Oakdale Fall Classic Duathlon RACE REPORT!

>> Monday, October 09, 2023

I'd been thinking about this race for a few weeks, and then after the TC 10 Mile got cancelled, I signed up pretty quickly. So yesterday I did the Oakdale Fall Classic Duathlon. It's the same course as the SPRING Classic Du, but I'd never done it in the fall.

Morning "business" in the basement bathroom.

48 degrees is a tricky temp: long sleeves are warm
on the run, but short sleeves are cold on the bike.

Pretty sunrise driving east.

On the curvy roads of Lake Elmo Park Reserve.

One of the first few parked.

Eiffel ready to go! (Think I need a new saddle soon? That's foam showing.)

Best spot in transition, right by "bike out/bike in."

After a successful race at the Square Lake Sprint Triathlon last month, I figured I'd treat this race in a similar manner in 2 ways: First, I didn't look back to any previous race results. I've done this duathlon (as an individual or relay) maybe 4 or 5 times over the years, and I didn't look back to any splits. (I did the same thing at last month's triathlon, but I still had a sense of some of my previous splits at that race: I thought I was in the mid 21s for my bike speed in previous years, and I knew I was faster 2 years ago on the run with a 18:xx and then a bit slower last year with a 19:xx. But I didn't remember the exact specifics.) But before this race, I had NO CLUE what splits I've had here over the years. I didn't even know how long ago I raced my last duathlon! I was truly racing with no expectation of "OK... THIS is what I did last time... so..." Nope. None of that.

And second, I was going to treat the bike the same as last month's tri and not be satisfied with my current splits. I had the mantra of "No... FASTER!" last month, and I was going to do that again. It was time to push and suffer on the bike knowing I only had a 2.5 mile run to finish things off. Who needs any energy for that?!? ;)

But one big (BETTER) difference compared to last month's triathlon is that this would be a mass start! I was READY for that! During last month's triathlon, I never knew exactly where I was because of the individual "time trial" start. I loved starts like that when I was starting out in triathlon, but now that I can be near the front of some of these smaller races, I like knowing where I stand. So to have all 100 people starting at once is great - I'll know if I'm 3rd or 4th or 10th at any given moment (provided I can keep track throughout the race).

More pre-race business. Including at home, I think I had 4 quick "nervous bladder" stops!

The finish arch about to be blown up.

Still "enjoying" my 4+ years expired PowerBars.

Closing in on race time!

Pre-race meeting.

Notice the "split" transition with bikes on the right side of that picture above: that side is the "reverse duathlon" where athletes do a bike-run-bike! (Instead of the "standard" of run-bike-run.) Talking with Randy (the timer) pre-race, he said he was hoping to reverse du was just going to be a phase when it was first tried a few years ago. But it's gained momentum! I did a race a few years ago that had maybe 5 reverse du athletes, and I think he said they were planning on about 25 this year. He said it makes it harder to time what's essentially 2 races happening at the same time. I hadn't thought of that!

I chatted with a volunteer (Amanda? Maybe?) who was helping for the first time who was SUPER excitable. She said she loved my shorts so much and was super chatty, telling me about upcoming races that she's doing that I should do as well. Fun person!

We all walked down the hill where we'd be starting the duathlon. I heard a guy telling someone it was pretty flat out there and DISAGREED IN MY HEAD! I had gloves in my hands to put on as I ran into T2, and I had a thin hat (seen on my head in the porta-potty shot) set out by my helmet in transition - that way I could stay cooler on the run, but still have my gloves on by the time I hit transition so I could be warmer on the bike. Judi came down to give some pre-race instructions, and then said "... well, just follow Steve Stenzel here! He'll be out in front!" I mean, I HOPE so, but that felt like some pressure! :)

"5... 4... 3... 2... 1... GOOOO!!!!!"

• RUN: 3 miles:

I was in the middle and right on the line. I shot out from the starting line with maybe 2 or 3 other guys, but after a few seconds, I was in the lead by myself. The race photographer was right in front of us, so I hope to see that photo - that could be a fun shot!

OK, so I was pretty sure I'd be able to post the fastest first run split pretty early in this run. But I had to keep running hard to build up some space between me and the better cyclists! The question was now how long before I'd be caught on the bike - too soon and I wouldn't be able to make that up on the run, but if it was in the final few miles of the bike, I could chase them down on the final run!

