Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16 a Smashing Success

Hundreds introduced to triathlon at Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16

On Sunday, May 5th, more than 1000 registrants celebrated Rookie Triathlon‘s Sweet 16 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 despite recent severe storms in Central Texas. Rookies, those who participated in their first or second triathlon, consisted of more than half the field.

“The experience of my first triathlon at Rookie Tri is one I won’t forget,” said Lorie Sturgis, who completed her first triathlon in 2:17:52. “The support from spectators, volunteers, and High Five Events was phenomenal and I can’t wait to complete my next triathlon!”

Professional triathlete Pablo Gomez won his first Rookie Triathlon with the time of 45:28. Second and third place went to Justin Arnosky and Jack Cartwright, who crossed the finish line in 46:10 and 46:18 respectively. For the fourth time since 2015, professional triathlete Natasha Van Der Merwe topped the women’s field with a winning time of 49:38. Second place finisher Clare Dasso (54:49) and third place finisher Michelle Bonathan (57:00) rounded out the women’s field.

“I love being at Rookie Tri because many triathletes begin their season out here,” said Gomez, who has completed Rookie Triathlon seven times. “It’s especially great to win a race where Rookies and Veterans can compete on the same course. As always, thanks to High Five Events!”

The Rookie Tri

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 also featured Athena and Clydesdale categories. The inclusion of the categories, which had 114 total participants, created more energy and competition on race day.

The wetsuit legal 300-meter swim took place in a 70 degree Decker Lake, the 11.2-mile bike course featured rolling hills, and the two-mile run course ran through the park. Participants received custom finisher medals, Sweet 16 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.

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, Ascension Seton, Camp Gladiator, Fleet Feet Austin, Z’Tejas, FinisherPix, the City of Austin, Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, and Travis County EMS.

All the Rookie Triathlon Information in One Place

Everything you need for Rookie Tri’s Sweet 16 in one place

Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16 is this Sunday, May 5th! We’re putting the final touches on another great event and are ready to party with you at the finish line festival. Once again, Rookie Tri has more than 500 Rookies participating in their first or second triathlon… EVER! We’ve shared a lot of helpful information lately and want to make sure both Rookies and Veterans have everything they need for a successful event. Check out all the information and links below. We’ve got everything you need in one place. Good luck this Sunday!

Download the Rookie Tri app and have all the information you need in one place!

Download the app

Talk about all the information in one place. Download the Rookie Tri app and you’ll have everything you need in the palm of your hand! Tell friends and family to download the app as well so they know what you know. They can also track you on Sunday. The app is available for iPhone and Android.

Packet pick up

Make packet pick up smooth and enjoyable! Review packet pick up hours, location, pro tips, details, and parking. Make sure you have your ID; you’re the only one who can get your packet! Pro tip: Mellow Johnny’s is offering $1 off all non-alcoholic beverages. Just show your Rookie Tri bib!

Bike safety check

Complete this bike safety check before you leave the house! It’s very reassuring to know that your bike is completely ready to go race morning. Check your tires’ air pressure one more time before you drive to Decker Lake.

Group riding etiquette

It never hurts to review what to do during a group ride. That’s essentially what you’ll do this Sunday! Review the guidelines and adhere to them during the bike portion. This will help keep everyone safe on the roads and allow you to communicate with other cyclists if needed.

Calm pre-race jitters

Are the pre-race jitters kicking in? Don’t worry! That’s normal for both Rookies and Veterans. We’ve got 6 tactics you can use to calm those nerves, from planning the night before to listening to music race morning. Check them out and see what works for you.

Weekend and swim wave schedules

Not sure when something begins or ends? Want to double-check the approximate time your swim wave will begin? Hit up the schedule.

Course maps

Know the course maps before you get to transition. Becoming familiar with the layout will benefit you on Sunday. If you have friends that want to cheer for you on course share this with them so they know where to go.

Water temperature

As of May 2nd, the water temperature was 70 degrees. This makes the swim wetsuit legal per USAT rules. Greater than 78 degrees is the threshold, so we anticipate a wetsuit-legal swim. Feel free to review USAT’s wetsuit rules. Pro tip: a final temperature reading will be taken race morning. That will be the final determining temperature.

Rookie Triathlon Puts Final Touches on Sweet 16 Celebration

More than half of the Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16 field consists of beginner triathletes

High Five Events is excited to celebrate 16 years of bringing new triathletes or introducing new triathletes to the sport at 2019 The Rookie Triathlon. The event will take place on Sunday, May 5th, at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. More than 1000 participants will complete the first triathlon of their life or the first triathlon of their season. Everyone will celebrate Rookie Tri’s Sweet 16 at the finish line festival. There will be a beer garden, post-race food, and a Sweet 16 cake!

