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.

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

 

 

Season is officially over

That’s a wrap for the 2011 season. It has been a year of highs and lows, but now the race season has come to a close. After racing in Georgia, I found my body and mind very tired. With little juice to hurt through 2 more half ironmans, I decided to call my race season quits. It is sometimes tough as an athlete to know when to pull the plug on a season, but I had many telling signs. First off, I wasn’t excited to race anymore. I was not motivated to hurt through the workouts, let alone suffer the way I needed to in order to have a good result at the races. My main motivation during the days was to sleep, eat and not think about triathlon. My body had some issues, like bruised hip and a vertebrae out of place, that needed to get fixed. One of my main motivations though, was the desire to take time off quickly, so I could start full training again in mid October. This would allow me more time to work over the winter and race earlier.

After looking at these signs and talking it over with my coach Jack and my family, my race season ended. In one of my next posts, I’ll analyze my year, but today is not that day. I’m now getting back into the swing of things at Talisman Centre and slowly finding a rhythm with coaching again. The past couple weeks of minimal training and a lot of good food has been food for my mind and soul. I now am looking outside and feel an urge to run, bike and swim. Let’s let the off season training begin.

Grant

Augusta 70.3 Race report

It’s official…I’m back in Calgary, back to colder weather and back to work. It’s nice seeing some familiar faces again after 12 days alone on the road.

Augusta went much better than Cancun. I felt a little sluggish on race morning, but had a good warm up, a nice long stretch before I embarked on another race. Before the start I met a wonderful gentleman who lived near Georgia who was wearing number 911 and was a SWAT team member. Needless to say this brought some interesting conversation and jokes while I stretched. The day was warm, got just above 30C and very humid. For the most part though, the day was overcast with the sun only really coming out on the run.

The swim was fast, with the current and the wetsuit. I settled into a groove right away and found myself just off the feet of the lead pack. Nobody could swim in a straight line that day, including me. Usually I’m pretty good at going straight, but for some reason everyone wanted to slalom the course instead of straight shoot it. Getting out of the water I was already warm (water temp was 2F below wetsuit cut off), so I didn’t have much problem transitioning and settling in on the bike. Right away I knew my legs felt better than the week before.

I started the ride in 11th place and found myself passing a few guys within the first 10miles. Chris Legh went by me and I tried to hold his wheel for a while, but this was always going to be a lost cause with one of the strongest cyclists in the sport. I rode very well and the kms seemed to keep ticking away. There were even points where I totally zoned out and found myself just listening to my breathing as I watched the pavement whizz by. This is very hard to achieve in a race, but is a great experience to just enjoy the pain and excitement of racing. Nutrition wise, the bike went quite well and I got off the bike excited to run and still feeling pretty strong. Thankfully I didn’t have any flats, but did see a fairly large snake in the middle of the road (dead).

As always, the first km of the run felt terrible. My legs were shaky, I was running awkwardly, but slowly settled into a rhythm. A wonderful gentlemen kept giving me my placing, so I knew I came off the bike in 9th place. Quickly I found myself settled into a pace that should have been sustainable, but was not blistering by any stretch of the imagination. My first 10km was around 36:30. I had worked myself into 6th place, was closing in on 5th and was still feeling ok. Then, with about 5 miles to go I totally hit the wall. Within a kilometer I went from competing and looking ahead, to just trying to survive and not get passed. I lost about 10mins in the last 8km and faded to 8th. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough and I started throwing up every couple hundred meters. It really hurts to watch guys go by you that you have already passed, but I did finish. That finish line looked so sweet when I got there…always a reward. I finished in 8th place in 4:02:41.

Once I crossed the finish line, they immediately took me to the med tent and gave me an IV along with a long lecture about why I shouldn’t race after I’ve been sick during the week. After some time with the docs, a nice massage and a large amount of fluids I was feeling much better and rode my bike home while cheering on the back half of the field.

I’m quite happy with my swim and bike on the race and just need to figure out the back half of the run. Thanks to everyone for the support and if you want to check out some pics from the weekend, you can do so here

http://finisherpix.com/search.html

 

Now it’s back to training before Rev3 half in Anderson SC Oct 9.

Till next post,

Grant

Cancun 70.3

Sunday was a very tough day for me in Cancun. My pre race warm-up seemed to go quite well and I ended up helping a lot of people in transition. I’m not sure what it is about me, but people were asking me to pump up their tires, asking what pressure to run tires at, nutrition, run, bike questions, etc. I guess because I’m white and blonde, everyone, including the pros expected me to know english.

