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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 10, 2007
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 5:08:42
Overall Place: 495 / 1609
Age Group Place: 33 / 79
Comment: My first Half Ironman (70.3)

Race Report:

Karolina and I got up early on Saturday to get in some workouts before leaving for Cambridge. I did an easy 30 min bike and two mile run with a couple pick-ups. It was a hot morning and I felt a little sluggish doing my pre-race workout letting a little self doubt trickled in my mind. Had I hit my taper correctly? Was I prepared for my first 70.3? Had I forgot anything? These questions usually plague me before big races, but I reminded myself of all the work I'd done over the past three months. Karolina stopped by Giant to pickup some bagels when I noticed we'd forgotten the cooler packed with water, Gatorade, and other critical nutrition items. Thank god I caught that, perhaps I was due for some good karma?

The drive went smoothly out to Easton where we stayed at the Hampton Inn. The accommodations there are nice and it's about 20 min. from the race site. We proceeded to the expo for the bike inspection and packet pickup. The schwag for this event included socks and nice athletic t-shirt, all labelled with 70.3 branding. The lines moved quickly and I bumped into a few old friends at the expo. We stuck around for about 30 min. to buy some tri clothing and see the Pro forum. It's always cool to be up close to the professionals in the sport. Dinner went long at an Italian place in Easton and we finally got back home around 9 PM. I did some final prepping and packing, a quick shower, and lights out at 9:45 PM.

The alarm went off at 4:20 AM and I immediately jumped out of bed. First order of business was to slam a Boost (one of the better meals in a can) and start eating my bagel and banana. Breakfast went fast and we did a quick check of the room before heading out on the road. We left for the race site shortly after 5 AM and after a quick 20 minute drive, arrived at a good parking spot outside the transition area.

I filled my aero bottle, tightened down the 'super-aero bento box' loaded with Endurolytes and ShotBloks, and pumped up the Zipps to 140 PSI. It was a crowded rack without much wiggle room. I guess everyone around my bib number decided to race. While setting up my spot I also learned that for WTC events, you need to wear your race number during the bike. I had no idea this was the case and was thankful I didn't pin my number to my FuelBelt. Karolina shuttled the cooler back to the car (I'm so lucky to have her there supporting me!) and waited in the endless potty lines (why don't they have more Johns at a race this size?).

Karolina and I caught the Pros coming out of the water. I was amazed to see two women beat the top guys out of water. We cheered like crazy and I think I scared Desiree to death with Karolina's cowbell (I gotta have more cowbell)! Moments before my wave was to get in the water, my swim caps split on top of my head. OK, don't panic was the only thing going through my head. I went up to the swim check-in and asked if they had extras. Without blinking, the guy simply asked what color and handed me a brand new cap. Clearly, this happens often and the officials are on top of it. This is one little example of how well Vigo runs his races.

SWIM (25:02)
I made the mistake of being too close to the middle for the swim start. The top swimmers wisely lined up on the left (inside) and since I breathe to the right, I didnít see them until they were too far ahead to catch their draft. With the exception of some bumps in the first 400 meters (including an elbow to the eye), I swam alone. The Choptank is as choppy as everyone describes, but overall it wasn't too bad. Going out we had the wind in our face and I swallowed some brackish water as the waves hit me on my breathing side. As I passed the turnaround buoy, I started catching people from the previous waves. Going back to shore, I had to not only site the buoys heading back to shore but also carve a path through the other swimmers. This wasn't too bad, but I did feel like I was zigzagging more than usual. We had a nice tail wind/current on the way to shore which helped me stretch out my stroke and control my breathing. I finished about a minute slower than expected and felt good overall coming out of the water.

T1 (3:04)
The run to the transition area takes a little while but this allows you to get the wetsuit off down to the waist. I got the QR off quickly without incident and put on my shoes, helmet, Oakleys, Garmin watch, and put my Hammer Gel Flask in my back pocket. For this race, I decided to put my shoes on first rather then leave them attached to the bike. This worked out well and after a quick bike mount I was off.

