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Rookie Triathlete: Part 9: My First Triathlon

I did it, I completed my first triathlon

blog about completing my first triathlon

William and Barny. Photo – Ed Sparks

Back in January, I committed to my first triathlon, 2018 Rookie Triathlon. What began as a small idea quickly turned into a side bet complete with trash talk and a race-day following that formally introduced triathlon to newbies. I was fortunate to have one of the best triathletes in the world (Paul “Barny” Matthews) as my coach. I spoke with countless triathletes, both Rookies and IRONMAN finishers. Basically, everything they said could happen did happen at some point. Based on my training and my mock Rookie Tri in February, I figured finishing in 75 minutes would be respectable. Remember, I finished my mock triathlon in 1:34:43. I completed my first triathlon in 1:06:55.

When I set out to do something I’m all in. But I know for a fact I wouldn’t have been as successful and felt as good during my first triathlon if it weren’t for Barny. His training plan made me #feelthebarn before race day so I knew what to expect on race day.

Race day – Sunday, May 6, 2018

My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. Why so early? My wife and good friend were volunteering that morning and needed to be there to help with parking. The night before I went through the entire race and packed my bag. Stickers were placed on my bike and helmet. Everything was quadruple checked. Hydration was mixed and placed in the fridge. I wanted race morning to be smooth.

Well that didn’t go as planned. Part of getting up a bit earlier was to ensure my bodily functions worked the way I wanted them to work in my own home. That didn’t happen. Porta-potties here I come. I checked my bag one more time because why not?! We took off on time and headed to Decker Lake. We get about halfway through and sonofa… I left both bottles of hydration in the fridge. So many scenarios go through my head. I popped off 35 at the next exit and booked it back to the house. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. We arrived around 5:30. Still early, but there were folks already parking! I parked and wanted to get my bike racked. I’d have plenty of time to get my bag and set up transition.

killing time in transition at my first triathlon

Passing time in transition. Photo – Ed Sparks

Killing time

Transition is set. Now I’m looking around thinking “Now what?” as I plot ways to kill time. I see friends and chat with them about my blog. Are you nervous they ask? Hell yeah I am. I spot my friend Rod Newlin before he took off to manage the bike course. We chatted for a bit and I wished him a happy belated birthday. He told me I’d be fine and shouldn’t be nervous. Easy for you to say Rod! But in reality, his words were helpful.

I found Raul Najera of RunFarUSA (timing company) and chatted with him a bit. Still killing time. He needed some help moving mats and re-wiring his timers. I quickly offered my assistance and asked if this gesture would help shave some minutes off my overall time. Apparently, that’s not the case. During this time I ran into my coach who gave me a sweet Ameican flag robe and boxing gloves. Something to ease the tension and create some laughs. I must’ve made three or four trips to the porta-potty. Man, I missed my own bathroom.

final preparation at my first triathlon

Trying to relax before the Rookie Tri. Photo – Ed Sparks

The race

My wife and friend join me after their volunteer duties are complete (thanks for volunteering!). I chat with some more folks. Find my arch-nemisis and his crew and laugh my ass off. His morning was more horrible than mine was. The race begins and we watch the Open wave cut through the smooth water. They make it look so easy. Barny exited the water and I cheered for him. He eventually won his second Rookie Tri in a row. A week after finishing 13th overall in the IRONMAN North American Championships. It’s almost game-time.

As we’re waiting in line, Paras (my arch-nemisis) and I start quickly re-thinking what we’ve gotten ourselves into. But we’re both competitors. When nobody was looking and we didn’t have access to our phone, we quickly slapped hands, wished each other the best of luck, and agreed we couldn’t wait for the post-race booze. It’s time to swim.

The swim

entering the water at my first triathlon

Entering Decker Lake. Photo – Ed Sparks

We were in line to be the last two of the Rookie male 30-39 to enter the water. Perfect. The next group would start a little after us and not as many would catch me. Wrong. We were the first to start with the 40-49 because Paras forgot his swim cap and his color matched theirs. Great. I enter the water in exactly what I’ll wear on the bike and run, minus shoes, plus goggles and nose plug. The first 50m are fantastic. Yes, this is all coming together as planned! Then someone hits my leg and it throws me off. Damn. Get it back together William. Get my stroke back and my leg is hit again, then my back. It’s clear folks are passing me.