The swim was one big loop that started in a swamp. The water was quite calm, but we had to run out 50m in a mud bog that was to shallow to swim. I got around the first buoy with the group and then we all were about to miss the second buoy. I went to correct myself, but part of the way they let us go ahead and I found myself having lost the pack. The rest of the swim I tried to play catch up but was not able to pump up the speed.

There was a long run to transition and I had a quick transition. I tried to settle in right away on the ride, but was quickly aware that my watts were a little low. The ride was pretty flat, but there was enough wind to make the bike a little slower than expected. Already the air was hot and humid. I went through almost 6 1/2L bottles on the bike as well as 4 salt tablets, which seemed to be enough. Nutrition wise, I tried something different during the race and it seemed to do the trick. During the ride I just felt like I wasn’t able to get my body up to speed. I averaged about 250W for the ride and would have liked to be more around the 280W, so something wasn’t right. I was getting very frustrated as the group rode time into me. About 60km in, my left hip started getting really sore and felt like the joint was locked/swollen. For the last 20km I really couldn’t get comfortable on the bike and was counting down the kms till I got off. I had to stand quite a bit to try and open up the hip, but nothing seemed to help.

I rolled into transition and as soon as my feet hit the ground my hip collapsed. I was still fairly quick in transition and headed out on the run desperate to run myself into top 8 (where the money was). Reality struck about 2km in when I knew my body not getting any better. By this time the heat was into the 40C territory and my body was in serious hurt mode. I felt like I was handling the heat well, but my body was just not there on the day. The run was 2 laps and it never ended. I debated dropping out the entire run, but realized I had 11th place locked down and at the slow pace I was running, I wasn’t going to do much damage to my body anyways. I finished in 11th place, not what I was hoping for, but not a bad result.

Triathlon has a funny way of breaking you down. Before the race I was incredibly confident that I could place top 5 and had no doubt in my mind that I could run quick, not just finish. As a pro, many of my training days are longer in duration than a half ironman, so the distance doesn’t seem that daunting. However, during that run, the cold harsh reality of a possible dnf snuck up my spine. Any race, no matter the distance, can crumble an athlete to the point of not finishing. Every half I have done hurts, but this race was just suffering for a poor result.

There are many positive to take away from the weekend. I’ve recovered quicker than expected because of my slower run, which should allow me to have a good race this weekend at Augusta 70.3. I learned a valuable lesson that socks are a must in half ironmans. The heat didn’t destroy me in this event (although it made everyone’s day quite hard).

Thanks for the support,

Grant

Win at Banff International Triathlon

This past weekend I raced the Subaru Banff International Triathlon. What a perfect day for racing. The weather was clear, sunny and a high in the mid 20’s. I was using this race as a final tune up before I head down south for several 70.3’s this fall. The day started out with a swim in the 14C Two Jack Lake. I was actually quite happy that my hands and feet went numb in my warm up swim so that I didn’t feel like I was cooling down during the rest of the race. I knew my main competition would come from Ironman UK champion, Scott Nyedli. About 500m into the swim I found myself at the front of the race with Scott on my heels. I decided to put in a couple surges to drop him, but he responded to each on. When I realized I wasn’t going to crack him, I settled into a relaxed rhythm and came out of the water first, with Scott on my heels.

The run to the first transition was up a hill and my breathing got out of control and I felt really off. I quickly tried to calm down once I was on the bike and focus on the next task at hand. Scott passed me 6km into the bike, at which point I decided to just follow behind him and let him set the pace. We played cat and mouse on the bike, exchanging leads several times before he lead me into T2 by a few seconds. My game plan was now to put in a surge for the first 2km of the run and see what kind of damage I could do to Scott. After the first km, I had put probably 150m on him and settled into a tempo run. Throughout the day I was having stomach issues and probably threw up half a dozen times, so I didn’t want to have to put in any significant surges on the run. As I rolled through the run, I thought about the next two weeks of racing and tried to hold a steady pace. I was quite happy in the end with my run split of 33:19 and overjoyed to get my third win of the season.

One of the highlights of the day was having Hillary and my family there to watch. Because of my travel schedule, it’s not very often that my family and friends get to see me race, so this was a treat. I would also like to give a special thanks to Centaur Subaru, Speed Theory and PowerBar, who were all on site helping me this weekend.

Full results are posted here

Next up, Ironman Cancun 70.3 on Sunday.

Here are some pics from Kelowna

Grant Burwash Kelowna triathlon

Grant having a pre race chat with Holy and Hillary. Racing with support is great!

Grant Burwash Kelowna triathlon

Grant Burwash Kelowna triathlon

Grant Burwash Kelowna triathlon

Grant Burwash Kelowna triathlon

G-Force

Pics from Wasa Lake Triathlon

Here are some shots from Wasa Lake Triathlon 2011.

