RACE REPORT: 2022 Square Lake Sprint Triathlon

>> Monday, September 12, 2022

After going for a quick swim last week (my first swim in 9 months), I figured I had it in me to race a sprint triathlon this past weekend. I signed up on Saturday afternoon for the Sunday race.


Lots of low-lying fog out of the Cities before sunrise.


44 degrees for a triathlon!!


Got my parking pass at 6:23 a.m. for the 8 a.m. race. I was ready to go!


My bike "Eiffel" racked with the disc wheel on the 2nd or 3rd rack from bike in/out.


Lots of fog on the lake!


Traditional pre-race shot. In THREE SHIRTS because I was chilly.

I was concerned that I didn't bring a thin tuke for under my helmet, and I actually checked my tri bag for a thin pair of gloves. I set out a thin long sleeved shirt because I was pretty sure I was going to try to put that on after the swim for the bike.


Fog starting to lift! Swim course appearing!


About half-way down the little gut-busting hill that we'd be
biking up and running up from T1 and T2. The lake's in the distance.


Transition filling up.

I put on my wetsuit (for the first time in 52 weeks!) and headed down the beach to the swim start. It was a "self-seeded" time trial start. Last year, I started about 40 or 50 people back. This year, I caught myself closer to the front - I was maybe about 10 back! I said hi to Judi and Randy, gave them my number, and hit the water!!

SWIM: 0.5 miles:

I shot a little to the outside. I felt decent starting, but then I got a LITTLE worried about 1/4 or 1/3 of the way into the swim when I started feeling a LITTLE out of breath. So I eased up a BIT.

Being this was my first multisport race with my new Garmin, I didn't know what to expect. It wasn't giving me my 100 splits, but that was probably OK for this race - it could have been too distracting when I'm not in great swim shape. When I was roughly in the middle of the back-stretch and was 1/2 way through the swim, I glaced at my Garmin: I was at 7:15. I was a bit faster last year, but I also was pretty sure it was a bit short last year.

Turning back towards shore, I found myself heading straight into the sun. We were a bit blinded! I really just sort of blindly sighted off someone who was 30-40 feet in front of me and hoped they were going the right direction! Soon, I saw the dock appearing ahead and to the right, so that meant we were doing OK. I hopped up and hit the sand in under 14 minutes, and I figured that was decent!

T1:

This was a bit sloppy. (As it usually is.) My wetsuit was stuck on my heels a bit, and then I STRUGGLED my way into that tight long sleeve shirt as I was soaking wet. My arm was all bent around in the sleeve and it was ugly. I bled some time here.

BIKE: 18.5 miles:

I was curious how I'd feel about the bike as I haven't spent much time outside this year (my last outdoor ride before the triathlon was nearly 4 weeks ago), but looking back, it turns out I was doing a similar thing last year too. But this year, I was putting in *actual* efforts/workouts on the trainer, whereas last year I was just *starting* to push more on the bike after an easier/injured 2020.

After a crappy T1 where I'm SURE a lot of people passed me, I started the bike hard and caught 3 people going up that first hill along the parking lot, and then caught another 2 more before exiting out onto the highway. After getting up to speed on the highway, I was GLAD I took all that awkward time to wrestle on my long sleeve shirt - it would have been chilly! I saw a shadow get close to me as we were getting ready to start that first big hill, but then I pulled away on that hill. AND NO ONE PASSED ME THROUGH THE ENTIRE RIDE!! That happened last year as well, and I was equally shocked! The big difference from last year is that starting closer to the front this year, I wasn't passing people and chasing people the way I was last year. In fact, after passing those 5 people just before getting out onto the highway, I also PASSED NO ONE ELSE ON THE RIDE!

