Austin Triathlon Review

Posted on September 12th, 2011

View of the Olympic Distance swim from the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge. I was in the 700m swim that turned just before the train tracks. My friend John's wife Brenna took this photo.

Having never participated in a Triathlon before, I didn’t know what to expect for sure, so I found myself attending a couple of clinics the day before the race to get a better grasp on what to expect; and it was a good thing I did. I found out important rules, such as no drafting allowed and that I was required to wear a race number on my jersey during the bike, and the run.
The clinics were extremely helpful in figuring out exactly what I had to do, from start to finish. I was most worried about the transitions, but both clinics did a great job of explaining the process and gave helpful tips of what to do and what not to do.

Having taken the time to attend the clinics and explore the transition area the day before the race, I felt ready. My only goal was to finish in under two hours. I figured it was an attainable goal, and having beat that time in practice runs I knew I would be able to crush it.

I knew the swim portion of the race was going to be my weakest, so I went in not expecting much, but at the same time was pretty confident I could beat a time of 18 minutes for the 700 meter swim. Two weeks prior I had swam an entire mile in 40 minutes including a rest period. So, I thought with the adrenaline flowing from the race and swimming only 700 meters that time was totally attainable.

I ended up with a swim time of 19:52, so I was a little bit frustrated, but at the same time happy considering it was my first triathlon and I had never swam two months prior to that. My training never focused on form or improving my stroke, just getting through. In the future I hope to improve on my stroke and time.

I feel I made a few mistakes starting out with the swim. First of all I was one of the first ones in the water, which meant I had to wait for A LOT of other swimmers to enter the water, approximately 71 to be exact. This mean I had to tread water until all the swimmers had entered. In the future I will probably be one of the last ones in the water, rather than the first.

My second mistake was not checking my goggles before I started. About 15 meters in my goggles began filling with water, so I had to stop and fix them. Once I put them back on my right eye was smashed in. I Thought I would fight through it at first, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen, so stopped again to fix the right eye.

Seeing how it was my first tri I stayed back from the pack as much as possible to avoid getting kicked in the face or to have to compete for space, I also wanted to pace myself to be sure I didn’t tire out too soon and go faster than I was capable of. Turns out I could have gone faster. I kept noticing my form was bad while doing the breast stroke (which was 75% of my swimming) so would attempt to speed up, but then noticed myself slowing down again. I kept wanting to make sure I had enough energy for the bike.

I never found myself scared or nervous the entire time. I even eventually found myself passing a few swimmers in my wave, but at the same time was getting passed by several swimmers that started in the wave behind me. After rounding the last turn I transitioned into a freestyle stroke to give myself some extra speed at the end. As I got closer to the exit I went back into a breast stroke to make the  exit more comfortable. I found getting out more difficult than expected and took the hand of a volunteer to help myself out of the water. I was thankful they were there.

After exiting the water I felt wobbly and found it hard to get into a good stride running into the transition area. But after hobbling around a bit I was jogging behind the racers in front of me and made a 3 minute transition onto the bike. My transition time was a bit longer since I had to put on a jersey and I kept wavering back and forth between wiping off my feet and just putting on my shoes. I also had forgotten to loosen the velcro on my bike shoes, having them open and ready to jump into. But, considering the long run I had to make from the swim exit to my bike, I’m fairly pleased with the time.

I had pretty much ridden the bike course several times commuting around town so I knew a pace of 20mph would be attainable, but we had a lot of wind to contend with. Thankfully the strongest head wind we faced was going downhill, but this made going downhill feel like going uphill. At a place I would probably average 30+MPH I couldn’t break 25 MPH.

One part of the course had a gradual sloping downhill (with wind at your back) that allowed me to make up for lost time on the uphill and windy downhill. It was lots of fun riding a course I would normally get caught at numerous traffic lights. The only real challenge of the course, other than the wind, was navigating around other cyclits.

With a no draft rule, you had to make sure you passed other cyclists if you got within three bike lengths. This proved to be difficult at times, especially when one cyclist in front of you was passing another cyclists to his right. There were also occasions I wanted to pass another cyclist but couldn’t because how tightly other were riding next to them, I also broke the no passing on the right rule a few times because of this. I was even pushed into some road bumps on two occasions in the SAME spot due to riders being tightly packed during a turn. It was also partially the other rider not paying attention as well.

The course was a total of 24km, which was two loops of the same course. The entire time I bordered on 19+ MPH average, but managed to finish strong with a 20mph average. Had we not had any wind I’m sure I would have done even better. But so would everybody else. Another challenge on the course was surprisingly pedestrians trying to cross the street. On a few occasions I thought people were going to jump out in front of me. At one point a woman crossed at a 90 degree turn and was almost run over by myself and two other cyclists.

