She’s Doing What? Erin’s Triathlon Blog

Here Are Some Photos!
June 29, 2008, 11:11 am
Filed under: Photos

I still haven’t uploaded the pics from dad’s camera, but here are some of my official race photos. As you can see, at least I was in a good mood for the most part.

I’ll be sure to upload the others when I can find the camera cord.


How It Went
June 25, 2008, 4:43 am
Filed under: Biking, Running, Swimming

This one is for Grace. Sorry it took so long.

I am back in Madison and my Triathlon adventure was a success. Here’s how it all went down.

We flew out of Milwaukee on Friday morning. The worst part was probably packing. It’s amazing how much stuff you need for a Triathlon. The amount of schlepping involved is seriously off the charts. Waterbottles, towels, shirts, extra shorts, swimsuits, sunscreen, wetsuits, goggles, sports bras, watches, food for the race, etc. I was somehow able to get it into one suitcase and hopped on a bus to the airport.

In case you were wondering, we shipped our bikes out to Philly. Our coach dismantled them ahead of time and put them back together on the ground.

I met the rest of the Milwaukee team in the airport. Sarah, Shelly (and her husband John), Marc and John were great. They were a barrel of laughs and really rounded out the team dynamic for Wisconsin.

We got into Philly in the afternoon. I ended up getting my own room which was amazing. I enjoyed sitting, stirring and getting scared by my lonesome.

That first night was a little intense. I’d been battling a sore throat all week and that night it awful. I finally got a peak into the mirror and discovered my left tonsil was HUGE. I took some ibuprofen and went to bed early.

On Saturday we got up early to take the shuttle down from the hotel to the Triathlon expo. An expo is where you pick up your race information, time chip, t-shirt, etc. You can also buy other Tri gear like jerseys, race belts and transition bags. We toured the Expo for awhile and Chris, his GF Jackie and Shelly took a dip in an endless pool. It was cool to watch.

We went back to the hotel a few hours later. We mounted our bikes and rode back to the park to check out river. I was nervous. I hate biking on busy roads but more importantly, I was worried the ride down to the park would wear me out. Before the race I was constantly worried I wasn’t going to make it.

We’ll get back to that.

We were swimming in the Schuylkill (Skoo-cul) River. The locals think it’s disgusting. The big joke was that you can’t even get fish to swim in it. After our ride (only 15 minutes BTW) we jumped inthe water. It was warm and surprisingly clean. And the water was really clear. I don’t know what those Philly folks were talking about.

We splashed around for awhile and went back to the hotel. I felt a little more relaxed after seeing the transition area and swimming in the water. I hooked up with my dad who came into town that day. We caught up, watched the Olympic Trials (Yeah hot guys Diving!) and then went down to the Team In Training Pasta Party.

There was a lot of fanfare when we arrived. The TNT staff had noisemakers, noise bats, whistles, cowbells etc. We sat by state and listened to the MC give out awards for the top 10 fundraisers. The top guy raised $46,000+! Can you imagine?

The food at the part was dreadful and the speeches were long and sad. I went back upstairs afterwards, took some more ibuprofen for my tonsil (still HUGE) and tried to go to bed at 8:30. I actually slept alright until about 1 when I couldn’t sleep. (Thanks giant tonsil!) I watched some infomercials and tuckered out around 2.

Just in time for me to wake up at 4. Yes 4. We needed to bike down to the course at 5:15 in the morning. I got up extra early to check and re-check my transistion bag, write notes to the fam in case I died (yes, I was seriously thinking I’d die) and put ice in my waterbottle. I had everything in my bag, my helmet on my head. I took a deep breath (too deep, it hurt the tonsil) and made it out the door of the hotel. Overnight, the TNT folks put baloons and signs on my door. It was a festive way to wake up.

I gave my dad my transiston bag and we biked over to the park again. Dad and Shelly’s husband John took the rental car over so we wouldn’t have to carry all of our gear on our backs. It was nervewracking waiting to find them when we got there. We got checked in, body marked (my bib number was 2085,pretty lucky I’d say) and we dropped our things off at the transition point before the start of the race. That was a weird part of the morning. You had to take a bus over to the swim start. Once you got on the bus there was no going back. Everything you wanted at the transition had to be in place or you were SOL. That’s Shit outta Luck for the uninitiated.

Nervous, and stomach turning, I got on the bus. Here goes nothing.

