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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Reston Triathlon
Date: Sunday, September 9, 2007
Location: Reston, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:09:58
Overall Place: 8 / 473
Age Group Place: 1 / 30
Comment: Getting Closer

Race Report:

Since March I've been trying to get back into race shape with the goal of doing well at the Reston Triathlon. I'd raced the past two years but with limited training and focus. 2007 was going to be different. I linked up with Eric Sorensen at Principle Fitness and put together a plan to get back in shape and race well at Reston. I also joined the Reston Masters Swim Team and made a commitment to swim three days a week all season. Thanks to their help and the support of my family and friends, I've lost 30+ pounds and went into the 2007 Reston Triathlon full of confidence that I could put together a good race.

The Reston triathlon has always been a special race for the Ortons. It was my first olympic distance triathlon in 1993 when I was 16 years old and helped spark my interest in the sport. It was also a break-out race for my youngest brother and helped launch his professional triathlon career. Going into the race, I wanted to win my age group and finish in the top 10 overall. On paper, I thought I could do a 2:07 if I hit each of my goal splits:

Swim 22:00
T1 1:15
Bike 58:00
T2 0:45
Run 45:00
Total 2:07

I slept in Saturday, deciding that some extra sleep was more valuable then an early morning pre-race workout. I loaded up my bike and running gear and drove over the high school around 11:30. My plan was to pick up my packet and then do an easy 30 min ride on the bike course with some pickups followed by a 15 min run on the track with some strides. Packet pickup was a good time and I hung out at the RATs tent with Kona-Kev. I finally got to my workouts around 12:30 and the weather was getting very hot. My workouts went well but the heat was getting to me. Lesson learned: if it's going to be hot, do your pre-race workouts early.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and getting my bike and bags together for Sunday. Karolina and I got an early dinner at Busara (Thai) and we got to bed around 10 PM.

The alarm went off at 4:20 and I immediately ate my pre-race meal consisting of a Boost, Cliff Bar, Banana, and four Endurolytes. We arrived at T2 around 5:15 and I setup my space (Newtons, Hat, and Race Belt). I put on my head lamp and rode over to Lake Audubon. Arriving early was a plus because I could setup my T2 spot at the end of the rack. My pre-race warm up consisted of a 15 min. run from T1 up Glade Dr. and back. I felt solid during the warm-up run which included easy running and some strides.

The buzz in the transition area was whether wetsuits would be legal or not. The final word came out that we could wear them because the water temp was just barely under the legal limit. I took my final pre-race nutrition 30 minutes before the race start (Hammer Gel, 4 Endurolytes) and put on my QR Superfull wetsuit. I knew it was going to be a 'hot' swim so I made sure to hydrate accordingly before the start. I got some easy swimming for warm up and hopped out for the National Anthem.

SWIM (21:35 - 1st)
I lined up on the right side of the swim start with the intention of cutting the corner bend on the swim course (aiming for the shoreline and not the rope). All the usual suspects were there including Dave Cascio, Dan O'Connell, and Mike Tine and we bunched up together before the start. My plan was to hammer the start and find some clear water. I expected to create a train with Dave and Dan given the way we'd trained together at RMST. There was some bumping at the start, but overall it wasn't too bad. I found myself at the front and focused on controlled breathing and long strokes. I cut towards the shoreline and then lined up with the rope. Given the placid conditions and being at the front, I had a perfect view of the rope floating on the surface between buoys. It was literally a 'cable swim' to the turnaround, where I just followed the rope on the water. I did a rolling turn at the turnaround where I roll onto my back, take a stroke on my back, and then roll back onto my stomach. This allowed me the one opportunity to see if anyone was behind me. There was one guy and then a little gap to the next group. I picked up the pace a bit and then the feet slapping started. For whatever reason, the guy riding my draft decided to smack my feet the entire way to back to the spillway. Smacking feet is a reality in open water swimming, but it is also extremely annoying. I've always followed the code of not smacking the feet in front of me. "If you are getting a free ride, there's no need to smack the horse". I knew it wasn't Dave because I've towed him before and he's never done that. Anyway, I kept swimming my pace and tried to block out the consistent smacking at my feet. As I approached the spillway, I made sure to hug the rope on my left side and stay close to the drain. Since I breathe to my right, I wanted to see if my companion would try and come around me to steal the swim. Sure enough, he surged after the drain. Normally, I wouldn't push myself too hard at the end of the swim, but this guy had got under my skin and I was not going to let him get around me. I picked up my tempo and pushed to the swim finish. When my hand hit the boat ramp, I popped to my feet and sprinted to the timing mat as the first swimmer out of the water.

T1 (1:10 - 16th)
As I ran toward my bike, the guy behind me made a comment like 'thanks for the ride'. This prompted some words from me regarding his swimming style. As I got to my bike, Reid Kiser was cheering at the barrier and he reminded me to stay focused. The transition went well except the strap on my new aero helmet got caught as I put it on. I had to take it off and repeat the process to get it right costing me about 5 seconds. As much as I like my new Giro Advantage 2, it's a pain to get on and off. I put on my Oakleys and they immediately fogged up. I had to take them off and put them in my mouth while running to the exit. Nothing like running in Zone 4 and having Oakleys in your mouth!

