Minnesota Triathlon (AKA Lake Marion Triathlon) RACE REPORT

>> Monday, August 14, 2017

My boys were at their Grandma's house this past weekend, and my wife had to work. A few days ago, I decided that I should use my "freedom" to race a triathlon. So I signed up for the Minnesota Triathlon (formerly known as the "Lake Marion Triathlon" that I raced in 2011, 2013, and 2014).

I filled up with a good pre-race meal the night before: skillet pizza.

So good.

5 minutes on the stove (before 8 mins in a 500 degree oven) gives it a NICE crust.

Oh, and being the boys were gone, I got our blvd flower garden all cleaned up.
Henry's zinnias (top) look good, & we've got dahlias as big as my head (hand for scale).

Being I was heading to this race totally by myself, I could fulfill my sick desires to get there super early. I didn't think I'd be THAT early, but my bike found the 2nd best spot in transition:

I found a version (with better wheels and aero bars) of my old Goldilocks!

The swim course. We started off camera to the right, went to the
big buoy (2nd from right) turned to swim parallel to shore, and came
back at the other big buoy (2nd from left) to finish off camera to the left.

Traditional pre-race selfie.

This race is JUST far enough into the outer-ring suburbs that there
are fields right outside of the park. Nice looking soybeans.

Transition filling up.

Lake Marion race buddy Lance ended up racking near me. He was the one in some photos in my race report from 2013 who I just couldn't QUITE catch before the finish, and then he ended up winning the race (as I came in 3rd overall) in 2014. We got our stuff set, and we walked down to the beach together. I went for a quick dip as we watched the first 3 waves of Olympic distance swimmers take off. Then it was our turn.

SWIM: 0.25 miles.

I lined up to the far outside (right). I swam a good line to the first buoy, and got around it well - everyone was already pretty thinned out. The fast high school swimmers were in front of me (this race is a fundraiser for the "South Metro Storm Swim Club," so there are always fast swimmers here), and most everyone else was behind me. I didn't know exactly, but I figured there were less than 10 people in front of me.

The final turn toward shore was also nice and "clean," but now we were heading STRAIGHT for the rising sun, and we were blind. I talked with someone afterwards who was spectating, and he was at the swim exit trying to yell at people to get back on course. He laughed and said something like "we'd see everyone round that last buoy so nicely, and then they'd just head off in every direction!" (He said that as he was flailing his arms all over showing the routes everyone would take.) When I could finally see the "balloon arch" at the swim exit, I realized I was a little too far to the left and I nearly got caught up in the roped off "swim pen." Oops. But it wasn't a bad swim. Pretty average for me.

I hit the shore feeling pretty good but knowing it was a bit of a long swim (I swam quite straight, but my Garmin measured it as over 500 yards, or 0.30 miles).


There was a long run up to transition, and I passed 1 guy. I out-transitioned a 14-year-old swimmer who was racked next to me, and maybe 1 or 2 others as well. I ran out with my bike next to another young kid and a guy that could be in my age group. Time to ride.

BIKE: 18 miles.

This race was one of my highlights of the year back in 2014 because I worked my way up to near the front of the bike. I knew that could be possible again this year. I had no specific goals other than to crank hard on the bike. (Full disclosure: I told Lance pre-race that I'd love to see if I could hold 23 mph on the bike, but I knew that'd be tricky being I'd never even hit 22 mph in the past 3 races here.)

I got up to speed faster that the 2 guys who I ran out with. I caught another young kid a few blocks into the ride, and slowly passed a guy who could have been in my age group a block later. Going through downtown Lakeville, I passed another kid, and then I could see the lead car a few blocks in front of me! I had biked my way into 2nd, and I was gaining on 1st.

Before I could catch 1st place, another biker FLEW past me. That was around mile 3 of the bike. A mile or 2 later, I caught the other cyclist to move back into 2nd. At a corner around mile 6, I watched the leader and timed our difference: I was already a full 60 seconds behind him! He was putting 0:15 - 0:20 between us each mile. I ran the math ("OK, we have 12 miles left, and if he can pull away by 0:15 each mile, then...") and realized he could be 3-4 minutes in front of me by the time we start the run. I didn't give up on him, but I was aware that he could be biking away with the win!

Another guy passed me a bit later - I didn't realize it at the time, but it was the guy who I passed a few blocks out of transition. He'd stuck with me. We went back and forth about 5 times out there: he'd get me on the flats before a hill or turn, and I'd out-corner him or climb a hill faster than him to pull back ahead. It was good clean riding: no drafting on either of our parts. And the first place cyclist was now no where to be seen! Holy cycling legs, Batman!

