, but then she threw down a major kick and I just let her go. I "upped the pace" for the finish, but people were generally out-kicking me in the final block. I didn't want to hurt anything, and I did what I needed to throughout this race!

• MILE 5: 3:17 + 3:02 = 6:19.


Steve Stenzel, M, 36, St. Paul

6:24 pace
138 out of 430 overall
13 out of 28 in the M 35-39 age group

[Garmin: 4.99 miles at 6:21 pace]

15:46 first half (6:19 pace)
16:00 second half (6:29 pace)

- Start to turn-around: passed 47 and was passed by 6.
- Turn-around to finish: passed 7 and was passed by 6.


• The first half had perfect ascending half-mile splits, and I had a positive split. That's not usually how I race (generally I negative split or keep pretty even splits), but after settling in after the first half mile, I actually stayed with the same pack of runners. So I guess that's how most people race.

• Three things that show I wasn't "racing:" First, I swam and did core the day before. I'd NEVER do that before a normal race. Second, I didn't bring a GU, banana, or Powerbar to the race, when I usually eat all 3 in the hour before. And third, I swam again yesterday (the day after the race), when usually I need to take a full day or 2 off to let my legs rest.

• I feel good about how hard I "raced," but now I feel like I should have "tested" my leg more. But I suppose that's always the concern you'd have after running hard-ish when nothing hurts worse afterwards. What would my leg feel like today had I tried to run 30 seconds faster per mile? Would I still be fine? Just a little sore? In a wheelchair? Who knows.

• I apologize if you're pissed at me for running "kinda hard but far from 'all out' pace" while still running 6:24 pace. My wife is one of these people. "Fast" is relative, and I didn't necessarily feel FAST on Saturday.

I turned right back around to head back to some teammates I saw near the finish line. I didn't get a chance to chat with Casey or Suzie post-race. And I missed teammate Geoffrey because he was just 15 seconds behind me. Nice running, Geoffrey!

Ejay working hard to the finish!

Anyone holding a 2' meme is a friend of mine!

Teammates Anne and Michael!

Selfie with my teammates seen in the last 2 photos. Nice racing, gang!

Oh, and I have NO photos that show it, but I was in my "Tutti Frutti" shorts for the race, which got a few cheers from spectators. Here one final photo posted by race buddy Tom R from the start, and you can see me in my shorts back there:

Tutti Fruttis right in the middle (race number ending in 48), with Carrie Tollefsen on the right.

Back with more fun photos and our team results over the next few days or so. Now go out for a run in beautiful St. Paul... just do it around a lake or around the Mississippi River or someplace more attractive than this. :)


SteveQ 11:01 AM, March 27, 2017  

You never know how ugly St. Paul can be until I show up.

Oddly, I was commenting on how much nicer the neighborhood around Dale is now than 10-20 years ago (in the 70's, it was outright scary)and doing my own reminiscing - I remember Nina's before Wi-Fi; what did we do in coffeehouses then?

Steve Stenzel 6:53 AM, March 28, 2017  

SteveQ, St. Paul started getting cuter from where I saw you on the course. :) Also, I've heard stories about Western and Selby from years ago, and how housing was REALLY cheap at one point. And I've been around just long enough to see Selby and Dale getting nicer. (Still sad Paisanos is gone...)

Amytrigirl (aka Amybee) 6:27 PM, March 28, 2017  

Soooo. In the 6's and taking pics? You are back, friend!!

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