RACE REPORT: 2021 TC 10 Mile

>> Monday, October 04, 2021

Yesterday morning, I drove my wife and my neighbor to the light rail so we could hop a train to the start of the race:

We've been PACKED like sardines on the train in the past, so this was great!

Some of my YWCA Endurance Sports running team before the start!

The big question going into the race was if my lack of speed work but better cross training would have an affect on the race. (I hurt my calf in late May at the Brian Kraft 5K, and I never got back to totally normal training all summer because of it.) I was feeling good though, and I was telling people that "sub-1:02" was my goal. I was actually going to try to run 6:10s and shoot for 1:01:40 - I've only had two 10 mile races faster than that.

Final pre-race selfie with my cutie before I hopped in my starting corral.

I always line up a bit too far back, but I was shooting for doing the same at this race: I didn't want too many "different" variables, so being a bit too far back (like normal) was what I was going to do. I waved at Tom R, bumped into Jared A, and chatted with DKT who lined up next to me. He said he was going to go out hard and shoot for around 59 minutes.

My Garmin died about a month ago, so this was going to be my first running race in about 9.5 years where I wasn't going to have half-mile splits. I was going to be taking old school just-hit-the-lap-button-on-your-watch splits at the mile markers. I was curious what the first 2 miles would hold without that extra info every few minutes.


My wife grabbed a few shots of the start.

That's me back there! (I took off my mask just after this - I was
focusing on finding my wife before I worried about my mask.)

Me, Angie V in the blue, and DKT with the red hat.

I hopped around a few people right away, but then just tried to go out "strong" and not too crazy. I totally wanted to glance at my pace (which didn't exist because I wasn't wearing a Garmin) after a few minutes. But I noticed I was just 20' behind DKT and thought I'd better ease up a bit - I did NOT want to go out with someone who said they were going out hard and shooting for 59 minutes!

• MILE 1: 6:05. "Not bad. I didn't want it to be sub-6, so that's a good start!"

Nothing fancy happened here. I tried to run the tangents on the curving road, and I was slowly catching people.

• MILE 2: 6:00. "NICE! I'm PLANNING on giving away some time climbing this next hill."

The mile 2 marker is pretty much at the lowest point on the course, and we were about the climb the big hill up under I94 to the Franklin Ave Bridge (mile 4 on this chart is NOT really that low):

Big uphill to mile 3, short uphill to mile 5, and then a "false flat" for a good 2 miles.

Overall map.

Only 1 person caught me in the first 3/4 of the hill, but then 2 or 3 more caught me in the little loop up to Franklin. (One of them was a tall broad guy who I passed just a half mile earlier, and I thought "How is THIS guy who has 50 lbs on me CLIMBING faster than me?!? Nice work fella!!") But giving up just a few spots wasn't bad considering I was trying to ease up a bit and not blow up.

I hit the mile 3 marker with a slower split, but still 2 sec overall faster than my 6:10 average pace goal!

• MILE 3: 6:22. "Feeling good about that!! Now hold it here..."

Now I'm back in my normal training grounds. And it's pretty flat here (but just bad roads). I held the pace but was working. I was already thinking about having one of my first races where I'm under 31:00 at mile 5! (But once I looked it up later, it turns out that it had happened 4 times before: I was decently sub-30 in 2010 when I PRed with 59:05, and I also went out hard at the 2009 Monster Dash, the 2011 TC 10 Mile, and the 2019 Goldy's Run 10 Mile.)

• MILE 4: 6:03! "I mean, I'm working!... So maybe I need to back off a BIT..."

I was feeling great about my splits, but I was feeling a bit worked. I wasn't too worried until I came up to the mile 5 split and saw how much time I let slip away:

• MILE 5: 6:26. "Damn."

• FIRST 5 MILES: 30:57.

I had been on pace to be at (or UNDER) 30:40 at mile 5, so having given up sooo much time right as we start some slow miles was rough. Really rough.

The mile 5 marker is on a short nasty uphill leading away from the river. My running friend Bree was there taking photos, and here's the first female finisher in the 40-44 age group heading up that hill:

There's me about a minute behind her!

One of Bree's friends, and this shows how steep that bugger is.

Bree's hubby coming in for a high-five. IS THAT A DUNKIN BOX?!?

Runners later in the race.

I don't want to say that "this is where the wheels fell off," but that's kinda what started happening. Any "issue" on the race course became something that slowed me up. Oh, we're turning onto Cretin? Well I slowed up for a few strides and someone passed me. Turning to get onto Summit? Better slow up. Potholes ahead? You're clearly running too fast - slow up.

Damn it.

And these are the "false flat" miles seen on the elevation chart where I historically BLEED time. I wasn't looking forward to these splits.

My college-aged "race buddy" named Mitchell from the 2015 Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon was out at the start of Summit Ave and snapped a few pics of me running by:

Back there, having just turned onto Summit from Cretin Ave.