A couple times during the ride I felt like I could have been pushing myself harder, but I never really stuck with hammering hard. I’m sort of glad I didn’t though. It allowed me to truly enjoy the experience and take in my surroundings. It was fun seeing my family and friends along the course cheering me on. Had I been too focused on going fast I might have missed out on that. It was also fun zipping by people ringing cow bells. It created a nice Tour De France like feel, it made me smile!

Transitioning from the bike to the run was a lot easier since I already had my jersey on and number pinned to it. The only difficult part was putting on my Vibram FiveFingers. I had practice this a lot, but still managed to get my toes jammed putting them on. But after getting the proper alignment I was off.

I had my iPhone with me to keep track of my pace, I as I was hoping to run a 7:30 pace. But my legs just wouldn’t allow it. I ended up with a time of 24.43 and a pace of 7:58, but I never felt like I was going that fast. My legs felt like led, and pretty much felt like that the entire run. They had never once felt like that during any of my training sessions, either. So it was a very odd feeling.

I kept looking at my RunKeeper to check my pace but couldn’t even believe I was averaging 7:58 – it felt like I was going SO slow. But, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t go any faster. I also though the GPS had to be malfunctioning because It didn’t feel like I was going that fast, but I was pleased to discover my pace was even faster than the 8:32 average RunKeeper reported.

Around mile 2.5 of the run I noticed I had a small rock in the bottom of my left shoe, but decided to battle through it. I’m surprised it took that long to notice, I had assumed it was there since transition. After the race was over I pulled off the shoe to discover a large blister. So either there was never a rock and it was just a blister that formed, or the rock had moved down in the last section of the race.

Despite the rock in my shoe, I finished with a faster split than my second mile, but slower than my first. Upon entering the finish line I was cheered on by friends and even one pro triathlete I meet the day before that was cheering “Go Bearded Brother”. Upon rounding the final corner into the finish chute I heard my name called over the PA and saw my lovely wife at the end cheering me on. My parents were soon by by side too congratulating me on a strong finish.

The Festivities
The post race festival was one of the best I have seen. There were lots of vendors, plenty of free samples and New Belgium’s beer (Lips of Faith was my favorite), which beats the crummy cheap light beers most races provide. There was also live music, free massages and treatments for injured athletes. My only complaint is that the post race meal provide was cold. Although it tasted good I couldn’t pull myself to finish the cold veggie wrap.

I look forward to participating again next year. I will most likely enter the Olympic Distance as well. I just hope I won’t have to train in such extreme heat next time. Even though most of my training was done early morning, and avoided the 100+ degree days. I was forced to train in the evening at times and found it quite challenging. Hopefully by next years tri I will have entered a few others and improved my swim stroke drastically. But with other goals such as a full marathon, we will see what happens.

Time and Ranking Break Down
Finished 17th in Men 30-34 out of 72
Finished 135th overall, out of 709

Swim Time 19:52
Transition 1 3:26
Bike 50:11 (Average 20 mph)
Transition 2 2:16
Run 24:43 (7:58 pace)

Kristy and I after finishing the race.

Me, with Jon (left) and Ben (right). John and I spent three days a week training together in Barton Springs Pool. John and Ben both are Olympic distance finishers!

Austin Triathlon Training – Part 2, and some climbing news

Posted on August 11th, 2011

With the Austin Triathlon being three weeks away there is a small part of me that wants to register for the Olympic distance after having swam 1200 meters last weekend. This was done almost without stopping. The only time I rested was at 800 meters to say hi to a friend that had entered the pool. I know I’m capable of pulling it off, but not sure how wise it would be considering I only have three more weeks to build up to a full mile and feel comfortable with it.

Chances are I will still just enter the sprint distance, seeing how it is my first triathlon. I’m very excited about it though, and have thoroughly enjoyed the training. I’m still not a huge fan of swimming, but imagine I will continue doing it on a regular basis. Especially since I will probably want to enter an Olympic distance triathlon next. I think the most enjoyable part has been seeing myself become more toned, and feel better overall.

Deep Eddy Pool, one of the places I have been training.

Living in Austin really is a great place to live and train for an event like this. I can wake up early, bike 3.5 miles to Barton Springs Pool and enter the gates for FREE before 8 a.m.; this really helps when you are on a tight budget like myself. After the swim I have my choice of two places to run, and both leave from the Barton Springs parking lot. I can either run the Town Lake trail, or get some rocky trail miles in along The Greenbelt. Lately I have been opting for The Greenbelt, and have been having a blast running the trail in my Vibram FiveFingers.

Learning to swim has definitely been the most difficult part of my training, but learning to run properly in the FiveFingers has also been a challenge. I seem to be fine when running trails, but as soon as I hit the pavement sore calf muscles are an unwelcome certainty. But, the severity of the soreness has been declining lately. They key has been more trail miles, slower pace overall, and gradually building up mileage. Running with my friend John has helped with this, as he has never run more than 4 or 5 miles before and is working up to six miles for his Olympic distance tri.