My heart starts racing. My form goes to shit. I start kicking more. Welp, this isn’t good. Just keep moving forward. I breaststroke for a bit to get my breath back and return to my form. But the damage is done. My heart rate is high and my breathing is off. Just keep moving forward. I tried everything I could to get back under control, even swimming on my back a couple times. Nothing worked. I was already exhausted. I focused on making it to the next buoy. Then the next buoy. I’m in the home stretch and I can’t wait to feel solid earth beneath my feet. I finish the swim in a disappointing 9:52. Nearly three minutes more than my mock Rookie Tri swim. My first thought once I learned that Paras was ahead of me: makeup time on the bike.

The bike

Transition went smooth. I used the run to transition to gather myself and catch my breath. Arrived at my bike and everything is ready to go. I step on my towel to dry my feet while I put on my sunglasses and helmet. Slip on the shoes I’ll run in and head towards bike out. I cross the line and hop on, ready to chase down Paras. I quickly grab some nuun because I know I’m about to push myself like never before on a bike. Riding the course beforehand was a tremendous boost. Familiarity is huge. I was passing folks and feeling good. Everything was working out better than I anticipated. At every hill I’m looking for Paras. Nowhere. Shit.

starting the bike at my first triathlon

Playing catch up. Photo – Ed Sparks

But I’m in a groove now. Smoking the downhills and pounding the uphills. I’m getting after it. I finally see Paras on the frontage road and get this insane jolt of energy. He started more than two minutes ahead of me. I’m going all out now (which got me later). I don’t catch him until we turn right into the home stretch. Turn the corner, pass him, blow a kiss, and keep going. I need to make up time. Paras had more in the tank than I thought. We went back and forth on Decker Lake Rd. and eventually made it to transition at the same time. We had folks Facetiming people who couldn’t be there and streaming our race on Facebook live. I finished the bike in 37:44. That’s 24 minutes faster than my mock Rookie Tri bike. The Wrecker at Decker was living up to the hype.

The run

Transition went smooth again. Pre-planning helped. Took one last swig of nuun, dropped my bike off, and grabbed my SPIbelt. I leave transition right behind Paras. It’s on. I know he’s a top-notch runner, but folks on-course told me he incurred a couple penalties. He is faster, but I still have a chance. The course was changed because of flash flooding, so my day-before run didn’t help much. I’m feeling good, folks are cheering, volunteers are awesome. I see Paras start to disappear, but I don’t worry about that. I focus on passing one person at a time, keeping my pace.

crossing the finish line at my first triathlon

Crossing the Rookie Tri finish line. Photo – Ed Sparks

The new course weaved in and out for two miles. Every chance I got I poured water on my head. I turn the last leg and Barny is there cheering as loud as he can. Paras has penalties! You still have a chance! I catch my last boost of energy and head for the finish of my first triathlon. I’m asking my body to push itself beyond what’s it ever done. The finish is getting closer. I can hear Logan. Paras is at the edge of the finish chute and gives me a high five as I enter. He was three minutes ahead of me. I crossed the line of my first triathlon in 1:06:55. Eight minutes ahead of my 75-minute prediction. That’s a 28-minute improvement from my mock Rookie Tri in February.

I’m a triathlete

I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon and immediately fell to the ground. Exhausted. No medical was needed, just had to gather myself for a minute. I didn’t beat Paras, but I became a triathlete. The post-race trash talk wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. We were both that tired. We took photos, hung out with friends, our coaches joined the fun, we drank a few beers, and enjoyed the energetic finish line festival.

post-race photo at my first triathlon

The squads post-race. Photo – Ed Sparks

The entire experience was something I’ll never forget. My wife supported me through yet another endurance event and training cycle. Megan is a beautiful soul for putting up with my shenanigans and ability to consume great quantities of her amazing cooking. I appreciate Barny and all of his efforts. He’s a huge reason for my improvement. That is undeniable. I strongly encourage contacting him if you’re looking for a coach for your first triathlon or your first IRONMAN. I’m grateful my employer, High Five Events, allowed me to compete and not have to work the event. My co-workers provided a never-ending stream of insight and support.

What’s next?

I’m not sure what the future holds. I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon and said never again. But the more I think about it the more I realize I can still improve. I can get better at the swim. So I won’t say never now. I will say I’m a better runner because of swimming and cycling. My body feels better. I’m getting stronger. This cross-training thing is legit. I will keep swimming in the pool. I’ve begun riding my bike to work. My legs have more energy when I run. I really like what this journey has done for me.

