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.
I’m just over halfway into my holiday in New York, and so far, it’s just as amazing as everyone said it would be. I don’t want to leeeeeeave! If I didn’t have a job to return to, and a crew to run with, I’d hide out here until I got bored or the US government turfed me out. The latter is far more likely - I think we all know that.
Last time I posted, I was about to go to see a physio about pains in my lower legs. Just as expected, it was shin splints. No great surprise there, but not remotely encouraging to have it confirmed. It turns out that since I’ve stopped dancing (I did a lot of ballet growing up), I’ve lost a lot of flexibility in my feet and in the muscles attaching my Achilles heels to my calves. As a result, this tightness is creating a lot of strain and effectively pulling on the muscles around my shins. The term shin splints can often be used to describe a few causes of pain in the lower legs, but ultimately, it is when your muscles begin to rip away from the bones they are attached to. Did you just throw up in your mouth a bit? It kind of makes you wince to hear that, and it scares you shitless to learn that’s what’s happening to your legs. Suddenly you start thinking HOW?! What did I DOOOO?!
For me, it’s a mixture of a poor running style (which is largely due to weak core muscles and not enough power in my glutes and hamstrings), tight muscles and the wrong running shoes.
I know I overpronate, so I need footwear that provides support to stop ankle rolling. I usually run in Nike Zoom Stucture Triax, which is the shoe with the firmest support option that Nike sell. The shoe utilises a dual density foam, with a pretty solid section just behind the arch of the foot to prevent as much rolling as possible. This is an old school shoe, first released in 1990-91, and (if you’re vain about your shoes, like me) not necessarily the model you’d pick up first when you’re looking at the selection that Nike has to offer.
I was running in a pair of LunarEclipse+ trainers earlier in the year when I was training for the Berlin half marathon, but had a half size too big. I got a pair in the right size of the LunarEclipse+ 2 new releases when they dropped around April, because they really are a beautiful shoe - easily my favourite supportive running silhouette. The support in this shoe comes from a dynamic support system, which means that it really comes into effect as you start moving. The cushioning is insane - its like running on pillows - and they are beautifully light. The added bonus is that they look as great with a pair of shorts or rolled up jeans as they do with Lycra. For me, personally, though, my gait demands firmer shoes - strictly Structures for me - as I need support rather than cushioning.
The reason why I’ve drivelled on about this for so long, and why I decided to share it in the first place, is because it is extremely important to make sure you are running in the correct shoes. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your body, but your feet might need a certain type of support and that needs to be taken into account when you’re buying running shoes. This is something that differs with each individual. Please don’t tell me you wear your friend’s kicks to jog around the park in?!
Most running stores provide a gait analysis service, which involves running for about 15 seconds on a treadmill while they film the back of your feet to check the alignment of your ankles in regards to your foot strike. It’s ridiculously easy. Some places do charge, but Nike stores definitely do these for free, so make the most of it before you invest in new shoes.
Different shoes do different things. Sports companies don’t just make performance shoes that look totally different just for the sheer hell of it, so my advice is don’t just go for what looks good. The performance aspects in each shoe have been researched and meticulously designed to create features that athletes need. That applies to us too. Bill said it best: “If you have a body, you are an athlete” (Bill Bowerman, Nike).
I rely on advice from specialists that work in Nike stores, as well as the physio that I see, my dad (who teaches radiography and physiology) and the experienced runners that I know. Trust me, anyone who likes running also likes to talk about running, so it’s not hard to come across someone who will be happy to share their experiences for you to compare and apply to your own.
ANYWAY. Enough blahs about shoes. I’m sure you’re bored. I didn’t do any running for weeks and I was pretty worried that I was going to come out to New York, visit the Bridge Runners, but not be able to run with them. Thankfully, by the Wednesday before I left for NY, I wasn’t feeling any pain when walking or climbing up or down stairs. This was mega! And made me super excited about my holiday. Spending any length of time with runners when you can’t run would SUCK.
I turned up to Bowery Stadium with John to run on Wednesday evening, totally excited, but nervous that my stamina was going to take a beating. Having not run in a while, I knew I was going to suffer.
I’d spent the day on a rented bike, cycling from Downtown Manhattan, over the Williamsburg Bridge, through Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Keith Haring exhibition. 10 miles on two wheels in the sun and then 5 miles pounding Manhattan streets… WHAT WAS I THINKING?! This is me, we’re talking about. BEYOND BRAVE.
Needless to say, I struggled, but John was patient, Robin and Jessie were understanding, and Coach Saes didn’t look like he wanted to ban me from running with the crew again, so I didn’t feel too bad. I saw some familiar faces from Berlin and met other good peoples. I finally met Tony (writer behind A Running Life With Friends - one of my favourite blogs) and laughed with Mali about the whole running experience so far. Drinks followed (Red Bull for me, SO ROCK AND ROLL) and food followed that.
