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Race Result

Racer: Matt Taylor
Race: Columbia Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 23, 2004
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 2:58:26
Overall Place: 623 / 1200
Age Group Place: 40 / 68
Comment: Hot Hot Hot

Race Report:

Goals: 1) Finish under 3 hours. 2) Prove that the time spent breaking down and rebuilding my swim was not in vain.

This was the first race of the season for me and the question was I up for the challenge of an Olympic distance to start, let alone Columbia, was in the back of my mind. I work in Columbia and did what I could to familiarize myself with the run and bike course. In the end, this allowed me to break 3 hours, and survive the heat.

Race Day:

I woke up a 5 am, well rested for once, poured the coffee, grabbed my breakfast transition bag, which included to PB sammys, a cliff bar and a bottle of gatorade and hit the road. My wave was not until 7:34 am, and I got to the race just after six, plenty of time. If I had realized that they closed the transition area at 6:40, I would have gotten there a little earlier. Note for next year. I have never been to a race the size of Columbia and the energy was awesome!!! It just pumped me up that much more for the race.


The swim start for Columbia is an in water start. What I did not know is that the in water start is very deep, so no one can stand. I hung out by the shore line until two minutes left in the count down, and then made my way into the starting pen. I floated on my back and enjoyed the cool water and tried to relax. No need to waste energy treading water. 3-2-1 GO!!!! I know this race brings out very strong athletes, so I was focused on my goals and not the performance of others. I settled in to a comfortable pace in the middle of the pack. For the first time I was making up spots, not falling behind. With a quick review of my pace, I felt comfortable and kept swimming. Then my first problem occurred, and it could have been avoided. My goggles starting leaking. I had noticed this in the pool, earlier in the week, but I put it behind me. This simply became an annoyance through out the rest of the swim. Sighting became more of a problem, and every few minutes I would have to roll on to my back and drain my goggles. Obviously, slowing me down. With 3/4 of the swim down, I started running into some green caps. Oh no, I've fallen to the back, wait, no, these are guys from the wave ahead. Picking up the pace I finished the swim in 28 minutes. Goal number 2 met. My swim time was faster, and I felt like I had more energy coming out of the water. Without the goggle problem, I think I could have been a minute or so faster. We'll see next race.


Transition went smoothly and I was onto the bike. My goal here was to keep an avg of at least 17 mph for the entire ride. I wanted to avoid blowing up on any hills, especially knowing what lay ahead on the run course. I felt great on the bike for most of the way. I passed a few people who were, "expelling", lake water and gatorade on the road, which made me concentrate more on how I was feeling, and my fueling. I definitely got passed by my share of racers, but that was to be expected, and I only gain more respect for those people who can hammer on the bike like that. I was racing my race and feeling good about it. The bike was mostly uneventful, I took a Cicada (sp?) to the forehead on a downhill at 30+mph. That did not feel to good. With a few miles left my stomach starting cramping. This worried me a bit because I was gearing up mentally for the run. I sucked down my gel flask of hammer gel/water, and a little more water. I was off the bike in 1 hour 28 minutes. T2 was frustrating because I missed my rack by one and had run down and aisle and back to my spot. Putting on my running shoes, my neck pinched on my right side. Throwing on my fuel belt and rubbing my neck I headed out of T2.


WHAM!!! The heat slammed right into me and I had just crossed the transition mat. My stomach was feeling off, and my legs were trying to shift into run mode. I was feeling hot, slow, and somewhat defeated. I knew there was no respite from the heat on this course. I had been prepared to do this course in 50 minutes, and had actually avg a 46 minute time during training. But with the heat and the way I was feeling, I was suddenly hoping to finish. Walking seemed like an option. Then I got the boost I needed. Rounding one of the corners during the first mile, I came upon my 2 year old son Noah, and my wife. She gave me a big smile and was cheering, and Noah was yelling "Daddy Running!!" I gave him a kiss, he a laughed the laugh I love, and I was off. What occurred in a matter of seconds, gave me the boost I needed for the rest of the run. I came to find out later that he tried to catch me, and shocked a number of other runners by running the whole path around the lake with my wife in tow. Hopefully he gave someone else a boost as well. My stomach was still cramping and I was sick of sweet, so I went for my water in my fuel belt, and the bottle was empty. I had filled the gatorade flasks, but not my water flasks!!!! &@*!#! I resolved that issue at the first run station, and was settling into what was a slower than normal but comfortable pace. It was a "What about Bob" run, "baby steps up the hill". I had broken the course into pieces during training, so I was just focusing on getting to that next section. Thank you to the people with the hoses. You kept me running. In mile 3 my quads started twitching. I knew I had to stay hydrated, and I knew I had to drink more gatorade. The thought of sweet was not appealing, but sipping out my fuel belt made it easier. My bottles were for drinking, the aid stations were for cooling. The more water and ice on me the better. Knowing the run course, I knew where I could hopefully pick up the pace again, and that was mile 4. I don't know what my average was for the last 3 miles was, but it had to be more along my usual pace. I took advantage of every downhill, thank you for the advice Aaron. I had pinpointed the flat on the back side of the lake, before the last hill, to be my "go for it point". In my training runs I always picked up the pace here, and did the same in the race. It hurt, I was hot, my stomach was cramped, and I was HOT. I felt like I was balancing on a very thin line of dehydration/heat exhaustion the whole run, and this might do me in. It didn't. I finished the run in 57:54. Overall time 2:58:26, Goal number met!!! I was spent mentally and physcially. Wendy found me in the shade, staring off into nowhere. She later said I looked like I was somewhere between collapsing and crying. The truth is thats exactly where I was. I have never experienced something like that before, and I can only imagine the scale of it during a 1/2 IM or IM. Thank you to all the RATs cheering on the course. You gave me boosts when I needed them. Congrats to all the other racers. Below are the final numbers:

Swim: 28:21
Bike: 1:27:27 avg 17.4mph
Run: 57:54
Overall: 2:58:26