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/

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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.

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

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!