Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

Rev3 Maine Race Report

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 of Gerry, “quick, but not hasty.” It honestly just felt like another open water interval with the Tower 26 group. 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 Rodrigues of Tower 26 – 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 Rev3 for 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!

15 comments to Rev3 Maine Race Report

  • I WIN! [fake competition]

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! Well done. Much deserved.

    1. It seems like you never have time goals, per se, meaning you really only focus on certain aspects that will make you compete better (vs “I want to run this fast, I want to swim this fast). True or not true? Am I reading it wrong?

    2. How do you always bring your “A” game?

    3. Did you wear Aviators before you broke your neck? Will you guy your kid babiators? http://www.babiators.com/

    4. Does the Caveman ascribe to the Caveman lifestyle? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/fashion/10caveman.html?pagewanted=all

    5. CONGRATS!!!

    [PS – when you and LFT have a kid and it starts crying in the night, THOSE minutes will be the longest minutes of your life; when sleep training the kid, highly recommend timing how long they cry from the time of first cry — bc 15 sec seems like an eternity and you will want to run in there, when maybe you should wait to see if they self soothe — so, that swim was good preparation for minutes-seeming-to-be-hours training]

  • marian

    another fabulous job, jesse! congratulations!!

  • Damie Roberts

    I have a feeling 90% of your readers will not recognize that Smith’s song, but it is one of their best. Maybe you were singing it because you never ever want to go home? Nice, awesome race- and congrats on the swim improvements. Keep on seeing the big picture!

  • Carolina R.

    WOW!!! Congrats on the win! You must be riding a crazy high of happiness!

    We just moved to Eugene from Miami and I was wondering if you have any neat tips for tri training in Eugene. Especially when the weather gets colder, and wetter.

    Thanks! Keep up the great work!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Hey Carolina, congrats on your move. I’d invest in a good trainer and some good winter weather riding gear (fenders, jacket, gloves, all Pearl Izumi if course 🙂 ) as unfortunately you will spend a lot of time riding either in the rain or on the trainer. The running never gets so bad, I basically run outside year round. Check out Willamalane for the best pool (in Springfield) open basically all day every day year round, Amazon pool during the summer. You can check out my strava account for some routes. Good luck!

  • Bob R

    Congrats Jesse! Here’s hoping for more finish line high-fives soon!

  • Jenn

    Congrats Jesse! Good luck in Vegas!

    But most importantly: Did you really burn 1,000 calories in a 31 minute run?? That’s at least four PB & J rice cakes! Well earned.


  • Brad

    Nice pull on the Ms. PacMan analogy! I understand exactly what you are talking about (well, the Ms. PacMan part, not the swimming with the front pack part). Congratulations on the W!

  • T-Bone

    Amazing race! Love the pacman analogy – for me it was tetris. Great write-up too! I still like my idea of imaginary reports on off weeks for your crazy-hungry-for-more-can’t-get-enough-JT fans.

  • Super Congratulations Jesse!! That is absolutely amazing – and unreal that you were borrowing a bike for triathlons two years ago – what?!

    As soon as I saw on twitter (aka stalker app) that you were Number 2 off the bike, I knew that you were going to win! (And I have zero calculated brain logic for that, other than I know you are usually faster than everyone on the run (Did Lauren teach you her ways?).

    Love the Ms.Pacman analogy – definitely relatable to us “common folk”.

    Can’t wait to see what you can do in Las Vegas!!

  • sandra

    Hi Jesse ,
    Heartiest congratulations on your win in Maine in 1.48 .To compare that time with the Olympic triathlon record ,I checked online only to discover that Simon Whitfield has the unofficial Olympic record of
    Your triathlon in Maine , was super fast and could have been an Olympic medal for you You are in the elite class Jesse and the Triathlte World knows there is a shining STAR from Eugene!!!
    The world record at Olympic distance was set in 1996 at the World Triathlon Championship by Simon Lessing .His world record time was 1 hour 39minutes and 50 seconds.Best wishes for an all out effort in Las Vegas.

  • Ms. PacMan was my first, favorite, and most high scoring video game choice. Goddamn ghosts had it coming! The Smiths…c’mon, Morrissey’s voice a ghost right there. And my fave lines from your post are “Being in the lead is honestly the worst. There is nowhere to think but backwards.” Congrats on straightening emo brain out, getting forward, and rollin for the win!!!

  • Congratulations!! Cheered for you, smiled and giggled a bit at pacman and the 2 brains in your head! Keep it up. Looking forward to your Vegas success!! Looking forward to the swim blog too.

  • Luke Hartig

    Awesome, awesome race. Totally crushed it out there. As somebody who also struggles with the swim, I know what you’re saying about not just freaking out when the pace picks up. That’s when I start thinking about how deep it is, all those guys who die of heart attacks, etc. rather than just keeping my stroke, breathing, and staying with my pack. The Ms. Pacman thing is so dead on.

  • Alex

    Awesome to see you out there on the run course today. We were cheering for you at your “favorite” aid station number 2. Rocking it like a boss with those aviators. Are you doing any meet and greet for your fans? We would love to meet you, and pick your brain, I plan on qualifying for Vegas next year.

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