Manchester to London “Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much”  – Helen Keller. 

On the 2nd September 2018 I am riding my bike from Manchester to London in one day, just the 220 miles and probably more than 16 hours of pedalling to complete the Rapha M2L ride for Ambitious about Autism. Why you ask?

Well first off this is preemptive action! Over a late night Gin and Ginger ale Boom declared that “it’s about time I entered you into something again…….Given previous experiences of him entering me into the London Marathon at 90 days notice and the numerous mentions of the “Sandy long run” (MDS) I thought I had best make myself busy!

Secondly, I have wanted to do this since I first heard about it two years ago. My keenness was thwarted by the Road Captain (Uncle Malcolm) last year when he explained I wouldn’t make it! Too slow and not good enough on hills was the verdict. So I took on board the feedback and did hills (Slowly) and got faster and stronger on the flat culminating in a 126 mile ride to see what might happen to me on a long ride. Good News – nothing bad happened!

Whilst cycling is an individual effort, no one else can turn those pedals! It is all so a very social sport and my third reason for doing this is the cycling heroines and heroes that I have  met in the last 12 months who have motivated and inspired me and made me believe I can do this. Last May I was facing my fears of hills when I was what we now describe as “bike napped” by the amazing Bee and Princey and they opened up my cycling world introducing me to the RCC and all the wonderful Chapter members. A fabulous source of all things cycling. The adventures we have been on, the laughs and giggles, the miles in the rain and the wind, the cakes the sherry have made us more than a club we are a team and we can do so much together.

Last but not least is the fact that this ride is for a really good cause. The sense of achievement will be made all the more by the fact we will be raising funds for Ambitious about Autism. The work of this amazing charity is to make ordinary possible for children and young people with autism.

So what does that mean and why is it so important? It means going to a school where you are supported to learn, thrive and achieve. It means being part of your local community. Taking part in social and leisure opportunities and making that transition to adult life whether it is independent living, supported living or working in a paid job. All sounds pretty reasonable right?

This journey for a family with a child with autism can have many challenges. Diagnosis, coming to terms with that that means for you and your relationships and your child can be a long and lonely path. Ambitious About Autism campaign educate, train and support to make that path more ordinary for all.  I have only seen this journey as an observer. As an expectant parent you always think “10 finger 10 toes is all I want” when really there is so much more, you want your child to be happy fulfilled, never scared, to feel no pain, to love and be loved by all they  meet, not to experience difficulty and adversity, discrimination or labelling. For them to be their best self. Hard for any parent but for a parent of a child with autism it comes with added challenges. From the side lines I have seen the pain, the soul searching the realisation that this is a long game, the fights for the support, the confusion from the multiple sources of information and the hard choices you face both at home and at work as a parent. Every child is special but for thee folks they just want to also be a little bit more ordinary.

So I have a good support crew and a great cause to help me pedal my way to London and I will also have my bike bestie with me aka. The Bike Boss. His reasons for doing it are 1. I have nagged him for two years 2. On a side by side comparison on Strava he would hate it if I had the longest ride (I already have the highest climb which is not popular) 3. He is never convinced I will make it round a corner on my own so thinks he should probably keep an eye on me. P.S if reading this don’t mention it is not for the cats protection league …I may have fibbed a bit. When asked to vote for a charity for our company to support he opted for a cat one and marked clearly on his form “because I like cats more than people”

He also has a few reasons not to do it 1. 16 + hours with me (I estimate he will say “oh Susan” more than 100 times in the time it takes us to get there with the eye rolling despair that normally accompanies it) 2. It starts in the north and he doesn’t like go past Bristol or leave the shire  (Southern softie) 3. I will probably have a dramatic episode and be called stroppy pants shortly before I call him a C you next Tuesday. Points 1 and 3 happen every week anyway.

However, the promise of free food and new gadgets and outfits to wear has convinced him to join in the fun! So jobs have been divided up (delegated by me) Bike Boss is: Social media manager, in charge of training, bike cleaning and maintenance. I will supervise his work!

Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much”  true story.


