RACE REPORT: Tri-ing For Children's Triathlon (post 2 of 2)

>> Tuesday, August 01, 2017

My last post left off Sunday morning at a state park in WI with my brother-in-law Matt as we were getting ready to race. This picks up just before the start of the triathlon.

Announcing this race was the only other person besides Matt who I knew at the race. It was old "internet buddy" Robby B:

Robby and I just before the start!

We met in 2006 (pre Facebook or modern social media) when my wife was training for Ironman WI and a group of bloggers just decided to meet up and test out the course. We were driving to Madison thinking it was crazy to be meeting up with people we "knew from the internet" only by their online names (back when you never shared your real name on the web). Most of them turned out to be pretty swell.

One final awkward transition photo of bro-in-law Matt before we headed to the water's edge.

Matt and I watched the Oly waves go out, and we hopped in for a test swim. The water was great. It was clear like Square Lake. However, we did find a maxi pad in about 3 feet of water. I told Robby about this, and his response was "Well is it working? Are we about to have 'lake level' issues?" Classic Robby B.

Robby also mentioned me a few times over the mic. One was something like when our wave was getting ready to go and he said "Alright, the last of the gentlemen should be at the water now. I'm not really sure that Steve Stenzel fits into that category though..." Robby gave us a 10 second warning, and shortly after, we heard an air horn.

SWIM: 0.25 miles.

There were 2 MAJOR eventful things that happened during the swim and 1 MINOR eventful thing. First of all, I started the swim a bit easier than I did at Trinona. I started way to the outside for clean water, and that was a good choice. I had a nice angle to the first turn buoy but I was out in clean water with no one around me. Major eventful thing #1: Suddenly I realized that the actual buoy where we had to turn was 30 feet directly left of me, and that I was sighting off a different buoy from the Olympic swim course much farther into the lake. Oops. I swam my extra 30 feet over to the buoy and got back on course.

The backstretch of the swim was pretty uneventful. I was passing more people from the earlier waves, but I was doing it easily and cleanly.

Minor eventful thing #1: At the next turn buoy where we headed back toward shore, things were a little piled up. Not bad, but we all had to slow up a bit.

The biggest issue in the swim happened shortly after turning back to shore. Major eventful thing #2: I ran into an absolute wall of slow swimming women swimming with noodles or personal swim buoys. My only options were to practically stop and wait behind them for a while, or to shoot far to the right and go through a field of lily pads. I'm not one to want to slow up during a race, so I just closed my eyes and quickly shot right into the lily pads. (I don't like seeing stuff coming up at me through a lake. Is that weird?) After the race, I pointed to the lily pads with Matt, and said "See that clear stripe down the middle of them? That was the trail I blazed through them during the swim."

SIDENOTE: This group of (mostly) women named Team Phoenix started pretty slow, and many of them had noodles, buoys, or individual swim assistants with them. I know "slow" is relative, but they were slow. They started in a wave 17 minutes in front of me. Say I was roughly 5 minutes and 300 yards into my swim when I ran into some of them, then they were 23 minutes into their swim. Which means they were swimming at nearly 8:00/100 yd pace. That's slow. However, it's all on me to get around them. They weren't doing anything wrong, and it's awesome that they were racing!

Determied to put a relatively crappy swim behind me.


There were a few light blue swim caps just in front of me as I was leaving the water (meaning they started in my wave), but my wave was men 44 and under, so I had no idea where I was within my age group. I ran past a few along the beach and into T1, and then had a pretty normal/uneventful transition. I ran well past the MOUNT line to make a flying start and get past some slower mounters. (*giggles*)

BIKE: 15 miles.

I truly had no bike split goals for this race - I just wanted to "go hard." But the first 1.5 miles of this course was a cluster eff. There were cyclists ALL over the road. I slammed on my brakes a few times to avoid people weaving all over, and I had to slow up a number of times before safely passing someone. I probably passed 20-30 people ON THE RIGHT in the first 1.5 miles. Really. (And even LATER into the race when I would slowly pass someone [implying they weren't a first-timer], they'd be riding ON THE CENTER LINE and I'd pass them in the 12 feet of open road to their right. That happened 3 times near the middle of the ride. Sheesh.)

