It’s ok to cry….

….because I’ve found a mascara that can handle it!

I have naturally watery eyes and always have to wear waterproof mascara.

I’ve tried a few which usually cope with a normal day but after a drizzly 5k in February where I was told I looked like Gene Simmons and had to be cleaned up with a soggy tissue I had to find a good one.

A friend recommended L’Oréal Paris Double Extension Waterproof Mascara so next time I was in Boots I popped one in my basket

So how does it fare? It’s amazing! It’s super waterproof, I’ve just done a drizzly parkrun and I only have mascara on my lashes and it coped admirably with a post-half breakdown! It’s also cheap at £11(ish) and it also makes my stubby blonde lashes look long and separates them beautifully.

It’s a two stage mascara with white primer and then the actual mascara, but it’s simple and quick even for this ‘slap it on’ girl.

Definitely one to recommend!

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Bucket List Fun part 1

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I love history and in particular all things Anne Boleyn and palaces so when I read about the triathlon at Hever Castle I was keen to include it on my ‘things to do in my 50th year’ bucket list. However its September date is likely to clash with daughter’s university starts for the next few years so was quickly scratched.

A few weeks later I found out that another of Anne Boleyn’s homes, Hampton Court hosts a half marathon in March and having forgotten all my ‘never agains’ after my only other attempt at a half in Blackpool in 2015 I decided it would be a good bucket compromise.

I mooted the idea of a running weekend to my group of running friends and amazingly nine agreed to also run and two decided they’d come down and support so a girly weekend away was put on the calendar.

Last Saturday after weeks of long run weekends or Monday nights for some we jumped on trains from Manchester and made our way to our Premier Inn base in Kingston upon Thames. Trains at an unGodly hour meant that we had a full afternoon to play with so a few of us set off for an afternoon of horse racing at Kempton Park with the rest of the gang choosing to make the most of a fine afternoon by walking from the hotel to Hampton Court.

I chose the races and managed to lose money well although did celebrate one winner during the day courtesy of Max Ward (names being my only method of horse choice with this one having a link to our parkrun event director’s son Max). I also celebrated as my partner in crime managed a win on the place pot having selected a placed horse in the six first races.

We all dined as a group in the hotel restaurant and risked indigestion with a relatively early night.

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Race day when your event is only 2 miles from your hotel and when you already have your race bib and timing chip is surprisingly calm and I didn’t get the usual pre-race jitters and nerves so an early breakfast was palatable and the Premier inn supported us with porridge on request. In fact the hotel couldn’t do enough for us, providing a couple of late check out rooms for post run showers, reserved table for dinner and ordering our cabs to get us to the race.

Hampton Court Palace is just beautiful and seeing it on our arrival along with almost 3300 other runners and their supporters was amazing.  The morning was dry and bright and we spent the 30 mins before the race wandering between the start and the event village admiring the topiary and daffodils and taking plenty of photos and attempting to find a loo without a queue!

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We had been allocated various start times and expected to be in pens, however it was far less formal with wave numbers being called out and and expectation that runners went in the correct wave.  When you’re a relatively slow runner there is always a concern that being in a late wave will leave you last on the course and a desire to just get going, so as a result people were definitely in waves far too fast for their ability.  In the main our group held out until wave 5 (I think officially we were in wave 6 but by that time it felt a bit like a free for all) and we were off.

I won’t go into details about the race, 13 miles is a long way especially when you are complaining about your hamstring, knee, numb toes etc etc from mile 5 with a route that wasn’t quite as pretty as I’d hoped (the river part was good, the run through the town not so).

To sum it up, I had a great weekend with fabulous friends, and whilst I finished with a time of 2:31:49 and didn’t achieve the sub 2:30 that I’d hoped for I wasn’t disappointed, just glad to have completed it. I’ve tried two half marathons and I know I won’t be doing another instead I want to concentrate on getting better times for short runs and having fun whilst I do it!

