Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turn the Party Up - 2012 Race Schedule


Sorry for the delay in blogging, though, I doubt anyone was fiending for any of my written nonsense. Nonetheless, I feel like throwing out a little update on my sporting life after a brief blogging hiatus. After my last race in October, I had every intention of “shutting it down” for a solid couple of weeks and slowly building back up (as if my body is like an old car or something). Well, I think I made it four or five days without doing much other than surfing and hustling to class late; then I couldn’t help myself but to start doing what I love again. I traded in my old road bike and got a shiny (or matt-black) new Specialized sl4, which has only fueled my desire to ride as much as I possibly can without falling over. Instead of doing 4 or 5 smaller runs in a week I’ve been really enjoying piling all my mileage into 3 longer runs every week. I’m loving long trail runs at the moment; it keeps me engaged in what I’m doing, kind of like riding hills when cycling. It’s quite a bit more fun to me. Actually, looking back at all of November and the bulk of December, thus far, I’ve been training significantly more than when I was “in season” and racing. I haven’t been doing much speed work, which is lovely. I’m positive it’s completely mental, really. I don’t love training (or doing anything for that matter) when I have to do it or am forced to, but if I’m free to do whatever I’d like, then I’ll do the exact same thing just as long as it’s my choice. A great example of this is reading. A lot of kids don’t want to read in school because it’s considered homework. I despised reading growing up, purely because it was forced in school. But in 5th grade I decided to read (yes…) Harry Potter, on my own, and all of a sudden, reading was awesome. By the time High School rolled around, I’d already read most of what we would be reading in our English and Lit classes anyways. It’s not my intention to brag about reading. I'm very aware that there are serious readers and then people who read periodically for fun- I’m definitely the latter of the two.

The Speedy Bill Jones & I doing some work at the cliffs. 
School metaphors aside (pretty sure this is the second I’ve used in my race blog now. Time to pick a different example), I’ve recently discovered the benefits of going to bed a little early and not feeling the need to sleep in till noon. It’s mind blowing to me how much time I have in my day when I wake up at 6:45am feeling fresh and go ride for 3-4 hours, then come home and encounter the realization that I still have the entire day to be productive (or work). This may be the biggest correlating factor to why my training volume has shot thru the roof.. more available time. It’s important to note that I’m in no way claiming to be faster right now; Maybe I can claim that after I throw down some decent results in races next year tho.. ;-) Speaking of which, this is my tentative race schedule for next year (as of now, I’m sure I’ll be sprinkling in smaller local races here and there)

1/29/12 – Dirt Devil Trail ½ Marathon
2/20/12 – Tritonman
3/4/12 – Desert International Triathlon
3/18/12 – Superseal Olympic Triathlon
3/31/12 – Oceanside 70.3
5/6/12 – Wildflower Olympic
6/2/12 – Honu 70.3
7/15/12 – Lake Stevens 70.3
9/2/12 – Hy-Vee 5150 World Championship
9/9/12 – Ironman 70.3 World Championship Las Vegas*

After an extremely disappointing collegiate season last year, a big part of me wants to take enough units off campus and race collegiately again this year. I definitely want to race Wildflower again, and as much as I want a “do-over” at Collegiate Nationals in Alabama …say, maybe when I haven’t raced a miserable 70.3 six days prior, I really don’t like the CNC bike course, so I’m debating whether or not it’s worth it to go thru all of the WCCTC jazz by myself again.

However, I’m definitely looking forward to aging up into the 25-29AG. It should be a fun filled year racing against the faster guys in 70.3’s.

I applaud anyone who takes this picture seriously.
As for now, I’m going to keep having fun, work hard as long as I can, and continue getting ready for next year. I’m excited, to say the least, and feel the itch to race more everyday. On a side note, I feel a sense of satisfaction in the “weed-like” growth of my hair this month; I’m making serious progress in growing back the bushy wig, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Races of 2011


I look so stoked.


Thank God this year of racing is over. I’ve learned a lot, that’s for sure; but most of what I’ve learned has been how to deal with disappointment and frustration. There was certainly a lot of that this year. However, I was lucky enough to have a few good races before I called it quits for the year, and had some good times with friends while doing so.

Playa Del Rey Triathlon
This was a fun little race up in LA a week or so ago on the 16th. I stayed with my buddy David Quiros and had the chance to catch up with all my friends on the UCLA tri team. My plan was to treat it as a solid training day (quick brick session) and not get too crazy out there. It was kind of cool because the UCLA and USC tri teams were the volunteers on the course. It was entertaining to see someone I knew at every corner yelling something encouraging at me.

It was a rad location, being on the backside of LAX, all of the planes flew right over us as they landed. As far as the race went: I had a decent swim and sat on the feet of the lead pack throughout the 600meter swim. I caught a little roller on the way in and hit the beach in front of everyone. I thought I was the 1st in but apparently some dude was 30+ seconds ahead. I had no idea there was someone ahead until my buddy Henry told me. Quickly hopped on my whip and set off to chase this dude down. I caught him after a couple of miles and realized that there weren’t too many dudes close behind me. I settled into a nice pace and cruised the rest of the course. I believe I had a high 28 minute 20k bike split. After I left T2, it took me a while to get my running legs going.. feeling a little tired from all the training that week (didn’t really tapper for this one). We ran an ‘out and back’ down a road paralleling the beach. I felt poopy until the last mile when I finally started to get my legs under me. I noticed that I had a sizable lead as I headed down the back stretch and cruised in to a 1st place overall victory. Run split was a 16:56 5k. The next guy came in around 3ish minutes later so it was nice to have a good race at an effort that wasn’t too pressing.

I took a lovely nap after the race and then headed out with some of the UCLA guys to do some solid climbing in the Santa Monica Mountains. I’m really envious of all the awesome climbing out there, being so close to everything! Note: don’t do big climbs with Zipp 808 tubular carbon rim wheels. Made for a long and annoying decent, having to stop 3x to make sure my rims weren’t going to blow up.  Everyone probably thought I’d overshot a turn and flew off the mountain when they reached the bottom and sat around waiting a good 5-10 minutes for me.

Unfortunately my training week only escalated into the next couple of days with some taxing run workouts and rides. This would inevitably lead to an “ahh, shoot.. didn’t think about recovery” moment, a few days before:

Chewin on the best of Texas
Galveston, TX 5150
I essentially knew when I signed up for this race that I wasn’t going to be “king of the mountain” after all was said and done. This course is dead flat the entire time with a lot of wind. So pretty much everything I suck at. (If you’ve ever talked to me about the wind, you know we’re unsmiling enemies). That being said, I would be ok with a sucky overall place as long as I knew I gave it a solid effort.

