June 2012 Archives

Further Thoughts on the Triathlon

I am still in the afterglow of my athletic achievement on Sunday, and I've been thinking more and more about what it means to me.

I think the fact that this was something that was completely 100% ME makes it all the more special. When you do a show, you work in a team. At a job, unless you work for yourself, a team. Sure, I trained with people (Hi Andrea! Hi Brandi! Hi Fuzzy! ummm, and anyone else I trained with!), and that was a HUGE factor in my success, but the actual swimming, biking and running was something that my body did on its own. I wasn't competing with anyone else--I was proving to myself that I could do it. And I think the tears that came when I saw the finish line was partially relief, but mostly amazement that I achieved this major goal, one that old-me or elven last year-me never thought I could do.  It was beautiful swimming with the pack and biking the first mile with Fuzzy, but when he left, it was just me. Me biking alone in the country, me running alone in the woods. Me crossing the finish line alone. With the support of my friends and family and especially wonderful husband, of course, but it was my legs alone that got me there.

The last 8 years, while being wonderful and amazing, have also been really tough and primarily about caring for others and putting their needs first. Caring for Dad and Mom, mainly. I wasn't able to cope with a lot of things, so I quit most everything that was mine. I lost my identity, I gave up all hope.  And now, thank the Lord, I am in a place where I can put myself first and not be responsible for anyone or anything but ME, and it feels great. I am doing more than ever, creatively, athletically, socially. I am CAPABLE of doing more than ever. I feel on top of my game and unstoppable. I don't hide from people anymore. I am enjoying my success. I am carving out a nice little place for myself in the comedy world, and I love it. Finally, after being here for 12 years, I feel like I am coming into my own.

I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "being the best you that you can be." I want to be the best Me. What is my potential? How far can I go if I really push it? How do I take my life and career to the next level? I am pushing myself to find out.

And I can feel things shifting. Not just for me, for a lot of people. Maybe it's the age we are--there's no need to live in fear anymore. It's time to just LIVE.  I'm on the crux.

The triathlon is an extention of all of this. It wasn't the right time for me to do it last summer. And with the state of my knees, I might not physically be able to next summer. But right now, in this moment and my next few moments, I am there. It is right.

And I am loving every second of it. That's why I couldn't and can't stop smiling. 


Here are some more photos from the event, all but 1 taken by Fuzzy (guess which one!)


Checking out the transition area 

The night before, we checked out the transition area.

Checking out the transition area

Fuzzy and I were right next to each other!

Note our body markings. When you do a tri, they write your numbers on your arm and leg so that you are easily identifiable. I promptly smeared mine all over my other leg when I crossed them at dinner, and we smudged our sheets all up in the hotel. Sorry, housekeeping staff!

Geneva Lake

Calm Geneva Lake, at about 5:30am.

Who's that trucking down the finish?

Here's me! Running out of the woods and down the chute to the finish!
(you'll notice my weird leg gait. Due to how my legs are built, they are always tilted to the side like that. And I wonder why my good knee is still hurting 5 days later...)

It's Erica!

Note to self--don't talk while people are taking your photo. I was telling Fuzzy that I was crying.
Also, this photo makes it look like my left shoulder is jacked up with muscles. I am going to guess that it is actually extra arm skin flapping in the wind.


(the arm sleeve is a UV sleeve to protect my tattoos. Those things are precious to me, yo! Gotta keep them looking good!)


Remember this?

I was singing it last night. Love it!



I just had a realization.

My podcast is called Drunk Monkeys, named after the lamps that my parents gave Fuzzy that we sit between.

The show I am in and produce is called Impress These Apes!, inspired by Planet of the Apes, and all hyper-intelligent Apes from the future things.

My old and favorite improv team is called KOKO, after the sign language speaking gorilla...

I swear that is all a coincidence!

All this time, I've thought my spirit animal is a flamingo, but maybe it is a primate...


