By Becky Coates
I started walking with hubby to build up some fitness after a very sedentary pregnancy. It was a lovely way to enjoy time together with our new arrival as we took him out in a sling. I'd ran a bit prior to pregnancy so knew it was something I wanted to get back in to. I started running little sections of our walks to see how my legs felt and was surprised that they took to it very well, almost like I hadn't been pregnant at all. However, I was very aware of how much stress my body had recently gone through so I took it easy, gradually testing the water with more walks. When I ran previously I'd started with the C25K program so I decided to give that a go again. I jumped in at a further point than the start as I already felt fit enough and didn't want to waste any time as race ambitions were already building. With the support of my husband and friends I built myself up to running a couple of miles without a break on the lovely hills near where I live within a few short weeks. I went to parkrun on the day I was due to run for 28 minutes and with the support of Deb Lowe, I was able to run the whole thing. This was a huge achievement to me and at one point it seemed so very far away. It made me realise that if you want something enough, anything is within reach. I was introduced to the trails by some friends in the running club and I discovered a real passion for them. As a city girl I loved being out with nature and feeling free.
Once I got to 10K I was itching to enter a race and as I love running off road, I decided to enter the Cannock Chase 10k. I knew it was going to be a challenge as I'd only just reached 10K and it was a difficult race, but my time wasn't important - having fun was. The race was tough but the one thing I wasn't expecting was the heat which brought its own challenge. I just kept going and made sure I dropped my pace and kept hydrated. The first 5K was tough with some serious inclines, but I seemed to really ease into it after the halfway point. I got to the finish line and was greeted by my wonderful supportive husband and our 4 month old baby. It was very emotional and it really made me realise that I can do anything; this is something I want my son to grow up knowing.
My journey from non runner to a fully fledged running new mum has taught me some wonderful things and allowed me to experience some peace during a very hectic period of my life. Running has helped me cope with tremendous adversity and taught me just how important for everyone, new mums especially, to find that piece of time they can call their own.
By Deborah Lowe
Lose weight, get fit, tone up, going kayaking to the Alps for my birthday in June, so what’s the plan?
Social Media browsing through facebook something mentioned took my fancy, “Couch to 5k.” Thought I would give it a go, nothing to lose, everything to gain and all that. Turned up at The Town Hall 6pm, quick chat and away we went.
Having never run at all not even through school, “Sorry Miss, I've got the stitch” my avoidance became easy, just walk through childhood then later on take the car. A few sessions into the plan “Run for how long up the Innage, 9 minutes, you must be joking?” Little did I know that if you continue to move your legs a bit faster and remember to breathe quicker, that’s called running and everyone around you is willing you on, you can’t stop you would be letting yourself down, so I ran and I ran, no stitch for the first time ever. Completed my C25k and then 5k Parkrun graduation came and went I continued to run with BRC as much as is possible and Parkrun becoming a regular Saturday AM event for me (currently at 16) also the Alps trip came and went so did my 60th birthday, I thought it was time I did my first race ( ooh, a goody bag and a medal).
Actually these were not my own thoughts, they were placed in my brain by my very young, very talented running buddy, Gemma Davies, old enough to be her Mother, we entered Cannock Chase 10k a multi terrain, “One hill of a race”. The heat of the day was exhausting and I was so glad to see water at 5k not to drink but moisten my face and remove some salty sweat from my eyes.Gemma and I had played cat and mouse all the way, never letting the other move more than a few paces in front or behind, uphill upon another hill and down stony slope but Gemma and I crossed the finish line together, our chip time reading 1hour 1 minute 27seconds.
So in my 60th year I have accomplished something to be proud of. I got my very first medal even if it was made of wood, perhaps my next one will be metal, what am I saying? All this thanks to Bridgnorth Running Club and Couch to 5k.
By Lucy Davies
When I originally entered Hampton Court half what I had pictured was a lovely sunny jog around the palace gardens surrounded by lovely sights, the reality was rather different. Somehow Matt had managed to convince me that I would be able to get round in sub 2hours – I’m not sure how as that would mean knocking over 13 minutes off my current PB! This grand idea included the introduction of gels about every 20/30mins to keep my energy levels up and stop fatigue. I’m not a fan of gels as I have only every tried the cheap nasty ones and they are cheap and nasty.
Arriving in London was great and we all met up in true BRC style for some pre-race prep involving a few drinks. We had a meal which took forever (we really should make sure that we book when we need a table for 14!) and a cancelled train which resulted in a rather long walk back to the hotel rather late at night. However come the morning I was still feeling relatively optimistic. There was a gentle warm up provided by the couple of mile walk to the start line and we were there in good time before the start.
