Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Victorious!!

'Nobody's gonna break-a my stride, nobody's gonna hold me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving!'

That was the song going through my head when I decided to 'give it some' and end the 26.2 mile New York marathon on a sprint! Yes I did it and it feels great!! As cliched as it sounds, 'there is no feeling like it when you cross that finishing line...and you can still walk!'

I thought as soon as I finished the marathon I would be ripping off my running shoes and throwing them in the river. However, I felt the opposite. I wouldn't mind doing the London Marathon at some point. Actually I might re-assess that if the aching in my thighs has not disappeared!

It was funny to see New York, the day after the marathon. You could tell the runners, walking at a slow pace, legs straight, rocking from side to side.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got to New York. My mood kept changing from excitement to anxiety. I decided to travel to New York in tracksuit and trainers to get in the mindset of a runner. If I looked like an athlete than surely I'd start to feel like one. It kind of worked as people assumed I was and I exchanged knowing glances with fellow runners of the task ahead, I was in the club. The runner's club.

As I went through immigration, the man at the counter asked if I was in NY for the marathon as the runners run past his house every year. I asked him if he was going to be watching he said no, he'll be working and he hasn't watched it in three years as he was in Iraq and he is only back in the US now as he got injured.

I'm sure he was just making polite conversation but I was tempted to say, 'O.K buddy you win'. Iraq? Marathon? I think I'd take marathon everytime.

It was really warm in NY. Around 20C/68F and sunny, It was a real pleasant surprise as I had been bracing myself to run in the rain as they had had record breaking rain fall in October, I think this was the cause of alot of my anxiety. I had decided to take my braid extensions out for the marathon because I wanted to be as aerodynamic as possible and didn't want the extra weight of my hair to slow me down. You know black women and rain don't go together. The thought of my hair getting wet and shrinking coupled with the photo at the end of the race was enough to send my heart rate up. Luckily for me the forecast was sunny, bright skies!

The organisation of such a massive event was really impressive. Even though there was lots of queuing everything ran really smoothly. As the saying goes, the British love to queue (where does that come from?? - answers on a postcard please) it was British queuers heaven. Had to queue at the Macmillan Cancer Relief Team party for our pasta, queued at 6am in the hotel the morning of the race to walk to the meeting point to get the buses to the event. Queued for 40 minutes to get on the buses to the start line. The buses took about 1hr 30 and queued to get into the starting area before they could drop the runners off. Then queued to get some water, queued to put our stuff in the UPS lorries that were taking our stuff to the finishing line collection point. queued to go to the loo before the race started, then queued for about 30 mins to get to the start line to run the marathon.

After all that standing and queuing it was actually a relief to start running. At the beginning of the race I kept thinking to myself I can't believe I'm here! I can't believe I'm running. All the anxiety seemed to go and the thrill of reaching my goal started to overwhelm me. I couldn't stop grinning. I'm surprised an officer of the law didn't pull me over for looking deranged! It was also, to my horror the time of the month but those pains seem to disappear as soon as I took off ! (ILadies, I know you're impressed now!)

There were so many people and as tempting as it was to race off at the start (especially as there were some fine ass brothas running in front of me), I put all the tips I had read and heard and put them into practice. The biggest and best tip was to 'run your own race'. It doesn't matter what others are doing around you, just run your own race. Funnily enough the people who I saw racing off at the start, I saw them later on in the marathon sitting on the sidewalk looking exhausted as I run past them. (Sorry but this tortoise couldn't help feeling smug!! - I must work on that!)

It's time like this when all those cheesy American sayings, don't sound so cheesy - there were some really encouraging banners along the way. There was one at the brow of a hill around 23 mile mark which said "a moment of pain, a lifetime of pride". As I read it, I could feel the power in my legs return and I could hear R.Kelly singing 'I believe I can fly' (actually that might not have been my imagination, I think someone was playing that out of their house window).

'Running your own race' seems to be a pretty good life mantra. As it has been said, there will always be people, cleverer, faster, richer, more beautiful and talented than you, but if you do your thing as well as you can do then you will never be disappointed. As I found with just training for the marathon, everyone has an opinion of what you should be doing, what you shouldn't be doing and what you are capable or not capable of but if you take time to listen to yourself and not the opinion of others, only you know your true capabiliities and what works for you. I better stop, I'm bringing a tear to my eye...sniff, sniff.

Talking of sermons...it was a Sunday and as the saying goes if Mohammed won't go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed. A church in Brooklyn had set up a sound system outside and the pastor was giving a service to the passing runners. A few miles up the road we were greeted by a service of a different kind - a local promoter trying get his artists some exposure. 2 young ladies singing R&B songs. They are not the songs I would have chosen for the occasion but they definitely helped me to run faster. All I could hear when I was running off into the distance in that classic whingey R&B singing tone, something along the lines of , ' why did you cheat on me, why did you leave me, I loved you and you left me like a fool'

As much as I am a sympathiser of the sista's plight. Sistas! Sistas! Today is not the day for singing song of heartbreak! Save it for Jerry! It's a celebration! Enjoy yoursefl!

