2018 Falls Duathlon Race Report

>> Monday, April 30, 2018

My bike sat on the trainer from the end of November last year until just last week when I went outside for the first time in 2018. My chain was still all gritty and gunky from last fall. A few days before this race, I washed, de-greased, and re-lubed my baby Eiffel:

De-greased but pre-lube. Not looking too shabby.

On Saturday, a sitter stopped over, and my wife and I hit the road. We headed down towards Rochester to Cannon Falls for the Falls Duathlon.

In line at the porta-potties with my cutie. 'Bout to poop.

Traditional pre-race selfie.

Big dirty snow pile still melting uphill from transition.

200 athletes gathering for the pre-race meeting.

I had no big specific goal for this race. I knew I wasn't in the best shape of my life, but the big "x-factor" was how good (or bad) my bike training was, just because all except my last 21 mile ride was in the basement on the trainer. I figured I could finish with my 3rd fastest time out of my 6 races here (only being beat by the last 2 times I raced here, which included my best multisport season of my life last year), and I wondered how close I could be to my 2nd fastest time. I knew my runs could be slow, and I was OK with that. I hoped I could place in my age group. I was just ready to race.


I took off near the front in the middle:

Screenshot from a video that Gear West Bike and Tri shared of the start on FB.

I found myself jumping around between 9th and 11th for the first mile. I was pretty happy with my first 2 half-mile splits, even though they were some of my slowest over the recent years: 2:51 + 2:53 = 5:45 first mile.

I ran the middle of the first run in 11th-12th, and then worked my way in to 10th overall coming back to T2. (There were 2 relays in front of me, so technically I was 8th at this point, but I didn't know that.) I knew the first half of mile 2 was slower, and then it was only another 0.45 miles (said my Garmin) back to T1: 3:09 + 2:45 = 5:54 second mile. I came in with a 6-year PW ("personal worst") at this race, but I was still happy with my 11:41 split.

First run pace: even in the first half, and more sporadic in the second half
(mainly due to the little hills that show up in the last mile).


Nothing unusual here: grabbed my bike stuff, and I was out. Actually out-transitioned 1 guy, and got up to speed faster than another guy. Sweet.


This was the big "question mark" or "x-factor" for the race: what would ONE outdoor ride pre-race yield at this event? I found out pretty quickly: I was being passed a lot. It was like "2008 Steve" out there: that was when I was a decent runner, but would get PASSED on the bike big time. I was passed by 3 guys in the first mile. Then after I JUST started thinking "Oh, I'm holding off some of these cyclists...", I was passed by another big group. Last year, I noted being passed by FIVE people over the entire ride. That happened by mile 3 this year. By the turn-around, it was around 11 or 12 people.

The lack of outdoor riding showed in my inconsistency on the bike. I could NOT get my legs in a rhythm. It was [CRANK HARD FOR A FEW SECONDS] followed by [COAST FOR A FEW SECONDS]. In fact, post-race, someone came up to me and said "Did you have a bike issue up that hill? Drop your chain or something?" "No," I said with a smile, "just not in great bike shape now." "No, but you were spinning like this [mimics fast spinning with his arms]." I think I laughed and said "Yep, no issues, just not enough time on my bike lately." I told this story to my friend Leah post-race, and she laughed and said it's the equivalent of asking someone when they're due without knowing FOR SURE that they're pregnant. So right.

I kept comparing myself to last year, and that was wrong. It was SUPER WINDY last year, and just a bit breezy this past weekend. But my split out into the wind was worse this year. I was caught by a few more guys before T2, for a total of around 13 guys who rode past me. Here were my overall averages every 1/4 of the bike:

- 17.9 at mile 3.5
- 18.2 at mile 7 (turn-around)
- 19.5 at mile 10.5
- 20.5 nearing transition
- 20.4 after running into T2.

I knew I was just over 41 minutes, and I was HOPING to break 40 meaning I was just over 21 mph. But that wasn't in the cards in the legs this year. Still, not a HORRIBLE ride. I was a little bummed, but totally not beating myself up about it.

Bike pace. Clearly into the wind on the way out, and with the wind
after the tun-around. (But not as dramatic as last year.)


I pretty cleanly got out of my shoes in the last block of the ride. Two guys passed me then, but I hopped off my bike and out transitioned them. I was a bit slower here, as I was stripping off gloves, my hat, my sunglasses, and then making sure my pad under the tongue of my shoe for my bone spurs didn't shift as I put my running shoes on. I gave Bill N a high five (waiting to do a relay run), and I was off.

I noticed I ran out just over 54 minutes in, so that meant I'd need to run just under 18:00 (so just under 6:00 pace) in the final run to be under 1:12 total. (I knew that my 3rd fastest time was 1:12:something, so sub 1:12 was my new goal.)


