Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

2012 70.3 World Champs Race Report

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.

Game On!

Feeling happy and loose before the race with Mrs. T.

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.

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.

The Penalty

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.

Run: SufferCramping

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.

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!”

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.

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. :)

A few last hi-5′s to the finish. Thanks Rob for the photo.

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.

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 points, I may throw in a late season 70.3. I’m also slated to race the Rev3 Final in Florida (where I just lost 2nd place in the series by 10 points 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!

Thanks:

  • Lauren, mom, Aunt Terri & Jim watching the swim start.

    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!

  • 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!
  • The Official Spider Monkey Seal of Approval – Click the image to see tons more pics and a writeup of the bike at Tririg.com

    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!

  • Tom & Dan just dancing and playing some Uke at the EMJ house.

    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!
  • 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!

74 comments to 2012 70.3 World Champs Race Report

  • Please race Rev3 Florida!! I only got to cheer you on during T1 at Vegas but I’m pretty sure your Zombie Survivor Mode mentality was the one thing getting me through that awful run.

    Congrats on toughing it out on a brutal/off day.

    Sincerely, a crazy ass fan

  • You had A LOT of fans before this race… but the fact that you showed so much grit and character in finishing when you were having your off day earned you MANY more! I think as a whole, age groupers like to see that pros are human too- you have good days and bad days, just like we all do- and we will cheer for you no matter which type of day you’re having in the current race! It’s possible that in the eyes of many, you and Angela Naeth come away from Vegas as the biggest heroes.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks Michelle, really appreciate it. Angela told me good job when I ran by her, I hadn’t even realized that she crashed! What a trooper, I was definitely inspired by her as well.

  • Reagan

    Jesse Bieber it was an honour to share the course with you on Sunday! I am a crazy ass Canadian fan and was bummed to not see you all week pre-race. Ya, I met Crowie, but I really wanted to meet you! I love the blog and how you keep it real – we’re all human, so onwards and upwards. Chin up – there will be other races!

  • Amos

    You had the perfect opportunity to throw a full on tantrum and you blew it by staying all professional! What were you thinking?! I don’t know, like jump off your bike, scream [FART!] and throw your bike in the bushes! or at another rider…and then drop kick your helmet into the desert! …and possibly break your foot. or maybe like stand 100 yards from everyone you see for the rest of the day and yell that you’d come closer but you don’t want to be a [FARTING] CHEATER!!! also, push some random little kid! ha!! Good report though! It helps my argument that you may, at times atleast, almost resemble a human. Still 99% freak of nature.

  • Prof Shanks

    I started following this blog partially because you’re [fracking] hilarious, but mostly because it is one of the few sources out there for what it is like to be a professional athlete from the inside. Your post today is a fine example of that. When you are an amateur athlete, you often feel bewildered by an unexpected bad result, it is heartening to see that happens to your heroes as well. Kudos to you for being amazing, yet still letting us see pieces of your flawed humanity as well.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks a bunch Prof Shanks! Seriously appreciate it. Believe me, we all get thrown under the bus out there sometimes. It’s the good and the bad of the sport. Makes you appreciate the good stuff. Thanks a bunch for following and commenting in.

  • Your list of people to thank keeps getting longer and longer. You are loved. Sorry the race didn’t go as planned but sounds like you took away some good lessons, and I love that you saw a Picky Bar wrapper on the ground. Awesome indeed.

  • Damie Roberts

    Awesome post- thanks for keeping it real. Congratulations on an amazing season and huge progress. You aren’t done!

  • David Putterman (@DPutts16)

    That was a World Championship worthy blog entry for sure, even if the end result wasn’t what you were looking for. (Amazing pictures too) You tell it how it is man and I really respect and appreciate that. I’ve been a fan since I heard your first Competitor Radio interview with Babbitt after you won Wildflower last yr. The way you always fight when the going gets tough in races (and in life – see: speed bump accident) is very, very inspiring…and there are always points like that in every race…and in life.

    I had a similar disappointing result over the weekend at one of my “A” races. Goal was overall podium (top 5), but I had beaten the top contenders two weeks ago and knew I had a real chance to take home the W. After a crazy rough ocean swim, I couldn’t generate the power I wanted to on the bike. I was running like a three legged dog but didn’t lose hope. I thought “what would Jesse do here? — fight until the end!” I knew I was in 6th-ish place and kept grinding knowing it ain’t over until it’s over. I passed a dude within the final 2.5 miles, realized I was 5th at the only turnaround which was 1.25 miles from the finish and held on to come in 5th and make the podium.

