Oh boy, how long is this webpage? First, I was a runner (Stanford University steeplechaser). Then I broke my foot, running career over. Second, I was a cyclist (for like 5 months). Then I broke my neck, cycling career over. Then I was physically out of commission, so I started a company, got married, and got an MBA (about 8 years total). Then, in a moment of clarity, I paused for a sec and asked myself what the hell I wanted to do with my life. For the time being, it turned out I wanted to compete. So I ditched the corporate business gig and started training. Six months later I finished 7th in amongst the pros with the fastest overall run at Escape from Alcatraz,. Ten months later, I won Wildflower. Now I'm filling out a questionnaire because I'm on Specialized's USA Triathlon Team. Holy crap I'm living the dream dude!
Biggest-littlest achievement- What did you win when you were younger that really got you hooked on racing?
In grade school I did this after school jogging program because they let us play with the toys afterwards - pogo sticks, styrofoam swords, it was AMAZING. The teacher signed me up for a track meet, so I showed up in my basketball shorts and high tops and ran the 800m. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just ran straight to the front and ran easy until this guy tried to pass me. Then I sped up so he couldn't, then I ran easy again. I did this over and over and most likely annoyed the crap out of this kid. When I crossed the finish line first, some people in the crowd freaked out and told my mom that I just beat the District 800m Champion of the grade above me. That was the beginning of my running career.
Definitely Wildflower! Last year was such an incredible experience, truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. But it wasn't just the surprise win, it's the whole atmosphere there. The brutally tough bike, the ridiculous hills and trails on the run, and of course the camping and partying with all the participants. I really believe it's what triathlon should be all about.
Sonora Pass (Yosemite) with my buddy T-Bone. T-Bone's one of my best friends, and the first person that really got me into cycling. I still fear riding with him more than anyone. When we did Sonora Pass (~6000 ft of climbing on EACH SIDE, from 4000 to 10000+ feet of elevation), it was not only the hardest ride of my life, but also the most beautiful.
Favorite food to eat after a ride? Favorite food to eat at 2am on a Saturday night?
Honestly, immediately after a ride I down some First Endurance Ultragen - Cappuccino Flavor, that stuff is so tasty and seriously helps me recover! It's like a party in my mouth AND my muscles.
I snack almost exclusively on Picky Bars - gluten & dairy free and dang tasty energy bars created by my wife Lauren Fleshman. I not only love the bars, I'm the CEO of the company, which requires me to be our lead tester and my stomach is basically the disposal area for bars that don't make it through Quality Control.
Huffy! Booyah! Big ol' Huffy Mountain bike. Purple, black, and neon green. The 80's, baby.
As far as triathlon - be competitive on a world stage in the half distance. Continue to improve and most importantly enjoy the process.
As far as life - be a good husband, eventually a good dad. Create and grow a successful business. Generally, just be a good dude.
What are you riding and why?
I'm riding the Shiv because it's the most freaking awesome bike on the planet! Seriously, I do love that bike already. The fit is amazing - I got it 3 days before my first race and rode it comfortably for 2+ hours all out! I love the bladder integration - I easily dumped 3 water bottles in there during the race. Lastly, and most importantly, it just feels FAST - it's stiff and sails through the wind. I'm psyched to be riding it.
Wildflower Preview 2013
May 2, 2013
Heyo Crazy Ass like it’s 100 degrees at Lake San Antonio Fans! Race week is here! I’ve already posted about why I’m stoked to go back to Wildflower, and why this race means so much to me, so I’ll keep this brief with the logistics, a race preview, and some other fun stuff you may have missed. Hope things are going well and regardless of what you’re up to, you have a crazy ass weekend!
Race results online – at the TriCalifornia website, not sure when they’ll be updated, but worth checking out.
Triathlete Magazine Autograph Session
Friday – 3:30pm at the Triathlete Magazine/Competitor Group tent in the main expo area. Come by and say hi, I’ll also have some Picky Bars, Specialized, and Roka swag. Saweet!
Free Race Entry Winners
As part of my last blog about how much I love Wildflower, I offered 2 free entries to this years race to my followers. I got a TON of awesome responses from MANY worthy winners. It was tough to choose, but ultimately, I picked the following:
Michelle Simmons (@mamasimmons) –Who last did Wildflower 13 years ago after 6 months of Chemo! Crazy story. Anyway, TriCal was kind enough to defer her entry to next year since last minute flights from Hawaii to SF were super expensive. So look forward to hearing more of Michelle’s story down the road.
Brent Detta (@dfru) & Jonathan Ralston – These guys had me cracking up at their plan to ManVan down from Bellingham, WA. See the comments section for some of the BS they threw my way. It reminded me way too much of Matt and I two years ago not to hook them up. TriCal generously added another entry for this year so include these guys. I’m excited to hear about their adventures, that’s what this race is all about!
They promised me no trees were harmed in the taking of this picture.
Couple Other Things You May Have Missed because it’s been a busy ass few weeks.
Picky Bars New Flavor – Runner’s High! See widget to the right. We launched an crowd-funding project that was a TON of work, and it has blown the doors off our expectations! We’ve now added a “stretch goal” that will enable us to develop flavor #6 months ahead of time. Huge thanks to all of you who contributed. You’re going to love this flavor, it’s hands down my favorite!
Triathlete Mag Article – How to Nail Your Race Pic – a little tongue in cheek article about prepping for the perfect shot! Among the MANY incredibly valuable tips is going for the Ryan Gosling look, “This involves a sturdy look into the distance, purposeful. Pain is only slightly detectable deep in the eyes. It’s like you’re working hard, but it doesn’t matter because you’re beautiful.”
Despite big races elsewhere, the men’s field is the most competitive I’ve ever raced here. Joe Gambles, Paul Ambrose, Clayton Fettell, Leon Griffin & Jeff Symonds are just a few of the names I recognize as dudes I know are super strong. It’s going to be ridiculously hot too, so I’m prepping myself for a serious barn burner.
But like I mentioned in the Competitor Radio interview, I’m approaching this race with a much different mindset than before. Last year, I was a nervous wreck. I was defending my first ever win, on the cover of Triathlete Magazine, and still an unproven racer. I needed to win to prove to myself that I wasn’t a one hit wonder, and no pressure is greater than the pressure you can put on yourself.
This year, I’m much more relaxed. Not because the race will be easy, like I said, it’s going to be a slugfest. But the race doesn’t mean as much to my ego as it did last year, I feel legitimized as a professional triathlete, and I know good races come and go. I’ve had some breakthrough training the last few weeks, so I’m excited to see what you my body can do on the right day, but you never know if the right day turns up on race day. Regardless, I’m looking forward to putting myself in the pain cave and rewarding that pain with some cool beer and campfire post race.
Good luck to everyone racing this weekend, have a fun one!
Why I’m Racing Wildflower
April 18, 2013
It’s funny to think it was only 2 years ago. Most of you are probably sick of the story (if so, skip the next paragraph), if not, here’s a quick recap:
A bright eyed, bushy haired first year pro out of Eugene drives the ManVan with his buddy Matt last minute down to the historic Wildflower Triathlon. The kid doesn’t have a clue. He uses a borrowed bike (his broke 4 days prior), a borrowed helmet (also Matt’s), a hand me down race kit & of course, $8 drug store aviators. But, he lines up, has the race of his life, and while the announcers literally don’t know his name, crosses the finish line to win.
If it isn’t obvious by the video, I was pretty dang excited. I honestly felt like my short “career” could have ended and I’d have been happy. A year later, I defended the title, and proved to myself that I wasn’t just a one hit wonder. It was one of the most important performances of my career.
Obviously, I love Wildflower. You’d think it would be an easy decision to always come back. It was my first major Olympic distance race, it’s the sight of two of the best athletic moments of my life. I’m the defending champ. There’s beer and buddies and campfires after the race.
But this winter, the notoriously hard and hilly Ironman St. George was announced as the new U.S. 70.3 / Half Ironman Championship. At first, I was psyched! But then I found out it was the same day as Wildflower. All of a sudden, I had a decision to make. And the decision was anything but easy.
You see, a lot has changed since that goofy dude with no name crossed the finish line. I’m now legitimately doing this sport as my job, and I’m the primary income earner for my soon to be growing family.
My goals have changed. While I still focus on the process of developing, I do want to win. And I want to win big. Eventually, I want to win a world championship. And the main difference between then and now, is that I believe I eventually can.
So on the surface, St. George actually made more sense. It offers bigger prize money, the chance at a 70.3 US Championship title, World Championships qualifying points, and bigger bonuses from some of my sponsors. More importantly, because of these characteristics it will also have a World Championships caliber field on a course that’s suited to my strengths. Plus, I’ve already won Wildflower. What is the bigger picture career benefit of going back? On the surface, St. George seemed like the right career move. But something inside me just didn’t agree with that decision.
I look back at that video and see that kid. He wasn’t in it for the money, to win a world title, or the sponsor bonus checks. He was in it for the love of competing, pushing himself to the limit, and for most importantly, the fun of a shared experience with his buddies, his competitors, and the people at the event around him. To me, that kid represents a purer form of athletic pursuit.
As my career progresses, and the sport for me becomes more “professional” and my goals get bigger and bigger, I think it’s important for me to remember why I started competing in the first place. I need to remember that kid who crossed the finish line at Wildflower and hugged every person in sight. He was just stoked to be there with his buddies and recount drama filled race stories over beers at a camp fire afterwards, regardless of how with race went down.
And as the sport of triathlon progresses and grows, I think it’s important for all of us, pro, age groupers, sponsors, race organizers and the media, to remember that feeling. Remember where the essence of the sport comes from. Sure, it’s always been about competing your ass off, but it’s also about having as much fun as possible. It’s about sharing a remarkable experience and embracing your competitors after a job well done. Yes, you can compete with passion, but there’s no need to take yourself too seriously. Remember to enjoy it.
Post race Bro Hugs are MANDATORY at Wildflower. (Thanks to Jay Prasuhn for the awesome photo).
I am not saying that St. George doesn’t have these characteristics. The staff I’ve spoken to there are fantastic, kind, supportive people. What I’ve heard about the race and supporting community is nothing but great stuff, and the competitors I know going there are good dudes who race hard and have fun. I’m sure it will be a great event.
But to me, Wildflower is an absolutely unique event that puts “triathlon at it’s essence” on display like no other event can. There’s so much history, and the thousands of people that pile into that campground to race, cheer and beer, share a unique experience and camaraderie that simply has never been close to equaled at any event I’ve been to over the last 3 years. It’s the nature of the Woodstock-ness of it, everyone in a shared singular environment, that makes the energy unmatchable. The epic course, the thousands of cheering campers, the multitudes of incredible food truck choices, and of course, the naked beer bong aid station. You just can’t beat it.
One of the non naked (or at least pre-nakedness) aid stations.
So anyway, that’s why I’m headed back to Wildflower. While I’ll continue to progress my career and evolve my goals, I think it’s important to check back in with that crazy ass kid on YouTube every once in a while. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be back every year, or even next year, who knows how things will change by then. But for now, I can’t tell you how stoked I am to go down there again. I expect a solid race and a good field up front, but I’m just as excited to hang out with everyone and have a good time, regardless of how the race stacks up. Hope to see as many of you there as possible.
Finally – Wildflower has generously given me 2 free entries to any race (Half, Olympic, MTB, etc) to give away however I choose. So let’s do this, if you’re interested, tell me Why you want a race entry. You can Tweet me @jessemthomas, write something on my Facebook Jesse Thomas Triathlete Crazy Ass Fan Page, or in the comments below. Keep it brief, please! Excited to hear what you guys have to say. Until then, happy training!
Looking forward to another year!
Accenture 70.3 Oceanside Race Report
April 1, 2013
My oh my oh my oh my oh my….
THAT was a big one, crazy ass fans. The biggest one of this journey so far. I honestly don’t know where to start. I’m stoked. I’m crushed. I’m sore. I’m hung-over. I’m really, really hungry. Let’s begin.
I’ve faced outside of a World Championships. I’d had some great training in Bend, but was really fried, and worried I wouldn’t recover in time. The race was a perfect opportunity for me to have a big performance in a big field, my primary goal for the season, but there was plenty that could go wrong.
I finally told myself that I needed to stop projecting, analyzing, and predicting the future based on the past or present. It’s simple and
cliché, but I needed to focus on the now, stay in the moment. I told myself before the race that regardless of what happened or was happening, I wouldn’t project an outcome, I’d focus on getting through that moment, and move on to the next one. All I have is now. Courage over confidence.
Swim: Smooth Chest Bumping
Luckily, I read my race report from last year (they do have a purpose!) and went out chill. Matt, Gerry and I worked on taking 5% off the first 200 meters, “quick, but not hasty.” So I kept as calm as possible, which wasn’t easy because this one dude to my right insisted on chest bumping my shoulder. He must have been really psyched to be swimming next to me.
Chest bumping is better, and easier in soccer.
The pace ratcheted up the entire first half of the swim. I struggled, but stayed with it. I could tell at one point I was with Tim O’Donnel (US 70.3 Champion) because he had a special color cap because he’s Tim O’Donnel & US 70.3 Champion. On the way back, my bluff was called and I got dropped a couple of times, but I managed to exit the water with a few 2nd pack contenders. I heard I was only 90 seconds off the lead, and 75 from the front pack, so I ran the long transition like a scared bunny rabbit. I didn’t wear a monitor, but I’d guess my heart rate was around 275.
This is what happens when you search bicycle bunny rabbit. This video has well over 1 million views, the internet is clearly AWESOME. I’ll just go ahead and make this the race theme song as well.
I left transition a minute down on the front pack. Matt and I planned that if I was under a minute behind, I’d crank early to try and catch. If I was more than a minute, I’d let my legs come to me, and make a move in the 2nd half. But god damn it, what do I do if it’s exactly a minute!?!?
I decided to go. I kept the scared bunny mentality and rode as hard a bunny could possible pedal a size medium Shiv. At some point cycling phenom Bjorn Andersson came by me and I stayed with him as we reeled in the group. At the out & back 10 miles in, we were just 20 seconds back, and by 35 minutes we’d caught the group. I yelled a SUPER LOUD booyah inside my head and tried to recover a bit.
Off to the races! (Thanks N2 Photo).
The group was huge, 15 guys or so, definitely the biggest group I’ve ever been in. For the next 30 minutes, the pace was fairly chill, and according to Matt & I’s plan, I readied myself to make a move in the hills.
Turns out that was everyone’s plan. At each hill, roller, you name it, the pace ripped. It was like repeat 1-5 minute intervals from 400-500 watts. It honestly felt like a group ride, not that we were drafting, but the pace changes were just insane. I took a couple of pulls early on, but it was obvious my legs couldn’t do much to break the group, so I just I stayed near the front to cover any moves.
You can tell from my pain face how successful I was a breaking away. (Thanks N2 Photo).
Eventually, my break away and smoke these foo’s plan faded into hang on for dear life scared bunny rabbit plan. I visualized group rides, racing with Jordan Rapp and Andrew Starkowicz, anything I could do to give myself confidence I could stay with it. To my amazement, the efforts kept coming, and it seemed no one got dropped.
Around mile 45, the collective group remembered that we still had to run, and things calmed down a bit. I started to mentally prepare myself for what I knew would be the hardest run of my career. Andy Potts, Tim O’Donnel, Frederick Van Lierde, Jordan Jones. All great runners coming off the bike together, and we had Andi Borcherer, who rode like a man possessed, 3:30 up the road.
I had semi slow transition, and remembering that I went too hard last year out of transition, tried to ease into the first two miles to catch back up to the group. A 5:25 and 5:15 isn’t what I’d call “easing” but it was necessary to catch Andy and Jordan, who were rolling up ahead. My damn Sartorius was cramping again, and I got a little freaked out a couple of times that I’d have to stop. The pace felt hard for the next mile or so, but relaxed around mile 4. My cramps started to ease, and my confidence started to rise.
As I’ve commented before, people love to give you splits, but good lord there is some variability in standards of accuracy. Depending on who I listened to, we were between 1:20 and 2 minutes back of Borcherer at mile 5. I tried to do tired math in my head – we’d cut roughly half the deficit in half the distance. If I didn’t go, we might not catch him. I felt strong, relatively recovered/relaxed, and it seemed like each up hill Andy & Jordan were hurting a bit. Yeah, it might be too early. I should probably be patient. But going up the steep incline into the crowd at mile 6, I felt Andy and Jordan slowing and heard someone yell “Go Aviator!” So I gunned it. Jesse Bieber Mode engaged!