Loren showing off her well-deserved 2018 Rookie Tri finisher medal and water bottle!

“I registered for Rookie Tri, my first ever triathlon, to push myself and see what I can accomplish,” said Brieann Grissom. “ I had brain surgery twice, most recently in January, and want to challenge my mind and body in a way I typically don’t do!”

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. 1-2 participants will enter the water every few seconds. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Rookie Tri is also returning the Athena and Clydesdale categories. The inclusion of the two divisions will create more energy and competition on race day.

“It’s exciting to see Rookie Tri’s continued growth because that means more and more people are getting introduced to triathlon,” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. “We love seeing first-timers come back and complete Rookie Tri for the second time, making them a veteran for the next year!”

Sweet 16 perks

Participants will receive custom 2019 shirts, finisher medals and water bottles. They’ll also receive swim caps, 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, will make this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. Participants and volunteers can register until Saturday. Packet pickup will take place at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin.

Rookie Tri, an award-winning triathlon, consists of a 300m swim in Decker Lake, an 11.2-mile bike ride in a protected lane around the lake, and a two-mile run through Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. Rookie Tri has aquabike and relay options for race day. The relay team can consist of two or three members and the aquabike completes the swim and the bike only. Triathletes who can’t make it to the event can still participate through the virtual Rookie Tri. Participants can complete the Rookie Tri on their own time at their preferred locations.

5 Commonly Asked Questions Answered

These are the answers to the 5 questions that Rookie Tri is asked the most

More than half the field participating in the 16th annual Rookie Tri are Rookies. That’s amazing! So many new folks being introduced to the sport is great for triathlon. Our main focus is to make Rookie Tri as inviting for new folks as possible. That means answering all the questions that come in! If you’ve wanted to ask a question, but haven’t done so, the answer might be below. These are answers to our 5 most commonly asked questions.

What do I need to bring to packet pick up?

  • Current photo ID
  • USAT annual membership card. Make sure it is not expired. (Digital copy is okay)
  • If you purchased a one-day license, you do not need to bring proof. If you still need a USAT license, you can purchase a one-day or annual license at packet pickup.

Can I pick up a packet for a friend or family member or my relay team members?

No. All High Five Events triathlons are USAT-sanctioned. USAT rules require each participant to show a photo ID and current USAT status while picking up their own packet.

Do I need a wetsuit to participate in the triathlon?

Wetsuits are not required to participate in any High Five Events triathlon. Depending on the water temperature for the event, wetsuits may or may not be legal. Read USAT wetsuit rules here: USAT Swimming Conduct.

How will I know if the event is wetsuit legal?

Water temperatures for the event will be announced on social media the day before and the morning of the race. If the temperature is equal to or lower than 78 degrees a wetsuit can be worn. Review the USAT rules for specific details.

Are headphones allowed?

No. Per USAT rules, bringing personal audio devices on the race course will result in a time penalty

2019 Athlete Tracking and Live Results

Follow your friends and family with athlete tracking

Support your friends and family at the 16th annual Rookie Triathlon! Show up early, make hilarious signs, and cheer loudly. Then get ready to celebrate at the finish line festival! If you’re at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park or halfway around the globe, use athlete tracking or receive alerts via social media to know where your friends and family are on course.

Live Online Tracking

Watch the leaderboard live on race day! Share this link with family and friends so that they can see Rookie Tri results no matter where they are on this beautiful earth.

Results on Social Media

You can also sign up to get results sent to your social media. Search for your name and set up messages to be sent to your social media. This will keep all of your followers up to date on your Rookie Tri progress. You can also set up text messaging to your spectators so they know when you have completed each part of the event and can be waiting for you at the finish line.

Final Results

Don’t forget to check out the final results and see if you placed in your division!

A Pro’s Guide to Race Week

Implement this race week checklist for your best Rookie Tri

by: Des Ficker Berry

The days before a big race can be stressful and hectic. Your mind might start to do funny things and your body can feel like it is playing tricks on you. That’s why you should closely follow a race week checklist.

I have had my absolute best races feeling slug-like several days out from a big race. I have learned to ignore signs of fatigue. You should know that your body is shutting down and resting to prepare for the big fight! I have created a race week checklist of how I spend my time and things I recommend doing five days out. Use some or all of my advice leading up to Rookie Tri!

