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.
Elle. She’s a beaut, init? I met this woman when she turned up late to last year’s Run To The Beat, pulling on her trainers and asking wildly, “WHERE IS EVERYONE? HAS EVERYONE ALREADY GONE? OK, I NEED TO GET GOING!” At the time, she was fresh off a plane from Paris Fashion Week and onto a South London half marathon route, and now this woman is running all over the world. RATINGS.
She was a #TeamBangsontheRun2 girl and another reason for me to join #TeamBangsontheRun3.
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.
First half marathon done. After party done. Muscles recovered. New friends made. Old relationships strengthened. For all that were worried, my mashed up trainers have now been rescued (Johnson’s baby wipes are the truth).
Thank you Run Dem Crew. Thank you New York Bridge Runners. Thank you Copenhagen NBRO. Thank you Paris Run Club. Thank you Berlin Graviteam. Thank you Amsterdam Precinct5. Thank you Zurich RC8K. Thank you Hong Kong Harbour Runners. Thank you to every individual who ever offered a word of support or shared a joke with me about my progress. These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of experiences I’m in no hurry to forget. Thank you Nike Running. Your support and hospitality made the Berlin Half Marathon 2012 and my weekend in Germany one of the best times of my life.
P.S. I signed up for the Amsterdam Half Marathon, October 21st. I want to be able to run 13.1 miles in under 2 hours and 30 minutes and then party hard with this international family. This blog won’t end with Berlin, so for those of you who asked or wondered if I’d keep writing and running, I’m happy to say that I’m here to stay.
Pre-race, start line nerves… LET’S RUN A HALF MARATHON!
More shots from Berlin 2012.
Shots from Berlin 2012.
Thank you, Gisele.
In which we have finished our very first half marathon.
12.5 miles. I hate running.
When I met ‘The Wall’. The Berlin one.
"You’re all heroes".
(I can’t record stuff AND run).
"Hello, Mrs Giraffe!"
(We call this ‘delirium’).
10 miles. “I am so sick at life”.