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Half Full Triathlon - Half “70″ Distance - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Ellicott City, Maryland
United States
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
50F / 10C
Total Time = 8h 15m 1s
Overall Rank = 187/187
Age Group = F50-54
Age Group Rank = 3/3
Pre-race routine:

Well, adequate training certainly wasn't part of my pre pre-race routine... I'd targeted this race in 2012 during the inaugural year when I realized that it would coincide with my 50th birthday. As a member of Team Fight, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my milestone birthday.

I trained for my first half marathon last spring as part of my prep, but I didn't plan on my training derailing as my mom got sicker - metastatic cancer - over the spring & summer, and she died about 6 weeks before the race. It was suggested to me that given all the training I hadn't done, perhaps I should scale back to the oly race. No chance - this race is all about looking at life "half full" in the face of adversity, and that was really what it was all about for me, too... so, did what I could. For me, it was all about being there and doing my best, even if they had to pull me off the course. Celebrated my birthday with my oldest and newest friends the night before, and a few inbetween - my oldest, closest friend who flew up to surprise me, my BT buddy Anne whom I was so excited to meet and race with, my husband and daughter, and some of my favorite Team Fight teammates. What a wonderful, wonderful day! Stayed over at the Columbia Sheraton to cut down on our morning drive, and got to the park by around 5:30. Team Fight luncheon the day before, reminding us all why we "fight" put me in just the right frame of mind. Lots of tears, but expected that, and all good.
Event warmup:

Tried to stay dry and warm. Stretched, used the roller. Hard-boiled egg+uncrustable for breakfast, and chased it with ginger capsule (for motion-sickness in the swim) and Imodium (trust me, it helps!). I also under-hydrate bc of my history of SIPE - in that lake, that race, those temps. 1/2 bottle of water max pre-race. We were a late start - 8:30 - so plenty of time to wander and stretch. Wish I'd brought clear vs. amber goggles, but whatever.

Had purchased ginormous tupperware container the size of my transition area in which to lay out everything as usual but keep it all nice and dry - so glad! Also gave me room to keep extra stuff since was still so ambivalent about what to wear - how many layers on top, pants vs. shorts on bottom, etc.
  • 31m 33s
  • 1500 yards
  • 02m 06s / 100 yards

First, major props to the wetsuit - the most comfortable EVER. Low neckline, and the whole thing just settled into my body beautifully; never felt like I was wearing a wetsuit, and for me, given my history, that's huge.

I absolutely love the time trial start - was so cool to start with Anne :) and to go in first in our wave (F40+). Best part for me is to have a clear path ahead, avoid my usual bobbing as I try to avoid bodies, and that really helps to minimize the motion sickness for me. Felt great all along, despite some tightness in my under-trained shoulders. Water didn't feel cold at all. Hated the double-layer cap, but husband really wanted to avoid another ER trip with me, so I relented.

What would you do differently?:

I really have to be pleased with my swim overall, given that I took "taking it for granted" to a whole new level - my swim's typically my strong suit, and I think I swam maybe 3-4 times over the preceding couple of months? I had to spend my limited training time where I needed it most, but was afraid I'd taken my swimming too much for granted, but seems that it was probably just good enough after all (whew).
Transition 1
  • 11m 3s

Regarding that record-setting extended T1, remember that starting a fire to warm up and brew coffee takes time...!
First, couldn't figure out the stupid mag-lock to be able to unzip the wetsuit. Then, total blond moment when I couldn't remember if it zipped up or down. By the time I stripped, was still a little too ambivalent about what to wear. Opted for lightweight pullover over tri top, with my Brooks shell zipped up over that. Handy to have the extra pockets for my inhaler and extra gu's in case I dropped the ones taped to my top tube. Full-fingered cycling gloves, tried out the week before. Opted for shorts, only - didn't like the idea of riding with sopping wet long pants for 56 miles in continuing rain, cold and wind, and think that was a good call. Thick wool trail socks, and neoprene toe covers over my shoes. Under Armour beanie cap under my helmet, and opted for my clear lens non-prescription Tivoli's vs. my prescription insert Rudy's since the latter tend to fog and be hard to keep clear in cold & wet with the double-layers.

