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If there were ever a triathlon to do, having one virtually named after oneself seems like the kinda event I’d want to start with. I heard about the Rainman Indoor Triathlon back a few months ago, and a bit later noticed it happened to coincide with a previously scheduled week long work trip I had out in Seattle. Sweet!
So I flew out to Seattle late Saturday night, the day before the race. I ended up taking my bike with me, for a few reasons. I wanted it to as closely as possible mimic a real race – and the bike is a key component of that (versus using one I have in Seattle). Also, I was rather interested in the data (power primarily) for the bike, to see how that would look. So Mr. Bike took the trip as well.
We showed up at the race site about 2 hours prior to our start wave – a bit early, but that was alright. My wave was set for 11:20AM – a nice time to do a race actually, as it allowed me to have a ‘normal’ morning.
By getting there early I was able to figure out how the whole process worked – which is key in indoor triathlons. For outdoor ones, the process and logic is pretty cookie cutter. But indoor ones have many variables that can change from event to event – such as how transition and transition times are calculated, what and how you can rack things, routes, etc… This little bit of observation time paid out significant dividends later on.
So let’s talk about the setup. The event is held in waves that start every 20 minutes. Each person either splits a lane with one other person, or has their own lane (depending on the size of the wave). You swim as many complete laps as possible in 15 minutes. You can see the swim below, and the bikes in the back, you exit out the door to the back right.
Next you ‘jaunt’ over to transition and your bike, which is merely on the side of the pool deck. You have a chair/box in front of your bike with your transition stuff – but it’s all somewhat setup for you. Meaning, you don’t create a little towel-haven like you would outdoors, as the staff here have to be able to move your bike from staging racks, to the trainers, to post-race racks all while you’re off swimming or running. Here’s the staging racks below:
(And then it gets moved over to the main set of trainers – below.)
These trainers are calibrated based on your weight. The more you weigh, the harder the resistance. Now – here’s the trick, it’s actually your weight plus that of your bike’s weight, as you can see below with the person standing on the scale with their bike.
This means that you want to minimize the amount of junk on your bike at this stage of the game (removing water bottles, bike shoes, etc…). Once you weigh in, then you add it back. Anyway, once you exit the water, the 30 minute clock starts. So basically your T1 transition time is included in your bike time. You then bike for 30 minutes going as far as you can. At the 30:00 marker, the ‘run’ starts, and your T2 time is simply included in your run time. This makes it super easy and forces folks to move quickly.
Now with that backgrounder…let’s go onto my action….oh, and my Mom’s race as well – because she raced it also.
About 30 minutes prior to my wave I got weighed in and body marked. I then got my bike all setup in the pre-staging rack. This included adding my HR strap to my bike, and also my Garmin 500 for the bike portion, and Garmin 310XT for the run portion. In a normal outdoor triathlon I’d have a wetsuit on with tri-top, but indoors there’s no wetsuit, and a tri-top would simply just cause drag and slow me down. So shirtless was easier, hence, no HR strap.
(Down below is my race number (like normal), but also the total combined weight of the bike and me as per the scale. This is then used to calibrate the trainers.)
Before we knew it, it was time to start. I was able to get in a 2 lap warm-up prior to the race, but that’s basically it. Luckily my wave was a bit smaller than some others, so I had my own lane all to myself. At exactly 11:20:00AM the horn went off. Military precision was in full effect today, and thankfully, as it made it super simply to figure out how much time you had left.
I swam and I swam fairly fast. And by time I hit 14:30 I had done 1050 yards. At this point I had a decision to make – go for another lap, or just hang out at the wall. Given I likely wouldn’t have been able to pull off a 30 second 50y lap at that point in the race, my time was much better spent chilling for 30 seconds to catch my breath. So I did that.
The swimming watch I’ve been testing matched both my brains lap count, and the lap counters count – which is good!
