We still don’t have the results from Saturday’s indoor team triathlon at the Strauss-Peabody Aquatic Center in North Manchester — shockingly, our “A Team” may actually be in contention, thanks to my niece Madison, who turned in the second-best swimming performance of all competitors on the day — but the best part is how much fun we had.
All six team members want to do this again next year, along with my 9-year-old niece Monroe, who was upset she wasn’t getting in on the fun. There’s even talk of all of us competing as individuals next time, believe it or not.
It didn’t hurt that this was such a low-pressure event. Even though Madison can swim more than twice as fast as Colleen, for instance, they were both in the pool for the same amount of time, receiving equal amounts of encouragement from team members. It wasn’t until their 15-minute session was done that they learned from the official scorers how many lengths they completed. (Madison got 35 to Colleen’s 16, but both exceeded expectations.)
Transition time wasn’t a factor in this event. We had 15 minutes after the swim ended before our cyclists — Grandpa and Traci — had to report for their session. Because each of us was only doing one event, the built-in break didn’t really matter. But that mini recovery period is part of what makes it easier for some team members to picture doing this on their own next year.
The cycling was done on spin bikes, which have no electronic readouts. Instead, each cyclist wore a pedometer that measured “steps” as they pedaled. (I thought it was odd when a previous competitor said he did 1 mile in his 15-minute biking session. He obviously rode much farther than that. But since everybody was using the same mechanism, 1 mile turned out to be a decent distance in this event.)
Neither Grandpa nor Traci had trained for this event, and Grandpa had forgotten shorts, so he was stuck wearing his floppy sweatpants. He took the brunt of our teasing as they started out — primarily because Traci dug in and wasn’t leaving any extra oxygen for conversation. Not surprisingly, our “A Team” cyclist came out on top, .88 of a mile to .71.
Next up were Ben and I on the treadmill. I’d practiced for this event over the last couple of weeks, and was trying to build up the courage to try a 7 mph pace. Ben has hardly run at all in recent weeks, but wanted to stay above 8 mph.
We hopped on side-by-side treadmills and the volunteers started the timers. I pushed the control up to 7 mph and tried to focus on running as lightly and calmly as I could, just feeling and accepting the pace without using up any energy resisting or worrying.
It really didn’t feel too bad. And we were looking out floor-length windows to a peaceful park across the street. The only thing that was throwing me off a bit was that the clock was running backward. I made the adjustment, kept reminding myself that that was ultimately a good thing, and tried not to think about the fact that my plan called for me to increase speed at the 8-minute mark.
I pushed the lever to 7.2 mph as scheduled, and then to 7.5, also according to plan. This was getting tough! But instead of dropping down to 6.8 for 3 minutes, as I’d done in my practice run, I went with 6.9 mph.
“It’s not for much longer,” I kept thinking, wondering how Ben was doing beside me. I was so focused on my own interior space, he seemed very far way.
With 2 minutes to go I bumped the speed back up to 7.2 mph. I held it, but it was taking everything I had and then some. At the 1-minute mark I just couldn’t make the increase I’d intended. Could I have done so if my monitor had been telling me my distance? That might’ve given me the extra push I needed. As it was, I didn’t make my 7.5 mph push until 30 seconds remained. And when the timer took my distance, it turned out to be 1.72 miles — just short of my goal of 1.75.
But I wasn’t too disappointed. This was more than I could’ve hoped for a few weeks ago.
As for Ben, he ran 2.04 miles, which was OK with him, given that he hadn‘t been training. He’d run 9 mph for the first 3 minutes, then backed off to 8 mph, then had to resort to 7.5 mph at some point. But he made his goal of 2 miles, and that — coupled with Madison’s swim — gave the “A Team” a decent shot in the team competition. (Traci’s bike performance, like my run, was solid but not likely to register very high in the standings.)
But however we did in the final results, the important thing is that we had a blast. Celebrating afterward at Mr. Dave’s, a longtime North Manchester burger joint that neither Rowan nor her Manchester University roommate Jamie had tried, we all agreed we‘d definitely be coming back next year.
Meanwhile, Ben and I are trying to talk Madison into trying the Fox Island Sprint Triathlon in May. (But he better do some training, or his younger cousin may wind up beating him!)