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Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015

Group of friends at the Ice Breaker Triathlonby Katherine A. Roccasecca

Ice Breaker Triathlon
400 yard Pool Swim, 10 "mile" Indoor Bike, 2 mile Treadmill Run
West Des Moines, Iowa
Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Walnut Creek YMCA began hosting the Ice Breaker Triathlon in 2008 as a way to raise funds for their Annual Campaign, which supports those who are unable to otherwise afford memberships and programs at the Y. This year they added an additional beneficiary to the fundraising: Girls on the Run. "Girls on the Run of Polk County is a 10 week physical activity-based positive youth development program that inspires girls in 3rd—5th grade to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running."

The event occurs entirely within the facility. Three-time participant Lucas Freed explains: "The swim was eight laps (400 yards) and then as much time as you need to dry off, change to dry clothes, and head upstairs to the spin room. Ten miles on the bike went very quickly with support from volunteers and music to pump up the racers. Next up, a quick two miles on the treadmill!"

The Ice Breaker Triathlon Atmosphere

Before she was hired as the Walnut Creek YMCA's wellness director and became the one responsible for organizing the Ice Breaker, Christa VanderLeest competed in it in 2008 as her first tri ever. She has since completed a few sprint-distance triathlons and an Olympic-distance tri.

Christa loves "seeing the support the participants get from the Y and even the obstacles that they overcome to participate in the tri." She remembers a particular family doing the race as a relay and everyone supporting the youngest (5 or 6 years old) as she completed the entire two mile run. She had a memorable experience talking to a man who had been in a severe bike/car accident and came to the Ice Breaker as his first event post-recovery. This year, she was impressed with a participant who lost a large amount of weight, made huge improvements in her swim time, and can now, after an awesome bike and run, call herself a triathlete.

Another first-time participant, Kay Peddy, made this recommendation: "Indoor tri at Walnut Creek was low key. The best intro to triathalon experience. No focus on transition times, a lot of support to help you participate—whether bike setup, counting your swim laps, and encouraging you when you wanted it—plus food afterwards and all indoors so weather's not a factor. You could go through it and see if you like it, want to try an event with longer distance, and see what you need to spend more on."

Stories from Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015

Michael Doyon swims in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Michael J. Doyon did Cyman Triathlon last fall for his first tri and the Life Time Fitness Indoor Triathlon earlier this month for his first indoor tri. He signed up for the Ice Breaker Triathlon to motivate his training and improve his overall wellness. Sunday morning, he woke up in the morning with a sore throat, congested sinuses, and a cough... and yet he "killed it": shaved 2:20 off his goal for the swim, 0:40 off the bike, and 0:22 off the run. He says, "I loved see my training partners during the race. I will do it again next year."

Lucas Freed on the bike at Ice Breaker 2015This was Lucas Freed's third Ice Breaker, a "great way to kick off training and the 2015 season!" He's been doing sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons for the last five years and has more planned this season. He signed up this year because he knew how well it's run and because of the cause it supports, Girls on the Run. This year he set his best time and placed 2nd in the Male 31–40 category. He says, "Everyone should be saving the date Saturday, February 14th for the Des Moines Triathlon Club's annual Tri Expo which is immediately following the YMCA's annual Red Flannel 5k/10k runs."

Ana Grandgeorge runs in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Ana Grandgeorge signed up for the Ice Breaker Triathlon because "I just really enjoy the sport of triathlon, and enjoy the opportunity to do triathlons during the winter as well as summer." Her goal was to beat last year's time, which she did. At 14, it's tough to win the 18 and Under category, so she's happy with her second place finish. She also had a side race with her dad: "He wasn't able to beat me on the run... although we somehow managed to tie." Ana wishes more kids would participate and talked one of her friends into doing this race. She and her dad even took her to the Y a number of times to help her get ready.

Greg Grandgeorge runs in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Greg Grandgeorge says, "The Ice Breaker provides some fond memories for me, as in 2013 it was the first triathlon I did after being run over by a pickup in July of 2012, and was the starting point for my eventual trek to Ironman Arizona [November 2013]." This year, coming off a knee surgery, he was happy being able to finish in under 40 minutes. There was smack talk between him and some friends in the Triathlon Racers of Iowa club, but "[a]fter a while, much of it eroded into a competition of whining on who would have the worst run... (twisted ankles, a couple bad knees, and bruised hips)." The chatter did help boost turnout from the club, and Greg "heard someone say how wonderful it was to get positive energy from a great bunch of people, which I think typifies the triathlon community as a whole."

