The Best of Austin – Kelly Williamson

November 2nd, 2015 - Posted by

When is it that you can call yourself a ‘local’? I’ve lived in Austin now for 9 years. When we moved here in 2006, it was for Derick to go to grad school at University of Texas. He forced me kicking and screaming away from Manitou Springs, Colorado; we were nestled in a little mountain town at 6300ft, right there at the base of Pikes Peak. I had never even been to Texas when we packed up our cars and all of our loved items (ie: I drove down with his peace plant, Bocephus, in the passenger seat next to me; we left a TV in our old apartment so we had room for Bocephus) and made the move to Austin. (In case you weren’t aware, Bocephus is Hank Williams Jr’s. nickname). I didn’t want to like it. All my friends who said I would love it, I wanted to prove them wrong. Then things happened. We got engaged in 2007. We got married in 2008. I changed my driver’s license from Colorado to Texas. We bought our first house in 2009. We adopted a cat, we got a dog. Derick got a Master’s degree, started a coaching business…my racing thrived…before we knew it, dare I say, I had grown to love Austin. And now that I look back, I’m not the only one. There are many reasons this city is growing at an exponential rate! Especially if you’re active, into good music, good food, and more recently, good craft beer. So I thought I would highlight a few of my ‘Austin favorites’ for the active-minded person who enjoys good food, drink, and of course being outside and active.

Corgi, our cat, and Bocephus; Corgi ultimately killed Bocephus by eating him and eventually sitting on/smashing him. :(

Corgi, our cat, and Bocephus; Corgi ultimately killed Bocephus by eating him and eventually sitting on/smashing him. 🙁

Favorite Tex-Mex: For good old, reasonably priced, reliable tex-mex I have to go with Maudies. Great margaritas, excellent queso and consistently good food. No frills but always friendly. My personal favorites are the Skinny Margarita (less sweet) with Sissy’s Chicken Fajita Tacos or if I’m starving, a Veggie Burrito with Chicken. If you’re looking for higher end but incredible Mexican (considered more ‘interior’ Mexican food), I’d recommend making a reservation (you’ll need it) at Fonda San Miguel. You’ll be as amazed by the architecture as you will by the food.

Best Tex-Mex to See Famous People: This has to be Guero’s Taco Bar (it’s just called that, in reality it is a massive restaurant) situated right in the heart of South Congress. My husband Derick caught Bill Clinton there a few years back but rumor is that there’s always a famous person lurking around Guero’s. The bonus is they’ve got great food (and of course margarita’s) but there is also fun shopping and many music venues (across the street from Continental Club) all around you. We find we frequent South Congress far more than downtown Austin; a little more our style.

Swimming at the Quarry

Swimming at the Quarry

Favorite Swim: There are SO many great places to swim in this city; one of the many things I love about it having grown up a swimmer. My personal favorite is Pure Austin Quarry Lake, a beautiful open water quarry that has buoys in it year-round (750-meters around the entire lake), and is surrounded by a steep hillside that leads up to a 1-km gravel path around it for walking or running. The water is always clean, laden with turtles, and the temps fluctuate naturally with the weather; so it’s great for swims year-round, and perfect for wetsuit practice in the winter months. Another gem is Stacy Pool, near South Congress; a 33.3-yard long spring-fed pool open year round that is FREE. They also heat it in the winter, so the best days are cool rainy days with steam rising from the surface; and you’ll have it to yourself! And you’ll see all kinds of characters here. Let’s just say this pool helps maintain the Keep Austin Weird vibe.

Favorite Run: It’s tough to beat the well-known Town Lake Trail, 10 miles of a crushed granite path which winds around Town Lake (recently re-named Lady Bird Lake). They have a ¼ mile marker for the entire 10 miles, so I love to do run workouts on the trail sans GPS but using the markers. When you need some hills to toss into your run, you can shoot off to the neighboring areas of Stratford or take Lake Austin Boulevard towards Mt. Bonnell. You’ll be as amazed by the massive homes as you will the challenging terrain; all the while overlooking scenic views of Lake Austin.

Favorite Massage: I have to go with My Kendal’s: Kendal Jacobson and Mark Kendall. Kendal Jacobson is a Massage and Physical Therapist and has had her own business now for 25 years. By combining both PT and Massage, and coming from a competitive swimming background, she is incredibly in tune with the ‘athlete’s body’ and I believe she is a huge reason I’ve stayed healthy season after season. Mark Kendall is a good friend who only recently became a certified massage therapist but has an Ironman background; upon seeing him, you would think he’s been doing massage for years already. 

