Mo Running? No Problem! The Movember 10K (Greenwich)

Training this autumn has been fantastic. I joined the new season with Run Dem Crew in East London, got over my fear of Track (just), and shook it all up a bit with a muddy obstacle course or two for good measure. So what better way to to top it all off, than racing with over 100 fellow RDC members in the Mo Running 10K in Greenwich? YES!

This was to be my first race back from the ITB injury that has me on the bench all summer. Earlier this year I was guilty of making it all running and no strength training. Or stretching. Or rolling. Of course the inevitable happened and I found myself sobbing at my physio, AGAIN. Frustrated and fed up. I was doing the same old things and expecting different results. Definition of insanity right there.

This time I decided not to take my first race back race too seriously and just enjoy it. No stressing about negative splits and no worrying about the hills’ impact on my time. To get into the mood I bought six different comedy moustaches to remind me not to panic and have laugh.  And even *I* couldn’t take myself seriously in this get up. Stylin’ 

Nadia and I repping the MO: Serious Business
I arrived at Greenwich park around 9am to meet up with the rest of the crew. Registration was seamless, with very little queuing and we had our numbers and race chips pinned on, lopped through in no time at all. 
This left plenty of time to choose a respectable moustache (I went for Hulk Hogan), have a pre race dance (Disclosure, on repeat, standard). Remember its about 3 degrees here and we’re all wearing lycra. Brrrrrrr!
As we set off for the start line, I was introduced to Natalie who would be running her first 10K race, and we decided we’d take on this hilly, two lap course together. After almost losing each other at the start, (over 2,000 people!)  we found an acceptable pace and took on the race. 
We couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The course cleared shortly into the race so there wasn’t a huge amount of congestion, we warmed up really quickly and the views were just spectacular. 
What. A. Day. 
The Supreme Cheer Dem Crew, lead by motivational guru and running bad ass Chevy Rough, had positioned themselves on the trickiest part of the course – a very nasty hill –  and they gave it their all. Each and everyone of those whoops and high fives gave us the extra boost we needed to push through. In fact, you lot were so good, there were at least another three or four groups of people I over heard chatting on the train about ‘that massive group on the hill’ who gave each and everyone of them a lift. 
For all 10kms, Natalie was a total hero and soldiered through shin splints and my constant nattering with impressive resolve. That steely determination really came into play when we approached the finish line and we both upped the pace and flew over the line straight into the running paparazzi (looking forward to seeing if we made the FB page!).  Natalie clocked a great time of  1hr 8 mins for her first 10K and I was thrilled to get through without any injury niggles and a massive smile on my face. Winning!
Natalie and I showing off our new bling – well done Natalie!

That left us to get our bling on (my favourite medal so far), eat a bacon sandwich and collect as many cartons of Vita Coco as we could lay our hands on. What a way to start a Saturday!

A huge thank you to Glenn Hannock, all round legend and project manager extraordinaire, who not only motivated over 100 of us to get signed up ahead of the event, but sorted out training runs, meet up points, and also managed to set up RDC base complete with music, balloons and our own private bag drop! How lucky are we? Definitely IN for 2014.

Marvy Medal 

Survival of the Fittest: London Town

Four months ago, my crazy, mad, badass friend Christina, suggested a group of us equally badass, crazy girls form a team and get ourselves registered for Survival of the Fittest, in London. ‘Of course!’ we all said. ‘We’re really hardcore, we can totally take this’. We met once to discuss training and plans over dinner – and then, as with all best laid plans, life got a little bit in the way. There was work, and holidays, and injuries and well, it couldn’t be that hard could it?

A week before the event I went into flat panic. I knew I could manage the running. But the obstacles? What if I fell and broke something? Or worse? What if I couldn’t *do* any of them? Cue massive online crowd sourcing and googling – which put most of my anxiety to rest. Basic fitness should do. But only just. So that just left me time to paint my nails. Race day nails are a sacred tradition.

Saturday morning arrived and the day started with an alarm call at 6am, not my usual weekend routine (urg), and we were all more than a little bleary eyed in the cab ride from West London down to Battersea Power Station (thanks National Rail for your impeccably timed engineering works). But the cobwebs were briskly blown away by the Arctic temperatures we were greeted with when arriving at the site. It was BRASS MONKEYS cold. Even with five layers and a hoodie, at 7:30am the sun had made absolutely no impact whatsoever. My first thought was, how on earth were we going to manage an ice bath? And secondly what the actual f*ck was I thinking? No training! Freezing conditions! *meltdown*

But at least it wasn’t raining. It is November after all, miraculous weather!