    I have seriously enjoyed all of your tweets and race reports this past year and the example you set for all of us age groupers. Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings for you!

    Sorry about the long comment, but for a season ending World Championship Race report, I thought it appropriate.

    Oh, and Superbad totally sucks on TNT/TBS. “You bought a bottle of lube??? Lube???”

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks for following. Yes, I definitely need to write about the neck accident one of these days. Seeing what Luke Verzbicas is going through reminded a lot about it.

      Congrats on fighting through, last weekend! Sounds like you showed some serious resolve and turned an otherwise crap experience into a good one. That’s the thing about triathlon, the races are so long that you can really turn it around sometimes even when it feels/seems impossible in the moment.

      Appreciate you following, and yes, Superbad does suck on TNT. Ha!

  • Lonn

    Wow, what a report. Maybe I’m nuts but I’m more inspired by this than your blogs of success. Thanks for sharing the gory details. Sorry it wasn’t what you (or anyone) would have wanted. Sorry that it wasn’t what you deserved.

  • Ted

    Agree 100% with Prof Shanks. Your blog is めちゃくちゃ面白い and you keep it real / give a great perspective of is going on in your ある程に変わっている頭。All you can do is dust yourself off and move on.

  • Oh man…I love the insertion of your curse words such as “farting, fudge and bucker.” They really make the story. Good luck on the recovery. Success doesn’t come without a little setback to make you that much more hungry for the next big win. Go get ‘em!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks Lauren. I have to give credit to my Lauren for thinking of the idea. The blog needed it because it was such a downer otherwise. Works well!

  • Mom

    Sobbing and laughing at the same time! (Note to self; don’t read Jesse’s blog at the nail salon.) You’re an inspiration; so proud! Love to you from your first and always faithful crazy ass fan. Mom

  • Michelle

    Your self-awareness, insight, honesty, perseverance, and big picture perspective make you that much greater of an athlete and person, Jesse. Kudos to you and to another triath-life experience!

  • marian

    sorry your race was so ducked. the report was fabulous as always!!

  • Roger

    Very inspiring and funny blog. Your an amazing athlete and personality to follow. It’s nice to read about the demons you pros face on race day. Only in the sense that it helps me put in perspective, my demons on race day. You seem very resilient, a strength no doubt that will serve you well. I look forward to watching your career blossom. Please keep the humor comming, it’s very refreshing.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks Roger. Demons are out there EVERY time, even on the good days. My Wildflower report this year is a good example. Glad it helps you put them into perspective, and thanks for following!

  • Michael

    Way to stick with it, I always appreciate a pro who goes the distance when the day doesn’t go well. My day was similiar to yours except cramps started on the bike made for a long roll into T2. I contemplated quitting but just kept walking (checked my ego long before that). Managed to jog/walk the entire run, thought about just sitting down a few times and waiting for the cart to come get me but it was too hot, by the time I got to medical they informed me it would be 20 minutes before they could register me to be queued up to get looked at unless I was unconscious. It was ugly out there and really horrific if you weren’t having a good day.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Wow. Congrats on pushing through. I know those minutes on the run feel like hours, so kudos to you. It was a ROUGH day. Heard lots of people say it was the toughest of their season/career. Thanks for writing in!

  • Bob Augello

    Awesome race story. You’ve got a master coach percolating in you preparing to take flight.

  • Jomo

    Awesome, thanks man! Thanks for being real with all of us crazy[butt] fans; making us proud of you in your defeats as well as in your victories.

  • Keefan

    U da bomb dude!!! Rough weekend but I know you’re gonna bring some awesome to Florida. Btw, add me to the list of crazy ass fans, fo sho.

  • Lauren Giannullo

    Seriously, mega-inspiring [stuff]. I’m bummed that your race didn’t go as you (and all your crazyass fans, me included) would have liked – but I’m amazed at how awesomely you handled it both in the moment and after the fact. We’ve all heard the “don’t give up” lesson a million times, but seeing it in action in a super difficult spot makes it so much more real and important, so thanks for making the best of it.

    Now go enjoy some [freaking] downtime so you can come back kicking [behinds] and taking names.

  • lizard

    ducking awesome. I love it when Pros finish even when the day is total crap.

  • JJ

    Maybe your miniature experience does simulate life and I love that analogy.

    But what I am most impressed by was not just your ability to push through to finish but the heart touching way that you put into words an event that just by reading, I became a part of.

    You are awesome and I look forward to following your career next year.

    -JJ aka (crazy ass fan #3 and Kona neighbor)

  • MBS

    Prep for novel comment, in list form, as per usual.

