It has taken me a while to write this race report because there are so many elements to this race and journey that I want to share with you.

I will try to cover as much as I can in as little words as possible, but I can’t make any promises…

It’s safe to say that this race was the worst run of my life, but the proudest race I’ve ever completed.

As you might have guessed, the majority of my running crew, Run Dem Crew, had travelled there to race as it marked the 3rd instalment of our Bridge The Gap series. This basically meant that we had 7 worldwide Nike running crews present at the race and all activities surrounding the race.

Massive thanks to Nike & the Amsterdam hosts Patta for putting on an unforgettable long weekend. Much love to all the international crews too – NBRO (Copenhagen), Paris Run Club (Paris), Bridge Runners (New York), Graviteam (Berlin) and Moskva River Runners (Moskva)! Hoping to meet more crews soon!

However, I didn’t travel there with RDC this time around. Instead, I went with my best friend Catariya, who I had inspired to start running by completing the Berlin Half, and some of her friends that she had talked into signing up to the race as a result of my achievements.  It was their first ever half marathon, and just like me the first time around, they were all pretty nervous about being able to complete it.

This basically meant I had 2 goals with this race:

1. Try to get a new PB that was better than 2:09

2. Get my 4 girls across the finish line plus making sure my uni friend Stephen made it through the race ok as well (as I was the one who got him running & to sign up to the race)

I started with Catariya in a slower pen than what I had signed up for since I didn’t want to leave her on her own.

Due to too many people and not enough space, the race began a bit slowly but I managed to catch up with my planned “PB pace” and I was basically flying ahead, feeling confident, excited and strong.

5KM passed and I was feeling good.

10KM passed and I was feeling great.

I was running faster and stronger, my confidence was high and I could feel a PB coming which was a great motivation to stay focused.

Then it all went wrong…

Around 12-13KM I suffered from a weird asthma/allergy reaction (I don’t have asthma!) where basically my throat decided to close up completely.

Keeping the mantra of going hard or going home in my head, I tried to soldier on having all sorts of conversations with myself in my head, until I finally gave myself a mental slap and realised I realistically only had two choices:

1. Continue to run without really being able to breath and most likely pass out within the next 500 metres

2. STOP, get help and/or try to start breathing on my own and hope that I can complete the race

Envisioning Bangs in my head telling me not to let a stupid PB potentially be the end of me and my running career, I decided to stop.

I was really struggling to get any air at this point, but I was determined NOT to panic as I knew from experience that freaking out only makes matters worse.

I put my hands on my head with my back straight and  I slowly started walking, focusing on trying to get my throat to open up and to start breathing normally again.

I knew that Bangs would be standing somewhere along the route, so once I could breath a little bit better, all my focus went on getting to Bangs. If I got to Bangs I knew I would be ok.

To say that I was absolutely crushed to see my PB slip away with every footstep I took is an understatement.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling of when your legs are not tired, you are mentally ready and feel like you’re on top of the world and can do anything, and then having something like this happen to you  that is beyond your control.

It is very frustrating and totally heartbreaking when you know you have invested so much time and effort into achieving something, for it to be taken away from you so abruptly without your control or any warning signs.

(To go off topic a tiny bit)

Just like in life, it is easy to feel very lonely at a race, especially when something like this happens, and even more so if it’s in a place/city where you don’t know anybody.

EVERY SINGLE RUN DEM CREW MEMBER THAT PASSED ME AS I WAS WALKING TO FINISH THIS RACE STOPPED TO MAKE SURE I WAS OK.

Words can’t express how reassuring and safe it felt to have such incredible and supporting running friends such as Lyndia Phoenix, Ghostpoet, Laura, Myha and others who either stopped to help me, patted me on the back to see if I was OK or needed help, or people like Ed who actually decided to walk the rest of the race with me.

Not to mention the massive mental and emotional help of knowing that Bangs was there along the route, as well as cheer dem crew before the finish line.

There has been many times in my life where I have felt completely alone.

It is very easy for people on the outside to look at your life and think that it must be amazing because you do this, that and the other, when in reality nobody ever calls or emails you to see how you are, how you are getting along and if you want to meet up.

