I’ve been chilling at the hotel with my brother for the majority of today. We pretty much just left the building to go to the expo to register for the race and pick up our race numbers and grab other free stuff (way too much orange Adidas stuff for my liking, but they’re the bloody sponsor and beggars can’t be choosers etc, etc). It’s actually really cold out here and when it rains it’s just ANNOYINGLY wet and cold. This is nothing, though, compared to when it hails. We had about 10 minutes of petit pois sized bits of ice hurtling down and clearing the streets which basically just got me soaked and made me want my bed.
We also went out to meet the girls for dinner except that it became one huuuuuge gathering and turned out to be a really good pre-race hug-fest. Bangs, Orsi, Candice, Bridget, Elle, Rhalou, Chris (my brother), Luke, Chaka, John (NY Bridge Runners), then Mubi, Denis, Petra, Hanne, Drew, Dominic, Josey and more and then Veema, Nathaniel, Darcy and Jenny. Sick group! There were probably around 1/3 of all the RDC members out here. Plus a Whasian Brooklyn Bridge Runner. We didn’t plan or choose that restaurant beforehand, we just stumbled across it, but I’m glad everyone was there.
Tonight, I’ve just been double checking my kit, getting my safety pins ready and giving myself a manicure. Priorities, init.
I wanted to be calm before I fell asleep but my brother just made me laugh so hard I snorted the water I was drinking out through my nose so now literally everything is making me laugh, my nose and throat hurt and my bed is slightly damp. Classy, I know.
Anyway. Bed time. I’ve got my first race in the morning.
Round 2 of packing is about to commence. I am incapable of packing lightly. I just don’t have the capacity to do this yet, although I am making it one of my life ambitions just because it’s a very necessary skill when you’re not rich enough to have someone carry your bags for you.
Last night at mine, I threw a whole heap of stuff in a suitcase and drove back to my mum’s. Now I have to work out how to downsize this stuff by at least half so it will fit in the other side of the suitcase my brother and I are sharing.
This means that I cannot possibly take all 4 of the pairs of trainers that I have packed. I have running trainers, city-exploring trainers, trainers for the rain (of which there is lots in Berlin this weekend) and a pair to party in. Now, I don’t see this as too much for 3 days, but evidently we’re going to have to leave a pair behind. Might just leave the running ones…
Ah guys, I’m sorry, I’ve been AWOL. I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been working long hours, eating great food and not getting enough sleep. Living a kind of lavish lifestyle on my non-lavish budget. I’ve been scoffing even more burgers than usual, occasionally (quite often, in fact) tucking into some Japanese food with friends, eating my weight in steak and pulled pork sandwiches and I’ve even got back into the habit of dessert after every meal (I tried to stop this a few months ago). The food part sounds great (it was great, it IS great) but the worrying part is that I’ve been sleep-deprived for nearly 2 months now. I’m not the kind of girl who can usually function on 3-4 hours sleep per night, but since the beginning of February, that’s been my vibe. This is largely due to race but mostly non-race stress factors. It’s gotten to the point where I’m just used to looking and feeling like my eyes are glassy and my face is puffy and feeling like my body made of jelly and/or lead, depending on the time of day. This week has been the worst in terms of almost a complete lack of energy and therefore utter apathy towards everything ever in life. I promise I’m concentrating, I promise. I definitely heard what you said just now, uh huh…
That being said, I’ve still kept up the running. This is mainly due to Run Dem Crew (big up Charlie and Bangs keeping me in the game). If it wasn’t for those Tuesday runs, I would have lost my momentum a long time ago. 6 weeks of 4-6 miles every Tuesday night has shown me that this is the kind of thing I’m capable of. It has also shown me that I am most definitely a social runner because the support from that community has been phenomenal (for example, big up Orsi and her motivational text messages).
As a result, in my own time, although I sacked in the Bootcamp sessions over a month ago (probably to my detriment, but we’ll see), I’ve still kept up the running. The last two weeks have been crucial to my own development as a ‘runner’ (LOLZ! Sorry, I’ll never not find that funny) and I’ve had amazing cheerleaders. 2 Sundays ago I managed to run from East Ham to Hackney (6.5 miles - big up Ben). Then this Sunday I literally battled with myself, my brain and my legs to run-walk-run-walk-walk-walk from Bethnal Green to Woolwich, via Tower Bridge (10.6 miles - big up Ben again. Also big up Will and Mrs Will for the flapjacks and layers). Poor Ben, he really took some metaphorical, emotional and at least 2 physical blows from me as I whinged all the way from Whitechapel to Deptford and beyond. No sleep, stress and pure fear for this race have all made me one helluvabitch.
My brother has also been amazing throughout. He’s developed very painful shin splints and is deciding whether to take enough painkillers in order to still try for a new personal best or just to run slow enough to enjoy the experience. I’ve been trying to persuade him to just run with me (he would only have to walk). He’s annoyed, but making light of the situation by texting me worryingly gleeful messages that he has had to shave parts of his legs “for medical purposes”. Aside from that though, he has constantly checked up on my progress for which I have always been grateful. He knows I’m crap at this and the jokes have been as hilarious as the support has been unwavering. He even told me he would pick me up as soon as I hit my 10 mile target on Sunday night and offered advice in terms of direction and alternative routes through South East London to avoid the nasty hills.
At the end of the 10.63 miler on Sunday night, my brother met me on Shooters Hill and drove me the 2 miles to my parents’ house. My mum’s face, of absolute pride was almost overwhelming. I nearly cried while I (sweatily) hugged her and listened to her telling me (in 2 octaves above her normal voice) that she was so proud and happy for me. She already had the table laid out ready for me to sit and eat one wamp meal, full of chickeny goodness. Dude… so, so emotional.
