Monday, March 5th, 2012
This past weekend I very randomly ended up in Paris running the half marathon. When my good friend Candie text me last minute asking if I’d like to go, I figured hey, cheering my friend on in a race in Paris – what better way to spend a Sunday? During our journey over, we discovered there was a spare race place going, so, knowing how Candie gets nervous before races, I offered to pace her through. It would be my second time running the Paris Half Marathon, last year I ran it with my first gang of Team Bangs on the Run girls. This time around, those 13 miles taught me a lot.
Monday, March 7th, 2011
We finally did it! Yesterday, me and my Team Bangs on the Run girls ran the Paris Half Marathon. We had a great weekend there and it was fantastic to finally meet some of the girls after all these months of training and only communicating electronically.
If you’ve never done something like this, it’s difficult to put into words the magnitude of the day itself, combined with the build up and the physical task itself, but it is nothing short of amazing.
Above is a video of our weekend. It was difficult to get everyone together at the same time so not all the team feature in the video unfortunately, but hopefully it gives you a sense of how it all went.
Today, my joints ache, I have a giant blister on my toe, I’m hobbling a little, but my heart is full. I’m so incredibly proud of all my Team Bangs girls. We’ve been on such a journey together and I’m proud to now call them all my friends.
What’s next for Team Bangs on the Run? Stay tuned….
Don’t forget, you can still donate to our cause over at www.justgiving.com/teambangsontherun
Friday, March 4th, 2011
Well, after months of preparation, it’s finally here. I’m headed to Paris today to the Paris Half Marathon on Sunday. It’s funny how during training it all seems so far away, now all of a sudden it’s here.
It’s been an amazing experience so far and it’s odd to think I still haven’t met some of the girls from Team Bangs on the Run in person – we’ve formed an incredible bond through this shared goal. I never thought when I signed up for this that 19 others would take this leap with me. Through all the pain, discovery, injury, joy and determination of training, we’ve toughed it out and we’re here, ready to prove to no one but ourselves exactly what we’re capable of. Some of us are chasing away demons, some of us are just pushing to be faster, stronger, more powerful not just as runners, but as women. Whatever way I look at it, this experience and these women have changed my life.
I’m proud to be a part of Team Bangs on the Run and I’m uber proud of every one of the ladies involved.
So, cheer for us on Sunday – we’ve come so far, we’ve gotta finish this thing in style!
And don’t forget, there’s still time for you to sponsor us – www.justgiving.com/teambangsontherun
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
In just three days, I will take to the streets of Paris with my awesome crew, Team Bangs on the Run, to pound the pavements for 13.1 miles in the Paris Half Marathon. Excitamacation reigns!
Wearing the right gear is tres important (do you like how I threw a lil Francais in there? I’m brushing up). You’ve gotta feel comfortable to be able to run at your best, so above is what I’ll be donning on the day. Details below!
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
This is James. He’s part of a crew that does Parkour with my friend Brian Appiah Obeng. Brian is a Parkour fiend and photographer who throws himself into whatever challenge life throws at him 100%. He is currently doing a project called ’365 Degrees’ where he posts one of his pictures every day this year. He posted the above one of James last week and the description he posted with it moved me and inspired me so much, I asked Brian if I could post it here. He agreed, so here it is:
It was the spring of 2008, and PK Gen were up early to train on a chilly morning in Vauxhall. Stephane had been leading the challenging session and to finish it off, on this day he came up with a very simple gem of an exercise: He looks up at the scaffolding bar directly above our heads, and says that to finish the session we’re going to work on muscle-ups…
(Now, for those of you that don’t know what a muscle-up is, just imagine doing the upward motion of a pull-up, then in one motion getting your palms on top of the bar and completing the manoeuvre with the upward motion in the way you would for a dips or a push-up. Suffice to say that, its not what I’d call easy).
…but that wasn’t it. The thing about this was, we were going to grab the bar and do the muscle ups, but we were not to let go until we could literally do no more. This wasn’t about counting. This wasn’t about sets or reps. This was about giving it everything you’ve got, and going on until either your mind or your body failed.
Now, when it was James’ turn to step up, I witnessed something that I hold with me and mentally refer to often. He grabbed the bar and he did his muscle ups. Like with any exercise that you train, the first few are always the cleanest, neatest. He continued. Still keeping a good technique he’d move up to the bar, manoeuvre above it and push upwards, then lower himself ready for the next one. He continued. His technique wavered a little, but the rhythm was still there. He continued. I could see that he was beginning to put in more of an effort and that the true work was beginning. He continued. I could see the exertion on his face now, but he persevered and continued the motion, and while it was a little less fluid than before… he continued. He got to a point where it was now less of an exercise and more of a fight: it was now more of a clamber on his way up, and almost a fall on his way down, but he’d never let go of the bar. He’d never let his feet touch the ground. He continued. James, time after time would pull himself up. If he couldn’t pull himself up, he’d will himself up. If he had no will, he’d just grit his teeth tighter and force the damn laws of physics to change in order to get himself above that bar. Every single time I thought I was seeing his final turn, he’d squeeze out just one more. He’d pull himself back up to the bar, arms shaking, shoulders twitching, but it wouldn’t stop him… he’d use his chin, his forearms, his waist, his very life blood if he had to in order to squeeze whatever last drop of effort he could…. and then, when he got to that point that he knew he had nothing left… where it looked like he was ready to pass out – where I, as an onlooker, was beginning to feel out of breath… he continued. I wasn’t watching James training here, I was watching an historic Championship Bout. Seeing the underdog going up against an opponent that the world knew was going to beat him to a pulp. An absolute certainty. But just… when… you think he’s going to go down… he looks deep within himself and unleashes the last gasp of a combination that floors his opponent and leaves him standing victorious.
