The dust has settled. The medal takes up prize position on my fathers shelf. This part of the journey has come to an end.
What is funnily enough never mentioned in those pesky training plans, is the emptiness you will be left with once the finish line hasbeen crossed.
All of a sudden my diary is flung wide open and I can socialise again. I have no fifteen mile runs to ‘look forward’ to and i don’t quite know what to do with myself.
Once the tantrums had unfolded, tears dried and head deflated. I had to make some decisions.
Yes, I will run again. This tour has nothing to do with me and everything to do with HIV/AIDS. I will not stop until the stigma does. Point blank period. Two people I know and love are HIV+ Interacting with them allows me to simmer my ego and remember why I began this journey in the first place. Many runners take part in the physical to boost their own ego. I understand it. but I don’t co-sign it.
The fact I began to champion Avert is what has kept me going through the darker times.
I will do my best to mentor more ‘minorities’ and ensure that next years VLM has more black girls than a Snoop Dogg video. I understand that I am an unwilling role model. While there are no immediate plans to sack off my ‘recreational activities’ I will endeavour to lead a healthier lifestyle, if thats what it takes to get more people DOING DA TING.
All upcoming races have been put on pause. An X-ray revealed that I disrupted my ACL on the VLM race. That coupled with the fact that my stress fracture, still causes me stress, I am taking some time off. A month actually. I’ll probably have to come bad with a couch to 5k plan but fuck it, at least I’ll be able to walk in the shoes I work so hard for.
Whatever I do next, will not be so public. This space will always stand and the updates will continue to be regular but the time of inviting every tom dick and undeserving sally into the mix are well and truly over. This path we shuffle along is mighty lonely. While we are pressured into believing that we need assistance all of the time the marathon taught me that no one knows what you’re going through. So as the tour progress’ I am going to be playing my cards a lot closer to my chest.
To everyone that has donated thus far, there are no words that can entertain my gratitude.
To all those who consider me a role model, thank you. But remember I am human and when my shit hits the fan, it stinks more than most.
“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.” Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary
DO DA TING
“This is not the end. This is not the beginning…”
I’m all alone in the flat. Looking up at my London Marathon bling, I have to fight back the tears. I can’t believe I have fluid left within my sockets. Every time I think I am done, another text comes though and I am back to base. I want to have a soak in the bath, but fear I wont be able to get out without aid! I try not to drop things because bending down is not a strong point. I completed 26.2 miles.
I was alone in my pen. But there was a calm about the atmosphere. None of that useless fidgeting I normally conduct while in lockdown. I was just there. Staring into the beautiful landscape of Blackheath. I had not run in over a week. But my foot and knee played up still. I had a plan; ride until the wheels fall off. That was it. I looked down at my two pace bands and knew that if my leg held up; I could rock them out with ease.
Beneath the sun, I saw two familiar figures. Clutching onto the cold metal railings, I pushed myself up
“Nathaniel! Darren!” I wailed
Spotting me, Natty ran over
We embraced like we were both desperate for physical confirmation that we would be ok.
“I love you.” He whispered.
“I love you too.”
Then I watched as he and Darren made their way to a pen behind me.
Then we were moving. Being thrust forward on a wave of human limbs, I made a sign of the cross and I lunged over the start mat. Sticking to the red lines of the road, I made it my business to keep myself to myself. Of all the races I’ve ever navigated, this was the tightest. There was no point in speeding up. Looking down at my watch, it was reading 8’53min/miles. I didn’t even notice. I have always been warned about starting too quickly in the Marathon.
Eager beavers sped on but I soon found a 10:30 pace next to a Grandad who clearly done this often. Fuck following a young buck. I was all about sourcing the OAP pacers. The streets were thick with well-wishers. The sun was hot. By the time I made it to 5k, I welcomed the water stand. Sipping while listening to Bon Iver, I smiled. I felt a touch on my back and it was Sami, swiftly followed by Robin.
“You ok hun? Want company?’
“Nuh uh!’ I spat.
“Go ‘head. I got this.”
I watched as they slipped under the current and I sat back into my stride. Miles three to ten flew past in a blur. I stopped to pet a pug. Slapped every kid’s hand. Posed for a pic with an auntie who was clearly overwhelmed, dapped the hands of all the hood man and just remained thankful for the opportunity.
