Need safety insurance? Take this $5 self defense class at UT

Martial arts expert Janell Vela Smith will lead a self-defense workshop at the University of Texas on Friday and Saturday. Cost is $5 at the door. Photo courtesy Janell Vela Smith

 

A $5 self-defense workshop at the University of Texas this weekend is designed to provide students with a little insurance in case they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Martial arts expert Janell Vela Smith will lead the two-part interactive workshop, scheduled for 3-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Room 1.105 of the University of Texas Recreational Sports Center.

Self defense and awareness are a form of insurance when it comes to safety, Smith says. Photo courtesy Janell Vela Smith

The classes are part of an awareness campaign by the Texas Sunshines. Proceeds go to the local non-profit Partners Against Child Trafficking, or PACT.

The workshop is designed to equip students with skills to help them navigate daily life with a heightened sense of awareness, confidence and preparedness.

“You can be minding your own business, but there are times you are just pulled into something. It’s always good to be ready,” Janell says.

Pre-register for the workshop here.

***

I popped in for one of Smith’s training classes eight in 2011. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:

Janell Smith, right, demonstrates an elbow jab on Statesman Fit City reporter Pam LeBlanc, left, during a self-defense class at the School for Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Ladies, let’s be frank. Most of us aren’t taught how to hit.

To some of us, a roundhouse sounds more like a cut of beef than a punch, and we’re just not used to doling out swift kicks or elbow blows. If someone jumped us in a parking garage, we might even apologize for getting in the way.

It’s time to get tough. And Janell Smith, a 125-pound, 5-foot-1-inch powerhouse, is here to help.

Smith, who heads up a company called Iron Dragon Productions, has studied 10 forms of martial arts, and has blackbelts in tae kwon do and Tukong moosul. She teaches self-defense at Lifetime Fitness and John’s Gym in Far North Austin, and works as a stunt coordinator for films.

“Self-defense is insurance,” she says. “You hope you never have to use it, but if you do, you’re ready.”

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 5 million violent crimes, including about 200,000 rapes or sexual assaults and 16,000 murders, were committed in 2008.

Janell Smith, right, demonstrates an elbow jab on Statesman Fit City reporter Pam LeBlanc, left, during a self-defense class at the School for Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin in 2011. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

Many women don’t realize that by rummaging through their purses or fiddling with a cellphones as they walk through a parking lot, they’re setting themselves up as potential victims of would-be attackers.

Knowing some basic self-defense skills, Smith says, can help women avoid becoming victims.

“It’s silly to think we can go toe-to-toe with an attacker,” she says. “Use your brain first and not get into a situation where you are vulnerable. But if you do, it’s thinking quickly that can save you.”

Walk with confidence and self-esteem. Know your surroundings. Never be distracted as you walk to your car. Hold your head high and look around often. Make direct eye contact with people around you.

If someone closes in on your comfort zone, step back. Keep your distance. And if you’re threatened, yell “fire” instead of “help” – people are more likely to respond.

Staying fit is another deterrent to attack. “If you’re fit, you carry yourself in a different manner. It’s that air of confidence you project when you’re fit and healthy,” Smith says.

When I stopped by to join a self-defense class Smith teaches at the Austin School for the Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin, 15 teenagers were lined up in the wood-floored activity room, ready to take whatever Smith threw at them.

Class began with jumping jacks, and Smith encouraged us to yell with each repetition. Bellowing can spook an attacker – or at least make him look for prey that’s less likely to draw attention.

We worked our way through a litany of drills, firing off front kicks and side kicks, hitting with our elbows, and throwing quick, precise punches leading with our knuckles. Smith’s arms whipped so fast the fabric on her uniform flapped like a flag in a stiff wind. Besides helping to keep you safe, it turns out, self-defense class is a good workout.

Janell Smith, a black belt martial arts instructor, teaches students self-defense techniques at the School for Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“When you’re thinking self-defense, it’s your life and you can’t be nice; you can’t be shy. You have to be ready to protect yourself,” Smith told the students.

She showed us how to hit with the hardest part of our elbows. She demonstrated how to kick someone with a front or side kick, zinging him with the blade of the foot and aiming for a weak point like an attacker’s knee or stomach.

“There are no bad targets, only better targets,” she told the class. “The idea is to create a distraction – then run.”

Then we practiced escape techniques. I got paired with 16-year-old student Charlee Koonce for role-playing.

