Got baby? No problem. Bring little ones to free Stroller Strides workout

Lisa Druxman, founder of Fit4Mom, will lead a free Stroller Strides class at Zilker Park on Friday. Photo courtesy Fit4Mom

Babies shouldn’t keep you from working out.

Case in point: This Friday, you can bring your little one to a free Stroller Strides workout at Zilker Park.

Lisa Druxman, founder of Fit4Mom, will lead the group workout. Instructors from Austin-area franchises will also be on hand.

The stroller-based, full-body workout incorporates songs and rhymes for baby with cardio and strength-training for mom. (Read: No sitter needed.)

The class, which is free and open to all moms, takes place at the polo fields at the park, 2225 Andrew Zilker Road.

Register online here. On-site check-in and registration starts at 8:45 a.m. in the west meadows area. The hour-long workout begins at 9:30 a.m.

Fit4Mom offers pre and postnatal fitness programs around the country and in Austin. Each location also offers weekly play dates and monthly Mom’s Night Out events.

Best way to get to Austin’s new Central Library? By bike, of course!

Cyclists park their bikes in racks in the bike corral at Austin’s new Central Library. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

UPDATES to add that city will hire vendor to run bike concierge service at library.


Have you visited the new Central Library in downtown Austin yet?

Go. And travel by bicycle, if possible.

I pedaled down to the new library at 710 West Cesar Chavez Street yesterday, and parked my steel steed in the special bike “corral” on the lower east side of the building. The garage-like space is outfitted to store about 200 bikes, many of them on staggered metal racks, says John W. Gillum, facilities process manager at the library.

The bike garage at the new library features about 100 metal racks for bike storage. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

Right now, it’s free to use your own lock and park on a rack in the bike corral. That will probably change sometime next year, after the library partners with a vendor to offer a bike concierge service.

In the next few weeks, the city will put out a request for proposals to find a vendor to operate a bike valet service, offer light bicycle maintenance to library patrons and possibly rent bicycles. Crews will also install eight or 10 more bike racks around the outside of the building.

Want to get to the library? Ride a bike. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

“We’re going to be able to keep a lot of people’s bikes secure for them,” Gillum says.

The bike barn is just one fitness-friendly aspect of the new building, which opened Saturday.

RELATED: An early tour of Austin’s new Central Library

The Shoal Creek hike and bike trail abuts the east side of the structure, so you can easily access the library by foot or on two wheels from the Butler Trail on Lady Bird Lake. The Shoal Creek trail is still closed a block north of the library, but when it opens you’ll be able to avoid even more car traffic. As it is now, you can bike down West Avenue, turn east just north of the library and hop onto the trail to get to the library. The bike garage is marked with a larger-than-life logo of a bike.

RELATED: Austin’s new library opens to rave reviews

Chris LeBlanc tests out some tools at the bike station adjacent to the new Central Library in downtown Austin. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

Need to adjust your handlebars or raise or lower your seat? A bike repair station, with an array of tools anyone can use for free, has been installed on the trail beneath the yellow-arched bridge just to the northeast of the library. Since it’s covered, you can fix a flat or do whatever you need to do while sheltered from rain or searing sunshine.

Even the library’s interior, with its suspended stairways, encourages people to walk rather than take the elevator. Who wants to get closed up in a box while they’re whisked up a few flights when they could stroll the stairs, looking down on the action below?

The suspended staircases encourage people to take the stairs instead of the elevator. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

“That’s by design,” Gillum says. “We’re building the most sustainable building that Austin has ever built and we didn’t want to use escalators, because they’re costly and a maintenance intensive. And, we thought, ‘Let’s give people a place to walk.'”


The bike garage is marked wtih a larger-than-life logo of a bicycle. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman


Want to visit Austin’s most haunted places? Join this run

Rogue Running will host a running tour of Austin’s haunted places tonight.

Add these fun Halloween-themed events to your calendar…

  • Join Rogue Running, 410 Pressler Street, for the Haunted Halloween Hustle tonight, Oct. 26. Runners will take a running tour of Austin’s most haunted spots, learning about piano playing apparitions, unidentified graves, shrieking from the attic and ghosts on the capitol grounds. Routes of 3, 5, 7, or 10 miles are available, with a costume contest and adult beverages to follow. Event starts at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. Register here.
NLand Surf Park will host a Halloween-themed weekend. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman
  • Head to NLand Surf Park, 4836 East Highway 71 in Del Valle, on Saturday for trick or treating, free yoga, live music, beer and queso specials – and, of course, surfing in the 14-acre lagoon. (Worried about the cold? Don’t. Wetsuits are available for rental.) Trick or treating tours will start at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. A Halloween-themed selfie station and Halloween-themed sandbox toys for kids are also planned. Costumes are encouraged (but not while surfing). For more information go here.

