USATF MN Team Circuit RACE REPORT: Hot Dash 5K

>> Monday, March 27, 2023

Well, I didn't plan it this way, but it turns out the USATF MN Indoor Championship 5000 meter race that I did 2 weeks ago was prep for an outdoor 5K this past weekend! I recently found out (or was "reminded") that the Twin Cities in Motion "Hot Dash" 5K was a new race on the USATF MN circuit for 2023. I raced the Hot Dash 5K 5 years ago in 2018 as my slowest 5K in the last 15 years, so I was hoping for a little redemption! In 2018, I was 6th overall... but being this was now a team circuit race (actually the "USATF MN 5K Championships!), I knew I'd be back in 50th-100th! But hopefully with a substantially better time.

Same course as 2018: start on the Plymouth Bridge, cross the Stone Arch Bridge, loop onto
Nicollet Island for a quick/brutal hill at mile 2.5, and then off to the finish by Boom Island Park.

Pre-race "business" in the basement bathroom while the family slept.

Morning news: we probably won't hit 50 in March this year...
we'd been in the 60s by this time the last 2 years!

Race central: bag drop on the left, tent in middle, porta-potty row on the right...

... and in the distance, MORE potties, and the bridge on the left where we start.

No special weather alert for the snow banks.

All open porta potties! (I was there early.)

Layered up pre-race, and in my YWCA hat too.

Thought about joining their team.

First one on the potty! Got to break the seal on the TP!

A few blocks in the other direction, the finish line was starting to go up! (The guy in the middle.)

The race ends down a little hill that you can barely see off to the right of that image. So mile 2.5 to mile 3 had that little looping hill up to Hennepin Ave, then a little hill just out of frame in the image above, and then a nice downhill heading to the finish.

I sat in the car and warmed up for 30 mins. I hopped out of my car 15 mins pre-race and jogged a half-mile warm-up. I got to the start by the bridge, and wondered why it was still so quiet 5 mins pre-race. Then I heard the announcement that the 5K starts in 20 mins. Oops. The 5K started at 8:45... NOT 8:30 like I had thought. Damn it. Now I had 15 more minutes to try to stay warm after I thought I had planned this so well.

I ran into some of my teammates:

Me on the far right!

Finding more teammates, like Michael who did the indoor track meet with me 2 weeks ago.

And yes, I busted out the "Tutti Frutti" shorts for this race! I ran into teammate Dan (#3479 three photos above) near the starting line, and we chatted and lined up together. He was hoping to stay around 6:00s or sub-19, and I was hoping to stay around 5:45s or sub-18. We lined up together as the gun went off:

Screenshot from an Instagram video TC in Motion shared. That's me on the far left,
a race buddy (Gracia) with the blue tape on her knee, and Dan hidden behind Gracia!

From race buddy Tom R: a better photo of the 3 of us a split sec later!

I didn't know that was Gracia there, and I also immediately lost sight of Dan. I wasn't planning on suffering TOO hard at this race as the plan was to go out EASY. I felt like I had a good race 2 weeks ago at the USATF MN Indoor Championship 5000 meter race, and I took it out easy and had nice even splits of 5:37, 5:40, and 5:41. I was shooting for starting even easier, and I did NOT want to see a first mile faster than 5:40.

We hit a little ice around the first corner to get onto River Road so many of us let our momentum carry us wide so we didn't wipe out. I realized I was actually behind Dan, and I slowly got past him over the next minute or so. Soon, I found myself "stuck" behind a few women, but I let them keep me "stuck" there as to not go too hard. I felt like I was about to turn in a perfect 2:50 half-mile split, but I still felt OK seeing it was 2:55. I worked my way past that group of women and had a 2:50 next half mile to get to the first mile marker.

• FIRST MILE: 2:55 + 2:50 = 5:45.8. "Not too fast! Good! And feeling fresh yet!"

In that moment, I made running 5:45s my goal. That would get me to mile 3 at 17:15, and then I'd have a buffer to be able to finish sub-18:00 (with probably a 35-40 sec final 0.1 to the finish for a 17:50-17:55 total). I passed Rob E and said hi. My next half mile was even faster at 2:47, and I didn't know what to think! "Do I keep upping the pace and 'go for broke?' Or do I just keep it solid to 'easily' hit my sub-18 goal? I don't know yet... just keep it strong here."

We turned onto the Stone Arch Bridge and I was still slowly passing people. We turned off the Stone Arch Bridge (which felt like a slow corner) onto some uneven cobblestone which SUCKED. I found running down the "stripe" in the middle of the road was a bit more even.

