Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

70.3 Princeton Race Report

Crazy Ass Fans, a lesson for you all: Sometimes you win…sometimes you lose to a fast Ukrainian by .43 seconds in a sprint finish.


On Sunday I went to Princeton for another 70.3 to try to get a jump on points for next year, and earn some diaper money for the little poop machine. After an up and down day, I finished on the wrong side of a sprint to the line, losing to Viktor Zymstev in the final 100m…of 70+ mile race.

Viktor just looked angrier, that's clearly why he beat me.

Viktor just looked angrier, that’s clearly why he beat me.

I usually try to see the positive sides of most of my results, yada yada yada, but the competitor in me this time is admittedly a little pieved – my first couple of words across the finish line may have been inappropriate for a family audience. Nobody likes to get pipped at the line, it’s maybe the toughest way to lose. And even though Viktor is known as one of the better runners in the sport, the track guy always wants to win that final kick.

But….again….I can’t really fault myself for the way I raced. I didn’t give up. I raced to win. I didn’t make any obvious or stupid mistakes. I just didn’t quite have enough. And because of that, I’m satisfied with how I finished. Here’s the play by play:

Swim: Not Laughing Mr. Funny Man

I got out to a decentish start, but wasn’t laughing as I saw the funniest man in triathlon, Callum Millward (also my swimming target) pull away from me about 400 meters in. As normal, I cried a little bit, convinced my race was over when I saw what looked like the rest of the field with him as well.

After swimming solo for about 800 meters, I was caught by two other guys, one of whom I immediately recognized as Jordan Rapp because I’ve swam and with Jordan every single race we’ve ever raced together, and he’s distinctively very tall and very skinny. So I chilled knowing that my swim couldn’t be sucking all that bad, and I’d at least have a buddy to work with on the bike.

Bike: Chase Practice & My Made Up Term, Micro Cramping

Based on my experience at Worlds (where I was gapped off the swim and couldn’t bridge on the bike), I wanted to test myself to bridge the gap on the bike as quickly as possible, so I ran hard through T1 and rode HARD (at least, as hard I could on admittedly tired legs) until I caught Callum and Viktor about 20 minutes into the ride). Success. Then, tired, I chilled and tried to think happy thoughts, knowing that Jordan was going to come charging through and try to win the race on the bike.

And he didn’t disappoint. I let Viktor and Callum chase him for about 10 minutes until a gap broke and I knew I had to go or he’d be gone forever. Which would have been sad. So I charged up and got behind him (bringing Viktor and Callum with me) and that’s where I stayed for basically the rest of the ride. The couple of times I made a move and took the lead, Jordan surged right back in front within a minute or two. He was railing it, and I was clearly underperforming (tired) from Worlds as my power and legs were weak (not tons of watts, bro). And about 45 miles in, I started to feel some micro cramping in my quads. I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but that’s what happened, and I knew it was bad news.

This was the first result for a Google Image search of “Micro Cramps.” It clearly shows that they suck.

Run: Gumby Mantra Doesn’t Work for My Cramps

Jordan, Viktor and I rolled into T2 together, and sure enough, while putting on my shoes, BAM! Both of my quadriceps cramped. This did not build my confidence. So I limp/jogged out of T2, losing about 12 seconds while repeating my cramping mantra “Loose like Gumby!” which never seems to work.

Gumby never cramps. He’s as loose as a goose.

My right quad hurt for the first 2 miles, but I somehow managed to slowly reel in Viktor. When I heard we were down 3+ minutes to the lead, I rolled in front and pushed the pace. Then, as we neared Drew Scott (who rode an insane bike split) at mile 5, I chilled out, knowing that it was going to be a two man show from here on out.

Around mile 7, I was feeling good. I was relaxed, my cramps had stopped, and the pace felt very easy. Even though I knew Viktor is one of the faster runners in sport, at that point, I was 90% confident I was going to win. I told myself to just be patient and wait till the last mile. There’s no way he can outkick you. Booyah!

That feeling lasted for about 7 minutes, then BAM, another cramp in my God damn sartorius! (I’ve had problems with this muscle before)! I hobble-ran for about 30-40 seconds, losing distance until it finally loosened, and then closed the gap. Viktor must have Ukrainian Spidysense and known I was hurting as he put in a couple of VERY HARD surges (we went from ~5:50’s to 5:14 on a mostly uphill mile 9). I managed to cover the moves, but they definitely had their toll, as now I felt my legs on the verge of cramping significantly.

I hung in, hoping that I could make it to the final turn without cramping, and put in a massive Hell Raising surge to pass him. Instead, as soon as we rounded the final corner, and I just barely pushed on the gas, BAM! Cramp. I tried to run through it, and even eventually did, was maybe barely reeling him back in in the last 50 meters, but the damage was done and I just didn’t have enough to catch him. Wah Wah Wah Wah – Sad Trombone.

Maybe the coolest thing I've found on the internet in some time.

Maybe the coolest thing I’ve found on the internet in some time.

