Good evening my friends!

Today I ran my third half marathon of 2012 – the Royal Parks Half Marathon here in London. It was 13.1 miles through some of the most beautiful (royal) parks and iconic places this city has to offer. The weather was cold, crisp and sunny, and around 12500 people had showed up to run the race.

Having had several nightmares about this race, I tried to prepare myself as much as I could the night before.

After a very bad nights sleep and the initial stress of waking up 30 minutes later than planned, I marched off with my partner in crime, Ditch, to catch the train in to London.

We got to Hyde Park for about 09:00 and the race was about to start 09:30. I knew that I wasn’t going to race because I’m saving my legs for the Amsterdam Half Marathon in two weeks time. But having said that, I still had the aim of getting a faster time than I did in Copenhagen in September (2:25) and not stopping at all during the race.

But the nerves (and coffee) were getting to me so I decided to try to have a quick wee before the start of the race (I say quick – I did stand in line for about 20 minutes!)

I tried finding some of my running friends before the start, but there were too many people to be able to find anybody. So I decided to just take a deep breath and run the race on my own. I knew some people from Run Dem Crew were going to be standing along the route cheering us on (CHEER DEM CREW! You guys helped me so much – words cannot describe!) and with that in mind, I took a deep breath and set off!

I have to say that the first 6 miles were probably my favourite. Not because they were the easiest but because I found them to be the most interesting ones as we went past some iconic places here in London. I kept a very steady pace according to my Nike+ running app, and I generally felt pretty damn happy, confident and good about my running.

Big Ben from Westminster Bridge

Admiralty Arch

Me smiling & running towards mile 5

Buckingham Palace

Me in Hyde Park, still smiling at mile 9

I have to say, the last half of the race I was pretty bored because it felt like we were running circles around the same places in Hyde Park. I know I know, it was a PARK run, so it makes sense to do a lot of the running in the park, I just wish there would have been more stuff happening inside the park to keep my mind off the pain.

Not only did my hips, knees & calves feel tight as hell, I was forced to stop around mile 7-8 to attend a massive and painful blister that had developed on my left foot due to some weird stuff going on with my sock. I got worried that it might ruin my chances in Amsterdam, so I decided to stop, adjusted the sock, tighten my shoe, and carried on.

I was a bit bummed out about having to do that, but then I bumped into Jackie from my crew when we had around 3 miles left which lifted my spirit, and just before the finish line I spotted another crew member, Lynda Phoenix, who was running strong & smiley.

With a sprint/speedier finish, I reached the end of 13.1 miles with the time of 2:18:32 (even though my Nike+ app said it was 2:14:50 – just saying…). At first I was annoyed that I had to stop, but actually, I’m very happy with my accomplishment today!

Me at the finish line

Me & Lynda Phoenix with new bling & mighty gunfingers

THE REAL VICTORY AND LESSON LEARNT FROM TODAY’S HALF MARATHON:

It’s no secret that I have been down in the dumps for a good 3-4 months now, and if I felt crap before running the Copenhagen Half a month ago, well then I can only compare to the last 4 weeks leading up to this half marathon as to some sort of sick mind torture that has tested many aspects of the way I am as a human being and the way I live my life.

On the 28th of October 2011 my life was changed forever when Bangs emailed me for the very first time about a project called Team Bangs On The Run. As a result of that I got to know some fierce young creative ladies, joined the most badass, loving and caring crew in the world, quite smoking, ran a half marathon for the first time in my life, plus many wonderful things that have come my way thanks to that life changing email and you guys have pretty much followed my journey since.

As a new runner, I have had to make concious decisions in order to be able to train & run the way I have done. It meant moving away from a lifestyle that consisted of 20 fags a day and basically just sitting on my ass, to basically take better care of myself. It wasn’t an easy process but I did it with determination and help/support from others.

However, if you have been following my journey, you know that I have had issues with my stomach for like, forever, and that I this summer started to actively try to get better for life by getting some treatment for it.

Well, that treatment has consisted of me giving up a lot of things that most people have some sort of addiction to. Things like sugar, caffeine, wheat, carbs and a whole heap of other things. Now, if you have ever been an addict of something and then stopped consuming that substance, that process of becoming “clean” is a very tricky one because there are so many withdrawal symptoms and your mind will play some nasty and horrible tricks on you.

I’ve been so down these past 4 weeks that I basically didn’t train at all. Why? Because I felt incredibly tired and sluggish from the limited food I’ve been consuming (not in quantity but the range) and every time I attempted to run I not only struggled, but I actually felt worse than what I did when I first started running. It was a complete confidence killer and I felt angry and upset, like all that time and effort I had invested in running had been pointless and completely wiped out of my system. I just couldn’t find the motivation no matter how hard I tried, it all just felt pretty pointless.

I had been told to give up on my sub 2 hour half marathon dream in Amsterdam because my body needed more time to adjust, repair and regain strength, but to be honest, I doubted I would ever be able to complete one in my life with that golden time. I actually doubted I was going to be able to complete today’s half marathon, especially when I was struggling with running 3 miles! With no proper training for a month, the stress of not being fit enough, a stone heavier than my race weight in Berlin this year, it even started to creep into my dreams and give me nightmares.

Here I was, broke as a joke and feeling depressed and isolated from all my friends due to my financial, dietary and health circumstances. I wanted to give up and give running and everything that goes with it the middle finger.