We ride together- climbing and smiling 

 To mark the Rapha women’s 100 last year I rode 100 miles with a very dear friend and a group of other amazing women along with some awesome support from some blokes from their cycling club (Tamworth RCC) we made the local paper (the Tamworth Gazette) by virtue of the very large amount of money Steph raised for a cause very close to her heart and the fact it was the hottest day of the year. The cup cakes and prosecco in the pub car park at the end never tasted so good. 

This year I joined the Rapha Manchester club house ride going for the “hilly” option in a further attempt to face my fear of hills and do them anyway. I suffer white coat syndrome as soon as the road rises in front of me! My heart rate spikes and my legs mutiny. 

I met Belinda at a local bus stop at 7:45am and hoofed it into town. Belinda track standing beautifully at the numerous traffic lights whilst I did my usual tap dance with my feet and cleats. On the ride into the club house we nearly bottled it convincing ourselves that the flat route might be better “it had been a busy week and there was more to life than cycling…… Yeah right! 

Town was partially closed off for the Chris Hoy HSBC ride so we sailed under the finish inflatable arms a loft laughing loudly much to the surprise of the events team. 

A gorgeous breakfast awaited us at the clubhouse making us feel a little bit special so our confidence returned and we posed for photos and listened to the briefing. Lumpy you say? Emily then let slip that there might be 8 cat 4 climbs and one was the Rake which feature in the top 100 climbs by virtue of the fact that it has a quirky cheeky bitch 25% section. (No.72)

For note hill categories are as follows “quirky” read bastard steep “cheeky” not at all funny and “bitch” we may not be making it up ….I appreciate not the formal classifications but works for me. 

We set out as a group of 15 with Chris as our leader . Among us were folks who had never met, firm friends and those who had just met (I was found on another quirky hill a few months earlier by Belinda and Sarah and recruited to an awesome group of ladies who ride bikes) the next 100 km would create a sense of camaraderie that only hills can. 

As we made our way 2 by 2 through the early morning Manchester roads the chatter was focuses on the Rake. Chris and Sarah had explained the tactics “when you get to the corner don’t give in you are nearly there” To be clear this section has a handrail for pedestrians…. Or those who need to grab hold on a bike. 

As we rolled along Chris casually pointed to the wind turbine on the very top of the Pennines (I am thinking and hoping the only road that passes them is the M62) and mentioned “we are going up there” I haven’t worked out why the first climb on a ride always takes your breath away disproportionately but ramp after ramp with little flats in between took us up and up. Eleanor said her legs felt like she was in her big ring …..then looked down and realised she was! Fair play! I had run out of gears some time ago. The name of this climb remains a mystery to me but the sun came out at the top and it was a beautiful view! 

The 2nd climb of the day was the Rake. As we went for a quick wee, refilled bottles and pretty much anything else that would delay the inevitable the chat was of how hard te Rake was. The bottom bit looked bad and that was only 9% normally enough to upset me. The history of the Rake is as a hill climb where the aim of the game was to see how far you can get up without falling off and in more recent times as a hill climb race. I fear the former may be recreated. 

I thought a steady pace would be best. Even the bottom looked steep. There were a few things I had not factored in to my attempt. One that there would be cars coming down the hill, two there would be a group of builders standing part way up, three the front wheel of the bike lifts up on a really steep hill. Thank goodness for Kelly! Despite being a local this was also her 1st attempt. Kelly’s husband and daughter were stood at the bottom of the nasty 25% bit and shouted “it’s only 2 mins of your life – go for it” (the time estimate may have been generous) but the fact I could follow Kelly all the way up was a god send. Weaving across the road to try keep momentum (between the oncoming cars) determined not to give in in front of the group of builders and swearing loudly we kept going. Without her I would have grabbed the handrail and unclipped I am sure. Having never ridden anything as steep I just kept looking for the corner ……and wondering how anyone walked let alone rode up this thing! Regrouping in the pub car park we celebrated the very essence of “we ride together” we had all made it to the top. If you do a bit of Strava segment stalking you will see not many women do! So the technique needs some work agreed. Wheelies up 25% gradients best left to Sagan! And I proved to my mate Paul that it is possible to ride that slowly and not fall off! I made it. We all made it. At points I was going at 1.9 mph but that still gets me 50th all time women (171 ladies in total on segment) many of my fellow ladies on the ride took higher places. 6 mins 40 of giving it my all was worth it. For info Simon Yates takes just 3 mins 28 