Tuesday (5 days out)

  • last hard swim session of regular length, get in a set of 200s or 100s for some strength and speed
  • track session 4-6 x 800m with 90 secs rest, feeling good and strong but not going all out
  • sleep more than usual this night and eat more fruits and veggies, less starchy carbs

Wednesday (4 days out)

  • if needed, get a final tune-up for bike (schedule with James Balentine of City Limit Cycles and he’ll come to you!)
  • purchase any last-minute items you might need (gels, hydration, sunglasses, etc.)
  • 1-hour bike ride with some fast, 1-2 minute pickups at race pace
  • easy run and stretch
  • begin packing with that packing list!

Thursday (3 days out)

  • wake up and take ten minutes to imagine a perfect race in your head, down to each detail, this also helps you remember everything you need for the race
  • short swim with some fast 50s and 100’s
  • easy spin on the bike, if you have time
  • pack for the race (make a list and check it twice!)
  • begin adding in more carbs and thinking a lot about hydration

Friday (2 days out)

  • depending on your work/travel schedule, make this day very easy workout-wise, fit in a run or a swim if you can
  • hydrate and eat well all day long
  • dinner is important, make sure you get plenty of good carbs and lots of sleep with positive thoughts flowing about your race

Saturday (1 day out)

  • get easy and short workouts in as soon as you wake up (all three sports), no more than an hour of working out total
  • hydrate and eat a hearty breakfast and lunch, cut fiber intake completely on this day (low on salad and fruits )
  • pick up your packet!
  • lay out all of your race gear, organize it well so you can be done with it and relax
  • have a good dinner with no new foods!
  • do not go to bed stuffed or hungry
  • watch a movie as you go to bed that will help you get a good night’s sleep

Sunday (Race day!)

  • wake up and start moving around, jog a little after a coffee to get the-you-know-what flowing
  • eat an easily digestible breakfast (mine is always rice bread with peanut butter and honey)
  • carry a snack with you and some sports drink to drink one hour before go time

Get out there and kick some booty! You are all ready to go and have some FUN!!!

Desiree’s extensive recognition list:

2018 – qualified for 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials at California International Marathon (2:39:17)

2011 – 1st place Austin Marathon (2:50:35)

2010 – 1st place Cap10K (35:36)

2010 – 1st place Austin Half Marathon (1:17:41)

2009 – 10th place New York City Marathon (2:39:30)

2009 – 2nd place Austin Half Marathon (1:19:23)

2008 – qualified for Olympic Marathon Trials; finished in 2:48:11

2007 – 2nd place Austin Marathon (2:40:28)

2006 – 2nd place IRONMAN World Championship – Kona (9:28:02)

Training and Competing in Triathlons After 50

Rookie Tri ambassador talks about training for triathlons after 50

Steve Mallett, a Rookie Triathlon ambassador, began participating in endurance events at the tender age of 52. He talks about the benefits of cross-training and how it has helped him reduce injuries. Steve participated in triathlons 20 years ago, but he has since brought it back into his life. Below is a firsthand account of how he approaches training and competing in triathlons after 50. It’s never too late!

by: Steve Mallett

In January of 2015, at the age of 52, I started marathon training and racing with a well-known Austin running team. I immersed myself into a group of athletes and coaches searching to find the limits of speed and fitness. It was exhilarating and I hung on to my coach’s every word.  After six months I set a lifetime PR for the marathon. My fitness, I thought, was as good as it had ever been. I would later find out that my body could only handle that intensity for so long.

In late 2016, after months of 50-60 mile weeks, 3-4 marathons a year, and pushing myself to faster times, my body started to fail. Later that year, I developed a nagging and painful condition in my lower abdomen, later diagnosed as a pelvic fracture from overuse. I was devastated. The doctor’s recommendation was six months of no running. That’s like telling Rachel Ray to get out of the kitchen. I struggled to come to terms with this new reality.

Bring on the recovery

A few months into recovery I was cleared to start elliptical training. While in the gym I noticed other runners doing strength training and weights. I had never considered adding this to my fitness regimen. Running 60 miles a week was hard enough. How could I add in 3-4 hours of weights and strength training per week?

When I was cleared to run again I was cautious. I wanted to be fast again, but didn’t want another injury. Six months without running had taken its toll on me emotionally. I didn’t want to pull the scab off that wound. I started with some shorter runs and then finished in the gym with 30-45 minutes of whole-body strength and conditioning. As my running form came back, I noticed big changes in my strength and my running times.  

I registered for the Cap10K before my injury and decided to run and get a baseline for my recovery. I ran the fastest Cap10K I have ever run and felt great doing it. My running decreased, but I was getting faster.  The time in the gym and the intensity of my shorter runs was making me a stronger runner. I ran very few “junk” miles.

