Want to run on at COTA? Win HITS Austin entry and gear here

Win free entry into the 5K, 10K, half or full marathon at HITS Austin.
Win free entry into the 5K, 10K, half or full marathon at HITS Austin.

Running on a race track is bound to make you move faster, right?

On Dec. 14, runners will streak down the track at the Circuit of the Americas, on their way to finishing their choice of a mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon or sprint duathlon at the HITS Austin event.

All the races finish at Pit Row. We can only hope no one has a flat tire or engine blow out.

All distances are USATF certified, and the marathon is an official Boston qualifier, too (woo hoo!). A health, wellness and fitness expo is planned, too.

Sound like fun?

Event organizers are giving away four free entries into the event – one each for the 5K, 10K, half and full marathon. Winners will also get running gear, free weekly training and other schwag.

To win, post below the Fit City blog  or on the Fit City page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FitCityAustin, telling us why you deserve the entry. You’ll need to include your email and phone number, but if you don’t want to post that, you can email it directly to info@hitsendurance.com.

Specify which race you want to run, and check back after 5 p.m. next Friday, Oct. 24, to see if you were picked. Beginner athletes are encouraged to enter; no professional athletes, please.

Starting Oct. 27, winners will write weekly blog entries about their training experience.

To skip the contest and register for the race on your own, go here.

Former UT running back Sam Areias places second in Alpha Showdown

Top 5 Male Athletes
Sam Areias, third from right, placed second at the Alpha Showdown.

Congrats to Austin’s own Sam Areias, who took second in the recent Alpha Showdown Competition hosted by Life Time Fitness.

He’s a pretty fit guy. To finish as high as he did, he had to run on an all-terrain endurance course, hoist countless weights, scramble through an outdoor obstacle course, push a bunch of weighted sleds, swing kettle bells, jump and more.

Areias played football for the University of Texas from 2003-06 (he was a walk-on running back), then went on to play rugby with the Austin Blacks. I met him a couple of years ago at Austin Fit Magazine’s FitTest. My impression? He’s not only strong, he’s nice.

Competitors push weighted sleds.

Regional Alpha Champions from 14 regions across the country participated in the competition, which took place in Chanhassen, Minnesota on Oct. 11. David Freeman from Scottsdale, Arizona, won the Alpha Male title. Kelli Holm from Bloomington, Minnesota, won the Alpha Female title.

Alpha Showdown competitions take place around the country at Life Time facilities. Those local contests are followed by regional competitions, which culminate with the national competition. The events are designed to track progress year over year and offer a competitive setting for those who want to test themselves against others.

Life Time Fitness centers feature special Alpha Fitness training facilites that include an obstacle course with a cargo net, monkey bars, ropes and a balance beam.

For more information go here.

Ladies, want to paddle? Get Out Girl Paddle Jam set for Oct. 26

paddle by Justin Nixon
Paddlers participate in the Flatwater Foundation’s Dam That Cancer event. Contributed/Justin Nixon


Ladies, who’s up for a morning of paddling on Lake Austin?

An all-women’s paddle event to benefit the Flatwater Foundation is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 26. Participants at the Get Out Girl Paddle Jam will kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle distances of 2 to 10 miles to raise money to provide support for families coping with a cancer diagnoses.

The event begins and ends at Steiner Ranch Lake Club. Paddlers can bring their own kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddleboards or rent one at registration.

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The Get Out Girl Paddle Jam will benefit the Flatwater Foundation. Contributed/Justin Nixon

“As women who love the outdoors and water, we understand the mental health benefits of getting out and getting active and we see this event as an opportunity to connect with others while spreading that positive message,” organizers said in a press release.

The course will be an out and back route, with buoy markers at each mile marker. The event is not a race, but a social paddle supporting the cause.

Following the event, hang out and enjoy some shopping while enjoying music, food and drinks with family and friends.

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The Get Out Girl Paddle Jam is set for Oct. 26. Contributed/Justin Nixon

Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. The paddle starts at 8:30 a.m. Lake support will be provided for 3 hours, and paddlers should estimate their distance based on that amount of time.

Registration fee includes lunch, two drink tickets, a shirt, an after party and access to a sample sale featuring surfing and paddling products.

Registration is $60 if you provide your own equipment (bring your own personal flotation device) or $80 if you need a kayak, paddleboard or canoe. All paddlers have access to personal fund-raising page for the event. Fund raising is optional.

For more information go here.

Spooky Skedaddle set for Oct. 25 at Texas School for the Deaf

spooky pic 3
The Spooky Skedaddle includes a 1K costume run.

Running’s much more fun when you put on a costume, trust me.

You’ll get that opportunity at the Spooky Skedaddle, a fund-raising race that benefits the Texas School for the Deaf.

Swamp Creature showed up at the event two years ago.

The festival, which includes a 5K timed race and a 1K fun run, is set for 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 at the school’s campus, 1102 South Congress Avenue.

