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

I'm not even going to talk about it.

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
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!