At the start line it was rather a crowd who just seemed to funnel through the start poles (creating a slight bottle neck!) and off along the river. I was nearly taken out by some bollards but managed to avoid them and was off to a reasonable start. I couldn’t see Matt or Jean but decided to just keep going at a pace I was happy with (not too fast as I have made that mistake before but also pushing myself enough). After around 5K Matt and Jean caught up with where I was and Matt decided we needed to up the pace, I tried my best to keep up but I knew instantly that this was just too fast for me – but I tried to keep a positive mind set. At around a third of the way we hit the gravel – running in gravel is not fun and it seemed to sap all the energy from my legs and as we got back onto pavement surfaces I could feel my legs were super tired. We then seemed to move into an endless head on wind. The rest of the race was pretty much awful, I completely ran out of energy and resorted to run walking. I think had Matt not been with me I would have just sat down by the river and had a little cry until someone came to find me – but luckily he did manage to keep me going until I crossed the line. I finished with a time of 2:08 which knocked 5mins off my PB but I was rather a broken mess and not really happy about any of it. I consoled myself with a pork bap which made things slightly better and vowed never to try and run fast again.
Following on from this I decided to enter Ironbridge half in an attempt to re-find a love of running. I promised myself I would not attempt to go fast and would just enjoy the route through the countryside. I also knew that it would have to be a better experience than last year when I ran injured and ended up walking the entire second half in much pain. When we arrived on the day it was again rather windy which made me less than optimistic of finding any love for running but as we set off the wind died down and the conditions were actually rather good. Everyone disappeared off much faster than me but I was determined to stick to my plan of ‘run happy’. As I warmed up over the first couple of miles is started to slowly pick up the pace slightly (I am starting to consider a warm up might even be worth it in the future, but I’m not going to get carried away!) and every time I was feeling a little too out of breath I made a note to slow down and look at the lovely scenery. As I sped up I was slowly starting to pick off people who had passed me at the start and each time I reached someone a little too fast I tried to just keep pace with them until I felt I could go faster. This worked really well and I was really enjoying the race. There was also some fantastic support from team BRC who has cycled to meet us at various points. Sadly I got a horrid side cramp just after the bridge and was forced to walk until the bottom of THE HILL!!! I did make a token effort to jog up but decided to just walk again in the true spirit of enjoying the race. After the hill I continued with the same effort and strategy looking at the lovely countryside and not putting any pressure on myself. About 5K from the end I was keeping pace with a man and decided we could run in together so we kept each other going well. Just before the finish line there was an absolutely fantastic BRC support team who helped me run in and up the final slope. I got a time of 2:10 and was absolutely delighted. Following on from this I’m always going to remember it’s not just about running quickly but much more about running happy!
By Scott Mathers
I’ve never been a very fast runner, so a little while ago I made the decision to go for distance over speed. Having done the usual progression from 10km to Half Marathon and on to full Marathon the logical next step seemed to be to run an Ultra, but it was a very big and scary step.
So, on Sunday 19th April I took part in my first ultra distance run, the Wychavon Way Ultra. 40 miles of hills and trails from Broadway in the Cotswolds to Droitwich Spa. To say I was nervous in the build up was an understatement, but I trained hard, I ate the right food (ish) and I tried to keep a positive attitude. Easier said than done though, knowing what lay ahead.
The day came around all too quickly and before I knew it I was stood in the village square of Broadway at 7:45am, surrounded by experienced ultra runners, plus Matt and Colin from BRC. What on earth was I doing? I expected to be out for anything between 8-10 hours so I decided to just relax and enjoy it. 3… 2 ...1… GO, we were off, and far too fast, trotting along at 10km pace. I managed to slow myself down though and get into the groove of plodding along at a far more gentle pace.
The first 10 miles passed really quickly and checkpoint 1 came into view with it’s array of sweet treats, fruit and malt loaf to keep us all going. I scoffed down a couple of flapjacks, filled my bottle and got ready to set off again. However, annoyingly I could already feel a couple of blisters developing so I took the time to get them taped before I carried on.
The section between CP1 and CP2 contained the high point of the race, a 3 mile climb up to the top of Bredon Hill. I’d already decided that I was going to walk the uphills, which in the end wasn’t really a choice as it was bloody steep to start with. I made it to the top in decent time and started the descent, with thighs and feet beginning to feel the strain. A few more undulating miles and I was at CP2 for some more refuelling and my first go on a foam roller. Thankfully it worked wonders and really eased the tension in my thighs and hips.
