Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

Rev3 Portland Race Report

Here she is, the Rev3 Portland Race Report.  It was an awesome weekend, with a very solid result.  This report is a bit long, but so many good stories over the weekend that I wanted to share them all.  I managed to loose my timing chip again (this time I didn’t just forget to put it on), so the times here are based on my watch and the guys I was around.  As always, feel free to comment, complain, whatever!  Thanks dudes!

Pre Race:

The Rev3 organizers do a great job putting together videos before, during, and after the event to provide some context for the race.  So as the Oregon boy who won Wildflower, I was invited up on Friday for a pre-race interview.  It was an absolute honor, and I tried my hardest not to be the most awkward human being of all time in front of the camera.  They told me I did a good job, but I think they’re supposed to tell everyone that.  On Saturday I got to sit with some of the other pros (all super accomplished studs) at the Pro-Q&A session.  I immediately made a fool of myself when as the first person answering the first question I described how I would visualize all the other guys in the panel as teddy bears out on race day.  I just do what my coach tells me to do.

Race day was radtastic.  Beautiful, no wind, cool, Oregon, amazing.  Best part:  Lauren was actually awake when I woke up at 4:30 am – she’s in Europe right now.  So we casually chatted away on Skype while I ate, packed and prepped.  Then I got on my bike, put my Bluetooth headphones on, and we chatted during my entire 20 minute bike ride down to the race.  Riding along the Columbia river + beautiful morning in Oregon + talking with Lauren = happy Jesse.

A little 4:30am Skyping with the wif to start the day off right.

The only pre-race hitch was the unanticipated announcement of a non-wetsuit swim (water temp was too warm).  This is bad news bears for me because a wetsuit helps my crappy kick and body position, giving me more benefit than a true swimmer.   If you remember from my first race this year, I discovered at the swim start that there was such a thing as a swim skin, which is a hydrophobic suit you put over your racing kit that makes you slippery (faster) in the water.  Well, I didn’t have one then, and got smoked.  I still didn’t have one now, so was anticipating another smoking.  But near the starting line I saw my buddy Ben (stud swimmer) supporting his girlfriend, Eugene pro Mackenzie Madison.  It couldn’t hurt to ask, so I said, “Hey man, any chance you’ve got a swim skin with you?”  He was like, “No…but I’ve got one of Mackenzie’s.”  I looked at him and said, “Think it’ll fit?”  He paused, “Well, it’s a women’s medium, but it’s pretty stretchy.”  Mackenzie was totally cool with it, so we ran back to their car, I grabbed that thing and yanked it on, with surprisingly little struggle.  Not sure what that says about my figure, but that’s the truth.

This picture proves two things: 1) I started the race with my timing chip. 2) I have a woman's butt.

Swim: ~26:55, 1:23/100m, 6th fastest

Armed with Mackenzie’s swim skin, the gun went off and I ran into the water.  I did 3 or 4 special little dolphin dives that I learned at the Tower26/Purplepatch swim camp.  Dolphin diving is obviously my best swimming skill, as I found myself on the heels of James Cotter & Richie Cunningham, both swimmers that are waaaay faster than I am.  I swam hard and hung with them for the first few hundred meters, but then I remembered I had 4 hours to go so I backed off.  Eventually another couple guys came around I merged with their pack.  I swam fairly relaxed with them the rest of the way, and came out of the water in 6th place.  Yes, that’s a single 6, not 60th, or even 16th.   Yes, you are reading Jesse Thomas’s blog.  My strongest swim for sure, it’s coming around folks!

Coolest part of the swim: 2/3 of the way in we approached a dock about 20 feet to our right.  I could swear I recognized one of the people cheering for us.  Sure enough, we pull alongside it, and who do I see?  I’ll give you one guess.  My mom.  I was so close, and I knew it was her, so I was like, I’ve got to let her know it’s me.  I mean, how often do you get the chance to communicate with someone while you’re swimming!?!?  So I did the first thing that came to my mind, and tried to wave every time my right hand came out of the water.  Only it was so quick and awkward, that it just felt like I was doing sparkle fingers with my right hand for about 8 strokes.  I couldn’t tell if she could see my sparkle or not, so I finally took a big breath to the right and yelled, “Hi Mah!”  I tried to say a full “Mom,” but the last part just turned into bubbles when my mouth went back into the water and I started choking.  I decided it was best not to try and say anything else.

Bike: ~2:11:50, 25.5 MPH, 12th fastest Garmin File

Following a great swim, I would say I was like 9 out of 10 on the Stoked Scale when I got on the bike.  Then I dropped to 7 or so when my legs didn’t want to cooperate.  Then, while I was messing with my watch, I hit LITERALLY (I know I use that word all the time, but this time I really mean it) the only pothole on the entire course.  This, of course, knocked my gel flask and one of my bottles off my bike – and no, I didn’t use a homemade water bottle holder like Boise.  So anyway, a loud cussing rage filled fit later, Stoked Scale was down to 5.  Eventually I calmed down, followed the plan to ride within myself for the next 20 miles and tried to stay positive as teddy bears on bikes passed me like I was standing still.  Damn you fast ass teddy bears!  But…according to plan, I picked it up the last 25 miles or so.  I dropped my cadence, picked up about 15 watts, and reeled in a couple of those cute little fluffy guys.  I came off the bike with James Duff and Nick Thompson, racked my bike, and put on my shoes.  Then I started to run the wrong way out of the transition until the announcer Sean said, “Hey Jesse Thomas, wrong way, buddy,” and followed it up with a joke about Stanford.  So I turned around and headed out on the run in 14th place.  My roommate Ian later told me that with the slow bike and wrong way run that he thought I had blacked out and was running unconscious.  Nice.  Stoked Scale at 4.

