Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cold Chillin @ the Austin 70.3

Pre riding part of the course in a sweatshirt. #cold

I’d just like to be completely honest with everyone and come clean right now…. At the beginning of the year, I went to Mitch Hall to help advise/coach me. He immediately had me doing copious amounts of PERFORMANCE ENHANCING workouts. The secret is out now. Thanks for being patient, tolerating my nonsense and helping me, Mitch. I’d also like to give the speedy Beth Walsh a huge ‘Thank You’ for being a top-notch training partner. Her run workouts are a game changer!

South Congress Street Food Trucks, ftw
The city of Austin is pretty cool. After my past two experiences with Texas, I wasn’t the biggest fan of that state. (Collegiate Nationals in Lubbock, 2010: cold as balls, hypothermic water, stormy and out of control wind. Galveston 5150 2011: out of control wind and heat.) Besides the weather, Texas has been fairly unimpressive to me. However, Austin was redeeming. The city seemed to have a good pulse on awesome food, good music, and a fairly artistic culture. I never really had a chance to mingle with common folk in the city so I can’t really say whether Austinites were actually on this planet or in their own world. They seemed aight tho.

Race Morning

Yet again, my wave was one of the last to go off, which was an hour and 20ish minutes after the pro men. After they kicked us out of transition around 7, I had plenty of time to freeze my loins off in the low 40-degree air. I stuck around to witness the pro men & women exit the swim & frigidly jump on their bikes. Quick side story: The day before the race, Beth had been joking about shoving newspaper into her tri kit to stay warm on the bike along with various other outlandish antics in attempt to keep warm. Again, I thought this was a JOKE. Low and behold, here comes Beth into T1…. & chaotically starts cramming newspaper everywhere into her kit. Priceless.

So after I witnessed some more bizarre methods of people attempting to cover up, I decided enough was enough and something had to be done about the bone chilling breeze that was making me regret my decision not buy an Eskimo suit for this race. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so I headed to the porta-potties, put on my wetsuit then put my morning clothes over that, fully closed the toilet seat and took a nap for 30 minutes (yes, in the porta-potty). That may have been the best decision of the day, actually.

The Race

Swim: 26:17
Trying to find the string... &
Forget that, I'll get a volunteer to do it
Not to sound like a douche, but I could tell as we were lining up in the water for the open water start, the competition wasn’t going to be too thick. I seemed to be the only dude (along with my buddy, Marco from SD) wanting to be at the front, pushing the invisible line between the start buoys. After the horn sounded, I believe there were two dudes on my feet at the 1st buoy. I did another check around the 2nd buoy, around 4-500 meters out, and had a pretty sizable gap going on. I arrived at the conclusion that there was a good chance I’d be on my own for the rest of the day. I did my best to keep pressing the pace in the swim despite running into countless people floating about on the course.

Bike: 2:16
Don't do this.. TT position uphill. Totally unnecessary.
I’ll try to limit my whining here, as my time didn’t turn out to be too bad, but I’m still not very happy with the way I rode. It took me around 25 miles to “find it” on the bike. Like I had mentioned earlier, it was a bit nippy out, so getting my legs going took a while. The condition of the roads and headwind weren’t helping anything either. But, once I found “it”, somewhere between miles 25-30, no one was touching this ish. The last 20 miles I was on fire and wish I’d have been riding around some faster guys because I was craving some competition.

Run: 1:17
It may have taken 3 years of failing 70.3 runs, but I’m beginning to figure it out. I love going fast and I’m excited to keep working hard and see what I’m capable of next year & on...
This course was slightly rolling with a smidgen of dirt trail, so sticking to a particular pace wasn’t really doable. So I just picked, what I thought, was a hard yet sustainable pace and kept it. Apparently that pace was sub 6. If you’re interested, I’ll post the mile splits from my garmin (if that’s what you’re into). The last 2 miles I was feeling really lazy and lost a bit of motivation to keep a hard pace going. But I cruised in feeling pretty good about my day.

Total: 4:04 (1st Overall Amateur, 7th Overall, 1st 25-29ag) Full results

Stoked to take a little break and get some surfing in before picking up a fresh bike and run game and building for next year. I’ll post something later when I know what my plan for next year is…

Being (probably) the last post for the year, I have to thank some people. The first of which being my parents; I love you guys more than you know. Thank you for supporting me from the 1st day I decided to do one of these ridiculous things. Thanks to all my friends and family for the encouragement throughout the year; I wouldn’t be able to keep a positive attitude towards racing without you guys. Mark Palmer, you’re as tough as nails and I know you’re going to recover from your crash and only become stronger. Thank you for providing a job for me at the best tri shop in SD (B+L Bikes) and supporting my racing. And last but not least, Ramon. My friend, I’ve never met anyone as passionate about life as you. You help me realize how awesome something as simple as running for 45 minutes down the coast is.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Taken off
Preface: First of all, there will be no talk about speedos in this blog post. I don’t care that Lance raced in (a lackluster) one; it’s old hat to me.

Aight, lets do this!

I’ve stated this before, but I’ll say it again, I race the best when I don’t think about it & just go hard. The more I think about a race in the week leading up to it, race morning, or during the actual race… the more I suck. For example, all I did for a month leading in to the Las Vegas 70.3 was religiously deliberate every little detail in my head; then I over-analyzed everything while I was racing. What happened.. ? I sucked. (I know I just used a fallacy, but it works). Almost every “good” race I’ve had, I've merely showed up, ready to get brutal.

So, two weeks out from SuperFrog, I honestly didn’t even think about tapering much, I just did what I wanted (workout wise, food wise, beer wise…). Race day, didn’t sweat out the details of how I was going to race, beforehand; I just wanted to roll. I’m not a very orderly person. Over-structure only creates angst. I don’t function on any level when everything is deeply detailed and planned out ahead of time. I thrive off of spontaneity. Not saying I don’t have any levels of organization..


