Thursday, October 31, 2013

Experiencing the Weird in Austin

Noisy on your eyes, quiet on your ears.
Last week I traveled back to Austin TX with hopes as big as the guts of faithful Wataburger customers. After a nails race here last year (7th overall) and a solid race at the Texas 70.3 at the beginning of this year (knocking out a 4:02), I was eager to get back to the Lone Star State & dig in the spurs to crank out more Tejas horsepower.

Melvin's food truck dude laughed when I asked for that 
I convinced my mom & sister to come out with me and experience the brilliance of Austin because the city is genuinely interesting & quirkily oddball.  We invaded Brian Wrona’s new Austin pad while he was, ironically, on a trip back to the west coast. Can’t thank you enough, Brian- & I really hope you relish those new lima bean colored sheets & harvest emotional & physical warmth in the awful discounted Dallas Cowboys & Christmas blankets we left you with. I was also jazzed that a bunch of great friends from the good part of California came out to race & explore Austin. Most of the fun was adventuring with friends, post race. I will say, for as artistically cultured and grandiose the coffee shops, restaurants, boutique shops, food trucks, and festivities are... San Diego has the Austin craft beer scene beat by miles. Though, Craft Pride on Rainey Street is pretty dope, 1 or 2 good Austin bars don’t touch the legion of craft beer bars and breweries that SD has.
"I hear the 1 on the right unravels in the playoffs" - Wrona

Turned out, a good grip of pros showed up to race. I was actually kinda happy about that because it just meant that there’d be more people to ride with coming out of the swim; anything to keep the competitive fire burning. I was (/am) mega confident in my running, at the moment, so I wasn’t too concerned about losing too many battles off the bike.
Momers & I about to tackle some BBQ
The Race.

The swim was ok but fairly unexciting & expected. I gotta get better at being more aggressive in the opening 4-500 meters. I watched the men’s 25 minute pack put a tiny gap on the dude’s feet I was sitting on, around 5ish minutes in, and knew I missed the boat. Sat comfortably in a group of 3 or 4 and came out of the water, mid 26 minutes, feeling fresh.

Cool slice in the front tire (right); rear tire, thx 4 icing the cake
It had been raining that night/morning & I rode a slightly lower air pressure in my tires so I wouldn’t be sliding around on corners & turns (& just as I typed that out, realized that may have been part of the cause of my flats). On the bike, I was excited to find 5 or 6 guys, right away, to pace with/off.  Not even 12 miles in, I heard that stomach sinking sound of “pppssssttttwwwshwwwwsshhhwwwssshhh” and a thumping front end of my bike. “Rad”, I didn’t even bring Vittoria Pit Stop. I sat on the side of the road for 5-10 minutes before a photographer motored over to me and called the tech support to come my way. A wheel dude showed up sometime later & just gave me a new front wheel to ride so I could at least finish the bike. I was pretty pissed but at least I could spin back and knock out a gnarly fast run split. At mile 48, I saw a female pro on the side of the road, walking her bike with a flat (I saw a lot of flats). Just as I was thinking, “man.. flat city today” I heard that damn sound again “pppshshffffftttttssssshhhtttwwww” (that’s my best recreation of the sound I can scribe out for you, but anyone who rides a bike knows it); this time it was my rear disc (tubular tire). All you can do is shake your head and laugh at that point; merely getting back to the transition wasn’t even doable anymore. My day/last couple months of racing had just become a comedy. Sitting on the side of the road (no less, directly in front of a Donut shop, with no money.. that’s just cruel), at least I had company with my new friend, Ewa Bugdol, the female pro who flatted in the same spot I did- she was in 2nd at the time.. that blows.

I was upset, but got over it. That’s racing, I guess. Good days and bad days.. blah blah blah. Nothing is sure in sports; just by putting in endless hours suffering in training each week doesn’t guarantee results.. & good results aren’t always achieved by endless hours of training (most of the time they are, however..)

Ironworks BBQ
My triathlon season is over, but I'll jump into a running race or two before I completely pull the plug on my fitness for the year. I love triathlon; & as I was recently reminded by my good friend, Bill Jones, I do it because I have fun & find thrill of racing to be unparalleled. I’m already looking forward to building for next year, being my 1st full season racing professionally, but I think a break is overdue & well needed.
 fairly standard snapchat

I just want to thank my sponsors for believing in me and supporting my crazy racing addiction thru the ups and downs this year.. B+L Bikes, Stone Brewing Co., & of course, my radical parents & family. & my friends for tolerating my incessant barrage of snapchats.