(tr)I, Robot

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I did it! And it was awesome. I have such a sense of pride and accomplishment, and really feel unstoppable. TAKE THAT WORLD! I'm a triathlete now!!

(also, I am exhausted and can barely move.)

Shaun, Fuzzy and I drove up to Lake Geneva Saturday afternoon. We checked into our hotel and then drove down to the site to check things out and buy a parking pass. We were planning on biking to the site, but ultimately decided to drive down, which I am really happy about, for myriad reasons. While down there, we asked what the temperature of the water was--73 degrees--and walked to the lake to check it out. We decided that we would go without our wetsuits, which would make things easier, but also different, since Fuzzy and I had not trained in open water without them. We had some dinner out, bought a ton of fudge, then headed back to the hotel to prep and get some sleep.

Side anecdote--I had purchased a small bottle of iced coffee in Chicago to take with me for race morning. I left it at home. What I ended up purchasing instead in WI was a freaking GROWLER of iced coffee from the Caribou Coffee, which we stored in the fridge in our room. It's awesome. I have had 2 glasses of it already today. 64 OUNCES OF COFFEE!!!

Sunday morning, we woke up at 4:30am after a fitful night's sleep. My start time was 7:09am. We set up transition, then killed time doing this that and the other. When it was time to begin, they sounded the airhorn, and myself and the other 34 women in the female aged 30-34 division took off! This race was the Bigfoot Triathlon, put on by RAM Racing, and it was a small event, with only about 1,000 participants--half for the sprint, and half for the Olympic distances. The ladies in my group were super awesome--as we rounded the bouy at the half way mark, one yelled out "alright ladies, halfway there!" When I accidentally choked on a mouthful of water, another woman asked if I was ok. So supportive! I swam the half mile in about 20 minutes (I had guestimated it would take me a half hour). The swim is my strongest of the 3 sections, and I really loved it. The lake was super gross and seaweedy, though, and when I took off my trisuit hours later, I was all mermaided-out with seaweed all over my boobs. It was pretty awesome.

Transition one took me about 11 minutes. I know that that is over half the time it took me to do the first section, but it is to be expected. I had to use the bathroom; I couldn't run to transition without my knee braces, so I walked it; I needed to eat; and I needed to wriggle on both braces with wet legs. Fuzzy caught up to me (he was in the wave after me) and the two of us set out to tackle the bike. We biked together for about the first mile, then he took off to run his own race.

The bike ride was GORGEOUS--all on country roads near farmland and horses. However, it was SUPER hilly. Hills from the start, hills all along the way. One hill was so hard, it hurt my legs and I talked out loud to myself as encouragement to push through it. (I actually talked outloud to myself on all 3 legs of the race. I guess I am a motivational talk-to-myself-er.) It was gorgeous smelling the country land and seeing the sunrays peek through the clouds. Biking is the hardest for me, and I tried to eat on the bike (hard but needed). I thought the 12 miles would take me an hour and a half, so when, after an hour, I was being flagged into the "bike in," I got so excited! I did it in an hour and 2 minutes. YEAH!

Transition 2 was a lot easier. I changed shoes, ate a little more, got rid of my bike gear, made another pit stop, then took off. It think it took me about 4.5 minutes. I saw Shaun right at the beginning of my run (he was already finished) and that gave me a nice burst of energy. The run was all on unpaved park paths, and it was so gorgeous. Right at the beginning, though, I stepped into a deep hole, and wrenched my left Achilles tendon--youch.  It did ok, and didn't really start to hurt til later in the day. I passed an older gentleman also in the sprint and I said to him "home stretch! We're almost there!" and he said that he kept thinking about how good breakfast was going to taste. I told him beer was my motivator. I ran for a good portion of the start of the race, but again was faced with tons of hills. With all the hills we had faced on the bike, my legs were just running out of energy, so I sadly had to walk some. I tried to give myself goals, like "run the entire last mile" but I was just so sore and worn out, I did the best I could.