Full Beiber Mode. (Thanks N2 Photo)
Looking back, even as I made the move, I think there was a sliver of doubt in my head. I knew I had a long way to go and I didn’t feel THAT good. But my focus was Borcherer and the win, and I thought if I caught him, it was mine. I felt fairly strong for the next 3 miles and reeled in Borcherer much faster than anticipated, passing him by mile 9. 4 miles to go and you’re the Oceanside Champion! But these 4 miles would easily be the longest of my life.
The Cost of Too Early
I NEVER looked back, but even as I passed Borcherer, I could hear Andy behind me from the cheers of spectators. My guess was anywhere from 10-15 seconds. I knew that if he caught me, the momentum would be almost impossible to overcome. I continued to push the pace, running 5:20 miles for 11 and 12, keeping distance, but not doing enough to break the “rubber band.”
In painful, remarkable similarity to last year, with about 2k to go, I
felt my tank start to sputter. I told myself not to project. Stay in the now.6 minutes of running, you can do this! I thought of specific workouts I’d done, the pain I’d gone through, how bad I wanted to win, anything and everything to keep my mind and body motivated.
1 mile to go, still in the lead, but he’s closer. Come on legs! 3/4, the 2nd place lead cyclist comes by me. Damn it, hold on! ½ mile to go and Andy comes by. I tell myself something I learned from a high school hero of mine, “every race comes down to 5 seconds of passing or being passed. If you can hold on that 5 seconds, you’ll win the race.” I did EVERYTHING I could to hold on to Andy. I sprinted like I had 50 meters to, but my body shut down, like it was disconnected from my brain and being. With every stride he pulled away. There was nothing I could do. It didn’t matter how badly I wanted it, or how much pain I was willing to endure. It was over. 30 meters from the finish, I watched Andy celebrate across the line, the 2013 Oceanside Champion, the 5th of his career. 10 seconds later, I stumbled across the line and may or may not have let out a breathless “F$%&!”
An image I won’t forget for a while. (Thanks Kevin Koresky/TriLounge for the photo).
Looking Back: Still Psyched
Here’s the thing though. It isn’t a sad story. Yes, it was a brutally bittersweet, emotionally (and physically) painful way lose a huge potential win. But, turns out I also got 2nd place. At Oceanside 70.3. In the deepest, most competitive field I’ve ever raced outside of a World Championships. I beat some really accomplished guys (European Half Ironman Champion, US Half Ironman Champion, Kona 3rd place finisher, and many others). And, I lost to one of the best half ironman athletes of all time by 10 seconds, forcing him to run a 1:10 half marathon to hold me off. When I forget about the close loss, I realize one obvious thing – this was, hands down, the performance of my career.
Lessons Learned: Experience Matters
You know what, the exact same thing happened to me last year when Richie passed me in the final half mile (to put me in 3rd) after I’d burned myself trying to catch Potts for the win. I said after that mistake, that if I had to do it over again, I’d do the same thing, because you go for the win. The reason I made that move this Saturday was going for the win. I wasn’t sure we’d catch Borcherer, and I thought if I made a move, and caught him, I’d break Andy and get the win. It was a big risk, but I had to go for it.
In hind sight, I was wrong. I didn’t have to make a move that big to catch Borcherer. I could have stayed with Andy, and we likely would have reeled him in together. Had I done that, and saved a move for the last mile or two, maybe the result would have been different. I’ll never know, but it’s a learning experience I’ll take with me down the road. Andy said after the race that he’d done the exact same thing to Rasmus Henning and Craig Alexander (both triathlon legends) on this course. He’s an experienced, savvy and competitive racer, and he showed the value of that experience on
Saturday. Hopefully another year or two under my belt will net the same thing.
Tons of people to thank for the awesome weekend. In no particular order:
Justin, Tom, John, Molly, Christine, Stephanie, Nancy, and the rest of the crew at Accenture & the Challenged Athletes Foundation – I was invited to do a quick Q&A with Bob Babbit at the CAF lunch on Friday. Like my last CAF event, it was a fantastic experience. I met some really inspiring and kind athletes. It’s just good people with positive energy. It was also great to chat biz & triathlon with the Accenture employees & VIPs. The whole experience enhanced my weekend, and made me feel like I had another community at the race cheering me on. I appreciate the support and involvement guys, and congrats on a great event.
Mallory, Dave, Nadine, and Matt at Specialized. Matt helped me fix my broken Di2 shifter after a very stupid biff off a curb 18 hours before the race. Mallory, Dave and Nadine were cheering fanatics the entire race. I think Dave lost his voice. Super fun. Thanks for all the support you guys.
Rob & Kurt & ROKAcrew. Dudes, the wetsuit is fast!!!! I came out less than a minute from legit front pack swimmers, the closest I’ve ever been in such a stacked field. Thanks for coming down and cheering as well.
Loren, Laurel, and Sasha for keeping the ship running (and improved)
while I’m a away. A huge month for us guys, thanks so much!
As always, huge thanks to coach Matt Dixon who once again proved he “know’s what he is doing.” I honestly didn’t think I’d be ready for this race, I was slammed, but somehow he resurrected me from the dead. Onward and upward!
Sony Medical, Carestream, and Allied Media for the support. Can’t wait for the neck story to come out, really appreciate the help you’ve given!
Swim guru Gerry Rodrigues for the support both in general and on race day. Another huge step forward from a year ago. Progress!
Stacy Sims for the nutrition consultation. Big first test on a half ironman, seems to be coming around!
CycleOps Power – Thanks for the support guys! Equipment was stellar, stoked!
Dr. Mitchell Greene for helping me stay in the now and giving me the mantra of courage over confidence, both of which I used in this race.
Dan, Faith, Lauren, Katya, and Sandrine! Thanks for letting me chill with you guys this weekend. Seriously good times and kept me loose with plenty of dude like potty humor. Loved it!
Finally AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the CRAZY ASS FANS (including my family, wife, and friend Emily who drove 3 hours to watch)! Seriously, huge help this weekend you guys. I’ll be honest, I cried a little bit looking through the twitter and facebook feed (don’t tell anyone). It was awesome to see how much you guys were cheering me on, and to see how stoked and heartbroken you were at the same time. I really appreciate all the support, seriously. It’s huge. We’ve got a long journey ahead, but it’s been an awesome ride so far!
Eurostar. About as crazy ass fan as it gets. Thanks guys!
2013 Escape from Alcatraz Preview
March 2, 2013
Hellooooo crazy ass swimming in the San Francisco bay when it’s 45 degrees out is no big deal fans!
If you want tips on the course, or have triathlon questions in general, this is a great opportunity to have them answered by 5-Time Escape winner Andy Potts. If you have questions about Microsoft Excel and the maximum load of almond butter and jelly a rice cake can withstand, I will also be answering questions. AND Lauren & I will be there with Picky Bar samples. Goodness me, that’s a good deal.
If you’re not excited to see me & Andy Potts, come to watch Lauren dance at the Picky Bars booth.
Escape website has Live Results, not sure what that means, but sounds promising.
If you’re in SF. Best place to watch is around transition & swim exit. Here’s a link to the course if you’re interested. If you see me go by and want to say something, I prefer funny, motivational, and/or informational (place, how far back) screamings. Booyah!
As mentioned, Andy Potts has won the last 5 in a row, and reigning Ironman World Champ Pete Jacobs will be there as well. But on paper the biggest threat comes from Javi Gomez Noya, who’s the 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, HyVee Winner & a former World Champion. There’s also Josh Amberger, Paul Matthews, Matty Reed and many others. But what all the paparazzi is buzzingabout is that this will be the first rematch since Graham O’Grady, Matt Lieto and I raced the 2011 Man Van Vineman World (& US) Championships. We’ll see who’s improved the most on each “category” over the last two years.
A lot of things have changed since the 2011 Man Van Championships. My haircut is not one of them.
2010 Jesse had no aviators, a beard, & running tights. Same ugly pain face, though.
How I Feel:
This event means a TON to me. It’s where I first proved to myself that I could compete at the pro level after “putting life on hold” post business school. That finish is one of my all time favorite athletic moments. I remember scream/crying with my mom & friends when I finished 7th and out-split Hunter Kemper on the run. It was like a dream. It’s crazy to look back and read my first ever race report on this website. Wow, we’ve come a long way in three years.
after the surprise Wildflower craziness. I remember feeling a huge amount of pressure (from myself) to legitimize my Wildflower win with a strong finish. Two years later, I don’t feel near that same pressure. Triathlon, for better and for worse (mostly a lot better) has become my job. Yes, it takes some of the crazy “oh my god, what is happening?” highs away, but it also levels out the expectations I put on myself. Of course, I want to start the season off strong, and winning this race is one of my career goals, but I know I’ve got lots more races this year and beyond, so the immediacy/intensity of that feeling has lessened.
It’s more of a workman’s approach. I’m going to go out, push myself as hard as I can, see what I get out of my body, and let the chips fall where they may. But I’m not going to over evaluate the outcome. I know I’m a MUCH stronger triathlete than I was two years ago, and even though it’s much earlier in the season, I hope/expect to be faster on this course. It will be fun to see how it all shakes out.
Tips for Racers:
I’ll leave you with a link to my 2011 Tips for Alcatraz for anyone that’s racing. Good luck to anyone that’s doing it. Stay warm and have fun!
I was going to prepare my own, co-announcement blog to hit the
tabloids on the same day, but since I’ve been nuts busy with Picky Bars
and drumming up sponsorship for next year, I decided I’d let Lauren take this one. She’s also a way bigger deal than me, and I didn’t want to look like an amateur next to the hilarity of her blog – “Kate Middleton also announced a pregnancy today, bitch tryin’ to steal my thunder.” Finally, I already duffed up a non-pregnancy announcement in our 2008 Holiday Card below.
See, I assumed that the instructions were clear that if you went the wrong way in the maze, you read FICTION. But all people saw was the little “Got Pregnant” at near the Finish, and everyone started freaking out, calling Lauren, etc. Wif wasn’t happy about that one.
So anyway, I thought it was time to let you guys know that even though I haven’t said anything publicly about it, I am aware that Lauren and I are having a baby. Please don’t mistake my silence for scared shiftlessness. I’m psyched.
One of the coolest things about announcing a pregnancy has been the response from our family and friends. Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm, it’s freaking awesome. Below are some of my favorite responses to Lauren’s announcement:
I’ve seen Rishi play at least a two sports, and he’s right.
Have to admit I was a little worried, but yep, that thing is money!
Let’s hope it’s learning to swim better than I did.
How I FEEL About It
Ok, so you already knew the news, and while it’s entertaining to see people’s comments, I haven’t shared anything particularly insightful. So what you may or may not be interested in is, what the hell is going on in my head? What am I thinking? Am I excited, nervous, scared, gassy?
I can honestly say that I’m all of the above. It’s funny, writing this blog reminded me of a list (Excel spreadsheet) of lifetime goals that I made when I was 22. The list included everything from significant goals – own a business, be a great husband, live in Bend – to somewhat meaningless things that just popped into my head during the brainstorm – surf, drive a fast car, try a Sourdough Jack (seriously, it was in there). I won’t get too into the list, but I did look back at it for the first time in years. And you know what was the absolute number one lifetime goal across all categories? Be a Great Father.
I don’t know if I’m somehow inhaling Lauren’s hormones as she does her sonic boom pregnancy cough at night, but something about this process has made me more emotional than normal. There’s been the slightly funny/weird stuff like randomly tearing up at dad scene at end of Men in Black 3 while on the trainer and crying for 20 minutes straight while watching Parenthood by myself. DAMN YOU, Parenthood. But there’s also a fundamental feeling that has legitimately changed. I, like all of us, was, and continue to be, absolutely devastated by the news of the horrific tragedy in Newtown on Friday. Even though I don’t have a child yet, I feel it like I’m a parent, like I am beginning the “transformation” to a parent, and it’s a bewildering process to experience.
There’s certainly something innate and powerful in my personality that made me write “Be a Great Father” my number one all time goal at age 22. I can feel whatever created that goal ten years ago becoming a greater part of my psyche every day. It makes me feel older, more responsible, a little more cautious, protective, and focused. In the same way I felt myself slowing down on bike descents after I married Lauren, I feel a heightened sense of purpose behind my training and my career. The “Dad” switch has already been pulled, and I haven’t even met our kid yet.
But with this excitement and sense of direction comes a bit of apprehension. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about how to manage the change in the midst of an emerging triathlon career. Triathlon is a selfish endeavor, requiring TONS of support from family, friends, coaches, etc. Because of these requirements, I sense a conflict emerging ahead, like trains headed toward each other on the same track. I know that I will struggle psychologically to manage the responsibilities of being a dad and a professional athlete. Not because I’ll be jealous of the attention, energy, or time needed to raise child, but because I know it’ll be difficult to pull myself away from parenting when I really do need to go train, travel to a race, or do the work necessary to support my career. Where does Be a Great Father end and Be a Great Athlete begin?
I know it isn’t as simple as that, and that there’s plenty of grey and overlap between those two lines. I know they can work in synergy to support each other, like in my heightened sense of purpose while training. Finding those synergies and the best balance between the two will be the primary challenge of the next few years. It’s the same challenge that any father faces in virtually any career. Luckily, I have lots of good friends, role models, and colleagues both in and outside of the sport to draw insight and experience from.
Back to the Homeland
It’s going to be a crazy time for both (all three) of us. Lauren will take a much needed break from competing this year, and I’ll be launching into my first year as an established pro. Lauren plans on returning to competition (gradually) after the baby is born. We know that we’ll need a LOT of support to make it all work in the best interests of us and Lima Bean. Because of this (and the Excel goal sheet) we’ve started looking for places in Bend to be closer to family and lifelong friends who can help us manage the new responsibilities of raising a child. It’s been a long time coming, I’m super psyched, and yes, I think Matt Lieto will make a great baby sitter.
So anyway, those are my initial thoughts. I’m sure it will be a long, emotional, and gassy journey with all kinds of twists and turns along the way, and I look forward to every bit of it. Until next time, crazies!
A Thanksgiving Story
November 22, 2012
It was 3 years ago Thanksgiving that I was with my family in Palm Desert, CA, right where I am now. I had just received my MBA, my athletic life pretty much behind me, and spent the last 6 months of business school developing a promising startup opportunity. I had all the tools ready to jump back into startup life and create what could potentially be a very successful business. But something held me back. For an unknown reason, a piece of me couldn’t commit to pursing that goal. I’d spent the last 4 months hemming and hawing, asking myself, what do I want to do, who am I, what does it all MEAN?!?. Needless to say, it was a very introspective and emotionally taxing time.
In pursuit of some answers, I listened to the book The Anti-Career Guide, by Rick Jarow. I honestly can’t remember much of what it was about. It was a little touchy-feely, “become one with your inner purple chakra of tiger love and heart god,” for me. But outside of all that, I do remember one thing – practicing the idea of abundance. Abundance basically means you should look at the world as full of the opportunities necessary to fulfill your goals and dreams, NOT as a limited resource environment that you must conform to in order to survive (known as scarcity).
But at the time that didn’t mean crap to me, and I was still stuck in my whiney, mad/sad at the world big baby Jesse mode. Then on Thanksgiving morning, my mom and Lauren wanted to go for a hike on a nearby trail. I LOVE running trails, I grew up running central Oregon trails and it’s one of my favorite things in the world. But unknown trails can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes they’re amazing, and sometimes they turn into sucky straight up and straight down hike/jogs on crappy footing. In my current mental state, you can imagine what I expected the run to be like.
Nevertheless, under the encouragement/dragging of my mom and Lauren, I came along. Lauren told me to just give it 20 minutes and see what happened. So I set out, and ran up. Sure enough, crappy footing, straight up the side of a mother effing hill. It climbed, and climbed…and climbed. But for some reason, I didn’t turn around. As I rounded each exhausting corner to see only another stretch of uphill, I thought, I’ve made it this far, go just one more corner. Then another corner, another corner, another corner, until finally, right as I hit 20 minutes, the trail flattened. It was smooth, beautiful, and rolled along an exposed plateau with a cliff-side view of the valley below. I was exhausted, but now, excited. For the first time, never-ending images of struggle were replaced with the image of possibility.
Whether I wanted to or not, now I had to keep going. So I pushed on, and with each step felt lighter. I felt the wear of the climb work its way out of my body. I was captivated by the beauty of the view, the isolation. Wearing just shorts and shoes, I felt so natural, so real, like I was expressing something my body was meant to do. I kept going out, farther, farther, farther, picking up my pace with each mile until finally, a looming sunset forced me to turn around.
I floated along that ridge on the way back, feeling the most clear-minded I’d felt in years. I realized, this is what my body wants; it’s an expression of my true self. It’s no wonder I still think about exercising, training…competing. I love this. It is clear. But what do I do about it? What can I do? Compete? How will I support myself? How will I support Lauren? What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail?
