@BlackRainbow have released the video from the Bridge the Gap weekend in Paris. Have a look!
Thanks to Jay, Black Rainbow and Paris Running Club for all the fun. Special thanks to Yue, Clemence, Sabrine, Sarah, Karl and Marwa for the extra fun!
Paris Running Club (@Paris_RC) do it with such finesse. I guess it helps that they’re such a beautiful group of runners.
New York, post-Sandy, was like a broken hearted friend. There were bright and resilient parts where the atmosphere was tough and excited, then you’d pass through a part of the city where there was still no power and it was like intruding on a private and raw pain. You wanted to make it better and just BE there until they were ok.
I stayed in Brooklyn with Jessie Zapo where there was power, people and parties. Probably a little too much for Grandma Mei. Lower and midtown Manhattan were worst hit by the hurricane and when I cycled through LES (Lower East Side) on Friday morning with Jessie and Anna it was like passing through a scene from a zombie movie. It was eerily quiet; stores closed, barely any pedestrians, a few cars and no traffic lights. If people were driving, the cars moved slowly and cautiously.
That being said, if you know New Yorkers, you know that the storm, if anything, hardened the city spirit and the community was strengthened by the common struggle. Hundreds of people were crossing the bridges over into Brooklyn to buy groceries and charge their phones and the restaurants in Brooklyn on Thursday night were packed and noisy as though it was a Saturday night. And then, of course, Bridge Runners always bring party vibes. You’d never have known that Frankenstorm had just vacated the island.
Even before I left London to fly to the States, I’d been following the news reports and Instagram updates to see how the city was faring after the storm. For a while, I could only see blackout party photos and tweets and my friends out running in the dark in Manhattan. It seemed like genuine fun. There were screenshots of news reports with runners passing behind the correspondents, clearly not budging from their training schedules for the upcoming Sunday NYC marathon because of a bit of wind and rain. Someone even posted a photo of a man doing tricks on a jet ski behind a news correspondent reporting on the storm’s damage.
Then I saw the reports in the days following that covered the aftermath of the storm. Cars were submerged in water on flooded streets and there were burnt houses after an uncontrollable fire. Thousands were evacuated and without water and electricity. Parts of New York City were suddenly thrown into darkness and cycling through Williamsburg on Thursday night, looking over the water to Manhattan, the city skyline was silhouetted against the light from the moon and moonlit clouds behind it. It was surreal. Hands down, it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life because even before I’d ever travelled to America, the lights of New York City were so familiar to me through countless movies and tv shows filmed in the city.
My friends in New York are hardcore and resilient and, despite the struggle, showed Charlie, Bangs, Shameek, Darkz and I a brilliant time. We ate good, we ran (and cycled) good and we partied good.
I’ve dipped in and out of running since summer because I often lose patience for how rubbish I am at it. I never seem to be able to obtain that runners’ high, but it’s people like those whom I travelled to NYC with and the Bridge Runners that keep me wanting to try. Every few weeks I suddenly get a burst of motivation and I find myself in Lycra and running trainers and I work up a sweat pounding London pavement. I saw a physio in September who established that my left leg is shorter than my right as my left side is generally weaker and less developed. This is the reason why I’ve been getting pains in my lower back and legs, especially as my calves are very developed but the muscles in my feet have lost flexibility and my core strength has gone to pot since I stopped ballet five years ago.
So since this makes it a little harder to run regularly without injuring myself again and again (and again), I generally just don’t. But then, as I’ve been running for about a year, when I don’t run I’m very conscious that my heart rate is rarely given a chance to race. So I bought a bike and try to do at least 20 miles a week.
I packed my running kit for NYC but had something rattling in my lungs and everyone knows you shouldn’t exert yourself when you have a chest infection and respiratory problems. The running for the Rebel Run was left to those who are good at it and I tagged along on Jessie’s cruiser. In fact, because the subway was mostly out of use and because I’m not a baller and I can’t afford cabs to take me everywhere, I went everywhere on Jessie’s bike. In two days I racked up 45 miles cycling in Brooklyn, cycling over bridges in and out of the city, from Lower East Side to Midtown and back, from store to store and from one location to a restaurant, etc etc. (FYI, the bridges are WAY steeper on the Brooklyn side and the Willy B will WIPE YOU OUT if you’re not ready for it). I actually fell asleep at dinner after the second day because my body was like “jet lag and 45 miles don’t make sense, you twat”.
