Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Race report – Ironman Hawaii 2009

I like Tarantino movies and he does this a lot – starts with the end so I quess I can too…


Scene – late night October 10, 2009 – sunburned and chaffed – I slowly type the following email to my coach – Alan Couzens…

----- Original Message -----

From: Shawn Burke
Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2009 2:01 AM
To: 'Alan Couzens'
Subject: RE: Have a great race

I am retiring :)

Full blow by blow of the sufferfest tomorrow – in a nut shell – this was real Hawaii conditions and I am NOT WORTHY :)

Brett Favre


So there you have it – my full race report :)

I retired from Ironman racing at mile 14,at 15, at 16, at 17, at 18 and again at 19 if anyone was still listening.

Then as predicted in complete Favre style – the next morning I signed on for another year :)

If you want more – or you are really bored at work – here you go :)


My plan was simple – enjoy the day.

Got a good night sleep thanks to Ambien and a surf leash (yes – I know – I have issues :))

I woke up at 3:30 rested and ready to go.

Met JC and Joey at 5:15 to walk to transition and had plenty of time and almost no stress.

Did the usual routine – body mark – check bike – porto pot – check bike again – porto pot – relax – porto pot – ok you get the idea :)

Met up with Andi and Bone at the Power Gel inflatable and got my pre-race hugs and kisses then off to the swim start,



The crowd is amazing at the start and the Aussies where there in full force.



Started way to the left side and had as awesome start and did not get molested at all. Last year I got the sh!t beat out of me and I didn’t care how much farther I had to swim – I was going to get less mugged this year,

I swam steady to hard and I am really surprised that I was that far back off the pace – I gotta stop looking at the fishes – when you not getting kicked and punched the bay is an amazing aquarium J

Finished the swim in 1:04 and change – around the same time as last year.


Changed into a bike kit for the ride – and the pee’d for like 1 minute I think I drank a lot of the ocean.

I also spent WAY TOO LONG in transition (gave up at least 3 minutes here – sorry Billy – I know I know – free speed :)) but I wanted to be comfortable for the ride.


I rode like I said I would – tactically for the 1st few miles (25) – and had GREAT legs that day through mile 50 and PE was REALLY so low it was almost non-existent.

The climb to Hawi was starting to get tough but I hung on to the chase pack I was in.


The pros were making the descent out of Hawi and I saw Chris Lieto by himself off the front and I was amazed at how far back the pack was – Macca was WELL off the pace.


The pro and AG packs in Kona are mostly riding legal but there is DEFINITELY an advantage to not riding alone and Chris does not get any riding by himself off the front.

Equally if not more impressive ride was Chrissy Wellington’s – she made all the other women look pedestrian and MANY of the pro men as well – she was FLYING!!!

After the turn around at Hawi – I grabbed special needs and a Red Bull and headed on.

The descent was pretty good and I was TOTALLY committed to NOT riding alone in the headwinds.

I had to burn a lot of matches to stay the group and the PE and power started to disconnect and it got HARD and I was struggling.

Around mile 60 things started to go DRAMATICALLY downhill – of all places – it was on the climb up to Kawaihai.


It got REALLY HOT – like scorching HOT and I could not get enough water to keep cool inside or out.

Then at mile 80 I looked at my watch and said – only 3:50 – hey – even with all this – it isn’t really that bad – only 32 miles to go – I should be in at 5:15 or 5:20 – at the time I was averaging 20.8 MPH.

I ride with power and I know that 220-230 watts on flat ground with no wind usually gives 23-24MPH.

From mile 80 – 106 – 25 miles – I rode 17.7 MPH average there were times I was going downhill and pedaling 220 watts and going 14-16MPH…amazing!!!

Once I got to airport – 7-8 miles to go – I eased up completely as it was downhill and not as much wind and watched a little of the pro race live – it is really fun to see this in person :)

Chris Lieto was in the lead and running by himself and I screamed so loud it scared me – I was SO STOKED for him – no one else was in sight.