Like the beginning of the trail I had doubts. There are some quests in life where you simply won’t know the outcome before you begin. Sometimes, it’s impossible to plan for success when you can’t see past the hill in front of you. You have to rely on instinct, on passion and relentless pursuit in the hope that, somehow, it will all work out. You have to believe in abundance. When I reached the bottom of the hill, I saw my mom and Lauren waiting for me. I approached, exhausted but smiling, carrying myself in a way that I hadn’t done in years. Lauren asked, “You were out there a really long time, I was getting worried. Is everything, OK?” I replied and said, “Yes, it’s great. And I think I’ve finally decided what I want to do. I want to be a professional triathlete.”
So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for ALL the people who pushed me to keep climbing that hill, to pursue my dream, believing that, even though I couldn’t see it, and at times it was impossible to plan, that a dream outcome existed out there. So to my wife, my family, my coach, my sponsors, and of course, my crazy ass fans – thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Rev3 Florida Race Report
October 31, 2012
Crazy Ass Fans, unite! This was a mind blowing weekend. Like 20-30 mph of mind blowing. The season has come to an end and it couldn’t have ended any better. Tough conditions, my fastest bike ever, the hardest race of my life, and a big ‘ol W!
The soundtrack to this race report – the song I had in my head
most of the race. It makes you as pumped up as the dude on the cover of
that Fifa video game.
Richie already talking trash, as usual.
I arrived on course Friday afternoon to some conditions Winnie the Pooh might call “very blustery, indeed.” Convinced it would be good to “test the conditions,” I flailed my way out into the water. After about 8 minutes of thrashing, I realized there was a large crowd gathered along the pier, and, they were all staring at me. I’d describe the look on their faces as “about to witness somebody drown.” Needless to say, that freaked me out, so I swam back in.
If Pooh thought that was blustery, he’d have flipped his [split] on Sunday.
Race Morning Change-A-Roo
Come race morning, there was no debate to be made. The 20-30 mph winds, coupled with the rising moon, and the vortex formed from the gravity of my uncut hairdo created a rip-tide that the Coast Guard deemed unsafe for anyone to swim. The Rev3 crew was told to cancel the swim and that was it. So instead, they replaced it with a 1.5 mile run. Rev3 Florida would be now be a duathlon.
Contrary to what you might think, I did not immediately grab the megaphone and yell to my competitors, “No swim! Booyah, bitches! HAHAhahahaha. HAHAHAhaha. HAHAHAHAhaha,” (Dr. Evil style). Obviously, not having a swim favored me and a couple other of the non-runners, but as a competitor, you never want to have a result with a star next to it. It was a bummer for Rev3 and the people that trained for the event, but this is the nature of triathlon, sometimes races have to be modified for safety. It’s more important that people finish the race alive than go exactly 70.3 miles.
No, I didn’t do this after I found out the swim was replaced by a run.
It was pretty awesome to run fast with a big group for the first time in a decade. That head to head fast competition is definitely something I miss, and I got a little too excited. I think we all did. We came screaming through the first mile in 4:45, which included a hard 180 degree turnaround. I looked at the guys around and thought, this is freaking rad! I think I was first to my bike, but somehow my frenemy Richie Cunningham beat me once again out of T1. Damn it, Richie!
Bike – Out Strong
I think the excitement of the run carried over to the beginning of the bike as I went out hard without even realizing what I was doing. I figured that with the flatness and tail wind of the first 25 miles, it would be hard to separate the group. I didn’t want the other guys to get a benefit from riding behind me, so I just kept the throttle on and slowly gapped the rest of the runners. Before I knew it, I was alone.
All smiles, at least for the first 20 minutes or so.
This is how I felt before Andrew caught me. (I’m in the boat).
Waiting for the Shark (Stark)
But like Jaws, with the music, duh dum, duh dum, duh dum, I knew that the shark of my race was on his way. CA fans, Meet Andrew Starykowicz. Andrew was the 2011 Rev3 Series winner, but has been injured since an insane crash/jail visit in Abu Dhabi. He is the one of the top few cyclists in the sport, and holds the bike course record on the previous 70.3 World Championships venue in Clearwater, FL. He convincingly won his first race back just a couple of weeks ago at Rev3 South Carolina, where he put almost 10 MINUTES on Richie and Terenzo Bozzone on the bike. Needless to say, I knew that my race would come down to limiting the damage he did to me on the ride. I guessed that if I was within 3-4 minutes of him, I’d have a chance to run him down.
Sure enough, 15 miles in, he came ripping by me, and two things happened. 1) I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to stay with him for at least 30 minutes, thinking it would be tough for him to put more than 4 minutes on me in just the last half of the bike. 2) He blew through the first aid station without grabbing anything. Worried I wouldn’t be able to catch him if I slowed down, I tried to grab some water from a random (elderly, yes, it was Florida) volunteer…at about 33 mph. FAIL. It was a miss I knew I’d pay for eventually.
This is how I felt after Andrew caught me. (I’m in USA shorts.)
Hold on for Dear Life
With Andrew setting pace, I took a deep breath and prepped for some pain. We started things off with 5 minutes at about 380 watts (if you don’t get this, see “***” below). Yes, that hurt, but I knew I could handle it, just not a whole lot more of it. He’d push and then relax , push and then relax. I imagined myself as Rocky Balboa, taking big hits from the gigantic Russian dude in movie #4 (the best one). I saw him look back a couple of times, which gave me tiny moments of victory in a fight I was obviously losing. Yep, I’m dying, but I’m still here.
Going All In
At 30 miles (which we reached in 59 minutes!), he slowed briefly for the aid station. Thank God. That was 30 minutes of bike-boxing at roughly 345 watts, Throw in the towel, Mick! But then I heard we had over 2 minutes on the rest of the field already. Decision time. I knew that as soon as Andrew broke away, it would be impossible for me to maintain even close to this pace. I was pushing so far out of my comfort zone, I couldn’t do it to myself without having him in sight to motivate me. At the rate he was going, he might still ride too big a gap if I let him go now. I risked blowing up, but my only chance of winning was to stay with him a little longer. I was all in.
I shouldn’t have listened to John Candy.
Andrew made me pay for that decision. He came out of the aid station like Drago all kinds of fired up – 5 minutes over 400 watts. BOOM! My legs were screaming. Just stay with him another 5 minutes. POP! Oh my god, maybe I made a mistake. ZING! BLAM! (I’ve shifted analogies here to old-school Batman). Each time, I’d see him go and push as hard as I could until I yo-yo’d him back.
Over the next 30 minutes, our lead increased to 3 minutes on Ben Collins, and 6 minutes to the main chase pack. It didn’t feel like a triathlon anymore. It felt like a bike race. I averaged 360 Watts for that 30 minutes, and 350 watts for the hour with Andrew, nearly equaling the pace I held on the bike to win Rev3 Maine (which was less than half the distance).
Paying for It
As we approached the final aid station at mile 45, reality set in, and my left hamstring cramped. Oh boy. 11 miles to go – in the bike – and I’m already cramping. This is bad. Missed bottle? An hour all out? I’d played my hand, and now I had to deal with the consequences. My focus shifted from winning to finishing. I had to let up or my race was over. So I grabbed a bottle at the aid station and backed it WAY off. In a matter of minutes, Andrew was out of sight.
The next 10 miles felt like garbage. I was alone, and seriously worried about cramping. Did I make a mistake? Go too hard? I should have known better. I tried to prepare myself physically and mentally to run, something I normally look forward to, but after this effort, was absolutely loathing.
Suffering alone. Thanks Eric Wynn/Rev3 for this and all the awesome photos.
As I approached T2 on the bike, I took off my left shoe and POW, major hamstring cramp. Oh boy, this is bad. Then right shoe, BAM, same thing. With both hamstrings locked, I literally couldn’t pedal. At all. So like a car completely out of gas, I coasted in for the last ¼ mile or so. It was so bazaar. People initially cheered for me, but as I slowed and slowed and slowed, it got super awkward because I was going by them so slowly. I swear my speed the last 150 meters was no faster than a brisk walk. People were like, “You can do it, buddy! And by ‘do it,’ I mean only finish this bike ride because there’s no way in Hell your running 13 miles.”
I WALKED into T2 3 minutes down on Andrew. Good Lord, he put 3 minutes on me in 11 miles? I managed to get my shoes on without cramping too badly. I grabbed an extra water bottle I had luckily left in transition in my backpack and stood up. Here goes. I walk/jogged out to the first aid station and grabbed water from every person I could, I took a few deep breaths and slowly started to jog. As I left the crowd I heard I was now 3:35 down on Andrew. Going backwards
I spent the next 2 miles gently easing my body into the run, thinking purely about finishing the race. I carried the water bottle with me, drinking as much as my stomach could tolerate. I walked through each aid station to take water with my EFS and Pre-Race (caffeinated), which stimulated my body enough to reduce some of the cramping.
Every minute without a cramp was like a gift, and with each step small bits of my confidence returned. Around 3 miles, my internal monologue began shifting. Maybe I WILL finish. Maybe I CAN still catch him. Maybe…I can WIN. For the first time in the run, I looked up. No more staring at my feet. Now, it was time to chase. I’m the shark. At 4 miles I was 2:30 back. Mental running math – 2:30 is 150 seconds divided by 9 miles remaining is 17 seconds a mile. Keep it going. I picked up my effort ever so slightly. 6 miles, 1:45 down. Still on pace.
Pretty proud of my combo massive fro AND deeply receding hairline.
At 8 miles, I could see him, roughly 50 seconds down the road. I was still totally exhausted, but for the first time since mile 15 of the bike, I was excited. I pushed hard into the next stretch and by mile 9, was 25 seconds back and could see him laboring. I’ve got him.
Watch out, camera dude! My eyes are closed!
Run-Limp Your Ass Off
Then, disaster. A major cramp in my right leg. The same muscle that stopped me cold at World’s. Schizo-WTF-do-I-do-Jesse started yelling. Dammit! Should I stop? No! Keep going! What if I tear it? Who cares, the season
is over! Just Go! But I can’t run! Then just run-limp, damn it! So I literally half closed my eyes and just kept run-limping, keeping my right leg half extended with each stride, every step waiting for it to completely lock.
Just before mile 12, eyes rolled into the back of my head, I finally passed him. I made a half-assed attempt to pass “with authority” as my running coaches and dad used to say, but honestly, I had nothing. Just over a mile left in your season, WAKE UP AND FINISH THIS!
That was the longest mile of my life. There was no internal celebration and excitement. I was DONE, and worried I might collapse. Every step felt like uphill, into the wind, in deep sand, pulling a tire, with a walrus on top it. With just a half mile to go, Andrew closed in to where I could actually hear him behind me, so I kicked it in with everything I had and pulled away just enough to run through the chute unchallenged. I gave a half-hearted attempt at some hi-5’s, but mostly just stumbled across the line. Deep, deep inside, I was very happy, but the pain of the moment shielded the realization of it. That was, hands down, the hardest race of my life.
As I crossed the finish line, I was surprised to see Fred Flinstone in sandals. Thought he only rolled barefoot.
***Quick side note because some people aren’t familiar with “Watts.” I use power (watts) to measure my bike effort, just like swimming or running pace. My target half ironman power (2+ hrs) is about 320 watts. So all the numbers here are comparable to that number. For added perspective, my target Olympic power (<1hr) is about 360 watts. If you want to be like my cousin Loren, just give me crap every time you see me by saying, “Dude, I pushed soooo many watts.”
If you’d much rather watch a few minutes of recap than listen to all my blabbering, the video above is PERFECT.
I have many people to thank profusely for the season in general – which I will do in an end of the season recap in a week or so. But for now, here’s some huge shout outs for the help specific to this week.
Andrew Starykowicz – Dude, you pushed me to a new level on Sunday. Thanks for the incredible race, and classy sportsmanship before, during, and after. The way you put yourself out there on the bike is a TOUGH way to race. Respect. I think if we swapped that run for a swim, result may have been different. Next time. I hope you take my comparisons to Jaws and the Russian guy from Rocky as compliments on your strength. Good luck with your next few races.
Charlie, Eric, Ashley, Mary, Sean, Stu, Chris, Greg & the rest of the guys at Rev3.
You guys are a super classy, fun, down to earth organization and I’ve had a blast racing with you this year. Way to handle a tough day out there and create the best possible experience for everyone involved. I appreciate the encouragement and look forward to more races down the road!
This picture to me shows how awesome Rev3 is. You’re here, at this top notch event, working your tail off, and there’s Charlie (aka “Bossman”) running by you in a wig. At any level, competing should ALWAYS be fun, and they keep it that way.
I went for the bottle while celebrating with Sunny. Thanks!
Sunny and Michael. Sunny, thank you so much for the generous hospitality this weekend. The convenience and comfort of your home played a huge role in my result. I also appreciate the time you spent hanging out, having dinner, and a bit of celebrating! Good luck with everything and thanks a ton!
Coach Matt Dixon – Lots to thank for, but in regards to this race, thanks for not only giving me a risky strategy that (barely
) paid off, but prepping my body to actually handle it. I never thought I could/would race like a cyclist, but you gave me the tools to at least flirt with it. More to come, but thanks.
Mallory, David, Bobby, Mark, Chris, Aaron, Joe “Spider Monkey” and all the guys at Specialized
– 2:03. Holy Crap. Honestly never thought I’d ride that fast, ever, much less this year. The SHIV is fast, and the new Fuel Cell is dope. Thank you so much for the support. My fastest bike ever!!!! (You knew it was coming).
Thanks as always for the HUGE support this year you guys. I appreciate the quick send for some shoes just before the race, a huge help and my feet felt great. Looking forward to next year!
The guys at Rolf Prima. Same thing guys, 2:03. Nuts. The wheels were super fast and held up great in the cross winds. Thanks again for all the support guys, looking forward to some chill hanging out this winter in Eugene!
Robert at First Endurance – There’s no way I would have finished this race without your products. Obviously, missing 20+ oz of water to start the bike kind of derailed my 70.3 Nutrition Plan, but the Liquid Shot & Pre-Race on the run saved my race. Thanks as always.
Fueling up the Shiv with some EFS. Booyah!
Steve at CycleOps – Whoa! Huge power PR on the bike this week, over 330 for over 2 hours, also something I didn’t think was possible this year. Thanks so much for the equipment necessary to train and progress my way there.
– Didn’t need much swim help this week, but as always, appreciate all the help and prep going into it. Lots of work ahead and looking forward to doing it (after a nice break of course…).
Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t forget you guys. Last and anything but least – my wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps – all otherwise known as the CRAZY ASS FANS! Don’t worry, you’ll get a proper tribute in a couple of weeks. But as always, thank you for your support and encouragement along the way. I got to meet a couple of you this weekend and as always was a blast. All you crazy ass fans seriously make it all worth it. Thanks a bunch for your support and encouragement!
Kona 2012 & Rev3 Florida Preview - Jesse Thomas
October 23, 2012
For some reason the stewardess just assumed we were together.
Helllllooooo my DOZENS of crazy ass like you got ants in your pants fans. As some of you (mom) know, I just finished a long trip that spanned my first 70.3 Win + 5 Year Anniversary Special Bike Packing Record, a trip to the SF Bay for a wedding/hangout sesh with some friends, and finally, Kona for the IM World Champs.
“WHAT!?! YOU RACED KONA!?!”
Silly fan, don’t fret. I wasn’t there to race. I went to Kona to
watch the race, cheer on my buddies, do some fun stuff with Specialized, meet with other sponsors, and maybe drink a beer or two. In short, it’s a fun place to be, especially when you aren’t racing. So anyway, here’s a random wrap up of my trip to Kona, some thoughts on the race, and a preview for my final Rev3 Race in Florida on Sunday.
I was going to ask for my picture with Ben Hoffman, but I was embarrassed.
My What a Difference a Year Makes
Last year, I spent all week in Kona walking around in my iron-on Picky Bars T Shirt, saying “Hi, my name’s Jesse, I’m the kid that won Wildflower with the goofy sunglasses,” and basically spent every day following around Matt Lieto.
Well not this year! This year, I walked around with my SCREEN PRINTED Picky Bars T Shirt, saying “Hi, my name’s Jesse” then they’d say, “oh yeah, the goofy kid that won Wildflower.” I’d say, “You mean, the kid that won Wildflower in goofy sunglasses.” Then I’d pause and say, “by the way, do you know where Matt Lieto is? He won’t return my texts.” My what a difference a year makes!
Sam promised me I had AT LEAST 1-2 CA Fans in Japan, including him. Thanks Sam!
Though it was the same in many ways, there were some cool
differences. I got recognized/approached/stalked-but-in-a-good-way by a few self-professed crazy ass fans. It is amazing how many of my mom’s friends live in Kona. Most of them just wanted a Picky Bar sample, so no biggee. Honestly, it was hilarious that a couple of people actually told me they were “crazy ass fans.” I might have to get you guys hats or something.
