Heart of the Lakes Triathlon Race Report

>> Monday, July 22, 2019

Yesterday was my first "Heart of the Lakes" Triathlon. I've been (publicly) nervous about my bike fitness as I haven't been biking as much this year. In fact, at the race as I talked with "gym buddy" Leah, and she has 4x more bike miles than I do this year. Oops. So I signed up for the short course as I thought I could still probably bang out a fast 9 mile bike split (vs 21 miles in the long course).

The night before the race, we were with the Stenzel side of my family, and I fueled up for the race at Pizza Ranch:

My aunt and uncle behind Henry, and my niece's fingers starting to sneak into the frame.

A calm night at the lake with my family the night before the race.

Interstate 94 at 4:30 a.m. NO CAR IN SIGHT!
(The glowing things near the middle are reflectors in the median.)

I woke up at 4:00 and hit the road by 4:30. I got to the race before 6:00 and took care of some business:

Pre-race traditional photo.

No fence around transition, and it was just a block of city street. That was new to me.
Also new: the "short" and "long" course had separate transitions 1 block away.

A BEAUTIFUL morning to race!

Scoping out the finish line in the middle of a baseball field.

Kym was telling me how CAUSAL yet PROFESSIONAL this race was. And the details proved
her right. I noticed maps on the back of lots of race signs noting where they should get set up.

Nearly all set up.

Bike in/out. Note the lack of fence. Just make sure to run over the timing mats!

Selfie with gym buddy Leah at the water's edge!

Selfie with other gym buddy Kym (who's done this race a million times!).

A pre-race tweet.

It was time for me to hit the water, as I got a new wetsuit from my wife for Christmas, but I'd only been in it once! (And that was this past Christmas.) So I had it on before the first waves of the long course went off so I could try swimming, moving, and taking it off. It was great.

I had a random "PR" at this race, and it was for potty stops pre-race. I hit the porta potty to #2 two times pre-race, peed in the lake 2 more times, and then came back up to the porta potty a 3rd time (and stripped my wetsuit down to my knees) to poop again. Sheesh. And then as my final wave was about to start, I peed down my leg standing in ankle deep water. But I was ready to go. (Technically, I already went...)

I ran back up to transition for a sip of water 10 minutes before my start. (Lake in the distance.)

Looking the other way to bike in/out.

I got down to the water for the final wave to start. I noticed the wave in front of us had a lot of people that were NOT too far through the swim, so I was ready to keep aware of them and swim around some people.

"5... 4... 3... 2... 1... GOOO!!" - Jerry McNeil

SWIM: 1/4 mile:

I took off near the outside (to the left) and went out with the fastest of those in my heat. After a minute, I appeared to be leading my wave out. When my watch vibrated saying I'd gone 100 yards, I bumped into a swimmer from the last wave. Time to start dodging swimmers.

I accidentally started cutting to the turn buoy that was actually the SECOND buoy on the backstretch (so I was cutting the corner). I heard a lifeguard yelling, looked up, and realized what I was doing. I cut back to the outside to go around the CORRECT buoy, and I shouted "THANK YOU" when I came up to sight.

The back stretch and the turn towards shore were uneventful. Just more dodging swimmers. I tried to get outside to get around everyone, and that worked pretty well. I saw a low 7:something on my watch for a 440 yard swim, and I was happy with that.


Nothing interesting here. WHICH IS ALWAYS GOOD. I felt pretty fast here, and just got my new suit caught a bit on my feet as I was getting out of it. I ran out with my bike and got to work!

BIKE: 9 miles:

Being I was the last heat of sprint athletes, I knew I'd be catching lots of cyclists. Just outside of town, I had to hop off the wide shoulder and into a lane of the highway a FEW times because the shoulder was so crowded at times. There were rumble strips I had to keep an eye on as well. But there were really no issues - I just kept passing.

About 1/4 of the way into the ride (just before mile 2.5), I saw my overall average was 22.0 mph. I noted in my last post that I'd like to be around 21 mph, so this was a good start!! I wasn't sure it would last, but I was using the "mental push" of catching all these other athletes to help my bike split.

It was perfectly calm out there, and the roads were clean! I had no excuse to not be riding hard, so I did. I knew the big "question mark" of this race was my bike fitness, so I wanted to push it. (I wasn't worried about being "too dead" for the tiny 2.5 mile run at the end as my running fitness is great right now.)

My average kept climbing!! And no one passed me on the bike. Here's my overall average every 2.25 miles (every 1/4 of the ride):

- 1/4: 22.0 mph
- 1/2: 22.6 mph
- 3/4: 23.0 mph
- near transition: 23.2 mph
- rolling into transition: 23.1 mph

I was THRILLED with that!!


