Tuesday, March 30, 2010

break it down: Mazatlan

I didn’t race in Mexico ten days ago. But lots of other guys did. My goal this year is to get ITU points at multiple races and to get a World Cup start next year, so I am rather interested in seeing how the races are going and what I can learn from them.

I raced at the Pan Am Champs in Mazatlan in 2008. The ocean was really rough and the run was very hot. Ben Collins and Matt Chrabot slipped away on the swim and exited 15-20 seconds ahead of the main group.  The main group was rather strung out at the swim exit: it was a continuous flow of dudes for maybe 30-45 seconds. This led to a critical first lap on the bike, as everybody was racing to see what group they could get into.  I eventually ended up in a pack of about five guys and this was the first pack that didn’t make it into the main field. We were caught by one group from behind, swelling our group to 10-ish.  Up ahead, Matt & Ben extended their lead to 2-3 minutes over a very large group of guys who didn’t want to work together. Great runners like Jarrod Shoemaker wanted to catch the break but didn’t want to overwork themselves in the process.  Guys who didn’t think they could outrun Jarrod, like my friend Dave Messenheimer, tried repeatedly to bridge the gap but didn’t want to bring a better runner with them.  So the main pack muddled along – not fast enough to catch Ben & Matt but just quick enough every now and then to stay away from my group.  On the run, Matt ran a solid enough time to win the race. Jarrod & Francisco Serrano and a few others raced each other for second. Ben struggled in the heat and DNF’ed.

So anyways, on to 2010.  What can we figure out from the results?  I may have to ask around a bit to learn “what really happened,” as the numbers rarely tell the whole story.

The Full Results are on the ITU website, so I won’t copy them all here … but I will pull out some pieces to analyze.

Francisco Serrano won the race in 1:53:35. He only had the third fastest run of the day, 40 seconds behind Jarrod. So he must have been in a breakaway.

Cam Dye took second in 1:53:46. His run was 74 seconds slower than Francisco’s, so he must have been in a faster break … and Francisco only beat him by 11 seconds, so the pass was probably around a mile to go … maybe even later.

Jarrod was third in 1:54:12, with the fastest run of the day. So he outran the main bike pack … and also passed all of the other guys who rode with Cam and/or Francisco.  Let’s see how those packs played out…

Looking at the swim, there was a six-mean lead group between 18:46-18:51: Eder Mejia (MEX), Christian Ramos (MEX), Cam Dye (USA), Tsukasa Hirano (JPN), Kyle Leto (USA) and Leonardo Saucedo (MEX). Kudos to the Mexican team for putting three men in the break!  We typically think of that country having a lot of strong runners but few great swimmers … that seems to be changing.

It is sort of hard to see how big the next pack was. There were six guys between 19:20-19:27 (including Jarrod and John Dahlz), then six more at 19:32 (including Serrano and Americans Matt Wisthoff and Barrett Brandon) … then a 19:34, 19:36, 19:45, 19:51 … those guys trailing off the back *could* make the bike group if they really rail the first few miles.  But unfortunately for them, the guys ahead of them will also be sprinting so they’ll have their work cut out for them.

After those two groups, I see another cluster of six with times from 20:06-20:13. This group includes Victor Plata and Andrew Starykowicz, two guys who I have raced many times. Andrew is very strong on the bike, so I would expect him to be able to catch the “B” pack.  Victor, on the other hand, is nearing the end of his pro racing career and has been working tons of hours at his law job. But he’s been known to get in shape very quickly once he starts his serious training.

Behind the Starky/Plata pack, I see four guys between 21:48-21:56. They The spacing for the next fourteen guys is hard to figure out, stretching from 21:19 to 22:24 with gaps as large as 14 seconds. Finally I see am American I know (Cyrus) at 23:24 and an Israeli who I don’t know at 25:59. Both of these guys are in serious trouble at this point, since they’ll have nobody to work with on the bike and the Mazatlan course is eight 5k loops. Each loop only takes 7 or 8 minutes, so if you exit the water alone and already a few minutes behind, you will almost certainly get lapped out.  This was Cyrus’s first ITU race, and he took the experience in stride.  He’ll be back!

On to the bike leg … again, only looking at the times, so it will be hard to say when the groups formed, whether anybody bridged or got dropped … or whether a heroic attack/break lasted for 3 or 4 laps and then got caught … I can’t say who chased or didn’t chase a break … or whether the pack sort of let a weaker runner slip away … but with those caveats, let’s take a peek.

The strongest bike time of the day was Cam Dye at 1:00:31. Since he was also in the swim break, he must have been solo on the bike.  Wow.  Francisco had the next best split at 1:01:10. So he might have bridged up to some other riders. After that I start seeing a cluster of times.

To really get a feel for the bike leg from just times, you want to look at Swim+T1+Bike times. 

First Dude: Cam Dye, 1:20:04

Second Group: Serrano, Saucedo, Leto, 1:21:22 (+1:18)

Third Group: Ten guys including Jarrod and Wisthoff, 1:22:47 (+2:43)

Fourth Group: The Starky Express, towing six other guys including Barrett Brandon, 1:23:07 (+3:03)

Fifth Group: twelve or thirteen guys including Americans Jordan Jones, Justin Park and Matt Balzer, 1:23:48 (+3:44)

Sixth Group: six guys including Americans Jimmy Archer and Henry Hagenbuch, 1:26:15, (+6:11)

Stragglers: four more guys came in solo, at 1:26:34, 1:30:39, 1:31:46 and 1:31:51. Only one completed the run.

Lapped out: five guys … five more finished the bike but not the run, including the three mentioned above

Finally, let’s see what happened on the run.

Cam Dye ran strong out of his one-man break. His 32:53 was the 11th fastest run split, within 77 seconds of every runner except for Jarrod Shoemaker.  But he also lost 15 seconds in transition to Francisco Serrano.  Francisco outran Cam by 74 seconds … just enough to take the race win.  Cam held on for second.

Jarrod ran up into third place from that large third bike group.  His 30:53 was the best run split in the race by a rather large margin.

The other two guys from the second bike group – Leto and Saucedo – faded to 12th and 15th with splits of 34:41 and 35:20, a bit slower than the median.

Others from Jarrod’s group who ran well included Eder Mejia (32:03 to finish 4th), Crisanto Grajales (32:37 to finish 6th), and Arturo Garza (32:58 to finish 7th). 

Danilo Pimental and Matt Long ran up into the top ten from the fourth bike group.  Eligio Cervants ran up from the fifth group into 9th place with a 31:59.

Henry Hagenbuch (31:36) and Sean Jefferson (31:46) ran impressive splits from the sixth bike group but their six-minute gap to Cam and 2.5-minute gap to the fifth pack made it tough to move up all that much.  They finished 23rd and 24th, just outside of the top-20 cutoff to get ITU points.

Next up: I still owe you a post about the RainMan race, an update on recent training, and maybe a similar “break it down” post about last weekend’s Mooloolaba World Cup.

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