A smiley grimace for Mitchell (note runners back there on Cretin Ave).

• MILE 6: 6:25. "Damn it."

• MILE 7: 6:24. "Damn it again."

I felt like every block was a new pace. I would pick it up on some downhills nicely, but then I couldn't hold it. I've feel like I should surge a bit, but then feel like I have to ease up a bit more 2 minutes later. I had been getting slowly passed down Summit Ave, and that NEVER happens - I'm usually still passing people. I was tailing an older guy, and I knew I should have been able to pass him, but I just never could.

At mile 7, I was at 43:47. So I said "6:00 miles for the final 3 would be 18:00, or a 1:01:47 finishing time. Is that possible?" In the past, mile 8 can be a fast one when I'm feeling good. So I hoped to get some time back there.

Photo from Brian B around mile 7.5. (There's the "older guy" I was trying to pass, and note
the guy in the red shorts behind me who was equally behind me in Mitchell's first photo.)

I don't look horrible here. Don't believe your eyes.

• MILE 8: 6:05. "Nice! Hold it. You won't die. Just go."

There are some ups and downs around Dale Street (around mile 8.5) that just ate me up. I was passed by 2 women in this stretch too, and again, that's rare - I always have many female finishers in front of me, but I'm usually catching runners in this stretch. I was hoping for another fast mile, but it wasn't going to happen:

• MILE 9: 6:21. "Ouch. But just ONE MILE LEFT. Go for broke now!!"

There was a bit of a switch that got flipped at the mile 9 marker. I was able to find another gear. I saw that if I had a final mile of 5:46 I'd be sub-1:02. Yes, I hadn't ran anything close to that pace all race, but the final mile of this race is FAST: a big downhill with 0.4 miles left, and then a longer, easier downhill for the last 2 blocks to the finish. So I was going for it.

Again, even that fast final 0.4 miles felt very sporadic. I just couldn't hold a pace. But I was giving it all I could. See?...

Dear God. Sorry.

I hit the finish line and saw 1:01:59 with a final mile of 5:45 on my watch!! But I knew that could be off. And sure enough, I didn't QUITE make my sub-1:02 goal.

• MILE 10: 5:45. "That was all I could do. I'm done. DONE.”


Steve Stenzel, 40, M, St. Paul

6:12.0 / mile pace

85 out of 6521 overall
73 out of 2343 males
4 out of 386 in the male 40-44 age group

First 5 miles: 30:58 / Second 5 miles: 31:02

Start to mile 5: passed 41, was passed by 10.
Mile 5 to 8.75: passed 4, was passed by 9.
Mile 8.75 to finish: passed 3, was passed by 3.

FOURTH IN MY AGE GROUP?!?!? Out of 386?? That’s shocking!! My 1:01:41 in 2018 had me as 13th in my AG, and my 1:01:59 in 2017 earned me 15th in my AG. So maybe the smaller field had a big impact on my age group? There were 60% of the finishers this year, but I moved up like 300%. Maybe people suddenly get slower after their 40th birthday??

I walked through the chute, grabbed some beverages, and slowly walked to the light rail station just 2 blocks away. I waited for the train with 3 other people, and only 1 of them was a finisher (we really beat the rush!). And then I enjoyed sitting in the quiet train at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. (Although there was a guy with a lit cigarette a few rows behind me who had passed out, so that was a little stinky.)

I posted my results on social media, and I noted in a comment: "For the record, I said my goal was “sub-62” to anyone I talked to pre-race, so..."

And I also added this one as a comment. :)

My final split and unofficial "watch time" back at home.

My boys surprised me with this post-race! They had picked it up yesterday!
I love them! (“Them” meaning my boys AND Oatmeal Creme Pies. Obviously.)

Oh, and notice they gave it to me as I was changing out of my sweaty race clothes that were on the floor in front of me.

So all-in-all, I suffered a lot more than I thought I’d have to, and my lack of speed work is what I blame. I hadn’t felt any push like that all summer throughout my training, so I can’t just show up on race day and expect to hold that pain for the last 6 miles without falling apart. Even through it was only a 4 second positive split, it felt ROUGH. Summit Ave was BRUTAL.

The good news is that my legs, feet, muscles, and lungs all feel good! It wasn’t any ONE of those things crapping out during the race, so they didn’t get overworked, and now I feel quite decent today! If I had the training to take 60-90 sec off my finishing time, we’d be singing a different tune today. But I just couldn’t move any faster. It wasn’t just 1 factor: my breathing was fine, my legs felt OK, my toes weren't all blistered, etc... my body just couldn’t do it.

At home, I enjoyed a snack from Aldi that had been waiting for me in the freezer: some chedder cheese jalapeno poppers:

Then the boys and I biked down to cheer on the marathon runners:

At mile 22: "You're almost there!" And then "Just kidding!! You've got a ways to go!!"

Back with lots more pics over the next few posts. Including my wife helping get a friend to her first marathon finish! Congrats to all who raced yesterday!!


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