If you’ve made it this far, then thank you. Thanks for reading and for your in-person and online support. If completing a triathlon is on your radar I highly suggest Rookie Triathlon. The entire event is well-organized (I’m biased), but I also approached my first triathlon as a Rookie triathlete, not the High Five Events Communications Manager. Most of my nerves were self-induced. Rookie Triathlon is perfect for that first-timer. There was plenty of room in transition, parking went smoothly, the water entrance was well-managed, and the finish line festival was one huge after party! If you’re like me and like planning ahead, 2019 Rookie Triathlon will take place on Cinco de Mayo. Don’t forget, I’m still a Rookie.

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Huge finish line festival capped off 15th annual Rookie Tri celebration

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Final preparations for the 15th Annual Rookie Tri!

On Sunday, May 6th, nearly 800 Rookies and Veterans participated in the 15th Annual Rookie Tri at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in Austin, Texas. Temperatures were ideal for those competing in their first ever triathlon or the first triathlon of their season. Rookies, those who participated in their first or second triathlon, consisted of half the field.

“The volunteers were super helpful and really calmed my nerves on all of the “little things” that I needed to know (swim caps, transition zones, other rules),” said Paras Shah, who completed the 15th annual Rookie Tri (his first) in 1:03:29. “The crowd was very energetic and supportive and it was fun coming down the last mile and really hearing people genuinely excited for all of us first timers finishing a tri!”

Professional triathlete Paul “Barny” Williams repeated as overall champ with the time of 43:53 at the 15th annual Rookie Tri. Second and third place went to former pro Jamie Cleveland and Jack Cartwright. They crossed the finish line in 45:11 and 45:18 respectively. The women’s podium was topped by professional triathlete Natasha Van Der Merwe who had a winning time of 49:06. Second place finisher Haley Koop (50:50) and third place finisher Doreen Redenius (53:45) rounded out the women’s field.

Rookie Tri, Sunday, May 6, 2018

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Hangin’ ten on the 11.2-mile bike ride.

The Rookie Tri has three different divisions: Rookie (first or second triathlon), Veteran (completed more than two triathlons), and Open. Rookies and Veterans start the swim in their division based on their age group. Two participants enter the water every few seconds. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Rookie Tri introduced two new categories for 2018: Athena and Clydesdale. The inclusion of the categories, which had 79 total participants, created more energy and competition on race day.

The wetsuit legal 300-meter swim took place in a 72 degree Decker Lake. The 11.2-mile bike course featured rolling hills. The two-mile run course ran through the park. Participants received custom 2018 shirts and water bottles, swim cap, beer, a post-race meal, and the signature swag toss. Professional timing and photography, as well as a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators, made this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. The Rookie Triathlon participants can see their times here. They can also relive race day by checking out photos from the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Yes, the Oskar Blues was ice-cold!

Rookie Tri would like to thank all of the volunteers for coming out and making today’s event memorable for all triathletes. Their willingness to get up extra early to cheer on and support every participant truly made a difference in their experience. Rookie Triathlon would also like to thank sponsors City Limit Cycles, RunLab Austin, Oskar Blues Brewery, nuun hydration, Clif Bar, Ben Phillips-Engel and Volkers Austin, and SPIbelt.

All photo credits – Ed Sparks

4 Ways to Reduce Your Rookie Tri Stress

Use these tips from a pro to handle pre-race stress

Rookie or Veteran, Rookie Triathlon stress, nerves, anxiety, jitters, whatever you want to call it, it’s real. Perhaps the butterflies kicked in when race week arrived. Maybe a co-worker asked about your confidence on Hump Day and your stomach turned upside down. You could be like William, who’s training for his first triathlon. Reality set in when he arrived at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop for Rookie Tri packet pickup. William met Paul “Barny” Matthews, his coach, for some advice and tips. These tips to reduce stress can be used by anyone. So if you know someone worried about final preparations for this Sunday, share this video with them!

Implement these additional tips to take your Rookie Tri pre-race preparation one step further.

How to Make Your Rookie Tri Swim Start a Breeze

Everything you need to know about the swim start

2018 Rookie Triathlon swim start details.

2018 Rookie Tri starts at 8:00 a.m. with the Open wave.

As you all know, swimming is the first discipline of a triathlon. The Rookie Tri swim start is arranged to be more manageable and less stressful for first- or second-time triathletes. Race morning is as relaxed as you make it. One way to keep it relaxed is to know your wave, your age group, and when you’ll enter the water. Before we dive in, you also need to know when transition opens and closes.