Aside from the race, Berlin is going to be SO OSSUM. I’m looking forward to seeing my team! My #BangsontheRun3 girls! (Sarah, we’ll be thinking of you and Mia). I’ve already met John Law (YO, BIG UP!) from NY, member of the infamous NY Bridge Runners, and this weekend, the city is going to be full of Nike-affiliated run clubs ready to smash up the Berlin race course. The after-party is going to be WILD. I literally cannot WAIT!
This Berlin Half Marathon is going to be so worth it. I’m so glad I’m doing this.
If running has taught me anything, it is the value of perspective. I mean, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of this, but this ongoing development has solidified and enhanced my existing notions, undoubtedly for the better. I have a habit of saying “PERSPECTIVE” in a joking tone when I realise how silly something is, but it’s not always a joke and sometimes you have to be a grown up and be serious.
In terms of running, my first experience of differing perspective was with the fact that I LOOK like I could easily run without much struggle, but the reality is I found it extremely uncomfortable up until about 3 weeks ago. So, to the external and internal viewpoints, things were seen quite differently. My main issue with running and perspective is pace and timing. Again, I look like I can run well but the truth is I pretty much just jog, ambling along on 12 minute miles. I’m comfortable with that, but even then, at times, I’m pushed off the sofa in my comfort zone. Now, I’m very happy with my 12 minute miles, to the point that I’m ecstatic when I manage to run a 10-11 minute mile. I’ve not yet hit a 9-10 minute mile, but I’m not sure that I care. My perspective is that I’m happy with my pacing and I’m going to run a half marathon in 2 weeks’ time. My brother, before he started suffering from shin splints, was running 7.5 minute miles, and was working towards a sub-1.5 hour race in Berlin. I’m not looking to finish the race in sub-anything, or even work out splits to make sure each mile is completed in the right amount of time because my priority is just to FINISH. I’m not a racer, but I’m in for the long-haul. Hopefully, my brother, if he can’t face the pain of racing and finishing fast, will be happy to run with me. I doubt it, even his patience can’t be stretched to jog slowly for nearly 3 hours, but I’d rather he run slow now and save himself the injury and triumphantly smack down a triathlon at the end of this year.
Run Dem, with the help of Charlie, has brought to light several instances where perspective becomes a major theme. I have met some really great people through this community, all of whom have contributed towards my changing attitude and experience of running. Running is by no means an easy thing to do for some people, and because I have always struggled with it, and still continue to do so, it is very comforting to hear that you are not the only one not having fun. More importantly, it is particularly insightful, and refreshing to kick yourself out of that well of self-pity that you might be comfortable rolling around in, when you hear that there are runners within the group that have pulled themselves through remarkable and life-altering circumstances and are back on their feet and running, providing inspiration for others. I feel like I need a new word for ‘inspiration’ because it is in danger of becoming cliché, if it hasn’t already. But, regardless, at the moment, when you hear that you are sharing a bench with a woman who has pulled through cancer, has gone through chemotherapy and other stressful treatments, or a man who has been motionless for weeks due to an accident, you get a healthy, and very welcome, dose of perspective. There are stronger people than me who have experienced more unfortunate things than I have. Most often, I am not in a position to complain, and I do really appreciate everything and everyone that contributes to my life. There is sometimes absolutely nothing better than coming home to beaming parents, cracking jokes about your abysmal run. Times like this I remember friends who don’t have the same privilege and I can value the heartbreak that an individual is suffering. As humans, we aren’t always open to accept other’s plights, but perspective teaches me to never underestimate the weight of another person’s burden.
I have mentioned Candice on several occasions throughout this running journal thingy, but she is a very relevant person in my life in regards to my experiences of running. Not only have I run with her (behind her – she is an awesome pacer), but I have had the opportunity to follow her own progression, albeit only relatively recently in the last 4 or 5 months. She’s running a marathon on each continent, literally running the world. Candice is about to go and smash up the London Marathon in April, probably in batty riders, Raybans and lipstick. More fool you if you step in her way. She is a particularly motivating individual and I owe a lot of my own recent running achievements to her, Orsi and Bangs. These ladies, amongst others, have given me more much appreciated lessons on perspective over the last month or 2. If I could mend broken hearts and find you diamonds, physical and metaphorical, I’d do all that I could. Thank you.
So, as I lie here on the carpet still sweating and breathing like a rhino, after 1.82miles of whiney running, my only thoughts are of the FML variety. I have under 3 weeks (THREE WEEKS?!!?!??!!!!) until I have to run the Berlin half marathon. I could only manage a mile before I had to walk because I could feel the Nutella I just ate before I set out creeping back up my throat. Note to self: don’t ever eat spoons of Nutella and drink lychee juice together again - they may taste like fatty kid heaven, but they will curdle and taste like bile. As I was running just now (at 11:45pm on a Monday night), my lower legs were in agony. They still ache now. I preferred it when my knees felt like they were constantly on the verge of dislocating. I have no idea why, and I sincerely hope they don’t hurt like that tomorrow at Run Dem. More to the point, I was really struggling. I was running at a considerably faster pace than my usual amble, but still, OUCH. I was really glad to touch base again and once more it looks like I’m back to hating running. How the EFF am I going to run 13.1 miles in 3 weeks time?!
Why does running have to be so time-consuming? Whats up with that? It makes me wish that I had the capacity to be a sprinter because those short dashes just look like they’d be way more fun than pounding pavement for 3 hours.
Realistically, I’d have to train a whole lot harder and differently in order to be able to competently sprint, so I’m actually better off running this half marathon, but whatever. Hmmmmph.
What annoys me about long distance training is the amount of time that you need to devote to running in order to put your body through what it needs to experience before you turn up on race day. Especially if you’re as slow as I am.
