Tuesday, November 4, 2008

From Tri suit to Tiny Orange Shorts to a Business suit…

The off season has officially begun :)

Most times I have to fly in a suit I am grumpy.

I really prefer doing the superman and changing in the restroom just so that I can fly in jeans and a t-shirt. Today is a pleasant exception. It’s Iron Monday and with the race 2 days behind us and my legs starting to hurt a little less I am pretty content with just about EVERYTHING – even this.

My cab picked me up at 4:30am to take me to the airport for a flight to Chicago for a couple of days and then on to Vancouver and returning to Orlando to see Shane swim in the Regional Swim meet in the 500 free this weekend.

Usually this type of back to back trips are hard as the family, work, training and travel time collide but this one is pretty balanced so it’s all good.

Why the mellow?

My season is over, my to do list is done and I am ready to take a break.

Let’s start with some results:


The Iron Buttz raced Ironman Florida this weekend and we had some incredible PR’s and places.

The list of Hammerheads is below:

Tamara Kozulina 2nd Overall Female 9:14
*Carrie Boyles 13:45
Terri Derkum 13:37
Ty Dickinson 12:43
Matthew DiPaolo 12:13
Kerri Elfin 16:30
*Kevin Ellis 14:32
Shawn Francis 11:56
*Hal Gilreath 12:16
Stacie Hernandez 5th 11:39
Jay Herring 13:40
*Sonya Hoener 16:37
*Kathy Hunken 12:02
Kim Kaye 13:01
Peter King 12:33
*Martin Kotowski 11:28
Joy Murphy 11:40
Janet Neal 13:02
*Julie Peerson 11:37
*Blain Peerson 10:29
*Richard Reid 12:29
Saswata Roy 10:28
Rick Shields 13:06
Gwen Shields 15:54
Maurya Sova 11:55
*Courtney Spratt 13:07
Greg Umberger 11:57
Susan Wallis 5th 13:03
*Carl Zeilman 13:05

1st to Kevin Ellis - CONGRATS!!! Kevin was sick with a fever and chest cold and still raced to a 14:32 – way to go!!! Even when everything is perfect it’s a hard day…add in some outside / inside problem – you did great…enjoy the down time.

2nd to Joy Murphy

I wish I could see

who SERIOUSLY was riding and running blind and fell 4 times while running into tables, fences, cones and trees. While none of us think this is a good idea, Joy toughed it out even when she couldn’t see and went on to a 2 hour 19 minute PR to finish in 11:40. I ran up next to her and she said, “Shawn, is that you? I was like “yeah Joy, it’s me”. She said can you tell me where the speed bumps are? I was at mile 22 and I am thinking – I thought I was in bad shape – check out this…I said sure. ¼ mile later I am yelling on the top of my lungs, “ JOY – SPEED BUMP!!!” and people are looking at me like I am nuts. Who knows how fast she could go if she could see where she was going? Congrats Joy – way to focus (mentally :)) on your goal and achieve them!!!

3rd to Hercules (Shawn Francis – my good friend and training partner)

Herc Bike

who while competing in the world strongest man contest (not really…but it seriously was a power lifting meet) a few years ago messed up his back BAD trying to squat over 500 pounds. Coen, Josh and I were actually there and it was impressive to see this sport…power lift and triathlon simply don’t go together well and Hercules has sworn off the girly man gym days and now is a silky smooth triathlete. The dude is hard a nails!!! He has a herniated L5 disk and has been dealing with that for 2 years +. Riding aero and running after are hard enough if you are healthy but with this in play, it makes it even harder. Add to that a very serious lung condition brought on by working under a house and the guy should NOT have made it to the start line. Shawn has an unbreakable spirit and drive and he was all smiles as he toed the line. He had a great swim, a great bike and as is known to happen on Ironman courses, he did the porto potties parade for 45 minutes on the 2nd lap of the run. If it had not been for internal factors NEEDING to become external factors, dude would have been 10 something for sure.

Herc Run

Even with all of this going against him, he drove on to a 11:57 finish and much needed off season. Congrats Hercules, you are impressive and you did great!!!

4th to the Dr. 32233, Hercules and my friend and training partner - THE MAN formerly known as the Sinker….Doctor…..Saswata…..Roy roy roy roy roy (it’s an echo :)).

Let’s just get to the news…The dude swam a 1:10!!! I am still trying to figure out how he hid his fins in his wetsuit or maybe it was his new pre-swim routine :)


A 1:10 for Saswata is about the equivalent of Phelps Butterfly touch…it was a miraculous event. It’s not that he doesn’t do the work, he does. It’s not that he has not tried to get help, hell; he hired Coen’s swim coach to train him – SERIOUSLY. The guy is just got REALLY huge quads and even when he concentrates on form his natural body position is for his feet to drag on the bottom. Hercules went for a swim with him in Arizona at the pool and he came back to the hotel and said, “The dude needs work, he don’t float.” Well that is all behind us now and a 1:10 swim at a “reasonable effort” set Saswata up for a close to 2 HOUR PR!!!

