What a difference a year makes

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I just put my Amsterdam Half Marathon with the five others that I have collected over the past twelve months. To say I had a moment when I did would be a huge understatement.

This time last year I had just found out that I didn’t get a place at London Marathon (VLM,) I had just started to train after trying back in that March and kept getting injured so gave up. Wrong shoes (that’s for another post.)  I had decided on doing a bungee jump, a half marathon (Silverstone) and a full marathon. I almost gave up when things got really hard, but there was a voice in my heart that kept me going.

Fast forward twelve months and I have not only done those things, I have also added a second half marathon to that list, two 10ks and a five mile cross country a week after I ran Edinburgh marathon. My life has taken a real serious turn and it has been for the best. I will be finishing my level 2 Personal Trainer qualification next year, am in a permanent job and hopefully adding to the medal collection with the Paris Half, Edinburgh Marathon, running the VLM through the MS Society who I’ve already raised money for this year and the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Yes, an Ultra Marathon.

I cannot begin to tell you what my friend running has done to my life – as much as we have had huge ups and downs.  I have clocked up 400 or so miles in the last 12 months. Counselling has made a HUGE difference in my life and my spiritual journey has been nothing short of brilliant.

There are many people along this course who all have inspired, helped or even dragged me to certain points, but no-one has made me do any of this apart from me. It maybe crass to toot your own horn, but right now I am playing my own damn symphony and aint scared to play it loud!!

Here is to the next twelve months. If you have played a part in me getting to this point (you know who you are ‘cos I done told you so;) big up yourselves.

An Open letter to Charlie Dark and Run Dem Crew

Credit Tom Hull (look at my baby watching my other son receive his medal)

Dear all,

I have been a “runner” for just over a year now and it has been one of the biggest roller coasters one could imagine.

When I first started on this journey, I had a lot of crap going on in my life (nothing new I guess) but I was feeling restless, I was relatively fit, but my health was up and down, the condition I have means that I can be great one day and totally terrible within twenty-four hours.

Work was just the worst place to be and in general I was literally on auto pilot getting my son from A to B and home with very little energy to do much else. I felt the depression creeping up on me again and I was not liking it at all.

After watching the London Marathon again, I got a hair brained idea to sign up and train. Redfella and two others were harassed into signing up and for a month or two we ran together a couple of times, but with work or other reasons we didn’t all manage to train again.

Fast forward a Summer of not very much fitness and a lot of drinking and a little bit of Carnival and before I knew it I was in a funk. No George Clinton.

So when the commiseration booklet from Virgin London Marathon came through (what a cruel way to let you down, by the way *side eye*) I thought eff this, I want to still run a marathon and I WILL finish this ting. I had done some research on non balloted marathons through the Summer and decided to run in Edinburgh and Silverstone half as a “warm up” and a guide as to how the full marathon would go. The same time someone I knew had a relapse so I then decided to raise some money for the MS Society. I had taken note of your Twitter feed for most of that Summer thinking I’d love to be a part of that, but thought that I wasn’t good enough to go and run with experienced folk like you lot. I also signed up to be part of the Bangs n the Run crew, but didn’t make it in and that at the time knocked my confidence a little more.

Redfella and I decided after we sat for hours researching and sending each other emails that we would start a long run on a Sunday with a run in the week with another club, for a while it was okay, but the days where we weren’t running together we felt isolated. No one really spoke to each other when we turned up, it was as if you were running alone. My yearning to join RDC became a lot stronger and I know speaking to Redfella he agreed.

I contacted Bangs and we were told the place was full to the rafters until January, so we plodded on until then growing in confidence with distances but keeping an eye on RDC as an end goal.

When the time came for us to join you guys, it was the most exciting time and you did not fail to meet that expectation. I arrived and was made to feel like I was welcome from the moment i stepped through the doors and smiling at a few people I followed with them wondering who the hell was this little 5’2 chick grinning at. (that includes you Candice) but I didn’t business.

I documented that meeting here and I won’t bore you now as this post is already looking like a novel.

Every day since becoming one of the crew, I have felt as if I have been a part of this movement for a lot longer.