What would you do differently?:

Not much. I think my clothes were a good call. Leg warmers might've been nice - I was pretty numb at the end - but didn't have them. I also think I could've benefited from extra foot putting my feet in baggies before putting on the socks (or vice-versa) to try to keep in a little more warmth, and/or opting for more heavy-duty shoe covers. I get Raynaud's, and I truly couldn't feel or move my toes by the end, making walking a bit challenging! Glad I'd taped the gu to my to tube at racking the day before, especially since removing it from some pocket in full-fingered, sopping wet gloves with numb hands would've been a little challenging.
  • 4h 12m 47s
  • 56 miles
  • 13.29 mile/hr

Chain dropped as I was mounting - worried it was a bad omen, but that was my biggest problem. Whew!

For me, and where my training was - or wasn't! - this was a great ride. I'd only ridden that 56 miles twice, period (forget bricks), and my fastest pace, once was 13.0 with an hour's worth of stops and breaks. So, to ride that speed under those conditions, I was pretty damn pleased. Picked up a Team Fight teammate about 5-10 miles in, and we hung together for the whole ride - that made it a lot more fun! Talked the whole way, bonded over learning to pee on the bike (learned I cramp in my quads if I try to do it sitting/shifting, so had to stand lol), and had a blast.

It was truly so miserable, it was part of the thrill of getting it done. Was worried about my increasingly miserable feet, but not overly so. Back started hurting pretty significantly over the last 10 miles, but was pleased it made it that far.

Used good self-restraint to not call out "NICE ASS" when Lance flew past me...all I could think of was "You're making me feel SLOOOOW" so the pic of him passing me shows me open-mouthed like I'm hypoxic. Funny.

Rain tapered off by the end of the ride, too, which was nice. In fact, took us so long to finish the course that parts of some of the roads actually dried!

All in all, I was ecstatic that I was able to finish the course before they yanked me - I had really worried about that. A friend I'd ridden with just the week or 2 before was pulled literally just 4 miles from the park, and I felt so badly for her.

Also have to give major props to the course volunteers - ROTC maybe? - they were INCREDIBLE! Almost all cheered, some danced, some did pushups while saying we inspired them, and they were unfailingly supportive under miserable conditions. They all seemed to stay until the bitter end, too. Rode into the park and saw spouse & pal dead ahead, which was awesome - I was so pumped!

Water stops well placed. Poor volunteer who ended up flinging bottle into/at my wheel was horrified, but luckily no harm and I had enough water to get me through to the next stop. Had a friend sprint to catch up after he'd rounded up a power bar, and the hand-off was impressive!

Nutrition was good. Felt like I didn't drink enough, but must've bc I kept peeing. Had set watch alarm every 40 minutes, but didn't help that I forgot to start it. Didn't hear it a few times, either. Plan was nutrition every 40 minutes. After first loop, ate an uncrustable. Last nutrition was scooping cola power gels & cashews I'd poured into my bento box (a challenge with the wet gloves). Mint chocolate gu's for the rest. Used inhaler once or twice again while rolling.

Loved the kid who passed me at one point, telling me I was his new hero since I was literally twice his age, out there doing the course with him, and he could only hope he was still doing this when he was that old. Friends asked if I was insulted - are you kidding? He was so sincere, and so enthusiastic, how could I be offended?! Saw him one last time explode past me on the run, and imagine he was home & safely tucked in bed by the time I finished....(and G., if you're reading this, hope you had as much fun as I did!)
What would you do differently?:

Transition 2
  • 06m 8s

An angel of a friend/teammate ran up to me in transition to ask me what she could do for me - she'd completed the oly race, and knew how numb I was likely to be. I told her nothing, unfortunately, and to back off since I needed to pee. She did, I did (yeah, squatted - no shame), and she still came back to strip me. I reminded her of what I'd done to the shorts she was grabbing, & what had trickled into the socks she was peeling off, and she replied that as a mom, she'd seen and handled worse - what a true friend!!