At the moment, the furthest distance that I’ve successfully ran is just over 6 miles. I know I’ve also clocked a 7-miler recently, but I walked half of that so it doesn’t really count. It takes well over an hour to run 6 miles so I’m looking at a 2 hour and 45 minute run in Berlin. That’s so long. And I would really like to be able to run at least 90% of it. I know you can run a half marathon having only trained up to 6 miles and if Bangs can do it, then I’m sure I can too. Apparently, the adrenaline from a race is enough to carry you, but we’ll see. Also I’m pretty sure I could comfortably speed-walk 13.1 miles but that completely defeats the purpose of choosing to do a half marathon and that’s basically the equivalent of an afternoon of shopping anyway, non? I have to be able to run this race.
Cheering my brother and his friend Tim on as they ran the Silverstone half marathon has got me in the mood to run again. This urge to run has crept up on me slowly again and is largely due to Run Dem Crew (whatever hype you’ve heard, it’s true, it really is as good as it sounds) and the fact that race day is less than a month away. Hopefully I can clock up some more miles this week.
I got a session in with Barbara (running guru, haver of hot legs and general badass) yesterday, running laps round Victoria Park trying to put into practice the methods that Babs was teaching the Bangs on the Run girls and I. She reinforced what I learned from a barefoot runner several months ago, and I know it’s going to take a lot of getting used to in order to run comfortably in this way. The idea is to hold yourself upright, keeping strong through your core, lifting up, so to speak, but to lean forward as though there is something pulling at your chest, so that you ALMOST fall forward. Running like this means that you utilise your energy more efficiently as all you really need to do is lift your feet off the pavement because your body weight is already pulling you forward. You don’t even need to make large strides as this is wasting energy. It sounds really simple, and in theory it should be, but I found that it put more pressure on the muscles from my mid-thigh downwards and through my calves and shins. This is because of my underused muscles where I have been running inefficiently for months (I’d say ‘years’ but I have to be honest on this blog thingy). This is going to be a tough month of perfecting this before race day.
It’s Sunday, which, for most people, is long run day. I should have got 9 miles done today but instead I stood screaming from the stands at Silverstone circuit (any excuse) as my brother Chris smashed yet another half marathon in 1 hour 45 minutes and Tim zipped through his first ever race in 2 hours. Seriously proud of both of them. I’m going to try and get a minimum of 13 miles done this week.
This is going to take a considerable amount of willpower.
Aside from the blah attitude to training as a whole, I’ve found one positive light in the last two weeks which has been Run Dem Crew. My motivation took a major slump, but my stamina can now at least take a mile and a bit, so I thought I should take up Charlie’s invitation from Summer last year lest it go stale and crumble into regret. Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt two Tuesdays ago as I walked into Nike’s 1948 in Shoreditch. Jumpy, nauseous, exhausted, delirious, terrified, excited and exhilarated fit the description much better. It’s like walking into a room where everyone is super-cool and really good at sports and everyone already knows each other, and you’re the new dorky kid who’s shit at PE. Oh, wait…
I was anticipating an excruciatingly embarrassing introduction to the whole crew from Charlie and I wasn’t disappointed. So aside from the fact that 175 people, fresh from their post-work dash to 1948, which made the building toasty to say the least, my blushing was enough to melt the Nike+ Fuelbands being trialled by some of the Run Dem Crew runners. (Side note: Nike+ Fuelbands look so OSSUM in real life!) It didn’t help my burning cheeks when Bangs also pointed out to the crowd that “Mei could really do with everyone’s support because she really, really hates running”. So now everyone knows me as the girl who hates running but still showed up to the running club where everybody loves running. FML.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to cope in anything but the slowest group, so I put two hands up when Charlie asked who was running in tortoises, one for me and one for my stomach which I felt I was going to leave behind on the bench. I have never been so NERVOUS! But here’s why I love running with people. Candice straight away told me that she would run with me, slower than her usual pace, and Bangs leaned over and said she’d be right there with me too. That is LOVE. Both of these women are working towards different goals, but they still chose to amble along with me. Denny, Mubi and Dom were there with words of encouragement and niceness. Elles, George and Rhalou were being really excited for me. Peigh was there being Peigh. Chaka was being chatty. And I was there trying not to throw up.
There were other newmans in my group. Janet was one of them, an old friend of Charlie’s, and I felt relieved knowing I wasn’t the only one who wouldn’t know my way or know how things run at Run Dem with dose dat run. We did a four mile loop from Shoreditch, passing Liverpool Street Station, running over London Bridge and along to Tower Bridge, over and back up to Liverpool Street then dashed back to 1948 to push ourselves right at the end. Absolutely brilliant. I kept a good pace and managed to get my running mojo to resurface. There is NOTHING like running in a group of people who like running, have experience in running and want you to like running too but aren’t overbearingly patronising. There is fresh perspective from everyone. The group runs steadily, slowing down to support those who aren’t having much fun, but still maintaining a good pace to keep momentum going.I didn’t really struggle as much as I thought I would. And, you know what? It is liberating to achieve new successes with your own personal running-demon beat-downs. Post-run, I got some good advice on how to stretch properly from Mark and spent the next half an hour rolling around the floor, stretching my legs past their usual capacity while I waited for Denis to be ready to grab pancakes for dinner because it was Shrove Tuesday which means it is the law to eat pancakes, or else.
Two weeks in, and I can already vouch for the fact that there’s a lot about Run Dem Crew that makes it so enjoyable. There is a real sense of community where everyone looks after each other, making it quite a self-sufficient group. The benefit of its huge range of members being so (cool and) diverse and based in London is that there is literally at least one of every type of person you would ever need to meet within the group. If something needs doing, someone can always do or provide or knows someone that can. Plus everyone wants the group dynamic to work, so you can literally see people’s commitment. Charlie’s passion and energy is second to none and it’s motivating to be around that buzz.