Playing with Amico at Longview

Playing with Amico at Longview Park

Favorite Dog Park: Living in South Austin, we love to take our dog to Longview Park. It is a huge field surrounded by a small greenbelt space (with about 4 miles of trails) tucked right in the middle of a South Austin neighborhood. The open space is more than enough room for our cattle dog Amico to play Chuck-It along with the numerous other dogs and their owners who convene around sunset on nice Austin evenings. This park is a hidden gem. We have come to know many of the other pups who come to the park and it’s a great way for dogs to interact and make new friends. Some people may even bring along a Happy Hour bevvy.

Favorite Pizza: Austin has definitely seen its share of new pizza restaurants the past 10 years. There were very few when we moved here. One of our favorites is The Backspace, which is tucked away in downtown Austin right behind the restaurant Parkside (same owners). It is a tiny room that is rustic and simple, complete with great setup of barstools that cozy up to the counter and a brick oven. The pizza is described as ‘Neapolitan’ (authentic Italian style) and the wood-fired flavor baked into each one makes them unique and always tasty. The menu is not extensive but that is one of the many things that makes it great. All the wines are Italian and they only serve Italian beer. It is often slammed for tables but I say walking into a bar spot is the way to go.

Kelly & Josh, founder of Hops & Grain

Enjoy a beer with Josh, Hops & Grain founder

Favorite Pub/Drink: And while I may be a bit biased on this one, I have to go with Hops & Grain tap room as the best place to enjoy good beer with good friends. Situated at the ‘end’ of 6th Street on the East side of downtown Austin, it’s a perfect place to mingle complete with a variety of great beer options. As a bonus you can take a tour of the tap room at set times each day. Another fun fact is that the final Wednesday of every month is “Yappy Hour” from 6-8pm so you can bring your pup out to meet some new furry friends while you enjoy a beer on the outside patio.

James McMurtry at the Library of Continental Club

James McMurtry at the Library of Continental Club

Favorite Music Venue: How could we miss this one? THIS IS the Live Music City Capital of the World! And this is a tough one. We love good music about as much as good beer, so I’ll just name a few. We’ve been spoiled to small venues where you actually HEAR the music, you’re not just there to stand in a massive crowd. You can’t beat the Cactus Café which is located on the UT Campus; a tiny room with a full bar and a great place to see acoustic and intimate shows. Those who have played here? Alison Krauss, Dixie Chicks, Townes Van Zandt, Patty Griffen, Guy Clark … the list goes on. Another favorite is The Continental Club, located in South Congress; the downstairs often has larger names but a hidden spot is the upstairs “Library” which is small and intimate (and seated). You can catch James McMurtry there most Tuesday nights at the convenient show time of 8:30 pm. Finally you can’t leave out Stubbs’, which is not only a great BBQ restaurant but also has an amazing outdoor amphitheater that hosts incredible talent; also in downtown Austin. On this note, I’ll leave you with a list of the live shows we’ve seen over the years in Austin… Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, John Fulbright, Jason Isbell, Butch Hancock, Guy Forsyth, Slaid Cleaves, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, Todd Snider, Hayes Carll, Guy Clark, Wilco, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, James McMurtry, Bob Schneider, Alejandro Escovedo, Band of Heathens, … and I am sure I’m still missing a few.

Oh and by the way…to my credit, I still have my Colorado phone number. Austin may have become home the past 10 years, but our hearts will always be in the mountains! – Kelly Williamson

Ironman Preparation: Learn to Be Bored And Don’t Be a Meerkat – By: Kelly Williamson

September 24th, 2015 - Posted by

Kelly in Field in Crested Butte

It’s no secret that Ironman isn’t the most exciting of sports. Having grown up a swimmer, I’ll liken it to a 1650 race in the pool. That is 66 lengths of the pool. That’s a lot of back and forth. Or if you are my father, perhaps your idea of ‘boring’ is a 400 IM (where you swim a 100 butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle). He filmed a 400 IM race of mine at state meet one year, and when I excitedly watched the video, I saw myself dive in, swim a length of butterfly, flip then… … … oh wait we’re back, and I’m finishing my final length of freestyle. I asked my dad “What the hell dad? Where was my race?!” to which he replied, “Oh, well it got a little boring there in the middle.” It was less than 5 minutes! How on earth he has endured spectating some of my Ironman races is beyond me; oh right, we can thank bocce ball and mid-race naps for this.