Good thing she helped - my hands and feet get so cold, I truly couldn't remove my gloves or socks myself. She replaced my socks with my blissfully dry thin wool socks (love my tupperware), and slipped on my lock-laced Asics Noosas. Stripped off my bike shorts, pullover and vest, added my belt and my Camp Sunshine visor and stumbled off.
What would you do differently?:

  • 3h 13m 30s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 14m 46s  min/mile

Talk about ugly. Clomped off OK...had encouraged my teammate to go on ahead and not risk finishing before the course closed. She opted to start with me & see how things went, and she stayed with me until we crossed the finish line - truly my guardian angel. I knew that even if I finished a little past 5pm I'd be allowed to finish, but my friend who'd flown up had to leave for the airport at 5:00 sharp, so finishing in time to say goodbye was my goal - and I made it, too, at 4:50!

My lower back/SI started seizing up - don't know how else to describe it - after the first 10 minutes, and I was more than a little concerned since I had to bend over close to 90 degrees to slowly shuffle up the first couple of hills, and that was alarming; the pain was pretty intense, too. Ran into a bunch of buddies - one a PT! - at the top of Gatorade Hill, and I lay on the ground and stretched w/ her direction in the middle of the trail. It helped, and over time it seemed to loosen up, which was obviously a great relief!

Legs weren't so bad initially - but cramps in my knees became more of an issue after the back relaxed, though it was eventually the extraordinary cramps in my calves and toes that were the biggest liability. Second half of the "run" (what a misnomer!) was faster than the first, and largely bc we eventually gave up on running and focused on speed walking, which I was able to do without cramping, for the last few miles.

As incredible as the bike course volunteers were, the kids on the run course were just as fantastic. Every water stop was manned until the very end, which was just incredible. They were all so positive and encouraging, too.

Had a ball running with my new best friend. We marked our territory like dogs, peeing with abandon whenever, wherever, we needed to. Amazing how uninhibited one can become if sufficiently "motivated...."

Inspiration mile - signs on the course that folks made about who they fought for, what half-full meant, was truly inspiring. We walked it both loops...cried like a baby, especially when I saw my daughter's, and even mine. At my 1st 24 Hours of Booty you can hang up little 2"x3" signs about who you ride in honor or in memory of - one side says "in honor of," the other side "in memory of." So, for my 1st ride in July, it was "in honor of MOM." By the time of my 2nd ride in August, I'd filled out the other side - "in memory of Mom." I'd saved that little piece of paper and had it in a baggie in my bra the whole race - truly ran with Mom on my heart, and thought of her throughout that run. Yeah, no lack of schmaltz at this race.

I had a friend and teammate who'd struggled last year, and I'd gone out searching for him on the run - ran with him the last half mile or so, and he vowed to do the same for me this year, as he was doing just the oly. Sure enough, at the last half mile re-entering the park, there he was with my daughter waiting to run us home (and loved seeing his wife at the finish line, too). We'd spotted someone behind us by that point, as well 0 a surprise bc we'd been told we were last - another wonderful teammate I'd ridden with just a couple of weeks before. So, the 5 of us headed to the finish together, and my angel, my daughter and I crossed the finish line arm-in-arm. What a Hallmark moment! We passed by signs with the words "HOPE" and "INSPIRATION" as we entered the chute, and it was INCREDIBLE!

The chute was lined with Team Fighters, tri-club members and volunteers, and the cheering was extraordinary. (Apparently being DFL gets you more attention than just being middle-of-the-pack!) To say that I was emotional is putting it mildly - just indescribable, all the emotions that overwhelmed me at once. I actually did it. Who could've believed it?!
What would you do differently?:

again, the duh answer, TRAIN.
Post race
Warm down:

Wondered who the guys with cameras were at the finish - turns out they were crew from Rev3, who were ultimately assembling a video about the race and "survivors." How cool that they included our interview clips. Got a fair amount of well-deserved razzing the next couple of days from folks asking about my PR manager, given the video and the piece in Competitor magazine that came out that day with a blurb about me in it, too - what a hoot!

Was very pleasantly surprised there was still food, COLD BEER, and even my favorite light chocolate muscle milk. All were awesome!!

Got to see my buddy off, too.

Finally stumbled off towards transition only to find yet another teammate walking towards me with my bike and all my stuff packed up....a teammate who'd been pulled out of the swim at the start of her relay, yet stayed to volunteer, cheer, and help bring the rest of us home. What a group. I am so lucky.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Where do we start. Should be painfully obvious by now.

Closest I came to pre-race bricks I think were a couple of 1-2 mile runs after a couple of rides. Longer distance rides, more steady distance runs, and multiple bricks should've happened, but didn't. Bricklessness has always been a flaw in my training, and clearly a goal for next year, at any distance.

