Updated: Nov 14
This past weekend, half of us RTS pros traveled to the end of the California-Mexico peninsula for the IRONMAN 70.3 Los Cabos. The last time four or more of us were together was for the cancelled Mont Tremblant 70.3 in June, so it was a fun reunion, although with not much better air quality.
The benefits of traveling with the team started before I even arrived in Los Cabos. Just like how intense training is normalized when you know you’re not the only one doing it, long travel days feel a little easier when you know your teammates are in the trenches with you, also lugging around bike cases, suitcases, and a BlueSeventy transition bag that they hope is considered a “personal item.” (I've never had an issue with this though!)
Then, there are the practical benefits; sharing rides to the pool, making dinner together, pooling to get an Airbnb, and borrowing tools (especially from Marc!) are all immensely helpful. Of course, getting fun team content and reviewingeach other’s setups is something we can’t do when remote.
Then there are the intangible benefits - exchanging observations about the course, deciding the order of operations in preparing for a two-transition race, being around jovial attitudes, and competing at the exact same time and place all adds to the team spirit. There’s solace in knowing at least one of us is going to have a great day. Wins are amplified by fun celebrations, and bad days are comforted by jokes and hugs.
Being that I was outnumbered by guys (and Flaca stayed down the street from us), there was plenty of bro stuff - comparing veins, flexing, and copious amounts of the word "butthole" - but everyone is incredibly respectful...and clean! If you know Nick, you know he runs a tight and clean(!) ship. Sweeping, dishwasher loading/unloading, and tidying are highly enforced in shared RTS spaces. If anyone slips, people will rip on each other in the gentlest of ways, and no one takes anything personally.
So back to the actual race! I had a rough time in the swim - the waves were constant, and I spent my energy focusing on not getting seasick instead of on going faster. Did you know you can will yourself not to get seasick? I came out of the water in 13th, daintily ran across the deepest sand I've ever traversed, and made my way to my bike to start redeeming myself for the next 4 hours.
I really enjoyed the bike course, which was easy to learn since we drove it once and you do two loops of it. There were a few bumps and cracks large enough to stick a few dramamine into, but nothing that required getting out of aero position. I caught 4 women the first 20 minutes to move into 8th, and with a half hour left, I moved into 7th. My mouth tasted chalky, as if I was breathing exhaust through a straw. It was so motivating to see Jackson leading the men and spot RTS kits on the not-yet-busy first loop. On the second loop, I had more tunnel vision and couldn't so much as distinguish Jackson from Flaca. In the final half mile, I crossed the sand-with-a-tarp-over-it section and prayed that my chain didn't pop off - I wasn't ready for this, but it is cyclocross season after all!
I set off on the run and could tell I was warm. It was 82 when I dismounted, a far cry from the 38 degrees in which I did my last hard ride back in New Hampshire. The course was changed from 2 loops to 3 loops the night before. While we had cloud coverage, it still looked like everyone was melting out there! My first lap was about 30 minutes, which turned out to be my slowest by 30 seconds. On the second loop, I was still in too much of survival mode to think about competing, but grunting out a "go Marc/Jackson/Nick" kept my spirits high. I started to run side by side with a man whose family was cheering for him and holding his daughter up horizontally so she could reach him for a high five. I was composed enough to chat with him in Spanish, and I started to focus my gaze on the road ahead. On the third lap, the plan from coach Julie was to start racing. With three miles left, I saw the 6th place woman - the last money spot though I didn't know that at the time - ahead of me. At mile 11, I passed her. I ran scared for the next two miles. 6:25 pace felt like 6:15. My feet burned so much that I could visualize blisters forming on the balls of both feet. I still grabbed water with 800 meters to go and crossed the line more bloated than a startup valuation.
The first person I saw after finishing was Nick, who told me Marc and Jackson got 2nd and 3rd, respectively. I was thrilled for them, and we congregated by the podium to watch them receive their flowers and play the national anthem for Jason West, the men's winner and Paula Findlay, the women's winner (different anthems, though ). It was a rare day where no one had a bad day, something we celebrated with Modelos, tequila, even cornhole for those whose competitive juices were still running. You know what they say - if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far and fast, go with RTS!
More from Marc:
Second place and a 2024 World Slot. I was really looking forward to this race because I knew the ocean swim and smaller field would lead to a tough bike. I wanted to test my legs against one of the top cyclists ( Jackson) in the sport and it went alright! I would have loved to take the win but I am stoked to have the fastest swim and my 5th career Ironman podium. Here is a short recap below: Swim: First out. I knew the swim wouldn't matter much for the end result so I kept it controlled and was able to be very relaxed for the last 5 minutes. I had an empty t1 and got out on the bike hearing the announcer call out the gap at about 50 seconds to Jason and Eric. Bike: Not an amazing ride but making this my new "average" race performance. 296 average. 310 average for the first 30 minutes before being joined by Jason. We both ended up getting dropped by Jackson but started working well together. At mile 40 we were caught by two others who again we very motivated to finish the bike off strong. The four of us all took a ten-minute turn at the front which ate away at Jackson's lead. Run: I went for it right out of t2 but Jason was extremely strong as usual in the heat. I got myself solidly into 2nd by the end of the first lap but struggled with some gut issues for the rest of the run. I was still able to run a 1:14 but, I would have loved to battle it out with Jason. Fuel for my future run and bike workouts. This result should bump me up to 38th in the PTO rankings. I'm hoping a big result in Indian Wells will help secure me a PTO series contract for next year.
More from Jackson:
My day started off well with an “as expected” swim, coming out with the second group, 70 seconds behind the lead group and over 2 minutes behind the leader (our very own Marc Dubrick). I rode aggressively the first 40 minutes of the ride, putting in strong surges as I passed Jason and Marc. I was able to take the solo lead, but just couldn’t find the same energy I’ve had in most races this year on the bike. My power faded badly in the second half, but I was happy to still retain a significant 1:40 lead. Onto the run, I knew it would just be a survival kind of day for me. The tank just felt pretty empty! By 6km both Jason and Marc had flown past. I maintained third for the rest of the run and was very happy to see that finish line. I’m happy with how
I kept it together for a solid result when I felt far from my best. In hindsight, the travel was
pretty long and really cut into my recovery before the race. If I could do it again, I would have gone to Cabo one day earlier on the direct flight which would have saved a lot of travel time. I hope to come back to this race some day and really crush it like I know I can.
More from Nick:
WOW, the team atmosphere we created for IRONMAN 70.3 Los Cabos was amazing. I think having 4 of us in one house with our own space made this incredibly fun and of course easy to coordinate. The race was great for me of course since, I’ve had so much travel around the world in the past 3 months, training wasn’t always very easy, nor was recovery. However, being able to compete with me friends and teammates is why I love this sport, so 8th place still felt great and I had some good numbers on the bike and run considering. We still have 2 more races left and a BIG really 2024, so keep in touch!