Charlie Karstrom basically talked me into doing this race. He had it all picked out and scouted and was determined to make this race his bitch (which he did). I’m glad he did talk me into it though.. we had a lot of fun out it there in Texas. I knew it was going to be a good trip when we were randomly “forced” into a 2+ hour (or never ending) card game with a complete stranger on the plane over. Our Texas experience started off right: with a trip to the local grocery store, where we loaded up on mass quantities of cookies, some fig-newtons, bananas, and loads of trail mix. What we should’ve been loading up on was bug spray (at least Charlie should’ve). On our walk back from packet-pickup/expo, we were walking past a grassy stretch of sidewalk and we looked down and noticed a small country of mosquitoes firmly taking up residence upon our legs. We initially started yelling profanities and swatting away, but it was like the mythological creature - where you kill one and two appear. In unison we started sprinting as if a lion were chasing us down. Needless to say, we ran the 2 miles all the way back to the room at a slightly faster than intended pace.

Race Day:

Swim
Our wave (Elite) started 10 minutes behind the pros. There weren’t a ton of people in the Elite wave, so the swim start was oddly spread out and comfortable. After the gun went off I sprinted to Charlie’s feet and sat behind him for 100 meters or so but quickly moved away; sitting behind Charlie is like sitting behind a dual motor speedboat with all the water he kicks and churns up, it doesn’t make for easy breathing conditions. I watched as he sped off and I knew he was going to bridge up and do his own thing. I sat with the three other guys at the front and chilled for a bit in this group. After turning the 1st buoy one guy broke off the front of the pack and I decided to join him. The group ended up splitting apart and we all basically swam the rest of the swim solo. I wasn’t feeling too hot but I wasn’t lollygagging. After I exited, I couldn’t help but feel that the swim was long for a 1500 meter swim. I exited in 23ish minutes, which is a little high for me (also considering I’ve been having some decent swim sessions lately). I think I was 4th out in our wave. (The long swim was confirmed by everyone’s slow swim times that day).

Bike
Despite the long swim, I hopped on the Shiveroo and took off into the wind.. and holy crap it was a wind. The bike course paralleled the beach and there was a serious crosswind happening. Knowing that my body is a wind-sail –being 150lbs and 6 foot with a huge torso- I decided I had to go balls out on the way out to the turnaround and pray for some sort of a tailwind to carry me back if I wanted any chance in staying in the race. My plan worked (somewhat) and I ended up catching everyone but Charlie before the turnaround. To my luck we had a slight tailwind on the way home and I hit T2 with a 1:00:50 time. Again, talking to some peeps after the race, it was concurred that the bike course was slightly long as well (being measured at 25.2 miles).

Run
It was definitely one of “those days” out there. Legs just felt mega heavy and tired. I know it was from overtraining that week. My heart rate wasn’t very high (which isn’t optimal in an Olympic distance race) but my legs were maxed. It felt like trying to run hard the day after a huge ride. I just couldn’t get it going. To make things worse, I took a wrong turn and ran down the wrong street. That was a fun wasted 45 seconds. I was passed by a speedy Latino kid and basically easy-ran the next 2 miles in (I didn’t see anyone close behind). Ended the day getting 4th place in the elite division with a 2:05 time. Props to Charlie for crushing the swim and keeping the lead intact the rest of the day.

At the awards we not only found out that we qualified for the Hy-Vee US Championship next year, but the top 5 received free spots! So looks like I’ll have two Championship races within the same week next year (Vegas 70.3 is a week later). Fun times ahead!

I’m looking forward to some relaxation in the next couple weeks and not doing much other than surfing and casual coffee rides. As usual, I’d like to thank my parents, family & friends for all the support throughout the ups and downs this year. B+L Bikes for being San Diego’s best tri shop and supporting me, Specialized for making the worlds greatest bikes, and Clint Eastwood. And last but not least, God for saving me and giving me a passion to strive for the best. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

LA Triathlon (2011)


After taking absolutely no time to think about my race in Vegas, I felt it was best to immediately get back on the pain-train and put the pedal down in some workouts. It’s been nice to not feel the need to run 2-3 long runs or head out on two 3-4 hour long rides every week. I’m all about quality over quantity (in almost every aspect of life). I never understood length requirements on papers in school. I enjoy writing, so I typically never griped too badly about this, but I always found it unnecessary/dumb to write an 8 page paper and say everything precise and quaintly in five pages and have to bullshit out three more pages of redundancy. I always loved the teachers that graded on the quality of ideas you’ve presented and not how long and wordy an essay is. That being said, I take the same approach in my workouts. I feel it’s almost a waste of time (for myself; not being an “iron-distance” athlete (yet) to spend more than 4 hours on my bike. At that point, I’m not doing any quality work; I’m just bearing the pain of sitting on a harmonica-sized seat and keeping my legs spinning and staying upright.

All of that to say, I welcomed back Olympic-distance racing last weekend with open arms. It was “fun” to turn up the speed/pain, and go fast again. I was telling everyone before the race “all I want to do is blow up the bike”. I didn’t even care about the run, I could’ve run a 45 and been satisfied as long as I went under an hour on the bike. It’s funny how I almost always go into a race having a “plan” and it almost always never works out the way you imagined it.

Standard Butsko bewildered swim exit look
Swim: Having put some time in the pool since Vegas, I was hopeful that the ‘old Keith’ would come back last Sunday. Nope.. It’s getting better, but my swim is still nowhere near what it should be. As I watched the pros take off, I saw my buddy Kenny Rakestraw took the best line out to the first buoy by running on the north side. I decided to take that same line and it worked out pretty well. I reached the 1st buoy simultaneously along with one other dude before the rest of the collegiate/ 29 & under wave. As soon as we turned south, I had no idea where to go. The only other buoy was like 700 meters south near the pier. It was slightly choppy and I came to a complete stop 3 or 4 times and talked with this other guy I was swimming with. We were just confused at where we were swimming. It really wasn’t racing, more like getting lost and making the best of the situation. I came out somewhere in the 24 minute range. Kind of stinky.

Bike: After a quick exchange of pleasantries with the guy I was swimming with while changing in T1, I was off. I went out way too hard the first 10 miles, after that I felt dead. My legs just didn’t have any life in them. I wasn’t wearing a watch but I knew my bike split wasn’t near what I had hoped for. The course is a false flat for the first 10ish miles towards downtown LA; then it’s an alternating (very slight) up and downslope 2 lap-7 mile loop. Overall it’s a pretty flat course, no real challenging hills, so it not advantageous for me at all.  I finished with a 1:02 low bike split. At least it’s a minute better than last year right?
 
Run: As I headed out onto the run course, I felt I had a nice and quick pace ½ mile into it and started to settle in. I then turned a corner and saw Greg Bennett bolting towards the finish line; probably running a 4:45 mile pace. He ran by me so fast that my pace looked like a relaxing jog. I almost quit endurance sports straight up when I saw that. However, I didn’t and decided to just keep at it. Not feeling too inspired I trudged on, getting distracted every so often by the bouncing pony tail of Magali Tisseyre… After chatting with a few people about PLNU (as I got the usual comments about my green hat) and noticing that I probably had a lock on the Collegiate and 29 & under win, I rolled into the finish feeling good. I saw the results and noticed I ran a 36:24, which is a 10k PR in a triathlon for me and nearly 5 minutes faster than what I ran here last year…

2:06:19 overall
Ended up wining the collegiate division and the overall Age Group win (However, I wasn’t credited as the overall AG champ at the awards because apparently the Collegiate division wasn’t included for whatever reason). No matter, it was a fun day racing and hanging out with friends. Shout out to Kosuke, who had a huge day and was 3rd in the elite division, and to my dogs: Bill Gleason and Jonathan Lopez, who were high on the podium in their respective divisions. Huge day for TCSD (and PLNU triathlon.. kind of).