Caela Pousson, 11, Lucy Morrison, 13, Cady Boyd, 15, and Christian Nevarez, 13, practice escape techniques during a self-defense class taught by Janell Smith at the School for Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin in 2011. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Charlee played the attacker first, and tried to grab my wrist. Smith showed us how to rotate our arm and jerk to break the hold.

Then I pretended to be the bad guy, grabbing Charlee by her collar. While I had my hands full, Smith noted that both of my “victim’s” weapons were still free. Charlee broke my grip and sprinted away.

We learned other techniques, too, from scraping our foot down an attacker’s shin and stomping on his foot to breaking out of a bear hug by shifting to one side, sitting back and grabbing our attacker’s leg from between our own legs. Head butts are good; so are elbow strikes. Anything works as long as it stuns an assailant long enough for you to bolt. And it doesn’t matter if the bully is bigger than you.

It’s important to practice, so the moves become instinctive, Smith told us.

Janell Smith demonstrates a side kick during a self-defense class at the School for Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin on Friday August 26, 2011. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

An hour later, as class wound down, we got one final order: “Find your partner and give them a hug,”

The students then spent a few minutes discussing their new skills.

“On the off chance you might be in a life-threatening position, you need to know how to protect yourself,” said eighth-grader Lucy Morrison, 13.

Smith agreed.

“There’s empowerment in the mind-set of not being a weakling,” she says. “It’s not living in fear; it’s living in awareness.”

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994

***

Janell Smith demonstrates an elbow strike during a self-defense class at the School for Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Austin on Friday August 26, 2011. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Women’s tips for self defense

1. Walk with attitude and make eye contact with others.

2. Don’t rummage in your purse or fiddle with your cellphone while walking alone.

3. Carry a ballpoint pen or kubotan, a self-defense key chain about 5 inches or 6 inches long, in your hand when walking to your car alone.

4. Back away if someone invades your personal space.

5. Yell “fire” if someone threatens you.

6. If someone grabs you, target weak points like eyes, nose, throat, groin or knee.`

7. Remember your goal is to stun your attacker so you can get away.

8. Avoid jogging or running alone.

9. Turn down the volume on your headphones when you run.

10. Take a basic self-defense class.

Got gloves? Volunteer at It’s My Park Day on Saturday

Volunteers are needed to help spruce up parks around Austin on Saturday, March 3. Photo courtesy Austin Parks Foundation

Grab your work gloves and prepare to get dirty. The Austin Parks Foundation needs volunteers to help spruce up Austin area parks.

The spring rendition of It’s My Park Day is Saturday. Volunteers will help spread mulch, clear root collars, restore habitat, maintain trails and clean up more than 100 parks, greenbelts and trails throughout the city, including the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Emma Long Metro Park, Shipe Park, Bouldin Creek and Mount Bonnell.

Registration is open through Friday.

Volunteers will spread mulch, clean up trash, improve trails and more. Photo courtesy Austin Parks Foundation

There’s big payoff, too. Volunteers get a free T-shirt and discounts at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, P. Terry’s, Snap Kitchen, Zocalo Cafe, Fresa’s South 1st, and all locations of Galaxy Cafe and Trudy’s.

For a full list of parks projects and hours, go here. To register, go here.

The Austin Parks Foundation, founded in 1992, works to maintain and improve public parks, trails and green spaces through volunteerism, innovative programming, advocacy and financial support. Since 2006, it has given more than $2.5 million in community-initiated grants in service to the greater Austin community. For more information, go here.

This guy just took away any excuse you had for not kicking butt on a mountain bike

Jon Wilson rides a mountain bike in Dorset, Vermont, in a short film shown last night at Banff Film Festival. Wilson lost a leg to cancer, and wears a Mellow Johnny’s jersey in the film. Copyright Simon Perkins

If you made it to the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour last night, you probably noticed that one of the films featured a cyclist wearing a kit from Lance Armstrong’s Austin-based bike shop Mellow Johnny’s.

The film features Jon Wilson, who lost his leg to a rare type of soft tissue cancer as a young adult. He’s shown pedaling his mountain bike up gnarly singletrack in Dorset, Vermont, hopping up ledgey rock and swooping down flowy trails.

Wilson lost his leg to cancer. Copyright Simon Perkins

In about 5 seconds, it takes away any excuse you ever had for not kicking butt on a mountain bike and replaces it with motivation.

The film also explains how waking up with one leg after surgery marked one of the happiest moments of Wilson’s life. That’s because when doctors put him under, they told him they’d only remove the limb if his cancer hadn’t spread to his lymph nodes.