BIKE (2:38:47)
Since this was my first 70.3 race, I was intent on not going too fast on the bike. I got settled on the bike and kept a close eye on my HR as it slowly fell over the first 20 min. I started eating (ShotBloks), drinking diluted Gatorade and started to feel really good on the bike. We had a tail wind for the first 20+ miles and it showed in my speed going out. I was cruising in the 23+ mph category and was really excited to go so fast while in Z2. Yes, there was drafting. It wasn't as bad as some people make it out to be on other forums, but I did see a few bad apples on the course. At one point someone started sitting behind me and I thought it might be a good idea to pee while riding. It didn't happen and the guy ended up passing me. As I passed the 30 mile mark, I hit a pothole at close to full speed. It scared the @%#$! out of me and given the sound, I swore I had a flat. I got settled after a few seconds and realized everything was still operational and used the event as a wake up call to pay closer attention while riding. I took Gatorade at all but one aide station during the bike. I would learn later that I should have alternated between water and Gatorade. I kept to my nutrition plan which was a Hammer Gel and 3 Endurolytes every 45 min. on the bike. Given the overcast conditions, I thought about dialling back the Endurolytes, but since there isn't an issue with having too much, I decided to keep to the plan. At about 40 miles the head winds picked up and my HR shot up a bit. It was during this time that I started to hurt bad and I went through a few moments of self doubt. Rather than fight the wind, I moved into an easier gear and simply slowed down. I also started to move around more on the bike and stretch out my back. The last 16 miles seemed to go on forever. I just wanted to get off the bike and start running. I finally started to feel better when I got back to town and I saw the first athletes out on the run course.

T2 (2:54)
My second transition went well. I decided to wear socks for the run and it took a little time to get them on correctly. I felt no cramping and my legs seemed OK running to my spot. I grabbed another Hammer Gel flask, FuelBelt, my hat and hit the run.

RUN (1:58:58)
During the first moments of the run I thought I wouldn't be able to go 5k. It was another moment of self doubt that challenged me during the race. The feeling quickly passed and I found a comfortable pace as I adjusted my race number and FuelBelt. I was surprised when I went through my first mile at 8:44. Going into the race, my goal was to run under two hours and I was excited to see I was ahead of that pace. Karolina had run from the transition area to see me go passed Mile 3 and it was great to see and hear her cheers. I felt excellent leaving town as I went out onto the long out-n-back course. I kept to my same nutrition plan as during the bike but had to switch to water at the aide stations. The Gatorade on the bike course was coming back to haunt me as I felt like a kid who ate too much candy. As I hit mile 5 I started to slow down and slip into 9+ minute miles as I walked through the aide stations. I decided to walk the aide stations to ensure I got maximum water and keep my HR down. The technique worked well, but I was frustrated with my slowing pace. I hit the turn around and tried to pick it up a bit. I was surprised that I really couldn't go any faster and I that my HR seemed stuck at 150. This continued until Mile 10 when I was hit with a monster stomach cramp. I started to walk and the cramp passed but I never felt the same afterwards. With 5k to go, I saw Karolina again and she gave me positive vibes to carry me home. I fought my personal demons the last two miles which kept telling me to stop and walk. I hurt bad, but I kept stubbornly trudging along. With one mile to go, you can see the finish line and at this point I tried to give it all I had left. I tried to sprint the last stretch but couldn't. I ran hard to line with the feeling that this huge effort was finally coming to an end. A high-five to Karolina and game over!

Post Race (5:08:42)
After finishing Karolina greeted me with huge smile. I was so great to see her and share this amazing moment together. I felt a little queasy and sat down in the grass field while sipping some water. After a few minutes, I was able to get up and use one of the hoses to shower off. We collected our things and loaded up the car so we could get back in time for the awards. As I'm sure you heard, there was some drama during the awards. Natascha Badmann made a pointed speech about the cheaters who drafted during the race. At the time, I thought it was a brave and powerful action that was directed at the entire group. Later, I learned she was directing her comments at a select group of Pros who may have been drafting. All of that aside, it always cool to see Pros make speeches and thank everyone for racing and helping out with the event.

Final Thoughts
This was my first half Ironman race and I had no idea what to expect going into it. I set the goal of finishing the race with the possibility of going 5:15. Thanks in part to the amazing conditions, I met my goals and finished with a great sense of accomplishment. After the euphoria wore off, all I thought about was doing the race again and really pushing myself to a better time. As Kevin reminded me during the awards, I'm a "big guy". I've been working to get myself back into the race shape from my younger days and I'm only part way there. To finish this race in a little over 5 hours at this point in my training is a great accomplishment, but I know I can do much better.

Final thanks go to Karolina, Coach Eric, Dave C, Reid (Endurolyte crack dealer), everyone in RMST Lane #1, Karen (thanks for the cheers) & Mike T, Larry & Lou, Jenn B, and everyone else who has supported me on this endeavour. I can't wait to do this race again.