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,





Centaur Subaru Clinics 2012


Centaur Subaru – Triathlon Clinic Weekend

Day 1 – Swim & Bike

Cottage Country -Ghost Lake – Saturday June 2, 2012 – 10:00am


Centaur Subaru is proud to support grassroots triathlon in Calgary for the third straight year with day one. Both beginner and intermediate triathletes are invited to attend a free clinic put on by Canadian professional triathetes Jon Bird and Grant Burwash. The first part of the morning will have us test out Ghost lake. We will focus on skills and tips for swimming in a lake, including sighting, entering and exiting the water, swimming straight, pack swimming dynamics and wetsuit information. Following the swim we will dry off and warm up with some goodies from fresh kitchen then hope on the bike. The bike-handling course will focus on skills and tips for bike handling, pack riding, climbing, basic bike maintenance and road safety.  This course is limited to the first 35 people that RSVP, each participant will receive a free catered lunch, water bottle and some PowerBar products. All participants are required to have an Alberta Triathlon Association membership to participate.



10:00am: Arrival and get into your wetsuit

10:00 – 10:15: Brief chat from Grant and Jon about what to expect

10:15 – 10:45: Swim for as long as you can comfortably

10:45 – 11:30: Warm up and get changed – ‘ what to expect on the bike’

11:30 – 1:00: work on drafting bike handling and gearing

1:00 pm: lunch and PowerBar samples and talk on bike mechanics by Speed Theory


What you need to bring:

Bike, Helmet, warm clothing, wetsuit, towel, toque, gloves, riding jacket

View Centaur Subaru Clinic Day 1 in a larger mapiew Centaur Subaru Clinic Day 1 in a larger map


Centaur Subaru – Triathlon Clinic Weekend

Day 2 – Run Clinic

North Glenmore Park – Sunday June 3, 2012 – 10:00am


Centaur Subaru is proud to support grassroots triathlon in Calgary with the second day of our weekend triathlon clinic. Both beginner and intermediate and advanced triathletes are invited to attend a free clinic put on by Jon Bird and Grant Burwash of Talisman Centre’s Endurance Training Systems. This run clinic will focus on skills and tips for Calgary 70.3 including race nutrition, staying cool, fast transitions, running form and a preview of the 70.3 run course. This course is limited to the first 35 people that RSVP, each participant will receive a free catered lunch, water bottle and some PowerBar products. All participants are required to have an Alberta Triathlon Association membership to participate.



9:45am: Arrival and light warm up

10:00am: Begin 21 km run preview of 70.3 course (you don’t have to run the full 21km)

11:45 – 12:00: Running school with focus on technical running form

12:00 – 12:15: lunch and talk on transitions and nutrition


What you need to bring:

Running shoes, appropriate running gear, warm down gear for post run


View Centaur Run Clinic in a larger map


Grant Burwash – grantburwash@gmail.com

Cost – FREE * requires a ATA license

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.


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.


Ironman Calgary 70.3 Lecture tomorrow night at Talisman

Ironman Lecture Series

Ironman Calgary 70.3 is fast approaching! Complete your race prep with Talisman Centre’s Ironman Lecture Series. Get expert advice and valuable training tips from our group of professional coaches and experienced triathletes to help you optimize your performance! FREE for Talisman Centre members and Ironman 70.3 Calgary competitors. $25 for non-members/non-competitors.

March 1st: Establishing Your Training Plan

Jack VanDyk will present practical tips, strategies and guidelines to help you prepare for the 2012 Calgary 70.3. Learn how to develop a sensible training schedule and identify the key periods of the season in which you will increase volume and intensity. Scared and questioning why you signed up? Do you have to train a ton to complete this event? Looking to qualify for World’s in Vegas? Come find out the practical training aspects and put your mind at ease!

March 22nd: Nutrition

Train, recovery, rest, train recovery rest – all a part of your daily schedule as you prepare for Ironman 70.3. Kelly Drager, Sport RD at Talisman Centre, will look at how to plan your nutrition needs as part of your cycle – train nutrition, recovery nutrition, and rest nutrition. If you haven’t put much thought into your nutritional needs before this session you won’t question its importance after. Your biggest support team is the food you eat.

April 18th: Race Plans and Triathlete Perspectives

Listen as Jack VanDyk, Jon Bird, Ed Rechnitzer and Grant Burwash, four of the coaches from the Talisman Centre Triathlon Club discuss their preparations leading into a race and their experiences with racing. The coaches will discuss their personal race strategies, warm-ups and race experiences with Ironman Calgary 70.3 as well as relevant info from other races. All coaches have several years of coaching and racing experience to share. Learn from their successes and mistakes during some key races.

Times, Location and How to Register

The Lectures will be held in the Riverview Room at Talisman Centre from 6:00pm – 9:00pm.

FREE for Talisman Centre members and Ironman 70.3 Calgary competitors. $25 for non-members/non-competitors.

Call 403.233.8393 or visit our Customer Service desk.

Talisman Centre Aquathlon

Check out this great event Jon Bird and I are hosting at the Talisman Centre. All ages welcome. Details below. This is a great way to break up the monotony of winter training. Volunteers are also needed if this is more up your alley.

Youth or adults, new participants or seasoned triathletes – this is a great opportunity to participate in a fun and exciting swim and run event!

February 26, 2012

What is an Aquathlon?

The Aquathlon Series consists of a swim component and run component. Participants will compete in distances that will vary depending on age with the maximum distance being a 400m swim and a 2000m run. Both the swim and run will be separate and started in heats of 20 participants every 15 minutes.