Overall: Jude Can Now Poop His Heart Out

Ok, Ok, overall, it’s definitely a solid result after a long season and two weeks post Worlds. Thanks all of you for reminding me of that! Also, I earned some points – I now have more than I did when I qualified this year, so my 2015 season will be wide open to race as I chose. Finally, Jude will be able to poop and pee as he pleases without worrying about running out of absorbency. So overall, goals accomplished.

Lessons Learned (my Dad would be proud):

I gotta stay positive in the swim: Open water swimming is such a mind game because you have absolutely no idea who is around you. You don’t know if you’re having a good or bad swim until you’ve exited the water, and because I always feel like I’m drowning regardless of how fast I’m going, my mind instantly locks on the negative. Something to work on.

I really need to figure out this cramping thing: I don’t mean it as an excuse for losing, clearly I was cramping in part because I rode and ran hard and my body clearly couldn’t keep up with Viktor. But it was very frustrating, as I felt very relaxed aerobically the entire run, but my legs just wouldn’t cooperate. I’m sure part of it is still being depleted from the effort at Worlds, but at the very least, something to deep dive into during the offseason.

Thank You All For Cheering Me On & Being So Stoked Even When I Lose at the End:

Big thanks to all the social media peeps who wouldn’t let me feel down for a half second after losing by a half second. I really appreciate your kind tweets, comments, instagrams, and the like. Good stuff and keeps me stoked to keep going.

And as always, thanks to the best sponsors in the biz!

  • Geoff, Don, Kody, Mike, and the team at Pearl Izumi – Even though it was a second slow, it was the fastest run in the new proto shoes! Thanks guys!
  • Gavin, Eric, Mark, Chris and the Specialized Team – Another solid bike on a solid bike! Thanks dudes!
  • Rob, Kurt, and Tbone at ROKA – Without the Maverick, who knows if I’d even be out of the water by now!
  • Ashley, Josh, Steve, and Per at Red Bull – Was awesome to see Red Bull rocking on the course! So stoked! Thanks guys!
  • Justin, Julie, and John at Accenture. – Congrats Justin on your athletes doing so well! Thanks for the support!
  • Rene, Craig and the team at Jaybird. Thanks guys! See you in a few weeks hopefully at the Reign launch!
  • Brian, Brooke, and all the guys in Eugene at Rolf Prima – As always, huge thanks guys!
  • Tim and Mary at Powertap – Powertap helped me dial that first 20 minutes back to the pack, thanks guys!
  • Alyssa and Larissa at Strava – I know I said this last time, but blog coming this week, I promise! Haha.
  • Jay and Jen at Rebound Physical Therapy – Thanks for all the work this week and all others guys. Got me through another race mostly unscathed!

That’s it! I’m back home to family with lots of Picky Bars stuff on the plate the next week or so. I may be racing in two weeks to close out the season and get that final bit of daiper money. I’ll let you guys know as soon as I do. Thanks as always for following along!

Here’s the full Finish video! Posted by Deschutes Multisport Club.

11 comments to 70.3 Princeton Race Report

  • Michael nyberg

    Did he take you to the rail on the sprint? Looks like he squeezed you a bit

  • Bonkers finish! Great attitude though despite the pipping, definitely inspiring. Going to take your swim lesson with me for my Oly this weekend!

  • Shira

    Hey, Jesse.

    So many of us want to know about the race and the course, it being a new IM venture. What did you think of the lake, the bike course and the run course? What can we mortals expect if we sign up for IM Princeton 70.3?

  • That was a seriously legit race and finish. Nice work!

  • Jomo

    Awesome job Jesse! Way to race, and way to keep it classy, as always; even when losing by less than a second.

  • Uncle Gerry

    Great race, Jess. Super accomplishment!

  • Long time fan, first time poster

    Cramps – try drinking a V8 everyday. Worked for me, even more noticeably so when I stopped the two weeks before my last race, unholy cramps.

  • Definitely sucks to lose in the last bit of the race, but what a finish!

    I happy to hear that Jude can and pee as much as he likes.

  • Susan

    I’m so bummed I missed the tweets that you were racing! This feels like a huge crazy-ass-fan fail. I volunteered on the run course in the afternoon but didn’t come early enough to see the pro finish first because I I didn’t think ‘my’ pros (ie you or Linsey) were racing and I didn’t want to battle finish line area traffic. I was checking later to make sure the last runner finished and saw your result and said my own expletives. Super bummed I missed the chance to cheer on the sprint.

    Congrats on the finish and points collection! Hope you enjoyed the east coast race experience!

  • Way to gut out the season after about 18 months of constant “micro cramping” of your tri-style. What a run you’ve had, from recovery to health, to leading the Picky Bars team through a creative re-launch of the amazing Picky Club, to racing like crazy all season. Your transparency is what keeps us amateurs and novices coming back to read your insights and cheer you on.

    (BTW, thanks for all your help again old pal in making a swim contact for the Leadman Tri in Bend. While we were enduring in Princeton, our stranger-and-brother-and-brother team finished first in the 250K relay in 10 hours.)

  • Deborah Osteen-Munch

    Hi Jesse,

    I love that you referenced your “cramping” mantra. I am putting together a piece to talk to some runners about mantras and was curious if you would share any of the other mantras you use?

    Thanks! Keep up the great work!

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