Fort Ritchie Tri – Appreciating the Triathlon Family

Fort Ritchie Tri – Appreciating the Triathlon Family

After a whirlwind of a week (seems to be the theme of 2016) – filled with a trip to the ER for Alice (due to Viral Meningitis and Bronchitis), several sleepless nights, a new school routine for Gavin, and a pretty hard week of training (not sure how I had the energy to get in the quality session that I did) – I had no idea how I’d feel or race.  In fact, I was looking forward to the get-away weekend with Alice just as much as the race since it was probably the last weekend we’d have away together – sans kids – for perhaps a few years. The day before the race Alice and I drove up and checked out the (hilly) bike course.  Although feeling better, she still was coughing quite a bit, continued to have a terrible headache, and had lost her voice almost entirely. Being sick is hard. Being pregnant is hard. But when you are pregnant and sick and can’t take so many of the helpful medications – its just plain unfair! Saturday evening, Alice and talked about the possibility of her not being up for going to the race, but I was fairly confident (knowing how tough she is) that she’d be up for it come the 4:30 AM wakeup on race day. Unfortunately, Alice was up most of the night with a cough and headache and come race morning, she was in no shape to get up and go hang out a race all morning.  Though we both decided that her staying in the hotel and resting was the best option,...
Right Shoe Goes on Right Pedal, Left Shoe on Left Pedal.   AND ½ Ironman sub 4 hour PR!

Right Shoe Goes on Right Pedal, Left Shoe on Left Pedal. AND ½ Ironman sub 4 hour PR!

I broke 4 hours for a ½ distance triathlon! Wow. Although this was a career goal of mine, I honestly wasn’t sure I would ever achieve it. Especially not for this race- I only had about 4 weeks of run training after my broken toe and I (actually, this was Alice’s (great) idea) decided not to do a full taper for the race in the interest of keeping the focus on IM 70.3 Atlantic City in September. Nevertheless, I felt good the days leading up to the race, and things just went super well. I may never break 4 hours again, so I’m going to savor this one! After a race, as much as I tend to think about areas I can (and want to) improve, places that I could have done things slightly differently, and small details that could use a little tweaking, there were simply a myriad of things that went very, very well. When things go well, it’s sometimes easy to overlook them and not give them due credit, so in an interest of not making that mistake, I’m going to focus on of all the things that went well (I’ll conclude with just one small mistake / lesson learned): The Swim It was hot! Never felt hot in the water like that before, but with temps in the mid 80s, it was pretty toasty. I knew I really wanted to push the swim hard as I had been swimming really well the few weeks prior. The first guy got way a head of the pack (can’t believe he split the time he did) and the...
Where to start?!

Where to start?!

Seriously, where do I start with this one? I think I’ll go with the fact that I won a race!  I’ve learned from the past, wins are super hard to come by and that it’s really important to bask in the victory.  With all the time, stress, and sacrifices that go into training – both for me and what Alice does – it really deserves sitting back, relaxing, and being proud of the accomplishment.  For all I know, that’ll be the last race win of my career.  So that’s where I want to start – I freakin’ won the race! A few other things that made this one extra special:  After a very sudden and debilitating battle with cancer, we had to put our dog, Casper Jake, of 9 years down on Thursday.  He was a huge part of my life and running – in fact a few years ago we ran a 5k together and managed to take first overall.  I had his dog tag around my neck for the race and dedicated this race to him. Due to a hurricane canceling Watermans ½ in 2015, and a broken toe just 7 weeks ago (and two more missed triathlons that I had really trained hard for), I had not raced a triathlon in 399 days (not that I was counting :).  I figure I had about a zillion miles of swim, bike, and run training logged since that last race and I was super eager to get out there. Finally, to get a win on a day that was filled with “issues” really made me proud.  Some of...
Run Training on the Bike?

Run Training on the Bike?

