Race Report: Oakdale Spring Classic Duathlon

>> Monday, May 24, 2021

This was a last-minute race for me. Running has been great to me all winter, and I've been trying to work in some more effort on the bike. When I thought about doing this race about 10 days ago, I immediately went out and biked some intervals and then ran some intervals the following day. Yep, sure, I'm ready... let's race.

It had been 22 months since I raced a multi-sport race as I was injured and didn't run for 7 months, and then when I started running again, everything was shutting down last March because of COVID. It felt good to get back into the old race routine:

I had to put air in my race wheels (and see if they held it)
because they hadn't been touched in 22 months.

I had to do my pre-race shoulder shaving.

And I had to dig out my old tri bag.

On Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:26 before my 5:40 alarm. I got loaded up, ate a lot of oatmeal, and actually got to say hi to the boys before I left as they got up around 6:40:

We don't wear shirts in our house.

I didn't realize until the day before that Saturday was the Apple Duathlon, and I knew that would attract the more elite athletes. But it's also quite a drive past St. Cloud, and I was happy to race a more "casual" race that was just 15-20 minutes away.

The sky looked like it could drizzle, but there was no chance of storms:

A goose with some goslings inside the park.

I was the first one there...

... and I got a spot near my favorite race facilities. :)

Add a Costco-sized jug of hand sanitizer, and you've got COVID compliant potties!!

My stuff set up in transition. I MAY have been a bit early.

Things were nicely spaced out in transition. First of all, spots were assigned based on your race number, so that helped deter everyone from getting there SUPER early and hanging around. And on my side of the aisle, there were only 2 people/rack. LOTS of space! On the other side, they had double the length of racks, so they put 4 people/rack. A pre-COVID race would have had 2-3x that number of people/rack.

I made new "race buddies" like I enjoy doing: Erin was racked with me, and Ed was nearby. Ed had a SWEET bike, but it turned out he was doing the long course, so he wasn't someone I needed to be worried about. (Ed ended up winning - congrats Ed!)

The traditional pre-race shot.

I had my race wheels on (they held air the night before!), and I took my bike out for a spin. There wasn't much else to do pre-race, so I slathered on some sunscreen and tried to stay cool. IT WAS STARTING TO GET WARM!!

I had a quick chat with race director Judi with 1 question I had about the course because I was aware I could be near the front. I said "I don't want to be 'that guy' and assume I'll do well... but I ALSO don't want to be 'that guy' and accidentally lead everyone off course!" She laughed. And then she mentioned that someone missed one of the last turns at this race a few years ago and accidentally took 5+ people off course for a while! Oops. "Ya gotta know the course" she said.

The first race to start was the "reverse duathlon" which was a new idea. There were only 4 or 5 people doing that race. It was a 14 mile bike, 2.5 mile run, and 14 mile bike. And I heard from a few people at the race that would love to try that in the future!

Five minutes later, the "long course" and "short course" athletes lined up. We got final race instructions from Judi, and she sent us on our way!

"4... 3... 2... 1... GOOOOO!!!"


I shot out into the lead right away. And I knew that I'd end up going out "hot" in a situation like this. After looping through the parking lot, my watch beeped for the first half mile: 2:45. "Yep, 5:30 pace is PRETTY fast!" I didn't tell myself to slow down... but instead to hold on and see what I can do. I knew I'd have to build some distance by the end of the run because some of these guys looked LEGIT and were going to be coming for me on the bike! I also knew with the heat that I'd start slowing down quickly. So "hold on" was the instruction.

My second half mile was 2:51, so mile 1 was 5:37. But it was HOT.

My next mile was slower: 3:05.51 + 3:03.81 = 6:09 for mile 2. That's a substantial slow down, but no one was gaining on me. I resisted the urge to look back, but I had the feeling I wasn't running away with the race.

Oh, and rounding a corner near the end of the run, I saw a turkey up in the distance! It wandered closer to the trail, and I ran right past it:

It was the red dot. I saw it when I was at the
right arrow, and then ran past it 30 seconds later.

Nearing transition, we did close to a hairpin turn, and I saw that there was another runner (who looked like he could be a cyclist) maybe just 30 seconds behind me. Damn. I knew I was going to get caught on the bike. But I posted a time that was faster than 6 years ago in that heat, so I was THRILLED with that!

First run pace. I went out FAST: notice I didn't drop
below 6:00 pace for a moment until about a mile in.

First run route. A fast (red/orange) start in the lower loop
and in the SW corner, and then slowing up a little.


Nothing fancy. The guy behind me ran past to his bike as I was ready to go out, and I gave him a cheer.

Oh, and former-race-director-and-now-just-race-timer Randy Fulton shouted "Steve!! I never knew you were so fast!" I laughed and said something to the effect of "I'll be slowing down now," meaning I knew I was about to get caught.


I tried to get up to speed fast. I was just biding my time before I was passed. The longer I could hold him off, the better. "If I can get to mile 8 or so before being passed... then MAYBE I can catch him on the final run!"

I got though 2 miles to get out of the park (it was a bit bumpy), and I turned to head up the hill on our first road outside of the park. Here's a pic of it out in the distance from when I was driving into the park a few hours earlier:

I was only up to 19.8 mph before that climb, and I had dropped to an average of 19.0 mph after rounding the top of that hill. All my easier indoor riding has not prepared me for hills, obviously. BUT THE GOOD NEWS WAS THAT I STILL HADN'T BEEN PASSED!

I rounded the first corner of the "square" course, and sped up on some faster roads. At the next turn, I checked over my shoulder to make sure I could swing wide (looking for cars and other athletes), and I didn't see anyone behind me! I was starting to think I'd maybe not get passed! But checking over my shoulder the same way at the next turn, I spotted someone only about a block back. Damn it. Bike hard, Stenzel!!