After that the climbs seemed OK (ish) I faced my fear of cattle grids, gravel and descents. Hills that would have have terrified me previously seemed manageable and many tips were shared on how to improve technique. The views were amazing and turned what is normally a form of exercise on familiar roads into a sight seeing adventure taking in the beauty of the Lancashire countryside. An activity done alone into a social event. I like a nice matching kit. Cap, socks and top were all Rapha Womens 100 but the day was definitely substance over style. The kit did the job beautifully but the day was all about the climbs and bike legs. Returning through the streets of Manchester after a fabulous day a choice of amazing cakes and prosecco awaited tasting all the better for the 4,974 feet of climbing (new PR) An all round awesome day of bike riding with fabulous support. We ride together. 


Watching my feet go round (no more)

The Rapha Festive 500km challenge this year attracted a whopping 82,389 participants globally

5487 of them were women.

1401 women completed the challenge.

I was one of them…….no. 1159 in fact!

Sat in the village pub over the “festive” period my oldest friend explained to his lovely wife, my husband and my brother in law the problem with my cycling when I was younger was “she used to watch her feet go around” and as a result “used to ride into things like lamp posts….

Never a truer word was said and he has actually witnessed the result of my “watching my feet go round” in 30 + years of friendship he has only ever blamed me for 2 things. The bike driven into a street light  being one and failing his A’levels the other. The former I take full accountability for, the later I maintain was not my fault – who knew that a revision strategy of lying ing the sun eating ice lollies and going to the pub was not a winning one! This is a the sort of friend who really has seen it all. The annoying  8 year old little girl barrel running at the cricket club. He tolerated the much more annoying teenager often drunk and disorderly, put up  with my impossibly cold house in Leeds and  carried me through the streets of over his shoulder on my 21st birthday, sent me flowers on my graduation and went on adventures “in that London” with me. When he fell off his bike I picked the gravel out of the cuts, we watched the Eurovision song contest the Tour de France and often went to the pub with 69p and asked for 69ps worth of cider and 2 glasses. Still now after all that he still knocks round to go to the pub with me- God love the man!

The observation of watching my feet go around is also true of my life there are times when I have just watched my feet go around, not looking forward, not seeing the lamp posts and other street furniture ready to send me tumbling and causing serious damage. Not any more. I figured out that looking up and taking on challenges is much better. The reason we were talking about cycling was my participation in the Festive 500 challenge. Despite protests carefully laid out by Mr R I decided I would join the challenge. Slight issue was that due to my age and clinging to imperial measurements I hadn’t quite clocked how far 500km is…its a really long way. In fact its something like 310 miles (gulp) I also hadn’t  realised that at least half the folks would be in glorious southern hemisphere sun shine as opposed to the hurricane winds and near freezing conditions of Manchester (doh!)

So all I had to do was work out how to carve out 20+ hours of bike riding and not impact the “festive period” or as the week went by it became known as the the “not so festive” period. The easy (if you think cycling 500km in 8 days can ever be easy) is to do 7 rides with a day off for Christmas day. But who wants to do it the easy way!??

Determined to get off to a good start and not impact on my planned cocktail drinking in the afternoon meant getting up at 7am on Christmas Eve and battling the remnants of hurricane Barbara. I rode around a familiar route wrestling Donna (she is my bike) and trying to work out which way the wind was blowing….every way seemed to be the answer! Mr R gallantly got on his bike to support me for the  last 50km. Boom 100k done.

