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No longer a Rookie! William’s First Tri

Year after year we produce one of Austin’s most-beloved triathlons, the Rookie Tri. But every once in awhile, we want to get in on the action, too! Keep reading to see William Dyson’s first-ever triathlon experience at yours truly, Rookie Tri.

Taking the Plunge

I committed to my first triathlon in 2018 for The 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.

William’s First Tri – 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.

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

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.

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 smoothly again. Pre-planning helped. I 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.

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

William taking those finals steps across the finish line at The Rookie Tri!

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.

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 for 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.

17th Annual Rookie Triathlon Goes Virtual

We know how hard all of our participants have trained for the Rookie Tri and we think your efforts still deserve some acknowledgment and praise. It’s time to finish what you started and show off your skills by completing the Free 2020 Virtual Rookie Triathlon. This event is open to the public so be sure to challenge your friends and family to join you!

Completing a virtual triathlon is great motivation to accomplish your fitness goals and commit to healthy living habits! And, besides feeling good about yourself, you will also receive a downloadable personalized bib, finisher certificate, and digital finisher medal. We are also giving away Under Armour socks to all finishers! (while supplies last).

Participants will complete the 300-meter swim (or 1-mile run), 11-mile bike, and 2-mile run using their watch or a smartphone app.

Registration is open for the Free 2020 Virtual Rookie Triathlon from April 8th through May 3rd. You can submit your results through May 7th. The official results page with finisher certificates will be updated on April 13th, April 27th, and May 8th.

Custom Bib, Finisher Certificate & Digital Finisher Medal!

How to Participate

With this virtual tri, you can do it all at once or can complete each segment of the triathlon on your own schedule. For example, you can do part of the swim on Monday, part of the run on Wednesday and part of the bike on Friday. You can do each part in a location and time that’s convenient for you. Even if you weren’t planning on joining us for Rookie Tri, now is the chance to put yourself to the test at the pace you’re comfortable with.

  1. Register for the event. Keeping with the theme of The Rookie there are divisions for each. The Rookie Division is for those new to the sport and Veterans are those who have completed 2 or more triathlons.
  2. Personalize & Download Your Bib.
  3. Document your journey with a before and after photo. Optional but totally encouraged!
  4. Swim (Run), Bike & Run! Complete the 300-meter swim, 11-mile bike, and 2-mile run. If you are unable to swim, make it a Duathlon of 1-mile run, 11-mile bike and 2-mile run.
  5. Keep track of your time with your watch or a smartphone app like MapMyFitness. Complete your distances indoors or outdoors during the time frame.
  6. Post your results before May 7, 2020, to the link in your confirmation email.
  7. Connect with us on Social! Tag your photos on Instagram & Twitter with #RookieTriVirtual

 

 

Make worrying about transitions a thing of the past when you use these time-saving tips for triathlon transitions

A quick and easy transition is an important skill to save time during your triathlon. However, it is often overlooked during the training process. These transition techniques should be practiced during your training leading up to your upcoming tri to save time and reduce any stress you may be feeling about tackling transition on the morning of your race.

Know Your Way Around

Having an idea of the layout of the transition area of your tri beforehand is especially crucial on race day. Reviewing the course maps will eliminate any uncertainties you have and should be done in the days leading up to your race. Take it a step further and arrive at the race site early to do a pre-race walkthrough in transition.  Get familiar with the flow of transition during your walkthrough.  Make a point to identify where you will swim in, bike out, bike in and run out.

Athlete getting her gear set up in transitions before the racePlan Your Gear

Know what gear you will be using first will help you determine how to layout your gear when you arrive at the race site. If your goal is to improve your overall race time, you will need to be organized in your transition layout. Another common mistake we see athletes make is bringing too much stuff. Only bring what you need to avoid losing any items, or having items in the way to slow you down. Layout your items in the order you use them to save time when you arrive in transition during the race.

Practice

Practicing your transitions is the best way to be prepared come race day. Set up a practice transition area wherever you find an open space like in your driveway, or an empty track. This will give you the opportunity to time yourself and see how long the swim to bike transition will take, as well as the bike to run. Determine which time-saving techniques you’ll use such as deciding to have your shoes already clipped into your bike, or where to place your helmet for easy access. Practice putting on and removing shoes, and mounting your bike while keeping your rhythm. Layout your gear to get in and out of transition in the least amount of time possible.