Well hello there Battersea Power Station, looking all sunshine pretty!

By 8am we had signed our disclaimers (favourite phrase: ‘No Showboating on the obstacles’) and located the bag drop. Other than having to pay an additional £2 for the bag drop (remember – this race cost £65 to enter…) the whole process ran like clockwork. Bags sorted, race numbers picked up (with safety pins included and they provided pens, luxury) and we were ready to go.

Obstacles! Strategy! *actual fear of death* 

The Mud Honeys: (L-R) Christina, me, Matlida, Tina and Chris

Just after 9am, we were ushered to the start line, and after a very quick warm up and debrief on safety (‘Don’t play with the traffic on Queenstown Road’) we started at bang on 9:15, the allocated slot for Wave Two. We were right to pick an early start, thankfully very little mud at the beginning of the course and after clambering over the first obstacle of hay bales we were off to tackle the rest.

A bit of jumping, criss crossing, and clambering and we found ourselves at the Monkey Bars. Given I have very little upper body strength, I was dreading this one the most so was very pleased it came so early in the race. The actual bars happened to be rather high off the ground and I could not reach them without a jump off the base bars. My actual nightmare and while we were contemplating whether to jump and swing, the girl in front of us lost her grip, fell and and landed slightly askew on her ankle with a sickening ‘crack’. White with shock, she said, very calmly ‘I think I heard something crack’. We agreed. Again, the race was spectacularly catered for and huge kudos to the marshals, who got her off the course out of harm’s way. They got her looked after very quickly, and it looked like she was in safe hands, so we moved along.

Tina, Matilda and I decided risking it this early on, wasn’t good strategy, but props to Chris and Stina who missed the drama as they were already half way across!

Thankfully that was the only real drama we encountered for the rest of the race. We took a quick stretch break on the run in Battersea Park to support Christina who was soldering through with a leg injury (hero), and I need an extra boost (or three!) up some of the steeper walls.

The moment when I encountered what looked like a rather long drop off on obstacle –  and froze – wasn’t a highlight.  I over thought the issue and got completely paralysed with my fear of heights, not able to jump down (for fear of hearing *that* crack) but equally I couldn’t turn around and go back. This was when I was so thankful I was competing with a team. Tina calmly explained, while shouting up at me, that I just needed to turn around and lower myself backwards. Simples. It really was.

This issue comes up again and again with me, over analysing and then just getting stuck (sometimes literally, legs swinging off the top of a wall thinking the marshals would have to come lift me down after everyone else had finished). I am my own worst enemy, if I get out of my own way and just DO IT, the course goes so much smoother. These little epiphanies I have while covered in mud and sweat. Wish I could have them while sitting in my slippers on the sofa drinking green tea, but hey. I’ll take my inspiration where I can find it. I tend to find it while partaking in mad, crazy, and usually strenuous, activities.

Having climbed up and over countless walls, we finally got to the ice baths and mud tips. By that point we were pretty warm and the freezing water wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to be in my head (at 3am this morning, debating my chances of survival). Another theme. It usually is never as bad as we make it out to be in our heads. But it was cold. My breathing went all weird.

This was followed by more water, climbing and clambering and finally we hit the last obstacle – the infamous Wall of Fame. This took some serious team work and bit of help from the general population, a boost up and then a pull over. Shout out to the large lovely ginger bloke who came to our rescue when we couldn’t get Chris over  (thanks mainly to my lack of upper body power!).

And that was that! I think we did it in 1hr 15mins or so, not bad considering we had a laugh, took a stretch break (or two) and we finished together as a team ‘Leave No Woman Behind!’. Heroes.

No photographic evidence as yet, but I’ll update the blog post when the official pics come through. My knees are bruised and battered beyond all recognition (that Over & Under obstacle that we had to do FOUR times is responsible for that. OUCH). But otherwise, we were all high enough on adrenalin to vogue out, post race. Check it.

Matlida’s face PRICELESS (2nd from right)

Bad Ass. And the sun is in my eye 


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