As a mention of riding on Christmas day was met with a rustle of divorce papers I instead just had a test ride with my new fancy Garmin round the block in my pyjamas – 0.2km added to the total (it all counts)

On Boxing day Barbara had been replaced by Conor but as my bike friend says “at least it was dry” 50km before returning home to open some presents with my sons and then off for a further 50km where I managed to come across a nice GB cycling fellow so did my best “cycling stalking” and clung to his wheel for as long as I could seeking shelter and a good bit of towing. By now I was really missing my usual windbreak (30% less effort don’t you know) The resulting PR’S show the effort I put in. My attempt were nearly thwarted by a suicidal squirrel who ran out of a  hedge and through my spokes. He made a funny noise. I hope he was ok.

Two days visiting my parents now posed a challenge as Donna could not come with us and the forecast of freezing fog sounded less inspiring- if you ever do this challenge my top tip is do not read the twitter feed those knocking out 200k at a time in Australia and complaining about the heat…

I had an idea! my mum has a bike! its a hybrid that weighs probably a touch more than me but it had wheels. So as Mr R and my brother in law ran off some of their Festive 500 calories an hour I pedalled along the Cotswold tracks along side them. I am claiming this as my first off road ride. My eyelashes froze and I went at 8mph. Who cares it all counts.

My mantra as the week went on was “it doesn’t matter how slow I go as long as I go” So with 3 days to go and 270km still to ride I began to contemplate watching my feet go round and considered defeat. My bike friend said “don’t worry just do as many KMs as you can it will be more than most” Now he also knows me well and would have known this was a red rag to a bull. More determined than ever to complete the bastard hard thing I set off again knowing that there had to be 2 100k rides in the next two days to give me a chance. Thankfully some encouraging texts arrived form Uncle Malcom at this point.

Good news the winds had passed……now there was just ice! So here is the challenge for all us northern hemisphere peeps that pedal slowly the amount of daylight at this time of year does not allow for a late start. I literally needed nearly every day light hour to pedal! So I spent a long time putting on as many clothes as I could and still move and off I went again. My cornering is sub optimal at the best of time, add in tired legs and a bit of ice some homicidal drivers plus the fact that many people seemed to be taking on a festive challenge of restricting the use of indicators meant staying up right was my biggest achievement.

So 2 days and 171km remaining  time to go for another 100k My best intentions of going on some interesting  rides to new places  faded away and I reverted to riding round a loop. The tiredness couldn’t cope with navigating as well as pedalling. The more tired I got the less I changed gear, braked or steered. All pretty essential to cycling but one thing was for sure I was not going to look at my feet going round. New tactic was to sing to myself – I only know the words to “I know him so well” by Barbara Dixon and Elaine Paige and “Last Christmas” by Wham and a few Foo Fighter songs!  I am tone deaf so this was delightful for fellow cyclists – sorry. A stop for cheese on toast and another loop and I had 1 day left and 60km to go.

At this point a quick check of the leader board showed that less than 1500 women would complete the challenge and the thought of the little cloth badge and some very lovely socks and a cap from Rapha my cycling store of choice (think Karen Millen for my bike wardrobe) spurred me out the door one more time. I knew I had less than 3 hours of snail pace spinning to make it. Most of the way I muttered “don’t get a puncture, come on Donna” as by this stage the poor old girl was pretty much fed up of changing gear too and the long discussions we have about what gear I want to be in and what gear she is in ceased and I pedalled in what ever she thought appropriate!

Just before lunch time I arrived home and made sure I pressed all the right buttons on the Garmin to save the ride, gathered my sons and employed son no. 1s special talent of riding his bike no handed taking selfies to some good use by taking some celebratory pictures. I am sure that a picture of me drinking pink fizz later that evening got more likes on face book than my triumphant declaration of completing the Festive 500 however I know what it took to do it and what it means to me. It was epic and lonely and tough and I chose to do it rather than spend that time with my family and friends but I am cool with that and they are too!  I will not look at my feet go round.  Instead I will look up and straight ahead and take on each challenge. So to the other 1400 women (and the fellas) who also achieved this “Chapeau”

The biggest big thank you goes to those who “fly with me cause I can’t quite make it on my own” Mr R, Thomas, James, Uncle Malcolm, Rafal, the Strava Kudos folk and the twitter inspiration and of course original bike friend Paul – thank you xx



Le “Tour de force” 

24th July:Chantilly – Paris Champs Elysees 113km this is the final stage of this years Tour and this morning I rode (yep me) further than that! 130km done by lunch time! This is a Tour de Force (feat) for me!

