Monday, April 28, 2014

YMCA Indoor Triathlon Recap

Ugh.  I really don't want to write this post for some reason!  The only reason I'm doing it is because Janet keeps asking for it! 


You might remember that I did an indoor triathlon a while ago.  A long while ago.  March 16th to be exact, which is actually over a month ago!  I'll try to tell you what I remember....

I had been wanting to do an indoor triathlon for a while, so I was initially pretty pumped for this one.  Then later I realize how close it was to my marathon and how little swimming and biking I'd been doing and I was looking forward to it less.  

The basic race set up was 6 athletes per heat, with start times every 15 minutes.  We had 15 minutes to swim, then 8 minutes to transition to the bike, 15 minute bike, 2 minutes to transition to the run,  and then the 15 minute run.  The swim leg would be scored by distance, the bike leg by average power output in watts, and the run by distance.  I was really pleased with the pre-race communication.  They were very thorough in explaining, via email, how the event would go, what to bring, etc, including very specific instructions for bike and treadmill operation and start/stop rules.

The night before the race I made some poor decisions that left me awake until around 6 am, and then up before 8am to get ready to race.  Oops.  Less than ideal conditions for sure.  I showed up filled with dread, a venti skinny peppermint mocha latte, and a huge tired headache.  Check-in was pretty quick/easy, and I was instructed to be on the pool deck at least 5 minutes before my start time.  Okey doke.

My friend Rachelle and I were coincidentally in the same start wave, which kind of sucked because both of us were nervous and didn't want to push too hard.  Being next to each other would have definitely brought out the competitiveness in each of us, which we wanted to avoid.  For the bike and the run, we could just choose which treadmills and bikes to use, but for the swim, they assigned swimmers to lanes, two per lane.  So figures, of course, that we were assigned to the same lane.  With 15 minute start waves all day and 6 swimmers to choose from within our heat, what are the odds that we were assigned the same start time AND the same swim lane??  We approached the race's swim volunteers and explained the situation, which they first took to mean that we WANTED to be together.   LOL.  We eventually got separated, after some more explaining.  :)

The swim started and I of course started out way too fast.  15 minutes doesn't sound that long until you're just 3 minutes into the swim and already exhausted!  I wore my Garmin but forgot to start it until halfway through the first length, so I started it then, mid stroke.  Eventually I caught my breath after the accidental start sprint and got into a groove.  The staff/volunteers counted our laps from the edge of the pool as we swam.  

My official result was 15 laps (or 30 lengths) in 15 minutes, according to the counters.  It wasn't until I got home that I realized that my watch said 32 lengths or 16 laps. (You can see my splits here, you just have to click the down arrow to see the individual lengths:  http://connect.garmin.com/splits/462105522).  I don't always trust my watch to accurately count laps, since it is just an accelerometer that detects turns at the wall, but in this case the splits looked accurate.  Usually if it gets it "wrong" and counts a turn that didn't happen, I'd have a really really fast split, or a really really long one if it missed a turn.  In this case all my lengths were between 25 and 30 seconds, which is pretty standard for me.  The only outlier was the 11 second first length, which was because I didn't start the timer until I was halfway down the lane.  More on the lap counting discrepancy later....

After the swim we headed into the locker room to dry off and change for the bike leg.  I was pretty spent from the swim already!  I had gotten to the Y early enough before the race to test out their bikes and figure out my seat height and everything beforehand, so that was good.  I had opted to wear my regular sneakers instead of clip in cycling shoes.  I don't remember why I made that choice!  It ended up being a bad one.  I had a hard time adjusting the footstraps on the bike and ended up having to right with the left strap being pretty loose, which was awkward.  The bike computers displayed the cadence and current power output as you rode, so that was nice to try to maximize your power and efficiency.  You have find that perfect balance between high cadence and high resistance, since both impact the power.  I tend to favor a higher cadence and more moderate resistance, since it doesn't make my legs burn so much that I can't run after!  I basically set the resistance to the max I could handle while still keeping my cadence around 90 to 100 rpms.  My final average power for the 15 minute ride was 294 watts.  Kind of meaningless unless you consistently ride those bikes, but there you have it.  :)  

On to the run, which is normally my favorite part, but not so much on the treadmill!  I don't really remember if I had a plan or goal for the run.  At this point I really wish I would have been beside Rachelle, because we tend to run around the same race pace, and can really push each other with a little friendly competition.  It would have helped to have her there to see what I "should" have been doing.  But she was like 3 'mills down, so I had no clue.  I started the speed at 6 mph and gradually dropped it down to sub 8:00 minute miles.  Toward the end, at like mile 1.5 or something, I ended up with a side stitch and had to ease up a bit before gunning it to the "finish".  Here's a plot of the pace, based on the data from my footpod.  