Race morning, I woke up at 4am to find my beloved roommate, Ramon, freshly & haphazardly draped across the floor with a streak of snacks, clothes, and other debris, trailing from the front door, to the bathroom, to his final place of residing. This was my first inspiration- to race as hard as he had just partied.

Got to transition and chatted with some friends for a bit. The moment of the morning may have been Karl Bordine’s face as he was warming up on the trainer in transition and Lance strolled up next to us with his entourage and circus of photographers & media’ers. I think Karl had headphones in and his back turned, but as the atmosphere went from peaceful to chaotic within a matter of seconds, he sat up & gave me a look, as if to say: “I don’t even need to check behind me to know what’s going on right now”. It was fairly comical, as Karl is not a small guy, and was nonchalantly warming up right in the middle of this pandemonium.

Photo by Dan Megna
Swim: There was a bit of swellage on the beach Sunday morning, so I was pretty stoked to navigate the surf. It may be one of the few advantages I possess in triathlon, coming from a surfing background. Apparently, it didn’t matter because I had the slowest start ever, my goggles fell off after the 1st dolphin dive. After getting them back on and adjusted, I was already #OTB of the front group after 20 seconds. I, pretty much, did the entire swim solo (& essentially the rest of the race, for that matter). I had the sighting pretty dialed in, I just didn’t have anyone to swim with, so I wasn’t pressing as hard of a pace as I should’ve been. On the exit of the 1st lap, I was told it was just under a minute to the front group. On my 2nd exit, I was 3 minutes back from the front guys… hmmm. 28:15

Fairly straight forward here- 56 miles of flat road….. by myself. It was a monotonous 2 hours & 11 minutes, playing number games with my new powermeter (thank you Mark Palmer & B+L Bikes). I loved the cheers from all my friends and family (& even people I don’t know) that came out to watch! Thank you for the entertainment. I jumped off the bike in 4th place overall, around 10 minutes from the leader.

Steph Galuppo w/ the pic cred
(Sorry to go 'tridork' on everyone and talk about mile splits here. I don’t do it often.)

Despite only drinking 1 ½ water bottles during the bike, I think I left too much in the tank, because my legs felt way too fresh when I started running. Amped on having a good run, my first mile down the beach was 5:52 followed by a 6:14. The 3rd mile was rough because the sand got mega deep. After 3 miles on soft sand, running on the flat asphalt and hard packed paths felt like cheating. I was hitting a nails pace on the 1st loop (3 miles ranging between 6:05-6:15 miles). On the second lap, things started to slow down a bit and the lack of nutrition finally caught up to me. I ran a lethargic 6:20-6:40 pace for the next 3. I then exited this loop back onto the beach, still running solo and in no-man’s-land. There were no volunteers to direct me at the time, but it looked like I was supposed to make a left into some soft sand and run south. So I did, and after around a minute or so, I didn’t see anyone ahead and stopped. I second guessed my course choice and ran back to the gate, a volunteer told me that we were actually supposed to run down this path. That was stupid.

Thanks to Angel King for the finish line snap!
The 1st mile or so back on the beach was pretty tough and my rhythm was like a bad dubstep song. It took way too long, but I remembered how to run on sand again and my pace went from an old lady’s grocery store stroll to an unenthused little leaguer’s trot from the bench to his position in the field. I finally reached the expo area & my garmin told me I had run 13.1 miles, so I figured the end was near, but I didn’t know where exactly. I got a ton of high fives from spectators and friends on the beach, but I swear I asked everyone “where’s the finish?!”. No one had an answer for me. I found out the finish was around 2 minutes back from where I had been running when a cop finally flagged me down. I ran right past the turn into the finish line. There were no volunteers to flag me down into the turn (it sounds stupid not knowing where the finish is, but when I’m racing, I’m not thinking sensibly anyways). Oh well, I lost an overall place and a solid chunk of time, but I wasn’t overly upset about it. When my watch hit 13 miles, my run time was somewhere in the 1:27 minutes range, but it ended up being 1:31 after my off-course adventure. A little bummed I didn’t officially get credited for having a better run split than what it should’ve been, but that’s life.

4:13 & 5th Place overall

Hangin' w/ Mitch after the race while he hangs out w/ that sandwich.
I totally enjoyed SuperFrog and would recommend it to anyone who wanted to race a ½ iron distance tri. Congrats to all my friends who raced and killed it! The swim and run weren’t easy, but who gets fulfillment from doing something paltry? You’re in the wrong sport if you’re looking to cakewalk something.

Thanks again to all my friends and family for the big cheers last weekend and all the awesome messages afterwards! Thanks to Mark Palmer & B+L Bikes for all the support they give me; and finally to my buddy Mitch Hall for not only helping me “build the layers on my metaphorical cake” (Yes, I know, 2 “cake” metephors in the last 50 words. #noshame #CakeEater) this season, but also putting on a great race last Sunday.

I may jump in an Olympic distance race in two weeks before the Austin 70.3 at the end of October. The itch to go faster just increases after every race.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No Fear in Loathing Las Vegas

“The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

If I had to do that over again, I’d have raced the exact same way. I was/(am) confident enough in my training to ride the way I attempted to on Sunday; at no point did I think to myself “Whoa, slow down bro, you’re going way too hard”. However, every other minute I was thinking “Shoot, it’s hot as hell out here, my only nutrition (water bottle) is air temp”, & “I could really go for a cold pop & Snickers right now”. The only comforting factor was that everyone in my wave had to put up with the same bologna. I hate excuses so I’m not going to give any. Bottom line is I went hard and ran out of energy 40ish miles into the bike. I did my best to pull myself together but it never happened. I’m really not going to dwell on this race much, just take what I can and move on. I know where my fitness is right now and it’s nothing near what showed up on Sunday.
Such a good shirt on such a bad day.

