USA Triathlon News Blogs Championships Blog Hooked on Multisport

Hooked on Multisport

By Erin Sontowski | May 24, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

My name is Erin Sontowski, and I am in my second year of multisport racing. To most people in this community, that would make me a newbie. Which I completely agree with. Heck, I still get real nervous about getting knocked over on a windy day while on my aerobars. (That may be a whole different thing altogether though, let's just say coordination has never been my strongest skill.)

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful coach who is patient and knowledgeable, and it certainly doesn't hurt that he is my big brother. After spending the last eight years watching my older brother, Mike, compete as an elite-level triathlete, I knew it was inevitable that I would end up joining him along the way. He has worked so hard to be an amazing athlete, and now he can add USA Triathlon Level I and Youth and Junior Certified Coach to his resume. Now, as one of his athletes, I get to share my triumphs as well as my struggles with him both as a brother and a coach. Plus when he gives me particularly grueling hill or sprint workouts, I get to share words with him that I probably wouldn't with any other coach that wasn't blood related.

Now, the joke is always, "Why torture yourself with just one sport, when you can do that with three?" As an outsider for so long, I can honestly say I always thought multisport races were something I could physically never do. I was just a runner. I had done some 5ks, and a few longer trail runs, but then I eventually decided that wasn't enough, and I started running half marathons. But, alas, that wasn't enough either. The multisport bug finally bit me. One night, after indulging in a few beers, I told my brother I wanted to do my first triathlon. I borrowed an old wetsuit of his, and found a bike on loan, which I lovingly came to call "Frankenstein." It was a bike from the ‘70s that we doctored up with aerobars and new tires; long story short, not a huge help since it weighed what felt like 100 pounds. However, after my first race in Buffalo, Minnesota, last year, I knew I was hooked. As most multisport athletes seem to agree, the adrenaline and excitement of racing is absolutely a drug that is more addictive than you could ever imagine. And if you work hard enough to grab a podium spot, then the addiction only grows larger and more intense. 

By dedicating myself to training in this last year, I have seen improvements in every aspect of my racing. I am lucky enough to have a life where I am able to fit in long runs, even longer bike rides, and early morning swim workouts. Shout out to my husband, Marc, for putting up with (what I can only imagine is) my constant perfume of chlorine and Body Glide. Watching all my hard work and dedication come to fruition has made every single drop of sweat and every single 5 a.m. workout worth it. Even if I don’t appreciate it as I peel myself out of bed and jump into a cold pool, or layer up for a brisk Minnesota winter run. My brother always says the first few years of multisport racing is where you see the biggest gains, and I have to agree. 

This year I will be competing in the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, right in my backyard of St. Paul. Now, my expectations are realistic, and I doubt I will grab a podium spot, but you better believe I plan on having a PR that day, and proving once again to myself how hard I can push my body and mind to really be the champion that I want to be. And isn't that the whole point of this sport? To test yourself every race and every workout to break whatever limits you think you may have?

I am so excited to see the diverse range of athletes at Du Nationals this year. Whether it be Team USA competitors, or other age-groupers like myself, this is going to be a great race and a great weekend for spectators and athletes alike. The race community has become like a family to me, and I can't wait to see the massive family reunion that we are all about to experience in St. Paul on June 6.