The Seashore Classic ½ Marathon was my first official race of 2016 and I was particularly interested in running, since, well, I had not been doing too much running! For a variety reasons such as wanting to get stronger on the bike, a bit less time available for training with a 1 year old, and a reasonably busy job, my running volume is as low as its been in many years.   Most weeks during the off season I only ran once per week and the past two months I was really only getting in two to three sessions of running.   I also learned from 2014 when I was building up to Kona and running A LOT, that more didn’t really equal better for me.  So the goal has been to see what I could do with much less running and see how some increased bike fitness would transfer.  Suffice it to say, it seemed to transfer pretty well! The race was a relatively small local race put on by Seashore Striders in DE.  It was extremely convenient since the start was just a mile from my parents’ place in Lewes.  It was also quite a lot of fun since Alice was running, and had managed to get herself back in pretty fantastic shape just 11 months after having Gavin. It was an out and back course with a beautiful mix of road and trail running with some pretty good race conditions– temps in the mid 40s and perfect sun.  We had a relatively strong tailwind the first half, which meant headwind on the way back. All in all, the race...
It just kept getting better…

It just kept getting better…

When I wrote the title of my last blog posting, “It Just Keeps Getting Better”, I sincerely didn’t expect that it would.  When I write, “it” here, I mean my training and racing.  I had a pretty good feeling that life would get more full and “better” since having our first child in May, but with all that was going on and changes in schedule and available time, never in my wildest imagination did I expect not only the baby stuff to get better (i.e. it seems Gavin just keeps getting happier and more fun by the day), but that I’d finish the 2015 season with 7 overall race wins.     It wasn’t until August of 2013 that I won my first triathlon, and to think that I won 7 races this year – 3 triathlons, 1 road cycling race, 1 duathlon, and 2 road running races – still blows my mind.                         Although I am still disappointed about the cancellation of the 1/2 Ironman I had been focusing on, it probably worked out for the best, forcing me to focus on biking and running speedwork – definitely not my forte. The short sprint races just hurt so bad!                         Thinking back on it all, if there is any lesson for me to learn, it is that switching things up –  doing less volume, taking a full day off each week, and  focusing on my weaknesses- really seemed to pay dividends.    And although my overall volume...

It just keeps getting better…

After a whirlwind 2014 which included landing a new job, qualifying and racing at the World Championships in Kona, and buying a new house, I was looking forward to a quiet year with much less fanfare.  However, five months into the 2015, there hasn’t been any shortage of excitement. Just three triathlons into the season, I have won each race that I entered.  Being that I had just two overall triathlon wins in my career prior to 2015, I never expected anything even close to winning three in a row.  Granted, the first race was a very small indoor triathlon, but to win a REV3 race, and then three weeks top that with an overall win at the Columbia Triathlon – one of the longest running triathlons in the entire country – is just mind blowing.  And smack in the middle of these two races, Alice and I had our biggest celebration yet – the birth of our first son, Gavin Levi Burns, on May 3rd. With that, I’m not sure there is much else to write other than none of it would have been possible without my amazing support crew:  Alice, my parents, my sister Rebecca, Amino Vital, Xterra, and Jenny.   Besides, its much more fun to look at pictures of babies than read my rambling…                                        ...

Kona – Ironman World Championships (finally a post is up!)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and since it has taken me so long to do this, I figured that it’d be better to get across 20,000 words with 20 pictures from the trip.  Besides, if I wait much longer, it’ll be time to get out the 2015 race wheels! Pre-Race…         Race Day!…       Now time for some post-race fun!…   A super big THANKS to Alice, my parents, and my sister for making the trip to Kona to watch and help me out. And of course, the successes of the 2014 season couldn’t have been possible without the support of my awesome sponsors this year, GU Energy, Amino Vital, and Xterra wetsuits, and guidance (plus some butt kicking) from Coach Jenny....

Luray Olympic – A hotel room more interesting than my race?

