Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Naperville Sprint Triathlon 2013 - My First Sprint Tri: Race Recap

I did it!  I completed my first Sprint Distance Triathlon this past weekend and absolutely LOVED it!  

A few years ago I did a mini triathlon at the local YMCA when I was living in Florida and since then I've wanted to have a go at the Sprint Distance.  I finally got around to joining a pool so I could swim and buying a bike so the Naperville Sprint Triathlon was the perfect opportunity for me to tri! 
I rented a car and drove over to Naperville Saturday to pick up my race packet and explored the cute downtown Naperville area.  I had dinner at a local BBQ place before checking in at my hotel for the night.  I decided to spend the night since the race started early the next day.  

That night I laid out all of my gear.  You have to have so many things for a triathlon!  Thankfully Fleet Feet has a great little checklist made up which I used to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything.  

I went to bed later than I should have, but got in a few hours of sleep before my alarm at 4:45am.  Pre race fuel was an EBOOST and half a bagel with peanut butter and blueberry cream cheese on my way to the race site.  
Prerace early morning photo.
Once I arrived, I grabbed my bags, and wheeled my bike over to the transition area to set things up.  Before walking in my left arm was marked with my bib number and left calf with my age.  It was a big parking lot full of racks, bikes, and triathletes  I found my spot pretty easily and racked my bike and set up my little transition area.  The bikes were so close together so space was limited to set things up. 

I still had another hour before the start so walked around to check out the race area.  I went over to the beach/pool first.  The race took place at Centennial Beach which is a man made beach/pool area.  I walked over to look at the finish line area as well and used the porta -potty before going back to my bike to wait. 

Transition closed at 6:45am and everyone made their way down to the beach area to line up for the swim.  The swim start was a little different.  They had groups of six go off in waves every 10 seconds.  This was both good and bad.  It helped with crowding in the water, but the wait to get in to the water was so long.  It was a self seeded start by your expected finish time.  I lined up in the 8-10 minute group, but as everyone moved forward I got stuck way in the back.  I didn't get in the water until 7:51am.  
The big wait to get in the water. source
Because it was pool area I though the water would be clear, but it wasn't.  This was fine, but just not what I was expecting I just had to sight more.  I ended up breathing every 2-4 strokes or so.  The course had us swim in an "M" shape.  The middle down point of the M was back in a shallow area and most people were walking around the turn instead of swimming.  I decided to just keep swimming though since it was a swim and I was faster swimming than walking in the water.  
I actually passed a good number of people which was a nice moral boost!  Before I knew it I was back to edge and running out of the water over to transition.  My swim time was 10:39 for the 400 m.  
This might be one of the worst race photos ever.  I'm not sure why I look so scared... 
I made my way to my bike, dropped my swim cap and goggles and began to dry off.  My mom has done a few triathlons and told me to try dry off all the water I could on my legs an feet so I wouldn't end up with wet socks.  I sat down on my towel and dried my feet before putting on my socks and shoes.  I threw on my tech shirt, clipped my fitness belt on, put on my helmet, and shoved a Clif bar in my shorts pocket before running over to the bike start.  Transition one was 5:56.   

The bike course was two loops.  Biking is my weakest sport and the one I have trained in the least.  It was a closed course so we had two lane roads all to ourselves through a lovely Naperville neighborhood.  I got some pretty good speed (at least for me) on the bike on the straightaways.  There were several turns that we had to slow down through, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with how I did.  I fueled with a Coconut Chocolate Clif bar and water throughout the ride.  I ate about 3/4 of the bar and most of my 20 oz water bottle.  My left thigh and calf always seem to cramp on the bike and about halfway through the first lap I felt it which was annoying.  
I was passed a lot on the bike, even by some guy with a flat tire, but I did pass a few people.  After the second lap I exited off to the right and dismounted to rack my bike again.  The bike course was supposed to be 20km or about 12.4 miles, but my Garmin read it as 11.4 so a mile short.  I finished in 49:23.

My legs were a bit wobbly after getting off the bike so I shook them out a bit with a light jog back to my rack.  I quickly sprayed some sunscreen on and ran off to start the run.  Transition two took me 2:36.  The run was mostly shaded and took us through the surrounding neighborhood.  There were even some families out in the their driveways cheering us on.  The course was an out and back so for about half of it you could see runners making their way to the finish.  I was surprised at how good my legs felt.  I was keeping about an 11 minute per mile pace for the 5K which is fast for me, but it felt like a natural pace for me.  I walked briefly through the aid station so I could drink some Gatorade, but other than that I was running.  The final half mile was through a nice shaded trail that took us back to the finish area.  
Excited to almost be at the finish!
I got a pretty bad side cramp in the last quarter mile, but didn't want to stop so close to the finish so I dug down and sprinted that last bit.  I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face and when the announcer said my name I said "that's me!"  I finished the 5K in 34:40 which is 30 seconds off from my 5K PR!  So amazing!

I was given an ice cold bottle of water and a medal as I exited the finish line chute.  

There was a post race food tent full of goodies including chocolate chip cookies, mini candy bars, Oreos, grapes, apples, and granola bars.  

Quite a spread!  I usually don't eat Oreos, but I just finished a triathlon so I thought why the heck not and had two.  I also snagged a handful of grapes and granola bar for the road.  I didn't stick around the finish area too long because I had to get cleaned up and back to Chicago for work that evening (which was not a good idea, I was exhausted later in the day).

My official finish time was 1:43:12 which is an automatic PR for me since it was my first sprint.  I had so much fun doing this triathlon!  I loved the challenge and variety of doing three sports back to back.  I truly had a great time.  I thought the Naperville Triathlon was great.  It was well organized, good for a first timers, nice course, good tech shirt, a medal, and they had some awesome volunteers!  
During the run I decided I will definitely do more triathlons.  There is certainly room for improvement (the bike and transition portions in particular), but this was just for fun and to say I've done a triathlon and I did! 

Triathlon season is pretty short up here in Chicago, but I am almost positive I will be doing the Fleet Feet Super Sprint Triathlon coming up in a few weeks.  It is a shorter distance, but I'm sure will be just as fun.  Plus it's an open water swim so there's a new challenge in that!

Do you have a favorite of the three sports in a triathlon?  What food do you like to see in the post race spread?