That little climb out of T2 was brutal. I spotted 4 guys in front of me, and I started picking them off. A fun little moment happened as I was passing #2 and #3: they were still a little ways in front of me, and one of them turned around. He started shouting my direction as I got closer: "STEVE STENZEL! You don't know me, but I've been following your blog for a while. I caught you and those shorts on the bike and thought 'FUCK YEAH! I caught Steve!'" He did a big fist pump during the "fuck yeah." "But then I saw you closing in here on the run. Go get em!" I laughed and patted him on the back as I went by. Nice to meet you, Michael!

I caught a 4th runner just after the first half mile. But that was it. I couldn't see anyone in front of me. My first 2 half-mile splits of the run were OK: 3:03 + 3:12 = 6:15 first mile. That 3:12 was partially due to the little climb up to the trail where we run out-and-back.

I was SEARCHING for runners as we came up to the out-and-back. I saw that I had a handful (maybe 6) runners that were spread out roughly 0.5 - 0.3 miles in front of me (noting on my Garmin that I met the first one at mile 1.25 and the last at 1.35 heading to the turn-around at mile 1.5). They were a ways up there, but it was SOMETHING for me to go for. I turned around and saw that I really wasn't in danger of being caught from behind, so I just had to GO for the guys that I couldn't see in front of me (the trail gently winds, so I couldn't see them). I ran splits of 3:02 + 3:07 = 6:09 second mile. Now it was time to go hard and suffer.

But I didn't suffer hard enough near the middle and end of this run. I was going hard, but I couldn't convince myself to dig a little deeper and REALLY race. I think I needed runners closer to me so I could have something "easier" to shoot for, because I only got a glimpse of the runners in front of me once. I didn't come close to catching any of them.

In the final turns out of the trees, my legs nearly buckled at a turn. Mitch Brekke snapped a shot of me just a few seconds from the finish:

The ONLY shot of me in the bright ole' Tutti Fruitti shorts. Thanks Mitch!

I came to the line with final splits that were 3:03 + 2:42 (0.45 miles) = 5:45 mile three.


Steve Stenzel, M, 37, St. Paul

- 2 MILE RUN: 11:41,
8th overall, 3rd in AG
- T1: 0:41, 12th overall, 3rd in AG, passed 1 person
- 14 MILE BIKE: 41:05, 20.45 mph, 28th overall, 5th in AG, passed by 12 people
- T2: 0:43, 20th overall, 4th in AG, passed by 1 person
- 3 MILE RUN: 18:11, 6th overall, 2nd in AG

1:12:18 total

[Garmin: 11:40 for 1.95 miles (5:58 pace), 41:05 for 13.99 miles (20.4 mph), and 18:11 for 2.95 miles (6:10 pace). On the bike, I went OUT in 23:04 (18.21 mph), and came BACK in 18:00 (23.33 mph).]


• I didn't really get 3rd in my age group; I was 5th. I think in the results, they have people who register as "elites" as their own age group, but they ignore any elite status for awards. So the results officially say I was 3rd, but I was really 5th because 2 other guys (7th and 9th overall) ended up ahead of me too.

• My finish time was about what I figured it could be, but it was worst overall place at this race. I finished with my 3rd fastest time out of 6 attempts at this race (only having been faster the last 2 times I raced). But my other 5 times at this race I finished 10th-12th overall, and this year I was 15th.

• The closest runner in front of me was 30 seconds away. And I only saw him near the end of the run. There were 3 runners within 30 seconds of him, but they were well out of reach. And the next runner behind me was about 1:40 back, so that last half of the run was pretty lonely.

• Over my 6 years at this race, here's where this year's splits fit in:
- First run: 6th (but 3 other years were within 10 seconds of this year, so I wasn't far off).
- T1: 5th.
- Bike: 3rd (only behind the last 2 times).
- T2: tied for 4th.
- Final run: 4th. (3 years of 17:26-17:47, and 3 years of 18:11-18:19.)
- Overall: 3rd fastest time, 6th overall finish, tied for 5th AG finish.

• As mentioned above, this 1:12:18 finish was my 3rd fastest here. My others (chronologically) were 1:18:13 in 2009 (brakes rubbing), 1:13:14 in 2010 (windy), 1:12:56 in 2011 (rainy), 1:08:56 in 2013 (nice year), and 1:09:49 in 2017 (windy, but WELL TRAINED on the bike).

• The majority of the difference in my finishing times over the years has been due to bike fitness. (Or lack thereof.) My bike split has had over an 8 minute range at this race. But combining both runs from each year has only has a difference of 1:22 from best (2013) to worst (this year). Take out my best year, and all of my combined run times have been in the 29s: between 29:14 and 29:52. That's pretty consistent for my run, and that's why I started hitting the bike harder a few years ago - I had the most to gain!

I grabbed my cell phone out of transition and went to look for my wife and friends out on the final run. But first, a guy came into T2 with a baby carrier on the back of his bike. Sean (the dismount volunteer) said "You didn't start the ride with a kid in there, did you?!?" The guy turns around and gives the most hilarious over-the-top "OH NOOOOO!!" with wide eyes. Everyone laughed.

