My first time racing Wildflower half iron triathlon was this past weekend. For those of you who prefer the nerdy word version with more details, you can keep reading below. For those that like highlight recaps in the form of cute kids on video look no further… here is the video recap.
I was very excited to race Wildflower. I have paid close attention to this race since 2006, my first year of competing in multisport events. I have always wanted to race there and was excited to get the opportunity. My season started with Oceanside 70.3, 5 weeks ago. I used it as a “race into shape” kind of race and felt like my performance there was indicative of my training. I was coming off my first big build of the season and finished 14th in likely the most competitive field I have ever raced. The highlight was running 1:18 and staying pretty consistent throughout the race, after a pretty slow swim for me. But this blog is about Wildflower, so really the point of prefacing with Oceanside, is that I was confident that my fitness had improved and I would be a bit sharper for this race. It is all pointing towards where I want to have my best performance of the season, at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, in late June. I prepared as well as I possibly could for this legendary and difficult race and was ready to toe the line against a very solid field. The format for this race, because of the drought, was swim-run-bike-run and in distance 1.2 miles, 2.2 miles, 56 miles, 10.9 miles.
The race started in bright sunlight at 8am and the water was just under the wetsuit cutoff of 68 degrees. The start on the ramp is narrow and the fight for position going to the first buoy was pretty strong. After 300 meters or so, it cleared out a bit, and athletes began to string into a couple of lines. I made sure to stay on feet and really keep moving forward as fast as possible. I stayed in a good group of athletes including Mark Bowstead, Matt Lieto, Jesse Thomas, and Matty Reed as we all came out around 24:30. I went up the extremely steep boat ramp to my shoes, stripped the suit and then completely redlined my 2.2 mile run to the old transition. This run is no joke, up and down, dirt, pavement, through the old lake bed and back up the other boat ramp to transition. I got on the bike in 6th and went to work right away. I rode the first 25 miles or so with Mark Bowstead. Around that time Matt Lieto caught us and went to the front. Not long after, around 35 miles Matt seemed to pick up the pace and I did my best to stay with him. The last miles up Nasty Grade and back into the park we caught Brian Fleischmann and I came into transition in 4th place around :30 seconds back of Matt Lieto, 1:00 back of Davide Giardini, and 3:00 to Jesse Thomas. At this point I was feeling pretty strong and really ran the first few miles hard. If you are really interested in the specifics you can look at my Wildflower activities on strava. Within the first 3 miles I passed Matt and Davide and moved into second. This is the highest I have ever been in any pro race. It lasted until about 7.5 miles in where I really began to fade. I missed some calories as I accidentally dropped some nutrition on the bike and was behind throughout the run. In hindsight, I should have walked an aid station and caught up, but it is always tough to give up time when you are feeling good, so I hammered through the beginning of the run. I really paid for it at the end. In the last few miles I was quickly passed my Matt, and Chris Lieferman, and then Thomas Gerlach passed me going down Lynch Hill and I had no response. Luckily, I was able to hold off the next two of Matt Reed and Mark Bowstead, as they were not far behind. All in all I am very confident that I can build off of this race. It was my highest placing as a pro so far, but I feel like I am just getting started. What an amazing team of people that put on a race! TriCal Events and Terry Davis put on a race that makes you feel like family and I cannot wait to go back next year. If you are even considering doing Wildflower next year, make it happen. Up next for me, is Challenge Knoxville on May 17th.