When we found out the marathon was cancelled, we were gutted. Runners take other runners seriously, so cheering is literally the best thing you can do if you’re not running the race. I love cheering. I’m really loud and you’ll definitely hear me. I’ll probably wave a banner or a cowbell at you too. It sounds really fucking annoying, but when you’re running a long distance race, people that cheer by the side of the road really pull you though it. The louder, the better. If you’re like me, you’ll go through parts of the race where you want to suffer it alone, but conversely, there’ll be other parts where you really need company and some stranger cracking their voice to scream the name on your race bib is such a heartwarming thing. We were out in NYC to do just that and we felt terrible for all the thousands of runners who have trained for months to be able to run 26.2 miles. We thought it was going to go ahead - it seemed so certain. We couldn’t question the decision to cancel it though. Logistically, siphoning tens of thousands of runners through parts of the city where there had been flooding and no power didn’t make sense. Also, when hundreds of people had lost their houses and people had died, it seemed immoral to stage a marathon when relief was needed to help the disadvantaged get back on their feet. If anything, leaving the decision so late was the most controversial issue. I kind of get it. I mean, the ING NYC marathon pulls in around $300 million every year, mainly because of the people travelling into the state to run or to support the runners. That’s money the city needs after a natural disaster, but it’s still not SAFE.
Anyway, with no marathon, the Bridge Runners got together with the Orchard Street Runners and staged a 13.1 mile race on Sunday over three of the bridges, ending at Bowery Stadium on the LES. Race entry was bottles of water and cans of food and any charitable items that runners could bring.
I had a great time this past weekend, hanging with friends, making new ones, meeting MIA and speaking to New Yorkers about their city. Occasions such as this give you great opportunities to learn more about the people we share time with and society itself. It gives you the chance to learn new perspectives and to strengthen your own character as you see the resilience of those around you.
Thank you to the Bridge Runners for these lessons and opportunities. I love all of the experiences I’ve been privileged enough to have come across through meeting you all and your company is some of the best in the world. There’s no two ways about it.
Thank you also to Sasha for being a lady who looks after ladies. That’s important and an often under-appreciated attribute to be in possession of. It was a pleasure to spend time with you.
Thanks to Darkz and Shameek for always running and always being excited about everything. It reminds me to take my head out of the clouds and put my feet in my running shoes.
Thank you lastly, but not leastly, to Charlie and Bangs for being who you are and helping me to be who I am.
LDN Calling - BRIDGE THE GAP
I feel like I’ve been living my life on hyperdrive since mid-June. Subsequently, I’m SHATTERED and I now have a cold. Which BLOWS.
After two whirlwind weeks in New York City, I returned to London for another Bridge The Gap summit-type-international-meeting-of-runners-to-party-and-run-and-party thing. Absolutely wild and absolutely brilliant.
Last time, in Berlin, six crews congregated, ran a half marathon and danced all night in a party hosted by Run Dem Crew DJs. Nike really looked after us with a VIP spot for pre- and post-race chilling and the bar for the after-party.
This time, Bridge The Gap II – LDN Calling – involved more running and partying than Berlin, and made coming home to rainy London with post-holiday blues, a LOT easier to deal with.
I arrived home from NYC on Friday afternoon, ate, showered and dressed before cycling to Shoreditch to meet the Run Dem family and the international crews at the Hoxton Hotel. Seeing people like insanely cool Yue Wu (who I had last seen in Paris in April) and cheeky Jay Smith from the Paris Running Club and the Bridge Runners (who I’d seen less than 24 hours previously) in my home city was stupidly exciting and the atmosphere was literally buzzing.
Ten crews from ten cities rolled through for LDN Calling: London Run Dem Crew, New York Bridge Runners, She Runs LA, Berlin Graviteam, Paris Running Club, Athletics Far East Japan, Red Snakes Milano, Amsterdam Patta Running Team, Mexico Kanan Running Team and Russia Mosvka River Runners.
Chop and Charlie’s itinerary started with a run around Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Tower Bridge, before running along the South Bank to the grafitti tunnel at Leake Street where the teams stencilled the walls and competed in a drag race, sprinting, using Nike SPARQ parachutes. Props to Miss Harmony, representing the beautiful She Runs LA crew for leading the women and to Shameek from Run Dem Crew for smashing the men’s finals.
Boris bike X Leake Street
Crews X Leake Street
Yue, Sophie & Jay - Paris Running Club
All the girls from the crews!
Club founders. Alero - LA, Jay - Paris, Charlie - London, Coach Saes - NYC
Drag race trophy.
3 X Crew Love.
Mei X Boris Bike (taken from Heron Preston’s Instagram - @HeronPreston)
I’m still riding out this injury so I didn’t run, I just grabbed a Boris bike and cycled with the crews. But I did dance. A lot. Quest Love was DJing at Village Underground that night and the Bridge Runners, true to style, were the last to leave the dance floor.