Onwards to CP3, another 10 mile stint, through some beautiful countryside and impressively wealthy looking villages, including the wonderfully named Wyre Piddle. The end of this section marked the furthest I’d ever run in one go, so I was moving into unknown territory. I couldn’t help but smile. I left CP3 knowing that there was only 10 miles left, I was almost there, the experience/pain would soon be over.
The final stretch was tough, very very tough. My feet, calves, thighs, hips, back and shoulders all hurt, but thankfully I bumped into fellow BRC Member Matt Kirkby, who had unfortunately taken a little detour from the route, not unusual for Matt! We kept each other going for the last few miles and eventually the finish was in sight, along with a hot drink and a pastie!
And then it was over. Having worried about it for so long I’d done it, and also proven to myself that I really can do anything if I put my mind to it.
The question now though is where do I go from here. Oh yes, the small matter of a 24 hour solo run in July...
by Tricia Venables
I'm not sure of the main reason for joining the sessions - increasing my fitness, facing a challenge or wanting to meet new people. But, by the end I had achieved all three.
During the first few training evenings I must admit that I felt quite relaxed and could achieve the tasks quite easily. However as the weeks progressed they became more of a challenge. I think the most challenging, but subsequently most rewarding time, was the week when we went from running for eight minutes to running for twenty, and this was going to include Squirrel Bank! I was all for giving up. However the volunteers were brilliant and kept us going steadily. The feeling at the end was quite euphoric and from then on my mind set changed and I was determined to complete the sessions and graduate. I did make the effort to do a third run of the same time duration with my daughter each week and I feel this helped with my confidence greatly. The next big fear to face was Cartway. For me it was third time lucky to get to the very top without walking but again I was given lots of encouragement and there was a great feeling once I'd achieved it.
I didn't have any qualms about entering the Park run, it was to be the end! The atmosphere there was good and I liked the way Will got us all together to give us a 'team talk'. When the race began I did briefly wonder if I was doing the right thing but I got carried along with the rest of the pack and before I knew it one lap had gone by. People around the course we're very encouraging, I don't think I've been called a lady quite so many times in one day - "well done ladies", was shouted frequently. The second lap was more of a challenge but I kept going at my slow and steady pace and eventually the end was in sight. Woo hoo! At the final bend I saw a friend and her family and felt the urge to begin the sprint finish that we were asked to do. I couldn't wait to step over the finishing line.
I don't think the sense of achievement sank in on the Saturday but on Sunday I felt really energised and had a general sense of ' wow, I've run 5k'. That was it then challenge done, I never had to run again. However, where was I on Monday evening at 6.55? Yes,under the Town Hall waiting to run another 5k!!
Big congratulations to BRC runner Matt Spinks and his achievement of completing his first marathon in a cracking time of 4hr 16min. We are looking forward to seeing how this speedster chips hip time down in the coming years! Here’s the first hand account.
“I joined BRC back in November after running the Bridgnorth 10k. I decided to join the club because up until then my training for half marathons had been very sporadic, I wanted to try and increase my distance/pace and ultimately was getting bored of running by myself.
The BRC team have been great and offered lots of support and advice!
I started running about 6 years ago just to keep fit and when I first started I regularly did a 3-4 mile loop around Bridgnorth. It wasn’t up until 4 years ago that I decided to enter my 1st half marathon in Ironbridge that meant I needed to up my game. My 3-4 mile loop around Bridgnorth increased up to 7-10 miles.
Over the last few years I’ve entered about 15-20 half marathons and a couple of 10k races but never made the jump to marathon. 2015 was to be the year I did my 1st and on the 8th March 2015 I completed the Wrexham Full Marathon in 4hrs 16 minutes, which i was more than happy with seeing as it was my 1st. Now I have something to work with in preparation for the next one.
The race was very well supported along the route and had plenty of marshals, drink stations and toilets. The full marathon only had approx 188 people enter. The weather at the start and end was ideal running conditions but about 15 miles in the heavens opened and the wind picked up which made the next five miles very hard to maintain the pace.
It hasn't put me off doing another one and I have already signed up for Wolverhampton in September. I may even try and squeeze a 3rd in for 2015 but still continue with the half marathons, next one being on the 22nd March in Stafford.
Look forward to seeing you all out on the road, keep up the training, be it a mile or 10 every bit helps.”
Well done Matt, keep up the training; it’s clearly paying off.