I have watched the Tour de France for 25 years …… virtue of the fact that we had a video recorder and channel 4 (both rare commodities in the village I grew up in) My bike obsessed friend persuaded me to video the highlights for us to watch each day in return for lifts to school in a purple Marina van.

I have been to see the Tour finish in Paris. As exhilarating a sporting event as you will ever see! As the Peleton of exhausted riders passed on a scorching day I held my 11 month old son up to see for the 30 seconds it took for them to charge past on the way to the Champs Elysees. A moment seared into the memory.

My own cycling history up until 2011 comprised of being the “Lantern Rouge” our family cycle outings in France. as we cycled the tracks laid by the Germans in WW2. I would wobble off the single paving stone and shout “I’m in the sand” at regular intervals!

I was ONCE allowed on Pauls super expensive road bike. It was only once as I rode it straight into a lamppost. I am super careful to avoid street furniture now.

In summary I liked to watch but in my youth I thought roller skates and ponies were better modes of transport!

My view of cycling changed the day I saw a triathlon event in Salford in 2003 The ladies whizzing round on beautiful bikes in their swimming costumes looked like it could be a lot of fun! I wanted a go!

It took until 2011 to purchase a road bike. I rode it tentatively home unable to work the gears and with some serious steering issues…..narrowly avoiding lampposts. Donna (my bike) and I still have long discussions about what gear I think she should be in and the actual gear she is in!

In my first triathlon I rode the sprint distance of 20k all in the same gear and at a turtles pace in my trainers ……in what has been since described by Uncle Malcom as a “hopeless attempt”

So imagine my delight this morning when by lunch time I had propelled myself 130km as the conclusion to my 0-1000 mile training plan for my 100 mile ride next week.

This miraculous feet has been achieved a a result hours of  “patience and coaching” from friends and encouragement and motivation from the marvellous Strava community! So I thank you all for the help and support in making this next part of my sporting dream come true!

Arse about Face. 

Warning there are numerous mentions of my arse in this blog ….however there are also plenty of references to dungarees, flat shoes, bikes, snot and clumsiness. On my birthday I landed on my face, it hit the pavement and since then I have been using the excuse “I have a head injury” to explain all muppetry. The result of the bang to the head was 3 decisions

1. To wear flat shoes to work. Once out of my “clip clops” I thought what the hell and went to work in dungarees! 

2. To stop drinking Peroni – which seemed to correlate with my inability to stand up. I have however tried some other beer from a green tap that seemed to do the job without the falling. something export……….

3.  To cycle 100 miles …… you do! My very lovely friend agreed to me to joining  her and a group of ladies on an epic ride. 

The third one is key to my long term goal of doing an Iron Man. In my mind if I can complete all elements separately then it’s only a leap of mental faith and strength to put them all together in a sort of Ta-dah way! I can swim 3.9k happily and 42.1k on foot no longer scares me however the 180k on the bike is terrifying. 

This is where my arse comes into it! “It’s a bit small” was my husbands first comment on it! Occasionally  I get a compliment “nice view” However it is not really the right shape for sitting on something as hard as Donna (my bike saddle) This has resulted in shopping for the best Castelli shorts money can buy and some dry lube (seems somewhat of an oxymoron) Meaning that this month I have spent more on cycle clothes than I have in Karen Milen……I fear for their economic prospects if this keeps up. 

I have thought about how I may be able to fatten my arse up but to be fair even at 40 weeks pregnant it resisted growing. Bootylicious I ain’t …..and R is very strict about carrying extra weight on the bike. Even dust caps were removed from wheels to reduce weight! So this is not going to be an option. so no pain no gain is the only choice! 

