Tag Archives: Great Manchester Run

More than just a run

When is a run more than just a run? When thousands of runners fall silent at the start, tears rolling down faces. When the voice of an enthusiastic spectator breaks with emotion as she shouts ‘Come on runners, we need you in our city’. When the race announcer pays tribute to the emergency services at the event, some of whom were working just 6 days ago when a terrorist attack hit the city. When runners wear placards with bee symbols, the number 22, I love MCR and one which simply said ‘F*** You Terrorists’.

When I set out on my challenge this year of 15 races, I was thinking mainly of myself and my situation. I wanted to celebrate my son who sadly never lived, and raise awareness of the 15 babies who are stillborn or die within the first four weeks of life every day. Although I am only 6 races in, so far it has been a pretty amazing journey, one which I can’t wait to look back on in full at the end. Each race has been memorable in its own way; mega hills, beaches, rain, sunshine, PB’s. But I can’t imagine they will touch the emotion of today’s race.

In truth, a few months ago I wished I hadn’t booked this race. I had heard of the Rock n Roll run series in Liverpool and thought it sounded tonnes of fun. But when I went to book, I realised it was on the same day as the Great Manchester Run which I inadvertently got a place for about 7-8 months ago. I looked at the route and didn’t think it looked very exciting or as appealing as running in the City of Music. Still I diligently trained and decided to make the most of it, with all my 10k races so far helping with my preparation.

One of the many signs put up by local businesses

And then Monday happened. The unspeakable, barbaric atrocity of a concert venue being bombed as thousands of happy, young people left. A night that will change the lives of those people forever, as well as their friends, families and the wider population. Within a day or so, I received an email from the organisers saying that there would be a decision made as to whether  or not the race would go ahead. Then on Thursday it was confirmed. Honestly, I never once contemplated not running. For many reasons really. Beginning with the most selfish (my training for this half marathon has been better than any of the other four I have run!!), to realistic (Manchester would probably be one of the safest cities in the UK with all the security, checks and police), to defiant (why the hell should we let a small group of crackpots, intent on causing fear, panic and disruption, win???).

I can tell you that they did not win yesterday.

I don’t know how many people chose not to run or come and watch. But I can tell you that thousands did. And we all stood shoulder to shoulder at the start, in silence, paying tribute to the 22 people who lost their lives, the countless injured and the many traumatised. We remembered all the brave and selfless people who saved lives, helped the injured, provided food and shelter and drove taxis for free.

And after the silence came the opening bars of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. Never again will I listen to that song without thinking of that moment.

The race will forever have a place in my heart. Not least because, for me, I ran like a dream!! So I’ve only run the distance a handful of times before, but took 11 minutes off my PB … which I set pre-3 babies ago when I had all the time in the world to train (12 years ago to be precise!). I’m still pinching myself now and can’t believe I came home in 2 hrs 11 minutes 41 seconds. To put it mildly I am estatic! Maybe I’ll find time to write about it later, now I am too knackered!

To all the other sheer bloody-minded runners who came out – we were all winners.

#WeStandTogether

#RunForManchester

Did I mention I got a PB???

My Great Manchester Run

IMG_0681

15 months after giving birth to my second rainbow, 3 years since my last 10k race, and over 5 years after losing Ewan, I woke up last Sunday morning bright and early and ready to embark on the Great Manchester Run. Late last year I set my sights on running the Great North Run for SANDS which will take place in September 2016. To help myself prepare, I signed up to 2 x 10k races (I’m considering a third too!). The race in Manchester was the first of the challenges.

IMG_0679 IMG_0680

As well as raising money, specifically earmarked for research in stillbirth and neonatal deaths, my aim is to continue keeping Ewan’s memory alive. I was delighted to receive in my race pack a few weeks prior to the event a plain bib which could be personalised to wear on my back. On Saturday night I fished out my black marker pen and then, in the absence of coloured felt tip pens, I grabbed Dylan’s box of crayons to brighten it up. I was pretty chuffed with the end result. What do you think?

IMG_0691

I drove myself to Manchester which only takes about 45 minutes. Unfortunately Adam had to work so couldn’t come and watch with the boys. I met up with a couple of people from work beforehand, but because we all started at varying times, as much as two hours for some people, we didn’t all manage to get to run together. My ‘wave’ started at 12.25pm. Because I had arrived early, I managed to watch the elite runners get underway. Firstly the wheelchair athletes, the women and finally the men. I watched the first wave of the ‘non-elites’ go and managed to spot a few SANDS runners and one of my college team members. I decided not to wait any longer and headed towards the holding area for the blue wave.

IMG_0700 IMG_0689

With over 35,000 people taking part, an event such as this needs military organisation. and it worked. It was the first time I had taken part in this event and was easily able to find where I should congregate for the start. I turned up just before the mass warm up which was handy to get the blood pumping and muscles ready. A few more announcements and then we were off!

IMG_0719 IMG_0720

Well, almost! It took about 7 minutes of shuffling before I actually crossed the start line. But then I really was off.

So what was it like? A few words spring to mind. Hot, busy, fun, busy, tiring, busy, memorable, busy, hot! Ok so a few are repeated. But that is because it really was very busy … and very hot! The weather did eventually break and the rain was pretty heavy, however that was about 5 minutes after I finished!