(Rant before I talk about the race)
Right… Frank Lowery (race director), you can plan on a fat “constructive criticism” email from me soon. Really? Two years in a row, starting the 20-29yr AG wave dead last..? Not only are we starting an hour and 30 minutes after the pros & having to sit around in dirt and marinate in the sun until then, but also, not allowed to go back into transition to drop off cold water bottles on bikes after 6:25am. By the time our wave goes off, it’s a completely different race. The bike and run courses are 10+ degrees hotter, who knows how much windier the roads are, and not a cold water bottle is left at an aid-station. I think I, legitimately, received 1 “cold” water bottle on the bike course (after grabbing one at every aid station). I understand starting the older age groups (50, 60, 70+) earlier so they can finish sooner in the day, but why are you starting the 30-34 year old men right behind the pros two years in a row? I’m confused on the thinking here. Like I mentioned earlier, not using this as an excuse for anything, everyone in my wave had to deal with it, but it was unreasonable to do so again this year.

Sorry, I’m done bitching.

Ha, finisher pix.. more like dropout pix.
And now, one of the shortest RR’s I’ve ever done.

Swim: Huge start wave. Asthma made an unwelcomed appearance 2-300 meters in. Came out in 29:04. Not stoked or sad about it, considering it was non-wetsuit & in a poop flavored Jacuzzi.

Bike: I was “lights out” for around 40 miles, and then the lights went out. Not exactly sure what place I was in at the time but I think there was one guy in my wave ahead of me. A, blatant, 6-man team time trial of 20-29AGers passed by me some time shortly after my energy had abandoned my body. Barely moving, I trundled into T2. 2:29

Credit: Mark Barber w/ the rare snap of me actually running

Run: While my run attire may have been winning the hearts of high school girls volunteering at aid stations everywhere (notice: “my attire”.. not me), my pace wasn’t wining anything. Tried to make something happen on the 1st of 3 laps. While trotting on the brink of face-planting into some unsuspecting spectators, I was passed by a 60 year old man up the hill on my second lap; I then decided to call it quits and ambulate on in.

I doubt anyone, but a select few, would say they had a good race. The course and conditions that Vegas offers doesn’t allow for many “good” races to happen. I think it’s all relative though. When training, the times will be different than what occurs in Vegas (or any other course), so it’s easy to get down about what you should’ve done or are capable of. I’m not going to start the “coulda/shoulda’s”. Racing isn’t supposed to be easy & few are having fun while doing it, but when you finish and the pain fades, some sense of “fun” or fulfillment happened racing; otherwise people wouldn’t keep doing it. Again, I don’t think too many people looked back after that race and thought: “That experience was totally welcomed and desirable”, but there should always be something you take away from the race as a positive. I’m glad I went hard on the bike (at least for as long as I could), and whether it was the heat, my legs, or nutrition that failed me, I’ll learn from it.

 burger & fries on a raft. 
On to the Superfrog in Coronado, September 30. Excited to redeem myself at the ½ iron distance in two weeks time.. Excited to race so close to home.. Excited to race in the Elite division against Lance Armstrong……

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lake Stevens 70.3 & Solana Beach Triathlon Stories

I know most endurance athletes have had an injury that’s held them back at some point in their lives, so I really don’t need to stress the point far, but damn… injuries are annoying. I lost a little over 3 months of my year to a lower leg injury (or gained 3 months of solid swim/bike fitness..). The good in this is that I feel MEGA fresh at the moment and am chomping at the bit to work hard and race now that I’m running again. I’m going to make a solid push in fitness for some “late season” races and hopefully get back to where I was at before my leg decided to be a party pooper.

Lake Stevens 70.3

Yes, I'm in a women's tri suit.
I love everything about this race. The location is rad; It’s like racing in the middle of a forest. The swim course is in a lake with rowing lines to follow (which, with my Stevie Wonder sighting, is a game changer). The bike course is a challenging one, to say the least; with lots of technical descents and punchy little climbs. The run is a relatively flat course with a few slight grades thrown in to keep you honest. Talking with my chief advisor, Mitch Hall, it was agreed upon well in advance that I’d only do 5k of the run because I had just started running, pain free, that week. So my goal was to hit the bike leg hard and win the “bike split bet” I had going on with James Walsh.

The trip to Washington was sweet, and it was great to see a lot of my family (thank you all for being so supportive)! The weather was unpredictable & ominous though. It seems like whenever/wherever I travel to race, I always get there and the weather is insane; then the locals always say the same thing: “It’s not normally like this”, while throwing their hands up in the air as if to gesture “Don’t shoot.. it’s not my fault! I swear it’s beautiful the rest of the year”. The night I flew in, it was sunny skies and 78 degrees. The next morning it was pouring and cloudy with thunder & lightning storms.. What?!? The weather decided to stay lame like that the rest of the trip. I stayed with my family in Edmonds for a night then headed a little closer to the race site and stayed with James, Beth, & her parents for the two days preceding the race. When doing a preview ride on the course the day before, no one said it, but we all knew, bringing a disc to ride on this course was a bad choice.

