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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Luray Sprint Triathlon
Date: Sunday, August 19, 2007
Location: Luray, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:27:28
Overall Place: 8 / 349
Age Group Place: 3 / 30
Comment: Push it on the Bike, Pay it back on the Run

Race Report:

This was my last race in a stretch of four straight weekends of racing. While I was excited to race my last triathlon before the Reston Tri, I was a little sad going into the race because I'd be racing without Karolina. Earlier in week, Karolina was involved in a terrible bike accident that resulted in stitches, abrasions, bruises, and lots of pain. She'd been focusing on this event all summer and it broke my heart to see her so badly injured and lose the chance to race in Luray. She was still recovering Sunday morning and I made the trip to Luray alone.

Going into the race I wanted to put up a good result to gain confidence before the Reston Triathlon in three weeks. I'd ridden the course the previous weekend and knew what to expect, a challenging bike course with tough climbs and long false flats. I got to the race site an hour and a half before the start which provided plenty of time to setup my transition area and warm up. I did my usual two mile run and got in the water about 10 minutes before the Elite wave went off. I hopped out before they started and waited for the my wave to line up. My goals before the gun were to finish in the top 10 overall and run a 20:xx 5k split.

SWIM (11:18 - 5th)
When I arrived at the race site, I learned that the water temp had dropped overnight to the point of allowing wetsuits. I kicked myself for not bringing my QR Superfull. Even though the advantage of wearing a full wetsuit in the sprint race is minimal, I wanted to get more race experience in the QR. Lesson learned: always bring a wetsuit regardless of water temp. For the in-water swim start I lined up front and center with my feet sinking into the gooey bottom. From the gun I put the hammer down for the first 250 meters and finally lost the nagging hands nipping at my feet. I felt a lot better during this swim then I did at Culpeper a couple weeks prior. I swam a little wide at the start and moved to the inside on the backstretch as I caught swimmers from the earlier wave. I picked up the pace as I pushed to shore and with about 200 meters to go I passed Shawn Clark (seeing his bright RATs suit). I thought about saying something but decided that it wasn't a good idea. I aimed for the beach and made a final hard push before hitting the sand.

T1 (1:37 - 19th)
I hit the beach running and made my way up the stairs to T1. Dave Glover shouted some encouragement as I tried to move fast but also catch my breath. My rack spot was very good and I got to my bike quickly. Given the cooler temperature, I decided to put on a tri-jersey for the bike. It cost me about 10 seconds to get it on which I estimate is the same time it would have taken to take off a wetsuit. I put on my shoes, helmet, and Oakley's and hit the bike course.

BIKE (51:05 - 12th)
I felt good starting the bike. Although my HR was still near the roof, I felt more calm and relaxed then I did at Culpeper. The bike exits the park and immediately goes up on a steady climb. I made sure I stayed aero and spinned a lower gear. It was a little crowded on the hill but I quickly moved through the riders and got going on the fast downhill. My plan for the bike was to push it harder then I did at Culpeper. By the first right turn (beginning the loop), I'd moved into no-mans land and was alone on the bike. This was a good and bad thing. I'm often motivated by faster cyclists passing me and try to catch people I see up ahead. But at the same time, being alone allowed me to stay relaxed and focus solely on my own effort. Shortly before the last turn on Ida Rd, I was passed for the first time on the bike by someone from the earlier wave. He was clearly a roadie riding without aero bars with a strong pedal stroke. I tried to stay with him but he was more powerful on the endless false flat back to the lake (he ended up having the fastest bike split). Once he was out of sight, I focused again on my strong effort and getting down fluids. I drank a bottle and a half of Cytomax during the ride which matched my intake from Culpeper. I approached the final climb before the transition area knowing it was going to be very hard. I pushed the descend to get the maximum momentum up the hill. As I slowed down I shifted to my lower chainring and threw the chain. I didn't panic and shifted back into the big ring hoping to pick up the chain. It went back into the big ring and I then carefully downshifted a second time. Success! Although I lost a lot of momentum and almost panicked, I quickly refocused on getting up the last climb. I hurt bad going up that hill and I relaxed for a few moments at the summit. I coasted down the hill and tried to shake out my tired legs before the dismount area.

T2 (0:38 - 10th)
I successfully executed a one-legged dismount and ran as fast as I could to my T2 spot. I felt surprisingly good coming off the bike and tried to clear the transition area as quickly as possible. I put on my Newtons and took off blowing a little wide of the run start. I hopped the flags to get back on course and was off.

RUN (22:52 - 49th)
As I started running out of the park, I saw a large group of cyclists entering the transition area. I figured some guys from my age group would be in there and that I had about one minute on them starting the 5k. I felt strong starting out and pushed the pace out of the park. Shawn Clark shouted some encouragements as he finished his bike leg which gave me some added motivation. The run course is a simple out-n-back, downhill leading out and uphill coming back. As I pushed to the turnaround, I counted four guys ahead of me, all from the earlier waves. After the turnaround I saw all the runners chasing after me and they were closing fast. As the road turned upwards, my pace slowed dramatically. My earlier efforts had finally caught up with me and I was paying back the time I gained on the bike. I simply couldn't get the push I needed from my quads on the uphills. I finally heard the dreaded sound of footsteps and I was passed by someone with a #31 on their calve. I struggled to stay with him but he broke me on the next uphill section. At this point I started to worry about a complete meltdown and tried to steady myself as I got up the final climb of the run. Moments before cresting the hill, another runner from my age group came around me at a fast clip. Even with only a half mile to go, I couldn't stay with him. I ran steady back into the park and checked to see if anyone else was coming up on me. I had about 10 seconds on the next runner and finished strong to the line without a sprint.

FINAL (1:27:28 - 8th)
I doubled over after crossing the line with barely enough energy to thank Greg for putting on a great race. I composed myself after a few moments and walked over to congratulate the two guys who passed me on the run. The first guy turned out to an Ironman finisher and long distance runner while the other guy was leading the VTS series in the 30-34 age group. Both guys were really nice and it helped knowing I was passed by two strong triathletes. The 30-34 age group competition was the strongest I'd ever seen. Five of the top 11 overall (including elites) raced in the age group and a little over a minute separated the top four. I ended up 8th overall, meeting my pre-race goal of a top 10 finish. Despite the excellent competition and result, I couldn't stop thinking about how my run had failed me.

I caught up with Shawn at the post-race gathering and we woofed down some pizza and Gatorade. The atmosphere was really positive and the cover band played some excellent tunes. The awards ceremony was one of the best I've seen. I don't know who the announcer was, but his style and humor fit perfectly with the event. I was happy to place 3rd in a tough age group and even happier when I won a random prize, a gift card to Bikram Yoga!

Overall it was a good race experience. I learned a lot during the run that I hope to take with me to future races. Although I was bummed that Karolina couldn’t be there with me, I had a good time hanging with Shawn and meeting some new RATs. Kudos go to Dave Glover and Greg Hawkins for putting on a great event. My only regret is not doing both the International and Sprint race. I plan on doing this event next year and maybe not pushing the bike quite as hard.