I’d like to say a special thanks to Sonja Johnson and Zoot for getting me in a super fast wetsuit for this race! B+L Bikes for being THE BEST tri shop in SD. My fam for being awesome and my friends for all the support. And last but certainly not least, Nic Cage for making some of the worst(=best) movies of all time.



Sure, Cheers.
 Fast happens..

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Las Vegas - Ironman 70.3 World Championship

If there's one thing that I take away from this experience, it's that triathletes are dorks.. It's the guys that are pushing out a 25 minute tempo run a day or two prior to the race, in their full race ready tri-suit, wearing their timing chip and bib/# as if they are actually in the middle of a race. No.. just, no. You would be surprised at the amount of people I witnessed (mostly European dudes, thankfully) doing all three sports in this fashion. If I ever see you doing this, we're no longer friends. It's completely inexcusable.

Chances are if you're reading this, you probably already know how my race went.. Pretty lackluster and drab. However, having probably the unluckiest/injury prone year of my short endurance sports career thus far, I feel a small sense of satisfaction. Right from the start of my season, it was one after another... IT band syndrome, bad burritos, pointless penalty, IT band/hip flexor, sickness/lung congestion, seat post sinkage, sting ray encounter.

(SIDE NOTE: I don't think I ever blogged about my sting ray encounter. It was pretty fun. 5 Minutes prior to the Solana Beach Triathlon, I stepped on a sting ray while warming up in Fletcher cove. It stung me under the front of my foot. I was pretty pissed and decided to race anyways (after the lifeguards basically told me "it's just going to hurt, a lot"). And to their prediction, it hurt.. a lot. So I made it a mile into the run and couldn't take the pounding anymore and bailed.)

Sting rays aside, I had a pretty solid month and a half of training to get myself ready for the 70.3WC. A lot of riding out east county in the middle of the day to get used to the heat. I actually concentrated much more on running than cycling, and barely touched swimming (which was my biggest mistake). To be honest, I didn't feel to nervous about this race. I really had nothing to prove, I've been hurt all year.

Race Day


Swim
I'm not even going to talk about it.

Bike
After hearing my uncharacteristically bad swim time, I got on my bike pretty upset. Lets just say I "burnt a lot of matches" in the first 30 minutes of the bike course. I set out on an Olympic distance pace and was rolling over people. Once I settled down and found a sustainable pace, I started feeling good. I loved that bike course. It's no doubt my favorite course so far. There is a constant uphill or downhill and it kept me engaged in the course. When we hit the turnaround around mile 25 I felt great and was feeling better the longer I rode. I know I was owning the hills because I'd be 15+ seconds a head of the guys I was pacing with then they'd catch back up to me as the course flattened out. I had a really good pace and was out in front leading the way for a few guys until around mile 40-45 when we hit these stupid false flats that take you back into Henderson. There was a slight headwind and for some reason, my legs didn't want to cooperate one bit. I couldn't keep the pace that I had been pushing and started fading. When we entered the city of Henderson, the course just gets flat and boring. My legs had blown up pretty bad and I went into survival mode. I just wanted to get off my bike and sit down. I'd have rather been riding uphill than trying to push roasted legs thru the flats. I entered T2 with a 2:29:03 bike split. Bummed, cause I was probably on pace to hit 2:26ish before I blew up. Somewhat satisfied considering this course is not the easiest of courses, but it suits my riding style fairly well and I want to really bag it next year.


Berg and I heading out on the run course
Run
I took my time in the T2 tent. I chilled and ate some shot blocks for a minute. I saw my buddy Chris Berg enter the tent while I was cold chillin and waited a second for him before I set out on the run course. I know Chris is a good half distance runner, so I figured it would be smart to pace with him. We ran out together for the 1st half mile, but my itchy legs wanted to bolt. Chris played it much smarter and ran steady, for the 1st lap and took it almost as a warm up. The run course is essentially a 3 lap course: 2 miles up hill and 2 miles down hill. As I started running up hill I noticed something funny going on in my left shoe. Oh, wait.. two of my toes were poking out the left side. It had ripped somehow and my insole started to come out. Cool. I stopped to try and fix my insole but it was clear it wasn't going to cooperate. Towards the end of the descent around mile 3, Chris flew past me. I was surprised at how fast he was moving. I tried to copy his pace but he had a nice gap on me. At this point, it was a good struggle to run with that damn insole all scrunched up at the end of my shoe and my toes poking out. I stopped next to my good friend Kosuke (who was dressed up as a beer bottle, mind you), and we assessed my shoe. After a little discussion, decided it was best to just rip out the insole and grin and bear it. I took off again and felt better, but weird running with a half retarded shoe. Pace wise, I felt good. Probably ran the 1st 8 or 9 miles around a 6:30-6:45 pace. Then in standard Keith Butsko style, started to fade hard on the last 5k. The heat wasn't necessarily getting to me (even though it was 94ish and sunny), I was just tired.

If you look closely at my left shoe, the insole and a toe are coming out of the left side. .
I finished with a 1:33 half marathon and 4:38 on the day. Not too happy with that.. Just wanted to make sure I have a lot of room for improvement next year;-) There was a much better field of athletes this year.  This course is a true World Championship course and I'm glad I had the opportunity to race it in it's inaugural year.
I'm having fun again and really in love with each sport.
Right now, I feel it would be a waste to just pull the plug on my year. Since I've been hurt for 3/4ths of my season so far, I'm gonna keep training hard and bang out some Olympic distance races this month and next. I've got the LA Triathlon this month, still debating if I want to go back and race the 5150 Las Vegas next month, then Charlie Karstrom and I are going to kill the Galveston 5150 towards the end of October.

Thank you to everyone for all your support! It means a lot. A special thanks to my family and friends for taking time out of their lives to come watch me race; and to B+L Bikes for continuing to support me. Time to Speed it up!
 




Monday, July 18, 2011

Carlsbad & Vineman 70.3 (2011)

Ran the first 10 miles solidly. The last 5k... not so much.

The biggest goal of last Sunday was just to have a solid day and not die. I knew I wasn’t going to have a breakout race. I’ve only done a handful of workouts in the last 2 weeks while fighting a cold and nothing previous to that since May 1st sans some swimming. I knew I wasn’t going to PR in any sport. If I get a Vegas spot then I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do 5 months ago; if I don’t, then I focus on something else for the remainder of the season.  I did what I set out to do (at least until mile 10 of the run).  It was the first big step in getting back to where I was before my train got derailed.
But honestly, the day wasn’t really about me. It was definitely about Charles Karstrom. That guy blew everyone away yesterday (including most of the pros). Seeing that was a huge inspiration.. He went 4:08 on the day. This was his breakout race. Just makes me want to have a race like Charles did.

