When you think of an October day in Maryland you think of cold, crisp weather and a cool breeze with some clouds overhead. Typical clothing includes jeans, a shirt, and a light jacket. Essentially, for triathletes and runners, October weather is what we call perfect race weather. Apparently, Mother Nature missed the memo about it being October. The Half Full 70.0 triathlon to support the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults was held yesterday. As most of you in Maryland know, the weather was anything but perfect for racers. The highs were in the upper 80s, the humidity peaked around 60%, and there was not a breeze to be felt or cloud in the sky. Essentially, the weather made the 70 mile course feel like a fiery death march in the deepest levels of Dante’s Inferno.
The day started early with a 3:30AM wake up call to meet Leslie at the Arena Club to drive down to Columbia. Our bikes had been racked the day prior during packet pick up so there was little gear to be transported. I knew it was going to be a rough day when the thermometer read 61 degrees this early. I put on my tight spandex (which I will miss dearly this winter) and grabbed my wetsuit and tri bag for the last time of the 2013 season. I shoved a Powerbar in my mouth and got in the car, grabbed some coffee from Wawa and we were on the road by 4:30. The ride was pretty easy and it was nice having Leslie in the car to talk to so early in the morning and also to keep me awake. The coffee wasn’t doing it’s job of keeping me awake. My body must be adjusting to the caffeine. Time to bump up to the 24 ounce. We made it to the parking lot at Centennial Lake in time to get a nice parking spot closer to transition and the finish. Although I didn’t get the coveted pull through spot, I was still happy to not have to park in the upper lot. After collecting our gear we got to transition, got body marked, and set up our area. Bike shoes, helmet, watch, glasses, water, nutrition, running shoes, watch, check. Check the brakes. All good. Check the front tire. 110 psi. Check the gears. All good. Check the back tire. Shit. The heat from the day before expanded the tube, even though I swear I released the air from it, and blew out my tube. Transition was closing in 15 minutes, so I ran my bike up to Princeton Sports and got them to change my tube for me. Phew! Great start to the day. After getting everything together, I got my swim gear and met up with some friends who were also racing. Matt from HMS was only a few bikes down from me and my fraternity brother Rajit was on his way for not just his first half iron race, but his first triathlon. What a race to choose to pop the triathlon cherry! We walked down and we ran into Daun and Juda who were part of a relay team. After hitting the bathroom and getting our wetsuits on we made our way to the swim start. We found Sara and we were all able to chat and relax before the race.
New to the Half Full this year was a 5K. It started before our race so we got to see the first finishers. The first place guy ran around a 16:30, and as Leslie said, looked like Forest Gump. He really did with his beard. I guess he just felt like runnin’. Despite being ridiculed for not racing the 5K prior to the triathlon and losing my “hardcore” status, I enjoyed being able to collect myself before the race. After the Olympic racers were off, the Half distance was next. The start was a time trial start and we went off in twos. It actually made for an amazing swim. No battling for position and no mass chaos of a mass or wave start. Leslie was off first. She looked pretty smooth and relaxed as she swam towards the first buoy. I will say, I knew the volunteers were great at this race, as they are at any Rev3 or Rev3 sponsored race. As soon as we made our way to the start all the volunteers were giving us high-fives and wishing us good luck. They really did a good job of pumping us up and helping us relax before the start. I lined up in the front with Matt and the two of us were off. I always wear my XTERRA Pro wetsuit whenever possible. It feels great, doesn’t constrict my arms or legs, and is very buoyant, yet flexible. I also wear my Blueseventy goggles that I won at Rev3 Quassy. They’re great! They don’t for up and they have not leaked once. Because of this, I was able to really sight. The buoys were huge and had a Rev3 symbol on them. As I noted previously, I didn’t really train too much for this race, mainly relying on my fitness from Placid to carry over. Despite getting in the pool only a handful of times, I had a great swim. I took it very easy in the beginning and made sure to take the course buoy by buoy. I caught up to a couple waves ahead of me and didn’t have to stop once to do a few breast strokes to find the next buoy. I felt calm and relaxed. After going out and making a right, you make your way back to a second boat ramp. It’s cool because when you breathe you see a huge crowd watching and cheering. It was nice to be able to see spectators during the swim. I made my way out and ran to the transition area. To my surprise, all the bikes in my rack were still there. This meant I was number 1 out of the water! The second place guy was only seconds behind me and he actually left transition before me. He was so smooth getting his wetsuit off while putting his helmet and glasses on. Meanwhile, I fell over trying to get my wetsuit off and put my helmet on backwards. I looked like a complete mess. After three minutes of struggling, I finally got my shoes on and was headed out for the 56 mile bike course.