The feeling is obviously addictive, because I went back for Run Dem run nombre dos last Tuesday. This time, the nerves weren’t so nervy, I wasn’t such a spaz and I was super happy with the four mile loop we cracked out again. I squeezed in two sprints with Janet and we both agreed we’re ready to try Slow Hares this week. Fleur hung back from the faster group she was running with after tripping over a broken lamppost (SORT IT OUT, HACKNEY COUNCIL) and I got a good chance to learn about her experiences of running half marathons (and stare at her beautiful face) as we ran the last two miles back to 1948. That run was my best yet, aside from all the leery drunk men (there were SO MANY! Why do they all assume that by yelling, “OI, DARLIN’, YOU DON’T NEED TA RUN, YOU’RE GORGEOUS AS YA ARE!” that we’re going to turn around, laugh and flirt girlishly and exclaim that we’d just LOVE to jump into bed with them?). I’m really glad I pushed myself to pick up the pace. I’m nervous about running in Slow Hares this week, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a half marathon to run in less than a month (OMFG!) and I’ve got so much catching up to do.
I think I need to learn how to swear in German because at the rate I’m going, I’m going to be touring Berlin city wheezing expletives and sobbing as I stumble around the half marathon race course. I currently feel as though 13 miles isn’t very long, but that’s only because last Friday evening I hit out a good four-miler on my own and without much walking. Ratings to me. Except I should really be comfortable on at least 8 or 9 miles right now. And that I am not. So I hereby give back those ratings that I so hastily bestowed upon myself. Soz. I’ve been slacking a little bit (a lottle bit) lately. In fact, you could even say that I’ve fallen completely off the training plan. Sexy in the City Bootcamp training has been unattended for weeks now because of work, house-hunting commitments and last Wednesday I went to James’s funeral. Running has been ignored in favour of repaying my constant sleep debt. Sit ups and press ups have been done only in my dreams.
It’s not that I don’t care. I do. I just have more pressing issues and emotions at hand (urgh, I sound like such a girl). And then I’m so tired and stressed out that the last thing I want to do is wake up at the crack of shit to travel an hour and a half to go and do reverse lunges and be told that I’m doing my planks all wrong. I’ve also only recently realised that I hate the build up to running. It feels like a chore. I have to make sure I’ve eaten a huge meal at least an hour in advance and hydrated myself just enough that I won’t dehydrate too quickly or need to turn back half a mile in to sprint home to pee. I have to pull on both knee supports (tres glam, I know), climb into leggings, strap up in both sports bras (ladies, you need to take care of your assets, you know?) and layer up in DriFit and/or HeatTech and choose which windrunnner I’d like to skip (ha!) along in. Then there’s the pre-run stretching which, let’s face it, I never remember to do, and then finally, the most dreaded - The First Mile.
I now have four weeks left of training, in which I need to get up to at least 11 miles so that I know that I can stay on my feet, moving in a forward direction, for the (yet undisclosed) amount of time that it will take me to run/walk/run-walk/stumble 13.1 miles. FML x a baspillion.
Does anyone have any pre-race and mid-race food suggestions? I can’t run more than 4 miles on a bowl of porridge and, judging by my calculations, I’ve worked out that I’m going to need to pull an all-nighter and eat a bowl of meaty pasta every 2 hours just to have the energy to last the whole 13 miles in the morning.
My last post-run running-post was Wednesday? Seems ages ago. Sorry for the neglect, been a little busy, you know?
Just to fill you in, I was planning a Totally OSSUM Training Week. I had taken the week off from work and I was going to flat-hunt, view properties and run and train and be healthy and happy. Mission: FAILED.
I didn’t go to Bootcamp this week (sorry, Phil). I woke up on Wednesday morning thinking I had something to do, but couldn’t remember what it was. Turns out I had forgotten about the early morning session at Liverpool Street. Oops. But I still ran that night, so, umm, that makes up for it, right? No? Meh.
Flat-hunting is literally as exhausting as work is. I meant to run on Thursday night too but there was too much to do and no time to do it in. HOW are you meant to train to run a half-marathon AND find a place to live?! I can barely fit in training around my full-time job as it is. I have so much respect for all of those who work ridiculous hours and do all this endurance training. Ratings for all those Olympic athletes who are fitting in their training and working a job too. Ratings upon ratings for single parents who are running AND working AND still spending time with their children while they’re still awake.
Friday’s Bootcamp session was missed because my mum booked us a spa day that I had been looking forward to all week. In the morning, after a 1.7 mile run on the treadmill in the spa gym (YAY!) which was followed by an Indian head massage, I was sitting (cooking) in the sauna, when my friend (future wife) Jessica (@ohmyjessbess) called me. I messaged her to say I wasn’t going to pick up when I was sweating so much that I was likely to electrocute myself if I put my phone to my ear. She messaged back with guttering news.
I have been thinking over and over whether to write about this at all, but this blog was set up as a form of journal, with the sole intention of being honest about how I train and the things that contribute to and affect my progress. This week, on Valentine’s Day, a good friend of mine, James, took his own life. I can barely process this information, and I’m crying as I write this because I miss him so much. I have known him for about five years and I have never felt a heartbreak like this. The initial shock of learning this news had me standing in the spa’s ladies shower room, crying like a loon, messaging illegible texts to Jessica, scrolling through James’s recent tweets and the announcements from his family. I was reeling. I had text him late on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning asking if he was ok and had had no response but, wrapped up in my own petty worries about a stupid flat, I forgot to call him when I had no response. I am so sad to know that he felt so much pain and was so desperate. I saw him recently, and he was his usual picture of health, utterly gorgeous, a real character with that old school glamour and poise. He literally looks like he belongs in Hollywood. I can’t believe that he’s not here.
