DC Triathlon Club

2020 Member Spotlight – Chelsey Berlin

July, 2020

How did you get involved in triathlons?

I think it all dates back to a hip issue that was discovered and diagnosed when I started running frequently in 2012. On the advice of medical professionals, I stopped running for several years (!!!) and filled the void with swimming and spin classes. I bought my first bicycle — my beloved Jamis Citizen 1, a comfort hybrid — at the end of 2017 for tooling around town. I woke up one morning in May 2018 and decided to go on a bike ride for fitness. I rode from Petworth down to Georgetown, crossed the bridge and got on the Mount Vernon trail. I went all the way down to George Washington’s estate and back — 47 miles — without a flat kit, which I hadn’t heard of at the time. (If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t even know there were tubes inside my tires.) I loved every second of that ride. Shortly thereafter, I began seeing a physical therapist who had confidence in my ability to run again despite my hip issue. The second she cleared me for a walk-run program, I signed up for the 2019 New Triathlete Program.

What was your first triathlon?

PeasantMan Sprint 2019. There’s a photo on the NTP Instagram from Coach AJ’s clinic on run mechanics the day before the race. My face in that photo can only be described as “F***, what have I gotten myself into?”

Any memorable races or experience?

Is it corny to say that every race thus far has been memorable? The 2019 season was my first, and I fell in love with the sport so quickly that I took on multiple opportunities to race. I completed the sprint at PeasantMan, the club’s duathlon and training sprint, and the olympic at Diamond in the Rough and Waterman. My Jamis Citizen 1 made it through the entire season and is something of a folk legend now. 🙂 Each race taught me something new and was so exciting; and felt like such a gift after years spent unable to run.

I also loved the training weekends: camping, swimming, biking, running, cookouts in a state park?! Hell yeah! I remember calling a friend from the Elk Neck weekend and exclaiming: I’ve finally found MY PEOPLE in DC!

What races were you looking forward to this year?

I am registered for Ironman 70.3 Maine in August. (It was cancelled on June 26.) The race takes place in my hometown Old Orchard Beach. Think old-timey amusement park, a high school that graduates sixty kids a year, long sandy beaches, salty ocean air, and fried dough. I love it so much. My mother was instrumental in developing our town’s expanded Memorial Park (which houses the race’s athlete village and finish line) and moving municipal parking to a lot on Milliken Street (which serves as transition). For years, I have watched athletes come in and out of town with bikes, wetsuits, and fancy watches in awe of their athleticism. I never imagined I’d ever be one of them. I’m so grateful to NTP, particularly Coach Kate and all the friends I’ve made, for encouraging me to dream this big and for getting me to a place where I am ready to train for it. There aren’t words for the gratitude and excitement and anticipation I feel (to do this race in 2021)!

What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?

I love discussing the golden age of television, whipping up a multi-course meal, and most things in the great outdoors including sailing, hiking/camping, and snowboarding, because you can take a gal out of Maine but you cannot take Maine out of a Mainer.

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

I lived in the Middle East for five years and spent another seven splitting my time between DC and Jerusalem. My Arabic and Hebrew skills are waning, if anyone is looking for a conversation partner!