Besides the race, expect an entire fall festival complete with food trucks, carnival games, trick-or-treating, face painting, arts and crafts, music, a Halloween costume parade, cake walk, miniature ponies, fire trucks and a clown. Proceeds will be used to bridge the gap between state funding and student needs.

Entry fee is $30 for the 5K or $3 for the 1K costume run. Register at http://www.tsdfoundation.org.

Admission to the festival is free.

Four Austin public pools open for fall, winter swimming

Mary Warren swims year-round at Barton Springs. Laura Skelding/Statesman Staff

You don’t have to pack up your swimsuit just because fall has arrived in Austin.

Four public pools – Barton Springs, Bartholomew, Deep Eddy and Big Stacy – are open year-round for lap swimming and recreation.


That’s bliss for folks like me, who love to swim outdoors when the temperatures drop. Getting in a swimming pool when it’s chilly and the water’s steaming is like wrapping yourself in a warm snugly blanket. It’s cozy and delicious. The hard part comes when you have to get out and make the dash to the bathhouse…

  • Barton Springs Pool, 2201 Barton Springs Road, is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (no guards from 5-8 a.m. or 6 to 10 p.m.; guarded swim from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) It’s also closed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays for cleaning.
  • Deep Eddy Pool, 401 Deep Eddy Avenue, is closed today through Nov. 9 for annual repairs and maintenance, but will reopen Nov. 10 for the fall and winter. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
  • Big Stacy Pool, 700 Live Oak Street is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 7 p.m. weekends.
  • Bartholomew Pool, 1800 East 51st Street, is open from 2-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for recreation and lap swimming.
  • Admission to Big Stacy Pool is always free, but you must pay to enter Barton Springs, Bartholomew and Deep Eddy pools through Oct. 31. Admission is $3 for adults ($4 non-residents), $1 seniors ($2 non-residents), $2 juniors age 12 to 17 ($3 non-residents) and $1 children 11 and under ($2 non-residents.) Starting Nov. 1 through Feb. 14 admission is free at Barton Springs and Deep Eddy.

I’m giving away free running books!


A flurry of running books has landed on my desk. Some look really cool. I want you to have them.

Let me know which book you’d like and post below, telling me why you need it. The best answers win.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  • “Build Your Running Body: A Total-Body Fitness Plan for All Distance Runners, From Milers to Ultramarathoners,” by Pete Magill, Thomas Schwartz and Melissa Breyer. It’s packed with exercises, training plans, photos, charts, recipes and interviews with runners, scientists and coaches.
  • “The Runner’s Bucket List: 200 Races to Run Before You Die,” by Denise Malan. Looking for a destination race? This book tells you where to go to race with your dog, without clothing, in the dead of night, in the snow and ice and everything else you can imagine.
  • “Trail Running,” by Jeff Galloway. The guru of the run-walk-run method turns his attention to trail running in another book about how to run injury free.
  • “Older Faster Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer,” by Margaret Webb. Who says only young whippersnappers can run? You can start running after the age of 50.
  • “1:59 The Sub-Tow-Hour Marathon is Within Reach – Here’s How it Will Go Down, and What It Can Teach All Runners About Training and Racing,” by Dr. Philip Maffetone with Bill Katovsky. The current record is 2:03:23. Need I say more?
  • “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances,” by The Oatmeal, the same cartoonist who brought you “How to Tell if your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.” It is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

BikeFest, Viva! Streets coming in late October

Lisa Reed Davis on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail
Lisa Reed bikes the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. Pam LeBlanc/American Statesman Staff

We’ve got two big bicycling events coming up, two-wheeler fans.

The city’s first BikeFest is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 25 at Govalle Park, 5200 Bolm Road. The day kicks off with an 8:30 a.m. ribbon cutting for the (sort of) new 7.3-mile section of the separated bike path known as the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, which we wrote about in July. (See my article about the trail here.)

The event will include bike polo.

A group ride along the new paved trail, which extends from Govalle Park to the Johnny Morris and Daffen Lane intersection, will start at 10:30 a.m. (Check in first.) Go to the event to check out the new trail, but stay for the food trucks, beer garden, kids’ activities, live music, bike fashion show, vendors and demonstrations of bicycle polo and unicycle football.

The event, presented by BikeTexas and Capital Metro, is free.

BikeTexas suggests arriving by bicycle. Austin B-Cycle will have a mobile check-in station for cyclists who want to use the rental cycles. (Use one of the East Austin stations – East Sixth at Robert Martinez, East Sixth at Pedernales, or Capital Metro Headquarters – to arrive at Govalle Park within the half-hour window for B-Cycle rental.)

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Streets are blocked to cars during Viva! Streets. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American Statesman Staff

Secondly, Viva! Streets – that close-the-road-and-play-in-the-street festival – returns Oct. 26.

After two years on East Sixth Street, the event moves to the Mueller development, where a 2-mile stretch of roadway will be closed to car traffic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Austinites are invited to bicycle, play, get fit, people watch and celebrate good health in the street. It’s Austin’s version of a ciclovia, a Spanish term that means “cycleway.” Ciclovias got their start in Colombia, where officials block off streets for runners, skaters and bicyclists.