Whether you are a seasoned triathlete, multiple Ironman finisher, or just getting into multisport, one thing you’ll find is that it isn’t the most stimulating of activities. Sure, we get to change disciplines and in our training we essentially get to alternate between swimming, cycling and running; which is refreshing. But the acts themselves, they are vastly endurance based and require substantial time commitments regularly to see performance gains. As we draw close to the end of the year with of course Kona looming on everyone’s minds, I figured I’d hone in specifically on Ironman training boredom…a few things to consider, and when approaching a big race, a few things to avoid.

Every time I really dig my teeth into an Ironman prep (call it the 4-8 weeks prior to the race), there are a few key workouts that I like to knock out. Realize that some of these change over time, but I figured I would explain just a few of them that I’ve done over the years. While Derick (my husband and coach) and I often reference “what has worked in the past”, we are also flexible because things change (among many things, our bodies change) so what worked 2 years ago may not work today. But the one recurring theme I see during Ironman preparation is that a few solid, long, boring workouts are a staple and they are very helpful in training not only the body for a very long day ahead but the mind for the challenges that the repetition and long miles will bring on race day. Additionally, what I think makes these all the more challenging is that they are not “easy”. While they are often done at a steady endurance level of exertion, I am constantly staying engaged and aware of the effort; so the tendency to “zone out” is often curbed by needing to stay strong throughout, much like what race day will require.

Blog Pic Swimming Over citySwim – My go to swim workout is an open water swim of at least 1 hour, straight, without interruption. This may be in Lake Austin with Derick paddling ahead of me (30 minutes out/30 minutes back with the goal of going a bit faster home) or in Pure Austin Quarry which has a 750-meter loop marked with buoys (consisting of 5-6 loops). I will aim to do this once a week for about 4-5 weeks going into a race. I find that my hip flexors get sore the first few times but this often goes away as the weeks progress. Additionally, I’ll find my shoulders, neck and/or back get sore some days but all of these small aches and pains remind me what to expect on race day. (If you don’t have access to open water, you could do something like 30x100s in the pool on short rest, perhaps flipping before the walls on a few to simulate open water starts, or a 3k or 4k straight pool swim).

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 11.45.39 AMBike – This one has varied over the years. I used to hop on the trainer and do a 4 hour ride with 4×45 minutes at close to or just above Ironman goal power with 5 minutes recovery. Lately, I have opted for heading outdoors as I find it is good for me to deal with the external conditions (namely winds) as that is what I struggle with in Hawaii. A standard prep ride going into an Ironman is to do my 100-120 mile long ride but finish it on a looped section. My two options are an 8 or a 9 mile loop. I’ll do anywhere from 1-3 hard loops at the end of the ride, depending upon the day. While this is not really so ‘boring’, it mentally challenges you when you’re very tired (and in Texas heat often depleted) and forces you to really dig deep when you’re ready to just cruise home. It’s made even more fun if you have someone to chase. Derick did this with me a few weeks back, and he gave me a small head start on our 9 mile loop. Of course it’s the most fun when you manage to hold him off. J

20150803_175726~2_resizedRun – While running is something I love to do (almost as much as swimming), no doubt training to run 26 miles off the bike ‘well’ requires some serious work. This year we have upped the quality runs to 5×2 miles, and each week shortening yet progressing the pace on these to 6x2k and 8×1 mile. While not necessarily boring, these workouts are mentally challenging since the goal is to make the last interval the strongest. One good standard mentally tough run would be the fast finish long runs. These often consist of a long run in range of 19-24 miles but with the goal of running anywhere from 2-4 miles ‘fast’ at the end. You have to stay engaged throughout the entire run, checking pace to assure you’re “within range” then prepare to drop it at the end. Ironically, I often find that the bulk of the run feels tougher than the end; almost as if my body is more efficient at the faster pace. These runs are great for both physical and mental strength.

A few things ‘extras’ I would recommend as you dial in the big weeks and begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel (ie: rest around the corner!). I don’t recommend perusing blogs, tweets, and media about how much everyone else is doing. This is a fantastic way to doubt yourself, question your own preparation, and it gets you absolutely nowhere. I’ve seen people write of doing 400 mile bike weeks, 38 hour training weeks, and 30k+ swim weeks. They write of how absolutely exhausted and trashed they are. This could get in my head, but then I realize that if I got near these numbers, I would not make it to the start line in one piece. Trust your training, communicate openly with your coach, and commit to your own personal goals based on your own body. Asking questions is good; being a meerkat is not. Curiosity killed the meerkat, and it will kill your Ironman if you let it.