Swim – 24:21 [1:50/100m] (T1 – 3:15)
The bike course is hilly. And by hilly, I mean very hilly. Not as bad as Quassy, but worse than Columbia Olympic Triathlon and Lake Placid. The hills aren’t steep or long, but they are one after another. If you don’t have good bike handling skills or know your gears, this course will destroy your legs and your run. Knowing this, I was pretty nervous going into it. I rode my bike 3 times before race day. Two times with Ricky (1 of them being Savageman course re-con) and once on my trainer. I went into the bike thinking, “Okay Adam, you’ve ridden this distance a bunch of times! Easy peasy”. I made my way down the first stretch, hit a nice bump, and it knocked both water bottles with my HEED, my salt tabs, and my extra tube and CO2 somewhere in a corn field. Good start. I immediately began to pray to the biking gods for smooth roads, no cracks, and no flats. I’m glad they listened. I will say, I made the 56 miles with no flats, no falls, and only one dropped chain. (If the Otrembas are reading this, please help me with my front derailleur – thanks in advance!)
As you can see, this course has no major hill, but the course is up and down the entire 53 miles. The course has an out section followed by a loop you do twice, then you come back to transition via the same road. Total elevation gain is over 3,000 feet. My strategy was to take the uphills easy and just stay in a small gear and really power down the hills to get as much speed as possible. One thing I like about courses like these is that you can really use your momentum from the downhill to push yourself up the next hill. This was not the case at Quassy or Placid, where the hills were long and steep. Despite the looks of it, the course is pretty fast. I managed to average just under 20 mph, despite my low bike volume over the past two months. The volunteers, police officers, and support on the course were absolutely amazing. The course is also very scenic. Cornfields, farms, nice houses, and trees lined the course. Most people probably didn’t enjoy the smell of the horse and cow manuer, but I’m use to it from riding around Harford County. Weird smell to enjoy. I probably shouldn’t tell everyone that. During the first loop, I was happy to pass the first place guy that beat me out of transition. He was struggling and despite his aero helmet (aka sperm helmet), Zipp race wheels, and his $1500 Quarq power meter crank, he was struggling. I told him good job and spun up the hill. For the entire first loop, there was a guy that I refer to as blue guy. He wore a blue tri suit, had a blue Felt B2, and blue tires. I passed him and said “you’re my boy, blue!” to which I almost fell off my bike laughing when he responded “we should go streaking to the quad”. We passed each other back and forth and paced each other pretty well. He definitely killed me on the downhills, but I caught back up on the hills. Unfortunately, he was doing the Olympic race, so after the first lap, we said our farewells and I had to find someone else to race with. I looked up his bib and he got a drafting penalty. Sorry about that, Blue. By this point in the race, the sun was starting to beat down a bit more and I made sure to grab some extra Gatorade at the next aid station starting lap two and poured as much water as I could with extra water bottles. I found a woman who was pacing pretty well and kept up with her for the first half of the second loop. We paced pretty well until around mile 40 I dropped my chain. If it were any other day, I would’ve been pissed. But honestly I’ve dropped this damn chain so many times I’m now a pro at chain-dropping-fixing and it only took me about 45 seconds to get it back on. I got back up to speed and was by myself for the most of the ride back to transition. It was a little lonely. I was starting to miss my boy Blue and just enjoyed the scenery heading back to transition. After riding the last 10 miles alone and dodging the traffic like a BAMF I was back at transition. I unclipped, ran up the hill, and got my shoes on. Only 13.1 miles left. And I had my fastest T2 ever. From what I hear, everyone I knew had a good bike split. Rajit finished before the cut-off, Matt finished much faster than he had planned, Sara had a pretty quick bike split, and Leslie, the super biker she is, had one of the fastest female bike splits on the day.
Bike – 2:53:09 [19.4MPH] (T2 – 1:06)
The run sucked. It really really sucked. But I had a good time. I found a great group of people to run with and it made it somewhat fun. Like the bike course, the run course has no flat in it. It has a lot of up, very few downs, and very little shade. According to Leslie and Mr. Garmin, the run course had over 1,000 feet of climbing.
