USATF MN Indoor Championship 5000 Meters

>> Monday, March 13, 2023

Laurie (our YWCA running coach) emailed on Wednesday about upcoming races. Included in that was the USATF Minnesota Indoor Championship this weekend. I didn't give it any real thought until Friday afternoon, and then (as I noted in yesterday's post) I registered just 2 hours before registration closed. Then I took off at 9 a.m. yesterday morning for my 10 a.m. race at the University of Minnesota fieldhouse just a few miles away. I was stopped at a light next to someone who I was SURE was heading to the meet:

Their pole made it safely from WI!

I found out the morning of the race that there was only ONE heat for the 5000, and that I was seated 8th out of 15th:

Later, I'd learn there were only THREE guys who raced it last year!

This felt perfect to me: a full heat, but being it was only one, it felt more low key.

First time in the fieldhouse since its remodel. It's brighter!

Pre-race tradition.

Looking down and HOPING these shorts would hold together for the race.
(Also, maybe don't ask to borrow my phone... because I'm gross.)

I need to replace my shoes soon...

... and worse than that is my socks had a hole in the same spot too! (See the little toe poking through?)

Shoulder and hip stickers! I felt SOOO official!

I chatted with a guy who was ALSO shooting for around 17:30, only he was planning on going out fast and holding on, and I was going to start a bit easier and try to build. I told him I knew that 17:30 was 0:42/lap, so I'd be trying to stick around there. He joked that he'd run away from me at the start and then try to hold me off before the finish.

We were the first race to kick off the track meet at 10 a.m., so it was still pretty quiet there when we were lining up. We got our final instructions, and 15 of us toed the waterfall start.

"Runners to your mark......" *GUNSHOT*

There were some speedsters in this race, but also plenty of "old guys" like me that were OK to settle in. So I took a spot pretty quickly, and I was THRILLED I could work my way to "along the rail" before the back stretch when I started near the outside. And I was quickly running on my own with no one around me - we spread out right away.

I did NOT want to go out too hard. I was very aware of my 0:42/lap goal: my 800s ideally would have laps that looked like 0:42, 1:24, 2:06, and 2:48. So I was happy with my first 2 laps of 41.2 and 41.7. Third and fourth were a bit slower at 42.4 and 42.5, so my Garmin 800 split was 2:47.6 - that's PERFECT (0:00.4 under my ideal splits goal!). I told myself to speed up a LITTLE to try to hold around 2:48 800s. My first 1600 was RIGHT ON:

• FIRST 1600: 2:47.6 + 2:49.5 = 5:37.1.

I was 1.1 seconds slower than my "best possible goal" at this point. And I was feeling decent!

I was lapping some other runners pretty often, but I was still running in the same place as when I started. I settled in and was left alone! Teammate Mike showed up along the track and started cheering for me, and Kirt G also gave me some cheers!

My 2nd mile was a BIT slower, but I was still feeling OK... not "good," but OK. And in a 5000, feeling "OK" with 9 laps to go is about all a fella can ask for.

• SECOND 1600: 2:49.2 + 2:51.7 = 5:40.9.

The good news was that the 2:51 would be my slowest 800 split! I was able to up the pace a LITTLE for the last mile. I had been lapped twice by the leaders, and I just held them off before being lapped a 3rd time when they finished. The 2 leaders were back-to-back the entire race!

I only really "held back" once during the race. I was coming up on lapping Michael B for maybe the 3rd time, and I was also getting ready to lap a REALLY TALL GUY for the first time. I ALMOST swung wide to pass the tall guy as he was running wide to pass Michael B, but I didn't want to be forced out into lane 3 while on a turn. So I tucked in behind the tall guy. He actually provided a draft for 30 meters as we passed Michael! When we came out of the corner, I passed the tall guy as well. I'm not a "smart" racer, but this was my second smart move all day (the first being getting to the inside rail quickly at the start even though I started way near the outside).

I was just *gently* bleeding time, but it wasn't horrible. I wasn't going to finish in exactly 17:30, but I was hoping to still keep my finishing time in the 17:30s.

• THIRD 1600: 2:50.4 + 2:50.7 = 5:41.1.

I really finally started to kick with about 2 laps left, so when I hit my Garmin after 4800 with 1 lap left, I was going hard. I closed with my fastest lap all day, but not CRAZY fast showing that I was holding back too much: 0:40.1.


Steve Stenzel, 42, St. Paul, 5000m


1 out of 1 in the 40-44 age group
8 out of 15 overall

I walked back to my phone and got a photo of Michael B with a lap left:

Still quiet there!

Close-up. Go Micheal!

I finished 8th, so I saw my name at the bottom but among the leaders!

Oh, and the guy also shooting for 17:30 that I talked to pre-race finished just in front of me in 17:30! But on an indoor track, 0:09 feels like a HUGE distance, so I wasn't even thinking about trying to catch him. I just pushed hard to the finish.

Being it was professionally timed (thanks Josh from Wayzata Results!), my splits EVERY LAP were recorded! This shows my fastest lap was my last lap at 0:40, I had 3 slow laps about 2/3 through the race that were 0:43, but then the rest were all 0:41 or 0:42! I'll take that consistency:

My 1000s: starting and ending with "perfect" 3:30s, then a bit slower in the middle.

I was aware that 3:30 1000s would be 17:30, and I thought I'd "check in" every 1000 while racing. But once I start running hard, my brain stops working. I glanced at my 1000 and 2000, but then I had trouble figuring out when 3000 meters was: "OK, 3200 meters is 2 miles and that's 16 laps, so the one before that is 3000 meters... right??..." Stupid oxygen-deprived brain.

Oh, and notice my last 800 in the 200 meter splits above: I ended with a nice perfect little descend: 0:43, 0:42, 0:41, and 0:40!

Maybe my MOST consistent 800 meter splits ever! All within 4.1 seconds!

Nothing like a good 5 second warm-up! ;)

A selfie with teammate Mike post-race! (Before his 1 mile.)

First shot in my short shorts and new jersey!

My gold medal!

I still had my number sticker on once I got home and sat down...

... and it left a little redness when I finally took it off.

My first 5000 meter race over 12 years ago resulted in a fast 17:17 finish (where I went out with a 5:20 opening mile and managed not to die!!). I had NO intention of being able to hit that yesterday, but maybe 0:22 isn't THAT far off from it.

My second (and only other) 5000 meter race from just over 11 years ago resulted in a 17:49 finish. So I didn't finish with a "personal worst" yesterday!! I actually beat my 30-year-old self!!

An opening 5:20 mile when I was 29, and CHUNKY BABY HENRY cheering
me on when I was 30. (My 2 previous 5000 meters in 17:17 and 17:49.)

I'm feeling REALLY GOOD post race - nothing is acting up. Today will be a more low-key day after the race. Have a great week!


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