I do recommend focusing on specific workouts that will boost your confidence. By this, I mean dial in what you know you need to do to be successful on race day and commit to it. Do not put unreasonable goals and expectations on every workout. Remember, racing an Ironman entails being able to sustain a consistent pace for a long day; to be mentally, emotionally, and physically strong; not to be overly heroic at any one point (unless it’s the end). While I managed to do 5×1 mile at 5:30 pace a few years ago, I have realized that to run 26 miles at 6:35 pace, it’s smarter to do longer intervals at a slightly slower pace. I had to let go of “seeing that speed” and embrace relaxing into a workout and accomplishing a workout that is challenging, yet attainable; and more specific to the goal.

Have fun in your preparation! Swim with friends, do your easy rides socially, and hop into a small race here or there. Remember that while there will be some long and lonely days, there should always be an element of fun; and it is with consistency in training, belief in yourself and your program, staying healthy and enjoying yourself that you’ll get the most out of your race.

-Kelly Williamson

Team Zoot Run Application

August 3rd, 2015 - Posted by


Team Zoot Run

Zoot Sports is pleased to announce the launch of Team Zoot Running! *Open to US Residents

We are developing a roster of the most talented elite runners, community leaders, and influencers to represent Zoot on raceday and everyday in between. Team Zoot members will receive an exclusive Team Zoot apparel assortment, access to discounts on all Zoot apparel, gear, and footwear and early access to product lines and launches.

In return Team Zoot members will be asked to do what they do best; run, coach, lead, connect, and provide feedback. You will receive an exclusive package for a discounted rate of $100 value for $300 retail value.

If you are interested and meet the qualifications below please proceed to the application link:

Team Zoot Run Application

*Application closes 8/17 at 12:00am (PST)

Team Zoot Run Qualifications:                          

Membership Requirements

  • Sub 2:46 Marathon (M)
  • Sub 3:15 Marathon (W)
  • Sub 1:19 Half Marathon (M)
  • Sub 1:33 Half Marathon (W)
  • Sub 35:30 10k (M)
  • Sub 41: 30 10k (W)
  • Sub 17:00 5k (M)
  • Sub 20:00 5k (W)


Over 1,500 followers on run related social media outlets

Membership Responsibilities

  • Provide Zoot with important feedback and comments on our products
  • Assist with product launches and product promotions to generate excitement for the brand
  • Race and train in all Zoot apparel, footwear, and gear
  • Post one social media post a week tagging @zootsports or #teamzootrun


Happy Training and tag #TeamZootRun #ZootRun #LoveYourRun in your media posts!


Our Escape By: Kelly Williamson

June 24th, 2015 - Posted by
Derick and I met in Colorado back in 2003, at the Mt. Evans Hill Climb; which is a bike race that starts in Idaho Springs, CO (7,555 ft) and goes 28 miles to finish at the top of Mt. Evans (14,130 ft). We were both living in Colorado Springs at the time which is where we stayed until our move to Austin, Texas the summer of 2006. While we’ve loved more than we ever imagined possible about Austin, we are both mountain people at heart.

The first time I qualified for Kona in 2010 we decided it would make sense to escape the Texas heat for some of the long training (summers here are intense, often 70F but 80-90% humidity early mornings but by afternoon 90-100F with 40-60% humidity) so we immediately decided upon Salida, Colorado. (Little did we know that for the next 4 years, we would head right back there every summer for about a month of training and fun to escape the dreaded Austin summers). Many have not heard of Salida. We knew of it from having lived in Colorado Springs, we would occasionally go there to camp, mountain bike and just explore one Colorado’s many small mountain towns. It is nestled at the foot of the Colorado Rockies and the western bank of the Arkansas River, at about 7000 ft. It’s often said to be in the ‘Banana Belt’ because of the cool comfortable summers and mild winters. It even has a 25-meter indoor pool at the Salida Hot Springs center; which for a town of ~5,500 people is pretty impressive. You can do your workout then slip into the ‘other’ pool which is a natural hot springs. Roads to ride are endless; and even though there are only about 2 ways out of town, one road takes you up Poncha Pass (9,000 ft) and once descending you can ride for miles on a fairly flat terrain. The other route takes you to the neighboring town of Buena Vista (20 miles away) but then you can begin the 20 mile climb to the top of Cottonwood Pass (~12,000 ft). The amazing thing about riding in Salida is the lack of stopping; coming from a town such as Austin with a massive population, it’s incredibly refreshing to get on your bike and just keep pedaling, uninterrupted. As for the running, there are a ton of trails though many of them go UP…so you have to be prepared that if you’re not intending on pushing yourself, you either stay off of them or you really learn how to run easy. One of my favorites is a dirt road (Ute Trail) that we’ll take to for long tempo runs. I’ll jog to the start of the dirt (about 3 miles from town), and Derick will mark every mile with flour. The most I’ve done is about 9 miles uphill; the road on goes forever, and the grade undulates but is always going up in some capacity. Last summer, Derick and I took to this road for some cyclo-cross bike rides which was a ton of fun. We would spend 3-4 hours exploring these dirt roads and occasionally pop off onto trails, which is of course interesting on a cross bike, especially when you have the lack of technical skills as I do.


