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 Café 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.

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