Sports athlete of the week

SHAENA R. BERLIN ‘13 Sophomore competes in cycling and triathlon

Course 12 student balances full MIT courseload along with intense training

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Shaena R. Berlin ’13 competes in the cycling portion of the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Alison M. Barnard

Shaena R. Berlin ’13, a sophomore in Course 12, spends on average 15–20 hours per week training. As a member of the MIT Cycling team and the MIT Triathlon team, she spends most of her time training on her bike. Hailing from Jackson, Wyo., she was an active member of the cross-country and Nordic skiing teams in high school.

So how did she become so active as a cyclist and triathlete at MIT? “I knew that when I moved to Boston it would not be wintery enough to keep skiing regularly. The summer before freshman year, I bought my first road bike and did a few short triathlons as a way to break up the monotony of just running all the time. Since I didn’t feel fast enough to run cross-country at MIT, I decided to give cycling a try.” After finding out about the triathlon club, she decided to join that team as well as the cycling team.

Because triathlon training is broken into three disciplines — swimming, cycling, and running — Berlin keeps from getting bored with her large amounts of training. “Cycling constantly surprises me with all of the strategies and bike handling skills required to race well; strength and endurance alone are rarely enough.” In addition, training for her sports gives Berlin a break from the daily grind at MIT. “I love endurance sports. I love the ability to escape from the city on long rides, the friends I spend countless hours training with, and the opportunity to eat (almost) as much dessert as I want.”

The cycling team competes in the spring, traveling almost every weekend to races. Although they compete in Division II of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, the team is currently dominating the conference, which includes Division I teams.

While she devotes so much time to her sport, Berlin still finds the time to focus on academics and extracurricular activities at MIT. She is a member of the Weather and Climate Club and enjoys “doing pretty much anything outdoors and away from the city.” Balancing the crazy life of MIT and training “[is] really tough sometimes … in addition to the training time, we travel to races most weekends, and I need a lot more sleep than the typical MIT student gets to recover sufficiently. To balance, I try to keep everything else at a reasonable level — no crazy course load, not involved in millions of other activities or commitments. That way, I can really focus on the parts of my life that matter most to me without becoming so stressed or tired that I perform badly.”

Berlin competed this past weekend at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Despite the strong heat, which peaked at about 90 degrees along with severe humidity, she placed in the 23rd percentile amongst women. MIT sent the largest team yet to the competition this year, with five women and eight men competing.