The Interval, 6/21/17

Watch out for rabid raccoons when running in Maine

It’s guest editor time at the Interval.  I’m filling in for Sam while he’s attending an AARP conference.

Tonight was the 3rd race in the PureAustin Splash ‘n Dash series, a summer Austin staple.  Vincent Ray won in a time of 22:09, completing the 750m swim in 10:19 and the 3k run in 10:27 (plus a transition of 1:23).  Faith Dasso, a 13 year old from New Braunfels finished 4th overall and first female in 23:02.  Impressive at any age.

I talked to Splash & Dasher Matt Hanlon prior to the race about aquathlons and representing the United States at the Multisport World Championships Festival.

Armadillo:  So, first things first.  What’s a duathalon?  Or at least the type of duathalon you participate in?

MH:  Duathlons are run-bike-run. What I’ve been doing are aquathlons, which is either a swim-run or a run-swim-run. I’ve never done a run-swim-run event, but Pure Austin is hosting one in October that will be a 3K run, 1K swim, 3K run.

Armadillo:  These naming conventions are bizarre, but I’ll roll with it.  So how’d you get started in these so-called aquathlons?

MH:  As a kid and through high school, I was a competitive swimmer. Back then I always wanted to do a triathlon, but never got into it, primarily because of the run component. I absolutely hated running. I knew there were duathlons and I always wished there were swim/bike competitions. (There are “aquabike” races these days.) Anyway, in my early 30s I started running for fitness. I got hooked on the running and started trying to be competitive, at least against myself. After a few injuries due to overtraining and a stress-fractured tibia on my first trail race I started back with the swimming until I could get back to running. Once I got into the routine, I just kept swimming with the masters swim group I had joined even when I was able to start back running. My swim coach, Claudia Spooner, knew I was a runner as well and suggested last summer that I take a stab at one of the Splash-N-Dash races and it was all down hill from there.

Armadillo:  The aquathlon subreddit states that “Aquathlon races are sometimes called spash [sic] & dash, or stroke and stride”.  Which term do you prefer?  “Spash” & dash or stroke & stride?

MH:  Wow, you’d think given the amount of time I waste on reddit I would have thought to look for an aquathlon subreddit. (I sub to the r/running, r/swimming, r/trailrunning, and r/triathlon among others! Too bad r/aquathlon looks to be dead.) I have always liked “splash and dash”, but that could just be default because of the Splash-N-Dash series at Pure Austin.

Armadillo:  I’m not sure I could come up with a worse name for an aquathlon than stroke & stride.

MH:  Yeah, “stroke and stride” is pretty awful. It has to be a bad joke. 🙂

Armadillo:  I spent way too much time trying to think of a good line for that, but decided to cop out and claim this is a family-friendly running newsletter.  So how does one train for a splash and dash?  Do you do something like brick training for triathlons?

MH:  As far as training, it definitely helps to do swim-run workouts similar to bricks you do for triathlons. The first splash and dash I did, I didn’t do any special training, just swim workouts on some days and run workouts on others. But the first time I tried to go from a swim directly into a run at “race pace” I thought I was going to be sick. I think it’s might be the change from horizontal to vertical, but I remember getting really woozy and the first half of my run showed it. I started doing some swim-run workouts after that and it really helped. The last splash and dash I did I don’t recall feeling dizzy at all after transition.

Armadillo:  You were recently asked to represent Team USA in the Multisport World Championships Festival in August.  How did that come about?

MH:  I did qualify to compete for Team USA at the ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, BC, Canada, this August! To tell the truth, it was unexpected. My plan going into this spring and summer was to train and complete in the Pure Austin Splash-N-Dash series, working up to the Aquathlon National Championships in October and hopefully qualifying for 2018. But a couple months ago I got an email that I qualified for Team USA this year! Apparently I earned enough points from the Splash-N-Dash races last summer to make the cut. As I said, unexpected, but I am certainly excited about it! I am still planning to compete in the National Championship event in October.

Team USA swag is pretty sweet (photo courtesy of Matt Hanlon)

Armadillo:  What distance is the World Championship race?  And does Toby know how to swim yet?

MH:  The WC race is a 1K swim, 5K run. Interestingly, I was just asking Toby if he was up for the Splash-N-Dash this Tuesday. 😀

Armadillo:  There is a canicross subreddit as well.  Have you thought about doing any of those events with Toby?  I’m pretty sure he’d qualify for the national team in that if they have one.

Matt, with all-star running canine Toby at the Spectrum Saddleblazer in February (photo by Azulux Visuals)

MH:  I haven’t looked at the canicross subreddit, but I have been following the Canicross USA Facebook page. I am definitely interesting in doing a race like that with Toby. Right now it looks like most the events that I have seen are being held in the Northeast, primarily in Maine. I think it would be great if we could get interest for an event like that that was more local.

Armadillo:  I think some enterprising local race directors should think hard about hosting a canicross.  Thanks for answering the questions and good luck in the race on Tuesday!

New Bike & Pedestrian Bridge over Barton Creek Now Open

Just like the header says.  I haven’t been on it yet, but I’m going to head out there next week.  I’ve got to find the time to figure out exactly how to get on the bridge first.  I’ll bring my phone and hopefully get snap some good pictures (and catch some Pokemon while I’m out there).

The Interval Gets Interactive!

Quick poll below that is going to be a topic for next week.  Please respond.  It’s for science, which we here at the Armadillo still believe in! We’ll do our best to prevent it from being hacked by Russians, which is more than we can say about the State of Georgia.

[socialpoll id=”2446986″]

Interesting News & Articles

Trail runners are a different breed.  I’m pretty sure this tops any trail running story about interacting with wildlife that I’ve ever heard.  Rachel Borch is a bad-ass.

The Portland Marathon is in trouble.  Permitting is the issue, though it sounds like they are compounding the problem by not responding.  Hopefully this all is a misunderstanding that gets resolved in time to have the race.

Runners are well-to-do, though it certainly isn’t coming from prize money.  Interesting chart here showing the income distribution by leisure activity.  Golf is #1, which you can tell just be noting the ads shown during a PGA tour event.

A new study says that running isn’t the best option for losing weight.  I’m not sure I buy that.  I’m more than a little biased here, but what I get out of this is that we should all be doing weight training as well.  I’m doing a few 12-ounce curls right now as I’m writing this.  I’d also like to add that running, cycling, lifting or anything else that gets people off the couch will help lose weight, so just do whatever works for all y’all (I’ve been in Texas long enough now to use that phrase).

An American wins the Comrades.  She’s looking to pull off a double with the Western States.  I’ll stop complaining to my running buddies now about how hard racing it is to race a 5k 15 minutes after racing a 10k.  I particularly like her answer about roads v trails.  (ht to Dan Hannon, who was impressed with Ms. Herron’s race nutrition choices, which he plans to replicate during Sky Island this fall)

On Tap

This Saturday is the first event in another Austin summer running staple, the Captain Karl’s Trail Series.  This one is run at Pedernales Falls with a 60k, 30k and a 10k.  These races all start in the evening, so bring your headlamps.  Yours truly will be attempting the 10k and looking to stay more upright than my most recent trail run.  You can still register online at CK Pedernales Falls or in person that evening.