Here were my overall averages every 4.5 miles throughout the bike:

- (22.5 mph after a few miles)
- 22.4 mph at mile 4.5
- 21.8 mph at mile 9
- (22.3 mph high)
- 22.0 mph at mile 13.5
- 22.5 mph before transition

So no 23 mph for me, but that's still 0.7 mph faster than I've ever posted here (and 1.5 mph faster than my slowest here). Oh, and it really didn't make that much of a difference, but it's worth noting that the race was almost a mile longer and on some different roads than in the past due to some road construction. I sat up and got ready to brake after coming down a nice hill nearing transition because I thought we had to turn at the bottom of it, but we had to go straight for a few more blocks. Oops. Lost a few seconds there.


I decided to get out of my shoes before the final 2 quick left turns before transition. Getting my right foot out nearly made me crash! I had a big swerve but I recovered. I rode through the parking lot up to transition with my feet on top of my shoes:

Pic from after I finished: standing at the edge of transition
looking back along the final part of the bike route.

The guy who I went back and forth with came riding in as I was getting my running shoes on, and I shouted "nice riding!" I took off on the run ASAP to try to leave that guy behind.

RUN: 3.1 miles.

The wide run out of T2, about to race behind all those trees,
and come to finish under the arch in the grass on the left.

Again, because of some road construction, they had a different run course this year. It just looped through the neighborhood along the lake instead of going out along that bigger road like in year's past. This run course would have been nice to train on, but it was a bit brutal to "race" on! There were short little climbs all over, and (depending on what you call a "turn") there were 20-23 turns over this 5K! REALLY! That number did NOT include the slow turns on the winding roads. BRUTAL.

In my race report from WI 2 weeks ago, I noted feeling quite good on the run. Not at this race. This was a death march. Maybe it was all the turns and hills noted above. And I was NOT able to shake the runner behind me, and that made me nervous!

Mile 1: 6:04. (3:04 and 3:00)

It was nearly a perfect out-and-back only there was a little section we didn't need to do again on the way back, so the turn-around was just over the half-way point. As I got closer and closer to it, I got more and more hopeful because I had NOT seen the first runner yet. When we finally crossed paths, I realized I'd made up a LOT of ground on him. THIS RACE WASN'T OVER! I tried to use that as motivation to "find another gear," but I was long out of gears.

Mile 2: 6:04. (3:01 and 3:03)

And I STILL hadn't shaken the runner behind me! Us top 3 were spaced out pretty evenly (I met these 2 guys at about the same spot near the turn-around). I gave a few high-fives to other runners, including Lance who was just a few spots back. I could catch glimpses of the first runner now-and-then as we were rounding corners, but I was running out of race course to catch him. I ran through the path through the trees and had about 2 blocks left (1 block of road, and 1 block of grass to the finish). I saw the first runner turning off the road on his way to the win. I'd made up a LOT of ground, but I came up 29 seconds short.

Mile 3: 5:52. (3:01 and 2:51)
Final 0.1 on grass: 5:49 pace.

Pic from after I finished of someone else heading to the finish.
(Oly athletes took the chute to the left and started another loop.)

I chatted with the winner and the guy who finished a bit behind me, and we waited to see if there were any 40+ men that would finish within 3 minutes of us (40+ men started in a wave 3 minutes after us, so our finish order may not have been set at this moment). But there wasn't anyone. First through third was official!


Steve Stenzel, #292, 36, M, St. Paul

- SWIM: 0.25 miles: 8:43
(1:59 pace), 2nd in AG, 16th fastest overall
- T1: 1:41, 3rd fastest overall
- BIKE: 18 miles: 48:03 (22.48 mph), 1st in AG, 3rd fastest overall
- T2: 0:37, 16th fastest overall
- RUN: 3.1 miles: 18:24 (5:56 pace), 1st in AG, 1st fastest overall

TOTAL: 1:17:26

1st out of 19 in the 35-39 age group
2nd out of 150 overall

Passed 2 people in T1, passed 5 people on the bike and was passed by 1, passed 0 people in T2, and passed 0 people on the run.

Garmin: Swim: 512 yards (1:42 pace); Bike: 17.96 miles (22.4 mph); Run: 3.08 (6:00 pace)


• The swim course was long, but it's no biggie. Officially, I swam 1:59 pace, and I can't even make myself swim that slow. The fastest swimmer at the race was a 14-year-old boy (like I said, lots of fast swim team swimmers at this event), and he swam a 7:19, or 1:40 pace. Sure he did. If we call that 512 yards (as my Garmin said), then he swam 1:26 pace. That's still a bit "slow" for the fastest swimmer in a sprint, so he might have actually been faster.

