Wildflower Race Recap! Never Walk, Never DNF

My response to Wildflower– Everything you’ve heard, its true!  (For you triathletes who know about it. From Nasty Grade to a brutal run to endless hills on the bike, I experienced it all.

I stayed with my friend Liz who lives in San Luis Obispo and we went to packet pick up Friday afternoon and picked up our packets.  I was able to get a workout in at a local gym beforehand, which even had an open-water outdoor pool which was pretty sweet.  From feeling awful on Thursday, by Friday my legs were feeling a ton better after that massage.  The day took a lot more walking then I was hoping, but still was able to chill out in the evening and have my pre-race dinner and snacks as planned.  I was also able to meet Ben Greenfield, who does a sports and nutrition Podcast that I listed to all the time and has helped me out with a lot or triathlon questions and a training plan- so that was pretty sweet!

Me and Liz at packet pick up

Part of pre-race dinner: Threw some Powerbar Power Ball on my sweet potato for fun

Saturday, the morning started bright and early.  We left for the Lake at about 5 and got there around 6:15.  The transition was huge and I had a nice spot near the top.  I’ve moved up age groups this year which puts me in a much more competitive division… and also a division with a lot more competitors.


This world is so small; the guy next to me in transition was actually the same guy I had been emailing back and forth with from GU about the free entry into St Anthony’s triathlon… crazy!  He had a new Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gel, and said to be on the look out for that coming this summer.

Swim Start

Swim start

I was in the second wave of athletes, the pros going off at 8:00 and then my wave at 8:10.  The water was a toasty 62.8 degrees- although the day before I was told ist  The swim felt horribly long, I didn’t think it would end.  Sighting wasn’t too tough, but I think I swam pretty straight for the most part… not to mention it was my slowest swim ever.  WTF? I’ve been working on swimming a lot??  I guess I really really need a legit coach.

Coming out of the water, my feet were literally frozen and I almost ate it running of the hill into transition… thanks God I didn’t lol.  Smashed my toe pretty bad though.  In transition, I took my time to try and get as dry as possible- the air was still cool and I knew if I wasn’t dry enough that I would absolutely freeze.  I mean, already I couldn’t feel my feet.

Getting on my bike, I realized that whoever shipped my bike and put it back together had not put the gears back in the right rings.  So, I couldn’t shift up into easiest gear, and the easiest I could do was 3rd. At this point I was pissed, and at about mile 5, heading back into the park, I hit something and BAM- flat tire!  This sucked.

I ran back about 100 yards to where (luckily!) some volunteers were, and one had a walkie talkie and radioed help.  The guy on the motorcycle came, but since I run tubeless wheels, he would need a new tire to fix it, not an inner tube.  So basically I was screwed, there was nothing I could do and I was basically going to have to drop out of the race.

Then a blessing rode by.  Some an older gentleman who was just out on a ride while his friends or family raced rode my me.  He came over and GAVE ME HIS ENTIRE FRONT WHEEL so that I wouldn’t have to bail on the race.  I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what to do.  But he talked me into it and I took.  This lovely adventure added about 25 minutes to my time.  At least it could only get better from there right?

Well, at mile 15, since my water bottle holders had NOT been tightened on the back of seat post, both turned upside down and couldn’t hold bottles. I had to throw the water and then drink as much of the GU mix that I had before I threw that bottle as well.  So now I was bottle-less for the rest of the race.  I lost my Austin 70.3 bottle too which was my favorite lol.

The rest of course was all hills and strong winds.  The winds really caused some nasty accidents and I’m glad I had no crash issues.  At mile 41 we hit Nasty Grade- a 4 mile climb with no remorse. Talk about fun! (Not). As rough as it was, I know I’m stronger, but the view at the top as breathtaking. Coming down was just as fun- trying to handle the turns and winds while I rode at speeds upward of 43 mph!

Elevation map for the bike--Check out Nasty Grade

My seconds transition wasn’t great but not too bad. Grabbed my stuff, threw down some water (since I didn’t get much on the course) and hit the trails.  The run was about 1/2 hard pack trails, and nearly all hills.  The final mile is entirely (vertically almost lol) downhill, meaning the rest of the run has to comparatively uphill.  Some were almost straight up.  Two good things though: Only 1 guy, who was in a relay passed me, but I passed him again in the final mile.  And secondly, even on the most awful hills where others were walking, I never once did (or will). At mile 9 we hit a steady downhill.  This was just steep enough where it didn’t help your pace.  Unfortunately, it was a mile and when you hit the bottom, you had to climb it back up… talk about relentless!

When the final mile finally came though, it was a downhill sprint for a mile. I just let it all out. Coming into the finish line, I was so stoked to finish. I was still moving good too.  Liz said I was smiling down the Finishers chute, haha but I know there’s no way I was- I absolutely had race-face grimace on.

Run course elevation

My overall time was a 6:30:49- 1:35 slower than my PR. Subtract the 25 minute bike flat extravaganza and I’m at 6:05, but hey, it happened so I can’t discount it.  My swim was awful as I said, but my run was a 1:40:12 (which I had no idea??) so I was actually pretty stoked about this- it was good enough to be 128th fastest overall, of about 1,700 finishers.  Overall I finished 97 in age group, and 836 out of 1669 overall.   Without the flat I would have been 70th in Age group and 579 overall- but like I said, sh*t happens- deal with it.

Finishing Shoot

What made this race tough for me (mentally) was that, for the most part, if you suck, you don’t race Wildflower.  This was the toughest competition I have raced against and all I could was compare myself to these guys.  Not to mention, all the people I was hanging out with were the Cal Poly Tech Elite triathlon team and they were all beats.  So even as good as I felt, I still felt crappy for not doing better.  Whatever, it’s all motivation to step my game up and get better.  No more “when I move to Cincinnati” or “when I move to Tampa”, or “when it gets warm outside.”  No, the time is now.