But then some of Bangs tough love crept up in my mind and bashed it around a little bit. What the hell was I doing? Why could I not see that this was simply a test of my patience and faith in myself, a temporary thing that would go away and at the end of it I would come out much stronger, happier and fitter person. I had to stop feeling so damn sorry for myself and realise that I really did go from sofa to finish line, but I didn’t stop there.

A week before the one year anniversary of the email from Bangs I will (hopefully) have run my fourth half marathon this year and of my life.

If my first one in Berlin was for me, my teenage fat me and to prove all the doubters wrong, and the second one in Copenhagen was to show my mum I could do it, then the third today in London was the one where I tried to chase away some of my most horrible inner demons with the help of the spirit of my fairy running godmother Bangs, and the fourth in Amsterdam will (hopefully) be a celebration of how far I have come and the great accomplishments I have achieved.

With every race I run, I seem to get to know a little bit more about myself.

In today’s race I learnt that it is ok to feel down and to be weak from time to time, as long as you don’t lose faith in yourself, and stand up and accept the challenge to be the best that you can be when that moment is presented to you. It really is an incredible feeling, and even better when it comes with a medal!

PS: Sub 2 hour Half Marathon – I am coming for you in 2013!

Hello my friends!

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 ;)

Hello my friends!

So a week ago today I completed the most difficult physical challenge of my life – I ran a half marathon in 2 hours and 9 minutes.

Celebrating with my new bling & bubbly

I did it as part of Team Bangs On The Run but I went to Berlin with my much bigger running family, Run Dem Crew.

Bangs and Charlie - photo by RDCbridgethegap

Before I go any further I have to say thank you to Mama & Papa Running, Bangs & Charlie, for changing and improving my life for ever. I know I have said it before but I will probably never stop saying it. You two not only helped me achieve something I didn’t even think was possible in my wildest dreams, but you also helped me achieve and aim for dreams I didn’t even know I had. I don’t know if I will ever be able to give back the incredible gifts you both have given me, but I hope I can pass on some of them and help inspire and motivate other people the way you have inspired and motivated me.

Run Dem Crew Berlin - photo by TheMrWyatt

I feel like I could write 5 different posts about this half marathon journey because there are so many things I would like to share/cover. Not just the actual Berlin journey that includes pre & post race madness, but my inner journey, my physical and emotional journey these past 12 weeks and beyond, as well as the journey of friendships – some that kind of failed/broke and some that truly blossomed.

Teams Bangs On The Run 3 Post Berlin Half Marathon - photo by Bangs and A Bun

Not sure how much I can fit in, but let’s start with my Team Bangs girls who I simply would not have been able to complete this half marathon without:

Rhalou, Sarah Mei, Bangs, Rachel, Dani & Christiana (and Sarah Graham + the lovely Mia who sadly missed out) – thank you all so much for everything! You gave me the strength and motivation to get up at the crack of dawn almost every goddamn morning for 12 weeks to either go running or get my ass to boot camp. I am so grateful to have met you all, my life has been enriched in so many different ways thanks to you. I will always cherish the day Bangs sent out the tweet looking for a female DJ and me randomly seeing it retweeted by Charlie and getting in touch. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was a life changing moment that led me down an unpredictable path and I am so happy to have shared some of it with you. You are all incredible young women and I am so proud of how far we all have come, individually and together since January.

My 11 year journey that only really started 12 weeks ago

See that 14 year old fat girl to the left? I ran those 13.1 miles/21km for her.
And for anybody who has ever been like her, felt like her, who is like her now and think that things can’t change, that they can’t be different – they can!

I have never really felt pretty, or smart, or funny, or sexy or anything that would make me “special”. I mean, I have tried and I have gotten pretty damn good at acting like I feel like I am all those things, but deep down inside, I’ve never 100% felt any of those things until recently…

It is a very overwhelming feeling to be able to look in the mirror and not feel like hiding away from myself and the world. Running has really helped me improve my confidence, not to mention my appearance, and even though I have a long way to go, I never thought I’d even come this far if I am honest…

My first run VS crossing the finish line in 2 hours 9 min

Looking back on these 12 weeks it’s funny to see how I have gone through exactly the ups & downs both Bangs and Charlie said I would… And it’s funny because I stupidly and arrogantly assumed I wouldn’t be “one of those” who would – when I probably was the best example of everything they were telling me about.

I have learned so much about myself these past few months – both good and bad things. Some things have been surprises, other things have been very embarrassing, but all of them have made me more aware of who I am, who I want to be and who I might have the potential to become.

So thank you all for joining me on this 12 week journey, it meant so much to have your support.

I would love to name every single person who has inspired, motivated and helped me get through this, but there’s too many of you and not enough time/space/mental capacity to mention you all!

But you know who you are, it would literally be everybody at Run Dem Crew. You welcomed me with open arms and I can’t imagine my life without you now. You all showed me support throughout my ups and downs and acted like the family/community I always wished I had and now feel so proud to be part of.

However…I do want to give special mentions to a few people who I literally would not have survived without:

Paul, Candice, Glenn, Shameek, Phil, Chaka and once again, Bangs, Charlie, Sarah Mei and Rhalou:

Thank you for believing in me, thank you for pushing me, thank you for giving me verbal slaps when I needed them and hugs & tissues when I needed them instead. Thank you for making me laugh, for making me feel part of the family, for being amazing mentors, friends and supporters, for being inspirational and motivational, but most of all – thank you for not giving up on me when I was ready to give up on myself.

I hope the Berlin Half Marathon was just the beginning of an even greater adventure, one that will last my entire life.

AWAY AWAY AWAY!