Looking for a more mellow triathlon? Try Wanderlust’s version for yogis

Not all triathlons involve high intensity, fast-paced legs of swimming, biking and running.

On Nov. 11, yogis can participate in their own version of tri, one that includes a 5K run (or walk), an outdoor 90-minute yoga class and a guided meditation.

The Wanderlust 108 is billed as the world’s only “mindful triathlon.” The event also includes live music, vendors and local foods.

Wanderlust will host a “mindful triathlon” geared toward yogis on Nov. 11. Photo by Diana Gerstacker

The tri will kick off with a 5K run through the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane. Chelsey Korus and Adrienne Mishler will lead high energy yoga classes, followed by a meditation session from Vinny Ferraro. DJ Sol Rising will provide music.

RELATED: Wanderlust class offers yoga in the urban jungle

Not enough? Participants can also take workshops in aerial yoga, acro-yoga, hooping, walking meditation, photography or essential oils workshops, or join a community yoga experience led by local teachers. The Kula Marketplace will showcase clothing, jewelry and handcrafted items from local vendors.

Watch this video about Wanderlust’s “mindful tri.”

Admission ranges $20 to about $45. For more information, or to buy tickets, go here.

For every registration, Wanderlust will donate $1.08 to No Kid Hungry, which works to end childhood hunger. For more information go here.

What’s it like to ride a horse in downtown Austin? I joined this man to find out

Samuel Grey Horse and Pam LeBlanc high five after reaching downtown Austin by horseback on Monday. Photo by Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman


If you spend any time in downtown Austin, you’ve probably seen Samuel Grey Horse riding his ponies through downtown Austin.

And by ponies I mean his mule, Mula, or his big white horse, Tex.

Grey Horse, whose given name is Samuel Oliva Jr., is famous for his 2011 arrest for riding his mule on Sixth Street while intoxicated. He says he’s quit drinking since then. Today he says he draws healing energy from his animals.

Samuel Grey Horse and Pam LeBlanc ride Mula and Tex down Sixth Street on Monday. Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

RELATED: Two men arrested in Austin for DUI – on a horse and mule

I joined him Monday on a meandering ride from his cabin off of East Riverside Drive to the Paramount Theatre on Sixth Street. We clip-clopped down trails, across the bridge at Pleasant Valley Road and along Cesar Chavez and Sixth streets. It took a while, because Grey Horse knows a lot of people, and he’s got a lot to say.

I’ll be writing about the experience in an upcoming story in the Austin American-Statesman and

Crossing Pleasant Valley Drive made Pam LeBlanc a bit nervous. Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman


Running coach celebrates survival of massacre in Burundi with walk up Congress

Austin’s drum-thumping, “run with joy!” shouting coach marched up Congress Avenue this morning, marking the anniversary of the day he almost died in a massacre in Burundi.

Tuhabonye began his walk by filling water jugs from Lady Bird Lake. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

Gilbert Tuhabonye, head of the Gilbert’s Gazelles running group, celebrates Oct. 21 as a birthday, because it’s the day he survived an event that gave him a second chance at life. It’s also a reminder of how hard and how far it is for most people in his homeland to get water on a daily basis.

He marked the anniversary by filling a 5-gallon jug with water from Lady Bird Lake and carrying the 40-pound load on his head about a mile to the Capitol. About 20 friends walked with him, many of them also carrying water.

Tuhabonye also used the march as a way to encourage people to sign up for the upcoming Run for the Water, which raises money to install water systems that provide clean drinking water for people in Burundi.

Some of Tuhabonye’s friends joined him on the walk, a reminder that many people in Burundi have to walk miles to get water each day. LIZ KREUTZ/Special to the American-Statesman

Civil war racked Burundi from 1993 to 2005. On Oct. 21, 1993, a Hutu mob attacked the school Tuhabonye attended. He and other Tutsi children and teachers were roped together and marched a mile and a half to an abandoned gas station, forced into a room, tortured and burned. He lay for hours under a pile of bodies, finally breaking a window and dashing into the night.

