Ironman Calgary 70.3 2014

As my hometown race and spectacular course, Ironman Calgary 70.3 (#IMYYC) has become one of my favourite and largest races of the year. No other race carries the pressure from myself or others than this one. Once again, 2014 brought a competitive field of male pros including Olympians, World Champions, Ironman and 70.3 winners. Heading into the race I was extremely confident and the right amount of nervous.

The swim started out perfectly. I knew the course really well and the long shallow entry made it tricky for others. When the horn went, I took several running strides before a few dolphin dives and started swimming. To my surprise, I was leading Andy Potts on my left and Will Clarke on my right. This lasted maybe 100m before I got swallowed up by the pack and settled into my groove. Everyone must have taken their happy pills that morning because the swim was ridiculously gentle. I didn’t get bumped or hit once…new record. Half way through I made a tactical error and let the guy in front of me open a gap to the pack as we headed into the sun. I came out just behind the pack after swimming the rest alone…what a loner!

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon

Running into T1 the only thing I really remember is someone yelling “You’re 3mins down on Potts!” My thought “Crap, I just swam 1900m in 23mins…thought I swam well” The bike was also very cordial for the first bit. It took me 30km to catch the guy in front of me and I couldn’t see anyone else on the road. When I caught him we proceeded to shift leads every couple minutes so we would have a carrot to chase. By this time my stomach was a little upset and I had started throwing up my nutrition. This is why I only eat liquids on race day! The ride home was super quick with a tail wind and I came into T2 in 8th place.

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon bike

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon bike


Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon bike

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon bike

In T2 my coach, family and friends were all yelling at me from 2 feet behind. I’m listening for info as Jon Bird and JVD yell “No one can run like you” “It’s time to Unleash!” “Go Hunting G-Force!” I headed out of T2 like I had nothing to lose. One of my cue words for the day was “Unleash” on the run and I started with a quick tempo right away. The legs felt heavy and tired but based on the couple people I saw, I knew I was moving. At the 10km mark, I was in 6th place and 1km down on 5th. I kept the pressure on and embraced the pain of the race. I longed to see the Talisman Centre’s Aid station at the top of Weaselhead hill at 17km. Combine this with seeing Hillary, my family, Birdman and JVD and I knew I could catch 5th. The pain was there, the legs were heavy, but thankfully I had enough to move into 5th with 2km to go.

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon run

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon run

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon run

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon run


Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon run

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon run

I finished in 5th place in 3:54:25. I had the fastest run split by 1min, clocking a 1:14:03. Overall, I’m happy with the day, but definitely need to become a better cyclist.

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon finish

Grant Burwash triathlete Ironman Calgary 70.3 triathlon finish


Thanks for reading and for all the support from family, friends and sponsors, especially Paul at Centaur Subaru.

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Making the tough decisions

Let’s just say the past 6 weeks haven’t gone as planned. After my best winter of training with PB’s on the bike, constancy with training and a general enjoyment of what I do….life got in the way. Most likely I could have handled one or two items, but when it feels like your life completely falls apart, something has to give.

This weekend I didn’t race Wildflower as initially planned. This was a hard decision because I was coming off a win at Leadman 125 and Wildflower is one of my all time favourite races. So why did I drop out? Well, we looked at my wattages from Leadman and realized I was about 30Watts lower normalized power than I rode last year over 90km. I was tired, struggling with getting workouts done and the love of the sport wan’t there. Instead of heading to the race and having a performance I wouldn’t be happy with, we decided to stay at home, save money and try and find passion and consistency again.

When I’m training and racing well it is because I have been consistent. Each day I get up, don’t question the work I have to do that day and get it done. I’m excited by the pain and challenges of training. I’m passionate about what I do and driven to be better than I’ve been in the past and everyone else on the starting line. This is what I need to get back to. I need to find the passion, routine and love for my sport. This is why I stayed home and this is the journey I am on. The past 2 months my triathlon training has felt like a job, added to my other triathlon job of coaching. Training and racing needs to get back to why I started it in the first place….because I absolutely LOVE it.

Grant Burwash Triathlon run

Grant Burwash Triathlon run

Longing for heat

This week, Calgary decided to invite winter over for a visit. It seems all of a sudden we had a blizzard and we are now in full on winter mode. To not sound un-Canadian, I’m not going to complain about this weather, and instead reminisce about this summer. Anyone who knows me knows that I crave the sunshine. This results in some fabulous tan lines that people laugh at out loud and don’t even wait for me to get out of earshot before they make a mockery of my neapolitan style skin. Not that I blame them, even Hillary says she would love me more if I was evenly tanned! 