Like the bike, the run course is 2 loops of 6.6 miles. There is 1 major hill right at mile 1. I enjoyed walking up it each lap. The first part of the course up to that first mile is actually the flattest. Out of transition, you make a right to go around the lake and onto the nature trails. The sun literally beats down on you. Reference back to the fiery inferno. I was literally singing “if you’re going through hell, keep on going”. I saw a guy wearing a Snapple jersey and I asked him if he had any Snapple. No lie, he did! He had put some Snapple in his fuel belt. He offered me some, but I really didn’t want any. I gave him a high five and a good job and continued my way walking up the hill at mile 1, still jamming out to Rodney Atkins in my head. At the top of the hill there as an aid station. I got some water, drank some cola, and poured ice down my jersey. Bad idea. My stomach got really cold and I’m pretty sure I got some ice burn on my stomach. Running down the hill after mile 1, I lifted up my jersey to get the ice out. A delirious woman next to me did a little whistle and I laughed. I ran with her for the next few miles of the race. She told me her recent life story, which consisted of living in Jersey, failing to qualify for Kona at Lake Placid, turning 50 in a month, and then flying out to Arizona in a month to race IM Arizona. So in addition to frying in the heat, I was getting my ass kicked by a 49 year old soon-to-be 50 year old woman who was running a 7:30 pace and still had the energy and breathe to talk to me. Great. She ended up running ahead of me and I just carried on as I was. Except now instead of singing Rodney Atkins, I was singing Nellys “Hot in Here”. I don’t know all the words, so really it was just “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes” on repeat in my head. For 4 miles. By mile 6, Snapple man caught up to me, still sipping his Snapple. We caught up to soon-to-be 50 year old, where I was able to relive her recent life story as she retold the story to Snapple man. As she did in the past, she sped off and again my ass was getting kicked by the soon-to-be 50 year old. Luckily, I never saw her again. I don’t think I could hear the story again. After suffering through 6 miles, I made my way to loop two. This part is pretty tough mentally. You make a right to finish, go straight to go onto lap two. My head said go right and just finish. Maybe they won’t notice. But cheaters never win and winners never cheat. Or is it winners always cheat cheaters never win. Either way, I chose to continue on to loop two. This lap was miserable. I walked every aid station. I walked every hill. I could feel myself getting sunburn. I then thought of the irony of getting sunburnt at an event to raise awareness about cancer. I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen. I then began to sing Alanis Morissettes “Ironic”. Like the previous Nelly song, I don’t know the words, so it was just a few phrases put together on repeat. By this point, I was just taking it mile by mile. I was dehydrated and going delirious. A group of us were talking at an aid station and we made no sense. We just started to laugh. We all walked to the next mile marker and I began to run again. I finally found Sara around mile 8 (she was on mile 3).
Let me tell you something about Sara. I had never met her in person before this race, but I knew she was a great runner and a great athlete. I said hi to her and saw she was hurting. She was struggling from the heat and the bike. She was at that point where you hit an all time low and feel so much like shit that you just want to give up and quit. In a race it will most likely hit you during the run. I had the same issue at Eagleman last year. That year, a man stopped and talked to me and really boosted my spirits and saved my race. Because of this, I stopped and talked to her and just walked with her for a quarter mile. I was saying pretty much anything I could to give her that little boost I received last year. I’m glad to say Sara pushed through and finished the race despite not having the race she planned. As I’ve said before, you truly find out what kind of person you are when you have a race that goes to shit. It makes you not just a stronger athlete, but a stronger person. A huge congratulations goes out to you, Sara.
The final 4 miles were brutal. I walked the hills, walked the aid stations, and was hurting and cramping. At mile 10, I told myself just a 5K left. “I ran a 5K yesterday. It’s nothing!”. The miles got longer and longer, but I finally made it back to the trail, which marked the 1 mile mark until the finish. Luckily, the last mile is mostly flat and downhill. Unfortunately, the finish line has a nice little steep slope you run up. It’s a real ass kicker, even though I think the hill may only be 5 feet in length. Oh well. I crossed the finish line in 5:06 and literally collapsed. Medical pulled me up, got me in a chair, and got me some ice, gatorade, and a water. I heard my name announced over the loud speaker and was really upset when they pronounced my name Bohsley instead of Bosley. I was cheered up when the guy next to me (with an IV in his arm) said, “oh like the beer”. “Yes, like the beer” I said.
Run – 1:44 [7:49/mile]
I finished and got my results. 1st place age group (and fastest swim, bike, run split for my age group). I also placed 30th overall in a pretty competitive field. The heat and conditions definitely played a huge roll on all the athletes, and I’m so extremely proud to say all my friends finished. Leslie beasted the course and just missed the podium, but put up great times. Rajit’s only goal was to finish and he made the cut-off in 8 hours. That’s very impressive with minimal training and only one race under his belt. Sara managed to dig deeper than deep to finish and said she will be back next year to get revenge on this course. Matt had a great swim/bike combo and put up a good run to finish and I’m looking forward to following him on his journey to IM Mount Tremblant. A big thank you also to Pam, who came out to support the athletes and also for working with an amazing organization, Athletes Serving Athletes (for more information on this organization, go to http://www.athletesservingathletes.org/ to learn how to become a wingman!). I stayed for the awards and got my award then sat down in the shade to enjoy a nice beer and cheeseburger. A great way to end a perfect race 🙂