Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Race Report: Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon

I had never done a triathlon event before.  I had wanted to do the Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon for the past two years, but never got around to signing up for it.  Since most of my cardio workouts this winter have been on a spin bike and I've only been running 15-20 minutes at a shot, I thought this would be the perfect event to complete before focusing on my training for the walking marathon in May.

How the indoor tri works is this: you swim for 10 minutes in the lap pool, then have a 10-minute transition to change into dry clothes and get in the cycling studio.  Then, you bike for 30 minutes on one of the spin bikes, which is followed by a 5-minute transition to the fitness floor.  Finally, you run on a treadmill for 20 minutes.  Volunteers record the total distance you cover in each event; the farther you go, the higher your score.

Several indoor tris will be held at LTF locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area this spring, but I decided to do the very first one of 2011, which was held in Chanhassen on February 13.

I chose an early enough start time (7:20 a.m. - the 2nd heat) so future hubs could cheer me on before going to work.  We arrived at LTF around 6:30, and after checking in and collecting my slightly large for a small race shirt, I familiarized myself with the facility and changed into my swimsuit.

The swimming portion took place at the 25-meter indoor lap pool.  While waiting for the first wave of participants to finish their 10 minutes in the pool, I put on my swim cap (each participant received a swim cap for use during the race) and watched the action.

After the first heat left the pool, those of us in the 2nd heat entered the pool.  Fortunately, I did not have to share my lane with another participant.  A few minutes later, the whistle blew and we were cutting through the water.

I'm totally the next Michael Phelps!
I'm a decent swimmer (remind me to post about the unorthodox way I overcame my fear of going underwater), but I have a tendency to start out too fast, which is what I did.  I also haven't had the opportunity to swim much this winter, so I felt really slow in the pool.  I just tried to keep as steady of a pace as I could.  Once the whistle blew again to end the swim, I had covered 18 lengths of the pool: a distance of 450 meters.

10 minutes of transition may seem like a long time, but not when you're trying to towel off and change into dry clothes.  I changed as quickly as I could and made my way upstairs to the cycling studio and found a bike.  I had to find a pair of straps for the pedals because I don't own bike shoes, and then I had to adjust the seat to my specs.  Fortunately, I had enough time.

After a brief countdown by a race volunteer, my fellow 2nd heat participants and I started pedaling away.  Unfortunately, the counter on my bike wasn't recording my RPM or distance covered.  In fact, none of the counters were working for my heat, and we were all in the second row, so we were pedaling with a big fat zero staring up at us the whole time.  The bikes in the studio were new, so they apparently weren't calibrated correctly with the counters, which had been calibrated to the old bikes.  But for some odd reason, the first row of bikes worked fine.  The race volunteers should have tested the bikes beforehand.  Not cool!

I may be smiling, but I'm pissed off about my bike not working.
I'm glad Mark was around, not only for the support he gave me but also because he took pictures. :)

30 minutes later, my heat finished biking.  My counter may have said 0, but I figured I covered at least 13 miles.  I asked a race volunteer if they were going to record any distance for those of us whose bikes did not work, and they weren't sure.  The lady I talked to said they would look into it, that they might figure out an average distance covered and give that total to us. Frustrating...

We made our way to the fitness floor and chose treadmills for ourselves.  I did a little stretching and got my iPod ready to go for the run.  Once the transition time ended, we were running.  I wore my old Asics (Gel-Kayano 16) because I've run the most in those shoes and I hadn't done enough running in any of my newer pairs of shoes to break them in yet.  I paid attention to my stride, trying to keep a cadence of around 180 and striking mid-foot, but also tried keeping a fast pace.  Mark was able to shoot video of me running with my digital camera.

On the road to nowhere, ha ha!
After 20 minutes, I had covered a distance of 2.58 miles (average pace: 7:46/mile).  Not too shabby!  My right knee didn't bother me at all, either.

I cooled down by stretching out, and Mark showed me the video he took of me running.  The camera allowed him to show the video in slow motion, and I noticed two things.  First, even though I try to strike mid-foot, I still heel-strike.  Second, I have a more prominent heel-strike with my left foot.  Ironically, my left leg is the reliable one.  I'm glad Mark shot this video because now I have a few things to change with my running gait.

A marked woman: #2 was my heat, #20 was my bib/participant number.
I talked to the race director about the bike problem, and she said they would either figure out an average bike distance for those participants or would comp us a free entry to the next indoor tri at the Chanhassen location.  Results were posted yesterday, and 12 of us had zeros for the bike portion.

Here are my stats:
  • Swim: 18 lengths, 36 points
  • Bike: 0 miles, 0 points (I figured I biked at least 13 miles)
  • Run: 2.58 miles, 43 points
  • TOTAL (points): 79
Compared with the other participants, I finished somewhere in the middle.  I think I would have done better if the bike was working properly.

I contacted the race director again, this time via e-mail, and those of us who had faulty bikes will receive a free entry into the next indoor tri event at Chanhassen, which will take place on April 10.  I just hope the bikes will work properly the next time around.

The swag!  Too bad the shirt is too big for me.
So, I finished my first triathlon event ever!  Yay!  I had fun, but the bike problem cast a disappointing shadow over the whole event.  I just hope there are no problems on April 10.

I also really want to try a "real" triathlon later this year. There are a couple sprint tris that I'm eying. :)

Don't forget about my Minneapolis Marathon, Half-Marathon or 5K race entry giveaway!  The last day to enter is Monday, February 21.


  1. Excellent job despite the faulty bike! Congrats!

  2. Congrats on your first tri!!! That is too bad about the bikes, but glad you are getting a free entry in lieu!

  3. Glad you got a free race entry. That would have driven me crazy!

  4. What a fun race!!
    I had a blurp at my race this weekend, too. I accidentally turned in my daughter's registration form for myself and ended up in an age group that I haven't seen in quite a while - 6 year olds! The funnier thing is that I placed 3rd in my "new" age group :D

  5. That is a real bummer about the bike! Glad they will comp you an entry into another event!

  6. An indoor tri sounds fun! I am not a swimmer at all but might be able to handle a race in a pool. That's not fun at all about the bike -- you think they would have let you switch bikes/repeat your heat or something. But at least you get to race again for free!

  7. Oh gosh, I would have lost my mind with the bike situation. Glad you're getting a free entry into another tri. Congrats on finishing your first tri! That is awesome!

  8. OMG!! I CAN NOT BELIEVE the bike situation! I literally can not wrap my head around it. It flat out should not have happened. Geez!

    I would love to do a triathlon like this. I'm so not enough of a swimmer (or biker for that matter) to do a real one (yet). This would be perfect. Know of any in the San Francisco bay area?

  9. The event sounds likes wonderful fun but maybe a bit of poor planning on the race staff's part. Bummer - but it still looks like it was fun and healthy challenge. Glad you were still smiling despite it all! Can't wait to read the recap of your "make up" indoor tri.

  10. WOW! Congrats on the tri event. I have been going back and forth on whether I would ever want to do one. I like that yours was indoors -that would probably sway my decision a little bit. I am no fan of murky ponds.