His life has been full of so many successes that most recent graduates, including myself, haven’t yet been able to achieve. For starters, Jay was a published writer before we started our English Literature degree together at the University of Reading. He was such a loved person in our halls, and although most of us on our degree course were envious of his success so far, you couldn’t help but like him. He was a funny, self-deprecating, charming young man, and a real gentleman. He was one of those people who wanted to know you and took an interest in you. We got on so well, initially because we were both from London and we would laugh about how we found Reading life so slow in comparison to the city. Our interest in the fashion industry, his from a writing perspective and myself from the modelling I was occasionally doing, gave us more to develop our friendship. I remember we also used to chat about my boyfriend and his girlfriend back in London. He was one of the few people at uni I told I was on Twitter and we stayed in touch after we graduated, enjoying lots of LOLZ on the internetz. His achievements weren’t hard to believe and certainly not resented once you knew him.
James played Baseball for a London team before uni and then played American Football at uni. He worked for TimeOut during our degree, and moved to Conde Naste to work for Vogue following our graduation. He had recently started at Hearst, to work for Elle UK. Last year, he blogged a post detailing his daily activities at work, including his early morning run and swim. It was mind-blowing. He did more than I did in two days and exercised more than I did in six months. His dedication was admirable, his motivation was infectious, and it was around that time that I started running. His support of my running and training was great. He would text me to ask how it was going and to schedule a time to run together. He used to run five or six miles before work and I’m still at the point where I need to designate an entire day to run-walk-run-walk-run-walk-stumble around a four mile route.
I feel so weird about this whole situation. It doesn’t feel very real. There are moments where I’m convinced this hasn’t happened and I check his Twitter timeline and my messages from friends who have contacted me to console me and ask how I am. I haven’t kept in contact with very many people from uni but Jay was one of those that I regularly spoke to, especially in the last year or so. This is so fucking weird. I haven’t lost a friend since primary school, and I have never lost someone I know and love to suicide. My grandmother died last November after years of bad health and, if anything, these recent experiences with mortality have taught me to live life and be happy. If you’re not happy, then make the necessary changes. If you have something to work towards, then bloody work.
In the last few weeks, my motivation has been scraping along the pavement as I half-heartedly set out on runs that I don’t enjoy. Jessica messaged me to tell me how much it hurt for her to watch the sun set as she drove home and feel the adrenaline as she ran that night because she knows that James isn’t here to love any of that anymore. This rang true when I completed my new record of 7.11 miles this afternoon. It took me an hour and a half because I walked most of it. I even stopped at a pub to ask for some water because I didn’t take any with me. I didn’t even think I would get further than four miles if I’m honest and I kept breaking into tears which must have looked bizarre to the people in the cars driving past me.
I don’t expect to enjoy any of the runs that I need to complete within the next few weeks, but I’ll be running them with you in mind, Jay, and I will walk the entire half-marathon if I have to. I hope you’re in a happier place and that you’re alright now. I’m sorry for everything that you needed that we couldn’t give you and I’m sorry that you’re not here. I can’t believe I’ll never see you again, or that I’ll never again be able to make you laugh. I miss the way you noticed such little details and the way you dressed immaculately. I miss your face, your tanned skin and amazingly naturally-coloured mahogany hair. I miss your sense of humour and your generosity. If there is a heaven, and angels exist, then that makes you one of the most handsome (and then some!) to be floating around. If not, then I hope whatever you experience in an afterlife, or maybe even a future life, brings you so much joy and endless happiness. I have never wanted anything more than to have you back, posting pictures of interesting things you find and talking about the beautiful people you meet. I love you lots and I’ll never forget you. Rest in peace.
To James’s family, if you ever read this, my thoughts are with you.
I AM SO FRIGGIN EXCITED FOR THIS! YOU HAVE NO IDEA. It’s about time this collab developed a line for women. I’m just happy I now actually ‘run’ to be able to fully enjoy the brilliant design and technicality of each garment when I get some.
For years now, I’ve joked about my singular ab. I’m a slim jim, partly thanks to an Azn frame (no hips, sob sob sob), but by no means toned. Where body fat collates and sits, there it sits on me. I’m a woman who likes to eat cake and drink copious amounts of tea, of course my stomach isn’t flat! But who gives a crap when you can craftily disguise your permanent “food baby” with men’s tshirts and slouchy clothes?!
The answer is that I can’t wear menswear every day for the rest of my life (but DAMN IT, I will try!) and Lycra doesn’t actually solve all problems like we thought it did. Also, after a while, people do actually ask you “why is your stomach like that when you’re not fat?”… Wow, blunt much?
ANYWAY… Ladies and gentleblahs, I am pleased to announce that my one ab has now got a friend. I now have two abs. Three, if you squint. But let’s not get lost in numbers. I have definition, and that’s all that matters.
Of course, this definition only shows in the top half of my abdominal muscles, the ones that are relatively easy to tone, because there are not so many (many, many) layers of cake and biscuits forming lovely, cushiony armour over them. Realistically, there is not a great deal to be celebrating here, but you know, every little thing counts when you’re starting from scratch. I’m just happy that all the sit ups and the planks are paying off.
I’ll come back when you can see four more and my belly button no longer looks as though you could lose a spoon in it.
I ran again this evening (sound the trumpets, YAY!). I was supposed to run last night and never got round to it (oh, anticlimax). Familiar story, huh?
I’ve had distraction after distraction this year so far. I need a holiday. In fact, I took a holiday from work this week to focus on house-hunting (I need to move in March), but I can’t find a house. I’m spending around 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen, which is melting my brain and by eye-cubes (see what I did there?!) and causing my knees to ache.