It was a real cultural experience running through New York seeing the different cultures and their own individual ways of showing support. Polish, Hispanic, Koreans, African Americans, Orthodox Jews all lined the streets at different junctures.

I took my ipod with me to listen to but there was so much going on that it just ended up being a fashion accessory.

It started to get really hot and at one point it was 70F so I was really grateful for all the volunteers who were lined the streets handing out Gatorade, water, and power gels (which really work!).

To make a long story shorter, it was an awesome experience and even though I was feeling the pain on the plane coming home, it was all worth it. I'm not saying it was easy but it wasn't as hard as I imagined. At the pre-event party the Macmillan Cancer Relief team had organised they read a letter from a cancer patient who had been given help by Macmillan, it really drove home the reason why we do these things. I know, I know it's cliched and sentimental but it's true, that if people can live through the variety of traumas cancer can bring, physically and mentally then what is 26.2 miles - which was 4hours 30 minutes of mild discomfort!

It definitely feels like a milestone, as I have such a small attention span that if I can stick to this objective and achieve it by implementing a regime and planning for the event and executing that plan then I can apply the principle to so many other things.

Big thanks to all the supporters and sponsors whose sponsorship was often the prick my conscious needed in order to get off my arse and go out running on those days when I just couldn't be bothered.

There was so much that happened over the weekend in NY too much to mention but it was definitely a experience i will never forget.

So what next....Hike to the Himalayas, perhaps???

Monday, October 10, 2005

Recurring injuries, travel and time management

Yes, I'm still alive. The countdown has seriously begun!! Less than 4 weeks to go before NY. I can't wait....til it's over. The anticipation is killing and so is the training time. I'm finding that it's not the actual training that is doing me in. When it happens it's cool, it's fitting it in...I know it's a self inflicted Londoner cliche but - "I'm so busy - where does the time go!"

Since we have been apart I have been training - honest! I slowed down for a week as a recurring injury started to play up...Yes that old chestnut - "recurring injury". I began to feel unhealthy twitches in my knee, I figured, especially after my running buddy's fate I should take it slow rather than using the technique of running through the pain.

Just like a smell, a song, or an old item of clothing, the throbbing of my recurring knee brought back memories of when I originally injured the knee. I know you are dying to hear the story ...(actually the story is not that interesting but I've started so I'll finish!) Back in 1999 in Charlotte, North Carolina my friend came to pick me up from the airport. On the way home we crashed the car and my knee smashed against the dashboard. Scary, yes, but fortunately nobody was hurt.

You'll be glad to know that the knee feels much better. Went for a 10k run on Sunday to Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill, Finsbury and the knee felt good. So as they say, it's better to be safe than sorry!

In the last 2 weeks I went to Brussels for work and did a little 30 minute run with my work colleagues - Brussels is actually a nice city. I was shocked at how pretty some of the architecture is. I never thought of Brussels of having anything of much interest apart from Belgium chocolates...I was wrong.

Got back from that well known exercise capital of Europe last week - Ibiza. Don't worry it wasn't a traditional Ibiza party hols. I did 3 morning runs while I was out there. Got a few stares from clubbers just leaving the clubs while I was running in the morning! Nothing like the feeling of righteous to get you motivated and make you run faster!

My last run was on Sunday. Today I'm going to do some pilates before I go to bed and I'm running tomorrow.

It's gonna be pasta for lunch and dinner from this point forward! Let the countdown continue!

If you haven't already sponsorship would be much appreciated - www.justgiving.com/runningforcancer

Monday, September 19, 2005

Passwords & Emotions

In the words of a hip-hop classic..."It's been a long time"

The reason for my absence is not because I've been slacking off my running duties. It's because of a necessary evil of modern life - Passwords! In total I must have at least 50 different passwords that I need to use to access the various 'confidential' areas of my life. On a straightforward trip to and from work I feel like a secret agent the amount of digits and access passes I have to use to get through the day.

To cut a possibly long and boring life observation short - I forgot my password for my blog and so I couldn't access the blog to thrill you with my running tales.

So what's new in the world of sponsored running?

In the time we have been apart - I found a running partner and lost a running partner in less than 2 weeks. We planned to run together but it never quite happened. Then last week I get the email, every novice marathon runner dreads having to write...due to an injury she won't be able to train for two weeks and if she isn't careful she might not be able to run the marathon. Nightmare! Her parting words of wisdom were that she had overtrained and that I should be careful not to fall into the same trap!

Let's just say that overtraining is not something that I'm in any risk of doing!

The last two weeks my training has been slow but steady (I'm sticking with the tortoise theme). My most notable victory was running 16 miles on Sunday (and it started to rain!). My legs are still aching. It was a really tough run, I don't think it was helped by the amount of food I had eaten at my Aunt the night before. I will spare you the details but for the first 6 miles I felt like my dinner was going to introduce itself to the pavement. You'll be glad to hear that it didn't. But I won't be doing that again no matter how tempting desert looks.

I'm off to Brussels with work on Wednesday. I'm going to try and go to the gym at the hotel and put in a few miles.

