So this race started like any other race – with the mandatory kit lay down.
As per usual by this point, Copenhagen greeted me and Cata with heavy rain. Not to mention the fact that everything went wrong for Cata, from choosing the wrong underwear to forgetting her headphones.
But we weren’t gonna let all that be against us and we set out to make the best that we could out of the race.
Cata was struggling a bit but I felt around the 10K mark that I might have it in me to do a sub-2 despite not having properly trained for it. So I set off with the best intentions to at least try to get a PB if nothing else.
And it worked! Despite everything being against us we both ran our best half marathon times to date and I got a PB of 2h 02m! We were totally overjoyed!
We decided to treat ourselves to some post-race beers on the train and man, I dont think a beer has ever tasted that good!
I know it’s been over a week since it all happened but WOW! What an amazing experience.
I’m very pleased to say that at 9:42am on Sunday the 18th of May 2014 I set off to run my first ever marathon.
4 hours and 53 minutes later I completed it.
I still can’t quite believe that I did it and if it wasn’t for the picture proof, my medal and my very aching legs, I would have bet all my money on the fact that it was all just a crazy dream.
As some of you know, due to my poor knees I couldn’t stick to my original training schedule because my knees just couldn’t cope with the amount of miles that I was having to run. This meant that during the last 4½ weeks before the marathon I was only running about 1-2 times a week for an average of 5 miles per run.
So safe to say I was a bit nervous about running 26.2 miles when I could barely get through 5…
Due to having my final MA deadline 1½ day before the marathon, I was going on about 3 hours of sleep per night the week leading up to the race – not the ideal amount of rest before running such a distance.
As a result, I had other things on my mind than worrying about how I was going to run this damn marathon.
However, I had come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to run it as fast as me and Cata had trained to do it, and I had accepted the fact that it would be an extremely painful affair due to my knee injury.
Come race day I was super excited and very nervous. I was determined to finish the race no matter what, even if it meant I would have to crawl it or complete it in 6 hours.
I knew that I would have to take it relatively easy to postpone my knee pains as much as possible, so I decided to try to enjoy every single second of the race, even the potential bad and painful parts.
We set off as a group but Sam went ahead after we crossed the start line as his pace was much faster than ours. I was hoping I would be able to keep up with Cata for at least half the race but she started speeding up at around 2km and I was too scared to do the same due to my knees, which meant we all ended up running most of the race on our own.
It was a cloudy but warm day, perfect for running but still slightly too warm for me due to my overheating problems.
Cata had planned out a fuelling strategy for the two of us , and I was keen on following it and making sure I drank and ate at every water station in order to avoid hitting the wall and overheating.
At the first station I made the mistake of trying to run and drink at the same time, which resulted in most of the water ending up on my t-shirt instead of my mouth. So in the spirit of just taking it easy and enjoying the race, I made a deal with myself to walk through all upcoming water stations but NOT TO STOP or walk at any other point during the race.
I knew that NBRO had set up a cheering point around 12KM & 37KM into the race, and that our parents stood somewhere in the city close to the start and finish – this really helped breaking up the long and lonesome journey into smaller manageable chunks.
As I made my way through the first loop around Parken, seeing all the little NBRO signs leading up to 12KM gave me goosebumps all over my body and a big lump in my throat.
Running through the NBRO cheering zone put me on a natural high and the hug from Nanna brought tears to my eyes – It also made me super eager to get to 14Km and to hug my mum!
Shortly after seeing my mum and the others parents I started to feel my knees and the sun was slowly but surely starting to overheat me – despite only shining through the clouds.
I kept telling myself that all I needed to do was to make it to the half point. Once there I would I would be able to eat, drink and take some pain-killers.
But the closer to 13.1 miles I got, the warmer I was getting – to the point where I was starting to feel very dizzy and sick to my stomach.
With nobody else by my side to distract me, I looked up to the sky and started talking to my grandfather who passed away last October.
I told him how sad I was about not being able to make it back in time to say goodbye despite my best intentions, how Gatwick will always remind me of that super weird night when he passed away and I was stuck at the airport.
How I did my best with this MA project and that I hoped he was proud of me even though he probably didn’t understand what it was all about. I told him that I knew I had it in me to run this marathon but that I needed his help to get me through this second part of the race.