    1. Intro – exactly why sports are important for everyone. I often think of myself as a student as actually an athlete. My training “schedule” for the boards was way more intense than any running thing I’ll ever do, but I approached it with an athlete mentality. Both my personal statement for med school (ironically, how I turned down cross country in 6th grade with friends because I knew I wasn’t a good runner and stuck with my talents – gymnastics) and residency (a running/athlete theme weaves throughout) are about my life as an “athlete” (if you can still call me that, don’t think you can anymore). You nailed it in your intro.

    2. Did you think of Dr. Evil in his lair as you were riding through the Nevada desert? My guess is no. It is what I first thought of when I saw the picture.

    3. It seems you handled the penalty with grace. Many tennis players, including pros, throw their racquet/yell/scream/whine. So, you’re winning there.

    4. How did you pinpoint that it was your sartorius and not, say, your vastus medialis?

    5. Did you make it back to the Cheesecake Factory?

    Ok, enough of that. Seriously, amazing [lucking] recap. Jocelyn and I were running today and saying how refreshing it is to hear the real ups and downs of a pro career, both longitudinally and within races themselves. Often the pros make it look so “easy,” so its nice to know you guys have the mental demons, too. I’ll remember your perseverance the next time I want to quit in a race (which is every race).

    Enjoy some down time. You and LFT should watch Homeland if you haven’t. I watched all of season one within a 4 day period (10 episodes, in my defense). Season 2 starts 9/30, so it is perfect timing.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Meggie, you’re comments are so organized, detailed, like um….med school?!? Love it.
      1. Thank you, I agree. Sports are microcosms that teach us life’s lessons. That’s the real value of doing them.
      2. Haha, wish I would have thought of that. ANY excuse to use an Austin Powers reference/clip is worth it, in my book.
      3. Thanks, there were definitely some dudes who lost their [split] out there on race day.
      4. I can feel that it wraps back up around the front of my quad to the outside of my hip when I press on it. I can also “light it up” by pressing in the area on my hip. I think it’s a semi chronic problem that I just identified. Going to need to see my man Chance Fitzpatrick to get that [shot] fixe.
      5. No, I should have, but we had plenty of food and beers back at the EMJ house, so no worries!

      Thanks as always!

  • Wow! Epic story and race! This is actually a poetic pause to your career…like an unresolved narrative from one book or movie to the next. A cliffhanger, with our hero down but not out. (In other words, I think we’ll learn Darth Vader is your father in 2013). Seriously, it’s clear you have many triumphs ahead…and this race will become the colorful yarn that makes you human. Thank you for sharing it with your crazy ass fan base!

  • Steven G

    “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
    -Michael Jordan

    I have a gut feeling you’ll win this race Jesse. I had you placing Top 3, it’s only a matter of time before you figure it out.

    Isn’t it crazy that saying “pluck” really helps? I don’t think any other word can fill that blank when things go wrong.

  • JUMANE

    BOOMSHAKALAKA!

    Go get em next time. I got your back bro.

  • Taylor Ahlgren

    You’re stronger today than you were last week. Thanks for adding humor to our sport!

  • THE BEST RACE REPORT! It isn’t always about how awesome you are and how great your day is but about the courage to keep going! I was already a fan because you are your own person but I think your fan club just went off the charts. *Bucker* Love it!

  • Brent

    Great write up. Just wanted to add to the chorus of comments that are taking inspiration from your suffering. Your honest (and very entertaining) posts always help me get ready for the next race and the preparation in between. Thanks for sharing and I am also cheering for you, although from afar.

  • John b

    The picture of you after you crossed the finish line says it all…you gave it everything you had that day and more. You are an inspiration to many and and I’m honored to be one of your crazy ass fans. Your recap was as always entertaining and insightful…thank you. You give such a positive meaning to life as a pro athlete and it reminds me of a quote from Carl Jung..”The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” Thanks Jesse…you rock!

  • Tom

    Oops, posted in wrong section. So will put it on repeat…

    Another quality race report! Though it was a tough way to learn some valuable perspective on what you have achieved so far, it’s great that you perservered and finished with your head high.

    By the way, anyway you can start a plan of attack on a Bikedar reading?
    1st Bikedar Reading Needed: Riding Angry as Frack

  • Becky Bruce

    Enjoyed reading. Man, what a great narration – I know how important the need to finished. A true competitor.

  • This embraces the true term of what LOL means – absolutely HILARIOUS – as ever!
    Bottom line was that you never gave up – gumption at it’s finest and that should be rewarded and congratulated. Amazing work! Hi to WIF please – I cannot believe I didn’t get to see her at the EMJ party – not that is not ok! MBK

    • Jesse Thomas

      MBK, you had a ridiculous day out there as well. The fact you finished was INSANE after all the BS you’ve been through the last 6 weeks. Congrats! You’ll have many times to see wif down the road, haha!

