I know it’s been over a week since it all happened but WOW!
What an amazing experience.

Copenhagen Marathon Medal

Me with my Copenhagen Marathon Medal

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.

I made it!

Me being a silly face as always

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.

Shirt prepping

Custom shirt making the night before the race

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…

kit layout

Obligatory kit layout the night before the race

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.

The Dream Team

The dream team before the race started

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.

Pre race selfie

Pre-race dream team selfie

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.

Sam at 14KM

Sam at 14KM

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.

Cata at 14km

Cata at 14KM

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.

Orsii at 14KM

Me at 14KM after kissing my mum

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!

Sam 41KM

Sam at 41KM

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.

Sam at 41KM - 2

Sam spotting Dave at 41KM

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.

Cata at 41KM

Cata spotting Dave at 41KM

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!

Cata 41KM 2

Cata looking overwhelmed at 41KM

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.

Orsii 41km

Me and my mum at 41KM

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.

Orsii 41KM 2

Me at 41KM

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.

Sam at the finish line

Sam after crossing the finish line

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.

Sam with his medal

Sam with his medal

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.

Cata at the finish line

Cata running towards the finish line

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.

Cata after crossing the finish line

Cata after crossing the finish line

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.

Almost by the finish line

Me sprinting towards the finish line

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.

Orsii crossing the finish line

Me crying deliriously on the ground after crossing the finish line

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.

Orsii with medal

Me and my medal after Dave found me limping around the finish area

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.

Post race in the pub

Me explaining how I crossed the finish line in the pub after the race

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.

I kicked off week 8 with a bang and did my speediest run to date. The Sunday run had given me confidence and I was feeling good about myself and my form.

training week 8 - 1

Sadly that didn’t last very long and after a super difficult strength training session on Tuesday morning, coupled with the speedy run in the evening, my Wednesday mid-long run felt sluggish and tiring. I was generally not impressed and I even had to pause in the middle because my left knee was still feeling a bit dodgy.

training week 8 - 2

My Thursday short run was even worse and even though I wasn’t aiming on running it fast, it didn’t feel good at all. (my pissed off look says it all!)

training week 8 - 3

The Saturday swim session got cancelled due to two burst water mains that left us without running water for most of the day which was a real shame as I was looming forward to it.

training-week-8-MK-Half-before

Sunday started super early since we had a half marathon to run in Milton Keynes. It was meant to be a super sunny day so I decided to run it in shorts and a t-shirt which was a very good move!

training week 8 - MK half Sam

training week 8 - MK half Cata Orsi

The race course was meant to be relatively flat but it wasn’t…! There was a lot of small inclines all around and at mile 12.5 we had to run up a super steep hill (the sort of hill that you go up in a park to get the best view over the entire city!) to then be lured into some sort of 8 shaped loop (where you could see the finish) before we could actually cross the finish line (so in other words – A REALLY MEAN 600 METERS!).

I wanted to give up around mile 10 because the heat from the sun (and no wind) was literally cooking me and I lost the feeling in my right arm for a while. But Cata encouraged me to continue and we even ran up that devils hill before the finish without stopping!

training week 8 - 4

This race really made me worried about how Im going to cope with heat on marathon race day. I usually don’t drink during the race when I run a half marathon or shorter, but on Sunday I took water every other mile, even pouring it over my head towards the end and not even that helped!

Anybody have any tips on how to deal with the sun if you really can’t handle heat? I felt like I had energy left to run longer, but it got destroyed by the heat stroke I was more or less having…

This really was the last “easy” week and from now on it’s full steam ahead with longer weekday runs, as well as weekend runs.

MARATHON TRAINING WEEK 9

MON: REST – DONE
TUE: Strength training & 4 miles – Did 7 miles and no strength
WED: 7 miles – Did 4 miles
THU: Strength training & 3 miles – Did 3 miles and no strength
FRI: REST – DONE
SAT: Swimming – DONE
SUN: 10 miles – Did 14 miles!

Hello my friends!

It has been a quiet August here on the blog, mainly because I took a well needed break from work and the internet, jumped on a plane, and went to see my family in Sweden.

It was by far one of the best trips I have had back there for a while. It made me re-appreciate not just Malmö, but my family and the people I care about by putting some things in my life into (kind of) new perspectives.

I kicked off the trip by running the Malmö half marathon with Sam and Cata. Due to my detox regime that took up 6 weeks in May/June and then the heatwave hitting London in July, it is safe to say that my initial hardcore training had gone out the window, and I was actually scared and worried I wouldn’t be able to complete the race!

Not having the confidence to do it on my own, I decided to run the race with Cata since I knew that my dream of getting a sub-2 was definite no-go. The weather report had predicted rain, so I came dressed in long leggings and a tee – ALL IN BLACK – and when clouds fully parted and the sun popped out at around 7-8km I thought I was going to melt into a puddle of sweat and die. (DON’T BE A FOOL LIKE ME – HYDRATE MORE THAN JUST FEW HOURS BEFORE A RACE!)

Having Cata there by my side throughout the entire race really helped me mentally, and I got such a kick out of seeing my mum and granny just before the 10km mark (my granny has never seen me run before!). Despite the struggles we had along the way, we defeated our demons and I managed to scream enough at Cata the last 3 miles that she ended up with a PB, shaving off around 9½ minutes from her previous half marathon time!! I WAS, AND AM, SO DAMN PROUD!!

The race reaffirmed why she is one of my very few “ride or die” people in this world. I know some have their doubts about the whole affair, but I am so excited to be buying a flat with her. We’ve come a long way these past 10-11 years and I think we’re finally in a place where we really value each other and the relationship we have because we’ve realised how special it actually is. (Going a bit off topic here but…) It felt great to run our home town together – we left it together 8 years ago not knowing what London and the future would hold – and look at us now… :’)

The rest of the trip was spent mainly EATING (oh my god…!), seeing family and friends, walking around and shopping.

We visited some amazing restaurants, but to be honest, nothing beats the Falafel no.1 falafel that you can get in Malmö – one of the best in the world, mark my words!

We more or less overdosed on a lot of Swedish food like fish and seafood related products – mainly lax, gravad lax, Kalles kaviar, cray fish, shrimps, romsås, skagenröra and so on…

We even attended a traditional Swedish cray fish party 10 hours before our flight where we ate all the traditional dishes, drank proper Swedish snaps and sang snaps songs!

We caught some proper “Malmö weather” whilst being over there – meaning that it couldn’t make up it’s mind and kept switching from heavy rain to some sunshine. But we still had some fun adventures including exploring Copenhagen, discovering Malmö with a wonderful cycle tour around the beach, the parks and the city (probably one of my favourite days), as well as quickly checking out the Malmö festival!

I really needed this break and it felt so good seeing everybody and having such a relaxing time. Now I can’t wait to go to Sardinia with Cata for 10 days in the middle of September! It will be my first beach holiday in 5 years!