2018 O'Gara's Irish Run 8K RACE REPORT

>> Monday, March 12, 2018

Saturday was the first race in the 2018 USATF MN race series: the O'Gara's Irish Run 8K. Being it was forecasted to be around 28 degrees at the start, I put on my windproof briefs as my base layer for the first time since crapping myself in them nearly a week before. "PROOOOOBABLY not good ju-ju" I thought.

I didn't have any major goals for this race, and I knew it would hurt and it wouldn't be my fastest (as I noted in a quick pre-race post where I said I hoped to keep it just under 6:00 pace on average). I wasn't planning on going out harder or easier than normal. I didn't plan to negative or positive split the race. I was just going to run a hard race and try to suffer a lot. It would be a "check in" to see where my speed was after a winter of hardly any speed work (but lots of consistent swim, bike, and run workouts - just little SPEED).

At packet pickup the night before.

The morning of: there was cheap refrigeration available.


It was a chilly 28 degrees, but the roads were clear. Everyone was talking about
a little icy spot at the 0.5 and 4.5 mile marks under the Hamline Ave Bridge.

Dropping my sweats at my car, getting PUMPED UP thanks to Cindi Lauper.

Team photo! Mike was already out warming up, and Ejay (far right) was just cheering.

I went out and got in a bit of a warm up. My calves have been tight lately, but I wasn't worried about any injuries at the starting line. We got one quick selfie before the race started:

Me, Rachel, Gabe, Casey (red shades, not on our team, but goes to our gym),
Mike, Jordan, and Senator Scott running the camera. Our team is cooler
than your team because we have a Senator.

As always, I lined up a little too far back. But after we started, I worked my way a bit to the right and passed people as we headed up the hill.

Up the bridge just 0.2 miles into the race.

It *DID* get slushy, salty, and icy at the quick turns under the Hamline Ave Bridge, and I saw lots of peoples hands come up in a "I'm-trying-to-balance-and-not-fall-down" motion. As we made the final of those 4 quick turns to get back onto Selby, a woman in front of me went down. She slid out and fell pretty hard on her hip, and then her teammate right behind her (who was JUST in front of me) tried to hurdle her and ended up kicking her in the side of the head. The entire group around us let out a collective *gasp.* I held out my hand and kind of pushed her back up onto her feet, and she shot off 10 feet ahead of me right away. She appeared to be fine.

As always, I had my Garmin set to take half mile splits. My first 2 were 2:54 and 2:59 for a 5:54 mile 1. I was quite happy with that. I figured they'd maybe slow a bit in mile 2, and I was OK with that. I THOUGHT about going a bit harder here, but I didn't want to burn out 1 mile into a 5 mile race.

Run up to the barricades, right for a block to get under the bridge,
then we pop back out on the far side of the barricades back on Selby.

Mile 2 was slower but OK: 2:58 and 3:02 for a 6:01 mile 2. I was working hard, but happy with my effort. I was getting HOT and actually found myself coming OUT of people's drafts in front of me so I could hit some of the breeze. That's poor racing strategy, but I needed it at those moments. I do NOT like to be hot while running.

RELATED SIDENOTE: When I did this race back when it was on Summit Ave in 2012, it was SEVENTY FIVE DEGREES. I'm complaining about being a little hot during this 28 degree race this past weekend, but here's a pic from my race report in 2012 near the half-way point, and we were all HOT:

LOOK AT HOW SWEATY I WAS! (But don't look at all the junk in this photo... there's a lot...)

Anyway, back to this year's race. I ran up along someone and said "Minneapolis Halloween Half... I took a selfie at mile 1... you were in it." She laughed and said YEAH! I said "Nice 10K at that race!" Here's my race report from that race, and I took this photo with this female on the far left:

She broke off from us to do the 10K (as we were doing the half),
and she OUTRIGHT WON the 10K that day!

I pushed onward to the turn-around, and felt pretty good as I turned back WITH the slight breeze. I hit the turn-around with a 3:02 half mile split, and then ran a 2:58 after the turn-around, for another 6:01 mile 3. I saw and cheered for everyone on my team, just missing Jordan and Rachel (I think). I was feeling pretty hashed, but I kept trying to keep the pace up. "What was it you said Steve? You wanted to SUFFER?!? Well, you're suffering. Hold on and push hard."