  • malb

    Jesse Bieber for President

  • It wouldn’t be a world championship race without some major ups and downs. While I’m sad your day was more downs, I love that you shared your thoughts with us in another hilarious and entertaining race report. Hoping I get to cheer for you at another race soon!!!

  • Jordan

    What’s interesting about your race report is that you barely mentioned the challenging race conditions in addition to the feelings you had in the swim, the penalty, the cramp etc. Have you and *Master Matt* discussed how the weather conditions played into your race?

    I raced and was close to giving up the race on the bike… in fact, I did mentally give up on the bike… but I somehow got myself to T2 and ran the 13.1 miles and ensured I got to the finish line that I’d being dreaming of all day. I didn’t get there nearly as fast as I wanted and that was hard for me to swallow, knowing everyone sees my results and will judge… “her bike was slow… what happened to her in the swim… how much did she walk to run that slow?”

    But, in the end, in my own mental game of tennis as I shuffled up and down those hills in LV, having a result, whatever the time, meant so much more to me than no result… even if it meant the pain was prolonged further.

    I never saw you out on the run but I took inspiration from Angela Naeth and MBK and seeing their *pluck* (stole from another commenter!) in finishing what they started.

    Thanks for being a great role model.

    • Jesse Thomas

      You’re right, didn’t touch enough on the heat factor. It was BRUTAL, and honestly a big part of my demise on the run. I actually ran by MBK who was gutting it out insanely dealing with way more stuff than I have in the last 6 weeks. Impressed by both her and Angela also.

      I’ve written about before (actually, I think it’s the current Triathlete Magazine article on “Racing Under Pressure”), having external vs. internal expectations & goals. It’s really important to remember you should be motivated solely by internal expectations. The external pressures (“what happened to her”, “her bike was slow”), from friends/family/training partners will always be there, it’s part of putting yourself out there, but remember that you’re doing it for yourself, not for them. So be proud of that finish. You know what went down and what you went through, that’s what matters.

  • Karen

    sorry you didn’t have the race you wanted, but thanks as always for the hilariously genuine race report (the dubs cracked me up!) and the heaping doses of inspiration!

  • SEE!!! You should have let me have Rev3 Maine. But no, you had to go Defcon 5 the Caveman. Shoulda saved it for Worlds. Next time we race, I’ll be sure to remind you…

    Seriously, great season. See you in Kona

  • I know it wasn’t what you were dreaming of, but super proud of you. Heading up to Bend for Leadman next week. You & Mrs. T available for a beer 20th-22nd? I can give you some swim/cry lessons. . .while you may be able to best me in all other things tri related, I can guarantee I’ve got you beat there; )

    • Jesse Thomas

      I’ve got buddies in town for some serious tailgating (aka beers) that weekend. But gonna try to come over early and hang out for a few days. I’ll let you know!

  • Diane Jackson

    Page 14 of the ‘Mother’s Book” says Mothers must read blogs!!! LOL! Enjoyed your entry! You stuck with it, despite the difficulties!!! Congrats on the finish!!!

  • Brenda Piampiano

    You’re not even MY son but I, like your Mom, both laughed and teared up reading about your “Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.” Target Race. Big Dreams. Huge disappointment….but….there will be another day to show your stuff. And you do have the gift of being able to translate the experience into words that we all identify with and understand. The human face of sports (and life). Great Read!

  • greg

    Did I ride on the Vegas rental car shuttle with you when we got to town? I worked the bike course. Your blog is effing funny.

  • Pascual Duco

    congrats all the way from Chile dude!!!! you’re an inspiration, as I’m trying to “startup” my own energy bar brand down here (tips… seriously) and qualify for Vegas/Kona in Cozumel/Pucon coming up in the next months… feel a lot like you. keep up the motivational and funny blog, always a pleasure reading it. hope we can cross roads at some point…
    rgds, Pascual

  • dawn

    This is the funniest/most compelling blog post I think I have ever read. I know I’m late but good grief you are such a funny, likeable, stand up sort of guy. Good luck to you in Wildflower next week!
    You obviously will have, if you chose, a life in tris long after you decide not to compete anymore in writing or announcing or whatever. And it seemingly could not happen to a nicer guy!

  • Eugene

    If you enjoy active lifestyle and can not live without fitness, you should try military grade nutritionals. Awesome nutritional supplements which increase your energy supply and help you keep great shape! For me their supplements are the best I’ve ever tried.

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