During the bike and the beginning of the run, there were spectators nearby, which was awesome for their encouragement. Whenever someone clapped for me, or told me I was doing a great job, it gave me such a boost and I thanked them. The rest of the run, however, was deep in the woods, so you didn't see a lot of people. It was quiet and gorgeous. I was getting lapped by the Olympic distance runners, but I didn't care. I noted at one point, that I was smiling the entire bike and run--I was eating it up and breathing it in. At one point on the bike, I said a prayer out loud thanking God for giving me the ability to do an athletic event like this (especially since last year, I wasn't able to--I could barely walk) and for allowing me to experience the beauty and glory of His land. I was/am just so thankful that I was able to experience something like this.  

When I heard the finish line in the distance and was told by the water stop that there was only a quarter mile to go in the run, I took off running and kept it going. When I broke into the clearing, there was Fuzzy and Shaun, cheering for me, and I instantly started crying. I was so happy that I did it and so proud of myself for accomplishing something so huge and so important to me--I am amazed with the obstacles I have overcome to get to where I am today. I booked it and kicked it into overdrive. Before I crossed the finish, the announcer said "Erica Gerdes is crossing the finish line" and I got so overjoyed--she even said Gerdes right, and no one says it right! As I crossed over, tears rolled down my cheeks (I am even tearing up writing this) and as I was handed my goodie bag of food, etc, the woman said "You looked great!" and congratulated me. I did the run in about 40 minutes, so it only took about 7 minutes longer than my regular 5K time. Not too shabby! I looked at my watch, and it was only 9:29am, which means that I did the race in 2 hours and 20 minutes--40 minutes shorter than the time I expected to do it! it turns out that I was #34 out of the 35 women in my division, and #374 out of only 400 competitors, but who cares? I DID IT!!

Fuzzy, Shaun and I took some photos and then headed over to the beer tent to celebrate. I wept for about another half hour, and drank a delicious beer. We compared notes on the race. Shaun finished in an hour and a half, Fuzzy in 2 hours. I am so proud of and amazed by us. Here we are in the beer tent. Triathletes!!


We went back to the hotel to shower, then had a celebratory meal at Culvers. I had a double bacon cheeseburger, fried cheese curds and onion rings. I EARNED THAT MEAL. We made a quick stop at the Mars Cheese Castle, and another at the outlet mall in Pleasant Prairie, then we headed back home. I slept in the truck, cause I was so tired. I napped when we got home, then went to bed early. Today, I am tired, but happy.

The interesting thing about these hardqore races is that, no matter how hard they are, when they are done, I instantly want to do them again. I want to swim in the lake. I can't wait to run again. I want to bike. I love that, even though I might struggle to get through something, the lingering aftereffect is not "no way, I am done with that" but instead, "when can we do it again?" Add to that the fact that I was so happy for all 3 legs of the race, and therefore I can proudly say I am a Triathlete.

The next Sprint is July 28th...BRING IT. YEAH!

Impress These Apes 7 - Auditions

Photo by Steve Gadlin

The Blewt! Team at Impress These Apes! Auditions June 16, 2012.

Foreground: Steve Gadlin
Background, left to right: Paul Luikart, Erica Reid (me!), Fuzzy Gerdes, Bryan Bowden, Greg Guiliano

These dudes make me laugh so hard, it's not even funny.
Ok, it is actually really incredibly funny.


Last year, I set this HUGE goal for myself--to do a Sprint distance triathlon. I worked hard hard hard and I ran when I could and I swam when I could and I biked when I could, and it was so hard... and then I fell off my bike. I had set my goal so big and placed it on such a pedestal, that when I couldn't achieve my goal, I was devastated.