A triathlon is run in waves. Waves are usually created by age groups (Pros, Females 15-19, Males 24-32, etc.) There were 11 waves in this Triathlon and I was in 10. Fuck. I had to wait in a giant ball of nerves on the shore for over an hour. It was dreadful. Worse than the doctor’s office, worse than the first day fo school, worse than an awful date. The moment was made even more wracking thanks to the fact that the other folks in team wisconsin were all in the water by wave 4.

I paced, I watched, I waited. Finally my wave came. The Philly Tri is an in water start. You walk down to the dock, hop in, and tread water until you hear a loud whistle. When the whistle blows your day of crazy begins. It starts with people kicking you in the face. Since there is no wall to shove off of people just push off each other for the swim. I stayed to back, held my own pace and somehow managed to make it the .9 mile to the other side of the river.

As we got out, the volunteers were standing in the water wearing bio-hazard suits. They laughed when I asked them if I should be worried. I still don’t quite get that.

I ran my heart out to get to my bike, transitioned in 4-ish minutes and pedaled out to the bike course. I was most nervous for that part. I hadn’t biked nearly as much as I should’ve during my training. It showed on the course. People zipped and zagged by me. It was scary but kind of fun. I made up some time by not braking down the giant hills. I didn’t know I had it in me.

The bike course was two laps and I was with the crowd on lap one but apparently all of those people were almost done because on the second lap I was all by myself. I was comforted by the locals and the TNT supporters who yelled out positive enforcement at every oppportunity. I actually started to cry on the second bike loop. It was a combination of being tired and a lot of emotion just kind of hitting me at once. I felt bad for being tired. I don’t have cancer and other than being a fat kid, I’m pretty healthy. I had this body that until now, was just a place to hold sandwiches. I cried for the guilt, for the people who are battling blood cancers, for the people who lost the fight, and because I thought I was in last place. It was just a lot to take.

Luckily I was wearing sunglasses and I was so far away from everyone else that no one saw the breakdown.

I made it through the second loop and because I got so behind, people were walking up the hill I was trying to come down. I had to swerve and put my feet on the ground to keep from hitting strollers and such. Scary stuff. My coach yelled at the race organizer because the situation was really dangerous for everybody.

Then I put my feet to the street for the run. I ended up doing a really fast walk with an occasional jog. I walked with a guy from Philly who was really funny and made the last hour of my first Tri a real pleasure.

My coach, his GF and my Wisconsin teammates met a few hundred yards from the finish line. We ran in the last 100 feet, even though my legs felt like jelly. It was such an amazing feeling…truly indescribable. I havent felt that proud of myself in a really long time. And it meant a lot to me that others were so supportive. That medal and those memories are my new prized possessions.

So that’s the scoop. Sorry it took so long. You can thank Grace for pushing me to get it all out. Now…on to the thank you cards.

Oh, and I’m already looking into my next Tri. Who’s up for a trip to Portage in August?

My Morning In Wingra
May 15, 2008, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Swimming

When I was 7-years-old, I played coach pitch. I was standing on the pitcher’s mound when a little boy told me to move so he could throw the ball to someone behind me. Instead of moving, I told him I’d catch the ball. He threw it, and with the accuracy of an arrow flying true, he hit me square in the eye. More than the pain in my face, I was shocked. I got the wind knocked out of me and for about 10 seconds I felt like I was drowning.

Today, I felt that feeling again.

We donned our wetsuits at just past 7 in the morning for our first swim in Lake Wingra. I discovered today that I’d been putting my wetsuit on inside out. (Note: Always put on aquatic gear in front of the mirror or at least kind friends.)

We waded into the water slowly. It was 60 degrees outside. See the picture above? That’s Vilas Beach in the summer. Hoppin’, warm, bright and sunny. I saw it gray and solitary.  We walked through the seaweed and the muck until the water was waist high. We stalled. Just as we were about to bob underwater, Coach Chris reminded us that our wetsuits were not impervious to water. We stalled a little longer.

Finally, I counted to three and dunked. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 18 years. I just survived the worst winter in Madison history. I’ve polar dipped and lived to tell about it. But never in my life have I felt so cold, so quick. I  brought my face out of the water and gasped. It was worse than running 7 miles, worse than biking up hill. I couldn’t catch my breath.

After swimming (err, dog paddling) for awhile, we stopped in the middle of Lake Wingra and looked around. It was frigid but gorgeous. The surroundings were definitely better than the Middleton pool.

We didn’t stay in the water too long before we headed back to shore. I put my head in the water this time. We finally made it out of the water and I didn’t start to warm up until i took that wetsuit off. I’ve been out of the water for over an hour now and I’m still a little cold.

