Bling ahoy! Mad Dog 10k – Southport

It was cold, it was wet, it was race day. With Ginge at work, it was up to mum to stand in as support crew (in charge of driving, photography and post-race hugs) and we set off to Southport in plenty of time. The council had changed parking arrangements this year and there was a park and ride set up to get us to the start line. Unfortunately, it turns out that the council had thought that one man would be enough to collect the parking charge from a thousand people… It turns out that it wasn’t and this led to a delay in people getting to the race and a half hour delay to the start time. I’ve just read on facebook that the race organiser contacted the car park man and told him to let everyone in and he would cover the cost. This sums up the kind of race this is.

It’s twice been voted the best 10k in the country by Runners World and I have to say that it’s a well deserved accolade. Starting from a school, there were warm corridors to take shelter in, indoor loos (and plentiful portaloos outside), a clockwork-like t-shirt collection and nice volunteers who let mum have a carrier bag to keep all my stuff in. There were loads of food vans (which smelled amazing) and a man with a megaphone keeping everyone updated on the delay.

Huddling at the start line for warmth, the Mad Dog theme was unmissable on the various fluorescent signs and with the sound of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ ringing in our ears (well if getting away from that isn’t going to make you run faster I don’t know what would) we were off.

I set off by following the Grim Reaper  (who incidentally was accompanied by Tigger, which has to be the best his-and-hers fancy dress combo ever) until I overtook Death around the 2k mark. This point was also marked by a team of drummers who could be heard for about a kilometre either side of them (and there’s nothing like drummers to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step).

At 4k I high-fived Elvis.

Well-manned drinks stations between 5 and 6k, then ‘It’s raining men’ blasting out from route-side speakers, a fabulous marshal telling us we were on our way home, the sound of drummers getting louder as we reached 8k and then it was 9k and the end was in sight. After crossing the line we were handed a very weighty goody bag, fruit and more water if needed. Oh, and my chip time was texted to me by the time I found mum (less than five minutes after finishing. All this and I beat Death.

The support along the route was amazing, from the marshalls to the cadets to the staff from Chicquitos huddled under a gazebo, it was never-ending. Add to this the fact that there seemed to be something going on around every corner and this race passed quicker than any I have done.

And there’s also bespoke bling…

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And the goody bag was heavy for a reason…

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And there was a rather special technical t-shirt…

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Fingers crossed I’ll be running with the pack again next year.

Thank you to mum for being brilliant support, taking a photo of me where I look like I am actually running and bringing a flask of tea and a box of biscuits. She has made a rod for her own back with this one…

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In which there is a puffin and lots of sewing

This is one of those there crafty blogs and it’s not even about knitting…

I own a sewing machine but mostly it languishes, loved but unused, in the cupboard under the stairs, however for a long while I’ve had a hankering to have a go at machine embroidery. So I asked Father Christmas for the ways and means and was lucky to get needles, a hoop, pointy scissors and two lovely books (Beginners Guide to Machine Embroidery by Pam Watts and Freehand Machine Embroidery by Poppy Treffry) from mum and a day’s course at the Ministry of Craft from Ginge. Buying me a course ensures that there will be at least one occasion when I do the actual thing that has caught my eye this particular time…

This morning I ventured into Manchester and tried to maintain my focus going downstairs in the tempting Aladdin’s cave that is Fred Aldous . The course was a full day with the morning getting to grips with the sewing machines, having a play with the different stitches and making a small appliquéd picture of our own choosing.

Having flicked through the resources that Sam the teacher had supplied and become slightly intimidated by everyone else’s artistic genius, I settled on a puffin. I like a puffin and I also like to prove that I am aware that penguins are not the only seabird.

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I was quite chuffed with the little fellow but wanted to experiment more with machine embroidery techniques (rather than just sewing straight-ish lines on appliqué) and hatched a plan for our bag decorating in the afternoon… After a quick google image search for seed heads and some doodling, I was ready to cut out my basic shapes and stick them down before running free with the thread.

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Apart from nearly going blind doing the tiny circles in the centre, having one or two thread mishaps and accidentally sewing the bag handle to the back of the picture, I don’t think that I made a bad job of it.

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It’s rather wonderful seeing your design appear in front of you and there’s no room for being hesitant with the marks that you make; if I try to draw in pencil, I will go over my lines any number of times trying to get it ‘right’, but using the sewing machine you just have to go for it.

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This is the second course that I’ve done with the Ministry of Craft – the first was making tiny Fimo cake jewellery – and I would heartily recommend them to anyone wanting to try a new craft or brush up their skills. They even do Sew Your Own Knickers afternoons!

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