So, instead of hating winter, I thought I’d post some pics of myself enjoying summer with some friends. This summer, I was very blessed to enjoy many races where I have friends and family present. For someone who travels to race as much as I do, having friends at a race is quite special. Of all the things that make you feel at home while racing, having someone to hug at the finish line is by far the most satisfying. It is very lonely crossing the finish line and having no one to talk to, celebrate with or feel disappointed with. Here are some pics of me enjoying the post race high with some friends.

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Coaching highs and lows

Anyone who has ever coached an athlete knows the coach goes through the highs and lows with an athlete. It is very stressful to watch athletes compete and know you can do nothing to help them, except cheer if you happen to be on course. Sitting at home following them online can be euphoric or agonizing, that is if there is online tracking.

Around race day, I tend to do another analysis of their past several weeks and months and really analyze how the preparation went. Are they ready? What went well? What could we have done differently? What uncontrollable circumstances occurred that may affect the outcome? This doesn’t mean a coach isn’t confident, but rather they are willing to critically look at themselves and the athlete to determine what could be done better and to make a educated estimation of performance. Yesterday was a perfect example.

One of my athletes, who has been with me the longest, was racing Ironman Lake Tahoe. Her preparation heading into the race was spectacular. No injuries, consistent training and high motivation, had brought her to the start line in the best shape she has ever been in and well prepped for a PB. So, what happened?….Weather. Snow, frigid temperatures and all around misery for the athletes lead to over 1100 dnf’s or dns’s (about 40% attrition). Throughout the day, as I watched times get slower and slower, I knew the PB was not going to happen. When I saw she had finished though and stuck out a brutal day of racing, that made me very proud.

No, this race didn’t lead to the time we were hoping of. Yes, there were things that could have gone better on race day. However, there are still some major positives to take away. First, she made it to the start line. This is one of the greatest feats because it requires a commitment to a lifestyle and preparation. Anyone can sign up for a race, show up and compete. It take a lot more to meticulously prepare for this race and to alter your lifestyle to a healthy, active one. Second, nothing is more gratifying for a coach than to see their athlete fight for what they want. Starting that race, she knew the time was going to be slow, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be a positive experience. I love a fighter. Third, set goals and be willing to throw them out the window on race day. The night before during our discussion, I was blown away at the relaxed, calm athlete on the other end of the line. When life throws you a major loop, make sure you’re willing to go with the flow. Preparation and routine are great, but you need to have fun and be flexible to.

At the end of the day racing is fun. Yes, it’s incredibly painful and nerve racking, but totally worth it. Whatever or wherever your next race is. Embrace the highs and lows that go along with it and have a blast. A happy athlete is a fast athlete!

 

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Lessons from 2013

The 2013 season has come to a close. As all seasons seem to be, it was quite the ride. The past few months have been full of great successes, breakthroughs, best times, frustrations, mistakes, highs, lows and endless learning. This year I made the decision part way through the summer to not chase points to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. Instead, I decided to try a few other races that were on my bucket list, or would be an way to make money so I can continue on with this journey. Ideally, a race would generate income and be an excellent experience. One such race, was Wildflower.

The one and only Wildflower triathlon was held on May 4. This race has been on my bucket list for years. It’s known as one of the toughest, but most enjoyable races you will ever do. It didn’t disappoint. I made the trek down with some friends and fellow athletes from Calgary. The organizers treated us like gold and I have rarely felt so welcome at a race. So what did I learn?

1) Always be prepared for anything. I didn’t bring down a swim skin because everything I had read said it would be a wetsuit swim. The result, I had to borrow my friend Doug’s swimskin during the race because the pro race was a non wetsuit swim. Amateur mistake

2) Be willing to change things up. My coach Jack had scheduled a long ride of the bike course just 2 days before the event. This is an abnormal preparation for me, but we thought it was imperative I get a sense of how challenging the course would be before race day. This proved to be a critical decision because I was able to ride with more confidence and break down the course into sections to maximize my performance. As Jack predicted, there was no fatigue in the legs on race day, just more knowledge and confidence in the mind.

