Team Bangs on the Run 2: Race Report
Sunday 25th September, what an epic day. The day months of hard work paid off for my Team Bangs on the Run divas as we took to the streets of Greenwich to run 13.1 miles in the Run to the Beat Powered by Nike+ Half Marathon. It was an emotion-filled day that I’m sure each Team Bangs member will remember forever.
On Saturday, I wanted to do as little as possible to make sure my body was fully rested. I spent most of the day working from bed and eating (it’s a hard life). I opened up the Team Bangs folder in my inbox and read the emails I’d received from each of them when they applied to be on the team back in May. Re-reading their reasons for wanting to take on the challenge and what they hoped to prove to themselves by doing so made me highly emotional as I reflected on how far they’d all come. I wrote them each a thank you card, explaining why their individual participation meant so much to me and how proud I was.
Then it was time to go feast with them at Carluccio’s in Covent Garden. None of us could hold it together at this point and we basically spent the evening weeping into our pasta in one big Team Bangs love fest of appreciation. Hearing the girls say what the journey had meant to them was overwhelming for me. I had no idea what I was doing when I started this thing and to hear someone say you’ve changed their life is pretty heavy stuff. So we laughed, we cried and most importantly, we stuffed our faces, all brimming with excitement for what lay ahead the next day.
Sunday morning we were up at the crack of dawn to meet at North Greenwich station for 8am. Our team member Sammi got injured a few weeks back, but still made the journey all the way from Leeds to come cheer us on, complete with ‘I Love Team Bangs 2′ T Shirt and pom poms. We dropped our bags, got our drinks and energy gels in order and donned our Team Bangs on the Run T shirts. Ten minutes before the race started, we were escorted down to the start line to pose for some pics, in front of thousands of people who’d come to cheer on their friends. As the crowd watched, probably thinking ‘who are these chicks?’ I wanted my girls to soak up every glorious moment of it. All I could think was ‘If only you know what it took for my girls to get here, if only you knew…’
The smiles, laughter and good energy were so infectious among my team, the massive crowd watching us couldn’t help but smile as we strutted back to our starting pens. Me, Elle and Sam were in the same pen together and gave each other the giggles as we nervously waited for our turn to cross the start line. And then…we were off!
I hate to run in the heat and wouldn’t luck have it that we had a rare hot and sunny day in London. My first three miles were fine but by mile four, I was uncomfortable. By mile five, I felt like I was overheating. The course was peppered with hills. Since moving back down to London I have been complaining that it is so flat – little did I know, they’ve just hidden all the hills in Greenwich! One hill in particular was (and this is no exaggeration) about a mile and a half long. As I’m running the San Francisco Women’s Marathon in three weeks, I decided to treat it as a training run. I had to make the most of those hills. With the combined heat, they almost killed me.
By mile eight, I hated running, I hated races, I hated half marathons and everything to do with them. I wanted a sofa and food and sleep. I gave myself a severe talking to, high fived some kids, tried to soak up the good vibes. Then a little girl in the crowd gave me a sweet. How can you be mad when a 6 year old gives up one of her sweets just so you can keep going? And right there, I got out of my funk and pushed on.
All of a sudden I was at mile 10 and my power song came on (‘You’re the Best’ from the Karate Kid soundtrack – don’t judge me) and totally perked me up. That song makes me smile my head off the whole way through. I’m so busy smiling, I forget I’m running. I’m too busy channeling Ralph Macchio’s awesome.
At mile 12 I got a much needed boost when I saw the cheering squad from my beloved Run Dem Crew. Their rainbow signs held high in the sky, I spotted them from way back and made a beeline straight for them with a huge smile on my face. ‘Run Dem family! Make some noise!!’ I shouted as I ran past. ‘Go Bangs!!’ they all cheered and those good vibes formed a sort of cloud that I floated on through the rest of the mile.
I steamed down the home straight and crossed the finish line in 1 hour 57 minutes. Eight minutes faster than my half marathon in Paris six months ago and a new personal best for me. As if by magic, my good friend Rhalou from Women’s Running magazine was there at the finish line and I collapsed into her arms for a much needed hug. Then we saw Team Bangs member Elle and brought her in on the hug action too. We were all delirious, all smiles. The race was so hot and hilly and as enjoyable as it was, we were glad it was over.
We went back to our Team Bangs meeting point and waited for the other girls to arrive. First through was Sam, with a big beaming smile on her face. Then came Scribbs, Candice, Jo, Michelle, Lauren, Jayne, Tahirah and Cass. There were tears, there was elation and from many there was sheer shock that they’d actually done it. As I watched each of them come in, exhausted and beaming, I became even more proud not only to have had the pleasure of guiding them on this journey, but to now be able to call them friends.
There are so many people to thank who’ve helped make this possible:
Nike, for your sponsorship and support, you have been incredible to us. We hope we’ve done you proud.
Freya, thank you for sending us some sports bras. Our tatas have been very happy.
Action Wipes for providing us with loads of their awesome wet wipes to freshen up with post-race.
Simon Freeman, for being just all around amazing, but also for sponsoring our Team Bangs on the Run T Shirts and therefore, making us look superfly on the day.
Charlie Dark for your constant support and guidance.
Run Dem Crew for making Tuesday the best day of the week.
My blog and Twitter family – seriously, the major selling point of Team Bangs has been the incorporation of social media. The way you have supported me, and in turn, my girls as I’ve tried to get this thing off the ground has been so incredible. You’ve all believed in me during the moments I haven’t believed in myself. I cannot thank you enough for your messages of encouragement and love. And for everyone who sends me emails and tweets telling me you now want to try running, you are quite literally, making my life worth living right now.
As you know, our running efforts have been in aid of Refuge. Between Team Bangs 1 and Team Bangs 2, we have now raised over £10,000. What this money will do for the women Refuge helps goes beyond what I can say here, but all of you who have donated, please know you have saved lives. This is such an important charity and I’m so proud that we’re doing this for them. Our Just Giving page is still open so there’s still time for you to donate. Head right this way to make your donation.
And so, another Team Bangs on the Run cycle comes to an end. Hopefully, those involved now feel differently about themselves and are pushing themselves in every aspect of their lives. Running is life, plain and simple.
Will there be a Team Bangs on the Run Part 3? Oh yes. I’m plotting and scheming as I type, so stay tuned….
In the meantime, watch this great race montage from Run247. You might recognise a certain someone in there *ahem*