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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Culpeper Triathlon
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2007
Location: Culpeper, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:19:34
Overall Place: 15 / 529
Age Group Place: 2 / 34
Comment: Time To Push It A Little

Race Report:

I woke up on Saturday with no intention of doing this race. The previous night Karolina had thrown a huge surprise party for my 30th birthday. I never saw it coming and it was a great party with great friends and a fair amount of drinking. It wasn't until mid-day on Saturday that we were able to get out of the house and do an easy ride out to Ashburn followed by a 12 minute T-run. I did a few pick ups during the workout and felt ok, but was still recovering from Friday night. We then drove out to Culpeper to pick up my race packet and check out the course. Going into this race, I'd thought this would be an opportunity to drop the hammer and see what I was capable of during a sprint race. That idea evaporated after driving the bike course. It was technical course with fast descents and rolling climbs. Although my biking has gotten better, this course wasn't suited to my strengths and I knew I'd need to be a little conservative on the bike. The run course also included a fair amount of climbing and long downhills. After the recon, Karolina and I grabbed dinner at an excellent Thai restaurant in Culpeper, made the drive back to Reston, and were lights out at 10 PM.

Alarm went off at 5:00 AM and we were out the door and on the road by 5:35. Karolina drove while I started on my pre-race nutrition. For this race I decided on drinking a Boost and eating a Cliff Bar two hours before race start. During the drive I drank only SmartWater which was a departure from my usual Cytomax mix. We arrived at the race site around 6:40 and setup my transition area. The rack wasn't too crowded and the numbering was completely random. I decided to carry an extra bottle on the bike given the heat and hills. I warmed up for 15 minutes on the run course which was a good decision. I knew exactly what to expect when I got off the bike, a long climb. 20 minutes before race start I took a Hammer Gel and made my way to swim start. I got in the lake and tried not to cut my feet on the rocky bottom. The water reminded my of Grande Skim Latte and was very nasty. I warmed up for about 5 minutes before the Elite wave started. I was in Wave 3 starting 8 minutes behind the studs and 4 minutes behind the 29 & Unders + Clydesdales.

SWIM (11:19 - 7th)
I lined up front and center in area without any jagged rocks. Even though the water was two and half feet deep, I had no intention of running or dolphining the start. My plan was to jump from my spot and start swimming shallow strokes until deeper water. The gun went off and I put the hammer down for the first 300 meters. I had a few smacks and hits and then felt like I was alone. I hurt bad starting out and thought this might not be my day but eventually settled into my stroke. I stayed to the inside of the buoys as I caught people from the earlier wave. Staying to the inside helped me swim clear of people who, for some reason, were way outside the course. It started to feel really hot during the back half of the swim and was thankful in my decision to race in only tri shorts - no top. On the home stretch things got very crowded as everyone funnelled towards the finish. I found a good line, hammered to the exit, and popped to my feet once my hands hit the carpet.

T1 (1:04 - 25th)
Like usual, I got up and started hauling to T1. I don't wear a watch for shorter races, but I'm confident my HR was 175+ during the dash to my bike. My spot was closer to the bike exit which was a plus given the long run up to the bike-mount area. I put on my Oakleys, helmet, and bike shoes and took off. The bike mount area was very small and I was lucky only three other guys were there at the same time. Karolina watched from that spot during the race and saw a number of crashes and lock-ups as people got stacked together. I did a half decent bike mount and was off.

BIKE (44:47 - 29th)
I felt terrible starting the bike. My heart rate wasn't settled and the start of the bike is a uphill. It took a while to get settled and find my zone. It was also a little crowded at first with guys from the earlier '29 & Under' wave around me. I saw a guy with age 32 on his leg go by me at around 3 miles on the bike and I couldn't hang with him. I kept him in sight until the 5 mile mark where the course became technical and he was gone. During the bike I focused on taking down fluids and keeping a high cadence. I was thankful I drove the course the night before given some of the fast descents. Normally, I'm very conservative when it comes to going downhill very fast. But since I knew where the bad turns and rough pavement were, I got myself aero and blew by some people when the road went down. This was definitely a bikers course, as seen in the overall winners time. Bikers who know how to descend, corner, and properly navigate their gears on a rolling course excelled. I'm an OK biker, but the strong bikers really differentiated themselves out there. The course reminded me at lot of the Columbia course. I finally felt settled during the last five miles of the bike. I went through my entire Profile aero drink bottle and over half my small bottle of Cytomax on the down tube. I felt good coming back to the lake and negotiated a one-legged dismount without issue.

T2 (0:56 - 19th)
I was excited as I made my way to T2 for two reasons. First, I managed to execute a one-legged dismount off my bike and carry the momentum into my run without wrecking. Second, Karolina told me I was the 15th person off the bike. This was great news given I was in the third wave which gave me 4-8 minutes on most people ahead of me. I knew I couldn't hang with the Elite guys, but it meant I was well positioned overall with the '29 and Under' age groupers. Plus, only one guy from my age group passed me during the bike. I racked my bike, put on my Newtons and took off.

RUN (21:31 - 59th)
I knew the run was going to start uphill so I planned my effort accordingly. I focused on having fast feet, forefoot striking, controlled breathing and keeping my upper body relaxed. As I made my way to the road, overall winner Eric Bean was coming down the course back to the lake. Seeing him fly down the course was another motivator as I made my way uphill. I got on the road and made my way toward the Montelago Hill. I saw a strong-looking Mike Flanagan running in third position and shouted some encouragements with a high five. As I approached the out-n-back Montelago Hill, one of the 15 year olds came around me. I used my strong downhill running to re-pass and pushed down to the turnaround. There was a lot of talk about the hill, but I honestly thought the run start was a harder climb. I was almost back on the main road when the youngster passed me again. He was running well and I tried to keep him in sight. We went to the final turn around and at the two mile mark I put it in another gear. I saw Shawn Clark heading to the turnaround and shouted some encouragements his way. I really pushed the last mile of the run, thanks in part to it being mostly downhill. I ran hard, re-passing the teenager and pushing hard to the finish line. I finished with a strong kick and felt really good. I honestly felt like I had more in the tank and my confidence was boosted by the feeling of having run a strong 5k without any cramps or issues.

FINAL (1:19:34 - 15th)
I felt great at the line and was happy to see Karolina there cheering me on. She'd been extremely supportive leading up to the race and I couldn't have done it without her. I also caught up with Eric Bean, Andrew Hodges, and Mike Flanagan at the finish line. Those guys are beasts! I also made sure to thank the 15 year old who pushed me on the run. When I got my final time and place, I was really happy to be in the top 15 overall. I felt like I had a strong back-half which was one of my goals going into the race. Seeing the splits reminded me that even though I was happy to ran sub 7 min pace, I'm still off what the other guys around me are doing. My running has gotten better as I've got my weight down and I'm getting closer to my goals of running sub 20 min for a 5k split. Hopefully my run times will come down more as I continue to lose weight and improve my running ability. My bike was ok and I think I can drop a couple more minutes with some added training and improved handling. I also think that I could drop another 30 seconds in the swim a little more focus, better sighting, and not swimming through people.

Post race at the TriRats tent was fun. I talked with Scott Baldwin, Kevin Kunkel, and Shawn Clark and enjoyed some post race conversation. The RATS did extremely well with Scott, Kevin and Shawn all winning their divisions. I finished 2nd in my first race as a 30 year old in a new age group. Overall, it was a great race and thanks Greg of SetupEvents for putting it on. I'll be sure to do this race again next year.