Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

Rev3 Costa Rica Race Report

Life in Costa Rica is about as rough as it looks.

What’s up my cracked out fans!

Wow. Epic weekend in Costa Rica. The trip was amazing. And as I said in my post-race interview below, the race itself was like my own little Lord of the Rings adventure. Good, bad, happy, sad, love, hate, anguish, farm animals, it had it all. Since there’s a lot to say, I’ll just jump right into it.

Soundtrack to this report: Charlie Brown by Coldplay. Since I had this song stuck in my head for 6 days, you will have it in your head while reading this report. Enjoy!

Swim – 2nd to last, ahhh yeah.

The swim was two laps of 3 buoys, with the 3rd buoy 20 yards up the beach. Running during the swim? Sign me up! But as we neared the first buoy, the pack crunched things got physical. I was stuck between two guys and we knocked each other around a little, nothing blatant, just the normal stuff. The guy to my right must have gotten a little pissed because he reached forward, firmly grabbed my head, and ripped back. That sucked, but it happens. No big deal. What sucked a lot more was that he grabbed my swim cap, ripped it off, and chucked it into the water.

The view from my goggles.

I tried to stay composed and swim with the group, but 20 seconds later it was obvious that some shiz was wrong. I never swim without a cap, and now I know why – because my hair is a freaking nightmare in the water. You know those car washing machines that have the big, blue, spaghetti-style washing drape-thingys for your windshield? EXACTLY the same as my hair on goggles. It was bad news, and unfortunately, it gets worse. According to Einstein’s power of resonantly synchronized three dimensional geometry and fluid dynamics, my hair when wet and uncapped is the ideal length to perfectly channel a huge splash of water directly into my mouth on every single breath. Nice. I couldn’t see, AND I was breathing through a straw submerged in salt water.

Naturally, I freaked out, and got dropped almost immediately. I tried to relax, but it didn’t help. It was so hard to breath, I just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Then every time I did, I had to stop, look up, wipe my hair away from my goggles and make sure I wasn’t swimming back to Oregon. Needless to say, I thought my race was fudged (I may have used a different word in my head). I ended my first lap after the pack was back in the water. As I ran around the buoy, I frantically looked for a stray swim cap or even a bandana, or a rope, or some thin bark of some kind, anything, damn it!

While starting the second lap, I seriously debated dropping out. I was so bummed. But I remembered two things: 1) Gerry telling me that “only losers drop out unless you’re hurt,” and 2) Matt‘s words of wisdom before my race, “please just show me you can actually ride a bike.” So inspirational those two. So I told myself to relax, refocus, and gear up for a hard ride. I lowered my expectations – originally hoping for a top 6, I decided I’d now be happy with a top 10. If anything, it would be a good training day. I ran into T1 about 2.5 minutes behind the main group. There was one other bike in transition. Then, I started my race.

Quick recap w/ pro men finish @ REV3 Costa Rica 2012 from REVOLUTION3 Triathlon on Vimeo.

You don’t have to watch the whole thing, but at 0:08 see me (blue & black, yes, still the women’s swimskin) almost eat sand 2 seconds into the race, from 0:40 to 1:20 nowhere to be found on the first lap of the swim, then at 2:41, my lonely Shiv in T1. Don’t go farther, or you’ll risk spoiling the rest of this report.

Turns out nail clippers are excellent wire strippers when you need to rewire your di-2 in a pinch. Mechanical engineering in the house!?!

Bike – 3rd fastest, booyah!

The course started with some CRAZY steep rolling hills. Way back, still angry, and focused on riding strong regardless of what it did to my run, I hit it like a bat out of salt water. For all you data geeks out there, I think I averaged about 380 watts for the first 10 minutes or so, a monster effort for me. I mellowed out after the initial hills, and tried to slowly “turn the screw” as Matt said. Luckily the six turnarounds on the bike gave me lots of carrots to chase as I got a split at each one. At the first turnaround, I was ~2:15 off of 6-8th. But I kept riding hard, and at each turnaround the gap dropped ~10-15 seconds. I passed a few guys and started to think maybe my race wasn’t completely shot. I was working hard, but at least moving up. At the last check, I was about 1:30 back from 6th. My legs hurt big time, and I worried that I’d sacrificed my run. But the goal was to ride hard, so I just stayed strong and focused on not running into any cows. When I exited T2, I was in 8th place, about 1:15 behind 6th place.

Bree Wee says "What's up now cow?" (Rev3 Photo)

Run – Fastest!

While I was definitely happy with my ride, I still had limited expectations. The 8 guys in front of me included two long course guys who run consistently solid splits, 2 ITU guys who train specifically for fast 10k runs, and one former 4 minute miler. But, I had some great momentum going. So I decided I’d run the first lap (of two) fearless. No worrying about bonking, cramping, etc., let’s just see where I can get myself.