G-Force Wasa triathlon 2011 Grant Burwash run

Grant Burwash on run at 2011 Wasa Lake Triathlon.

Grant Burwash and Talisman Centre Triathlon Club

Grant Burwash and Talisman Centre Triathlon Club

Wasa Lake triathlon 2011

For once I wasn't the one that ended up in the med tent. Instead, I got to take care of these two

Grant Burwash Wasa lake triathlon 2011

Grant Burwash Wasa lake triathlon 2011. Saying a big thanks to Charlie and all the volunteers, another great race.

Grant Burwash 2011 Wasa lake triathlon

Holly, Hillary and Grant Burwash all happy after the Wasa Lake triathlon.

My first Half Ironman Victory….and broken toe

First off, I would like to thank Mike Bock and all the others involved with the Chinook Half Ironman this weekend. Through the race, Mike has supported my athletic pursuits financially and so on Thursday I decided one of the best ways I could show my gratitude was to compete in his race. Thank you Mike.

Heading into Saturday, my legs were still tired from the week of training and I had a specific game plan to swim and bike hard and then try and cruise the run. I have been feeling quite strong lately, so I was excited to see how the body would feel over a longer race. My swim went quite well and I came out of the water with a sizable lead. The water was about 16*C so my hands and feet were a little chilly, but I was doing fine. My first transition was a little slow trying to get out of my suit, but I was quite relaxed and excited to start riding.

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

The bike headed out 22x into a head wind. The ride out seemed to take forever, but I tried to stay in aero as long as possible. I could really notice the lack of time on the TT bike and felt like I wasn’t riding that fast. I tried to just keep riding tempo and stand up on the hills to stretch the legs out. After about an hour my legs started waking up and I even said “hello legs” at one point. The irony is that not 10mins after I mentioned this I hit a huge head wind section and my legs decided to leave me again. The way home I just flew with the tail wind. I got much more comfortable and realized I was riding time into my biggest rival, Kyle Marcotte (multiple top 5 finisher at Ironman Canada).  On the way home I tried to just relax and even shared some words with Darcy and Doug in one of the Centaur Subaru mechanic vehicles. I was bugging them that they were getting beat by a two piston engine as they tried to snap some pics of me. By the time I hit T2 at 96km I was ready to get off my bike and start running…this is where the race got interesting.

For my second transition, I always take my cycling shoes off while riding. When I jumped off my bike and was running it to my transition the front wheel skipped on some gravel and the bike fell infront of me. I proceeded to trip over my bike and fell over my bike. While falling down I cut off the bottom of my left big toe and put a nice puncture wound between the big toe and second toe with my chainring. Then, I landed and on the same toe and ended up breaking it. Right away I knew something was wrong, but was not about to stop.

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

the big cut, you can see the swelling starting to set in as my joint becomes huge

As I headed out for the run I looked down at my toe to see if it was bleeding through my white shoes. The blood was just starting to flow, but the pain only got worse. As the half marathon progressed, I became more and more uncomfortable and my gait got worse and worse as I was unable to put as much weight through the foot. I knew something serious was wrong, but was to stubborn to stop and figure it out. I cruised through the first of two laps cheering people on and talking to my lead bike. The second lap started in the same manner and then I really started to hurt. My foot was getting the better of me and I had to slow down. I still ended up running a new course record 1:16 half marathon at the end, and was happy with that. As I cruised to the finish line I realized I was going to win my first ever Half Ironman. The glory was short lived as I needed a medic immediately, but I was absolutely stoked to win this long Half Ironman race in 4:09. My fitness is really starting to come around and I am excited for the rest of the summer. Congrats to everyone else that raced and thanks to all the volunteers and others that came out to support me.

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

Grant Burwash Chinook Half Ironman triathlon 2011

G-Force

Oh Ixtapa…..you hurt me again

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in 1067 days…race an ITU triathlon (more in a later blog). I had such high hopes and was actually more nervous than normal about the race. Leading up to the race I didn’t feel that great, but it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary for casting myself into a new environment for the first race of the season.

Jon and I were staying about 30mins by bike from the race site. We decided to spin to the race in the morning and then try to stay out of the sun until the swim warm up. The waves were quite large on the entry to the swim and I was actually having a hard time focusing. My mind was filled with a million different thoughts and it wasn’t until the gun went that my mind started to quiet. I had a descent entry into the water and didn’t get hit by any bad waves. I got tossed around in the water and swallowed my share of salty ocean water. I started to feel better in the swim as time went on, but was just about 15secs behind a large pack of guys. The run to T1 was about 500m and I really tried to run hard and make up the gap, but the legs just weren’t there.