Last year, I was just a wee boy introducing myself to Mallory at Specialized, promising her that I don’t suck as much on a bike as it looks like I do, yada yada yada. This year, Mallory and I were all what’s up dude like we’re friends and it’s no big deal. It honestly was super fun to hang out with some more of the Specialized crew. I got to lead some group rides from the Specialized booth, which were a blast and of course will be directly responsible for a ridiculous number of new Specialized bike sales. Can you say, ROI? Booyah!
A Specialized Group Ride. Funniest part is how pumped Lauren looks (in the back in Picky Bars T). Haha.
The final “work” highlight was going to the Specialized media brunch.The house was definitely a buzz with Crowie, Macca, Rasmus, Jordan and Conrad all just hanging out. I honestly felt honored and a little out of place just hanging out with everyone. Thanks so much to the entire Specialized team for including me this week, it was a blast.
Outside of “working” the other reason I was in Kona was to watch this thing called the Ironman World Championships. For those of you who have never been to Kona, I think the easiest analogy is the one most commonly used – the Superbowl of triathlon. Except, technically it’s more like the Superbowl combined with the All-Star game. The entire industry is there, media, sponsors, all the best athletes, and tons of fans. Since Kona itself isn’t a super huge place, it feels packed and you literally sense a buzz up and down Alii drive all week.
I haven’t thought too much outside of the 70.3 World Championships next year, but after seeing Kona the last two years, it’s hard to imagine having a professional career without at least taking a crack at this race. So anyway, I was interested not only to see what would happen with the many competitors I now consider friends, but also in seeing what it would take for me to eventually compete in, and even have an impact on this race.
A Tough Day To Watch:
I’ve never been so hot in my entire life…watching this race.
It should come as no surprise I think this is the hardest triathlon on the planet. By far. Honestly, watching this race is probably the most exhausting thing I’ll do all year. The length alone makes it difficult, then you add the conditions – extremely hot & windy – then add the competition – best in the world – and you simply can’t understate how difficult this race is. There’s a reason it’s called the World Championship and in some ways carries a bigger title (Kona) than the sport of triathlon itself.
Rapp, Rasmus Henning, Luke Bell, and Luke McKenzie (and in the women’s race Linsey Corbin, Meredith Kessler & Rachel Joyce) fairly well over the last couple of years and, in addition to Crowie, they are the guys I was really pulling for in this race. It was tough to see them not have the day they wanted for various reasons. I was so impressed watching Jordan claw his way through that field completely solo after a tough swim, and tried to imagine myself alongside him for much of the race. When he exited the energy lab, he had a clear shot at the top-10,
something I thought he would achieve at the time. It was a huge bummer to see him struggle the last few miles of the run after such a courageous effort (he still finished a more than respectable 13th). It just goes to show you how hard this race is, and how quickly momentum can turn.
I feel a little weird for saying this, but it was also tough to watch Crowie (Craig Alexander, 3x winner) not have the race he wanted. I’ve met Crowie a couple of times over the last year and half and have been absolutely impressed by his casual demeanor, humility, thoughtfulness, and the obvious importance of family in his life. Even though he’s technically one of my “competitors,” I consider him a bit of an idol in the sport as well, someone I aspire to emulate down the road. So I was both a bit heartbroken and inspired by his performance, where it was obvious late in the bike that repeating his record-breaking victory from last year was unlikely. He battled at the beginning of the run, then slowed in obvious pain, then battled back and finished with courage, giving everything he had even though the result wasn’t what he hoped for. If I ever get the opportunity to be a champion, I hope I can live up to his example. He gets what it’s all about, and he proved that more than ever on Saturday.
Kona for Me? We’ll See.
I don’t know when I’ll race Kona – Matt says 2 years….but I want to just try an Ironman before I think about entering the Lion’s Den. But after seeing the race unfold now a couple of times, I feel like I have a sense of what it will take to be competitive there. I’ll have to be a better swimmer than I am now, which is no surprise. I think you also have to walk a fine line of reacting, and not reacting to the excitement and drama of the race around you. What happens to a lot of guys in this race is they push, react strongly to group bike dynamics, and then blow up either on the run or toward the end of the bike. If you’re a strong runner who hasn’t blown yourself on the bike, you can move A LOT in the last half of the marathon as most of the guys are literally just hanging on for dear life. I imagine regardless of what pace you’re running it probably feels like holding on for dear life at the point. Who knows, plenty of time to think about it for down the road.
goal, something they honestly weren’t sure they could do. And, they get to enjoy that moment under the lights with thousands of screaming spectators all on their feet. I dare you not to tear up just a little if you ever get to see it in person.
Lauren was a trooper playing Mrs. Thomas all week. Thanks Wif!
Other Random Funness
Don’t worry, outside of some “work” and race scouting, I did get quite a bit of fun time in as well. After being here for the last two years and not racing, it will be difficult to pass up the social
opportunities, parties, and general fun of having no pressure to be off your feet, out of the sun and not drunk in prep for a race.
Having Lauren there with me was an awesome change. We went to the Competitor Group TGINR (Thank God I’m Not Racing) party. Which may have had the best party swag of all time – hat AND a belt buckle/medal, each with a bottle opener integrated into it. Yes that’s right, the hat had a bottle opener. We also went to the K-Swiss party and had a drink or many with lots of athletes and people in the sport. It honestly was a blast.
Luxury Chilling at The Mauna Lani
The smartest decision we made was to extend our trip to Wednesday, which gave us a couple of days to just relax and hang out at the Mauna Lani.
Lauren was a trooper after waking up early, driving everywhere with me and supporting my workouts and appearances, so if anything, she deserved some serious downtime. The last two days were incredible with awesome brunches and even a sunset sail ride with the other athletes on the Team. I want to give a HUGE thanks to Bree at the Mauna Lani for the hospitality. We had an amazing and relaxing time there. Thanks so much Bree!
This was my office for the week.
Mauna Lani Brunch in the House!
Our final sunset from our room at the Mauna Lani. Goodbye Kona!
One More Race to Go – Rev3 Final in Florida
On Sunday I’m finishing the season with the Rev3 Final
in Sarasota, Florida. I have to admit, I’m as excited to be done with the season as I am to race. It’s been a great season, better than expected in most ways, but it’s been a long one and I’m ready for a break. I guess the excitement to be done can still propel me to finish as fast as possible, so I’ll just look at it that way. The race will be competitive as usual with 5-7 guys
who could all challenge for the win. It’s a flat and likely fast
course, so will be a different challenge than many of my halfs this year. As ready as I feel for a break, my training has actually been pretty good the last few weeks, so I’m excited to see what the body can muster for one last go at it.
If you want to follow, check out the Rev3 Tri Live page, or follow them on Twitter. As always, you can follow me on Twitter for the lead up, but I’ll probably be solo so no tweeting during the race, sorry CA Fans.
I’m out until the race report on Monday or Tuesday. I’ve got a few other exciting things in the works as well which will come in next few weeks. Thanks as always for the following and support. Booyah!
When this happened, Lauren didn’t hesitate half a second before laughing. She was all in, loud, in the airport. It was the funniest thing she’d
Poconos 70.3 Preview, Kona & Post Worlds
September 29, 2012
Wake up, crazy ass fans! Time to emerge from you slumber. I hope the last couple of weeks gave you some time to relax, catch your breath, put away your streamers, mega phones, body paint, and Picky Bar face tattoos, and just enjoy a little break from Jesse’s World. I’ve got a couple of “announcements” to make – so I thought I’d throw out a quick blog to satiate your appetite. 1. I’m racing on Sunday in Stroudsburg, PA at 70.3 Poconos. 2. I’m headed to Kona to cheer on my buddies, hang out at the Mauna Lani, do some Specialized rides, and just say hi to people. 3. I want to thank you again for the support on the World’s race report. Seriously, you guys are awesome. 70.3 Poconos on Sunday
After a bunch of heehawing, Matt and I decided that I should do another race. I’m training through the Rev3 Final in Florida on 10/28, so adding a race before then allows me to 1) get a few 70.3 Worlds points for next year (which I failed to do at Worlds, sad face), and 2) not train as much. Both good things. So I looked at the 70.3 race schedule, busted out some airline miles, and decided to do 70.3 Poconos. Why did I decide to do this race? Because Poconos sounds like one of the Lands in Disneyland, like it would be right next to TomorrowLand. Unfortunately, it’s not. Here is the extent of what I know about this race: 1. It’s in Pennsylvania (a place called Stroudsburg, I suck at east coast) 2. They canceled the swim last year because it was too cold.
I think the course is kind of rolly/hilly, but I’m honestly not sure. The field is solid, with at least 5 or 6 guys who could win without it being an upset. I think it will be fairly cold again, maybe even raining. Sounds awesome, seriously.
Matt also thought Poconos was funny. I think you can follow here, but you may have to do some digging. I’m going solo, so no twitter updates.
Sunday is also Lauren and I’s FIVE YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, booyah! So I’m headed back to meet Lauren in Santa Barbara almost immediately after the race is over. In fact, if I don’t finish close to 4 hours, I may miss my flight. The pressure is on.
SF Bay Area then Kona at the Mauna Lani Lauren and I are going to road trip up to the SF Bay Area for a few days, visit some friends, and attend a wedding of one of my Ardica buddies. Yes, these are the same “buddies” that created a fake rice krispie cake (my dream cake) and then destroyed it before my very eyes at my wedding. Long story, but anyway, watch out Adam & Michelle. Haha.
On Monday 10/8, we’ll head to Kona for a week! And, we’ll be staying at the “Luxurious Mauna Lani Hotel!!!!!!” For some reason, I always imagine the Mauna Lani as a super prize on the Price is Right. It’s nice enough to be one.
Life is rough at the Mauna Lani (from Kona last year). I met the Mauna Lani staff through (of course) Matt Lieto, and they have invited me to be a part of their triathlon team! I’m honestly totally honored as they are incredibly kind and generous people, and, of course, the Mauna Lani is about as good as it gets for a place to stay on the island. Rad open water swimming, biking, running, a 25m pool and gym, great rooms, and a RIDICULOUS breakfast (can you tell which characteristic I’m most excited about?). Anyway, I’ll be doing a whole bunch more reporting from the Mauna Lani while I’m there, and we’re trying to set up a group run and/or clinic of some kind at the hotel as well. I’ll provide details in a pre-Kona blog and/or twitter.
One thing I do know for certain is that I will be leading group bike rides at 7:30am and 9am Tuesday 10/9 through Friday (10/12) with Specialized. I’m not sure about the location yet, (maybe their booth at the expo?) I’ll let you know.
Anyway, if you’re in Kona, come find me and say hello! Stoked to be there.
Rebounding Post Worlds – Getting on the Horse I’ll be honest, it’s been a bit of a drag coming off a subpar World’s performance. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it still bums me out when I think about it, and that it’s shocked my confidence a little. I’m finding I need to constantly remind myself that I’m not only as good as my last race, that I don’t need to prove my fitness in workouts or train for confidence in general. You actually want to do the opposite after a subpar race. You should rest, because most likely that’s what your body needs. Under Matt’s guidance, I feel like I’ve done a decent job resting and not trying to prove fitness to myself in training, but it’s still a struggle. It’s probably a good blog or Triathlete Magazine article – How To Get Over A [Shorty] Race.
Anyway, I sincerely appreciate the incredible support, comments and sharing of my race report that you all provided. It made me feel substantially better about what happened. It seems that sometimes my biggest failures make the most popular blogs. It certainly isn’t something I want to get in the habit of, but it’s cool to know that the story and process is what matters, even to the crazy ass fans.
Matt has done a good job of letting me free-flow the last few weeks with very little structured training. I’ve trained hard when I felt like it, but also had the flexibility to do very little when the mood wasn’t right. It’s this time in the season where I have to do some new stuff to keep mentally motivated. As soon as I got home, I finally rode the Crux cyclocross bike I got from Specialized. That thing is freaking rad. I went on one of the coolest rides I’ve been on in a while out in the mountains southeast of Eugene. I also did a Cyclocross race, super fun stuff that absolutely crushed me. Anyway, the training has come and gone and I’m just doing my best to let my body do what it wants to do, and not ask any more of it than that.
Cyclocross is like the steeplechase on a bike, except muddier. (thanks Phil Johnson for the awesome pic).
Even though I might not be 100% mentally and physically prepared, I think it’s a good thing that I’m racing again. In the fall of 1999, I trained and raced my ass off in the hopes of becoming an NCAA XC All-American. Then, in a last minute change, I was made the alternate to Stanford’s NCAA XC team. This meant I would prepare for the race, travel there, warm up with the team, and then when the race started, step back and let the other guys run. Needless to say, I was devastated. My confidence was shattered. I was angry at the sport and my coaches. I didn’t want to race again until I felt supremely confident and fit that I could make up for the whole thing in one magical “prove-it” race back. I remember my coaches encouraging me to race indoors on my XC fitness, see what happened, let myself experience what I was capable of. But instead, I went month’s letting that bad result simmer inside me. I lost confidence, motivation, and fitness. By the time I raced again, I had become the athlete I wanted to prove I wasn’t.
So in a way, I’m using that experience to get myself back out there again, even if I don’t feel ready. I realize now that one result doesn’t define you, your season, or certainly you career. The only way it does is if you let it. It’s like they say, when you fall, you get back on the horse as quick as you can. It might be scary, and you might fall again, but the important part is to continue the process. Erase that memory and move onto the next step.
So that’s what I’ll do. I’m prepared to feel anything from great to terrible. And I honestly don’t really care. The point of this race is simply to race again, continue the process and create some new memories to finish the season. Onward!
2012 70.3 World Champs Race Report
September 13, 2012
The true value of sport is that it provides highly intense, miniature experiences that simulate life. You set goals, and work hard to achieve them. Sometimes, you succeed and celebrate. Other times, you fail and learn what you can from it so you can try again. Without those failures, you don’t improve, and you don’t fully appreciate the successes. In the moment, it sucks, a lot. But when you persevere, and eventually achieve your goal, it makes all the sucking and suffering worth it. That’s what I have to remember today.
The sun rises again. Thanks Rob at Roka for the awesome photo.
**Disclaimer – This was a fairly emotional day, which tends to give me potty mouth. In an effort to keep this blog relatively family friendly, but also be honest about what I was really feeling/saying/expressing to myself – I’ve made substitutions, “dubs” if you will, like when you watch Superbad on TNT or TBS. I think you get the point.
Oh yeah, quickly, here is the soundtrack to this report. One of my favorite songs off the new Metric Album, “Breathing Underwater”. For better and for worse, it works with this race – a good beat, a little epic, and a little sad. You can also hear a live, slower version here.
Sunday started like most race days – some nervousness and anticipation, but a lot of excitement about the opportunities ahead. There were a few bumps, but nothing that took me physically or mentally out of the game. I was ready. I was excited to race.
Feeling happy and loose before the race with Mrs. T.
Swim: Until You Bleed!
Following my plan, I keyed off of Richie & Joe Gambles as we started the swim hard. Almost immediately, I felt off. Within the first minute I noticed lactic acid filling my legs. WTF?!? I’d felt this sensation before – at the end of long, high intensity swims – but never at the beginning of a race! I was worried, but I blocked it out. Yes, this is unsustainable, but that’s what it takes to stay with the pack. Stay on it!!
About 3-4 minutes in, the lactic began to take its toll. My breathing became panting, my stroke labored, and I worried less about staying with the pack, and more about finishing the swim, period. It didn’t seem that fast, just hard, the effort wasn’t proportional to the speed. As the lead group pulled away, and second packers passed me, images of getting passed, and dropped, by the women clouded my head. Just six minutes into the race, I was on my way to another disappointing performance.
Getting a nice big mouthful of poo water. Thanks Rob at Roka Sports for the photo.
I literally yelled at myself to refocus. You’ve worked your [tooshy] off for this swim! You are a different athlete! No comparisons! As Matt Lieto told me the day before, “Your [bung]hole better be bleeding when you exit that swim.” Thanks, Matt. I told myself, Just stay with them for 100 more strokes. When that passed, another 100 strokes, then another, and so on. My outlook turned to mildly positive as I realized I would make it out with this pack…and not get chicked. Even though it wasn’t what I’d hoped for, it was still a significant improvement over last year, and in a deeper/stronger field. As I exited the water, Matt told me I was about 75 seconds behind Richie & Joe, ~3 minutes from the leaders. Not awesome, but it’s a long race, and I’m just a good bike and run away from a solid result. Here we go, mother [bucker].
Where the [fiddle] am I and what the [fuddle] just happened?