Charlie .. even with me smiling at you like a crazed stalker from Twitter (which I kinda was, you following me pon di Twitter ting was amazing. I respect you as a musician and from the Blacktronica era. before all of this) you didn’t get a restraining order, instead you were there to greet me as I sprinted back to you guys shouting encouragement.

Bangatron: You got me in, fam. I know you know how much that meant to myself (and Redfella) without getting even more corny, I kinda owe you one. Thank you.

The rest of you: What can I say? You guys are some completely bonkers folk from so many walks of life. Most of ya I have managed to speak with even briefly and few of you I have managed to become friendlier with due to us running together or going to Chaka’s class. (He’s a next person I have the utmost respect for. Want to know who helped cultivate the abs Charlie talks about? *Chaka voice* Come to class and do your homework!!  – I am lifting grown people and carrying them over my shoulders now yanna!! Don’t PLAY.) You all in your own way have made me realise my potential. I really wanted to give up when I was going through a really difficult period and the running and you lot made me remember why I am here and how foolish of me it would be to stop and then not be able to be with you lot. Amazing people like Shameek who has adopted me as his Mum and the fantastic Nathaniel. You are both wonderful young men who have worked so hard through various tribulations and not used excuses to do the easier thing and give up. All of you who have come to find me when sh*t has gotten rough and dragged me out that lull. So many to call by name, but I again thank you. You could never understand how much that means when you are at your worst/lowest point.

My sister who would never run for a bus is now running. She started the week after housekeeping and the ceremony for the Mc Run Dem Warriors and Bupa 10K crew who came home with medals after surviving the hottest day of 2012. She saw how much YOU people have helped me on my journey and the support that was shown for us running in that intense heat. The girl runs twice a week sometimes and is getting into it all. NONE of that would have happened had I not been at Run Dem.

That medal ceremony even now fills me with joy and release. Thinking about it as I write this is making me a little emotional (no tears, I have something inna mi eye *coughs*) I have always wanted to run a marathon, but never dreamed I would do it, let alone with energy to drag an injured man across the finish screaming and hyping up the crowd in the process. Like, really though?!

While I am not a long term member just yet, I really want you ALL to know that I am incredibly proud to be a member of this unorthodox bunch of misfits, shouting random street slang as I run, wearing my tee in random places Corey makes me sign up to, taking photos where the tallest person in the group blocks my damn face, cheering on weary runners in races hoping that they finish cos it means I am in a group of many other weird people like myself. I have four race medals under my belt with one to come this weekend, God willing and another in October. This time last year I wasn’t running more than 4/5 miles. Fricking hell man.

Life aint perfect, but I am a MUCH happier person than I was a year ago. Good job, training to be a Personal Trainer, feeling stronger physically and mentally .. That’s a start, right? Ya damn right it is!!

To the six of you that started this madness, thank you from my family to ours. Y’all rock.

Charlie. Calling you a friend is nothing short of a privilege. Salute El Captain.

One Love (with obligatory gun finger)

When Angel met Harvel

No your eyes are not deceiving you.

Yes this is my rest period, post marathon.

Yes I ran a five mile cross country race Saturday, what can I say? I was just loosening off my legs.

I can tell you something from the jump, before we had even left our meeting point, I KNEW the day would be a special one. I met Darren, Candice and Ama at Sydenham station the only way I know how when I am with any of Rundemcrew. Gunshots from my gun finger. Moments Later Corey, the friend who kindly drove us to Harvel got out his car in his flip flops and socks to greet us. Before we were in the car, I had cried twice with laughter. By time we had arrived in Harvel, I was exhausted from laughing so much. But Harvel knew we had arrived, dubstep blaring out the car and the only “urban” folk to set foot in the quiet Kent village.

We arrived early so wandered up from the car park (a sh*t filled field – if you read last weeks race report, know I was a little peeved) to the area just before the start to collect our timing chips and come back for a bit to get changed/hydrate etc. before we headed back to the start area still catching far too much jokes along the way.