Time to add cycling

In the following months, I added cycling to my fitness regimen. I was already swimming three days a week as cross training for my running. After a 20-year hiatus, I began signing up for triathlons again. My goal was to compete again. However, I knew my body couldn’t handle the high mileage needed to run a fast marathon. Triathlons would give me my competition fix.  

I read The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Race-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week, by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg. I took many of those principles to heart. You can get faster and stronger by doing more intense, shorter workouts. But you have to compliment that with strength and weights.  

As you train for any race shorter than a Half Ironman, don’t focus on mileage for the sake of mileage. Some of the long, slow rides and runs are like counting your steps when you take out the trash. Yes, you got in some steps, but did they really count?  

Triathlon training

Many sprint triathlons have such a short run that any training run over 6-8 miles is wasted. You are better off doing four weekly runs. Long runs, speed-work/track days, fartleks, and tempo runs and drills can increase your speed.   

In the pool, break your workouts into sets. Try to push yourself. 2000 slow yards with a pull buoy may impress your friends on Strava, but 6×100 at race pace (after a warm-up) will actually make you faster on race day.  

One day a week it’s okay to go for a slow ride and enjoy the scenery. On other days, focus on pushing up your watts or climbing hills near your max heart rate. Those types of workouts will improve your speed and strength.  

To prevent injuries, don’t neglect your strength and weights. There are many places online to find whole body strength/conditioning and weight lifting plans for runners and triathletes. Start slowly and build.

Book recommendation

You should read Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength & Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong, by Brian MacKenzie, the founder of Cross Fit. His program teaches you to be strong first. Then the speed and endurance will follow.  

If you choose a coach, try to find one who understands aging athletes. Trying to keep up with the 30-year-olds is a recipe for disaster. Find a coach that will push you, but not break you. You will have to shift your paradigm to believing that shorter, harder workouts will make you faster. A coach will help when you start to get tired and lazy. You want to avoid going through the workout motions at a lower intensity.  

If you are doing longer races, you will need to spend some time doing long, slow miles. When you hit age 50 the longer races are not so much about speed, but about mentally preparing for hours of racing at an elevated pace.

Too many triathletes fall into the trap of miles for the sake of miles. Your workouts should focus on quality, not how far you can go. As we age we need to be very smart about how we train and treat our bodies. Junk miles don’t lead to fast races, they lead to broken bodies.  

Bio: Steve competed in his first triathlon in 1984 in Key West, Florida. He has done more than 50 triathlons, 12 marathons, eight 50K races, and has finished the Rocky Raccoon 50-mile Trail Run twice. He is a real estate broker who lives in Dripping Springs, Texas.  

6 Tactics to Calm Your Pre-Race Jitters

Pre-race jitters will happen, calm them with our advice

Whether Rookie Triathlon is the first triathlon of your life or the first tri of your season, you’re likely to experience pre-race jitters. Don’t worry, this is normal! You’re excited, chatting with old friends and making new ones, scurrying to make your transition perfect, anxious to get in the water, checking off items on your to-do list. You’ve trained for this moment and want everything to go as smoothly as possible. So do we! That’s why we’ve compiled six tactics you can use to calm those pre-race jitters.

Plan race morning the night before

Take the time to plan out race morning when you’re not in a rush to get to Decker Lake. Follow our general advice and make race morning as smooth as possible! Completing this the day before ensures you have all the time you need. Start with leaving your house and lay out everything you’ll need to return home with your Rookie Tri medal! Think about transition, the swim, the bike, the run. Items to focus on: race bib, hydration, nutrition. If you’re a visual person, make a list and check it twice.

Remember your training

You’ve spent hours in the pool, logged miles on the bike, completed several brick workouts. You’re ready for this! It can be easy to think about what’s ahead, but it’s just as easy to think about what you’ve accomplished so far. If you have a game plan, go over that in your head. Focus on your breathing, make it mimic when you’re in the water. Think about your technique in the water. Look for items to focus on when you sight. If you had a particularly good bike ride, think about what went right on that ride.

Listen to music

This is used by many triathletes! You could jam out to the tunes playing at Rookie Tri or you could throw some headphones on and click play on your favorite album. You can’t use headphones during the race, so if you want a song to get stuck in your head make sure it’s one of the final songs you hear. Pro tip: if you find yourself with some extra time, find a quiet spot to sit down, listen to some tunes, close your eyes, and relax.

Complete the pre-race warmup

Complete the pre-race warmup with Camp Gladiator instructors to eliminate pre-race jitters.

