2019 Member Spotlight – Erika Harris

August, 2019

How did you get involved in triathlon?

I was introduced to triathlon through my mom and my younger sister. They had done a relay triathlon the previous year, and then I volunteered at the next super sprint they did while I was in PT for a torn rotator cuff. After I was cleared to swim, I started going on runs and bike rides with them, and I taught myself how to swim from YouTube videos. I did a super sprint, then looked for running groups and found DC Tri, and registered for the 2017 NTP program. I was hooked and I kept going!

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in a triathlon?

This is so embarrassing! I had qualified for the AGNC in Omaha, and I was so excited to do a nationals race that I forgot to secure my water bottle on the bike correctly, and it kind of fell off such that I couldn’t reach it. That meant that for the entire hour and a half I was on the bike course, I consumed zero ounces of water. Nothing. I got to transition already tired, grabbed the water bottle I had there, drank it all before I made it out of transition. Unfortunately, the race had been delayed 45 minutes at the start, and I was one of the last age groups into the water, so by the time my dehydrated self made it to the run course, it was noon, hot, humid, and I was overheating like crazy. Also bad for me, the aid stations on the run were all out of wet towels, and the water was very, very warm. I got a charley horse in my left leg first at about mile 2, and by mile 4 I was limping around on two legs that were completely cramped up. I think I walked most of mile 6, but I did manage to run across the finish line. Lesson learned: water is good. Water is very good. Water is life.

Any memorable races or experience?

My most memorable race was the first Ladies’ Choice Super Sprint triathlon I did with my mom and younger sister on Mother’s Day. My mom was still undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, so she did the duathlon with my sister (who dislikes swimming). For the run, all three of us wore matching breast cancer shirts over our trisuits. Later that spring, about 2 weeks after my mom had a double mastectomy, she was cleared to bike but not to run, and I had just done my first Olympic tri the day before at Jamestown. The race director, a truly wonderful woman, let us switch my mom’s registration to a relay, so I did the swim and the run and she did the bike as Team Beat Cancer.

Any fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share?

After college I ran away from home and regular college graduate jobs to join Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus! I spent four years living on the circus train, working in the wardrobe department with performers and crew from all over the world. And yes, I did get to pet an elephant, but I did not pet the tigers or lions! After rejoining the regular world, I kept up with costuming, and I design and make Renaissance and cosplay costumes for fun. My best creation so far has been a Tudor-era gown based on Disney’s Belle.