BIKE (58:40 - 17th)
I started the bike alone and focused and getting aero and settling into a good pace. I rode up Glade and could finally see out my glasses. I was accompanied by two motorcycles, Police and USAT marshal. As I made my way down Lawyers, Dave Cascio came passed me with some words of encouragement. I decided to (legally) ride with him as long as I wasn't pushing into Z4. Under the watchful eyes of the USAT marshal, we rode together for the entire first loop and then joined the mass of humanity as we came back down Twin Branches. It's always hard to ride strong and stay focused during the second and third loop. Dave and I did our best to pass on the left and not go outside the cones. Before turning left on Soapstone, we were joined by Steve Smith. I didn't know what to expect from him but wasn't surprised when he passed by. I re-passed him on Lawyers and gave him a once over. He was riding a borrowed road bike with no aero wheels or aero bars. "Ok Steve, No Excuses". We both laughed and after about 30 seconds, he passed me for good. The three of us road together with the cops and USAT marshal for the entire second loop. Starting the third loop, I refilled my empty aero bottle and took my single Hammer Gel. When I got back into my aero position, I saw that Dave and Steve gapped me and were pulling away up Lawyers. I surged to get back but could not close the increasing gap. I made the call to settle-in and not overexert myself. I backed off and focused on not crashing and mentally preparing for the run. I rode into T2 in third position overall.

T2 (0:45 - 4th)
I executed a single leg dismount and carried my momentum onto the basketball courts. I had a little trouble racking my Cervelo but quickly put on my shoes and grabbed my race number and hat.

RUN (47:51 - 54th)
I started the run less then one minute behind Dave and Steve feeling OK but not great. I made a conscious effort not to go bonkers during the first challenging half mile of the run. With the sharp downhill, uphill, downhill combination, I tried to remain efficient and control my breathing. As I settled into my pace, I was passed by a very fast Scott Baldwin. I didn't feel good as I made the steady uphill trek to the turnaround. I finally started to get into a good grove as I ran the downhill to the turnaround. As I ran under Reston Parkway on my way back to SLHS, I heard the familiar voice of Kevin Kunkel. I knew the moment the gun went off that I had a bulls-eye on my back for Kevin. It was only a matter of time before he caught me. I was lucky I held him off that long. We exchanged a few words of encouragement and then I watched Kona-Kev run away. I started drinking Gatorade at aide stations starting at mile 4 when I felt my energy levels dropping. I kept telling myself to hang tough and get to the tunnels (Soapstone and South Lakes). Once there, I just needed to get over that last killer hill and then I'd be home. The last mile was brutal and I really slowed down. Nate Spong passed me moments before going under the South Lakes Dr. tunnel and I couldn't respond. He danced away from me and I felt buried deep inside my personal pain cave. I was already in Z5 when I started the dreaded climb up to the stadium. I passed Reid at the top of the hill as he cheered me on and I couldn't say a word. Even as I entered the track for the final 200 meters, I couldn't muster a final kick. I was running on will-power those last meters and when I finally crossed the line, I doubled over, exhausted.

FINAL (2:09:58 - 8th)
My first reaction was elation knowing the race was over. The pain started to fade, I caught my breath, and walked over to Dave, Steve, and Kevin to talk about the exciting race. Kevin is clearly an Ironman, because he had more energy at the finish then I had at the start! The camaraderie among the top finishers was awesome. It was also great to see Karolina and my mom at the finish. The best thing about this race is that is goes on in our backyard. No other race attracts more friends and family. After leaving the track, I asked Karolina for a Coke and went up to the stands to lie down for a few minutes.

There was some extra drama after the race when news of the penalties got around. Kevin mentioned that he thought he'd been written up but wasn't sure. I'd rode the 90% of the bike spitting distance from the marshal and thought I could get a blocking penalty for riding on the left side. During the race, I rode on the left when passing bikers on Glade and South Lakes. Could I've been called for blocking? I looked over the penalty report and didn't see my name, but Kevin and Nate with both dinged. The penalties moved me up two places into 8th overall and 1st in the age group. Nate was given a harsh 6 min. penalty for losing his bike number during the race. He's beat me out on the course and I reminded him that he did an awesome time, regardless of the penalty. Mental note, always secure your bike race number!

I'd hit two of my three goals. I'd won my age group and finished in the top 10 overall. Unfortunately, I finished over two minutes outside my goal time, and that was entirely due to my run split. Running has always been my weakness and will be my area of focus during the off-season. My time of 2:09 is the third fastest I've ever done on the course and only four minutes off my 2:05 PR set in 1997. I'm getting closer!

After the awards we went over to Shawn Clark's for his birthday party. It was an awesome gathering of triathletes and friends for beers and tequila. We talked about the race and watched the Redskins win their home opener over the Dolphin in overtime! I think gatherings like this one should become tradition after the Reston Triathlon.

Overall it was a great race. I learned a lot about my current fitness and know where I need to focus this winter. I'm racing the General Smallwood Sprint Triathlon in two weeks and that will close my triathlon season for 2007. After that I'm focusing on running with the Army 10 Miler and Marine Corp Marathon. Can't wait for next year!