RELATED: Austin running coach returns to site of massacre where he almost died in Burundi

One hundred students and teachers died there that day; Tuhabonye was the only one to survive. His legs, back and arms still bear the scars, but he says he’s been able to forgive the people who tried to kill him.

Tuhabonye went on to become an All-America runner at Abilene Christian University, then moved to Austin and started the Gilbert’s Gazelles running group.

The Run for the Water is set for Nov. 5. The event, which includes a 10-mile, a 5K and a Kids K run.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, nearly 1 in 5 children there dies before age 5. Nearly 20 percent of those deaths are due to diarrheal disease, and nearly three-quarters of all reported illnesses are due to a lack of safe drinking water and sanitation.

Gilbert Tuhabonye marched up Congress Avenue this morning with a 40-pound, 5-gallon jug on water on his head. LIZ KREUTZ/Special to the American-Statesman

Since 2009, the Gazelle Foundation has built a network of pipes, spigots and collecting tanks to bring water to more than 70,000 people in Burundi. The projects tap natural springs on hilltops and use gravity to move water to storage chambers closer to where villagers live.

Registration fee for the 10-mile race is $70; it’s $40 for the 5K. A cash bonus of $250 will be paid to the open and masters division winners who set new course records for the 10-mile course.

To register go here.

Coors family member has opened a craft brewery at an Austin surf park

Right now, the brewery is pouring five beers. Five more are coming soon. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

First things first. No, the beer at NLand Brewing Company doesn’t taste like Coors Light, even though the owner’s last name is Coors, and yes, he’s part of that family.


And no, Doug Coors doesn’t have much to do with the actual brewing at the new brewery, located inside the gates of the massive surf park on Highway 71 east of Austin. He’s handed that responsibility over to Todd Henry, a local brewer who honed his beer-making chops at places like Lovejoys Tap Room & Brewery and Independence Brewing Company.

Head brewer Todd Henry is focusing on lagers and ales at the new brewery. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

“Coors is a macro brewery, and we’re still doing it craft,” says Henry, who took an hour from manning the big shiny vats of lagers and ales yesterday to explain the concept behind his beer. “They’re going to spill more beer this year than I’m going to make.”

RELATED: At NLand Surf Park, catch a perfect wave every time.

A brewery has opened inside NLand Surf Park east of Austin on Highway 71. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

NLand unveiled its brewery last month. Right now, the venue is pouring five different beers at the surf-themed patio bar overlooking a 14-acre lagoon, where beginners and experts alike cut across a man-made wave that rolls across the surface every 2 minutes. He’ll add another five in the next few weeks.

On Thursday, I sampled Off Leash IPA, NLand Pale Ale, Peach Party Wheat, Fun Beer, American lager. My fave? The pale ale. I was pleasantly surprised by the Peach Party, too. It didn’t pack the hit-me-in-the-face wallop of peachiness that I feared, but rather a subtle hint of fruit.

Also, the guacamole from the adjacent restaurant, Blue Prairie, is quite good.

For now, NLand Brewing Company is only selling beer on tap – no bottles or cans. And the focus is on beers that go down easily on an afternoon spent surfing.

“They’re all light in body,” Henry says. “They’re mashed to be light and crisp, not full bodied.”

The IPA uses Citra and El Dorado hops for a tropical profile. The pale ale features Cascade and Centennial hops for a citrus/grapefruit profile. (Pro tip: Surf first, drink beer later.)

The brewery is offering specials this weekend. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

RELATED: Is Austin the land-locked surf capitol of the world?

This weekend, the NLand brewery and two other breweries along the Highway 71 corridor are offering specials.

NLand Surf Park is offering a two-for-one surf special for morning sessions through Sunday, and pints of NLand’s American Pilsner for $2 at the brewery. (Other pints are $6.) At Live Oak Brewery down the road, smoke lagers are on special for $1 off on Saturday and Sunday. And St. Elmo Brewing Company is offering $2 Kolsch beers today, plus a free live show by Cowboy Diplomacy at 8 p.m. It’s hosting an Octoberfest event from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

For more information about NLand Surf Park go here.

Pam LeBlanc spent an hour surfing before testing out the new beers at the brewery. Photo by Weston Carls

Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? Find out at these Texas State Parks events

Looking to hone your zombie battling skills? Want to send shivers up your spine with creepy stories?