I got my helmet and shades off QUICK, threw on my shoes, and went to grab my race number. But it ripped off my race belt! Somehow my number got a little wedged under the rack, and it ripped off when I grabbed it. I ran through transition and ran the first 1/2 block of the run fidgeting with it (putting the one non-ripped corner back on the belt). After the race, I took a photo of my waist to show how I had to run with my broken number:

RUN: 2.5 miles:

Time to catch more people! I was feeling good about this race, and wondering if I could place overall. (In my mind, I'd already gotten an "age group" place locked up, but I really didn't know being we were spread out over 7 waves and 18 minutes of start time.) Around the 0.5 mile mark (after passing lots of people constantly), I noticed a guy a block or 2 ahead who was running about my same pace. SOMEONE I NEED TO CATCH! After just thinking I was doing well, I now figured that this guy could have started in my wave and I need to catch him!

After a faster 2nd half-mile split chasing him, I thought "Huh... why is his number white when mine is yellow? DAMN IT! He's in the long course!" I caught him JUST as I was running up to the 1.25 mile turn-around, and said something like "Thanks for the pull! I thought you were short course for a while! Good luck! Byeeeeee!!!"... as I turned back towards MY finish as he had to keep heading around the lake to HIS finish.

• Mile 1: 5:56 (3:01, 2:55)

Still catching runners from earlier waves. Still not seeing anyone with a "wave 12" mark on their leg. Feeling good about my effort.

• Mile 2: 5:53 (2:55, 2:58)

I saw someone ahead who COULD have been in my wave (probably not), and I used him to pull me to the finish. I didn't get him, but I drastically closed the gap.

• Mile 2 to 2.5: 2:47

• Last 0.05 to finish: 0:14 (5:09 pace)


Steve Stenzel, short course, 38, St. Paul

• SWIM: 0.25 miles: 7:08.6
, 1:39/100 pace, 21st fastest
• T1: 2:00.6, 9th fastest
• BIKE: 9 miles: 22.27.2, 24.0 mph, 3rd fastest
• T2: 0:59.5, 27th fastest
• RUN: 2.5 miles: 14:51.8, 5:56 pace, 2nd fastest

• TOTAL: 47:27.9

2 out of 11 in the 35-39 age group
3 out of 264 overall

[Garmin: 408 yards swim in 7:11, 1:59 T1, 8.63 mile bike in 22:25 (23.1 mph), 1:00 T2, 2.55 mile run in 14:52 (5:50 pace)]


• I was beat by a 17-year-old phenom and a 39 year old dad. Kyle Swenson is having an awesome year, and I think he was expected to win here. But 2 waves behind him was Andrew Zabel who beat him by 35 seconds. And they both heartily beat me by 3:11 and 2:36. And then I was nearly 1:20 ahead of 4th place.

• Holy bike speed, Batman!! I was truly NOT expecting that! I tied my fastest bike split ever, posting the same Garmin split as the 15 mile "Tri-ing for Children's Triathlon 2 years ago where I hit 23.2 like I did at this race, and then watched it tick down to 23.1 heading into transition. I still don't think I've had a race in the 22s (all my races have been 20.x, 21.x, or 23.x mph).

• The bike speed came from some shorter/harder workouts, but I couldn't go faster for much longer. I couldn't have come close to holding that speed for the long course route (21 miles). I was about perfectly (or "adequately") trained for THIS distance.

• I felt my overall endurance starting to give out near the end of the race. This is where I felt my lack of longer, harder rides. Nearing the end of the short 2.5 mile run, I was done. I need to do more on the bike if I expect to be decent at longer triathlons. (This is like in 2012 when I was in EXCELLENT running shape, but I had to stop to walk 5 times at the Trinona Olympic Distance because I was in horrible bike shape, and I couldn't keep running after biking so hard for 25 miles.)

• I had the 2nd fastest run at the race! The winner beat my run split by 15 seconds, but I beat the high schooler's run split by 4 seconds. There's something that's nice about being a faster runner than a high school runner. :) Especially one that's about as old as my marriage. Sheesh, I'm getting old.

I walked back to transition and got my camera. Here are some random strangers finishing the short course:

"Race buddy" Diane H finishing as the 2nd female in the long course! (SUPER competitive race!)

Lots of long course runners coming through town (see them all back there?).
Drew F from Gear West is the 2nd one back there.

A selfie with princesses. Does your race have princesses? No? Then why bother racing?!?

I put on my plastic-y ankle chip on a bit too tight and it rubbed raw.
(This is the back of my ankle.)

Well, I didn't know it right away, but I was 3rd overall. I tweeted this along with the following image:

Artwork from a local artist (who was there to talk about it). In gold, sliver, and bronze frames. Awesome.

And as stated by the emojis in that tweet, after a good swim, bike, and run, I stopped for a little pizza on the way home:

No photo of pizza. Too hungry. Here's a triangle that once stored pizza.

Kym and Leah also placed in their age groups! Back with more photos soon! Right now: a little rest.


Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments! Have a great day!


Follow steveinaspeedo on Twitter

Facebook Fan Page

All content and original images copyright 2006 - 2024 by Steve Stenzel, AKA "Steve in a Speedo." All Rights Reserved.
Want to use something seen here? Just ask - I don't bite.