The other ladies who were coming from Rundemcrew’s West London group (which Corey organises) found us and we finished getting ready and headed for the start line.

Race started promptly at 2pm, which I am not used to. Any races I did in my time as a sprinter, Race for Life and in my current guise as a long distance runner has meant an early start.

That said, as I have said and continue to, it takes me a couple of miles to get going. Not good for a five miler, but hey. I decided straight away that I was not going to have any plan apart from treating this as a weekend run with a medal as my reward. The others pulled away early on and left Candice and I. She has had a well earned rest after London Marathon and recovering from injury. After a mile, I could feel myself pushing so I took up the pace and went with it.

Two miles in we had come off the country road and were in wooded area. It was very humid but the trees protected the sun which was trying to burn off the cloud. At this point I decided I need to invest in a pair of trail shoes as my feet were a little sore from last week and the tree roots weren’t sympathetic. Mid-way was refreshment in cups of water, jelly babies and cans of beer. I refrained, but it was a nice change from Lucozade!

A middle aged wrinkly dude with a beer hat in his club vest decided that he wanted to compete with me and proudly exclaimed that

“I am a male chauvanist and don’t like it when a woman beats me.”

Totally laughing it off as a joke, I ignored him and pressed on. I was there to have a fun run, get a medal and go home. It clear from that point on that this idiot thought different. Pretty much the rest of the run he would pass me, lose his momentum and when I passed he’d nastily say “you again” and then pass me. This was when he wasn’t blocking me *sigh.*

During this I managed to snatch moments to look at the stunning view in snippets of clearing and wandered if I tripped him up if he would roll down the bank into a tree. I blocked him out and took the old fart on the hill and left him in my wake for almost a mile before he was back on my tail again. These club runners are a lot, this man was thinking he was Mo Farrah. BLUD, I just ran a marathon.

Reminded myself where I was a week ago and left him to it as I didn’t want an injury, and the temptation of tripping him now we were back on the road a mile away was too strong.

Last mile was a blur, I felt myself pick up the pace and decided I would kick the turbo on for the last half mile as I was on course for a sub 50. Seeing the 400 yard sign, this turned into a sprint until I saw the finish and heard the crew shouting. Gunfinger popped off a few for my crew.

49:09. Not bad. Not ecstatic, but given its my first trail run a week after a marathon I can’t complain.

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Dinner at a beautiful village pub by a windmill overlooking the cricket green full of laughter and a couple drinks, we had a group hug and headed back to ‘the ends.’

All in all, I would go back next year and we all agreed. The crowds although sparce in some places were lovely and race well organised.

Not bad for a quick run to loosen off the legs ;-)

But if I run again in the next two weeks, you have permission to slap me.

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When Angel met Edinburgh

This post has been a very long time coming. Even before I began training for this race, I had another huge hurdle to overcome which I have put off for one (terrible) excuse or another. The running has forced me to deal with it as once I am clocking up those miles whilst pounding the pavement, I am in essence alone with my thoughts.

It has forced me to make very difficult decisions and going over very painful memories. And to say it hasn’t been a walk in the park is a total understatement. During this time there have been some total badass people who have in their own ways held me up without even realising or confronting me to make me deal with uncomfortable situations. So I do need to thank those people, that will have to be the next post as this one is about me.

Darren and I arrived in Scotland very early on Saturday morning. I was a bag of nerves and trying to calm myself into taking in the beautiful sights of Edinburgh. After a walk around and some very steep hills, I tried to be sensible and after we checked into our hostels, Darren and I chilled in the common room of my hostel before he left and I showered, pinned my number onto my shorts, organised my kit, and went to bed at 10pm.

After what was a surprisingly great sleep (I think not sleeping properly for two nights meant my body shut down and ignored my brain,) I woke an hour before the alarm and lay there for half an hour with my thoughts and I meditated for a bit before getting ready. Darren met me at the cafe next to my hostel and we ate, I stupidly had pancakes but my thoughts were I wanted something nice to eat before doing something really stupid.

Blurry morning which involved going to the wrong start point, a huge queue for a disgusting Portaloo (thank goodness for sanitiser) and posing for a photo with Andy before I ate his dust when the race started.

