Done and dusted. Last night nearly 4000 women ran 10 kilometres through Victoria Park. Nice work, ladies, I’m happy and proud.
Nike threw down in style and hosted a brilliant event full of light, music and a LOT of orange. The Elle UK, Nike tent and the media tent were buzzing and it was so nice to see so many people that I’ve worked and trained with over the past three years. Yesterday was basically like a massive reunion for me.
The race, for me, went as expected. I ran so much more than I thought I could, but still slowed down to walk a bit and stretch out a horrible stitch I had between the third and sixth kilometre. Saima, Clara, Eman and I stuck together throughout much of the course while Bwalya skipped off into the distance - she was in her element! It was amazing to see Eman and Saima gain confidence and push through to pull off in the last quarter of the race. I think I’m best at supporting and I kept checking in to see how everyone was feeling. It was a pleasure to keep Clara going right to the end and we kept it chilled and finished off with a zippy sprint and a can of gin & tonic that Kirby handed over as she cheered us at the 100m mark. I don’t drink so my present was a sachet of ketchup (don’t ask, I didn’t).
My favourite thing about the whole event was the fact that much of the course was lined by the hundreds and hundreds of boyfriends, husbands and kids who came to support the runners. It was so touching to witness! My boyfriend and his housemate (Eman’s boyfriend) moved around the course so we saw them cheering at four different points during the race. SO GOOD! Lots of high fives and “YOU’RE MY BEAUTIFUL RUNNING GODDESS, KEEP GOING!” shouts. Hilarious and so needed. You guys are the best!
Cheer Dem Crew nearly made me weep. Jesus, Run Dem love can be so emotional. Chevy was up ahead on the lookout for Run Dem girls and then we ran through a tunnel of Run Dem dudes, waving banners and shouting support. I love you guys! #MILE21 is unparalleled. Special shout to half of the Incline Accelerators shouting SARAH MEI! SARAH MEI! I will not repeat Dommy’s own brand of motivation, just know it was LOLZ.
The We Own The Night coloured lights and flashing bracelets were gorgeous and the motivational signs and banners designed by Nike for the event were great to see. The music was brilliant, although the quiet parts of the course took their toll. Shouts to Josey Rebelle, Martelo and Lynda Phoenix for making the run feel like the dancefloor.
Having seen the Nike, Elle, Exposure, AKQA and Slice teams working on this event the day I shot the Elle Edit collection in March, I’ve seen how much planning and hard graft has gone into this. So appreciated, guys!
The outcome was a fun race and evening event where thousands of women ran, raced and beat personal records. Most significantly, so many of these women were inspired or motivated to try something they hadn’t done before. It was nice to do something just for the ladies as so many sporting events in the UK are dominated by men, which is often quite intimidating for women who feel that they couldn’t possibly join in or compete. Bwalya, Saima, Clara and Eman are all new to running and committed to doing something entirely new over the past few weeks leading up to last night. I’m so, so proud of you girls. You SMASHED IT.
I’m really glad I was asked to do this event, it’s been brilliant the whole way through. I broke my own personal best last night for a 10k. Not quite a speedy 45 minutes (add a half hour to that), but the last time I ran that distance was with Run Dem at some point last summer when we ran to the Olympic Stadium and back. I’m proud of me. HIGH FIVE ME! WOOOH!
We owned it last night, ladies. The girl crews SMASHED IT. Well done us!
We Own Tonight
So, race day is here. The fourth race I’ve signed up to but the second I’m running.
I’ve pulled out of two half marathons before now, opting to cheer for my crew rather than make my existing injuries worse.
But tonight, I’m RUNNING! This race is in my hometown and I am EXCITED.
True to style, I haven’t really trained for it, I’ve kind of just been panic running once or twice a week either on my own or with Eman. But tonight, me and my unofficial (BUT SO OFFICIAL) girl crew (The Basketball Wives of Hackney) will be pounding pavement in Victoria Park.
Eman and Bwalya are both new to running and we share a love of complaining about it (I still don’t love running, nothing’s changed).Eman, ratings to her, has been out, after work, running home, or through Regent’s Park putting in the practice for this evening’s event. She injured her ankle on Wednesday though, so tonight we’ll be taking in the atmosphere rather than tearing through the course (LOL at the very thought of me running at speed anyway).
