exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

running against myself

by Jen at 1:13 pm on 28.05.2010 | 5 Comments
filed under: run for the ellies, this sporting life

i did it!

my edinburgh marathon official time was 4 hours, 33 minutes, 34 seconds – my second best time.

it was hot (25C and blazing sun! just killer, really) and painful – my hip started hurting at 2 miles in, and i thought for sure i would never make it to the end. when you’re doubting yourself, 20 minutes into a race, it doesn’t bode well – my only goal was to finish.

so let’s just say my use of painkillers would not win any medical seals of approval – i took 3 ibuprofen before the start, 1 dicloflex at 10 miles, 4 more ibuprofen at like 15 miles, and 2 cocodamol at 20 miles. i’ve probably put a hole in my stomach and permanently shrivelled my liver.

i drank and drank and drank. the punishing sun beat down on my face. i forced down nasty energy gels. i passed some runners, and was passed by others. at mile sixteen, there was a course dogleg – seeing the advanced runners already heading toward the end, knowing you still have two and a half hours to go, was incredibly disspiriting.

but somehow, (perhaps because i was concerntrating so hard on putting one foot in front of another) it passed pretty quickly, and before i knew it, i was at the 18 mile mark. that’s when i knew that i would finish for sure, and my goal became to finish without walking.

at some point, i looked at my watch and realised that actually, i was doing an okay time, and that perhaps there was even a chance of finishing strong.

i cranked up the music in my ears, put my head down, and started chugging. ” i will not walk, i will not walk, i will not walk”.

19 miles, 20, 22.

that’s when it got really hard. my hips were aching like rusty ball sockets, and my thighs began to burn with the fire of built up lactic acid. my face was coated with a layer of salt that got into the cracks of my sunburnt lips. my legs seemed to be pulled down by a separate force of gravity.

the 24 mile marker came into view and i pumped my fist in the air with a loud, “yeah!!”, startling nearby runners. i turned up the music even more and began singing aloud.

i wanted so very badly to stop. i began to think about all the reasons i was so desperate to run another marathon – the challenge, the accomplishment, the cause. the 25 mile marker crept up like molasses on a cold day in february. “i will not walk.” i sang even louder to drown out the insistent complaints from my quads, my legs crying out for mercy.

finally, the finish was visible and i let the emotion of the moment carry me across the line. nearly three years since my last marathon, 10 years since my first, i finished marathon #4.

and i was reminded why i do this, why i spent 3 years trying to do this – because each and every time i get beyond the limitations of my fears and doubts and exhaustion, whether that’s at mile 6 or mile 26, it feels like a triumph. there are millions of runners faster and stronger than i – but i can guarantee you, none of them ever have, or ever will, feel better crossing the finish line.

it’s a truth of all runnners: even if you are racing against others, you are first and foremost running against yourself. it is *you* that you have to face every time you lace up your running shoes, and *you* that will always be your biggest supporter. it is *you* who sets your own goals, and *you* that lives up to them.

a huge thank you to everyone who donated to the elephant nature foundation – your money means so much to the rescued elephants, and a tremendous amount to me as well. a massive shout out to my friend fiona, who kindly massaged me post-race.

several days later i’m already pondering what’s next on the agenda. my cousin and her husband (who do ironman triathalons), have been inspiring me to reach for a new goal, and i’ve just got the book “born to run”, so who knows… i have this idea for running 1000 miles in 2010. already got 400 under my belt, so we’ll see.

in the meantime, this was my 25 mile song – it worked wonders to lift my feet and my spirits through that last unending 1.2 miles.

my hero – foo fighters

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lucky number 9336!

by Jen at 12:22 pm on 15.05.2010 | 1 Comment
filed under: photo, run for the ellies, this sporting life

i got my race number yesterday!


so far i’ve been trying not to talk a lot about my training, for fear of jinxing it. and things were going pretty swell until my 18 mile run – since then my hips have been complaining loudly. however i managed my 20 miler, and have been trying to mostly rest and do physio exercises, in the hopes of making through this marathon with my legs still attached.

i only know that one way or another, i will complete it. painfully, slowly, or otherwise, i will get to the finish line. i’ve never dropped out of a marathon yet, and i don’t intend to start now.

so it seems like as good a time as any to remind y’all that i’m trying to raise a few bucks for one of my favourite causes – the elephant nature foundation. you can read my lyrical waxing about it here and here, but suffice to say it’s an amazing place doing amazing work. can you spare a bit to sponsor me? it would do so much good towards saving an abused elephant.

big thanks for all those who’ve donated so far – your support means a lot to me and to the ellies )


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running for the ellies

by Jen at 8:24 pm on 27.02.2010 | 1 Comment
filed under: photo, run for the ellies, this sporting life

so they say the third time is the charm.

this is the third time i’m entered to run the edinburgh marathon, taking place on 23rd may. twice previously, i became injured and had to withdraw – last year, just a few days before the race.

however with the help of some physiotherapy and my natural stubborn streak, i am running again, and determined to complete my fourth marathon.

and as i’m going through all the trouble, i thought i’d try to fundraise some money for an organisation very near and dear to my heart: the elephant nature foundation.


those who know me well, know just how strongly i feel about the work that the elephant nature foundation does. Lek and and her team work tirelessly to save the asian elephant, rescuing one ellie at a time. Lek is also a brave and outspoken advocate of eliminating traditional abusive training methods.

having seen first hand the dedication work of Lek and her team, and having experienced the beauty of an “elephant haven” where ellies can spend their days just being the gorgeous creatures they are, i cannot recommend this organisation highly enough.


lek and the elephant nature park have been recognised for their work by the humane society of the united states, national geographic, and time magazine.

but don’t just take my word for it – read more about Lek and her respected foundation in the news here. watch videos of the ellies they have rescued here.

a hundred years ago, there were 100,000 elephant in Thailand. today there are fewer than 4,000 Thai elephants left.

if you haven’t already read about our experience at the elephant nature park, you can do so here, and see more pics here.


they are magnificent, sentient beings, and lek’s commitment and drive are an inspiration to me. if she can dedicate her life to saving the ellies, in the face of incredible odds, then i can certainly try to run a few hours and raise a few bob to do my part.

a world without these amazing creatures is not a world i want to live in. please consider sponsoring me at my justgiving page.

thanks in advance.

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