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Time to graduate from the safe pool to the open waters of Barton Springs

Image of Deep Eddy Pool.

Deep Eddy Pool.

Just a few days ago I wrote about swimming being as difficult as I’d imagined. All of my swimming, except one swim, had taken place at Big Stacy Pool. I was comfortable at that pool. There were familiar faces. My routine was consistent: change clothes, swim, shower. On April 9th I show up for my regular lunchtime swim to find out Big Stacy is closed until the end of the month! What?! Doesn’t the City of Austin know I’m training for my first triathlon?! And to think, I was getting more and more comfortable in the water. Now what do I do?! Graduate.

I knew of a few other pools, so I skipped across town to Deep Eddy Pool. The adjustment took time out of my swim workout, but I had to get in a swim. The switch made me get out of my comfort zone. New location, more traffic, different showers, $3 entry fee, etc. This was a baby graduation. I had to learn about a new (to me) pool and all of its nuances, including the temperature difference. The water temperature was closer to that of Barton Springs (~68 degrees). Deep Eddy isn’t free to use like Big Stacy, which added to my process. Side note – Deep Eddy pool is the oldest pool in Texas, built during the Depression Era.

By now, swimming laps has honed in my stroke and breathing. My familiarity with swimming and level of comfort in the water has grown exponentially since my first swim. Less time is spent on each end of the pool catching my breath. What’s next? Graduate.

Become comfortable with the uncomfortable

This graduation will be bigger. At first, I was uncomfortable swimming longer distances. I’ve since become comfortable. Now it’s time to revisit being uncomfortable again.

graduate

Barton Springs.

I’m planning my first open swim (since my mock Rookie Tri championship) in Barton Springs. The lanes aren’t 25m or 33.3m. They don’t have a black line guiding me under water. There aren’t lane lines to keep other swimmers from swimming in my direction. Basically, all comforts of the pool are gone. But, this is essential and I need to swim in open water before Rookie Tri. Afterall, the swim portion of Rookie Tri takes place in Decker Lake, not Decker Pool.

If you’re just starting out like me, don’t spend 100% of your time in the pool. Become comfortable with swimming in the pool, then branch out. Being as prepared as you can for Sunday, May 6th, will ensure a much better experience!

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.

Introductory bike rides will help you become one with your bike

Introductory bike rides can help if you’re experiencing one or two of the following. The sport of triathlon is brand new to you. Running is pounding your knees and you’ve begun cycling to cross-train. Triathlon injuries took their toll years ago and you’re returning to the sport, slowly but surely. Your friends tricked you into a weekly bike ride with the promise of beer, chips, and queso after.

Whatever your reasoning, you need to become familiar with your new bike. It might be tempting to try new things with your bike. And it is true that sometimes we do have thoughts like is it illegal if we are riding a bike with no hands, doing a wheelie, or trying any other dangerous tricks. Whatever be the case, it is important to familiarize with your bike and avoid anything that can be dangerous to you, your bike and others around you. If operating gears is new to you, using them can be tricky on your first few rides. Your bike presents a new feel, leaning into the curves, becoming comfortable with the handling, drinking your hydration, eating your nutrition.

Master these concepts on introductory bikes rides at the following Austin locations

introductory bike rides

The Veloway.

Veloway

This 3-mile looped, one-way roadway is ideal for your introductory bikes rides. The Veloway is located in southwest Austin off LaCrosse Ave. and is closed to traffic. Parking is ample. Most noteworthy, this route is strictly for cyclists and rollerbladers, no runners or walkers (watch out for the wildlife!). The roadway is bisected with a continuous white line (slower cyclists keep to the right) and everyone moves in the same clockwise manner. You can relax a little knowing you don’t have to keep an eye out for non-wheeled individuals or riders coming in your direction. There are gorgeous views, a few tight turns, and some nice straightaways. Make sure you get into the right gear for a nice climb around Mile 2! Porta-potties are available.

introductory bike rides

Southern Walnut Creek Trail.

Southern Walnut Creek Trail

The Southern Walnut Creek Trail begins at Govalle Neighborhood Park off Bolm Rd. in east Austin. It features nearly 7.5 miles of 10-foot wide concrete paths and splendid views. Like the Veloway, there is plenty of parking. Be advised, runners and walkers are allowed on the trail and traffic flows both ways. On your introductory rides, ensure the other lane is clear and yell out “on your left” if you plan to pass others. There are a few road crossings along the trail to be aware of as well. Add 11 miles and some nice climbs to your bike ride when you preview the Rookie Tri bike course! The trail rides alongside Daffan Ln. and eventually hits Decker Ln.

introductory bike rides

Brushy Creek Regional Trail.

Brushy Creek Regional Trail

Representing north Austin, the Brushy Creek Regional Trail reaches Round Rock to the east and Cedar Park to the west. Check out Stone Canyon Pool if you park to the east. Park to the west at Twin Lakes Family YMCA if you use this route for your introductory bike rides. Be aware of runners and walkers on this 6.75-mile multi-use trail that connects neighborhoods and existing parks. Traffic flows in both directions and there are multiple restrooms along the trail. Make sure the other lane is clear and yell out “on your left” if you plan to pass others.

Swimming is coming along, slowly, but surely

Swimming has been more difficult than I imagined during my Rookie Tri training. I knew swimming would be difficult as it’s easily my weakest discipline. It feels like such a foreign concept to me, continuously inhaling above water and exhaling below water, all while trying to keep my hips/legs from sinking. As difficult as swimming has been, the progress I’ve made has been tremendous. I’ve dedicated more energy to the swim than I have the bike and the run and it shows.