But the best thing about Salida is that even though I am there to train, it almost doesn’t feel like it. We wake up early, have coffee on the porch; often visited by a few deer in the yard. Mornings are almost always cool and quiet. There are absolutely no distractions. Life is simple. The commute to the pool is all of 5 minutes. Never traffic. The commute to the gym is 5 minutes on a cruiser bike. The commute to the beer store is 5 minutes, and I’ll toss it into the bike basket and pedal home. Derick often does all of his work in the mornings, and will head to the trails for afternoon mountain bike rides (or vice-versa if storms roll in during the afternoons) and will fish most evenings after dinner. I savor the easier training days or days off when we can pick up a float trip together, or an excursion to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs for the day. Every evening, we pedal down to the river with our dog Amico (named after the local pizza and brewery, Amicas) and let him play in the rapids; easily my favorite part of the day.  We pedal back home with a worn out pup, crack open a good beer and make dinner; often from fresh veggies and meats we pick up at Ploughboy, the local market and kitchen. We enjoy our dinner on the back porch and rarely turn the TV on. It’s definitely a Work Hard, Play Hard philosophy when in Salida. It’s Our Escape. What’s yours?


-Kelly Williamson

ColoRADo – By: Ben Hoffman

May 1st, 2015 - Posted by


When I went to university in 2002, triathlon was not even on my radar. Growing up in Western Colorado, my life was always based around exercise and being outdoors, but I can’t remember a time when I went swimming in anything other than a high alpine lake or the golden, flowing Colorado river to cool off in summer heat.  I did spend some time riding weeklong bike tours in the Colorado mountains with my parents while I was in high school, but the majority of my first 18 years were spent backpacking, camping, rock climbing, and generally exploring the landscapes of Colorado, Utah, and other surrounding states…essentially, “triathlon-free.” 

Some of my favorite memories are the trips we would take to the mountains, fly-fishing, sitting around the campfire, and just soaking in the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. Being outdoors wasn’t necessarily related to any kind of structured exercise, it was simply being out there and moving amongst it.  It was these trips throughout my formative years that laid the groundwork for my choice to live in Montana, then back to Colorado, and Arizona in winters.  In fact, I remember deciding that Missoula would be a good fit for college because it was like a Colorado with fewer people!

The surrounding environment has always had a big impact on my happiness and the structure of my days, especially now that my job is to spend countless hours outdoors on my bike, running, and swimming, I look to the landscape for inspiration and energy, for peace of mind and tranquility. Often it can be as simple as appreciating seasonal changes with wildflowers or snowstorms, spotting some wildlife, or just being thankful for consistent sunny weather. Other times, I use specific features to shape an adventure or training goal: Run up that mountain? Ride a big loop around the same mountain? Sure!

The landscape becomes a useful motivating tool for my workouts, and is constantly providing me with stimulation and inspiration.  Each person has their own vision of beauty, and level of connectedness with nature, but I will always gravitate towards the mountains, deserts, and open spaces that feed my soul. And when I’m not training in these places? Enjoying them in other ways, whether it’s camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, skiing, or just relaxing and watching the day unfold. Get out there and enjoy some fresh air!

-Ben Hoffman

A Well Earned Beer Just Tastes Better- By: Kelly Williamson

March 23rd, 2015 - Posted by


‘Everything in moderation, even moderation itself.’- (Oscar Wilde)

One of my favorite sayings. Enjoy all things in life, a little of everything; exclude nothing that makes you happy; and at times, it’s ok to go a little overboard; it just may remind you of why you enjoy moderation.