I guess you could say I have been overtraining for the bike portion of the race. My weekend rides have ranged from 35-40 miles. The sprint triathlon distance is only 16 miles. But, I love cycling around the Texas Hillcountry. Austin really is a great place to live if you are into cycling. There is no shortage of group rides to join up with on the weekend.

Cyclists await for the start of the weekly Middle of the Road Ride, outside Mellow Johnny's bike shop.

On an unrelated note – but then again it is related based on the blog’s name. I have been climbing outdoors in the Greenbelt about once a week with a group called Climbing Buddies. My climbing ability has been slowly progressing back to what it was a few years ago. I am finally able to lead 5.10 climbs again and have been top roping 5.11 climbs. I actually feel that the triathlon training has helped my climbing ability through weight loss (less weight to pull up the rock) and a stronger core.

Having climbing access IN TOWN is just another advantage of living in Austin. I live just five to ten minutes away from all climbing access points. It makes for easy evening climbs as well as longer day trips if you so desire, but being right in town you really don’t even need to spend the entire day climbing. You can easily wear yourself out within a couple of hours. The crags are practically an outdoor gym with quick clips at the top of every route!

The climbing community here too is pretty great. There are a couple of email lists most of the regular climbers are a part of and they regularly message their climbing plans, so finding a partner to climb with is never difficult. The community is even friendly and open to new climbers. You will almost always find people willing to let you top rope climbs they have set up. I’m not even sure such community exists in places like Colorado. But I can’t say for sure since I haven’t lived there.

If you are interested in joining the email lists I mentioned, here are the links:

Austin Climbers (More hard-core climbers in this group, usually meets at New Wall)
Climbing Buddies (more laid back climbers but have lots of experience, more welcome to newbies)

Also, if you are interested in the Austin Triathlon, here is the website with complete details about registration and race distances.

Austin Triathlon Training – Part 1

Posted on July 23rd, 2011

I recently mentioned I decided to train for the Austin Triathlon, Olympic distance, so I thought I would post an update about how that was going. I guess I will progress from the worst to the best, in terms of how my training is going for each event.

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool, a great place for triathlon training.

Barton Springs pool is where I have been doing most all of my swim training, and let me tell you –  it’s intimidating.  While in the water, I feel like a fish out of water – seriously! I’m having a hard time getting into a good rhythm and breathing properly, which causes me to get anxious and break out of whatever rhythm I had going. On top of that, early in the morning the spring is FULL of triathletes training for their next race. You are pretty much guaranteed to run into somebody every time you cross the 1/8th mile pool.

Swimming in a sea of people has advantages and disandantages. The main advantage is it comes closer to simulating actual triathlon conditions. Lets face it, swimming solo in a lap pool isn’t going to help your training for being lost in a huge pack of swimmers. The disadvantage is that it’s intimidating for a novice swimmer like myself, and often causes me to freak out and get out of a freestyle stroke and frantically preform a head out of water breast stroke, which is hardly an efficient stroke, but I find myself doing it a lot.

So far I have had good and bad days. But I have yet to swim more than 200 meters without stopping and have yet to even swim 100 meters just freestyle. I am making progress, though. Jut this morning I was struggling and feeling stressed because nothing seemed to be clicking, but I forced myself to swim another 300 meters, and swam the fastest most efficiently I have since taking on this new endeavor. Even though I’m not totally happy with where I am now, I definitely can tell I am making progress. I’ve never felt like I really struggled with running or cycling, but now I know how a lot of people feel when the first try to take on running. This is a struggle!

I also decided to step down from the Olympic distance and register for the Sprint distance instead. Even though I have already swam 900 meters (not continuously). I’m not positive I will be able to work up to a full mile in the amount of time I have, plus I want to be safe and not drown.

Downtown Austin

View of Downtown Austin from Auditorium Shores, close to Town Lake trail.

Running has surprisingly been challenging for me recently. This is frustrating for me because the last half marathon I ran, I finished sub 1:50 with a pace of 8:19. Lately I’m lucky if I run under a 10 minute pace. This has a lot to do with the fact that I’m running in Vibram Five Fingers, to reduce stress on my knees and back that resulted from a recent bike accident.

Running in these shoes requires a “natural” running style which is completely different from what most people do in traditional running shoes. In barefoot running shoes, you can’t heel strike, which means you have to land on your forefoot to mid-foot, lightly kissing the ground with your heel as your foot comes down. You also lift your knees high, sort of like you would do while skipping. So needless to say I am using a lot of muscles that are not normally used, so the distance I am used to running is down as well as my pace. It’s a frustrating feeling not being able to run as fast as you once did, but I also have to remember I took a LONG break from running and was completely inactive for nearly four months.

