Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

Change of Plans

Almost exactly a year ago, I experienced the most amazing athletic adventure of my life. Through the good graces #manvan buddy Matt Lieto and the generosity of race organizers, I was invited to compete at Philippines 70.3.

Tough to believe we’ve had a year of Jesse Bieber. They grow up so fast!

The hospitality and accommodations were unparalleled – catered meals, eclectic cabins and a wakeboarding resort. The media, the reception, and fanfare bordered on HYSTERIA. All of this resulted in not only an epic, two-part race report, but most importantly, the birth of what would become known around the globe as Jesse Bieber.

So it is, with sincere sadness, that I “announce” that I won’t be going back to the Philippines this year. In all honesty, this is a huge bummer for me. I’m going to miss the beautiful race (in an even more exotic location this year), the lavish accommodations, and the epic after-party. But more importantly, I’m going to miss the people; the race organizers, sponsors, management staff, age group athletes and the fans were simply amazing. They made me and the other pros feel a sense of celebrity usually only reserved for those with names like Brangelina, TomKat, and Kimye. Seriously, I made some good friends over there, stayed connected with them through Facebook & Twitter, and I’m disappointed I won’t get to see them this year in Cebu.

Good times with the pros and our host Fred Uytengsu.

Why #1: Last Year’s World Championships Bummer

Luckily, the citizens of the Philippines won’t have to watch me do this again.

Though I had the time of my life racing, wakeboarding and Tinikling (shown left) the weekend away, the experience as a whole proved to be too much for my body to handle. I caught a bug, and when I landed back in the US, was out of commission. I didn’t exercise (move much, really) for 8 days. I pulled out of the SF Triathlon at Alcatraz. When it finally passed, I had about 10 days to get ready for the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas.

It was obvious leading into the Vegas that the bout had taken it’s toll on my body. But I pushed on, remembering that regardless of how you feel beforehand, you never know what can happen on race day. Sure enough though, three minutes into the swim I was gasping. I rode terribly. I felt weak and frustrated. I debated dropping out, and ran flat to a 17th place finish. It was the low point of my season, and a disappointment. Worse of all, my body was so wrecked afterwards that I couldn’t race again. It left a sour taste in my mouth on a rookie year that otherwise exceeded all my expectations.

Why #2: Focusing on the Goal

When Matt and I set the plan this year, the three main goals were simple: 1) try to repeat at Wildflower, 2) compete for the Rev3 Series title, and 3) have a solid showing at 70.3 World Championships. Well, #1 happened, #2 is close, and #3 will be determined in September.

After discussing my last few races, Matt and I now believe I’m a good swim away from being competitive at the highest level. If I can hang on to the heals of one pack in front in front of my “normal” at the World Championships, I could be very successful there. To be honest, the rate of improvement of my bike, and consistency of my run is ahead of our anticipated schedule, making a solid finish at the World Championships this year more of a possibility than we expected.

I could use the time, I’m not that “strong” a swimmer. If you have a link to the full length video, let me know.

While my swim has been good, and consistently better/more comfortable than last year, it’s hit a bit of a plateau. Matt and Gerry think that with some focused, fully coached sessions, some hard open-water specific workouts, I can take it up one more level. I believe I’m closer to that next level than my results show. I’m consistently with the first-ish group for the first few minutes. I just need to hold the second burst/change of pace, and then – I think – I’ll be capable of settling into the wake. Regardless of what exactly it will take, it’s obvious that the swim is where I need to focus.

So it is for a combination of these two reasons that I’m passing on the Philippines this year. I’m just not confident in my non-travel-experienced body to handle the significant trip out there, the different food, water, etc., without taking a significant toll just weeks before the World Championships. I also need a solid block of swim specific training to hopefully bring me up another half level or so in the next 6-8 weeks – something a trip halfway across the world can’t accomodate. Hopefully, both of these decisions add up to a more successful result at the World Championships this year, my ultimate goal.

I want to sincerely thank Fred, Princess, Farrah, the other race organizers, and all of my crazy ass Filipino fans for the support opportunity this year, and for being so understanding of my decision. I sincerely hope to be back soon!