Rookie Triathlon transition opens at 6:00 a.m. at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in northeast Austin (parking opens at 5:45 a.m. and carpooling is encouraged). If you’re the type who worries about time, traffic, and parking, then arriving earlier than normal will benefit you tremendously. Make sure you know transition rules, body marking, and how to wear your timing chip. Keep in mind that transition closes at 7:30 a.m. It’s time to head to Decker Lake for the Rookie Tri swim start!

Swim start

Rookie Tri Open wave swim start is at 8:00 a.m.

Pass the time before your swim start and cheer on the pros in the Open Wave.

The Rookie Tri utilizes a time trial swim start (except for the Open wave). Depending on course density and the flow of the event, at least one person at a time will enter the water (at approximately two-second intervals). Participants will start with their assigned wave (eg. Rookie, Men 40 & over), but the order within each wave is unimportant. The time for each person will start when they cross the swim start timing mat at the water’s edge.

The Open wave will begin at 8:00 a.m. They will be followed by Veteran Men, Veteran Women, Aquabike and Relays, Rookie Men, and Rookie Women. It is imperative you have everything you need for the swim when you transition closes at 7:30 a.m. Each wave will start approximately four minutes after the one before it. Each wave will also have their own swim cap color. To see the entire schedule and approximate times, check out the Rookie Tri Event Schedule.

The waiting game

The first Rookie wave begins around 8:40 a.m. The final Rookie wave will take off around 9:08 a.m. As a first-timer, you’re probably wondering, what do I do until my wave begins? We’ve got a few ideas for you.

  • find a quiet place to relax, gather yourself, and briefly escape from the moment, this could help calm race-day nerves

    Relax with family and friends before your swim start

    Relax with friends and family before your swim start!

  • talk to some friends and family to pass the time, especially if your tri club/group is out in full force
  • step to the side of the action for some last-minute stretching, this is another way to reduce race-day jitters
  • watch the Open wave and cheer on the other triathletes, remember, they all started right where you are

Pre-Race Tips

Pre-race tips to follow before you toe the start line

Three days before

Prepare for Rookie Tri with these pre-race tips!

Get started with these pre-race tips three days before Rookie Tri. Label all of your gear with an indelible marker. Write your name and phone number on the inside of your running and biking shoes, on the tag inside your wetsuit, inside your helmet, etc.

Make sure your toenails are clipped.

Put on the goggles and adjust them to fit. Do a test in the pool or sink to make sure they don’t leak.

Study the course so you know what to expect. Where are the turns, uphills, downhills or flats? How many aid stations? Where are they located?

Stay hydrated.

The night before

Organize your gear: Follow these pre-race tips the night before, lay everything out, and go through your checklist. Then put related items in separate bags for easier sorting. Attach the race number to the bike frame, helmet, and the clothing you’ll be wearing for the bike and/or run.

Tip: Use a race belt to attach race numbers. It’s quick to put on and good for both the bike and run (plus, no safety pins). Wear it so the number is visible in back for the bike, then rotate it to the front for the run.

Eat normally: Don’t eat new things; stick with the foods you usually eat. Try to have some protein (chicken, fish, turkey), a little healthy fat (avocados, nuts, olives) and a lot of carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans). Note: It’s best to eat this way for three days before your event.

Get some sleep: Go to bed early. If you’re nervous about waking up in the morning, set multiple alarms (alarm clock, watch, cell phone, wake-up call) for a more relaxed and peaceful sleep. Plan on waking up extra early so your body can adjust its “routine.”

Morning of

Get to transition early and get the spot you want.

Eating: Eat something. As with the previous night’s meal, eat the same foods your body is used to eating, and eat at least two hours before the race so the food can digest. A beverage high in carbohydrates is a good alternative if you have problems with eating and digesting foods before a race.

Clothing: It’ll probably be cool in the morning, so dress in layers. Swimsuit, compression clothing and/or tri suit, light shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants, and hat.

Timing Chip: Put the timing chip on your left leg—on the right leg it could catch on the bike gears.

Arrival: Get there about an hour before the race. This leaves time for a calm transition set up, going to the bathroom, and meeting others that are racked around you and in your swim waves.

Transition: Transition areas can get hectic during a race so make sure you know the flow of swim in, bike out, bike in and run out.