I had been running near a father and son, when it was clear that the father’s knee could not continue.
“Go on, Son. Go get your time.” He ordered, while fumbling with his bandaged knee.
“No. We walk together.” The Son shot back, while scooping his Dad under his arm.
I let the salty tears roll beneath my RayBans. That was the first of many signs of undying love, I would encounter.
I let thoughts of my own father swim through my mind as I reached into my fanny pack for another gel.
Ten minutes later my iPod shuffle declared it would soon die. Normally I’d panic but for some reason that wave of clam prevailed. I reached for my phone and rang Charlie.
“Hi Charlie! I am approaching Tower Bridge and my iPod will not hold up. Please have one ready!” I shouted
Within minutes he text me back to let me know all would be well. Bless that mans heart.
I continued on. Approaching Tower Bridge, I slipped my headphones off and soaked up the well whishes. As if God himself had orchestrated it I heard ‘Candice!’
It was the confident tone that made my head snap round. It was Melissa! I screamed. She screamed. She grabbed a picture and sent me off with a kiss.
Coming over Tower Bridge, I turned around and ran backwards. Punching the air as I went. This was my fav bridge and part of my most precious memory with my Dad. It hit me then. I was running the London Marathon. As I hit the middle of the bridge, I saw Denise Lewis. She outstretched her hand and put jelly babies in mine! The moment could not have been more perfect.
Charlie had already instructed that if your not prepared, this is where the race would get you. Naturally coming off Tower bridge, your body wants to go left but the course forces you to head right. I was prepared. My body followed the course with ease. And I marveled at the runners already hitting the mile 23 mark on the other side.
Onto magic mile 14! My fav number, I recognized this as the beginning of the route Charlie had guided me down weeks previous. Locked in the zone. A figure stepped out in front of me!
Uncle Ian. We embraced and I admitted that I was feeling tired. The sun was beating but I had fuel left and was still running strong. I took this as the opportunity to have a cigarette break. Smoke in hand; I overtook a fair few people. The gel seemed to be kicking in. The support was immense. Coming to mile 15, I felt a twinge in my leg but ignored it.
‘All you have to do is make it to mile 21’ I looked down at my knee, begging it to listen.
The darkness was looming. Mile 15 gave way to a tunnel. People were on the floor. Some were urinating. Others simply had no energy left. Running past, I was quickly stopped in my tracks.
As if scaffolding had been holding up my left leg, it buckled. Someone had taken a bolt out. I collapsed. My wails echoed and bounced off the tunnels walls. I rolled back and forth on the pavement. Begging the pain to stop.
Three runners came to my aid. Helping me to my feet, they alerted a member of St Johns Ambulance.
The black man on my right looked down at my shirt
“Candice. You do not have to go on. Do not break yourself.” He ordered while helping me to the medics.
‘Mile 21.” I cried.
He let me get snot all over his vest. I never got his name.
Much respect to SJA they do not play. Physio was on me in a flash. Asking me questions, rehydrating and beating the shit out of my leg. I rang Charlie from the back of the van.
“I’m with SJA. I don’t think I’ll make it round.” I sobbed in between wails of my knee being prodded.
“Where are you? Mile 16? Look for Natalie, she should be there, don’t move, we will come to you!”
Once again I was being sidelined in the race of my dreams. I felt like a failure. The SJA wanted me to stop. But I needed to go on. I had to get to mile 21. I had made a vow that I had to keep.
Thanking them and hobbling out of the van, I saw Natalie. Through the tears I could see she was getting ready to roll with me. Putting her backpack on, she put her arm around my shoulders and promised that she would never leave me. That by hook or by crook we would make it.
As the miles went by, I cannot tell you what an angel Natalie was. Because the truth is there are no words that suffice. It was then that I was able to align the physical with spiritual and get to grips with what the marathon means.
Sure for some it’s about time, endurance, VO2Max, negative splits, perfect splits and all the other things that will not care whether we make it round alive.
Love cares. And Natalie had that in abundance yesterday.
Soon we came across Father and Son, who were still arm in arm, walking towards their rebirth. I cried from mile 16 to 20.
