Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

2016 Wildflower Race Report

Heyo Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Ass Fans! (see what I did there?)

First off, sorry for the delay on this race report. Today Show, Jimmy Kimmel, Sportscenter, they all love #6.

No but really I didn’t talk to any of those people, but I did have a great conversation with Endurance Planet, which covered not only Wildflower and my prep for Lanzarote, but also just some general discussion on family/work/sport balance. Thanks Tawnee Prazak for the great questions. Give it a listen if you have some time.

So the real reason this thing is late? Because I’m headed to IM Lanzarote like right now. Literally, I’m on a plane to Madrid as I type. I haven’t had a free second since I crossed the finish line at Wildflower – family time, Picky Bars, last big ride & run, and pack for 11 days in Europe.

I’ll write more about Lanza after I’ve been there for a bit, but in some ways, this race report is a combo Wildflower Report and Lanzarote Preview – which is appropriate because that’s what Wildflower was for me this year – a (very hard and fulfilling) tune up on my way to an Ironman.


No, you aren’t hallucinating, don’t call 911. I swam with the front pack. While the front pack maybe didn’t quite splinter as much as normal, I can easily say this was the best swim of my career. I exited with Matt, Terenzo, Maik, Ben Collins (who admitted he was doing backstroke for some of it having just raced IM South Africa, but still, me staying with Ben Collins backstroke is a major step up), and others. I’ve raced all these guys lots of times and never come out of the water with them. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I wore the new Maverick X wetsuit. That things is fast and super flexy on your shoulders. It just felt great. While I’d be hesitant to say this is the start of a new Kevin-Costner-from-Water-World-like Jesse, I do think it shows some of the improvement I’ve seen in the pool. Either way, I’m stoked.

The calm before my swim storm, what! photo cred Kaori Photo

The calm before the fury of my swim storm, what! photo cred Kaori Photo

Run 1 – Almost Naked, then Faster than Last Year

I was so excited that I swam front pack, I almost stripped naked in T1(a). Actually, I just accidentally pulled down my kit a bit while taking off my wetsuit, which was amazingly and perfectly caught on camera by Kaori Photo (don’t click this link if you don’t want to see some plumber’s crack). Anyway, after I put my clothes on, I ran hard and was in the lead with Jason Pederson just a mile into the first run. How’s that? In the lead BEFORE the bike. CRAZY.

Bike – IM Training Paying Off

Jason and I hit the first 15 miles pretty hard, trying to put some distance on Terenzo and the rest of the group. Long story short, that didn’t work. Terenzo caught us and pulled up ahead after I lead quite a bit on the way out. I started to strugs a bit on Jolon road where I always strugs a bit because it’s long, flat, not great pavement and I just don’t like that part very much so I strugs. I tried to tuck in and chill but still. At about mile 30, Terenzo put in a big move whether he knew it or not and it took a big effort to try and keep in contact. I eventually caught him right as we turned the corner onto the awesome road that I always make my move on.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.14.34 PM

Thanks Kaori for capturing the solace of some of those roads!

Then I thought to myself, this is where I always make my move on, but I was really tired from trying to stay with Terenzo. But then the smoothness, slightly uphill and rolly awesomeness of that road just took over, and I just decided I’d start cranking a bit and see what the legs had. Weirdly, as I road harder, my legs felt better. It has to be the extra couple of hours a week and the few hard long rides that are paying off a bit. I rode that ~20 min section about 40 seconds faster than I ever have, which is WAY faster, like 40 seconds faster. I crested the top of Nasty Grad with ~75 seconds on Terenzo from what I could tell. I kept the pace on, but he did reel me back in a bit. I hit T2 with a 60 second lead, which is good, but not great when you’ve got the course record holder and one of the better runners in the sport behind you.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.14.52 PM

Coming in hot! And sweaty!

Run 2 – Scared, But Actually Went Really Well

It should come as no surprise that I didn’t feel great on Run 2. It was hot, I started cramping a bit, and I had Terenzo chasing me. He clawed back within about 40 seconds in the first few miles according to some spectators. But as I hit the singletrack alongside the lake that always reminds me of home, I started to pull away. I never felt like I was crushing it on this run, but definitely kept the pace strong. Similar to the bike ride, I think the long/double runs for IM training paid off on the hills as I just felt strong. While I still ran scared, I got a clear look back with about 2 miles to go and saw I had over 2 minutes, so I got to chill as much as possible and had my slowest run ever down Lynch Hill to the finish. As always, the high 5s were a special moment in my favorite race.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.15.32 PM

My favorite part of the day. Thanks Kaori for capturing.