Considering how long it took me to run a pace of 8:19 in traditional runners, I guess I should not be too hard on myself, but I do hope I can at least run that pace during the 5k. Considering it is a race and the adrenaline will be flowing, I just might be able to make it happen. But I would be very happy if I ran a 9 minute pace as well. The other difficult part of running in the Five Fingers is sore calves, since those muscles aren’t used to being worked, and I’m only running twice a week, they seem to get sore very easily and sometimes force me to skip runs. So, I’m hoping the muscles build up and get stronger in the next couple weeks so I can focus on speed again before it gets to close to the race and I have to start tapering.

Biking North on HIghway 360 just outside Austin

Cycling has surprisingly been the easiest for me during the training process. Last weekend I went on a 40 mile ride and felt like I could have gone longer. I have been riding efficiently up hills, passing other cyclists along the way. In the past I attacked hills hard and petered out towards the top and end get passed by most of the group, but now I’m flying past other cyclist and staying ahead!

Riding the hills on 360 is overkill for the course in the Austin Triathlon. My top speed going downhill has been 45 MPH, and the hills are killer going up. The return trip features approximately 3+ miles of uphill terrain. There is no point in attacking those hills. The best choice of “attack” is to just slip into a low gear and relax in the handlebars and sit back in the saddle as you slowly make your way up hill.

Also, I honestly have to say I think my love for the bike is overtaking my excitement for running (and definitely surpasses swimming). I have thoroughly enjoyed riding through the scenic hill country around Austin. I’m looking forward to one day taking my bike up to Colorado (or any mountainous state) and enjoying more challenging terrain. Not that the hills here aren’t pushing me, because they are; but I’m a glutton for punishment and enjoy being challenged.

Since I don’t imagine I will do very well in the swim, and even the run is questionable, I will have to CRUSH IT, during the bike portion of the race, which should be no problem since I ride the streets of downtown Austin on a regular basis (which is where the bike course is at). It’s familiar terraine for me, and a pice of cake compared to what I have been riding recently. Another athlete recently told me a lot of triathletes are “one trick ponies” and they rock at the swim, but suck at everything else. So, just because I don’t do well in the swim doesn’t mean I won’t finish well overall! My plan is to pass as many people as possible during the bike portion of the race.

Training for this race has been exciting and challenging! I have even been trimming down, and losing weight. I can’t say how much exactly since I don’t own a scale anymore, but I recently put on the pants I wore for my wedding 9 months ago and they are fitting loosely! I remember they fit pretty tight on my wedding day. So I’m very pleased with the changes that are occurring. I will say though, I am ALWAYS hungry! It makes me thankful I own my own energy bar company right now! Otherwise I’d be breaking the bank just buying energy bars.

A New Adventure – My First Triathlon

Posted on June 24th, 2011

So, after some coaxing by a friend of mine that is moving into my apartment complex I agreed to enter the Austin Triathlon, and train with him! I had always told myself I would never enter a Tri, but I think I knew deep down inside I wanted the challenge. The swimming part has always been my biggest fear for two reasons. One, it’s just different and for some reason a lot more scarry than biking or running, even thought at one point I had never done either of those. Two, I simply fear being the one guy that doesn’t look good in a speedo, but I have recently learned that speedos are pretty much no longer a part of tri’s.

To make this an even crazier challenge, I am entering the Olympic distance. That is a one mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, and six mile run. I’m not in the least bit worried about the bike or run portion of the race. My only fear is being completely exhausted after the one mile swim. It will be even worse if I’m not able to train enough to swim the entire mile. Thankfully I know a couple of people that are willing to help train me in the area of swimming. With some luck and hard work I should be able to pull this off.

This is will by far be the most challenging thing I have done in terms of endurance sports. I have had plenty of challenging climbing endeavors, and worked hard to finish my third half marathon in under 1:50, with a pace of 8:21! It’s also been a while since I have even done any endurance running due to my bicycle accident last October. But having almost fully recovered from that I am up for the challenge.

I will also be doing the run portion in my Vibram Five Fingers. I have been running exclusively in them lately, but am still struggling to build up the muscles in my calves, but the frequency of my runs is also not what it used to be. But, six weeks (the time until the Tri)  should give me plenty of time to build up the necessary muscles. It helps to have natural running resources like Endura Lab. I have become a huge advocate for natural running ever since my bike accident (I tore meniscus in both knees) and have noticed a huge difference in how I run. I had always had arch pain in my left foot due to it being slightly smaller, but since I’m now running without arch supports… NO PAIN! I highly recommend leaving traditional running shoes behind and picking up natural running.

Barton Springs Pool

I will be hitting the open waters of Barton Springs tomorrow morning for my first official swim. Barton Springs is a naturally spring feed pool, so the water will be VERY cold. Hopefully it will be a hot, sticky humid morning so diving in will be a welcomed relief.