Between whimpers of ‘I can’t do this’ and having to stretch my knee out every five minutes, I felt beyond broken.
Natalie was quick in reminding me how far I had come. Not once did she let my self esteem falter.
Rounding the bend to mile 21, I began to shuffle. We could hear music. I knew that was my family. My finish line.
Clinging onto my right hammy, which kept cramping, I pushed. I just had to see…
I am a writer. But what happened next is beyond thesaurus or university education point of description.
Tahirah. Bangs. Dani. Peigh. I felt hands on me.
Natalie would not leave my side.
“Candice, you’ve got this.” Charlie demanded.
“I don’t, I don’t,” I moaned as I shuffled forward.
“Yes you have!” Screamed Tahirah.
I was home.
If I could stop time, I would have.
Who was I? Why did they wait for me? Commercial road had been turned into my homecoming. I could not fail them now. I could not fail us now.
8 miles previous, I’d been hailed up by the hood mandem, taken a picture with a 5yr old black girl, been chirpsed by a black dude and seen the look on aunties faces as I whipped around the way.
Word on the street was ‘Young black girls do not run marathons.’
I was here to change that.
I had to dig even deeper.
Keith ran ahead, camera in hand.
Jeggi, and Denis kept the feds off our case.
Peigh and Chaka took me either side.
Natalie and Angel made sure I was mentally together.
Dani, Tahirah and Bridget kept my mind off the pain.
Dad and Mama Bugg had sent my angels. The battle was not lost.
How could it be?
Some people finished their marathons in 2:20. Others in 8:20
Mine had taken 24 years.
In those last five miles I learned about guts, glory and the maturity of the human spirit. The rain came and still my angels surrounded me, keeping me spiritually dry.
I tried t run at mile 24 and fell. My legs were over it. My angels were not. Peigh and Chaka took my body weight and carried me.
Fuck Twitter, Email and Texts. These people were down for the doing, not the saying. They used their own adversity to esteem my own. I was running a marathon for a group of people who had been forgotten. This was our time to claim back the streets that had once turned their backs on us. The people that doubted. Those that we made uncomfortable just by being ourselves.
Approaching mile 25, I saw my friend Stephanie. Huddled under her Umbrella with her boyfriend, she had waited.
I saw her lips move but was now in a daze. Just seeing her face made me believe that this would soon be over.
Coming through Westminster, the chants of my name froze my heart. This could not be real.
“You got this now, you fucking superstar!” Screamed Peigh.
“Almost there!” Encouraged a police officer.
I could see the finish.
I had envisioned the finish.
Chaka and Peigh let me go.
“Yes girl, bring it home baby!” Screamed Keith.
There was an almighty raw from the crowd. I looked over and noted not an eye was dry. My friends were here. We had made it.
I tried to sprint. My knee and thighs immediately made that impossible. Before I could fall backwards, Chaka and Peigh had me again.
They began to sprint.
With my feet off the ground, we all crossed the finish line together.
We made it.
Once my timing chip was removed and I’d been wrapped up like an xmas turkey, I felt myself sobbing uncontrollably.
Words were exchanged between my loved ones. Photos were taken. I was physically present for it all but my spirit was somewhere else. I still don’t know what to call that place.
A very tired man made his way over to me.
“I’ve been on your case since mile 9. You should be very proud of yourself. You are built for this. You can endure.”
Through wet eyes and a horse throat I thanked him.
And so with that, I completed that phase. I am safely through another level.
But please understand, I have done nothing to deserve praise or esteem. All the credit should be handed to my crew. A group of people who did not hesitate to ensure the journey was completed. I am forever indebted to a million hearts. Every hand that offered a jelly baby. Every stranger who cheered me on. To my mentors Charlie and Bangs. To you, the reader of this space. To Avert, a charity that have supported me in supporting them. My family. My tribe. My crew.
As the sun sets on the most highly anticipated scene of my life thus far, I feel alert. Wise. Sensitive. Making my way around the course. I finally got it. Reading the emails and texts from young women who think this is only a dream, I got it.
I have a plan.
As my body heals, the wheels are in motion.
Remain unrealistic. It will not kill you. It will make you stronger.
“Waiting for the end to come,
wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned…
Its out of my control….”
