6 Colin’s Hope Swimmer Necessities

The Colin’s Hope Got2Swim Lake Austin 10K is this Thursday, September 3rd. Many swimmers have been putting in hours of open water swim training to prepare for the swim and shed light on drowning prevention.

Barrett will be swimming the 10K solo and I will be his swim guardian. We have a new addition to our swim team this year–NeeMoo! We picked him up in Boulder, CO while at Sweet Cow Ice Cream. It can get a little lonely on the water, so NeeMoo will keep me company on this year’s swim.IMG_3581

The swim is also a fundraiser for Colin’s Hope. Donations to Colin’s Hope will help raise water safety awareness and fund programs to aid in preventing children from drowning. Our fundraising goal is $1500 and we are almost there!  Donate Now!

6 Colin’s Hope Swimmer Necessities:

  1. Swim Guardian. I’ll be Barrett’s Swim Guardian this year–keeping him safe in the open water and providing food/hydration along the way.
  2. Team Mascot. Meet NeeMoo! He’s the cute little blue cow on the right. In addition to added company on the kayak, he’s also an additional flotation device!
  3. SaferSwimmer. Every swimmer must wear a SaferSwimmer which is also referred to as the “orange float-y thing-y.” They help the swimmers to be more visible on the water and provide flotation for the swimmer if needed.
    SaferSwimmer Floatation Device for open water swimming
  4. Fearless Leader. Meet Alissa Magrum, the Executive Director of Colin’s Hope. She’s is Colin’s Hope all the time and has enough energy to power everyone during their swim!
  5. Swimming Friends. Training for a 10K (6.2mile) swim can become tedious and sometimes even boring without the help of others to keep you company and swim alongside. Thanks to Colin’s Hope for organizing open water swims and providing swim support!

  6. Most Importantly–A Swimmer!! Barrett (aka: My little fishy) One stroke at a time, and lots of banter between strokes– Barrett will keep me and NeeMoo (and anyone within earshot) company while he swims.


Recover & Move Forward

IMG_3619 This morning, Colin’s Hope Got2Swim hosted a practice swim on Lake Travis. We normally would have knocked out a 2 hour swim, but early last week, Barrett was hit with a severe sinus infection which took him out for most of the week. After a visit to the doctor on Tuesday, the doctor prescribed strong antibiotics and LOTS OF REST. We heeded the doctors orders and decided to join the swim group this morning. The plan was to swim short, nice, and easy. IMG_3618This morning we had about 7 swimmers and 5 water guardians. We entered the water around 6:45 AM just as the sun was coming up–a great way to start the day. The group planned a 90 minute swim (45 minutes out and then turn around and come back). Light boat traffic made for smooth water for all (even the SUP).  Each swimmer is doing their part to raise water safety awareness and there is still much work to be done.  This morning’s news included reports of two more drownings. A 15 year-old boy in Canyon Lake and another in Lake Corpus Christi State Park. Help us help the organization spread the word. Colin’s Hope Got2Swim 10K swim will be held on September 2 and we are all doing our part to raise money. If you have already donated, your support is appreciated and we say thank you on behalf of the organization!

imagesWe have raise $188 and are aiming for $1500!!

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Meet Nee-Moo

We took a trip to Colorado this summer and while we were visiting our friends in Breckenridge, we stopped into Sweet Cow ice cream shop because the sign said, “Simply Moolicious”– and it was. In addition to tasty ice cream, the decor includes these cute little “bouncy cows” on shelves in neat little rows. After our second visit to the store, we decided to purchase one and bring him home with us.


Meet Nee-Moo (you know, like “Nemo” from the Disney movie, Finding Nemo). He will accompany us on this year’s Colin’s Hope Got2Swim 10K and will need to be sure to train so that he is ready to help me keep Barrett (and the other swimmers) safe during this year’s swim. Nee-Moo will be on the kayak during our practice swims practicing his “spotting” techniques and learning how to hold the paddle when I need a break to feed Barrett.