• Yes, I'm STILL going to talk about biking more and how that leads to a better running! Of the 4 years I've done this race, I only had 1 run that was faster, and that was only by 1 second. (My 2 slower years were 6 seconds slower, and 58 seconds slower!) When I had my fastest run 6 years ago, I was training MUCH harder on the run. I looked back in my training log: 6 years ago, I was doing version of hard runs from Coach Jen once or twice a week, with long runs of 12+ miles. This year, I can't tell you my last hard run workout (maybe May? No, probably April?), and my long run is 7+ miles. Yet I only gave up 1 second on the run. Why? DUH, IT'S BECAUSE I'M BIKING MORE, SO I GET OFF THE BIKE AND MY LEGS AREN'T AS SHOT. So I'm posting faster bike splits AND faster run splits. Win/win. AND I'm not training as hard and getting injured. Win/win/win. (I also looked at my bike mileage then vs now. In the 3 months leading up to this race 6 years ago, I biked 270 miles total. This year, I've been over 200 miles EACH MONTH over the last 3 months for a total of 625 miles.)

• Let's talk about the guy in front of me and the guy behind me. The winner posted a 44:40 bike split, or almost 3:30 faster than me. That's 24.18 mph. But he ran 0:50 slower/mile, so he only beat me by 0:29 seconds. (I needed another mile to catch him.) The guy behind me entered T2 just 0:19 behind me and tried to catch me on the run, posting the 2nd fastest run split behind me. He was still pretty close at the turn-around, but then must have been a bit gassed because he finished 1:32 behind me.

• I have a SLOW T2 ranking, even though I got out of my bike shoes while biking. Usually, my T2 is much better than my T1. But I figured this out as I looked through the results. First of all, my 3rd place T1 is surprising because I had to get out of my wetsuit, BUT I'm a faster runner, and there was a long run up to transition. So that made up for it. And T2 looks so bad (16th) because lots of kids out-transitioned me. They didn't have to change shoes (no bike shoes), so they just racked their bike, took off their helmet, and ran off. I counted 9 teenagers in the 15 who out T2ed me.

• This was my best race here. The past 3 times I did this race, my finishing time was 1:16:xx. This year it was 1:17:26, but that was with a long swim, and a bike that was roughly 0.7 miles farther because of construction. (A correct swim distance alone would have put me sub-1:16, not to mention having had to bike farther this year.) This is what my results look like over the 4 times I did this event:

- 2011: 3rd AG, 6th overall.
- 2013: 2nd AG, 7th overall.
- 2014: 2nd AG, 3rd overall
- 2017: 1st AG, 2nd overall.

• I like how these results are displayed. First of all, it's just the "plain text" results, but I LOVE those. I can quickly glance through and see how I (or friends) ranked against other athletes without clicking on each person. And secondly (I've never seen this before), there's a "cumulative" total just after the bike showing your total time and rank before T2:

For example, I can see that 5th place overall was race-buddy Lance. That "cumulative" column shows that he was 12 coming in off the bike, and then he had the 4th fastest run to put him into 5th overall. I like seeing that so easily. (That's also how I could so easily say 2 bullet points above that the guy behind me "entered T2 just 0:19 behind me.")

• You know how I mentioned the new/brutal run course with all the little hills and LOTS of turns? Well, here's what it did to my feet:

Two hours post-race on the left, and 24 hours post-race on the right.

It's been a long time since I've gotten to use the "Gross Foot Photo" tag, but now it's back. And really, it's not too bad. (Sidenote: with all those turns and tiny hills, I say this course was harder than the course of past years. But others who are better "technical" runners could disagree. I say it was harder just by a bit.)

Selfie with Lake Marion race buddy Lance as we were packing up.
Nice meeting your family, Lance!

My bike in transition post-race, with my shoes still clipped in.

Instagram post-race: "I put on my best pink shorts, drew a smiley face
on the back of my leg, and did a thing this morning. Only 1 person
did the thing faster than me. It was a good morning to do a thing."

Post-race supper: pan fried chicken breasts, simmering in a butter/lemon/sage sauce.
Bonus: makes the house smell great.

Yesterday (a day after the race), I went to meet my Mother-in-Law to pick up my boys. They had fun at her house for 3 days:

Charlie and cousin Will picking up apples.

My boys out for ice cream with Papa Bryan.

Grandma Monica took this photo as we were waiting for lunch yesterday when I went to
meet her to get the boys. Thanks Grandma Mon! Both boys wanted to sit by me. :)

Well, I think that does it for multi-sport season! And it's been a good one: 2 duathlons and 3 triathlons. My duathlon finishes were good for 3rd place in my age group (10th overall) and 1st place overall. And my 3 triathlons were all age group wins! (Finishing 4th, 5th, and 2nd overall.)

Now it's time to start increasing my long runs for the TC 10 Mile in 7 weeks! (After a few days of rest, of course.)


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