Reformer Pilates

This weekend I tried reformer pilates. I was a bit sceptical at first as I've done "regular" pilates in the past to no avail. To be honest, I have never really understood how doing a downward dog or sitting on the floor with my legs crossed humming could really help your postures, muscles and everything else.
A typical reformer machine

Event: The Indian Wedding

The weekend was a break from training as it was my second cousin's wedding. I went to it all- Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3! I have lots of photos to show you so if you've ever wondered what an Indian wedding is like, read on...

Part 1 - Friday Night - The Henna Night

So the groom's side (us) and the bride's side host their own mendhi (henna) nights. It's the first of the wedding celebrations so it's really a big social event! It's great for catching up with family who have flown in from overseas and friends that you haven't seen in a while.

As you get henna done, it's good to wear something practical. Believe it or not but this outfit is just that- a top and bottoms that are very comfy and easy to slip on and off.

Mendhi in the old days was just for the bride. All the while she had mendhi she was excused from housework. As people didn't really honeymoon as much back then it was seen as a gentle introduction to her new married life -i.e housework and living (often at first) with her new husband and his family! Nowadays it's just a bit of fun for the girls,a sort of PG Rated family hen night! 

Part 2 - Saturday - The Vidhi
(Got in a cheeky Parkrun before this one!)

This ceremony is again a separate one for the groom and bride's families to do. For this, girls wear outfits like this lovely red number as they are easy to dance in and for moving around.

The Vidhi is done to prepare for the wedding. It brings peace and cleanses the household. The girls who have married into the family do the vidhi- part of which involves tying part of their sari to their husbands suits (as they don't like to wear the traditional male outfits so they wear a suit instead) to reconfirm their marriage. 

Girls in the family also take part in another ceremony called gothero. This is where you prance around with pots on your head (seriously). Originally this was done to bring water into the house for the wedding guests. Obviously there is no need for the water now as we have taps (and Evian) but the tradition still stands. Believe me- hanging around holding this on your head for 20 mins or so is HARD WORK. Then, just when you think it's over, you have to dance with it! Here I am looking thrilled with the burning feeling in my arms.

The groom is also given a "face mask" -also known as pithi-by the women in his life. So going back to the old days (are you sensing an outdated theme here?!) when the men would have been working in the field, they would be dirty and dark from the sun. (As you all know me and my feelings on being too dark, I know you get this!) The main ingredient is flour, mixed with water and sometimes ground almonds. It cleanses and lightens the skin. Both the bride and groom do this.

Part 3 - Sunday - The Wedding

Finally, the wedding! This was in North London, at a temple, as that's where the bride lives. I wore a sari for this event- it was a case of saving the best till last! 

So the groom and his family arrive first and conduct a bit of pre ceremony hocus pocus- what else can I call it at this point?! He sits in the mundup (the gazebo type tent) at the front of the hall with the bride's parents. They perform a welcoming ceremony on the groom and clean his feet as a sign of respect and for the religious ceremony that is about to begin. God does not take kindly to dirty footed men.  

When the bride arrives, the groom is hidden behind a sheet held up by his family. As the bride's parents are already in the mundup, she is usually escorted down the aisle by the brother and/or uncles. The sheet is dropped when she is sits down in the mundup. 

As Indian weddings go, this one was very short and sweet! You can usually expect to be there for the better side of 5/6 hours so this one was comparatively short. One of the sweetest moments is when both the bride and groom put flower garlands around each other's necks. It is a sign of acceptance of each other. It is the equivalant to a wedding ring as traditionally they were not given, my grandad has never worn one despite 40+ years of marriage. My grandmother wore a mangla sutra, which is a necklace in place of a ring. Today women are still given a mangla sutra but they want the rock as well. (If you're reading this sweet boyfriend of mine- I do want one. A big one. This is not a get out!)