- Mile 1: 5:48 (2:52 + 2:56)

I was happy both of those half-mile splits were under 3:00. As I came up to the next half-mile split, I was thinking "Umm... this one could be over 3:00...", and it clocked in at 3:03. But then I was a little surprised to see my next half-mile split be even SLOWER than that:

- Mile 2: 6:11 (3:03 + 3:07)

I did NOT like seeing that I was slowing down with each half mile! It was time to up the pace. Also, I checked over my shoulder for the first time, and there was a runner quite close behind me! That gave me a push. I was pretty sure it was the guy who someone else pointed out as a collegiate runner who was probably shooting for 6:30s (he was FASTER than that!), but the fact he was called a "runner" made me think (HOPE) that he wasn't going to track me down on the bike. Because it if did, he could do it right away and put me in a spot where I'd be unable to catch him in the final run.

I looped into transition to the cheers of my new volunteer friend and tried to be speedy.

- Mile 3: 5:29 (2:53 + 2:36 [0.45 miles on my Garmin])

Started around the first split, did that loop in the lower/middle, then the rest
you can make out. You can see that split 2-4 is a bit slower (mile 2).

Again, my pace shows a slower mile 2. There were some small hills.

• T1:

I remembered my gloves in my hand JUST before getting into T1, so I got those on at the perfect time. I fumbled a bit because I had to put on a hat before putting on my helmet, but I was out of T1 right as the collegiate runner was entering T1 on the other end.

• BIKE: 13.5 miles:

I tried to push RIGHT away here! But newsflash: a duathlon is harder than a triathlon! Sure, I LIKE duathlons more (as I'm a better runner than a swimmer), but swimming for 13 mins like at the Square Lake Triathlon is easier on your body than running for 17 mins. I knew I was feeling worse at the start of this bike than at the start of the triathlon's bike leg last month.

I got out of the park and had forgotten about the NOTICEABLE hill at mile 2. Damn. I crested that hill and saw I had a 20.1 mph average. I looked over my shoulder, and I noticed a cyclist down at the bottom of the hill: THE MOTIVATION I NEEDED! I pushed around the corner, kept climbing a little, and then bombed down a bit of a hill.

I kept checking over my shoulder, but I could not see anyone anymore! I fought the breeze a little on the back stretch, and was happy to get to mile 7, because now if anyone caught me, there's a chance I could catch them back on the final run. But I kept pushing to keep that from happening.

Oh, and my clothing choice was pretty spot-on! I maybe didn't need the hat, but there's a chance I would have been complaining if I didn't have it. My gloves did the trick, and I was happy I had long sleeves. A PERFECT day would have been overcast so I didn't have to squint at times, but it was dang-near perfect out there!

I turned south and kept going hard on some smoother/newer road. I turned onto 10th again, and climbed another hill to get up to the park enterance. At this point, I felt like I had the win (THIS IS WILD!!!), but I didn't want to be stupid. I pushed hard through the winding roads in the park to get back to transition (and avoided the speed bumps!).

Two hills on the south edge: longer on the left starting the
ride, and shorter on the right before turning into the park.

In the park, I came upon 2 women from the "reverse du" who were finishing up their first ride. I gave them big cheers as I passed them.

Here’s my overall bike speed about every quarter of the ride:

- 20.1 mph at the top of that hill (around mile 2.5?)
- 20.5 mph at mile 3.5
- 21.7 mph at mile 7
- 22.0 mph at mile 10.5
- 22.1 mph rolling into transition (down from a high of 22.2)

I was trying to live my mantra of "No... FASTER!", but I wasn't as good about it as I was at last month's triathlon - it was harder to live this mantra when biking from the lead. It was easier to do when trying to catch other cyclists.

• T2:

Again, more cheers from my new friend! I told her I hoped to run near the front and then catch as many people that I could who passed me on the bike. So she was thrilled to see me coming in as the first cyclist! I fumbled a bit in T2 and paused to take a drink (which I should have done while biking). Not great there. But I ran out still on a mission to hold my lead!

• RUN: 2.5 miles:

My legs were heavy bags of shit as is standard when starting the final run of a duathlon. I passed another reverse du athlete and cheered for her, and then had nearly a mile of quiet running to myself (before passing another group of 3 reverse du runners). I was happy with my first splits:

- Mile 1: 5:51 (2:54 + 2:57)

The next half mile was downhill, and I used it. The half mile after that was slower (but prettier along the lake), and I was trying to keep the tempo up. I still had no sign of anyone coming behind me, but I didn't want to ease up too much now. But honestly, the 2nd half of this mile WAS a BIT easier because I was feeling pretty safe:

- Mile 2: 5:51 (2:51 + 3:00)

It's quite uphill in the last half-mile, and I was just trying to keep it strong. This race was in the bag. I ran past a cheering volunteer, and then lots of cheering families.