3) Racing hurts, so persevere. I went into Wildflower with the knowledge that the course is extremely challenging and in order to finish in the top 10 in such a deep field, I would have to dig very deep. Coming off the bike I was further behind than I would have liked in 14th place. I spent most of the run suffering alone on the hot, hilly, windy, lonely run course. I didn’t see people ahead of me until about mile 9. I was running well and continued to push and ran myself into 9th place by about 10.5miles. This was also the time I started to bonk. Due to the difficult nature of the course, I hadn’t altered my nutrition plan for the extra 15-20mins the course would take me. Add to that the fact I had been throwing up for the past 5 miles and now you understand where I was at. I refused to be passed by someone I had passed and dug deeper and deeper as I approached the line.

I gave everything I had to cross that line and then collapsed. At this point in time I was conscious, but not able to move. A large gentleman came over, scooped me up and carried me like a rag doll to the med tent where I laid on ice, while the pumped me with litres of IV for over an hour. Totally worth it.

Now, you know how amazing this race is if my race ended like that and I’m still planning on racing every year. Here are a few pics to relive my experience.

If you are on Facebook, click here for my finishing video

Grant Burwash Wilflower Triathlon Finish

Grant Burwash Wilflower Triathlon Finish

Grant Burwash getting finishing medal at Wilflower Triathlon

Grant Burwash getting finishing medal at Wilflower Triathlon

Grant Burwash in the Med tent at Wilflower Triathlon

Grant Burwash in the Med tent at Wilflower Triathlon

Grant Burwash post IV, recovering post Wilflower Triathlon

Grant Burwash post IV, recovering post Wilflower Triathlon

Thanks for reading,

Grant

 

 

Speaking at Calgary Marathon Expo

Are you racing this Sunday in one of the races for the 48th annual Calgary Marathon? I’m speaking at the expo on Friday at 4:30 on Motivation and Mindset. I’ll be discussing how to get through and approach a race mentally, as well as strategies for achieving your best results on and away from race day.

Grant

Last Minute Musings

I’m packed and ready to race tomorrow. The story of today was definitely the rain. It rained heavily this morning and then poured for 3+hours this afternoon. The training swim was actually cancelled and many roads are flooded with lots of debris on them. It will make the race even more interesting if there is still flooding in the morning, but right now you can’t think about that. 

I’m definitely excited about the race tomorrow and am getting into the suffer mindset for tomorrow. There is no doubt in my mind that tomorrow is really going to hurt. The difficulty of the course, the intense humidity and the heat will leave all competitors fighting for every stroke, pedal and step. Yes, tomorrow will be a sufferfest. That being said, it doesn’t mean there won’t be success or reward for your efforts, you’ll just need to work for it

The race start at 6:30am local time. You can follow live and track me at the following link;

http://live.ironmanlive.com/Event/Ironman_703_St_Croix_2

Thanks to everyone who helped me get here and I’ll talk to you after the race.

Grant

Splattered Peacock Ride

This morning I woke up at 6 to observe a beautiful morning in St Croix. The water was gave off a rolling background noise as the island seemed to stand still. The ocean air flowed through my open window as I sat doing work and enjoying the sunny, windless morning in the Caribbean. After it had warmed up a bit and was 28C, I decided to head out for my run. I had a great run and loved the heat beating down on my bare back and face and couldn’t help but smile as I poured sweat onto the pavement.

Then, it was time for the swim. It was waiting to jump into the crystal clear ocean that I got my first glance of Lance Armstrong. As expected, everyone seemed to hover around him, but his body language and posse made it clear he was there to swim and not sign. I found the swim very helpful because I had guessed the currents wrong earlier and had made a mistake on where to swim coming back in. Another chance in the water tomorrow will be welcomed. After that it was time to ride. My legs felt heavy to start, but after a good warm up and some time at race effort, they really started to turn around. I was thoroughly enjoying the ride and the scenery was incredible when I saw Peacock feathers. Then, there were more…and more and then splat, the bird behind the feathers lying flattened on it’s road. I thought it was funny to see the beauty before disaster that lead to them. Not a couple kms later, I got a flat on my tubular. I tried my pitstop, but that didn’t work, so it was a long 13km ride until I met someone who was meeting their wife and gave me a ride home. All I’m going to say is that when you are riding on a carbon rim with no dampening, the roads here in St Croix are ROUGH. So, like the Peacock, my beautiful ride quickly turned to disaster.

The rest of the day was encompassed with driving the rest of the bike course including the 24%grade of the Beast, a pro meet and greet, a local street festival called Jump Up, dinner and rest. What a day. Let’s hope I’m done with all the little disasters of the trip and Sunday goes off without a hitch.