Maybe I’m overstating it. That being said, I honestly don’t know how many times he completed those muscle-ups on that day, and emotionally I don’t think I had the capacity to count. All I could do was encourage and will him on, whilst just gazing around at the group, who were all as dumbfounded and amazed as I was.
Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Anyone who has trained for anything in their life understands this. The dedication and absolute refusal to give in. When people ask me about running and tell me how hard they find it or that they can’t do it, I simply tell them ‘it’s mind over matter’ – and this right here, what James did, proves it. He wasn’t in a competition or a race, so why didn’t he just take it easy? Why did he push himself to that limit? Because if he didn’t, the only person he’d let down is himself, and that’s the worst kind of let down there is.
I’ve never met James but I’d like to thank him and Brian for this story – at a time where I’m finding my own training for a half marathon very testing, I’ve read this passage every day and it has motivated and encouraged me to go on.
Sunday, January 16th, 2011
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a gazillion times at this point, I’m training for the Paris Half Marathon which takes place on March 6th. I’ve been training pretty hard since November and it’s around this point that it just gets really hard. You’re increasing your distances, your body hurts, you feel sluggish, tired, motivation is lacking and, in my case, your right toenail may have randomly decided to fall off after a training session – in general, running just ain’t seeming as glamourous as it once was.
But alas, thanks to the 20-strong team of Wonder Women that is Team Bangs on the Run, I have a fantastic support network. Not to mention all my lovely readers and Twitter followers who are like my own personal cheering squad.
As of today, it is just seven weeks to race day. Team Bangs on the Run have raised £2675 so far for our chosen charity Refuge, who help women and children escape domestic violence. We’re trying to reach £10K. Pretty please, during these next few weeks, while we’re training harder than we ever have and fighting through our exhaustion, please donate any penny you can – it really helps to keep us motivated.
You can donate over on our Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/teambangsontherun
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
As most of you know by now, I’ve gotten kinda into the running thing. I’ve assembled a team of fly ladies to run the Paris Half Marathon with me (Team Bangs on the Run) and while yes, I am of course concerned about the training and how I’ll run 13 miles, I am still Bangs and a Bun, so naturally, how I’ll look and what I’ll wear for the occasion are paramount in my mind.
Enter Nike iD. One of my Twitter followers, the delightful @missmei messaged me a few weeks back, letting me know that she works for Nike iD and would love to hook me up with a pair of custom trainers. Well, how could I turn an offer like that down?!
Last week I went to Nike Town in London where Miss Mei and crew gave me the VIP treatment and helped me create my very own Bangs and a Bun trainer. And I gotta tell ya, I’m just A LITTLE BIT EXCITED ABOUT IT!!
First, they do a gait analysis on you, which is where they put you in a pair of trainers and make you run on a treadmill for about 20 seconds while they film your running technique to assess what type of shoe will be best for you. (Side note: new runners, it is essential that you get this done to make sure you’re running in something that will support you properly). After that, they take you through to the Nike iD Cube, where you can select the style of trainer you want. I opted for the Nike Lunar Glide+ 2, which really feel great to run in.
Next, I was taken upstairs to the exclusive Nike iD lounge, where Miss Mei and I sat at a big Mac computer, with some fabric swatches and carefully selected the colour for each part of my trainers. I’m telling you now, if you want to get this done, set aside some time! My GAD! The choice is overwhelming. And you need to pick a colour for everything; front, back, sole, tongue, laces, fly wire – you can say exactly which colour you want where. By the end of it, it seemed like I’d recruited half the Nike staff to help me with my decisions. Coins were tossed, show of hands were done, I even went with the old school ‘eenie meenie, miny, mo’ at one point.
But the creme de la creme is, of course, that you can put some lettering on the tongue of the shoe. And you know I had to represent – so yes, on the right tongue, it says ‘Bangs’, on the left tongue it says ‘Bun.’ Check out the supa flyness:
The shoes take four weeks to make and I’m already excited like a kid at Christmas. I can’t wait to be flying through the streets of Paris in these. Expect another blog post with me modelling them from every angle when I finally get them.
For more information about Nike iD, check it out here.
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
This time, a year ago, I was just a few months back from a three year stint in Canada where 20lbs of”Canada Fat’ had spread itself around my butt, love handles and belly to shield me from brutal winters. Or so I told my self. The reality? I was lazy. I’d always been active, but once I started to travel, funds ran low, depression set in and it just became harder and harder to give a crap about fitness.
