Esprit de She: Race Review!

After the bizarre experience that was SUPERFROG, I was hesitant to end my triathlon racing season on such a weird note. I love this sport, and I really wanted to find my happy again. So with that in mind, and with my always down-to-race friend Jenna by my side, I made a last minute decision and signed up for the San Diego Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon.

Esprit de She is an all-female racing series which takes place around the country and offers a Duathlon, Super Sprint Tri, Sprint Tri, and 5k run. It’s marketed as a bastion of female empowerment and is very encouraging to beginners, offering several opportunities for first timers to ease discomfort through webinars, clinics, and a buddy wave. It also has a special bend towards cancer survivors, with proceeds going to Ovarian Cancer research and special recognition for survivors.

I have to admit- I was a little bit snobby about the idea of an all female race. Not that I enjoy racing against men, but if it was just women, was it REALLY a triathlon? Standing in transition at 6am, I remarked to Jenna that I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a whole lot of woo woo love or if the claws were going to come out and it was going to get nasty. Personally, I was out for redemption, and I was ready to unleash if necessary. I may have remarked that I was “ready to cut a B”, which had Jenna in stitches but I think may have scared the crap out of a nearby first timer, who looked at me with alarm. Sorry for the language, lady, I was just really amped up!

I need not have worried- this race was FAST and COMPETITIVE but also really inspiring! I swam, biked, and ran my heart out, and I was thrilled to have a PR and a lot of fun along the way. It was a really unique racing experience that I would highly recommend to others, especially first timers.

Here are some awesome things I really enjoyed about Esprit de She:

It was the most well sponsored race I’ve ever been to. The swag was fantastic- better than Ironman! We got lots of snacks from Curate, Justin’s, Rhythm, and Honey Stinger, a free t-shirt from Gildan, shaving cream, vitamins, some decent coupons… Really good stuff! And the best part was the race shirt- it was actually a really high quality cycling jersey tank top in beautiful pink and orange tones with open pockets and zippered compartments. Seriously- I was so excited when I pulled this thing out of the bag. FINALLY, a useful, beautiful race shirt!

It didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’ve seen some sprint races that charge $180 for entry. This was under $100, even three weeks before the race. Even the photos were inexpensive- just $10 to download all of your pics! With all the swag and the great course, the return on value for this one was second to none!

When you registered for the race, they had a “tell us your story” section. As we set up transition and waited for the swim start, the announcer read out people’s stories for inspiration- including mine! I wrote about how I took up triathlon as a way to stay busy while my husband was deployed, and how I fell in love with the sport. It was semi embarrassing but also really cool to have the announcer read my story and wish me luck.

When the lifeguards didn’t show up, the race director made a last minute decision and adjusted the course for swimmers. The Sprint distance was reduced to the Super Sprint distance, and all the ladies cheered when they heard the news. I too was happy- I was ready to go the full .74 for the Sprint, but going to the .49 was certainly OK in my book! The swim buddies took over lifeguard duties, and the swim was calm and easy to site. I appreciated that they put safety first.

There were a few snafus with the volunteers just not being sure about what to do, but the race was otherwise ridiculously well supported. From swim buddies to race guards, everything felt very safe.

The energy was awesome. A DJ played lots of “I am woman hear me roar” type songs during transition and leading up to the swim start, so there was lots of dancing and singing happening along the way. There were 209 first time triathletes, and it made my day to catch someone arrive looking lost and help them through setting up their transition. The race was designed to help people feel comfortable and ready, and there was a kind of comradery amongst all the athletes you don’t get at bigger races.

Instead of a beer garden, they had mimosas. Instead of crappy stale mini bagels, they had breakfast burritos. Instead of an older rent-a-cop checking IDs for the bubbly bar, they had a security guard who looked like Channing Tatum. I don’t think that last one was intentional by the race organizers, but it goes down as a plus in my book.

Even with all the beginners, this race was COMPETITIVE! There were some super fast ladies on the course- the winner of my age group finished in 1:10, the overall winner finished in 1:04. So for someone like me who likes to compete a little, this was perfect. I had the third fastest T1 and second fastest T2 for my AG, and I finished with a personal best of 1:24:46, 12th out of 47. I was thrilled to be so speedy (remember how my first race took me like 1:46 to finish??), and I know exactly where I want to get stronger to shave a little more time off. This race lit a fire under my feet again, which is exactly why I entered it.

Oh, and Jenna? She won her age group with a time of 1:12:16. She’s pretty awesome.

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Jenna the Champ and me

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