It’s been over a week since we ran the Paris Marathon and I’m still not sure how or what to write about the race. It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest with you, but it was definitely one of the best but hardest experiences of my life!
Nothing went according to plan for this marathon… From my ankle injury that disrupted my training to the extreme heat that messed up my race strategy – it genuinely felt like my whole journey to run Paris was an uphill battle filled with obstacles.
As you can imagine, running 26.2 miles is hard, but running 26.2 miles in 25 degrees and sunshine is even harder, and the heat was definitely the most difficult part for me to cope with due to my “overheating issues”.
Despite running in every bit of shade I could find, hydrating at every water station, pouring water over my head and arms, trying to keep a slow and steady pace, and having my own cheering duo following me around the course, I remember passing the 10K mark, smiling to myself and thinking “Oh shit Orsi, you are so incredibly fucked!!”
But luckily for me, I had the best race partner who encouraged me to keep on going when I thought that I couldn’t and together we managed to get through it all with a big smile on our faces. It wasn’t pretty at times and it definitely wasn’t fast, but we started and crossed the finish line hand in hand and I couldn’t be prouder of our accomplishment.
It took me 5 hours and 19 minutes to complete the Paris Marathon and even though it was almost one hour slower than my London Marathon time, I remember passing the 37K mark feeling so incredibly proud that despite not being able to walk properly four months earlier, I was now running a marathon and the running wasn’t even the hardest part of it all!
For a person who hates running, feeling and thinking like that was an incredible confidence boost and all I can think about since is: “So when are we running the next one?!”
Not gonna lie, the end of 2015 was a bit of a low point in my life… But I somehow got through it and one of the things that helped was running.
The nerves were on top the night before the race. It looked like the weather would be constantly changing and my biggest worry was overheating, which would result in disaster.
It ended up being a sunny day but with some clouds and wet patches (thank god!). I was a big mix of emotions before the race (just look at my anxious smile haha) but I was determined to soak up the moment and enjoy it as much as possible.
Here I am on Tower Bridge , just before the half way point, beaming like a ray of sunshine. I spotted my friends way before they spotted me and I couldn’t help but to burst out in laughter seeing their surprised faces when they finally clocked me standing in front of them (yes my friends are the best!).
After seeing them on the bridge I only had one goal in mind and that was to make it to mile 21. The thought of seeing RDC and running through that (now) iconic Cheer Dem Crew spot was the only thing that kept me going for the next 8 miles. And WOW what a feeling, one of those moments I’ll treasure for the rest of my life!
The rest of the race was HARD. I was getting more and more tired in my legs, the sun was burning my face, but I knew that I couldn’t give up so I kept on smiling and I kept on running.
Even though my toilet break had lead me to believe that my sub 4:30h dream was over, once I realised I might still have a chance I gave it everything I had left!
And it worked!!! Despite the toilet break, quite a few hug-a-friend stops, a few I’ve-had-enough stops, and a slightly slower 3 final miles, I completed the London Marathon in 4 hours and 27 minutes!
Definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it felt amazing and even more so seeing so many of my friends and SO MANY STRANGERS being out there cheering me and thousands of others on. Definitely one of the best days of my life!
Massive thanks to all of you who helped me along the way in training and on the day – you rock my world and I’m so incredibly lucky to have you <3
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.