Litchfield Watercade 4 Mile Race Report

>> Monday, July 15, 2019

Well, I snuck out and raced a 4 miler on Saturday morning. My in-laws decided to get a last-minute camping spot for them and their camper, and they asked if any of their kids and families wanted to stay as well. The boys and I decided to tent camp outside of their camper on Friday night. (That makes 4 out of the last 5 weekends spent camping!)

Playing cards inside Grandma's camper.

It's a NEW campgrounds! Their electrical hookup was date-stamped just a
few weeks ago. And no fire has ever been in this fire pit.

Supper on their grill: windsor chops for my in-laws, and hamsteak for me and the boys.

Fishing with Grandma after supper! She caught a largemouth bass!

Charlie caught a few sunnies.

Fishing after sun went down and the moon came up.

That lake (Lake Ripley) was the one I was going to race around the next morning, but I didn't know that yet. When Monica invited us to camp, both my wife and I saw pretty quickly that there was a race on Saturday, so I figured I might do it. I told the boys "you'll wake up in the tent and I'll be gone. You just head into Grandma and Grandpa's camper and they'll get some breakfast for you." We got to bed around 10:45 and I figured (HOPED!) the boys would sleep well past when I got up. Charlie stirred around 5:45, and I tucked him back in. Here's what my view looked like to either side as I was about to get up at 6:00:

After sneaking out. They slept until just after 7:00. Perfect!

I plugged my hot pot into the side of my in-law's camper and made oatmeal. I had to #2 pretty quickly (a standard pre-race issue), so I grabbed my still cooling oatmeal and drove across the highway to the vault toilets at the park by the lake. So I got my pre-race selfie:

No garage deposited. Just... other stuff...

Oatmeal by my car looking over the lake.

"Oh hey... it looks like we're racing around the lake! Clockwise by the trashcan placement."

A fishing tournament was ready to start as well. Their loud trucks were my alarm clock an hour before.

I drove into town to wash my hands at a gas station before putting in my contacts. I wasn't OK with hand sanitizer from the vault toilets burning under my contacts all race long. So here's a 2nd pre-race selfie with my contacts in at Casey's:

At the race site. There's the finish line painted on the sidewalk next to the lake.

"Watercade girls" in their sashes were helping at packet pickup on the left.

The start line going up on the highway.

I jogged a bit of a warm up (I got SWEATY in the humid air right away) to make sure I had a sense of where the race went. I knew there was a chance I could be near the front, and I didn't want to get lost! I asked the race director if there was a lead cyclist or police car, and he laughed and said "What... are you hoping to go like 22:30 or 23 flat?!?" I shrugged a little and said "well, yeah... kinda hoping to go around 23:00..." He instantly got serious as if he was concerned that he offended me and said "Yep, we've got 2 lead cyclists. They'll lead you out, so no worries. And a time like that could put you near the front!"

I lined up at 7:25 and chatted with a fast-looking Mom for the 5 minutes leading up to the race. She just broke 20:00 in a 5K recently, and had an "M-dot" tattoo on her leg. We were saying we'd never done this race when an older, rounder, topless guy in shorter running shorts (you know the guy) said "I've done this the last 30 years! It's a great race! Just keep the lake to your right!"

Some kids lined up right along the start line, and the speedy women and I were in the 2nd row.

"ON YOUR MARKS......" *airhorn blasts*

I shot around the kids pretty quick as I sweetly heard one say something like "just stick with me" to the other. But one guy had shot off in front of all of us. I didn't let him get away, but I stayed about a 1/2 block behind him. I was there in case he went out too hard and couldn't keep it up. He was a much better "racer" than I as he found tight lines to the inside on the curves. I found myself running 3 feet from the right at this spot about 3/4 mile into the race (photo taken on my warm up) as I noticed he was running RIGHT on the far edge of the tar:

Directly next to the lake from about 0.2 through 0.9 miles.

My first half mile showed I was going out to keep up, but then I slowed up in my 2nd half mile. But he wasn't pulling away, so he had done the same after a quick start:

• MILE 1: 5:45.00 (2:47 and 2:57)

I was hoping to run about 5:45s (which would be 23:00 for a finish time), so I felt good about this opener. I was curious what the next half mile would bring - was I being affected by the heat about to turn in a 3:10? Or still running strong? But before the next split, I heard footsteps behind me! I was slowly being passed by another Dad. I wished him luck as he went past, and surged with him for a bit.

• MILE 2: 5:46.26 (2:53 and 2:52)

I was RIGHT where I thought I could be! But I was also getting HOT. I don't do well in the heat, but I was hoping to "not have time" for it to affect me in this race. I've gotten through hot 1 mile races without feeling the heat, but I was sure feeling it in this 4 miler.

