Our December featured athlete has been in DC for the last 12 years after being born in Puerto Rico, spending time in Denver, Vienna (not the exciting one in Austria) and attending college in Rhode Island. Eric Goetz is just finishing up his tour as DC Tri’s Vice-President and has never been one to shy away from adventure. Whether he’s crushing Ironman courses, riding outlandish cross-country bike rides or cruising through century rides in his favorite gear, 53/12, one thing is certain, Eric Goetz will be planning for his next incredible journey. This year sees Eric sharing his quest for adventure with friends as they plan to Race Across America in just 6-days as well as organizing the fourth Total 200 cycling event. Most significantly, we extend to Eric and his new wife, club member Christal Goetz, our most heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for their new lives together.
What do you do when you aren't training?
Rum, oh wait, you mean everything else in life? Seriously though, in addition to the normal everyday life things - spend time with family & friends, run my business, play with our dog, gamble, DC Tri Club meetings, travel, throw parties, plan new adventures, volunteer, house projects, happy hours, etc -- really there isn't much time left. I've also been planning two events for next year; Total 200 v4 and Endure 24. While many may recognize Total 200 (a one day 200 mile bike ride), Endure 24 is a new race which involves biking for 24 hours and is a non profit venture to benefit Autism Speaks. There will be options for all level athletes to get involved in this epic event with categories for 6 person and 3 person teams, as well as solo riders. More details are coming- and the event will likely be in Oct 2008.
What is it that drives you to compete in triathlon and undertake grueling biking adventures?
I love the challenge - pushing myself to the limit and then redefining my limit..it's a thrill. Funny thing is though that I don't see it as grueling. For me, there is nothing more peaceful than being on my bike for weeks on end or running a race. Its just me and my thoughts, it's incredibly freeing. The moment on a bike tour that I forget what day it is and could care less - that's a great day. No idea where you'll be sleeping or what you'll eat even when you're tired and hungry- it's a happiness that can't be fooled.
You will be competing in an event called Race Across America (RAAM) in June of next year. You and your team, the Xtreme4, will be riding on behalf of the environment. How and why did you pick the environment as the representative cause?
As a team, we didn't want this just to be about us. We saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness about alternate modes of transportation and green initiatives. It's a cause that not only is dear to all the team members but I feel has a direct link to our future - especially for those of us that love the outdoors. Our hope is that our cycling across the country will not only raise awareness of environmental issues, but also inspire more people to consider biking, public transportation or alternative fuel/fuel efficient cars. Check out our site for more info (http://xtreme4.com) and let me know if you're interested in getting involved!
You're passion is for biking. You have ridden cross-country many times, and are planning on competing in a race next year called Race Across America (RAAM). How has your biking background helped you excel at triathlon?
My biking was a huge equalizer when I first started triathlon- not knowing squat about swimming (putting on my wet suit with the zipper in the front before quickly being schooled), and dying on the runs (going out like it was a 50 yard dash until I couldn't breathe). My biking experience and years of training allowed me to naturally pace myself in that discipline which is more than I could say for the rest of the race. But I learned that pacing was an important facet to any sport and I could relate, as I still do, that a 56 mile ride pace is close to a 13.1 mile run pace.
So it was my crutch until my bike specific strength was ironically diminished by all the run and swim training I integrated into my life. Luckily my training also taught me this is a three discipline sport and the balance of all three is critical to be most effective. I still love to ride more than any other part of triathlon and look forward to getting back to top bike shape for RAAM in June '08. I know my run will decline and my swim training may be cut short but it's a balance to focus your body for the goals ahead.
How has triathlon helped to define who you are today?
Basically, I'm a lot more health conscience and more balanced in my approach to life. I eat better and exercise often, which is a 180 from my life a few years ago.
What would you do if the world ran out of rum?
Build a still. I've been to a rum factory or two, it can't be that hard and we have space in the back yard.
Tell us about the most enjoyable triathlon you have done.
St. Croix 70.3. It's challenging and beautiful, the pristine beaches and lime-n-da-coconut drinks after reward you. And, there is rum before and after the race.
Being a non-swimmer yourself, what advice do you have for others out there where swimming is not their strength?
Bike. You only spend a fraction of the time on the swim, so get in your swim practice and get better through the years but don't beat yourself up over it. It only takes a few minutes faster on the bike or run to negate the effects of a bad swim. That doesn't mean you should ignore the swim or not strive to improve, just understand that it takes a long time to get better.
What is the most humbling experience you have had while participating in a triathlon or other sporting event?
Watching the determination of certain athletes that just leaves me in awe. The pros are amazing and some age groupers make me wonder what type of engine allows them to compete at such high levels- but it's not the speed that amazes me. It's the ones at the brink of collapsing or attempting a race that could kill them- whether they finish an IM in 8:15 or over 17:00. Actually the most impressed I've been by an athlete was in St Croix when I saw some people finishing the race at 4:30p. Let me explain- this is a 70.3 that starts before 7a. You do the math, that's a long time. But it's also like being in a furnace- It's 95 degrees and humid with sun that will cook you alive. Especially in the early afternoon when the race shuts down. That's right, the clock, finish line, aid stations, volunteers and all but one bike rack are packed up- and they're still running, unsupported. That was humbling for sure.
How has DC Tri helped you achieve/pursue some of your goals?
The DC Tri community has been the backbone of my growth in the sport- everything from friends getting me out training to learning about heart rate pacing on the forums. The drive and fearless attack on the sport that embodies so many people in the club has invigorated me to advance my own goals, reach higher and grasp for things I once had no inclination of doing. I know that sounds like a bunch of bull, but realistically being surrounded by athletes that want to keep pushing the edge has made it easy to be myself and not shy away from challenges most of my non triathlon friends call crazy. I'm at home.
You've served as the DC Tri VP for the past year, what do you see as the Club's greatest achievement during your tenure?
The greatest achievement is not anything that the board has done specifically, rather the members growing the club through their involvement and contributions. We've done a lot to facilitate that and taken steps to have a better foundation for the future of the club which will hopefully grow and strengthen through the years. Getting our members to value the community we're building and the intangible benefits is a goal that will benefit everyone involved.
If you could choose one place on earth to live, where would it be and why?
That's a hard one, I like to travel and I am constantly planning the next adventure. There's just too many criteria to nail it down to "the" place. And picking one place to live doesn't really mean it's the only place you would experience, but for me it's a place that would allow me to keep exploring many places. Lots of places are nice for a week, or even a month, but they're totally different when you live there so I tend not to get sucked into that absolute. Nevertheless some great qualities would be someplace warm with great roads to bike on, near the ocean and the mountains, that has international culture and near friends and family. If there's a Dairy Queen down the road that would help.
In terms of life, triathlon or any other adventures you may encounter, where do you see yourself in two years?
Having kids and teaching them to swim- because we all know the good swimmers started when they were young. Adventures are not always known two years in advance- but I've been determined to take a long bike tour every two years, travel someplace new outside the lower 48 every year, and reach 3 months of vacation a year.