 10 and under  50m  200m (1 lap of track)
 11 – 12  150m  800m (4 laps of track)
 13 – 15  300m  1600m (8 laps of track)
 16 – 60  400m  2000m (10 laps of track

How do I Register?

Registration Cost: $15 for Members  /  $20 for Non-Members

Visit our Customer Service Desk or call 403.233.8393 to register. If you are a Talisman Centre Member, you can alsoregister online.

Event Check-in

  • Please arrive on deck by 8:15am
  • Check-in and body marking will be located on the pool deck by the electronic scoreboard
  • After checking-in, participants can begin warming up in the pool and on the track starting at 8:30am

What Should I Bring?

  • Swimsuit
  • Swim cap
  • Goggles
  • Towel
  • Change of clothes for the run (participants will not be allowed to run in their wet swimsuit and are asked to change for the run portion to reduce water and poor traction on the track)

Event Day Schedule

 8:15am – 8:45am  Participant check-in
 8:30am – 9:00am  Pool and track open for participant warm-ups
 9:00am  Heat 1 Swim Start

For more information on Talisman Centre’s Aquathlon Series, please contact:

Jon Bird 
Endurance Training Systems Team Leader

A quote from Bill Nye

Yesterday morning I ran my spin class through time trials. We use these to set baselines for people and to determine wattage training zones specific to the athlete. I have been known to get quite into these testing sessions and get the occasional noise complaint. Even though the class was small, there was a great energy in it on Monday.

One gentlemen in the class named Ted, was doing his first TT in over a year and not really looking forward to it. Now, there are a few things you  need to know about Ted. First, he is always smiling and in a great mood. He loves joking around and poking fun at others an himself. He started asking me about the seniors discount at the Talisman Centre before he was even a senior and is one of the most chipper guys you will meet. The most important thing about Ted, is that he is Bill Nye…that’s right, the science guy.

He isn’t actually Bill Nye, but he looks surprisingly similar, is a chemist and is always pointing his fingers like Bill in this picture. Jon and I started calling him Bill and even chanting (from the song) Bill, Bill, Bill during training sessions or races.

Needless to say, Ted is a pretty cool cat and usually has something to say that makes me laugh. After his TT yesterday though, which left him speechless for a while, he said something to me that I won’t forget. It may have been one of the best comments someone has given me and couldn’t have come from a better person.

How many Grant’s does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer will be posted tomorrow.


Back to big Saturdays

One of the many benefits of coaching at Talisman Center is the ability to train with wonderful athletes as you coach them through cycling sessions. Starting yesterday, my 3 hour Saturday rides resumed for another year. These rides have become a key factor in many athlete preparation, including my own for the summer races. Typically, I do a 90-120min long run before the spin, but yesterday I was relegated to a 90min water run.

I entered the ride with lots of energy and excitement at the new faces as well as the old friends I have been coaching and training with for years. Some of the new athletes thought the class was 2 hours, which made my day to see their eyes get big when I told them the actual duration of the class. It’s kind of sadistic, but seeing this look of horror on others and then running them through a great workout, brings me a lot of pleasure. In my opinion, the class went great. This was the longest ride in 3 weeks with my achilles and it held up beautifully. A little athletic tape for some support, keep the cadence and watts stable and minimal standing and 3 hours passed with no pain…YES!

The dynamics of a 3 hour ride indoors are fascinating and over the years I studied them with great interest. When the class starts at 9am, the coach has to pump a lot of energy into the group to get people awake. Then, conversations need to be generated during warm up to keep people spinning and keep their energy exertion in check. This also helps the initial 30-45mins pass by in a blink of an eye. Once I’ve pumped energy in for about 45mins, the athletes start giving it back 10 fold. As they start to sweat, work hard and enjoy the experience of the music, friends and exercise, this is now my time to recharge. I take in the energy they are giving and keep the class at a stable hum. Once you pass that 2 hour, barrier, the athletes start to fade. Fatigue, hunger, boredom and saddles sores set in, which challenge peoples desire to continues. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are bonking, but I need to feed energy back to them. This means good music, encouragement as well as keeping my energy and pep high. This is the only way that most athletes will push themselves for the full 3 hours. When all the work is done and the minutes have sweated themselves away, everyone is in a state of fatigue, hunger, varying levels of pain, but has a sense of accomplishment. “Today, I did something that will make me better tomorrow”.

Welcome back Saturdays!


Cancun Chronicles

The first part of this journey is over…travelling to Cancun. I arrived safely last night with myself and my gear all intact. Everything went smoothly, although everything seemed to take a long time. Once at the hotel, I walked down and bought 20L of water, put together my bike, ate a quick meal and went to bed just after 10. Quite an exhausting day actually.

Today I went out to swim in the ocean at 7am (race time). Cancun is absolutely stunning. The water is crystal clear blue and the sand is soft and white. On the beach this morning I was greeted by red flags, indicating the waves are high, so don’t swim. Needless to say, I ignored that and went swimming. The waves weren’t that big, but they don’t stop after the main breaking point, so the swim on Sunday is going to be slow and hard. What an experience to be able to swim in this place. After I went for a run and came back absolutely soaked. The humidity and heat here are extreme, but by the end of the run I was feeling much better.

After my jolly jaunt, I headed out on the bike around noon to pick up my race package. I’m number 12 for Sunday, but didn’t really get any more info. It made me laugh that instead of a race shirt, they gave us a jacket as race clothing. I feel ready to go and the legs wanted to hammer on the bike today, probably the lower altitude. I’ll update again tomorrow, but for now, here are some pics of my trip so far.

My hotel

My hotel from the street

View of the ocean and the hotel pool

View of the ocean and the hotel pool

Grant Burwash triathlon Cancun 70.3

Grant Burwash soaking up some rays in Cancun