Race Day:

I had the swim I was supposed to have in Hawaii. I felt good and ended up leading the wave from start to finish. 26:06

Most likely taken before things got stupid.
Despite the rain and wet roads, I started hard charging the bike course and was feeling fearless until around mile 20. I was maxed out and flooring it thru a downhill section and noticed a sweeping right-hand turn ahead. In normal conditions I’d have had too much speed to make it without braking, and with wet conditions, knew I definitely would’ve lost traction on the road trying to hang on. I tried to slow, but my cork brake pads didn’t grip my carbon rims in the rain, so I had a minor freak out and yanked my rear brake, full force. My wheel locked up (as I should’ve known it would) and I started fishtailing off into the other lane. Luckily, I picked the best section of the course to “pull a triathlete” on. I had a fairly controlled bail out into a grass ditch on the opposite side of the road and had slowed enough to make me look/feel only half retarded. It was more hurtful to my pride than it was to me physically. I just felt stupid for not being able to make that turn. Two guys passed by me while I was getting back on my bike and the second I started pedaling again I was completely “over” the course. I was so shaken up that every descent I took was at 1/4th of the speed I’d have normally taken it at and I just didn’t have the drive to push hard. James caught up to me around mile 50 (his wave started 3 minutes back) and I was so stoked to see him. We rode hard the rest of the way together (legally).
No Caption Needed

The picture sums up what my 5k was like; James and I, nonchalantly frolicking around while out in front of a 70.3. We ran a conversational 6:15-6:20 pace for the 1st 3 miles then I dropped out when we got back into town and quickly found the café for some coffee and donuts to watch the sufferfest from the sidelines.

Post race:
I dominated the Jacuzzi Marathon back at the Walsh’s pad. It seemed like (and probably was) hours of hot tub/pizza/beer action. Good times with friends after races is what it’s all about.

Solana Beach Triathlon

I wasn’t too serious about this race, but I felt it would be a fun one to do since B+L was sponsoring it, & it was in my new backyard. Mostly, I just wanted to beat up the stingray who took me out last year.

I rolled out of bed late and had a productive warm-up, charging the 4-5 miles from my house to the start in my orange and yellow snakeskin/goldfish tights from Rio (thank you, Julie). I knew there were a ton of local fast guys here, but honestly the result didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to have fun and go hard. It was the 1st race I’ve actually been able to finish/race since Oceanside 70.3.

Before the start I went hunting for that damn stingray to give it a piece of my mind, but he flaked and didn’t show. When the horn went off, I tried to give the spectators that were lining the start to the water high fives and everyone was just really confused as I ran by with my hand in the air (fail). I think I got 2 or 3 though. I came out of the water with the front pack of guys in just over 6 minutes (Charlie was 10-15 seconds up on everyone). I don’t know what was going on in T1 but I must’ve been having a solo tea party, because everyone that I came out of the water with was already out on the bike course.
(I hate doing pitches in the middle of my blogs, but…) I have to thank Mark Palmer (B+L) for my new S-works Trivent bike shoes. That was the easiest flying mount onto my bike I’ve ever had. Those shoes are top-notch! This bike course is RIDICULOUS. 6 hairpin turns and 4 right turns in 9 miles is about 6-10 too many. Add in a circus of 1st time triathletes on beach cruisers, unicycles, tandems, big wheels, recumbents, recumbents towing trailers with smiling loved ones, and clown cars…. you have a catastrophe waiting to happen. I caught up to Charlie, who was in the lead, at the beginning of the 2nd lap and then was tasked with leading everyone behind me through the barrage of chaos on the 101. I almost went down 2-3 times dodging & weaving around people (including avoiding disaster at a turn with a 7 year old, who had probably just taken his training wheels off the morning before the race). I probably expelled ½ of my energy yelling “on your left”. I wasn’t even “competitive mad”, I just wanted to make it out of this alive. I’d just like to quickly note: it’s very hard to get any separation on a short & flat course with 6 turns, so I fully expected there to be packs of bunched up cyclists and can’t really complain about it. I think I had the fastest bike split of the day with a 21:40-something.
I got to T2 in 1st, and got onto the 5k run course in 3rd. Hmmm… it seems my transitions skills have disappeared completely. Once on the run course, I caught up to Charlie who was a couple seconds ahead of me and he was struggling with some cramping issues. We ran together for a bit but he dropped back a little. Tristan Bunch, who is a 16-year-old endurance phenom, had put around 15-20 seconds on me in T2 and the 1st mile. Knowing it was my 2nd week back running, I didn’t have too much passion to try and catch him. I just wanted to run strong and not aggravate my leg. I ended up running a steady 17:20 and hung on to 2nd place overall (1st place Pro). Not close to my 5k PR in a tri, but not too bad for being on the sidelines for the last 3 months. I’d like to give a shout out to a cat who was hard charging on the run, Nick Bernal (4th place overall)… ran a 15:16!! That’s pretty impressive coming off the bike. USA ITU needs you Nick.

Overall, it was a fun day seeing people I knew all over the course and racing against some good friends. It feels good to be a triathlete again and not just an aquacyclist.
How many questionable pics can I put in this blog post?

1,2,3 pro field W/ Charlie, and Nick Sigmon
I’m seriously excited to start working hard again and get in some legit training before the 70.3 World Championship in Vegas!! I’ve also decided to add in the SUPERFROG on Sept. 30. I love a good ½ Ironman so close to home! Big thanks to my dog, Kevin, @ B+L Bikes for staying late at the shop till 9pm the night before Solana Beach, to flawlessly glue on a new tire to my disc. It’s, no joke, faultless.. I’ve never seen a more perfect tubular; Kev is a boss. Thanks to my wise coach/advisor for teaching me patience.. Lord knows I’d probably still be injured if it weren’t for Mitch, continuously calling the ‘common sense police’ on me. And finally, a massive thanks to my family for all their support, I love you guys.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hawaii Pt. 2: I'm Good for Coffee

That was a fun vacation. I’m fairly sure I had a smile on my face the preponderance of the time, and if I didn’t, it was short lived and replaced by a look of sheer panic and terror while riding my bike (more on that in a bit). This trip was livened with great friends and good times such as: swimming daily with turtles and other tropical, fun loving, under-the-sea creatures; Blustery & death defying rides up the coast; Breaking out of guest-hotel parking; Invading and drinking on a complete stranger’s patio after racing; Crashing (flash mobbing) a wedding; Hotel bar-hopping across Waikoloa; The Great Kona Coffee-Off of 2012; Paddle boarding while buzzing out of control as a result of the Great Kona Coffee-Off of 2012; Cramming entirely too many people into a 1 man lifeguard tower; and a bit of racing. 