The next morning, Charlie led the crews through East London to a studio in Stratford where signs were made for Cheer Dem Crew to hold for Sunday’s race. More drinks, more food, more vibes. Nike 1948 London hosted a barbeque for us that evening, and Charlie screened the RDC Youngers preview video from Ewan Spencer and Ed Skrein’s RDC Anthem video. Sharmadean’s party at Alibi that night had 30+ international visitors filling the dance floor, dancing hard and drinking hard, with some people (LIKE CEDRIC HERNANDEZ, infamous Bridge Runner, #thatshirtidontlike) only getting 2 hours sleep before his 10k race.
Paris go HARD!
Yue & I with honorary AZN Keith.
RDC Younger Olivier & Yue
Sami, Yue, me, Troy and Olivier. RDC X PRC.
No running, but LOTS of dancing. My shins ached for DAYS. Might as well have tried to run!
Skinny, Sami, Troy.
Being Coach Saes - COUNTS.
I met the crews after their race at the Nike+ FuelFest, hitching a ride with the Bridge Runners from Waterloo and rolling on to Battersea Power Station. Nike outdid themselves with an amazing venue with great food and a well-stocked bar. 2000 invited guests had Nike+ fuel bands to sync together and, while we partied to Magnetic Man and Tinie Tempah with the best set coming from Zane Lowe, our fuel points were counted on huge screens. Our running crews were wild, making it a real party. I’m pretty sure we racked up at least 100,000 points between us in the 3 hours we were there before we rolled onto the after-after-party where we really made it count (PUN ABUSE! SORRY!).
Ready to fuel up with beautiful Hanne.
Luke gets all the love!
Athletics Far East. Badass AZNS.
Troublemaker Troy! Von Majik.
Big love for mentor Bangs <3
The weekend was wild, 3 parties in a row and busy days, but not the end of the late nights. Luckily (or not), I was still running on NYC time (5 hours behind), so the 5am bed times weren’t hurting but the 7am alarm clock really was. Monday and Tuesday night saw my flat crammed with Bridge Runners, suitcases and Nike trainers (not all mine, I promise!) as the NYC crew crashed at mine.
Cocktails for the Bridge Runners, tea for Grandma Mei.
On Tuesday afternoon, we checked out the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern and walked to 1948 to catch an emotional housekeeping at RDC. Charlie awarded the many Nike British 10K medals (check the video from Jerome that I reblogged before). I love Charlie’s medal nights, because you get the chance to learn of amazing achievements of members of your crew. That night was no exception and I spent at least 15 minutes in a steady stream of tears, mostly a result of seeing the RDC Youngers’ success rewarded, especially Darkz and P Casso. Charlie Dark is more than a mentor to a lot of people, including myself, yet he speaks of each individual with so much respect and admiration. That is something that I really value about him. I never feel more special than after Charlie’s just told the room that my medal means something to him, or after a half an hour life and career talk in his kitchen after a painful morning run or after Run Dem when he says I’m on the right track. It means something, you know?
RDC Youngers and Keith (taken from RDC)
Keith & Jessie
Coach Saes & ‘Bridge Mom’ (according to Keith) Jessie.
I can totally see how Mike Saes keeps his crew tight too. Having met him briefly in Berlin, I was glad to spend a few afternoons and evenings at his studio in NYC, accompanied by John Law, chilling and, basically, learning. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we have a similar perspective in regards to running (except that he’s been running for years and I haven’t, and he’s actually good at it, whereas I still struggle with anything further than a mile). Neither of us like early morning runs (who does?!) and we both prefer to run with people as opposed to a solo slog through the city. I still find it hilarious that the founder of this whole urban running culture spent 2 nights with Jeggi and Cedric on my sofa and front room floor while badass Jessie Zapo and Crystal passed out with me in my room. Between Jessie and Coach Saes, the Bridge Runners are well looked after, and I wouldn’t trade the time I spent with them in NYC and London this past week.
My favourite photos of the week from RDC, by Tom Hull. Jay Smith of Paris Running Club above and below, Darkz, Dre and Femi right behind Charlie Dark at the 7K mark at the 10K race. Gunfingers. GO HARD OR GO HOME.
What I love about Bridge The Gap is the opportunity we are given to travel and meet like-minded people from around the world, and make things like races fun things to do. These things weren’t really on my radar before now. I mean, since when has a race been fun?! I have had the chance to talk to some great people this week and been given great advice from experienced runners such as Knox Robinson. The planning that went into LDN Calling is much appreciated because last weekend was unbeatable and I really, really, REALLY can’t wait till Amsterdam now!
Thanks Charlie. Thanks Chop.
The Final Countdown… BERLIN HALF MARATHON!
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.
In which we view ‘Perspective’ (20th March 2012)
20th March 2012:
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.