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Wildflower 2016 Preview


Another spring is upon us, which means April showers bring May….Wildflowers.

6 years ago at Wildflower, I pulled into Wildflower with Matt in the #ManVan, and unnoticed #87 on the start list. When I drove into Lake San Antonio this morning, I was immediately recognized by the women letting people into the park. One of them said something like, “Welcome to your race!” Another said “I got some Picky Bars at Trader Joe’s!” Those two statements – crazy.

I actually asked a friend this week if I had won 5, because I couldn’t remember for if it was 4 or 5. Here’s a quick recap for those of you catching up.

  • 2011 – Out of nowhere super duper surprise #87 Mystery Man Win
  • 2012 – Back to Back, with pressure mounted on the cover of Triathlete Magazine in the 3rd fastest time ever
  • 2013 – My toughest Wildflower ever, breaking my foot mid race barely edging out a tough run to the wire with Leon Griffin and Joe Gambles
  • 2014 – My first race since breaking my foot a year prior and nearly thinking my career was over, my first race as a father. Easily the most emotional win of my career.
  • 2015 – Unprecedented 5 victories giving me the most ever by any athlete in the history of the race, and a 1-2 with my buddy Matt Lieto.
Still my favorite race picture of all time - Jude in 2014.

Still my favorite race picture of all time – Jude & Lauren cheering me on in 2014.

On paper a win looks the same as any other, but each year clearly represents a unique time in my career, and 2016 is no different. In fact, 2016 may be the most different.

IM/Kona Focus – This is the first year of my career that I am focusing on Ironman, with a goal of qualifying for Kona. In just 3 weeks, I’ll race Ironman Lanzarote to hopefully secure enough points to lock in my Kona slot after my win at Wales. Lanzarote has been the clear focus of this “first half” of my season. My training has been a lot longer, and a bit less intense. I’ve put in some big miles on the bike and on the run, and in some ways, I’m as “fit” as I’ve ever been coming into this race. BUT, I’m definitely more “fatigued” than I’ve ever been as well after squeezing in those last big sessions close to this race. I don’t know what to expect from my body, it could be good, or bad, or just OK. As always, I won’t know until race day.

Great Competition – The competition this year is as good as it’s ever been, with Wildflower course record holder and former 70.3 World Champ Terenzo Bozzone. I’ve beaten Terenzo a few times, but he’s beaten me more. In addition, guys like Ben Collins, Jason Pedersen, Maik Twelsiek, Chris Leiferman, and of course Matt have all given me a run for my money is this race or others.

We're all fierce competitors and clearly hate each other.

We’re all fierce competitors and clearly hate each other.

Picky Bars in Trader Joe’s! – As I announced last blog, with Picky Bars launching nationally into Trader Joe’s, my energy has been more spread than ever. Clearly this is a good thing overall, but I’ve still been waist deep in Picky Bars stuff.

In some ways, it feels like I should be more worried or nervous about this race given all the other stuff that’s going on in the lead up. But, I feel a strange, semi-surreal calm. I can honestly say that regardless of what happens on Saturday, I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished at Wildflower, and in general, feel incredibly lucky and fulfilled with the results of this crazy ass “career.” So I don’t feel any pressure. I’m just looking forward to taking another couple of laps around the lake, working my ass off, and enjoying some BBQ after.

There’s no way in hell I ever could have predicted six years that I’d be greeted at the gate to Lake San Antonio by those two statements. It’s certainly come a long way. Thank you all for the support and following along. See you on the other side.

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