Because Matt and I were in such a late heat (number 12 of 13 overall), we were passing people all throughout the bike course. Once people started remembering to ride to the right, that wasn't a problem. I looked at my overall bike speed around mile 1.5 (when people starting riding more to the right), and it was quite good: 22.8 mph. "OK, getting around all those athletes didn't really hurt your pace that much. Now just keep it up."

- Overall ave, mile 3.75: 22.6 mph
- Overall ave, mile 7.5: 22.4 mph

I was pretty happy with my speed. The roads ALWAYS had little hills (it was never flat), but they were "usable" hills that weren't too big. I never got into my small front chain ring. The second half of the race seemed a bit faster: maybe we were going down more hills, maybe the *slight* breeze was at our back, or maybe it was this short section of FRESH asphalt. Sure enough, 3/4 of the way through the ride, I saw an overall average speed that I'd NEVER seen before:

- Overall ave, mile 10.25: 23.1 mph

"Can you finish above 23 mph?!?" At Trinona I had a "fast" bike split of 21.8 (and 21.4 at Cannon Falls a month prior to that). My FASTEST stand-alone bike event (an 11 mile "time trial") was at 23.0 mph. I was about to beat that as part of a triathlon! These last few months on the bike have been paying off!

I saw 23.2 as my overall average throughout the final mile, and then I watched it click down to 23.1 as I ran my bike into T2. MAJOR BIKE PR!!


I forgot ALL about getting out of my bike shoes while riding because I was so excited to be doing so well on the bike! So I clomped through transition, which was A-OK with me.

RUN: 3.1 miles.

Only 1 guy caught me on the bike (around mile 8-10 I'd guess), and he only got about 2 blocks in front of me. I was worried he could be in my age group, but I caught him less than a minute into the run. "OK, time to start picking off other runners."

We turned out of the parking lot to run on this (cute but soft) grass trail to get out to the main road:

Athletes heading out on the run.

In the middle of that grassy section, I was SUPER SURPRISED to hear my Garmin beep. I'm usually BEGGING it to turn over to the first 1/2 mile, but this snuck up on me. I was feeling pretty good! My first half mile was 3:00, and my second was 3:03, for a mile 1 of 6:03.

I kept setting my sights on runners in front of me, and I kept catching them. Mile 2 had half mile splits of 3:03 and 2:57 for a mile 2 of 6:00. I still had NO idea where I was within my age group, but I was hoping I was catching some 35-39 year old men.

We took a different grassy path back towards the finish, and my legs nearly gave out running down the ditch to that trail. Then I spotted one more guy in front of me who COULD have been in my age group. I ran past him in the tall grass with less than a half mile left.

Other athletes (taken after I'd finished) running back through the tall grass and trees.

I checked over my shoulder at around mile 2.9 of the 3.1 mile run, and that guy was still back there, so I kept the pace up. Mile 3 looked good: 2:51 and 2:58 (a bit slower through the grass) for a mile 3 of 5:49! Nice descending mile splits in this 5K!

Running up to the finish.

Robby announced me and the "Tutti Frutti" shorts. After 10 seconds of my hands on my knees as I caught my breath, Robby got my attention off the mic and asked "You OK, Stenzel?" I think I said something sassy back to him to prove I was OK, but I don't remember - my mind was mush at that moment. But I was OK. :)

I walked over to the timing table and got some good news: I didn't know my overall place (and that could have changed anyway based on people who started behind me), but I had won my age group!!