Addendum: I’d like to give a shout to a new sponsor for next year, Harmony Bars. These little squares of goodness are so bomb you can taste the awesome!! Once Jess brought 2 trays of her White Chocolate Coconut Blondies to a party and I’m pretty sure I ate the 1st tray by myself before others even realized they were out.. (gluten/soy free). Check em out!

Charisa & Jen with no regrets.
Downtown Austin from SoCo... right after a man, solely wearing a thong, rode across on a beach cruiser.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How's Trix?

Havin a beer w/ my old Team Stone buddy, Phil MacNitt
Well shoot.. I'm sorry for not having scribbled down anything legitimate since the beginning of summer. I took a little break from chatting (and partaking) about racing; But, alas, I'm back and will start scrawling out my thoughts and experiences for the blogger world soon.

In the meanwhile, I'm excited to get back to some competition. I'll be racing the SuperFROG 1/2 Iron distance on Sept. 29 in Coronado again this year. I'll do my best to not run past the finishing chute and continue on for a 1/2 mile up the beach again like last year ;-) I also hear there's going to be a few fast cats showing up too (like my good buddy & training mate, Ian Mikelson). Looking forward to a tough/fun day.

I had initially planned on racing the Oceanside Lifetime Fitness Series Olympic race in mid October; but, after further thinking, bailed on that idea due to it being a week before the Austin 70.3... Which I'm saving up all my chips for. 
New custom speedos thx to Betty Designs

I'm also amped to announce that I've recently partnered up with the world's greatest brewery, Stone Brewing Co.  Couldn't be luckier to have the company that inspired me to do my 1st Triathlon, now become one of my sponsors (in 2009, I was working for Stone & entered their New Year's Resolution contest and (having never done an endurance sport in my life) signed up for my 1st tri after chatting with some friends at a party). 

Talk to y'all soon!

Monday, July 22, 2013


More or less, this pic sums up my last month of racing; a little pissed off, a little confused, a little frustrated.
Photo: courtesy of @ Vineman 70.3

Thank God for good friends, family, & beer.

ps. down but not out.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When It Rains, It Pours in Syracuse (70.3)- 1st Pro Race

When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade…. Then grab a beer and make a shandy- cause I learned on this trip, that's a winning combo for a good time. Like my friend Beth says, “Bad races are the easiest to write about because you can find what happened and what you need to improve on”. I haven’t had too many bad races lately, so I get to see how easy that really is. I hate excuses and would like to limit the excusivness in my blog posts to as little as possible. ..That, and I don’t want anything to take away from the great time I had out in Syracuse. Like I mentioned on Facebook, I was drawn to this race because of Jen’s write up on it. Got connected to a great homestay out here and couldn’t have ended up with a nicer couple. Dan & Alesha, you guys are rad & the amount of hospitality you offered me is silly. Not to mention Dan’s flawless taste in coffee mugs and our shared love for dogs & craft beer made for fun convo.

Going to give a brief report of the action then do something fun.

At least I had a crisp speedo
Evaded an angry police after jumping out of a car planted in traffic and ran a blazing pace to get to transition, drop off my transition ish, then bolted to the start line just in time for the National Anthem. Felt great in the swim despite not hitting the bathroom beforehand. Just missed a little pack around 30 seconds ahead of me and ended up around 1:50 back from the leaders. I was fairly pleased with that swim. The swim course was a tad long, judging by everyone’s times. Exited the water in 7th place. Got out of transition quick and realized that I left my nutrition in my morning clothes bag.. ‘I guess I’m living on Gatorade today’.

Rode fairly quickly and comfortably into the top 5 after 3 or 4 miles.. wasn’t pressing too hard and stayed slightly reserved. After a nice 6 mile grade and a few miles of rollers, a spotter told me I was in 4th and would likely be catching the dude in 3rd at this pace. I felt good, had plenty of energy in the tank, and was already strategizing for the run. Then somewhere between mile 25-30, like a light switch, my speed dropped off, and everyone caught up and started passing me like I was standing still. It was the most confusing thing at the time, because I was maintaining the same output and felt reasonably good. I concluded (again, at the time) that this was because I must’ve gone too hard out the gate, even though I was certain I had stayed controlled and knew I’ve never bonked this early in a 70.3. I hammered thru the last 20+ miles, disheartened, angry, and moving a snails pace despite having good legs.