Taking up boxing last February showed me just what a state of emergency my body was in. I practically needed to be stretchered out of that first session. It wasn’t pretty. By May, I’d shed quite a few pounds and was approached to run the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in October. At this point, I still wouldn’t run for a bus. But, I accepted the challenge. My first attempt was hideous – I couldn’t run for 30 seconds – but it annoyed me that I wasn’t good at it, so I resolved to get better.
I completed that half marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes and my first thought was ‘great! It’s over!’ My second thought was ‘I could have done better.’ And so, I signed up for the Paris Half Marathon, got 19 of my Twitter friends to do it with me and we call ourselves Team Bangs on the Run, doing it in aid of Refuge (for women and children escaping domestic violence).
It’s taken time, but I’ve now started to enjoy running. Each time I run, I feel myself getting stronger, getting better. I enjoy pushing myself, showing myself that I’m not a quitter. (Yes, there are many-a-cheesy parallel between running and life itself).
My training plan has me running four times a week. I run alone. It’s not always easy. There are days I just don’t want to do it, but it’s mind over matter. Once I have that running gear on and am out the door, I forget all the reasons I told myself I couldn’t do it.
When I run, I think about the 19 other girls who have taken this leap of faith with me and are training their asses off. I block out how cold it is, or that I may be running in snow, or that my nose is running or my feet hurt and I just run. I think about finishing in Paris in 2 hours 10 minutes (my goal time) and how that will feel. I think about how much better my body feels having shed over 20lbs and being in the best shape of my life.
I started doing a new route on my 4 mile training runs that has a big hill in it. It makes my legs burn and my lungs feel as though they’re going to burst through my chest, but half way up that hill, I pass a women’s shelter that houses women who’ve escaped domestic violence and suddenly, I feel power in my legs. Suddenly, I’m running for all those women. For every woman who doesn’t have a voice, every woman who’s scared, intimidated, been hit, pushed, abused, silenced, protected their children, buried their pain. For every woman who’s ever felt less than, as if they have no escape, but they somehow find the strength to do it. If they can withstand that, I can run up that bloody hill and then some.
Our aim is to raise £10K for Refuge. I’ve never personally experienced domestic violence but I feel for every single woman who has. Every penny that Team Bangs on the Run raise will help make these women safer.
And that, is why I run.
If you’d like to sponsor Team Bangs on the Run and help us reach our goal for Refuge, please check out our Just Giving page - we appreciate every penny and message of support.
Monday, January 3rd, 2011
This kid is from Brooklyn (the lovely @F_Uitlist’s son) and he shakes his angry fist at you, so when he tells you to do something, you better do it and right now, he’s telling you to support Team Bangs on the Run, 20 ladies running the Paris Half Marathon in aid of Refuge (helping women and children escape domestic violence).
To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/teambangsontherun – we appreciate every single penny and message of support.
Friday, December 10th, 2010
Since Jack Frost is nipping at my nose and this snowfall has threatened to put my Paris Half Mara training in a death grip, I managed to bag myself guest passes for a couple of days at a swanky gym. I just wanted to keep up with my training plan, but it ended in a robbery. A robbery I tell ya! Call Columbo.
There I was at 6am, running for dear life and going nowhere (i.e. on the treadmill) when my iPod died. Frustrated at the fact that I had to complete my remaining two miles musicless, I took the iPod off and threw it, toddler tantrum-stylee, onto the side of the treadmill (read: placed it there carefully, but while making a really really angry face). You already know where this is going. When I finished my run, I bounded off the ‘mill feeling all triumphant, did my stretches and left, leaving my poor, crappy iPod behind.
Realising my error later in the day, I called the gym only for them to tell me no one had handed it in. I was going again the following morning, by which time I was convinced, the iPod thief would’ve grown a conscience. But alas, the next day, still no iPod.
My crappy, big, beat up, five year old iPod was gone forever *moment of silence*. Someone had, however, handed in a brand spanking new, flashy iPod Nano. Taking my old piece of crap and leaving a much better, newer model? Hardly constitutes intelligent thievery. We’re dealing with an amateur here.
I can only put it down to my excellent taste in music. I distinctly remember ‘Dopeboy’ by Adam Tensta being the next track lined up to play right before it died. Obviously the thief has a penchant for Swedish electro hip hop.
I hope they enjoy my fantastic playlists. May they groove to Barry White and cheesy 90s R’n'B. May they marvel at how a shuffle on my iPod takes you on a musical journey from Wu Tang to Phil Collins. Enjoy it, my thieving amigo *wipes tear* That iPod and I have enjoyed many great times. It’s been all around the world with me. It’s a shame our journey together had to end in a posh gym in Leeds. A posh gym – suggesting the people who frequent it have money. I was rockin’ a guest pass. Just sayin’.
Anyhoo, the upside of this tale is this: I had a little moan about the iPod thief on Twitter and within minutes, someone said she had an iPod Nano she no longer used and would be happy to send it to me. Two more of my followers sent me similar messages. And just like that, my faith in humanity was restored. Take THAT iPod thief.