Note: If you're registering for the 2015 tri on June 14, use code EDS023
Six-word recap: Last place in first elite race.
The disclosure: Esprit de She provided me with my entry for free as an ambassador. My opinions can't be bought, so this is all me. I did the Esprit de She 5K last year and was itching to do the tri, so I'm glad I could check this off of my bucket list before I move.
The full story: I got up at an ungodly hour to pack up, suit up and sunscreen the hell out of myself. The drive and parking in Naperville was uneventful, and I picked up my packet without incident. Then, the intimidation began. You see, the Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon is my first and only race starting in the elite wave. I racked Suzie Slice next to some bikes that are worth many times my car, and don't even get me started on the helmets, glasses and accessories (I still rock a Wal-Mart helmet and $6 Amazon sports glasses).
I had a quick practice swim, which confirmed my decision to go this without a wetsuit. The water was 76 and balmy, and I felt great.
I only started to get weirded out waiting to start. Of the 12 or so elites, I was the only one without a wetsuit. I own a wetsuit, but thought I'd do better without it. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't, who knows. All I can confirm is that when the gun went off, the elites pulled away from me like I had cooties and never looked back. I couldn't catch up and I was the last elite out of the water, a trend that would repeat itself through the day.
I trotted to the very first rack from the bike out exit and hopped on, realizing I was the last bike out. I wanted to catch up but didn't have the capacity to do so. The bike was a two-loop course and the second loop was so much better because ladies from subsequent waves started to filter in, giving me someone to chase and interact with.
I had a hard time with the bike. I never really got comfortable and found a gear that worked. It was either too easy or too hard. When I finally made it back to my second transition, I was again the last person out. Last elite is still not horrific, except when I hit the run, I was the only soul out there. I'm not exaggerating even a little to say that I did not encounter another athlete on the 3.1-mile course. I only saw a single spectator, too, that I asked if I was going in the right direction. It was desolate.
In the last mile, I started to weave into downtown Naperville. It was marked as a race course, but there were casual morning runners on the path, as well as spectators. I found myself yelling "on your left" and elbowing through people more than once, wasting energy and turning on my kick sooner than needed. When I finally hit the finish line, I was alone and totally spent.
A great benefit of being the slowest elite, however, is that the post-race party was a party for one. I perused, I snacked and I shopped. This race really ranks up there in terms of swaggerific-ness. In addition to the sweetest tri top ever (thank you, Moxie!), we got a baller medal and a bag full of products and sample. There were also snacks galore in the post-race party and all sorts of activities and giveaways. I stayed for a looooong time because there was so much to see and do.
In total, this race was awesome. It was a great course, great swag and a great post-race party. But I learned a lot this race. Don't push for the big leagues unless you're sure you can play in their sandbox.
Time: 1:20:24 (.5-mile swim, 13-mile bike and 5K run)
Pros: Nice course, open water swim with a pool benefit, swaggerific packet and post-race shin dig, pretty stellar medal, wave start to eliminate crowding, very friendly to the first-time triathlete
Cons: It can be a lonely course, spectators wander onto the run course, the transition was gigantic
Would I do this race again? Yes, please. It's a great event for first timers and pros alike (or wanna be pros like me)