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)

The big ‘Fat’ issue

I have been toying with speaking on this issue for a month now, but I have decided I would finally blog about this after a conversation with a friend.

After reading about Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation’s recommendations to encourage more young women to remain interested in sport, I did go off on Twitter about it.

If you haven’t heard/read about it (article here) some of the recommendations included Zumba classes and rollerblading which made my blood boil. There was also mention that girls felt that being sweaty was not feminine. This rang true with what I remember the girls at my school feeling like which prevented them from participating in activities. But do you think Zumba and rollerblading are a way of changing those imo negative images of fitness? Because I don’t!!

There is already tons of terrible imaging for staying healthy in the industry. Photos of perfectly made up women in Lycra without an ounce of sweat, smiling at the camera while holding a 0.5kg dumbbell is not the way forward, so to enforce this terrible stereotype with Zumba and rollerblading is atrocious. The emphasis on exercising to lose weight is also a very negative and damaging undercurrent to fitness.

The article also touched on some schools only paying attention to those girls who excelled at sport, and I could see why those that weren’t so good would feel like giving up. But this is not true of all schools, I know some very good schools and teachers who are inclusive to all and try to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

As a Black woman, it amazes me how many women/girls don’t exercise due to the fact that they “don’t want to sweat out their hairstyles” when we as a race are more likely to have diabetes and heart problems. I remember reading an article on this very subject around a year or so ago, to much annoyance, I cannot source this article to share with you.

But what broke the straw on the camel’s back for me was when UK Athletics Head Coach, Charles van Commenee allegedly stated that Jessica Ennis was ‘fat’ (I should point out it was later on denied by him, but by then the damage was already done.)

In the year that sport has been put under the spotlight with our Capital hosting the biggest sporting event in front of the rest of the World, it is a catastrophic failure that this was even brought to the forefront. Women have enough to worry about as it is without this nonsense. This is a perfect opportunity for our young women to see the likes of Jessica, Perri and Paula on the International stage doing their thing, sweating and working hard to achieve their dream of standing on the top step of the podium with a gold medal adorning their necks. Encouraging our women to shake off the attitude that fitness is about weight loss and believing that wanting to be healthy means being strong mentally and physically even if they themselves don’t want to become a World class heptathlete or sprinter. Being comfortable with being sweaty during that workout, and as Bangs says worry about being ‘pretty on rest days.’ (For more on that badass mantra, her blog Spikes and Heels can be found here.)

This should encourage a new wave of young girls seeing those women as role models and possibly getting into sport to become the next set of great female athletes our country has seen, because let’s face it there aren’t many we can hail from the UK.

Thankfully growing up, I was active without even realising it. My mum would always take us to the park. I am hyperactive so now I am a parent I can see that she was doing this to tire me out, and for my siblings and I to get exercise. I do not know what a calorie is even if it walked up to me and slapped me in my face. Our diets were basically healthy; crisps and chocolate were scarce in the house, but with moderation we did have some. Every day before this five a day campaign, we always snacked on fruit and veg if we were hungry. My mother has never been on a diet. Ever. I see this as a huge problem for my friends as it seems those that have ‘issues with weight/diet’ are those that watched their mothers counting calories or trying the latest in fad diets that DO NOT WORK!! please don’t think I am attacking your mother if she did, but please make the connection for yourselves.

If we are to turn this negativity surrounding sport/fitness around, we definitely need to change the industry to reflect this and remove the emphasis on weight loss and calorie counting. Mothers of girls STOP following the latest detox diet of lettuce leaves and fad shakes and start eating proper and healthy meals and take your children with you when you go for a jog, bike ride, swim at least once a week so they can see you working out and getting sweaty. I understand a lot of us parents use this time to get AWAY and have a break from the kids, but maybe one of those workouts you could take them along with you?

