Age is just a number.

The Rookie Triathlon, the triathlon season-opener here in Austin, is just six weeks away. Whether you’re a true rookie, dusting off the cobwebs of the off-season or coming out to show off the results of your hard training, it’s time to get focused.

What better way to do that than to spend the weekend getting to know the course, hanging out with other athletes and learning tips and tricks from veterans? Come out this weekend for Bicycle World Austin’s Rookie Tri training weekend, a full two days of triathlon fun. FOR FREE.

Saturday morning will start with a group ride on the Rookie Tri course with the Austin Triathlon Club and Bicycle World Racing Team.

Saturday afternoon at 3:30, join me and Coach Erin Truslow of Big Pistachio for a fun clinic that will teach you how to prepare for your first triathlon with live demonstrations by yours truly of what to do and what NOT to do to make your race a success. Even if you’re not a beginner, we promise you’ll learn something, or, at the very least, be entertained.

Stay after the clinic for some socializing at Flour and Vine, which will offer all-night happy hour pricing on food and drinks.

Then, on Sunday morning, join us back at Bicycle World for a group run at 7 a.m. and bring a change of clothes. After our run around the Lady Bird Lake Trail, at 9 a.m., we’ll walk you through gear selection in the store, answer your questions, and have more questions and answers with professional triathlete and multiple Rookie Tri winner, Natasha Van Der Merwe.

One of the best reasons to come out this weekend, though, is to meet some of the amazing triathletes in our community who come from all kinds of backgrounds and have all kinds of inspiring stories to share. This week, I twisted the arm of our Bicycle World Racing teammate Padre Mora and convinced him to share his incredible triathlon journey with us. Enjoy reading about Padre, who gives new meaning to the phrase “age is only a number,” below. Then, come meet him on Saturday at the group bike ride!

Q: When did you retire and why did you retire at such a relatively young age?

A: I retired on August 31, 2017. I was able to retire at a "young age" because I became vested in the system at a young age. I could have stayed in longer to increase my pension payout, but I decided that taking advantage of my "youth" was more important than the money I could have made.

Q: Did you have a plan for what you wanted to do in retirement? And has it worked out the way you envisioned so far?

A: Honestly, I didn’t have a plan, other than seeing how life unfolds this first year. I did know that I would have more time to focus on this sport and to see how much I could develop. So far, I would say it is working out. After this year of learning, I will add more travel in the future, continue to train and continue to enjoy this open schedule.

Q: What are your triathlon goals this year? Long term?

A: This year my goal is to see just how much I can grow as a triathlete now that I can train like a pro. My key race to test this will be at Ironman Arizona in November. It is a course I have done multiple times, so it will be a good measure. As for the long term, like most Ironman athletes the carrot is Kona, but ultimately I would like to find out how much I can grow.

Q: How long have you been doing triathlons and why do you continue?

A: I started triathlon in 2009 with the Texas Tri Series. I won my age group for the series that year, which a surprise since I had no swim background. I continue because I don't think I have reached my potential. Being retired is giving me the opportunity to focus on the sport. I am not just swimming, biking, and running more, I am also able to focus on training well and paying attention to supplemental training, nutrition and recovery.

Q: What does your typical day look like?

A: A typical day starts at 5 a.m. I have a cup of green tea and a couple pieces of toast with nut butter and honey. First workout is at 6 or 6:30. Second workout usually follows immediately with a quick snack in between. In triathlon that’s how we race, one discipline after another. Then, I have a huge breakfast. The rest of the day is mine to enjoy: walk the dog, stretch routine, some reflection time, nap. And as anyone who follows my Instagram account knows, I like food so I have time to plan and cook dinner. Bedtime is 9 p.m.

Q: What would you say to other people who say, 'I'm too old' to pursue my athletic dreams?

A: I say "age is a number, old is an attitude". Age shouldn’t be an impediment. Chasing dreams is what we did as kids, so why stop? Maybe I won't make it to Kona, but being active and wanting to find my potential is a good motivator. I was looking at some data from 2014 recently. I use a training application that computes a fitness metric. Four years later, I’m actually fitter.

Q: Do you think you'll ever stop doing tris?

A: I plan to continue doing tris as long as I am having fun. This sport has provided a new challenge of growth for me, particularly with swimming. I started my athletic career when I was 15 as a runner. I kept increasing the distance challenges, ultimately running 100K events, until I finally got burnt out. That first season of tri in 2009 reignited the fire that made training fun again because I wanted to find out how good I could be, even if it included swimming.

Q: What are the biggest life lessons you've drawn from this sport?

A: Sport has always been part of my life. I learned to be organized with my time, to have structure in my day, to set goals, and to do the training and other things needed to reach those goals.Triathlon just built on those aspects. It has reinforced for me the ability to persevere when life gets tough. It also taught me I could learn a new skill and that I could be excited about sport again.

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