Lance, looking human- out of his aerobars in the wind
As I mentioned in a tweet, it felt good to go for a ride this morning and not have the growing fear of crapping my pants of the high possibility of being blown across the highway into some lava rocks. When riding, there’s wind (eg. Ah this is sucky, now I have to push a little harder) & then there’s WIND (eg. Sweet Jesus, there’s a good chance I’m going to die if another semi comes in the opposite direction). I have no idea how Lance Armstrong managed to clock a 2:01 bike split in those conditions (well, I have some idea of how he did, actually). There’s never any benefit to 30mph crosswinds other than the fact everyone has to deal and some can cope better than others. It was somewhat fun (key word: somewhat) to battle the winds on race day, and at least it took the humidity away. Normally, I’d welcome a bit of wind, because there’s no cheating the course in crosswinds, and it takes a strong cyclist to push hard for 56 miles and not rely, purely, on momentum. However, I brought one of the worst wheel sets for the wind… A set of Zipp Firecrest 808’s, paired with the massive wind sail that is the frontend of my Shiv, made for some sketchy times. The Thursday before the race I was riding with some friends out to the Queen K from the Fairmont and got blown off the road into some Lava rocks. I was laughing as it happened because there was literally nothing I could do to avoid it. Not only leaning, but turning into it as well, I was still swept off the road like (yup) dust in the wind (thank you Kansas).

Enough wind talk, let’s get to the race.


Not too happy here.
Slightly bummed they moved the pros to their own wave before the age groupers (thank you, Lance), we started 3 minutes behind. This made for an odd swim. I was feeling pretty confident going into Honu about my swim fitness. I’d been feeling great in the pool and was ready for a good/hard day. As the race started I quickly found myself out in front. It was nice having Chris Berg’s feet to follow for the 1st 4-500 meters. He and one other guy eventually dropped everyone, but I had a nice 4-5-person group to work with behind them. I haven’t felt that good swimming, in a race, ever. Just as we were nearing the yellow turn buoys into the beach (1-200 yards remaining) we were stopped by a paddle boarder telling us we missed a buoy and had to go back, around 3-400meters, to this buoy that was floating out in the middle of the ocean. I floated statically in disbelief and looked at my watch. The time was somewhere around 23-24 minutes (which, if we were to have swum in and finished, would’ve put my group around 2 minutes back from the majority of the pro men (who swam a suspiciously fast time, as I’ve never seen anyone but John Flanagan swim faster than 24 minutes at Honu in the last 4 years). Ended up swimming back out and meeting a mass of AG’ers and swimming into shore in 30 minutes. I finally got to check my Garmin this morning and it said my swim was 1.57 miles… hmm, ya. I have a ton of respect for Chris who actually swam in and was on the beach, goggles off, and then told to go back out because he swam “too fast”. Chris ended up qualifying for Vegas despite that swim course blunder.
Remember how 1/2 Ironman races have a 1.2 mile swim..?


Chillin thru T1
My transition was relatively the same pace as one would move in line at the DVM. I couldn’t get my tri top on (putting a dry tri top on when you’re wet is no picnic), so I nonchalantly walked over to a volunteer and had her help me. Strolled out of T1, past the bike mount & took a solid 1-2 minutes to finally get into my shoes and move up the hill onto the highway. 

I picked up the pace and reached the front of the Age Groupers somewhere around the 4 mile turnaround out-and-back section. The bike segment was relatively boring as far as racing goes. I never felt like I was racing, knowing that I wouldn’t be doing the run. There was never that pressing feeling to push thru the times when I felt crappy. Not saying I wasn’t going hard, but there were plenty of times where I felt tired or lethargic and didn’t bother to push thru it. A dude in a grey suit passed me just before the climb to Hawi, taking on a pace that I wanted no part of, and another strong AG’er, Reilly Smith, passed me in the last 5-10 miles when I was feeling a serious lack of water/nutrition (lost my 2nd bottle during the bike mount). When I dismounted in T2 I was bummed because me legs had a lot of racing left in them, but I’ll save it for LAKE STEVENS. Official time was 2:22 for the bike segment.

I’m extremely proud to announce that I, no doubt, won the race to the beer tent. Yes, I was the first with a cold beer in my hand. Honu 57.1 champion, right here.

This injury will be sorted soon so I can get my run game straight again. Thanks to all who help and support me, especially my family, friends, and B+L Bikes! ..Also, a huge thanks to Mitch Hall for teaching me how to go faster. “Because “hope” is not a strategy”. You’re a Boss, Mitch (capital B).

Double Guns. "The Chacon"

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hawaii Pt.1: Airplane Character Stereotypes

Just swam with some Sea Turtles.. clearly stoked. #pokerface

To be completely honest, I enjoy traveling alone. When you’re in public places and not engaged in a conversation, it provides a prime opportunity to see the world in motion; to see people and how they act in various situations. People watching is one of my favorite activities, and airports/airplanes are two of my preferred people watching locations. Everyone is under the same set of rules on an airplane. No one, but the pilots and flight attendants, has any more authority than anyone else (Ok, maybe 1st class has a slight leg up on the back 95% of the plane). So, it’s fun to see how people act and how some attempt justify their importance during flights.

There’s always “that guy” on 6-hour flights that NEEDS to stand up 20 minutes into the flight (or as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off) and start walking around & stretching. Everyone sitting in the aisles around him starts thinking “Great, I’ll be looking, sporadically, right into this guys crotch or ass for the next 5 hours and 50 minutes”. Addendum by Ben Hobbs: he’ll stay standing a little too long during/after the seatbelt sign has been turned on for landing or turbulence, just because he feels entitled to.