Running backwards down the course, I first saw gym buddy Leah:

She cheerfully ran past saying "This is HORRIBLE!"
She hadn't done a multisport race in 8 or 9 years.

Leah running off along the Cannon River.

Pharmie and Sadie just behind Leah!

Pharmie running past telling me that Sadie and Megan and Breana were all close!

Sadie running past with a smile.

Leah in the distance on the far right, Pharmie about to
go under the bridge to the left, and Sadie in the foreground.

Pharmie's and Sadie's butts. Go ladies!

Pharmie around the corner to the finish!

Sadie slowed up to high-five her family, and then this guy passed her...

... but she kicked it into gear and passed him before the finish!

Megan nearing the finish!

... You might remember Megan from racing 26.2 miles
side-by-side with my wife at last year's TC Marathon...

... and then later that month at the SUPER MUDDY Surf the Murph 50K.

Multisport buddy Bill (former "Winter BeGone Du" race director).

Breana (wife's college roommate's sister), Pharmie, Megan, and Sadie.

I might think this is more awesome than some people, but I thought it was really cool that these ladies were all lined up at the finish! My gym buddy Leah was the 17th female overall (out of 90), my wife was 18th, another women snuck in after her, Sadie was 20th, Megan was 21st, and Bre was 22nd! (And that guy snuck in there behind Sadie, so these 5 ladies were between 73-79th overall, with just 1 woman and 1 man between them all!)

Me and Leah post-race.

Leah (whom, yes, is tall), Sadie, Pharmie, and Megan.

Pharmie and Megan back in transition (just before Megan
found her stuff in a river of melting snow behind her).

The age group awards were chainrings from Gear West Bike and Tri!
If you had a cassette changed there recently, you possibly won back part of your bike!

Pharmie was 3rd in her age group! Here she is coming
back after getting her award from race director Mark.

With her small ring award.

We got loaded up, let the babysitter go home, had a quiet afternoon, and then Pharmie went out with her sisters that night. The boys and I did something that they were COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS AND MINUTES until it arrived, because they couldn't wait: we went to "Avengers: Infinity War" at the Highland Theater:

Pre-movie popcorn-shoving selfie with Henry.

Charlie on the other side of me.

Now an easier week as I plan on racing the Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon in 5 days!


Falls Du in the Bag, Cinco Du on the Horizon

>> Saturday, April 28, 2018

Well, my wife and I fared well today at the Falls Duathlon. She fared a little better than me! Here's a quick pic from pre-race when we were in line for the porta-potties:

Big-ass pile of melty snow behind us.

My bone spurs felt OK, so I think I'll be racing the Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon in a week! I was pretty sure that speed wasn't an issue for my foot, and it was proven today: I never had any pain while racing, and now it's just a little achy.

So hopefully catch me at Cinco next weekend! There's still time to register if you're interested. I finished 2nd overall there the first time I raced, and I've finished 1st overall the last 3 times I've raced. But I do NOT expect to keep that up this year. Hopefully top 3? We'll see.

Back with a Falls Du race report soon! Happy weekend!


Friday Funny 1432: Home Inspection Fails

>> Friday, April 27, 2018

Star Trib shared the best/worst "home inspection photos" from 2017 a few months ago, and I just got around to sharing these. I love this. (All captions are theirs.)

The new clogless furnace filter, guaranteed to keep out tumbleweeds.

No home inspector needed for this roof.

The beam hangs from the ceiling... yet supports the ceiling?

You'd think someone didn't want us to get in there - but we did. We moved the whole pile, and the closet was empty.

We found the stash.

Interesting location for a condenser coil... er, deck.

Hot water - this is a record for us. The water coming out of the laundry room faucet was 191° Fahrenheit. That's crazy! This was so hot that it had melted the drain below in the basement.

Capped plumbing vent

Huge fuse panel

Plug schmug

No problems here. Moving on... ;-)

Seen in passing - there's technically nothing wrong with this, but doesn't it look like a Lego house? All it really needs is some paint. Or not.

That rug better come with the house.

Missed it by that much

Isn't engineering great? We made no attempt to determine the structural adequacy of this garage floor on stilts. We suggested having someone well above our pay grade put their blessing on this.

Room air conditioner venting into the chimney - we know this has to be wrong, but we can't quite put our finger on exactly why.

Shh. It's sleeping.

Sump pump in a return duct - water in sub-slab furnace ductwork is bad news, creating a perfect breeding ground for mold. In this case, someone decided there was simply no fixing it and put a pump in there.

The shower head...

If you like these, here are some related "Friday Funnies" from the past years when a local newspaper shared the best "home inspection fails" of the year. (I think my favorite was 2014.) Click on each year to see them: 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. And related to this, here are some horrible construction ideas and home renovation fails from just last month.

More funnies posted all day long on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com.

Pharmie and I are RACING tomorrow! Wish us luck! Back with a race report ASAP! HAPPY WEEKEND!



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