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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.

Rookie Triathlon Announces Ascension Seton as Official Medical Provider

Ascension Seton professionals to have an on-course presence

High Five Events announces Ascension Seton as the Official Medical Provider of the 16th annual Rookie Triathlon. Ascension Seton and their experienced team will have an on-course presence throughout the event and at the finish line medical tent. Rookie Triathlon will take place on Sunday, May 5th, at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.

“Ascension Seton is excited to continue to partner with High Five Events and be the Official Medical Provider for the Rookie Triathlon,” said Adam Bauman, vice president of business development at Ascension Seton. “We look forward to supporting another beloved Austin sporting event, and offering the highest level of care and medical oversight from Ascension Seton medical providers.”

As the Official Medical Provider, Ascension Seton doctors and nurses will work together with Travis County EMS to focus on participant’s well-being. Ascension Seton is part of the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. They’ve expanded their Austin footprint, partnering with the Austin Marathon and Austin Bold FC.

“Rookie Tri participants can focus on completing the first triathlon of their life or first triathlon of their season knowing Ascension Seton doctors and nurses are on site should they be needed,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events.

16th annual Rookie Tri

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 offers relay, aquabike, and virtual options. Relay teams can consist of two or three members. Aquabike completes the swim and the bike only. Participants who register for the virtual Rookie Tri have until Monday, May 27th, to complete the Rookie Tri at their preferred locations.

Participants will receive custom 2019 shirts and water bottles, 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. Registration is currently open.

Make Your First Triathlon a Sprint Triathlon

5 reasons to make your first triathlon a sprint triathlon

Some people want to jump right into training for a full-distance triathlon. That’s 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running! We strongly discourage first-time triathletes from starting with this type of distance. It’s always best to test out the waters first before taking on such a huge endeavor. See the reasons below for why you should make your first triathlon a sprint triathlon. When you’re done, register for Rookie Triathlon and let the training begin!

There are many reasons that a sprint triathlon is the perfect distance for your first triathlon

There are many reasons that a sprint triathlon is the perfect distance for your first triathlon

There’s less training

Triathlon training takes up a lot of time. With three different sports to prepare for, you could triple the amount of training needed. Starting with a shorter distance triathlon allows you to understand how much time is needed for each discipline. Going for something longer in the beginning and not realizing the time it takes, could set you up for disappointment and failure.

Your body’s response

If you’re interested in triathlon, chances are you have a swimming, cycling, or running background. That’s great, but you’re about to request a lot more from your body when you train for a triathlon. You don’t know how you’ll respond to the different elements of training. Making a sprint triathlon your first triathlon will allow you and your body to adjust to the rigors of triathlon training. Chances are higher that your body will respond positively to the increase in training.

Quicker results

Signing up for a sprint triathlon means you’ll have a shorter training runway, which can reduce burnout and get you closer to race day. For a first-time triathlete, the mental aspect of training is just as vital as the physical. From a training standpoint, you’re asking less of your body. From a mental standpoint, the shorter training timeline allows you to reach your goal of the finish line sooner!

Less chance for injury

The more you train, the more you run the risk of injury. Training for anything can lead to injury, especially if done incorrectly. But when you extend your training timeline, the chances for injury greatly increase, especially from overuse. Training for a sprint triathlon is perfect, especially if your body isn’t completely ready to handle the load of full-distance triathlon. The Rookie Triathlon is perfect for first-time triathletes. You train for a 300m swim, 11.2-mile bike ride, and 2-mile run.

See if you like it

Compare triathlon training to shopping for a car. You wouldn’t walk into a dealership and pay for a vehicle without taking it for a test drive and checking it out, would you? Same thing for triathlon. See if you like it first! Don’t jump into a full-distance triathlon as your first triathlon. You should understand the training and financial commitment to triathlon training before diving in. That’s why a sprint triathlon is the perfect distance for your first triathlon!