Carlsbad
Last weekend I raced the Carlsbad Sprint Triathlon and had a disgusting race. I haven’t been able to take a full breath since June 25th. Lung congestion sucks, but it sucks even worse when it sticks around for 3 weeks. I thought I was going to drown on that swim; I just couldn’t get any air in my lungs. Same with the bike, and the run was just an embracement. Thank God my timing chip wasn’t working and my race wasn’t even recorded. Phewww. Just put that one away -deep in the hart of the weak-sauce trash bin.

The next week leading up to Vineman felt like I was cramming for an exam; trying to fit in two or three long workouts to build up my endurance again. On Saturday, the day before the race, I felt much better on my little 15 min workouts and most of my congestion had miraculously disappeared. I was honestly just excited to be healthy, injury free and in wine country this weekend.

Vineman 70.3
The Race:

The Swim
This swim course is kind of goofy. It was literally 2-3 feet deep for half of the course. After talking with people after the race, I clearly should’ve been dolphin diving thru the shallow sections much more.
When the horn went off I had a decent sprint but quickly started struggling to catch my breath after only 50 yards. When I reached the 1st buoy 100 yards out, I noticed someone was already 25-50 yards ahead of me and the three guys I was swimming with. It turned out to be Charles Karstrom, starting off on his tear. Having no ambition of trying to keep up with his pace, I tried to find a rhythm but failed and sat on someone’s feet for the next 5-10 min. It started to get extremely shallow as we approached the turnaround. I noticed people walking and dolphin diving. I did one or two and thought, “nah, I should just swim.. this is cheap”. In hindsight, I should’ve done a significant amount more dolphin diving, as most of the faster guys dolphin dove till their feet hurt. It wasn’t until the turnaround that I finally felt comfortable and found my stroke. I quickly caught up and passed a group of 3 and eventually one other guy 200 yards away from the finish. Why couldn’t I have been swimming like that the whole time? I came out 3rd in the 29 and under wave with a high 26 min swim.

Bike
My wave’s transition racks were in the furthest nook (and most inconvenient spot) in the transition area. After grabbing my bike and setting off, I passed a guy in my age group a mile in. I was by myself and settling in on a nice and pressing pace for a while before a bigger guy, who was clearly “a cyclist”, joined me. I’d pass him going up the hills and he’d pass me on the flats and downhills. Unfortunately, there are more flats and rollers than steep climbs, so he slowly pulled away.

However, during this time, I hit a sizable pothole and heard an odd noise from under me. I thought a rock must have hit off the side of my wheels and thought nothing of it. Turns out, as I was packing up my bike this morning, I noticed my seat post had been well over an inch and a half lower than where it should’ve been.  This would explain why my lower back started cramping up around mile 15 and why I couldn’t seem to put any power into my pedaling. I must not have tightened my seat-post in enough when building up my bike the day before.. Lessons learned.

The rest of the bike course, I was completely alone (until the last 6 miles). I would ride hard for 4-5 minutes then have to stand up, push my hips forward, and stretch/relax my back for 10-20 seconds, losing all momentum, then doing it over and over and over again. I felt crappy every second I was on my bike. I finished in 2:30… over 5 minutes slower than what I did last year, and I wasn’t nearly as good of a cyclist last year as I am this year (not that I’m such a great cyclist now).

Run
Stoked to get off my bike (rare), I left transition feeling great (also rare). I think I nailed my nutrition on the bike for the first time ever. I didn’t have that “dead leg” feeling during the first couple miles. I got in to a rhythm immediately and found a nice pace. I forgot my watch (convenient I know, but it didn’t really change the way I did anything) so I was running on effort alone. I felt like I was running at a solid pace and wasn’t out of breath or hurting like I usually do. The course goes out to a winery 5-6 miles away and does a mile loop around their vineyard then heads back. (At this time I knew 1st place was out of the question, as I saw Charles heading out of the winery a mile or so ahead of me, and looking really strong). They didn’t have anyone signaling which way you should enter the loop around the vineyard, so I turned left. It wasn’t until the 4th person running towards me in an opposite direction with a confused look on their face that I started to get the impression something was wrong. When I finally saw a guy I knew I had been 1-2 minutes up on heading in my direction I stopped, looked around and saw a chalk arrow on the ground pointing in the opposite direction. I kind of stood there for a while thinking about what I should do before I came to the conclusion that I should just keep running the wrong way cause I’d eventually come out having done the same distance anyways.

After a confusing mile, I regained my pace again and started pushing. I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I could tell I had been running the exact same pace from mile one till mile 10 which according to the 6.6 mile split I received was around a 6:25 pace. When mile 10 rolled along, it was like someone turned out the lights. This wasn’t nutrition, it was a lack of endurance. I wasn’t breathing hard, my heart rate probably wasn’t even above 140.. my legs were just out of strength. I struggled to get up those hills. My jog turned into a shuffle, which turned into a walk, turned into a shuffle, turned into a walk, turned into a run for the last ½ mile.

Whatever disappointment I had after the race was quickly forgotten as I proceeded to the Russian River brewery & enjoyed some tasty beer and met and hung out with awesome people.

Charles and I getting some podium wine
So no, it wasn’t even near my best day or what I should be capable of, but it was essentially what I wanted (with the exception of the seat-post being ridiculously low, but that’s racing…). It was a C+ race to get me back on track. I did qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, which I’m stoked about! I’m looking forward to the training leading into this. The bike course was built for light guys… Lots of climbing;-) So if anyone would like a training partner in the next couple of months, let me know. I’ll be working my ass off... or what I have of one at least.

Thanks to all my friends and family for their support, I really appreciate it! Also, thanks to B+L Bikes for continuing to support me. And props to all of the San Diego hot shots that tore it up yesterday. There were some smoking fast times.. Some were even going so fast, they did the winery loop twice…

Post race wine tasting
TIME TO GET MY FAST ON. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Injury, Hawaii, & The State Championship Team Time Trial

Preface: You might want to read this in two or more sittings. This post is slightly longer than a chapter of Lord of the Rings.

The last month or so has possibly been one of the lamest months of my life. I'm blaming procrastination (so myself, really), but everything caught up with me at once and my life got real crazy, real fast. It was probably the perfect time to have an injury (if there is ever a perfect time), because I couldn't have worked out even if I had wanted to. I still don't know what really went wrong with my left leg, but the week after Wildflower, I couldn't run. It was probably your common strained hip flexor-IT band-hamstring combo. Luckily, I had plenty to do in life to keep me busy and take my mind off the fact that I couldn't run or bike. For me, swimming gets old pretty fast when you have nothing to balance it with; but having that as my only option, I've been in the pool a lot in the last month. A week ago, a customer made the comment to me at work: "You must be a swimmer huh?... "oh no" I thought, I look like a swimmer now.. huge V back and massive shoulders. Great. But alas, I'm back running and spinning around again, mostly pain free. 
1 hour from landing in Hawaii.. already doing damage. 
Hawaii (32.2)

Not a bad place to be.. especially if you can't race. I had known for weeks out of the Hawaii 70.3 that I wasn't going to be able to do the run. a) I hadn't been doing any running all month b) I didn't want to risk screwing myself up even worse (as I've been told a lot in the last month: I'm too young to try and push thru an injury" c) Why do something half-heartedly, knowing you can't give your best? 