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Feet First

Sore feet!
It’s not the most sympathy-evoking injury to have as a runner/triathlete. Why could I not have something with a fancy name or an injury that other athletes wanted to give you all their thoughts and advice on! But no, I’ve got sore feet.

I’ve had copious investigations to find the reason; X-Rays, ultrasound scans, and more podiatry and chiropodist appointments than you can shake a stick at, but all to no avail. The pain is even there when I’m sat at my desk, so there’s not a chance that I’m letting it stop my training.

I’d seen a number of posts on Facebook about a podiatrist, biomechanics & orthotics service supporting an athlete who sometimes trained with my son, and I’d considered getting a fifteenth opinion on my troublesome trotters, when in the Triathlon Club presentation night raffle there on offer was a voucher for said service. It was snatched off the table in double quick time and an appointment booked for the next available clinic.

I arrived with no expectations for a result but how wrong could I be. From the first moment I knew that Lindsay (Dr Lindsay Hill) understood feet, and being a runner herself knew exactly how miserable ‘sore feet’ can be.

She specialises in ‘treating sports injuries with the prescribing of othoses (insoles made specifically for your feet), using a Gaitscan for diagnosis and prescription design’. The Gaitscan was a large plate, attached to a computer that I walked across a number of times. This then produced an image of how my foot hit the floor, identifying to Lindsay what was causing my pain. It was quite an emotional process, that someone was not only sympathetic but felt they could do something to help.

Photo courtesy of Axis Podiatry
Lindsay then gave me advice on new running shoes, using all the information she’d compiled during the session and off I went with the make and model of shoes she felt would help.

Tonight was the first outing for the new shoes, (which I have to admit look very strange with being not only longer but considerably wider than my previous shoes), at a track session with the Tri Club and what a revelation they were. Not only extremely comfortable and cushioned whilst running, but the usual after-run pain did not materialise; more my feet felt relaxed and soothed.

I’ve not managed to make the leap from my current ‘off the shelf’ orthotics to purchase the custom made ones (having two kids at university makes my sore feet a low financial priority at the present time) but I will definitely be investing. I feel they will not only allow me to run without pain but will keep my feet in good order for the future.

Dr Lindsay Hill can be found at Axis Podiatry, which is conveniently located behind Frederick’s ice cream parlour (it’d be rude not to!) on the A6 in Adlington. http://www.axis-podiatry.co.uk

International Women’s Day

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Today is International Women’s Day with this year’s theme being #BeBoldForChange

The organisers are asking women to “articulate and explain that exact moment when they themselves took bold action to help improve or develop an aspect of their own livelihood, career or business – or that of another woman’s, or women’s status overall”

I wrote a couple of days ago about my bold moment in 2013 when I decided I wanted to run and joined Burnden Road Runners running club.

That decision has brought so many things to my life. From a running perspective it’s brought structured training, parkrun, races, trophies. But it’s the by products of running that continue to surprise me, other sports such as swimming and cycling, triathlons (me taking part in a triathlon!), volunteering, organising events, inspiring other ladies, fundraising and being part of something.

The biggest thing that being bold brought to my life was friends and friendship.

Never did I think that if I said ‘does anyone fancy a run’ on a cold, dark, often wet ‘school night’ that anyone would say yes! But they do and in fact they are tonight!

I’m lucky to have bonded with a group of ladies as a result of Burnden that I can run and cycle with (swimming is parked at the moment). I can go them with my rants and moans and also to share successes and good news.

My list of Whatsapp groups is endless with Ladies who Cycle, Ladies who Run, Burnden Muppets, Hampton Court Half Ladies (they’re even helping me with a bucket list item!), Longish Run Ladies etc etc lots of groups of ladies (and some where we let the blokes in!) who share the same interests and want to have fun whilst getting fitter and healthier.

People tell me ‘I couldn’t do that’, my reply, neither could I, but I do. What’s the worst that could happen; I might be last in a race – I have been, I might fall off my bike and break my wrist – oops I did, but I survived and I’m still having a go. So be bold, don’t be scared, join in, smile and have fun and you never know what opportunities will come your way.