RELATED: Banff Film Festival comes to Austin

It hadn’t. He got to live a little longer, something he takes advantage of every time he climbs on his bike.

“If I don’t ride a bike, I will lose my mind,” he says.

Just don’t call him amazing, no matter how tempting that might be. He insists he’s not.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival continues tonight at the Paramount Theatre. Copyright Simon Perkins

“Just because I lost my leg I’m amazing? There’s nothing inherently different about me just because I lost my leg,” he says. “I could be a real a-hole. You don’t even know me.”

The film, by Sharptail Media, features an excellent soundtrack, by musician Ella Vos. It’s presented by Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop. Wilson wears shorts and a jersey from the shop during the entire 6-minute film.

Other highlights from last night’s showing? A film about a honey hunter in Nepal, slackliners in the Faroe islands, a mountain runner and skier named Kilian Jornet, a cyclist who pedals to the Arctic sea, and a donut-eating free climber named Brad Gobright.

The Austin screening of the Banff Film Festival festival, hosted by Whole Earth Provision Company, continues tonight. Tickets are still availble. For tickets and information go here.

New Orangetheory fitness studio opens in Mueller

Orangetheory Fitness just opened a new studio in the Mueller development. Phtoto courtesy Orangetheory

 

Austin gets more orange all the time, and we’re not talking just about the burnt orange shade.

Orangetheory opened its 22nd fitness studio in Central Texas this month.

The studio held a grand opening earlier this month. Photo courtesy Orangetheory

The studio offers 60-minute classes broken into sessions of cardiovascular and strength training. Participants use treadmills, rowing machines, TRX suspension training and free weights.

The heart-rate-monitored training is designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. They call the result the “Orange Effect.”

Class participants use a variety of equipment in their 60-minute workouts. Photo courtesy Orangetheory

The new location is located at 1911 Aldrich Street, Suite 175, in the Mueller Town Center. In all, the company now runs 81 locations in Texas and more than 900 worldwide.

“We are excited to offer our heart-proven, high-energy workout to those who live, work and play in Mueller,” said Terry Blachek, co-founder and owner of Orangetheory Fitness.

The first workout at Orangetheory is free. Photo courtesy Orangetheory

The first workout at the club is free.

For more information call (512) 807-0401 or go here.

The studio is located in the Mueller development. Photo courtesy Orangetheory

Banff Film Festival comes to Paramount Theatre this weekend

Grab your hiking boots and head to the Paramount Theatre for two evenings of outdoorsy film screenings.

A selection of documentaries and short films highlighting kayaking, ice climbing, surfing, trekking, cycling, slack lining paddling and other gritty activities, originally screened at the Banff Film Festival in Canada, will be shown Sunday and Monday, Feb. 25 and 26.

Proceeds from the event, hosted by Whole Earth Provision Co., will benefit Texas State Parks. The money will help fund day-to-day operational expenses, create park trail maps and enhance visitor programs.

If you’ve been to Banff Film Festival before, you probably remember that the two-day event featured the more nature-oriented World Tour films one day and the adrenaline-pumped Radical Reels the next. This year festival organizers have discontinued Radical Reels and will show two different World Tour programs.

Funds raised from Banff World Tour are combined with customer donations from Whole Earth stores during “April is Texas State Park Month.” In the last six years, the two events have combined to raise $178,803.

“As the state parks system continues to evolve and create new and exciting programs, the annual promotion with one of Texas’ premier outdoor retailers allows us the opportunity to continue to create park experiences that Texans expect and deserve,” Texas State Parks director Brent Leisure said in a press release.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival began in Banff, Canada in 1976. A small number of the 400 or so films entered into the festival are chosen to tour the globe.

Sunday’s 6 p.m. showing is sold out, but tickets for the 7 p.m. Monday show are available here for $22.03 each.

The Paramount Theatre is located at 713 Congress Avenue.

Cyclist who died Saturday wrote about supplemental testosterone use in cycling

Andrew Tilin died after he was struck by a car as he changed a flat tire while driving on FM 620. Mark Matson for American-Statesman

 

Andrew Tilin died Saturday, after he was struck by a vehicle as he changed a flat tire on the side of the road. I wrote about Tilin, who wrote a book called “The Doper Next Door,” in September 2011, and have re-published the article below.