My final distance for the run was 1.95 miles, or about 7:30 minute/mile pace. I had the distance covered with a towel on the treadmill.  If I hadn't I have a feeling I would have gone over 2 miles.  Oh well.  I was pretty happy with that, because I do have a really hard time running fast on the treadmill.  I know it's "easier" but it sure feels harder!! 

There was a room with food and drinks for us to have at the end, but I was too tired to eat at that point.  An indoor triathlon is a weird thing.  It's a race effort but without all the energy of racing people side by side, being outdoors, and of spectators.  So basically it's just a really hard and painful indoor gym workout.  Yucky.  Definitely a great workout and a good test of fitness, and a good way to ease into triathlons, or get an early start on the season, but man do they hurt.  All guts, no glory.  Not even a "finish line"!

When I got home and realized my swim laps were miscounted, I thought about calling to see if they'd correct it, but I was concerned that that first length being only 11 seconds (because I didn't start my watch on time) would invalidate the data from their perspective.  Plus, I figured I wouldn't have placed or anything anyway.   Later, they sent the "results" which indicated that I was third place woman overall, and first in my age group, and it looked like an extra lap on the swim wouldn't have made a difference anyway, so I didn't try to fix it.


As it turns out, the results they sent out initially were scored incorrectly, and an extra swim lap WOULD have in fact made a difference in my placing.  In the ranking above, they just summed the numbers (# of laps, average power in watts, and distance in miles, from the swim, bike, and run, respectively), and ranked the totals.  Obviously, that gives a huge benefit to strong cyclists, and a huge disadvantage to strong runners, just based on the discrepancy in the magnitude of the results in each leg (bigger numbers in the bike leg, smaller numbers in the run leg).  That was also not how the event was advertised to be scored.  

It was supposed to be scored as follows:

Individual and team results will be based on the total points earned in each of the three events (swim, bike, run).  When all waves are finished, each event will be sorted by farthest distance and highest average watts and then given the appropriate points for each place per event.  The person scoring the most points from all three legs combined wins.  Each leg will be scored by the following system:
                                       1st place = 100 points
                                       2nd place = 98 points
                                       3rd place = 96 points, and so on…

After they realized (or were notified) of their mistake, they resent the results the following day, scored appropriately.  With the new scoring, I dropped to 2nd in my age group.  They only gave age group awards to the first place finisher in each group, so that was sad :(  If you look at the results below, the girl that beat me (the 5th one down, age 33), it looks like my incorrect 15 lap vs. 16 lap swim count might have been enough for me to bump her.  Maybe not though.  It's hard to tell with such a weird scoring system.  (Note: I actually really like the scoring system, I think it is completely fair and doesn't give an advantage to one discipline over the other, it's just very different compared to a "normal" outdoor race, and harder to analyze!)

With our registration we got a cotton T-shirt, which I really like.  I've worn it a million times already.  The fit and the color are both very nice.  The color is as shown in the pic of the front of the shirt.  For some reason my photo of the back of the shirt looks a lot more purple than it does in real life.  

Back of the shirt
Front of the shirt
Overall, I think the race was well done.  The pre-race communication and the fact that everything went really smoothly and started on time were big plusses.  The negatives were that my swim was counted incorrectly, and that they messed up the results in their initial report.  I think they should have two people counting each swimmer, to verify, or one human counter plus some kind of a lap counter that the swimmers themselves hit on each turn, to be sure they get it right.  

The staff or volunteers at the race were really great.  The swim counters were great cheerleaders and really got into it!  They even asked me at the start if I had a certain goal # of laps I was working towards, and called out my lap count occasionally, as well as the time left in the swim.  The bike staff were probably the best.  They had music going in there and one of the ladies was dancing all around the room.  Really fun and motivating!  

I'm not sure if I would do the event again or not though.  Mainly just because working at race effort in a lap pool, on a spin bike, and on a treadmill, is just really kind of miserable!  Plus the scoring and everything is so unique that it's not like you can go for a "PR" except for to compare to the same race from the previous year.

The other reason I finally got this post written is because I just did another indoor triathlon this past Saturday and will have to write that recap as soon as I get the results for it!  I'm hoping I won something, but no news yet!! Stay tuned.....

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading your recap. I know they're time-consuming to write and it's harder to want to do it as more time passes since the race, so thank you for still getting to it. You know I'm living vicariously through you while I'm injured! It's pretty similar to how my indoor tri went last year, so you helped me kind of relive the experience minus the pain. ;) It definitely is a weird kind of thing when the starts are staggered and you have no idea how you really did. I guess it's nice having the extra motivation to push yourself harder than you would if it was just a normal gym workout. It's a bummer that they did a poor job of counting your laps, but it sounds like you did great. No pressure...but I'm looking forward to reading your next indoor tri recap too. :)

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