It's been a few days since I toed the line with the best in the world and I'm doing everything I can to relish in every detail. From the long plane ride, first time use of a "home-stay", refreshing water, bike build issues and generally large amounts of pressure. Just to back up a bit; just know I, in no way, had ANY inclination of what I was getting myself into. I was definitely in a flow state when I made my race schedule, zoned out only on "dates". I didn't focus on the field, course or trip details...just thought it would be awesome to race in California (again). Little did I know, I'd be getting involved in one of the most energy packed races I've ever been part of.
To give you a snapshot of how awesome it was, please take some time to review the pictures. They always tell a great story! Honestly, I wish I had a professional photographer following me around. That way you could have seen the look on my face in my first ever Pro Meeting with WTC. I'll get more into that shortly, for now I'll briefly take you through some of my favorite moments of this journey.
I was lucky enough to be invited by Xterra Wetsuits to come join their crew for a brisk AM swim at the Oceanside Pier. My flight got in late the night before so I really had to kick myself out of bed (literally). Looking back, I get a burst of energy just thinking about this experience. The weather was around 60 degrees with water temp slightly lower. The first chill and powerful waves made getting to "clean" water very awesome! I had to dive under large, powerful waves...deal with loads of snot, since I was cold, and watch out for surfers. Something about cold water invigorates me. I get a surge of endorphins and finally feel like I can unleash the Crackin. After reaching the end of the pier, we turn around and see a ridiculously vibrant sunrise. I would literally wake up 2 hours early EVERY day if I could start my day with that gaze. A light haze, mountains on the horizon and the beautiful coast were mesmerizing. We all hung out at the pier a bit, taking in the moment! Now that's a freaking swim warm up! I hope all of you get to share this one day!
I made my way to Swami's Cafe, a whole foods breakfast place located in downtown Oceanside. Breakfast was totally awesome! I mowed through a giant veggie omelette, gluten-free pancake and sipped my Americano. I had a lot of "alone" time to sit and organize my thoughts, so this moment was well appreciated. OKAY, so here is where things go WRONG, BUT don't worry, it totally gets better. After leaving the cafe, I wrapped my phone and wallet in my jacket...which I carry under my arm. After my 1/4 mile walk down to the race site, my phone happens to fall out of my little pouch, no big deal right? The life proof case saved its life as it tumbled down what seemed like 500 stairs. The only problem was, my phone's best buddy (my wallet) was no where to be found. Now let's hit "pause". For a guy, there is a 2 to 3 minute window of lee-way before you start to panic. After 2 or 3 rounds of the total body "pat down", the heart rate elevates...the "oh shit" thoughts begin and sweat begins to pour. At 3 minutes, if you haven't found your wallet, life will take a very drastic turn. Essentially, your next few days or WEEKS will be spend waiting for some new stuff to arrive, hopefully you have some checks or a passport hidden somewhere (I didn't).
After 4 immediate 1/4 mile walks, frantically looking into every aspect of my previous journey, I say out loud "I'm screwed". The wallet wasn't on the street, curb, under the pelican sculpture, inside a homeless guys pocket, under a car OR at the cafe. How am I supposed to pick up my packet, pay for things or FLY ON AN AIRPLANE now that I've lost my friendly, reliable wallet? WELL LET ME TELL YOU how thankful I am for good people in the world. An Ironman event volunteer could see me walking in a panic, mumbling things and sweating from every pour. I hear, "sir, did you lose a wallet"? At that moment, I could have soiled myself, broken into song, knitted a banner that says "Thank You" or given this guy a mega-hug. He had turned my wallet in to a friendly policeman who had already torn my wallet apart and started calling numbers located on the business cards I've saved. Even now I get goose-bumps when I think about the mega-tons of relief I feel from this story. The take away for all of you is this! When you travel; ESPECIALLY when you're in a new place, ONLY carry the few cards you need. Create a travel wallet, carry a man-purse, tape your ID to your thigh, or get one of those angry looking chain wallets. I'm so fortunate to have had someone looking out for me. From that point on...nothing could keep me from having a solid race. No stress, no anxiety, no worries about how I would place...just very humbled to be where I was, with my wallet!
