So yesterday my train home after a meeting in Edinburgh was horribly delayed due to an issue near Lockerbie. I ended up sat on return trains for almost six hours.
There is only so much time I could bear to read my tiny Blackberry screen and type on its minute keyboard so this book (and my MP3 player) kept me company.
I’ve not finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying it. Just as the music on my MP3 is ‘easy listening’ this book is ‘easy reading’. So far it’s a fun, interesting look back on his career, the people he’s met and worked with and places he’s been.
In fact it’s all been very ‘nice’ up to now so I’m waiting with interest to see if G dishes any dirt or brings up the subject of drug use in the second half of the book. Definitely an area of great interest at the moment! I’ll report back after a few (hopefully shorter) train commutes!
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!).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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’
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!
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.
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!
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.