Dusting the vest off

Sunday saw my first race of the year and more importantly the first opportunity to don my club vest in 2017.

After a somewhat lazy 2016 I’ve promised myself that I’m going to do much more running in 2017.  I’ll never set the world on fire with times or distance but I do want to improve.  I have some time and distance aims, but I also have a desire to appear less often on the last page of the results!

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Burnden Ladies before the Hill Runner U.K. Mast 10k Courtesy of the Bolton News

The race was the Hill Runner UK Mast 10k. An out and back run with three solid miles of uphill running to the TV transmitter at Winter Hill Bolton then a glorious three mile downhill return.

With a one thousand metre climb (starting with the seemingly endless slog up Smithills Dean Road) it was a tough race to start the year.  It was however a race that gave me immense pride having avoided all club training runs up to the Mast as ‘it’s too hard!’

An icy mist had settled over Bolton during the night and we couldn’t actually see the Mast from the start point (although that was perhaps a good thing!). As the route transitioned from the main road to the tarmac and gravel side road and trails I experienced just how cold it was, with patches of ice making for some hazardous sections. By luck or maybe judgement I didn’t come a cropper, but some of my fellow club runners did manage some spills. We saw bloodied knees, face and elbow (all on one runner!) and a broken rib and finger.

The faster runners skipped up and down like mountain goats with the winner taking just over 36 minutes to my one hour 22!  The fact that I hadn’t even run two miles when he passed me on his downward leg blew my mind! Some of the route was on narrow paths and wooden bridges and I’d been quite concerned about possible comings together but on the day everyone was really courteous and because it was an out and back we got to see all our running friends and teammates throughout the race  giving support, high fives and even a hug off a fellow parkrun run director!

The turning point was a welcome relief and was manned by the fabulous Bolton Mountain Rescue who benefitted on the day from a £250 donation from the organisers and sponsors.  Many of the marshals on the course were from my own running club (Burnden Road Runners) and it was great to get personalised shoutouts from them along the route.   I could have hugged Carolyn at the road crossing when she shouted ‘runner coming through’ and there was no one around but me!

The dreaded Smithills Dean Road isn’t so dreaded when you’re on your way down but it’s also a memory wiper, with my mantra changing from ‘never again’ on the up to ‘next time’ on the way down!

All in all, a well organised race from Phil and Melissa from Hill Runner U.K.

A big challenge for me personally and one that has taken away the fear of the route when it’s offered on the training schedule.   But what about the results? It was close, very close, but I have the evidence, I wasn’t a last page lady!

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The after!

 

On t’telly!

ITV

Transport for Greater Manchester have played a huge part in our lives as cyclists. But we never thought it would get us on the telly!

Their free courses helped us become road ready (lots of laps of the fire station forecourt), learn how to ride on the roads (including navigating a roundabout the size of a small Caribbean island), taught me how to use cleats (and gave me my first experience of the dreaded cleat fall, very impressively at a main junction!), and gave us the knowledge of how to maintain our bikes (even pumping our tyres up was a dark art in the beginning).

So it was with huge excitement that Louise and I put in an application, early in 2016, to their Women on Wheels initiative, which was offering to fund projects aimed at getting women on their bikes. We were lucky enough to be selected for funding and our event was a huge success (no one was more surprised than us two) and so when the fund opened to applications again for 2017, we were sharply onto it, submitting an application with the vision of a bigger and better event.

What we didn’t envisage was the publicity (and for two girls just making it up as we go along, this was very unexpected) we would generate. Getting an email last week asking if we would ‘do a piece for ITV’ was too good an adventure to turn down.

So it transpired that we, along with a group of our lovely WoW ladies, turned up at Leverhulme Park on the bitterly cold first Tuesday morning of 2017 to meet the journalist and photographer from the evening news programme.

Two hours later, after a few pieces ‘to camera’ by a couple of our success stories and a lot of riding round the park in a variety of directions, we decamped to the park cafe to thaw out and digest our morning. A cafe always features in our rides, so despite us having probably only cycled 500 metres, it seemed churlish not to partake of a brew, cheese on toast and excitement at ‘being on the telly!’

I can safely say that the following evening, waiting for the piece to air on the news, was more nerve wracking than any job interview. However the nerves disappeared once we had watched it (and rewatched for the umpteenth time) and appreciated the scale of the interest in women’s cycling.

The Facebook pages were inundated with enquiries and in her truly interminable style, Lou spent the evening replying to each and every one, encouraging and advising in equal measure.

Whatever the outcome of our application for this year’s funding, I’m humbled to think that our excitement and enthusiasm for cycling has helped even a few ladies get on their bikes!

