6.35 miles, in 1hr 19 minutes!
Yes indeed, that is how far the mighty Run Dem Crew pushed me this week.
It’s 10.30pm on Tuesday, 6th March and I’m too tired to say or write anything else for now. But I just needed to register that straight away. I’ll finish the rest of this tomorrow. ‘Nite..
And, good morning! It’s now 4.37am, Wednesday, 7th March.
Unsurprisingly, I found myself wide awake five minutes ago, with my mind buzzing about Run Dem Crew. So, where was I?
Being a man of good taste, RDC’s leader, Charlie, is an Arsenal supporter. So, in honour of the Arsenal vs AC Milan Champions League match that was taking place at home last night, the running route he selected was from RDC’s Shoreditch HQ of the Nike 1948 offices to the Emirates Stadium, and back. Sod’s law that last week Sarah Mai and I had made a pact to push ourselves further by moving up from the Tortoises to the Slow Hares. Now, not only would we be doing a faster pace but we would also be doing a longer distance.
As ever, our run was proceeded by Charlie’s ‘housekeeping’ update and pep talk. But this week’s was particularly special. He reminded us that Run Dem Crew really is about more than just running. It’s a community and a mindset that helps give people the mental, as well as physical strength, to succeed in life. Just in case anyone doubted that, he invited us to take a good look around, at the 100+ people gathered there. The Crew is made up of a wonderfully diverse group of people, many of whom have worked hard to overcome an element of adversity in their life. Charlie spoke with raw passion when he explained that running had saved him, given him focus. And he divulged that others in our midst had conveyed the same feeling to him. As he handed out the medals that had been won over the weekend – from the Milton Keynes Half Marathon to the Paris Half Marathon, with the NSPCC’s race up London’s Gherkin in between – he described what an amazing feat it was for many of the participants to have run those races. There was the generosity of spirit that led people like Bangs to support and pace determined runners like Candie, to get them through their half marathons, despite injury. There was the slim, healthy-looking guy, who’s name I’m ashamed to have forgotten but whose story I definitely remember, as only a year ago he was 19 stone and yet this week he completed a half marathon. The lovely Soph, who couldn’t do the Paris HM last year because she was bulimic and surviving on 500 calories a day, but this year was well enough to conquer it. And the amazing Emily, who had a bone marrow transplant last year and this weekend also triumphed in the Paris HM. To be running in the same crew as these guys is not only inspirational, it really is an honour. By the time the medals were handed out, I felt like crying with pride.
The more I learn about my fellow runners, the more I realise how lucky I am to have found and joined Run Dem Crew.
Unbelievably for me, after running last Tuesday, I joined RDC again the next day – Wednesday 29th February 2012 – for Nike’s 5K Leap Day Run, part of its ongoing #MakeitCount campaign. It was the opportunity to do something special with that once-in-every-four-years calendar date. An extra day to make it count. 150 of us ran from Shoreditch to County Hall on the Southbank, where Nike had laid on a party, food and drink, under the shadow of the Millennium Wheel.
After Charlie’s talk last night, I realise that Nike couldn’t have chosen better advocates for that philosophy.
This week, there were 12 of us in the Slow Hares and as we started to make our way out, Sarah Mai and I looked nervously at each other. This was our personal challenge. We set off down the back streets of Hoxton at a gentle pace, with more experienced runners at the front and back to make sure no one got lost or left behind. And we managed to maintain that pace all the way, pretty much. I was worried about the lack of always-welcome traffic lights to slow us down but it’s amazing how much the will of the group, mutual suport and encouragement can get you through. Every now and again, one of us would express our surprise at making it so far. Together, we could do it.
Eventually, the spotlights of the Arsenal stadium and cheer of the crowd were close enough to spur us on. When we finally reached it, we were so excited we raced up the stairs and did a lap around the stadium wall. That pretty much wiped us all out. So our jubilation turned to steely determination as we realised that we now had to run all the way back to Shoreditch. Luckily, it was mostly downhill. But by this point, the biting cold was eating through out glove-less hands and we were suffering. As we neared Hoxton, we bumped into one of the other groups, giving us the welcome boost of all running the final leg together. That last mile absolutely killed me. Glen shouted running tips and words of encouragement to both me and Sarah Mai, to push us through the final stretch. But it really did take every ounce of strength I had to make it.
When we finally reached HQ, my body was aching and once more I was completely spent. When Sarah Mai told me we’d run 6.35 miles, in 1.19 minutes, I was gobsmacked but joyous.
I love everything about my new Tuesday night regime. The people, the mindset, the challenge. Thank you, Run Dem Crew.
Below are some pics from the Nike 5K Leap Day Run, which culminated in the event at County Hall. Click on the first image to start the gallery, then click the top right of the pic to move on.