Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seattle RainMan Indoor Triathlon

On Sunday 21 March I volunteered at and raced in the Seattle RainMan Indoor Triathlon.  Highlights of the day included:

  • Learning exactly how an Indoor Triathlon is organized – I’ve done over a hundred outdoor races but this was my first indoor race
  • Running into Ray Maker somewhat unexpectedly, as we were 2500 miles away from his home
  • Leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer as the final wave hit the halfway point in their bike leg
  • Giving the pre-race briefing to most of the waves of athletes in the race
  • Kicking off my own tri season with a good hard effort

Ray’s post does a great job of describing how the race was organized, so I won’t repeat much of that content here.

I did most of my volunteer work in the bike area. We had 24 indoor trainers set up to handle two heats of 12 simultaneously. The timing of the heats was such that as a participant, your trainer would be in use by another participant when you started your swim. It was up to the volunteers to move the bikes and transition gear around so that everything would be ready for swimmers exiting the water.  

The setup and logistics for an indoor race seemed a bit more challenging than for outdoor races. There is less of a course to set up and marshal, but there is more ongoing work that continues throughout the race. For example, at an outdoor race you would do the pre-race briefing once whereas with the indoor race we briefed each of the 25 waves individually.  Also, each bike had to be moved into and out of the trainer area by volunteers.  Lots of work, but it made for a new/unique experience for many racers and also for an otherwise impossible opportunity to race a triathlon in Seattle in March.

As for my own race … we decided around noon that there would be enough space and enough volunteer bandwidth to let me jump in and race. I had been on my feet since 6:30 and I’d raced my bike at Tour de Dung the day before … but I was eager to see what kind of splits I could throw down.

Swim: you swam as far as you could in 15 minutes, then your time was converted to a pace and then into a virtual time for a half-Olympic race. (Other indoor triathlons have been scored on arbitrary points, but I made up this approach and the TriFreak folks thought it sounded good, so they used it. Go me!)

I picked my head up to see the clock after 700 yards and saw that I was just past the halfway point – 7:33. You didn’t get credit for uncompleted 50s, and I didn’t feel that I was likely to negative-split the swim that day, so I eased off just a little and swam 650 yards in the second half. I finished with about 8 or 9 seconds to spare.

Bike: after walking to my bike and jumping on, I tried to settle in around my estimated threshold wattage … but I had a hard time maintaining the number that I wanted to see. I knew how far Ray had gone so I tried to stay on pace to beat his total, but I came up short by maybe a third of a mile.

Run: I had a rather quick T2 and walked outside to start the loop around Green Lake. We figured out that the loop was 2.95 miles including the sidewalk between the pool and the lake loop. I tried to push it as hard as I could the whole way.  I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel terrible either.  I split a 17:04, including T2 … so maybe 16:45 or 16:50-ish for the 2.95 miles.  Not quite where I wanted to be, but as my first race-pace brick of the year … and on tired legs … I’ll take it.

Overall: I had the top swim and run splits and the second best bike split, for an overall “virtual time” of 59:28 for the half-Olympic course. Ray was next at 1:02:19 and Stephanie Ewert was third at 1:08:05.

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