Butterfield Refocused After Race Disappointment

July 19, 2012

Triathlete Nikki Butterfield has refocused her 2012 race plans on the heels of Ironman Frankfurt and Ironman Switzerland. Butterfield intends to shift her efforts to short course events as well as the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on September 9th.

Butterfield — the Australian born wife of Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield — had hoped to qualify for October’s Ironman World Championship in Kona with a solid performance at the July 8th Ironman Frankfurt event. She was forced to withdraw during the bike leg of the race, however, following two tire punctures and a lack of technical assistance.

Rather than dwell on this setback, Butterfield quickly rescheduled her flight home, remaining in Europe to race the Ironman Switzerland event one week later in an attempt to capitalize on her Ironman fitness. While she completed the Switzerland race, Butterfield did not meet her own expectations in the competition, finishing 8th.

“I wish I had a clear answer as to why my race did not go to plan, especially for the team that rallies behind me,” said Butterfield.

Butterfield was more than seven minutes off the lead after the swim leg of the triathlon, but she steadily closed the gap, coming off the bike 2:15 behind the leaders in 4th place. She made short work of the gaps in front of her in the early stages of the marathon, running her way into 2nd place and a scant 20 seconds off the lead, all within the first 15km of the marathon.

Many thought Butterfield had the race wrapped up after her impressive performance in Abu Dhabi earlier this year and her solid results over the Ironman 70.3 distance leading into the race. Yet Butterfield proceeded to lose more than an hour off the pace she was running, eventually walking sections of the second half of the marathon.

“I don’t think I bonked – I certainly know what that feels like. I don’t think I rode too hard – I felt comfortable the whole way. Perhaps I ran out too hard, but I felt comfortable there also, keeping a high turnover and moving well. Then suddenly, I simply wasn’t moving well anymore at all.”

“I can’t really blame anything. I had significant pain in my knee and Achilles toward the end of the marathon, but that’s not what slowed me down. The pain came after I was well off pace,” Butterfield continued.

“Perhaps having two weeks of minimal training while I was tapering for both Frankfurt and Switzerland was too much. In the end I just didn’t have what it takes on the day,” she said.

Despite the disappointment of having missed the KPR [Kona Points Ranking] points necessary to punch her ticket to Kona, Butterfield embraced her European adventure as a learning experience and is positive about the upcoming races in her revised season.

“Of course I’m disappointed with my result,” she said. “But I have to move forward and learn from this. Ultimately I think I may not have prepared well enough or in the right way in my overall program. If I race another Ironman, I’ll focus more intensely on quality over quantity, plus I’ll start my preparation earlier. In retrospect, I don’t think I had enough consistent week-in-week-out run volume. While it no longer makes sense to race for Kona points this year, I’ll keep these lessons on hand for the future.”

“I can pull some positives from my performance in Switzerland,” continued Butterfield. “I hadn’t done any real quality training on the bike – rather, just a lot of quantity – yet I felt quite strong. That gives me confidence that when I do add the interval training, my speed and power will come back quickly.”

Butterfield will put this speed and power to use when she races the Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship on September 2nd, as well as several Toyota Cup races in the latter part of the year. Additionally, she’ll compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on September 9th, along with a potential foray into offroad racing at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui on October 28th.

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