I sense there will be many adventures in addition to his kayaking trips so we created an Instagram under SeeNeeMoo. You’ll be able to keep an eye on what he’s up to when he’s hanging out with us.

First Swim Training Session

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Second Swim Training Session

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Post Swim Coffee


Another year . . . another Colin’s Hope Swim!!!

Colin Hoist

The Colin’s Hope Got2Swim 10K will be held on the morning of Thursday, September 3rd. Swimmers will start their 10K (6.2 mile) swim from the Lake Hills Community Beach and swim towards the Pennybacker (360) bridge. Why would anyone want to swim 10K in any body of water? The only reason that matters is two words Colin Hoist.

At the age of 4, Colin, who had just successfully completed swim lessons, drowned in a shallow pool while playing with friends. In spite of the watchful eyes of family members an lifeguards, Colin slipped beneath the water surface and later was pulled from the shallow water–unconscious and not breathing. Colin’s family created Colin’s Hope to raise water safety awareness to prevent children from drowning.

Barrett and I raised money for the organization last year by participating in the swim. Yes, we raised $1500+ last year, but we also got to know Colin’s dad, Jeff, the executive director, Alissa Magrum, and the rest of the team that works tirelessly to shed light on swim safety and drowning prevention. What started out as “doing a fun event that has a good cause” has turned into a  personal interest to help prevent others from drowning.

11836880_10102185773160115_1222046885084566508_nLauryn and Tabitha IMG_3475Dylan

Lauryn, Tabitha and Dylan are personal enough reasons for us to continue swimming and raising money for Colin’s Hope to successfully continue its mission. We love our nieces and nephew (and countless other cousins) and want to make sure their parents (and others’ parents) know how to prevent drowning.

We are botimagesh training for this year’s swim. Barrett will be swimming and I will be his swim guardian. Each swimmer is required to have a swim guardian (a person in either in a kayak, canoe or on a SUP) and wear a SaferSwimmer while participating. We are both excited and looking forward to this year’s swim. Your support, whether financial or monetary, are genuinely appreciated!

Donations are accepted here and words of encouragement can be added to this post in the comments section.


7 Ways to Ensure a Pleasant Packet Pick-up Experience. . .

7 Ways to ensure a pleasant packet pick-up experience. . .

If you have been racing for any amount of time, you are most likely familiar with pre-race packet pick-up. Almost all races hold pre-race packet pick-ups to allow participants to “check-in” prior to the event. During packet pick-up, participants are given items such as bib numbers, event shirts, and goodie bags. Race organizers typically post packet pick-up times on the event website and sometimes send a pre-race email reminding participants of packet pick-up times (in addition to race start time, race start location, and other important race details).

Dirt Trails & Pony Tails Volunteers
Happy Packet Pick-Up Volunteers

I have registered for and participated in many races of all distances and sizes over the past 15 years. In addition to participating in events, one of my jobs is to manage packet pick-up for triathlons, trail runs, fun runs, and supported bike rides. In order to run packet pick-up efficiently and effectively, I rely heavily on volunteers that our volunteer coordinator works tirelessly to find. For the most part, participants who show up to packet pick-up are usually seasoned packet pick-upers. They are understanding, nice, and patient.  Unfortunately, there are also a handful of participants who, when they don’t get exactly what the think they are entitled to, they resort to being rude and sometimes just plain ugly.

For some, packet pick-up and signing up for events is new or not a common occurrence and need a little direction. There are also seasoned packet pick-uppers who think all events are the same and the process at one event is the way all events should function. The last thing a packet pick-up coordinator wants to hear is, “That’s not how the last race handled [fill in random process].” The packet pick-up atmosphere can be challenging. It’s not easy to approach an irate participant without letting personal frustration seep through. Packet pick-up is most likely the participant’s first interaction with the event. The packet pick-up coordinator has to maintain a calm and professional attitude throughout packet pick-up. Regardless of the previous rude person I had to deal with or how many times I have been asked the same question (that is usually addressed in the event’s FAQ on the event webpage) it’s better to answer each person with a smile and patience. Doing this usually helps the conversation and process go much smoother.

