This blog is a little late, but better late than never, right?!
A couple of weekends ago, Kris and I made the trip to Arras, France, for the Team Zoot Europe training weekend. From following a few of them on Instagram, I was looking forward to finally being able to train with them. So, Kris and I packed our bikes and bags into the back of his car and hit the road on Friday morning.
The drive down to Arras, France, wasn't too bad. I have to say though, do the French just walk everywhere?! There were basically NO CARS on the roads when we got to France! Even though the longest part of the trip was in France, it took us longer to get to the Eurotunnel from home than it did the French section!
Anyway, back to the story. Many of you may know who Zoot are, but some of you may not. Let me just clarify, as I have had a few people ask me: Zoot Sport is the name of a sports apparel company that was started in Hawaii, the birthplace of the Ironman Triathlon – it IS NOT the other meaning of the word, if you know what I mean!
The first day was mainly for people to settle in and get ready for the weekend. As our team, Whitty’s Sport Therapy, is new to Team Zoot this year whereas some people were returning members, it meant we had some catching up to do. Quite a few people already knew each other, so it was nice to see that they have remained friends and team mates even when they are in different countries!
The first night was a team bowling evening – you can imagine how that turned out with 50+ competitive triathletes competing in a couple of games of bowling! Turns out that I chose the right sport, as I am shockingly bad at bowling, however I think Kris has found his new calling in life!
Saturday was the main day of training. After a nice, very-French breakfast consisting of cereal, croissant and bread, it was straight down to the pool for a 3 hour session. I know, that may sound like a lot, but it was split into 3 x 1 hour sessions, taken by Ameo Powerbreather, Masters Of Tri (both partners of Zoot Sport) and Zoot.
The only way I can explain the Ameo Powerbreather is a swimming snorkel that makes you look like an alien with horns! Unlike a normal snorkel where the inhale and exhale of breath is in the same tube, this is a one-way system, meaning you are always getting fresh air. It was weird to use for me, as I am so used to breathing during a length that I kept forgetting I didn’t have to!
Martin and Matt from Masters Of Tri (an online and face-to-face coaching team based in Spain, with regular training camps near Alicante) showed us the importance of the push-back phase during a swim stroke. Being a club swimmer since I was 5 and then with the added weirdness of my stroke post-operation, it’s fair to say that I didn’t find it easy to concentrate on this. However, they were very patient with all of us and understood that it couldn’t be changed in just one session.
The final part of the swim session was from Zoot Sports themselves. This was a chance to try on some of their new swim wear. Some of you may have realised that for the entirety of last season, I wore a wetsuit with no sleeves. This was a result of my limited shoulder mobility after my operation – I literally couldn’t get my arm out of the water if I had a full-sleeve wetsuit on!
However, when I tried the Zoot wetsuit on, I was able to swim partially normally! Although I will probably still have to stick with the sleeveless wetsuit (as I still don’t have full movement in my shoulder), I am hoping I will be able to use one of these wetsuits in the future.
After lunch (which consisted of even more bread!) and a short break, we were onto one of the hardest sessions of the weekend. Many people didn’t bring their bikes with them as it was predicted to be bad weather, just like the UK. However, I am so glad I did! The group of people we cycled with were amazingly good, so we had our work cut out (especially on the uphill sections – I felt like I was in the Tour de France on some of them, these things were like mountains that never ended!) At the tops of these hills/mountains were multiple different war memorials with breath-taking views of the country below. We would stop and admire the beauty of the place and pay our respects to the many people whose names were carved into the memorials. I wish I had taken my camera with me in order to capture some of these places, but here are a couple of photos Kris got:
Once we were back at the hotel, it was time for the session with the Professional Sports Recovery guys. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to use their equipment on Saturday (as we had a team meal that night – well deserved pizza for everyone!), but I did on Sunday and let me tell you, it works! I got to try the full legs suit, which surrounds all your lower body. Once connected to a small machine, air is blown into 12 different chambers of the suit, starting from your toes all the way up to your lower back. This is to get the lymphatic system moving, and basically get the crap from a hard training session out of your legs! It is a surprisingly nice feeling, it’s not too tight on your legs and the machine makes hardly any noise. A few people fell asleep whilst testing this out!
Like I said, I was able to use this equipment on Sunday morning, but not before the team run. Again, the guys I ran with were really good which meant for quite a fast 10k run, but being amongst other triathletes for a few days gives you that extra little bit of motivation to push more and more with every session.
Overall, this weekend was amazing (except the 3 hour delays at the Eurotunnel on the way home, but we won’t talk about that!), and I cannot wait until I am able to go to another one.
I was able to test the new, custom-made Team Zoot kit yesterday at the London Fields Aquathlon. It was my first race of the season, just to get me back in the competing mindset. The trisuit is AMAZING and so comfortable, I can’t believe I’ve never used a sleeved trisuit before!
The race was good, not my best but I wasn’t expecting that at the beginning of the season. There is definitely room for improvement, but I am happy with my times and taking 5th female overall.
I think I need that recovery suit again!