Mile 1-3 I have to say to you from the very beginning I started this race, I was NOT in it. It usually takes me a few miles before I find my stride so as usual I was like “What the hell am I doing?” Got to half a mile and someone behind me shouted and chants throughout the runners echoed through and out the tunnel. Sweet. I still wanted to stop and go for some pancakes though, a nasty hill just before the second mile did not help fade that though. Going down hills can be as much of a bitch as going up. The pancakes already in my tummy felt a little heavy. Then I thought about Maple syrup for half a mile until I felt a slight cramp and swore at myself for not eating the toast.

Mile 4 A big blur, I think this was where we started onto the coastline, but who knows? I wanted to go home at this point. Remember using the water from first water station to top up my hydration and on my neck back and chest.

Mile 5 At some point I thought “where are the gels that the maps promised me?” Am so glad I bought my own as later on I needed them. Took my first one as I scheduled one every five miles to get me through. Took it on board fine with water and sipped my Lucozade but it tasted too sweet. I ditched the rest of it and stuck with the water hereon in. The pancakes still felt a little heavy in my stomach.

Mile 6/7/8 I thought a lot here about Mum, not sure why but I remembered random things about my friends that made me laugh and it helped loads. Coastline to the left looked lovely though and watching people playing made me want to go out and join them.

Mile 9 Water, lots of it. Thank you. On the neck, face and back Oh and I did drink some. Another blurry time but got through it again with zoning everything out and thinking about food. It’s always about the food.

Mile 10 Stupid woman watched her stupid kid on her stupid scooter cross the runners and laughed. I shot a glare at the woman and then the kid fell off her scooter. Good. Energy gel on board and I was off like a turbo booster. Not quite, but I was out of there ..

Mile 11 – 12 I don’t remember any of this at all, I think it was where the relay racers changed over, maybe it wasn’t who knows? I do remember water, drinking it and pouring the rest on my neck to cool me down. Meh.

Mile 13 Halfway through and I was only really feeling like I was getting into a rhythm, although I was really blocking everything around me out and relied on the chant I use to calm myself when I am feeling angry/anxious etc. a lot as the sun was starting to take a real stronghold on this race. I wasn’t about to give up though, I ran this distance in my sleep before. More water and realising despite the heat, I wasn’t feeling drained or dehydrated. Thanking myself for drinking 3 litres every day for the past week.

Mile 14 Top of the thigh really started to make itself known now and I was talking to it and asked it to leave me alone until I had finished the race and it eased off. The lack of mp3 player was a blessing and a curse really as maybe it would have meant that I didn’t notice the pain or not. Kinda late for regret, and a little too far to go back and get it now, innit? Bye coastline, hello tarmac and another level of hell. Uneven road.

Mile 15 Welcome cheers along this bit, but the crowds were not so strong here so it felt quite lonely along this stretch, feeling pretty isolated at this point and all I was thinking about now was letting my friends and most of all Isaiah and Mum down if I didn’t come home with my medal. Remembered a conversation Isaiah and I had days before and me telling him to work hard to achieve something he really wanted, and it forced me to (momentarily) snap me out of the negative thoughts that buzzed around my head. I really wanted some music at this point. Gel on board with some water.

Mile 16 At this stage, it was the furthest I had run, but the sight of people laid out, my left hip flexor still punishing me for taking it thirteen miles past when I started getting a niggle, my left knee cursing my whole existence kinda spoiled that moment for me. Hardly any shade, we all ran across the road each time we found a remote second to be out of the intense heat. I tripped on a log (okay it was a twig) luckily not falling flat on my face. To be fair if I had I would probably still be lying there as my body felt too heavy. Saw a man with paramedics looking extremely pale and it shook me up a little. Hydration. No crowds along here, smart folks decided it was too hot I expect …

Mile 17 -19 I was pretty much talking to myself during this time. Hydration and delirious conversations with myself. I knew around the 18 mile mark we would turn back on ourselves and seeing all the runners go past was a help as I remember seeing some of them in front of me not too far ahead. Saw Noushi during this, we exchanged pleasantries about our thighs and I told her I wanted to get this sh*t over and done with now. And to be quite honest with you, I was pretty much over this whole thing at that moment. At some point during all of this nonsense, we ran through a wooded area and past only what I could describe as a sh*t farm. No, I’m not joking, I could smell what I can only think of as dung, a handful of people were passing out water, hosing us down and offering sweets. The smell made me want to pass out. Drop me out, please.