2-3 was slightly downhill. Then slower. Then a fast/flat run to the finish!

I had a final 2:31 to the finish for the last 0.45 miles (which was 5:40/mile pace, or should have been 2:50 if it were a full 1/2 mile).


Steve Stenzel, 42, M, St. Paul

- 3 MILE RUN: 17:31,
5:39 pace, 1st in AG, 1st overall
- T1: 0:36, 2nd in AG, 3rd overall
- 13.5 MILE BIKE: 36:52, 22.0 mph, 1st in AG, 1st overall
- T2: 0:38, 2nd in AG, 9th overall
- 2.5 MILE RUN: 14:14, 5:42 pace, 1st in AG, 1st overall

1:09:49 total
1st out of 7 in age group
1st out of 57 overall

[Garmin: 17:29 for 2.95 miles ran (5:55.6/mile), 0:37 T1, 36:48 for 13.55 miles biked (22.1 mph), 0:39 T2, 14:15 for 2.45 miles ran (5:49.0/mile) = 1:09:47 total]


• FIRST in all 3? Run, bike, and run?!? Nice. The guy from Costa Rica who was trying to track me down on the bike finished 2nd overall, and I had a bike split that was 65 seconds better than his (and he was the 2nd fastest cyclist). I don't think I've EVER had the fastest bike split in a race before! I remember a few years ago when I thought it was amazing to get the top run split!

• I posted my fastest run, bike, and run splits at this race! I had to look back post-race to see how many times I'd done this race: I did it 2 times as a relay YEARS ago (2010 and 2011), and then I did it as an individual in 2021 and in 2015 (I had forgotten all about 2021!). My first run was tied with 2021 and was 0:13 faster than in 2015. My bike was nearly a minute faster than 2015 and 0:38 faster than 2021. And my final run was 0:13 faster than 2015 and 0:39 faster than in 2021. So my finishing time was a course PR: 0:55 faster than 2015 and 1:23 faster than 2021!

• Related to that last post, I ran my fastest final run split on a year that I wasn't QUITE giving it my all because I had the race all wrapped up! I've been saying that I'm in good running shape right now, and that shows it here as well. After posting a solid first run, then my fastest bike split ever, I then posted my fastest final run split ever while not being forced to truly go "all out." I might need to get a few fall races on the books shortly...

• As I've seen a lot lately, the top 3 were all in the 40-49 age group. I'm 42 years old, and 2nd and 3rd were both 41. Someone could have finished 4th in their 40s and have nothing to show for it. Tough age group!

• I won by quite a margin! I finished and waited for other runners to come in... and it was a bit of a wait. The next athlete was about 7 minutes behind me, and then 4 guys came in all within about a minute:

1:09:49 for me, and then 4 guys 7 minutes back but all within 64 secs.

But for what it's worth, that finishing time in 2015 would have just moved me up a spot into 10th overall out of 177, and in 2021 it would have moved me from 2nd overall to 1st overall. So there's been a decline in the number of fast athletes participating at duathlons over the last few years around here.

• I chatted with lots of people post-race. Families said I did great as they were waiting for loved ones to finish. One grandma took my splits and told me I ran around 5:45s for the final run (she was right on!). The family of the 2nd place finisher wanted photos of me with their finisher (his mom didn't speak English, and his wife[?] translated - they were very sweet!). There was a kid on a relay from Mankato who was wondering how I trained (and then when I mentioned how I take it more easy now that I'm an old guy of 42 years old, both him and his mom had a visual reaction to that and sweetly said things like "we thought you were like 30!!"). Another guy in the top-10 was from Brazil in town for post-doc work for a few years, and he wants to look me up on Facebook to maybe get in a workout together. The world seems friendlier when you're a "winner."

• MMRaces and Judi put on great events! I was talking with a few people about this post-race as well. Everyone loves the "mood" and the way she handles her races. Always fun!

People standing around the finish line.

A line for burgers!

Awards underway.

Overall winner medal!

Back at home in my medal and tutti frutti shorts!

I can't wait to see the official photos, and hopefully those will be posted in the next day or 2. Check back for those!


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