The training program will be pretty rigorous compared to the training I have done in the past for half marathons. So finding time to do everything may be difficult, but I’m up for it, even if it means waking up at 5 a.m. and riding twenty miles before hitting up Barton Springs. I’m thankful to live so close to the springs since admission is free before 8 a.m. So I won’t have to worry about pool fees during my training. A short 2.5 mile bike ride puts me outside the gate.

My training has pretty much already begun, as I have put in more workouts this week than I have in a long time. I look forward to updating everybody about my training progress. I will be posting all my workouts on Dailymile, and Tweeting a lot, so be sure to follow me there. I have also added a category “Tri Training” so you can keep up with me that way as well.  I’m also open to any advice you might have for training if you have participated in Tri’s, yourself.

New Bikes

Posted on June 5th, 2011

Me, enjoying my new Scott CR1 Team at Safari Waters Ranch. Following my family in a golf cart.

In my previous I mentioned our stolen bikes. Well, we have now had them replaced with the help of Allstate Insurance and Jack & Adams Bicycles in Austin, TX. We hardly had any problems with Allstate, other than convincing them of the value of my bike, but in the end they gave me the full retail value, and priced Kristy’s bike reasonably well also.

The result of the whole stolen bike fiasco was upgrades! Because of the generous pricing we received on the bikes from insurance and the sale we found on our new bikes we were able to get something considerably nicer. I’m still bummed about having Kristy’s bike stolen, thought. It was unique and custom built. Even though her new Felt Z85 with 105 components is a stellar bike, it’s just not the same (see previous post for photos).

Scott CR1 Team, my new road bike!

My old bike was a Cannondale Caad9, which I loved. When shopping for new bikes I was torn between the new Cannondale Caad10 and the Scott CR1 Team carbon fiber bike. Both were extremely light and race ready. But ultimately the Scott won me over because of the excellent customer service I received from Jack & Adams Bicycles, not to mention the extensive test riding I was allowed to do. The other bike shop down the road would only let me ride around the shop and didn’t take the time to size me properly like the staff at Jack & Admas did.

Now I have a bike that fits like a glove. Just this past weekend I went on a 45 mile bike ride and coasted up hills, keeping up with the fastest riders in the pack. The carbon frame rides extremely smooth. It’s like riding on rails. It handles well and is a climbing machine. I’m not 100% sure the Cannondale wouldn’t have been a better fit, but Cannondale should really think about who the let rep their bikes. If they aren’t willing to let customers take longer test rides, they aren’t likely to gain loyal customers.

Previously I thought I would have ridden Cannondale for life, but when you walk into a shop full of arrogant triathletes that could care less about sizing you for the proper ride, you better believe I’m going to buy a bike from somebody that is going to size me properly

Having recently started Bearded Brothers, I recognize the importance of good customer service. We make a strong effort to reach out to our customers and address any concern they may have by solving their problem. But understanding good customer service really stems from experiencing it myself, both good and bad. We learn what not to do from poor customer service and what to do from good customer service.

Now, I’m not saying I will ride Scott Bikes for the rest of my life now, but they have definitely one me over in terms of recommending their product to other people and I will likely look at their bikes first for future purchases.

Last weekends ride was the longest and fastest yet. We rode 47 miles and averaged a speed of 18MPH, some stretches were probably closer to 22+MPH. Those sections were definitely more challenging, but the Scott made it a tad bit easier. Here is part of the RunKeeper data from the ride. It’s not totally accurate due to turning on the GPS late and not stopping it during a pit stop, but you get the idea of how speedy we got!

Stolen Bikes – South Austin

Posted on May 9th, 2011

Hello readers, if you are still there. I have been so busy with Bearded Brothers lately this blog has been neglected. But, recently my wife and I had our bikes stolen. Below are pictures of both bikes. If you live in or around Austin, please be on the look out for them and all me if you find them 940-367-8256. A reward is being offered for their return, with no questions asked.

My Cannondale Caad9, 56cm bike. I love this bike. Please help me recover it.

My wife's "custom" bike I made for her. We got the bike used and changed out the handle bars, seat, pedals and tires. It was her first legit bike. It means a lot to both of us.

My Bike: Cannondale Caad9, 56cm, 105 Components.

Wife’s Bike: Intertech frame, old school Dura Ace Components

Again, a reward is being offered leading to their return, no questions asked. Call the number above if you can help.

In town climbing and easy access to trails

Posted on January 24th, 2011

Starting a business is very time consuming. That is why you haven’t seen a lot of posts from me lately. But during these past two weeks I was able to get outdoors TWICE, and get some climbing in. Living in Austin has it’s advantages when it comes to rock climbing, so I thought I would share about the greatness of living in Austin when it comes to outdoor activity.

You may know from my previous posts that I was dead set on moving to Colorado, but Austin has always been my second choice in terms of where I wanted to live. Granted there are no mountains here, there is surprisingly a lot of climbing options nearby, as well as access to great trails for running and biking.