I really tried to up the pace starting mile 4. I felt like I hit another gear. But then I clicked over a 3:00 half mile split, and was dying. I think that was the point when I realized I was hurting and these last 1.5 - 2 miles were going to suck. Appropriately so. The second half of that mile was 3:03 for a 6:03 mile 4. I was positive splitting this race, but just by seconds - nothing too dramatic. WHAT I WAS CONCERNED ABOUT WAS THAT MY SUB-30 CUSHION WAS GONE! I was a few seconds sub-6 in my first mile, but now I was bleeding those seconds away. I WAS RIGHT AT 6:00 PACE WITH 1 MILE LEFT: 24 MINUTES ON THE NOSE. I HAD TO GO HARD HERE.

Now there was just a mile left. I really tried to keep up with the suffering. We were passing lots of 5K runners, but no one was in my way. I ran up through some of the icy turns under Hamline with a 3:01 half mile split. "Just a half mile left. SUFFER HARD." I ran up that hill over the Ayd Mill bridge and felt. Like. I. Wasn't. Moving. It was brutal. I thought someone was going to catch me coming down that hill, but I held my place for that entire last half mile.

AMENDMENT: I had this entire report all written up, and then I saw race buddy Tom R's photos. I'll share a lot of his photos in an upcoming post, but here's one of me heading up that final hill with the most HILARIOUSLY SUFFERING look on my face:

Proof. I was suffering hard. I apparently looked how I felt.

I hit the line hashed, with a final half mile split of 2:52, for a 5:53 final mile 5. Well, technically, the final "half mile" was 0.49 on my Garmin (because an 8K should be 4.97 miles), so my 2:52 split was really at 2:55 pace for the half mile, so I suppose my final mile was 5:56 pace.


Steve Stenzel, 36, St. Paul

6:01 pace

73 out of 417 overall
9 out of 32 in the 34-39 M age group

14:54 first half / 15:00 second half.
Passed 50 start to turnaround, and was passed by 2.
Passed 1 turnaround to finish, and was passed by 3.

[Unofficial Garmin: 4.99 miles, 5:59 pace]


• I *sort of* hit my goal. I was hoping to do sub-6s (missed it) and finish in under 30 minutes (nailed it). I sort of forgot there could be a finishing time in an 8K of 29:49 - 29:59 that would be over 6:00 pace but under 30:00 overall. And that's where I ended up. I don't know how to feel. :)

• I was pretty happy with my suffering. I'm GLAD I didn't go any harder at mile 1 like I thought about. I was really hurting late in the race, but that was the point of this: suffer a lot and see where I'm at with regards to my speed.

• My Garmin data shows I was consistent on the way out, and then "sporadically painful" on the way back. I don't believe the sub-5:00 pace at the start, but then notice the bit of speed down the hill before a half mile, then where I slowed to "help" the women who fell at 0.5 miles (is it really helping if you just slow to 6:36 pace?), the turn-around in the middle, a depressing trod up 2 little hills at mile 4 and 4.6, and an attempt at a fast finish:

• This was easily my middle finish at this race (out of 5 total). My PR was that hot year when I did a 29:15 in 2012. I was just a few seconds slower than that when I ran a 29:20 in 2016. Then this year's race in 29:54. Then the first year I did this race and ran a 30:30 in 2008. And finally, my worst time was my 31:46 in 2017, but that was when I was coming back from an injury and just ran it easier than tempo pace to be a 5th scoring body for my team.

Teammate Jordan finished in 31:xx, and he was happy! We went back along the course to find Ejay and Jacob (teammate's significant others), and we watched the rest of our team finish. Here are a few photos from Scott after he finished:

Go Dina!

"Favorite trainer" Laurie!

All the racers post-race! L-to-R: Rachel, Rose, Andrea, Gabe,
Laurie, Mike, Alisha, me, Scott, Dina, and Jordan.

I jogged a mile cool down along Selby, and then got home. Our niece and nephew came over to play, and here they are playing a sandwich making game with my boys and my cutie:

I'd been mentioning needing some rest coming into and after this race. Well, I had a nice easy week last week, and my legs felt better at the race. Now for an easier few days, and then back to some decent training... because MULTISPORT SEASON isn't too far away!!!

Back with more race photos shortly.


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