Wrong way, dude. No wonder Ian thought I was unconscious.

The guy in the background with his arms up waving, "This way"...that's for me.


Run: ~1:11:35, 5:30/mile, Fastest run, Garmin File

A couple of good things happened immediately in the run.  1) I had a running buddy, Nick Thompson, who started the run with me at Boise, crushed it (and me), eventually finishing 2nd place, and 2) I felt pretty good.  Whether it was staying relaxed on the bike, or taking in way more water (despite the pothole, I grabbed 2 bottles at every aid station and got through almost all of them), I knew immediately that this was going to be a decent run.

With the very awesome song Even Flow by Pearl Jam looping in my head, Nick and I went out solid, averaging just over 5:30’s for the first few miles, picking guys off one by one.  I felt relaxed, controlled, and patient until about mile 4, when my stomach told me there was a little problem brewing down south.  I was like, dude, I’m kind of in the middle of a race right now, just hang on for another 9 miles. So I kept cruising, and stayed relaxed, running about the same pace.  But then at mile 6, Stomach came back and said, dude, I don’t know if we’re going to make it 7 more miles, which I ignored.  Then about 45 seconds later it shouted at full volume, “YOU GOTTA STOP BRO OR IT’S GOING TO GET UGLY DOWN HERE!!!”  Luckily, I was close to an aid station, where I ran behind the water table and straight to the Porta-potty.  It wasn’t my finest moment, but avoiding it would have meant numerous un-fine moments.  So I did my business as quickly as humanly possible and literally ran out the door.  I even asked for some water, and the dude gave me some, but tried not to touch my hand.

I searched for "porta-potty" and this came up. It's ironically appropriate.

My little stop cost me about 50 seconds, as I split mile 7 in 6:21.  I know from running that when something happens (a fall in the steeplechase, for example), you don’t want to rush and try to make it all up at once.  So I gradually descended the next three miles, 5:28, 5:24, 5:16, which was enough to catch, pass, and pull away from Nick and Trevor Wurtele, moving me safely into 5th place.  I was pretty content there, happy with a top 5, and pretty dang tired.  But way up ahead I saw one more teddy bear, so I kept the pace solid and eventually passed him just before mile 12.  Once I was clear, I ran very tired, but finished with a smile and a solid 4th place.

Overall: 4th Place ~ 3:53:40*  Full Results

I’m very happy with this performance.  This course was basically my worst nightmare, in that it contained nearly all of my weaknesses as a triathlete.  It had a long, non-wetsuit swim, and a pancake flat bike course.  For some reason, the aero position (important on flats) has always been a struggle for me.  At first, I couldn’t produce much power in the position, but Matt and I have solved that problem (despite feeling sluggish, my power in this race was decent).  Now I just need to get my position and equipment more aerodynamic and things will eventually come around.  Until then, I’ll be stronger on the hills.  But anyway, regardless of all that, I had the best swim of my career, the fastest overall time of my career, and the fastest run split of my career, despite a 50 second potty break!  I finished among some very accomplished guys and with some improvements on the bike, would have had a shot at the win.  So overall, good stuff to take away.

*I’m pretty sure my finish time was a bit slower than what they had (3:53 mid vs. 3:52 low).  I don’t think I was that close to the top 3 guys, I think I would have seen them if I was.  Plus, I remember seeing 3:53 on my way down the chute.  I don’t want people to read this and think that if I hadn’t had my porta-stop I might have won.  That’s not the case.  Those guys all had a pretty big gap on me, so I wasn’t going to catch them, even without my little delay.

Funny post race moment:  While I was talking with my mom, this random guy in a bright T-shirt walks straight up to me, gives me a meaty high-5, and says, “Hi Mom!” with a big smile on his face.  I look at him in confusion and he says, “That was so awesome, when you said hi to your mom while you were swimming!  Funniest thing I’ve ever seen!”  I laughed and told him thanks.  Stoked scale back to 9.


Charlie Patten, Krista Baker, Sean the announcer, Stu & Jen the interviewers, Kevin the active release guy, the video production team, and the rest of the Rev3 Tri crew.  You all were so accommodating, enthusiastic, and kind.  It was awesome to be a part of such a major event in Oregon.  I’m going to tell anyone and everyone to come to this race next year, especially because you’re taking the bike up in the mountains.  I love it, can’t wait to be a part of it.  Thank you for supporting triathlon and it’s professional triathletes with great events and great attitudes.

My on-site team, including my Mom, Jeff, Chris, Ian, and the Pempels.  I appreciate you guys coming out to cheer me on, give me splits, and keep me happy when I’m hurting!

As always, Matt Dixon, my coach.  Teddy Bears were fast this week, but got most of them back on the run.  Another solid step forward.

Gerry Rodrigues, the dolphin stuff works man!  And everything else you teach me as well.

My wife, for keeping me company before the race, oh yeah, and for just being awesome all the time.

Mackenzie Madison and her boyfriend Ben Metcalfe.  Thanks for lending me the skin suit or whatever it’s called.  It was way fast and a HUGE help.  Ben also supplied the awesome photos, and I owe him a shout out anyway for dragging me around in the water the last 6 months and making me a faster swimmer.

My family and support crew who make it all possible obviously.  Big props as usual.

All the people that comment on these blogs, my newsletter subscribers that read my blogs and email me, friends that post on Facebook, and Twitter peeps that give me shout outs.  I feed off your energy, comments and enthusiasm.  Seriously, thank you!

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