  • The early bird gets the end spot.
  • The end spots are coveted in an open rack triathlon since it is easy to see your bike.
  • Do not move someone else’s bike to get the spot you want.
  • Do not put tape on the racks. If you want to make your spot to where you will not forget it, the best thing is a bright colored towel. I suggest a kid’s beach towel folded in half.

Stay tuned for more blogs that will cover transition, swim, bike, and run strategies.

Swim, Bike, and Run for Austin Gives Miles

Take your Rookie Tri training to the next level

People race Rookie Tri for many reasons. Most race to prove to themselves they can complete a triathlon. Others race to beat their previous time. Some participate to stay in shape. Whatever your reason, you can make your Rookie Tri training and race day that much more meaningful when you participate in Austin Gives Miles!

Participating in Austin Gives Miles gives you the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit organization of your choice when you’re training for Rookie Tri and racing on Sunday, May 6th. Use your triathlon training to take your impact beyond race day! You can get your friends, family, and training groups/clubs involved too. Anyone can join Austin Gives Miles and make a difference for their preferred charity. Start fundraising today using the steps below!

Step 1: Register for the race and create a fundraiser

  • Click “Set Up Your Fundraiser” and choose your charity – a page will be created and you’ll be ready to start fundraising.

Step 2: Share with the world

  • Your fundraising page allows friends and family to donate directly to your cause and helps you share your story.

Step 3: See your impact

  • Your personal page collects your fundraising totals together in one place – your overall impact.

Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram what charity you’ll support through Austin Gives Miles!

Rookie Triathlete: Part 3: Life Happens

Life happens.

It finally happened. LIFE. Yes, life happens. Life happened to me and my training for Rooke Tri. I built some nice momentum coming off my mock Rookie Tri championship and that came to a screeching halt.

Check presentation with Joey Whelan, 2018 Austin Marathon male champ.

My last blog post was on Feb. 3rd. During February, High Five Events produced the 27th Annual Austin Marathon. This year, 15,000 participants registered for four separate events over the course of race weekend. Training quickly took a back seat and eight hour days turned into 13-15 hour days. Endless emails, race weekend/expo planning, social media, interviews, local news requests, elite runners from across the country, RACE WEEKEND, shaking hands, kissing babies, it all comes with the territory. That’s the nature of the beast. I have the best job in the world, but even that won’t prevent life from interfering with your training. Remember: life happens.

You might be a Rookie yourself, preparing for your first tri like me. Life happens (personal, kids, work, travel, family, emergencies, etc.). You will miss a workout, or several. Don’t get down on yourself, don’t feel like you need to “make up” for that lost workout. Keep moving forward. Find other ways to remain active, stretch, roll, take care of your body. Control what you can control. In the weeks leading up to the race, I made sure to eat as best as I could, stay hydrated, roll and stretch, and walk/ride everywhere I could. I continued to utilize my stand up desk. I ran when I could sneak away. Barny (my coach) was well-aware of the situation (he ran the Austin Half Marathon) and told me to focus on work and get in workouts if I could. Reminder – we have 90 days until the Rookie Tri on May 6th; Barny’s Rookie-only offer still stands. Contact him today and tell him you want the Rookie rate!

life happens

When I arrived at Jack and Adam’s Fredericksburg.

UPDATES

I bought my first bike! It’s a black Felt Z100 (name TBD). I traveled to Fredericksburg to visit Josh at Jack and Adam’s Fredericksburg. As I mentioned in my first blog, research would play a role in my journey. I like to know what I’m getting myself into. But be careful, you can go down many rabbit holes. Fortunately, I’ve worked with Josh before and he’s knowledgeable about bikes and what folks need, especially first-timers. We emailed several times, I told him what I was looking for and my budget, and he went to work locating the perfect bike. He found it. I went to pick it up and was blown away by the customer service. When I arrived, I didn’t just pick up the bike and leave; I “tried on” the bike like I was getting fitted for new shoes. We actually switched bikes from what he originally picked out, size 58, to a slightly smaller one, size 56. It doesn’t sound like much, but I actually felt the size difference on the bike. If you’re out bike shopping, know that you don’t just get a bike. You need several other items as well: a helmet (!), good lock (if you commute), front and back lights (for safety), water bottles, flat kit (sounds like fun), and a pump (if you don’t have one). You can get other items if you want, gloves, bikes shorts, clothing, sunglasses, etc. I recommend getting what you absolutely need and going from there. You can always get more stuff down the road. Tomorrow (3/8), I’m taking my bike for a ride on the Veloway for an hour. Let’s see what this baby can do! Big thanks to Josh!

life happens

When I departed Jack and Adam’s Fredericksburg.

