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)