March 28, 2012

Ixtapa Pan American Cup

I had a great trip down to Ixtapa, Mexico for my second race of the season; the race didn’t pan out exactly the way I had hoped, but it was a great learning experience and a solid little vacation. I got a chance to travel and room with two other Americans, Kathy Rakel and Derek Oskutis, which made the trip really fun…AND I didn’t get food poisoning which made the trip even more pleasurable!

The Race:
The swim was a one loop 1500m non-wetsuit ocean swim. It was definitely non-wetsuit because the water temperature was 79F and the air was 91F! It was a nice clean beach start with some tiny little waves which helped spread everyone out in the beginning so it wasn’t a massive pile of bodies. My plan leading into this race was to cruise the swim and keep my heart rate as low as possible, so I found a nice comfortable spot in 3rd position and just stayed there and made sure the lead swimmers didn’t get away. There was quite a bit of confusion in the swim because the kayakers and safety paddlers made us go around buoys that we didn’t need to go around and the guy that was leading the swim turned at the wrong buoy and all sorts of other fun little things. Thankfully I knew the course and just kept it smooth the whole way and ended up exiting the water 2nd just behind Andrew McCartney from Canada.

The swim to bike transition is about a 600m run so transition times were all over 2 minutes. I had a good transition and was on the bike first. I got my feet in my shoes comfortably and got to drink some of my very warm PowerBar perform before I even saw anyone behind me. I didn’t want to hammer the bike right away because the plan was to get a small group away and if I went off by myself it would just be wasting energy and not helping get a few guys to go with me. I was soft pedaling for about 3 minutes before I saw someone finally bridging up to me. I was hoping that there would be more than just one person to breakaway with on the 2 lap hilly course, but everyone else behind was waiting for more people to join their group so I knew that this was a good opportunity to get some serious time on the rest of the field. I also knew that my USA teammate Derek was in the chase pack so if I went off ahead, team tactics could benefit both of us greatly. Thanks to Derek’s well developed cycling knowledge and skill he played it perfectly in the chase pack! Since I was up the road with the number one ranked athlete, Crisanto Grajales, my job was easy – Ride hard! The benefit of riding hard with just two of us verses the 20 athletes in the chase pack was to get a large gap before starting the run. Derek’s job was a little more challenging strategically, but his benefit was that he got to conserve energy by slowing the chase pack down. Thanks to Derek making sure no other breakaway attempts were successful, no one got away from that chase group of 20, and Crisanto and I were able to ride our Specialized stallions to a 2 minute lead into T2!

I had a great T2 and was out on the run first, six seconds ahead of Crisanto! It didn’t matter though; right when I started running (even though I had a 2 min lead over the chase pack) I knew my chance to podium was over. It wasn’t that I rode too hard; it was that I rode too hard for how hot it was. Even though I downed 2 bottles on the bike, drank ice water and dumped ice water on my head at EVERY aid station (4 on each lap), not being used to that type of heat took its toll on me, and my body was feeling a different type of fatigue then I have ever felt. My legs weren’t sore, my whole body just felt like shutting down. I honestly ran the absolute best I could, but ended up getting passed by ten people and finished 11th.

Knowledge in the bank! Having this information is extremely important in my career as a triathlete, and these development races are for learning things just like this. I’m a little disappointed with the result, but very happy with what I learned!


  1. Sounds like you're right up there Tom! Keep up the strong work!

  2. Amazing again. How do you perform in 91 deg heat???
    Mazatlan look out!

  3. I love your attitude! A lot of people get bogged down with what went wrong instead of using it as a learning experience that will help you for years to come. Well done!!

  4. Do it Tommy! Every race has a learning're gaining experience by the day! Keep working on that run :-)

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