Event comments:

This was the experience of a lifetime for me - surrounded by some of the folks closest to me, and at a time of the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. I know that sounds melodramatic, but that's really how it was. It was also the day of the 30th anniversary of a camp for kids with cancer at which I'd been a volunteer for 16 years before moving up here. So, what a confluence of events to converge on this day - my 50th bday, camp's anniversary, my dad's yahrtzeit the day before, and of course, my thoughts of Mom always on my mind. I also pushed myself farther than I should've been able to go. The lousy weather only added to the drama of the day, and gave us even more to talk about. Finished about 10 minutes after Anne, and was only sorry that I hadn't been able to see more of her over the course of the weekend....that and that Robin wasn't able to join us, but I know she was with us in spirit!

I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I received from so many, and in so many ways, too. It truly took a village, lol, which also made the day that much more special to me, too. Already looking forward to next year, albeit at a shorter distance! Got the 70.3 on the back of my car, and it was sweet!

Oops, had to come back and add the best part -

Last updated: 2011-10-03 12:00 AM
00:31:33 | 1500 yards | 02m 06s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/3
Overall: 126/187
Performance: Good
This is where it would've been helpful to actually hit "start" on the Garmin.
Suit: rocket science l/s wetsuit + DeSoto neoprene cap
Course: clockwise rectangle
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 67F / 19C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 11:03
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Bad Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
04:12:47 | 56 miles | 13.29 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/3
Overall: 184/187
Performance: Average
Would've helped if I'd started my Garmin correctly from the beginning
Wind: Strong
Course: A lollipop, with a repeat of the loop, combining parts of the familiar Iron Girl and Columbia Tri courses - so lots of hills and rollers, some S-curves. Rev3 staff cleared road of debris the day before, but the wind and rain naturally brought a little back - all in all, remarkably clear, given the conditions, IMO.
Road: Smooth Wet Cadence:
Turns: Below average Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks: Just right
Time: 06:08
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
03:13:30 | 13.1 miles | 14m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/3
Overall: 187/187
eventually started the watch. may eventually upload the data.
Course: Two loops. Predictable Columbia hills, though they seemed to have grown considerably since I did the course last year.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Ok
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-10-21 3:45 PM

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Extreme Veteran
metro DC
Subject: Half Full Triathlon - Half “70″ Distance

2012-10-21 8:05 PM
in reply to: #4462497

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Subject: RE: Half Full Triathlon - Half “70″ Distance
Wow Marla, I loved reading your race report. I am still working on mine. It's only been a couple of weeks but it seems like a long time has past. It was so amazing to meet you, your family and your Team Fight friends. What a thrill to race in a new part of the country and what a race we had! 
2012-10-21 10:12 PM
in reply to: #4462704

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Extreme Veteran
metro DC
Subject: RE: Half Full Triathlon - Half “70″ Distance

abake - 2012-10-21 9:05 PM Wow Marla, I loved reading your race report. I am still working on mine. It's only been a couple of weeks but it seems like a long time has past. It was so amazing to meet you, your family and your Team Fight friends. What a thrill to race in a new part of the country and what a race we had! 

Took me forever, too! Been waiting for yours...was hoping you'd make it easy for me, lol! So glad you had such a good time - they're a fabulous group, aren't they?

Planning to come back? Can't decide if I'm going to do the oly or the aquavelo..leaning toward the latter....

2012-10-22 8:44 AM
in reply to: #4462891

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Subject: RE: Half Full Triathlon - Half “70″ Distance
I would definitely do this race again, now that I understand that the concept of challenging hills in Maryland is a tad different than Illinois!
2012-10-27 4:52 PM
in reply to: #4462497

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Royersford, PA
Subject: RE: Half Full Triathlon - Half “70″ Distance
Congrats Marla! You really captured what this whole race is all about! Great interview and it is very cool that everyone got to see the results of all your hard work. As a member of both Team Rev3 and Team Fight this race was very special to me. I never had a race quite like that; it was some of the hardest conditions, harshest weather, not to mention a challenging course, but everyone involved was so supportive and seeing others who overcame the fight of their lives gave us all the stength and inspiration to fight through it and reach our goals. Great job and Fight on!
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