Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Virtual 5k Run for Autism

Well, Sunday was the day we ran the Virtual 5k Run for Autism that we'd organised to raise funds and awareness for the National Autistic Society - Furness Branch. We only had 100 places in total to offer as we weren't entirely sure how well the idea would go down. As it turns out, whilst I write this we only have 5 or 6 places left, so I'm considering it a success! We had a fabulous response from our running group, the Walney Wind Cheetahs and loads of them signed up. The WWC mascot, Charlie Cheetah himself, decided he'd give the 5k distance a go and that's exactly what he did on Sunday with a little help from his friends. The timing was perfect as it was in the middle of World Autism Awareness Week too!

The forecast was not pleasant for Sunday and I really wasn't sure if it would put people off coming out for a run. The Sunday morning runs split into two, some doing the cubs run of 5k and a longer run for those who wish to. Some of the virtual runners chose to do their 5k as part of the longer run but many came along on the shorter course. That's the beauty of a virtual run, you can do what's convenient for you! As it turned out, the rain didn't put anyone off and we ended up giving out 38 medals that morning which was fantastic.

The rain wasn't quite as bad as I had expected it to be as we headed down the path with Charlie. We stopped at the start for a photo then carried on. Poor Charlie had a little trouble seeing where he was going (he would choose to wear sunglasses on a cloudy wet day!) but was kept on track by WWC friends.

As we got to the end of the path, we decided against our usual play in the playpark on the other side of the road. The equipment would have been soaked and Charlie's fur was getting wetter and heavier by the minute. So we turned back with thoughts of hot chocolate and toasted teacakes from the Abbey Mill Cafe (who also donated to our fundraiser, many thanks!).

When we got to the end, William helped us hand out medals to all those who had earned them...and they definitely had in that weather! Charlie was very pleased with his medal and we got some photos with him before he had to leave. This is what he had to say about it on facebook afterwards:

Well after being such a nervous cheetah and getting in a panic for a few weeks it's all over and .... "I DID IT, YEAH !! " .... My first ever 5km!! 
and all for a brilliant cause helping my buddies Andy & Laura and their boys Sam & William. 
A lovely medal to mark the occasion and a heap of happy memories.Thanks to all of you who turned up to either run with me or take part in the usual Sunday Run ..... Top team effort by the WWC.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the run and the medal! Thank you all so much for taking part and supporting a cause very close to our hearts.

We've had several other people completing their 5k as well over the weekend, a few on the road, on the treadmill, at parkrun and walking as well.  We will try and get your medals to you as soon as we can!


Monday, 23 March 2015

Jacob's Leg It 10k

One of the things I've loved since we all started running is going to new places and trying new runs. I spotted the Jacob's Leg It 10k (formerly the Belle Vue House 10k) on a twitter post and on closer inspection I signed up straight away. It's a charity race where all the proceeds go to the National Autistic Society so although it was taking place in Ormskirk (a nearly 2 hour drive) I really wanted to support it. Even better, when I checked out their facebook page, I discovered there would be a children's fun run as well.

The run is named for the son of the director of O2 Ormskirk (race sponsor), who like Sam, has autism. There is a tendency for some children with autism to 'leg it' hence the rest of the race name! Sam was very much a bolter when he was younger. He has chilled out as he's gotten older, but getting into running has at least given me and Andy a decent chance of being able to catch him when he does decide to sprint off!

We got up very early yesterday and left the house just after 7am in order to get to Edge Hill University for registration opening at 9am. The sky was blue and the sun was out, but I was getting a little nervous about the freezing temperatures! Luckily, by the time we got there it had warmed up. It was a fantastic location in terms of facilities. There was a massive car park just off the running track where the start/finish was, toilets were inside the university building and plenty of them. I collected my running number, and we went back out into the sunshine to wait for the children's race to start. William was desperate to run as he was enamoured with the track having never run on one before. Sam was a happy flappy boy, watching everything being set up and listening to the music being played from the DJ's stage.

The children's race started on the other side of the track to the finish and involved 3.75 laps of the track. William was able to do this one independently whilst Andy ran with Sam and I saved my legs for the 10k! After his first lap, William gave me the thumbs up with a cheeky smile and kept going. Sam was right at the back but seemed to be enjoying himself.