I knew I could do the swim and bike portions at least. I had gone out a few times the week before and hadn't been feeling too much in my leg while riding. It was nice to be in Hawaii and not have to be so wound up about racing all week. Cold chillin, Kona coffee and a lot of swimming over the reef is what went down the majority of the time. (Oh, and learning how to build a Shiv from the ground up)

The Race
I had absolutely 0 expectations (other than a somewhat legitimate swim, cause Lord knows that's all I've been doing lately) for this race. The past two times I've raced here, I've had a disgusting swim. The first year I swam a 34, I believe; last year I swam a 30. That's gross for what I know I can do. Of course, the swim here is much different than your average 2k sheltered swim. It's a mass start (over 1800 this year), you don't have a wetsuit and who know what the currents, sharks/sea monsters, waves and chop are doing out there. 

Lindsey on the aquabike
I started waaayyy outside to keep clear of the mass of chaos, just waiting to be unleashed. My favorite was how the race started. Everyone was drifting past the start buoys and Greg Welsh (the Aussie commentator) yells to all the athletes: "Everyone needs to get back behind the buoys.. MOVE BACK!!! I know you all can hear me, I'm not going to start this race until everyone moves ba..." right then: BOOM!!! & off goes the start cannon. Ok, I guess we’re going. I had a lovely start to this race, I was so far outside I had a clear shot to the first buoy and plenty of space to flounder and splash about without anyone molesting me. I got to the 1st buoy fast and to my amazement the front pack was maybe 10-20 seconds a head of me. Fairly pleased with myself, I settled in and set a nice pace for the next 15-20ish minutes. I wasn't passing anyone, but more importantly, I wasn't being passed.. until the last 500 meters. That's when I popped and a huge pack passed me. When I came out, I saw the clock was a mid 28 minutes. I can live with that.

The Bike
I always love getting on the bike @ Honu because I get a huge confidence boost. Since it's a mass start, you promptly pass a ton of people because there are so many good swimmers in front of you that'll struggle on the bike. I found a comfy pace quick and went to work. I went from 32 overall (or something like that) after the swim to 19th in the 10 mile out and back section before heading up the coast.
We finally started to hit some hills around mile 15 and that's where I turned it on. I felt fantastic and kept feeling stronger. I'd get a huge boost every time I'd see someone in front of me and feel the urgency to bolt past them. I think I was in the top 10 somewhere as we ascended up to Hawi and approached the 31 mile turnaround. In the final mile or so I only counted 6 or 7 people coming the opposite way. Sometime around then I felt my lower back and hip start to get really tight and aggravate my IT band (it had been bothering me for a while on the bike). I made the decision to drop out and avoid anything serious when we entered Hawi.
I thought that was the right decision until 3 hours had passed and I was still sitting in a rainy penalty box up in Hawi. However, I was constantly entertained by overly serious age groupers riding into the penalty box and yelling at this poor lady Cee'cee, who had nothing at all to do with their "ridiculous and explicative" penalties. I must have heard "There goes Kona!!!!", over 10 times. bahahah... come on. 

I’m proud of all my friends that raced especially Kosuke Amano. I’m not going to lie, if I were in the position that Kosuke was in that day (cramps all through the bike and run), I’d probably have thrown in the towel. Instead, Kosuke humbly battled on and walked the majority of the run course to finish. For someone that fast, it says a lot.


The California State Championship Team Time Trial
I’ve never like team sports. NEVER.. until this past weekend. George Gutierrez talked B+L team riders Bill Jones, Josh Soto, and myself into competing in the State TTT. It sounded awesome to me and I kept thinking to myself “How hard could it be? It’s only drafting.” Man, did I learn how hard drafting could be, especially in tail winds on flat courses. We all drove up to Lake Los Angeles together, crammed into my family’s Nissan Titan, with no a/c. That was a true test in itself. The guys had been practicing together a few times on Fiesta before the event, and I had done a little run thru with Josh and Bill earlier in the week, so we had some idea of how we would signal to each other and rotate in and out of formation. The day before, we did a 45 min practice on a section of the course, to figure out how we would take corners together and position ourselves in the crosswinds.

Race Day
We rolled up to the start with everything ready and in order (with the exception of Bill’s wallet) and busted out the trainers to get in a good warm up an hour out from the start. Once we were good and warm (some of us more so than others) we headed over to the start line. The course was a flat clockwise square where we come back and do the first stretch twice; 24 miles total. The first section was a 6 or 7 mile section with a tail wind. I thought this would be a good little place for us to, as we all agreed, ease into the effort. However, I think race nerves got the better of us all and we started off doing, essentially, a 7 mile interval at 105%.
Josh set the pace for us, which was not easy, and in a tail wind on a flat course, there’s not much benefit to a draft; So I could barely hold his wheel. He was powering beyond belief. When we rounded the first corner into a side wind, Josh fell off the back. He yelled at me something along the lines of “I’m done, I ramped up my legs too hard”. I yelled back at him “Hell no you’re not- Get on my wheel now!!!” We lost a bit of time getting everyone back into formation, but once we were all on, we picked back up the pace and started hammering taking between 30 seconds to 1 minute turns pulling at the front then falling to the back of the train. The next 10ish miles went smoothly as we passed a pretty good amount of teams that started in front of us and kept a solid pace going. George was throwing down pretty hard when we were riding into the wind. It gave us all a good chance to catch our breath and regroup. On the second to last stretch, we were pushing into a crosswind and had half of the “flying V” rolling in full force. I’m fairly sure we had to have been maintaining a high-30/low-40mph average. This is where we did the most damage on the course.

When we hit the final stretch (again) things started to get a little crazy. Josh popped about a mile or two into it and had to drop off (you only need to finish with three riders) and my gas tank was running on fumes. However, Bill Jones came in to save the day. For some reason, this is where Bill thrived.. the final stretch. George and I were really struggling to hold his wheel, and eventually I had nothing left- as well as a really tight IT band. I must’ve yelled “Bill I’m off, hold on… OK, I’m back on, lets go! (20 seconds later) Bill I’m off, hold on” over 10 times. It was just too hard for me to keep his wheel with a solid tail wind providing almost no draft. But Bill was the hero of the day, doing his best to pull/pace George and I for almost the entire length last stretch. We finished with a time of 48:18, which is pretty dang fast. That’s slightly over a 30 MPH average. We ended up in 2nd in our category to a Pro team and had one of the better times of the day.