Same course as past years, but this year it didn't go all the way "up"
to Lake Elmo Ave at the NE corner - we shaved off that little bit.

Just after mile 6, I was passed. It was the guy who wasn't far behind me at the end of the first run. At the turn at mile 8, I timed how far I was behind - it was about 40 seconds. Doing some math, I realized I'd have to make up about 2-3 minutes on the final run (which was shorter than the first one at 2.5 instead of 3 miles) if this continued, so I pretty much conceded the win right there. I still went HARD to make sure I wasn't passed again, but I was watching this guy run bike away with 1st place.

There was a chance this guy was in the long course, but when I got to the turn back into the park, I didn't see anyone up ahead still on 10th Street. So he was heading back in the short course as well. Second place, here I come! Totally not complaining about that!

Bike speed. Slower in the SW, and then fast to the north before pushing hard the rest of the way.

I like to glance at my overall average every 1/4 of the bike course. Here's what I had:

- 19.8 mph before the hill
- 19.0 mph at mile 3.5
- 21.1 mph at mile 7
- 21.4 fastest
- 21.3 mph at mile 10.5
- 21.4 mph nearing transition

When I was in good shape 6 years ago when I last did this race, I got up to 21.3 and was at 21.2 at transition, so WOO HOO!! A bit better now! (6 years ago, I was also at 19.7 mph at mile 3.5 [faster than my 19.0 this year], so I started a bit easier this year and then TRIED to keep that guy in my sights and starting pushing harder when he blew past!)


I was ready to BURN UP. I didn't know what my hashed-from-the-bike legs would be able to do, and I didn't know how I'd do in the heat. I do NOT like running hard in the heat. Someone cheered "Looking good!" and I shouted back "NOPE! Looking HOT!"


Yep, the final run was a 1/2 mile shorter. It was running the first run backwards, but without the loop we had to do at the start of our first run. I saw the leader running into the trees as I ran out of transition, and that was already quite far in front of me. I kept looking for him throughout the entire run, but he was always too far ahead - I NEVER saw him.

I ran the run HARD, but not so hard I was going to die. Because seriously, it was HOT, and I wasn't sure if I'd have to stop and walk for a moment. So early on (like within the first mile), I went at about 97%, and I was ready to bump it up to 100% if I caught sight of first place struggling in front of me.

In 2015, I had a KILLER 2nd run as I was trying to reel in some guys in my age group (which I was able to do). This run was NOT that run. Mile 1 was 6:17 (3:09 and 3:07), and mile 2 was only a bit better at 6:12 (3:03 and 3:09). Some small hills with about a 1/2 mile to go felt BRUTAL, and I was looking so hard to see the finish line off in the distance (which we kind of had to run past and then loop back to finish). I hit the line happy, hot, and hashed. In 2nd overall.

I now have the fastest Garmin-ranked "segment" for the final run. Why can't anyone
spell on Garmin? And notice the little climb with a 1/2 mile left that felt HORRIBLE.


Steve Stenzel, #183, 40, M

- 3 Mile Run: 17:31 (5:51 pace)
, 1st overall [Garmin: 2.94 miles, 5:57 pace]
- T1: 0:43, 2nd overall
- 13 Mile Bike: 37:30 (20.8 mph), 2nd overall [Garmin: 13.34 miles, 21.3 mph]
- T2: 0:35, 1st overall
- 2.5 Mile Run: 14:53 (5:58 pace), 1st overall [Garmin: 2.44 miles, 6:06 pace]

1:11:12 total

2nd out of 33 overall
1st out of 4 in the 40-49 age group

(Everything signing up said 14 miles for the bike, but being it was well under that, the official results note that it was 13 miles.)

Comparing my times from this year with 2015, I was 0:13 FASTER in the first run this year, 0:18 FASTER over the bike (and my Garmin had it very similar at only 1/100th of a mile different), but then 0:29 SLOWER in the final run. And my transitions were slower this year (which makes sense as I had a few races under my belt already in 2015 and now hadn't raced a multi-sport race in 22 months) giving up 0:11 in T1 and another 0:11 in T2. There's a good chance the length of transition was longer this year, so that might account for some of those seconds. So overall, I was 0:18 seconds slower this year, but that's a very VERY similar fitness level!

Well after I finished back in transition. Soaked through with sweat.
(With some gnats on my neck - I swallowed 2 on the final run.)

Wide open transition (with lots of bikes still out).

Randy Fulton working under the tent (far right) at the finish.

I talked with this guy later. It was his first du (he's a runner),
and he borrowed a bike 3 days prior in order to do it!

The winning female about 12 mins after me.

This dumbass fly got its head stuck in the transition netting. It was trying to get out.

I noticed packing up that I still had cat barf on my bike shoes. Classy.
(My bike stuff lives downstairs where the cats sleep. And occasionally barf.)

New race buddy Erin coming to the finish!

Finishing hand-in-hand with some kiddos!

Selfie with race director Judi! (This was the closest I've
been to a non-family member in 14 months. Damn COVID,)

2 hours after finishing, my race belt was still soaked
through with sweat, so I had to put it on the line. Gross.

We had been working on cleaning the garage the day before, and after the race, I put together our new grill:

Not fancy, but functional. #LikeMe

A virgin grill looks so unusual!

Made some "loaded nachos" for supper with left-over carnitas from the night before.

I busted out the "Tutti Frutti" shorts for the first time in YEARS, but I don't have a photo of myself wearing them! Damn it! But there were 2 photographers out there, so I'll be back to share lots of photos when they come in. I can't wait to see how horrible we all start to look as the heat gets to us. Now time for a few easy days!


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