Bike: Playing Catch Up
I struggled a bit in transition. I threw up a bit of poo-colored, desert man-made, lake water. I felt disoriented after the hard effort, and had trouble snapping my helmet strap. By the time I got on my bike, I was a solid 15-20 seconds behind the group. I knew I had no choice but to hammer until I caught them. I put in a big effort and reeled them in by the top of the first hill, at about 3 miles. I sat in the back on the long downhill to recover and get a sense of the pace. It was too easy. It was obvious we weren’t going fast enough to make up time on the leaders. I had to move and move hard if I was going to be a factor in the race. So I smashed up the next climb into the lead and rode strong without looking back for the next 8 miles or so. As we approached the first aid station around mile 12, I was surprised to see most of the group still with me. Maybe my legs aren’t as strong as I thought today.
Leading the chase pack. Thanks Paul Phillips/CompetitiveImage.us for the photo.
I slowed quite a bit through the aid station to grab plenty of water. As I did, a couple of guys went around me. I spent some time drinking, dumping the remainder into my Shiv Fuelselage, and resettling into the aero position. It was obvious the whole group was packed up from the aid station. I remember thinking, [Swashbuckle]! I’m close to Griffin, I should probably slow down. I looked to my left for the dashed road lines, which the officials said they would use to measure the distance between us. There were no lines, just tons of those bumpy white things with no distance between them. Am I too close?
Suddenly, I heard a very loud, “WARNING!” It startled me, like when [butt]holes honk from behind while you’re on a bike because they think it’s funny to scare you. I looked to my left to see an official yell, “You’re too close! It has to be 7 bike lengths!” My heart jumped, I nodded and slowed immediately, thinking I’d just gotten a warning to back off after the aid station. Then he pulled out a red card, extended it out in my direction, and wrote something down on his paper pad. WTF?!? Did I just get a drafting penalty? Before I could even say anything, he sped away.
What the hell just happened!?! I was in denial, I kept replaying the scene in my head. Did I get a penalty? I was close, but it was so short, and I lead the whole way out. It couldn’t have happened, right? As the minutes went by, it began to sink in. He wrote down my number. [Sugar!] I think I just got a drafting penalty! [Fudge] me! Are you [farting] serious!?!
Trying to Rebound
I was absolutely crushed, all the life and inspiration from my legs and mind sucked out in an instant. I oscillated between taking long angry pulls at the front and sitting up in the back, dejected, waiting for the penalty tent to come and trying to re-evaluate what the hell I was going to do.
When I got to the tent, I still had a shred of doubt (and hope). I expected to see the guy there who gave me the penalty, to ask him quickly. Maybe it was just a warning? He wasn’t there. What?!?. I frantically asked the person in the official in the tent, “Did I get a penalty?” They didn’t know. “You don’t know!?!” I started to jump back on my bike. Then they asked me if he showed me a red card. Yep, he did. [Gosh darn] it.
They started the watch, and I sat there for the longest four minutes of my life. I had no idea what to do. I was so angry, so sad, and honestly really embarrassed. I tried to take a deep breath and relax, but it was impossible. It took all my strength not to be that pro dude who cried in the penalty tent. I felt my race and goals and hard work slipping away as the seconds ticked by. Logic brain was still trying to be constructive, How do I approach the rest of the race? What can I get out of this? Emotional brain replied, Who gives a [split]? Your race is [fudged.]
The long ride home. Thanks Jay Prasuhn/Lava Magazine for the photo.
I schizo’ed between those two feelings as I rode the next 30 miles completely alone. I’d be angry and ride super hard, saying to myself that The penalty was bull[poop] and I was an idiot for letting it happen. I’m still going to get something out of this race! Then I’d get tired, my legs would feel heavy and I’d slide into depression, weeping, Why does it even matter? My race has gone to [shih tzu], I should just pull out. For better and for worse, the anger side of the brain was the dominant one. I had to finish. I had to ride strong. I could still have the day I wanted out of my body, regardless of what place I end up. In the last 20 miles, by myself, I made up almost 3 of the 4 minutes I lost on the pack I was with. I put A LOT into the bike. Deep down, I knew it was probably too much, but I was angry. And in some weird way, I felt I could take back the drafting penalty by proving I was a strong rider who didn’t need to draft.
Giving it a go.
I was 28th off the bike, and was surprised to hear I was only 75 seconds down from a big group. Between the hard solo ride, a super hot day, and feeling flat and tired all the way around, I knew immediately that this was going to be a rough run (Rundar reading: Survival Mode). Logic brain established a new goal – top 15. 15th place would earn me some points for next year, and provide a tangible benefit to an otherwise terrible day. I can still make this happen. Just do your thing.
My family and friends cheered, “You’re reeling them in!” But around mile two, on the steepest uphill pitch, my right Sartorius (yes, I looked it up afterwards) cramped. It was a full on seize that made me stop immediately. I quickly contorted into a stretch and held it for a minute or so. I took one step and it locked again. I yell/cried “Oh god, my Sartorious!” (just kidding, I did yell though), and tried to stretch again. I couldn’t move. A guy on a golf cart asked me if I needed to be taken to the medical tent. “No!” I screamed, a little too much like an angry child. He gave me some water. I guzzled it and just stretched there, awkwardly half bending over and sticking my ass out sharply to the left. Look at yourself. You’re [plucked]! Your race is over.
When Lauren proofread my draft, she didn’t understand the cramp stretch I
tried to describe in the blog, so I showed her in Starbucks…and yelled
“Oh God, my Sartorius!”
A few minutes later, I tried to walk – initially over to the medical tent. One step was OK. Two, three, four. I turned back on course. A couple more jogging steps, nothing yet. It was tight and sore, but not cramping. I started jogging. OK, if it seizes like that again and you risk injury, you’re done. You’re dropping out.
Why I Finished:
In all honesty, for the next 11 miles, I wanted my leg to cramp again. I REALLY wanted to drop out. I was cramping, my stomach hurt, my legs were dead, I was completely by myself, way behind my goal, and just a two minute jog from the Cheesecake Factory. There was NO tangible benefit to finishing! So why did I keep going? Long story short – because of this [ducking] blog.
Nothing like hearing “Zombie Bieber” out on the course. Thanks Jared!
Over the last two plus years, I’ve shared a story. Initially, the only people that followed were my family (mom) and friends (one of my mom’s friends), but it’s eventually progressed to include other supporters, sponsors, and of course, some crazy ass fans. I’ve met you at races, read your comments, tweets, emails, Facebook messages and owl-delivered letters. I feel like I owed it to YOU as much to myself to see it through, regardless of the outcome.
Aid station #2 literally gave me chills every time I ran by. I also
dumped ice on my balls every time I ran by. But I think the chills were
from the cheers.
When I was out there on Sunday, you guys weren’t only in my head, you were out on the course. It was a constant reminder of this journey, how long I’ve come, and the value I’ve received from your support. It was another one of those miniature, highly intense experiences within an experience. I was SUFFERING out on that run, but I never went more than 2-3 minutes on that course without hearing everything from “Nice Aviators” to “Go Jesse” to “Survival Zombie Mode” to “Jesse Bieber Fever!” My family, friends, other spectators, aid station #2 (my favorite!) fellow racers, even industry people. It was IMPOSSIBLE to escape your presence. On the last lap as I headed into the last two-mile uphill stretch, seriously doubting I’d be able to keep jogging, you know what I saw? A [clucking] Picky Bar wrapper on the ground. Are you kidding me!?! THAT my friends, is awesome.
Not only did I see a wrapper on the ground, a guy asked me for some. Sorry dude! Maybe next time.
And it wasn’t just that you were cheering, or in my head, or that I felt like I owed it to you guys. It was also that, despite the fact that I was out the back, dying, miserable, all chance of “success” long gone, you guys didn’t give a [shot]. The people on that course cheered me on like I was a [fracking] rock star about to win American Idol. They cheered me on like I was Jesse Bieber. They were stoked when I grabbed water, poured some ice on my balls, muttered a “thanks,” or gave them an ugly, I’m-dying-smile after a cheer. The energy I felt lifted me through the last 10 miles. There is no way I would have finished without it.
A few last hi-5′s to the finish. Thanks Rob for the photo.
So anyway, that’s how I rolled it in, one painful step and uplifting cheer at a time. The unlikely combination of intense pain and sincere gratitude that I felt may or may not have pushed a few man-tears out of my eyes. You’ll never know. That’s what the Aviators are for.
Quick! Somebody! Beer me!
A Few Post-Race Thoughts (Extra Credit for the Crazy Asses):
Don’t blame the penalty: What I don’t want people to take away from this blog is that I got an “unfair” drafting penalty that bombed my race. That is not true. When I got the penalty, I was drafting. I was not seven bike lengths away. Was I in that position long? No. Was my intent to gain an unfair advantage? No. But the official probably didn’t know either of those things, and he was doing his best to keep the race fair. And “intent” isn’t the rule anyway, drafting is. Like I said, I was as embarrassed and sad as I was angry. And part of the anger was at myself for not paying attention and letting it happen. I don’t want drafting to ever be associated with my reputation, and I’ll do my absolute best to make sure that that never happens again. This was only the second time I’ve ever ridden with a big group, and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention in the moment. It was a rough time to learn that lesson, but hopefully I’ll only have to learn it once. While it derailed my race quite a bit, my average swim, hammering too hard on the bike, and feeling flat in general had just as much to do with my result as the penalty.
I May have left my Race in Maine: Matt and I talked at length afterwards obviously and there are a lot of questions and things to evaluate about what went down. It’s possible one factor was that I just wasn’t ready or recovered for this race. I think I underestimated the toll that Maine took on my body and mind, because it was an Olympic distance race, I didn’t have to finish the run all out, and my body and mind were buoyed by the endorphins of taking a solid win. When it came down to it, I swam and rode as hard/fast as I ever have in that race, and it might have been too much to recover from. Who knows.
Once Again, Transitions Matter: A frustrating thing about looking through the results today was that eventual winner (Keinle) and 6th place finisher (Aernouts) both came out of the water JUST behind me. But, they both beat me by 15-20 seconds out of transition, In the first 10 miles of the bike, I was actually keeping an eye out for Keinle, expecting him to come flying by me. But it turns out by the time I caught the second group, they’d both already rode off the front of it. That was my ticket (without having a stronger swim) to a better result. They both rode remarkably well (Keinle, on-another-planet-well), but maybe I could have stayed with them as they bridged up to other riders. Who knows, maybe on the day I couldn’t have, but something to take away for next year.
I’m still psyched about my season: As bummed as I am writing this recap, it isn’t too hard to turn my frown upside down. While my result here was below what I’d hoped for, my results throughout this season were better than expected almost across the board. I’m improving at a faster rate than both Matt and I anticipated. The fact that I even believed that I could podium in this race is a level I didn’t expect to achieve this year. Even though I had an off day, I still swam 2 minutes faster and biked 5 minutes faster (INCLUDING a 4 minute penalty, so, yes, that’s actually 9 minutes faster) than last year. That’s improvement. Especially on an off day. I’ll have another crack at this one, and it doesn’t take away from the progress I’ve made.
I started my recovery with an ice bath at the Every Man Jack house.
Next Step: TBD
Plans are still in the making. Since I didn’t get any substantial
to Viktor Zymetsev!). No solid plans yet, just some R&R with the wif, a new season of all my favorite TV shows, and then a blow out tailgate weekend on 9/22 with the b-school buddies. We’ll see what happens!
I’ve said enough about it already, but the LEGIONS of crazy ass fans, my wife, my family (including my mom & Jeff, dad & Janna, Terri & Jim) twitter and facebook peeps, my support crew, my newsletter subscribers. You all kept me going out there, so TOP BILLING this week. You earned it . Thanks so much for cheering me on. BOOYAH!
Lauren, mom, Aunt Terri & Jim watching the swim start.
Coach Matt Dixon – Like I said at the end, the fact that I even believed I could compete in this race is somewhere I didn’t expect to be even a year ago. And the first person who ever believed I could compete at this level was Matt. I’m slowly catching up to him. I sincerely appreciate the guidance, mentorship, and friendship. Onward!
Mallory, Joe (Spider Monkey), and Paddy at Specialized – These guys were once again a HUGE help this weekend. In case you missed it, I got a brand new bike last week – TriRig Review w/tons of pics here, and these guys not only built it and got it all set (even after I blew a tubular the day I left for Vegas). They also took Lauren and I out to dinner and gave us a ride to the airport. You guys are da bomb!
The Official Spider Monkey Seal of Approval – Click the image to see tons more pics and a writeup of the bike at Tririg.com
Ritch, T-Bone, Dan, Tom, Niall, David & Pierre of the Every Man Jack Racing / General Badasses and Good Dudes Team (team facebook page here). Thanks a ton for letting me crash your party this weekend guys. The house was awesome and it was a huge help to be around some fun dudes who helped me keep it chill leading into a big race. Looking forward to doing it some more down the road.
Geoff, Kody & all the guys at Pearl Izumi. Not only a HUGE amount of support all year long, but expedited some new shoes and apparel out when I realized I definitely needed some stuff before this race. Those Streak II’s felt great, even though I was running slow, haha. Thanks a bunch guys!
Tom & Dan just dancing and playing some Uke at the EMJ house.
Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 – Even though it wasn’t my best day in the water out there, a 2 minute improvement over last year is HUGE. Looking forward to getting that last couple of minutes. Well, looking forward to actually being faster, not particularly looking forward to the work its going to take to get there! ￼ Thanks Gerry!
Rob & Kurt at Roka Sports – Thanks again guys for the support this weekend, making a quick swap with the swimskin and especially being out there on the last long uphill section of the run. I looked forward to your group every lap around, like I said, cheering like I was in the lead. Thanks as well for all the awesome photos, Rob.
The guys at Rolf Prima. 9 min faster than last year, and I know a chunk of that comes from the wheels. Thanks so much as usual for all the support, excited to hop on a CX bike with you guys back in the EUG!
Robert at First Endurance – What was honestly amazing about this race was that my 70.3 Nutrition Plan actually kept me from completely imploding/dying. I honestly believe that First Endurance’s stuff is the best in the heat. Yeah, I cramped at the beginning of the run, but that was due to pushing the bike way too hard, and taking in Pre-Race on the run is I think what “turned back” my cramping, amazingly, and allowed me to finish. Anyway, as always, great stuff. Thanks Robert.
Steve at CycleOps – Even though I didn’t get to use the power meter, I did get to use the new GPS Joule, which worked fantastically. It gave me some pace goals for the way home by myself, and something to focus on while I was suffering out there. Thanks Steve for the late help going into the race!
Rev3 Maine Race Report - Jesse Thomas
August 28, 2012
Winner winner, lobsta dinner!
Helloooooooooooooo all you crazy ass somebody get me a restraining order for these people fans! Welcome. We had a super solid weekend out on the east coast and picked up our first ever Rev3 W! Here’s the deets:
Swim: Front Pack!
This picture makes sense if you read the blog.
I went out, in the words ofGerry, “quick, but not hasty.” It honestly just felt like another open water interval with theTower 26group. I dolphin dove my way into a good position and swam hard, but stayed mentally relaxed as we approached the first buoy. You know how
when you’re playing Ms. PacMan, and you get really close to your High Score with like 3 lives remaining but you’re still scared because you’ve been in that position many times before only to implode and die before you reach it? That’s how I felt. I knew I was on track for a High Score swim, but the second acceleration has been my Ms. PacMan Implosion all year long.*
So I told myself, Not this time, stupid ghosts, then I mentally prepared myself to crank it if the pack accelerated. Sure enough, they did. As we rounded the first buoy, I picked it up to nearly all-out, thinking this is not sustainable, but you’ve got to see what happens. If you implode, worse thing that happens is you turn left and swim straight in to the boardwalk Roller Coaster, no biggee. Luckily, after 3 to 4 of the longest minutes of my life, the pace relaxed a bit.
It wasn’t like before when I’d get dropped and then settle in with the second pack to an almost too comfortable pace. It was still very hard, but sustainable. Instead of thinking, should I go harder? I thought, Yay! I’m still with the front pack! But I would like this to be over as soon as possible please. I kept looking at the gigantic Ferris Wheel next to the swim exit thinking, My god, why is the Ferris Wheel so far from the Roller Coaster? It felt like I was swimming across the entirety of Disneyland. When we finally rounded the corner and cruised into the beach, I was tired but stoked. Regardless of how the rest of the race went, I’d done what I’d never done before – stayed with the front pack!
If Caveman had been riding this bike instead of a Shiv, I might have been able to stay with him. Pic from Specialized HQ via Hugger Industries.
Biking like a Caveman
After a long transition run, I mounted my bike determined to continue simulating Vegas, which meant riding balls out right from the get go.** So I went super hard right out of T1, immediately passing Richie and doing my best not to look back. But, as I expected, about 8 minutes in Caveman went flying by me like I was riding still.