I passed 7th by 1.5 miles. I’d already exceeded my new goal. 6th at 2.5 miles. Met my original goal, but the pain was rolling in. I passed 5th and 4th around 4 miles. I was now stoked with my position, but borderline “oh my god” on the pain scale. At this point, I planned on staying put to not risk cramping or bonking, which felt likely given how wrecked I was. But then I saw 3rd place on the last long gradual uphill. I took a split. Thirty seconds up…less than 2 miles to go. Oh man, this is going to hurt really really bad. I was right, it did. But I kept after it and caught him just before 6 miles. Of course, did my best to “sprint” by cool and calm on the outside, oh my god oh my god oh my god on in the inside. I focused on not face-planting on the final downhill and then jogged in to the podium a very tired but very happy boy!

Me and Cam Dye (the winner and one of my Pearl Izumi buds) clearly have the fashion advantage in our orange plaid kits. (Rev3 Photo)


A few important lessons learned:

  • Hold your ground on the swim. Don’t antagonize anyone, but make sure you’re not the one that gets punked.
  • Hair that extends past my goggles while wet is too long for my current “job.” Sorry wif.
  • NEVER give up. It’s a long race, and you have no freaking idea what’s going to happen.

I’m very happy with this effort. It’s probably the second best race of my career. I’m bummed I didn’t get to see my swim progress, but pumped about my improvement on the bike. It was easily the best bike ride of my career. And, I still ran strong off the bike against a great group of runners. Most importantly, I didn’t let external things out of my control dictate (too much) my mental outlook on the race. I was flexible, and adapted my race plan within the boundaries of what I could control. I didn’t let it “get me down” as my dad would say. Ultimately, it led to a great result. Plus, I beat whoever ripped off my cap. So, in your face!

Jesse Thomas @ REV3 Costa Rica 2012 from REVOLUTION3 Triathlon on Vimeo.

If you don’t want to read the recap, just watch this video. Probably should have told you that sooner.


  • My bike taking a much deserved break after pulling me back up into the race.

    Mallory, Aaron, Mark, Sean, and the rest of the guys at Specialized – Dudes, the Shiv is fast! Thanks of course for the amazing bike, and also the solid BG fit (story of my visit to Specialized HQ and BG fit with Aaron coming soon). Really appreciate it guys!

  • Goeff, Kody, Ron, Mike, Tony, Kelly and the rest of the guys at Pearl Izumi. My first fastest run split in Transitions, booyah! Hopefully a few more down the road. Obviously, the kit, the shoes, the gear is huge, but I know that wind tunnel visit is paying dividends (story of that coming soon too!). Seriously appreciate the support guys.
  • Krista, Charlie, Eric, and the whole Rev3 crew. Guys, and awesome event! You were super professional, treated us amazingly, and were a blast to hang out with. Thanks so much for having me. Extra thanks to LJ, Chris, Ashley, Sean, and Jay for letting me crash your place on my extra night there. Good times. See you all in Quassy!
  • The guys at Rolf Prima. Thanks again for some quick work on getting a disc version of the TDF60 set to go. The new bike PR had couldn’t have happened without some super fast wheels. Thanks guys!
  • Robert at First Endurance – Two races in the heat, and zero showing of Crampy McCramperstein! FE’s products have been amazing. Thanks a ton for all the nutritional guidance and product. It’s already made a significant difference.
  • Coach Matt Dixon – As always, thanks for the preparation, motivation, and keeping me grounded out there. Another solid early season result. Fun times ahead.
  • Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 – Gerry, sorry I still got the crap beat out of me even though we practiced for this situation in Kona. Still a work in progress, but the improvement, guidance, and hard work is going to show soon, I know it. Thanks for all the help!
  • My wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps. Honestly, the reason I finish races like the one on Sunday is because I start writing the race report in my head as the race unfolds. I think how lame it would be for me to drop out and finish the report halfway. You guys keep me motivated and excited out there regardless of what shiz that goes down.

Bonus Story – Kidnapping Gone Astray

I can tell what's wrong from here - that's an old ass van.

Kate Major had organized a shuttle back to airport for her, Malaika and I through some guy she found called “Jose.” When the guy showed up, it clearly wasn’t Jose, and he was clearly driving a van that belonged in a junkyard. Nevertheless, he seemed cool, and we had to get to the airport, so we jumped in. All was good until about halfway through when the guy starts driving SUPER slow for some reason, and then pulls off the highway onto this random dirt road in the middle of nowhere. At first, I was chill, maybe he just needed to take a leak or something. But then he starts calling some people on his cell phone in Spanish, which of course none of us speak. He doesn’t respond to my repeated questioning, “Dude, what the hell are we doing off the highway.” He looked sweaty and nervous. I’ll be honest, I was pretty freaked out. I looked for things to hit him with (pedal wrench?), or throw (Picky Bars? maybe if I threw them very hard), and wondered how bad my sore calves would hurt when I ran for the highway in my sandals. After a few scary minutes, he made his was back onto the highway, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. He tried to explain to us what he was doing, but we couldn’t understand. Then at the last turn into the airport, we understood. In a gigantic “clunk,” his car died. Caput. Out. No mas. So Kate, Malaika and I got out and pushed as well as 3 sore triathletes could do, got it rolling, but it wouldn’t jump. We sat around while Not Jose tried to fix it for a few minutes before flagging down another cab for the last mile into the airport. Good times in Costa Rica!