The Official Report
Bed time came quickly and I was out like a rock! Going back in time (east to west coast) is much easier! Race morning was stress free! I slammed my normal cup of coffee, made my nut, banana, almond butter, coconut and cinnamon pre-race race meal, leaving me the perfect amount of "full". I got to the race site around 5am, rev'd up and ready to set up my gear. T1 and T2 were separate so I laid out my run gear (T2) and pedaled to T1. Since we went off at 0645, I was very glad I got there early. I was among the first few male pro's to arrive, with the heavy hitters not too far behind.
PRE-RACE- I got in my normal warm up jog which probably did nothing but allow some mental focus, watched the big pros from a distance and couldn't believe my bike was near the likes of Andy Potts, Pete Jacobs, Joe Gambles, Starky, Matty Reed, Jordan Rapp...the list goes on! Feeling totally jazzed and surprisingly not stressed, I suited up in my Xterra Vendetta and did a dry land warm up.
The Swim: We were able to get in 3 minutes of warm up in the water. I did some heavy kicking, race "pick ups" and goggle checks. BOOM, off goes the cannon! Unlike the races I've competed in over the past 4 weeks, I actually hung with some feet for about 800 meters. I was really feeling smooth, holding the exact cadence I had trained for. Since my power is still developing, I didn't come out as far ahead as I'd hope but I at least didn't kill myself trying to hang on. I saw a few pink caps go by, meaning some women had not only passed me...but destroyed me. They started 3 minutes behind for crying out loud. Good thing I purchased a Vasa Swim trainer this week...I need to step up my power!
Riding my Scott Stallion: I settled in on the bike after 5 minutes and after being directed off course (it happens). I knew there were even some strong male cyclist behind me so I wanted to get out quickly. The course was rolling with lots of false flats. Around 35 miles there were some really steep kickers. A tri-bike, disc and standard cassette made it tough...I could have used another gear to prevent a long "grind" on the hills. This course was awesome and I was holding around 27 mph on the flats...BUT I was definitely held back the second half of the race. The back got tight and legs got heavier. All of that went away for about 10 minutes after I started passing some guys. Rolling by one of my favorite IM World Champions Pete Jacobs was crazy...really putting some icing on my cake. Like I said before, sharing the start line with these guys was AMAZING. Anyway, the 3rd aid station was manned by my buddy Ryan Mosher...the energy was HUGE and really drove me home. I found out later that I wasn't too far off some of the big guys, so despite a less typical overall bike time...the course slowed us all a bit.
Getting my feet underneath me was a little tough since my feet were still 10% numb. There were some immediate down hills and steep up-hills which were definitely challenging. I stuck to the plan but got stuck in a rut around mile 4. I felt like I couldn't get the HR up and felt almost lazy. I know my base run fitness may have been degraded from all of the racing, traveling, tapering over the past month. Either way...once I got that Cola in me at mile 6, I was on fire again. I felt honored to run with Julie Dibbens and was able to stride away from her. Only reason I mention this is because she took some serious shots at me when I came up on her and it felt good to finally run away. It's the little victories that count. Also, I wanted to try and hold off Pete, which was no issue since he was obviously jogging or even shuffling. After the 2 laps of pain and battles with a slower than normal turnover, it was over....I was fist bumping and eating some cookies. I mean, it was really over...my first big Pro 70.3 event in the books.
This experience has been the highlight of my progression! I've met the most amazing people and have had a phenomenal amount of support from my friends and family. I ended up staying in San Diego the night before I left, enjoyed the hillside view and relished in the fact that I'd made it this far. Whatever the finish time was, I am SO amped to know in 3 to 4 years...I'll be faster than I can even imagine. I have the drive, support and tools at my disposal. I'm so glad I jumped into the next level, getting a taste of things to come, pushing myself more and more. Thanks for reading and please have a great season!