But if anything, this horrible run really did highlight the fact that I am never alone, not on the road and not in life.

There is always at least one Run Dem Crew person looking out for me and that is a very reassuring feeling to have.

I tried my best to complete the race running but it didn’t work as my throat kept closing up every time I attempted to run.

So I walked and jogged the rest of the race, determined to finish it and get my medal no matter what.

And I finished in 2:25!

So why was it the proudest race of my life?

Because all my girls, including my best friend Catariya, completed the race, and so did my uni friend Stephen.

To see Cata with that medal and hearing how cheer dem crew helped her get across the finish line is probably one of the proudest moments of my life. You can read her full story on her blog, but all I can say is that I love her with every little bit of my heart and I am so glad that I have been able to inspire her to start this fantastic journey that I know will change her life for the better, forever.

To make me even prouder, she has signed up to run the Paris Half Marathon with me and Run Dem Crew. Friends that run together, stay together – mark my words!

And if that wasn’t enough, I am also very excited to announce that my incredible, inspiring, amazing, strong, beautiful and fantastic mother have signed up to run the Paris Half Marathon too. I am overjoyed and so proud to see her be so brave and embark on this challenging journey.

If I can do it, and if Catariya can do it, so can my mum and so can YOU!

[DISCLAIMER: Some pictures in this post have been borrowed from all around the web. If you recognise yours and want a credit, please let me know!]

This weekend me and my 100+ strong running crew Run Dem Crew are heading over to Amsterdam to run the city and do da ting! We like to run hard and party harder.

So clear your calendar on Sunday 21st October and go to bar Ludwig, Reguliersdwarsstraat 37, Amsterdam between 20:00 and 02:00 to check out this awesome party hosted by the local Amsterdam crew Patta.

It is an open event, so come join me and all the badass international crews from all over the world and help us make this one of the best parties of the year!

Hello my friends,

I hope you’re all well and that you had a nice weekend!

With less than a week left until the Amsterdam Half Marathon, I decided I would write down some ideas and suggestions when it comes to race day preparation. I know that some of these will be mainly aimed towards women, but I am sure some tips and tricks are suitable for men as well!

Just to be clear, I am not the biggest expert in the world when it comes to races, but having been fortunate enough to be mentored and inspired by incredibly fierce and badass runners such as Bangs, Rhalou, Candice, Robin and Jessie, I figured I would share some of my own race day preparations and rituals (in no particular order!):

1. RACE DAY HAIR

I have long hair which means that it flaps around quite a lot when I run plus creates some sort of shield of intense heat if I try to run with it down. It’s very easy to just forget about the hair and throw it up in a messy bun or ponytail. However, you tend to bounce a lot up and down for 13,1 miles, which is not really ideal for loose hairstyles.

My suggestion is to try out different types of braids or ways of putting your hair up in a way that makes you feel fabulous and also feels comfortable to run in. What’s almost worse than a loose ponytail that keeps sliding down is a too tight one that gives you a headache!

Race Day Hair

2. RACE DAY NAILS AND FEET

It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, there is nothing better than treating yourself (and those feet of yours that will be doing a lot of hard work) to a nice relaxing manicure and pedicure. Whether you go to a professional or do it Orsii-budget style (ie do it yourself) doesn’t matter – it is worth doing it!

The manicure is a visual reminder that you can see when you run and it makes you look badass. The pedicure is done to make you feel badass because it makes it comfier to run. Make sure you cut those toenails (!!) and lube in those feet so they get silky smooth, you’ll thank me later!

Race Day Nails

Race Day Feet

3. RACE DAY FACE

Call me shallow if you want, but to quote Candice – “Nobody pays me to run!”, and therefore I like to look and feel my very best on race day – even if I end up looking like a hot mess by the end of it. Most people seem to forget that race day is a celebration of the incredible journey you’ve been on, and like with any party, I try to dress to impress!

So ladies, there ain’t no shame in putting on make-up if you want to! I ran my first half marathon without even smudging my black eye-liner and mascara. I didn’t have it on because I was ashamed to show my face without it, but because putting on make-up for me is showing that I’ve made an effort since I rarely use it otherwise.

