ROKA's Co-Founder Kurt Spenser interviewed Jesse Thomas ahead of Wildflower this year.
KS: Wildflower is a BLAST, but it is also a BEAST! How do you set yourself up for a great race here every year?
JT:It all starts with the Maverick Pro, obviously. :) Honestly, you've got to approach this race with respect. It's a tough, hilly course, and usually pretty dang hot. I'd say it's impossible to be too conservative early in the race. That starts with the swim, staying as relaxed as possible and keeping in mind you have LOTS of racing left once you exit the water. The last two years, I've had guys fly by me and pull away from me on that first hill on the bike, only to come back hurting 30-40 miles down the road. I really gauge my effort on that first climb, and try to find a pace that feels too easy, because that's probably about the appropriate pace. You have a lot of adrenaline and excitement at the start, so do your best to chill. I tell myself to keep from pushing until about 40 miles into that course, and even then, it's with the knowledge that I've got a super tough run ahead, so you never want to feel buried.
KS: Wildflower is an awesome campground-community experience for most athletes. Super fun - but not the always the best pre race sleeping conditions.....
JT: I strongly believe that sleep the night before a race doesn't matter. I've raced well with 8 hours of sleep and 3 hours of sleep. Because of nerves, weird sleeping environments, and busy prep, my typical pre race sleep is no more than 4-5 hours. So don't over think it. You want to do your best to get as much rest in the 3-4 days leading up to the event, which includes sleep, but also just means staying off your feet, trying to sneak a nap in and in general keeping chilled out. My wife tells me to "keep it low," which means I do my best to not worked up or worried about anything. It's as much a mindset as anything else, and how relaxed and refreshed you are mentally is more important than how you approach it physically.
KS: As you pointed out - this race can get get HOT!! (and we're not talking about the naked aid stations...)
JT: For the heat, the most important thing you can do is be conservative with your effort. It can be like an extra weight on your shoulders that you don't feel until it's too late. So I'll adjust my effort on the bike and early run to account for how hot it is. I'll also take in plenty of liquid and electrolyte. I'm using OSMO at the moment, which seems to work great. I'd say it's impossible to over drink, so slow down at the aid stations and take in plenty of liquids. I'll literally walk through the run aid stations to make sure I get enough water in. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you get dehydrated it's game over!
Thanks for taking the time out for all the "crazy-ass fans" and Wildflower athletes JT -- we'll be wearing our Aviators and cheering like maniacs on Saturday!
-Kurt, Rob, T-Bone and the entire ROKA team