It has truly been one of those days that begins on the peak and slowly descends into a valley filled with vulgar language and angry letters.
AWAY! AWAY! AWAY!
In other news; above is a sneak peak of some of the footage Dani captured in Jamaica. I am not yet comfortable with being the ‘subject’ I probs need to work on that.
Do you like my A1 size marathon training plan? Look at all those juicy numbers. Yum.
One rest day per week. God be with us.
“I’m lyke Marion Jones, wha? Who da **** wan race?”
Its the 20th of November. Hold the press. Jamaica in 10 days?
I am not going to say how excited/nervous/anxious I am. Ya’ll get it. To watch an idea become a full blown dream is next level intimidating. But I called this.
Very tempted to ‘accidentally’ run the entire marathon. Not even gonna lie.
I have only just had the cojones to look at both these things. And praise God they look bless. I can’t put a PB by this cause I will be dealing with heat. I can do all the treadmill training in a bikram room, nothing quite licks the energy out of you like sun from the West Indies (apart from India. MY GAWD. I am sweating just thinking about it.)
I need to big up some folk real quick
This is Charlie. While he needs no introduction, the respect I have for this man is unparalleled.
He took a chance on an unknown kid (me) and the outcome couldn’t have been better.
Sometimes all you need is someone to believe in your ‘fucking crazy’ idea. And he did. And does.
Leadership skills in abundance without the shadow of an ego make him the go to guy for many.
But I am proud to call him more than a mentor. He is my father. He is my brother. He is my friend.
This is Bangs.
That should be all I need to say!
I met B on Twitter. We bonded over our love for real fur (shoot us!) and hate for Uggs (I have since folded, she remains faithful to their demise)
Funny how that fate thing works out because our running journeys crossed more than many paths and I ended up being a part of TBOTR2. Can someone say ‘life changing?’
Since then a sisterhood has developed. ‘Mama Run’ as I like to call her came into my life at THAT moment. And there ain’t a day that goes by where I don’t look up at the sky and say ‘God, you a boss bitch, cause I REALLY needed her!’
Without this woman, this journey is null and void.
This is Simon. Or Mr Freeman as I like to call him.
Do not let the smile fool you, this man is of an elite status who if he wanted too, could just tell me to be on my merry way.
But no. He has the time of day for me. And I respect that. He dropped ‘The talk’ over dinner in Amsterdam and I will never forget his words.
He is my sounding board as I run towards the finish line of the LDN Marathon and I am so grateful.
This picture of him is an exact representation of his character. I can phone him anytime and he answers (even in church!) He reminds me that it is NEVER that serious and I call the shots on this adventure. No one else. I admire and respect Uncle L. And much look forward to the companionship when the training plan goes over the 16 mile mark. Talking of the letter L….
A wee Scottish lass, with a penchant for rainbows and dope typography (ditto, ditto) she has taught me what it means to ‘excel’ and also be open to new ideas. She is a great mentor to me, not just because she swears and can drink me under the table but because she is a fucking demon on the track! (3:40 Chicago Marathon time. Uh huh. Think about that!)
Funny how you can start a little blog and then come into contact with some awesome people. This man is the definition of ‘support’ knowing that he too will train and face the LDN Marathon beast puts me at ease. Watching him grow through the RDCY project and then graduating into a running demi God makes me a very happy woman.
This kid right here. He has cycled alongside me as I took on 8 miles in deep East. He sends me texts to make sure I am eating right. He makes sure I have the latest issue of Womens Running. He is 10! Give credit where it’s due, this lil joker has gotten me out of bed on some really, REALLY hard mornings. And I love him.
Obvs there are a ton of other people. But you will learn about them in due time.
Yesterday had a nice lil meeting regarding super secret activity at the Nike HQ.
Natty, Shameek, Tara, FeFe & Jamie
Hilary & Fe
The energy of this gang is immediately infectious. 2012 is looking to be a big year for all of ‘em. I for one am super excited to see where they take this.
After filling my tummy and having a laugh with the boys, Natty, ‘Meek & myself headed over to Niketown.
You know what happened.
Urgh. Argh. Grrr. Mmmm. Hmmm. Pffft.
Yeah but they look like marble. How could i say no?
