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Another New Year’s Eve, another New Year’s resolution...

By Tracy Fielding-Martin

Another New Year’s Eve and a New Year’s resolution was upon me and generally I never stick with my new year’s resolution longer than a couple of months and definitely not for the full year.

This year (2019) I decided was going to be a very different year as I was fast approaching my 49th birthday and time travels by so quickly - I'll be 50 in 2020 and I finally made the decision that I wanted to be fit at 50 and not fat at 50!

A very good friend of mine, Caroline Evans, had been encouraging me to join Ramsbottom Running Club and to come along to the weekly Tuesday evening runs for quite some time. However I just laughed and said that I have never run in my life and I was never particularly athletic at school - I was definitely never a runner!

So instead I researched some local gyms as I have enjoyed classes in the past, however being in the gym and using weights doesn't massively appeal to me as I get distracted and it was quite expensive. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to use it enough to get true value for money. Especially as I work full time in Bolton and my husband works long hours and works away a lot too. We also have a teenage son who I need to be at home for and available to take him to his busy social and active life.

I soon realised that I need a fitness regime to fit around my busy work and home life - that was also cost effective!

Caroline kindly informed me that Ramsbottom Running Club were about to start a Couch to 5k programme and I thought this sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to start exercising and running with other people who hadn't run before. I also encouraged another friend to start the programme with me which was a great support as we could run together and encourage each other to attend the weekly sessions. Especially as it was freezing cold, dark and usually raining!  

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Some weeks we would sit in the car park and just say to one another "are we really going to run tonight in this weather?!"​

Of course we always got out of the car and ran together - we both really motivated each other along each week.

I was also able to fit in my weekly 'homework' of two extra runs each week around taking my son Tyler to his activities. Rather than sitting and waiting for him to finish I was able to fit in my own exercise which was great.

The C25K running app was a perfect encouragement when running solo.

My weekly runs with Ramsbottom Running Club became something that I started to look forward to as everyone was extremely friendly and we all encouraged each other. The Run Leaders (Emma, John and Adrian) were absolutely fantastic and they also showed us some exercise for warming up and cooling down before and after running.

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Initially I didn't think I would ever be able to run for more than 5 minutes without stopping and gasping for breath! However the time went quickly as it was great to run and chat to new people whilst encouraging each other along at a 'chatty' run pace.

Each week became a new challenge, running extra time without stopping but thankfully we all achieved it.

It was such a fantastic feeling when I could finally run 5k without stopping and the time had arrived to join all of the other Couch to 5K graduates at Bolton parkrun.

The weather was horrendous with a huge storm and torrential rain - It was safe to say I was definitely dreading running this parkrun.

One of the most challenging things about Bolton parkrun was tackling the appropriately named 'Cruella De Hill' which I had to run up not once, but twice! After training weekly on the AstroTurf pitch at Woodhey High School (which was absolutely flat) it was a great shock to the system to have to run up any incline and the hills became another great challenge.

With lots of support from my Ramsbottom Running Club friends, and in particular Marissa McPhillips who ran with me for part of the way and encouraged me along every step, I finally ran over the finish line and I was absolutely elated with myself and my achievement! I never thought I would run a parkrun!

This gave me the encouragement to start running every Tuesday night with the fantastic and supportive Ramsbottom Running Club. I started out by joining the 'graduates' group and I soon realised that living in Ramsbottom, we have so many hills that they can't be avoided!

I continued to run three times per week as much as possible and this became my new weekly routine. I actually started to look forward to running and enjoy it as it gave me some head space after a busy day at work and also some 'me time'. I also enjoyed being outdoors and getting some fresh air.

I also started to enjoy running at parkrun on Saturday mornings whenever I could make it along to one.

It was then a determined push to try and get a bit quicker and I really looked forward to receiving my parkrun email to inform me of my time each week. It is such a sense of achievement when I beat my personal best.

It was perfect timing when Ramsbottom Running Club announced that they would be starting a '10 weeks to 10K' group and I was delighted when I found out that it would be lead by the fabulous Emma, John and Adrian again as they had already looked after me and guided me through the start of my running journey.

I was definitely ready for a new challenge as I hadn't increased my distance, just my pace. As the weeks progressed I gained more confidence in myself and in my ability although I would still never call myself a 'runner' as I wasn't particularly fast.

