Sunday, 25 November 2012

Running with Swinton Ladies...

A few weeks back, When my friend Louise suggested I join her in her women's club race, I happily agreed, knowing it would be a great way to get me out the house, and running, on a Sunday morning. Thankfully, being far more organised than me, when I had still failed to sign up for the race come Thursday, Louise made sure I had a place, even offering to drive me there.

So, as I had made no effort myself to find out about the race, enter myself or even identify what distance the race even was, it was a lovely surprise to discover that I would be racing the Swinton Running Club's City of Salford Women's Race. A lovely 5.25 miles. Why so Lovely? because this is one half of the Swinton 10 mile race; trust me, having run the the double lap of the course, it truly does feel lovely to only run it once!

However, there was - of course - more to the race than that so, here is a brief account of my race experience:

Arrive... Rain... Rain... Rain... Cold now... Start... Run... Run... Run... Pass friendly marshalls... Run... Run... Run... Up hill... Down hill... Rain stopped... Up hill... Down hill... Sun coming out... warming up... round a corner... flat hill... Past Hope Hospital and more friendly marshalls... Up hill... Overtaking people - WOOP!... Busy road... Under pass... Passing more people - woop woop!... Up hill... Friendly marshalls... Up hill... Finish line in sight... Death hill... Sprint, sprint, sprint... Breathe!

Still panting, I collected my goodie bag (including a Freddo - yum!) and jogged back to force Louise into running faster up the death hill.

An official time of 46.24, suggests that all my hard work at Curves and BMF is paying off, now I just have to find a way to make it to club more often!

Oh... And to top off a brilliant race, I also won a spot prize...

...big thanks Swinton Running Club... A well organised, friendly and enjoyable race; I'll see you again next year!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Curious Adventures

Curiosity killed the cat; hopefully it does not hold similar ramifications for the runner. My last two runs have been curiosity fuelled, with the latter of the two being more successful - depending on how one views success; if success can be attributed to 'getting lost' then perhaps the former was actually the more fruitful!

When I moved to the pleasant parish of Prestwich last June, I knew that the beauty of Heaton Park would offer a welcome change to my running routine from pounding the urban highways of Harpurhey. What I wasn't aware of at that time, was the wealth of running routes offered on the other side of the 'Village'.

For those of you that know nothing of the area, Prestwich is a town situated about 3 miles north of Manchester. The oldest part of the town, known as Prestwich Village, holds many delights such as an artisan cheese shop - nom, nom, nom, Marks and Spencers' food - nom, nom, nom and a several little independent tea rooms - nom, nom, nom. In comparison to this, the place in which I used to live, housed several kebab shops, a Lidl and a Maccy D's... Prestwich is no Didsbury but it is, for us, a super-normous step up in the world!

So, with all these delightful places to shop and eat, it was all the more important that I significantly increased my running and found some new routes to keep myself entertained. 4 months on and that is exactly what I've finally managed to do. On Thursday, I was due to meet my friend Lisa for brunch. Lisa is a feeder. Yep... a proper feeder. She's super-skinny (even though she only gave birth 2 months ago), doesn't seem to be overly tempted by every sweet treat that ever existed (I'm not envious, really I'm not), yet she bakes sweet treats until they're coming out of her ears, which she then FORCES us to eat. Lisa FORCED me to go to Slattery's with her... honestly... FORCED. And so, with my arm tightly twisted behind my back, fearing what would befall me if I dared try to duck out of the chocolate fest she had in store for us, I needed a plan... a cunning plan... I would go for a run.

The plan was to run 6 miles. I ran 7.25. Why? Because I got lost. Well, I say lost... I had my Iphone on me, so I was never really lost, but as I didn't have a clue precisely where I was for most of my run, I think that an accurate description of my predicament was: lost.

The plan was to run to Phillip's Park, which I discovered the existence of at last weeks' Apple Day (don't ask). However, when I emerged from the autumnal wilderness of the Clough, I stumbled upon a cycle track... in fact, several cycle tracks... actually... more cycle tracks than you could shake a stick at. Cycle tracks to a lake, cycle tracks to a field, cycle tracks to woods, cycle tracks alongside the Irwell, cycle tracks over the Irwell, cycle tracks under the Irwell... cycle tracks everywhere. I had stumbled upon a cyclist's haven... nay... a runner's heaven... my heaven! It was so much fun! I ran and ran and ran. Until I realised I had no idea where I was, that Lisa would be arriving any time soon and that I was potentially MILES from home. Thankfully, despite my twisting and turning down all the different paths, my natural sat-nav had somehow managed to keep me heading largely in the right direction; a quick check on my phone enabled me to plot a cursory route home.

