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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Smithfield Sprint Triathlon
Date: Saturday, March 29, 2008
Location: Smithfield, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 0:52:35
Overall Place: 11 / 430
Age Group Place: 6 / 14
Comment: First Tri of the Season

Race Report:

I decided to do this race about two weeks ago. I wanted to get in as many VTS races as I could this season and had put in some excellent training the past month. This race offered an opportunity to test my fitness and also get back into the triathlon-racing mindset.

Smithfield, VA is a three hour drive from Reston. Given the 10 AM start time, I was able to drive up the morning of the race and save on hotel costs. I was up at 4:45 and after a quick breakfast (consisting of Boost, Coffee, and Cereal); I was on road at 5:15. Drive was uneventful and I arrived at the race site at 8:15.

A week before the race, I decided to move up to racing the Open category. I'd toyed with the idea during the off-season and went back-n-forth as to whether I should race age-group or open. I talked it over with my coach (Eric Sorensen) and we decided to make the leap. Looking at past results and the participant list, I knew it was going to be a fast race, not only given the short distance, but also the because of the fast people racing.

Racing Open has a couple nice perks. Our bike racks were the first row near the bike exit and we went first during the swim wave. Being a swimmer, this was a huge plus allowing me to avoid swimming through people, especially in a pool. I setup my gear, and got in a 2 mile warm up run. I ran out on the run course and saw it was mostly flat with one 'dip'. I got back to my transition spot, downed a gel, and went over to the pool to get in my swim warm up before start.

SWIM (3:38 - 1st)
This was the first race where I'd wear my new Blue Seventy Point Zero3 speedsuit. I'd tried it out at RMST practice and it felt fast. Not only did I feel fast in the water, it allowed me to wear my tri top without any drag. I was the second seed for the pool swim behind Jay Calvert, a strong swimmer from the US Naval Academy. Right behind me was Craig Lauinger, another fast swimmer and excellent triathlete. We left at 15 second intervals and swam a 'snake' within the 25 meter pool. The 300 meter swim was extremely short and would be over within 4 minutes for most people. This wouldn't provide much advantage to the swimmers.

I took off and immediately established a strong efficient stroke. I nailed my turns and was very careful when making a flipturn under the lane lines at the near end of the pool. I didn't want to hit my head or catch the lane line with my suit. I maintained a strong cruise speed. I didn't want to go extremely hard but I also wanted to get as much of an advantage as possible. I was catching up to Jay near the end of the 300 and I hit the wall and popped out of the pool feeling solid and ready to run.

T1 (1:16 - 28th)
Jay and I ran through the transition area to our rack and started putting on some layers. It was windy and cold (mid 40s) so I made the decision to put on a shell jacked and gloves for the bike. I lost time doing this, but I needed to wear another layer for the bike. Jay left T1 as I struggled with my gloves…I was taking too long!! In hind sight, I should have gone with arm warmers and no gloves -- lesson learned.

BIKE (27:02 - 16th)
I was cold starting out and I tried to maintain a quick turnover to keep my core temperature up. Jay was in sight and I caught him within the first couple miles. I tried to find my rhythm but felt unsettled. My shell jacked turned into a wind-sail as I was buffeted by crosswinds along the open fields, but at least my hands were warm! I was cruising along when Brad Pigage flew past. He was the one to beat going into this race and was clearly riding well. I tried to stay with him but there was no way. He was rocket on the bike and ended up with the fast bike split by almost two minutes! I hit the one downhill of the course and then approached a sharp left turn. It was a lot sharper then I expected (110 degrees) and I realized I wasn't going to stay on the road. I rode off the road onto the narrow gravel shoulder and just missed going into a ditch by a few inches. I heard to cop and volunteer scream "nice save" as I got back on the road. I was woken up by that near crash and slowed down a little as I composed myself. At that moment, Craig caught me and made a comment about how he needs to get a speed suit. He pulled ahead and I told myself to stay with him. I maintained legal distance and kept him in my sights. I told myself that he was a strong biker and finished 3rd overall last year; staying with him was what I needed to do. I started to feel a lot more settled on the bike as we road together with the draft marshal back to the T2. With about a mile to go, I felt fresh and decided to push the pace a little and passed Craig. I rode into T2 feeling great and ready to run.

T2 (0:52 - 47th)
Once again, my transition was painfully slow. I fumbled with my jacket zipper which wouldn't come off. I got it off and quickly got into my running shoes. I started the run about 15 seconds ahead of Craig.

RUN (19:49 - 24th)
One of my main goals this season is to improve my run. I'd focused on it during the off season and felt like I was running better than ever. I wanted to run under 20 min and started strong. Craig, an excellent runner, was on me quickly but I tried to stay with him. The course wound through town before going out a long out-n-back road. I stay with Craig for the first half mile and settled into my pace. I tried to keep him in sight but he was super strong. I felt a slight pinch in my right foot but otherwise felt solid on the run (I later found out the pinch was a rock was rubbing my foot raw). I saw Brad coming back on the run and he looked solid. I hit the turn around and saw about 5 guys spread out in a line behind me. I had no idea where they stood relative to my position because of the 15 second spacing during the swim. Jay was the closest to me and looked very strong. I mentally told myself to ignore the pack of wolves chasing after me. "Just run your race as fast as you can!" Jay caught me with less than a mile to go and I couldn't respond. I tried but just couldn't speed up. As I got back to town, I tried to give it everything I had. I pushed strong and ran hard to finish, 4th person across the line.

FINAL (52:35 - 12th)
I was spent at the line. After catching my breath I congratulated Brad, Craig and Jay on their excellent races. A few second later, the next group of Elites came in. I figured they were close to my time and I might get bumped down. I felt very good about my run but thought I left a little bit on the course during the bike. Perhaps I could have biked a minute faster, but that might have compromised my run. One thing was quickly apparent, it was a fast race and there were a lot of fast people crossing the line.

I got cleaned up at the YMCA, packed up the car, and ate some excellent Bar-BQ. The food was excellent and I had a great time talking to Craig and Jay. I'm going to see them at a bunch of races and look forward to racing them this season.

When the results were posted I was a little bummed to see I'd been bumped down to 12th overall. Two minutes separated 2nd from 12th place! I voiced my surprise to Jay and he quickly reminded me that this was not a swimmers race. With a short pool swim, the better swimmers couldn't get the same advantage as if it were an open water swim.

I later found out I broke 20 minutes for 5k which was one of my goals for the race. It validated my running form and gave me confidence going into my next race. Overall, this was a well organized race with some excellent competition. I was amazed by all the fast people from the Richmond/VA Beach area. With some better weather, I'd do this race again.