Eman and I run at comfortable 11-12 minute miles and so does Saima who is also joining us tonight. Bwalya has been training solo due to work hours. Up until now she’s been running in a pair of Maharam X Nike Skinny Dunk Highs which I gave to her about a year ago. I’ve been pestering her for weeks to go and get a gait analysis and she did that on Wednesday, learning that she over-pronates slightly and she’d be best in a pair of LunarGlide+ 4 trainers. Luckily, I had a pair to give her (they’re unfortunately not the recommended trainers for me) so we exchanged dinner for fresh footwear (thank you Nike for helping me to help my friends). Turns out though, that Bwalya, although she’s been panicking and moaning about her fear for this race, actually runs 8 minute miles. 8 MINUTE MILES. That’s 4 minutes faster than the rest of us. If she whinges at any point tonight, I will demand a piggyback.
Anyway, the race kicks off at 8pm and I can’t wait to see the sea of neon orange tshirts as girl crews unite and run by night, surrounded by light, music and vibes. I’m really looking forward to it.
Shouts to the crews out in Copenhagen, running the marathon tomorrow. You’ll smash it! Party after party after party by the sounds of it (NBRO are the ULTIMATE party crew). #mamarun #braidgang #bridgethegap
WE OWN THE NIGHT - CALLING ALL LADIES.
Do you feel like there needs to be a race just for the girl crews and fast females in the UK? A short and sharp route, perhaps, with a festival vibe? A 10k in London in Spring? Maybe an evening race, you know, to be a bit different, so we can make a ‘thing’ of it? A race where fashion and fitness unite and unicorns line the sides of the route*? A run with a party atmosphere?
It’s happening. Nike UK and Elle UK have teamed up to cater to girl crews and ladies in lycra who want all of the above. (*fashion and fitness will be present, the unicorns, however, will not be).
Of course I’m down to be involved. I’ve been looking for a small race to train for, to keep my legs going, but one with no pressure for speed so I can just enjoy it. I would never have dreamed of an evening race (my preferred time to run) that is as much about enjoying the atmosphere as enjoying the run itself. But yeah, that’s what’s happening. I still kind of can’t believe it and I’m really looking forward to it (I know, ME, looking forward to running, SO LOLZ).
Rewind to a fortnight ago and Elle and Nike put an evening of cocktails, smoothies, photo shoots and race sign ups to get the ball rolling. I was invited to be involved and the photo above is one that was taken of me on the evening.
True to form, I haven’t started training yet, but with a month to go myself and my mini girl crew featuring Bwalya and Eman are tackling the miles as of next week. We’re the [Unofficial But So Official] Basketball Wives of Hackney (all three of our boyfriends run the court and, um, all live in Hackney).
The race is Saturday the 18th of May. I am bringing my girls and vibez to the start line. See you THERE.
Sign up here for the WE OWN THE NIGHT 10K race.
If you’re signing up but are worried about training, Nike and Elle are running classes leading up to the race. The Nike+ Run Club is every Monday evening at Niketown London and the Nike Training Club class is every Wednesday evening in Hyde Park. Check out: @NikeUK @ElleUK @ElleUKRunning for times and information. The sessions are free so just show up and get involved - I will be!
The shoot I did for Nike UK before Christmas has been up since the new year and the images are on the Nike store homepage and on the Facebook page for Nike Running.
Darkz, Jamie, Venetia, Lina, Orsi, Elle, Petra and lots of Nike Fitness Club trainers spent a day doing drills (HELL) and sprints (MORE HELL) in East London for the Make It Count campaign. Anything I do with Run Dem Crew is fun. Never a dull moment. The drills were worth it for the laughs we had.
Still hate the word “banter” though…
I found the other pics on the Nike Facebook page. The photos of my brother, Chris, were from the Nike+ Run Club New Year’s Day Make It Count run from Niketown London. He’s one of the pacers for Nike+ Run Club when he’s not at uni and he came straight from the airport to join in on the run and enjoy the three free breakfasts. What a winner (div).
This is the behind the scenes video of the shoot that Olivier @oliviergeraghty and I ran around in the dark in Shoreditch for late last year for CRACK Magazine. It was FREEZING but totally worth it. It helps when you’ve got a really nice team on board though and lots of hot chocolate.
This is the first shoot I’ve done using light painting, but I love the effects Sola created by running around like a Jedi wannabe behind us with a big LED light stick with coloured gels sellotaped to it. Lots of long exposure shots with lots of controlled shivering, but lots of LOLZ on set.
The rest of the images are up on CRACK Magazine's site.
Running with Darkz and Venetia up and down, over and under bridges, lots of (fucking) banter banter banter (I hate that word) and lots of Nike+ Fuelpoints earned. This was a fun shoot and we’re on the UK Nike store site for the New Year Make It Count campaign.
HAAAAAAIIIII! I’M RUNNING. RUNNING ON NIKE’S HOMEPAGE! *waves* 2013….How will y’all #MakeItCount? I will be going hard with training! Happy New Year folks, hope it’s a good one! x
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.