Steve Stenzel, 36, M, St. Paul, MN (which is better than WI)

- 0.25 mile swim: 7:38,
2nd AG, 15th overall
- T1: 1:25, 4th AG, 46th overall
- 15 mile bike: 38:52 (23.16 mph), 1st AG, 10th overall
- T2: 0:56, 1st AG, 37th overall
- 5K run: 18:21 (5:54.98 pace), 1st AG, 4th overall

1:07:10 total

5 out of 445 overall
5 out of 190 males
1 out of 17 in the 35-39 age group


• I can't say enough how thrilled I am about my bike split! Having put together many months of solid bike training has paid off! I truthfully never expected I could be over 23 mph at this race! And I was only passed by 1 guy on the bike who I caught ASAP on the run (as I noted above).

• More biking has lead to better multisport run splits. I've talked with lots of people about this over the last few months. My run training right now SUCKS (because I don't want to get injured), but I'm still posting decent run splits. After my 2 biggest months of cycling (since IM training in 2007) back-to-back, I ran a 5K at a faster pace at this race than I ran 2 or 3 miles in 2 duathlons this spring, and faster than a 5K at Trinona Tri 7 weeks ago. And that's with NO HARD RUN TRAINING in the last 2.5 months. That increase in run speed is 100% because of legs that are more comfortable biking hard. And therefore they are "fresher" coming off the bike even if I'm posting my fastest bike splits ever. I'm starting to figure this out. :)

• I was first in my age group NEARLY all throughout the race. One guy out-swam me, but I was out of T1 before he was, and I never got caught after that. I had over a 3 minute lead on 2nd in my AG (besting him by 0:30 in the swim, 0:30 on the bike, and 2:00 on the run).

• I think these are my best age group splits in a swim/bike/run: 2nd, 1st, and 1st. My transitions were a bit worse, but I'm OK with that. (And T1 was so horrible because I wore a wetsuit and had to wrestle that off - but I think it still helps me enough in the swim to warrant wearing it.)

• Matt asked me an important question post-race: would I have raced faster if I went off in the elite wave? I first thought so because of the mess of riders on the bike. But that actually possibly made me bike faster. Sure, I had to slow down before getting around them, but then I maybe made up for that by really flying past them. Who knows. Oh, but I WOULD have been faster in the swim if I would have been in the first wave and not had to contend with people in front of me. I suppose if I had to do it all over again, I would have went in the elite wave. (There was no elite distinction in the awards, so it was just there for people who didn't want people to be in their way.)

• This was only 1 race in WI, but I noticed a few differences from the majority of MN races. The biggest was there were not volunteers or police at every bike turn (sometimes just a taped arrow on the road), so I now feel spoiled here in MN where we expect that. And there was no age group markings on the body. And then just a few "cultural" things (like much more riding all over the road).

I finished and went back to transition to get my camera to get some photos of Matt finishing:

Transition, with most people on the run.

Matt heading towards the finish!

Matt and a butt.

I ran along the race course to get a photo of Matt finishing as well. Nice job, Matt!
Thanks for hauling me across Wisconsin to race with you!

I forgot to mention the Coke and Dr. Pepper at the finish.
I had one of each. It was GREAT after a warm race!

Post race goodies from Panera.

The awards table getting ready to hand out medals.

My finisher's medal (if you do the entire WI Tri Series, all the medals fit
together to make the shape of WI) and my age group medal.

We loaded up, said goodbye to Robby B, and hit the road. We were hungry within the hour, so we stopped for some burgers and cheese curds at Culvers:

I'm so attracted to him when he smiles like that.

I got a cookie dough sundae with marshmallow creme for the road. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

I had a slight caffeination/bladder issue a bit later: I had 2 caffeinated sodas post-race, and then refilled my cup at Culvers a few times, so I had roughly 84 oz of caffeine coursing through my body. I nearly had to have Matt pull over next to a corn field. But we made it to a gas station. And then back to his house. And once I got through some road construction, I was back home in time to find Charlie vacuuming up kitty litter in his rain boots and undies before bed:

It's cute when he does it. It's creepy when I do it.

Time for an easier week, and then it's time to start ramping up the run mileage for the TC 10 Mile in 8.5 weeks! October is only TWO MONTHS AWAY!!

Again, if you missed the first part of this race report, click here for yesterday's post.


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