IMG_0715 IMG_0723

I really enjoyed myself for the majority of the time. The course felt pretty flat compared to what I was used to training in hilly Lancashire. I had set myself a target  of trying to complete it within an hour. It was pretty ambitious given that my longest training run was 9.7 km completed in nearly 1 hr 1 minute. Still, I figured that the flat course would help. We ran all the way out to Old Trafford , Salford Quays and back from the city centre. Annoyingly, just as I was well in my stride by the time we got to Old Trafford, the running mass slowed down. I saw people taking photos and and even stopping to pose. Argh, it’s just a football stadium!!

There was a stretch of a couple of kilometres which were two-way. This meant that as I was starting out, I could look for my Nelson and Colne College team-mates who had started in the waves before me and hopefully cheer them on. We had our college logo on our t-shirts so they were easy to spot. I managed to see 2 staff members, but my brain just couldn’t work quickly enough. By the time I had got their names ready to shout encouragement, they had run past. Still, it helped to pre-occupy my mind for 15 minutes on the way out to Old Trafford and then on the way back too.

I knew I need to work on an average of 6 minutes per km. I clocked myself as I went over the start line and then at each km marker would check to see how I was faring. I was on track for the first half but it was between 5 and 8 km that I slowed down. At one point I was tempted to run with guy who had a portable speaker attached to his waist. He wasn’t just keeping himself going but entertaining everyone else around him too. As I passed, the speaker was playing ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ by Meat Loaf, one of my all-time favourites (and although he wouldn’t like to admit it, the first song Adam and I danced together to!). It gave me a welcome lift as a trudged on.

IMG_0897

Checking my split times on the website, I completed the last 2 km in 12 minutes and 2 seconds, which in retrospect was pretty good for me given it was the end of the race. I know I pushed myself hard on the last kilometre (I’d love to know that split time), and probably looked horrendous on the last stretch. Although there are plenty of official photos, I haven’t bothered to look at them. I’m not the prettiest runner in town.

IMG_0732

I finished though. And although I just missed out on going under that hour mark by 6 seconds (damn Old Trafford!) I was elated to complete my first challenge of the year. I collected my goody pack and started to devour the obligatory free food. I managed a few selfies to send to Adam (and upload to Facebook) before the rain started. I decided I deserved a Starbucks hot chocolate (with whipped cream) before heading home, proudly sporting my medal in the car!

IMG_0734 IMG_0743

Running for Ewan really pushed me to complete this, and finish it in the best time I could. I was proud to wear his name on my back and hope I will be able to for future races. A huge thank you to my work colleagues who also ran for SANDS and to everyone who sponsored me (and the rest of the team).

My next event is just 5 days away – the Run For All Burnley 10K. Adam and I completed this 3 years ago when it was held for the first time, so I am really excited to take part again. We both raised £400+ for SANDS back then. I am also looking forward to Adam and the boys being able to  watch me seeing as it is so close to home. Anyone in the Burnley area, make sure you are en route cheering and supporting. You’ll need to be up early as it starts at 9.30am. I hope to see you there.

If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page. All amounts are gratefully received, however big or small.
www.justgiving.com/running4ewan

It’s good to talk!

Sands logo

We don’t talk about Ewan a lot. That sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? Saying that on a blog which is (in essence) about him. But writing is different to talking,

What I mean is, whilst talking about him is not a taboo subject, it’s not something I do every day, or even every week. It’s not because we’ve forgotten about him. It’s just not something that comes up in day-to-day conversation. Current conversations now revolve around how long did Jude sleep for his daytime nap, or where has Captain America’s shield gone? (Answers, usually about an hour and a hour, two if we are lucky, and no idea – it’s been missing for weeks!). You get my drift.

That’s not to say we don’t think about him. We see his hand and footprint every morning and he is always in our thoughts.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit different.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to talk about the SANDS charity at my mum and dad’s church. Every year in May, the congregation gather together one Sunday morning before the service and have breakfast together. At the end there is a collection for charity which changes each year. In 2011, the year Ewan died, they chose SANDS as the recipient and raised £260 in donations.

Five years on, I was incredibly touched to be told that they had again chosen SANDS. But this time I was asked I would go and speak about the work of the charity and about why it was of such importance. I have spoken in public about Ewan, but not for some time. I wanted to use the opportunity to explain how the work SANDS has done over the last 38 years made a real impact on Adam and I when Ewan was born. Instead of him being taken away from us, we were able to spend time with him, take photos and make memories. It sounds so simple, but parents of stillborn babies 20+ years ago were not afforded the same treatment.

The generosity of the congregation raised £311. A huge thank you to Bethesda Street United Reformed Church in Burnley.

Last week I met up with our Communications Officer at work. Each year a group of staff take part in the Great Manchester Run and raise money for charity. Those who run get to put forward the charity and choose.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I suggested SANDS , and was delighted when it was chosen by my co-workers/runners.

I offered to talk about my own experiences with Becky so that she could put together an article. The result is the link below. I think she made a pretty good job of it!

http://www.nelson.ac.uk/adults-news/ncc-team-prepare-charity-run-support-brave-colleague/

Last time I looked, the College Justgiving page stands at £155 – I’m hopeful for a lot more!

I think some people might think that talking about Ewan is something I don’t want to do, for fear of me getting upset. Five years ago, that would have been the case, but now, with the benefit of time and healing, I can talk about him and just be …. normal. I like to talk about him, because he is our son, a part of our family. I like to talk about SANDS because it focusses me to be positive about our experience, because without their tireless campaigning and education, it could have been so much worse. And I don’t get upset because our lives are filled with so much joy. Just look at the two monkeys below and you will see why!

If you ever want to ask me about Ewan, please do. I will be happy to share, because  as Bob Hoskins once said … ‘It’s good to talk’

IMG_0578 IMG_0596