A few moments after I said that in my head, my shuffle started playing a really good song and it started raining!
I have never enjoyed rain as much as during those 2 miles that brought me to the half point in the race. I took my pain killers at the closest water station and decided to slow down my pace a little to spare my knees.
The following 5-6 miles were probably some the most challenging ones I have ever run in my entire life.
My knees were starting to hurt more and more, I had a very bad stitch on my right side, I was close to tears with every step I took and the rain was turning into some sort of tropical monsoon.
The streets were starting to get empty due to onlookers seeking out drier places and I was starting to doubt myself.
The two things that got me through those miles were focusing intensively on my breathing and thinking about all the amazing people that had inspired me to actually be running 26.2 miles.
I thought about Charlie Dark and how I had turned down running with Run Dem Crew for so many years until it became the one thing that more or less saved me from a miserable life.
I thought about Bangs and how she single handedly helped me turn my life around for the better by helping me believe in myself and love myself for who I am.
I thought about Robin and how she gave up everything to follow her passions and her dreams, and despite life throwing her a massive curve ball, she still managed to get through it and be one of the most bad ass people I know.
I thought about Candice and how she not only has run a marathon and an ultra, but she has also cheated death, had the most adorable little girl, and she still manages to have a rich life, work out, bake cakes and look fucking fierce.
I thought about my mum, how much I love her and how she never gives up without a fight and always gives the best she can in every situation.
I thought about Run Dem Crew and so many inspirational people I have met through running, many who have had it much worse than me and still managed to pull through.
I thought about all my own struggles and how I, for so many years, put myself down by thinking I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough or fit enough.
Yet here I was, running a marathon, 1½ day after finishing my Masters degree, with the love of my life, and my best friend who I own a flat with in London.
Somewhere along those 5-6 miles the air cooled down drastically and the rain stopped – only to start pouring down again as soon as I hit the 20 mile mark. I took some more pain-killers and hoped my knees would stay with me for the last bit of the race.
I kept reminding myself that with every step I took from there onwards, was the furthest I had run in my life. So despite the pain I should try to feel happy and proud of myself.
All I could think about was getting to the NBRO cheering station at mile 23 – and as the rain was pouring down and my legs were starting to ache more and more, I decided to thank every single body part for getting me through this extremely difficult challenge.
I also apologised for all the shit I have put my body through the last 27 years – the crap diets, lack of exercise for so many years, the excessive drinking, the hardcore smoking, the unhealthy body images and all the self hate and self loathing.
Once I got past mile 23 I kept telling myself that the rest was just the home stretch. Only 1 mile left until I saw my own cheering crew, then 2 miles to the finish.
Sadly my mum and the other parents had moved from their first spot, and not seeing them put a small dent in my confidence, but I was hoping that I would catch my mum at some point before the finish.
I will never forget spotting my mum, Dave and Andreas 1 mile from the finish line. They were all soaked to the bone and my mum ran out on the road to check that I was ok. I told her to trust me and headed as fast as my legs could carry me towards the finish.
Once I got to around 25.8 miles I started to run much faster, literally pushing every physical and mental boundary I had, sprinting the last 0.2 miles and finishing with my arms and head held up to the sky.
Seconds after crossing the finish line I fell to the ground, looking up to the sky, crying and laughing deliriously by the fact that I had just completed my first ever marathon.
I have never felt anything like that feeling in my life and it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Many thanks to all of you who supported me on this journey!
Cata for being the best training partner, Sam for being the most loving and understanding man Ive been with, my mum and all the parents for coming out to support us, Dave and Andreas for being amazing friends, and all the rest of you who helped me complete this race – you were all there in spirit and I wouldn’t have made it without your inspiration, encouragement and support.
Since last time I checked in I managed to acquire some additional bling in my incredibly small but growing collection of medals.
You see, I wanted to go on holiday with my mum and grandma to a nice, relaxing and warm place, mainly since I had too many holiday days left that I couldn’t take over to my next working year. But also because I am (and was) too poor to pay for a holiday on my own. However, due to the increasingly bad situation with my stomach and the hardcore diet & supplement regime I had to start, I was advised not to travel anywhere.
