Friday Funny 778: Teachers Getting the Last Laugh

>> Friday, August 22, 2014

It's back-to-school time. Here are some teacher-related funnies:

Lots more funnies on


Friday Funny 777: Amazing Make-Up Transformations (sort of)

It's amazing what people can do with make-up. Simply amazing.

Check out lots more funny stuff on


Friday Funny 776: Failed Ice Bucket Challenges

The ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" has raised a lot of money for the disease. But some people aren't doing it right...

Lots more funnies on!


Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Positive Feedback Helps While Running

>> Thursday, August 21, 2014

Runner's World recently shared a study that looked at receiving positive feedback while running. The results are interesting:

Researchers at UNLV recruited 20 experienced runners, divided them into two groups, and measured their running economy for 20 minutes at a pace corresponding to 75% of VO2max. For one group (but not the other), they provided positive (but completely imaginary) feedback about their running economy every two minutes starting at the 10-minute mark. For example:

- 10:00: "You’re doing great. Your oxygen consumption is in the top 10th percentile for your age and gender."

- 12:00: "You look very relaxed. You are a very efficient runner."

Here's what the results, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, look like:

The "EE" group stands for "enhanced expectancies" – i.e. they got the positive feedback. Throughout the 10 minutes of positive feedback, their oxygen consumption declined slowly but steadily, meaning they were running more and more efficiently. The control group, on the other hand, didn't decrease; in fact, the graph makes it look like they were getting a bit less efficient as they began to fatigue. While the graph is a little bit ambiguous, the statistics suggest that the control group had no significant change in VO2 while the positive feedback had a significant decrease in VO2.

This makes sense. When someone cheers you on and mentions how great you look, don't you run a little easier for a few strides? This is similar to some thoughts I had when I ran the 2010 TC 10 Mile where I broke 60 mins: this isn't exactly the same idea, but here's what I said in my race report when I was really hurting near the middle: "... So I focused on the 'good.' Honestly, I thought, 'Oh, my elbows don't hurt. They feel nice. OK, good - I can do this.' Really. That sounds dumb, but I just tried to find SOMETHING that didn't hurt and focus on how GOOD that felt. So my elbows it was."

The article sums it up nicely at the very end:

What this study reminds us is that there's a cost to consciously focusing on running form. You're expending not just extra mental energy, but also extra physical energy, when you start worrying about your efficiency. The result may still be worthwhile if you stick with it long enough that the new form becomes second-nature – but there's something to be said for just clearing your mind of doubts and running.


Semi-Wordless Wednesday: "Old" Jo Pavey Wins 10,000 Meters

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Forty-year-old Jo Pavey just became the oldest woman to win the 10,000 Meters in the European Championship. And she did it 10 months after giving birth to her second child! Here's the last 800 of the race - look at her kick!

Direct link:

If you missed my Lake Marion Triathlon race report from Monday, CLICK HERE.


Lake Marion Triathlon Race Report

>> Monday, August 18, 2014

I left Pharmie and the boys at home yesterday, and I traveled south to meet Matt and Angela and a lot of friends at the Lake Marion Triathlon in Lakeville, MN. I tweeted/instagrammed this once I got there:

Two unconventional yet awesome pre-race jams. #LakeMarionTri

I found Matt and Angela, got all set up, and took care of some business.


Then a funny thing happened back in transition. A guy racked pretty close to me asked "are you Steve with the blog?" Yep. That's me. He raced last year and introduced himself as "the guy you KNEW you were going to pass, but then couldn't" near the finish. His name was Lance. He stumbled across my blog somehow and saw photos of himself finishing. Here's what he was talking about from the end of my race report last year:

As I neared the other runner, I saw he was in my age group!!! I was 90% sure that I had him by this point. Pharmie spotted me in the distance as I was closing in:

I got RIGHT behind him off his left shoulder, and then he "fought back" and pulled away a bit before this final turn:

Pharmie told me that she KNEW I was going to catch him, but then she saw his kick. Yeah, he HAD one. And I didn't. I raced that 5K sooooo well, but that meant I had nothing for a final kick. He pulled away, and JUST LIKE AT WASECA A FEW WEEKS AGO, I finished a few seconds behind 1st in my age group.

Oh, and regarding where I said "just like at Waseca a few weeks ago:" that was when I NEARLY caught Matt Lilla to take an Age Group win, but couldn't. GUESS WHAT? LILLA WAS HERE TO RACE LAKE MARION TOO! Here are 2 photos from last year at Waseca that I recently shared THIS year in my recent 2014 Waseca Tri race report:

These 2 photos are from my 2013 Waseca Tri race report.

Couldn't quite catch him last year!