Look close & you can see me riding on 30psi
Talked myself back into it and thought, “well, let’s see what I can do on this run course”. I ran the 1st 3 extremely hilly/hot/humid miles and saw my positioning/took stock of how underfueled I was and decided to save my guts and legs for the upcoming 70.3s I have in a few weeks. There was no sense in thrashing myself to turn a sucky day into ho-hum day. But at the same time I came an awful long way to DNF, so I found another pro that was on the same plan and we jogged the remainder of the course together. At least I got in a solid workout. Even jogging was tough on that course in the heat. I went and sat in the lake, drinking pepsi (they didn’t have Coke, not that it really matters to me either way but I feel the majority of people I know play ball for The Cokers) after the race and racked my brain about what happened out there.. at least until the lifeguard yelled and told me I had to swim (or sit and sulk, in my case) in the designated 25 meter recreational swim zone, literally feet from me. When I picked up my bike out of transition 30 minutes later, noticed the rear tire on my disc was dead flat. Well, that’ll explain it.

As for the town of Syracuse, it was all Jen & Mark said it would be and more. Everyone was super friendly and I loved chit-chattin with a bunch of locals after the race. Really cool & unique town with a good community vibe and a thriving triathlon scene, as well. Congrats to my homestay, Dan, for finishing his 1st 70.3 and enduring a gnarly thunder/lightning storm the last hour of his run.. that was pretty sketch. And to everyone who recommended it, Dinosaur BBQ lived up to the hype. Cool place, with great BBQ. I’d definitely recommend this race, as long you’re ready/prepared for a brutal run course.  I couldn’t draw up a better bike course than that one.

Takeaways and Lessons Learned:
  •  Don’t leave late to a race (been telling myself this for years and still hasn’t quite sunk in).
  • If I can’t get to the bathroom before the start, I may as well just go home then and there.
  • The initial 4-600 meters of the swim are of utmost importance.
  • You can’t plan for flats.. oh wait, they make stuff for that. Maybe I should bring it next time.
  •  Don’t pick hot, hilly, humid run courses to race…
  • Encouraged and happy to see my swim fitness made an appearance.
  • Syracuse/The East Coast is to Ice Creameries as SoCal is to FroYo & cupcakeries.
  • Next time Lisa Norden is chillin solo at a table, grow some balls and ask if you can bite her medal. #BadOlympicJokes
  • Grilled PB&J sandies are fantastic.
  • Don’t ever fly US Airways again. Ever. Again.
  • The weather in Syracuse goes from sunny, hot and humid- to a windy, thunder/lightning absolute downpour in the time it takes you to go in and out of a portapotty.
  • Thoughts for a future career: Gotta think I’d be a good Skymall model.. Those dudes are either sound asleep or completely overexcited about how effortless their life just became because of some outlandish product.
  •  Don’t eat massive cookies slowly in front of fat people in an airport. Nothing good can come of it...

I'll test anything with a name like "Death by Chocolate" 

I hope reading this post is like listening to a Blink song. Singing about my misery in an up-tempo, catchy, melodic tune. I’m writing this with a grin because I know better days are coming. Murphy’s Law trips/races don’t happen every time.. (See slight airlines rant at the bottom)

Thanks to B+L Bikes for all the support, couldn't do this without your help. I’ve also lost track of the times I’ve called Kev (Service Manager) the day before a race with extreme (probably not that extreme, but the day before a race, I’m freakin like a kid that lost his mom in a supermarket over anything that goes wrong) mechanical bike issues and he’ll troubleshoot it & walk me thru it. Thanks to my family, especially Reid, who came to the airport well after midnight to pick me up after endless flight delays. And a huge thanks to Dan & Alesha for hosting me out there.. Looking forward to returning the favor when you guys make it out here!

Next Up: Vineman 70.3!!!

Side note: Not once, in 4+ years, has my bike been lost, misplaced, or damaged by the airlines. US Airways managed to lose my bike 2x on the same trip, and gouge the side of my disk on the arrival trip (..may have been TSA) while charging $230 each way for it. I still don't have my bike at this time. Pick your next flight wisely.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Orleans 70.3 - St. George 70.3 - & Going Pro

Gonna mob this post and deluge it so awash of good stuff.. I’ve been a little busy in the last 6 weeks- three 70.3s, a TT, 5 batches of cupcakes baked, and 6 seasons of Dexter completed. Exhausting. There have been so many characters & sub-plots to keep track of, so many containers of strawberry frosting to disperse, so many race-wheel cassette swaps, and so much energy expended via competitive exercise. But let me back up a bit….