In the very very last minute I decided to travel home to Sweden so I could cheer on my Run Dem Crew friends who were running the Copenhagen Half Marathon and to take a mini holiday at home so I could get help and support from my mum with this very difficult transition in my life. Little did I know that I would get a text 5 minutes after I had arrived by my friend Cory, telling me that I had a free place in the race the next morning if I was up for it.
At first I wasn’t sure what to say. It’s no secret I haven’t really been the happiest as of late and this mindset has sadly affected my training for the Amsterdam Half Marathon. So I wasn’t sure if my legs would be able to cope with 13,1 miles! But my mum said to go for it since she had never seen me run, so I figured why not. I wasn’t going to miss out on running in one of my favourite cities on earth with some of the best people in my life. Plus, it would be the first time in my life that my mum would see me run, an opportunity I couldn’t refuse either.
I find it pretty funny when people seem to think I run races all the time. I wish it was the case, but this half marathon was my 3rd EVER race in my life. I actually cried a little at some point during the run, because I was thinking about how incredibly shit I’ve been feeling for a while now and how disappointed I was with certain aspects of my life, and no matter how hard I worked and tried, they never seemed to get any better.
Yet I was here, running this half marathon on a 12 hour notice from the evening before, my 2nd ever half marathon and 3rd ever race, and I was doing it. Hell, I even got so bored of my slow speed that I pretty much sprinted between the 18th & 21st KM – We are all about sprint finish at RDC!
This run really helped me put some things in perspective, even if the full effect (mentally) of it would come a week later. It felt so incredibly amazing to be and run (!!) with Cory, Shameek, Darkz & Maya in Copenhagen because I have so many great memories from that city and this half marathon is now at the top that list. I can’t thank the NBRO crew enough for inviting us over, for the awesome t-shirt and of course, for the beer! I can’t wait to see you all and run with you in Amsterdam.
But, the week that followed this run was pretty much a combination of heaven and hell. The hardcore diet to heal my stomach isn’t the easiest and the supplements are not the nicest. And with my great luck, I reacted badly to them without knowing that I was, which resulted in extreme bloating all around (not just my stomach) spots on my face, weird cuts and cold sores on my mouth, mood swings and some other not-much-fun things.
I tried to write a post about how I was feeling but nothing would come out. I mean to be fair, I have been trying to write several posts about how I’ve feeling for a while now, but it just didn’t feel right because it just felt like I was complaining and whining, and maybe my problems and the way I felt were not as bad as they appeared to be to myself. But I realise now that waking up for weeks on end, just wanting to cry because I didn’t want to face the day ahead, is definitely not a good way to feel!
But during that run and during the week when I finally allowed myself to relax a little without feeling guilty about it, it all slowly became clear to me and I finally understood what I had to do to get myself out of the miserable state I was finding myself in.
And that was simply to not give up on myself and what I had set out to achieve.
Truth be told, it was making me extremely depressed that I had given up and sacrificed so many things in my life for no noticeable benefit at all – not health wise, not money wise, not spiritual wise – nothing.
I was giving my all but it wasn’t enough, and I just felt lost and disappointed. Then I started spending the majority of my very little pay check to (hopefully) sort out this illness I’ve had with my stomach for a good 20 years now, but when that didn’t seem to work either I just lost it.
I don’t expect people to understand how hard it is to live the way I have to do at the moment, and for a while, I was pissed off that once again I was the one who had to bite the sour apple and make all these sacrifices in my life.
And as much as I was dreading coming back to London after my holiday, I realised that I shouldn’t be angry or upset or disappointed about my situation and most importantly, I shouldn’t put myself for feeling that life difficult at the moment, it doesn’t mean that I am weak.
Instead of focusing on all the negative things in my life like feeling extremely lonely working from home, still feeling fat & unhappy about my appearance, being extremely short on money, not really be able to go out due to the restrictive diet, I need to focus on the positive, or at least try to put a positive twist on all the negative aspects.
And whenever in doubt, I need to remind myself of all the fantastic achievements from this year so far, and just have enough faith in myself to know that when I put my mind to something, I can achieve pretty much anything. If I need proof, I just have to look at my medals & pictures from this year, and not forget about all the people I have somehow managed to inspire to run and become active.
I know for a fact that not many people would have it in them to do what I am doing at the moment, not because I’m better but because it really is so damn difficult and it puts an incredible strain on so many aspects of life.
But I know now that I will get through this and I’m gonna do it with a sprint finish ;)