The Happy Shifter: They'll be getting up frequently throughout the duration of the flight to visit friends or family sitting in various locations throughout the cabin (like a bee pollinating flowers). They are ALWAYS friends or become friends with passengers in possession of a baby/small child and talk about how cute they are.

The Grumpy Old Man: this guy has been on way too many flights in his lifetime and doesn’t look at anyone but the flight attendant- and that’s only to promptly order a Jack & Coke, or just straight whisky. (Time of day has no affect on the alcohol consumption for Grumpy Old Man; If he’s on an airplane, he’s drinking & it’s accepted). Closely related to Contented Old Man, who swiftly orders a drink, only because he’s “earned that right by age”, but is pleasant about it.

Self-aware Guy: this is the guy in his mid 20’s to early 30’s who brought his 17” Macbook pro on the plane (on occasion, may have his iPad instead). He’ll be playing his favorite tv show series but constantly & cautiously looking over his shoulder when an “inappropriate scene” comes on. Actually, he’ll be relentlessly looking around anyhow, making sure he’s not breaking any airplane taboos or norms. Addendum: Self-aware Guy ironically has no idea everyone around him can hear his dance-beat club music playing thru his massive, 60-decibel, bass-booster, noise cancelling Sony headphones.

Bathroom Lady: she may be the most well know of all airplane characters. Of course she’s got the window seat. Everyone has dealt with Bathroom Lady at some point. She’ll no doubt get up 4-5 times (sometimes more) to use the facilities at the most inconvenient time (during meals, at the twist in the movie, precisely as you actually fall asleep, right after YOU get back from the bathroom & are buckled up again).

And finally, that person who keeps making awkward eye contact with you. You stood right by them in the security check and they end up sitting in close proximity to you. You don’t know why you keep connecting & you don’t really even find them appealing/attractive; it just happens like 10-15 times and keeps getting increasingly more awkward each time.

Anyways, to set it straight for everyone who is curious, I will only be doing the swim/bike portion of the Honu 70.3 this Saturday. I’ve been dealing with a little stress pull/fracture of some sort in my shin for the last 6 weeks and feel I’m nearing the end of this injury. Because my goal race is the 70.3 World Champs in Vegas (September), I’ll forego the risk of aggravating my shin any further and play it safe (If (miraculously) by Saturday I can run pain free, I will). Apparently, around this time of year, I’m more prone to injury, & It sucks to miss the run of this race two years in a row, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles (that idiom is overused and lame, but I’m in the mood for cookies, so I used it).

Looking at the upside: I’m in Hawaii (never a bad thing) & looking forward to hanging out with friends. I feel great on the bike right now, so I’m still excited to hammer out a solid 56 mile time trial on Saturday.

More to follow soon!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Oceanside 70.3

-19 minutes from the time

First off, the speedo would’ve been a great call had that race been 1/4th of the distance, not raining, and 20 degrees warmer; However, it seems like I have the best races when I don’t take myself too seriously. So, I have absolutely no regrets (as bad as my tan lines looked) #stuffthatworks. (Side note: it was definitely mud on the back of my legs, I’m not that bad at shaving. There’s always a little part of you that imagines your dream race the night before and you’re pulling off splits 10 minutes faster than you know you’re capable of. So when I was looking at my bike and run times while racing and seeing that I was not only breaking my 70.3 PR’s, but blowing them up, I was slightly surprised but not totally. I knew going into this race there wasn’t going to be any room for lollygagging. The caliber of competition in the 25-29AG was pretty thick; I believe there were at least 5 guys racing on Saturday that were at the 2011 70.3 World Championship. I went into this race knowing it was going to be a hard day.

A big step in seeing improvement at the 70.3 level started with Mitch Hall. Mitch isn’t one to jump into the spotlight so I’m going to at least shine a flashlight on him. Mitch is one of the stronger triathletes and cyclists that I know, and being one of my good friends, I asked him a while back if he’d help advise me on my training and racing. I can’t tell you how helpful he’s been and how much I’m learning (literally, I can’t tell you, this training plan is under lock & key.. sort of). It also doesn’t hurt to train with people like Lesley Paterson and pick her brain as well!

Every time I checked my watch
The Race:
I woke up dark and early, made some coffee and ate a grip of strawberry pop-tarts. Rolled thru a vacant I-5, bumpin a bit of this. Got up to the pier slightly behind schedule (standard Keith style) but made up time on my warm up ride to T1. Lucky me, my bike rack was almost completely full by the time I got there, so I had a snug little spot near the back. I met up with my buddies Chris Berg and Charlie Karstrom and chatted for a bit before the start. I was immediately made aware of 2 large holes near the crotchal region my wetsuit as soon as I touched the water and woke up real fast.

I don’t know why I even bothered, but I started right in the mix of Charlie, Chris and Max Biessman; all fantastic swimmers. When the gun went off I made the decision to let them go and not even try to hold on their feet. That was dumb because I hit no-man’s-land within the first minute and the few fellow green caps that were by me were quickly lost in the cluster of slow moving purple and white caps from the previous waves. I thought the conditions were pretty bad compared to years past. It was fairly choppy with a bit of swell, but nothing outrageous. I wasn’t having a good day in the water. Couldn’t find a rhythm and felt “cold” and out of breath for first half. My arms finally came around after we hit the turnaround and started on back. I definitely ran into a few people on the way back (I kid you not), straight up, floating in the water. Still trying to figure that one out. Glad I missed starting my watch for the swim because I’d have been pretty upset if I saw my time upon exit, a high 28 minutes, 12th in my AG.

