A Fake TC 10 Mile Race Report

>> Tuesday, October 03, 2023

My brain got the best of me.

I was NOT planning on doing a personal TC 10 Mile race after Sunday's TC 10 Mile and Marathon got cancelled because of record heat, but by Sunday evening, I was having intrusive thoughts of doing a 10 mile tempo run the next morning. "Just for fun." Gross.

So my brain convinced me to give it a try. As I noted in Thursday's pre-race post, if the weather wasn't going to be a factor (but knowing that it WAS), I was really hoping for a fast time. My training this spring and summer has been PRETTY GREAT. But then I didn't know how much I would be able to show that in a hot race. I was ready to just PUSH and let my time be whatever.

Sarah had the day off yesterday (because she was SUPPOSED to be recovering from the marathon... oops), so she was planning to take the boys to school. That way, I didn't have to get up SUPER early to attempt this. I was up at 5:30 and out the door at 5:45 with a water bottle in hand and no snazzy shorts, no race number, and no other nutrition. I was going to get down to the river, stash my water bottle someplace hidden, do a 10 mile out-and-back run on my normal training grounds, stop at my bottle for a drink, and slowly limp back up the hill to home when finished.

Nearly a mile warm-up to the river. Then I stashed my bottle up by Pelham.

I walked for maybe 2 minutes and then took off running. It was very unceremonious. I knew it was still too humid and warm to be going for any sort of "fast" goal, and I knew I wouldn't be as fast because I was running on my own. (But one reason could be a bit faster is because I'm going off my Garmin - there were no tangents to have to hit perfectly or risk running farther. Most of my 10 mile races clock in around 10.03 to 10.07 miles because of that. It wouldn't make me "faster," but just maybe finish 15 secs sooner than if I was running a pre-determined 10 mile course.)

All goals were out the window. Leading up to it, I was thinking about doing the "actual" TC 10 Mile by keeping track of how many seconds I was over 6:00/mile pace at each mile marker for the first time. Even in perfect weather, I was NOT shooting for 6:00/mile pace overall, but I could see my time slowly add up and then see if I could start taking some time off in the last few miles by running sub-6s. (Around 61:00 was a realistic goal on a cool morning, but not these last few days!) By the first mile of this "race," I thought I'd start keeping track of how much over 6:10/mile pace I was (that's a finishing time of 1:01:40, which had been a goal years ago for the TC 10 Mile). It kind of WASN'T a "goal" for this "race," but just something to do with my mind while "racing." (Lots of quotes there.)

That first half mile felt a LOT slower. I was wondering if it'd be 3:10 or 3:15, and then it beeped as 2:59. I didn't know what that meant for the day (but it WAS downhill, so maybe that was just it).

• MILE 1: 6:10 (2:59 and 3:10) "Right on pace. For now."

• MILE 2: 6:18 (3:12 and 3:06) "Decent."

I was running in some dark spots on the west side of the river now. There were more people out than normal, and I think many of them were doing what I was doing: "faking" a missed race from the day before and getting it done before the sun comes up.

• MILE 3: 6:13 (3:06 and 3:07) "Holding where I'd like to be..."

The next mile contained the little DOWN and UP under the Lake Street Bridge, and then one of the bigger climbs heading south about a half mile south of Lake Street. So I was aware this would be a slower mile:

• MILE 4: 6:18 (3:06 and 3:11) "Can I keep the rest of the half-mile splits faster than that 3:11?"

All of mile 4 and 5 (and then miles 6 and 7 after turning around) were on DARK paths. Minneapolis has noted a wave of copper wire thievery over the last year (maybe 2 or 3 years...), and River Road south of the Lake Bridge has been dark for at least the last few weeks (maybe all summer, but I never made it over there during the bright early morning summer months to notice it... but now that it's getting brighter later in the mornings, it's NASTY). I don't think it affected me too much at this "race" though because I'd been used to it over my last few long runs. But it REALLY caught me off guard during a 12 miler a few weeks back.

• MILE 5: 6:12 (3:06 and 3:06) "Turn around was at 31:14. Time to negative split this!"

That "first half" split was pretty normal for me. On a less humid morning (and during the push of an "actual" race), I would have wanted to be a lot faster based on my current fitness level, but I was ready to up the effort a bit. I wasn't sticking to ANY of my pre-race plan of pushing harder in the middle miles as I didn't fully know what my body would do in this weather.

Spoiler alert: my body didn't like this combo of temperature and humidity. Uh oh...

• MILE 6: 6:15 (3:07 and 3:07) "Start getting these under 6:10!"

I was hurting. I was really looking forward to being at mile 6.5. Then at mile 7. Then telling myself I just had 3 miles to go. Then being at 2.5 miles to go. I was being worked over by the thickness of the air. The last split half mile split of mile 7 was hitting the DOWN then UP under the Lake Street Bridge, so it was slower:

• MILE 7: 6:22 (3:09 and 3:12) "Ouch. I did NOT want my slowest mile to come so late in this race."

Well, I had a split slower than the uphill in mile 4 of 3:11. Damn it. At least I was back on lit paths. But I was wondering if I'd be able to finish. (Or if it was WORTH pushing to the finish.)