Overall – There’s a Small But Real Chance I’m in Good Shape

As I said above – this year I approached Wildflower though a different lense. With qualifying for Kona being the focus of the season, I need to do an Ironman early to secure my spot. That Ironman is Lanzarote, just 3 weeks after this race. So I trained for Lanzarote, not for Wildflower. I knew coming into it that I’d be strong from some extra riding and running and might feel some benefit from being a bit lighter than previous years, but wasn’t sure what fatigue would carry over from training harder going right into the race.

Needless to say, I think I had my best performance ever here. I rode a minute faster than I ever have in this swim/run/bike/run format, and ran over 3 minutes faster than last year! Pair that with a great swim, and overall, it’s probably my best day. I’ve never claimed to beat massive fields filled with great guys here, but I’ve beaten some good ones along the way, and I’ll be honest, it means something to get a win vs. Terenzo here, who not only has an untouchable course record but has won over 25 half IM’s in his career (including a 70.3 World Championship). Of course, he’s already raced an IM this year and on his way to IM Texas next week, so similar to me, wasn’t focusing on this race, but it still feels better than getting beat! Anyway, all exciting stuff heading into my next race.

Six Years – Crazy! Thank you all!

As I wrote in the preview – my first win here, the announcer didn’t know my name when I crossed the finish line. This year, I was recognized driving into the park, and had people cheering for me constantly and telling me they bought Picky Bars at Trader Joe’s! It’s crazy how far this triathlon thing has come over the last 6 years. This race means so much to me. It’s been such a boon to my career, in many ways enabling it to become what it has become. I sincerely want to thank Terry and family at Tri California for all the support they’ve given me since this all began. And as always, thanks to my amazing wife and son, my family, friends, and my coach. Without them none of this stuff would happen. It’s been a magical ride.

The weekend wouldn't be complete without some man love with Matt.

The weekend wouldn’t be complete without some man love with Matt.

Next Up – Lanzarote on May 21st! 

Like I said, I’m on the plane now and will be arriving hopefully later today or tomorrow or whatever the hell that is. The race is Saturday the 21st. I’ll send an update out before then, but be on the lookout on twitter, facebook, and instagram for some updates and pics as I explore the island.

Thanks Sponsors For Doing What You Do!

  • Descente – Awesome new kit, guys! Super comfortable, really dig what we’re coming up with! MASSIVE thanks for the support.
  • ROKA – Mav X, bam! FRONT PACK BAM. BAM!
  • Jaybird – Thanks Jeff for being there and helping out. Stoked to see the new vids!
  • Red Bull – Thanks Ashley for making the trip and camping out just for me to snap some chat! Was awesome to see you.
  • Dimond – My fastest bike here. Bam! Thanks dudes! Love that new ride!

Hoping this guy takes me quickly around the lake today. @dimondbikes @knightcomposites @powertap #tririg @icefriction

A photo posted by Jesse Thomas (@jessemthomas) on

  • Refuel – Thanks for all the support guys, and keeping my phone and GoPro going on the full day trek down there and always!
  • Picky Bars – Thanks for letting me be a part time boss, guys. You’re the best.
  • Knight – the wheels were #superfast! Thanks guys!
  • Powertap – digging the P1 pedals again! Really appreciate it all, guys!
  • Thanks also Zealios, Ice Friction, Ellie & Jay at Rebound Physical Therapy for all the help!
  • Thanks Kaori Photo for all these awesome pics!

9 comments to 2016 Wildflower Race Report

  • Peg

    As a runner, I’ve been following your wife for awhile. As a recent part-time triathlete (short distance), I’m really enjoying your blog now, too. Congrats on the fabulous race win!

    You can’t possibly think anyone would pass up the chance to see your ass, do you?!

  • Darren

    Strugs, Jess?

  • Jomo

    Love these long-form race reports! Great report, and an auspicious start to 2016. Congratulations and best of luck at Lanarote.


  • Terri Johnson

    So very proud of you Jesse, for your amazing BIG SIX, for the incredible training schedule you’re committed to, and most importantly, for having your life priorities so well defined. Love you man, Aunt T.

  • Insightful and funny race report as usual Jesse. Question. Are you racing in the inaugural IronMan 70.3 Atlantic City? I was at Princeton 70.3 when you got barely edged out of glory. Wondering if you’re coming
    back to Jersey for another crack at the top spot?



  • Gary

    I think that goes beyond plumber’s crack! Judging by your middle name, it could be said that you were having a “big crack attack”! Great race! Proud of you!

  • Arie Strobel

    Not a tri and can’t even run at the moment due to hip or knee issues so I never feel qualified to comment. But so appreciate your posts and think Jimmy and Ellen and Today should all be hitting you up for interviews. You know Picky Bars and tristhletes her very popular here in South Florida when are you coming down to visit

  • Anj Kern

    Very impressive win! Really looking forward to following this journey to the full IM distance. :0

  • Danny

    Man, that race report was too short! I wish I could have read more!

    But seriously, love it! 😉

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