The night before…

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It’s race day tomorrow (the Bolton 5k, one of the Central Lancashire Grand Prix series) and looking st tonight’s sky I’m optimistically thinking we might have a decent morning for it.

I’ll be running in my Burnden Club vest and also showing solidarity to the recently formed Ramsbottom Running Club by wearing the club colours on a buff (neck tube). I’ve joined RRC as a second claim member so I can train with them as and when I can get home from work on time. My home club remains as Burnden and will be my club on race entries and race day results.

Its been fun meeting and running with new runners and also running some new routes. Ramsbottom is hilly so every Tuesday session is a challenge!

 

 

 

 

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Today’s learning

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They say you learn something every day…

Ann and I have tonight finalised our plans for our Women on Wheels  event on Mothers Day 26 March at Leverhulme Park in Bolton.

So what did we learn?

  • Rope experts in, they love to help and share their passion in this case it’s a love of cycling. They also have great ideas and can help simplify something that had us tied in knots!
  • Within 60 minutes you can come up with something that’s suitable for varying abilities and levels of confidence
  • Free stuff is great! Today’s freebie bonus is Eventbrite where you can set up an event, limit numbers AND include FAQs!

So there we have it two Bolton Belles Women on Wheels events in one. If you’re local and fancy joining us take a look here

New and Nervous ladies

Improvers and Intermediate ladies

It’s a mad mad Mad Dog world

So today Ann and I did our first joint race of the year, taking part in the 7th MAD DOG 10K. Organised by the Round Table this event is badged as ‘a great fun event that takes place along the Southport shore line’ ‘a great run for runners of all types regardless of your experience, everybody is welcome’

 

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I’m a pretty mean runner (when it comes to entry fees rather than being a great runner!) and so took a sharp intake of breath at the entry fee of nearly £27 for affiliated runners. But the event now in its 7th year must be doing something right as it has been named THE BEST 10K IN THE UK by various running organisations over the years (including Runners World and for the last 3 years at the National Running Awards).

So Ann and I forked out our hard earned cash and along with a group of Burnden and Ramsbottom Running club buddies including Ann’s daughter Alice making her race debut we waited patiently for the 2017 race to be announced and signed up quickly (thankfully before it sold out in just a couple of days).

An unnamed storm threatened to spoil our fun with high winds forecast for the day and we debated all week what clothing we’d need. We needn’t have worried as on the day the weather was exceptionally kind with blue sky and a total absence of wind and rain.

Logistically the event was just perfect, with race bibs mailed out beforehand and central parking with free buses to the registration area. Once we arrived at registration we noted all the directions and signage and the number of portaloos available!

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On the race bus
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Just some of my goodie bag!

Feedback on previous races called out ‘brilliant goodie bag’ and wow, what a goodie bag it was with bespoke T-shirt, buff, race clips, rucksack, gym towel and lots of samples and snacks all handed out efficiently and with minimal queuing.

The race itself was equally well organised with start pens (dog named of course) determined by expected finish times. Pre-race announcements that could be heard by all runners and most importantly chip timing.
The course was flat, really well marshalled and signed and we had the bonus of bands, choirs and singers (including Elvis) to distract us and provide a good beat to run to.

I’ve learned recently that my once favoured flat road races aren’t actually as nice as I’d thought and after a decent start struggled in the second half of the race walking a few times in an attempt to ease aching calves and try to persuade myself it wasn’t actually a long slog! Looking back I’m slightly irritated with myself for letting my mind win at times especially as I still finished with a time just over 1:02 and with a bit more effort could have achieved only my second sub 60 min 10k. It wasn’t to be, and there’s always next time so it’s all the more reason to crack on with my training, run more (better miles) and do some strengthening and conditioning exercises (and that might just have to be a blog post for the future!)

Overall it was a great day out and our group saw debut races, debut 10ks and PBs but most importantly friendship and fun.

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Friends and family do MAD DOG 2017

Planning

Last year Ann and I chanced our arm and put an application in for a grant from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to host an event for their Women on Wheels initiative.

We were amazed and a little thrilled that our initial 25 places were snapped up in 24 hour hours and on the day 35 novice cyclists joined us for a morning of cycling skills, bike maintenance and a park ride. Finished in true cycling style with tea, coffee and cakes!

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Last year’s Women on Wheels event

We were so chuffed and got such positive feedback that this year we’re doing it all again!

We’ve got the grant and are making plans working with British Cycling Breeze and Bolton Tri Club to hold an event that we hope will be even bigger and better, accommodating new and nervous ladies and also improvers and intermediates.

So as they say… Save the Date Sunday 26 March Leverhulme Park.

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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!

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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.