Remove pre-race jitters by actually getting your blood flowing! Listen to the Camp Gladiator instructors and complete the pre-race warmup. You’ll get loose and start to feel good. Really focus on the activity you’re doing, make your form as perfect as possible. Zeroing in on what you’re doing keeps you from thinking about all the what-ifs that lead to pre-race jitters. Pro tip: add a deep stretch after the warmup to further loosen your muscles.

Get a friend to complete Rookie Tri with you

Has someone trained with you and showed you the ropes? Great! Have them join you at Rookie Tri. Having someone you know with you race morning brings familiarity. You’re more likely to be comfortable when they’re around. They can help you remember this pre-race jitters list! You could also talk about where you’ll celebrate and what you’ll eat/drink when you leave the finish line festival.

Invite friends and family to cheer for you

This is our favorite remedy for pre-race jitters. They don’t have to complete Rookie Tri, but invite friends and family to Decker Lake so they can cheer for you! They can make signs, take photos/video, and cheer for you at several different locations, including swim start, transition, and the finish line. Pro tip: you can hang out with friends and family before your swim wave begins.

Tire Blowout Prevention Tips

Prevent your next tire blowout

The last thing you want is a tire blowout the morning of your first triathlon!

Culprit: old tires

There are times when people use bike tires that are not very well maintained. The tire may have dry or weak spots. Mechanics/helpers/friends helping others get ready in transition during bike check-in will normally pump tires up to the maximum tire pressure. This exposes already weak, drily rotted, or damaged areas of the tire. This is the main culprit of tires blowing out.

Not a culprit: temperature change

A severe temperature change the night before will only cause a very slight change in tire pressure overnight. A swing of 50 degrees will be a shift of fewer than 10 lbs. of air pressure in your tire. Most wheel manufacturers’ rims can withstand more than twice the recommended tire pressure before the tire would pop off of the rim. So if your tire is supposed to be aired up to 120 lbs., chances are your rim can hold twice that amount of force or more.

Culprit: too little pressure

Begin the bike portion of your triathlon knowing your tires are completely aired up.  Too little pressure will slow your ride down and make you work harder than necessary.

Rubber is a porous material. Tubes and tires will lose pressure over a short amount of time. Some tires will lose as much as 25 to 40 percent of their air in a week. If you air your tires up the day before you will probably have a little less air in your tires by race start. This would be a reason why you should air them up race day.

You can learn more about proper air pressure from this Jack’s Generic Triathlon blog post.

Want to learn more about flat tire prevention?  Follow the advice in an earlier blog of ours.

Group Riding Guidelines to Follow

Make sure you and your crew follow these group riding guidelines on your next ride

Group riding provides cyclists with many benefits: exercise, training, support from other cyclists, and safety. Whether you’re riding to lunch with co-workers or training on the Rookie Tri bike course with your crew, the following group riding guidelines will come in handy. Knowing these basic guidelines will also make the ride more enjoyable and safer for the group.

  • Wear a helmet for safety (and be a good model for children)
  • Complete a quick, pre-ride safety check
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Operate bike in such a manner as to not offend or endanger motorists, pedestrians, etc.
  • Turn on all lights on bikes
  • Wear reflective gear that makes the group more visible, even in the daytime
  • Ride single file except in areas where it is safe to ride side-by-side (three or more riders should never be next to one another)
  • When riding in a pack, look at “shoulder level” of cyclists in front of you. This allows you to see what is happening further up the road and not focus on the cyclists in front of you. Fixing your gaze on the back tire of the person in front of you doesn’t give you enough time to react should the entire group slow down.
  • It is the responsibility of the lead rider to notify the cyclist behind them of approaching issues by saying, “jogger up, cyclist up.” This includes any potential danger that may lie ahead. It is the responsibility of each cyclist to pass the caution back to the person behind them.

Important hand signals

Hand signals, instead of words, are used to warn riders of potential danger on the roadway. In a pack, oftentimes, the only cyclist who has enough visual warning is the front cyclist. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the lead rider to warn the cyclists behind them. If the lead cyclist (or the cyclist in front of you):

  • shakes their hand to the right = there’s a pothole, branch, or some obstacle to the right
  • shakes their hand to the left = there’s an obstacle to the left
  • puts hand behind their posterior = follow right behind them as there might be obstacles on both sides
  • puts right hand down with the flat of the hand facing you = lead cyclist is slowing down or coming to a stop

Avoid slowing down abruptly or making any other sudden moves. Ask experienced riders questions when you’re not sure what is occurring.