Saturday morning, I slipped into my tri top and shorts for the first time this season—three cheers for “race” day!
Technically, it wasn’t a true “race”: Full Throttle Endurance invaded Chelsea Piers at 7 a.m. for a 500-yard swim in the pool, 12-mile bike in the spin studio, and 3-mile run on the indoor track. Fifteen triathletes from both Andrew and Danny’s level-one teams attended (not the crazy-intense racing team) this training-session-turned-super-sprint triathlon. I had so much fun, and overall, I’m pleased with how it went! And looking forward, I know what I need to focus on before South Beach.
SparkNotes version: solid swim, OK bike, decent run; finished in 1:00:10–fourth overall/first female.
Swim – 500 yards – 8:09 (“secret” goal – sub-10 minutes)
Logistics: Since we had Chelsea Piers to ourselves (the facility doesn’t open until 8 a.m. on weekends), we took over the entire pool. Andrew and Danny assigned lanes based on gender (girls swam with girls; guys swam with guys), and they said we should determine our order based on speed and not be afraid to pass if necessary. After completing 500 yards, we would hop out of the pool and run up the steps to the spin studio. (Prior to the start, we set up our transition area near our spin bikes.)
The swim itself: My swim will always be a work in progress, so I was excited to see how much I’ve improved so far. First, I’ve become a lot stronger mentally; it wasn’t about “surviving the swim” anymore—I felt like I could compete. Also, this was the time I warmed up for a triathlon; I did a short 100 yards before we began—and I definitely wanted a longer warm up. Progress!
Anyway, thanks to caffeine and adrenaline, I started out way too fast. The guys in the lane next to me pushed the pace, and I wanted to keep up! My first 50-yard split was 30 seconds, and since my steady pace is around 40 seconds, I backed off big time. Here’s what bodes well for future events: It took me 400 yards to get into a groove. Call me crazy, but I wanted to keep swimming!
Aside from the speedy start, I’m really happy with the swim. My overall objective has been to minimize damage so I don’t have a huge gap coming into T1, and being first out of the water has never been a goal. That being said, though, I was the second person overall to exit the pool and the first female. (Full disclosure: If my training group’s top female raced, she would’ve smoked me, and I would’ve had at least a 1:30 gap to make up on the bike. Not that I would’ve been able to catch her, but still.) Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you!
Bike – 12 miles – 26:31 (“secret” goal – sub-30 minutes)
Logistics: After scrambling up the stairs and slipping into cycling shoes, we hopped on spin bikes for 12 miles. Andrew and Danny told us push a solid gear—er, resistance, technically—and keep our revolutions per minute (RPM) between 85 and 90.
The bike itself: Overall, I have very mixed feelings. Even though I followed the coaches’ advice and pushed a solid gear, my RMPs hovered around 95; in hindsight, this should’ve been a signal to increase the resistance. So why didn’t I crank it up? First, I couldn’t stop thinking about my speedy swim start; I used too much energy then, so I chose to conserve a bit while in the saddle. Two, I had the three-mile run in the back of my mind. My greatest fear is “blowing up,” and although that’s never happened (knock on wood!), I haven’t pinpointed how much I can push it on the bike and still have a strong run. So basically, I was way too complacent on the bike.
Around the six-mile mark, Danny announced the leaders, so I knew I was out in front. At this point, I should’ve increased resistance and extended the gap. I felt really strong, and there was zero pain—which should’ve been yet another sign to start working harder.
Anyway, since we were riding spin bikes, it was impossible to tell who was leading and who was chasing (aside from Danny’s announcement), and it was only after a bunch of guys hopped off their bikes and started the run that I realized they overtook me. One girl also passed me, and that’s when I started hammering. For the final 0.2 or so, I decreased the resistance and let my legs spin out to break up lactic acid and to increase cadence for the run.
Run – 3 miles – 25:30* (“secret” goal – sub-24 minutes) *also includes T1 and T2 times
Logistics: As we laid out our gear beforehand, Andrew announced we weren’t allowed to wear socks. Wait, what? He said they weren’t necessary and would cut into our transition times, and since we would be racing sockless, it would make no sense to wear them. Prior to Saturday, I tried running without socks twice (during the summer) and ended up with huge blisters on my arches, so this mandate made me nervous. Also, to help our feet slide into our shoes, Andrew had us line the heels of our sneakers with an Aquaphor gel. Anyway, after hitting the 12-mile mark on the spin bikes, we would hop off, change shoes, and charge down another set of stairs to the indoor track for 12 laps.
Oh yeah–I rock speed laces now. I clearly take T2 extremely seriously.
The run itself: Because I didn’t attack on the bike, I felt super fresh for the run; my first split was 1:30, and I wasn’t working! I had to back off, though—there’s no way 6:00/miles is sustainable. After the first lap, one of my teammates who’s in a pace group above me was starting the run, so I stuck with him for a bit. (Our splits were 2:00-2:0X, and we overtook the girl who passed me on the bike.) Honestly, I anticipated and mentally prepared for a lot of pain, but I felt solid. At the two-mile mark, Andrew totally noticed how comfortable I looked. As I started lap nine, he yelled, “Carrie, you look really good! I know you have another gear. Let’s see it!” Well, if you say so, coach! My next two splits were in the 1:4X-ballpark (I wore my Garmin to keep track of laps and splits), and I really had to work for the final 800m. Lots of suffering, which meant I was doing it right. Danny said my final time was 23:xx (don’t remember the exact seconds), so I broke 24 minutes–yes!
Final time (including transitions) – 1:00:10 (“secret” goal – sub-1:00)
Ten seconds—really?! But I’m very happy with how it went overall. Not that it matters, especially during training sessions, but I was the fourth person to finish overall and the first female—woohoo!
-Be smarter about the swim start. Granted in open water, I’ll definitely want to separate myself from the pack, but there was no need for that on Saturday.
-Attack on the bike. Saturday’s bike leg was definitely complacent—not good. However, I know myself well enough that had we been riding outside, I would’ve been pushing. And there’s no way I would’ve let one of my female competitors overtake me and not respond. Still, I shouldn’t need a race to work harder.
-Attack on the run. Miles one and two felt too easy, aka complacent. See a theme? Once I settled into my default pace, I went on cruise control and didn’t push.
-Run (or swim or bike) your own race. Honestly, when I saw my male teammate beginning the run, I thought I shouldn’t pass him. After all, he’s in a faster pace group than me, so he’s faster, right? I talked to Danny about this situation afterward, and he said my teammate could be faster during workouts and time trials, but maybe I’m faster running off the bike—it’s a completely different kind of running. Dually noted.
Have you done an indoor triathlon? What did you think? How do you keep yourself from being complacent during workouts and race-like scenarios?