Beating the heat

June 3rd, 2010

Standing with Ixtapa 1st place winner, Sean Jefferson.

Run, Bike, and Run. That was the set-up of the 2010 Ixtapa ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup triathlon in Ixtapa, Mexico on May 22.  Wait, shouldn’t it be swim, bike, run, being that it is a triathlon?  Well, in fact due to hazardous water conditions — 10 to 12 ft waves and rip tides — even for the professional, the 1500 m swim became a 3k run, turning the triathlon into a different monster, know as a duathlon.

An enjoyable view.

In the final minutes before the race, officials decided that water conditions were too dangerous and to play it on the safe side, decided to substitute a 3K run for the swim.  Although I understand their decision, I believe professional athletes should have been able to do the swim, especially since points were on the line.  Without a full triathlon, points could not be given to athletes even though that was what we were there for. Although no points, we were there, and ready to race.

To add to the increased intensity that a double run creates, the blistering Mexican heat, and humidity took its toll on many of the elite athletes.  More than 30 percent of those who started did not finish, and I even had some heat problems after I crossed the line – surprising to me since I train in the Texas heat.  Starting off with an out and back run, my strategy was to run fast enough to be in a good position for the bike.  Once on the bike, I found myself at the end of the 2nd pack, and I made my way to the front in order to turn the pack into a chase pack so we could close in on the lead pack.  After only a few miles, we met up with the lead pack and merged into one massive bike pack, that meant only one thing, who was the fastest runner?  With an inefficient T2, I found myself having to chase down runners on the four lap run.  Slowly moving from the mid-20s, I fought my way through the heat and competitors to finish 11th in a time of  1:45:50, Only 20 seconds behind a prize purse finish.

Monkeying around.

I was not the only American to be able to efficiently adapt to a different type of race, Sean Jefferson, 1st overall, and Seth Wealing, 2nd overall, also had a great showing.  Sean Jefferson, also coached by my triathlon coach Tim Crowley, had his breakthrough race dominating the run in a time of 32:10 and taking first.  Sean, also the 256th American to run sub 4 in the mile, will be one to watch for as he transitions from an elite runner to an elite triathlete and I wish him the best.  While we are talking about racing, I also competed in the 20th Annual Capital of Texas Triathlon in Austin, TX, a week later on May 31, only 60 miles south of where I live near Ft. Hood.  There I finished 3rd overall in a time of 2:05:37.  Congratulations to all the finishers and competitors, especially the Wounded Warriors, who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Thanks to all my sponsors – Total Immersion Swimming, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Serotta, and Sable Water Optics, who helped me travel hundreds of miles to Mexico, or even less than 100 miles to Austin and give me the products I needed to ensure that only thing I have to worry about is how hard can I push myself. Make sure to tune back in, as I take on the 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon on June 5th and try to help the Army men win a national championship while grabbing a podium finish individually.