Normally there a wedding reception as well with drinking and also meat. Traditional Indian wedding do not have any meat or alcohol as it is a religious ceremony. The couple decided not to have a reception so it was off home for us. After getting back quite late on Sunday evening, my family had organised a Pizza Party. It was a nice relaxing end to a great weekend sitting on the floor munching away with my cousins.

I wish the new Mr and Mrs Patel lots of love and happiness and thanks for a great weekend! x

Triathlon: The Wales Triathlon

Hiiiiii! Sorry I have been busy and not writing but rest assured, I have been training and racing hard! Last weekend I went to Wales to compete in the Wales Triathlon with my boyfriend and 2 friends. The boy was doing the half iron distance (keeno) and my friend and I did the sprint. Okay so let's get to it...

Wales Sprint Triathlon
Swim    7500m       19.43
Bike      21k (??)    1.13.10
Run       5k             34.37
Overall: 2 hours 10
12th in my age cat

I would not recommend going to Wales: It rained. It poured. There was serious wind going on. There was lightening. After doing a little course recce, I'm not too proud to admit- I was bloody terrified.The swim was in the sea which seemed okay but after that, everything was just uphill. The bike course which is my worst bit was super hilly with quite a lot of long climbs. The run was firstly by the sea and then all uphill with a little downhill in the last 1km.

I called my mum who was predictably unhelpful- "just get on with it" and the I called Michelle, my new coach. If there is ever anyone to speak to before a race, it's her.She is so reassuring and kind and had some great advice which really put my mind at ease. I wanted to do it more than anything not to let her down. Hearing "I believe in you, TDC (Team Dillon Coaching) behind you all the way" is surprisingly motivating and she's not the kind of woman you want to disappoint. Being me, I still felt a little shakey so I called my lovely friend Angela, who was amazing. Having friends to train with and who understand how scary a race can be is so important. She gave me some great advice
"Just do the swim and see how you feel. You are a good swimmer so you know you can do that bit. If you feel good, do the bike. You can always stop if it's awful but if you feel good after the swim, have a go. When you do the bike, if you feel okay, do the run. You're not going for a time or a Kona qualification (ha!) so take off the Garmin and get think of it as separate bits."

Okay so the swim was icy. There is no other way to describe it to you. The water was
crystal clear, deceptively beautiful and saltier than MacDonald's fries but above it was just cold. I was told after it was around 11-12°C, brrrr! So swim done and onto the bike. It never even crossed my mind not to get out and do the bike leg- I was sort of on autopilot. It was difficult at first as my legs were just numb from the cold. I tried to push hard but the first hill felt so steep. I was going backwards so I decided to get off my bike and push it up the hill. It sounds 

weird but I'm glad I did as I ran with my bike and this helped them feel normal again! Back on the bike, it was tough going. I really struggled and it was so disheartening to see so many people overtake me. I had to get off and walk my bike once more on the epic 12% hill!!! (As a non-cyclist this is like a mountain to me.) I need to practice! Back to transition and out for the run. I couldn't believe it when I actually felt good running. This never happens. I ran about 3k before I had to have a quick walk to catch my breath and then start running again. The little water station was a welcome sight as I have no idea what happened to my bottles in transition and on the bike.

Finishing this race was the best feeling I've ever had. I had been so nervous and..well...actually terrified so finishing was just a proud moment. I still can't believe I did it! I have to say a quick thank you to my boyfriend, Joan and Andy for cheering me on and looking after me, Michelle for believing in me and Peter and Angela for being the best support crew I could ask for! And to everyone else for sending love and luck!

My Tips
  • Swim- I didn't do the practice swim 10mins before the race. People were saying it was cold and I figured I would probably not get back in if I did. I just dove in when the klaxon went and although it was a shock, I knew I had to just get on with it!
  • Glide- Usually I'm one of those people who flap on the ground and can't get my wetsuit off. I used Body Glide for the first time (yes, I am a little late to the party) and it was amazing. That bad boy slipped right off!
  • Be Brave!-I felt such a rush coming over the finish line knowing I had conquering something I had been so nervous of. Be brave, you will surprise yourself!


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