New Orleans 70.3
I was lucky enough to be accompanied on my trip to the Big Easy by my ever loving & supportive parents, my aunt & uncle, and my favorite French travel partner, Jose. I was jazzed on this race because of the slight chance I may attain some Marti Gras beads on the run if I wore the right speedo (however, I was let down).

Quick recap of the action:
This race was a time trial start, which meant all the age groupers started by individually walking over a timing mat and jumping into the harbor to tackle the unconventionally shaped swim course on their own. Picture a child writing out the letter “M” but getting distracted and veering off into the next letter 3/4ths of the way thru.. That’s what the swim course looked like. A short lived game of “pong”. I felt alright in the water, regardless of how goofy the course was and exited in a mid 26. That’s around what I was expecting for a solo 2k swim. The bike course was flat and boring. The 1st half of the course was directly in to a fairly strong headwind. My energy just wasn’t there. I had been feeling a little under the weather before the race, but convinced myself that I wasn’t sick. I don’t know how much had to do with a cold or the fact that I was just not quite recovered from the Texas 70.3. I got off the bike with a disappointing bike split and wanted to tear that run course apart. I have no idea how I ran a 1:18, because I felt absolutely miserable the whole time. I legitimately walked for a bit and drank coke around miles 7-8 to get my crap together. The rising temperature & wind wasn’t making life any easier. Everything was a blur from around mile 10 till the time I woke up from a long nap at 6pm later that evening. Big congrats to Rodrigo Acevedo, who had a great day and won the overall amateur and our division. I finished in 4:05, around 50 seconds back from Rodrigo’s time. Note to the 25-29 AG(/all AGs): good luck taking Rodrigo down in Vegas this year, he’s a beast. Also, a big shout out to Jose, posting up a great day- finishing 6th overall!
A little sick.

The next day (after sleeping 14 hours straight) we ventured into the French Flea Market and got to experience some New Orleans entertainment.

An extremely arduous task was mentally & physically rallying after a sickeningly hard and disappointing 70.3 and getting amped to do another one, on a much tougher course… with a stronger field… in a 12 days time. Motivation was lacking, to say the least. I just wanted to rest & recover. Why was I signed up for another stupid 70.3? Because this was going to be my last amateur race and I wanted to go out having strung together a solid set of 70.3s gaining some confidence to actually race against the Pros, not just show up and post a respectable time.

Jen entering Los Hermanos #possibleMethOperationCovers
St. George 70.3
You never fully appreciate how much fun road trips with friends are until they’re over and you think back to it. Had entirely too much fun with Jen, Mark & Beth on our excursion to St. George that weekend (sponsored in part by a Butsko Utility Design Inc. vehicle). This race wasn’t typical for me; I didn’t quite know how to recover/taper after New Orleans. I took 6 days completely off, 3 of which were consecutive, and a lot of extremely slow bike/runs within the 13 days between races. I told Mark the night before that I wouldn’t be surprised by a result on either end of the spectrum.

Utah was beautiful. That was my 1st time out there and it didn’t disappoint. I’d never seen such unique looking mountains and landscape in person. I was so close to achieving my childhood dream of sojourning thru the Red Rock Mountains on horseback with Clint Eastwood, shootin down bad guys. Instead, I’d be roaming thru those mountains in a pair of highlighter yellow Nikes and a speedo.

The bike course profile looked like it suited my strengths.. a lot of climbing. It was my initial plan to go apesh!t & tear the bike course up then see what my legs had left on the run. However, after we drove both the bike and run course the day before, I realized that may be a really dumb idea. The run course looked like it had major potential to make a fool out of you. The best advice came from Mitch Hall the night before, when he told me to “feel it out” and that I had no reason to prove anything. Therefore, I took the boring and less appealing rout of balancing out my race and attempting to pace myself, building into it. Which, in hindsight, was probably the right move.