We train together a lot and we talked about the race and how to approach it and I could not be more proud of the way he went for it. I have written and said this a lot of times before…you don’t get a 2 hour PR by working the last few miles, or just running the run harder, you do it from going for it from the beginning to the end and the risk of blowing up is MUCH bigger.

hooray I am no longer the sinker

He went 1:10, 5:19 and finished it up with a strong marathon to close it out in 10:28!!! Dude – YOU RACED IT and that is AWESOME!!!

Other notes:

Aaron Novak powered his way through to a STRONG 1st time finish of 11:38. Aaron actually coaches with Susan, Rich and me and Rich works with him. Rich told me he was going to do great and he did. Congrats Aaron!!!

Susan Wallis also continued her Ironman Year with at 13:03 to a 5th place finish in her Age Group. I think this is her 3rd Ironman for the year (Austria, Kona and Florida) and she just keeps motoring along. Congrats Susan – great result – great year – enjoy your off season (to her – that’s Monday :))

Carl Zeilman - congrats man - 2nd Iron distance and a STRONG result!!!

It has been a fantastic year for all of the VMS crew. Collectively, I am sure we have logged over 100,000 miles on the bike, swam to Cuba and back a few times and ran more miles than Forest Gump and earned more Carbon credit than we spent :)

From the Cyclists to the sprinters to the Iron Buttz, we had a great year!!!

The shaved legged tough guys started it in February and dominated the dojo for spring, summer and just finished a few weeks ago.

Jim W’s season picks up where they leave off. Other than JC and Paul Cantin who are racing 70.3 World Championship next weekend, the rest of us in the off season.

JC and Paul should have some REALLY strong results next Saturday with JC in contention for a podium spot…check that sentence out…

Possible top 5 in the WORLD!!!

Hey that is something to push for. Paul (VMS Client #1) WILL go under the magical 5 hour mark and have a PR day – I have no doubt…he will leave it on the course.

From the 1st road race in February through Ironman Arizona, Ironman Brazil, Ironman Austria, Ironman Louisville, Ironman Canada, Ironman Wisconsin, Ironman Hawaii, Ironman Florida and countless 70.3’s – the VMS crew has been OUTSTANDING!!!

1st time finishes, Medals, PR’s, Podiums, life time goals accomplished and all those smiles – It has been a GREAT season and Rich, Susan, Aaron and I could not be happier with all of your accomplishments.

We all can’t wait to see you smile in ’09 when you hit your goals!!!

Kia Kaha.

That’s it…that’s a wrap…the ‘08 season is officially over for me and I am ready to get lazy and fat for a few weeks – I need it.

As usual, stop here if you have anything better to do…this recap may read longer than the race :)

On a personal note, I want to thanks to Alan Couzens (my coach) and Endurance Corner in Boulder, CO for getting me to where I wanted to be.

When I raced this weekend, like I said in my previous post, I wanted it to be an all out effort and to find out what I really had and hopefully accomplish something special.

Having done the work and looked at the numbers with Alan, I knew I was as ready as I had ever been and that means a lot going into a long day.

Being prepared is one thing but to put together a PR day, everything has to go right.

For me, that was REALLY not the case.


I spent the day before the race curled up in the fetal position trying to break a fever, stomach flu, chest infection which literally knocked me on my a$$ and made racing SERIOUSLY in doubt. I figured I would do all of my “pre-race” routine and make the decision on race morning.


Going through the motions without knowing “if” you “can” race is very unsettling.

On race morning I woke up and my fever had broken and I was covered in sweat. I felt better (not great) but I texted Paul and wrote, “This sux, not sick enough to bag it and not feeling well enough to go fast, another day of going though the motions- yuk.”

That was at 6:40am…at 7:00 the cannon went off I went out hard in the swim and was able to stay with most of the lead pack. After the 1st lap, the run on the beach allowed me to see and hear Mike Reilly saying “the lead pack is coming through the 1st loop” and thought – hey – I am right where I want to be…keep pressing and let’s see what happens.


Out of the water in 56:05 I heard Mike Reilly say, “The top age groupers are just exiting the water” and I started to get psyched and feel better and I was really wondering if what Tomas emailed me was right, “Dude, you always race better when your sick!!!”

I headed out on the bike and started hammering from the start.


My plan was to ride ready normalized power of 213 watts until the lead pace group caught me then to ride legal (3 bike lengths) off the back of them and just try to hang on as long as possible. Apparently, my swim was not as strong as I thought and the lead pace group started to form at mile 4 and we got up to a serious race pace fast.

The lollipop shaped course would give us head winds for almost 56 miles and then tail winds for most of the return. I figured if I could stay in contact with the lead group then I could limit the damage and tailwind would help coming home.

