Tell us about yourself. I am 47 years old and married to Karen Burke. We have two kids, 11-year-old Casey and 8-year-old Sierra. I grew up in Auburn and went to school at CBA, Le Moyne College and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry where I received my
Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. I am in general private practice in Baldwinsville and have a special sedation permit, which allows me to treat highly fearful patients. My professional interests include computer-guided implant surgery and adult cosmetic orthodontics.
How long have you been in triathlon, and what made you take it up? I have been involved in triathlon since 2004. I was a licensed amateur bike racer for almost 15 years before I became a triathlete. After “retiring ” for a year I got tired of just mowing the lawn and decided to gi
ve triathlons a try. I have probably done about 250 bike races and about 30 triathlons. In bike racing you race almost every weekend from March until October.
Who is your hero? I really no longer have any sports heroes. I respect them, but I took down my Lance Armstrong poster a couple of years ago. I would now say my heroes are the veterans of the Iraq an Afghanistan wars.
What is your athletic background? I ran cross country at CBA, but was nothing special. I did the Great Race in Auburn a few years as the runner. One year I lost a coin flip and had to be the biker. I passed a lot of women and children in the race and found my new sport :-). While at the University of Michigan, I joined the cycling team at age 23. I was team captain by my senior year of dental school. I was definitely the only dental student traveling around the Midwest doing bike races every weekend when I should have been studying. It’s a miracle I graduated! I kept bike racing and eventually became a licensed Cat. 3 rider, which allowed me to do a lot of Pro-Am racing where I was the “Am.” On occasion, I got to race against U.S. domestic teams like Saturn and Motorola. I even did some one-week stage racing like the Tour of West Virginia and Super Week in Wisconsin. One day back in 1994 Frankie Andraeu rode in 60 miles from his home in Detroit, kicked everyone’s ass in a 50-mile race and then rode back home. I won some local smaller races like the Oswego Tour de Loop back in ’97 but I am a shadow of my former self on the bike. However, I can now swim.
What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? My strength in triathlon is the bike although I was more of a sprinter than a time trialist. My one piece of advice is that triathletes need to learn how to “hit the apex of the turn.” Start wide, hit the apex and then finish wide all while holding your line. It will allow you to carry more speed through the corners. My weakness is the swim, although lately it has gotten better. I will never be confused with a fish though.
What was your first triathlon, and what do you remember most? My first triathlon was Green Lakes in 2004. I remember lining up right in the front row for the swim. Almost everyone in the wave proceeded to swim over the top of me. My family thought I drowned. I almost had to grab a kayak, but managed to flounder around to the finish. I was hooked.
What is your favorite race and why? My favorite race is Ironman Syracuse 70.3. I don’t know if people realize how great it is to have that kind of race right in your back yard. There are not a lot of sports where everyday people can share a course with pros from around the world.
What was your worst race and why? I don’t believe in “worst” races. You learn the most when you fail. Every race teaches you something. I guess IM Lake Placid was my most difficult race. When they say hydration is more important than eating they are not kidding. I got so dehydrated it hurt to pee for two days after the race. My recommendation for anyone doing IMLP is to get a coach even if you think you know what you are doing. Placid is no joke and should be respected.
What races are on your calendar for 2014? Last year I finally qualified for Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee. I honestly don’t think I would have made it if not for my coach, Kristen Roe at T2 Multisport. So I will be at Delta Lake for a tune up and then to Nationals in August.
What are this year’s goals? At Nationals the goal is to kick a bunch of old guys’ asses and represent the 315. No, seriously, there are a lot of fast people there. If I finished in the top 50% of AG, I would be ecstatic.
In five years you hope to… still be above ground and still doing triathlons. I just got a camp on a Finger Lake so I may chill out a little more, but I will always be doing some kind of sport if I can.
Something most people don’t know about you. I am probably a borderline extreme skier and can ski any double black diamond chute in the Rockies. My family and I love to surf behind our boat on a surfboard. We are inventing a new sport.
What triathlon has taught me. Triathlon has taught me that family and friends are actually the most important thing in the world. Triathlon, however, is a way of life. It brings balance to my life and teaches me something new every day.