With the help of two very lovely chaps I have made it to 60k this week and could still walk when I got off Donna. R. Helpfully pointed out that’s third of the way! So over the next few months the lanes of Cheshire and Somerset will be filled with me moaning “my arse hurts” and wondering why landing on my face made me think that 100 miles would be a great idea. 

So I am sorry that R and O have to be part  of conversations as we pedal along that in our place of work are prohibited by an aptly named dignity at work policy, I apologise for the potty mouth abuse that I hurl your way when wind and hills are involved and my continued “when will my arse stop hurting? And “am I doing more than 15mph questions that I ask with similar frequency to a toddler on a car journey. 

As a result of my face plant  I got a reminder that at any point there can be a “plot twist” and it’s a terrible thing to wait until you are ready. So ready or not 100 miles I am coming to get you! 


And then there was Moo…..5hrs 47 mins 

12 years ago tonight I gave birth to Moo. There was no selfies, Instagram,Facebook, Twitter, or memory sharing facility so on this day none of my social media prompts me to “time hop” It was a time before cutie pregnancy pictures (I think there exists 1 picture of each of my pregnancies) no baby showers bigger than weddings or fancy ways of announcing that you were expecting, 3D scans etc. In fact there is no trace of this nine months and the events of this evening other than in my mind.

I don’t share my life with Moo’s dad anymore so there is no one to say “oh remember when…” If there was it would probably be “oh remember when you took the speed bumps too fast on the way to the hospital and I nearly knocked myself out on the gas cylinder wedged between my legs”

So on this night I go for a run. Normal day to day life clouds the memory and I am too busy worrying whether he has cleaned his teeth taken his iron tablet or got the right sports kit to give proper consideration to those few hours that saw him enter the world. Running allows for perfect recall.

As I ran tonight I went through the key events of that night and reflected on the very practical and functional nature of them. There were no flowers baby boy balloons or grand gestures. But it was a hell of a night!

1. I had been in labour all day but hadn’t thought the need to share this news until I realised that my potential baby sitters were about to get stuck into the holiday rum. The thought of drunken Grandparents in charge of a toddler of cunning ways made me blurt out… I think I am in labour. The toddler was duely removed protesting loudly and being bribed by jammy dodgers.

2. The mid wife was called and arrived full of enthusiasm for a home birth to be clearly told by baby daddy that wasn’t happening due to the potential mess -and to put her sheets away! Listening to baby’s heart beat the midwife said “he will be here soon” thereby ruining the “surprise” some hours later. The five beautiful girls names had to be hastily redrafted.

3. I danced to Dean Martin naked in a rocking type of way before getting into the bath to talk to my sister. She offered reassuring words and encouragement. I asked her to send a coded message to Ma to notify her of impending arrival.  My Daddy can’t know when his girls are in labour – too worrying!

4. The trip to the hospital at close to midnight involved gas and air speed bumps and swearing like a sailor. Baby daddy had plenty of snacks he had learnt that from the last time where he apparently nearly died of starvation during the protracted delivery of son no1

5. I refused to lie on a bed but after an argument about the midwives catching skills I agreed to get on the bed. The discussion went something like this. Midwife “he will be here by 1:30am” me “arrgghhh he is coming now” They warn you about the head and I can remember it but my God they should tell you about the shoulders. 5hrs and 47 mins and he was here! At 1:15 am

6. Lively and wriggly Moo was wrestled on to my chest a perfect tiny little person. There are no words to describe that feeling. There was then a “discussion” about cord cutting and with some reluctance we were separated for the first time.

7. I don’t drink tea or like toast so I just got up and had a shower and got dressed. I remember it

 was dark and warm in the room and Moo was under a light with his Daddy staring in wonderment at him

8. The next bit is where my Ma gets agitated about my irresponsibility … We put Moo in his car seat paid the parking (2 things we had failed to do without a lot of fuss with baby no 1 so we felt quite like pro parents) and went home to bed.

At 3:30am on the 9th March 2004 Moo got into our bed and we all fell asleep.