Only Bring the Essentials

Getting into gear in the transition area

Only bring what you need to avoid losing any items, or having items in the way to slow you down. Along with completing a gear check to make sure you have all the items you need, take some time to make sure your gear is functioning properly. The idea is to have everything ready to go when you run into transition during your tri.

The best way to get good at anything is practice, practice, PRACTICE! Training for transitions ultimately determines how well you can tackle them on the day of your race. Use these tips for your upcoming tri to improve your race time, or maybe even PR!

If Rookie Tri is on your calendar or on your radar, we want to help you feel prepared when you toe the start line by offering you a free training plan

Be ready to swim, bike, and run and celebrate your accomplishment at the finish line party when you follow this free Rookie Tri training plan to get to the finish line on May 3rd! Look no further than the 3-month training plan below.

This training plan was created by professional triathlete and coach Paul “Barny” Matthews just for you. Matthews has won or placed at numerous IRONMANs and 70.3s. He broke onto the triathlon scene at the 2014 IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship in Melbourne. The native Australian finished 2nd in his home country with an impressive time of 8:02:14. He has also won some local races, including Jack’s Generic Tri and yours truly, The Rookie Tri.

This downloadable training plan is geared for triathletes of all levels, from true Rookies to seasoned veterans. You can further customize it yourself by cutting certain workouts in half (first-timers), adding more time (veterans), or adjusting the specific workouts and their days to fit your busy life.

After you download Barny’s free Rookie Triathlon training plan, click on the day’s workout to learn about the workout’s description.

Pro tip: When you have a rest day, take it! Listen to your body and don’t over-do it during training.

If you want to take your training to the next level, then contact Matthews today. Make sure you ask for his special Rookie Tri coaching rate! Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see where he’s training and join him for a workout.

Enter your email and download your FREE training plan today!

Barny's free training plan for the month of February for the 2020 Rookie Triathlon.

Barny's free training plan for the month of March for the 2020 Rookie Triathlon.

Barny's free training plan for the month of April for the 2020 Rookie Triathlon.

Barny's free training plan for the month of May for the 2020 Rookie Triathlon.

If you’re new to triathlons or can’t decide if you want to participate in one, it’s probably because you have some questions. We’re here to debunk the 5 most common misconceptions about triathlons.

With all the craziness of everyday life, adding training for a triathlon can seem nearly impossible. Whether you don’t have the time, resources, or you doubt your abilities to complete a triathlon, we are here to show you that you can do it by telling you the 5 most common misconceptions about triathlons!

It’s Too Expensive

The great thing about your first triathlon is you probably already have all the gear you would need! Let’s start with the basics. A swimsuit and goggles are all you need for the swim portion. We will provide you with a swim cap based on your age group and/or division. You may think you need an expensive racing bike, but any bike that will get you from A to B is just fine! If you don’t have a bike, that’s okay too – you can rent one or borrow one from a friend. Top it off with any bike helmet and you’re all set! For the run, all you’ll need a pair of tennis shoes, which hopefully you already have. And that’s it! You’re ready to tri. Pro tip: get yourself an affordable tri suit to wear from start to finish, to skip any clothing or gear changes during the race.

Running along the Rookie Tri run courseTraining Takes too Much Time

A sprint distance tri does not require as much training as you may think. Depending on your current swimming, cycling, and running abilities, you will know what areas you need to focus more time training on. With that being said, you can train as little as 3 to 5 workouts a week (2 swims, 2 bikes, 1 run) to get you race-ready. Focus on your weakness and complete more of those workouts where needed.

You have to be a Super Athlete

Triathletes come in all different ages, shapes, and sizes. If you can swim in a straight line, ride a bike and put one foot in front of the other, you can complete a triathlon! According to USAT, the average age of triathletes is 38, with the second-largest age group of participants being 40-44, so it’s never too early or too late to start your tri journey. The Rookie was designed with beginner triathletes in mind, to give you a chance to get comfortable with the sport before attempting a long-distance race.

