Posted by Kay
Make–Up Artist Camila Fernandez was once an assistant of mine. She always had a thing for running- not a bad thing to have when your life involves more standing and waiting (near a table forever laden with refined carbs!) than actual physical graft. Cardio is definitely a set-based worker’s best friend and I loved to hear her stories of 5k this and 10k that with her running group ‘Run Dem Crew‘, a 200 strong group who meet every Tuesday night in Shoreditch, London.
More importantly, I’ve also know Camila during her father’s illness with Cancer, which was terminal and sadly he passed away last year.
She recently ran the London Marathon (who isn’t in total awe of anyone who can do this!) and the reasons behind her perseverence are moving. There is much joy, loss and inspiration in Camila’s story, and we wanted to share it with you.
He decided to come home to spend what would be his final month with the family, spending his final Christmas, my niece’s, my mum’s, his final birthday’s and mine together (we all strangely had December birthdays).
Adjusting to the harrowing information we were forced to digest (my Dad was 61 at the time and felt no way ready to leave us yet) we were eased into our new situation with the aid of Marie Curie nurses. These nurses were sensitive to his needs, to us and provided us with excellent support. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, Marie Curie were only able to stay with us for 3 days before being replaced by a private “package” by the NHS, which comparably acted mainly as cleaners rather than offering any real emotional support.
My Dad spoke so fondly of his time with the Marie Curie nurses and so I promised him I would try and get a place in London marathon and raise money for them. We’d often spoke of the marathon distance and my Dad had always claimed it was too painful for anyone to endure.
It was a year after my Dad’s death that I began my training programme, I decided on running guru Hal Higdon’s novice 2 schedule. I’d fallen out of love with running in the year following his death and so I was determined to get my fitness back. Marathon training is taxing, you’re expected to run 4 times a week as well as cross training. Admittedly I didn’t follow training to the letter, life got in the way and I struggled to fit in cross training but I always made sure I did 2-3 and never missed my weekly long run.
I run with a community of people who run together called Run Dem Crew. Our goal is not to out-do each other like many running clubs do, and that was a huge support for me. My longer runs were made more manageable by having company to distract myself from the mileage plus I was able to gain useful advice from other friends who’d previously run marathons.
I’d say the most liberating part of training was the final week whereby 70% of my diet consisted of carbohydrates and the mileage was practically non-existent. I’d run so much in the past 3 months I was desperate for a bit of respite!
The 26.2 miles were a new and daunting distance but I knew it was one I had to do. In the starting pen I stood in the warm sunlight and a sense of calm washed over me as I absorbed the enormity of what I was about to do. As I was running for Marie Curie I was grouped with other charity runners and I felt myself well up behind my sunglasses as I noted the messages and causes that people were raising for on their t-shirts.
I’d heard of people telling stories of injuries incurred during race day and how it would take away hopes of PB’s or stop them from completing the race. In all the races I’ve ran (which is quite a few) nothing like this had ever happened. Until now. At mile 6 I tripped on a water bottle and went over on my left ankle, as I looked down in horror a guy handing out water bottles saw my Marie Curie logo on my top and shouted “Come on daffodil, you can do it!”. Refusing to be shot down so early in the race I hobbled and limped for the next half mile before shaking it out, no real damage done. Then, as if on queue, my hips starting killing me. I never have problems with my hips (?!), sometimes my knees, but never my hips. Amazingly my lower back and knees (my usual weak points) gave me no grief for the entire run but the hips continued to keep pestering me.
Moments of relief came at points of the race where I saw a friendly face or family member. Run Dem Crew created a massive cheer zone at Mile 21 which erupted with screams of encouragement and they let loose a cannon of confetti over me as I ran past them. A couple of them continued to run with me for a few miles at a time when I was really suffering. Banners of encouragement like “Run for cake” and “Pain is temporary” kept me going whilst members of the public shouted words of encouragement when I looked as though I was struggling (which was the majority of it!).
I spent the remainder of my day; medal proudly displayed on my chest. My walking style was akin to that of a backing dancer from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video – legs stiff and painful with rigid side leg swings proving more comfortable than the usual way.
When I boarded the tube afterwards (again for free as I’d just run a marathon, dontcha know) I saw a young man in his twenties sitting in the priority seat chatting away to his girlfriend, I tapped him lightly on the shoulder and raised my medal into his eye line before he quickly scampered off apologetically offering his place. I’m such a badass.”
Camila’s Running Memo.
About Run Dem crew:
We are a 200 strong group of creative heads who meet every Tuesday night at the hidden Nike Store “1948” which is under the arches in Bateman’s Row, Shoreditch. Headed by founder Charlie Dark (one of the most inspirational speakers I know) we treat each other as family. The crew does not represent your average runner from Runners World (uber thin, white, middle class wearing shorter than short shorts). It’s a mixed bag of people from ages that span from 16 to over 60. My ladies in the crew are not afraid to run in a bit of lippy ether… who said running had to be all about sweating? Aside from running races in the UK we like to travel abroad as a crew to run half marathons which always ends up with a big party to let off some steam. I have formed close friendships from the crew and it has become a big part of my life.
During training, fueling myself was pretty important to keep me going the distance. Chia seeds, wholegrains, nuts and Naked bars were staples in my diet. My breakfast before each long run was a bagel with peanut butter (slow release energy) and during the runs I would keep my energy levels up by taking gels every 6 miles. My brand of choice was SIS although I did experiment with a few others.
Basically during long runs your body is fueled by either fat or carbohydrate and relies primarily on using the latter. Typically, the body can store up to two hours of glycogen (the carbohydrate’s sugars) at marathon pace before resorting to fat to feed the muscles. However, despite fat being a largely abundant resource it takes a lot longer to be broken down into usable energy – resulting in ‘hitting the wall’ where you feel like you’re running through tar, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.
What I wear
I always wear Nike, not just for comfort but from a design and styling perspective -they always get it right. For the marathon I wore a discontinued range of Flyknit Trainers (which I stocked up on before they sold out). I also wore a thin Nike bumbag (Fannypack for those over the pond) to keep all my running essentials like my gels in to keep me well- fueled along the course.
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