For those of you who think a man on a Fred Flinstone bike just passed me, let me fill you in. Caveman is the nickname of Conrad Stoltz, a legend in the tri world. He’s a four time XTerra World Champion (off-road triathlon), a two time Olympian, one of Specialized best known global athletes, and as I discovered after meeting him this weekend, a super nice guy. He hadn’t raced on the roads for a number of years, but he’s one of the premier cyclists in the sport as you can see by his blog, which is not only great, but shows some of his training – 12x2min @ 500 watts. Oh my god.
Post Caveman bashing. Photo from Nils Nilsen/Rev3
So, I told myself I wasn’t even going to think about the run, I was going to stay with Caveman until the end of this ride no matter how hard I had to go, dammit! Then, after about 10 minutes of riding 375-400+ watts, I changed my mind and said I’d be very happy if I could stay with him to halfway. So I
pedaled my butt off as we passed and distanced ourselves from the rest of the field, and could still see him about 15 seconds ahead when we hit the turn around and I threw in the white towel. I felt a bit like a beaten up Rocky Balboa, but I did my best to wipe the sweat, slobber, and boogers off my face and enjoy the scenery as I settled back into my own pace. I heard a couple of age groupers who were unfazed by my boogers and
still gave me some quick “Go Jesse”s on the way back. Thank you anonymous crazy ass fans!
Run: Push it, Freak out, Then Float
In pursuit – Photo from Nils Nilsen/Rev3
I came out of T2 1:15 behind Conrad. I immediately decided that I’d push the run without fear of bonking/dying/cramping. Coming off a hard ride in Portland, I ran too cautiously the first half, and was unable to catch Richie in the second half. So I set out hard, running the first two gradually uphill miles in 5:11 & 5:17. I caught Conrad around 2.5 miles and continued pressing. I knew that Richie and Kaleb VanOrt (ex NCAA distance runner, super fast) were both capable of running quickly and I had no idea how close they were, so I wanted to hit the halfway point with enough distance to discourage them from chasing. At the 3.1 mile turn, I had a 25 second lead on Conrad and about 3-4 minutes on Richie & Kaleb.
It’s funny, at that point I should have been confident that I was going to win the race. But as I wrote about after Wildflower, it was the opposite. Being in the lead is honestly the worst. There is nowhere to think but backwards. I started worrying, what if I die, what if I cramp, what if Richie & Kaleb are flying?Even though the Logic side of my brain told me You’ve got it in the bag, the Emotional side said don’t stop pushing, they could catch you!
Doing some brain battling. Photo cred Nils Nilsen/Rev3
So as my brains argued, I schizophrenically pushed and pulled back, pushed and pulled back (no joke) to the top of the last big hill at mile 4. I looked at my split – 5:27 – and Logic Brain started doing the math (nerdy voice) – Well now, Kaleb & Richie are 3 minutes down, which means they need to run 1 minute faster per mile over the last 3 miles to catch you, which means they need to run this mile in 5:27 minus 1, which equals 4:27. Emotional Brain (whiny teenager voice) – OH NOOO!!! What if they run this mile in 4:27?!?!? As preposterous as it sounds to run a mostly uphill mile in 4:27, it still took Logic Brain a minute or two to make Emo Brain shut the hell up. When it did, I finally relaxed and cruised in the last two miles.
I approached the finish chute stoked and enjoyed some flying Hi-5’s along the way. Though I’ve only experienced it a few times now, it’s hand’s down my favorite part of the “job.”
All smiles, and surprisingly little boogers. Thanks Nils/Rev3 again for the photo.
Overall Thoughts: Work is Paying Off, 2 Weeks to Go
Since you’re all crazy stalking fans of mine and read every blog, tweet and facebook post, you all know that I just finished 3 weeks of Santa Monica training with purplepatch and Tower 26 (full report coming soon, just couldn’t quite finish it before race day). My goal was to go down there and do a ton of open water specific swimming under the guidance of Gerry Rodrigues with some strong swim partners. Well, I went there, swam very hard with his group, did some incredible sessions, and the strategy seems to be working.
I had hands down the swim of my career. However, the course had EVERY property a non-swimmer like me loves – wetsuit legal, salt water, and slight current – none of which will be in play in Vegas. But regardless of whether or not I’m capable of staying with a pack in Vegas, it was still my best performance in the water by a ways. I’ve never come out with any of those guys before. It means, as Matt, Gerry & I saw at the end of camp, I’m swimming better than I ever have.
I also did a decent job of “practicing,” mentally and physically, what it will take for me to be successful in Vegas in 2 weeks. A super hard swim, followed by a super hard bike (particularly the front half), followed by whatever I can muster on the run, (except in Vegas it will be all out to the last step). I did a good job of staying mentally in it and following the plan that Matt and I had set up before the race.
So anyway, long story short is I’m stoked. Like I said in my post race interview, it really couldn’t have gone any better. I just went 1:48 for a legit Olympic Distance race! Ms. Pacman High Score Achieved!!!!
*Yes, I am very happy with this analogy.
**Is it just me, or is it very funny to me to see balls out right from the get go written down?
Almost forgot, this is the soundtrack to this report. I have absolutely no idea why this song was in my head the whole weekend, it’s good, but kind of depressing. Hey, I guess it worked?
– Gerry, the last 3 weeks in Santa Monica obviously made a huge difference, as we suspected after seeing my workout progression. This race was not only a breakthrough, but a confidence builder. Thank you so much for all the time and energy you’ve put in to turning me into a swimmer. Still a ways to go to be consistently solid and comfortable up there, but I’m confident we can eventually get it done. Thanks a ton!
Rob & Kurt at Roka Sports – I don’t want to say too much about this as it’s still a stealth project in the making…but if you’re a sly cat, you may have noticed I was wearing a new wetsuit this weekend. Well, the wetsuit is fast (Gerry & I tested it), and it’s designed by two fast former Stanford swimmers. I’ve been “collaborating” with these guys for a few months now, and TONS more info coming on them down the road, but just wanted to give them a shout out and huge thanks for all the help as well.
Goofing around on the bike course the day before the race.
Charlie, Eric, Ashley, Mary, Sean, Stu, Chris & the rest of the guys at Rev3for another incredible race. Of course I’m going to love a race that I did well at, but honestly, this was an incredible venue and a great course. Being able to walk from the hotel 2 minutes into a calm, perfect temp ocean was rad. Like I told a reporter afterwards, I actually rode quite a bit farther than I was supposed to the day before the race because the scenery was so beautiful. Thanks for another one guys, and see you in Florida!
Mallory and Joe “Spider Monkey” at Specialized – So in my haste to build my bike and get out for a ride, I managed to
leave the seat post clamp washer in my bag and to make up for it, waaaay over tighten the screw, which eventually broke, leaving me with no seat post clamp, and a seat height that was nearly an inch too low. When I got back from my ride on Friday, I thought I was screwed, no pun intended. Never fear, Spider Monkey is here. Joe literally saved the day by cutting me a seat post shim from another seat post and overnighting it to me with superglue. I glued the shim to the bottom of the seat post and raced on it bottomed out, basically without a clamp, just resting on the inside of the frame. Obviously, it all worked out well. So instead of me freaking out about what the hell I was going to do, I was relaxed and knew I had someone who was going to figure it out. That’s what being an awesome sponsor is all about, and it made a huge difference for this race. Thanks guys!
Geoff, Kody & all the guys at Pearl Izumi.Thanks as always for the HUGE support this year you guys. It’s definitely coming around and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of your team.
The guys at Rolf Prima. Another smoking bike split on the fastest wheels out there! Thanks again for all the support guys, looking forward to finally catching up back in Eugene!
Robert at First Endurance – Again, I was fueled exclusively by First Endurance nutrition out on the race course this time. This time, Instead of my 70.3 Nutrition Plan, I kept it simple with two bottles of EFS (lemon lime is the fastest), and one flask of Liquid Shot (vanilla tastes like candy). A little Pre-race mixed in there to pump it up as well! Thanks as always for the spectacular products!
Steve at CycleOps– Thanks again for providing the tools necessary to track my improvement on the bike, and also to know when Conrad is absolutely killing me out there and I need to back it off! Haha, really appreciate all the support!
Coach Matt Dixon – Matt obviously is the architect of all this success, and I couldn’t have done any of it without him. The thing that’s understated in this report is that outside of my swim, I had another crazy improved bike split. We’ve been hammering out there and it’s really showing. 1:48 for a legit Olympic distance race, honestly never thought I’d go that fast.
Last and anything but least, my wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps. All you crazy ass fans seriously make it all worth it. Thanks a bunch for your support and encouragement!
Rev3 Quassy Race Report
June 5, 2012
What is up crazy like polarized-molecules-in-a-microwave-on-the-high-setting fans! Solid race this Sunday in a stacked field, and even more so just a fun weekend. Let’s get right to it.
Swimming is…Annoying?: 10th fastest
Armed by my Mackenzie Madison women’s hand me down swim skin, I took off like a person wearing an extremely tight and thin garment in front of a large crowd of people. Seriously, I did get out to a pretty good start, and it wasn’t due to my blazing turnover or ferocious kick, it was my WORLD CLASS dolphin diving ability. I’m good at dolphin diving. There, I said it. It’s like riding a roller coaster in the water. Booyah!
Mine is blue, Richie's is red. That's how you know I'm in the women's version. We're about to do some dolphin diving though, so no worries. (thanks Nils Nilsen/Rev3 for the photo)
Anyway, for the first 300 to 400 meters I swam next to Joe Gambles, who I knew would be one of my top competitors. Then Joe made a strong move. I tried to go with him, but I just didn’t have that gear, and by that time it was too deep to dolphin dive. Honestly, I knew that it was super important for me to stay with him, so I pushed as hard as I could to stay in his draft, but he just kept pulling away. So I looked over and saw another group to my right, and quickly bridged the gap. I recognized Chris McDonald, who I’ve swam with before. I stuck on his feet and came to terms with a not-as-good-as-I-hoped-for kind of swim.
From there on out, the swim wasn’t too bad. I wouldn’t say it was particularly comfortable, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It was between uncomfortable and comfortable. I guess a good adjective would be annoying. Yep, the swim was annoying.
After riding with guys my last two races, I was pretty eager to try and catch the groups in front of me, but I had no idea what the gap was. So I ran hard through transition, got my shoes on quickly and was the first guy up to speed. When I hit the first rolling uphill, I started hammering. I was excited and super motivated, but a few minutes in, my legs told me they felt a little flat. They always say that in the first 20 minutes, so I just told them to shut up little legs and that everything’s going to be ok.
People always ask if I use the Fuelselage - the water bottle INSIDE - my bike. Well there you go, yes I do. (thanks Nils Nilsen/Rev3 for the photo)
I passed a few of the strong swimmers, but still had no idea where I was. I kept hearing updates from random spectators: “3 minutes down,” “1 minute down,” “About 4 minutes down,” “9th place,” “No. 7th place.” It was like riding a roller coaster of emotion. Roller coaster metaphor #2, double booyah!
This is seriously the song that came into my head about 20 miles in to the ride. Pretty brutal. Good news is I found a claymation video of it to share with you guys.
I finally got a split about ¾ of the way in from Julie Dibens – last years women’s champ who was commentating. She said I was 2:40 back on the lead, 6th place. 2:40? That’s not terrible, depending on who’s in front of me. A few miles later, at the only turn around, I saw the lead. A four man group: Matthews, Gambles, Cunningham, and Cunamma. Damn. That sucks. Basically all of my primary competitors, had been riding together for God knows how long. Plus all of them, particularly Cunningham, Gambles & Cunamma usually run race best splits. If I wasn’t close to that group off the bike, it would be near impossible to catch them. So I pushed it in HARD, trying to limit the damage. I knew I was hurting my run, but felt that if I wanted a chance to win, or even podium, it was my only option.
Right as I started the run, I had a glimmer of hope, a guy told me I was 1:20 down. 1:20! Man, maybe I did finish that ride well!If I have a great run, I might be able to catch them! So I took off at a pretty hard pace. Unfortunately, my Rundar knew immediately that I wasn’t feeling a stellar one today, but I tried my best to ignore it. Take it a mile at a time. You’ve got a shot.
Pretty sweet pic showing how rad the course is. Thanks Nils Nilsen/Rev3 for the shot.
I kept the pace up, knowing it might be unsustainable given the way I felt. Then four miles in I passed Julie who said I was – pause for dramatic affect – 2:05 down. WTF?!? I’ve been running my ass off and those guys just put 45 seconds on me in the first 4 miles?!? It took me a few minutes to do some brain Excel and realize the first split I got was wrong, I was probably 2:20 down when I started the run. Which meant I was gaining, but not gaining fast enough.
I passed Paul Matthews to move into 4th before the first turnaround at about mile 6. I finally got my own split on the leaders, still running closely together – 2:00 ahead. Damn. 7 miles to go and a 2 minute deficit started to look like a long shot. Joe was off the back just a bit, maybe 1:45 up. So I told myself that, even though I feel like complete ass, I’d run hard until the next turn around at mile 10, and see if I had a chance to catch him.
By the time mile 9 came around, I knew it was game over. Lauren says sometimes I get stuck on a saying, a lyric, I sign I saw, whatever, and repeat it over and over again without realizing it. She calls it my “Way of the future.” Anyway, my brain kept saying, “Left the run on the bike, left the run on the bike, left the run on the bike.” I told my brain to stop saying that, but it wouldn’t listen. Finally, I got to the turnaround, saw Joe go by about 1:35 up. 1:35 to make up in 3 miles? No way. Then I saw Paul was still ~1:30 behind me. So I shut it down big time. Like 30-60 seconds a mile big time. I think I was secretly glad I wasn’t close. I mean, I was really, really tired, and I just wasn’t feeling it dude.
Ok, this isn’t that funny watching just the clip (Leo’s too good!) but just so you get the reference.
Mostly Zombie, very little Bieber.
So the last mile is uphill in the middle of a forest, no crowd, no nothing, just me and the hill. As I was slogging it in, there was this one random dude on a bike, all by himself, who took a picture of me with his camera phone. Then when I jog/walked by he said to me, only three words….”Bieber Zombie Mode.” Seriously. It was awesome. I would have laughed out loud if I had the energy to do so. All I could say was, “I could use some Bieber right now.” At the time it was all Zombie and no Bieber. Anyway, it was enough to get me up and over the hill into the last flat quarter mile into the finish. Thanks dude!
Overall: Staying in it when it isn’t your day. 4th Place, Full Results
I’m content with this place. I’m not head over heals psyched, but I’m content. It’s a happy middle of the road feeling. I am absolutely satisfied with my effort on the day. I didn’t give into the many moments of doubt or self pity I had along the way. Even though I was tired, felt a bit flat, lonely, and working my ass off solo, I kept pushing to get as much out of myself as possible. I kept the opportunity open in my mind that I could still move up into the top three, at least until the last couple of miles.
For sure, I wish I had swam a little better, I still don’t feel like I’ve had a great non-wetsuit swim – I lost 1:20 to Cunamma, who I beat out of the water at Wildflower. It feels like I lost the race in the swim, but a better swim wouldn’t have made the difference. I did everything I could to catch those guys on the bike and the first 9 miles of the run. They simply had a better day, and hat’s off to them. I know they were crushing themselves in that group. They are all solid pros with significant credentials/experience, so loosing to them on the day is not a huge disappointment.
Like I said in my preview, confidence & success brings with it the burden of expectation. It’s true that I hoped to win, or even place in the top 3, and I’m proud of myself for not caving in when I knew neither was in the cards. And for staying in it mentally, I was rewarded with a solid performance in a super strong field. I’ve made significant gains on all those guys when compared to last year. The bigger picture trend is heading in the right direction, and that’s something to feel good about.
The Event: Rad & Roller Coasters
Let me just tell you all how awesome this race is. I’m definitely coming back next year, and if you’re looking for a half-ironman distance race to do next year, you should seriously consider it. The course was absolutely spectacular, seriously. Amazing scenery, nice country roads, hilly, tough, LEGIT. The Rev3 staff had everything on point as usual. It was freaking awesome. As promised, the first thing I did after crossing the finish line – rode the roller coaster.
Jake, one of the Rev3 volunteers, helped me get all my stuff ready race day morning.
Charlie, Krista, Ashley, Eric, Sean, Jaime, Jessica, and the rest of the staff & team at Rev3. This was an incredible event, and you guys made all of us pros – and I’m assuming all the age groupers as well – feel welcome and cared for. What an AWESOME course. I’m definitely coming back. I want a round 2 with that guy. Thank you so much for the support, generosity, and what you bring to the sport. You guys are rad! See you in Portland in 5 weeks!