As I run I can visualise the messy bedroom the little Popey hat he wore and the funny noises he made. Running allows my memory to unlock these precious times and enjoy them far more than any picture video or social media prompt could ever do.

The 5hrs and 47 mins is important as it means a marathon is always shorter and less painful than labour. My aim is to run my 1st 50k in this time or less.

Walk me to the line

I can pinpoint exactly when I developed my fear of the start line, I was 5 it was sports day I was convinced I would do a false start in the running race. I concentrated so hard I heard the bang of the start gun and I ran. Half way down the track I became concerened that I could see no other runners so I stopped……turned around … which point the other determined 5 year olds charged past me. I was sad ……Ma thought it a genuinely hilarious story and still shares it over 35 years on. The only saving grace is the lack of video evidence to support this episode in my running life. 

So getting to the start line for anything has become my biggest challenge! At swimming lessons my little sister had to take me by the hand and lead me to the poolside (she was 2 I was 4) and being lead to the start line has become a bit of a ritual ever since. I am always terrified so the situation takes some careful handling. 

My Dad has walked me to the line on some of the most notable occasions in my life and when he was nearly lost last year my biggest concern was who would walk me to the line? His approach is one of quiet calm. My first open water swim he not only walked me to the line but walked along the dockside for the whole mile with Ma and Mr R so between every stroke I could see his 6 foot 4 frame walking along 10 feet above me. For my first triathlon in Hyde Park he reluctantly left the hospitality tent to come with me to the start zipped up my wetsuit and said “off you go” At Blenheim Triathlon he comes to the swim start mainly because he thinks the man who does the race brief is funny! But he is always at the top of the swim exit “encouraging” me not to faint as I try to run up hill on jelly legs and take a wetsuit off! He is rarely at the end of a race but always at the start line. On another memorable day in Blenheim he walked me to the start line of my marriage with a great sense of relief! 

Mr R has adopted a no nonsense approach to getting me to the start line. There is the accountants rational and logic “you have done the training you can do it” “just get on with it” emergency details are written on bibs and safety pins applied. In the minutes before the race he plants a kiss on my cheek and always says “have a good run” before going to start with the “fast people” 

So the morning of London marathon my start line terror levels peaked as Mr R bundled me on and off trains – I have no idea how we got to the park! It was grey and raining and there is a point where supporters have to leave you!  From the above you will have got that calm and factual and reassuring do the trick so Booms approach was unusual and unorthodox. 

As we entered the park a steward said to me “don’t look so worried” Boom helpfully added “she always looks like this” There followed an hour of selfies outside female urinals and many questions about their workings…..a warm up that involved me being a leaning post whilst he performed a my little pony style routine. He later admitted that some of was dancing in an attempt to “cheer me up” and a battle over jelly babies as he tried to convince me that they would do me good! 

As race time approached I went to my pen to find it full… had to climb in the back. Imagine the iconic picture of the start I was the person right at the back that on the TV they say will be starting some time later…..It really did take ages to get to the start line and there was no iconic marathon music by the time I stepped across the line! But I had made it and was off! 


Once I am off and running I have learnt never stop never look back 



starting at the back
starting Blenheim 10k with my sister Mr R and David


Queen of slow: running credentials 

The furthest I had run between up to the age of 33 was 1500m at school. I am asthmatic (this is no excuse as so is Paula!) The first time I went for a run I managed 11 mins and thought my lungs were on fire.

I say I run but it’s more like jogging. Infact most people could hop backwards faster than I can “run” When I first started running Mr R once ran up a hill backwards whilst “encouraging me” It did encourage me to swear very loudly and profusely! Some years later I recalled the story whilst running with Boom who rather stupidly recreated the scene…. Same reaction! (Note: if we run together don’t try it)

Manchester 10k was my inaugural race. I was met at the end by a hugely disappointed four year old “mummy you did all that training and you didn’t win!! I was 28,000th or something similar! His older brother muttered”a banana and a chicken beat you mummy”Despite the feedback I was super proud of myself and felt chuffed with my medal and foil blanket.