Just five minutes from my house is access to The Greenbelt trail, which includes access to rock climbing, mountain biking, running and even swimming during the Spring and early Summer. If you travel two miles north of where I live, you have access to running and biking trails around Town Lake. If you are into canoeing or kayaking, they offer that too. The University of Texas crew team even practices here.

Rock climbers on the Austin Greenebelt

Rock climbers on the Austin Greenebelt

The Greenbelt

Hiking along the Greenbelt trail. Great for a long run or adventurous mountain bike ride.

With numerous access points in town it makes for a quick getaway into the outdoors. Early mornings during the week are the best time to go if you are looking for solitude. I’ve gone on morning runs and not even encountered another human being. If you are a rock climber like myself, there are numerous developed walls along the trail and there is usually a pretty good crowd at each wall in the late afternoon and early evening. If you don’t have a climbing partner, just show up and somebody is bound to give you a belay.

The trails are also well maintained and are often filled with runners and mountain bikers, but trails were wide enough traffic is not an issue when bikes come through. The total length of the trail is 8 miles, which makes for a stellar, long trail run or an out and back bike ride. The trail goes under two main highways in Austin, but it doesn’t take too long before you are away from the noise of traffic, feeling like you are miles away from civilization.

Reimer’s Ranch

This is where most local climbers go for their weekend climbing. There are also great mountain bike trails and the Pedernales River for fishing. This well developed crag (with even more climbs going up) offers climbs ranging from 20 feet high to 45+ feet high. The grades of the climb range from 5.5 to a very difficult 5.13. Climbers of all abilities flock here for their weekend climbing. My only complaint is that it can often feel like an outdoor gym when the weather is really nice. This past weekend the walls were full of boy scouts, church groups and hard core climbers alike. But there is plenty of room for everybody, and enough climbs at every grade to keep everybody happy.

Climbing at Reimer's Ranch. The climb is Lipo Suction (5.12)

Enchanted Rock

Perhaps the most pristine, beautiful rock formation in South Texas. This giant granite dome protrudes from the Texas Hill Country, just north of Fredricksburg. There are numerous other granite formations towering out of the ground as well. This is the premier destination for trad and three pitch sport climbs in South Texas. At Enchanted Rock you will experience fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and an amazing outdoor experience. This has been one of my favorite destinations, even before I moved to Austin. With a mere hour and a half drive, E-Rock (as the locals call it), makes for an easy day trip with excellent climbing.

A climber on Orange Peel (5.10) in Enchanted Rock State Park. Enchanted Rock is my favorite place to climb in Texas.

Camping at Enchanted Rock is plentiful, but you better make a reservation. Spots often fill up weeks before. But, if you don’t mind a 2-3 mile hike in you can always camp in the primitive area. This makes for easier access to the longer climbs on the back side of the dome. It’s also more secluded – unless there happens to be a Boy Scout troop nearby. Enchanted Rock also offers miles of hiking trails, including an easy hike up to the top of the dome. It’s very popular amongst the tourists. And, if you are a rock climber, expect a crowd to be watching you climb. It’s almost unnoticeable though, especially on the back side of the dome, because most tourists are off the climbing trail, a couple hundred yards from the wall.

Town Lake

View of downtown Austin from Town Lake trail.

While Town Lake doesn’t offer any climbing. It’s an excellent place for a long or short run, or bike ride. You can chose a three, four, or eight mile loop – or make your run even longer by making another lap around the lake. The Town Lake trail also has numerous access points as well. Even though there are often crowds here, the trail is plenty wide for passing in both directions. There is also a boat rental shop on the lake where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and other water related crafts. The best times to run on the trail are mid day and late evening. I always find running during peak hours energizing though. I tend to run better when other people are around. I feed off the energy of other runners.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast like myself, Austin is a GREAT place to live. There is a huge fitness and outdoors community and plenty of ways to get involved. If you are a cyclist or runner most all the shops in town offer group rides and runs. There are also a couple of different rock climbing groups that make getting plugged into the climbing community very easy. The easy access to recreation is one of my favorite things about this awesome city. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else in Texas. If I ever move away, there is a good chance it will be some place like Boulder where recreational access is just as easy and the landscape is an added bonus.

In other news, Adventure Naturals is now FULLY funded on Kickstarter, but please keep those donations coming. Our startup costs exceed the $5,000 we raised already. All excess funds will go directly back into the business. We especially need help with the advertising and promotion side of things. Especially in our early stages.

Healthy Goals for 2011

Posted on January 3rd, 2011

Every year around this time, I sit down with my journal and reflect on the previous year and journal my new years resolutions. They are always legit though, they are never cheesy, unattainable or campy. But, this year I thought I would go a step further and set some health related resolutions, or goals if you will. It’s hard to say how they will shape up for me since I’m in a crazy chapter of my life right now, but by far the best chapter to date. So, without further or do, here are my healthy goals for 2011.

