So. I did the semi-marathon de Paris yesterday. It was fantastic!

I finally met the non-London-based Team Bangs members (see Bangs and a Bun’s fab video here), got my Team Bangs tee, and rocked Paris with my now world-famous yellow leggings. The verdict: Fab-u-lous.

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Thoughts about the race itself

Weather: it was bastard cold, but beautiful and sunny. That’s perfect running weather; the sun beats down on you, but you’re buffeted by a cool breeze on your skin. Cue lots of top layers thrown wildly on the streets, in bushes, over cars etc.

Old people: for the sake of my ego, I had to pass them. Ironically, my legs are so mash up that today I was overtaken by a thousand-year-old woman on a Zimmer, while out with the bestie at lunch. Like the Beenie Man song goes: ‘Zim zimma? /Who got the keys to my Beemer?/ I need a lift/Because my legs fucking hurt.”

My leggings: everywhere I turned, people were looking at my legs. Result. However… I spent the first 5k pulling them, and my knickers, alternately over and/or out of my arse. Stylish.

B-A-N-A-N-A-S: Hey! You know what a race course needs? Banana skins. Yeah, we appreciate the food, guys, but I don’t want to go arse-over-tit in it or stick to the pavement. Mmm, juices.

Feelings: Elated. Pleased. Smug. Sore (I didn’t roll out and stretch right away and the running gods have smited me for my impudence). I cried as I approached the finish line. It was EMOSHUNAL. I actually couldn’t believe that all this training and hard graft had brought me here, to this point. This was what I had been working for and I could almost reach out and touch it.

Inspiring? Who, Me?: I’ve had people telling me that my constant tweets and training updates have inspired them to take up running or get back into it. I’m getting used to the idea that I can be an inspirational person too, and frankly it’s overwhelming and scary –  in the nicest possible way. It sure beats being shat on by people who were intimidated by my changing attitude and physique.

Speaking scatologically… the worst thing about distance running is enjoying a nice breakfast a few hours before an event, and feeling that sensation of it needing to be let out – during the last third of the race. Now, we’d fretted about this question: What happens if I need to wee, or – quelle horreur – poop?

Answer:

1. Hold it until you get back to your hotel. 2.  Have the best poo ever. (Seriously, it was sent from the gods. I still remember it fondly.)

My time: Just under 2:28. Let’s just take a moment to reflect: I ran for 2.5 hours without stopping.

Final thought

At the time of writing, we’ve raised nearly 6 of the £10k we’ve pledged for Refuge. I ran this thinking of someone’s broken arm and the official story – and then the truth – behind it.

Think of the women and children in your life: you know at least one who’s been careless enough to ‘fall’ down the steps; been deft enough cover their bruises with MAC or long-sleeved/high-necked clothes; been brave enough to leave, or been too frightened even to say a word.

If you don’t know a victim (or survivor) of domestic abuse, and have been fortunate enough yourself not to have been one, chances are that you know someone who does. Domestic violence is far more common than we’d like to admit, and every pound you donate will raise awareness and offer practical help to scared, vulnerable women and children.

This has been an incredible, emotional experience from start to finish. I’ve cited the power behind my reasons before and thanked them personally, but a personal connection to the issues Refuge deals with was my spark, and my mother was the guiding light. She’s 70 years old and has done 4 half-marathons – and isn’t ruling out doing more. As Beach Bum Beauty said to me on Twitter: ‘It looks like you’ve inherited her spirit!’

I hope so.

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