And now decisions must be made……
So glad to see the back of this week. But not. More on that tomorrow.
My fourth 10k. With 43 members of RDC. Epic does not suffice.
Have I trained?
Do I have a plan?
The more you do something, the less it is a big deal and I really, really had to take myself back to that Bupa10k in May to remind myself of the big deal that is tomorrow. For a lot of them it’s their first ever race.
I remember not sleeping. Not eating (Coronas and a pack of 20 Menthol, don’t count!) and generally thinking, ‘What the fuck?!’
But I also remember the sprint finish. The really loud ghetto obnoxious cheers from my friends. The medal *sly grin*
And I for one, cannot wait to be a part of that ‘first time’ feeling.
It all goes funny after that. You have a time to beat. An understanding of what went wrong. An obsessive need to ‘fix’ things, which in hindsight, don’t need fixing. All you need do is enjoy it.
The course comes with some bad ass incline, now if it is anything like RTTB (same area) I am kind of okay with that. I’ll just throw some utter derogatory rap on and that should do the trick!
AWAY! AWAY! AWAY!
Last 10k time was 1hr 2mins. Lets see wa gwarn!
The reception I am receiving for RunTheWorld is overwhelming! I love you guys!
Went out. Had a BLAST. But need to stop burning the candles at both ends, Jamaica is too soon. EEEK!
Aint nothing like throwing on a ASOS/ZARA combo and telling the world to take an arena of seats!
Seem to have a thing for orange atm.
Thinking of wearing this to the airport.
Yeah, i thought so too! ; )
Its been a very strange week for me. November has come around a lot quicker than I would have liked and I am caught off guard but the feelings this page on my calendar encourages.
Sometimes I wonder about how different, for better or worse my life would be if Dad was around. He was my sounding board and no one can come close to him in terms of wit and honesty. I have just about stopped getting teary eyed when I see a packet of jelly babies, let alone in a place to admit that he is never, never coming back and no amount of futile praying is going to change that. le sigh.
This week also saw me peel back a couple of layers of myself.
I am in my early twenties and I know exactly what I want. This seems to frighten people. As the retort is;
Pah, you’re so young, live a little!’
I am living. I am living a life that I am very comfortable with. It may not involve any of the radical pastimes my peers are enjoying but best believe, I am getting my kicks.
Hoping to meet someone who understands that. Anyone. Just someone that encourages my version of ‘fun’ that would be awesome.
Yesterday, I was ready to peel away from my desk at work and head to a personal training session. I LOVE my own company and have strict rules about keeping my work life and personal life very, very separate.
But then Tim (my crush) and Adrien (my lovely muse) talked me into ‘living a little’
If you lot have been readers of this space for long, you know who T(o)im looks like! ; )
So I went. And spent most of the night trying to hide from the camera
Vodka and Cranberry, since I was 19.
I was having a great time. Catching up with Adrien was a godsend. By 9pm I was ready to call it a night. So I slipped into my Nike outerwear and tried to say my goodbyes. But then I was roped into a evil drinking game!
Apparently I have a very cheeky face but slide under the radar because I’m cute. Who knew?! lol
Apart from a rocking hangover, I was glad I went. Nice to let the ‘hair’ down, once in a blue.
So, I am slowly learning to ‘have fun’, ‘relax’ and ‘live a little’ but it has to be said, once you know who you are and what you want, remain true to those ideals. Compromise and leave room for error but don’t let the expectations of others dictate the path you choose.
This morning speaking to Jack, he said ‘Candie, there is no rush. Slow down. You are doing too much. You have the rest of your life.’
And thats when it hit me.
I no longer am wearing a cloak of immortality. Once you have dealt with death, the watch you set your life by starts to tick really loudly and you are aware of every second. So it’s like this; so what if I am tired and hardly know my left from my right?! I am living right now. And that is all I can be sure of. The rest of my life is not promised. I have to work with now.
In other RunningGearFetish news:
OMFG. Jamaica swag in full effect. Please, please, just take this in!
once more for those in the cheap seats;
This is weird for me cause shorts are way out of my comfort zone. But, who gives a shit. Really? Exactly
I am not playing. RunTheWorld is gonna be a smash. Cause my wardrobe says so.