Who else could be here to race in my age group? Oh, I don't know, how about Tim, the guy who I barely held off last year to take my first duathlon win at the Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon (and who beat me by 19 seconds 3 weeks ago):

From my 2013 Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon race report with
Tim JUST over my shoulder entering T1.

So to recap: I'd be in an age group with 2 guys who had recently beat me by SECONDS at the finish to take 1st in our age group (Lance and Lilla), a guy who I barely beat at a duathlon who then beat me by 19 seconds a few weeks ago at the Waseca Triathlon (Tim), and my buddy Justin who was barely behind me at Waseca after posting a faster bike split than me. Super.

(Actually, as I was talking about this, I was telling everyone the truth: "You know, when it's a race like this with little pressure, I LOVE to find 'race buddies' like this to race against! This is the best! We could all be finishing pretty close to each other - this is going to be awesome. I can't wipe the smile off my face right now!")


I lined up far to the outside between Lilla and Justin. Justin joked about hip-checking me into a big rock at our feet when the gun went off. Luckily, he's too nice for that. I swam PRETTY well to the first buoy and made the left hand turn to swim parallel to shore. It really thinned out on the back stretch, and I swam QUITE well. I made the final turn for shore, and I noticed that I was surrounded by 16-year-old boys from a local swim team as I ran up the shore. I saw 6:xx on my watch as I hit the beach, so I was happy.


In my last post, I told myself "think through what you need to do at the end of the swim and bike" because I had crappy transitions at Waseca 3 weeks ago that maybe cost my an Age Group win. So I walked through it in my mind at the end of the swim, and realized I left my sunglasses in my run shoes, not my bike shoes. So I got in-and-out of T1 in a decent time.


I wanted to bike hard. I passed a few of those 12-17 year old swimmers in town. Near the edge of town, I noticed there was always a car about 3 blocks in front of me with it's hazard lights on. I was just behind the lead car! I was riding in 4th! I caught another 17-year-old to move into 3rd, and then Lance flew by me to put me back into 4th. In a blink, he was WAY out in the lead. I caught ANOTHER 17-year-old to move into 3rd, and then Lilla passed me saying "see you on the run" to put me back in 4th. I rode the last half of the ride in 4th or 3rd as I leap-frogged a (you guessed it) 17-year-old. Seriously.

One of the cops out there was awesome: he looked "normal" and stoic, but as I rode past and said "thanks," he shouted "Nice work - now GET THAT GUY IN FRONT OF YOU!" Awesome. Thanks Lakeville PD!

The southern edge of the ride was incredibly foggy/hazy! At one point, I couldn't see more than a half mile. I was riding 22 mph and my sunglasses (which I've worn for YEARS at races) were fogging up because the air was soooooo thick. But I was happy with my speed. My overall average was as good as I could have hoped it could be! Here's what it was (according to my Garmin) throughout the ride:

- 21.5 mph at mile 4
- 21.9 mph at mile 8
- 22.0 mph at mile 12
- 22.0 mph at mile 16

It dropped down to 21.9 mph as I was nearing transition, but I was thrilled with my bike effort and my overall speed. I only was passed by 2 riders (the 2 currently in front of me), and I passed about 6-8 (mainly pre-pubecent boys, but whatever). I rode into T2 in 3rd.


I awkwardly dismounted, and got yelled at (in a good way) by a volunteer to "keep moving - this is a race!"


As I was coming into T2, I saw Lance running out - he had quite a lead. But Lilla only had about a 30 second lead on me, so I was hoping to reel him in within the first mile. I was hoping to have a few sub-3:00 half-mile splits, but I didn't know what to expect for 2 reasons: (1) I'm coming back from my injury and haven't done any speedwork, and (2) I biked pretty damn hard.

I caught Lilla just after the 0.5 mile mark (which I got to in 3:01). We fist bumped and he told me to catch the guy in front of us. But we couldn't even see him - Lance was WAAAAAAY up there. I hit the "mile 1" marker in another 3:13 (6:14 mile), and I was toasted. At that point, I pretty much gave up on trying to catch Lance, but I knew I had to go hard because the wave after we started could have guys catching up to me. I was 99% sure I had 2nd in my AGE GROUP locked up, but I did NOT have 2nd OVERALL secured - there could be 35+ year olds behind me catching up.

There's a little stretch that's out-and-back, and I looked at my watch when I met Lance. By the time I looped around and got back to that point, I was nearly 2:00 behind Lance with just over a mile left. Yep, no catching him. I ran 3:11 and 3:09 splits (6:20 mile).

My legs felt fine, but I just could NOT seem to get enough oxygen. I don't know if it was the lack of speedwork or the "thick" air, but I really felt limited by my lungs. I swore I'd get at least 1 (maybe 2) sub-3:00 half-mile splits in mile 3. But I didn't: 3:00 and 3:02.