Workouts (plan courtesy of Barny) –

2/26 (first workout post-Austin Marathon) – easy 4 miles (9:30 min/mile) on Tanglewood greenbelt with a good friend/neighbor (accountability is a powerful tool)

2/27 – 6-mile run with RAW Running – 1.5-mile warm up 8 min/mile, 3 miles worth of HAF fartleks around Town Lake (7:00 min/mile), 1.5-mile cool down 8:30 min/mile

2/28 – easy 4 miles (9:30 min/mile) on Tanglewood greenbelt with a good friend/neighbor (accountability is a powerful tool)

3/1 – 5x1000m (7:00 min/mile) hill repeats with Austin Runners Club

3/2 – easy 4 miles (9:30 min/mile) on Tanglewood greenbelt with a good friend/neighbor (accountability is a powerful tool)

3/6 – 650m swim (3x100m with pool buoy, rest every 25m; 3x100m with pol buoy and board, rest every 25m; 50m with pool buoy without rest after 25m)

3/6Cap City Relays with RAW Running. ~2 miles warmup at 8:00 min/mile, 2.62 miles of relays at 6:21/mi, cool down with ~2 miles at 8:00 min/mile

3/7 (on deck) – 60-minute ride on the Veloway

3/8 (on deck) – 45-minute bike ride in my neighborhood, 15-minute run immediately after (first brick workout!)

3/9 (on deck) – easy 4 miles (9:00 min/mile) on Tanglewood greenbelt with a good friend/neighbor (accountability is a powerful tool)

3/10 (on deck) – 3-mile bike ride downtown from my office, 4-mile run with Under Armour, 3-mile bike ride back to the office

4 Ways to Expand Your Triathlon Training

Training for a triathlon might feel a bit overwhelming, but you’re not alone and we’re here to help! Below you’ll find 4 ways to expand your training and make some friends along the way.

Austin Tri Club- Beginner Triathlon Training Group

Austin Tri Club bike ride.

1. Join the Austin Tri Club!

Austin Triathlon Club is an all-volunteer, member-run community of triathletes across the Austin area. Club dues are only $40/year. Yes, you read that right! Member benefits are plentiful and include new triathlete mentoring, club workouts, monthly happy hours, and a welcoming group that’ll help you achieve your goals!

2. Run and Bike with Austin Duathletes

Austin Duathletes is a fun and FREE group with runs and bike rides throughout the year. They have a standing Monday Morning Run at 5:45 with 3 and 5-mile routes, as well as other special events. You can join them on March 24th for a bike ride on Walnut Creek Trail with 20 and 30-mile options. Wheels down from Tamale House on E. 6th Street at 8 a.m. Follow their Facebook page, just show up, or email the Duathlete leader, Panther, to get more involved.

Austin Duathletes Run and Bike Training Group

3. Join The Rookie Tri Facebook Group!

This group is a place for Rookie Participants, Veterans, and those who are just interested in triathlon, to share support, advice, training adventures, and friendship. Join the group to share your stories, pictures, and wisdom!

4. Join Bicycle World on March 24-25th with their beginner triathlon training weekend.

The weekend will include bike and run workouts as well as workshops. Workshops include How to prepare and what to expect on race day for your First Triathlon, General Tips for each swim, bike and run, and basic maintenance of gear. There will also be an in-store guide to gear selection where you can see what you might be missing in your triathlon gear as well as an open Q&A session. 

While triathlon is seen as an individual sport you do not have to train alone. There are groups to join that are both online and in town. Happy Training!

Rookie Triathlete: Part 2: Mock Rookie Tri

Mock Rookie Tri Overall Champ

mock

The Beginning.

I’ll begin this blog by stating that I’ve always respected other athletes and their abilities. After this morning’s mock Rookie Tri I have a newfound respect for swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes. Holy smokes that was an intense way to begin a Friday morning. I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would, but I hurt in places that I didn’t know could hurt like that (aka my ass). I have a stand-up desk at work, and it’s been a back-and-forth battle all day of standing up to not aggravate my cycling “injury” and sitting down to rest my weary body. BUT… I did it.

