Kelly the Culinarian: 2015 Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon Race Recap

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon Race Recap

Six-word recap: Soggy elite wave yields successful finish.

Last year, this was my first elite race ever. I don't know what I was thinking, other than I wanted to try and play in the big leagues. When I picked up my generously stuffed Esprit de She Naperville packet Sunday morning, I said my wave's swimcaps are neon blue. My swim cap was bright red, because my packet indicated I was an ElitePro. I had planned to race with my age group, but when life hands you an opportunity, you go with it.

Only Wal-Mart helmet in ElitePro
This is my third year as an Esprit de She ambassador, and my second year doing this tri. I knew what to expect, but I still did two swim practices with Tri Right Coaching at Centennial Beach and spent a lot of time packing up my Speedo Triclops bag and mentally walking through my transitions.

What I didn't plan on was a) racing elite and b) racing in a ridiculous downpour. They delayed the close of transition by 15 minutes, so I set up my already soaked stuff and went back to my truck for a while. I made it down to the beach and slipped into the back of wave one. I didn't wear a wetsuit based on my swim practice last week, but I was one of the few elites who didn't.

They brought the elites into the shallow end right before the national anthem, and right as it started, the skies opened up yet again. The other athletes and I could only laugh at our luck. It was actually really exciting to start first. The water just stretches out in front of you and crowds lined the beach. There's something that I feel when I race that is unparalleled. It's a spark and tension and a determination that I hope I never lose. It's the spirit of racing.

When the siren went off, I struggled for a few strokes to find a cadence and break from the pack. By the first turn buoy, I'd settled into a pattern in someone's slipstream and just chugged along. The rain came down but who cares when you're already wet. In contrast to last year, I was not the last elite to get out of the water.  I jogged into transition, which is really weird when you're first. People are still setting up and lounging around. My bike was pretty easy to find, though, since while I wasn't the last, I was already five minutes behind the first.

I got all my gear and hobbled to bike out in bike shoes on pavement in the rain. Easily the most dangerous thing I did this week. Once on my bike, I promptly passed one of the elites and started to cruise. The only issue was that rain HURTS at 20 miles per hour. It felt like little daggers.

The bike was a two-loop course, so by the time I was heading back on my first loop, the relay and survivor waves were hitting the course. It was great because it gave me people to catch. I didn't get passed at all on the bike, which was a great boost. However, since it was still raining, I could feel the water pooling in my shoes every turn I made.

I pulled into transition and got into my running shoes as quickly as possible. Much like last year, I was basically alone on the run course. I could see someone in the distance and spent mile two catching up with her, then tried really hard to pass her in the last mile. It didn't quite work, but it kept me pushing.

I finished with two other women, but the other elites were long gone. I was happy with my time, which was only 30 seconds slower than last year. With the rain, I'm going to take that as a win. I was spent and wheezing, so I know I pushed as hard as I could.
The spread for Founding Finishers

Finishing as an elite is not nearly as cool as starting as one, though. In the last 3/4 of a mile, there were kids playing on the course and people just not paying attention, to the point that a bike lead us in. There was next to no one cheering at the finish line, and the post-race party area was quiet. BUT that also means I got a first shot at everything there, including the Founding Finisher's VIP area:

Dunkin Donuts was there making samples of their summer-flavored ice coffees, and Kumato was giving away packages of tomatoes (weirdest post-race gift?). Gildan provided a cotton T-shirt, water bottle and socks for each finisher, and Specialized was raffling off a bike. They also had a flower pot station, bananas, bagels and sports drinks, as well as a spa area where I made a beeline for a rub down.

Post-race swag
Moxie Jerseys and packet items
I've done this race twice and intend to keep doing it. It's an approachable even for beginners, but can be as challenging as you make it. The swag is amazing - in addition to getting another of my favorite Moxie jerseys, if you signed up by Dec. 31, 2014, you got bonus shirt from Moxie. They're both really cute and functional, as well as being high-value items.  This is also a family-friendly race because it's easy to spectate all three sports without moving much, and there's a playplace right by the finish line, too.

Time: 1:21:14 for a sprint (.5-mile swim, 13.3-mile bike, 5K run) - I was 9/13 Elites and 36th overall (top 3%)

Cost: $80-$100, depending on when you registered, but mine was free as an ambassador

Pros: You don't need a wetsuit, it's very beginner friendly, the swag is unparalleled, awesome post-race party, family-friendly race

Cons: Parking can be hard to find, it's a wave start so you could be there a while, the weather is unpredictable, it's expensive for a sprint (but you get it back in gear for sure), you can't park on-site

Would I do this race again? Every damn year if I can


Anonymous said...

Great job Kelly!

Unknown said...

Congrats on a great race! That weather was hysterical but I was glad it kept me distracted so that I didn't have a single freak out while waiting for our wave to start :-)

Your swim and bike times are my goal times, for sure! How did you manage that bike speed in such wet conditions??

KellytheCulinarian said...

I might have been biking irresponsibly for the weather conditions. I've put in a lot of miles on the trainer lately and I think it's finally starting to show!

Missy Boser said...

Thank you for the recap! As an Esprit de She ambassador, I so badly want to do a EDS tri but we don't have any here in MN. Your post just made me decide that next year I will be driving down to do this one!

Congrats on what sounds like a great race!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your finish. It was a hard way to start the day in all that rain. Way to go.

Elle said...

Way to go! That IS some awesome swag.