Members of the Grupo VOP cycling club are planning a memorial service for Tilin. I’ll share details when I get them.

***

You’re a regular guy, with two kids and a wife you love, and a job that pays the bills. You also race bikes as a hobby.

The 40s have crept up on you, though, and your energy and sex drive have waned. Your middle has softened. And it’s gotten tougher to hang with the younger bikers at amateur cycling races.

What would happen, you wonder, if you doped? If you found a doctor – and there are plenty out there – who would analyze your blood, recognize that your testosterone levels had faded, and prescribe supplemental testosterone. All legally, of course.

RELATED: Cyclist Andrew Tilin dies in wreck

Each day you’d push a ribbon of testosterone-laced cream out of a syringe and onto your inner thigh, rub it in and … and what?

Would muscles pop up like mountain ranges on a three-dimensional topographical map? Would you turn into a stud in the bedroom? Would you surge ahead of the pack and tear across the finish line first at bike races?

Freelance writer and cyclist Andrew Tilin wondered just that.

Andrew Tilin, a freelance writer who also wrote “The Doper Next Door,” died in an accident Saturday. CREDIT: Counterpoint.

Truthfully, when it started, he wanted to write about someone else taking steroids. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to go public. In the end, Tilin, a Northern California native who moved to Austin this summer to be closer to his wife’s family, did it himself. Then he wrote about it.

He describes the controversial result, titled “The Doper Next Door” (Counterpoint, $25) as a “coming of middle age” memoir.

It’s about the T, as he calls the testosterone cream that he smeared onto his skin for a year, and how it turned him from an average bike racer into a slightly-better-than-average one, but it’s also about his family and friends, how his experiment affected his relationships with them, and about the sometimes weird and wacky world of anti-aging medicine.

Feeling younger, stronger

Flip through an airline magazine and you’ll see the photo: A 60-year-old man showing off a body as buff as a collegiate wrestler’s.

Feel younger! Get stronger! Improve your sex life!

“Those ads exist so dumpy, out-of-shape 40-year-old men can find the fountain of youth,” Tilin says. “If you’re 40, 50 or 60, you look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m a big blob and all I’ve done is work,’ and ‘Doctor can you help me?’ And now your urologist can say, ‘Yes.’ ”

That’s what Tilin did.

“I’m human and I’m vulnerable, and after a while, I started listening to the promises,” he says. He doped for the book, but he did it to satisfy his own curiosity, too. For a year, he secretly took testosterone as part of legal hormone replacement therapy. And he raced bikes the whole time – against USA Cycling rules.

When he started the hormones, his 5-foot, 8-inch body didn’t bulk up suddenly, but his biceps grew and his body became more defined. “I took enough T to look lean and cut,” he says. “It was obvious I was a muscular guy.”

The steroids, he says, infused him with a sort of Sylvester Stallone swagger. His sex drive increased. He got faster and stronger on the bike, and experienced for the first time what it was like to lead a break-away pack at a bike race. “I feel no remorse, no. Not when I’m leading the race. The thrill!” he writes in the book.

But he didn’t like everything the testosterone did. It made him moody and cantankerous and caused friction between him and his cycling friends. Was he writing the book to take the drugs or taking the drugs to write the book, one of his buddies wanted to know? “The answer lies somewhere in the middle,” Tilin says.

Andrew Tilin wrote a personal account of the use of supplemental testosterone in cycling. Mark Matson for American-Statesman

Guilt pangs kicked in, too.

“In the presence of (my coach), the supplemental T circulating through my body makes me feel as corrupt as a kid who smuggles a cheat sheet into a final exam. In the eyes of my coach, amateur racers and race organizers, I am officially a doper, a bike-racing criminal,” he writes.

The regimen Tilin took pales in comparison to what some athletes have done to gain a competitive edge. “In the bike-racing community, they take far more radical drugs – human growth hormones and blood enhancement therapies,” Tilin says.

Tilin says he believes that doping is common, even among amateur athletes. “I remain convinced there are dopers, amateurs who race their bikes and find it important enough to win that they take the drugs,” he says.

He has never met hometown cycling hero Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times and has been the subject of doping allegations, but has an opinion about him. “I have my theories – but I have no proof – that he’s just a mere mortal like the rest of us,” Tilin says.

In the book, he recounts a visit to Armstrong’s Austin bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, saying he is preoccupied with the notion that “it sits under a syringe shaped cloud.”