Also - big thanks to all the people & employers that have sponsored me - my total is looking much more decent. I'm up to £1,118.26! Cool huh!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Tired but never too tired to blog

Yep, Saturday I went for my run. Finsbury Park, to Hornsey to Alexandra Palace to Muswell Hill and back to Alexandra Palace to Wood Green to Haringey and then back to Finsbury and home. Approx 8 miles.

Did some cross training on Sunday - I went kayaking in the reservoir on Green Lanes that has been turned into a watersport centre. It's pretty cool having the watersports on your doorstep in the city.

Next running date is Tuesday. As you can see from my brief blog, I'm real tired. Goodnight! See you Tuesday.

Friday, September 02, 2005

You betta think!

This week - not great. Walked from London Bridge to central London a couple times but my only major run was a 9.5 mile run on Thursday with the Heathside runners who were doing an alternative winter route.

As we set off for our run, I assumed my favourite position at the back of the pack, and ran towards Alexandra Palace.

To cut a long story short, I got lost. I was running with a new runner to the group and neither of us knew the route and we lost sight of the runners in front. I don't think we were too far off track but as darkness started to descend on us whilst guessing our way back down the darkened roads, it dawned on me that I don't know this man! Luckily for me he was really nice and proved to be a complete gentleman, which is the main reason he was lost in the first place as he was waiting for me. However, at the time my imagination as usual was working over time, which worked in my favour as it gave me the adrenalin needed to step up the pace and run like the wind (well, like a strong breeze).

At the beginning of the run I was talking to a longtime running club member about the marathon. It is starting to become a little disconcerting that every seasoned runner I talk to looks at me like I'm crazy when I tell them I not only plan to run a marathon but I also plan to run the NY marathon. It's the same look I would expect from a couch potato whose only exercise is stretching to get the remote control from the arm of the chair they are sitting in.

When I think about it now, I realise I didn't think about it. I had decided last year that at some stage before my 35th birthday I wanted to run a marathon and I wanted to run for a cancer charity. When I saw the ad for Macmillan Cancer Relief I figured it must be a sign,

If I had done some more research and thought it through a bit more then I think I might have delayed it or started out with the London Marathon. Just to prove the point, life dealt me some challenges that made training that little bit harder. 9 weeks away and as positive and sure I am that I will finish, the lesson has been learnt - this running business ain't as easy as it looks and neither is fundraising!

But as I said before, if it was easy it wouldn't be a challenge.

Due to run tomorrow - pray for me!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Just Say No!

This whole weekend I have been in the zone. The only thing is it was not the same zone that I entered during my run on Thursday. It was the 'Twlight Zone'!

Bwoy, today's run was hard. I think it might have something to do with the excessive alcohol intake on Friday in celebration of a colleague's up and coming wedding. One glass of red wine too many I think. My body just can't take it. It was a great evening but the consequences were dire...in running terms.

On Saturday I was suppose to run with my new running buddy at 10am. I had to do something else first thing. Unfortunately I was delayed by the trains and then I lost my phone so by the time I got to the meeting point, my running buddy had run off and I had no way of calling her to let her know what happened. I was tempted to go running by myself but as soon as I started to pick up pace, every footstep felt like a hammer was being hit on my head, so I admitted defeat and went home. So Saturday was a washout. I'm really gutted, I was so looking forward to meeting my new running buddy. (who I'm sure is not my buddy at this moment in time - sorry!!!)

Today I did my 8 mile run with the Heathside Runners. It was a lovely sunny day and now the run is over I realised I really enjoyed it - when I say enjoyed, I mean I enjoyed the feeling of being able to put mind over matter and just getting the job done. No pain no gain! My body was still feeling dehydrated and slightly worse for wear from Friday's over indulgence but I managed to make it and complete the run. I think I'm going to do the 16 mile run next Sunday. It's time to pick up the pace!

So from this point forward, it's all about saying No to the evil of alcohol! My body is a temple and all that. This training is a big enough challenge with out trying to run under the influence!

As it's Bank Holiday tomorrow, I'm gonna try and go for an 8 mile run tomorrow morning.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

In the Zone like Britney!

Hey dude, it was magically. Today I entered that place that exercise junkies and avid runners live for. I was in the zone man! the zone! As usual it was a hard start. What made it even harder was that I was late to meet the Heathside runners and so by the time I got there they had already started their "gentle" run and were no where to be seen!

I was tempted to turn around and go about my business but the combination of receiving more sponsorship money in the post this evening, not doing my run on Tuesday and the thought of having to confess on my blog that I hadn't done what I said I would do was enough to spur me on. So off I went, with out a clue of where I was running to. I ended up doing an 8 mile run. Running from Hornsey to Crouch End to Alexandra Palace to Wood Green and the back to Manor House. It was a good run. It's amazing how running can clear your head, when I started all I could think about was stopping, then by the 3rd mile I had a range of random thoughts going through my head, and then the calm, I entered the zone. Today was the first time that I can say I really enjoyed the run. I felt comfortable like my body has finally realised that resistance is futile. This marathon is gonna happen whether it likes it or not!

I'm due to do an 8 mile run on Saturday with my new running buddy. So see you then!