There was someone visible in the distance at mile 2.5 (once we'd crested the big hill) in front of me, but that was the last I saw this person as they pulled away. I had a lonely ride and just tried to keep the effort up! I just raced it last year with a stopwatch, so I didn't have much comparison out there. My splits were tracking in the right direction after starting with that big climb - here's my overall average roughly every 1/4 of the bike:

- 20.4 mph at mile 4.5
- 21.2 mph at mile 9.5
- 21.5 mph at mile 14
- 21.7 mph around mile 18 after the downhill
- 21.5 mph racked back in T2


Slow around the SW corner, faster around the NW corner, FAST heading S
(except for 2 sneaky little climbs), and then a nice downhill nearing Square Lake.


Bike heart rate. I must have eased up a bit on that southerly section on some downhills.


Bike pace. It's just ALWAYS hilly out there. The 3 "slivers" of
slowest speed were the first 3 corners out on the main course.

As I biked into the park, I saw a guy running out. He was WAY ahead of me. And I also saw 2 people back on the highway coming my way behind me, so I was ready to work hard on the run.

T2:

This was better! (It usually is better than T1 for me!) I more easily stripped off my long sleeve and grabbed my race belt with my number on it and headed for the run start.

RUN: 3.1 miles:

Damn that little hill. It wasn't fun to bike up, and it was WORSE to run up! I felt like I was hardly moving as there were cyclists coming back to T2 going past me probably thinking "that guy looks like he's hardly moving - I can catch him!" There was NO SIGN of that guy in front of me, but I wasn't giving up chasing him.

My first half mile split was 3:17 which was about expected. I FINALLY crested that hill before the first mile marker, and used the downhill to cruise to my next split.

- FIRST MILE: 6:26 (3:17 + 3:09).

As I was heading up to the first mile marker, I saw the leading running back at me. So he was just over a mile in front of me, with NO WAY for me to run TWICE his speed to catch him. But that WASN'T the guy I saw as I biked into T2, so I still had another guy in front of me to chase. I wanted to not see him for a long time... meaning I was hoping I was closing the gap! But he came around a corner to show that I was about 0.4 miles behind him with about 1.7 miles left. So POSSIBLE to catch, but not PROBABLE.

I took a sip at the turn-around and tried to keep the pace up. Unfortunately, I also had a small train of people not far behind me. It was a good kick in the pants!

- SECOND MILE: 6:03 (3:03 + 3:00).

The guy I was chasing was gone. I was working to keep my effort up, but I wasn't doing a GREAT job of that. I would shout "NICEJOB" or "KEEPITUP" to everyone running out as I met them. And the 3rd place female had some really friendly shouts for me, but I couldn't tell who she was as my brain stops working when I'm that far into a hard race (and because she was wearing a hat and looked like every-other fit athlete out there).

I rounded the final corners into the park, worked up that damn little hill between the 2 parking lots, and booked it to the finish line.

- THIRD MILE: 5:49 (3:00 + 2:49).
- FINAL 0.17 TO FINISH: 0:52 (5:05 pace).


Run heart rate. YIKES! HIGH! A nice drop heading down that hill to the first mile marker.


All but 0:07 were in Zone 5.

OFFICIAL RESULTS:

Steve Stenzel, 41, M, St. Paul

- SWIM: 14:22
, 2nd in AG, 14th overall
- T1: 1:29, 3rd in AG, 15th overall
- BIKE: 51:18 (21.6 mph), 2nd in AG, 4th overall
- T2: 0:41, 2nd in AG, tied for 2nd overall
- RUN: 19:11 (6:11 pace), 1st in AG, 2nd overall

TOTAL: 1:26:58
2nd out of 14 in 40-44 AG
3rd out of 142 overall


[Garmin: swim 877 yards in 14:22 (1:39/100 yd), 1:34 T1, bike 51:14 for 18.39 miles (21.5 mph), 0:35 T2, run 19:12 for 3.17 miles (6:03 pace) = 1:26:57]


Sweaty selfie as soon as I got back to my spot in transition.


