FFC Indoor Triathlon Recap

I’m officially a triathlete!

Well, I don’t know. I feel like it’s cheating to consider myself a triathlete after completing an indoor triathlon. But I’ve had other people tell me I’m a triathlete now, so I guess I’ll go with it.

On Saturday, I participated in Formula Fitness Club’s third indoor triathlon of their series. I’ve had my eye on an indoor tri for months now, and though the ones put on by FFC are a bit $$$, this worked well with my schedule so I decided to go for it.


There’s obviously limited space inside a gym,  so the triathlon was broken up into several waves. I was placed in the first wave and was the only female in that wave, which made things a little interesting for me. Though I was really participating in this triathlon because I wanted the experience, it was still a race and as such I kept gauging my progress based on the other people in my wave. This wasn’t much of a problem in the swim or the run, but it definitely was a bit of an issue on the bike…more on that in a second.

Because I’m a slave of the CTA and bus service is even spottier on weekend mornings than it normally is, I ended up getting to FFC an hour before my wave started. This gave me plenty of time to get ready and admire the spa-like conditions of the locker room (seriously. I suppose my prior gym locker room experience has been exclusively YMCA, but good heavens. Talk about an upgrade). I headed out to the pool about half an hour before my wave began. I planned on swimming a lap or two to warm up, but when one of the lap counting volunteers started talking to me and found out how unconfident I felt about swimming, he offered to watch me and gave me some pointers on my breathing and stroke. Though it would’ve been nice to have learned what I was doing wrong a month ago when I started swimming again, I was happy to get some advice, even if it did make my legs a little tired before the triathlon began.

I had to share a lane for the swim, but my lane-mate was swimming exclusively breaststroke, which meant things didn’t get too wavy. My goggles always fog up as soon as I get in the water, so I kept track of time by counting lengths rather than keeping an eye on my watch. In my training, I put in between 22 and 24 lengths in 15 minutes, so I was surprised when I finished my 24th length and still hadn’t heard the one-minute warning. I was a little worried I missed it, but as it turns out I was just swimming faster than usual. I ended up getting in 26 lengths in our 15 minutes (or 13 laps, or 650 yards, or .37 miles…however you want to look at it). I was thrilled with my swim performance but didn’t have much time to celebrate. We had 10 minutes to transition from the pool to the bike, so I hurried back to the locker room, took the quickest “shower” of my life (aka turned the shower on, stood under the water for about five seconds, and hoped that was enough to get the chlorine out of my hair), and threw on my clothes as quick as I could before heading down to the bike.

We were allowed to set our own resistance on the bikes, and since I was more concerned with going as fast as possible than getting in a solid leg workout, I kept the resistance lower than what I normally use. In my training, I could usually get in slightly over five miles in 20 minutes and could keep my RPMs in the 90-100 range, but I really wanted to go farther than that in the actual race. I was in the zone and maintained a pretty steady 100-115 RPM pace. I was definitely  *that person* during the bike who kept looking over at the guys’ displays to see how my mileage compared to theirs. They were all smoking me in the distance department, which discouraged me until logic kicked in and I remembered that it’s pretty normal for men to perform better at these kinds of physical tasks than women. I then focused on going as far as could rather than worrying about how I measured up to the guys. I put in 6.25 miles in the 20 minute bike and I was really happy with that as well.

We were supposed to have a five minute transition between the bike and the run, but five minutes turned into 10, which was quite all right by me. FFC has a 1/11th mile track around their facility that we used for the run — much better than being stuck on a treadmill. I expected to run somewhere in the 9:30 range, given that I had already swum for 15 minutes and went hard on the bike, so when the lap counter told me I had just hit 11 and my watch read 8:29, I was shocked. Despite being on the third leg of this tri, I was still running at my usual 5K pace, which is about as fast as I ever run. I imagine if I were just running for 15 minutes I could probably do something closer to 8:00s or 8:15s, but since that certainly was not the case on Saturday I was stoked to be running so fast. I put in 19 laps during the 15 minutes for a total of 1.73 miles (and an overall 8:40 pace, according to this handy dandy pace calculator).

Going into the triathlon, my only real goal was to not finish last. I ended up coming in 7th out of 15 with a total distance of 8.35 miles, so I’d say I accomplished that goal quite handily 🙂 . I also won my age group! This may or may not be due to the fact that I was the only one in my age group, but you know. No need to get caught up in such pesky details 😉

Overall, I had a great experience doing this triathlon. The FFC ones are a little pricy, especially if you’re just doing one triathlon in their six-race season, though if you register early (this year it was before December 31) you can save a little bit of money. I also know there are some more affordable options out in the suburbs if you’re able to get yourself there. I would definitely recommend it to anyone intimidated by an outdoor tri (or limited by their lack of equipment…like bike-less me)!

25 thoughts on “FFC Indoor Triathlon Recap

  1. Congrats! You should definitely consider yourself a triathlete :).

    I find that my legs usually go faster off the bike than expected. I think the cycling motions get them ready to run at a faster cadence? Or it could be because I’m not a great biker and I usually have a lot of energy left.. I’m not sure but either way, it makes me happy.

    The final question is, will you do another tri?

  2. Look at youuuu my new favorite triathlete! I don’t think it’s cheating at all. You finished, isn’t that the important part? That’s a super small race with only 15 people! It must have been slightly intimidating to make sure you weren’t last haha I guess it’s motivation for you to go faster though 😉 I’ve never heard of a triathlon that works like that though- it seems kind of fun! I’m intimidated by biking. And open water. So basically triathlons aren’t for me even though everyone I’ve ever met that knows my athletic history says “you would be SO good at them since you run and swim!” well, but not in the same day. Props to you for doing this an enjoying it!!!!!

    • Aww thanks! Yeah, DEFINITELY a crazy small field, although interestingly enough my first 5K was like that as well…I believe there were 45 finishers? Ha! I feel ya on the open water intimidation. That was for sure one of the benefits of doing an tri indoors — pool swimming was MUCH less scary!

  3. Yay! Congrats! 1st in AG! (never say how many there were, lol).

    I would intially feel the same worry about an indoor tri, but I am thinking “Hey! You did it all!” so it counts!!! 😀 😀 😀

    • I was pulling too much of my body out of the water when I’d turn to breathe, which was the biggest thing. He also told me that when I’m swimming in a lane by myself (…aka never. Ha) to concentrate on keeping my arms on the sides of that stripe down the center of the lane. He said I was crossing my arms across my body too much (or something like that? They weren’t straight, I know that) and it was making me inefficient. Actually, now that I think about it, it sounds a lot like my arm form problems with my running! Interesting…

    • Thanks! Truth be told, I’m really not much of a swimmer at all. I got in the pool when I was injured last year. I am NOT good at it at all, but fortunately once you find your rhythm (even if it’s a bad rhythm, which is definitely the case in my situation haha) it gets a lot easier!

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