2010 Cowtown Half Marathon

2010 Cowtown Half Marathon

Start Running Again
2010 delivered a hard hit, drastically diminishing my climbing, running and cycling time. On, October 1st I was hit by a car on my bike and have been suffering from bone contusions, torn meniscus, and a bulging disc ever since. I still haven’t fully recovered from those injuries. I actually wasn’t even missing running that much until I went on a few walks around Town Lake recently and saw runners all around. I longed to ignore the doctors advice and run my heart out. So, it is my hope that the Occupational Therapist will place me into physical therapy so I can get over these nagging injuries. A follow up visit should be in my near future.

Climb More

Me, near the summit of the First Flatiron in Boulder Colorado. A day's journey that was fueled on raw foods!

Since getting engaged in July, and married in November, life has been hectic. Even though I live in Austin, close to great rock climbing-  right in town; I haven’t had much time to climb. Life has been filled with wedding planning, visiting families, attending other weddings, and holiday traveling. Hopefully things will calm down in the new year, and I will be able to work climbing back into my schedule. It’s also hard because I can’t boulder due to the torn meniscus in my knee (the repeated falling would not be good for it), which means, no easy trips to the gym without a partner for an evening of enjoyment. The bright side of this is, I will be forced to climb outside more and meet people in the climbing community here in Austin.

Drink Less Coffee
I hate to admit it, it’s a pride thing. But, from August 2010 until now I have drank more coffee in that time than I have in 2009-July 2010 combined. How did this happen? Well, It started off as one cup a week, gradually increased to three, and then became five or more cups per week when I moved to Austin and began working in coffee shops daily on my startup business Adventure Naturals. But, in 2011 I hope to curb the “addiction,” which at this point is only mental. Too much caffeine, in addition to the added sweetener I pour into the cup is not exactly good for me. Additionally it’s dehydrating, and I can truly tell. After drinking 12-16 ounces I am left extremely dehydrated and feel a dry sensation all throughout my body. It isn’t exactly pleasant.

Launching Adventure Naturals
If you aren’t tired of hearing about this yet, you eventually will be! Actually, I hope you are not. I hope my excitement for creating 100% organic, mostly raw, energy bars and snacks becomes contagious. There is nothing better than fueling the body an all natural, raw, and organic foods. We are still raising our startup funds on Kickstarter and are working on refining our business plan while we get ready to start production in early March, but it will only happen if our project meets the goal.

I have had a huge passion for raw foods ever since I started including them into my diet back in August of 2008. Ever since then I have seen a HUGE increase in my overall health and fitness level. Raw foods really have changed my life, and I want to help them transform your life too.

Establish a good work-life balance
I spent seven years of my life working in jobs I hated. I was never truly passionate about any of them, so maintaining a work-life balance was not very difficult. I was always out the door at 5pm. Now, things have changed. I love what I am doing and am extremely passionate about it. I’m always anxious to start my work day and feel like I can work well into the night. So, far overworking has not been difficult, but I fear that as Adventure Naturals becomes a success it may not be as easy. So, my hope is that I will not let work rule my life, but I make sure I spend time with family, fiends, and exercising.

Stricter standards on my diet

The Crazy Makers

Since moving to Austin, I sort of let myself go in terms of what I eat. I allowed myself to truly enjoy the wonderful eateries here in Austin after first moving here, and I certainly enjoyed my share of sweets during the holidays. But in 2011 I hope to start fresh and make sure I am only eating whole, nutritious food.

My wife has recently been reading the book, Crazy Makers, and through listening to her tell me about it I have been reminded just how much crap is in the food out there; I really has a huge effect on us and our children. I also reflect back on how I felt when my raw food intake as much higher and realize how much of a difference healthy eating can make in your life. If I was able to be strict about it before, I certainly can do it again. But at the same time, I feel “strict” is the wrong word. I think appropriate and good may be a better way to describe it. There is certainly a time and place for indulgence.

Healthy Reading
In 2011 I also hope to read more books about healthy eating as well as natural remedies. I’m already having a hard enough time being on prescription medication for a neurological disorder. I truly believe that we can prevent a lot of sickness through eating a healthier diet and we can also cure our general sickness with natural remedies, instead of using prescription drugs that fill our bodies with unnatural substances and have an acidifying effect on the body, thus reducing our immune systems in the long run. I find that reading about healthy eating also helps remind me why it is so important. I also learn through continued education. If I’m not continually learning about a certain topic I quickly forget about it.

20011 is definitely going to be an exciting year for me. I’ve never been more excited about a new year. What are some of your goals for the new year?

Running to manage stress

Posted on December 21st, 2010
Forest Gump, a true runner!

