2021 Brian Kraft Memorial 5K

>> Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Monday was the race where ALLLLL the speedsters come out: the Brian Kraft Memorial 5K. My oldest son (remembering that the weekend before I finished 2nd overall at the Oakdale Duathlon) asked "so... will you be in like the top-5 at this race?" HAHAHAHAHAHA NOOOOOOOO!!!! "Probably not the top 50" is how I responded.

I spotted the starting line in the distance as I showed up at the race:

The blue cones just past the stop sign.

The finish line down by packet pickup.

It was a nice cloudy morning (with LOW humidity!).

I hope this wetness is from someone hosing down and cleaning the porta potty.
And not from someone hosing it down with his "personal hose."

Pre-race tradition.

Lots of rowers out on Nokomis.

A selfie with teammate Michael pre-race!

In case I didn't get any photos of myself, here's a
selfie showing the tiny "bowl full of sunshine" shorts.

I dropped everything but my mask and keys in my car and headed for the start line. I bumped into 2 more teammates (Meg and Kari), and then Michael spotted us too. Mike said he was disappointed in my shorts, and I snarkily responded "yeah... not short enough?" Everyone laughed, and he mentioned he just wished to see some bright plaid or lightning bolts.

I did a few more quick sprints, lined up where I thought was about right, and then had lots more people jumping in line in front of me as we waited for the start. There was a guy right behind me telling his friend how he'd ran 191 miles in the last 2 weeks. Umm... I've ran like 39. Swell.

I decided to not look at my Garmin during the race as it was taking my 1/2 mile splits. I wanted to go out a bit hard, but I just wanted to run by feel. I'm NOT used to doing that, but I tried it 3 years ago at this race and it went OK.


The masses starting, with me on the far right. (I like the progressive "lean" happening in this photo.)

Close-up of that last photo: me with my hand on my watch in the tiny yellow shorts.

It seems to always happen at this race: I started too far back, and I was trapped along the curb for the first half mile. I wanted to go a BIT harder, but it was also possibly OK that I was being held back a little.

These next 10 photos or so (from the start and then at the finish) come from Tom R, and I'll be sharing a lot more of his photos in an upcoming post:

Big train of runners coming.

Red arrows l-to-r: Nathan C, me, Brian D.

Kari and Meg starting side-by-side.

Finally just after my Garmin beeped at the 0.5 mile mark, the road stopped curving to the left and straightened out by Nokomis Beach. I finally had an opening to shoot in front of a few people. I did that and was just 3 seconds behind Brian. I did a good job of not looking / not caring about my Garmin for the first 3 splits it took.

Not to jump the gun (but SPOILER: I finished the race), but here's my Garmin pace around the lake, and you can see the DEEP RED (meaning FAST) just north of the beach (at the head of the arrow) where the road finally straightened out and I could pass a pack:

Random fast spots throughout, and then not as fast heading
back north on the east side towards the finish.

Brian was running the tangents REALLY well - something I'm not always great at doing. Just after the first mile, he slowly cut across the road and was right in front of me as we headed into the breeze. "Hop behind this tall runner so he can help cut the wind in front of me? Sure! Just stay with Brian!"

I was hurting good by the 1.5 mile mark.

At the 2 mile mark, I just HAD to glance at my Garmin. And I didn't feel too bad about deciding to do so, because the main reason for NOT looking at my Garmin is to keep from saying something like "Oh, that's a good pace... no need to go any harder." And something like that could be uttered early in the race, but by mile 2 of a 3.1 mile race, it's just GET TO THE FINISH TIME! So I saw that mile 1.5 to mile 2 was 2:49.01, and I was around 11:11 into the race. I was NOT thinking PR, but I quick compared it to my 17:11 PR: "So I'd have to run a sub-5:25 mile to get to 17:11, and I'm not going to be able to do that based on this 2:49 half mile (and how dead I'm feeling), but just HOLD ON and see if you can get this under 17:30!!"

The race had 11 guys go under 15:00!! And the winner set a new course record in 14:08! Part of me was relieved to see the winner collapse on his ass after laying down 4:33s:

First (on his bum), second, and third.

Nathan C had pulled away. I thought he could be a good rabbit for me, but he ended up finishing with a 16:51 PR! Nice running Nathan:

There's... a lot going on in this photo.

My form was hell and I was dying. Brian was pulling away a bit, so I was losing him as my rabbit. I had passed a final runner or 2 just after the 1 mile mark (just before jumping in behind Brian), and only one person passed me with about 0.3 miles left in the race. Even though I was hurting, I at least held my position decently for those last 2 miles. It was a QUIET final 2 miles of the race! I actually never heard any footsteps behind me except for the guy who passed me.