Good beer is something that my husband Derick and I truly enjoy. It may have started in college, when I first really tried beer at all; and I somehow took to the dark ones. At that time, I thought Newcastle was amazing (well, only after I had gone through my Icehouse and Labatt’s Blue phases). My mom warned me that ‘keg beer will make you sick’, so I prided myself on always having my own stash of ‘good beer’ on hand in my latter college years. I went through my fruity stage; the raspberry flavored ones, even the ciders; until I got sick one night (it was college) on cider beer, which quickly ended the cider phase (it has since never returned). Soon after college I moved to Colorado Springs…craft brew mecca! We had Bristol Brewing, Phantom Canyon, Il Vicino; then of course we could always purchase the good beers that came from Boulder and other nearby towns. When I met Derick in 2003, it was he who got me into India Pale Ales, or IPAs; known for being very hoppy, a little bitter, and usually on the stronger side.

(Little known fact: The reason they are called IPAs is because they date back to 18th century England, when British troops in India demanded beer on their long sea journey (smart men). To prevent the beer from spoiling, more alcohol and more hops were added, acting as a natural preservative.)

Living in Colorado Springs for a few years, he and I bonded over cycling, running, and beer drinking. Of course at this time, I was there to train at the Olympic Training Center for triathlon, having  just started racing  as a pro. I call it ‘racing as a pro’ because I was hardly a true ‘professional athlete’; making very little income from the sport and holding down a few part time  jobs to make ends meet. We enjoyed all things Colorado; from of the high altitude trails running, group bike rides as I cut my teeth on ‘group riding’ (and  broke a few bones), and of course skiing. Much like enjoying good beer, I could not stay away from enjoying the incredible ski resorts just 2 hours from our doorstep. We created some incredible memories from trips in the mountains with good friends; and still to this day, one of my perfect days entails spending it on the slopes for 4-6 hours, only to pop into a nice brewery and savor a well-earned  burger and beer. Seems the beer tastes that much better with skiing-induced fatigue.

Derick moved us to Austin in 2006 for him to pursue graduate school, and we were shocked to find only a handful of local breweries here at the time. Little did we  know we would still be in Austin in  2015; and over the past 9 years, the craft beer  scene has grown exponentially. Of course I am still racing professionally, Derick is still coaching; but one thing has not changed. We still enjoy a good beer at the end of the day; yes, each and every day. I am still an IPA person, recently he has drifted towards darker stouts (though we can both enjoy a good Saison as well). Perhaps one of my proudest moments in my career thus far was recently, when I managed to secure a relationship with Hops & Grain, one of Austin’s newest (and in my opinion) best new breweries. I’ve known Josh Hare (founder) since when we first moved to Austin, as we connected through the running scene, when he was experimenting with home brewing at the time. Josh and myself have aligned beliefs in that one can enjoy a very active, healthy lifestyle yet at the end of the day still enjoy a good brew.

I often see triathletes ‘cut things out’ of a diet with the goal of being ‘healthier’, and aiming to achieve a peak performance. I’ll always say to each his own, but from my point of view, we do a heck of a lot ‘right’ by committing to an active lifestyle, setting goals, and working tirelessly to achieve them; whether it be triathlon, running or even your activity of choice. I think it’s quite healthy to allow yourself those small things that make you happy. To me, that is my end of the day IPA; when I start to prepare dinner, the workouts (good or bad) are behind me, and my husband and I can catch up with one another; shut off work and shift into an evening together. I have to give up quite a few things by choosing this lifestyle; but suffice to say, my regular enjoyment of good beer isn’t going anywhere; and I would have it no other way.

-Kelly Williamson

Ben Hoffman Shares His Engagement

March 9th, 2015 - Posted by

2014 was a big year for me, and despite that others might see the biggest highlight being my 2nd place finish in Kona, my engagement to Kelsey Deery easily took the cake.

I had been planning out my vision for the best way to pop the question for over a year, so there was plenty of time to get things organized for the big day.  So naturally I waited until the last second to put it all together while I was still traveling for a couple of races at the end of the year. For the men out there looking to propose, remember that custom rings take a little while to make!

The big day came quickly, as we stepped off a seaplane on the private island of Highbourne Cay in the Bahamas. One of our favorite activities is to snorkel together, exploring the open ocean, so we dropped our bags and donned our swimsuits. The crystal clear water of the Caribbean beckoned on a perfect November afternoon.