Since Rev3 Portland – Swimming & Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove THIS Friday/Saturday

So after a full week off post Portland Rev3, I’m about 8 days into some solid training (Strava account). In addition to the rides and runs there, I’ve been swimming with the Willamalane Swim Club Team (see my Triathlete Magazine Article, What’s the Deal with the Old Guy?) , and our new Picky Bar employee – Patrick O’Neil, who happens to be a former NCAA 200 Butterfly Champion. Yes, I hired a former NCAA swimming star as an employee. I’m the CEO and I can do what I want. Seriously, Patrick is smarter than I am and a MUCH faster swimmer than I’ll ever be. Easiest hire I’ve ever made! **As an exciting side note, we also just announced our first Picky Bars production partner, a HUGE step that will enable big things going forward, and one of my biggest projects of the last couple of months.

Anyway, I’ll spend the rest of this week in Eugene so I can attend the Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove on Saturday morning. I’m not racing the whole thing, but will swim the Olympic and Sprint relays – getting my swim on. If you’re racing or live in the Eugene area, be sure to come to our Pro Q & A session on Friday evening at 7pm at Rolf Prima to say hi.

Plan Going Forward –So Cal Training with puplepatch and Tower 26

Who’s winning Outfit of the Day? This guy.

On Saturday I’m headed to Agoura Hills for the Purplepatch Tri Camp all next week, where I’ll try to maintain my dominance in the Outfit of the Day category by donning Pearl Izumi legends like Midnight Tiger (left) and Green Goblin, and showing up to track workouts in just half tights and a Hasselhoff-hairy chest.

From there, I’ll spend a week in the Santa Monica/Pacific Palisades/somewhere in that area to swim with Gerry Rodrigues and the Tower 26 group. Heading down south will be a perfect way to get some solid swim instruction/training, and some good heat acclimation as well.

I’m holding my breath that I get into Worlds with the points I have now. I’m very close, but haven’t gotten an invite yet. If it looks like it isn’t going to happen, I may go to Boulder to train/race the 70.3 there for my last bump in points. We’ll see what happens.

That’s it folks! These updates will have to satiate your otherwise ravenous hunger for Jesse content. Until next time!

11 comments to Change of Plans

  • Zachinacubicle

    Jeremy and I are planning a trip to worlds, sans dignity to cheer you on.

  • Have you tried lap swimming in a jacuzzi? It might help with your swimming technique. (see video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDaa-I-y5EU)

    No but in all seriousness, I understand not wanting to travel to the Philippines for a race. Especially when you have big goals for World Championship.

  • T-Bone

    Cool that Patrick is helping you with swimming! I agree that you are right around the corner from hanging with the next group. At Worlds when you are in a wetsuit and have a larger field I think you’re going to be money.

    Hope you don’t have to do a last minute race, but if you go to Boulder you will lay down a smoking fast time! You probably know lots of people there already, but if not let me know if you need a place to stay because Em’s brother lives there and I can ask.

    Turns out I’m actually racing Calgary 70.3 this weekend to try to get a spot at Worlds myself. I’ve been having Don Quixote coach me and have been much more consistent in training the last 2 weeks as a result. Excited for the season to continue!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Dude, stoked you’re doing Calgary, especially because it means you’ll be in Vegas. Will be watching for results. Good luck!

  • Great decision. Laser focus on Worlds. Smart. Good Luck in the water bringing it “up a notch”!!

  • Having just acquired some nasty GI bug myself, I understand your sound reasoning not to travel. While Jesse Bieber is cool, Giardia is not. [no, I don’t have Giardia — thank God]

    I hope you rock Vegas big time and then party like its 1999. Oh wait, you probably could party in 1999. Dang, you old, Jesse Bieber.

    Just kidding, yo.

    In all seriousness, you make good decisions. I need to learn how to do that. Exhibit A: trying to convince myself that “vomiting never killed anyone” so I could go to skyline to sea trail yesterday. Thankfully, Dr. Lesko talked me into my senses. Future doctors make bad patients.

    Swim with Patrick. Watch Phelps and Lochte. Watch Finding Nemo. Your swim will improve in no time.

  • Eli Pendergrass

    Congratulations on your win. My name is Eli and you game me a high 5 before you crossed the finish line at Rev3 Maine. I am 7 years old and think that you are awesome. I want to try to do a triathlon now. I just signed up for swim team and am excited to practice. Best of luck at your next event. Also, can we switch signed pictures, I will send one of me playing hockey if you send one of you doing triathlon?

    • Jesse Thomas

      Hey Eli! I’m a little weary you’re a joke one of my friends is playing on me, but if not, I would be stoked to get your hockey pic, and I’ll send you one for sure. I’ll send you an email. Thanks dude!

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