Rookies ready to do their FIRST Half Ironman

Rookies ready to do their FIRST Half Ironman

At Alamo 180, our goal is to help people achieve their fitness dreams!

One of our triathlon programs, Rookie to Race, prepares rookies for their first ever triathlon! For some the goal is to simply finish a sprint triathlon and cross it off the bucket list. For some, their goal is to continue training to one day complete an Olympic distance, Half Ironman, and/or a Full Ironman. Whatever the goal, the results are always incredible!

Check out two of our former Rookie to Race athletes, Gloria and Bobbie, who are gearing up for their FIRST EVER Half Ironman! They picked Ironman 70.3 Waco and are ready to toe the start line this weekend.  They completed the Rookie to Race program in 2017. 

Read their stories as they share about their journey into the world of triathlon. You might relate to some of what they share! Dream it, believe it, achieve it!


Bobbie Castaneda

From working wife and mom to becoming a triathlete! 

Click to enlarge the awesomness

If I would have told myself eight years ago that I would race a half Ironman one day, I would have just laughed. No way! That’s not me! I can’t do that! My first ever experience of triathlon was spectating my husband in his first ever sprint. I was 27, overweight, chasing around our two year old while looking in awe as my husband and hundreds of other athletes swam, biked and ran. It was very disheartening to even compare myself to the sport. As a working mom and wife, I rarely had time to do things for myself(that was always my excuse). My weight was out of control and so was my self esteem. To try and give me some encouragement to do something, my husband bought me a road bike. I wasn’t ready, and it sat in the garage for a couple of years. I didn’t have an “ah-ha” moment per say, but somewhere along the line things just clicked. I made myself a priority. I started eating better and strength training. I felt strong and I was beginning to love myself again. Slowly but surely I could feel I was regaining that self confidence I lost so many years ago. I didn’t come into the sport with much of any experience in any of the events. I didn’t know how to swim, I didn’t cycle but knew how to ride a bike, and I “kinda” ran, as in I did an occasional 5k or 10k. The company I work for hired a new addition to our team, Gloria Guerra. She and I became fast friends. She was coming off of running marathons and looking into doing something different. She had mentioned training with a group called Alamo180, and how they had a rookie to race program available. I figured “why not?” I have a buddy to train with and I do have that bike that has been sitting in my garage for the last few years. The summer of 2017 I signed up for the program that trained us for the Dam 09 sprint. It looked like a pretty easy course that started off in a pool, right? Wrong! I was nervous and totally not prepared for what was to come. The swimming was extremely intimidating, but I took the leap anyway. I showed up to the orientation totally clueless. I kept my head out of the water the entire time and was exhausted after those 3 minutes. I had no idea how one is supposed to exhale under water and inhale somewhere in between. Coach Crystal then taught us a few things and I walked out of that first training session hopeful. That’s all I needed to do. Just keep showing up to learn something new and progressively get better. The biking was a bit of a struggle. The thought of clipping to my bike was daunting. I fell. A lot. But the bruises faded and the falling lessened. The rookies I trained with were great, encouraging and fun. It took time, but we were taught how to become efficient swimmers. We devoted a few mornings just on learning bike gears. I had no idea how useful that would be! I always thought running was just running, but we learned a lot about that too!! Things were slowly coming together. I successfully completed my first tri! I was slow but I made it to the finish line. I signed up for the Kerrville Tri sprint just a month after. I needed to know if I could conquer open water. It was scary, but I knew I had the tools needed to be successful. It took me almost 20 minutes to swim those 500m, but I did, and I had another race under my belt as the season came to an end. Transitioning into the triathlon team was intimidating but Coach Bree was so awesome and the rest of the team was so encouraging. I have learned to respect the process and to go at my own pace. I show up! My swimming has improved. Since starting the program I have knocked over a min off my swim pace. I’m not the fastest swimmer out there, but I am faster then the Bobbie who first started. I came out of off season training excited about what 2018 was going to have in store for me. Gloria and I sat down and strategically planned out our season. We were coming out of Monica’s Mile and were super stoked about being able to swim an hour without stopping. I had found my rhythm in the water. It was an exciting feat! That accomplishment is what fueled my desire to sign up for Waco. We decided to start with some sprints, then added a couple of Olympic races and ultimately signed up for Waco 70.3. All we needed to do was stick to the plan. I have consistently trained since joining the team. Now don’t get me wrong, I miss training days. Let’s face it, life has a tendency to get in the way of training. I make the best of it, and I make sure I train more then I miss. I have grown to love this sport and the community that has come along with it. I have made many great friends. They all have taught me something and have inspired me to keep this up. I am both excited and nervous for October 28th. I know I am ready. Alamo180 has helped me to get there!From

Gloria Guerra

From marathoner to triathlete!

click to enlarge the awesomness

It was a really cold and rainy night in Las Vegas, in November 2015 and I was crying. I was crying because the weather dropped 40 degrees in a couple of hours, the winds were 30mph, and it was raining. I was crying because I was soaking wet, the wind kept pushing against me, my feet were frozen, and I still had 6 more miles to run. I was crying because I was not going to meet my goal time for my first marathon. At that moment, I swore to myself that I would never run another marathon again, 13.1 would be my longest distance going forward and that was the end of that. An hour later, I started crying again. This time I was crying because I had just crossed the finish line, my first marathon was complete, and it was honestly the best feeling in the world.