Mile 20 Water station around this mile marker. Some rude guy shoved me out of the way to get TWO bottles.  It wasn’t as if there wasn’t enough or we had come to the end of the tens of people standing holding out the water. I remember saying there was no need for bad manners and shrugged it off, but was quite annoyed. Knocked back my energy gel and kept it moving. Then it hit me. This wasn’t “The Wall” as people explained (more about that later) this was Cry for no reason mile. A lovely Scotch lady called Carry or Kerry ran up to me and just said “It will be okay, I will run with you for a bit” and she ran alongside me for half a mile, I told her I was okay and she was off. I don’t even know why I was crying, but I guess I needed to get whatever it was out of my system. The supporters out along that stretch probably thought I was mad but a lot were shouting my name and reminding me I was almost done. (Thank you.) I pushed on as I knew what was coming up next.

Mile 21 The beauty of being long-sighted is seeing your blind friend before he can see you. I was shouting and waving at him for ages before I came into his vision (lol) I waved frantically and we hugged and I carried on running, he caught up and got a couple of photos and told me he was going to run with me to the end which had me tearing up again. If he knew how much that made my day … I popped off a few shots from my gunfinger for my RDC people.

Mile 22 The excruciating pain at the top of my left thigh came back and I wanted to slap someone when it came on, thankfully Darren didn’t do anything to upset me or it could have been him. He started talking to me again and I reminded myself that at no point had I even walked so I wasn’t about to stop now.

Mile 23 Cramp was setting in but I blocked it out and carried on. Rude Guy from Mile 20 ended up next to me and I could see he was struggling so I asked him what was wrong and he said he was getting cramp, we had a chat and I told him to remember who he was running for (he had ‘Mum’ on the back of his top) and I left him to it. The old me would’ve tripped his ass up, but I left my ego somewhere back on Mile 2/3 when I was getting passed by what felt like the whole of the racing population. Toward the end of this mile the cramp was resurfacing. F**k sake. I want to stop now and go the f**k home now, this is NOT A JOKE. (Corey, that was for you) some guy offered to give me a rubdown after the race. Erm how about NO?!! Popped off a few more gunfinger bullets, Edinburgh wasn’t prepared for this South London woman descending on them, folks were falling back, yo.

Mile 24 I spent the majority of this mile cursing my thighs as I was not going to get this far to then have to be stretchered of or anything. This was my moment for “The Wall” and I did NOT like it one bit! What’s that kids say nowadays? “Nah, fam” Darren reminding me of my family and friends rooting for me almost sent me over the edge crying, damn him. The random dude popped up again offering to give me a rubdown .. the pain subsided a little just thinking about it *shudder* I reckon I ran my fastest here just to get some space between us .. oh look, there’s another water station. Although I had water the burly Scottish guy shouting “take it, Lass” meant I was taking the bottle and taking a few swigs.

Mile 25 Cramping thighs still trying to get me to stop. I continued telling them I wasn’t about to finish now and told them to bore off. I aint the one. Half a mile in I saw a man limping really bad and he stopped for a second. I told him not to stop and he carried on running and then skipping to stay moving. I told him I would stay with him, after a while I asked his name and he told me it was Lee we got chatting and I found out he was from Warrington. Talking with him took my mind off the pain. I became 100%  gassed when I realised we were very close to the end. Cheers were getting louder and the crowds getting so full, so I decided they weren’t loud enough and asked told them to cheer louder, which they did. Now I know how Kanye feels on stage. Haha.