I’m only in my twenties. I don’t need my knees to be aching right now. ESPECIALLY when I’m training for a stupid half marathon. Tonight’s run hurt so much that this is the first time that I’m scared that I won’t be able to complete the race. I’m really angry with everything and myself. I can’t find anywhere to live, I’m crap at running and my knees hurt. Life friggin SUCKS. Ok, don’t worry about the house situation, I have one more solid day of searching, and I’ll find somewhere (CROSS YOUR FINGERS FOR ME PLEASE?!).
Earlier I ran a whoooooooole 1.02 miles (pah!) before I slowed to walk. Then I walked until I could be bothered to run again and managed about 100 metres before my right knee started to hurt. I walked-ran-walked-ran around a new route until I got home.
Today and yesterday, my left knee has been a bit weird, occasionally it will twinge and hurt, but mostly it’s just uncomfortable. Now, when I’m running, this continues to happen, but it also happens with my right knee, and to a much greater degree. I don’t get it. My right knee doesn’t really trouble me, except when I’m running.
Knee joints are like hinges and they should only really move in one way and only to a certain extent. (I have never notice how much I stand with my knees locked until recently. This habit needs to end). When I’m running, I’m doing the normal hingey movement (as one does), but it feels like someone’s pulling legs by my ankles out to the side which makes my knees ache. It’s SO ODD. I’m not even sure what to do to compensate. I feel the pain around and behind the knee cap in the squidgey bit of my knees and in parts of my lower legs. On my right leg, I can also feel something pulling from someway up the back of my thigh, round to the back of my knee on the inside. It’s a diagonal sort of pull. And I can feel another tugging sensation in my foot from somewhere under the arch, near the forefoot, to just below my achilles.
With a weird left knee and a wonky right knee, tonight’s run was a total of 4 miles, but probably only a total of 2.5 miles actual running. I saw 5 other people out running, including a woman, who looked like she was in her sixties, wearing a VEST. I know it was milder today than it has been for a while, but it is NOT vest weather.
Anyway, I included 2 sprints, including a really fast one right at the end though, so I kind of forgive myself. Nah, who am I kidding? I don’t think I’m doing very well at all. I struggled so much today. I have LESS THAN 6 WEEKS TO GO till race day.
Today I did a 3.something mile run. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to last so I started off with no particular route in mind. About a mile into it I had already slowed down to walk but I had decided I was going to run a big loop and end up at the gym where my brother was training.
It was a pretty boring run actually, and other than a dry heave early on, I have nothing to report. One thing though, people in the ‘burbs don’t like to clean up after their dogs. Gross.
I’m worried about my knees, so I used the new shoe inserts and put two pairs of socks on to keep my ankles warm and pulled some leg warmers up to my thighs before I put my leggings on to keep my knees toasty. This was good advice from the dude who assessed my feet in Snow & Rock.
It definitely made a difference. My knees don’t hurt. They just feel weird. They have that weird sensation where you’re just AWARE of them. You realise how much you don’t notice parts of your body until there is something wrong. Like now.
Still, that’s another run in the bank. I’m going to try and get another four runs in this week while I’ve got some time off from work.
I’m on my way to the Royal Albert Hall now with my family to watch Cirque du Soleil, ‘Totem’. Knowing me, I’ll leave the place feeling like I want to launch myself off The Shard and somersault all the way down to land at London Bridge Station.
I’m making a mental note to behave…
Ok, so I’ve been a little busy. Kinda says a lot when you’re in your twenties and you find yourself at your mum’s house on a Saturday night blitzing through your to-do list. Tres glam, I know.
Anyway, I haven’t run at all this week (bar today for a minute on a treadmill in the Women’s Running department at Niketown London). I did go to Bootcamp on Wednesday though. I worked super(ish) hard (kind of) and left the gym feeling great. The problem is, by midday, my left knee felt pretty odd. By 6pm, my right knee had begun to twinge as well. Panic started to shimmy on the sidelines. I skipped Friday’s Bootcamp session to rest my knee.
Now, as I recall, two Sundays ago, when I ran with Rachel, both of my knees started to hurt by about the fourth mile. I put this down to never having out running for so long before and I made a mental note to ask a few questions about knee aches when I spoke to runnery people. For about a week after that run (the week with no sleep), I experienced a painful left knee that twinged all the way down the lower leg.
I assume that much of this is due to my feet. I spend much of my day standing up, and I am well aware, after years of ballet and my mum telling me that I walk like a weirdo, that my feet aren’t the most normal of feet.
To begin with, I have a very high instep. The arch on each foot is super-high and very flexible. Great for ballet - ‘pretty feet’ and a lovely point. Not so great for your posture. This, as well as what I assume is weakness in my forefoot, means that my ankles roll in when I stand, when I walk, and naturally, when I run. I also stand with my toes pointing outwards. Again, great for ballet ('and plié, two, three, four! And stretch, two, three, four!'), but not so elegant in real life when your ankles roll in and your knees practically kiss. Most people, when they notice, find it hilarious that I stand and walk like a duck.
Knowing this, I have always tried to find shoe inserts that support my arch and stop my feet, legs and back from feeling so tired all of the time. Most aren’t ‘aggressive’ enough, but apparently, most people don’t have very high arches like mine, so that would explain why I haven’t found the perfect pair.
After a painful Wednesday, I was recommended to grab some SuperFeet and I went to Snow & Rock (outdoor, ski and snowboarding gear shop). The range was pretty large so I asked for help and the consultant put me on a pressure gauge thingy to work out which SuperFeet shoe insert would be most ideal for me. (Sorry if you don’t like feet, but some might see this as informative, and some people - not me, ha! - don’t mind feet).