Exiting T1, I knew I planned on putting in a solid effort to try and bridge up to the gap. Unfortunately again, my legs just weren’t there to make that move. I ended up hovering about 20sec back riding alone for 12km. Looking behind me, I saw a group of 4 riders and made the decision to sit up and let them catch me, hoping together we could catch the next pack. I ended up having to really back off the pace to let them catch me and immediately I realized this was a bad decision. The group was very disorganized, so immediately I started yelling orders at everyone and trying to get people to rotate through and share the work. An American named O’Brady and I were definitely the strongest so I suggested we try and break away. This was a great idea until O’Brady was taken down by one of the other riders and I had to bunny hop him and actually rode right over his chest. I thought I was done right there. The rest of the 40km bike ride involved me getting very frustrated with guys that wouldn’t work and myself doing 80% of the work at the front and the rest of the time trying to avoid being taken out by the other athletes bad bike handling skills.

Now it was time for the run, the hot, humid, unrelenting run. My legs were cooked from the bike and on the first 2.5km my legs felt like sweaty cement pillars. I tried everything I could to keep me cool in the 30+ heat. There was a water station every 500m and I took full advantage grabbing 2-3 bags of water at each station and pouring it on my head and body and carrying the cool liquid in my had. The whole run my body just wasn’t there and I couldn’t every find that fast gear. My mind went through every emotion on the run from “I’m better than this”, “I’m going to have to walk”, “I’m feeling ok”. Then, it was all over. I finished a very disappointing 22nd wasn’t pleased at all. Yesterday hurt a lot.

There are positive to take away from the race, but it’ll take a couple days for me to fully digest the disappointment that occurred yesterday. This was the smartest I’ve ever raced in the heat, but I need to take a couple more risks and make the race happen for myself. I know it’s not the race that my friends, family and supporters had wanted for me, but it wasn’t the race I wanted for myself.

Congrats to all the other athletes there that finished. It was a tough day and my hat goes off to all of you.

Now, back to the drawing board before Monroe.

Grant

World Cup Run Standard….check

This past weekend I flew out to Victoria to run in the Times Colonist 10km race. I had one thing on my mind this weekend, and one thing only. That was to run under 32:40 and get the World Cup run standard. What this means, is that once I have the swim and the run standard and the swim standard, I can apply to race on the triathlon World Cup circuit.

The weekend started out famously with a pick up from the airport by Jon and then enjoying my time with him and Holly before the race. I was put up in a hotel a block from the start line the night before the race which set me up perfectly for race morning. I was absolutely blown away by the hospitality that the Jacqui and the whole race organization committee showed me. Attached to my number there was a hand written card, they put me up in a hotel and provided me with elite status. On top of that Jacqui came up to me before and after the race to see how I was doing, introduce herself and congratulate me….WOW! This is how a race should be run. Thank you so much to Jacqui and her staff.

Now the race. My quad had been bothering me for a couple weeks leading up to the race, but when I hit the start line, there was no question in my mind that I would run standard that day. I knew I was definitely fit enough and was looking to run 31:30. After a solid warm up, I toed the line with 11,000 of my new closest friends and got ready to rock. Just before the start Jon found me and yelled “Let’s go G-Force” into the masses, which got me right fired up.

Grant Burwash TC10k 2011

Grant Burwash TC10k 2011

The gun went and I settled into a good pace right away. I rolled through the first mile in 5:05 and then settle in. I had a hard time not letting the legs fly. The early season race jitters were high and I just wanted to let myself go. I knew I needed to conserve, so I tucked in behind a group and just ran. A few moves later I found myself running alone in 8th place and went through 5km in 15:47. This was perfect pace. The initial half of the course had some rolling hills on it and never seemed to be flat. I hoped to maintain on the last half, but then the quad acted up. I suddenly got really stiff and couldn’t let the legs get any speed. Jon got some video and I looked as tense as I felt during the race. I was caught by 2 guys and we ran together until 8km before they started to pull away. The last couple km, my quad really started burning and there was no spark left in the legs. I gutted it out though and crossed the line in 11th place and in a time of 32:11. Slightly disappointed with the time, but happy to have standard taken care of.

After I finished I watched Holly come through, 20seconds shy of a pb and then went for a nice long cool down. Within 5mins of finishing I was feeling fine and actually just really wanted to go for a long run or bike. As a whole, I’m happy with the weekend and look forward to the next step. Here are some pics from the weekend.

Grant Burwash TC10k 2011

Grant Burwash TC10k 2011

Thanks to everyone for your support.

G-Force