Race Re-Cap: Thorpe Park Triathlon 2017

Thorpe Park Triathlon

I’m racing quite frequently this summer. The beauty of sprint triathlons is that you can recover quickly and be ready to race again the following weekend.

Usually I prefer to never do the same race twice as I like a variety of different courses and locations. However, I really enjoyed Thorpe Park Triathlon last September so decided to go back again and see if I could improve my time.

Once again, it was an incredibly early start with a 4am alarm. I think the lack of sleep gets to me more than the racing!

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Swim- 750m- 15:47
My wave was due to begin at 7.40am, so after seeing Glen off at 7.10am I figured I had some time before I headed to the start. I put on my wetsuit and waited around the swim exit watching the earlier swimmers leave the lake. Glen was out of the water in 12 minutes, so I made my way over to the lake entrance to wait my turn.

I was surprised to see that my entire wave were already in the water 20 minutes early! I checked with a marshall that it was indeed Wave 5 and panicked realising I had almost missed the start of the race. I made a quick decision and jumped into the lake, swimming hard to catch the group as the klaxon sounded.

The swim passed in a blur. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind after a bad start to the triathlon. I was confused about why they had started much earlier than the advertised time. Or was it me? Had my watch stopped?

I later found out that due to the terrorist incident in London the night before, Thorpe Park was on high alert. Security wanted the triathlon finished and the park cleared as soon as possible, so they had taken the decision to move the times forward. I totally understand the decision, but it would have been helpful if we were informed!

Despite the panicked start, I finished the swim only 35 seconds slower than last September.

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Transition 1- 1:46
My first transition went smoothly, I found my bike on the crowded racking and headed to the bike out as quickly as possible.

Bike- 21km- 44:51
I was familiar with the course from last year, it’s pretty straightforward and on flat, mostly traffic-free roads. Being the Triathlon England National Championships, there were a lot of competitive athletes on the course. Plenty of speedy riders on TT bikes came flying past me throughout the bike course.

The early start meant that the weather was cool and mild with a slight breeze, perfect conditions for riding. I reminded myself to drink regularly on the bike as it’s pretty easy to forget when you’re focused on riding as quickly as possible.

I’m nothing if not consistent, as my bike time was only 5 seconds different from September!

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Transition 2- 1:58
Back into the park via the service roads, squeezed my bike onto the racking, changed my shoes and headed back out.

Run- 5km- 27:18
The run course is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this race, it’s a lot of fun being let loose in the theme park before it opens to the public. The course is on grass by the lake and pavements between the roller-coasters. As it’s two laps, I saw Glen and my friends Trevor and Cristina around the finish line which always gives a much-needed boost.

Again, I was being passed by a lot of fast runners. I try not to become disheartened and keep pushing as hard as I can without worrying about others. Determined to beat my previous time, I kept checking my Garmin as I ran. I realised it was going to be tight to come in sub 1.30, as my swim and bike times were similar to my last Thorpe Park Triathlon. On my second lap, I knew it would not be a PB so I just focused on enjoying the course.

I finished in 1:31:43 which is a little slower than last year. I was initially a little disappointed as I really felt like I was riding and running stronger than last time, but ultimately I’m not going to get upset over 90 seconds! Thorpe Park was still an amazing event, despite the miscommunication around the swim start. I’d really recommend this race to both beginners and more advanced athletes.

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Have you ever almost missed the start of a race? What’s your favourite theme park? 

5 Reasons to Start Cycling

Reasons to Start Cycling

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of cycling. You can’t beat the feeling of freedom when flying downhill or the sense of satisfaction when tackling a tough climb.

The number of people taking up cycling is increasing rapidly, with a huge range of benefits to be had:

1. Cross-training for other sports
Cycling is great cross-training for other sports as it builds strength and fitness whilst placing no impact on the joints. Sprints and intervals on the bike have been proven to increase running speed. If you are rehabbing an injury, then taking up cycling can help keep you active without aggravating the injured area.

2. Exploring the outdoors
Riding a bike is the best way to experience the outdoors and discover new parts of the countryside. You can explore further afield than you can on foot, taking you away from familiar territory along different lanes or trails.

3. Chance to socialise
Cycling is a very social activity, whether you are a member of a club or just ride with a group of friends. Café stops and easy rides at conversational pace are an integral part of club rides. In fact, 20% of the riders surveyed by Cycle Republic state that riding allows them to spend time with friends.

4. Improved mental health
As with many physical activities, cycling has huge benefits for mental health. A bike ride can provide a much-needed escape from daily stresses and worries. By increasing endorphins, cycling can boost your mood and increase energy.

5. Increased confidence
Cycling can result in a real boost to your self-esteem. There is a huge sense of achievement and newfound confidence which comes with finishing a challenging ride. Learning new skills such as maintaining and repairing your own bike gives a feeling of self-reliance and independence.

Cycle Republic have surveyed five hundred riders across the UK, to understand their reasons for riding as well as their perceptions on safety and bike security. Their findings are presented in this infographic:

Reasons to start cycling

Posted in collaboration with Cycle Republic.

What are your reasons for cycling? 