Texas state parks are scheming up a host of spooky events, including zombie apocalypse hikes, pumpkin carving parties, night hikes and ghost story gatherings.

Check out these events at Central Texas parks:

  • Park rangers at McKinney Falls State Park, 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, will make s’mores and tell eerie ghost stories from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 27. Meet at the amphitheater and bring a chair, water, bug spray, flashlight and blanket for cool weather. For more information go here.
  • Learn how to survive a zombie invasion at the Zombie Apocalypse Hike at 6 p.m. Oct. 20 and 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at McKinney Falls State Park, 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway. A survival skills test, games and activities are all on tap. For more information go here.
  • Zombie Apocalypse Hikes are also scheduled for Bastrop State Park, 100 Park Road 1A in Bastrop. Meet at the historic golf shelter at 3 p.m. Oct. 21 and 3 p.m. Oct. 28 for the 1-mile, 1-hour hike. For more information go here.
  • Put on your favorite costume and head to Inks Lake State Park, 3630 Park Road 4 in Burnet for the Halloween Creatures of the Night Hike on Oct. 28. Meet at the Pecan Flats trailhead at 6:30 p.m. for a short hike and tricks or treats. For more information go here.

To see the entire schedule of Halloween events at Texas State Parks, go to the holiday calendar page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

Feel like brawling? This Austin fitness studio is here to help

The Barre Code Austin will host a Halloween-themed pool party on Oct. 28. Photo courtesy Barre Code Austin


Feel like brawling?

The Barre Code Austin will host a Halloween-themed Brawl workout – the fitness studio’s signature kickboxing class – poolside at The Austin Motel, 1220 South Congress Avenue, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.

Halloween attire is encouraged, and a costume contest is planned. First prize is one month free to The Barre Code; second prize is Barre Code swag.

After class, participants get a “spooky” mimosa, and the pool party begins. Bring your own mat, sneakers and swimsuit. Cost is $20 per person and includes workout, post-class mimosa and all-day pool access.

Sign up here.

The event takes place at the Austin Motel. Photo courtesy Barre Code Austin

How fast are Texas marathon runners? RunRepeat ranks every state

Runners participate in the Austin Marathon and Half-marathon presented by NXP in 2017. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

How does Texas compare to other states when it comes to running marathons?

Middle to back of the pack, according to a detailed survey by the company RunRepeat, which collates reviews of running shoes.

The company this week released its “Ultimate State Comparison for Marathons,” which analyzed 5.7 million results from 3,828 marathons, each with at least 2,000 participants. To see all the data, go here.

The study includes all kinds of fun data, starting with a basic list of the fastest states in the country. The top three finishers were Massachusetts (Boston Marathon, anyone?), where the average marathon finish time in 2016 was 4 hours, 20 minutes and 41 seconds; Washington, D.C.; and Vermont. The three slowest states were Louisiana, Hawaii and Mississippi, where the average finish time was 5 hours, 8 minutes and 51 seconds.

Texas comes in at Number 39, with an average finish time of 4 hours, 47 minutes and 34 seconds.

Jaret Thornton powers up by slapping a sign along the Austin Marathon route in 2017. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Of course, since people travel out of state to run marathons, the data doesn’t necessarily reflect the speed of the runners who actually live in the state. And the list doesn’t factor in course difficulty, hills or weather conditions.

But the study website does include a handy calculator, where you can plug in a race distance, your finish time and age, and determine how you stack up against other Americans.

There’s enough data here to make your eyes roll back in your head, or at least give you something to think about on your next long run.

Separate lists look at finish times for male and female marathon runners. Texas women ranked 36th, with an average marathon finish time of 4 hours and 59 minutes; Texas men ranked 47th, with an average finish time of 4 hours and 38 minutes. (Texas men are, on average, also slower than women from Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., according to the study.)

Runners participate in the Austin Marathon and Half-marathon presented by NXP in 2017. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The study also looked at the proportion of male and female participants in each state, the difference between female and male finish times, the change in percentage of female participants, the average age of marathon runners (42.7 years in Texas), and the average finish time by age group. It even identified seven states where runners performed better than their immediate neighbors – Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C.

California had the most number of marathon participants. Texas ranked third in raw numbers, but 21st when you look at that number as a percent of total state population.

Want more? The company also did a study looking at how marathon finish times have gotten slower since 1996.