Once William had passed me for the third time I jogged across to the finish line to get his photo and cheer him in. He was given a certificate and sweets for his efforts and looked very proud. Sam was the last one in but got a huge cheer. I'm not sure if he thought his certificate was a race number as he tried to smooth it onto his shirt! I have laminated both certificates now as William wants to take his into school for show and tell this week.

Once the boys had finished, I got myself ready for the 10k to start. I'm very glad I decided on shorts and short sleeves as the sun was really warming things up. The run started with nearly a full lap of the track (managed to get a high five off William before I disappeared) before leaving to wind round the grounds of the university and heading out on the roads.

I suprised myself with the speed I did the first kilometre in but managed to find a good pace once on the road. Just coming up to 5k the course turned onto an unpaved and rather pot holey lane with a slight incline. Must admit I had a walk for 30 seconds or so here as my legs weren't liking it. I was very glad to get back on the road. At about 6k the course takes you through woodland where the water station was and this was quite nice, and luckily not muddy. The path then opened out to the back of the university and the last 2.5km takes in the university grounds, including half a lap of the running track to the finish. My garmin said 1.05.39 which I was really pleased with. And the official chip time was 1.05.29 so I was only 25 seconds off the time of my last 10k. And just to make things better I was handed a medal which the website hadn't mentioned on signing up so I was very happy. I also got a bottle of water and mars bar (which I got one bite of before William begged it off me).

We headed home feeling very tired, but in a 'had a fab time' sort of way! It was great to come to a new place to run and know we were supporting a great charity. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone and I hope we come back again next year.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Cross Country with Sam

Well, hot off the heels of his 50th parkrun, Sam has floored me yet again.

I was asked after school one day a few weeks ago if I'd run with Sam in a years 3 and 4 cross country competition if they signed him up. 'Well, um...yes', I said. I'm always happy to run with either of the boys although I was a bit confused at first seeing as it was for a competition and not a fun run and Sam is not exactly what you'd call speedy! I was assured that it wouldn't matter, and that they wanted to include him.

Well, the day came yesterday. I picked the boys up from school and got Sam changed there before we left. A big smile came over his face when I showed him his trainers and running bottoms! He put on the school's top and then we drove out to Sandy Gap to mooch about until the races started.

We met some of our WWC friends there who were going to help me with William whilst I was running and cheer us on as well as the other Cubs who were taking part for their schools. There were 4 races in total, year 4 boys, year 4 girls, year 3 boys and year 3 girls. So Sam was in the third race. We watched as the first two groups sprinted off at great speed toward the Roundhouse and then back again. The older boys and girls had to run two laps, whereas the younger ones would be running one lap. Sam was getting more and more excited and I was feeling a tad nervous having seen the speed of the other children.

Before I knew it, it was our turn and we got into position. After a short set of instructions the whistle blew and we set off. As I suspected, the other boys flew away from us, but Sam was also running! Needed a little prompting at the start but then he was off. Although we'd been at the back to start with we managed to overtake 2 boys just before the Roundhouse and we caught up with a few more on the bend back to the finish. Although he took my hand a couple of times, Sam used it more to push away from me and he just kept going!  He did a fantastic steady pace most of the way round and I think he enjoyed seeing his friends cheering him on. Couldn't have been prouder.

He finished third from last but had an absolute ball the whole way round. I wish our group had needed to complete a second lap to be honest just to see him enjoy the event for longer. Because of the pace he'd been doing, he could have physically kept going too. It was so nice to have him involved in an event like this and I'm very thankful he was given the opportunity. Yes, it was a competition but it didn't feel competitive and is just one more example of how inclusive running can be!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sam and Andy's 50th parkrun

It was a cloudy and windy morning on Saturday, but I was happy it was windy! It was due to be Andy and Sam's 50th parkrun and Sam isn't the most predictable person when it comes to running so we turned up with our cake, brownies and our fingers and toes crossed that he would be happy to give it a go! Sam loves windy weather (a fact that several Barrow parkrunners mentioned having noticed as well) and it looked like he'd be a goer.


I was hoping William would want to stick near his brother for this one then we could all help make sure Sam got round the course. Luckily we managed this for the most part!