Don Nolting – My First Triathlon

Don Nolting, an Austin Triathlon Club Ambassador, recalls his first triathlon

The 2016 Rookie Triathlon (300m swim, 11.2-mile bike, 2-mile run), was my attempt to help a friend, and myself, lose weight. I was 41 and 255 pounds at 6’1.5”. He thought a sprint triathlon would be a fun way to do it since he liked to swim. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem if, 1) we would have decided more than a month before the triathlon was to take place to sign up, 2) I hadn’t just undergone bilateral knee surgeries #4 and #5 six months prior, and 3) if I owned a bike.

Don Nolting, Austin Triathlon Club, Ambassador, after 2016 Rookie Triathlon.

Don Nolting, Austin Triathlon Club, Ambassador, after 2016 Rookie Triathlon.

I was still rehabbing from knee surgery, and given the short time to train, I focused on swimming and riding. While all my doctors discourage running with my knee issues, swimming and biking are highly suggested. The biggest thing for me was to not over train the month before the tri and be so sore and fatigued that I wouldn’t be able to race.

Training

Since I knew how to swim, I focused on that. The good news: the swim distance was only 300 meters. I started in the pool and then made sure to swim in a few different open water spots around Austin. Barton Springs became my really cold friend. I was having trouble freestyle swimming, so I focused on the breaststroke and worked on perfecting my form while training.

The biking was a whole different beast. I didn’t own a bike when I signed up for the tri. So I took advantage of all of the spring bike sales in Austin. I chose a hybrid bike as a starter bike and got in plenty of rides during the month. I even rode the bike course a few times and struggled some.

Since I planned to speed-walk the run, I only worked on increasing my overall fitness for that. In the end, I was pretty happy with where I was feeling after the bike rides, but I wasn’t confident about my swimming.

Race day

Race day showed up really fast! From a tip I had read on lots of tri websites, I laid out my transition and equipment the night before. I was sure I had everything, but 5:00 a.m. comes early. I was nervous, but the pre-race stretches helped calm my nerves. Waiting in line to get into the water was where the nerves sprung up again. Many of the guys in my age group were nervously chatting about how they hadn’t practiced swimming in open water. 

I was towards the back of the line going into the water, and I observed people grabbing the lifeguard canoes and the buoys. (* this is legal by USAT rules as long as you do not use the kayak to make forward progress).  Practicing breaststroke proved to be beneficial. I don’t think I could have freestyled in that water. I felt good after my swim and was proud I had completed it without taking any breaks or needing any assistance. The path to transition was an uphill path, so I took my time so I didn’t injure my knees at all.

Transition went pretty smoothly and I felt good getting onto my bike. The first 1.5 miles went well. However, once I turned into the headwind, it was like I put a sail on my back. I felt like I was going head-first into a wall and barely moving. I was happy to get back to transition, but wasn’t looking forward to the “run.” My legs were gassed, and I hadn’t really practiced going from cycling to a run or walk. Big mistake!

That two miles seemed like 20. In addition, it had recently rained, so the course was muddy and changed to include some hills that were rough on my knees. I wasn’t taking any chances with my knees so soon after surgery, so I walked the hills, but (against my doctor’s orders and my better judgment) slow-jogged the flatter sections. Finally coming around the last bend helped me pick up the pace and finish strong.

The Finish & Beyond

My goal was to finish my first Rookie Tri in 90 minutes, and I missed it by only three minutes. I was tired and sore, but proud that I had finished.

Unfortunately, because of knee rehab, it took me about a year to feel right again in order to train for another race. I got back into riding my bike and started swimming again in late 2017. I joined the Austin Tri Club in the spring of 2018 and have really started to push myself and my training thanks to the group. They support and motivate me as I safely train for aquabike challenges (*Aquabike participates complete the swim & bike portion of the triathlon, with their official timing stopping after entering transition after the bike.) and I enjoy cheering on my club-mates as they compete too.