Push it real good…

Training takes a different form in the new year, with the triathlon club sessions having been revamped by our new head coach. It was with some trepidation that I turned up for the first evening of the new regime (only finding the energy after encouraging text messages from a couple of friends – we were all struggling with feeling the training love on a cold, wet Monday evening!).

We opted for a spin session followed by circuits and I have to admit it was a revelation that we could giggle so much yet still have a great workout. The playlist during the cycle session had our toes tapping almost as quickly as our feet were spinning and the circuit session highlighted how much work I need to do on upper arm strength!

It did make me think, however,

A) where would we be without the encouragement and support of our friends and training buddies.

B) how easy it is to keep doing the same training, and, although the training is never easy, it’s familiar to us and maybe doesn’t stretch us as much as we need.

I’m determined to keep mixing my training up but continue to remember that I do all of this, not so I will ever win a trophy or accolade, but so I can be as fit and healthy as I can and have the most fun whilst doing it.

 

Bolton Tri Club is filled with supportive, encouraging coaches, and athletes enjoying their training. If you have ever felt a spark of interest in triathlon, check out the website at http://www.boltontri.com, which lists all the training sessions taking place over the week. Come on down; who knows what new skill you could learn or old skill you could develop.

Festive fun

On the eve of the first day back to work of 2017, I wanted to reflect on the last two weeks which I’ve spent as a staycation with family and friends. As I coughed, spluttered and swallowed the antibiotics towards the end of last term, I vowed I was going to spend a part of every day over the festive break having fun! In Louise and Ann world, this fun usually takes the form of running, cycling, walking, or parkrun.

The break started on the Friday night, when at 7pm I met a hardy group of 10 fellow Tri-clubbers on an unlit reservoir car park, bedecked with Santa hats and headtorches for a festive 10k darkrun, finished off with coffee and mince pies from the boot of the organisers car.

What then followed was:

Five trail runs

Four parkruns, including Christmas Day and ‘the double’ on New Years Day

Three cycle rides

Two baking sessions of flapjacks for post-run refuelling

One filming adventure for ITV

All spent with our positive and like-minded group of friends.

Photo courtesy of Bolton parkrun

My home isn’t as clean as I’d like, I know we both have ironing mountains that would take an intrepid explorer much effort to scale, and the work I brought home still lies in my bag unread. But I can safely say that I haven’t any qualms or dread at going back to work tomorrow. Rather I will spend the next six weeks to the half term break planning our next staycation full of fun.

It’s not all grim up north

We’ve seen in the new year with some bright cold days, perfect for getting outdoors. We are so lucky that whilst Bolton is known  for its industrial heritage it also has some stunning countryside. Whilst on holiday this week we  both made the most of our surroundings.

I spent the bank holiday walking with hubby and our dog Mitzi round Entwistle Reservoir, a lovely two and a half mile stroll. The sun and new year resolutions brought out the masses as I’ve never seen it quite so busy!

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Entwistle Reservoir

Ann was somewhere much quieter (quieter that is until she arrived with the Ramsbottom Running crew!) They took the opportunity to go for an inpromptu trail run up to Peel Tower. The run was tough but lots of fun and was described by one runner as “Lots of whooping and hollering, followed by brews, mulled wine, mince pies and flapjacks”

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Yomping up hill and down dale  Photo courtesy of Ramsbottom Running Club

It’s a new year and the fun keeps happening

So here we are in 2017 and the first few days have vanished in the blink of an eye.  Thankfully both Ann and I have been off work and have been able to fill our time with family time and fun stuff.

We’ll start this blog with New Year’s Day where we both started the year with parkrun.

For me that meant the short trip to my home event at Bolton where I started as I mean to go on by actually running! I found it far too easy to volunteer in 2016 and much as I love to help make the event happen I need to run more this year.

Ann smashed my efforts by travelling with Team Butler to do a New Year double at Pennington and Haigh Woodland parkrun.   This followed their Christmas weekend double where Ann celebrated her 50th parkrun whilst running for the first time for the recently formed Ramsbottom Running Club.

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Team Butler doing the double

We both agree parkrun has brought so much to our lives and we were delighted to join the core event team at Bolton in 2016. As you’ll see in future posts it’s even brought a new running club into our lives!

For anyone who hasn’t heard of parkrun basically they are FREE 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone and are safe and easy to take part in.

The events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and people of every ability are positively encouraged to take part.

If you’re interested in finding out more have a look here. Make sure you register and print your barcode and bring it along when you run and that will generate your time on the results.