By Joy Whitworth
The thought of running after a day at work didn't seem to appealing but I knew deep down at 57 I must. Thinking about my fitness & weight loss and daughters wedding this was a good incentive.
As I arrived with friend Debbie I thought run or pub?
Run it was and thank goodness I did. Will and his team of volunteers / other runners were all so friendly. The first night it was dark, cold. I won't say it was easy. We started off with a good brisk walk and a small amount of jogging – with no pressure – the volunteers giving you confidence & encouragement all the time.
After the warm down exercise I got in the car with such a great feeling of success. I would say to anyone whatever you manage on the C25K its better than being sat on the couch all night !
After 9 weeks and the gradual increase of distance I was aiming for the 5K at Telford !!
Then came the Graduation at Telford Town Park – felt nervous and thought I really want to run this without stopping. The run was on and as always I found it hard for the first ten minutes – middle run not to bad – then the last K the push was needed ( there were times when I felt like stopping !) It was a relief to see the finish line. ( and see the Cake we were promised at the start line –this was a very good incentiive ) I may not be the fastest at 33 minutes but I completed it and the feeling is amazing. 9 weeks ago I never thought I would run 5K.
A big thanks to everyone - this is a wonderful memory you have helped me make.
If anyone wants to feel good about themselves physical and mentally – join the C25K
Bridgnorth Running Club was well represented in Cumbria on Saturday 21 March, while Cat and Dean were enjoying the Cartmel Lakeland Trails Race, this runner headed for The Coniston 14 Road Race, an annual event of 14 miles following around the perimeter, as closely as possible, of Coniston Water. Proceeds from the race going towards community projects in Coniston and surrounding area.
The weather was sun and blue skies with just a stray cloud or two passing overhead as The Old Man of Coniston looked down in all his glory basking in the sunshine.
The race headquarters is at The John Ruskin Secondary School and there is ample of parking on the School playing field for a token fee of £2. It still seems chilly as I arrive at 10.00, though the car shows eight degrees on the thermometer and park up in the third row of cars near the top of the playing field. I have a wander around, Pete Bland has a stall here and I buy some expensive Innovate running gloves at £15, but they will do the job today. Inside the School Hall cakes and hot drinks are available to buy and I make a mental note for afterwards.
I get kitted up in my Bridgnorth Running Club vest and affix my number with built in timing chip; By 11.00 everyone is assembled on the road outside the school and the starter gives his talk and instructions before a hooter sends the strong field of 1126 runners, of which about eighty per cent are club runners, off and over the timing mat to make their way up the rising road to turn left at the cross roads by the BP garage. It is a long slog of a climb out of Coniston on the A593 main road and the entrance to Coniston Hall is passed on the ascent before levelling off nearer towards Torver. Along this section of about three miles the Police have stopped all traffic to make the road free for runners. At Torver , the race turns left onto the A5084, a fairly quiet road and another climb is required up to a garage at the top of the hill before a good descent to join the edge of the lake and some flat. A couple of cattle grids have to be negotiated around and the first one has a gate next to it lakeside and a marshall steers the runners through while the other has had matting put over for the runners safety, again a marshall is in attendance. At Water Yeat, 6 miles, there is a drinks station and I rehydrate, there had been an earlier one which had been ignored.
Here at Water Yeat, the race leaves the main road and travels down a narrow lane crossing Bouthrey Bridge at the southern head of the lake. At the same time an open top car turns into the lane from the other direction of the race and spurts out diesel fumes at me as it is unable to make progress with all the runners but most annoyingly the car turns left at the end of the lane to follow the race route on the east side of the lake and I have to breathe in even more fumes!
The road on the east side is far more undulating and climbs quite high above the lake. After seven miles I feel I am getting in my stride and manage to overtake several other competitors. A lot of the road is shaded by deciduous trees and the water on the lake looks calm and blue. There is a long steady climb at about ten to eleven miles and the race route goes past Brantwood, the home of painter John Ruskin with its majestic gardens and lake views. At the top of the climb the road levels out for a short while before steeply descending down to the northern head of the lake. Along here there are many spectators so I cannot ease up now! Soon this road joins into the Coniston to Hawkshead road for the final part before heading through Coniston Village, again lots of spectators line the street as the race makes its way back to the school to complete in chip time 1.44.24 in a position of 191 out of 1119 with 7 DNF. In all the race had included 619 feet of ascent according to my garmin . The winner, from Black Coombe Runners was 1.20.34.