Despite the 'change of plan', ultimately that day all went according to plan... a swift two mile walk to the chocolate, a two mile walk home again, and a 30 minute gym session that afternoon, not only served to foil Lisa's feeding - although she did try again later that night with a HUGE portion of fish and chips! - but proved that curiosity pays - in calories if nothing else!

Of course, I couldn't leave my new discovery there, with so much still uncharted. So, today, I laced up my trainers and trailed out again to the other side of town. Desiring a threshold run, rather than a slower paced one, I didn't stray quite so far this time, but my run did take me out down some lovely country roads and into the world of the dog walkers, covering 4.2 miles in total. An added lunchtime jaunt around the park, with my dog, has set me up nicely for a couple of glasses of wine on my night out with the girls this evening. Something tells me, it won't be curiosity that kills the runner, rather the wine and rich foods which the runner feels the need to 'run off''!

As for those of you that scrolled through my extensive ramblings and thought 'no chance mate'... here's a pictorial tour of my curious adventures:

Through Prestwich Clough

Past the lake

Via Thirteen Arches

Into Phillip's Park

A quick "Heya" to the weasel.

Back out in the sunshine over the fields.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Loving the Spam

I have a spam filter.

Well, not me personally - although I'm not the biggest fan of spam (the meat variety, rather than the digital type) - but my blog (the digital type now, not the processed meat!) has. Phew... that was a little more complicated than I first thought. Let me start again.

My blog has a spam filter.

This is a shame. The benefits of it, of course, are that the comments section of my blog posts are not overrun with general diatribe (I can do that on my own!), germ ridden links and apocryphal advertising... it keeps us all safe - so to speak. The shame of it though is that only I get to read the funny (sometimes let a little giggle out kind of funny, but not usually LOL style funny and most definitely never the ROFL kind of funny) and entirely unrelated comments that might otherwise appear at the end of my blog posts. Instead, these are emailed, for my eyes only, to my google box!

So, with all potentially virus-ridden links removed - and at the risk of more spam detectors picking up some spammy key words and spamming me further, here are some of my favourites. At this point, one must remember that I blog about pointless, meaningless and, quite frankly, completely useless bumf:

Spammy Comment #1:

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Spammy Comment #2:

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Spammy Comment #3:

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And finally, my favourite - Spammy Comment #4:

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... I have always thought that my blog contains all the information and facts that anyone would ever need to know about this subject. And now you know, that if you didn't know who to ask before, you do now!

Forget Google... I am the new oracle!

Monday, 22 October 2012


Please read and share with runners...

A new craze seems to have hit the streets whereby people, in their cars, seemingly noshing on McDonald's, drive past health conscious runners and lob barbecue sauce pots at their heads!

This is not a joke... it's really happened... Yes... flying barbecue sauce hit me in the head!

It is not clear yet why these people are choosing to pummel runners in the head with half eaten barbecue sauce pots from well-known multi-national fast food chains. It may be that ill-gotten points are to be gained from this scenario - much akin to the points one may gain from knocking a cyclist off their bike, or running an old lady over on a zebra crossing - or perhaps it is simply a dirty food protest from Maccy D's munchers.

Whichever, I think the irony of throwing filthy fast food pots at a runner's head was probably entirely lost on the thrower, but it certainly wasn't by the throwee...

Runners... BEWARE!

Maybe that's what they were trying...

Monday, 10 September 2012

The End...

I'm having my last little cry of 2012. I say 'last' as I can't imagine that anything will be able to move me to such emotion, over the remaining months, as the Olympics and Paralympics have over the past few weeks. Of course, I'm watching highlights of the Athletes' Parade. Well, I say 'of course' but if I was amazed at how involved I became in this summer's sports, it was nothing in comparison to the surprise of those who know me well...

Right now, sitting in front of my telebox, I feel like I've watched the best reality show - ever. There's been drama, action and emotion at every turn, not to mention the 'characters' I've come to love. Right now, Boris is announcing to my living room that these athletes stood behind him are our 'greatest team' who have 'bought athletics home', causing 'tube train passengers to break out into spontaneous conversation' which, as we know, really, truly is a great achievement! And (for once) he's making sense!

I really don't know what I'm going to do now... start saving for a holiday in Rio, I guess...