Gotta make a note of my race morning breakfast: Three travel size containers of applesauce, 3 glazed buttermilk 240 cal donuts, 2 Keith Butsko- Strawberry jam filled strawberry cupcakes, 1 bottle of chocolate ensure, 1 chocolate chip/PB Bonk Breaker and a bit of coffee. #logsonthefire

As Chris Berg wrote in his blog, he & I got into a literal pissing contest while standing around in our wetsuits, prerace. Chris won, but not by much (Berg, I’m coming prepared next time). While floating around in the 60-degree water, let’s just say, Chris & I were probably 5+ degrees warmer than everyone else.

Before we even started, I knew it was going to be a long day in the water. For whatever weather related reason, my asthma was out of control (& heard from numerous amounts of others that allergies and asthma were running rampant). It was a long and miserable swim for me. I just remember thinking before every single breath: “If I don’t get this breath of air, I’m going to pass out”.
But setbacks are a part of racing, and I didn’t get down about it. I took off on my bike riding conservatively. Didn’t really look much at my power meter unless I was on a (rare) flat section. I, as Mitch mentioned, played it by feel and didn’t try to crush myself or force anything that wasn’t there. I found my way to the front and onto a completely empty road around mile 8ish. Part of riding by yourself is fun, but most of the time, I enjoy having targets ahead to pace off of/ pass. Many times when riding solo, I’ll become comfortable and settle into what feels nice.
Pic by Mark Barber

Took some secret nutritional advice from Jen (& Mark) in T2, and pranced out of transition feeling good. Again, I held back at the start of this run. The 1st 3ish miles are, essentially, uphill. Then the next 3ish are down. On the way back, around mile 9-10, I took a good look behind me on a long straightaway and didn’t see anyone. I realized I was in the clear (at least in my division and any surrounding divisions). I eased up a bit (not a ton, but ran slightly more relaxed), saving some energy for the walk to the beer tent. I finished 1st in the 25-29 division, & 2nd Amateur overall.

Thoughts On Turning Pro

I figured I’d start racing pro because it seems like a really painless road to quick success and tons of money. I’m guessing it’ll probably be an extremely effortless and undemanding life where little work and merely thinking about it will pay off huge. But...Not really.

One of the all-time greatest captures, by Mark Barber. (Ironman Suit Dude)
The bottom line is that I love to race. I do it for the thrill. When I talked with Mitch about racing professionally this past winter, he asked me why I wanted to. I believe my response was something like: “to get filthy rich, score loads of women, and live like a king”.. A cheeky & pert answer, which I’m sure, Mitch is used to hearing out of me (I know full well, triathlon will never provide any of that for me). I want to do this because I love it- I crave competition, I don’t get bored with 3 sports and endless options, & because I pine for the feeling of going fast. Until the thrill leaves me or I physically can’t compete anymore, I’ll keep racing. When I was a kid, my Dad used to tell me “you play to the level of your competition”, and unfortunately, racing age group has turned into solo time trials and not so much “racing” for me. Hopefully I don’t go from that, to doing solo time trials off the back of the men’s pro field. I’m excited to line up against the best in the world, but I know I have a long way to go & it’s going to take a lot of hard work. But, my parents didn’t name me ‘Keith Hard Working MoFuggin Butsko’ for nothing. 

*PS: Syracuse 70.3 (June 23) will be my 1st race as a pro. (Followed by Vineman 70.3 and Lake Stevens 70.3)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Texas 70.3


I haven’t been jumping out of my pants (that was the best G-rated, slightly sexual, figure of speech I could think of) to write a race recap- probably because of how mundane my own race was. It's like going to an Atlanta Braves game; they won, but it was all base knocks with runners in scoring position. No cannon shot 500-foot homeruns, no diving over the wall robberies, no "Oh, doctor! You can hang a star on that one"’s. Nothing extraordinarily breathtaking happened. I was happy I accomplished what I went to Texas to do- win the overall amateur and post up a solid day. But something was missing, that feeling inside you get when you’re smashing down the barrier that you know so well and marching past it. That’s the feeling I live for, the reason I do anything, really. Progress is my drug- I crave the PR.

#LogsOnTheFire #snapchats
However, the season is early and there will be plenty of time to find that feeling and ring it out for all it’s worth. Until then, anticipation will just continue to build.. 

Coronitas (post race)
The trip to Texas was fun. The more I travel to the Lone Star State, the more I love it. Texas and I met in cold, thundering, rainy, windy, and sickening conditions. Since then, it’s done it’s best to change my feelings. I can’t deny how good the food is (sans Mexi food; SoCal still dominates that category), or the attitude of nearly everyone there. Example: that warm & welcoming southern hospitality or the redneck hostility towards outsiders like myself and my French travel companion, Jose Jeuland.