My morning began with an earlier alarm clock than normal, can’t be late to my mock triathlon! I ate a Clif Bar and Clif Bloks for breakfast. I also weighed myself – 195 lbs. Coach Barny met me at Barton Springs. After running into my *friendly triathlon* arch nemesis (saving his intro for another blog) I become even more pumped to get this mock tri started. It was chilly with some occasional wind; my phone told me it was 46 degrees outside. My bed was much warmer.

So… there’s no motor?!

The swim

As promised, the 300m swim took place in Barton Springs wearing board shorts with running tights underneath. We all know the water temperature (~68 degrees if you don’t know). I’m accustomed to the water because that’s where I relax after my morning runs in the summer. No better way to cool off. Swimming the first 300m of your life on Feb. 1st on the other hand…Yikes. But, I jumped in (yes, I held my nose). The initial shock wore off; I adjusted my goggles to keep stalling, finally started Barny’s swimming watch that I borrowed, then began swimming. Completely unnatural motions for me. I tried to emulate what I’ve seen others perfect, the stroke, breathing in above water, breathing out underwater. It went well for about the first 50m and then I started flailing. Not flailing like I was about to go under, but flailing like I’m only 50m into this, and I’m this exhausted? I kept pushing until I reached a point where I turned on my back. Greatest decision of my life (besides marrying my wife, duh). I was able to regain my composure and calm my breathing. I alternated this method until I reached the 300m mark, nearly ran into the wall at one point! Towards the end, my goggles started fogging, so I need to look into preventing that somehow. I slowly exited the Springs, said some things under my breath while toweling off, and began my ascent to the parking lot where the bed of my truck was Transition. I think Barny and I talked; I just can’t remember what about for the life of me!

This first transition of my mock tri took longer than the second one. I dried off as best I could. Next, I took off my board shorts and put on some running shorts, threw on a shirt and a quarter zip pullover. Half the time spent in transition was trying to get my socks on. I’m finally ready, grab my nuun performance, and load it into a road cruiser that I borrowed from the office. Pro tip, get a helmet before riding. I didn’t get a helmet (I will soon!) and had to ride without one. My course was a safer “course” riding on the roads of Zilker Park, but still, Rookie mistake. Before I took off, I put on my Garmin watch so I could track my time and distance for the bike ride and run.

Giddy up!

The bike

My 11-mile bike ride begins. It’s crazy, how many memories come back to you when you haven’t ridden a bike since you were young (like standing up on the pedals to give your ass a rest). It’s also crazy how those memories immediately went away when I left the Barton Springs parking lot, took a left, and encountered my first hill. A few more choice words and lower gears later and I’m at the top thinking I’m out of my league. But by the final lap (the laps were ~1.25 mi) I felt good about the hill, my approach, and plan for attacking it and using different gears. There’s way more to learn, but much was learned between the first and last laps. My muscles started screaming at me in the last few laps. Passing a good buddy of mine, Paul Terranova, three times while he ran helped distract, and his words of encouragement were indeed needed. Thanks, Paul!

My ride ends at 11 miles on the dot, and I head to transition (aka my truck bed). I hop off the bike, and my legs begin wobbling immediately. I thought I was going down for the count. This foreign feeling had me worried about the run. Barny laughed at me and told me I’d be fine (he was right). I took some more hydration, gathered myself, and began my run.

The run

Two miles is nothing for me. Or so I thought. After swimming 300m and riding for 11 miles, my body felt as though I’d never run before. EVER.

It wasn’t as bad as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill when she wakes up from her coma, but it wasn’t pretty. My motion was different; my stride was off. I was shuffling the first half mile. Then muscle memory kicked in. I climbed the hill (that I just rode several times). My stride began to elongate. I started feeling better. I get back to my truck (aka transition), and I still have .75 miles left. But the loop was 1.25 miles. I thought to myself there’s no way in hell I’m running an extra half mile. Not today. So I ran towards the familiar Greenbelt entrance. Hit a certain point on the Greenbelt and turned around. I finished my mock tri right next to the Zilker water fountain. Just like I’d planned it. By then I was picking up the pace and feeling better about the day, knowing I was so close to the end.

GPS is always right.

After my mock Rookie Tri, I composed myself, checked my body to ensure everything was where it was supposed to be, got out some salted watermelon Clif Bloks (my go-to), and got in my truck. I sat for a few seconds to ensure I could operate a vehicle. It turns out I could. I made my way home, gingerly took a shower, swatted away Napoli, my blue heeler, who wanted to play, and headed to work.

The end. Right? Wrong. Now the training begins! Check out my splits below.