They went all out on the awards expenses.. as evidence of our huge medals.
I’ve never been more proud of a team effort in my life. We were all so tired from just having laid it all out there, we rolled into a gas station/market and bought cokes, candy, chocolates, Ice cream… Bill and George got fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and OJ. Weird combos but hey, we earned that crap. The fun didn’t end there either. After the drive home George and I had the pleasure of working for the rest of the day at the shop ;-)

Conclusion
My apologies for the book-like post, but I’ve had a fair amount of events I’ve felt obligated to write about. Hopefully I can get back on the program soon and get my legs up to speed so I can have some legitimate races. As for my summer, I snuck into the San Diego International Triathlon (this weekend) on June 26th at the Spanish Landing/Seaport Village downtown. Don’t know how my run will look but the race itself should be fun since the bike course is where I train 3 days a week. (Now, whether I have a bike to ride or not, remains to be unseen). I’m debating whether or not I want to do the Carlsbad Triathlon in the beginning of June. Then it’s onto Vineman 70.3, which should be interesting because of the amount of time I haven’t been training.. Then I come home and might give the Solana Beach Triathlon a shot while I’m in racing mode. August is still a mystery. I really want to do Alcatraz again, but I have to get some travel company for that. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wildflower

You might expect this post to be a rant or a trip down whiner’s road, but it’s not going to be. Truth be told, I had a decent race, and last Sunday was one of those rare days where your game plan actually happens*. All week before the race I told myself I’m going to win this thing on the bike.. and damn it, I did*.

*Just to be clear I would like to say that the 2:00 penalty I received on the bike course was not drafting related. It was a position penalty for being towards the center of the road for longer than 15 seconds. (19 seconds). 

Pre-Race
I drove up with my two good friends Marc Schommer and Kosuke Amano (who both had awesome races as well; Especially Kosuke, finishing top 5 overall on Sunday) and my girlfriend Lindsey. We camped in the outer reaches of the campgrounds next to Cal Poly and some immature/childish 30 year olds that constantly found it necessary to yell everything to each other and act as if they were all at an endless party.

The night before the race it was freezing. I knew it was going to be a good race because I woke up tired, groggy, grumpy, and seriously contemplating whether I wanted to race or not. Every time I wake up not wanting to race and feeling like crap, I somehow always have a good race. It’s the days when I wake up feeling good that I suck.

The Swim.
All I wanted to do was make one of the front packs and not loose too much time to the leaders. I knew Bill Jones could potentially have a huge day in the water and hold a sizable lead on the bike. My swim fitness isn’t killer right now (I’ve hardly swam in the last 3 months), but its good enough to be with the top 5-10 fast dudes.

When the horn went off I had a good jump and got out of the chute pretty fast, but for some reason just didn’t have the 2nd wind sprint power to keep with the guys in the front. Rounding the 1st buoy I got dropped. I got into a groove I saw the pack was literally 20 seconds a head of me. I swam solo behind them the whole 1st half of the course at the exact same pace. It was kind of depressing that I wasn’t up there with them. When I made the turnaround things started going awry. I didn’t know where I was swimming. It was some of the worst sighting in the history of open water swimming. This police boat had to come over and guide me away from the shore. I was zig zagging everywhere. Probably threw a good 100-200 yards onto my swim. Came out in a high 19 minute swim; I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even in the top 10. I’m really disappointed in my sighting, and anyone who’s ever swum open water with me knows how bad my aim is. You can bet I’ll be doing sighting drills twice a week every week till I’ve figured it out.

Bike.
I stayed calm. I knew I could do some work on this bike course. I passed two dudes going up Lynch Hill. I have to say, no matter how in-shape you are, that stupid hill gets you every time. You’re already tired coming out of the swim and all the blood is in your arms, so trying to go straight up a hill immediately is really awesome. After I left the campgrounds I started to get my cycling legs going. I had a lot of fun on that course, feeling great, and was really embracing the hills; just kept my head down and pushed hard. I eventually caught everyone before the turnaround but Bill Jones and Thomas Roos; I saw that they had about 20-30 seconds on me as they passed by me before the turnaround. I caught up to them on a hill probably around mile 14 or something like that. Neither of them looked too good. Bill kicked it in, followed my pace and dropped Roos. I led the rest of the way, which was a pretty sweet experience. There were cameramen and photographers on motorcycles all up in my business. I felt like a pro leading an Ironman.. it was rad.

*note: at no point during the bike section was I aware that I had been in violation of a positioning rule, nor did I have any foul intentions of doing anything outside of the rules.








Run.
This is where I have a lot of regrets.

I got into T2 just a bit before Bill and jammed thru that transition. I was met by two dudes on mountain bikes to lead me on the run course. I had a surplus of energy just surging through me. The crowd got me really fired up as I left the spectator area and I tried the best I could to slow down and pace myself but just couldn’t stop my legs from bolting. There was some dude with a big backpack standing in the middle of the staircase that the athletes ascend to get on the run course, with his back to me. People started yelling at him to get off the course but it was too late, I was already in the middle of pushing him over to get out of my way. I don’t feel one bit of pity for the guy or any injury I may have cause either. Use your head bro. After around 10 minutes in I felt pretty crappy from taking off at a ridiculous pace. I kept moving and tried to keep a strong pace.

A little before the 5k marker, I got my running legs back and felt good again. I was a good ways up one of the longer hills and looked back to see Thomas Roos rounding the turn at the bottom of the hill. I thought, “no way this dude’s gonna catch me today” (no disrespect to Thomas, but I was way too determined to let anyone pass me). I booked it up the hill and didn’t even have to look back to know I was putting time into him. Somewhere around this point a couple of camera men had been riding with me on the back of motorcycles. We were chatting a bit and I kept hearing things like “Well Keith, it looks like you’ve got this.” “You’re going to be the champion. Just finish it!” I’m not blaming anyone but myself for this, but I let up and wasn’t running hard anymore. The last 1-2 miles I was merely “running” not racing. Especially coming down Lynch hill, I was dogging it and enjoying the moment. When I reached the announcer booth at the top of Lynch hill, my watch had a low 29 minute time showing, it’s supposed to be around a mile or so to the finish.  For whatever reason I forgot I was racing anyone other than the collegiate guys.

Thoughts.
 It was an awesome experience running down that finishing chute, having it all to myself and lifting up the banner. However, even though I sat waiting for the next guy to come in a minute and 40whatever seconds later, I immediately felt like I didn’t earn anything. I didn’t finish with that feeling of having given it my all. I felt like I could’ve done that stupid run course two more times. That’s not how you’re supposed to feel after finishing a race of any distance. As I stood in the finisher chute, I saw every guy finishing with a look of honest pain and suffering on his face, I just felt stupid. Probably why I got over the penalty so quickly.

Lessons learned.. don’t half ass anything, even if you’re winning*; You never know when a stupid 2:00 penalty is going to blindside you. I can’t let the what-if scenarios consume me, because there are a million and 1- but I need to work harder, bottom line. 