As my distance increased I started to get pain and discomfort in my calf muscles and the time had come where I needed to treat myself to some proper running shoes. Who would have thought that for my 49th birthday I finally bought myself some running trainers after having my gait analysed at Tobutt Sports in Astley Bridge, Bolton. I also bought some compression running pants and running socks which have greatly helped me.

Oh how times have changed... I never thought I would be receiving running clothes as my birthday presents but I was actually looking forward to running in my new attire!

Increasing the weekly distance with Ramsbottom Running Club and my 'homework' of running three times per week was difficult as I needed to stop and catch my breath regularly and some times I felt like I was going to have a heart attack as I couldn't breathe properly.

Thankfully I never gave up on myself as I was always surrounded by such supportive people who have encouraged me every step of the way.

I finally signed up to the Bury 10K race which was to be held on Sunday 15 September and would be the first race that I would ever actually run. I also joined Ramsbottom Running Club and I am now very proud to be RRC334.

As the time was getting nearer to the Bury 10K, I was getting anxious at actually being able to run the race without stopping. During the RRC club nights we stop and wait for everyone at regular intervals.

By the end of the '10 weeks to 10K' programme I was thrilled that I had managed to run the entire distance, even with hills involved and it was a great reward running back to The Brewery and having lots of support from RRC who were patiently waiting for us to arrive back and I proudly received my certificate from Rowan.

The day arrived when I would be completing my first ever race at the Bury 10K I was extremely nervous and my stomach was doing somersaults. I was really anxious about where to park, what time to arrive etc but I had great support from my running club friends who all helped put me at ease.

I was prepared for the race the night before, getting my running kit ready and pinning my race number onto my running top.

There was real hub of activity when I arrived to meet everyone in Bury, it was such a lovely atmosphere and I couldn't quite believe just how busy and how many people were actually going to run in the race. I started to feel really excited about being part of such a big event.

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When I set off, my pace was much quicker than I usually run as I got carried away with all of the crowds and the support. Thankfully I was running with the wonderful Emma - our Run Leader who had supported me since day one along with one of my good friends Heather who I have met through running and we both run at a similar pace.

There were also other people around me running from Ramsbottom Running Club and we all encouraged each other along.

Emma told us to slow our pace down a little to save our legs which I am certainly glad she did!

I was definitely ready for some water at the 5K point and I gratefully received a bottle from someone at the side of the road. I am not used to running with a bottle of water and I didn't want to throw it on the floor!

At the 7K point my legs started to heel heavy and tired and I genuinely was thinking 'why am I doing this?!'

Thankfully at the 8K point I could see and hear my friend Caroline and her son Freddie shouting encouragement and shaking their RRC cowbells which was just what I needed and it definitely helped me along!

I also then saw the Ramsbottom Running Club flag and supporters from the club shouting encouragement to us which helped to keep my legs moving.

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A runner began to overtake us and he was running with a 1 hour marker flag. Unfortunately at this point we had begun to run uphill and my legs and whole body began to struggle as I have never run at such a fast pace before.

The last 2K in the race was definitely challenging and extremely difficult for me. Emma began to shout encouragement at me and I could hardly breathe let alone talk!

I tried my best to run as fast as I could to keep up with the 1 hour flag runner, however he seemed to be running uphill without even breaking a sweat and I literally felt like my legs didn't belong to me anymore as they were so heavy and tired.

My breathing was sounding loud and laboured and I had ringing in my ears. I felt like I was going to be sick and pass out all at once.

I finally made it up the hill into Bury then sprinted as fast as I could towards the 1 hour flag runner. It helped me at this point that there were lots of people on both sides of the road cheering us on.

I could see the finish line ahead of me and with huge relief I kept running as fast as my legs would go until I crossed the finish line and it was finally time to stop! Yay!!

I felt so dizzy and sick once I had stopped running but then felt immediately better by having a huge group hug with Emma and Heather!

I was absolutely elated that I had achieved something that I never thought that I would ever be able to do.

Not only that... when I signed up to the Bury 10K, I put my estimated time down as 1 hour 15 minutes. My own aim was to try and complete the race in 1 hour 10 minutes.

I was absolutely thrilled and elated with myself that I finished in 1 hour and 28 seconds! Never in a million years did I think that I would achieve my first 10K finish in this time.

I am now secretly gutted about the 28 seconds so hopefully next time I can run it in under 60 minutes.

Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me during my running experience so far. To all of my wonderful family and friends - you are all amazing.

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If I can now run and achieve these goals, then anyone can definitely do it!