I took up a spot behind Sven (that not really his name and I should know his name but I forget) Ubercylist and he was the biggest guy in the group. He was like 220 pounds and just a hammer on the bike. I fought hard to stay with the pace group as I knew if I let them go it would too easy to sit back and cruise. Lots of surges from 22 to 28 MPH and it finally shook out to about 20 guys riding really hard. The draft marshals where all over us as we where the first age groupers behind the pro’s and they only gave one penalty.

There were 3 REALLY hard surges that shook the tail of the group. Sven popped and I rode up next to him and said “Come on man, let’s go.” It was self serving but I paced him back up to the group. I’m sure he didn’t know what I was thinking – 7 meters off this back of this 220 pound guy is saving me wattage and I NEED THAT  When we made the downwind leg at 27-29 MPH and on the out and back to the turn around I was think – wow – the pros are not too far ahead. Then I see the sign for the 180 and I was – Holy cow – we must be flying!!! I was on the rivet from miles 80 to 106 and then finally popped coming back into Thomas drive for the last 6 miles…I simply could NOT hang any longer.

My goal wattage was 213 and I went 229 so I knew I was in deep sh!t for the run.

Off the bike and through T2 I just kept telling myself to not make any decisions on anything until 2 miles or 15 minutes when you get your “running legs” and it worked out “ok” for the 1st lap. I started to struggle more and more on the 2 lap and the Midget told me I was in 5th off the bike.

Human Sign

She had been all over the course and with JC at home keeping tabs – they were on the support game and it was great to know I was “in the mix.”

Kevin Neal – thanks VERY MUCH – I heard you at the turn around – I “got” focused and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear and exactly what I needed to do – (good luck in AZ!!!)

Shawn Run

At the 13 mile turn around I grabbed my Red Bull and it must have popped in the bag but there was only 1 sip in it and I thought – oh no – I’m screwed. I decided to try to hold off for Cokes until I was REALLY in a bad way and made it through to mile 16 and then started shooting Cokes at EVERY aid station and massive water and ice on my head even though it was not hot. It seemed to help me focus and my mental game was crumbling pretty hard at 20-21.

The last few miles I got my head back in the game and started to pick up the pace to close to 8:00 again and was lucky enough to stick with C-Bone who pushed the pace up the finish line to the cheers of the crowd. He is 5 and that’s his 2nd Ironman Finish – he is working the long term plan :)

Post race was fantastic as I was able to have most of my family, my mom, my dad, andi, coen, shane, josh and even Gabe and Haily and all my friends there to hang and even go to Hooters for the fried Chicken Sandwich with Fries and extra mayo :)

I will close with this…

I believe in numbers…

Alan does too…we did the numbers and I KNEW I was in good shape and on good form going into Saturday - the numbers where there.


I also believe in setting goals and putting it out there (ala Chris Lieto) and I said I wanted to run a 3:22:59. I missed that goal and I didn’t back it up so I owe JC and Joey a bottle of Jager - which I think she will try to finish on Saturday :)

In the process of setting a goal and really thinking about it…Alan and I do the math and we do the numbers.

I received this email from Paul and actually wrote the reply a few days before the race.

From: Paul Cantin
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:42 PM
To: Shawn Burke
Subject: Your ticket to Kona 2009
Swim: 55 minutes
Transitions: 5 minutes
Bike: 4:58
Run: 3:22
Finish: 9:20

Make it happen, brother! You can do it!!!

From: Shawn Burke
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:45 PM
To: Paul Cantin
Subject: RE: Your ticket to Kona 2009

very close to what I am shooting for

4:59:59 :)
9:24:58 :)




In the overall - I was off by 1 minute and 1 second from my plan…not too bad a forecast :)


9:23:59 for 8th place in age group, 61st overall and 9 Kona slots for the 40-44 old guys…

I paid my $550 and I going to go back again…



For next year - I will put it out there again…

In Hawaii 2009 I want to race it hard but not all out…

56 swim, 5:30 bike (weather and winds permitting) and 3:30 run…for a low 10 hour finish and learn some more.

Smack Arizona for 2010 Hawaii spot and in 2010 – Medals or Medical as I will be 45 - it’s all out :)

It’s out there – that’s the plan :)

Thanks again to Alan for all your help - you are the man!!!

Thanks to all of you who texted, emailed and yelled encouragement on Saturday.

It was hard as hell – I finished with the Bone, only enough energy for a smile and that was all...

Oh yeah - and I got my big fat Chicken Sandwich :)

Until next year…

Kia Kaha


Marni said...

great job shawn!!!
Way to go to all the VMC and Hammer athletes! what a great post! enjoy the recovery. :)

Mike said...

You left out an accomplishment - cooking a great breakfast for everyone on Sunday morning!

sbrun said...

Holy $hit! Great job, great report and a great plan Shawn. I'm behind you all the way...way behind.