(The good news is I think my skimpy 9 units next semester will allow me race collegiately one last time, next year;-)


Next up: Honu 70.3 (and maybe the OC Triathlon if Jordan Bethke promises to not make me look too stupid on the bike).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alabama and Collegiate Nationals

Gotta knock this one out before the homework really gets piled on and this becomes irrelevant.

I have to say..... I had a blast staying with the UCLA Tri team and am truly thankful for time I got to spend with them. It just makes me wish we had a legitimate tri team at Loma. It makes these trips much more bearable when you have friends going through it with you. Not only was hanging out with the UCLA tri team sweet, but all of the schools from the West Coast Collegiate Triathlon Conference. I love all those guys. It honestly didn't feel like separate teams from the WCCTC competing with the rest of the Collegiate teams, but the WCCTC vs. the rest of the schools (or maybe just Boulder). It was pretty awesome. I don't think any other conferences have that sort of camaraderie. 

Alabama was ... Alabama. Hot, humid, and rednecks. Our first night, a couple of the UCLA guys and I went for a little exploratory run around the hotel area. I somehow forgot my running shorts so I decided my retro 80's speedo would have to suffice. After circling the Lowe's parking an upwards of 6 times and running to the highway and back I told the guys I was going to call it a night & head to the hotel. They decided to head in as well. Right as we exited the Lowe's parking lot, I noticed something hit me in the back, followed by a sticky substance creepin on my arm. Everyone was bewildered at what had just happened, but apparently some rednecks in a big ol truck, threw their leftover hooters at us while driving off. I'm guessing it was aimed at me because of my flamboyant speedo and retro headband. Luckily for myself, the others took the brunt of this drive-by fooding because they were on the outside while running.. It was awesome after we realized what had happened. "welcome to alabama". Josh Reyes and Nick Handel were smothered in thousand island dressing. It was hilarious. We decided to go to a nearby waffle house shortly after and were recognized as "those guys running around" by the WH employees. Apparently we threw a huge wrench in the Alabama system. I was just waiting for some big guy to come up to me and say something like "We don't take too kindly to yer kind around here, boy..." I immediately regretted the decision to bring only highly fluorescent V necks on this trip. 

Speaks for itself

The Race:

Brady, 30 seconds till the gun.. Me in the right corner ;-)
Alright.. I knew it was a bad decision to race 6 days after racing Oceanside 70.3. I knew deep down inside that: A. There's no way I could be competitive with these guys at this level, being as sore and tired as I was. B. There's no way I could be competitive with these guys at this level anyways. The guys in the Top 5 have been doing this for a long time and put in way more work than I do at shorter distance stuff. That being said, I'm neither happy with my result or upset by it. 

Having raced AG Nats only 8 months ago, I had some idea how this course would be going. So when I saw that dock, I wasn't going to fall victim to getting a crappy swim spot 5 seconds before the start again.  When we jumped in and everyone swam out to do another little warmup, I quickly grabbed a protruding chain on the dock to get a solid start spot. As the officials told everyone they had to be touching the dock and the gun would be going off in 30 seconds, I had the biggest smile on my face. I had my feet planted on the dock while holding the chain as almost everyone else was floating in water touching the dock. I'm pretty sure the CBS camera man had his camera right on me. The gun went off and I swear, no one.. no one touched me for the first 200 meters. It was the best start to a race I'd ever had. For the lack of swim training that I've been doing, I'd say I had a pretty dang good swim. I exited the water just in front of a few strong WCCTC swimmers including Henry Szeto and Tim Black. The fairly long run up to transition was really fun. 
I'm in the red goggles clutching the chain on the right still.. 

Bike:
I don't want to throw down a massive rant about the bike section of this race just because I don't want to be "that guy", but I'm not happy about it. Essentially, with the course being two loops and the lanes were only 1 car lane wide, there was some nice drafting going on. Whatever.. this happens, I have to learn to deal with it. I was hammering out a pretty good pace by myself for 45 minutes before a pack of 15+ dudes came up to join me in the last 4-5 miles. Lame sauce. I know half of these guys were sitting up drinking coffee and eating doughnuts for the majority of this ride. It's not fair, but that's life. The bike course had no legitimacy whatsoever. There was a good sized pack a minute in front of me the whole time as well. I did see a lot of penalties being issued by the officials, which is good, but why did it even come to that? Come on USAT, get your shit together. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out what's going to happen with 700 fast 20something year olds all crammed together on a fast bike course. 

Run:
I may have not PR'ed in any sport on Saturday, but shoot.. I PR'ed both of those transitions. I have a notorious T1 time. I flew through both of those transitions like I had Tiger's Blood in my veins. The run was pretty funny to watch, not funny to partake in. The first 2 miles are mostly uphill and it was really funny to see guys take off at too hard of a pace, only to get gnarly side stitches a mile or so into it and pull off to the side. (I was pretty close to being on of those guys). I'm glad Henry and I left transition at the same time. It really helped to pace with him in the beginning when we each were going through ups and downs. Right around the second mile I noticed my run legs start to open up and I felt good so I took a chance and pushed out of this group of guys I had been running with. I hit the only downhill hard and put some time on everyone. When I hit the flats I really pushed hard and opened up a nice gap on the group. I was feeling really good and probably could've been running faster but held back a bit. I hit mile 4 in a low 22:10-something, so relatively fast. But then, out of no where, I hit the wall. My legs suddenly had no energy left and I couldn't go any harder. My pace slowed dramatically and I heard footsteps advancing in my direction rapidly. Within 30+ seconds Henry and Noah Beyeler caught me and ran past me with ease. I tried to hang on to Henry's feet but I had nothing inside me. Oceanside finally caught up to me, and to be honest I was surprised I made it that far, that fast. I'm really bummed because there was a pack of 10 guys, less than a minute in front of me, all running fairly slow. Noah held the same pace I had been holding earlier and caught all but one of them. So I jogged in to finish 21st overall at a 37:40something 10k, which isn't terribly bad.. but I know I'm capable of running much, much faster. 

Still proud of my effort at least, knowing I battled, took some chances and ran a clean race. Just bummed seeing the results and knowing the guys in the Top 10 weren't too much faster and the next 10 guys in front of me were only a minute faster. Pretty stoked for Henry and Brady O'ryan though.. they both had great races and Brady took 3rd overall. Also stoked for my buddy Bill Jones at UCSD (also a B+L athlete), who was second out of the water and held thru that run to finish in the top 15. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oceanside 70.3 Recap (2011)

I had to wait a day to write this. Writing a race report the day of the race is always bad news.. It's like that email you write when you're angry and you send it, then look back the next day and go "woops, that was a little harsh". Anyways, I had plenty of time to think about my race while sitting in traffic today on my drive up to USC to drop off my bike for Collegiate Nationals (next Saturday in Alabama).
Don't worry.. more pics to come G.buts with the photo cred.