Geoff, Kody & Kelly at Pearl Izumi. Super fun hanging with you guys this weekend. Thanks for all the help & support. Congrats to Geoff for braving some nasty conditions on the Olympic on Saturday, and Kelly for crushing the Half with sore shins. Hope you guys are recovering in your sales meeting, haha. See you on Thursday.
As always, Mallory, Sean, & Joe at Specialized –Another SOLID bike split. It kept me in the race honestly. I’m riding minutes faster when compared to the same guys last year. Thanks so much for all the help guys, keeping me competitive out there.
The guys at Rolf Prima. They cranked on getting a new TDF 60 SL front up and ready for me this weekend. Seriously appreciate the quick turnaround and support. You guys rock, and the wheels are fast dude!
My coach Matt Dixon -As always, got me ready and kept me mentally prepped for whatever I would get out of the day. Another great step forward, let’s keep it rolling.
Robert at First Endurance– I have had absolutely ZERO cramping and nutritional problems this year. I owe a HUGE chunk of that to First Endurance. Thanks for keeping me going guys. I again used the same race day nutrition plan here.
Steve and the rest of the team at Cycleops -The PowerTap was all the kept me company out on that bike ride this weekend. Definitely helped keep me honest out by myself. Thanks for all the help.
Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 – Thanks as usual for all the help Gerry. Still got a little ways to go in those non-wetsuit swims, but it’s coming around. Back to work this week!
As always, my wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps. I have some seriously awesome crazy ass fans. I had a bunch of people come up to me before and after the race, talking about this blog, etc. To have someone say Bieber Zombie in the middle of the race was a trip. I appreciate all your guys support, and when I’m out there alone, I just start writing the race report in my head. Thanks for giving me something to do.
2012 Wildflower Race Report
May 8, 2012
Well, my crazy-ass, doing-bongo-drum-dance-circles-in-the-middle-of-the-street fans, hope you’re ready. We had a BIG ONE this weekend. Grab a seat, get some water and a Picky Bar. This is a long one, but it has a happy ending.
It’s impossible to describe what I feel right now. It’s a combination of excitement, exhaustion, euphoria, nostalgia, and overwhelming relief. I want to throw up, scream, cry, poop, and laugh all at the same time. Actually, that describes it pretty well.
Yep, I slept in the closet. Don't knock it till you try it!
Wednesday and Thursday were super fun. I did a webinar with Matt. I drove down with Linsey and Chris Corbin. We stayed with super buddy (yep, I just said it) Matt Lieto, Jen Luebke, and legend Chris Legh back in Cabin 10, who told us all ridiculous and entertaining stories from his years of racing. I was in a good spot, excited, happy, enjoying it.
Thursday night things started to derail. I didn’t sleep more than a couple hours, and it had nothing to do with sleeping in the closet. I got nervous and worried. On Friday I had interviews, photo shoots, a magazine signing, Q&A panel, a stairway dedication, and I had to prep for the race. I tried to nap, but couldn’t. It was a non-stop day, mostly fun, but a lot of answering questions about the pressure to repeat, targets on my back, etc. I told everyone, and myself, that I really didn’t feel added pressure, I just wanted to enjoy it. No big deal. I was lying.
The morning of the race I saw Matt as I put on my wetsuit. “Hey,” I said with a solemn look on my face. “There’s a decent chance I’m sick. Felt like crap yesterday, my throat and nose is stuffed up. Not sure how this is going to go.” “Well,” he paused, “you’ll know when you get out there.”
The whole time I warmed up, I heard the announcers talking about Jesse Thomas this and Jesse Thomas that, what’s he going to do, the target is on his back, how’d his race strategy change, yada yada yada. I couldn’t escape it, this could be an ugly day. Honestly, the last thought I had just before the gun, “I can’t wait until this is all over.”
Swimming in a Mental Funk
To quote Gerry, I went out “quick, but not hasty,” – strong, but comfortable. A few hundred meters in, the pace slowed. I relaxed, but negative thoughts immediately clawed into my brain. How do I feel? Am I going slow? It feels hard. Am I sick? Oh man, maybe I’m out of it. Am I way behind? Who’s in front of/around/behind me? Eventually I decided that this is what I’ve got, so just stick with this group, even if you are way back. I came out of the water, didn’t see the clock, and ran toward the bike. Here goes.
Bike Ups & Downs
I carried a stick with me, in case things got physical out there.
I got my first good sign when the announcer said, “And here he is, our defending champion, starting the bike in 7th place!” WTF? Did he say 7th place? No, 17th place? Then I rode by Matt, “7th Place. 2:30 down on lead. Group of 3 in front. Good spot.” Normally I’d be stoked with such an amazing swim. But honestly, the first thing I thought was, oh man, all the good guys are probably in a group in front of me. I’m screwed.
On the first uphill Jordan Rapp whipped by me. Oh crap. I tried to go with him, but he was climbing VERY HARD. Am I going to hard? Jordan’s one of the most intelligent racers out there, and I knew he wouldn’t make a pacing mistake. Nonetheless, I can’t keep this up. There he goes. I don’t have it today.
I got out to the main road, finally away from the crowd, the event, the announcers, the magazine cover. The solitude gave me a brief moment of clarity – I’m negative all over the place. Debbie Downer. Every thought was negative – I’m sick, my legs are tired, I’ve got a new pimple on my forehead. This is not me (except the pimple part)! Enjoy this dude! Find yourself.
Debbie Downer isn’t fun to be around.
Then I realized I don’t even have a damn song in my head! Sacrilege! So I tried out some stuff – the new Coldplay, Kishi Bashi, Now Now. Nothing stuck. So I thought…it worked last year, should I try it? Let’s do it. Invisible Touch it is. No joke, as soon as I started singing it (literally, singing it out-loud), I started feeling a better. There’s something about the beat…when it hits your ears! It matches my cadence, or heart rate, or breathing or something. It’s a resonant frequency dude (Nerd Alert!). Anyway, I’d kept Jordan in my sight and no joke, with Invisible Touch powering me through, the gap narrowed. 50 seconds, 40 seconds, 30 seconds. Phil Collins, you’re the man!
Brought me back into it, thanks Phil.
When I reached Jordan, I pulled back and relaxed, we were passing people and I was burnt. When we hit the infamous Nasty Grade, I saw Macca on his bike and asked him, “How far up are they?” “Maybe two minutes, but they’re putting some power down.” I thought it was Matthews and Cunnama, and wasn’t sure I could give up two minutes (or more) to either of them on the run. So even though my legs felt like doo doo, I made a move. I heard Macca yell, “Now’s when the race starts!”
I rode hard the rest of the way. Jordan must have reeled back in whatever gap I opened up, because I left transition behind him. I saw my buddy T-Bone, he said 4th place, 1:45 to the leaders. Here we go.
Just after I took the lead. Still thinking backwards.
I started at an aggressive, but sustainable pace. With no out and backs in the first 10 miles, you’re blind on this course, and I wanted to see the leaders as soon as possible. I passed Jordan around 1.5 miles. I got splits from random people out on the course. 1:30, 1:10, 50 seconds. Finally, I passed 2nd place, and saw Matthews in first. At that point, I knew I would catch him and the hills were killing me, so I relaxed. As I did last year, I walked twice on the steepest parts of the hill before mile 6. I caught Matthews right at the top around 10k (the EXACT same place Matt gave me the clause “C” last year). I made a big move on the following steep decline and created a gap. Oh my god. I’m in the lead. 7 miles to go.
At this point, you might think I was celebrating, stoked, excited practicing my Letterman interview. Nope. I was scared. What if I cramp? What if I bonk? I want this so bad. What if my foot hurts and I have to stop? What if Rapp catches me, or Cunnama? Honestly, my mind would not let me think positively.
I passed Matt about 2 minutes later. He said I had a huge gap, and was pulling away, relax, relax, relax. So I settled into what felt like a very comfortable pace. 6 miles to go. Still in fear. I ran through the campgrounds, heard people yell you got this, smoking it, can’t even see them. Even Macca yelled, “it’s time to go for records!” But I couldn’t enjoy it. I gave people hi-fives, I smiled and said thank you, but I couldn’t shake the fear.
When I hit the turnaround at mile 10 I got my own split, 1:40 up on 2nd place, Jordan. To confident Jesse, that would have been more than enough to relax and enjoy it. But I was hurting. The climb to mile 12 were the longest two miles of my life. What if I die. One step at a time. Is that a cramp? One step at a time. Is he gaining on me? One step at a time. Finally, I crest the hill. One downhill mile to go. I asked the lead biker, “Is he catching me?” “No man, you got it. Enjoy it.”
Into the long blue finish chute, I FINALLY knew I had it. The pressure lifted. It was honestly physical, palpable. I literally felt it release. I was flying, light as a feather. Time for celebration. With my Aviator glasses on tight, I “flew” arms spread wide through the chute giving everyone high 5s along the way. Grabbed the tape and yelled. Euphoria and relief.
Finally. Time to fly.
Proving It To Myself
It wasn’t until the interviews afterward that I let my guard down, not only to everyone else, but to myself. If you were there, you may have noticed that the excitement was littered with small emotional moments.
I’ve honestly never felt so much pressure in my life. I don’t think I even realized it all until after the race was over. And honestly, the pressure wasn’t completely external. It wasn’t the magazine cover, the announcers, the signings, panels, interviews, etc. It was me. I WANTED this one. I wanted it so bad. I needed it for myself. I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t a one hit wonder who’s career was solely defined by a win at Wildflower in a slow year. I wanted to prove that the media attention, hype, sponsor support, even the damn cover was deserved.
I don’t think I’ll ever feel that much pressure again. Next year won’t be the same. I’ve already defended. Other races won’t be the same, I’ve established myself. I wrote months ago about finally, for the first time in my life, feeling like a true pro athlete. Now I feel like a true champion. The third fastest time ever on a back to back win in one of the most historic races in the world. I’ll freaking take it. This win certainly won’t, in my mind, define my career, it’s another step in the journey I started 18 months ago. But I feel like I can now rest knowing I wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
I have to say that, generally, it’s impossible to improve by almost 6 minutes without some significant support. Emotionally, physically, equipment and financially, the guys below are just as responsible as I am for this awesome break through. Thank you all so much!
My coach Matt Dixon - I owe a very big piece of this to him. He not only had me physically prepared in the best shape of my life. He mentally kept me in check the entire week. As nervous, doubtful, worried as I was, it would have been substantially worse, and I honestly don’t know if I could have pushed through it without him. Huge thanks for the emotional/mental support man, great stuff.
Mallory, Joe, Sandy and the rest of the team at Specialized - The Specialized team actually created and gave away a few hundred pairs of free aviators to people in the crowd! UNREAL! Seriously, you guys are awesome. Can’t say enough about it. They also had a full support truck there for Jordan, Dan Hugo and I and did a ton of work getting my Shiv dialed in before the race. Oh yeah, my bike split was 5 MINUTES faster than last year!
I actually got to sign magazines with my face on them for awesome fans who were wearing Specialized aviators. I'm sorry, but THAT is sweet.
Loren and Jess reppin' some Picky Bar action. Thanks dudes!
My cousin/Picky Bars Marketing Director Loren, Jessica, James, Tbone, Neil, Kristen, and of course my mom, for driving down from all over the place just to come and watch me race. It was awesome having you guys there for emotional support. Thank you so much.
Terri, Dixie, and the rest of the crew at Tri-Cal. 30 Years of Greatness. You guys deserve every bit of success you receive. The way you support the pros in this industry is unparalleled. I’m truly grateful for the enormous impact you’ve had on my career. Thank you so much.
Robert at First Endurance – Special shout out to FE. I did not cramp once this year, (check out my full race day nutrition plan here) and I struggled with cramps the entire race last year. Thanks a ton Robert for the amazing product, and the nutritional advice. On our way man!
Goeff, & Kody at Pearl Izumi. 2nd fastest run on a day like that, I’ll take it! Thanks a ton for the support guys. Awesome to hear from you both before and after the race, see you in Quassy.
The guys at Rolf Prima. Thanks for the gear and support guys. Like I said, 5 MINUTES faster on those TDF 60’s!
Cycleops – Couldn’t have prepped in the rain without that PowerBeam pro. Thanks a ton for all the help and support.
– Gerry, again, thanks for the swimming instruction, both physical and mental. Almost a minute faster than last year, and more comfortable. Amazing man, owe a lot of it to you.
All my competitors, but particularly Jordan, who really battled hard
with me out there the whole way. I know he wanted this one just as bad, and we’ll have more duels down the road. Check out his recap here.
My wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps. I have the best crazy ass fans in the sport. Seriously. I love your aviators, your comments, pictures, everything. It literally keeps me going through all the BS. Thanks you guys!
California 70.3 Race Report
April 3, 2012
One word for this race, boomshakalaka! A solid swim and my fastest bike ever to set up a chance for the win at one of the biggest races of the year. It’s all in there, so I’ll just leave you to it!
It’s San Diego, on a military base, Aviators. A PERFECT soundtrack to this race report.
Swim: Chillin to a Decent One
As I put my 2nd cap on (no Costa Rica repeats), Matt gave me crap about how much of a pansy I was for complaining about swimming without a cap last race. Words of encouragement from a true friend. (Thanks Larry Rosa for the photo).
The gun went off and I went out super…easy. WTF?!? It was so crowded that I lined up behind the first row and just chilled out. After my Costa Rica freak out, Gerry told me to take 5% off my speed in the first 200 meters so I could stay relaxed and react when the pace dropped. He was right. About 500 meters in the pack accelerated and I stayed with it without a problem. I honestly never felt crazy uncomfortable during the swim, mostly relaxed, working hard, but smooth. The water got a little gnarly outside of the harbor, feeding me a few salt-water smoothies, but
no biggie. I knew I was with Matt Lieto, Jeff Symmonds, and Leon Griffin, and any time I come out of the water with names I recognize, that’s a good swim. I still have a minute to go to front pack, but considering the sucktasticness of my other swims this year, I was stoked with 2nd pack.
I had a fast transition (long run to the bikes) and was first on the bike of my group. I didn’t want anyone to ride my wheel so I gunned it pretty hard for the first 15 minutes until Griffin pulled up in front of me. We rode together for a while, then Matt joined us and the 3 of us hammered for the next 20 minutes to catch the front group of 8 other guys – including all the favorites outside of Andy Potts, who was riding alone in front after his typically dominant swim.
Ok, Matt Lieto, I guess you can lead. (Thanks Larry Rosa for the ridiculous photo).
When we caught the group, I’m fairly sure I let out a small fist pump and low-volume, but audible “Booyah.” It was a lot like Tom Cruise on his motorcycle next to the fighter jets about 20 seconds into that Danger Zone video. This was the first time I’ve ever ridden with the main group – which has been a huge goal of mine. Plus, I felt fairly decent. I was pumped.
Feeling about as good as I look while making a move on the hills. Thanks to Larry Rosa for the awesome shot.
Mental Games Subsection:After I took a minute to catch my breath, I started evaluating where I was, how I felt, and who was in front of me. Front group, check. Feeling decent, check. Solid runners but guys I can run with, check. It all added up to one thought in my head, “Dude, if you hold it together, you could win Oceanside!” I know it sounds exciting, but honestly, it scared me. A lot. I got incredibly nervous and doubtful. I was so excited at the possibility of a great finish that I began to fear losing it. What if my legs feel flat? What if I get a flat? What if I have to take a dump on the run? Seriously, it was crazy. It’s a weird feeling to describe, but it happened. These races are sooo long, you have to accept and weather a number of emotions that come and go throughout the race.
Anyway, about 65 minutes into the ride, we hit the big hills and I didn’t have time or energy to continue thinking. I was towards the back of the group, and saw a few strong runners break off the front – Ambrose, Cunningham, and Griffin. Then Kemp (another great runner) took off to catch them, and I decided if I didn’t go, my chances of a podium were lost. So I made a big move on the last couple of hills and hammered. Kemp and I worked together and put a bit of time into the guys up front. Then Matt came up to us and the three of us charged forward. I gave basically everything I had to stay with Matt, and eventually, we reeled them in just before T2. I was super beat and worried I’d burned my legs, but excited to start the run in the thick of the race.
Run: To Go or Not to Go? That is the Question.
Starting off way too hard. (Thanks @hschamp13 for the twitter pic!)
Just like Costa Rica, a had a terrible T2. My hands were cold and my mind-jacked fears escalated when my right quad cramped badly while putting on my shoe. I lost 15-20 seconds to the guys I rode in with, and worried that the group in front of me (Kemp, Cunningham, Griffin, and Ambrose), all solid runners, would run away from me. So I HAMMERED until I caught them. My Garmin showed a 5:10 first mile, not a smart way to start a half marathon after the fastest/hardest ride of my career and a quad cramp. Worried about my energy reserves with a long way to go, I relaxed and tried to catch my breath. I ran hard, but within myself with the group. We whittled away Pott’s 2 minute lead for about 6 miles on the long out and back of the first lap and dropped a couple guys off the group.
