Indian Wells La Quinta Race Recap

For those who read my last post, you know that I was dealing with some motivation problems after a mechanical forced me to DNF at Los Cabos. I was able to keep those motivation problems at bay (barely) in the last few weeks leading up to Indian Wells—mostly because I had Adelaide riding my ass. However, I still felt overly tired every other day and my power was super low on most rides. I even blamed my fatigue on an anti-toe-nail-fungal medication that I had been prescribed. So I stopped taking it (I’d only been on it for two days). My toenails are still disfigured, yellow, mutant-like claws. A small price to pay for a clear head.

My mind wasn’t the only thing worn down by December. Little pains and injuries popped up in my upper back, mid back, sacrum, and glutes. I gritted my teeth through bizarre side aches that came on during easy jogs, and chest cramps on my harder runs—all evidence that my body was ready to call it a season nearly a month ago. And yet, somehow I arrived at the start line ready to throw down.

And by throw down, I mean give up the soonest moment I could feel the race slipping through my weak, feeble hands. Some races I can battle against the odds and fight back when the plan goes to shit. This, most likely, would not have been one of those races. Luckily, things went right and the only adversity I had to overcome was exercising hard for a little under four hours.

I came out of the swim in a pack of a half dozen or so, a few minutes behind the lead swimmers and just a minute or so behind Joe Gambles. The swim times were slow for some reason, possibly due to the cold water or a slightly long course, or maybe because everyone just swam slow. I’m not sure. All I focus on during the swim is getting in fights and maintaining a consistent level of anger. Check and check.

I got out of T1 with Lionel Sanders and one other guy, and set off on a fairly hard pace. A few minutes in and my quads started to cramp up, forcing me to slow. I’ve had this happen before (and in training a few days earlier) where my legs turn to acid and I basically can’t pedal hard until I go easy for three or four minutes, but luckily by the time Sanders came around, my legs had recovered enough to hold on to the train.

We made our way through a few small groups and by the halfway point it was down to Sanders, myself, Gambles, Timmy Winslow, and Matt Franklin. I never felt great on the bike and I was in fear of losing Sanders’ wheel for the first 30 miles, but my power was okay, which reassured me that I was feeling good. Sometimes the body’s senses are just wrong. Gambles took some pulls on the front, and I came through a few times, letting him (though it was mainly just Sanders) take responsibility for putting in the work. After all, the burden of winning, and therefore pulling my fair share, still does not lie with me.

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Photo credit: Talbot Cox

Four of us came into T2 together (Gambles, Sanders, Timmy, and myself), and my left hamstring immediately cramped as I crouched to put my shoes on. It had been twinging the last five miles of the bike. Although since I never have hammy problems I shrugged it off as no big deal. Once upright again, the hammy stopped its screaming and the cramp somehow moved up into my chest, as usual.

Out on the run course, which is where the race actually starts, my aspirations of getting second quickly dissolved. Yes, my aspirations were set on second, not first, because I do have some small ability to see myself rationally. I may be fool of myself, but I’m not a fool. Get it? Neither do I.

Gambles and Sanders took off and immediately put 40 seconds into me while I struggled with chest cramping on both sides. Winslow came by me at mile one, though quickly ducked off course to take a piss. Right about then, my chest cramping began to ease and I picked the pace up gradually, making sure I didn’t step on the gas too soon and cause the cramp to come back.

While the bike course was entirely flat and comprised of perfectly straight roads interrupted by 90 degree turns every two miles (it easily could have been drawn by an Etch a Sketch), the run course wound all over the place. Most of it was located on a golf course, where it looped back on itself four or five times, up and down small hills, around tight bends, and through sand traps. It was actually one of the most fun run courses I’ve done (not that ‘fun’ really belongs in a sentence about the run portion of triathlon).

By the half way point I had built up a solid lead on Timmy, who I assume only had to stop to pee the once? I personally like the squish of urine in my shoes and the rooster tail spray that’s kicked up onto my backside, but not everyone has the ability to piss their pants. It’s a learned skill.

I was already two or three minutes back on Sanders and Gambles by mile seven, so I allowed myself to become content with third, and focused on getting gels and water, hoping to just stave off any chest or leg cramps and make it to the finish line on the podium. I almost always feel better in the second half of the run, but I figured anything could happen to my body given that it was December.

With no golf carts to hitch a ride on, I was forced to continue running even though, as I’ve said before, this was December and I should have been sitting on a damn couch getting fat.

One last stretch over a 100 meter grass section and I entered the finish area and, as always, looked back over my shoulder with unnecessary paranoia. I came in a little over four and a half minutes behind Sanders and two and a half behind Gambles, forcing me to acknowledge that, despite making some run gains, I’m still nowhere near where I need to be if winning a race is in my future. But no one ever remembers who won the race. They only remember second and third place. I heard that somewhere not.

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It took me about 45 seconds to open that bottle.

I was asked by someone who enjoys the more bizarre aspects of my blog if anything funny or gross happened during the race. Other than the normal peeing myself on the bike and run, (and standing on the beach before the swim start) the answer is no. However, I did throw up from coughing hard in the shower post-race, which tasted and somehow smelled like clam chowder, despite the throw up consisting of tacos and an egg sandwich muffin. As I smashed chunky white vomit, the chunks feeling like potatoes between my toes, down into the drain, I actually developed an appetite for clam chowder. In fact, I had some just the other night, and it was just as tasty as that puke, and I’m not even being sarcastic. Both were actually quite pleasant. So there you have it, my race report with some unrelated bathroom humor to reward you for slogging your way through a thousand words.

Thank you to our hosts Ben, Jen and their kids Benjamin and Layala, and thank you to  Georgia for letting us crash in your casita the night before the race for proximity to the race start. Also, thank you to all my supporters: A-Squared BikesVision TechCUORE of Swiss, and Hammer Nutrition. And to my coach Chris Winn for making me strong like bull. And now it’s time for rest. And to get sick, which I promptly did two days after the race.

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Adelaide in the coolest backyard pool in all of Yucca Valley and beyond.

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