Ann has written about running and family here https://bellesbikesandrunningshoes.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/runs-in-the-family/

Runs in the family

For the past 27 years, since I first met my hubby, I’ve known that running was part of his psyche. I’ve never quite understood the all-consuming need to run, but I do know it’s part of who he is. For all of these 27 years, Burnden Roadrunners have been a big part of our life, and I’ve spent many years on the side-lines, watching and supporting him in races, on social events and with his weekly training. Our children have grown up spending their Saturdays and Sundays travelling to sometimes obscure places to support him.

Three years ago, this understanding of the benefits of running led hubby to suggest it as a way of supporting our son, George, through his tough A level years, as a means of stress relief. Following a particularly arduous first parkrun outing, where George took around 38 minutes to do the 5K route, complained most of the way round, dressed in two tracksuits and carrying a water bottle, something ‘clicked’ and the running bug bit hard.

The rest, as they say, is history. Both of us joined Burnden, with George not taking many months in being able to beat his dad in races (which dad was more proud of than aggrieved), and we’ve spent some really special moments all running in the same races and enjoying the camaraderie that being part of a fantastic club like Burnden can bring.

Precious memories, at New York 5th Avenue Mile road race 2016

Fast forward three years, and how things have changed. George is off at University, enjoying his running with a new club, and the meeting of like-minded students, has made the transition to living away from home a far easier process. Our daughter, Alice, who has always felt herself immune from the running bug, was asked to join the committee of a new running club, Ramsbottom Running Club, and started running on a regular basis. She has now run her first 10k and 5k races and is loving both the health and social aspects of running. I’ve moved from Burnden to support her at her new club and we are enjoying meeting lots of new friends and exploring new running routes, both on and off road.

Last Sunday was a special moment, when Burnden hosted their annual club race, Trotters 5, and Ramsbottom Running Club had 24 members entering the race, bringing together two fantastic clubs for a few hours on a wet Sunday morning.

New #ramouflag photograph courtesy of Dawn Evans

Running brings more benefits than the increase in fitness for us as a family. It’s a shared interest and a way of spending time together away from the pressures of everyday life. As parents, we have hopefully given our kids a way to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, for life.

If you don’t already run for a club, check out one close to you. It’s not all about the elite, fast runners (although its fantastic to be amongst them too, as their energy is inspirational) but it’s a way of getting fit, meeting new friends, setting yourself goals and exploring new places.

Burnden Roadrunners (burndenroadrunners.co.uk) meet at 7pm every Monday night at Smithills Sports Centre and have sessions to suit all abilities.

Ramsbottom Running Club (ramsbottomrunningclub.co.uk) meet at 7pm every Tuesday night at Irwell Brewery, Ramsbottom, and usually have three routes to choose from, to suit all paces of runner.

parkrun, serious running stuff?

Three years ago I made the incredibly scary, but ultimately brilliant decision to try out the New Starter Group at a local running club. The aim of the group, to get us to run a continuous 5k over a ten week course.

After a couple of weeks Sue our coach told us we should try parkrun, a weekly, timed, 5k run round Leverhulme Park.

My friend Susan and I laughed at the suggestion and told Sue we’d wait until the end of the course when we were sure we’d make it round.  But Sue continued to push us; telling us it didn’t matter how slow we were and it would give us a base line time which we’d see improve over the 10 week NSG course.

So we registered at http://www.parkrun.org.uk and on 5 October 2013 Susan and I turned up at Leverhulme Park with our barcodes printed and ready to have a go.

I can’t remember a lot about the run only how horrified we were at having to run (walk) up the aptly named Cruella de Hill TWICE and on seeing the finish line we were sent away from it by the marshal for a final out and back stretch.