Crossing that finish line made me believe that I can overcome any obstacles if I set my mind to it, it made me realize how strong I can be, and made me believe in myself. Crossing the marathon finish line also made me forget the promise I had made to myself around mile 20, and I and decided to toe the line for another marathon, Houston Marathon,  in early 2017. Training was going great, and January promised cool temperature for race day; and then it happened – injury. Three weeks before race day and I couldn’t finish my runs without pain. I talked to my coach, Lexa, and she suggested no more running until race; I would aqua jog and swim only. Honestly, the thought of no running for three weeks terrified me, and I worried I would die on race day. But, I trusted Lexa and trusted the process.

Here, is where I take you back….I was always in sports in high school: volleyball, basketball, track, and softball. Once I started college, I was tired of team sports and I maybe jogged every once in a while – 2 miles, tops. It wasn’t until after college, and was working as a dietitian at a hospital, that some co-workers suggested we sign up for Beach to Bay race. It was 2010, and I met Lexa, and we formed a great friendship over running. She was training with Alamo 180, and a few times a year she would try to get me to join her crew and do a triathlon. I always shook my head and said that was not for me. Running was for me. We would sign up for half-marathons together throughout the years. “I will never do a tri”, I would say. I did join Alamo 180 in 2015 to train for my first marathon, with Lexa as my coach, but still, I refused to tri train. Lexa encouraged me to get a bike, to get make me a stronger runner, and still I resisted –  “Nope, not for me”.

This brings me back to my injury, and therefore, my swim training. I used to swim when I was a little girl, and I did a little bit of lifeguarding as a summer job in 2007, but I hadn’t swam a lap since! From the moment I started swimming, I remembered how much I loved it. I also was reminded how hard it was, and my muscles certainly weren’t happy about it for days after that initial swim. But, nevertheless, I trusted the plan of swimming and aqua jogging. Race day for marathon #2 came and went. It was a hot and humid one in early January (thanks, Texas), and from the start line I knew I would not reach a personal record, but that was okay. I wanted to finish (in spite of injury), and enjoy the ride.

It is now early 2017, I am post-marathon and not sure what to do next. I had started a new job in 2016, and met a girl who, unknowingly at that time,  would help change my life – Bobbie. Bobbie and I were great co-workers from the beginning. We had similar interests; we were both “foodies”, we wanted the same Garmin watch, had a love for REI, both wanted to cut our hair really short; and both of us talked about maybe, one day, doing a triathlon. It was one of the first times that I found myself saying that wish out loud.  My dad passed away in February of 2017, reminding me that life is short, to take advantage of the time we have and not let an adventure pass by. And so it was time to sign up for a triathlon. There were plenty of opportunities to join the Rookie Tri program with Alamo 180, and I knew if I was to do a triathlon, it would be with Alamo180 guiding me. I convinced Bobbie to join Alamo 180 with me and in early summer of 2017 we went for our first Saturday training with Coach Crystal. The plan was to train and cross the finish line at the Dam09, and then I would probably go back to only running races. I learned more in those 8 weeks than I could have possibly imagined.

Bobbie and I crossed the finish line at Dam 09 in the summer of 2017, and as Crystal would say – it was official, and we “were bit by the tri bug”.  Bobbie and I decided to stick to tri training and completed the Kerrville sprint tri that year and we loved it! We committed to off-season tri training to get stronger, and sat down during the holidays to talk about our tri schedule for 2018. It was then, that we decided we could do anything we set our minds to- and decided that we would end our 2018 tri season with a 70.3 Ironman race. It was almost a year away and we planned for some smaller races throughout 2018 to help us prepare for the big race. I learned something from each and every race, and continue to learn something about myself with all of my training.  I am so fortunate to have the support of my husband, my family, and my friends in this crazy endeavor. It is a blessing to have Bree as my tri coach, and my Alamo180 family to support me, calm my anxiety and encourage me every step of the way. I am so glad that my bestie, Rachel, decided to follow in my crazy footsteps and I am so proud that she completed her first triathlons in 2018!!  I am beyond fortunate to have Bobbie, my #rideordie partner, that has been there since Day 1 of this tri adventure, who pushes me to do my best with every training. I can’t wait to complete my first 70.3 Ironman race, and run that IM carpet to the finish line. This is only the beginning, I have big dreams!!



If you would like to learn more about our Rookie to Race programs, check it out here! We will be offering TWO Rookie to Race programs next year! If your goal is to simply finish a triathlon, or to one day do a Half or Full Ironman, we can get you there! We do it year after year!

They followed the Rookie to Half Ironman plan. If you would like to read more, check it out here!

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