When I first started I was doing everything I could to get from one end of the pool to the other, expending way too much energy. Barny, my coach, likened this to learning to run long distances using only speed workouts. There was no pacing, no patience. The improvement stems from using a pool buoy and kickboard. The pool buoy helps your hips stay elevated in the water so you can focus on using your upper body with minimal kick. The kickboard gives your upper body a rest so you can focus on tiny kicks and keeping your feet below the water’s surface. I also feel it working my core.

swimming

Incite Elite goggle set, with nose plug!

My first swim workout took place with a co-worker at the Townlake YMCA. Every swim workout after that has taken place at Big Stacy Pool. That place is a hidden gem and not many people use it during lunchtime (when I normally go). The facilities are nice, the water is cool, and you can take a quick shower after your swim before going back to work. Big Stacy Pool is 33.3m long. Each swim workout has gotten progressively longer for me, working on form, breathing, and endurance.

Full disclosure, my first swim was without a nose plug. I tried swimming without a nose plug, honest. No matter what I did, water would get in my nose. For Valentine’s Day, my wife got me this sweet Incite Elite goggle set that came with ear plugs and a nose plug (YAY!). The nose plug is a lifesaver. I’m not sure if this is normal for beginner swimmers or not. For me, the difference between using a nose plug and not using a nose plug is night and day. I have noticed that it slid a little bit during a few laps. It might still be in an adjustment to my nose process. I’ll keep an eye on leading up to race day.

I’m going home for Easter weekend and will attempt my first open water swim in Lake Mexia. I’m not sure what to expect or how far I’ll go, but it’ll be a nice gauge for me to see where I am outside of the pool.

What were your first swim experiences?

Taking time to wash your bike is just as important as checking all parts

Spring cleaning doesn’t just pertain to household duties, it includes the outside as well, now this means that your garage will want to have a spring clean too, you’ll need to sort out all the stuff you shoved in there over the years, maybe you’ll need help with knowing how to store extension ladder in garage so you’re not tripping over it as well as your bike, which brings me onto what we’ll be discussing today. So brush the cobwebs off your bike, wash your bike, and get it in proper gear for the spring triathlon season. Ensure your bike is ready to go, especially if you’re racing Rookie Tri on Sunday, May 6th!

Whether your bike is aluminum, steel, titanium, or composite, an important aspect of any frame is keeping it clean. Steel rusts, aluminum corrodes, titanium and composite bikes just look cruddy.

The paint on a steel or aluminum frame is porous and penetrated easily by elements that will rust the tubes from underneath the paint. Grease and solvents can degrade the glued joints of some older composite bikes with aluminum lugs.

Check inside your frame for water. It’s more common than you think for water to seep in down between seat posts and seat tubes. Especially if you ride in the rain or carry your bike on top of the car in the rain. Water in a steel frame shortens its life significantly.

Remember that a clean, dry bike is a happy bike!

Stop by your local bike shop if you need help cleaning your bike or learning about your bike’s frame.

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!

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. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was thriving off this. I loved it. You could say that it even gave me the perfect opportunity to increase my instagram followers, through regular interaction or through an organic growth service like Nitreo. And who doesn’t love to have more of a presence on social media? So, when it wasn’t completely overwhelming, I kind of enjoyed taking a break from training. I think I have the best job in the world, but even that won’t prevent life from interfering with your training. Remember: life happens. Ultimately, putting food on the table will always be the priority for me which often means putting in extra hours at work. Sometimes my paycheque is so low I ask myself “What is the minimum wage” because this seems so much less that I expected! I’m working to provide as great a life for my family and will continue to do so even at the expense of my own hobbies. But I know it’s worth it, and I know that my job is taking care of me. After all, many businesses will hire a law firm to ensure that they are providing a safe working environment, and also that they are doing everything that a business should So even though I might not be able to do my hobbies as much as I like, I know that getting an income to support my family, with a job that cares is the best thing that I can do.

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. If you invest, you should also learn how to fix your bike because, at some point, you’re most likely going to get a punctured tyre or snapped chain. 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

Why do you love Rookie Tri?

What’s better than participating in the Rookie Tri? Participating in the Rookie Tri for free! We love hearing about what the Rookie Tri means to different triathletes. Here’s an opportunity to describe your first Rookie Tri or explain why Rookie Tri should be your first triathlon! Tell us why you love Rookie Tri and you could win one (1) comped 2018 Rookie Tri entry by:

  • love Rookie TriDescribe your first time participating in the Rookie Tri and tell us what you loved about it. Let us know what it is about this triathlon that keeps you coming back.

OR

  • Explaining why you want Rookie Tri to be your first triathlon. Tell us what you’ve heard about Rookie Tri that made you decide this triathlon will be your first one.

All responses must be submitted to the 2018 Rookie Tri Facebook Event. Make sure you tell us you’re going! Be engaging with your responses and have fun with it! Winning response will be chosen and notified at the end of Monday, March 12th.

The 2018 Rookie Tri will be held on Sunday, May 6th, at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. Event distances include:

Super Sprint Triathlon – 300m swim, 11-mile bike, 2-mile run

Super Sprint Aquabike – 300m swim, 11-mile bike

Relay Super Sprint Triathlon – 2 or 3 person teams split swim, bike, and run.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

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! There is even more useful information on triathlon training at mastersoftri.com if you’re interested.

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!