I was expecting to blow up at any moment’
Tyler Butterfield says his podium display at last weekend’s Ironman Cozumel in Mexico surpassed his expectations.
The professional triathlete and two-times Olympian’s top priority was to complete the event to validate his place at next year’s Ironman World Championships in Kailua- Kona, Hawaii.
He had accumulated already enough points after finishing seventh at this year’s event, but was required to do another Ironman within a 12-month period to satisfy regulations.
But the 30-year-old did much more than that after an heroic performance in Cozumel, where he came second to cap what has been a breakthrough year in which the former Bermuda Athlete of the Year Award winner has achieved several podium finishes on the International Triathlon Union professional circuit.
It was a performance Butterfield admits caught him completely by surprise.
“My primary goal was to finish the race rather than win, so I played it conservatively,” he said. “I certainly wasn’t expecting second place, so I was surprised and thrilled to finish that high.
“I was expecting to blow up at any moment during the race [run split] as I just hadn’t done the work between Kona and Cozumel that I would usually ask of myself when aiming for an Ironman podium. But I guess I have more residual fitness from my Kona prep than I realise.”
Butterfield completed the event in an overall time of eight hours, two minutes and 42 seconds.
He covered the 3.8-kilometre swim in 34 minutes and 12 seconds, the 180km cycle in four hours, 35 minutes and 14 seconds and produced the fastest time of two hours, 49 minutes and 48 seconds during the 42.4km run. His time in the run split was also a personal best.
The result was the culmination of a season in which the former professional cyclist has come on in leaps and bounds in the triathlon arena.
Buterfield was second at the Muncie Ironman 70.3 in Indiana and third at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and Calgary Ironman 70.3.
Apart from his seventh at the Ironman World Championship, he also placed in the top ten at the Racine Ironman 70.3 in Wisconsin, the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Nevada and at Ironman Melbourne.
“A lot of things are coming together for me,” said Butterfield, whose next event is the Abu Dhabi triathlon in March. “I’ve been racing professionally since I was a teenager and every year you just get stronger, wiser and understand what works for you better and better.
“The other thing that has helped is that my home life has really settled down. I remember Chris [two-times Ironman world champion Chris McCormack] saying in 2006 that the difference between the years he wins and doesn’t win is having everything else in his life sorted and settled. I understand that now.
“When Nikki [his wife] was racing, too, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to help her reach her potential because I thought she had a better chance at being successful than me. But we realised that what she wanted most was to be with our kids, so once she stopped racing that allowed me to focus fully on my career.”