There's Brian (#62), and I'm appropriately hiding DIRECTLY behind him
(by about 8 secs). And I think #93 is who passed me.

Brian rounding the corner to reveal me back there (#308).

Oh my face. This was a struggle.

Heel-striking and dead.

Gunning for the finish line!

I posted this after I finished:

Caption: "Fastest 5K in 9 years, and 3rd fastest lifetime!
But ALMIGHTY LORD IN HEAVEN that last mile hurt."


Steve Stenzel, 40, M, St. Paul

17:32 chip time (5:38.6 pace)
17:35 gun time (5:39.6 pace)

66 out of 289 overall
12 out of 42 in the 40-49 age group

Start to finish: I passed 28 runners and was passed by 9.

[Garmin: 17:31.97 for 3.12 miles (5:37.13 pace)]


ONE: About my splits... here's what I ran:

     - Mile 1: 5:33.34 (2:49.63 "boxed in" + 2:43.71 passing people)
     - Mile 2: 5:38.69 (2:47.68 + 2:49.01)
     - Mile 3: 5:43.55 (2:52.31 + 2:51.24
     - Mile 3 to 3.11: 0:38 (5:28 pace)

That's why I was so uncomfortable. The vast majority of my training runs are negative split, but this race saw a solid positive split: +5 sec between mile 1 and 2, and another +5 sec between mile 2 and 3. A positive split means I'm "hurting," but it also means I'm truly "racing."

TWO: Sub-17:30 was my "best possible outcome" for the race, so 17:32 is grand! I don't have ranked goals (like I used to) for races like this. It's pretty much "Suffer, finish, and see if you can hit XX:XX." In this race, I thought 17:30 would be amazing.

THREE: As my post-race image of my Garmin noted, it was my 3rd fastest 5K! In 2017, this race was my 3rd fastest with my 17:39 gun / 17:34 chip finish. But I barely outdid that on Monday. (My PR is from 11+ years ago at the 2010 Human Race where I went 17:11, and I ran a 17:23 at Brian Kraft 9 years ago when my big Henry was just a chunky baby!

FOUR: I passed a lot of women. The women around my pace have it tough because they don't know how far to line up. The results say that I started 85th overall and ended up 66th overall (gaining 21 spots), and in my sex I went from 69th to 62nd (gaining 7 spots). So that means I passed 7 men and 14 women. In the starting line photos above, you can see that a lot of women filled in in front of me after I had lined up.

FIVE: I didn't feel bad for looking at my Garmin. As I said above, it didn't "allow" me to think that I could slow up, and that's the main reason for trying to race by not looking at it.

SIX: Minnesota distance running legend Rick Recker commented on my post-race photo. I spotted him there pre-race, and apparently he saw me finish:

SEVEN: It never got "hot," but unfortunately the sun came out just before the race started. It came and went during the race. Here's a post-race photo of downtown Minneapolis over Lake Nokomis:

It became a warm sunny day.

EIGHT: I had to show my vaccination card (or a negative COVID test from the last 7 days) in order to pick up my packet. I wonder if we'll see any more of that over the next year. I was masked until about 1 minute before the start, and then I raced with my car keys in one hand and my mask in the other. (It was also the first race where I used a face mask to wipe the sweat off my face. Gross.)

I cheered in my other teammates as I walked (and then jogged) the course backwards as a cool down:

Michael finishing FIRST out of 10 in the 70-79 age group in 23:00!

Another photo of Michael shared on our team page by a non-racing teammate!

Meg posting a 25:02!

And Kari coming in with a 26:06!

I bumped into more friends on my cool-down, including former frenemy and BFF Devon. His wife is pregnant with child #2 (news I'm technically breaking before he publicly announces it, but I confirmed with him that I can say this because DADS STICK TOGETHER), and he texted me later in the day:

Devon also teased that I hadn't been injured in a while, so he said I should be injured in the next few minutes. He was right as my right calf (my GOOD calf) started to hurt mid-achilles on my cool down. And then I hurt it a bit more that evening playing baseball with my boys at the park. But I saw my sports-minded chiropractor yesterday, and he did some ultrasound, Graston, and A.R.T. on it and isn't too worried. I just might be taking a week or 2 off from running (and at least a few days off from biking), but after 2 decent back-to-back race weekends, I'm fine with that!

Back with more photos shortly!


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