My running journey in Lancashire started over two years ago at Cuerden Valley parkrun. I had been injured and then got overweight and decided to try and do something about it as weighing in at 22 stone wasn’t a pretty or healthy state to be in. I had been building my mileage up gradually for a month or so just running around the block in Chorley, managing a mile in about 15 minutes at first until I felt I could just about run a 5k.
So, I looked on the parkrun website to print my barcode out and found the postcode of my nearest parkrun which happened to show up as Cuerden Valley so I made my way along on the 15th November 2014. I had only ever done four parkruns in Leicester, all at Braunstone Park a flatish course, so I had turned up expecting all parkruns to be flat, how rudely awakened was I when Pita Nadine started doing the parkrun welcome. Weighing in at about 22 stone I set off just with the intention of finishing and not being last, walking up some of the hills I eventually got to the last hill where I was encouraged to keep going, eventually finishing in 41.43 and 88th out of 92 people, I had achieved not finishing last, just. I said to myself there and then ‘well it can’t get any flipping worse’ or words to that effect. I proceeded to gradually try to get quicker running few more miles and watching what I ate, gradually my weight and times came down. I remember saying to Pita early on there is a runner hiding in here somewhere, I just had to find it.
My issues always seem to of been injuries or bad diet!!! I am partial to cake and chocolate, well who isn’t! So, most weeks after then I turned up just trying to better myself and eventually about eight weeks later I managed to run round the whole course non-stop, a massive achievement for me at the time, closing in on 30 minutes. I had said to myself if I could get down to run 9 minute miles I would consider joining a running club as I could at least hold my own, in my mind I was still slow. And as the people at parkrun had been so friendly I decided to join the mighty Red Rose Road Runners in about March or April 2015. Anneke Crosby would often help pace me round to several PB’s as she does so well for everyone, but I think it’s safe to say I surprised her the one week. I decided to try and keep up with Steve Taylor as I finished just behind him at my first Red Rose Race, the Blackpool Interclub. I Just didn’t tell Anneke this until after, needless to say I started to slow down at two miles, I think Anneke was glad of this though, as I did set off quite quickly. Anneke did get me a PB though by 1 minute, 45 seconds and only just missed her own by 30 seconds, not what I think Anneke had expected when setting off that morning.
I just love sense of fun and happiness of wanting each other to do well both at Red Rose and parkrun with some friendly banter thrown in. I got on a good run of form and slowly improved until I ended up getting a tight calf from over training. As I was coming one week Pita happened to ask if someone would pace a young lad called George, I was happy to do this and have done it several times since. It is great to get PB’s but even better to help others get them, watching George get PB’s was great. But while I was doing this I noticed I was almost struggling to keep up with him. I didn’t want to have to say one week I can’t pace you because I can’t keep up with you so in the last four months I set myself a target to get fitter and back to my best. Slowly chipping away at my times going out with RunSmart and Red Rose and the Fairey Brothers, Ian and Gareth on a Sunday for a longer run. I decided to enter two local half marathons in early 2017 as a target to focus on which I thought I could work towards to get fit and possibly get a PB. I knew training was going okay when just before Christmas I missed my PB at Cuerden by 1 second on a very blustery day. I am glad to say Boxing day I broke my 10k PB at Worden Park, my only doubt was that I could manage the same pace for 13 miles that quickly as well which is what I would need to do. I turned up on the 8th January near Leah town hoping to get close, luckily I managed to get a PB by 90 seconds, my time was 1 hr, 35 mins and 58 seconds which was five and a half years in the making, which was when I set it in Leicester.
What continues to amaze me about the running community is we race each other hard but encourage each other no matter what club we are from. That day I ran with a lady from Garstang for the last five miles and one of her fellow runners whose name was Rich Jones came back to encourage us in the last mile or so, made up was an understatement as I had finally got what I had trained hard for. So, come the 22nd January 2017 I set off to Inskip expecting to get round in a steady time as I admit I had some cake and chocolate to celebrate my PB. I was astounded to say the very least when with massive help from great pacing by Phil Butler I managed to get a time of 1 hr, 33 mins and 10 secs, Rich Jones once again nice enough to encourage me in all the way for the last mile. I can’t thank everyone enough who has helped me and encouraged me the last few years, all my fellow Red Roser Road Runners and RunSmarties who have believed in me when I have doubted myself. Pita and other coaches for great coaching input and stretching techniques, Sally Cape for keeping my legs fit (other sports massagers are available)..
Hopefully my struggle shows that if an overweight bloke like me can improve, it shows everyone that anything is possible. I am not very good at this blogging thing so sorry if I have waffled on. I am not a talented runner just a hard working one. I would also like to thank my fiancé, Michelle for putting up with my running habit/obsession. Hopefully I have a few more challenges to come.