On Sunday, Life Time Fitness held its annual Indoor Triathlon at 79 locations around the country, with seven of them in Illinois. The goal of the event is to get athletes to commit to the sport of triathlon, and having it so early in the year definitely sets that motivating tone.

This was my first time participating in the event, and I must say I was thoroughly impressed; when I pulled up to the Old Orchard club in Skokie, I got a front row parking spot and immediately knew I was going to have a good morning.

Each location accepts 100 athletes, and designates each participant a specific wave to compete in; I was in wave five, which began at 9 a.m. For those unfamiliar with this indoor race, it’s all time-based, following a specific schedule; at 9 a.m., nine athletes and myself jumped in the lap pool and swam as fast as we could for 10 minutes. We then had 10 minutes to change out of our swimwear and head to the cycle studio where we would ride for half an hour. With another five-minute transition time, we finished the event with a 20 minute run on the upstairs treadmills. At the end of each part, your wave coach would come around and write down your distance, and those who went the furthest overall will be named the winners.

Going in, I didn’t really know what to expect – I thought having 100 athletes running around a gym on different schedules was going to be hectic, but Life Time did a great job keeping it organized.

For the swim, I shared a lane with a lady and there was a volunteer standing at one end of the pool updating us with time and cheering us on. As a very inexperienced swimmer, I was really dreading this part, but it actually went by pretty fast, and I did better than I thought!

Although 10 minutes sounds like a lot of time to dry off, change and walk across the hall, I did feel a little overwhelmed; however, I could have done a better job before the race getting my clothes, bib and shoes ready to make this process go faster – the science of transitions, I suppose. When I walked in the cycle studio, there were three volunteers and our wave coach standing in the front telling everyone which bike to get on and helping them adjust. This part was the definition of organized chaos.

The running portion of the day was my favorite, because, well, I’m a runner. I sort of took the bike part a little easier so I wouldn’t burn out for the day, and once I hopped on the treadmill, I felt great! I was actually disappointed the run was only 20 minutes because I definitely could have gone longer and made up some ground. Once I was done, though, I realized just how tired I was and was ready for a snack and a nap.

Overall, I thought the Life Time Indoor Triathlon was a great event. My favorite part was how laid-back and welcoming the mood was – more often than not, people I talked to were either first-timers like me, or still in their beginning triathlon days. The more experienced athletes were probably more excited that I was there than I was, and were telling me about other races I should try. The staff was very friendly and helpful too; not once did I feel stressed or confused because they were thorough in their explanations – plus, they didn’t laugh at my when I didn’t know how to put my swim cap on.

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Holly’s running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism.

Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.

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