Flashback to USAT Collegiate Nationals 2 years ago- the UCLA tri team & I were on a casual run around Tuscaloosa- Alabama (I may or may not have been in a speedo), & had some leftover Hooters pitched at/on us by some redneck southern boys driving in their pickup.

BBQ, 4 realz
I appreciate cultural differences. Living here in health/endurance land (aka. Encinitas), I’m comforted to know that other parts of the world still view these fruitcakes running around in minimal lycra as anomalous (and occasionally treated with belligerence).

Race Ramble:

It’s a little frustrating to look at times and compare them to the top pros, which I undoubtedly did, but shouldn’t really do it. The Age Group race is completely different than the pros race, especially starting last, an hour and 30 minutes after they go off. Along with changing weather conditions (wind, heat), there’s also the constant swerving and meandering around people in front of you and the lack of faster guys around to judge your pacing.

That being said, I’m satisfied (for the most part) with my result. Quick note: Wow… epically fast guys in the 25-29 division! The top 5 amateurs were all under 29.

Garmin, who's pushin who's buttons here?
Pre-race: having an hour and 30 minutes to sit around before we started, I ventured into the Moody Gardens Aquarium and spent most of my time, fully entertained, in the Giant Sea Otter exhibit. Those dudes are AWESOME. Way cooler than run-of-the-mill sea otters. I also ate a few of my friend (and ridiculously fast cyclist), Jessica Cerra’s dark chocolate Fit Bars. If you haven’t tried one of these little dandies, you should; Immediate mood improvement.

Swim: A congested course, clogged up with floating “swimmers”, made for an irritating, stop & go style swim. I felt like I was swimming quick and efficiently, but there was just far too much circumnavigating to have a good time. There seemed to be a clamoring tea party at every buoy for some reason.  (27:16)

Bike: I wish my power meter was working as well as my legs. It took a fair amount of button pushing & back-spinning to get a connection to my quarq.. I may as well have been sending out tweets and FB updates from the bike, with all the Garmin computer tinkering I was doing in the 1st 5 miles. I gave up on it and rode the course without any power numbers (which was a bummer, not able to fully gauge my effort on a flat and windy course). The course was flat, out and back along the coast with a lovely crosswind that only seemed to be growing as the day went on. Stupid me for only drinking 1 bottle while on the bike; I immediately regretted that decision when I started running & realized how thirsty I was. I need to work on my nutrition, that was a big fail. (2:11)
Lap 3. Facial expression speaks for itself

Lap 1. Totally cool, I got this.
Run: The course was another flat, 3-looper, with a ton of 180 degree out and back sections. Hit the first 4-5 miles around my goal pace of 5:45-5:50 and felt good. Towards the end of the second lap, it may have been a combo of nutrition, heat, motivation, & a side stitch, but things started to get slow and heavy. My pace dramatically slowed and I had to walk (alright.. jog) an aid station and regroup. I’m kinda proud I got my ish together and started running hard again. When things rapidly begin falling apart in a long course race, it’s hard to stop the bleeding, let alone turn it around and go faster. The last lap I held it steady around a 6:10ish pace. (1:19:06)
Stickers, making any shirt a podium shirt.

I’m really stoked for Jose, who had a great race and finished 4th overall and my good friend, Brannen Henn, finishing 4th in her AG with a smoking fast run split! Also, shout out to Tatiana Vertiz, who’s on the mend and finished without pain.

Gots to thank my boys (& girls) @ B+L Bikes for helping me out. I had a minor freak out sesh when building up my bike the day before the race and the Di2 decided to stop working. It took a little figuring out, but Kev talked me thru it over the phone and we got it dialed. Looking forward to having some fun & a little run redemption at the New Orleans 70.3 in less than 2 weeks (April 21); which, in all likelihood, will be my last race as an Amateur…

Jose had a hard time containing his enthusiasm.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Jose & I ..& his French TV crew (Pic: Reid G. Butsko)
Rather than pine & pout about how poorly I ran this past Sunday, I’d rather entertain you with some good stories from the race..

I was glad to have the company of my good friend, & Frenchy pro, Jose Jueland, racing with me on Sunday. Both of us trained thru this race, so there was a slight compromise on the race rather than our main goals for the season.