Mile 26 This pretty much was a blur and adrenaline kicked in, I was still demanding the crowds cheered louder. I lost Darren amongst the sea of faces, but I grabbed Lee’s hand and pulled him to the finish line, whooping, screaming and pretty much going bananas. Clock said 4:44 and I was elated. Lee gave me a big hug and we had a chat before I let him go and find his people.

After stretching and a few words with other extremely excitable folk, I went and found the MS Society tent to speak with the ladies there and wait for Darren. I cried. Again.

I had done it, all the talk of ‘thinking of trying a ting’ for seven months with injury, snow, complete and utter breakdown for a month. All of it. I kicked it ass and I got me a marathon. I wanted 5 hours and someone up there gave me 4:42 (I turned my phone on and GSI Events who organise Edinburgh told me my time was actually 4:42 and not 4:44. POW.)

Either way, I did the damn thing. Nobody can really tell me anything for at least six months, as my response will be:

“BLUD, I just ran a marathon!!”

http://virginmoneygiving.com/Ann-MarieTrotman

When Angel met Silverstone

I arrived nice and early after a relatively decent coach trip from Victoria to the infamous Silverstone race track. One of the reasons I chose the race was because of the venue. But the queues for the loo was not. After saying bye to the family, getting ready and dropping off our things, I sweet talked coach driver to let me jump on and use the loo. Crisis averted.

We were in the waiting area on the track for around 15 minutes and I was more impatient than nervous. I had been talking about “thinking of running marathons” since I signed up and it felt like it was never going to happen. Darren and I discussed a few things like our expectations and also had discussions as to where in the line-up we should be. I initially was not thinking and started walking towards the sign for the runners aiming to finish in 2:30 until I slapped myself and walked back to just in front of the 2:00 sign.

Through the Start/Finish line

Time to get going, from the very moment we started, a lot of people raced past us and I decided at that point to give way and let them pass. The phrase “marathon not a sprint” replayed in my mind then and throughout the race.

Mile 1

Came and went well, was ahead of schedule a little and it takes me a few miles before I settle in so I needed to get there. People already peeing. I guess they didn’t want to wait for the toilet either …

Mile 2/3/4

Went in a blur, people cheering along the way, my name on my shirt is a good look. Waving at them with gratitude.

Mile 5/6

Erm, so Silverstone is flat, apparently? Why am I digging in and running up the stupidest hill ever? I am not impressed. In fact I want to punch someone for this curve ball. Nice amount of people cheering here, was needed as the sun started to take it upon itself to try and fry me to death.

Mile 7

My energy slightly low not due to lack of fluids, but the intense heat beating down. Took in more drink to combat. Now I know how ants under magnifying glasses feel. Bloody hell. Cheeky little hill snuck up on me. Bugger.

Mile 8

Darren mentions his knee was not in pain but uncomfortable, lovely man cheering us on said I looked beautiful. Said I’d be back later. His wife agreed. Result.

Mile 9

I was worried about Darren just reminding him he was awesome. Blurry mile.

Mile 10

A fly flew into my eye and just as I was about to curse I heard “Mummy!” Isaiah smiling and frantically waving by the sideline and Mum shouting from the stands. Only 3 and a bit miles left, let’s go and get that damn medal, eat my Mum’s chicken and go home.. Washed out the little bugger from my eye with my water and kept going.

Mile 11

I could feel myself waning. Had enough energy but did not want to be there, what was I thinking, felt like I wasn’t running, talking to myself, possibly had a cry. Thanks to whoever shouted for me to keep going, it helped loads. If you were a lady with brown hair, it was you that kept me going. Cheers love. Time to get this race wrapped up and make my way home.

Mile 12

Where the hell is mile 13? I am SO over this sh*t now!! We saw a guy lying on the floor surrounded by ambulance staff, hooked up to a machine and he was profusely vomiting which was just not cool at all. The mile was littered with crampers and fainters which shook me out of my ‘delirious’ stage a mile previous like the marathon version of the beginning sequence of Saving Private Ryan. Sh*t was real out there. At this point would have jumped over people to get to the finish line. I had to finish and go and eat. Chicken was waiting for me and Isaiah was threatening to eat mine if I took too long. Not happening, son.