This year, I set a big goal--to do the International distance triathlon--twice what I was training for last year. Another daunting goal! But I've been running and biking and swimming, and I am in better shape and form than I was this time last year (and beyond.) So when Fuzzy added on these 2 Sprint triathlons, we started thinking of them as training runs. I know I can do it. I am not worried. I am actually excited, even.

I am not going for time--I am going for completion. I know I will need to eat before I get on the bike. I don't like biking in my running shoes, so I will change shoes after I am done biking. I have to wear a knee brace on each leg, and I am going to take the time needed to get those secure and tight. I will not be disappointed in myself if I have to walk some during the 5K. I will be very happy when I have completed it.

Helping the matter is that the tri is in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, so it won't be under the regular Chicago/ Lake Michigan/ downtown races-that-are-all-the-same scrutiny. We'll be biking and running on country roads! I won't know anyone there (besides Fuzzy and Shaun, of course) so there is no pressure. I can race at my leisure. I am predicting a tentative time of 3 hours.

I am ready.

I even have a tri-suit. Hardqore.

I probably won't be able to move on Monday. Of course, I have a dance rehearsal that night.

Think of us Sunday morning if you happen to be up in the 6amish time! I'll report back Sunday afternoon. YEAH!


Another reason I love summer:

You can see everyone's tattoos, and they can see yours. Today I got into another conversation with a stranger on the train about mine. And people can't stop looking at them. Yeah! Look at my awesome tattoos! Cause I'm looking at yours!

Wait, What?

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The UPS delivery guy just compared my tattoos to some scars that he got as a kid.

He asked if I was doing some painting, and I told him they were tattoos. He was amazed, and then starting telling me about a scar on his head and one on his hand that he got when he was 8 years old.

I am not really sure what just happened.

Fuzzy: TB Babushka and I are headed home on the train.

Me: What?

Fuzzy: You know. TB Babushka. The elderly Eastern European woman who coughs candy onto good children.

Where's Erica Been?


Great question! Things are super duper busy these days, but everything is going great! I am busy with projects, fun, friends, training, and life! Here are some things that have been going on! (in no particular order)

As I mentioned before, Drunk Monkeys was awesome at the Chicago Women's Funny Festival, and I am forever grateful to the festival producers for giving us a slot. New episodes are airing on Fridays on iTunes and on Four Squirrels!

Over the weekend, we went to the wedding of my old friend Alex and his new wife Alyssa in New York. It was SO much fun--perhaps the most epic wedding I have attended--and we drank and ate so much. As a bonus, I got to catch up with my friend Kate and her fiance, Brian. Photos to come soon!

Of course, every time I am in NY, I have to see my other Erica. This time, we went kayaking in the Long Island Sound at a friend's house. It was gorgeous and amazing--I want to kayak all the time! Fuzzy and I went kayaking in the Chicago River a few weeks ago, too. We forgot any sort of camera, but it was beautiful and so much fun.

Thumbnail image for E Deck.JPG 

I could get used to this. Photo by Erica Livingston.  More photos to come soon.

Last week, Fuzzy and I ran the Run to the Zoo 5K. I love zoos and zoo animals anyways, but it was even more exciting, when in the last mile we ran through the zoo and saw all sorts of amazing animals. Camels! Bears! Birds! And when you finished, they gave you a bomb pop. So fun!


Run for the Zoo.JPG

Look at this cute couple!

I am honored to be among the many amazing ladies of Chicago Comedy in this new short film by the amazing Elizabeth McQuern. It premiered at Chicago Underground Comedy this week as a part of the Just For Laughs Festival. (Not really suitable for work, due to language.)

On Monday, I made an appearance in another short film, also directed by Elizabeth and written by the awesome Jenni Lamb. Here is a behind the scenes photo:


Photo by Elizabeth McQuern

A few weeks ago, Fuzzy and I did Bike the Drive, a 32 mile bike ride on Lake Shore Drive. I love that I live in a city that supports bikers so much that they close down the biggest artery for Chicago travel just so we can bike on it once a year. This was my first year to do it, and it was also the furthest I've ever biked at one time. It was super fun, but also really really hard.

