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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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

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!

 

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