But I want to go back. I need to go back. Swimming is my safety sport. If that’s shocking my system with about a month to go, then there’s a problem. I know it will warm up here, and it should be warmer in Philly, but just in case, I will be practicing with cold showers.

May 6, 2008, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Injuries

My injuries are starting to get the best of me.

I fell walking out of the movies and it turns out I sprained my wrist. Doh!

I have pink eye in both eyes. I think it’s allergy/cold related but annoying nonetheles.

And today during swimming I wrenched my shoulder. Because gross eyes and a hurt wrist just weren’t enough.

Only 5-6 weeks left. I just need to hunker down and finish strong.

CrazyKegs Is Coming!
April 17, 2008, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Fundraising

CrazyKegs, my first fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, is taking place on Saturday, April 26 at 9 pm. It’s at my friends’ house and it should be a great evening. Admission is $10 and that includes beer and food. Regardless of the number of people we get, it will just be nice to see my friends again. I have a handful coming in to town for Crazylegs.

Three cheers for beers!

The Week At A Glance
April 8, 2008, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Biking, Clinic, Fundraising, Motivation, Running

I’ve been hitting the proverbial wall this week. Things are starting to pick up in class and work just as my Tri training is nearing its apex in difficulty. When everything comes to a head like this I tend to go numb and I get into this really weird head space. Hopefully the fog will lift by the end of the week and things will be back to normal. Otherwise April is going to be a very long month.

Anyway, I survived the team run on Saturday. Not only did I survive, I almost enjoyed myself. The arboretum is in the top 5 for prettiest places in Madison and the lakes are finally beginning to melt. I saw birds in the water! Birds! I got to run without a jacket and I made a pretty sweet playlist for my iPod. It definitely made the whole thing go a lot faster.

We also had our Nutrition Clinic over the weekend. We talked about high Glycemic Index foods vs. Low Glycemic Index foods. There was a great chart and a nice list of GI numbers and stuff but I keep forgetting to bring it out of the car so the material has yet to help me.

Tomorrow is re-commitment day which means I need to have $1,000 fundraised. I have $571 on the site which is almost entirely from my friends which is great. My folks haven’t donated yet and neither has my brother. They are going to pool their donations together and let my brother match through his work since they do 3 to 1 matches. So $500 turns into $1500 over night. Once that goes through I’ll have $2,000 before my fundraisers.

This weekend is my first outdoor group ride. Here is our route for those of you who are interested. We’re starting out in Deforest so I’m trying to convince my dad to join us so I don’t have to drive out there by myself. Plus he likes riding his bike and I think he’d enjoy himself.

Those are all the updates for the week thus far. Thanks for all of the kind words, contributions and moral support.

Fitting In
April 5, 2008, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Getting Started, Running


After the great shoe disappearance of ’08, I was down a good pair of sneakers. I replaced them with a sub-par pair knowing I’d be getting some nice ones soon enough. That day came on Thursday.

I was nervous. Walking into the running store is just as intimidating if not more so than walking into the gym for the first time. When you don’t look like an athlete you stick out like a sore thumb. I delayed as long as I could but I needed the shoes so after sitting in the car and fueling up on a cranberry muffin, I went in.

I got inside and there was no one there. Just a wall of shoes and turnstiles of jackets, rain gear, short shorts and other equipment that scares the bejesus out of me. Eventually a girl named Sarah poked her head out of the back. I told her I needed running shoes for my first triathlon. She gave me the look most people do when I tell them this (a combination of shock, laughter and doubt). But she told me to slip off my socks and shoes so we could get fitted.

8 million tests, 5 minutes on the in-store treadmill, 7 pairs of shoes and two different orthotics later, I walked out with a pair of new running shoes. I also found out that I’ve been wearing the wrong size shoe for awhile. I’ve been buying 9 1/2 for probably 8 or 10 years now and she took a measurement and said I was a 10. My shoes have never felt tight though, and I do buy dress shoes in 10. I guess it was just hard seeing it.

Anyway, you buy running shoes a half size bigger than your actual size so my new kicks are 10 1/2. I got on the treadmill to try them out and shockingly, they fit.

Sarah was fun and made the process a lot less intimidating. We talked about running and my Triathlon and the Chicago Marathon ( I’m walking it with a friend this October).

It was a long process but she put in all of the specs on my shoes so when I come back to get some new ones for the marathon I won’t have to go through the tests again…unless I want to get fitted for a speed walking shoe.

I’m testing my new sneakers out on the road today with our first Team Run. I’ve been dreading it for awhile, but maybe with my new shoes and the first 60 degree day of the year it won’t be so bad.