• SECOND MILE: 2:47 + 2:54 = 5:42.3. "Not dead! Feeling OK! Keep trying to make up some time!"

Mile 2 to 2.5 was all along cobblestone, and then we turned onto Nicollet Island. We hit some icy areas under the Hennepin Ave Bridge, and I realized I had worked my way up behind Gracia. I kept her right in front of me as we looped up that quick nasty little hill to get off the island onto Hennepin Ave, and then I actually had gas left to pass her! After a winter of treadmill running (no hill work), I was still running strong after frying my legs up a quick gross hill! I cheered her on and she told me I was looking strong as I went by.

The flat but uneven half mile on the cobblestone was 2:52, and nearing the finish line, I was happy to see that loopy hilly half mile off the island was only 2:53!

• THIRD MILE: 2:52 + 2:53 = 5:45.1. "Redemption at this race!! Just get to the finish!"

There's the REALLY orange guy back there, and then I'm in the more
subtle orange to the right of him. And Gracia is in the dark blue
to the left of him. Right around the mile 3 marker.

Me and the orange guy.

Giving chase.

The group behind us was led by Gracia (far right).

I ran 0:38 to the finish from mile 3, so I was safely under my sub-18 goal.


Steve Stenzel, 42, M, St. Paul.

5:46 / mile

40 out of 1439 overall
39 out of 601 males
3 out of 65 in the male 40-44 age group
77% age graded

Start to mile 1.12, I passed 12 and I was passed by 5.
Mile 1.12 to finish, I passed 13 and was passed by 2.

I turned around to find teammate Dan. He was only about a minute behind, and finished safely under 19:00! I got to chat with him and his family a moment. I parked far from the start, but only 2 blocks from the finish, so I ran to my car to get my phone.

Suzie had a fast day!

Sidenote: what the HELL is this guy doing in the background of my selfie with Suzie?!?!?

Tom and Laurie coming through the chute!

Warming my buns back in the car.


• Even splits!! My recent indoor 5000 meters had quite even 1600s within 4 secs, and this race had mile splits within 3.5 secs!! Maybe that 5000 meters helped train me to run even. I was NOT expecting to stay so even outside. I'll have to look back, but this HAS to be in my top-3 evenly split races.

• Beat by one female. Gracia behind me was the SECOND PLACE female! New Mom Breanna Sieracki (from Minnesota Distance Elite) took the win WAY ahead of the rest of the women:

Posing with her cute kiddo while I'm still suffering back there! :)

• I could have pushed more in the middle. This wasn't an "A" race, and I didn't push like crazy in the middle. I still PUSHED, but not to the limit. It's true, but I'm not sorry. It's far from a GREAT 5K time for me, and I'd love to take 5-10 sec/mile off my finishing time this summer, but this was a decent early spring 5K.

• This was my 2nd outdoor run here in MN this year, with my first one being 3 days pre-race! Yep, besides my handful of runs in Mexico and a great long run in Florida both in January, last Wednesday was my first outside run since a few in December. That's partly why I was so surprised to get up those little hills on Nicollet Island AND THEN STILL have some gas left to blow past a few runners (including Gracia) - I didn't think my legs would have any hill power after running on a "flat" treadmill all winter.

• There are no surprises in my Garmin data. See?...

Elevation showing the little climbs that lurked at mile 2.5.

Pace chart. A: icy corner off bridge. B: downhill.
C: hitting cobblestones. D: looping hill up to Hennepin Ave.

Half mile splits.

• My overall place throughout the race showed I started at about the right spot and stuck to my plan. Again, I wanted to start a bit easier and build. These numbers in my results show that from start to finish, I started 58th overall and moved up to 40th, started as the 49th male and passed 10 females in the last half to move up to 39th, but also had a little bad news where I started 2nd in my age group and one of the 7 people who passed me all race was in my age group to move me back to 3rd:

Bottom is the start, middle is mile 1.12, and top is finish.

• I made up for my crappy race here 5 years ago! In this race in 2018, my opening mile was just a few seconds faster, but then my splits DIED from there. I hadn't done any real speed work that winter, and it showed at this race 5 years ago: my mile splits were 5:41, 6:04, and 6:09. Ouch. I was 0:45 faster overall this year! Redemption!!

My legs felt great post-race. I think I'll run today and maybe get right back into my normal swing of workouts tomorrow. Thanks for a fun one, Twin Cities in Motion!


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