The dude behind me.. just checkin out the view
"Is this aero,,,, or this?"
While getting out of my wetsuit, my dad told me I was a little over 2 minutes behind to the front guys. That wasn’t the end of the world, so I started off at a slightly pressing but steady and controlled pace, unlike many 70.3’s where I take off, out of control, at 20k pace. The road was pretty wet. Along with a constant spray of water and mud hitting the pistons (what guns are to arms, pistons are to legs. It sounds pretty cheese & that’s why I had to use this expression #PhilLiggett) and super soggy shoes, it felt like you were pushing thru a constant puddle. I got into a nice rhythm and didn’t even realize I’d already caught up to Max and Chris after 45 minutes, who were 2nd & 3rd at the time. Apparently there was some mystery dude in a blue getup (who I don’t actually remember seeing at all) along for the ride behind me. I’m guessing because I was FREEZING my bunz off, and it was raining/misting the entire time on the course, I’d hardly touched my nutrition/hydration until somewhere around miles 27-30 when I was cramping bad and slowing considerably. My rear bottle, which was 1/3 of my calories, had become victim of the notorious “mile 5 bump” along with many other water bottles. So I pounded the majority of my main nutrition and tried to “find my rhythm” again. Chris rode up to me and we chatted for a bit while climbing “the hill” (kind of comical thinking back to it) and basically talked me thru my bonk. After 15-20 minutes of staying at Chris and Max’s pace, I decided I felt good enough to pick it up again. There was a long steady grade around mile 40ish and I passed by this group of 30-40 year old AG’ers drafting like little bitches off each other. Funny… I dropped them on the climb and the rolling hills, then they somehow caught back up to my rear wheel in the slight headwind on flat sections back into town.. interesting. Those guys were real cool. With around 7ish miles to go I caught up to Charlie, who looked like he had been having a blast by himself out in front all day. We basically rode the same pace back into T2. I put a little gap on Charlie in the last 2 miles. I wanted a bit of time just incase I need to think about life a bit in T2. Bike Split: 2:24

I hit the run course feeling remarkably good despite not having my planned caloric intake on the bike. I ran out to an empty run course with only Andy Potts in sight. I quickly found out he was leading the race when people were yelling splits at me of how far back I was. I got a little enjoyment out of being in “2nd” for the first two miles. People were so amped some kid dressed like a dork was “chasing” the leader. Anyways, when I looked at my watch after the 1st mile I hit a 5:45. “Ah, cool” I thought, “I’m cruising, lets see how long this lasts”. 2nd mile, still feeling good, just over 6 minutes. At this point I’m thinking to myself “I might as well start pacing better, because I’m probably not keeping a sub-6 pace for the next 11 miles today”. So I tried to shoot for 6:10’s and see how I felt. Remarkably, I made it to mile 8 feeling pretty good and still had my ideal pace going. I didn’t know how far ahead I was from Max, Chris, and Charlie. They were running within a close range of each other, and all looked strong. I have to say, I apologize if I didn’t give you a nod or wave if you gave me encouragement on the run course. The “speedo” encouragement was constant, and though I enjoyed it for the first mile or two, everything became white-noise to me, whether it was attire related or not; I hit “the zone”. Somewhere around mile 10, poor Beth Walsh made it clear to me that she was getting tired of the view she had been enduring and passed me. I don’t blame her (huge day for Beth, by the way). After I hit the turnaround and was headed home, I got a high five from Charlie and kind of put it in cruise control for a bit. Mitch and Courtney caught up on their bikes and rode next to me for a good portion of mile 12 throwing out some encouragement to push it all the way back. I could tell my gas tank was on empty and was glad I didn’t have to battle with someone in the last mile. Rolled home with a 1:22 run time.

4:20:23 overall, 1st in the 25-29 Division, 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Las Vegas spot claimed.

Max, Chris, and I at the awards
Congrats to everyone that raced. It was not the easiest course/conditions on Saturday. Good to see TCSD well represented on the course and in the crowd… by far the best aid station. The 25-29 division was, without a doubt, the most competitive division of the race, with 6 guys under 4:30. I have to echo what Chris said in his race report, racing with Charlie, Chris and Max is always fun and brings out the best.

A big thanks to my dog Kevin at B+L Solana Beach for figuring out how to safely and effectively reposition my aerobars on my Shiv to get the “preying mantis”/”Floyd Landis” position. If anyone has ever seen the front end of the 2010 Shiv, you have very little say in the aero position. Kev got creative and made it happen. I’d also like to thank my family, who are always at every big race and support me. Love you guys.
You're welcome ladies.

Next up: 
Wildflower Olympic… you’re on notice, that’s all I’m gonna say. The Encinitas Triathlon ( on May 20, then Honu 70.3 on June 2 (Let the record show, I signed up WELL before Lance decided to race it).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tritonman & Desert International Race Recap

I love my disc.. people hear you coming a mile away.

Tritonman (500m – 20k – 5k)
 Feb 19

1st off, I have to thank the UCSD triathlon team for putting on a great little race. It was a good early season “shake off the rust” race (even thought there was little “racing” I did). I rode down to Fiesta Island around an hour before the start (I love living a mile away from Fiesta).  Got in a quick 1 loop spin around the island with Bill Jones and got the wetsuit on.  
Unfortunately I didn’t get a warm up swim in, so when the gun went off I felt poopy for the 1st 300-400 yards. I got stuck behind a big pack and by the time my arms came around I was rounding the buoy to head in. I then realized how slow I’d been swimming and probably passed 10+ people in the last 50 yards. Time-wise, I guess it wasn’t too bad of a swim (5:50-something)

