#fitbitfifty Recap

Monday, November 7, 2016

What a whirlwind this #fitbitfifty journey has been.  The Coach magazine article was out a few weeks ago and the next issue of Cyclist will delve deeper into the experience. It was truly an unforgettable experience and I will try do it justice below.  Grab a cuppa as it will be a long post.

Ready to go!
I applied for Fitbitfifty in the summer when I saw an advert on Facebook.  It seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity and I never thought I would be even considered.  I know so many more athletes in London alone who were better qualified than myself.  Then I was shortlisted and had a phone interview. Then I was made a reserve in case someone became injured in the six week lead up to the event.  Days before the Berlin Marathon, I got a call that one of the athletes was injured and Fitbit requested me to be their replacement.

I was buzzing all weekend in Berlin and petrified too that I would be the weak link on my team. My worries were that I don't cycle with clips, I was just coming back after a month of marathon training with limited cycling incorporated into it, and I don't consider myself to be a fast runner. But there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity like this.

After returning home from Germany, I only had a few days to unpack and repack. Participants were given a long list of what to bring with them and I quickly realised I was missing a few key items for cold weather cycling.  The good folks at Altura kindly sent me ax express care package that contained my night ride kit (long sleeve jersey, sleeveless baselayer, a waterproof jacket that I slept in). All my running kit fit into my Workplay Bags Goddess II and my cycle kit went into my Adidas bag.  My fuel (MyProtein energels, Energy Bits, and various granola bars) went into my ruck sack.

A photo posted by Mollie, the Happiness PT (@ptmollie) on

All athletes, Andy Cook and his team, reps from FitBit and Dennis Publishing met at the hotel Thursday night and shared a meal together.  After dinner, the teams decided we would work together for the duration of the challenge, rather than competing against each other.  Riding four-up seemed easier than two-up.  We matched our pairs into fast, medium, and slow (guess which one I was on?). These groups were perfectly matched, both in terms of ability and personality which made the entire challenge remarkedly calm (no drama, no breakdowns).

Breakfast was served at 4.30am on Friday morning and we headed over to Buckingham Palace by 5.30am.  A bunch of people from Dennis Publishing and FitBit met us on the Green Park side for a few photos and for official start.  We aimed for 10 min miles but everyone was so excited, it was a bit faster than that. The route was 12 km, winding through London streets  to the Olympic Park Velodrome.  There, the tour buses awaited our arrival. The group of four gentlemen would start off on their bikes while the rest of us would be transported in the bus to the first transition zone.

All my stuff in my bunk
Life on the bus was cramped.  There was lots of kit and tons of food. The loo was smelly and for liquids only. The bunk beds were comfy and dark, but a bit small for the taller guys on the team.  We started off being modest when changing kit but by the end, it just didn't matter anymore. We were tired, sweaty, and short on time when it came to transitions.

The majority of the #fitbitfifty was on the bike and for me, it was hard. I don't cycle with cleats, instead I used my Salomon trail shoes with toe baskets. However, after this experience, I vow to learn how to use my clip-ins. In the past, I have fallen off one to many times and was worried about doing it again during this challenge, especially while riding in a group.  I just fantasized about a giant crash in the middle of nowhere.

My view of Ozzie's Angels
Even though I found the rides challenging, I am so happy I still have the Forza Stratos RC23 wheels that Merlin Cycles let me review during this year's Ride London. My cycling is so much more effortless with these wheels even though my bike is entry level.  My teammates had super fancy bikes, but my BTwin got me to through it.

During the first ride regment for my team of four ('Ozzie's Angels'- Ozzie, Natalie, Elise, and myself), we only tried changing leaders a few times.  Elise had never drafted before and Natalie had just learned. Elise also wasn't that confident riding in traffic, so Ozzie was kind enough to let us ladies draft him the entire segment. On the flats, we were able to stay together at a good pace but hill climbs seperated us out as Elise and I were able to climb but Ozzie and Natalie loved a fast decent.

After we made it to the Scottish border, Ozzie switched with Jer so our trio of ladies came 'Jer's Gems'.  We kept the same order and strategy, and experienced similar disconnect of pace on the hills.  I was loosing my ability to climb by the last 2 cycle segments.  Exhaustion was setting in even though I tried to sleep as much as I could on the bus.

My group did a lot of run-bike segments.  It was hard, but it was also to match us with short flat cycle segments.  I was usually bringing up the rear of our group.  I didn't mind as I have a fair bit of experience cycling on open roads and I can't hear very well on the bike so there wasn't any point in me being close to the other riders for a chat.

Meal by FitHQ
Fuelling on this adventure was tough.  I knew I needed to eat but my body clock was off from lack of a routine.  We had meals from Fit HQ (which I ate most of) and sport drink powder from SIS.  There were also crisps, candy bars, ginger biscuits, and full-fat Coke.  Every stop we made, we ended up doing a bit more shopping as people experienced different cravings throughout the weekend.  I enjoyed chocolate milk after my segments, along with toast, Nutella and bananas. I was never starving and often times forces myself to eat something. It was tough to figure out what to eat and how much that would allow you to fall right asleep and be ready to workout only a few hours later.

Here is a breakdown of each of my segments (hopefully the formatting isn't too weird).  You can also check out my Strava page for the routes we took and other nifty stats.   My Fitbit Surge did a great job picking up GPS quickly no matter where we were and gave me the actual and average speeds which was really helpful on the bike segments.  I also kept an eye on my heart rate but did the best I could with each effort regardless.  It is only when my heart rate gets up to 160+ that I feel like I am going to die.

Discipline     Time     Day     Distance      Elasped Time        Elevation       Average Speed
1. Run  6am Friday   7.4  miles    1:24:41   103 feet    10:21 min/mile
2. Bike  10am Friday    34.5 miles   2:22:14  817 feet    14.9 miles/hour
3. Run  8pm Friday  6.6 miles  1:06:32  42 feet   10:04 min/mile
4. Bike  9:20pm Friday  26 miles   1:43:24   270 feet     15.5 miles/hour
5. Bike  5:15am  Saturday  23.9 miles   2:08:08  1623 feet   11.7 miles/hour
6. Run  11am Saturday  5.9 miles  59:35  86 feet   9:57 min/mile
7. Bike  12:30pm Saturday  29.7 miles   2:19:56   1560 feet  13.6 miles/hour
8. Bike  9:50pm  Saturday   27.1 miles   2:07:25   809 feet   13.5 miles/hour
9. Run  2:05am  Sunday  6.0 miles  1:20:44  0 feet   12:48 min/mile
10. Ride 3:30am Sunday  28.8 miles 2:03:22  37 feet  14.8 miles/hour
11.  Ride 9:40am Sunday  31.9 miles  2:27:43   937 feet  14.2 miles/hour
12. Run 4:30pm  Sunday  7.3 miles  1:18:27   150 feet    9:46 min/mile

Waiting for the fast boys to join us for the last run.
I really hope that our team of 12 can continue on with other events over the next year.  We are a diverse group that demonstrates the average/part-time athlete is not something to mess with.  We train hard but play hard too and have kept in touch since the epic weekend (God bless Whatsapp).

If you have any suggestions on events or races we should attend in the UK, please leave a comment below.

Big thanks to Coach Magazine and Fitbit for this unforgettable opportunity.  All opinions are honest and my own.


  1. This absolutely sounds like the BEST EXPERIENCE EVER, I'm so gutted I didn't see it when applications were open. What an amazing adventure! Well done!

    1. Tess, it was great! You can now sign up for updates about the 2017 event. I think you would love it!


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