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Mercer Island Indoor Triathlon (MI Tri) - April 12, 2015

posted Apr 14, 2015, 6:31 PM by Sound Training   [ updated Apr 14, 2015, 6:38 PM ]
The inaugural hosting of the Mercer Island Indoor Triathlon made its way into the history books this past weekend, as Gail Rudee's very FIRST triathlon! The MI Tri event included a 10 minute pool swim, 30 minute spin bike, and 20 minute outdoor run, with fixed 10 minute T1 and 5 minute T2. Gail certainly did her homework in preparing for her first event - she did a recon of the pool, and chatted with a spin instructor at the facility to get an inside scoop on those specific bikes. We all knew she was prepared for the event, but there is always reason to be nervous before your first race! She handled the nerves well and the only snafoo was leaving her heart rate monitor in the locker room before the bike leg. Lucky for her, no matter how hard you ride you don't go anywhere on a spin bike, so Jennifer was able to retrieve Gail's HR monitor and all was well!

Race Logistics

The swim was in a 25yd pool with only 4 lanes, so there were 8 athletes per wave - meaning they had to split the lanes. Even so, there was plenty of space for everyone, and even though Gail was against the wall, she was never in close contact with it. "Officials" tallied the number of pool lengths completed by each athlete and the whistle after 10 minutes marked the end of the swim. A 10 minute transition gave athletes time to exit the pool, dry off, change clothes, then walk down the hall to adjust their spin bikes as needed before the 30 minute ride. The resistance on the spin bikes was very low, so everyone's cadence was super high - in the 110-125 range! We're not entirely sure how they calculate "distance" - whether it be by pedal strokes, or revolutions of the flywheel, but everyone was PUSHING IT on those bikes! Many of us would not have survived, but Gail is a determined woman and intelligently broke up the time into smaller intervals of not-as-fast-spinning and super-fast-spinning. She's a machine! Once again, the whistle at 30 minutes marked the end of the bike, and this time athletes had 5 minutes to prepare for the run, which was just a few feet away through the exit door to the hallway of the bikes. The run was 20 minutes long, around a 0.5 mile loop. There were 3 checkpoints around the loop and athlete's were given a distance (or score) based on the number of checkpoints they passed. The weather was beautiful for running!

We asked Gail to give a recap of the race from her perspective, and were very excited about the story that she sent us in return! Please read on to learn about Gail's experience surrounding her FIRST triathlon! So Inspiring!

Photo: Gail Rudee's first triathlon!

First Triathlon

First of all, how the heck did I come to my first triathlon at age 57?? When I was a teenager, I swam quite a bit in order to work as a lifeguard at a summer camp when I was 17. When I was 18, I got contact lenses, and it became too much trouble to swim. So, getting back in the pool in December 2014 after 40 years was a bit scary! I was just hoping I would remember something! As for biking, I had a bike as a child, but we lived on a dead end street which was entered by way of a fairly steep hill. My parents sure did not ride, and I didn't even know you could ride up a hill like that. Riding just up and down the block lost its appeal quickly. When I met Don, he loved cycling, and got me to try it as an adult. So, after we were married, we bought a bike for me, packed up the baby in a bike trailer, and rode the Burke Gilman trail from our house in Bryant (by Met Market) all the way to Matthew's Beach! Boy, that was a huge ride for me! I don't remember riding at all once we had 2 kids. Fast forward to 2012, living in West Seattle and spinning classes with Ed Ewing on Sundays. I became a spin class fanatic. Ed would threaten me that he would get me riding outside. After not riding for 20 years, I politely told him that wasn't going to happen. Long story short, I bought a Bike Swap bike, and rode RSVP 2012. On to running. At age 21, I tried to start a running program- on my own. I soon determined that running around the local middle school track, and sucking in cold air into my lungs was not enjoyable.

After getting into cycling, and even getting a real road bike, I eventually met several triathletes. Although in awe of their accomplishments, I would just say that I might have tried it if I were 20 years younger. This brings us to last fall when Jennifer and Peter decided to launch their new triathlon training program. What could it hurt to join in with fun people and see what it's all about? Now that I am swimming, biking, and even running again (after painstakingly rehabbing an injury), the MI TRI came up. INDOOR swim! And, very short times. Plus, the realization that I will not get a chance to try this at a younger age, haha, so this is it!

My experience at my first TRI:

MI Tri swim start MI Tri spin bikes MI Tri run start


When I read about the MI TRI, it sounded very doable: 10 minute pool swim, 30 minute indoor cycling, and 20 minute outdoor run. Having done many 1.5 hour pool workouts made a 10 minute swim sound like a piece of cake! That is, until it dawned on me that it is 10 straight minutes of swimming strong, no rests. As it turned out, that was the most challenging part of the triathlon for me. I did practice 10 minute swims several times, but on race day, it seemed significantly harder from the start! Also, not knowing how many yards I'd done, or how many minutes were left to go made it seem to last forever! I was so spent when the end whistle blew, I couldn't even hoist myself out of the pool! Luckily, I spotted a ladder nearby--how embarrassing!

Next was a 10 minute transition to biking. It was plenty of time to change into dry cycling clothes, but I do wish someone had told me about the baby powder trick to help pull those clothes on! I got to the bike with time to spare, and began an easy spin. Unfortunately, the bikes are older models, but have a computer that, theoretically, calculates your mileage. After doing some research, I decided I could maximize mileage by maximizing RPMs. So, I kept a fairly low resistance with RPMs of over 100 up to 127-ish. It hurt my shins, but I kept at it. I wound up with 9.2 miles at 30 minutes. Apparently, someone in my heat had over 12 miles. Really, 25 mph??

5 minute transition to run was, again, plenty of time to switch out my shoes. The 1/2 mile outdoor trail was a bit wonky. It went through parking lots, on gravel stretches, sidewalks-riddled with tree root bumps, over driveways, and trying to share it all with pedestrians. But, mainly, I was just glad that (1) I could feel my legs and they still worked, and (2) this was the last leg of the TRI! I was very satisfied with my distance, according to my iPhone app, of 2.25 miles in the 20 minutes.

The best part of the day? Yes, I accomplished a major feat for myself, but also the incredible support I felt before and throughout the race from my awesome coaches, and amazing teammates! Just, wow.

Photo: Sound Support Crew with inspirational messages