I came to the line with Jerry MacNeil on the loudspeaker saying "Here comes Steve in that bright Speedo! He started the run back a few places but ran his way into 2nd!" I talked with Lance and we watched for "old guys" (35+) to come in after us because they started 3 minutes behind us. We spotted at least one, but he didn't catch Lance's time, just mine. I was HOPING I could hold on to 3rd overall.

I went to go look for Matt and Angela coming off the bike when I ran into this giant dog who stood as high as his owner's chest:

I Instagrammed this with the caption: Had a great run at the #LakeMarionTri
because I just rode this 160 lb dog the entire way...

As I was waiting to see my gang, Lance found me and said it was official - I had taken 3rd overall!


Steve Stenzel, 414, St. Paul, MN, 33, M

- SWIM 400 METERS: 6:33 (1:30 pace), 19th overall, 1st in age group
- T1: 1:53, 14th overall, 2nd in age group
- BIKE 17.3 MILES: 47:35 (21.8 mph), 12th overall, 4th in age group
- T2: 0:45, 17th overall, 2nd in age group
- RUN: 3.1 MILES: 19:22 (6:15 pace), 3rd overall, 1st in age group

1:16:06 total
3rd out of 218 overall
2nd out of 10 in the 30-34 age group


- This was an overall PR at this race! In 2013 I finished in 1:16:25, and in 2011 I finished in 1:16:53. I had a swim PR, a T1 PR, and a bike PR. (But it's worth noting that it was a PERFECT year to bike - it was CALM out there.)

- Lots of those speedy young'ens out-split me in spots. Six out of the top 10 swim times were 12-17 year olds, and 8 of the 18 swimmers who beat me were 17 or under. And the 2 faster runners than me were 16 and 17. (Related: I'm slightly bummed to note that my previous 2 run splits at this race would have taken the fastest run this year - and they give gift cards to the fastest splits. Dang.)

- I'm just really happy with my overall effort at this race. I swam well. I didn't save too much on the bike just to have a speedy run. I spread out my endurance well. Having splits that were 19th, 12th, and 3rd overall is pretty well grouped for me. I've been getting better about this over the last few years (vs. having a crappy swim, a slow bike, and then just killing the run).

- The 5 of us talking pre-race about placing close together did well! Lance, me, Tim, Lilla, and Justin took 5 of the top 7 spots overall! Awesome! Tim turned 35 since our last race, so he was actually in the next group up, and being that Lance and I got overall trophies, Lilla and Justin were bumped to 1st and 2nd in our age group. So it was a good day for all of us!

It was time to cheer my family in! (Matt and Angela were doing the Olympic Distance.) I spotting Matt rolling into T2 in the distance, and you can see a little of the "air thickness" behind him:

Riding in.

Running out.

Headed around the corn field.

Angela biking in.

Floating on the run out!

I loaded up my gear and headed to my car with a trip of stuff. On the way there, Matt ran past to start his second 5K loop:


Angela starting loop 2.

There's Lake Marion in the background. On the last loop, you run
right past all those people and to the other side of the trees to the finish.

Matt emerging from the trees with about 2 blocks left!

That "O" on Matt's calf doesn't stand for "Olympic." It's stands for

Angela coming to the finish!

2:56:48 adjusted time - CONGRATS!!

Matt and Angela had GREAT races! They both did this race last year as their first Olympic Distance, and Angela has done another Oly as well. They both MAJORLY PRed yesterday! Angela took like 5 minutes, 3 minutes, and 8 minutes off her swim, bike, and run times!! Matt did a few minutes better in the swim and about 10 minutes better on the run! He smartly let up a bit near the end of the bike which kept his split around the same as last year, but that allowed him to feel a lot better on the run and make up a LOT of time. He looked a lot better on his run this year! Congrats you 2 lovebirds!

Oh, but then shortly after Angela finished, Matt bent over the fence and we watched him barf a few times:

People around me thought I was a monster for taking photos of this poor man barfing.

Then it was time for awards:

Getting my 3rd place overall trophy.

So coy.

Justin and Lilla getting called up for 2nd and 1st in our age group!

Matt earned 3rd in the Clydesdale Oly division!
Here we see his "blue steel" and "doofus" faces. He's a man of many talents.

Our gang before heading home!

Another Instagrammed photo sent from the race: "So..... this just happened."

A final Instagrammed photo: "A solid race earlier today, and now some cozy time with boy #2."

There were a LOT of people with cameras out there, so I hope to find and share a few photos of me ACTUALLY RACING in the next couple of days. So check back! More on this race soon...

LINKS: My Lake Marion race reports from 2013 and 2011. And my Instagram page.



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All content and original images copyright 2006 - 2014 by Steve Stenzel, AKA "Steve in a Speedo." All Rights Reserved.
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