The water station that I found earlier that morning was right around mile 2, and I took a sip and splashed some down my back (after seeing the leaders not take anything). Now we were running on roads that I had driven the day before and earlier that morning, so I knew what to expect. Here's a shot of the quiet road heading east from my drive to the race an hour earlier:

The 2nd place guy was gaining a BIT on the leader, but I wasn't letting the leader get away. From about mile 1 through mile 3, he stayed about 1 block in front of me. I was running out of time to make a move, but this race wasn't over yet either.

• MILE 3: 5:56.42 (2:58 and 2:57)

The heat was getting to me. I kept it "strong," but I wasn't about to kill myself either. My most surprising split of the day was probably mile 3 to 3.5. I was racing to the line, but it was "only" 2:56. I was zapped. It was a good effort on a warm morning, but I had done all I could do. There was no catching the guys in front of me.

A photographer at the finish caught us top 3 in a shot as the winner finished:

Winner, 2nd place back by the orange cone, and me in 3rd farther back around the curve.

2nd place finishing with me back there.

SWEATY STEVE in 3rd. My shirt was COMPLETELY sweated through.

The speedy Mom had a sprint with this guy for 4th over 2 minutes behind me.

Results. 1st-3rd were 23 seconds apart. And then a 2+ minute gap until the next runner.
(Note that "speedy Mom" beat Alex to the line by 0.2 seconds,
but he started 0.5 seconds back so he beat her. D'oh.)

• MILE 4: 5:22.72 (2:56 and 2:26 [Garmin measured it as 0.43, or on pace for a 2:48 split])


Steve Stenzel, M, 38, St. Paul

5:42 pace
3 out of 166 overall
3 out of 14 in the 35-39 age group

[Garmin: 22:50 for 3.93 miles - 5:48 pace]


• Of COURSE both guys who beat me were in their upper 30s as well! Third overall and 3rd in my age group. Reminds me of a time that speedy duathlete Mario Minelli was 4th overall at Cannon Falls Duathlon (I *think* that was the race) so he didn't get an overall award, but he was also 4th in his age group so he didn't get an age group award either. Brutal.

• This was a solid effort, but not a super "race." I didn't really go "all out." I didn't skip my swim the day before (something I ALWAYS do when I'm "racing"), and I didn't skip my ride the day after (but I did cut it shorter because my legs were heavy). I just figured this could be a nicely timed race to use as a tempo effort, and the heat kept me from going too hard. In NO WAY am I trying trying to say I could have won it, because I don't think I could have. (And if I didn't, I didn't - I'm not a "what if" kinda guy.) I just didn't plan on giving it a huge mental effort. I ended up giving it a quite decent physical effort, but the heat slowed me up just enough to keep from exploding.

• I realized well after the race that I was only 7 seconds off my 4 mile PR. That was set pre-kids at the 2010 Lake Johanna 4 mile. On a cooler morning, that would have been easily possible. I was thrilled to be so close to a PR.

• They had a SUPER fast awards ceremony where they just rattled off the top 3 in each AG and you could walk up and get your medal. I like races that either make a HUGE deal of age group awards with a podium and everything, or ones that just say "If you hear your name, come get a medal!" and are super quick. This was the latter. It was fantastic.

My medal.

I grabbed my phone from the car shortly after finishing so I could get a few more photos:

Finishers coming to the line, with a nice little crowd around.

Unofficial Garmin time.

Parents cheering on the "kids 1 mile" a bit later.

Go kids!

Here's another Mom I chatted with for a long time while we both stretched.

Charlie met me at my car when I got back to the camper, and he gave me a big sweaty hug. (I was sweaty, not him.) Then he sat in the tent and looked at books as I got packed up:

Someday he'll help more. For now, I still think this is cute.

Grandma took my car and the boys over to the lake, and I stayed behind to take down the tent and pack up. After 45 minutes, I walked over to find them having decent luck.

A sampling of the trucks from the fishing tournament that woke me up.

Charlie and Grandma caught matching tiny perch at the same time!

Henry caught the most perch (and the biggest) that morning, bringing in 7 or 8.

Once we came back from fishing with my car, it was a quick job to load it up.

Chicken legs for lunch.

My sister-in-law made it just in time for lunch!


Cousins playing across the lake at the beach and splashpad.

Henry taunting his cousins to spray him.

After a random post-swimming 3:00 p.m. meal, this was the ride
home for 90 minutes. Happy summer, fellas!


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.