Monday, January 31, 2011

Tri-ing it indoors…

Despite the warm, springlike weather we had in Atlanta this weekend, I chose to take my workout indoors. Earlier in the week, I received an email about an indoor triathlon at Lifetime Fitness. The race was limited to 25 people because of logistics with the pool and equipment but the price was right (this one was FREE). I had done a couple of indoor tris at Lifetime before so I threw my name in the hat.

From what I can tell, the club is trying to build up its triathlon training presence and this was a way to sort of get everyone together to meet, assess training needs and get the triathlon experience. The race is essentially a super sprint. Instead of having set distances (i.e. 500y swim, 18 mi bike, 5k run), the race is time based and the winner is decided by who goes the furthest distance in the allotted time period. For this race, it was a 10 minute swim, 30 minute bike and 20 minute run. I knew I wasn't really in triathlon condition but went into it thinking of it as a group fitness class. It is only an hour, right?

The nice thing about an indoor tri is you don’t need to schlep all your bike equipment with you. Toss together your swim and run gear and you are good to go! Love that. All the participants were asked to be poolside at 6:50 for last minute instructions. I got to the gym around 6:30 as they were setting up the pool area with music and chairs for the lap counters. There were no participants to be found. Since the race was announced on Monday and took place the following Saturday, I had my doubts about how many people would get the word and actually show up. In my head, I pictured me and one other person fighting it out for the win. As I went into the locker room, I saw two other ladies who were racing so knew that it would at least be me and two other people. LOL. I set out my transition area inside a spare locker, put on my swim cap, obsessed about the hole in the cap that looked like it might tear any moment and headed back out to the pool. To my delight there were quite a few other people at this point. The race turned out to be mostly men, the other two ladies and I were the only females which was great because I automatically get top 3 out of the females, right?

The swim went off in waves of five people. I was in wave two so I sat and watched the first wave do their thing before I got in the pool. In the triathlon community I have heard that somewhere around 65% of participants consider swimming to be their weakest leg of the race. That was pretty evident in watching the other competitors. The nice thing about this race is that it is so low-key and great for beginners. I saw a couple of people who obviously just learned to swim, others who were just taking it slow and steady and others who were in it for the practice. I was a little nervous about the swim, I think have dipped my toes in the pool twice in the last month and before that it was quite a while. It wasn’t that I was nervous about finishing, I was nervous about being able to hold my own. I assessed the competition around me and decided that this was going to be a fast wave. The whistle went off and I went out to an early lead. Initially, I was counting the laps in my head to sort of keep up with how much time was left. I knew I could do 500 meters in about 10 minutes so thought if I kept up with where I was that would help me know when to start pushing towards a strong finish. Around lap 10, I realized I had gone out to fast and was just trying to keep the pace at that point. There was no more counting; I was just waiting to hear the end whistle. When I got out of the pool, I knew I had given it all I had. I was worried I might have given it too much as there were still two legs to go.

Did I mention, the transition times are pretty generous in an indoor tri? You are given TEN MINUTES to get to the bike. Granted there is a little bit of a walk from the pool to the bike area but it allows plenty of time to towel off a bit before hopping on the bike. We were supposed to use the spin bikes but the bike computers to measure distance did not arrive so we were on the stationary bikes on the gym floor. (If you do the indoor tri as part of the tri series at Lifetime, you will be on the spin bikes so you could use your bike shoes). Everyone had to set their resistance level to 4 and we were off. You don’t really know where you stand against the other competitors because you can only see the people next to you. My strategy for this leg was to keep it above 110 RPM for the 30 minutes and hope that was good enough. 9.54 miles later I was headed to the run.

For the run, I was on a treadmill next to one of the two other ladies. She was someone who looked like a runner - lean and speedy. Once I realized she was running my speed, my plan was to keep up with her for as long as I could and then sprint the last few minutes (depending on if I even had anything left when I got to that point). I think she might have had the same plan as I did because we ran the same speed pretty much the entire time. I would bum it up a tenth; she would bump it up a tenth. It was pretty funny actually. The last 5 minutes, we both continued with that process until I glanced over and realized she was .01 miles ahead of me. Even in a low key race, the competitive nature takes over… The last minute or so, I went into all out sprint until that glorious moment when we were allowed to hit the “stop” button. Pictures were taken, water bottles distributed and fist bumps were given. At that point, I knew I was neck and neck with my treadmill partner for 1st place but didn’t really know how I finished. I did know that definitely gave it 100% and it felt awesome.

Fast forward to today… One of the trainers passed me downstairs and says “we owe you something, don’t we”? I wasn’t sure what he meant and then he said, “yeah, you got third overall (men and women) in the triathlon”. WOW. I was shocked. A little bit later, we got the email results. I got 3rd overall and 1st female. I think I have found my niche - races with low participation :)

If you have never done a tri or just want a good workout, you should definitely check out this event. There are so many beginners, it is an excellent chance to "get your feet wet" in the sport.


Kevin said...

Congratulations. For some reason I didnt get the email but my wife did. If I had known it was free I would have signed up as well

Amanda said...

That's awesome - congratulations! That sounds like my kind of tri - pool swim and set time limits. I could totally see how that would be great for beginners to see if they would like the challenge of a tri.

Very cool that it was a small group and free too!

lindsay said...

LOL!! "races with small participation" congrats! 3rd overall is awesome. Way to beat the men (and women) :) this is a Tri I could handle-no slimy lake bottom.

Travel / Surf Guy said...

Hi Karen,

Great blog and great race - I'm with you on the small participation too. I got a 2nd place in my age group a couple of weeks ago and there was only 2 of us - but I'll take that for sure!!!!

take care