In the end, Tilin walks away conflicted about his doping experience. He loved the thrill of racing fast and an amped-up sex drive. He says he came to believe that there is some truth to what anti-aging doctors promise.

But he also worried how the testosterone changed his personality and how it might affect people around him. He read reports about family members of men on testosterone who were exposed to the hormones through sheets or towels and grew hair on their upper lips or experienced premature growth spurts. He worried about the long-term effects of taking the steroid, too.

After Tilin’s year-long experiment, he weaned himself off testosterone – not an easy task emotionally, he says, because it’s hard to exchange a hardened physique for deflating muscles.

Even worse, some men develop enlarged breasts, or “man boobs,” when they go off testosterone. (Tilin did not.)

Lasting effects?

Today, he’s clean – and back to his days of slower cycling. But in some ways, the effects of the testosterone still linger.

In Austin, the book has meant an awkward introduction to the local cycling community. Some cyclists scoff, saying he didn’t really dope, that he needed to take more drugs than just testosterone to make it count. Others voice disgust that he’d cheat for the sake of a book.

When he posted on a chat forum sponsored by Texas Bicycle Racing Association, introducing himself and confessing his cheating ways, some mocked him for being a relatively slow cyclist even though he took steroids.

Others seemed more accepting.

“The changes you experienced in cycling seemed real, but you also added a coach and seemed to step up the training, so it’s hard to say what contributed the most to the results,” someone posted in reply to his introduction. “(I) don’t hold anything against you, but then again I wasn’t racing against you.”

“Count me in the camp of thinking you went a bit overboard for the book but, hey, reasonable minds can differ … ” another posted.

Tilin says he understands the reaction.

“I have a lot of respect for bike racers. It’s a hard sport, and I respect the fact that they’re upset with me,” he says. “But I don’t think I’m alone with this kind of thing. I think it’s out there. We do what our heroes do; it’s silly to think it doesn’t happen.”

There’s another footnote to the story. At the end of 2010, two years after Tilin’s grand experiment, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a national sports-policing organization, handed him a two-year ban on bike racing and wiped all his racing results from his “Year on the T” off the record books. He even had to pay back $25 he won for his 10th place finish at the 2008 Cascade Cycling Classic in California – but not until months after he called the agency multiple times to confess to doping.

Sometimes, it’s easier staying clean in the first place.

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994 monDAY, september 26, 2011 * D3

Austin runner shatters personal record, hopes to encourage others with Down Syndrome

Kayleigh Williamson dances at the finish line of the Austin Half Marathon. Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

An Austin runner who in 2017 became the first woman with Down Syndrome to complete the Austin Half Marathon shaved an hour and 45 minutes off her finish time this year.

Kayleigh Williamson danced happily as she crossed the finish line of Sunday’s 13.1-mile race. Then she and her mother celebrated with a burger and fries.

“She did amazing. It’s hard for me to put it into words,” said Sandy Williamson, Kayleigh’s mother.

Kayleigh Williamson runs up the hill on Enfield Drive during the Austin Half Marathon. Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

Last year, Kayleigh struggled, walking slowly up the daunting hill on Enfield Drive. This year, when she approached the same spot, she looked at her mother with a worry in her eyes. Sandy Williamson reassured her daughter, and together they ran most of the way up the steep slope.

“The whole way I let her know it was her race and she determined what that race was. It had to be her, and it was,” Sandy Williamson said.

Race organizers kept the finish line open for Kayleigh, and volunteers manning water stops cheered her and chanted her name along the way.

“It empowered her,” Sandy Williamson said.

Kayleigh Williamson shaved an hour and 45 minutes off her finish time at the Austin Half Marathon. Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

Kayleigh had hoped to finish the race in less than 6 hours. She blew that goal away, with a finish time of 4 hours and 36 minutes. She has said that she wants to encourage others with Down Syndrome to run and get fit.

RELATED: Down Syndrome won’t stop this runner from finishing half marathon

She was more fit this time around, said her coach, Kim Davis, founder of RunLab, which analyzes gaits and treats running-related injuries.

Kayleigh Williamson hugs her coach, Kim Davis, during the Austin Half Marathon. Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

“She looked so happy when we saw her at Mile 7,” Davis said. “Last year she was crying.”

Williamson began training at RunLab in July 2016. Her success should stand as an example for others with developmental delays, Davis said.

“I think if you get out there and work on the same thing that every other runner works on – endurance and biomechanics – they can run too. That’s the big message from my end. They have to work on all the same things the rest of us work on, and as long as someone is there to help them through it, they can do it to,” Davis said.