The point is – do what makes you feel great, and if that happens to be you looking like a glamorous disco diva then so be it. You are running for you and nobody else, so run the way you feel most comfortable and happy with you!

Race Day Face

Race Day Face

4. RACE DAY OUTFIT

If there is one big thing I have learnt when it comes to race preparation, it is to have the right outfit for race day. Not everybody is a fan of lycra and I can respect that, but you can actually sweat with swagger with or without lycra – just make sure you’ve practised some long runs with your outfit AND that it can cater for all your needs.

What I mean by that is, if you’re running on a warm summers day, long leggings and a thick running jacket might not be the one… Do you need pockets? Can you take things off/put things on during the run if the weather conditions change? Don’t leave it until the last minute, but a the same time, don’t think you need to look boring and gloomy just because you’re running – quite the opposite actually!

Race Day Outfit

5. THE LITTLE BAG OF MAGIC

I’ve started to run with a small bum bag that I’ve had since I was around 7 years old. I call it my little bag of magic because I put in some essential race day items that don’t weigh a lot, but that I don’t want to keep in my pockets. Some of the things I keep in there are:

– Tissues
– Painkillers
– Vaseline
Compeed
– Spare contact lenses
– Sunglasses (if I’m not already wearing them)

Race Day Bum Bag

Race Day Bum Bag

6. RACE DAY MUSIC

As many of you know, music is my life, so of course I’m going to recommend that you sort out your rave music, oh I mean, RACE music beforehand. The way I approach this task is simple – I choose tracks that I know will get me going, music that makes me happy and keeps me entertained.

If you are struggling with race day music my top tip would be to think back on some of the best times of your life and try to create a playlist based on the music you remember from those times. Also, if you’ve done enough training, you should roughly know what pace you’ll be running with and how long it will take you to complete the race.

Try to put all the best power/happy songs roughly around the times you struggle during your long runs. So as an example, if you do 10 minute miles, it should take you a bit over 130 minutes to complete a half marathon. If you usually struggle around mile 4, 9 and 11, make sure your playlist have the best songs around minute 40, 90 and 110!

Race Day Music

Race Day Music

7. RACE DAY FOOD

Because I can’t really eat carbs such as bread or pasta, I’ve never done a race where I have carb loaded (ie when you eat lots and lots of carbs the day before the race so you (apparently) have lots of energy the next day). What I do know is that the food we put into our bodies really effects the way we preform on race day. Im not here to preach about what to eat, but I would highly recommend that you have some sort of routine when it comes to food & drink before the race and on race day.

Train your stomach/bowls to empty themselves BEFORE the race, don’t eat & drink too close to the start of the race, and if you run with water, try not to sip it nervously whilst you wait to get running. The last thing you want is to need the toilet just before or during the race.

I prefer to have a black coffee, protein and some greens on the side, but what ever floats your boat!

Race Day Food

Race Day Food

8. THE NIGHT BEFORE

Prepare your running kit and all the things you will be needing for the race the night before. Make sure you have your bib, that you know where you need to go to, how you’re going to get there, potential disruptions in your travel plans, what time you need to be there for and where you’ll be starting the race from (which area, faster people are usually by the front).

Also make sure you pack a little post-race bag with things like spare t-shirt and sweater, maybe some jogging bottoms, comfy shoes and so on. You might be very sweaty or wet or cold when you’re done, so it will be nice to have a change of clothing with you.

Running Kit Ready

Running Kit Ready

And last but not least – TRY TO ENJOY YOURSELF!

Running a race is not meant to be a punishment. And whilst you might be pushing yourself and your body to it’s very limits, don’t forget that it is perfectly fine to enjoy the race too, whether that is doing it at super speed, or simply running at a comfortable pace.

Have fun, pretend you are a celebrity, take in the atmosphere, enjoy the sights and don’t forget that what you are doing is pretty damn awesome!

Feel free to share some of your own handy race tips and tricks – these are just a few of my own but I’m sure there’s plenty out there to fit every need!