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15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

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

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Final preparations for the 15th Annual Rookie Tri!

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

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

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

Rookie Tri, Sunday, May 6, 2018

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Hangin’ ten on the 11.2-mile bike ride.

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

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

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Yes, the Oskar Blues was ice-cold!

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

All photo credits – Ed Sparks

Rookie Triathlete: Part 8: Rookie Nerves

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)

4 Ways to Reduce Your Rookie Tri Stress

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

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

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

How to Make Your Rookie Tri Swim Start a Breeze

Everything you need to know about the swim start

2018 Rookie Triathlon swim start details.

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

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

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

Swim start

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

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

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

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

The waiting game

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

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

    Relax with family and friends before your swim start

    Relax with friends and family before your swim start!

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

Professional Swim Advice for Rookie Triathletes

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!

Rookie Triathlete: Part 7: The Open Water

The open water swim is a game-changer

Up until Tuesday, April 24th, none of my Rookie Triathlon training swims were in open water. They were all in a pool. The pool was daunting at first, but over time I became more accustomed. Clear waters allowed me to see the guiding, black line below. Lane dividers kept me from going all over the place and running into others. Protocol taught me how to share a lane with someone else and not crash head first. For good reason (whether I liked it or not), all of that was about to change.

open water

Sunrises at Barton Springs never get old.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about graduating to open water and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. Yeah, so I put off that graduation swim for a couple weeks. I found every excuse I could to not visit Barton Springs. I’d hit the snooze button, go for a bike ride, or return to the pool. Everyone I talked to about their first triathlon said they’re glad they did an open water swim beforehand. Others wish they had completed at least one non-pool swim before their first triathlon. I knew I needed to get out of the pool. I just needed to clear that mental hurdle.

Mental hurdle cleared

I jumped in Barton Springs (how else do you get in?!) this past Tuesday morning (4/24). I made sure I had my buoy (and noseplug!) for my first open water swim. This would be the longest continuous swim for me since my mock Rookie Tri championship. My breathing and form have improved tremendously. I didn’t want to lose all of that on my first non-pool swim. I wore running tights, no board shorts this time! The water felt good and I knew standing around wouldn’t help matters. So I took off.

open water

Can’t help but have a great day after that swim!

I tried to remember everything from the pool, plus sighting. My first long swim in Barton Springs would not result in running into someone. Everything started feeling good until about the halfway mark. That’s when the rocks disappear. Your energy starts shrinking. The form and breathing you’ve practiced goes out the window. But this is where Barny, my coach, kicks in. Just like anything else, it’s all friggin’ mental. I can’t control the rocks disappearing, but I can control my form and my breathing. Both of those impact my energy levels and my ability to remain calm.

Open water swim: Take Two

I needed to go back to the Springs. Barny had it built into my training plan. Rookie Tri is less than two weeks away. I need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Barny wanted to stretch out a new wetsuit in the Springs. He and I planned to return the next day, Wednesday (4/25). This time, he challenged me to do the swim with no buoy. After all, I can’t use the buoy on race day.

This swim was harder, not because of the missing buoy. I had a hard running workout with RAW Running the night before. Add to that, I biked to the Springs from our office (~4 miles one way). So my body wasn’t in peak shape. But in the end, this is all preparing me for Sunday, May 6th, at Decker Lake. As I mentioned, the swim was harder, I needed to breaststroke a few times to get me breathing back down. I paused at the end of the Springs to rest and catch my breath. BUT I DID IT. I feel my upper body getting stronger. Plus, I didn’t run into anyone!

If you’re a Rookie and have been in the pool 100%, I strongly encourage you to swim in the open water at least once before Rookie Tri. You need to experience something similar to what you’ll experience on race day. I promise you’ll be better off for completing at least one open water swim. I know I’m planning at least one or two more. Check out our next blog post to watch a video from Barny where he talks about the importance of an open water swim before your first triathlon.

Swim, Bike, and Run for Austin Gives Miles

Take your Rookie Tri training to the next level

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

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

Step 1: Register for the race and create a fundraiser

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

Step 2: Share with the world

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

Step 3: See your impact

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

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

I Love Rookie Tri Because…

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!

4 Ways to Expand Your Triathlon Training

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

Austin Tri Club- Beginner Triathlon Training Group

Austin Tri Club bike ride.

1. Join the Austin Tri Club!

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

2. Run and Bike with Austin Duathletes

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

Austin Duathletes Run and Bike Training Group

3. Join The Rookie Tri Facebook Group!

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

Rookie Triathlete: Part 2: Mock Rookie Tri

Mock Rookie Tri Overall Champ

mock

The Beginning.

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

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

So… there’s no motor?!

The swim

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

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

Giddy up!

The bike

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

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

The run

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

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

GPS is always right.

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

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

Overall time – 1:34:43

300m swim – 7:16

T1 – 6:00

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

T2 – 2:00

2-mile run – 17:40 (9:06, 8:34)

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