So I tried a tri. It was the Repsol Centre’s 5th Annual 10 mile indoor triathlon. It consisted of a 500m swim, 7.8 mile (12.5K) bike and 3K (2 mile) run. I signed up for it in mid January as a challenge, knowing that it had been years since my last training swim (did the now defunct Brooklyn Bridge swim in 2015) and I have not cycled since early December or late November I do not remember.
I did a biathlon once with no training. It was in the St. John, USVI and entailed a .75 mile swim in Maho Bay and a hilly 5K run. It was a low-key race so I was allowed to swim with a snorkeling mask and snorkel. I am great at hanging out in the ocean–treading water and doing a little swim here and there, mainly to stretch out and/or get from A to B. My swimming form is not that great and I remember a watching sea turtle with a missing front fin totally dust me. By the time I got out of the water and started to run, my legs felt like two lead columns. At that time I was a well-trained runner, but after the turtle swim, my legs were not havin’ it. I did finish, in last place. My strength as an athlete is that I have always finished any race that I start.
For this triathlon, I did some training, I managed to get in two pool swims prior. Once in the pool I remembered how much I enjoyed gliding through the water (the after-chorine smell, not so much). It was also a welcome respite from running in the freezing cold. I saved my workouts from when I trained for the Brooklyn Bridge swim–I have them printed out stored in a big ziploc in my seldom used swim bag. I used two of the shorter work-outs, about 1200 meters. I figured if I could finish that length of a workout I could finish the swim. I had to buy new goggles because I left my old and ill-fitting ones in Brooklyn and a new swim cap because my other one disintegrated.
However, I entered the arena with minimal training for this race and with the intention of enjoying it and finishing.
The idea of enjoying athletic competition for me comes in the anticipation and afterglow. Once I signed up, I looked forward to the race. I was excited about doing my first triathlon. I was in Heat 1 Wave 3 (heat were slowest to fastest, I signed up for the slowest) and assigned number 18 which was Sharpied on my upper right shoulder and lower right calf. I was also given a timing chip to strap around my ankle.
This was after, but my number 18 lasted.
I was not at all familiar with the flow of a triathlon. You see it on TV and hear about this transition, but doing it is another thing. I noticed that people had their sneakers (in Canada, runners) neatly placed next to their bikes along with towels, water bottles and other biking/running accoutrements.
After setting up my Keiser bike I neatly placed my stuff next to the bike–sneakers, capri running tights, socks, knee strap–and my water bottle on the bike. With my swim cap and goggles I headed to the pool deck for the pre-race brief.
There seemed to be both a number of first timers and seasoned people in my slow heat. Some had the gear–the triathlon kit while others were in beach swimsuits. I was in the third wave of my heat, we entered the water in 5 second intervals. We were off.
20 laps in the pool, the first couple of laps felt ok, but I quickly tired, partially because of the anticipation (the swim is my weakest link), having a person pass me and then when I was up to passing him, as what commonly happens with men, he kind of flailed and I just backed off, not worth it. The swim was tiring, not enjoyable while doing it, but once I was out of the pool (I needed help getting out), I felt some exhilaration (but anticipation of the next event).
For the bike, the timing started once you entered the biking area. The transition from swim to bike was included in the bike time. My skin was damp and I had compression capris. Putting tight clothing on a damp body does not make for swift changing. I don’t know how long it took me, but some people who entered the biking area after me were “on the road” while I was still jumping up and down to get my running tights on. Victoriously the tights went up and I was on the bike for 7.8 miles. Since I have only done Keiser bike in spinning class, I was not sure of the Watt/RPM balance that would get me to the goal faster. I toggled between 9 and 11 (the sanctioned range was 9-12) and it took me what seemed like forever to get to 7.5 (to signal a tri staff) and finally 7.8 to finish.
I jogged over to the stairs that led up to the indoor track. Fifteen laps. You get a rubber band after each set of 5. My legs were heavy and my hamstring was not behaving but I kept it moving. I walked twice but kept it moving. I wanted to pick it up for the last 5 laps but did not have it in me.
The biking area, some brought their own bikes while others used the supplied Keisers. The upper level is the indoor track.
I was so happy to finish. The enjoyment comes at the end, knowing that I finished the challenge, feeling proud of my accomplishment and well-deserving of the big Kirkland chocolate chip cookie at the end.
I would definitely like to do a triathlon again and hope to do this one next year, with more training and probably compression shorts instead of tights, maybe even swimming in them to save transition time. I have a baseline so I can aim for faster times. At some point I would like to do a full-on outdoor one, but need to get the right gear for training and racing first; it is an investment, even used a decent bike is pricey. Wetsuits are not cheap either, so it cannot be a “one-and-done” endeavor. Or I could just be like my cat and not give a crap about it all and stay on the couch and wait for someone to feed me.
Who is smarter, me or Mitza?