Pulled the empty GU from my shorts after being stretched by a PT. Don't litter, kids!

As that PT was digging into my left glute, I heard the 3rd place female announced at the finish line across transition: it was Michelle B, a friend from WI and former EvoTri teammate of my wife's!! I ran over to give her a hug, and found her hubby and one of her girls as well.


HI MICHELLE!


She posted the photo above on FB, and I had to be snarky in a comment.

If you are a LOOOONG time blog reader, you might remember her as "Rural Girl." She was actually the one who came up with the name for the "Bowl Full of Sunshine" shorts! And my wife and I crashed at her house in 2010 to race the Pine Line Half Marathon. So fun to catch up with her post-race!


Post-race burgers and dogs: grilling on the left, line to be served going back on the right.


9 POST-RACE NOTES:

• Overall, I was 20 seconds slower than last year. I'll break down my splits more in a later post, but I made up 62 seconds on the bike (some more regular and intense trainer workouts have been doing their job!), I lost 12 seconds on the run, and I lost 61 seconds on the swim (which MIGHT just be because it was a bit short last year). So I have no issues with being 20 seconds slower!

• Related to that last point, I'm not THRILLED with my fitness level based on this race, but it's also not bad. I'm actually quite happy about being a little faster on the bike. And MAYBE a little bummed that I gave up a little time on the run. But nothing was far off from where I realistically thought I was.

• I started too close to the front. It was NICE that started closer to the front this year because I didn't have to jump around so many cyclists out on those roads. But because I found my "spot" in the race while still biking through the park in the first 1/4 mile, I never passed anyone in the rest of the 18.5 mile bike *OR* in T2 *OR* on the 5K run. It was a lonely race. (Which I don't mind, but I could have been "pulled" more if I had more people to try to pass on the bike and run.)

• This was my chilliest triathlon in a long time. Maybe ever? My Garmin has it as 48 degrees at the start, 50 degrees on the bike, and 52 on the run. It was cold standing around barefoot in a wetsuit before the start, but pretty glorious on during the race! (After I wrestled my way into a long sleeve shirt in T1.)

• I smiled at 2 young women post race who were talking about the course. One of them said to the other: "That course was ALL up hills! I swear there were NO downhills!" She's not wrong.

• I closed the gap with the guy running in front of me, but he was still waaaay out of reach. I noted when he was next to a pole when I met him, and it took me 3:18 to get to that pole. And then he finished 2:24 in front of me. So I nearly made up a minute in the last half of the run, but had a LOT more work to do to beat him. (And oh wait... with it being a time trial start, I don't know if he started before or after me. So maybe I closed the gap to under 2 minutes, but he started after me. Who knows.)

• One of the guys chasing me at the turn-around on the run laid down a GREAT run split. I had the 2nd fastest run split, and it was the finisher behind me who ran 0:48 faster and was closing the gap! Here's the top-10 finish times (along with 3 "aqua bike" racers) and note that my 1:26:58 was only 0:32 ahead of 4th place who was coming for me:


(I was 3rd overall, which is 4th here as the "aqua bike" athletes
who skipped the run are included in the normal results.)

• Judi puts on great low-key races. Fantastic event, great lake, brutal hills, and a fun atmosphere. Thanks Midwest Multisport!!

• Being it was a pretty "uneventful" race for me, the funniest/wackiest thing happened when I went up to get my 2nd place age group award. The race director Judi and I have known each other for a while, and after she called me up, she made some comment over the mic about how she loves to see my shorts. And then she wanted to make a note along the lines of "well, I love to see STEVE, not just his shorts," but instead worded it something like "well, I like to see what's under all those bright clothes as well!" Everyone giggled and Judi had to say "THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEAN YOU PEOPLE!!!" It was pretty great! ;)

I loaded up my car and headed home:


A race-ready photo of Effiel before putting her boring wheels on again.

Back with photos and more about the race shortly! Time for a rest day. :)

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