Came off the bike in 5:35 – 20 minutes slower than I would have thought and with much higher overall cost.


Took forever again to get my sh!t together – I changed into Zoot compression shorts, running shorts and that a BIG mistake – ended up cutting my legs up and being WAY too hot – again – sorry Billy – I know – I know :)


Headed out with a revised goal of feeling good running 8:00’s and I struggled to find rhythm for the 1st few miles but I did my usual – no decisions until 2 miles or 15 miles – just run race pace.


At mile 3 I found my rhythm but Ali’i was really humid and burning HOT!!!

Finally got enough ice in my hat and sponges and felt “normal” for a few miles.

I found a good pace and was stoked to see Drew and Bone having fun.





Kept running steady for most of the Ali’i portion and I was at 81 minutes through 10 miles and I thought that was pretty good with the heat.


Palani hill just crushed me and I really I thought I might pass out.

There is an old quote from the NBC coverage of Ironman – that goes something like – “This is a bad sign that the engine room is really overheating.”

I could not get that line out of my head – really – I kept hearing it - I guess I watched it too many times :)

Went through mile 11 slower, mile 12 even slower and so on and so on and so on.


This was really a tough mental battle to as my PE kept going up and my pace was going down.

At 16 I switched to Coke but it didn’t kick in until mile 20 – 14,15 and 16 sucked a$$ and then 17,18,19 really sucked a$$ - there was 418 channels and the only show on was the Dance of 1000 headless monkeys :)

I needed to get my head back in the game so I went for caffeine.

In case you have ever wondered – shot gunning a Red Bull at Mile 18 of an Ironman is NEVER a good idea…I looked like a Red Bull fountain for 2 miles – I never threw it up but it just kept foaming at the mouth like the rapid monkey of the 1000 dancers :)

Miles 20-26 PE was actually ok but pace was just under 9 and I was walking aid stations to get in ice and water.

I love the last 6 miles or the race as I check out and think of friends and family.


Mile 20 is for all my friends – Hercules running smack – PC, Sassy and Tony on the freezing cold training day huddled in a CafĂ© looking for a ride home, my old swim coach Paul Rudzitus, Pete and the training crew.

Mile 21 is for family – parents, sister, grandparents, 22 for Shane, 23 for Josh, 24 for Bone, 25 for Drew, 26 to the finish for me…Rob Johnson taught me that a long time ago and it really is awesome.

The last mile was pretty fast as a bunch of guys in my AG were ahead or right on me – even at 10+ hours I couldn’t let that happen :)


Great finish experience as always – I can’t describe it – Ali’I is incredible!!!






Final thoughts

Last year was a gift – this year was NOT – this was REAL Hawaii Ironman stuff.

I suffered like a DOG on the bike from 80-105 and again on the run from 14-20.

Mentally - I also beat myself up pretty good on the run as the “fast guys” were all heading in and looking smooth, fluid and fast and the athletes here are TRULY impressive !!!

From here

I need a few days to heal at least 2-3 then I am not sure how I will handle the running with two missing toenails – we’ll have to wait and see.






I obviously need to swim more as well – without the fishes :)

Thanks to Alan for getting me prepared – he is an AMAZING coach.

Thanks to JC, Kevin and Walter for sharing in the experience.

Thanks to Susan for being a shoulder to lean on post race and for hanging out to the end at midnight – it is truly the best part of the Ironman – 10 Ironman finishes and I have not missed a midnight party yet – I will only not be there if I am in medical.




Last but definitely not least – thanks to Andi and Coen for making the trip absolutely fantastic – I loved EVERY minute of it!!!


Aloha – until next year hopefully…

“The 2nd weekend in October there in no place I would rather be” K. Neal

Kia Kaha.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 4

While it is slightly "out of order" - here are some pix from just before the race and then today.

My race entry Blog and pix will be for the long flight home.

Had to move around a LOT slower than usual today - VERY VERY sore...

I kept a descent pace with Bone and took him on a SUP / Snorkeling trip out over the swim course - he dug it as did Drew.