Mile 13

… Yes, I have this in the bag, can’t feel my legs but sprinted through the finish line. I grabbed Darren’s hand and when he let go of my hand I went for it and sprinted. The cheers were getting louder as I crossed the line and a wave of emotion came over me as I realised I had finished. I then heard my son Isaiah shout and I turned to him and gave him a huge hug.

Darren was behind me and I embraced him and sobbed into his top. The realisation of all our training came flooding back and it was a great feeling. I remembered the cameras and composed myself (probably not quick enough though, time and photos will tell) and went to get the IPCO timing chip removed from my shoe and we then went to collect our goodie bag and dived in to find our medal which was quickly retrieved and flung around our necks. At some point we bumped into Miss Mei who was there to watch her brother and his friends run and I remember rambling to her for a while and probably bending her ear back about training (I was still full of adrenaline, well that’s my excuse.)

We then went to look for our people which was unsuccessful, so grabbed our bags from the holding area then went to the agreed meeting area if we couldn’t find each other and there were loads of hugs, me going to the loo before we went to the car park to tuck into Mum’s chicken, well Darren and Olly did, I felt a little ill from the heat, adrenaline and tiredness.

After a chat and emotional hugs, we said bye to Darren and Olly and were back on the coach, I had my food and we were all sleeping apart from Mum within ten minutes.

A few messages, foam roller time and a bath I was out like a light.

On reflection, I have to say I am not as disappointed with my time now I’ve had sleep and nursed a sore neck from the sun beating down on it for a couple hours.
First off, I completed that race and found some reserve to SPRINT from the 13 mile marker .. eat your heart out, Lewis-Francis.

I got up, put my Lycra on and got out there in sub zero temperatures every Sunday with Darren when a lot of people wouldn’t. I was called crazy, was told I wouldn’t get there after I injured my knee (what lovely friends I have, huh?) and I never thought in a million years I would be entering events this time last year.

The moment my son told me he was proud of me after I crossed the finish line made all of that worth it.

Watch said 02:09:27 as I went to hug Isaiah before stopping my watch IPCO says 02:08:48.

Definitely learned a few things:

  • Sunscreen on the neck back, sunglasses. No long ting. That intense heat was not something to be flippant about.
  • I hydrated well beforehand, but forgot to start with water in my hand so had nothing to sip until first water station.
  • Keeping my head down during the tough bits helped. Seeing all those runners ahead can be deflating.
  • Let the hardcore runners pass. Saw a few people almost get trampled, not me. I let them go. I passed some of them later ;-)
  • Sports massage two days before, not one. Thighs not so happy with my choice.
  • **forgot this one before I clicked “post” ** Put your name on your shirt. Spectators are so lovely shouting at you when you need it!!

Special thanks to my family, friends, work colleagues for your support, I am sure you’re fed up of all the marathon talk so far. Thanks for putting up with it, most of you know running has saved me.

And anyone who’s donated so far, extra hugs for you. Part of the reason I get up and run when I don’t want to is to not let you down for believing I can do this. Thank you.

Crystal Palace Sports Injury Clinic have been amazing, Amy Sam and Sarah – I did it! Thanks for putting me back together again.

Donate here for my Year of the Unstoppable.

One small step for man ..

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There have been many conversations recently with friends and even my line manager at work about my “running obsession” as someone close kindly pointed out as I embarked on my 15 mile run after a big night out. Been so strict with my training too .. Schoolgirl error.

The theme to almost of all of the conversations was the misconception that I got up one day and clocked up 6 miles with my eyes closed. So far from the truth its quite funny. Nice to think that my friends think so highly of me, but come on, son.

The way that I had to walk after two minutes I ran and then build on that for a couple of months until I ran a mile without stopping was to me rubbish. Having been a sprint runner my whole perception of running longer distances was completely wrong. And running alone as I was too proud to ask for help hinder my progress further. Its only when I spoke with others that I found out they had similar or worse experience because they did it alone.