One thing I do remember is how social and friendly it seemed, people warming up together, groups stood chatting (who needs a warm up?), dogs (on short leads obviously 😉), children and adults of all ages shapes and sizes milling about. The scary bit, everyone knew everyone else! Well that’s how it seemed to us, how would we ever fit in?

Fast forward to March 2017 and the world of parkrun is a completely different place. Between us Susan and I have now taken part in 135 parkrun events, the majority at Bolton but we’ve had the odd spot of tourism at Burnley, Delamere, Worsley to name a few. Our first time of 35:33 has been reduced with both of us having a PB in the 28/29 minute region.

Most importantly we found our feet.  We know more people, we have our group of buddies to stand with, warm up with and run with. Sometimes we push ourselves and each other for a good time, sometimes we take a more leisurely approach (check out my time from yesterday as an example!).

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A spot of parkrun tourism
After a period of falling out of love with early Saturday alarm calls I made an effort last year to get back to regular appearances at parkrun both in a running and volunteering capacity and I couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later my co-blog author Ann and I were asked by the event directors to join the core team as run directors. Of course we said yes (or rather Ann said yes for both of us!) and in the last six months or so we’ve conquered public speaking fears (standing on a blue plastic step, holding a clip board speaking through a megaphone), we’ve made events happen in all kinds of weather and even mapped an alternative route when our beloved Cruella was out of action.

We’re now members of another fab group of folk,  although I think the musings of these two looney old women on the RD Whatsapp group have the rest of the RD team bemused!

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Some of the RD team and our loyal volunteers
I look back to October 2013 with a smile and like Sue Booth would encourage anyone to come down to parkrun. Don’t wait until you can run 5k, come and walk run if you need to, you won’t be last as we always have a lovely tailrunner

So is parkrun serious running stuff? Yes,to many it is (sometimes, even for me).  I’ve results processed and know from post event e-mails how important seconds can be but it’s not all about times and PBs, it’s not even all about running, for me it’s all about friendship, being part of something good and just having a great time on a Saturday morning.

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Never blow your nose when there’s a photographer around. Courtesy of Ali McArthur Bolton parkrun

Today went swimmingly

Training has been a bit up and down lately, and definitely more down, as that’s how my mood has been! I’m not sure whether it’s the winter blues or an age thing, but this little black cloud that keeps following me around is getting a little bit tiresome.
So today I was on a mission to lift the spirits once again, and what better way than a parkrun with all the joy that a Saturday morning run with a couple of hundred like-minded people can bring. Meeting up early with Louise and Diane added a few extra miles beforehand, so completing our weekend ‘long run’ in the most pleasant of ways.

Early afternoon saw an impromptu organising meeting for our upcoming Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)Women on Wheels event in our local Costa after collecting the very generous goodie bags donated by the Bolton Decathlon store.

If you haven’t checked out TfGM website, it really should be on your ‘to do’ list. There’s a whole host of different cycling courses, from beginners cycling and maintenance courses, to an intermediate course I went on a few weeks ago which taught me how to replace my brake cables and fit a new gear cassette and chain! And to think it was all considered a Dark Art this time last year.

Saturday ended with me pulling my big girl pants up and finally getting in the pool for the first time since last September. It had become a massive issue, with me almost feeling scared of getting back in the water. Swimming is the weakest of the three disciplines for me, but bizarrely my favourite! I’m still not ready for the intense Tri club sessions but it felt so good to get back in the water and not have to resort to arm bands ( which was my fear!). Swimming somehow feels even more therapeutic than cycling or running; you’re just alone in the water with your thoughts, concentrating on tweaks to your stroke to make it easier to pass through the water. It’s almost mindfulness whilst training.

Saturday drew to a close with my black cloud, whilst not having disappeared completely, having definitely been shown who’s the boss.

Organising, with our honorary belle

Check out TfGM here http://cycling.tfgm.com/Pages/default.aspx

And just in case you’re in the market for something cycling related, do check out the lovely folk at Decathlon Bolton. All their products have lengthy warranties, money back options and are great value for money. You’ll get some really top notch advice too.