Race Morning:
I'm not going to lie, I was pretty excited for this race. I woke up feeling fresh and easy; took a nice little shower at 4:10 to get my body awake. Pumped up my tires and I oiled my chain (I didn't actually oil my chain, that's just how the song goes) and rode from the pier to the transition area in the Harbor. I had everything pretty much ready to go so it was quick setting up and taking off for a little warm up jog. Now, I had already taken care of the bathroom business well before the crowds started forming, but as soon as I saw the pros take off I suddenly had to go again. I ran back to the bathrooms to find a Disneyland feature ride queue formed. Well, I had a good 30 minutes till my wave went off so this was fine.. until 23 minutes had gone by and I was still waiting in that line. With 5 minutes to go I bolted out of that portpotty and sprinted towards my group. I ran into Lindsey who was curious as to what I had been doing, and fought my way up the age group waves to my wave which was "on deck". As the group before us took off, they let us swim from the loading dock to the deep water start in the middle of the harbor. I always love this because you can tell from that 25-50 meter swim, who the better swimmers will be cause it's pretty much a warmup sprint for position for the start. Of course I get out there and who else is right next to me but Brian Duffy. Now we don't speak of his name in my house so I will refer to him as He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named. He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named is quite a good swimmer (& cyclist and runner for that matter), so I knew going into this race I'd pretty much be racing him unless someone else in my age group had a killer day (which you can never rule out!)

The Race:
Well, in typical Keith Butsko style, I bolted from the swim start when the gun went off and had a nice gap between me and everyone else. In fact, it was too nice of a gap; so I poked my head up and noticed I was swimming off course (yes, within the first 50 meters) into the boats along the side of the harbor. Quickly corrected myself and found the lead pack. There were 4 others swimming at the front with me and one dude (who I later found out was He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named) that broke off the front after the 3rd buoy and started blazing a trail of his own. This group of 3 and I swam for a while together until we started encountering the slower age groupers clogging up the course. I don't blame them, they can only swim as fast as possible.. However I'm pretty unhappy about how the WTC (or IRONMAN) seeds the waves. I never understood why they put the older age groups and the challenged athletes at the front. I probably ran over 7-10 people during my swim and got kicked in the face a good number of times because there were people just floating around in the water. It was pretty choppy and wavy towards the turning point on the swim course. A lot of people were struggling but I used my surfing knowledge to use the waves to my benefit and get a little push from them. The group I swam with had long been separated, so I really didn't have anyone to gauge my effort with. When I exited the swim I looked at my watch and it said 27:xx. I was not very happy to see that and angrily grabbed my bike and headed out.

note: looking at everyone's swim times, I now feel much better :-p

The Bike:
Fueled by anger, I pushed hard in the 1st 24.4 miles & went thru in 59:00. That's a bit faster than I'd have typically gone in an olympic distance race (not to mention how windy and hilly the course was). Partly pleased with myself/ partly scarred of wondering if I was going to have enough energy to make it thru the remainder of this course, I settled down a bit and found a good pace. As soon as we hit the back side of Camp Pendleton I hit the wall (or maybe it was just the false-flats into a headwind). I felt drained of energy and couldn't push myself thru the winds. That wind sucked. The more I tucked into an aero position, the more my lower back would cramp. Finally, I saw the bright green suit of Jim Walsh ride past me right when I felt the worst. He was going a bit faster than I but not too much. So I copied his speed and tied an imaginary 75 foot rope to him and hung on (& no I wasn't drafting). That got me thru the back side of that course. I only felt worse the longer I rode. My lower back cramps turned into nausea and that increased the more I exerted myself. When we turned west and headed back into Oceanside, it didn't get any easier. I looked at my watch and saw my bike split was 2:03 and only had 11 miles to go. How many times have I TT'ed 20k on Fiesta Island in heavy wind and clocked 30 minutes? Too many to list. So I gathered myself up and fought into the wind (again) and pushed on. I thought I had a grueling pace but it must've not been (as my bike split ended up being 2:35).
Thanks to Karen Hardy for the Pic!

The Run:
Angry again, I ran into T2 feeling pretty sick. I saw my dad while putting my shoes on and he yelled to me that I was only 3 minutes back. I knew he had to have been exaggerating because there's no way He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named had given up that much time to me on the bike. The 1st couple of miles weren't actually too bad. I still felt sick but I didn't have the back cramps paining me anymore. I saw a man dressed as a seagull running around and felt better. But.... towards the end of the 1st lap I started feeling worse. My legs actually felt fine and I had the "running feel", but my stomach just felt horrible. The harder I tried to push myself the worse I felt.

The Walk:
I hit the turnaround and honestly couldn't run another step without throwing up. I didn't care about my time at this point.. I was only concerned with my well being. I walked back up the hill towards my family who gave me encouragement but I only wobbled by. I continued my saunter on down the hill past my friends and felt so defeated. As I passed the TCSD aid station I tried drinking a bit of coke and eating a banana (you ask why I was eating when I felt nauseous? My stomach felt bloated with water and empty at the same time.. weird, I know). I continued walking till I passed Jim Vance trying to help me out. I started jogging sometime around the pier and tried to pull myself together. I jogged till Wisconsin Street and as soon as I hit that hill I bonked big time. I walked up the hill and sat on the curb next to a dumpster, took my shoes off, cracked my toes, and laid back into some dirt. A little girl came and gave me two cookies from a nearby aid station. I ate them and put my shoes back on. Started walking again. I thought to myself "I have to finish.. no matter what or I'll never forgive myself".

The 2nd Run:
I started jogging, which turned into a run sometime after I saw Matt Reed walking around drinking a coke (I guess he dropped out, it only gave me inspiration to keep going). I still felt horrible but I continued on knowing that I could be finished with this race.


Conclusion
Finally finishing felt fantastic (like that alliteration?). I ended up with a 1:35 run split (amazingly). I'm perplexed because I had to have walked 1-2 miles at a snails pace and who knows how long I was sitting with my shoes off eating cookies for. So I'm actually quite encouraged to have run that fast while feeling as bad as I did. --Just taking what I can from this race. As my friend Kosuke Amano told me after the race: "It's those hard challenging days that make you a better athlete (person). It defines who you are. The days when you feel amazing are boring." On a side note: I did love/appreciate Jim Vance's encouragement and pep talking during the run. Every time I went past him, he had something insightful to say to me. (not to say my family and friends didn't). And every time I ran past my girlfriend Lindsey, she gave me this look as to say "you better get your ass moving dude.. I put up with a lot of your crap for this" ..but in the most loving way.

I still feel disappointed in my performance (even though I finished 2nd in my age group.. don't know how that happened), I am proud of myself for finishing. I really want to thank all of my family and friends, especially those who came out to support me at the race. Seriously, spectating at these events can be brutal. I really appreciate it.

Yesterday only made me 10x more motivated for the Collegiate National Championship this weekend. Roll Sealions.. (or whatever the heck PLNU's theme is. Probably "PLNU: We're Straight Up Average" Actually I think it's "Forward"; somewhat fitting)