At exactly 15:00 after the initial horn sounded, the swim was over and we were allowed to exit the water. At this point, the bike time started (30 minutes). Any time you spent in transition simply took away from the bike. So I made like a bunny and got on my bike.
I’m pretty sure I was on my bike and pedaling while some people were still contemplating getting out of the water.
I pedaled a lot. I pedaled fast. And I pedaled hard.
There was a lot of dripping going on. My cycling shoes were completely and totally soaked by the end of the bike ride. Given the humidity and heat inside the pool with no wind to keep you cool, plenty of sweat droplets abound.
Each bike was tied to a wireless head unit that was laid in front of you on the ground. You could see all sorts of interesting data: Watts, Time, Distance and Speed. Here’s my Dad checking out our little units (my Mom’s to my left, and mine in front of me).
The accuracy of the wattage was a bit in question. According to it I was generating an average of 310-340w, which was a bit higher than my Quarq Cinqo + Edge 500 was noting. Either way, I was happy with what I was outputting.
Local Pro Triathlete Chris Tremonte was helping out in the race and kept on dropping by asking me if I was planning on sustaining that pace and power for the duration. My rough answer was: I hope so. I knew I was eating a bit into my run pace by pushing a bit harder on the bike – but I was alright with that. Especially if it made him squirm.
This effort in turn netted me a total distance of 11.56 miles. Now, that may sound low (because it is compared to a road race), but resistance on the trainer wheel really controlled a lot of how far you went – so that was a key factor. However, the real kicker here? I had the farthest bike split of the day (or in effect, the fastest bike split of the day). Woot!
Soon, it was time to leave my beloved bike behind, and go for a run. I transitioned in pretty much a matter of seconds. I scooted across the pool deck pretty quickly (perhaps in a run) – at which point Chris took the opportunity to shout out at me “Stop running Ray Maker!”. So I did…didn’t want to upset the apple cart…
Once I had exited the pool deck and the building, I resumed my running again. The course was pretty simplistic. You run around the lake. When you got all the way around, you were done. The path itself was 2.8 miles, but with the to/from to the building, I ended up with 2.95 – so almost a 5K race.
Again, the recap here is simple: Run, run hard, run fast. I did all three.
I averaged pretty much between 5:55 and 6:00 a mile for most of the run, with an overall average of 5:57 – which I was pretty happy with given how hard I swam and biked.
(My friend and co-worker Bruce was out for the week and took the nice pretty action shots you see of me here. All of them came out pretty cool, but I like the above one the most. PS – You may notice that on my right wrist I actually have two watches. This was a bit of an accident. I had the swim watch on just cause, but I forgot to take it off, so I went running out of the building with my 310XT in my hand and realized about 50 yards out of the building that I had nowhere to put it. Doh!)
As I came back in I went ahead and crossed the finish line I was awarded a nice little finishers medal:
It turns out, my run was pretty quick. It was the XXX fastest run of the day.
A few minutes later my Mom rounded the finish line as well, and we got a quick finisher photo. This is now her second triathlon.
Which, brings me to the totals. They re-grade the whole triathlon based on a standard sprint triathlon, so pretty much they take your paces and then re-convert them to ‘real’ times based on a 750m/12.5m/5K distance tri. Remember that the run time includes transition – so it’s a bit higher than my unofficial run time (which is when I left transition):
2nd place overall – not too shabby! Actually, it’s damn sweet. Here’s the top five overall:
(As an random but interesting side note, Stephanie – 3rd place overall – is actually moving out to DC later this week, from Seattle. So I was able to meet up with her and get her jumpstarted on all the bestest DC training locations.)
Now there’s one little update here. This evening I got an e-mail from the race organizer to let me know the following:
Here – let me help narrow things down a bit:
Though, Chris sure as heck deserved the win – he worked tirelessly all day long on his feet, and still went out and threw down some damn impressive numbers late in the day.
So, aside from my placement – the two sweetest things are actually the t-shirt and the hat I got. They’re awesome.
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