Outdoor exercise needs to become more prevalent (yes, I am from the UK but by staying in when it rains – we are never outdoors!!) and get a little dirty. If it means getting dirty with your partner, so be it! ;-)

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 Run Dem Crew

One March afternoon, Angel sat with a box that contained her new Lunarswifts, Sportsband w/sensor dreaming of the day that she would run with a much talked about group of nomads who come together once weekly to run the streets of London. It wasn’t until ten months later this would happen. But the moment she sprinted toward Charlie Dark shouting and the other members of the group waiting after a six-mile run she had the flashback to the Lunarswifts sitting in their duvet of tissue paper and smiled. She had arrived.

I had wanted to run with them for MONTHS especially watching people I follow on Twitter relay their excitement at going for a run, meeting up for events .. EVERYTHING. But I thought I wasn’t good enough yet, I would only slow them down, blahdee blah blah. So when I finally plucked up the courage to ask Bangs in October/November whether there was space and she said to hold fire, the needle off the record noise came. ARGH!! WHYYYY?!!

*cue dropping to knees in a rain-soaked street as the camera pans out*

I could’ve kicked myself at not hollering sooner, but then I thought ‘hold on right there, Missy. Your time will come and when it does it will be worth it AND when you do get in, you’ll kick some serious ass and they’ll not want you to leave’ – narcissistic comment but, bite me!

I continued to train when I could, ran an extra mile where I could, got up on Christmas Day and all sorts. So when that email came … I was ready.

The whole day of Tuesday 17th January 2012 I was excited, no, in fact it was the day before when I read the newsletter that hit my inbox signalling the start of the new season at Run Dem Crew.

Fast forward a pretty emotional day at work and me rushing home to get my kit on and battle through rail delays, stinky people on the tube and me bouncing down the road to the temporary meeting point. The moment I went in through to door with the logo much like a secret society, I was greeted by new and existing runners with RDC who all I spoke with in turn as I sat nervously on one of the storage boxes (GENIUS idea!!) The place slowly filled up with more people and Fleur who was also there as a new member and Bangs had copied into the tweet earlier in the day introduced herself to me and mentioned that she read my blog which really made my day. (As much as I blog, I always feel like only one person reads the blog, so to have an actual live person mention it made me SO happy) we spoke about our excitement and how we came to be sitting in a gallery in Shoreditch waiting for the famous Bangs of the “Bangs goes Rap” phenomenon and all round badass chick.

More people came and sat down and introduced themselves new and existing members so by the time Bangs arrived I was so relaxed although I frantically waved at her as she came through the doors .. *cringe* but thankfully she wasn’t running back out again to call the Police, she came and we hugged (well I hugged her and didn’t let go first.)

Enter Sir Charlie of Dark .. founder of RDC and my excitement meter basically blew up but me being me, I tried to play it cool with a nod which turned into a wave of excitement … *sigh*

After toilet breaks, we finally started the housekeeping. With my eye on the clock I was already worried about getting back late as The Boy was at home with The Mother whom I said I’d be home usual time of around 9pm as that’s the time I’m home from NikeTown and this looked like this wasn’t gonna happen … eek! Anyways, Charlie went through the history of the crew and even before he was through there I had already decided I liked these people. Stories of various contributing members and how they came to be there with absolutely inspirational stories. So by the time we got to how the Run Dem Crew Youngers came about, I was overwhelmed with just how awesome each and everyone there was.

With that over and Charlie finishing off with the words ‘Be the best you can be’ the build up to it all and the experience pretty much pushed me over the edge and out the door to run!!

As we set off with Daniel an old college friend and Glenn as our pacers, I realised the extent of the size of the group as in my group of runners the Fast Hares (8 min milers) we had 42 alone!! and we all had to cram onto the narrow pavement off into the dark of the night. we ran through the city toward St Paul’s, over the Millennium Bridge which I vowed I’d NEVER cross … (that’s for another day,) East along the riverbank past my workplace and along Bankside towards London and Tower Bridges before we crossed over and ran from Tower of London through Aldgate, Liverpool Street right through the middle of the station back into Shoreditch. And before I knew it … I was sprinting toward Charlie as I heard him shout at us to the crowd of the other groups who we passed going in the opposite direction earlier during our run. Thoughts of my Lunarswifts came flooding back and I smiled. Six miles clocked like it was nothing and had spoken to a few really wicked people along the whole route.

