Erich is having a fantastic season in 2009 with a great finish at Ironman CDA and some great finishes at 70.3 races. Below is his race report from the Cancun 70.3 where he was the 1st in his age group and 16th overall!
Congratulations Erich, keep on rolling!
I lined myself up along the buoy line and ran out as far as I could
before starting my stroke. The first buoy was 250 m off-shore and the
pack (29 and under) had separated before that first turn. Luckily I
was in the front group and enjoyed a draft. That was until a jellyfish
and I crossed paths. I got stung just below my neck and seized up; I
thought about peeing in the water and swimming in place, but continued
on. By this point I had lost the feet I was on and debated whether or
not to push it to catch up. I kept my rhythm and caught some people
who fell off the pack coming in. Overall, my swim was good as I came
out of the water in 4th position.
Transition was quite a ways away as we had to run for some distance on
the beach, then through a water park, and finally into transition
which was by no means “small.” Fortunately, I moved into second
position making the run to my bike.
The bike course consisted of two 40 km loops 5 km from transition. I
was expecting a fast bike time as the course is flat, but the heat and
headwinds made for a hard day. I found a good rhythm early on and
moved into first position by the 25 km mark. Approaching the first
turn-around, a pack of 3 riders had formed and were undoubtedly
drafting. Going into the second turn-around, that pack had swelled to
10 and was growing exponentially larger at every turn-around
thereafter. I really wish the drafting would have been regulated
better and since this meant the run would not be equal for all.
Overall, I kept myself ahead of the packs for the duration and felt
good despite the increasing heat and humidity.
Like the bike course, the run was two loops – but just a tad bit too
long. T2 was quick and I headed out onto the course ready to take the
top spot. My split for the first two miles was 13 minutes, but after
seeing some ragged professionals as they hit the first turn-around, I
lost some focus and started thinking about how hot it was. With that
lapse of focus, my pace slowed and I was in survival mode. I never
walked, but I’m not sure I can say that I “ran” for the duration.
After completing the first lap, the second place guy – who was 20
seconds down – pointed at me smiling and pumping his fist. At that
point, I told myself that no one here has put in the training time
that I have or deserved to be even a step in front of me. With that in
mind, I ran a with more urgency to the last turn-around. However, my
lead shrank to 10 seconds, so I slowed my pace and waited. From there,
he ran right behind me until about 1,200 m to go where he broke into
stride and opened up a small gap. I matched his stride since the pace
we were running was somewhat comfortable. After all, it was quite
obvious that we were destined for a sprint finish. Shortly after
accelerating, he wisely dropped back and cockily said “Good luck” to
which I replied “To you the same.” As we approached the 300 m mark, he
once again accelerated and opened up a gap. I looked over towards the
finish chute since it was directly to our left and saw we had to
navigate two 90-degree left turns before the final straightaway. When
I looked ahead again, the guy looked over his shoulder and was
beginning to celebrate his victory. I ran into the two left turns as
hard as I could and was by his side with 75 m to go. The race was
right there for the taking and I started my sprint. When it comes to
sprinting, I feel that I can hold my own with anyone. I pulled away
opening up a gap big enough to start celebrating and I did!
Almost immediately after crossing the line, I laid down in
exhaustion/fatigue/dehydration/etc. This race is hands down, the
hardest race I’ve ever done. The water was a balmy 84°, the bike was
hot, then windy, and the run seemed hellishly hot at times. The course
was also long, hence the 72.8 reference. For instance, the run alone
was at least 2 km long! However, it makes the win all the more