We ran again the next day, from Bowery Stadium to the new Nike Running Flatiron store. We took a couple of detours to make a mile and a half stretch a little further to give the crews filming for Nike something decent to capture. Lots of laughs and good vibes. My shins started hurting though. They’re still hurting now, and it’s been two days since I ran. I’m not sure how long I’m going to need to rest for this time. FML. I’m not running the Nike Great British 10K, but I want to start training for the Amsterdam Half Marathon pretty soon. I have 2 hours 47 minutes to beat, but I know I could do it in a sub-2:30 or less if I train properly.
I’ve been sitting in Miss Lily’s for the past 3 hours, eating, drinking, writing and chilling to good music. If you ever want good West Indian food in Downtown, good reggae, and to spend your meal staring at phenomenally beautiful women, go here! New favourite spot.
Signing out now. Blah’d too much for too long.
Hope London’s sunny when I get home!
Last week, Kei, Ken and Dennis met me after work to ask about myself and running.
Before you say it, I know, LOL at me being interviewed for running, but I guess, for some, I have a somewhat interesting perspective on my experiences over the past year and my “running lifestyle” (LOL again). People who read this blog tell me that there is a lot that they can identify with and, if Corner magazine print my interview, I feel like I’m going to be one of the few newbie runners featured who still doesn’t find it that easy. We’ll see.
Japan’s Corner magazine is ‘A Journal of a Runner’s Lifestyle’, specifically, and I enjoyed reminiscing and talking to Ken while he and Dennis sat in my kitchen listening to me blah about running, who I’ve met and where I’ve been. John Law from the NY Bridge Runners was in London so they took shots of us both running in the city. Fingers crossed the images don’t look like I’ve just discovered I’ve got legs and running is a completely foreign concept to me.
Easter Monday: I meant to post this as soon as I got out of the car last month, but evidently I forgot to blog it.
However, nothing’s changed and I still feel the same about everything that I talk about in this video - especially with regards to the people who have influenced my attitude and running achievements over the last few months. Namely, Charlie Dark and Bangs - Papa and Mama Runner.
Jeggi and Peigh. Pre-RunDemCrew link up a few weeks ago. Two very special people in my running life.
Peigh is one hell of an inspiration, running a half marathon every month and I’ve known him since I was about 14. The love only grows stronger.
Jeggi is Jeggi. Jeggi is amazing and my cup of tea. From San Diego via Bridge Runners New York, to London’s Run Dem Crew, this dude has gained speeds I can only dream of right now. I could spend hours listening to this dude talk.
Sunday 8th April - train to Paris…
(Sorry this is late, I forgot that I wrote it)…
A week after my first half marathon in Berlin I’m on a train back in Europe, with someone for whom running has quite vastly changed their life and perspective in the last three years for the better. My life is coloured by friends, some of them relatively new, who share the same view and this has definitely had a positive impact on the way that I view running and fitness. I also feel that it’s largely due to a big turn within the fashion and beauty industries where there has been a subconscious (or maybe not) shift from female attractiveness derived from the skinny and hungry looks to the well-toned physiques I now see everywhere. Looking and being genuinely healthy is tres fashionable now. Who knew?! Having said that, because I’m not modelling so much anymore and my interests have always been in casual trends, sportswear and beautiful people, maybe this isn’t so circumstantial…
Regardless, my point is that my perspective has changed over the past few months and I find myself wanting to move and be active. I want to tone up and be able to run miles without passing out. I have no interest in dieting in order to stay a certain size, but I do believe that just because you’re slim, it doesn’t mean you’re healthy and I would much rather have nice arms - firm, not massive, obvz - than triceps the consistency of Angel Delight. I don’t eat (a lot of) junk food, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. I’m pretty boring actually. My vices are cake, dessert, tea and biscuits. I’m a really cheap date. Unless we’re eating steak, in which case I like good quality, beautiful cuts of medium-rare meat, if that’s alright with you.
This might just be my half-marathon high talking. I still haven’t come down yet and I kind of wanted to leave this post to be written when I was grounded and back to my usual grumpy self. I’m not entirely sure why, but I have had a week of wanting to run and be surrounded by runners. I haven’t actually DONE any running - I should probably make that clear, because I’m sure that means something - but where there’s a will, there’s a way. I work for a company that does everything it can to make things better for the athlete, professional or not, and this has been a very large contributing factor in my attitude to running. Add to this the past few weeks with Run Dem and Bangs and I’ve realised that running is very likely to remain a prevalent activity in my life, for the next few months at the very least, whether I work for Cadbury’s or the Prime Minister.
There is nothing like running a half marathon (except for maybe a whole marathon, but I’ve never done one of those, and my pain threshold is pretty pathetic so comparing my half-mara experiences to other peoples’ marathon stories kind of just sounds the same). Firstly, I can now finally see why people do these things for fun. When I say ‘fun’, I just mean that they do it without having a barrel pressed between their shoulder blades, forcing them to move (except I do now know people who do this kind of thing for fun). The sense of achievement you feel when you (finally) cross the finish line is incomparable. The achievement only really appears to me in waves as the predominant feeling for me was relief, but it’s the sense that I’ve done a whole three miles on foot without hijacking someone’s car (and believe me, in certain areas of Berlin I was often reminded of Jason Bourne and wanted to parkour over a few taxis onto a tram) that makes me think wow, I just did a half-marathon and I only cried once (technically the other three times were post-race).