I will most definitely be running with RDC from now on. No offence to the wonderful people over at Niketown London as they are truly awesome and I will be running with them also, but in my heart of hearts I feel that I would love to contribute to RDC and embrace that community even if they don’t like it!

I have to say a MASSIVE thank you to Bangs, Charlie Dark, Karleen and Georgina amongst others who were just amazing and made me feel welcome and to Fleur and a whole host of new members who really went out there and took it to the streets of London. I salute you all. Darren, you will be coming with me in a fortnight, I know you are ready … they’ll love you!

For more information on RDC please visit their wonderful new website.

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.

That awkward moment when life kicks you in the nuts ..

I’m human. Yes, big surprise to most of you.

But on a serious note, I have struggled most of the first half of last year trying to get past thoughts of ‘I can’t do this’ and quite frankly being an idiot. I then set myself this goal of running in two events and suddenly things became much easier. Despite a huge setback with my ITB injury, I soldiered through with physio, weights, strength work and an ab challenge until I was fit enough to get back out on the road and grab some miles.

So when I had quite frankly the worst run to date on the 27th December, all this confidence and positivity I built up came crashing back down on my head and I wanted to throw it all in for the comfort of my duvet and chocolate chip shortbread biccies.

How the hell could I run a marathon if I couldn’t run a few measly miles?! What an idiot …

The run was a catalogue of errors – I was tripped up by a dog, the woman waited until I was pretty much a foot away from her before letting her excited dog off the leash and the dog trying to get out of my way while running off into the park, sideswiped me. The stupid cow was then trying to justify her actions and mumbled a feeble apology after I reminded her that she saw me running toward her and she only let the dog go once I was pretty much up in her grill. I mean, really?!

I carried on with the run, frightened that I had hurt something so then couldn’t concentrate on anything, my chest already full of cold then decided it would tighten (in hindsight the adrenaline had worn off) and before I knew it with only a couple of miles into the run I was walking home. I got in, threw myself of the floor, sent some pity party tweets, turned my phone off and cried like a baby. There was some snot involved.

When I switched my back on after an hour of feeling sorry for myself, the replies on Twitter and a massive barrage of texts I received was a little overwhelming but well received. It’s funny how although you tweet and there aren’t always replies in response, the moment you have an off day the reaction on and offline is amazing. The abuse at what will happen to you if you quit is also very amusing.

The funny thing is I took a day off and two days after Doggate, I ran my furthest distance thus far AND got in my quickest 5km within that. There’s truth to that cliche “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

So when life kicks you in the nuts, take a day off to dust yourself off and get back in the game and kick it right back – and a little harder. As you never know, you may just come back a little bit stronger and faster.

I would like to thank those little rays of light that always seem to be there at the right moment. And a special mention to my running partner Redfella who’s awesomeness is relentless and an inspiration to me. x

Make it Count! (and yourself accountable)

I hope you’ve managed to get back into your routines and the post seasonal blues haven’t hit? If like me you kept your schedule up over Christmas, (I ran on Christmas Day I’ll have you know!) you are probably glad its over so that those around you can get back into a bit of ‘normailty.’

I received an email from Nike+ the other day giving me a breakdown of the year I had. With the many stops and starts to my running diary it was a little disappointing BUT when I realised that I have already run a quarter of what I did in the whole of 2011 already in 2012, it definitely gave me a massive confidence boost.I have also battled the terrible winds and am starting to run consistently at a steady pace. Not bad a week deep into 2012, no?

So with two races planned with maybe a couple more at the end of the year to look forward to, I am making myself accountable by posting the stats from the email here and I will have a look again when the lovely people at Nike email me again in January 2013.

Thanks to NikeTown London Running Club for my fantastic tee, will be wearing this a LOT this year!