That's all for tonight - Aloha

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 2

Another AWESOME day!!!

Woke up a little later and so did Bone.

Did the morning swim with JC (aka skinny camel - aka the white Kenyon) and Joey - Joey actually swam and JC stayed on my feet for 2K+.

At the swim start we saw Norman Stadler - wearing - of course - a speedo :)

Underwear run was this morning with all the pomp and circumstance :)

Saw another swimmer in a speedo and compression socks - don't understand that at all!!!

Did a great breakfast buffet here at the hotel and then on to adventures.

Went snorkeling with Drew and Bone and saw some really cool small reef fish.

Did a little lunch another walk through the expo to score some free bling - scored a T-shirt from Ford that I thought was appropriate :)

Opening dinner is tonight - going with Susan, JC and Joey, Drew and Bone.

I'll post any cool pix from that tomorrow.


Day 1


Woke up at 3:30am with Bone and he was wired - 6 hour time change didn't take :)

Drank some coffee - put together bike and watched Bone color a birthday card for the Noni who works at the front desk (they just met :)) but she dug it!

Swam 45 minutes on the course - awesome sights.

Rode 1:30 on the course and it was HOT and WINDY!!!

Went to the pool and chilled with Drew and Bone before lunch at Lava Java.

Registered and did a quick trip through the expo to see what was new...

Saw Mark Alenn, Macca, Huddle and Roch, Scott Rigsby, Sarah Reinertson, Jason Lester and a couple of TBB athletes that I recognized but didn't know their names.

Bone loves the shave ice so we stopped for that and then it was nap time.

30 minutes turned into 2:23 and I am finally feeling back to normal.

GREAT sunset run on Ali'i and then a quick shower and off to dinner with Susan Wallis, Bone and Drew at Kona Brewing Company - great eats and cool scene - thanks Kevin.

Bone and Drew almost made it through dinner but they crashed hard and are OUT!!!

I can't seem to stay healthy race week so I went to CVS for ear medicine and antibiotics - no more swimming 5 days in a row - got a big time swimmers ear and it has made me totally deaf in one ear...leg cut is also now nicely infected and really not feeling good when I ride or run - just a typical race week :)

That's all for today - Aloha

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It’s been too long...

...WAY too long since my last “real” entry – sorry…

I try everyday to slow down the pace of life but it doesn’t seem to want to listen to me – AT ALL :)


I used to be pretty proud of the fact that I used 23:59 of each day but now I would be a LOT happier with only using half that.

I think this time of year when the training volume goes up and the pace of life accelerates to an even more ridiculous tempo that even the most dedicated (read as crazy)of us ponders the question that a friend of mine asked me and I felt like I should try and answer:

“What drives you?”

Of course my silly a$$ sense of humor answered quickly – when I am out of town – what drives me?


Generally speaking it is an overly colonged ill tempered cab driver of Middle Eastern decent with a master’s degree in chemical engineering with an absolute love for his unlimited cell phone and cigarettes :)


Here in town, it is either of the two bottomless stomachs that reside in our house who get tossed the keys whenever I am with them…these two are more mild tempered – equally fragranced and their fascination with THUMPING BASS is almost as annoying as Saied’s celly :)

8th grade humor aside - this morning offered me a much more contemplative opportunity to answer this…

My work usually affords me a LOT of flexibility with my schedule and I can schedule my training in and around my travels and office time. If I need extra time for longer mid-week rides – my bosses have been really cool allowing me to come in at 11am once a week. I am sure they get money’s worth out of me as I work almost EVERYDAY of the year (even on vacation) for at least a few hours and I almost always do emails from 5-6am and again from 9-10pm…

So my schedule rarely makes me REALLY do something that I consider ridiculous and today was one of those days.

Today, I am traveling to Boston for a meeting at 2pm and the meeting is 1 hour from the airport.

