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
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.
Bike: 3rd fastest – Holy SHIV! My best bike ever!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overall – The Risk of Going For It – FULL RESULTS
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
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!
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.
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.