Bike the Drive 2012

Cute Fuzzy!

Bike the Drive 2012

What a couple!

A few weeks ago, my friends Sabra, Brandi and Fuzzy and I ventured into the suburbs to try out Xtreme Trampolines! We had a lot of fun bouncing around and jumping into the foam pit! Words of warning, though--it's tough on the knees! XTREME!


This is the first thing you see when you enter. Hilarious. (photo by some awesome cheerleader) 

Xtreme Trampolines

Xtreme Trampolines

Xtreme Trampolines Xtreme Trampolines


I've been back in dance rehearsals, and it feels great! I created a piece with the amazingly talented Gil Weston that is premiering this Friday night at the Kiss Kiss Cabaret at 11pm. I can't wait to see it in action. I've been taking a break from choreography, but working with Gil has reinspired me and lit my fire again to start some things going. It helps when you work with super awesome folks like Gil. 

E and G.JPG

Me and Gil

I've also been working with Kiss Kiss Cabaret again on our old friend Red Right Hand, a number involving Black Light Paint-it's pretty great. It's been awesome working with Jessica and the girls again. Just like old times!

Annnnd, we're gearing up for season 7 of Impress These Apes again! Auditions are this Saturday! I can't wait to see the talent this year!



All of these things just scratch the surface of what Fuzzy and I have been doing the last couple of weeks. And the first of three triathlons this summer is in a week and a half, so I've been trying to run, bike and swim as much as possible. Even though things are busy, things are AWESOME and I am having a total blast. LIFE IS GOOD!

E Champagne.JPG

CHEERS! (photo by Sylvia Fellin)


So magical, calming, and sweet. An inspiration.


The show. It was so good and so fun and I loved every second of it and I think the audience enjoyed it, too. It was nice to hear the laughter and feel the energy and to live in the moments that people thought were funny. Afterwards, we had a big ole tasting party and everyone got a little hammered and I was just walking on cloud 9. Still am.  Afterwards, I thanked the festival producer for taking a chance on a show that was untested and unproven, and she said something along the lines of "You and Jen are such old pros that we knew no matter what you did, it would be good." What a compliment!

The new episodes will be posted in a few weeks on foursquirrels.com and on iTunes. I am excited to see them. We drank Hum and Salmon Vodka and made a new shot called the Candied Bacon shot. Yum?

Tomorrow, we take off for NY state for an old friend's wedding. It's going to be a rip roaring good time. I'd like to think that I'll be able to blog more in the coming weeks, but with things as busy as they are now, I can't make any promises.

I am happy to say, though, that I am in a great place right now.  I am feeling good about my life, my active endeavors, my choreography, my place in the comedy world, and my place as a woman in the comedy world. I feel like I am really coming into my own. It feels spectacular.



I am so excited. I have no idea what to expect, but I DO know that we are going to have a lot of fun, and that 25 minute slot is going to fly by.

If you are in Chicago, won't you come see us? 10pm, Stage 773?

Drunk Monkeys

National Doughnut Day!

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In honor of National Doughnut Day, here are some photos of a Slug Queen doughnut I had from Voodoo Doughnut in Eugene, Oregon.


She's wearing a crown and has antennaes made of pretzels.


She was HUGE, filled with chocolate, and weighed about 4 pounds. Hand for scale:


It cost a mere $2.00. Shannon and I ate it for 2 days. The frosting/glaze was amazing.


I wish I had one now.

(Or a Shipleys anywhere near me.)


Oh Man. Bakon Vodka.

May I present to you today's episode of Drunk Monkeys:

See us LIVE! Next Wednesday at the Chicago Women's Funny Festival at Stage773! Wednesday, June 6th at 10pm!

Tickets Here!


Time Out Chicago

Chicago Sun Times

Chicago Reader

I'm so excited!