Whether you are a newbie or seasoned packet pick-upper, below is a list of things to know prior to packet pick-up for your event.

7 Ways to ensure a pleasant packet pick-up experience. . .

  1. Know it and Learn it. Check and double check packet pick-up times and location(s). This will save you from showing up on the wrong day, at the wrong time, at the wrong place (no sense in wasting your lunch break to arrive at a packet pick-up that doesn’t exist yet).
  2. Documentation. Some events are sanctioned by a governing body and require you to show your Photo ID and/or a valid license for said sanctioning body. Don’t have the license? Be prepared to purchase a license–sometimes you can purchase an 1-day license or an annual.

    Bruises & Bandages Trail Race
    Race Day Packet Pick-Up

    (side note: for such occasions, it’s always a good idea to carry cash or even check to pay for licenses) Also, check ahead of time if you are allowed to pickup for others and what is needed to do so (USAT only lets you pick up for yourself).

  3. The Sooner, the BetterPick-up your packet, people. If the event offers packet pick-up multiple days prior to the event, try to go to the first day. Why? You will not feel rushed to get your packet before the race start time. You’ll also be more likely to receive the shirt size you ordered. Let’s face it, in a perfect world, if I registered 6 months in advance, I should get my shirt size I ordered. Nothing or no one is perfect. Unless you are doing a large race that can afford to order shirt sizes in excess of what is needed, race directors are trying to order as close to what is requested as possible and take into account those who register the week of the event (after shirts will have been ordered).
  4. Expected Wait time. Understand if packet pick-up opens at 11:00 AM and you show up at 10:30 AM, you will have to wait until 11:00 AM. Volunteers are still being prepped/trained and the packet pick-up area is still being setup . 11 AM means 11 AM. Also, be prepared to wait if you show up at the start of packet pick-up. You and 15 – 30 other participants made plans to arrive at the very start of packet pick-up. The packet pick-up crew will get you checked in– just be patient (they may feel overwhelmed with long line and what to help you get threw as quickly as possible too).

    Pre-race Packet Pick-up
  5. You Cannot Have 5 more Minutes. If packet pick-up ends at 7:00 PM, do not show up at 7:10 PM and be upset that you cannot pick-up your packet. Volunteers sign-up for shifts and are released at the end of their shift. Most likely the packet pick-up crew has been there for a couple of hours. If you miss the designated time, you’ll just have to show up at the next designated time. If there isn’t another time, then make the proper arrangements to pick-up your packet. (It’s always good idea to contact the race coordinator if you know ahead of time you cannot pick-up your packet during the designated times)
  6. Don’t be that person. If a race offers race day packet pick-up, do not show up 30 minutes before the event starts and then be upset if there is a long line of others who didn’t plan accordingly. Give yourself plenty of time to navigate to the race start, park, locate packet-up, get your packet and then do your usual pre-race prepping.
  7. Smile and Wave. Remember, packet pick-up crews are usually volunteers. Volunteers = Not Paid. They have taken time out of their day to volunteer their time. If you get into a situation where you are not given the shirt you ordered, the shirt you ordered doesn’t fit and cannot exchange it until after all participants have picked up their shirts, or you feel the process itself  is horrible and makes no sense, take a deep breath before getting upset. Remember, you are talking to a human being, a volunteer, whose sole duty is to check your name off a list. Instead of getting upset and yelling at the volunteer, step away from the situation and leave packet pick-up. If later, you are still upset, go to the event website and find a contact email. You’ll be able to pass along your issues/frustration to someone who is more likely and able to address and respond to your request.

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Get to the start line, ready to race!

Set yourself up to have a successful race experience. Don’t jeopardize your race by not reading the pre-race emails or the event website to understand what’s expected of you as a participant and what is being provided (and when) by the race coordinator. These 7 steps will definitely get you started on the right foot!

Plan ahead. Arrive Early. Race Happy.

The Best Day Ever!