Sam looked positively cheerful going round the whole way. I love seeing him smile when he is enjoying something as his whole face lights up. He did his usual sprint/walk/sprint routine and made it into the finish in 51.23, not a bad time for him! (His current PB is 47.42 which he ran last August)

After the run, we headed to the cafe for cake. There was a lot of it that morning as 3 other people had run their 50th parkruns and our friend had also run her 100th! It was great to see so many milestones being reached. Sam tucked into his cake and brownies and probably wondered what all the fuss was about!

I remember having a conversation with Andy about whether or not we should try Sam with parkrun, panicking that he wouldn't stay on the paths or that he might not even run but it turns out he's doing just fine. He may be distracted by wanting to sprinkle cut grass and fallen leaves sometimes but essentially he loves to run around the park and that's what matters. I'm so proud of what he's achieved.

I would like to give Andy a big shout out on here. He is a terrific dad who only got into running in order to take Sam round parkrun 15 months ago (little did he know he'd catch the running bug!). He's also done brilliantly to get to 50 parkruns. He's tirelessly taken Sam round every week and has only actually run 5 of his 50 parkruns by himself!

I'd also like to thank everyone at Barrow parkrun for their support as well. The inclusiveness is amazing. It's lovely to be able to access a mainstream family activity on a Saturday morning and have Sam completely accepted. He is a parkrunner first and foremost and no one is phased by any of his difficulties. Looking forward to him reaching the 100 club now!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Port Sunlight 5k, 10k and 1k Fun Run

We were up before the crack of dawn yesterday to make our way down to Port Sunlight Village for the BTR Liverpool Port Sunlight 5k, 10k and 1k races. We made excellent time getting down there, a little too excellent in fact as we were there by 8.30am (and that was with getting lost once!). The sun was shining but it was a breezy and brisk walk to the centre of Port Sunlight where the action would start a bit later. We registered the boys for the children's 1k race at the school and then made our way to the t-shirt tent where we collected our tech t-shirts and goody bags!

The 5k was the first race, setting off at 10am. I headed to the start with my friend who was taking part in her first 5k race. I was frozen in the starting line, having decided on a short sleeve tee and vest combo  like a fool. Bitterly regretting my lack of sleeves, we set off...sort of. Took about 30 seconds to cross the start line and I could hear the beep signalling the timing chips activating. This was the first time I'd ever taken part in a chip-timed race. I tried to run as hard as I had done at parkrun the previous week, and was hoping I'd finish somewhere around the same time of 32 minutes or faster if possible. The sun was out and the village was lovely, lots of spectators clapping and cheering. I saw Andy, the boys and our friends part way round the course and gained some good advice from William who was screaming 'keep running mummy' over and over again.

 I knew I had finished in under 32 minutes which was what I had wanted, but was thrilled when I received the chip timed results via text message later in the day and found I had a new PB of 30.55! And a brilliant new medal for the collection.

We had a quick change over and recycling of safety pins from myself to Andy as he put his number on, then he headed to the start for 11am to run the 10k. We watched the 10k runners set off, and it seemed to take ages for Andy to come through, but then again there were over 1000 people taking part! We got ice creams for the children then walked a little ways to find a good spot to watch from.

 The 10k runners completed two loops of the 5k course. Andy was still looking quite fresh and smiley when at about 8km he threw over his sweaty gloves for us to hold for him. Sam was quite easy to please for this race as well, as there were plenty of runners to see and flap at in all directions. We couldn't get a decent spot to clap at the finish line due to the sheer number of spectators already lining the finishing funnel, but Andy managed to get across the line in a time of 53.26, a new 10k PB for him!

The children's 1k fun run was the last race of the day. Andy was running with Sam and William ran with my friend and her son, who he adores. I was on cheering and photo taking duties. There was a bit of a confusing false start and then a slight delay and cheer as the last of the 10k runners came through. Then they were off though. I have never seen so many children running so fast! It took no time at all for the first of the runners to come back to the finish. The boys got across the finish line then headed round to collect their medals and goody bags filled with sweet treats! Sam had a bit of a cuddle with the mascot there as well, he probably couldn't resist!

After the day's running, we headed to our friend's house for a delicious lunch before the long drive back up north. All in all, a very long but brilliant day out for all of us.