Read Greg's complete race report on the Triathlon Racers of Iowa website.

Gavin Jerome bikes in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Gavin Jerome signed up for his first indoor tri after three sprints this past summer because many of the Triathlon Racers of Iowa members were doing it. It was a tough day for him. Although his swim was exactly the time he had in practice, the bike was way slower than he expected. He finished on a high note with a strong run after those two events, only four seconds off his personal best, sticking with his running plan all the way. "I expected to have a better day than I did, but that is racing. Back to the drawing board. I was working hard at spin class the next day following the race. Always room for improvement."

Katherine Roccasecca in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Katherine Roccasecca was majorly smack talking the bikes, and the bike smacked back on race day. After finishing within four seconds of her predicted swim time, she got a bike that was considerably stiffer at the prescribed gear than any of the ones she practiced on. And she screwed up her own bike fit. However, she was thrilled to drop 11 minutes off her predicted "run" time by managing a faster powerwalk on her recovering ankle (sprained earlier this month) than she anticipated. Next year will be her fifth Ice Breaker, and she will try to do better in all three events. "Despite completely not nailing my race plan on the leg most important to me, I had an absolutely wonderful morning." She attributes this to the fun of running around cheering for everyone.

Laura Zinn swims in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Friends talked Laura Zinn into the triathlon swim class at the Ankeny Family YMCA as "just... another mode of exercise." She did an outdoor sprint (Cyman Triathlon) last fall, and the Ice Breaker Triathlon was her first indoor triathlon. "I did ok. I had some personal goals I didn't meet, but I learned a lot about myself. I am always only competing against myself, which can sometimes be the toughest competition!" Training and racing with friends are what keep Laura coming back. "It makes me so happy and proud to see another teammate do well. Seeing hard work pay off is amazing."

Eric Conrad runs in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015This was Eric Conrad's second triathlon experience; the first was Hy-Vee last summer. Both times, he was the runner on a relay. This time, his girlfriend, Tania, was looking to get some triathlon swimming experience, and their friend Kim joined them as the biker. Together, Three Stars cheered each other on and completed the race. Eric didn't have a personal goal for his time this year, but he has a goal for next year.

Don Peddy runs in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Don Peddy has done a mix of indoor and outdoor tris since signing up for the the triathlon class at the Ankeny Family YMCA last year, and he hopes to do an Olympic distance this year. His main reason for doing the Ice Breaker was so he could compete with his wife in her first triathlon. "Kay is a really good athlete and I knew she would kill it when she finally signed up." He encouraged her a lot. "Well that backfired a little when she beat my time overall and won her age group. Really I could not have been happier for her." He improved his swim and was pleased with his run: He was able to average under 8.5 minutes per mile. His strength is cycling and he "really wanted to make sure I did OK in the bike and beat Katherine Roccasecca." He did. Whether it's traditional encouragement or friendly competition, he likes the way members of the tri class really support each other.

Kay Peddy bikes in the Ice Breaker Triathlon 2015Kay Peddy was the one who talked Don into the tri swimming class, but her schedule didn't allow her to try a tri until now. "It was a better experience than I imagined. Nerves hit you the night before and morning of the event like, 'what did I sign up for' and 'what is it like... will I have a really bad day, bad times... expend too much energy too early in process,' etc. I exceeded the time goals I set in each area. I wasn't trying to win my age group or anything. I just wanted to focus on having a good experience." And she did. She enjoyed the event because she got to talk with people more than usual and hear tips and support.


Full results from the Ice Breaker Triathlon are online on the YMCA of Greater Des Moines website.

To learn more about the sport of indoor triathlon, read our Indoor Triathlons article.

To find more indoor triathlons in Iowa, check our recent article Local Indoor Triathlons 2015.

If you'd like to add your perspective on this race, please leave a comment!

Photo credits: Eric Roccasecca

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Katherine is our Content Champion. She has done triathlons in the past, and now focuses on mountain biking and long-distance gravel riding. She still has a soft spot in her heart for weird multi-sport events like indoor triathlon and aquabike. She also teaches indoor cycling.

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  • ky2714

    This looks like a great event. Indoor races seem to be growing in popularity each year. It is a great way to keep up your training through the winter months. Does anyone know when the next local indoor tri is?