My military mind trained in backwards planning quickly does the math. Meeting at 2:00 – arrive 30 minutes early – 1 hour travel time means I need to be in Boston by noon and that means a 6:25am departure from JAX. Add in 1 hour security means I need to leave the house by 4:50am to get there in time – thanks SGT Hulka and your big toe :)

Now the hard part – my return flight is tonight at 7pm and get home at 1am – problem - I still have to train!!!

So – before bed – lay out everything I can to make the morning go as smooth as possible – then up at 3:30am – run from 4:00am to 4:40 – shower / shave / give Coen a kiss and out of the house 10 minutes.

(Superman would be jealous and Yes Mom – I used soap…by the way…I am pretty sure that at least two people read these and my Mom is one of them – Hi Mom :))

So if you do read any of these – you know it’s about time – I need to get to my point…

“What the hell is wrong with me and what am I doing running at 4:20am?”

10 minutes into the run I had that “moment of clarity” that scares the hell out of most Ironman Triathletes…
The clarity – the thought… the question we avoid asking as it doesn’t really have a good answer is.

“Why am I doing this?”

This morning, I think I answered it and I am pretty sure I answered the drive question in the process…
Why and I doing this - What drives me? “Success, Significance and Satisfaction.” – I borrowed this from my boss but I like it.

Today’s topic (yes – a series of 3 :)) is success :)

In order to be successful in this sport you need to do the work – period.


Unless you are some type of genetic freak (not you Hercules) or just choose relatively easy events – if you want to be successful – you have to train at least a little.


So – we train. Not just a little. Not whenever it’s convenient – not when we feel like it.

To be successful we train almost every day. Even when we are not training we “recover” which is actually helping us train the next day. All of this training is done in and around family, life and work.

The more consistently we train, the more successful we become. It’s easy.

Success in this sport is also pretty easy and I like that…

Success during your first attempt is simply completion…


just finishing is a HUGE deal…I remember a VERY bad Speedo picture from San Diego in 1997 and I was celebrating my personal accomplishment – man – I needed a jammer :)

After that initial taste – success can be a personal best or personal record time (PB or PR)…then a personal best at a longer distance…then longer…then longer…then faster and faster – get the idea.


You can continue to have HUGE success without ever “competing against” anyone - just against yourself.

But then…one day…you look at the race results and you notice – hey wait – I wasn’t the only one out there today :)


You start to look beyond yourself and how you rank against the “competition”.


AH HA – age groups…people just like me…they are the same age so the playing field is more or less level – can have success here too? Get up early – train hard – better results.


Top 10% of the age group - Top 10 in age group – Podium or better yet – what about all age groups over a 40 – Master’s – Grand Master’s…Hey - I own the chute :)


This segmentation is spoon feeding our desire to be successful and all the while slowly raising the bar of workload and commitment and the alarm clock gets set earlier and earlier.


Then you start to get “serious” about the sport and you get a training partner (an equally crazed enabler wrapped in the similar spandex jumpsuit) who is just “successful” enough themselves to meet you at the pool at 6am during the off season for swim practice.

All of these factors – the micro steps of accomplishment – individual and group - all fuel the flames and the next thing you know you are up at 3:30am and running a 5 mile Fartlek session prior to a early morning flight.

My point to this is simple.

Success in triathlon is the result we all crave – whether that is finishing – PR’s or age group awards – the guys from IM Talk award the fastest transitions :)

All of this is handed out and built into the sports inherent design in increasing larger portions metered directly to our level of obsession.

It is a slippery slope…greased with the body glide of multiple distances, age groups and exotic venues.

Add to this cocktail - clubs, training partners and coaches and we have created just a more socially acceptable version of “Pookie” on the corner offering you a “free sample – it’s not addictive…”

The next thing you know you are one of the few people up at 3:30am…and…

I think either Pookie and my coach knows all of us :)

What drives me? Success

Why do it I do? Training = results

Success is simple – get up and do the work …even if it’s 3:30am…besides…

Pookie is not in my age group :)

Monday, October 5, 2009


Finally - yes - JC - it's FINALLY done :)