Sunday, January 26, 2014

Interview with Steve in a Speedo!

Simply put, Steve Stenzel (AKA Steve in a Speedois the Michael Jordan of triathlon blogs. He's probably signed fewer autographs than MJ over the years, and his net worth is reportedly lower, but he's definitely a celebrity in the triathlon world. He was cool enough to give us some insight into the mysterious man behind the tight swimwear.

I’m not sure which is funnier, the name of your blog or your domain name ( is there some history there or just something you randomly came up with?

I'm not sure where I came up with my domain. I mean, Olivia Newton-John came up with my domain, but I'm not sure why I picked it. It was probably on a whim. My blog title came from my earliest days of triathlon training. When I first decided to do a triathlon, the thought of me purchasing and then wearing a Speedo jammer grossed me out. Who wants to see that?!? So I called my blog "Steve in a Speedo?!? Gross!" That's how I felt about the situation.

What do you do for your “day job,” and what was your initial motivation to start the blog?

I'm a college professor. Yes, really. A guy named "Steve in a Speedo" has been teaching college classes for 9 years. I started my blog when I started training for my first triathlon. I signed up for the Life Time Fitness Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2006, and I started blogging about a month before that race. It was initially a way to keep my family and friends up-to-date with what I was doing, as triathlons were a pretty foreign idea to most people I knew at that time.

What were your aspirations for the blog, and at what point did you realize, “wow, this is really turning into something!”? Did that surprise you?

I really had no big goals for my blog. It was just to share my training and racing with friends. I was first "noticed" as Steve in a Speedo the next year at a race, and it was probably my 2nd or 3rd year of blogging when I started becoming a little more well-known in the area. It was never expected, but I TOTALLY love to hear "Go Steve in a Speedo!" at the races!

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of Steve in a Speedo?

Blogging has introduced me to so many new people so easily. It's been fantastic how many new friends I've made by just being "that guy from the internet." The majority of my local "race buddies" were people that first came across my blog before we met. It's been a great way to meet new and awesome people who share the same hobbies (and who also spend the majority of their income on the same stuff that I do).

Do you ever get sick of blogging or is it still something you enjoy after several years?

I still really enjoy it. There are times when life gets busier and it STARTS to feel like work, but 97% of the time, it's just totally for fun.

Are there any “secrets” to generating the traffic you have, or is it primarily your consistency with great content over the years?

I think there are 3 secrets: be constant, stick to a topic, and don't be a phony. The first part (constancy) is easy: make regular updates. I rarely go more than 48 hours without a post. Next, try to keep it based on one theme. My blog has always been endurance-related stuff with humor mixed in. I post stuff going on in my life, but I TRY not to drone on about that (but Lord knows I still do sometimes). I didn't know how much I'd be writing about parenting when my wife was pregnant 3 years ago, but my son found his way into my training. Finally, be yourself. I'm hairy, gross, blistery, and gassy at times. I take selfies in porta-potties. Some people don't like that, and I know I've lost readers here and there. But other people like hearing how I deal with these problems, and they're entertained by it. I'd rather have a solid group of dedicated readers than a large group of people that kinda stop by every once and a while.

It’s well-known that a lot of people start a blog, only to let it go shortly thereafter. Do you think blogging in general has peaked (in terms of number of blogs, etc) and will decline, or continue to grow into the future?

I think blogging (on platforms like Blogger and Wordpress) probably peaked a few years ago. Now "quicker" blogs like Tumblr are more popular, and many even consider twitter a form of "micro-blogging." People will always be starting more blogs, but I think the trend is moving away from traditional blogs.

I lived in Wisconsin from 2005-2010, and first stumbled on your blog from reading about Ironman Wisconsin. Do you have aspirations to do more Ironmans in the future or have you scratched that itch?

I haven't started getting another Ironman rash that needs to be scratched yet, but I'm expecting that to flare up again some day. We'll see…

What personal race result or accomplishment are you most proud of? What are your top 3 favorite races?

My 59:05 at the 2010 TC 10 Mile is one of my prouder finishes - I really trained up for that race with the help of Coach Jen Harrison (who coached me for 8 weeks leading up to that race). I'm also happy with my 2:15 Olympic Distance PR from earlier in 2010. Hmm… all my fast racing came the summer before we started a family. Go figure. I was also happy to race very constantly in 2012 which allowed me to win the year-long "Minnesota Distance Running Association's Grand Prix" series of races. The Grand Prix is a series of 14 races from 1-mile to marathon, and the idea is to find the "best all-around distance runner" in the state. I love the TC 10 Mile and the Life Time Fitness Triathlon as great "bigger" races. And I like the Trinona Triathlon and many of the Final Stretch races as smaller, more low-key races.

What led to your trip to Israel and how was the experience of racing there this past week? 

Israel was fantastic. I absolutely fell in love with the people there. I was sent by Kinetis, a non-profit who is trying to get people to experience Israel and see that it's maybe more than what we think it is. My week there and being a part of the Israman Triathlon did just that. It's an amazing, beautiful, entrepreneurial, and enterprising country that is rich with history. The Israman half iron and full iron triathlon was a world class event on one of the toughest courses you'll ever see. It was an amazing experience. 

making short work of the Red Sea

Thanks for the time, Steve!

Blog (in case you missed the link above)
Tumblr (at first glance this is hilarious as well)

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