For more information go here.

Cycleast moves to bigger digs, barre3 studio opens in Circle C

Russell Pickavance, owner of Cycleast, works on a bike.
Russell Pickavance, owner of Cycleast, works on a bike.

And in shop news this week …

The Cycleast crew at the new shop.

East side bike shop Cycleast is moving to a new, larger location at 1619 East Cesar Chavez Street. The shop opened 18 months ago on Pedernales Street, but has since outgrown its digs. The new 2,500-square-foot location will include a 600-square-foot community space for yoga, fitness, music, art and events. The shop focuses on repairs, restorations and custom bikes. Plus, it’s run by a bunch of cool people, headed by owner Russell Pickavance.

“We are excited to have a new space that enables us continue to make bike dreams come true,” Pickavance said in a press release. “More importantly, the space will allow us to create a real community focused around bikes, fitness and wellness. We envision the new Cycleast as a constant hub of activity and a friendly place to be and hang out.”

A soft reopening is set for Oct. 13; a grand reopening party is scheduled for Oct. 24. For more information go here. http://www.cycleast.com

Barre3 opened a new studio in Circle C.

A new barre3 studio opened Oct. 1 at 5700 West Slaughter Lane in Circle C. The studio joins two other barre3 locations in Austin – one at 115 Sandra Muraida Way and another at the Hill Country Galleria, 12800 Hill Country Boulevard. Instructors teach a combination of yoga, Pilates and ballet barre work, balancing strength training, isometric holds, small movements and recovery stretches.

“In just five years, barre3 has grown from a single studio in Portland, Oregon to over 70 locations and streaming online,” founder Sadie Lincoln said in a press release. “Our mission is to make barre3 accessible to anyone, anywhere with studios across the U.S. and abroad. We are thrilled that Austin has become such a big part of the barre3 family.”

Upcoming fitness events

HootLogo.jpg.w300h94Lots of events on the fitness calendar in the near future. Check out these offerings …

  • Hootenanny on the Hill – Choose from a 3K, 5K, 10K or 1K fun run at Plum Creek’s Hootenanny on the Hill this Saturday in Kyle. All courses begin and end at the Plum Creek Dog Park. The 5K and 10K start at 7 a.m.; the 1K and 3K start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Walk-up registration will be accepted at early packet pickup from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the Plum Creek Community Center, 450 Haupt, and from 6-6:45 a.m. race day. The race is part of an all-day event that includes a barbecue cookoff, chili cookoff, scarecrow contest, pumpkin carving contest and dog talent show. For more information go here.
  • Castle Hill Fitness will celebrate its 12th anniversary Oct. 16, when customers can bring a friend to a fitness class for free. Thursday class offerings include a version of high intensity training called Tabata, cycle barre, Anusara yoga, cardio Pilates circuit and Forrest yoga with instructor Ashley. Castle Hill members also get half off their purchase at the Food For Fitness Cafe on Oct. 16, and free mini spa treatments during the week. For more information go here.

Exercise is helping me cope during my dad’s illness

My father, Ed Coleman, sitting on his back porch with me and my sister Angela Pierce earlier this year.

I’ve always known that exercise kept me steady. But the past two weeks have been some of the hardest of my life, and my bike, my running shoes and swim practice have gotten me through it.

My dad, Ed Coleman, during a Ride for the Roses bike ride about 12 years ago.
My dad, Ed Coleman, during a Ride for the Roses bike ride about 12 years ago.

My dad is dying of non-smoker’s lung cancer.

He was diagnosed last December. After almost nine months of chemotherapy, doctors told him two weeks ago it wasn’t doing any good. They gave him about a month to live.

This sounds awful, and in many ways it is. My heart is broken. But as crappy as these days have been, they’ve also been magical.

We’ve made the most of the time he has left, talking about everything from whether or not there’s a God to the time when, as a newly minted Texan, he tried to grill a brisket in 45 minutes.

My dad, an aeronautical engineer with an insatiable desire to explore the world around him, made me who I am. He planned family outings to see dinosaur tracks, walk trails and pitch tents. He made me curious – and, I think, naturally happy. He taught me you don’t have to have a lot of money to explore, that seeing things within a few hours’ drive can be as gratifying as traipsing off to far-flung corners of the planet. He also taught me to jump at any chance to see those exotic, faraway places.

My dad loved airplanes. Here he is at a reunion for female World War II pilots.
My dad loved airplanes. Here he is at a reunion for female World War II pilots.

He taught me why it’s important to keep up with politics. He gave me a respect for and sense of awe about nature. He made me want to share those experiences, too. He made me a reporter.

These last few weeks I’ve been alternately weepy and giddy. I’ve learned that it’s possible to cry underwater and bike to work with tears trickling down my cheeks. Running gives me quiet time to think things over.

Thank goodness for the relief that comes with pushing my muscles and making myself sweat. Without that, this would be even harder.