You can see from the above photo (check out the concentration face - buff stuff, Sarah Mei), that the arches on my feet don’t even touch the glass (I know there are faint greenish lines, but it’s a double reflection between the glass and the mirror and the glass and the mirror, etc, and so on and so forth <—->).
Turns out (SURPRISE, SURPRISE), none of the SuperFeet shoe inserts would be particularly helpful for me in terms of running as I apparently need something quite aggressive to combat the slouch in my foot (and my ankles, and my knees, AND my hips). However, they had some custom-moulded shoe inserts that they could make up in about half an hour, so I stood on bags of silicon which took moulds of my feet and then stood on top of the heated shoe inserts to push them down into the moulds until they had cooled in the correct shape. The shoe inserts are made of a flexible material which contains fibreglass and this maintains the strength needed for support within a running shoe. Unfortunately, you can’t put too much support within a shoe needed for running, because the support itself would need to be quite stiff which defeats the purpose of the running shoe being flexible. BAH!
Generally speaking, there are three types of running styles, or pronation, if you will. Four, if you count Phoebe Bouffet’s favoured style. You will either run neutrally, or you will supernate or overpronate. Most people will very slightly overpronate. I overpronate like a motherb**ch. I did ANOTHER gait analysis with a Nike Ekin today, and my left foot overpronates MORE than my right foot. My right foot is pretty much cuddled and comforted by a Nike LunarEclipse+ trainer, so I’m sticking with these shoes for the minute, but I think I need a half size down than the ones I’ve got now. I’m going to try the new moulded shoe inserts in them and see if there is an improvement for my left foot and knee.
If I’m really honest, the prospect of this injury getting worse is scaring me. A lot. I refuse to pull out of the Berlin Half Marathon for any reason, but two of my friends (Jess and Phoebe [not the one from Friends]) had to sacrifice their big race days last year because of injuries. Knee injuries to be precise. As much as I know I’m going to suffer, there is no way that I can’t not complete it. I’m under the impression that quite a few people think I want to pack it all in and don’t think that I can do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of running, but I WANT to do this race.
I’m panicking about my knees because even in less than a minute’s worth of running on a treadmill today, my knees and lower legs started to hurt. The pain isn’t excruciating, but it doesn’t have to be to tell you that there’s something wrong. I’m trying to get some time in with a physiotherapist, but they’re not cheap, you know? I’d also LOVE for someone to show me the correct way to run (if there is one) because I’m pretty sure I’m doing something wrong.
I’m supposed to do 7 miles tomorrow. I haven’t run in 2 weeks. Let’s see if I can run more than 2 miles in the morning… I get points for trying, right?
P.S. This is for you…
P.P.S. The consultant at Snow & Rock (Chancery Lane branch) was a very nice man called Marc. Really helpful dude with great advice. If you need help with your ski or snowboarding boots, he is also your dude.
So much is happening in a short space of time and things are moving so fast. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, although The Oracle (Drake, HA!) does say that “working with the negatives can make for better pictures” (valuable lesson there, kids). I want to say I haven’t had time to run and train, but that’s not the only reason. Recently motivation to do this marathon has taken a major dip. Partly because exercise is not (YET) escapism for me and because I’ve been busy prioritising stuff, it’s slipped down to the Least Important end of the scale. Also, because I know I can now run 5.6 miles I’m pretty sure I can keep up the rest of my training and do the whole 13.
To be clear, after a week with an average of 2 hours of sleep each night, I bunked the early morning Bootcamp sessions in favour of dealing with my sleep deprivation. I have no idea why I couldn’t sleep every night last week. I’ve never suffered from insomnia and after the second night of no sleep I panicked. And then obviously I definitely couldn’t sleep because I was so worried I wasn’t getting enough sleep.
I had six days of walking around in a zombie state, so I didn’t run either. I literally could not bring myself to pull my leggings on and find the will to move anywhere at any pace faster than a shuffle. So I didn’t.
I got bursts of energy at weird times, like just before lunch. On two days I made my friend Jimmy run from where we work to the restaurant where we wanted to eat. We literally jogged. Because I said I felt like it. “LET’S NOT WASTE THIS OPPORTUNITY!” We both wear trainers and (very carefully selected pieces of) streetwear to work so we probably looked like Azn hooligans running through central London. Good times. I also constantly felt like going for a run at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. But I live in Newham, and I’m not suicidal, so I never acted on that urge and just waited for the adrenaline to fade (which took hours).
Saturday came around and I told myself to get 6 miles done because, inevitably, I wouldn’t want to run on Sunday. I left it too late, and it got too cold. The Sunday run would HAVE to happen. Thing is, it kinda snowed on Saturday night, so that wiped out my Sunday long run too. PSYCHE! I didn’t want to run then either (not that I WANTED to break my face running and slipping in the snow).
I’m not giving excuses, I just didn’t want to run. And I’ve heard from countless people ‘run when you don’t feel like running’, but, believe me, I REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO RUN.
This week will hopefully be better. Even if it’s not safe to run tomorrow I’m still going to go to Bootcamp and work harder than I usually do to make up for my absence last week (I’ve said it now, I have to).
This week has been both fab and crap all in one. It’s been crapulous. According to my training plan, I’ve pretty much fallen off the chart, which hasn’t really done much for my motivation. Whatever though, it’s my birthday week, and that is a FABULOUS excuse.
Where did I last leave off? I think it was Wednesday (CBA to check - whatever, birthday week), when I didn’t make it to Bootcamp. Well, I didn’t run on Thursday either. I thought I deserved the lie in, so I slept up until the very last minute before work and ignored the guilt (birthday week birthday week birthday week).