Colin’s Hope Got2Swim 11K

 The culmination of months of swim training in Lake Austin, Pure Austin Quarry Lake, and even Lake Washington was the Got2Swim11K Charity Swim held on the morning of August 28th. Over 50 swimmers and their swim guardians arrived early in the morning to swim 11K after collectively raising over $50K for Colin’s Hope. Colin’s Hope raises water safety awareness to prevent children from drowning and envisions a world where children do not drown. The swimmers started at the Lake Hills Community Park and swam towards the Pennybacker Bridge on 360. Each swim guardian was given a flag with the name of a child who had drown in 2014. Colin, for whom the organization was named, use to say, “This is the Best Day Ever!” which is what Thursday, August 28th was. The swimmers were given ideal swimmiming weather–smooth water and sunny, clear skies. Barrett finished his swim in just under 3 hours and 30 minutes. From the swim guardian point of view, he made it look easy, but at the same time we both know that not everyone wants to swim 11K. Training for the swim was fun, but knowing the funds raised went to a great cause was what mattered the most!

Got2Swim 11k - Start
Got2Swim 11K – Swim Start

Mid-swim hydration & fuel break

Got2Swim 11K - Close to Finish at Pennybacker Bridge
Got2Swim 11K -Near the Finish

Finishing and getting out of the water

Good swim! Great Cause!

It’s Not “If” But “When”

Spend any amount of time being active and you’ll learn quickly, it’s not “if” you fall, wreck, or get lost, it’s “when”. Watching the Tour de France, World Cup, or any professional sport, you’ll see that even the pros are subject to bumps, scrapes, bruises, bandages, stitches, and blood running down an appendage.

This weekend’s location of choice for for the latest reason behind the bandages on both knees and my right elbow was the Barton Creek Greenbelt East (Loop 360 Access) trail head.  I had planned to trail run for 2 to 2.5 hours, allowing me to spend good quality alone tIMG_1855ime on the greenbelt and all the surprises it has to offer. Approximately two and a half minutes into my run, before I knew what was happening– SURPRISE! I went from being upright, to being laid out flat, face down in the dirt in a matter of seconds. I tried to quickly get up to dust off and keep running, but I soon realized this fall was more than what I expected. I looked at my elbow, where all the pain was coming from and soon realized I had to big gashes near my elbow that were going to need professional attention.

I took myself to urgent care where the doctor and I pulled into the parking lot at the same time. She greeted me and soon saw the reason for my visit. I had the whole urgent care place to myself. I was checked in quickly and before I knew it, my wounds and I were in good hands. The elbow wounds required numbing shots so that the doctor could inspect the wound and the nurse could thoroughly clean the wounds. The nurse said, “Each time I irrigate the wound, more dirt comes out…”  These numbing shots reminded me of the same shots I receive when having dental procedures performed. The shots sting at first, but after about 30 seconds the only thing I feel is pressure (no pain). My knees were skinned pretty good and the right knee had a the makings of a pretty good knot. After a whirlwhind of soapy water, triple acting antibacterial creme, gauze, non-stick pads, and cloth tape, I was ready to leave urgent care, grab some breakfast, and then spend the afternoon couch with pain meds and antibiotics.

bandandage elbowBandanded Knees

I don’t fall often and there haven’t been many times that I’ve had to seek medical attention. I can say that how I react to scenarios such as this has dramatically changed. The “independent and tough” version of me 10 years ago would not have stepped foot into an emergency care facility. I would have either tried to keep running or gone home and suffered silently while cleaning my wounds. I have learned that it is okay to seek help whether it be professional or that of friends or a loving spouse. The doctor did tell me that my wounds on my elbow are pretty deep and since there wasn’t any skin to stitch, it’s very important to keep the wound clean, bandaged, and medicated. Would I have been able to see that on my own by starring at my elbow from either a reflection in the mirror or from an award angel while bending my arm looking past my wrist and forearm to see my wounds? Who knows? I do have peace of mind knowing that someone else was able to check me out and take good care of me.

As soon as I am healed, I’ll be back on the greenbelt to pick up where I left off on the Saturday morning when my run turned into forced rest and recovery.