Overall time – 1:34:43

300m swim – 7:16

T1 – 6:00

Bike – 1:01:47 (5:35, 5:39, 5:37, 5:08, 5:23, 6:01, 6:03, 5:56, 5:44, 4:57, 5:44)

T2 – 2:00

2-mile run – 17:40 (9:06, 8:34)

Want to join the fun? Coach Barny (I think that’s what I’ll call him) has a training deal for Rookies (like me) who want to complete the Rookie Tri on May 6th (you HAVE to be a first-timer!). It’ll be a 12-week program for $400 total. That’s a steal and significantly less than what he normally charges. Plus, I need some training partners. Accountability is huge when training. It makes getting out of bed easier. It makes training in general easier. JOIN ME! Hit him up today and tell him you’re a Rookie who wants to #feelthebarn.

Rookie Triathlete: Part 1: A Work in Progress

Hi, my name is William. I’m a Rookie.

What started off as a small idea has now taken on a life of its own. I’m committing to my first triathlon, The Rookie Triathlon on May 6, 2018. My world-class/uber-talented triathlon coach is none other than Paul “Barny” Matthews. I have no tri kit. My only swim gear is a pair of swim goggles. I’ve never swum for an extended period of time. I don’t have a bike, I don’t even have a helmet. I haven’t biked for 15+ minutes since I was a kid 20+ years ago. But I do have all the running stuff I’ll need! There it is, the silver lining.

Paul “Barny” Matthews at 2017 Rookie Tri (credit: Ed Sparks)

Quick background, my name is William Dyson. I’m a runner. I love to be in the water. I can ride a bike. I’m also the Communications Manager for High Five Events and have been so for nearly two years now. I’ve never committed to a triathlon. Until now…

This blog will provide updates on my training progress, my research into the sport, and insight from Barny as to why he’s having me train the way he is. So let’s kick things off! My training starts this Friday, 2/2, at Barton Springs. I will complete (fingers crossed) a mock Rookie Tri (300m swim, 11-mile bike ride, 2-mile run) on Friday, Feb. 2nd, to create a database that I can use for training purposes and compare and contrast my (hopeful) progress (time, weight, measurements, etc). For updates, stay tuned to this blog, follow us on Twitter (@stay_vertical #feelthebarn @paulbarny), and check out Barny’s coaching website!

If it weren’t for my running gear I would have NOTHING needed to compete in a triathlon. So what am I doing about that? I’m leaning on triathletes, asking them questions. I have co-workers who’ve competed in many triathlons, including Kona. They’re helping establish my knowledge base.

Felt Z100

I’ve researched bikes. I’ve been in touch with Josh from Jack & Adam’s Fredericksburg about a Felt Z100 (hope I wrote that correctly). My thinking behind buying a bike as opposed to renting/borrowing one, I’d like to start riding to work to conserve on gas and mileage on my truck. Josh put together a ~$700 package that includes the bike, a helmet, flat kit, tube, and flat pedals (since I won’t get the clip pedals and the bike shoes needed for those pedals (aka more money). I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m leaning towards this route for my introduction.

My total swim gear consists of one pair of swimming goggles. Sounds like I should acquire some more gear before May 6th. When I complete my mock Rookie Tri it’ll be done in running tights and boardshorts. I’ll wear goggles too, but I don’t think I’ll wear a swim cap or any shirt. The forecast calls for chilly temperatures so I might rethink the top part and wear an Under Armour shirt. Full disclosure: I hold my nose when I jump in a body of water.

Like I said, I’m a runner. I have all I’ll need. My only real focus for the two-mile run is speed. I know you can’t make up much time on a short course, but I want to nail the Rookie Tri run course.

My first meeting with Barny took place on Jan. 26th. His father was visiting from Australia, fresh off a blistering time at 3M Half Marathon, and joined the meeting. Gerry’s advice helped establish my base as well. He mentioned triathlon training is just like any other training: make sure you control what you can control. Barny reminded me not to panic (yeah right) because there was a lot of time between now and race day. Focus on getting better, continuing to show progress.

That’s it until next week. I’ll provide a recap a the mock Rookie Tri, show my results, chat about next steps, and provide any other updates. If you’re like me and have never completed a triathlon, I hope this blog gives you the nudge needed to join me on race day. If you want to watch me transition out of the bed of my truck and pedal 11 miles on a cruiser with a helmet that’s a size too small, join us at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 2nd, at Barton Springs!