I did, however, make it to Bootcamp on Friday though. ON my actual birthday. And I did, in fact, RUN to the station. I tied extra layers around my waist to put on once I was on the train and cooling down and made it to Bootcamp a little bit early. YAY FOR ME! The girls outdid themselves. Dani, Orsi, Rachel, Bangs, Candice, Christiana and Elles had me practically crying with happiness (I’m a sentimental fassy) with birthday presents, hugs and kisses. Candice MADE me beautiful cupcakes and battled commuters to get them to the gym unsquashed and fabulous. I have never had anyone do something like this for me, so I feel a little overwhelmed by this gesture. What a WOMAN! Christiana, hailed herself a cab to bring me a birthday balloon and chocolates (she is ‘fabulous’ personified). So anyway, blah blah blah, training done, we left the gym and made for the station. I did a little video with Christiana that I was going to blog, but I was a bit too sweary, so that will stay in the vault because it wasn’t that exciting anyway. I was supposed to run home, but that’s kind of hard with a balloon and chocolates and a big box of cupcakes.
(I’m scowling because my picture is being taken by the fabulous Dani and I’m post-work out, sans make up and I look about 6 years old. CHECK OUT MY CAKES AND BALLOON THOUGH!)
I got home, showered, made my hair fabulous, then climbed back into bed and watched Transformers and painted my nails. Work started at 2pm and finished at 11pm, and was high-adrenaline all day. Birthday celebrations that followed were marvellously hilarious.
This morning, I didn’t think I was going to run. I woke up still exhausted so I knew I wasn’t going to fit in a run and time to make myself look fab before heading out with my family for a birthday meal. So I stayed in bed and paid off my sleep debt (I’m a huge believer in paying back sleep debts). I did, however, run this evening. Luckily Rachel hadn’t been out either though, so we teamed up for some Sunday evening jogging and I finally cracked out my first 5-miler.
*insert celebratory shimmy here*
This is the screenshot of my run earlier:
It took just over an hour to run five and a half miles. That doesn’t sound very good, but let’s not focus on my speed, I’m happy being a slow-mo. I’m pretty psyched that I managed to run that far and for that long. This is NOT something I have envisioned myself doing at any point in my life so far. I also managed to fix my pacing and I was comfortable running for further and for longer before I needed to stop. I made it to nearly 2 miles before I did slow down to walk and that was because a stitch in my left side hit me hard. Then when I started running again I got one in my right side. Can somebody PLEASE explain how to get rid of stitches because, whatever I do, it doesn’t work and they really friggin’ hurt!
Other than the stitches, I still beat my target of 5 miles, I didn’t stop at all throughout the last mile and a half, I slipped in a sprint on the home run to my house and now I feel really good. Fabulous, even.
I treated Rachel and myself to birthday cake and tea after our non-fabulous stretching on my driveway.
I hope you all have a FABULOUS week. Go forth and be fab.
I’m really nervous. I have to crack 5 miles this evening.
I’ve had enough sleep, I had a coffee after my lunch earlier, it’s been at least 2 hours since I last ate.
But it’s really cold outside, it’s been raining on and off all afternoon, I haven’t done much training this week and ummmm… It’s cold. Wait, I said that…
On another note though, as I sit typing this with my legs up on a stool stretching my hamstrings (which are always tight), the front of my thighs feel AMAZING. Muscle definition has come up out of hibernation and, from the front, my legs look great.
It’s time for a fitness revolution. It’s time for women who train for the love of it. Time to get the focus off calorie counting and scales. Time to focus on how exercise makes us feel. Time to focus on being focused, determined, driven, goal oriented badasses who will race you to the bus stop and get in a lunch time press up competition with you. And we will win.
It’s time to not give a f**k who sees you in your lycra. It’s time to celebrate your sweat. It’s time to push yourself, to run so hard you leave your lungs on the track, throw your heels on after a session and walk home like a don.
Take the elevator if you want, we’ll be racing up the escalators, putting hand wraps on in the work bathrooms ready to go beat some pads come 5:30, clocking up miles between meetings, doing core exercises while we wait for the pasta to cook.
I will use (and ignore) any tactic to get me motivated enough to get up and out of bed in the mornings. If I could choose anywhere to waste hours away it would be my bed (I have The World’s Best Duvet Ever) or the shower (I really love showers, you know?).
This morning was no exception. I have a really long day today so I mentally structured the early part of my day to make sure I wouldn’t stress myself too much. I even translated my mental schedule into a literal schedule so that I’d stick to it. This is what it looked like:
6 - alarm.
6:30 - up, wash, dress, eat.
7 - run to station.
8 - Bootcamp.
8:45 - get train home.
9:15 - run home.
9:30 - shower, wash hair.
10 - snack.
10:15 - sleep.
11:45 - get ready.
12:45 - leave for work.
How fail-proof is that?! I was anticipating exhaustion and I wanted to combat that and get everything done on time. That way I could sleep before I got to work so that I wouldn’t be a zombie for the event I’m hosting tonight.
I woke up naturally this morning (for once), before my alarm went off, just when it was starting to get light outside. My first thought was ‘oooh, Spring is well on the way if it’s this light this early’. My second thought, after looking at the clock was ‘FML ON CRACK’. It was 07:51. ‘Nice one, idiot’.
My plan of military precision went out of the window. I had ages before I had to get up so I went back to sleep.
Moral of the story kids, although you may be stressed and sleep-deprived, NEVER FORGET TO SET YOUR ALARM.
My legs have been aching for three weeks now. Every day.
Sometimes they hurt when I move and sometimes my muscles are so tender I feel pain no matter what position I’m sitting/standing/walking/lying in. I have at least four muscle groups in various degrees of pain just because I tried to do some press ups last Friday.
It’s just occurred to me that I’m probably going to be aching non-stop until about a fortnight after race day. I already feel like I need a break just to experience life without my legs hurting.