I had a feeling when I booked what was likely the last available room in all of Luray and the surrounding towns – the “Honeymoon Suite” at the Cardinal Inn – that Alice and I were in for quite an adventure– And we were not disappointed… Some of the highlights of our accommodations: Stale cigarette smoke smell infused room (when asked, the owner disagreed, saying it was a smell of “wood”   He didn’t comment about the giant ashtray that was sitting next to the no smoking sign on the porch) Fresh carpet.  Only problem was that they forgot to glue down the square pieces so they moved underfoot. “Tower” of first class appliances.  3 ½ legged table with refrigerator on top, with microwave on top of refrigerator, with vintage Norelco coffee maker on top of microwave.   The “tower” had a slight sway to it…I can’t believe the whole thing didn’t fall over. Luxury bath soaps (they were from Ramada — does that hotel chain even exist anymore?) Plush Towels.   I think this was the first time I’ve used a bath towel that actually scratched my skin. Squishy Padded Toilet Seat.  Need I say more? And last, but surely not least:  Elegant wall artwork:     Did I mention it was the “honeymoon suite”?! But since this is supposed to be a blog about my race, I figure that I should put in something in here about the triathlon.  One word really sums it up:  “blah”    Not a bad “blah” or a good “blah”   Just “blah.”  I swam a little better than last year and  ran a little better than...

Ironman Eagleman 70.3: A ticket to Kona! (please just don’t read the footnote)

Results: 1st AG- 4:08:44 (1.2m Swim (27:20), 56m Bike (2:16:28), 13.1m Run (1:22:04)) This past weekend I raced at Eagleman 70.3, a notoriously hot, flat, and fast ½ Ironman in Cambridge, Maryland.  It was a pretty big race for me in that I had been focusing much of my training on it since the end of last season.  And it was a big success:  I had a solid swim, PR’d on my bike split, won my age group, and qualified for the World Championships in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. I even managed to dismount from my bike without any resulting injuries!  Going into the race, I was most concerned about the run given I had pulled a massive stick out of my foot after swimming the swim course Saturday.  And while the run wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, it ended up looking pretty darn good on paper, at least… [1].  And now, having written the footnote (that I hope you did not read), I feel better.   It was really fantastic to have my parents, my sister, and Alice at the race.  Once again, they amaze me with all their unselfishness and support they give not just on race day, throughout all the training leading up to the race. I have lots of work coming up to prepare myself for Kona and a whole host of things I need to learn going into my first full distance Ironman – let alone the World Championships.  But I’ll take a few more days to relax, eat, sleep, eat some more and, enjoy some great memories.  Aloha!                        ...

Columbia International Triathlon: How (not) to do a Flying Dismount

Results: 3rd Overall –  40k Bike (1:04:18), 10k Run (35:56)) The Columbia Triathlon was my last “prep” race before Eagleman and I was excited to get out on the course and see how the past few weeks of training had worked out.  While I had a good bike at the Richmond Sprint a few weeks prior, Coach Jenny and I felt like there was plenty more that I could do so we decided to have me push things a little harder.  Unfortunately, the swim was canceled a few days before race start because of all the rain we had in the area and poor water quality, so the race started off with the bike leg(after a short run into transition to get your bike).  Nonetheless, a big shout-out to my new sponsor, XTERRA wetsuits for shipping me a new wetsuit the week before the race…I can’t wait to race in it!.   I was able to push relatively hard and had a solid bike leg – perhaps a little better than expected.  Since my bike power numbers were up quite a lot from racing just a few weeks prior, I was a bit nervous I had pushed too hard and didn’t leave anything left for the notoriously challenging 6.2 mile run.  As I came into T2 transition, I probably should have been less focused about my bike power numbers and more focused on the task at hand:  getting off the bike.  And here is the visual lesson: Pretend there is a picture here of me launching myself over my handlebars.  And then… Fortunately, my injuries weren’t so bad I...