Kayleigh Williamson, left, and her mother Sandy, right, celebrate at the finish of the Austin Half Marathon in 2018. Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

Already, Kayleigh has a goal for next year – to finish in less than 4 hours. Plus, she plans to run all the races in the Austin Distance Challenge.

Twenty-two runners, including Kayleigh, were part of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas team, which raised more than $25,000 to support programming for individuals with Down syndrome and their families in Central Texas.

Two other members of Kayleigh’s Club, a group of athletes with special needs, finished the half marathon as well – Bonnie Bratton and Melissa Grice.

Forget chocolates, toss axes for Valentine’s Day

Nicholas Blazanin, right, and Candice Hinds, left, finish their match-up by knocking axes during a Sunday league match. One of the rules of the facility is that people never hand axes to one another, but return them to the stump. Clinking axes becomes the new high-five. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

Nothing says “I love you” like a little axe throwing.

That’s why, apparently, Urban Axes is hosting a Valentine’s Day date night.

The Beer + Bullseyes event – “because it’s Valentine’s Day and it’s not all about roses and chocolates” – takes place from 7-10 p.m. Feb. 14 at Urban Axes, 812 Airport Boulevard. Cost is $40 and includes admission for two plus beer.

Axe-citing, right?

To reserve a spot, go here.

Gear up for Austin Marathon at Friday’s Prep & Pump session at Rogue

Runners soak up advice at last year’s Prep & Pump event at Rogue Running. Photo courtesy Rogue Running

You’ve put in the training miles, but are you mentally prepared for the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon?

Rogue Running will host its annual Austin Marathon and Half Marathon Prep & Pump from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday at Rogue Running, 410 Pressler Street.

Rogue co-owner and coach Chris McClung, who recently notched a 2:45:36 PR at the Houston Marathon, will provide an in-depth course analysis and pacing strategies for both races. McClung has finished the Austin Marathon five times and coached hundreds of athletes through it, so he knows what he’s talking about.

RELATED: Is the new marathon course easier? Not so fast, runners say

This year’s session should be particularly useful, because the second half of the marathon course has changed. The 2018 route skips the hills of Exposition Boulevard and the long, windy stretch of Great Northern Boulevard, but replaces them with hills on Enfield Road and forays alongside the University of Texas campus and into East Austin.

Coach and co-owner Steve Sisson will pitch in, too, leading a pre-race pump with tips to sharpen your focus and get you psyched for the challenging race.

The session is free and open to the public. Beverages will be available at the Fuel Bar inside the shop. The session will be streamed via FaceBook live, and posted online afterward.

And check your Monday newspaper. Fit City drove the course with McClung recently, and the Feb. 12 column will outline in detail his advice on how to ace the race.

At this fundraiser, cyclists pedal to help survivors of 20 types of cancer

A cycling fund-raiser Saturday will raise money for survivors of 20 types of cancer. Last year’s event took place at Kor180. Photo by David Wells

Most cancer fund-raisers take aim at one form of cancer, raising money for a specific cause.

This Saturday, a single event will raise money to support cancer services for people coping with 20 different types of the disease.

Participants in the 20 Colors/20 Bikes Indoor Cycling Fund-raiser will raise money to support Re: Cancer (Regarding Cancer), a non-profit organization that provides education, resources and support for those impacted by cancer.

“We all know someone who has been impacted by cancer, and the funds we raise help us to grow our resources and reach more people,” Diana Dobson, director of development and event coordinator at Re: Cancer, said in a press release.

This year’s event has changed a bit from years past. Local cycling instructors will host an hour-long group ride for each hour of the nine-hour event. Twenty cyclist slots are available during each session, and cyclists are encouraged to raise donations. The 20 colors each represent a different kind of cancer, and participants are encouraged to wear the color that represents the type of cancer for which they are riding.

Texas Oncology is the presenting sponsor of the event, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Dell Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Lane. Prizes will be awarded to the individual who raises the most money and the individual who rides the most hours.

Money raised will be used to train volunteers in the peer-to-peer matching program, which matches a newly diagnosed cancer patient with a survivor of the same diagnosis and treatment. The clinics also offer caregiver to caregiver support to offer hope and encouragement. A portion of the proceeds from 20/20 will provide fleece blankets, knitted caps and pillows for patients going through chemotherapy.

To register as a sponsor or to make a donation go here. To register as a rider go here.