a. Enjoy this one and only flat section.
b.My favorite part of the run—out there by yourself on trails along the lake.
c. My least favorite part of the run: Nasty Grade’s Equally Nasty Older Sister. This hill sucks. Don’t fight it; just relax. Don’t be afraid to walk—you can make up more time on the flats and downhills if you save your legs and keep your heart rate from spiking.
d.Running through the campground is what sets this race apart. The camaraderie between the spectators and racers is palpable. Smile, say thanks and enjoy it!
e.The Cal Poly campsite: Be prepared for the possibility of some friendly, casual, mixed-gender nakedness.
f. The last mile is very steep downhill. Last year, all I could think was, “Dude! You’re in the lead! Don’t face-plant!” Which is harder than it sounds. If you do avoid biffing it, you’ve got an easy cruise to the finish line. (For tips on how to go fast downhill, see page 62.)
g. Take in the awesome crowd at the finish, high-five people and enjoy it. You’re done!
Treat yourself to some amazing grub post-race. I recommend the least race-carby thing possible: barbecue ribs and hot dogs. Nom nom nom.
Hit up In-N-Out on the way home—you deserve it!
Jesse Thomas is a second-year pro and reigning Wildflower Long Course champion. He lives in Springfield, Ore., with his wife, American 5K champion Lauren Fleshman, and is the CEO of Picky Bars (Pickybars.com). Follow him on Twitter: @jessemthomas. Look for Jesse’s column “The Triathlife” every month in Triathlete.