No goody bag but a slate place mat simply decorated Coniston 14 2015 and depicting a couple of running figures within the large number 14 in gold colour. The School provides showering facilities which I use and then have a couple of cups of tea and a cake, Hot meals were also being served from the school kitchen but I did not want one at this time.
An excellent race, recommended. Entry fee £23 for affiliated runners. Google....Coniston 14 for details, it fills up early.
As The Old Man of Coniston had looked so inviting, I climbed it the next day, again really sunny, on the tourist path. A very busy route and mostly slabbed or stoned for all the way until about fifty metres from the summit where it steepens out for the final leg. An easy walk.
BRC Chairperson, Lucy Davies, brings us up to speed on her new found love of mud and trails!
Following a night time run when I attempted to make it up the Brown Clee in my road trainers I decided to invest in some trail shoes, I decided on the cheapest know brand available in case I found that running in the mud really wasn’t for me, and then set about finding some races to enter. My first race was Mad Jacks 5 in Attingham Park. This was a fantastic race through the park and only 5 miles, so a nice introduction to running off road. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery throughout and I was thrilled to see a deer with huge horns part way round the run, I find scenery is very important when I’m trying to distract myself from the actual running! In truth I didn’t really need to much distracting as this was a really enjoyable run, it’s nice and flat and climbing over styles and through the pond at the end offer a couple of mini breaks throughout the race. Although the water was ridiculously cold and my legs slightly forgot how to work as I climbed out the other side, luckily the finish line was nearby and overall I didn’t do as badly as I thought I might. I decided that perhaps off road was something I should do more of in the future. This race is definitely on the list for next year.
My second adventure was Mortimer trail race. This was supposed to be an 8M race which I knew would not be flat. In reality it was pretty much 9M and it REALLY WASN’T flat. In the run up to this race I had resigned myself to the fact that there was a very real possibility that I would come last and it was better to accept it early, I set myself a goal to get around in under 2 hours and be happy with that. Arriving on the day I was slightly terrified but as usual everyone from BRC was really supportive and the lovely Natalie said we could run together which was a huge help.
The route was definitely challenging the first big hill was actually impossible to run up but luckily I was close enough to the back that a nice queue formed and no one was running or pressurising each other too much. This was followed by more ascents and descents that I can remember each with their own challenge. The scenery was fantastic and I was very grateful for Natalie’s company and encouragement along the way and especially grateful for her fearlessness through the slippery patches where she went in front and warned me about the places where I might fall on my ass (my balance is really not what it should be). Going up some of the hills we adopted a run / walk system which meant that we were actually able to enjoy the race rather than push so hard that it wasn’t fun. Down the final hill was a fantastic feeling, it’s a long time since I’ve felt so proud about finishing a race and I came in under 2 hours and I didn’t even come last!! Another one for next year’s list, unless they make it up to 10M in which case I might not make it round!
My most recent and easily most off road was the Shropshire Cross Country Championships at Lilleshall. BRC entered a team which consisted of 16 members – a great showing for our first cross country club event. On arriving my feet were instantly wet and muddy simply from approaching the course, this concerned me slightly as it was more like running through bog than simply being off road. The under 15’s were coming off the course shivering and caked in mud and these were kids who train for this kind of thing, how would I ever survive?!? I then checked the route. ‘Hooray it was only 4M I can do this!’ quickly followed by, ‘BOO it’s laps I hate laps!!’ Worryingly followed by ‘What do you mean the men’s race starts at 2:30? Does this mean I’m expected to finish in 30mins? That’s NEVER going to happen!’ Luckily I didn’t have to finish in 30 minutes. I started worryingly close to the front and far too fast. I did manage to keep going through ridiculous amounts of mud and slowly started to count down the laps. I very soon realised that there was no point trying to avoid the muddy parts because all of the parts were muddy and the best thing to do was just accept it and go straight through the boggy puddles. The smallest incline felt like climbing a mountain and I found it hard going the whole way around. This wasn’t really a race that I enjoyed but being part of a team was fantastic. Everyone cheered each other on the men motivated us until their race started and we cheered to keep them going once we had finished. Sam also did a fantastic job of feeding me hot chocolate to help me forget the pain at the end. I’m really not sure about this one for next year, the team spirit was fantastic but I don’t think I really enjoyed the race, but perhaps by next year the pain will have dulled and I’ll be ready to face it again.
Overall I’m really enjoying my off road adventures. I really like the scenery, I like that I don’t feel the pressure in the same way as you do in a road race and I like that it seems like I’m punishing my body less. Although that said I’m still happy to mix it up with a road race here and there.
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