As we came back in to the crowd to start lap two, it was obvious we were stuck about 90 seconds behind Andy, and not making up time. But I was hurting, knew we had a long way to go, and honestly was VERY HAPPY finishing in the top 3 (where I also get most of my bonus $). I worried that if I went for it, I might cramp/tire/die before the finish line and lose the podium. But as we passed through the crowd I heard a bunch of “Go Aviator!” and “Catch him Jesse!” cheers. And unless my mom had learned how to teleport, they were coming from other fans, urging me to go. So in a flash of adrenaline/bravado/oh-what-the-hell-ness, I went for it with 6 miles to go. I dug deep and put in a huge move, gapping Richie and Leon, and putting Andy in my sites.
From my Twitter Feed. Absolutely love it.
The doubled-armed-whoop-whoop-3rd-place-over-celebration. Thanks Larry Rosa for capturing the moment.
After 3 TOUGH miles, I actually saw him at the tail end of the last long out and back. Depending on which split I listened to, I was between 45 and 60 seconds of Andy at about 10 miles. But then, my fears started to sink into reality, and the wheels started coming off. Each step felt harder and harder and was slower and slower. By 11.5 miles, I had given back everything I gained. Richie passed me at mile 12, and I stuck to his shoulder, repeating to myself over and over, that NO ONE can beat you in the last 600 meters! I was wrong. Richie is a tough dude, and pulled away from me in the last half mile or so. It was full burnout/bonk/lactic/Bieber-Zombie mode. As bummed as I was to lose 2nd place by so little, I was still pretty freaking stoked that I was in 3rd place at Oceanside 70.3! So embarrassingly, I finished with about as much excitement as if I’d won, including some high-fives and Arsenio style whoop whoops! It was rad.
I don’t know if it’s whoop or woof. Either way, the crowd does it for 2 minutes straight.
For those of you who aren’t as familiar with triathlon, this is a big result for me. It feels almost equivalent of winning Wildflower last year. Not in the excitement and exuberance I felt, but just in terms of putting me in the mix with the “big dogs.” It’s a great step in my career, it gives me confidence, and I think will make me part of the conversation in races down the road.
Yep, I’m also bummed I gave up 2nd place (between prize money & bonuses from sponsors, it was a COSTLY 11 seconds). BUT, I had a shot to run down Andy Potts for the win, and I went for it. I talked to coach Matt afterwards and he said, “If you’re ever in that situation again, you do the exact same thing.” And he’s right. If I hadn’t have taken the shot, I’d regret it, and Richie very well could have beaten me anyway. You don’t race for 2nd place, you race to win. Most of the time you don’t, but every once in a while, hopefully you do.
Random Post Race Story
Chilling with my #1 fan (mom) post race. Thanks @SDTryathlon for tweeting the photo.
I have to specially thank my Mom, Aunt Terri, Jakob (my mom’s exchange student) and Zach (his buddy) for supporting me before and during the race. I stayed at my Aunt’s place in Laguna Beach before the race and had dinner with them. I gave Jakob and Zach specific instructions to give me the split between me and 6th place when I was out on the run – my goal was top 6. When I came by in 2nd/3rd after the first lap Jakob started frantically asking my mom “What should I do? What should I tell him? Ahh!” Randomly, my cousins Aly and Lindsey were down in the area, saw there was a race, decided to watch for a few minutes, and saw that I was in 3rd place! They started texting my Dad asking if I had a race today, and basically everyone started freaking out for the next 70 minutes. Regardless of the splits, I heard all of them every single time I went by, and it was awesome. Thanks guys!
Huge shout out to Aaron, Willow, and Keith for letting me crash with them at the Carlsbad Resort. I didn’t have a place to stay, and they graciously invited me to stay with them. When we discovered there were two double beds , Willow and Keith shared a bed, and Aaron insisted on the blow up mattress, giving me the only solo bed. I felt like a complete A-hole, wanted to fight Aaron for it, but decided he’s likely much stronger than I am so it was a bad idea. Ultimately, Aaron had a stellar race, a 20 something minute PR of 4:31 and 5th in his age group. Willow and Keith weren’t as stoked with their races, but they both had solid first outings for the season. They’re all gearing up for Ironman St. George in a few weeks. Good luck guys, and thanks again!
Joe hard at work on the Shiv. He wasn't even phased by my picture. The dude is a Machine!
Mallory and Joe at Specialized – Mallory gives me crap because after every race I say, “that was my fastest bike ever!” Well, it has been my fastest bike ever, every single time! The Shiv is fast and there’s no secret to why I’m cruising this year. Joe (Spider Monkey), assembled, disassembled, cleaned, lubed, tuned, and set up my bike entirely before and after the race. Again, I felt like an A-hole watching him do it all, but it was a HUGE help and decreased the stress around the event. Both of you guys were awesome this weekend, and Mallory, I’m sorry I made you drive back with my shoes!
Goeff, & Kody at Pearl Izumi. Another fastest run split in Transitions! Thanks a ton for the support guys. Kody expedited some shoes to me for the race to make sure I was set to go. As always, awesome stuff, really appreciate it.
The guys at Rolf Prima. Thanks for the gear and support guys. Great stuff cruising along on those TDF 60’s!
Robert at First Endurance – Nailed another race day nutrition plan – EFS on the bike, and Liquid Shot + Pre-Race on the run. Awesome stuff, thanks a ton for the support.
Yep, that's a gigantic bear on a Shiv. What Matt always tells me to visualize when I'm scared of the competition. Thanks to Phil Maskiewicz for the awesome photo.
Coach Matt Dixon – As always, I keep your guidance in my head during the crazy times in the race. Thanks for keeping me in the game mentally and physically. Really excited about the next few races down the road.
Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 – Gerry, thanks for the swimming tips. I think the work is starting to show. Definitely a step in the right direction, appreciate it!
My wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps. It was so much fun to read through all the activity on Twitter post race. So many people rooting for me to go, so awesome and motivating, thanks a ton guys.
What’s Up With Leap Day
February 29, 2012
So I’m in the middle of an enormo Kona training camp, and to be honest, would rather take a nap or catch up on Glee than write a blog, but I know my stark raving mad fans would be up in arms if I didn’t address the title, nay, the namesake, of their most beloved blog. So here I am, free flowing to see what happens.
This blog is called Leap Day Sports because I was born on Leap Day. Today is Leap Day, so today is my birthday. I’m 8. Ok, you get it.
To be honest, I don’t know much about Leap Day except that it only comes every four years and it’s my birthday. Growing up, I didn’t need to know more than that. I think the calendar guys put the extra day in every four years to account for the discrepancy between lunar tides, anti-matter, and Jennifer Aniston’s latest hairdo.
People always ask me stuff about Leap Day, and I obviously never have any idea what I’m talking about. So I decided to do some research and answer some of the questions I typically get, some of the questions I ask myself, and some of the questions that should and probably would never be asked. Below in no particular order are some Leap Day Q&A:
Oh my god oh my god oh my god!
Q: Are there any fun Leap Day traditions?
A: Apparently, Leap Day is the day when women propose to men. I am not joking, came up on the first page of “what is leap day” google search. Include-worthy for the photo alone.
Q: Is there a theme song for Leap Day?
A: I couldn’t find one, but I did find a band called Leap Day. Here’s their most listened to song on myspace. Props if you can make it through the whole thing without turning down the volume.
Q. Do you know anyone else with a Leap Day birthday?
A. Yes, actually my Aunt Rhonda turns 15 today! She’s a great supporter, reader of this blog, and Picky Bar customer. Happy Birthday Rhonda!
Q: Are there any celebrities born on Leap Day?
A: Turns out February 29th is a weak ass celebrity birthday. Only ones I could find were Tony Robbins and Ja Rule. However, it did remind me of a hilarious Ja Rule part of a Dave Chappelle skit, so we’re all good.
What does Ja Rule think of all this? (warning: some funny but foul language)
Q. Do you celebrate your birthday on Feb 28th or March 1st?
A. No. I don’t celebrate it on either day. I save it ALL for the real thing. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but I have had some fairly huge parties on the actual day.
The only non-incriminating photo of the 7th birthday.
When I was 12, my mom took me and a bunch of friends ice skating and mini golfing in Bend. Does it get any better than that? Then, when the parents weren’t looking, we made out with each other. That’s how we made it even better.
When I was 24, I had a 6 year old theme birthday. So we did all the normal stuff you do as a six year old – played with toys, pin the tale on the donkey, wore transformers T shirts. Oh yeah, except we did it drunk. The highlight was definitely the Spongebob Squarepants bouncy castle with 40 of my closest friends.
#7 (2008) was the most epic – Ocean’s Seven. I rented a place, rented a casino company, and ~120 of my family and friends from all walks of life came to Eugene to gamble with money that had MY FACE ON IT. Soooooo booyah. The Lane Transit District even sent a bus to give us a free ride to the Rock n’ Rodeo afterwards – a place about as awesome and terrible as it sounds.
yard glass was a "gift" from my Ardica buddies on #7. They definitely didn't try to get me to drink 7 of them. They would never do that to me. Ever.
Q: What are you going to do to celebrate this year?
A: Admittedly, this year will not be the party of EPIC PROPORTIONS from 2008. World’s collided this year with my new “job,” being in Kona to train, and the pretty crappy timing of Leap Day falling on a Wednesday. I’m bummed not to be celebrating with some of my good buddies back home, but I am planning on celebrating as much as possible here. After a rather large day of training (5500 swim, 4hr ride, 70 min run – training camp is hard, seriously), I’ll head out for sushi and sake with the rest of the purplepatch crew training here in Kona. When I get back to Eugene next week, I’ll do a double celebration with my little bro Joel, who turns 30 on March 6th!
Q: What does Leap Day mean to you?
A: Honestly, I’ve always thought that being born on Leap Day was the coolest thing about me. I’d bet the people who know everything else about me would agree.
My mom says that I knew, from the womb, that the 29th was coming, and I held out for 30+ hours until it did. I’ve been told that Leap Day is the day of eternal youth, which might help explain 1) How I’ve escaped four semi legitimate brushes with death (much longer blog, but it’s coming sometime), and 2) why I still look 14 years old with a clean shave.
Seriously, it’s been awesome to celebrate Leap Day as the year’s progress. If anything, it gives me a reason to try and make a big deal out of myself. Hopefully I’ll have many more to celebrate down the road. In fact – here is a public invite to anyone that reads this blog to my 10th (40th) B-Day in 2020. I’ve looked ahead, and yes, it lies on a Saturday, boomshakalaka! I’ll say right now it’s most likely going to be in Bend, but seriously look me up and you’re invited.
That’s it from Kona! I’ll leave you with a link to the most recent 30 Rock Episode, which was all about Leap Day and all it’s awesomeness. Enjoy!
Panama 70.3 Race Report
February 22, 2012
Hello raving starving crazy mad lunatic fans, the first race of 2012 is in the books – Panama 70.3! Check out below for the full recap, and of course, let me know what you think via my newsletter, comments, twitter, or facebook!
Press play for the soundtrack to this race report. Yes, I had this song in my head the whole weekend. And yes, it’s because it was on Glee last week.
The Executive Summary
For all you busy types:
For the first time in hot and humid conditions, I avoided Crampy McCramperstein and didn’t completely die. Booyah!
I had an improved bike despite riding solo for the majority of the race.
I had a decent swim – on par with most of last year.
I still got dropped from the front swim group, which probably cost me a couple minutes on the bike by isolating me out there.
I faded quite a bit in the last few miles of the run.
I finished 6th in a solid field. 2nd American behind this guy named Lance who used to race bikes . I’m really happy with this result, it’s a great kick-off to the season!
First shave of the season, thank god for TP and electrical tape.
Pre Race Buzz
So maybe a week before the race, Lance Armstrong, – yes, him, really – announced he would make his half ironman debut in Panama. Holy crap. My first race of the year had just gone from intentionally under the radar to the most anticipated event since season two of Desperate Housewives.
In all honesty, I did my best to avoid the buzz before the race. It was super cool/exciting that he was racing, but it was really important that I not get too distracted. I had to make sure that I did what I spent a lot of money to come here to do – get as many 70.3 Worlds qualifying points as possible.
So I spent most of my time in my hotel room, getting ready, eating the same dinner from room-service 3 nights in a row (if you know it doesn’t make you sick, don’t change it, slick!), and, of course, shaving my legs. Despite some awesome matching cuts on my achilles, I felt fairly relaxed and ready to race come Sunday.
The first pro in transition, Nerd Alert!. Apparently I’m also possessed by a demon, Demon Alert!
I lined up next to Chris (Lieto) because I’d swam with him before at Vineman, and hoped to stay with him again. After the washing-machine first 400 meters, I got on someone’s feet and swam like hell. When I sighted, I saw the guy had a yellow cap, and I immediately though to myself, “Oh my god, I think I just tickled Lance Armstrong’s feet!” Just kidding. I actually thought “Hot damn these guys are going impossibly fast.” And…I was right. About 700 meters in I got dropped, and swam the rest of the way behind one other dude.
The first part of the course was AMAZING. Hilly and rolling through pretty lush forests. Yes, I said pretty, like a beautiful rainbow and butterflies. I was actually enjoying riding my new bike in la-la land despite crushing my legs trying to catch the group. At the first turnaround, I wasn’t catching the group, so I settled into a more sustainable/mellow pace. At the next turn around, I saw that I had lost another 2 minutes, ~3.5 minutes out of 8-10th place. If I didn’t start cranking, there was no way 8th place (my goal) was within reach. So I HAMMERED for the next 20 miles and started picking off some guys. At the final turn around, I had gained 45 seconds on the group. When I got into transition, the announcer said, here comes Jesse Thomas, he’s in 9th place, 3 minutes out of 8th. He also said nice shades. Sweet!
I’ve discovered that I can always tell, in the first mile, whether or not I’m going to have a great, average, or craptastic run. Let’s call it my Rundar (run + radar, Nerd Alert!). With the oven-like heat, my Rundar was hovering between low decent and solid craptastic. So I went into Survival Mode. I tried not to think about who was in front of me, what the gaps were, etc. If I caught people, great, but first and foremost I needed to finish or no 70.3 points. So I just ran off feel, concentrating on my nutrition plan.
When all else fails, Survival-Bieber Mode is your best bet.
Luckily for me, other guys were struggling in the heat as well, and they started cracking. I passed #8 about 4 miles in, #7 at mile 6. At mile 9 I started hurting pretty bad so I stepped it up to Survival-Beiber Mode and used the energy of the crowd to keep me going – giving High-Fives to anyone that wanted them, saying thanks when people said nice aviators, you know what I’m talking about. I passed Chris just after mile 11. I, of course, pretended like I was feeling great, and Chris just about gave me a heart attack by matching pace for about a mile. I was in NO mood for a sprint to the finish line. Luckily he wasn’t either, so I eventually had a safe distance to cruise in. I came in, zipped up my totally awesome new jersey and I crossed the finish line trying not to look like an aviator-wearing-sun-crusted-zombie. I was unsuccessful.
Survival-Bieber Mode engaged. (Thanks Stephanie Fleming for the photo).
I finished 6th place, 2nd American behind Lance. I faded a bit on the run, maybe could have finished 5th, but there’s always the shoulda, coulda, woulda. And, my fade wasn’t nearly as bad as other hot races like my Boise zombie crawl, or the biggest winner, my Philippines death march. The fact that I didn’t cramp, rode well, and finished strong is a good sign of things to come. Plus, I got 70.3 points, booyah.
Another sorry ass attempt at a finish line pose for me. Damn it, when am I going to figure this out! (Thanks Dave Erickson for the photo)
It was pretty cool to have Lance in the race, and I let myself enjoy it more after it was over. He drew a TON of unexpected attention, and obviously raised the level of the field with his finish.
No Lance, I like YOUR glasses.
After the race, a guy who had been talking with Lance introduced himself to me. He said he saw me out on the course and really liked my aviators and style. I told him thanks, that the glasses had, for better and for worse, kind of become my thing. He was a really nice guy and had some cool things to say. Turns out it was John Stapleton, Lance’s agent.
At the awards ceremony John grabbed Lance and introduced him to me as Jesse, the kid that was wearing the Aviators. Lance said that John had been telling him about how cool it was that this kid was racing in aviators, etc. We talked for a minute, I told him congrats on a great debut and got a pic with him. Honestly, I don’t get too star-struck, but it was pretty freaking cool that he knew about about the aviators.