Gotta’ Eat and Swim

B colin's hope van 360 bridge

Richelle: What’s the plan for tomorrow? How far are we going?
Barrett: 2 maybe 3 . . .
Richelle: And then this weekend? How far are we going?
Barrett: Shooting for 5.

When talking about Colin’s Hope swim training, the above conversation is the norm. I know that 2, 3, or 5 translates to 2 miles, 3 miles, or 5 miles of swimming. The distance dictates what is loaded onto the kayak for the swim. Water and electrolyte mix have sufficed since training swims have been 4 miles or shorter, but this weekend, the training swim is going to be 5 miles. Out of curiosity, I searched for a “calories burned while swimming” calculator. I entered Barrett’s info, clicked the “calculate” button, and voila! Barrett will burn approximately 2560 calories during the 11K Colin’s Hope Got2Swim event.

That is the equivalent of 49 doughnut holes and Barrett loves doughnut holes!! I don’t know how feasible it would be to stockpile doughnut holes on the kayak and I am pretty sure those tasty little doughnut holes would disintegrate in Lake Austin. Instead, we’ll be testing a combination of water, electrolytes, and some form of calories. There are many options thanks to the booming energy bar and gel industry. We can also keep it simple and just pack some snickers bars or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Figuring out nutrition is an important part of training and if done right it can also be fun!

Colin’s Hope is hosting a practice swim, Sunday morning at 9 AM at Pure Austin Quarry Lake. Barrett is going to swim 5 miles for practice. He’ll be in the water for about 2.5 hours. The kayak will be packed with a myriad of calories so we know what works and what doesn’t work. The swim guardian will be burning calories too, just not at the same speed as the swimmer. Stay tuned for a follow-up on the swim!!!

Thank you to all those who have donated to Colin’s Hope Charity. Barrett is over halfway to reaching his goal of raising $1000 for Colin’s Hope. Please visit Barrett’s fundraising page if you would like to donate.

Just keep swimming . . .


Fat Salmon

fatsalmon_logo_250x133There are 35 days until the Colin’s Hope Got2Swim 11K. Barrett’s training has been consistent with swims weekly in Lake Austin, with T3, and at Pure Austin Quarry Lake. Barrett’s longest practice swim to date was a 4 mile swim in Pure Austin Quarry Lake during a Colin’s Hope training swim at the beginning of July. This past weekend, Barrett participated in the Fat Salmon swim in Seattle’s Lake Washington for the second year. The Fat Salmon Open Water Swim is a 3.2 mile swim that is limited to 350 swimmers.

Fat Salmon Start_kayaksFat Salmon proved to be a great practice swim for Barrett. The overcast and breezy morning provided a swim course with choppy water. The locals were even caught off-guard by the morning’s water conditions. The waters seemed to calm down as the race started. The swimmers enjoyed smooth waters for about a mile and a half. The last mile and half or so the waters felt more like a washing machine than a lake swim.

Despite the bumpy second hal2014FatSamonFinishf of the swim, Barrett finished the swim in 1 hour and 25 minutes, which was 6 minutes faster than last year’s swim. This race was a good benchmark for us to see where he was in his training. Considering Barrett did the swim in a wetsuit last year (which can help swimmers swim more efficient and faster), he opted not to swim in one this year and still finished faster, I would say we are right on track for the August 28th Colin’s Hope Got2Swim 11K.

With just over a month until the swim, Barrett has a couple more long swims on his training schedule. Since he will most likely be in the water for 3+ hours, we’ll be working on details such as nutrition, sun protection, and keeping Barrett entertained. I am fully prepared to use my paddle as a prod to keep him swimming forward. We are definitely enjoying the time together during the training swims! Barrett keeps saying, “11k! 6.8 miles! That’s a long way!” I always respond, “You’ll be find, just keep training.”

Thank you to all those who have donated to Colin’s Hope Charity. Barrett has reached the halfway point of his $1000 fundraising goal. Please visit Barrett’s fundraising page if you would like to participate.


Fat Salmon Pre-Start