The nervous energy that built up last Sunday morning had me nearly losing my nut when I couldn’t find the bar where Run Dem Crew were holding fort, pre-race, with the Bridge Runners, NBRO, Graviteam, Precinct 5, RC8K, Harbour Runners and the Paris Running Club guys. I was scared I would miss Charlie’s Run Dem mantra, which delivers a dose of adrenaline to my bloodstream and fire to my resilience. It was a packed bar and the vibes were electric. My nerves were soothed and the smiles and hugs made my pre-race prep a whole lot easier. Waiting in the pens with my brother, Marcus and John from the NY Bridge Runners was a laugh. Rachel, Dani and Christiana were just behind and I ended up dancing because I felt so restless and nervous. It felt like a very serious and badly themed carnival.
The race started well. I managed over two miles before I slowed down to walk, a personal best. Nothing remotely glamorous, but a private victory. I then ran and walked my way through the city. Making sure I was running past all the drum bands banging out battle beats. If I wasn’t running, I was dancing - I was adamant that I would make some parts of the journey fun.
It didn’t take long for me to get bored. The constant stream of inappropriate jokes from Chris helped immensely though – as did the tea, which I thought was beer at first sight. That tea, in fact, was like a syrupy hug at times. Loaded with honey and lemon, it got the bad taste out of my mouth and distracted me for a minute or two each time I slowed down for a re-up.
So, basically, I ran and walked the race. I was doing 12 minute miles on average so I did alright. I got to 12.5 miles and cried though. I couldn’t help it. I knew the finish line was close and it made me feel a sudden burst of confused emotions that were expressed through awful and embarrassing childlike tears. I had to cover my face. I was so pissed off that I was STILL on the road and that it had taken so long. I was very aware that I was testing my brother’s patience and I was trying not to let him down. I was also aware that I had very nearly finished a whole race without giving up. I was watching finished and happy racers walking back along the pavements. I was tired. I was embarrassed. I was looking forward to hugs from everyone. I was annoyed that I didn’t train hard enough, that I couldn’t commit (for whatever reasons). I was overwhelmed by the new experience and the sheer relief that it was nearly over. There was so MUCH running through my mind that I cried very loudly for about a minute. And then I was fine. I literally just needed the physical cathartic release in order to break free from the bad mood and sprint.
Then my brother pointed out a big white archway, which I was pretty sure was just a sponsorship thingy, but I pegged it anyway. I even picked up speed when two guys stretched big plastic streamers across the road and I sprinted through them because I thought it was the finish line and then nearly doubled and pummelled their faces when I realised that they were being idiots as it wasn’t the finish line.
I rounded the final corner and saw the real end in sight. My brother pulled out his phone and moved ahead to film me finishing the race. I ran. I saw Candice screaming madly from the sideline, waving a Run Dem Crew cowbell, with a wide berth around her. She was bursting ear drums of other supporters and I nearly burst into fresh tears when she yelled my name (God, I’m PATHETIC!). I went over the finish line with my arms waving triumphantly (haphazardly) in the air and then immediately started crying again. The lady who gave me my medal hugged me, slightly overwhelmed by my overwhelmedness. Poor thing, I think I scared her.
Bar Babette was rammed when I walked back in to grab my bag. A million faces smiled at me and a spabillion arms grabbed me and hugged me. I got upstairs to see Charlie and thank him for getting me to the start line and over the finish line and ended up crying again. I definitely scared Charlie, Mark and Wayne and had to explain they were happy tears. I sat down to stretch and saw Bangs climbing over RDC runners to get to me. I cried again. Then Orsi came over and she cried too. There’s a drought in the UK because Orsi and I took all the water and cried it all over Berlin. We’re sorry.
I spent the afternoon trying and failing to relax and then spent the night dancing until my running-related knee pain became a dancing-related one, then took myself home. If you want to know what happened at the after party, ask someone else – this post is already of mammoth proportions. All I’ll say is that I sweated more in the club than I did on the streets that morning. Half-marathons are hard yo, but challenge me to dance all night at an after-party and I’ll win every medal there is. My marathons are on the dancefloor.
I ran a half marathon in Berlin one week and cycled 10 miles through Paris the next. This week has been GOLDEN. I’m loving my new attitude to MOVEMENT.
Unofficial, small scale, Bridge Runner - Run Dem Crew - Paris Running Club link up.
Pre-race, start line nerves… LET’S RUN A HALF MARATHON!
More shots from Berlin 2012.
Shots of Berlin 2012 - continued…
Shots from Berlin 2012.