Imagine if I could take 10 minutes off my swim and bike?  Just gotta keep my running up and better too, but as it were, my run was the 128th fastest of all competitors (top 7.6%).

Have gear, will travel, must race, gotta win

Now I just need to sign up for another race.  Let’s do this baby!

  1. What motivates you?
  2. What do you do when you succeed or fail?  To me, this race was an absolute success but motivation to work harder!

14 thoughts on “Wildflower Race Recap! Never Walk, Never DNF

  1. Aww so fun to see you and Liz! Two of my friends 😀

    Yikes, what a race! Thank goodness you DIDN’T freeze and that you made it through. Great job!!

    1.) My future, my present, my loved ones.

    2.) I agree – even if something is a success, I’m always motivated to do even better the next time.

  2. Wow that hill is seriously ridiculous. You win! I’m glad you did so well in the running aspect though. 🙂

    My family is my biggest motivator, they help me through a lot. Like you just told me Chuck, not every course is a PR course but I’m seriously so impressed by this race. When is your next 70.3?

  3. Man congrats on finishing that monster race.

    With everything you went through I say great job. You kept going after you had a subpar swim and a devastating flat. Kudos

    Then you went and killed the run which is not a downhill run with a tailwind like the Boston Marathon.

    1) Competition in general and my business
    2) With success I look for the reasons for that success and build upon those. I do the opposite with failures.

  4. Didn’t your quads hurt from all the downhills?!?!? Props for sticking with it after the bike mishap. That is my worst fear about doing my first outdoor tri…

  5. And I thought the hill in Flower City was bad! That sounds like my Monday night spin class! Haha. But in all seriousness Chuck you are amazing. That is such a hard race, I am so impressed that you got through it! And that guy who gave you his wheel is a good man. That’s when you see a true athlete shining through, when they help others to their goals!

    My family, friends, and the blogging community support me so so much. Particularly, my Dad. If you read my post about him, he was hit by a car while running in December and was in the hospital for about a month. He still has speech issues, but he is back at work and was back running not even a week after he got home. He is the biggest inspiration to me. If a man in his 50’s who was almost paralyzed is out running marathons again, I can do anything.

    Have a great Wednesday Chuck!

  6. This is amazing!!! What a blessing about that guy and his bike wheel donation. Even though you didn’t PR and are feeling a bit out of sorts about it, I think you handled it really well. It sounds like a really killer event and as you said, you don’t do it if you suck. You obviously do not suck and I’m proud that you took it on with such a positive mindset!!
    I’m motivated by how much I want to do to help the world. I can’t do it, in particular, if I am stuck in an eating disorder. I also want to have energy to run- I’m still so new to it, but I can’t do it if I don’t feed myself.
    so sorry about your bike and water bottle 😦 But you should be proud of yourself for stepping up to this and looking it realistically!!

  7. I’m really impressed that you were able to handle the wild cards that were thrown at you during this race! Unpredictable things happen, and you just gotta roll with it. Well done on secretly getting a huge PR if it wasn’t for the 25 wheel debacle!

    I miss Liz’s blog so much…I want to tell her she is a huge part of inspiring me to work my butt of for a 3:08 marathon!

  8. Awesome job! I cannot even fathom doing a race like that- that hill is insane. What a sick joke!

    My motivation during a race is seeing my family. They come to almost all my races, and it gives me such a boost to see them!

  9. Wow, it sounds like the odds were stacked against you, yet you still kicked ass- awesome job!! My motivation comes from knowing how good accomplishing something makes me feel. There is nothing like the feeling of achievement after a race!

  10. Wow. That is/was quite an adventure but great story! I’m so sorry things went wrong, but look at it this way: YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU FINISHED. And you can learn from some of the events that happened. And thank that dude who gave you his tire! That was REALLY nice.

    San Luis?! I’m only 4 hours north of that… sad. lol

    Glad you accomplished that! I don’t have the balls (literally…?) do to a tri.

  11. Wow Mate,

    Sugoi, I’m so impressed with how well you dealt with everything that was thrown at you in wildflower. Seriously man way to live in the moment and just go with what came your way. Those hills look huge too you must have absolute beast legs.

    I stand by the statement that people are amazing. It’s unexpected kindness like that which really inspiring me to keep living life and meeting more people. It’s a shock and its sad that it should be that way, but peoples capacity for kindness has never ceased to amaze me.

    I’m glad you pulled through to the end anyway. It’s the journey not the destination is my mantra and you see to have made the most of this one.

    1) Everything. A passing comment, a poignant sentence, a kind word. The world is a massive inspiration. So many great things are happening all around us everyday. Being alive itself is intoxicating. Particularly other people inspire me, they’re always full of surprises and connecting with I have without their support, guidance and instruction.

    2) I guess I’m a little too reflective on success or failure though I will always strive to do better following either outcome. Maybe I should spend less energy thinking and more doing ey.

    Really though revel in your achievement buddy. To just finish after all that is truly incredible. You’ll just keep beasting those races and only get better I know it man.

    Take care,


  12. You did fantastic, that course sounds INTENSE! I can’t even imagine!

    I love hearing about your racem your attitude is fantastic! Ya, things happen, but we can learn from them and move on 🙂

  13. Hey there! Hope everything is getting settled in Tampa! Yay moving! Somehow I am JUST reading this!

    OOF! What a race, the course looks nuts!!! So incredible about the man giving you his bike tire! I also think it’s amazing after all of that you still finished the race. Something I must work on, I’m easily discouraged/distracted when things aren’t…PERFECT…destructive…I know!

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