You Have to be able to Swim, Bike and Run

Get a group of friends together to complete a triathlon with you

If you want to participate in a tri, but cannot complete one of the legs for any reason, you can still race in one! Get together a relay team of 2 to 3 people so you can divide up the work while still getting to experience a tri. We also have an Aquabike option available if you know you cannot complete the run portion.

You Need to Get a Coach

There are endless options of free training plans created by professional coaches online for every distance triathlon. Once you find one, stick to the training plan and trust the process. Having a coach is great if you are trying to improve your time but with all the resources out there, a coach is not necessary for your first tri. Try this free sprint distance training plan from professional triathlete and Coach, Paul ‘Barny’ Matthews.

Nothing beats the feeling of taking your final steps across the finish line!

Whatever your reason for starting your triathlon journey, your main goal when participating in the Rookie Tri, as a first-time triathlete, should be to cross the finish line. Along with an unbeatable sense of accomplishment, the health benefits you’ll get from all your hard work and training will be far more gratifying than your race time. Hopefully, this feeling will encourage you to participate in other triathlons in the future, but in the meantime, make Rookie Tri your first tri!

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. Some of the competitors had ordered a mclovin id so they could also partake in the alcohol-fuelled celebrations that would inevitably follow the climax of this race. But first, It was 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.

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

My Rookie nerves finally kicked in at packet pickup

I knew Rookie nerves would kick in, I just didn’t know when. There’s something about a new endeavor that riles up your insides. Throw in the fact that my coach, Paul “Barny” Matthews, is a world-class triathlete and the nerves become amplified. Don’t forget that I might be the only swimmer with a nose plug! Top that off with a friendly wager with my triathlon arch nemesis, Paras Shah, and the butterflies grow larger.

Rookie nerves can come from anywhere, including competition.

My triathlon arch nemesis, Paras Shah.

What if I forget something that I need for Sunday? Can I apply the required stickers incorrectly? How do I keep from checking my checking list 16 times? What do I need to do to not leave too early and stand around, but not leave too late and miss a good spot in transition? How do I kill time between when the race starts and when my wave begins? Whatifmynoseplugcomesoffduringtheswim?! All of these thoughts are racing through my head on a continuous loop. It’s how my brain is wired. I need to have every possible angle covered and all boxes on my list checked, highlighted, marked through, and initialed. Then reviewed by a quality control supervisor.

BUT… Nerves are just that, nerves. There are tactics you can use to manage and even eliminate them. I have months of training and advice from Barny. He even helped make this video that’s useful for Rookie and Veterans. I have years of experience in other races that I can transfer to this Sunday’s Rookie Triathlon. While they can’t help me on race day, I’ve tapped into the never-ending triathlon knowledge bank that my co-workers at High Five Events have offered. I strongly recommend reading this Pre-Race Tips post on the Rookie Tri blog.

What I’m doing

Below are some specific things I’m doing to reduce my overall Rookie nerves:

  • visit Decker Lake today (Saturday) for a quick, easy swim to get accustomed to the water
  • scope out the run course, perhaps go for a relaxed run on the course
  • HYDRATE
  • layout everything I’ll need for race day on my bed
  • go through the race in my head and think about what I’ll need
  • layout and practice transition
  • HYDRATE
  • as I go through the race in my head, place all those items in my bag
  • watch the Kentucky Derby and attend Schrader 1600 (aka do something to take your mind off your race)
  • HYDRATE
  • trust my training
  • load everything by the front door
  • check my bike, especially tire pressure
  • HYDRATE
  • get up earlier than normal to ensure nature won’t call during the race
  • eat/drink my normal breakfast (Clif Bar + nuun performance)
  • support and cheer for Barny (and all athletes) in the Open and Veteran waves
  • HAVE FUN! (Barny has a few tricks up his sleeve to make this happen)

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.

Complete at least one open water swim before Rookie Triathlon

Hundreds of Rookies will complete their first triathlon at Rookie Triathlon on Sunday, May 6th. If you’re training for your first triathlon like William, then you’ve probably never completed an open water swim. Perhaps all of your training has taken place in the pool. Until Tuesday, April 24th, all of William’s swim training has taken place in the pool. Check in with his training and see how his open water swims went. Paul “Barny” Williams, William’s coach and professional triathlete, provides some advice and talks about the importance of completing at least one open water swim before race day. Watch the video below and feel free to share the advice with your Rookie friends!