This is officially my first blog post of 2016! It only seems right that I should be writing about my first race of the new year if I’m going to write about anything, right? Right! This past Sunday I raced my very first indoor triathlon, the Life Time Indoor Triathlon powered by Life Time Fitness and IRONMAN. The entire race took place inside my local Life Time Fitness gym. What I loved about this race [both for myself and for others] is that there is no equipment needed and no special training needed. You swim in a heated pool for 10 minutes, cycle on the stationary bikes at the gym for 30 minutes, then you run on the treadmill ALSO at the gym for 20 minutes. Then, *POOF* you’re a triathlete!
I know how hard it is to get started in this sport. Heck! I’ve been racing for about three years and I’m still “getting started”. I wish I had known about this race when I first began. I wouldn’t have waited so long to start and I wouldn’t have spent so much money on my first race. This is one of the most cost efficient races I’ve ever seen! You don’t need special equipment so there is no need go out and buy a bike. You have ample time and a locker room to change clothes between the swim and bike so you don’t need special triathlon clothes. Best of all, the pool is all of 4 foot deep, so if you’re still learning to swim, you can stop and rest if you need to. I highly recommend it if your looking to test the triathlon waters in comfort and safety without spending a ton of money.
As per usual, I wanted to get my race bag packed the night before. We actually had family over to bake cookies and watch movies until almost 11 pm. I was having so much fun that I had totally forgotten I needed to pack….or go to bed a decent hour. After the family left I packed and got myself into bed around midnight. I was scheduled in the first wave of athletes to begin right at 8am. I figured if I was up by 7am I would be good. The gym was only 10 minutes from my house and I only needed a few minutes to stop by athlete check-in, get my race packet, and drop my gym bag off in the locker room before the race began. EASY!
Since this was an indoor pool we swam in a heated 25m, 4 lane lap pool. We had two people per lane and each lane was assigned a volunteer who would be counting our laps. We would recieve points by swimming “lengths” of the pool. Which meant every time we swam down and back would count as two lengths. I had done my research and the top swimmer in my age group swam 22 lengths last year. I figured if I only need to swim for 10 minutes I could pound out 22 laps NO PROBLEM! ha! Yea right! I haven’t been in water since Nov 8th when I swam Ironman 70.3 in Austin. Not to mention I’ve put on about 10 pounds over the holiday season and I haven’t exactly been working on my cardio.
The horn sounded [which was just a volunteer blowing into a conch shell] and we were off! I got about 5 lengths in and was already winded! I had to slow down to catch my breath and get my heart rate down. I never stopped though! I’m proud of that. I could see the woman in the lane next to me swimming lengths like a torpedo zipping through the ocean. I swear she swam two for my every one. I was halfway through my 17th length when I heard the whistle blow. Dang it! It only counts if you finish the length!
After our swim we headed to the locker rooms, which by the way, looked like a spa resort! There was a couch with coffee table and TV just inside the entry way. I love the gym I work out at, but Life Time Fitness knows how to make a girl feel pampered. We had 10 minutes between the swim and the bike to dry off, change clothes, and grab our things. Luckily, I wore my trusty Smashfest Queen tri kit and didn’t need to change clothes.
I took a good 5 minutes to dry off and grab my race belt with race number and head to the cycle room. It was a good thing I gave myself a few extra minutes to set up my bike because I didn’t how to work the dang thing. The seat post was about the only thing I adjusted without feeling like caveman.
The cycling computers they have on their spin bikes might as well have been NASA control panels. I had to have one of the race directors come set mine up before we started. Sheesh! Once I had it all set up, I hopped on the bike and began pedaling while the director helped others set their bikes up as well. After while I began to wonder when we were going to start. After a few more minutes I just assumed we had started. No one ever really said “Go!”, oh well. What’s really neat about the Life Time Indoor Tri is that they allow headphones on the bike and run. Most triathlons, or at least USAT sanctioned triathlons, don’t allow music due to safety concerns, but when your not running or biking outdoors, I guess there’s nothing to worry about is there? I set opened my soundcloud endurance play list and spent the next 30 minutes sweating to my favorite jams.
After the bike, we again had a few minutes to get back to the locker rooms and change as needed. I got my running shoes on and headed upstairs to the cardio area. They had an entire second floor equal to the size of the first floor dedicated solely to cardio machines. Holy heaven! I guess I’m just in love with Life Time Fitness. The run went pretty good in my opinion. I started out around a 10 min/mile pace and slowly increased that after the first half mile. Surprisingly, I got all the way up to a 8:57 min/mile pace before my 20 minutes was up. This was an exciting pace for me! I run on the treadmill on occasion when I go to the gym on my lunch breaks however, I’m lucky if I get up to 6 miles per hour (roughly 9:30 min/mile). Usually I’m plagued with shin splints or I’m just winded before I can ever get into a groove and speed up. I’ve always just thought treadmills were not for me. However, I have this theory that I run better and more comfortably after a bike ride. This may have added to my successful treadmill run at the indoor tri. I notice a difference in my runs outdoors as well as long as I’ve had at least a 10 minute bike ride. Are there other triathletes that feel that way? At any rate, my run was sublime and pain free. I felt light on my feet and found my groove without an issue. After the 20 minutes had passed we slowed our treadmills down to a slow recover walk while race volunteers recorded our distance. The woman next to me was talking to her father who was kind enough to compliment my running form ad give me a few tips. I’m always worried about my running form, so it was nice to hear that it has improved enough for someone to take notice.
I had a few minutes after the race to speak with the other competitors in my heat. Most of them were beginner triathletes or just gym-goers who were looking to get in a good workout. What I loved was that this race was for everyone and anyone who wanted to participate.There was never any pressure or worry that I would not be fast enough or good enough and there surely wasn’t any of that intense competition that could scare you away. I’d definitely do this race again next year!