To those wanting to take up running don’t do it alone, ask for help and don’t be disheartened if you’re not clocking marathons after a month. And don’t run with a hangover .. It is not fun! But you can do it!

“Slow and steady wins the race”

yay me!

I had a random question from a friend mid-week last week interested in how my training was going. He asked me how far I’d run this year as he was impressed that I tend to run twice a week, three times if I am lucky enough and I came back after checking my statistics on Nike to him with a collective gasp and for me the best realisation I’ve had since I seriously started my marathon training in October:

  • First of all with the terrible stop/starts, excuses and whatever else I ran 82km from March when I got my trainers and sportsband up until the 29th December 2011.
  • From 3rd January 2012 to my last run Thursday I had run 75.32km …

*blank stare*

…. so basically the moment I run 6.68km I would have equalled the distance I ran for 9 months last year. *punches the air* Maybe really insignificant to all of you but for me this puts things into perspective for me and where my head is with my running journey and attitude towards how I am with this marathon training, so excuse me while I do a little dance.

That will be all.

Working it out with Afro Hair

I remember reading an article last year regarding the extremely high rate of Black women not exercising and as a result are dying younger from diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes and heart problems. Which is very alarming. The main reason for this is the maintenance of our hair, which is even more disturbing.

I work out almost every day, whether its my NTC class, running, weights or the gym and I have to say that it is very time consuming maintaining my hair afterward. But I could never imagine never working out again to solve that ‘problem’ to me it’s just not an option!

With that being said, I have cut my hair to a much shorter, manageable style and deep condition.

  • Covering your hair while working out can be counterproductive as you need to allow it to breathe. Once the hair has dried and settled after your workout you can THEN get the silk scarf out.
  • It is so tempting to wash the hair the more you work out, but this in fact dries the hair out more, making the scalp much more prone to it irritation and scratching which is the worst thing especially if your hair is relaxed.
  • Deep conditioning the hair and scalp once a fortnight works wonders, and will add back that lost moisture the salts through sweating strips the keratin loses. Once a week is recommended if the hair is extremely dry. If unsure, speak with your stylist. If you’re pressed for time you could put conditioner on the night before your day off and wash out in the morning, dry and style as usual.
  • Light non-greasy moisturiser massaged lightly with your fingers into the scalp helps a great deal with any dry areas. Also feels quite nice! Heavy moisturisers only weigh down the hair and makes it very greasy.
  • Try to avoid heat as much as possible. Curling irons, straighteners etc. are very good at extracting the moisture you’ve worked so hard at replacing.

Most importantly, enjoy your workouts!

What’s your Motivation?

What motivates you?

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”- Michael Jordan

What an amazing athlete. When he had achieved his goals, he made new ones to blow the previous ones out of the water.

Those days when you want to stay in bed, pull a sickie, cut your workout by five minutes are not an option.

I do have those moments, not going to lie to you. It is well documented that I wanted to give up after a really crappy run the other week, but with so many people being supportive when I least expect it really helps drive my motivation. Injuring my knee early into training was a test and it’s funny that at that time it encouraged me to get back on track more than a stupid woman with her dog sideswiping me.

I bungee jumped (if you didn’t hear me shouting from the rooftops) mid-December. I named from October 2011 – October 2012 the Year of the Unstoppable. I also have the fact that I am running not only on behalf MS society,  but my sister. I have no excuses to hide behind that would make quitting an option. So no pressure then …

For me this is why I do what I do when many of you are tucked up in bed. Those twenty extra stomach crunches, that extra five minutes out on the road. The circuit training where I’m face first in mud in a south London park early on Saturday morning .. and Rory our PT is a BEAST if he sees you standing still.

If you find YOUR reason for getting up an hour early in the morning, getting off the bus a couple of stops early, a yard further on that run or refusing that second bit of cake (don’t worry one *small* slice is okay) then remind yourself of that. That’s what gets you further on in your goals in order to smash them and start again like Mike. If your goal is to start training then getting up and dressed ready to start it is one thing off that to-do list already, congratulations! Now go out there ..

And don’t quit. There is no finish line.

I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan.

Amen.