A few minutes later we were in the water, exploring the reef, sunlight filtering down. I felt strangely calm, and swam out ahead of Kelsey to place the abalone shell and ring on the coral below. It wasn’t long before she came upon the glinting shell and dove for a closer look…

Returning to the surface with the ring, I asked her to be my wife, and she said yes. It was a special moment, a memory I will always cherish. We made our way back to the beach to enjoy some champagne and start the next chapter of our lives together. Engaged!

Ben proposed to Kelsey while snorkeling in the Carribean

Looking back on 2014, I can say without a doubt this was my highlight. Although, Kona wasn’t bad either…Here’s to an even better 2015. Keep doing what you love.

-Ben Hoffman

Runner’s World Best Debut – Zoot Solana

February 23rd, 2015 - Posted by

“You never get a second chance at a first impression” …and we’re just getting warmed up. Solana – Runner’s World “Best Debut” for 2015.

We are absolutely thrilled that the Solana broke the ice for the new running lineup that’s launching March 1st. The Solana was built for the runner who racks up their daily mileage and appreciates the benefits of a lightweight shoe with structure. This shoe delivers impact protection from heel-to-toe, making for a smooth stable ride. The 8mm offset is ideal for your daily running needs. Whatever pace or distance you choose, the Solana is a great running shoe choice for any run.

A Runner’s World wear-tester shared her feedback: “The Zoot Solana is a great shoe. It’s lightweight and flexible, and wearing it feels like you’re running barefoot, yet there’s still a comfortable level of support and protection. It’s an ideal race shoe for mid-length events. Bottom line: Lace ’em and forget ’em.”

In October 2014, Ben Hoffman placed 2nd at Ironman World Championships wearing the Solana. He ran himself into 2nd place with a 2:51 marathon. He chose this shoe because “The shoe wraps around the foot with incredible comfort, offering ample support while simultaneously allowing it to be where it wants to be naturally. It’s secure while still being comfortable. There is no unwarranted restrictive aspect, or excessively overbuilt components.  The seamless bonds and stitching add to the sleeve feeling which is now distinctive in the Zoot lineup. Despite adequate support and comfort, it’s not at a weight penalty: these are lightweight shoes with a very responsive and stable ride providing immediate feedback to the athlete.”

– Proprietary Zoot injected ZVA provides incredible shock absorption while keeping the shoe lightweight.
– We build shoes from the inside-out with BareFit™ technology for ultimate comfort and a seamless internal fit to eliminate blister contact points.
– The 3D molded heel counter locks your heel in place for the best ride from heel to toe.
– Responsive Ground Contact provides a smooth and even ride – when you land you get the cushioning you need and the rebound to propel you forward.

Finding Balance: Filling in the Gaps – Kelly Williamson

February 12th, 2015 - Posted by

To kick things off here, I figured I would start out by filling you all in on what I do ‘outside’ of training. I feel fortunate that about five years ago, triathlon actually ‘became’ my career; meaning, while I raced from 2002-2009 professionally, I worked one if not two part-time jobs to make ends meet. Prize money trickled in here or there but I considered myself part-time at coaching, triathlon, and usually something else random. Once the scales tipped in my favor a bit, I was able to dial back the odd jobs and focus more so on training, recovery, and doing the small things that help us be our absolute best. That said, I’ve always found a need and a desire to keep a balance in my life, outside of sport. I’ve often thought being a professional runner would be so much ‘easier’ in that you have only one discipline to train for; triathlon (especially Ironman training) leaves little spare time, but even in the thralls of heavy training, I crave to have a balance outside of sport.

So, what goes on in my regular day to day besides training? I feel that I carry a pretty sane training volume compared to some. I would say I’m in the 25’ish hour per week range; some weeks closer to 30, some a bit less. My ideal day consists of coffee, an early morning workout, breakfast and coffee, followed by a solid late morning session (usually on the bike). I prefer to knock out the major work by early afternoon, when possible. A third workout occurs probably 3-4 days a week. Sometimes it is the ‘third discipline’, but others it may be strength, or a very easy recovery session to flush the body. So, what do I do to fill in the time between sessions?

~Napping: This does not occur, in any facet; just to clear the air on this one. Yes, I know it’s good for you; but I don’t do it. I’ve never been a napper. I used to say in college, “You can sleep when you’re dead,” but then again I could make it on 5-6 hours a night. I like my sleep, but I prefer to do it at night. What I will do is sit in my recovery boots for 30-60 min here or there, often while catching up on emails, athlete schedules, and correspondences (I still retain a handful of athletes that I coach).