Glad this was my 1st race because I probably had one of the worst T1 & bike mounts ever. I, straight up, fell over while taking my wetsuit off, then, for some reason, lacked the capability of getting on my bike. I ended up running a solid 50 feet past the bike mount line before coming to a complete stop, stepping over my top tube, and very slowly/carefully sat upon my bike seat like an old lady... I wish someone caught that on video. Started charging on the bike and felt like I had a tough pace going. I noticed after the 1st 4-mile loop that my back wheel had some close company. “Whatever” I thought, “I’ll just go harder and loose these guys”. Turns out…. that doesn’t work when there are 500ish people riding around Fiesta Island.  I’m going to stop right now and end any further whining about drafting. I should just expect it on flat courses by now; packs are unavoidable on the flats. Got off the bike in 3rd place and noticed that Bill, and some other dude I didn’t recognize, had somewhere around 30 seconds to a minute on me. 
I slipped my shoes on and jumped out onto the run course. It was in the sand/dirt along the water’s edge on the island. I somehow misheard one of the run course directors at the 1st U-turn and kept running up the beach. When I turned around, a dude had passed me and another caught up to me. I got in a pissy mood and stopped running hard. I “easy ran” the rest of the 5k. Realizing there wasn’t much room to catch people on this sand & dirt run course, my childish racing attitude got the better of me. I got over it pretty quick after the race and realized that my season wasn’t at all hinged on this race (& I guess 5th place isn’t the end of the world anyways). Congrats to one of my besties, Bill Jones, for having a monster bile split and (from what I heard) towing the eventual winner around for 12 miles on the bike.

It was great to see all of my collegiate friends! I wish them all the best of luck this season & I hope the WCCTC dominates at Nationals this year. I don’t want to see the Colorado kids gloating about how good they are again ;-)

Desert International Triathlon (3/4 mile swim – 24 mile bike – 6 mile run)
March 4

Wait, isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Finishing as the 1st overall Male, I was actually 2nd place overall. Let’s get it out there right away… Yes, I got chicked. I don’t have too much shame about it either. Heather Jackson had a good race and a mega fast run. Props to her for beating up everyone last Sunday.

I woke up in my own bed race morning (San Diego) at 3AM and drove out to Palm Desert instead of staying out there. A part of me hated getting up that early, but I enjoyed the time to wake up and move around before the race…. and jamming thru empty mountain roads in a sports car, blasting my new Every Time I Die cd, was fairly epic. I went on a little warm up run with Beth Walsh (who had a great 1st race as a pro) and scouted out the first part of the run course. I made sure to get in a bit of a warm up swim this time.

The swim was a little odd. You can’t really see the 1st buoy, it’s almost directly into the sunrise and the glare on the water makes it damn near impossible to see anything at all. When the race started, the initial swim chaos was far more chaotic than it needed to be. I didn’t need to sight on the initial 500ish meters en rout to the 1st buoy. I was sitting comfortably in the front pack when all of a sudden everyone turned sharply right. Apparently we were swimming off course, to the left, and made a last second turn to round the buoy and make a U-turn. There was a slight break in the pack and, unfortunately, I missed the boat. I ended up swimming the rest of the course on my own, in no-man’s-land. After the U-turn at the 1st buoy I actually started swimming back into head-on traffic. However, I fear I lead a couple people astray as well.. haha. I wasn’t having too good of a time sighting on my own for the remainder of the swim (foggy goggles). I’d have to stop completely and find where I was swimming. I don’t know exactly how long the swim was, somewhere between 1200-1300 meters I’m assuming. I exited the swim around a minute+/- behind the front guys in 17:01.

Don't know why I'm out of the saddle..
I’m glad I had such a bad transition at Tritonman, because I freaking NAILED both of my transitions. I flawlessly jumped on my bike and started cruising. I had mentioned that I was going to change my racing strategy for this race and I did. It’s textbook Keith Butsko racing to hammer the bike and see if you have anything left for the run. Today it was my goal to only go around 80-90% on the bike and save something for the run. When I caught the leader after 15-20 minutes, I had the initial “Holy crap I’m in the lead.. let’s blow the lid off this thing!!” feeling for a little bit, but in the middle of the second lap I decided to back off a bit and Alex Begg, who’s quite a strong cyclist, took over the lead and held a 10 second gap for a while. Alex and I had this piece of crap wheel sucker (who I don’t feel the least bit bad for calling out) wearing an American Interbanc kit, who shamelessly ITU-style drafted off us the whole time. I took back over the lead with 2 or 3 miles to go and got to T2 1st feeling pretty good, with a 40k time of 57:10. It was the 1st time I left something in the tank for the run; I definitely feel I could’ve hammered a lot more on that ultra flat bike course and it’s still kind of eating at me a bit.
I left T2 by myself and met a guy on a mountain bike to lead the run. It took a while to get my legs going.. They felt pretty heavy and didn’t have any pop. I ran at a comfortable pace until I could start pushing hard and get my heart rate up. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that way until mile 4. Right around the start of the 2nd lap I heard a super fast cadence approaching. I looked back and it was Heather Jackson. I thought to myself “ok, just stay calm and match her pace”. That didn’t happen, she was really booking it. I felt like I was jogging compared to her and i just couldn't get my legs to open up. Looking at my run time, it’s not like I was really running “that slow” either. She finished around a minute ahead of me. I felt pretty demoralized when I finished. It was kind of funny because there were some confused people. I finished the 6 mile run in 34:41, which is better than expected, considering my extreme lack of speed work. The next elite guys came in around 2 minutes later so I felt a bit better, but 2nd place overall still kind of feels like 20th place for some reason..

All in all, it was a great tune-up race for Oceanside and nothing to hang my head about or hang my hat on either.
Feeling much better after a $9 quesadilla & a couple beers

I have to say, the post-race party at the La Quinta resort was flawless. Good times were had and the Bocce Ball competition was heated. Congrats to all my friends who raced as well, a lot of them were up on their respective podiums, which was awesome!

Apparently these orange things are for dancing..
Excited to start adding some speed work into my workouts soon. SuperSEAL is next on the race schedule, and from the looks of it, should be jam packed with local fast guys. This race is always a good fitness checkpoint. I would recommend it if you haven’t done it before.

Thank you to all of those who help support me: B+L Bikes, Rutley Chiropractic, SPY Optics, and all of my family and friends!