• MILE 8: 6:22 (3:10 and 3:12) "Sh*t. Another slow mile."

That mile should have been pretty fast as it was pretty flat. There was no excuse for either of those splits... well, other than my body collapsing under the temp and humidity. At mile 5, I was 90% sure I'd be negative splitting this race. But at mile 7.5, I was just happy that I kept going. At mile 8, I told myself I just had another mile left in me.

I started mile 9 with a 3:12 half-mile and knew I couldn't keep this up. I felt like I was SPRINTING to a finish line that was 1 mile early, but I finished with a 3:07 final half mile on completely flat trails.

• MILE 9: 6:19 (3:12 and 3:07) "Done. Stop. Walk."

• MILE 10: 0:00 (0:00 and 0:00) "Nope."

9 miles in 56:34 (6:17.1 pace).

Stopping a mile early (at the red marker).
Needed to get back to around under the bridge for 10 miles.

Nothing striking in my pace chart.
(Except the big dip near the end. Yikes.)

Heart rate. I don't think I believe that elevated jump for the 2nd quarter.

Oh, my "performance condition" got worse? Really?!? Tell me about it.
And my footstrikes got "clompy" going gently downhill
across the Franklin Ave Bridge near the end.

As I was watching my 6:10/mile "goal" at each mile split, I was less than a minute over it at mile 8, which wasn't TOO bad (50:14 actual time where 49:20 would have been a perfect 6:10 pace). That 0:54 gap was 1:04 at mile 9, which still wasn't horrible. I was on track to finish just sub-63. 1:02:44 is my 2nd slowest 10 mile, and 1:03:05 is my slowest (the final 10 Mile in the 2015 "Loony Challenge" where I did the TC 10K and 5K the day before). So I expect if I held on and suffered, I'd have posted my 2nd slowest 10 mile ever (I would only be faster than my 2nd slowest if I ran a "skipped" mile of 6:09 or faster which is I pace I never hit for any mile), and it COULD HAVE even been my slowest (if the mile I skipped was 6:32 or slower).

I ran 6:14.80 pace for the first 5 miles, and then 6:20.00 pace for the last 4 miles. That's not a huge difference, but felt a lot "worse" as I was thinking about a negative split at mile 5, not slowing up over the last 4 miles and having to stop a mile early. And it's not like I'm new to racing! :)

I started walking towards home and tried to be grateful when I walked under the rail bridge to see the sky open up to wispy clouds being lit up all pink and orange by the yet unseen rising sun.

5 mins of walking after the 9 mile run.

A slow 1.4 mile run home (with half-mile splits in the 4:20s)...

... with a short/slow split to grab my water bottle, down it all, and throw it in a trash can.

The funny thing is that I placed my water bottle in a very specific way to note if it was tampered with when I got back to it. But I didn't care when I got back to it - I just grabbed it and chugged it to try to cool down. No f*cks given, I guess.

I stretched at home, downed a full glass of water with a Nuun tablet in it, and had a few bowls of cereal. I got goosebumps standing in our hot kitchen, but I wasn't really hurting because of the heat. I wanted to bike to class like I've been trying to do lately (I think the last 3 classes were ones I biked to, and I'm pretty sure I'll have the largest yearly percentage of bike miles that were "non-training" miles at the end of this year), but I didn't feel ALL that great, and it was going to be another hot day, so I made the call to drive. I felt oddly bad about that.

As a side note, it had been a taxing weekend. On Friday, we had a funeral for my last remaining grandparent. It wasn't too sad as she was on hospice and it was expected, but still never easy. From a social media post:

We said goodbye to Grandma Jean today. Thank you to all extended family and friends who came out today!

After the funeral, the whole Stenzel family gathered at my parent’s to catch up (everyone was there except 1 cousin [who was sick] and his spouse), and we all had some of Grandma’s “Tom & Jerrys” in her 50-year-old mugs that we would use every Christmas at her house. Love you Grandma! ❤️

Then we got home that night (after being gone for the funeral from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) and went to a parent party (parents from Charlie's class at school) for an hour or 2.

Saturday was a 5K for the boys (more on that shortly) followed by fencing for Henry and a soccer game for Henry (they won!). After Saturday afternoon mass and a quick shower, my wife and I headed out to ANOTHER middle school-related party before trying to get to bed at a decent time.

Church basement bowling... it's a "thing," apparently.

Then Sunday was emotionally taxing for my wife as she came to terms with the cancellation of the 10 Mile and Marathon. And we got Henry caught up on school work from missing all day Friday for Grandma's funeral.

Finally, after this fake/short 10 mile run yesterday, Charlie took a football to his pinky and ended up breaking a finger:

Poor little man.

So I don't really care that I didn't get 10 full miles in. It's not bothering me at all. The hot morning after a hot/cancelled race after a big weekend of "life" things all helped remind me that not running far/fast enough is a total first world problem. Big whoop. I'll still try my damnedest at upcoming races, but I have no big emotions about a skipped race and a shortened "make-up race."

Back with more shortly, including those people who DID have big emotions about the race being cancelled even through many aren't runners and/or had no horse in the race. No one needs to be "that guy," but there were plenty of "those guys" out on Sunday. Sheesh.


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