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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: General Smallwood Sprint Triathlon
Date: Monday, September 24, 2007
Location: General Smallwood State Park, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:20:04
Overall Place: 5 / 268
Age Group Place: 1 / 23
Comment: Last Tri of the Season

Race Report:

This was my last triathlon of 2007. It's been a comeback season for me and I wanted to end things on a positive note. Since the Reston Triathlon, I'd shifted my focus to building up run miles for the Marine Corp Marathon and wasn't as focused as normal. I'd done an 18 mile run on Friday morning and hoped it wouldn't impact my race. I felt a little deep soreness in my right quad, but overall felt solid and was ready to race Sunday morning.

This was also an important triathlon because Karolina would be racing. It would be her second triathlon ever following a good performance at the Reston Sprint Tri back in May. It was also her first race since her bike accident in late August. This would be a comeback race for her too.

Alarm went off at 5:45 AM and I was downstairs eating my pre-race meal after a couple minutes. Given the 9 AM race start, there was plenty of time to eat and digest my meal (Boost, Banana, and Cliff Bar). Saturday night, we had dinner at Mama Lucia's in Reston for pizza. It tasted good at the time, but didn't digest well if you know what I mean. We left home around 6:30 with two bikes in the back of Acura for the one hour drive the General Smallwood Park in Maryland.

We arrived at the race site around 7:30 and setup our transition area. I warmed up with Karolina for 12 minutes on the run course. We were both racked near each other and were able to do out transition area setup together. I took my pre-race nutrition (3 Endurolytes and 1 Hammer Gel) 20 minutes before race start and we made the long walk to the swim start. The swim had been moved due to heavy weed growth in the bay. The change resulted in a 250+ meter run to T1 on concrete. Most people opted to leave shoes, but since it was a sprint race, I decided to run barefoot and save a few seconds. I wished Karolina good luck as she zipped up my wetsuit. I managed to get in the water about 10 minutes before the start and did a short warm up. The water felt great (72 degrees) compared the other races this summer and was also surprisingly clear. I lined up with Dan O'Connell, one of the uber-swimmers from RMST Lane #1. We both planned on working together during the swim.

SWIM (10:36 - 2nd)
I had a clean start near the inside of the buoy line with Dan on my left side. I immediately spotted a swimmer who took off quickly on my right. I was surprised at first at how fast he took off, but he quickly faded behind us (possibly seeing an opportunity to draft). I had a little trouble pushing myself during the swim and wasn't as mentally focused as normal. I saw Dan swimming next to me and decided to stay close to him. We swam side by side toward the first turn. About half way to the turn, I was smacked in the face by a wave just as I took a breath. I swallowed a massive amount of water and immediately started coughing. In all my races, I'd never experienced anything like that. I composed myself and tried to regain my stroke. Dan had pulled ahead by about half a body length and I let him lead into the turn rather then risk getting squished. We made the turn and Dan went very wide. I realized he was going off course and I smacked his feet a couple times trying to get his attention. After a few attempts, I let him go and made my way to the next turn buoy. Dan corrected himself and we can back together after the final turn. During the backstretch, we continued to swim abreast when Dan starting cutting toward the inside of the course. I decided to hold my original line and swam alone toward the finish. We came together again at the end and Dan's foot hit the timing mat before mine as we started the long jog to T1 together.

T1 (2:48 - 4th)
As Dan and I jogged along the waterfront I heard the crowd cheering again which meant someone else was close behind. Sure enough, we were joined by another competitor, Adam Daigneault, as we entered T1. I had a good spot near the T1 exit and executed a solid transition getting my wetsuit off in minimal time. The three of us started the bike together within seconds of each other.

BIKE (44:01 - 7th)
The bike starts with some challenging hills out of the transition area. I found myself in third place behind Dan and Adam. I maintained a high cadence and tried to catch my breath during the first few minutes of the bike. I passed Dan and Adam once out on the main road during one of the climbs. I tried to ride close to the white line given the news that a number of people had flatted when riding too far to the right on Saturday. During the first long downhill, I was re-passed by Adam and he would slowly pull away during the rolling course. I felt good on the bike and tried to maintain a high cadence and efficient aero position. I carried a single aero water bottle and sipped it gradually during the bike. The course was completely empty. I think I saw four cars the entire time I was out there. I tried to pick up the pace during the final 5 miles when Adam finally got out of sight. I wanted to catch him but didn't have the legs. I backed off the pace after the final turn into the park and mentally prepared for the run.

T2 (0:41 - 2nd)
I had a solid dismount and felt OK as I ran into the transition area. Dave Cascio was volunteering and gave me the news that I was 30 second behind. Just as he said that, I saw Adam leaving T2. I executed a very quick transition and raced out after him.

RUN (22:01 - 22nd)
I had confidence in my run going into this race, but felt a little 'off' at the start. My right quad was a little sore from my long run on Friday, but I tried to mentally block out the feeling and run smoothly up the hills. I could see Adam ahead of me as we climbed up the road. He looked good running and I started to doubt if I could catch him. Once out on the main road, I saw him gaining time and I changed focus from chasing him down, to running a smart race and not getting passed. That went out the window a few moments later when I heard Ken Delraso's footsteps. I didn't even know he was racing and we joked for a few seconds as he pulled away. He was running effortless up the hill to the turnaround and I tried to mentally relax and do the same. After the turnaround, the course went off-road onto trails. This caught me off guard (note, pay better attention during pre-race briefing) because I thought the course was all on roads. I was wearing my Newtons which aren't the best trail running shoes. I lost some focus until the run course started going down some steep hills. When I entered the campground, I tried to put it into another gear and run hard to the line. I push the pace over the scary wooden bridge and finished strong as the third person across the line.

FINAL (1:20:04 - 5th)
I caught up with Adam and Ken at the finish line and spotted a couple guys finishing from the earlier wave. I figured they were within the time difference and I'd get bumped down a few spots. After catching my breath, I went over to the transition area to see Karolina finish the bike. I waited and waited expecting to see her and was finally told by Karen Tine that Karolina had flatted at the end of the bike course. Nooo! I was totally bummed. I went to Karolina's rack spot in the transition area and her bike was there but no running shoes. I figured she went out to finish the run course. I look over her front wheel and found a piece of glass embedded in the rubber. Argh! I went back to the finish line and waited for her to finish. She came across the line and still managed a smile when she saw me. 'Stuff Happens' and we both recognized there was nothing we could do. Despite the bad news, we still had a good time at the post race party hanging with Aaron, Ken, Jason G, Dave C, and meeting some new people like Jeff Cundiff and Mark Facciani. After the awards ceremony we quickly packed our things and got on the road for our next event of the day, the Redskins/Giants game at FedEx field!

Overall I was happy with my final result. I've steadily improved this season and I feel like I'm getting close to my top form from years ago. Much of my success this season is due to the TriRATs and RMST. Everyone has been extremely supportive through the endless hours of swimming, biking and running. I've made amazing new friends this season who pushed me through some of the hardest training I've done in years. But the biggest factor in my improvement this year has to be my wonderful wife, Karolina. Through the ups and downs this summer, she's stood by me and made sacrifices to help me meet my goals. Without her constant support and encouragement, I wouldn't have made it this far.

I end this season eager to race again next year. One of the last things I asked Greg (of SetupEvents) when leaving the race was when he'd post the VTS schedule for 2008. "...late October!" I cannot wait to see the VTS races for next season and start planning another successful year in this crazy sport of triathlon.