Forest Gump, a true runner!

Stress is a common part of everybody’s life. For some, stress seems to be constant, for others it comes in waves. Everybody handles stress differently. In response to the recent question posted on Daily Challenge I decided to write about my favorite activity to help release and mange stress – running!

I used to hate running. I would try to get into it from time to time, but it never really grabbed a hold of me until a year and a half ago when I started running to condition my cardiovascular system for climbing Longs Peak in Colorado. Longs Peak, is one of Colorado’s most magnificent fourteeners, with beautiful 360 degree views from the top, located inside Rocky Mountain National park.

My initial reason for starting to run was not health reasons, it wasn’t even to relieve stress or get in shape, it was simply to train for climbing, my all-time favorite hobby. I have loved climbing ever since I was a kid, and while it’s a great stress reliever in itself, I don’t do it as frequently as running because of how easy running is. It’s not hard to fit into your day because it doesn’t involve having to drive to a gym; you can simple put on a pair of running shoes and head out the front door.

My training started off as just two miles for 20 minutes, then I gradually built up to where I ran 45 minutes at a time. The furthest I ever ran before climbing Longs Peak was 4 miles. Upon returning from the trip I decided I would try and keep the running thing going. I was sharing my new found activity with a guy I know that runs 5 miles a day. He suggest I stop running around the neighborhood and just go out away from it and go as far as I could before turning around.

Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

Me, running my first race - The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot in 2009.

One day I decided try this little exercise, and upon returning home I had run just over one hour. After sitting down at the computer I discovered I had run 6 miles. I was shocked. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to run that far. After posting my accomplishment on Facebook I had a friend suggest I run a half marathon with her and another friend. At first I thought she was crazy, but after researching it I discovered I was on pace to train for the half marathon, and my diet was already consistent with what is recommended to train.

It was at this point I began running on a regular basis. It ended up becoming a major source of stress relief too. Something I never expected. At the time I was working a job I was very unhappy with, I faced a long commute to and from work… needless to say, I would come home at the end of the day completely drained. One would think the best thing to do would be to sit on the couch and relax. Well, that isn’t true at all. Exercise is the best source of stress relief.

Exercise in general releases endorphins, which help relieve pain and create a sense of well-being and relaxation. When the body is stressed a chemical change takes place; if a “fight or flight” action is not taken, the byproducts continue to circulate and can cause illness. Exercise is a perfect way to alleviate the stress. For me, that is running, cycling, and climbing.

Lately though, I have sadly not been able to exercise much. I was in a bike accident back in October, and I’m suffering from bone contusions and a torn meniscus. So, I have to settle for the occasional bike ride, an easy walk, or climbing on easy terrain. This dry spell from running has made me miss it immensely. I long to throw on the running shows after a long productive day at work and let my mind go.

When I first started running it not only helped me relieve work related stress, but it helped me dealing with a break up with the woman who is actually now my wife (you can hear more about that, here). I’ve heard countless stories of how running helped people cope with the loss of loved ones, disease, and just general struggles in life. It amazes me how much running can change your state of mind. But I don’t believe it’s a cure; there is more in life, and things bigger than us that are truly helpful for overcoming problems. But I’m a firm believer in using running to reliever stress, it helps us clear our mind so we are able to deal with the real problem.

So, for anybody that suffers from stress, anxiety, frustration, or is struggling with anything in life, I highly suggest you take up running. It really brings about a lot of relief. It makes your mind clearer, and helps you continue to enjoy life when times are tough. I think that is one of the biggest reasons I miss it. It’s not the health benefits that come from it, but how it makes me feel. Right now, I’m really wishing I could throw everything the doctors said out the window, ignore the pain in my knees and go on a run. I look forward to the day I am able to do that again.

Also, don’t forget about the energy bar special I have going on right now for my project on Kickstarter. Donate $5 or more through Christmas and receive an extra energy bar with your pledge. Retail value on the bars will be around $3, so that is a steal, especially at the $5 giving level. Every little bit helps us launch our 100% organic, all-natural energy bars and seasoned nuts.

What is an energy bar?

Posted on December 16th, 2010

What makes an energy bar and energy bar? Watch the video and find out, and listen to by short plea about how you can help launch my new energy bar company – Adventure Naturals.

The $5 Plea

Now, through Christmas, if you donate just $5 to our Kickstarter campaign you will receive an extra energy bar. These bars will retail for around $3 each, so you are essentially saving $1, AND you are helping start an AWESOME company, dedicated to bringing nutritious energy foods to the masses.

Think about it, $5 doesn’t go very far these days. Five dollars barely will cover a large latte, you can’t even buy a move ticket with five dollars, it will barely even get you food off a value menu, and five dollars won’t even get you two gallons of gas. So, when you think about it, your five dollars is going a LONG way by helping start our company.

So, check out our project and make a donation today! Kickstarter