I arrived early to the race, which is tremendously uncommon for me. Katya Meyers & I thoroughly enjoyed watching panicked sprint participants zigzag aimlessly thru transition and eventually stumble into their bikes. I love observing a T1; It blows my mind how just 5-10 minutes of swimming has the ability to disorient someone to the point of loosing all memory of where they had just racked their bike- in a clearly marked area, no bigger than a basketball court. I’m definitely not innocent of that crime. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run right past my bike, probably looked it square in the eyes along the way and thought, “nah, that one’s not mine” then continued on with my pursuit for the correct one; Upon finding it, what seems like 10 minutes later (when in reality was probably only like 10 seconds), that overwhelming & undeniable sensation of idiocy drops like a bomb.

When the race started I did some obtuse dive that likely looked like a pelican swooping up a fish and my goggles fell down my face, into my mouth, then back into their original place of residing (only then filled with water). I nonchalantly veered off the front after 150 yards and quickly fixed them. I jumped back into the front group but 2 dudes already had a bit of separation occurring. I attempted to cover lost ground but it was too late and they had a gap I knew I couldn’t bridge. Once settled in, I found myself in the front of the newly formed 2nd group and started a solo journey into no-man’s-land. Around 5-600 meters out, I noticed my hand graze something that felt a lot like sand. “Hmm, wait a second”, I thought, & stood up in knee high water. I can only imagine how comical it looked from a spectator’s point of view, seeing some dude, 600 meters out in the San Diego bay, running across the water amongst a group of swimmers. I looked back to see if anyone had caught on to my discovery; not too far back I saw that Jose had just popped up and started running too. We looked at each other and started cracking up. Pretty sure everyone else followed suit and took the Jesus strategy in that 20 meter section. The rest of the swim was miserable, I had no idea where I was going. That swim course is in the same shape as the state of Texas, so navigating the buoys is no straightforward task. I’d completely stop at each buoy to find the next one. Where is Roch on his paddleboard when you need him? I’ll post some video evidence of how off course I was. Unfortunately, for everyone following my lead, I added on an extra 50-100 meters on the way in and swam around an unnecessary buoy.. hah. 3rd out of the water.

I chatted with my buddy, Lars, in T1 about my time deficit to the two guys in front, grabbed my bike & started to run out. I glanced back to witness Jose entering T1 like Superman… and by Superman, I mean like Charlie Hustle sliding head first into home plate, set to knock out the catcher in an All-Star game. He nailed a sand covered parking stall bumper and won the crash of the day award. 

It took me around 10 miles to get going, but once I found my cycling legs I felt good. Pretty happy with my ride and the fact that monster cyclist, Karl Bordine, didn’t eat me up on a flat bike course. We must be doing something right, Mitch Hall. That’s a win in my book. I caught one of the two guys ahead of me on the second lap and entered T2 in 2nd.

Just as I wasn’t concerned with my poor bike performance in the desert the other week, I’m not too worried about my lackluster run. It’s there. That’s just part of training thru races. Jose had a great run and caught me a bit before the last mile, put 15 seconds on me and it stuck. Congrats to Jason Pedersen, who won, and Jose for having great races!

Thanks to all my friends and fam that came down to watch; it’s always motivating to have recognizable voices yelling at you. Thanks to my hombres, Johnny & Tom, @ B+L Bikes, for finding all my mistakes on my race-day bike setup.

Next up: Texas 70.3 (April 7)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Icebreaker in the Desert

sucha momma's boy Pic: Mark Barber
If there’s one takeaway from the 2013 Desert International Triathlon, it’s finally learning that a good or ideal day in each sport seldom occurs. You’d think after 4 years of racing triathlons, I’d have figured that out long ago. The biggest positive from this past Sunday was that I didn’t get down on myself after a tired/sluggish bike ride, & stuck with it. I know this race is small in the grand scheme of my season, and it’s early, being the 1st race of the year, but I enjoy the excitement of competition.