Trying Paddleboarding and SUP Pilates

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has been on my must-do list for a long time. Despite the name of my blog, my paddling only usually extends to swimming. I finally got the chance to try another watersport when Ruth Tongue invited a group of bloggers to the launch of her SUP Pilates classes at WakeUp Docklands.

WakeUp Docklands has a relaxed beachy vibe to it, with wooden shacks and decking next to the waters of the Royal Victoria Dock. On such a gorgeous afternoon, it actually felt like we were a world away from central London.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Split into smaller groups, we began with an introduction to SUP technique with Jason Bergin from Urban Recovery. He began by explaining the basics including how to hold the paddle and move it through the water, plus how to turn and stop. The boards were actually inflatable, so we were careful to not puncture them on the sharp stones of the beach.

We started paddling in a kneeling position making our way towards a sheltered area of the dock. SUP has always looked easy from afar, but I soon discovered that the technique is more difficult than I realised. I seemed to be always holding my paddle backwards and cruising straight towards an obstacle!

Moving into a standing position took a lot of concentration. One foot at a time placing them parallel and slowly standing up, keeping my body centred over the board and gaze towards the horizon. Finding my balance and standing with slightly bent knees, I tried to engage my core muscles as I steered the board around the dock. Once I was up I didn’t want to go back down again! I’ve swam in the dock several times at the London Triathlon, so I wasn’t too worried about falling in- I just wasn’t sure how I’d get back on the board again.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

The 45 minutes flew past and soon it was time to head back to the beach. I’ll definitely come back for another SUP session as my technique could use some more work!

SUP Pilates

After a short break for juice and energy balls thanks to CPRESS, we regrouped for SUP Pilates with Ruth. I felt more confident climbing onto the board after our earlier session. These boards were a slightly different size and shape and were anchored to stop us from drifting too far away.

Ruth lead us through a workout which included traditional Pilates exercises such as leg circles, hundreds, roll ups and side planks. The moves were made even more challenging by the movement of the board on the water. It took a lot of concentration and coordination to move from one position to the next without capsizing the board. Although fairly intense, the session was very relaxing with the water gently lapping against the board and the sun beaming down.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

I did struggle to hear some of Ruth’s instructions when we drifted further away, so I had to watch her movements to understand the next exercise. I also have a bit of a bird phobia, so I was distracted by the flapping geese and goslings who wanted to join in our session!

I love the idea of taking Pilates outside of the studio and into the outdoors surrounded by water. Ruth’s classes are running throughout the summer on weekends and weekday evenings- check out her website for more details.

Have you ever tried SUP or SUP Pilates?

How to Stay Fit Whilst on Holiday

Stay Fit Whilst on Holiday

If you’re planning a trip away but want to stay on top of your fitness routine, here a few tips and tricks to help you do just that.

Pack some equipment

Of course you won’t want to overload your luggage with weights but why not pack some light exercise equipment such as suspension straps, a yoga mat or a skipping rope? Skipping is effective for cardio and agility, and a rope can be taken anywhere and used whenever you feel energetic. The same can be said for a yoga mat- it’s one of the most portable pieces of exercise equipment around, and it means you can head to the beach as the sun goes down to work on your core.

Stay Fit Whilst on Holiday

Ditch public transport

One of the easiest ways to incorporate some exercise into your holiday is to ditch public transport and instead opt to discover the place by foot or by bike. Not only will this get your heart pumping, but it is often the best way to see some of the sights that your chosen destination has to offer. Another easy tip is to opt for stairs over escalators- you’ll be surprised at just how many calories this can shed!

Think outside of the box

Use nature as your gym; it’s easy. If you’re on a beach holiday, head to the sand for a jog or the sea for a swim. A holiday is the perfect time to try something new, so why not try your hand at water sports like surfing or snorkelling while you can? Alternatively, cities and the countryside will have parks or wide open spaces where you can hike, jog or bike.

Use the hotel pool or gym

Research where you’re staying and whether or not it has a pool or a gym. If so, there’s nothing stopping you from fitting in a few laps of the pool or a 20-minute cardio session on the treadmill before meals. If you need the gym to do your workouts, look into getting a short-term pass for a local gym.

Stay Fit Whilst on Holiday

Avoid binges and cravings

A holiday is an ideal opportunity to relax and unwind, but this doesn’t mean that you should give in to all of your unhealthy food cravings. For example, something as simple as making a smart food swap by opting for grilled and baked dishes over those that are fried can significantly decrease your calorie intake. If you’re travelling to a hot country, you should always make sure that you are hydrated as this can keep your energy levels high and keep unwanted cravings at bay.

Round up a team

Team sports are a great way to keep fit, have fun and meet new people. Round up your family and friends and suggest a game of tennis, volleyball or football on the beach. More often than not, the competitive element of a game can make you feel more motivated than if you were to work out alone.

Try a health retreat

In recent years, bootcamp retreats have become a popular way for people to maintain their fitness levels while being on holiday with a group of like-minded people. Prestige Bootcamp offers health retreats in Portugal, Spain and across areas of the UK where you can benefit from fun and challenging workouts, fitness sessions and nutritional advice all in luxury accommodation.

Posted in collaboration with Prestige Bootcamp.

How do you like to stay fit whilst on holiday? Are you going away this summer?