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bring on the Superhumans...

"Are you excited?" My friend asks me. We're standing in the stands of Old Trafford watching Team GB play Senegal in the Olympic Games.
"Excited?" I query. "What, about?"
"The Olympics!" She replies in a manner which I can only describe as excited.
This seems a strange question; why would I be excited?
"The Olympics?" I offer back, trying to hide any form of incredulity in my voice and failing miserably.
"Yes!" she replies, in a manner which, I decide now, is undoubtedly one of excitement. "I can't wait... why, aren't you excited...?"

But, despite my friend's evident enthusiasm on that day, I just couldn't conjure any kind of similar emotion. Was there something wrong with me? Should I be more excited? It's not that I didn't want the games to be in London and I certainly wasn't one of those nay-sayers that were so prolific in the British media pre-Olympic Games. No, I was simply apathetic. I neither cared, nor didn't care. I imagined I would catch a few events on 'the box'; that The Games would affect me rather in the same way that football does each season: I enjoy watching it live and when it's showing 'live' in the corner of my lounge, I'll glance up occasionally to see what's caused Mik to swear profusely and leap up and down with excessive arm gestures.

How wrong was I.

The game at Old Trafford was pre-Olympic Opening Ceremony. It turns out that, for me, the Opening Ceremony was a turning point. I was entertained. I was moved. I was proud. And I can use those three words to summarise the whole two weeks. The Games continually entertained me, surprised me even. I felt tears well in my eyes when the National Anthem accompanied our athletes standing atop of the podium.
A whole new world of exciting sports had been revealed to me; who'd have thought I'd enjoy watching weight-lifting, would be engaged by equestrian or would find myself leaping up and down and screaming at swimmers? Certainly not me. But I there I was, fully affected by these people and their sports. Their effort. Their achievements. And, frequently, over the two weeks, as we worked our way further and further up the medal table, Mik would look over at me, shake his head and ask "You having another cry?".
"No." I'd assert, looking away and surreptitiously sweeping a tiny tear from the corner of my eye.

But, the Olympic Games have ruined me. I want more... I expect more.  No longer am I satisfied with the weekend offerings of our television companies. X-Factor? Red or Black? Celebrity Big Brother? Boring. I'm spoilt; I want more. After two weeks of watching people with real talent, doing something that takes real hard work and real dedication, they just appear anaemic and inadequate. I need more.

So, I can't wait for the Paralympic Games to start this week, and I know I'm not the only one, am I?...

Bring on the Superhumans!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

How Very British

The tube is rattling along at a pace of knots and I'm doing my best 'stare at my feet and pretend I have no idea that I'm snuggled as close as is humanly possibly beneath the closest stranger's armpit' look. I'm on my way to Notting Hill. That's the posh, swanky, sloaney bit of London with cute painted houses and vintage shops selling second hand clothes for extortionate prices - for those of you who aren't posh, swanky or sloaney enough to know this already.

I'm here to meet up with my friends Ellen and Louisa for a day of very British, middle class fun. We're having a very British, middle class picnic, bought from apt British middle class stores such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer's, - other apt and British middle class stores are available - and we're going to drink British, (though possibly French, but we'll make sure we drink it in a very British manner) middle class champagne whilst sat in the beautiful (British) surroundings of Royal Kensington Gardens, - how very British and middle class.

I mistakenly look up momentarily and accidentally catch the eye of the armpit bearer; we both shift uncomfortably and resume our respective staring at nothing, relieved to re-assume our very British, middle class tube roles.

Later, we're going to drink fruity Swedish cider that contains elderflower, of all things, in a British bar on the Portobello Road, after which we will complete the day supping wine in the theatrical surroundings of Regent's Park where we will be entertained by a group of 'players' performing A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Seriously, I think to myself, can you GET any more British and middle class than that?

The motion of the tube begins to slow as we approach the station. The strangers around me begin preparing themselves, picking up bags and shuffling closer to the doors. naturally, I politely disengage myself from the gentleman's elbow as he prepares to alight from the train, moving a small boy - eight? Nine maybe? Yes, nine, definitely, - moving a nine year old boy in front of him as he does so. I wonder briefly what plans they have for the day, Madam Tussaud's perhaps, The London Dungeon's or just shopping on Oxford Street; certainly nothing as British and middle class as my friends and I have planned for the day. The doors open. I shift aside.

"Here we are," the gentleman says to the nine year old boy as he nudges him gently towards the doors, "this is our stop, off you get Moriarty."!