Pic by Mel Kurek
& The Race Deets:
Around 200 meters into the swim, feeling I’d been moving fairly quick, I surveyed the sitch of nearby swimmers and there were 2 guys around me and 1 dude that somehow had like 1-2 minutes on us. That was blowing my mind, how do you put that much time into a group of elite swimmers within 200 meters?? (Turns out it was Rob Lea, a former collegiate freestyle sprinter). Somewhere around the midway point in the swim, I realized I was swimming with one of my swim heroes (& buddy), Max Biessmann. This was a small victory in itself, as Max always smashes me in swims. Ended up having a bit of an extra kick and exited the water in 2nd behind Rob, who was minutes ahead. (After 4 years of the same exact swim results, it’s kind of exciting to see some progress & improvement occurring. Thanks to Grace Van Der Byl for helping me and shaking things up with my swim stroke. As stubborn as I am, she’s slowly turning me from a surfer into a swimmer;-)

Early AM- locked n loaded w/ the new whip
Apologies to those of you expecting a monster bike split, I’m aware of it. Not at all worried about my cycling right now, though. It’s there.

Thx to Ben Travis for the pics & the splits on the course
Like I had mentioned earlier, as I rolled into T2, I didn’t let myself get down and stayed with it. A few people along the course mentioned I had around a 2 minute deficit to the dude in 1st… 2 minutes is a lot to make up in 6 miles, but for whatever reason, I felt extremely confident in my running. I ran the 1st 3 miles at a 5:30 pace and didn’t let myself run any faster. One of the few times I’ve been conscious of pacing in a shorter race. At the beginning of the 2nd lap I caught sight of Rob and realized catching him was very doable. I turned up the pace & ended up passing him somewhere a bit before mile 5. Ran the last mile in 5:13. It hasn’t been typical of me to negative split runs- happy I’m slowly learning how to pace myself & not go “Pre” all the time. Props to Rob for gutting it out and pushing the pace up at the front.

It was definitely fun to race again; I’ve missed that feeling. It was rad having so many people I knew out there, both racing and cheering. Congrats to all my friends.. I heard about multiple PR’s. Solid day for B+L athletes as well; Rebecca Travis tore it up & was 2nd overall. Also, one of my good friends, Bill Jones, won the UCLA triathlon earlier that day too.

Eating a bunch of food @ the finish w/ Hippie Jen
Very fortunate to work at a place that supports my racing so much.. As always, thanks to Mark Palmer & B+L Bikes- & my bro-dog (the best mechanic I know) Kevin, for staying until 10pm to build up my new Shiv (more on the Shiv in a near future post). A big thanks to Mark Barber for all the help this weekend. Mark wins the award for giving the most accurate in-race timing splits. I was stoked my mom came out to watch and got to witness a bit of race drama unfold. I'm sure it wasn't easy for her to watch a come from behind win. 

Next up: Superseal (Olympic dist) March 17

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Petco 5K9

Hard to beat that dog's grin.
Flawless event. Had I no dog, I’d still go spec this event, purely for the comedy of watching all these people run with their dogs. Some people are far superior runners to their dogs and some dogs far superior to their owners. Either way, I love dogs and there’s no race where people are smiling as much as this one. Even the volunteers on poop patrol are smiling... no, but seriously, they are- it's kinda weird. I’m pretty sure there’s more mollycoddling for the dogs than the people.

Here’s a little story about the endurance history of Parker & I: When I started running, back in 2009 (like.. running without chasing or kicking some ball, or rounding a base, or thru a campus late to a class), I ONLY ran with Parker. Lately, I’ve been getting a bit emotional running with him- looking back at all the milestones we’ve hit together; My first 20 or so runs were all with Parker, he was with me the 1st time I broke an 8-minute mile, a 7-minute mile, a 6-minute mile, a 5-minute mile, a sub 18 minute 5k, a sub 17 minute 5k (he missed out on the 1st sub 16, but I have full confidence he can do it)… Up until recently, Parker has always been there to lead and push the pace each time we run together. Unfortunately, as a combo of him aging & me getting faster (& sequentially not being able to workout as much with him) the weight has been shifted slightly. It was simultaneously good and bad; In the last ¾-½ mile of the 5k9, Parker started to fade when I wanted to go faster. It was almost at the same exact spot last year that the roles were reversed and Parker wanted to go faster as I was feeling like passing out. Regardless, I can read Parker pretty well and he didn’t have anything left, so I wasn’t about to break out the bit and whip to get him to stay with the dude who took over the lead. He was as happy as a dog can be and even though we ended up 10/15 seconds behind the eventual winner, guaranteed, we had more fun hard charging up front & alone for 14 minutes. I think we ran a mid 16 minute 5k, which was a great time for that guy considering his lack of endurance runs as of late. Even though we ended the day in 2nd place (overall), places don’t matter to a dude that is running with his best friend (and vice versa). 

Tired pup.