My first half marathon was in Bath on an unseasonably warm March day, my highlight was seeing the elites flying across the ground whilst I plodded on inspired me. I was delighted to make it round but looking rather puce and swearing that I would never do another or a marathon! I couldn’t comprehend that being half way?..But I wore my half marathon finishers t-shirt with pride as I jogged the streets of Manchester.

I did some more half marathons……Eden project, Bristol, Marple, Liverpool, Wirral, Chester and Wilmslow, each confirming what I know to be true there will always be someone older fatter and more bandaged ahead of you. The chicken and the banana continued to beat me. I have learnt to enjoy a chat with fellow runners and occasionally stop to take pictures on route. I have also learnt however low my sugar levels not to take jelly babies from children at the side of the road (I am vegetarian and who knows if they have washed their hands???)

When the Manchester marathon was restarted we had to do it. My flawed logic is I could be home in bed 15 mins after finishing! A freezing morning arrived with hail sleet and sub zero temperature (in April) half the entrants didn’t turn up! By half way fellow competitors were being taken off the course with hypothermia…. I kept going one foot in front another. At mile 17 I saw a friend who was marshalling and clung to her for body warmth. The thought of my boys and my parents being at the end kept me going until mile 23 when my mum text to say it was a bit cold and windy to come out to watch!!! So I crawled down the underpass and up the stairs (they subsequently changed the course) and ran to the park which was now a bog to find Mr R who at Mile 18 had thought he was having a stroke due to a numb face and flashing lights in his eyes (he was just cold!)! It has forever been known as the day Mummy turned purple! Due to a rather pedestrian pace the boys now say “if it’s a marathon Mum can we stay home it takes you half a day to do that”

In an attempt to have a more positive marathon experience I entered Liverpool! At mile 4 a small scouse boy shouted “why use only joggin” I nearly pushed him in the Mersey! I ran from mile 9 to 16 with a guy and his daughter and had a lovely chat. What a lovely thing to do with your dad! Running through the Mersey tunnel to the beat of a drum band was an incredible unplifting experience. I met my son at mile 17 to get a drink and some food and a hug. At mile 22 a guy and his wife assured me there was a bar at mile 23 and a gin and tonic awaited. I cried for most of mile 24 and 25 for no real reason other than it seemed to help! Remembering to smile for the finish so my boy never saw the pain.

Every race has thought me another mental trick and another thing about myself, about where I am prepared to take myself and how I enjoy the uncomparable feeling of achievement at the end. So I took these “running credentials” and applied them to my running dream.

Spoiler alert: Peppa Pig a banana and a pair of bollocks (testicular cancer awareness) still beat me!

One foot in front of another 

It started with a text “Your entry to the VLM2014 has been accepted” If I had entered that would have been great news! Having not entered, recovering from a broken arm, and having run 4 miles since Xmas… reaction was to get very cross. 

Then there was a phone call “Boom what the hell have you done?? ….. Using very cross voice ….calmly the response came “I have made your running dream come true” So now it’s going to be very hard to maintain my cross voice as he might just have done exactly that! I may have mentioned several hundred times how much I wanted to run the London Marathon! “There are 93 days to the London Marathon what are we going to do?   Very short pause “train like warriors and raise a shed load of cash” 

A little more screaming followed quickly by a realisation that I was going to get to run the race I had watched and longed to do, had watched in tears as people ran down The Mall, had cheered Paula’s world record until my voice went, had been mesmerised by elites pace and had run up Birdcage Walk at 6am on a cold January morning pretending to be running that last mile on several occasions!

Then their was a book! It arrived in the post with a little note -start on week 3! love “shoe boy” The non Runners Marathon trainer book became my saviour as I set out to complete the 12 weeks to the start line. 

Mr Rs reaction “get a grip! It’s a jog to a ship, run to the bridge, then make it to the tunnel and head towards the clock and then when you get to the monument run like you have never done before”

So with the dream, the book , and simplified race plan I began. After all it’s just one foot in front of another.