Pretty sure the ladies are doing most of the pushing.

21 comments to Rev3 Costa Rica Race Report

  • Bob

    Jesse – the reflection in the van window shows you taking a picture of yourself (while pushing with you hand). Stud.

  • Randy Becker

    Congratulations! Amazing resilience on and off the race course.
    Thanks for the great report.
    See you in Oceanside!

  • Wow, what an accomplishment, Jesse! Congrats and good luck in Oceanside. Enjoy the snow!

  • Chris

    Keep the locks Sampson. Some random thoughts:
    (a) They work for Cam Dye
    (b) You will look like a chooch (I know this b/c my job doesn’t allow long hair).
    (c) Swim faster, then it won’t matter
    (d) Grow it longer, then you can pull it back under the cap and share shampoo and hair bands secrets with Kate Major on race weekends.

  • JM

    awesome rr (again), way to hang tough, 380 for any amount of time would leave me crying and crippled, but you…you run the fastest run, you rock

  • Brenda Piampiano

    Not often I laugh out loud……but the kidnapping by “not Jose” had me in hysterics. GREAT!

  • Nice job, Jesse! Looking forward to another victory this season once you get your s**t together in the water 😉

  • Hey Jesse, I had teh pleasure of meeting you with the gang of Triathletes from our Seattle group TN Multisports. We were pulling for you and the aviators and were very impressed with your race but teh thing that I was most impressed with was you and your upbeat friendly demeanor! Love the blog and enjoyed having you ride in the back of the ummm, should I even admit it…Diahatsu “SUV” we had at the race. Pura Vida…

  • Rick

    Congrats Jesse on a finish well earned after a challenging swim. But dude you can’t cut the hair! It’s the Sampson theory, (remember Sampson, an evil woman cut his hair and he lost his strength, not sayin woman are evil just that particular one) you get your speed from the length of your hair. I have proof…I when I was younger and had long hair I was lots faster than I am today! What more can I say?

  • Great come back after the swim Jesse. Sounded like an amazing race – congrats!

  • so are you going with a buzz cut or just shaving it all off?

    way to come back after a rough swim!

  • Putts

    JT – great work dude. Way to hang in there after that rough swim. Hope you found that fool who snatched your cap after the race and told him to suck it. No holding you down. Good luck in OSide.

  • Frank

    what a race! I bet that podium taste really good.

  • Michelle

    Um that plaid is awesome. Keep up the colorful and comical story-telling (and podium finishes). Love it!

  • T-Bone

    The jockey finally has a horse that isn’t holding him back – Shiv baby! I knew it was only a matter of time for the bike split to come around – you’ve always had great wattage, which is why you climb crazy well for a 175-lb guy. It was just a question of when you were going to convert the power into speed. I think you’re going to smoke the bike course at Oceanside.

    Bummer about the swim in this race, but I guess that stuff happens and it’s great you stayed with it. Also, I couldn’t help but notice in the splits that you were 23s behind Huerta at the finish and lost 22s to him in transition. Grab that low hanging fruit, baby.

  • Congratulations. Love reading your race reports. Keep ’em coming. And good luck in Oceanside!! And the hair..it’ll grow back in the offseason right?

  • layra

    1. Mechanical Engineering in the house!!!!!! Greetings from a fellow ME 🙂
    2. Good on not quitting 🙂 This is what Triathlon is all about, isn’t it? Don’t experiences like this make you realize how strong and awesome you are? I love going through stuff like this and then reflect on it.
    3. Don’t cut your hair!!!
    4. The “not Jose” story is ridiculously funny….I can picture you guy freaking out, but then having to push the van is priceless!
    Good Luck on your season and keep the posts coming….I completed my first triathlon today and I’m definitely hooked!!!!

  • malb

    fastest bike evvvvvvverrrrr!

  • I was at this race waiting to start the half Ironman with the other amateur schmohawks, and saw you emerge from the water looking like you wanted to punch the entire country of Costa Rica in its brown Latin American face. The spectators all clapped for you while you muttered expletives under your breath, which amused me greatly since I generally have the same sentiments towards swimming. Super awesome that you clawed your way back to 3rd place–the “Never Surrender,” Corey Hart-style mentality is definitely inspiring.

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