Janathon day twenty-two: races

A couple of years ago I declared “I don’t do races”. Then I did the Liverpool Women’s 10k in 2010, enjoyed it and didn’t race again for over a year. The next year I ran the Blackpool 10k in preparation for doing the Folkestone Half. Last year something went terribly wrong and I did five (the Age UK Wrap Up and Run 10k, theBolton 10k, a Badger 10k, the inaugural Port Sunlight 10k and the Royal Parks Half).

Medal Monkey - guardian of the race bling

Medal Monkey – guardian of the race bling

I have no idea what has happened to me this year, but we’ve not even finished Janathon and I appear to have acquired a race calendar. I don’t know if it’s the weather (looking forward longingly to spring) or just the fact that I’ve really enjoyed Janathon this year or what*, but (so far) I am signed up for three, am pondering one and have one pencilled in.

There has been very little planning about entering these, I am ruled entirely by my heart in these matters. I can see a race that is perfect in terms of distance, route and where it fits into whatever semblance of a training programme I have, but if it doesn’t make my heart flutter and put a smile on my face, I aint doing it. There’s no set formula for what draws me into a race, it just is what it is. So my immediate future looks like…

February: Mad Dog 10k – it’s rated as one of the top 10k races in the country by Runner’s World, you get the friendliest emails in the world from the organisers, I’ve read somewhere that someone won a toaster as a spot prize and it’s Southport, therefore it is flat. I like flat.

March: Cartmel 10k – apparently a hilly but beginner-friendly trail run in beautiful scenery and according to my mate Andy who knows about such things, “It’s tough, very soggy, but terrific fun”. Oh, and it would be the perfect race for Henniemavis – its full name is the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding 10k.

April: Blackpool Half – I seem to like a coastal race, it’s flat, it’ll be the first half that I run in the same half of the country where I live and Fortnight Flo is running it so there’s a chance to meet more lovely twitterers. Splendid.

April: Bolton 10k – Another hilly one, this time in Leverhulme Park, Bolton. I ran it in a downpour last year and it still put a smile on my face.

May: Liverpool Spring 10k – This is a new race being organised by the people behind last year’s Port Sunlight 10k, which I loved. This one is in Sefton Park and Matt the organiser has plans for bands, bunting and cake. That’s my kind of race.


Tonight’s Janathon was a 3 mile out and back picking my way along crunchy pavements without falling over.

*Yes. I know. I like a medal – just call me Muttley…

My New Year’s Eve review of 2011

It’s that time of year again when we all look back, reflect on the previous twelve months, feel slightly inadequate and make all sorts of rash promises for the New Year. Going back to my first post of Janathon 2011, I had been a bit of a slacker on the running front and mostly reflected on my knitting goals for 2010. Most of these have been on a rolling programme since 2009. The beautiful but barely started throw remains beautiful, but barely started, my wool stash has grown and remains chaotic, the felted bag hasn’t been knitted, let alone felted…. I have however, finally, started to knit a sock.

I took this photo months ago. It's not really come on a lot since then.

Learning crochet was also on the rollover list. Until Boxing Day. Yes, on Boxing Day night, I decided that if I didn’t have a go right that minute then I would be sitting here in December 2012 saying that I still haven’t learned to crochet. Alright, so my attempts so far aren’t brilliant, but they do show progress and it’s the furthest that I’ve ever got with a crochet hook. I’ve pencilled in a trip been to the wool shop to get some advice and a book today – but if anyone in my woolly/running crossover has any ideas for a good beginners project (I’m rubbish at just making sample squares to practise) then please let me know!

That's progress that is.

Anyway, that’s wool not running. I did make one running related resolution last year and I kept to it, I just didn’t admit it to anyone other than Ginge because it’s a bit shameful. For the last year, I have undone my laces every time that I finished a run instead of just scuffing off my trainers by the heels. I’m 32, I shouldn’t be proud of this.

Moving swiftly on, what did I do this year? Well, in January I amazed myself my completing 31/31 in Janathon. It was mostly cold and dark, but it kickstarted the most regular spell of running that I have ever done because it showed me that often the only thing stopping me from running is me.

On a cold and frosty morning

In February, I decided to run the length of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. In the end, logistics got the better of me and I only ran the Lancashire side. Still, that was unexpected and it gives me something to do next year.

The start of our canal adventure

In March, I learned how to felt. Nothing to do with running, but on our way home I did spot some runners participating in what turned out to be the Gin Pit Marathon. Now, for everyone who has ever run a marathon outside this nation’s capital city, only to be faced with friends and family who consider London to be the only marathon (the rest are all shorter, obviously) the Gin Pit Marathon is possibly the ultimate anti-London marathon.  There are two races on run on Saturday and Sunday, you can run either or both, each has a maximum of 30 competitors. Oh, and you need a map. No cheering crowds, no live music, no smiley marshalls. Just you and the pavement (and your map). I know that I couldn’t do that.

Woolly goodness

Then came April, where I mostly overheated. I bought a hat. It continues to look ridiculous on me, but became an essential part of kit in September.

Blue skies and sunshine

May. Ah, May. When I ran in Central Park. Enough said.

The Central Park reservoir running track

It was inevitable, but June brought Juneathon. I did 30/30 and my running felt brilliant. I really enjoyed it.

Just what you need during An Athon

And then came July, when I came crashing back down to earth and struggled to put one foot in front of the other because of an irritable iliotibial band that gave me excruciating pain in my hip and knee. I found myself a physio, bought a foam roller and embraced other ways of seeing the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

Now that's the way to do it

In August, the country was rioting, it was my birthday (celebrated by running along the Wigan flight of locks – I know how to party) and the Athon community mourned Paula Butler, who died suddenly when out running. I’ve only just seen this, but her family have set up a donation page in her memory which is here if anyone wants to contribute.

Canals have certainly featured heavily this year

September saw me complete the Blackpool Illuminations 10k and the Folkestone Half Marathon. This doubled the number of races that I ran in 2010. Despite my erratic training, I took 6 minutes off my previous 10k time and am now determined to have a sub-hour 10k this year. Folkestone was a somewhat tougher proposition as I was defeated by heat (despite my hat) but it hasn’t put me off doing another one.

The Kent Police Band welcoming us across the finish

I had another first in October, getting my lovely new trail shoes lovely and and muddy.


I lost my mojo a bit in November, but Ginge and I did take our trainers to Conwy and we ran round the castle.


And so to December. It’s been cold, wet and miserable. My training’s gone a bit erratic again. I’ve decided to do the Liverpool Half in March so I’ll have to get my arse in gear soon. Luckily, as of tomorrow, I’ll have no excuse because it’s the start of Janathon.

2010 – 429.57 miles
2011 – 706.87 miles