Time to change a tubular tire, so that’s all for today.

Grant

Interesting first day in Paradise

I arrived in St Croix late Wednesday night for the Ironman 70.3 St Croix. I have never been this far South, let alone the Caribbean, so I was excited to get off the plane and feel the warmth and the humidity of the air as it hit me. I didn’t get to my home stay until about 11, so it was straight to bed and deal with everything the next morning. 

Task number 1- when I awoke, I found out that the container and bag I had carried my PowerBar Ironman Perform drink mixture in had been punctured and the crystals were all over my bag. Thanks to the humidity, all the clothes had a sticky powder coating on them…nice. That required a trip downtown later to search out quarters for the washing machine where I proceeded to wash everything I owned, leaving me shirtless for most of the day. Thankfully it’s not cold!

Task number 2- While putting my bike together, I noticed I was missing some very essential pieces of equipment…my skewers. Not really sure what happened to them, but they were in the pocket where the lovely TSA’s “your bag has been checked” paper was. I’m assuming these were taken out to see what they were and never put back in. So, on my tour of the island with DJ in search of food and a road that didn’t rattle our bones to badly, I bought some skewers from the local bike shop.

Task number 3- Training in new places is always a treat. It’s a great way to explore and get a sense of the area and people. I started the day with a nice run that took me through Christiansted (city I’m staying in) and along most of the run course. Legs felt descent for spending 10hours in the air the day before. Later in the day I went out for a ride. When I left it was overcast, which it had been all day, but 30-40mins later I was in for a surprise. The skies opened up and the rain poured down. I can’t remember ever being in such a heavy rain storm, at least not on my bike. The road were flooding and there was water everywhere. A great thing about the Caribbean is that when it rains, it’s still warm, so I wasn’t huddled under a tree shivering like I would have been in Calgary. After some sketchy corners I came up on a deer going pretty fast. He ran on to the road, tried to stop and slipped. I slowed down to avoid him as he went down in front of me. I proceeded to go down trying to avoid him and slid along the pavement. Thankfully, there was so much water everywhere I slid along the pavement like a water slide. Bike, body and deer all left the accident site with no injuries. Phew!

Day 1 is down, I can’t wait to see what day 2 has to offer.

Grant

Talisman Centre Aquathon results

 

  Swim Time Run Time Total Time
10 & Under Boys 50m 200m
Thomas Armstrong :45 :37 1:22
Luke Armstrong :46 :37 1:23
Jayden Brasok :45 :39 1:24
Rylan Hillaby 1:30 :40 2:00
10 & Under Girls 50m 200m
Kristanna Neilson :46 :39 1:25
11&12 Boys 150m 800m  
Tazman Abramowicz 3:12 3:35 6:47
11&12 Girls 150m 800m
Jamie Hellard 2:17 3:18 5:35
Nikita Srivalsan 3:05 3:55 7:00
13 – 15 Boys 350m 1600m  
Stefan Daniel 4:45 6:02 10:47
Jake Armstrong 5:01 5:57 10:58
Cooper Bentley 4:45 6:38 11:23
13-15 Girls 350m 1600m  
Laurin Thorne 4:51 6:20 11:11
Justine Santama 6:05 7:31 13:05
16-18 Boys 440m 2000m  
Charlie Olmsted 6:33 7:30 14:03
Zachary Kendall 5:53 8:32 14:25
William Kemp 7:21 7:31 14:52
16 -18 Girls 440m 2000m  
Maya Soukup 5:56 9:32 15:28
Adult Men 440m 2000m  
Kyle Marcotte 5:26 6:40 12:06
James Curran 6:58 6:24 13:22
Sean Vording 6:52 6:46 13:38
Jason Dyck 7:52 7:24 15:16
David Stringer 9:09 7:29 16:38
Jeff Rodgers 12:06 13:22 25:28
Adult Women 440m 2000m  
Kelly Marcotte 5:30 7:54 13:24
Roxanne Skoreyko 6:45 8:24 15:09
Holly Higgins 6:53 8:51 15:44
Tamara Loiselle 7:43 9:49 17:32
Rabea Graepel 8:57 9:55 18:52
Jackie Hellard 10:12 9:02 19:14
Kate Charbonneau 9:32 10:30 20:02
Heather Myers 7:48 14:48 22:36

Thanks to everyone for showing up. Jon and I hope you all had a great time and will join us for our next event on April 8. It’s a great family affair for athletes of all ages and abilities.

 

Grant