I have never been more excited to get out of bed at 4:15 in the morning than I was yesterday. My second and last triathlon would be starting at 7 a.m. and after waiting almost two months after my first, I couldn’t wait to “tri” again.
I double checked that I had packed everything I needed for the transitions and then ate some pre-race fuel.
Brown rice bread with almond and cashew butter, strawberries, and chia seeds.
I also had 1 scoop of brown & pea protein powder with water.
Ian and I packed up the car with my transition bag, a bag of clean clothes for after the race, and my bike. Within an hour we had parked and were walking toward the race start. I had just enough time to set up my transition area, rack my bike, go to the bathroom, and then hang out with Ian for a few final minutes. Before I knew it I was heading toward the swim.
The swim portion was described as starting at Centennial Beach so I assumed I would be swimming in a lake. Wrong. The swim was in a man made pool/lake and we would be swimming in chlorinated water in specified swim lanes in groups of 4 by time. In the pool it takes me about 5-5.5 minutes to swim 400 meters so I lined up right around the 6 minute sign to be conservative.
When my group of four was called to go, I ran into the water and then when the water was deep enough I started to swim. I realized pretty quickly that the swim was not going to be ideal. The sun was in my eyes and the water was murky so I couldn’t see above the water or below it. I had no idea where I was going and spotting (swimming breast stroke) wasn’t working. I ended up looking for swim caps when I breathed and trying to follow them. I also swam a lot of breast stroke just to get my bearings right, it was kind of scary and uncomfortable swimming without knowing where you were going.
I finished the first out-and-back of the course and then the pool became really shallow. I looked ahead and saw that people were actually running around the half-way buoy so I did the same. Did I mention this was a weird course? One more out-and-back and I was done. I swam until I could feel the ground with one of my hands and then ran out of the water while ripping my swim cap and goggles off.
400 m swim- 8:27 190/1631 total competitors*
*This is a horrendous time BUT the winner swam it in 6:08 and the fastest swim time was 5:37, obviously the course was challenging, 400 m should be much more of a sprint.
The transition areas were incredibly long. I ran up the beach and onto a paved road where I ran another 200 yards until I reached the transition road. The tri was also huge and there were 3,000+ people participating in one way or another (relays, etc.) so there were a lot of bikes. I ran across a parking lot to my bike, put my shirt and race number on, threw on my helmet and sunglasses (they’d been moved?), my Garmin, and finally my socks and shoes. I grabbed my bike and headed out of the transition area.
T1- 2:43 min <– considering how long it took me to get to my stuff, I’m happy with this!
I mounted my bike at the orange line and pedaled away. My feet slid right into the shoe guards (as opposed to last time) and I felt much more comfortable on my bike. The course was a 22k two loop course in Naperville and a lot of roads were shut down so that we had entire lanes to bike in. This was a huge plus considering how many bikers there were. I can’t imagine everything trying to ride single file, it would have been a mess!
Unfortunately, something weird was going on with my bike and it was squeaking. I figured out later that the back brake had shifted and my tire was rubbing against the brake pad but during the race I could not figure out what was going on. I thought about stopping but didn’t want to have to pull over to the side. I felt some resistance on my tire but I’m not sure how much it held me back physically, it definitely affected me mentally though. At one point I was nervous I was going to lose a tire or something was wrong with my gears. I ended up biking on the conservative side as a result.
The ride was pretty and I hardly noticed that we rode through the same area twice. It was a bit windy though and I did a lot of riding into the wind. I also appreciated how the course was well-marked and that there were spectators everywhere. After I had completed my second lap, I was directed into the transition area. I rode for another .5 miles, saw Ian and screamed to say hi, and then reached the bike dismount area. I hopped off my bike and started running (or trying to run) toward my transition area.
22k bike- 45:47, 17.9 mph, 859/1631 <– I need to work on bike, are there any suggestions?
My second transition was a little quicker but only because I had less stuff to put on/take off. I still had quite a long run from one end of the transition area to the other. I racked my bike, took off my helmet and sunglasses, and then headed out running.
The 5k started out on a shaded jogging path which I loved. No more highway runs for me! We ran along the path for the first half of a mile and then headed out onto another shaded street. My goal for the 5k was to run a consistent pace. My last few races I’ve gone out too fast and then died at the end, things were looking bad for marathon training! I had no time goal in mind but just wanted to finish strong, my first mile was somewhere shy of 7:00 minutes.
We took a turn and saw the second hill of the run course, it didn’t look too bad except it was in the sun. I told myself not to push my pace up the hills and that I could make up any “hill time” later on and just ran by feel until I reached the top. This hill killed a lot of people and I saw many triathletes start to walk. I did my best to encourage them to keep running. For whatever reason my legs felt good and I just kept running along.
Around mile 3 we turned back toward the jogging path (shade!) and it became clear we were going to run on the path until we reached the finish line. I loved this part of the race! The path was lined with spectators who were cheering the runners on and it actually felt cool after being in the sun. I recognized that my legs felt okay and I wasn’t going to fade and allowed myself to pick up the pace a bit. I saw Ian and gave him a high five before making the final turn and finishing the race!
5k run- 21:04, 6:48 min/mile, 105/1631 overall
With the race over, I downed two bottles of water, a banana, and some grapes (I was so happy they had fresh fruit!). I found Ian and we relaxed until the preliminary results were posted.
I finished in 1:19:28, 8/61 in my age/sex group, 302/1631 overall
I’m pretty happy with my time considering the bike fiasco and the swim course but I’m eager to see what I can do next summer. I’m hoping to join a swim club and push myself harder on the bike. I’d also see some long distance tri’s in my future but we’ll discuss that another time :P.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Naperville tri. I think it would be a great course for beginners too considering the swim is in a pool and you don’t have to worry about open water swimming.
Fortunately, the Naperville tri volunteers were letting people into the transition area to get their bikes while the race was still going on (otherwise we could have sat there until 11). I packed up my stuff, grabbed my bike, and Ian and I headed out to enjoy Naperville. We were planning on meeting some friends for lunch so we killed time by wandering around the historic downtown and sitting in Starbucks.
I also snacked on this spiced paleo pumpkin muffin that I had baked the night before.
After hanging around for a few hours, plans fell through (it wasn’t anyone’s fault in particular), and Ian and I decided to drive to the nearest sushi place and grab some lunch. We were hungry!
We ended up enjoying quite the feast at Wild Tuna. There was salad, three rolls, and nigiri. What can I say? We were hungry!
How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?