~Writing: This is something I love to do but I can only really do it when I feel like I have something to say. I try to keep my personal website (blog) updated regularly, but at times I’ll find myself writing something, then later coming back, scratching it and starting over. The bigger picture to this is, of course I do think about what I’ll do when I am doing racing; and writing is something I’ve always enjoyed, so the way I see it, when I have downtime if I can spend it writing (or reading) it is time well spent.

~Psychology: Not analyzing things psychologically…but this is something I’m potentially interested in pursuing in some facet post-racing. So in the past few years, I have taken classes here and there; at one point I took some pre-requisites at Austin Community College (for a Masters in Health Psychology), and most recently I took a correspondence course via Texas State; currently I’m taking a free Stanford Online writing course, which is great because I can do 15-20 minutes of it here or there. I plan to sign up for a Social Psychology course at Texas State here soon. I often say I feel at times like having been a pro triathlete for many years, my brain has gotten dull; it has become stagnant. J Even if it is small things I like to keep it stimulated and I’m a bit more motivated by being made to stay on task, thus classes are a great motivator, when time allows.

~Random tasks: How people with children do it, I have no idea! It seems that small things can keep me pretty occupied, cleaning up here or there, laundry, paying bills, planning race trips, grocery, etc. I guess this goes along with being a busy-body much like my father. Give me a few long days of training and I’m pining for a rest day; give me a rest day and I rarely sit down. Goes with the territory, I guess you could say. We eat pretty well, so I find myself running to Central Market at least every other day to get fresh food for dinner.

~Amico!: We have an Australian Cattle dog who requires a good bit of energy expenditure. If Derick is gone, I try to mingle with him a few times a day; and every evening, we finish our day by taking him to the field to play Chuck-It. Of course there are days I may still be wrapping things up at 6pm when it gets dark, but I try to make time for this as often as possible. On nice days we’ll pedal over to the field, about a mile. This along with enjoying our evening IPA while we make dinner is our favorite way to round out a good day.

So there you go…and on this note, it’s a recovery day, the sun is shining and there is a ton of water on the Green Belt. Our pup needs a swim! In my next blog I’ll inform y’all of how we go about enjoying our daily (yes, every single day) beers (usually IPA or something just as hoppy) in moderation and how they keep me happy and ‘balanced’.

-Kelly Williamson

Solana Shoe Review

June 16th, 2014 - Posted by

Ben Hoffman Racing in the Solana, St. George 70.3

Ben Hoffman, 4-time Ironman winner and Pro Zoot triathlete, shares his experience with testing the new Zoot Solana running shoes.

As a Zoot Sports sponsored professional triathlete for the last 3 years, I have been fortunate to bear witness to some awesome changes in the company’s product line. Some of the most exciting progress has come in footwear, and it has been part of my job to wear new prototypes and help in the development of new technologies, offering input from my constant training and racing. The latest and greatest in the lineup is the Solana, and it scores big on many levels.

I’ve been running in the Solana now for almost two months, and as with virtually every new shoe on offer from Zoot, the first thing I noticed in the Solana is the glove-like fit. The shoe wraps around the foot with incredible comfort, offering ample support while simultaneously allowing it to be where it wants to be naturally. Secure while comfortable. There is no unwarranted restrictive aspect, or excessively overbuilt components.  The seamless bonds and stitching add to the sleeve feeling which is now distinctive in the Zoot lineup. Despite adequate support and comfort, it’s not at a weight penalty: these are lightweight shoes with a very responsive and stable ride providing immediate feedback to the athlete.

Finally, the new Solana ranks high on my shoe choices because of its versatility. Just over a month ago I opted to race in the Solana at Ironman St. George 70.3 for the US Championships, after testing it in a shorter sprint distance event in April.  With such a hilly and demanding run course, I needed the perfect blend of cushioned comfort, lightweight performance, and responsive ride to carry me through the ups and downs of one of the hardest courses around. The new blown outsole and seamless upper delivered, carrying me to a strong 1:13 half-marathon split and 7th place finish against the best athletes in the world.  For my training runs before the race and after?  The Solana, naturally.

To learn more about the Zoot’s newest running shoe, the Solana, click here.

Next up, Ben will defend his title and course record at Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 29th.