Most of you who know me will know that at this time of year I am rather partial to a bit of facial hair   Yes, Movember is looming large and I have already dug out the shaving foam, razor and moustache wax ready for Friday.  As per last year, upper lip hair will be grown, gingerbread moustaches will be baked and sold and this year sees the start of my photo project “Make Me a Mo Bro”.  There is also another new activity this year.  In less than 2 weeks’ time I will be dragging myself around Heaton Park in the name of charity.  Let me explain.

Earlier this year Karen took up running.  Now Karen does not do sport of any description but in April she and a friend went to a weekly running group and by July she was ready to run her first 5K.  In July, along with my sister Nikki and her sister Margaret, we headed onto Blackpool promenade to proudly cheer her on as she donned pink and ran the Race for Life.

Inspired by gazelle girl I also took up running (well jogging.  I always say I was built for comfort not for speed).   I said that I would quite like to do a 5K at
some point but my lack of lady parts meant that I couldn’t do a Race for Life.  The Gingerbread Men race is held every year in October in Ormskirk, but that’s 10K and I aint up to that.  (It also appears to be the same route as the cross country runs we did at school (Altys Lane, Scarth Hill Lane, Catherines Lane, Poppy Lane, for the Ormskirkians reading this) and that just holds bad memories.) 

Last week I received an e-mail from Movember with details of Mo-Running 5 and 10K runs for Movember.  Perfect, I thought.  A new way of raising funds (some people don’t think that just letting what nature does naturally i.e. letting hair grow out of my face, is really a sacrifice worthy of sponsorship.  They want blood for their money!).  There was a local (ish) event in Heaton Park in Manchester on November 10th, so I signed up straight away.  It was only then that it dawned on me that the date was less than 2 weeks away and as quickly as the summer heat wave had left us, my running regime had become more…shall we say…“sporadic”.  I could probably just about get around 5K, but whether I could walk for the rest of the week was debateable.  I could probably get 6 runs in between now and then, so on Saturday I began my training.

I donned my running gear and realised that my top must have shrunk in the wash, as it wasn’t that tight across my belly in the summer.  I headed off early evening on my 4K run
(Derby Street – Greetby Hill – Tower Hill – Thompson Avenue – Cross Hall Brow – over the field – Ruff Woods – Ruff Lane – Mill Street – Wigan Road – Abbotsford – Derby
Street, for fellow Ormskirkians who know where those places are).  I immediately noticed a couple of differences from the last time I went running.

In the summer at that time (early evening) the sun was still in the sky and I cast lovely long shadows as I ran across the fields of wheat (I always felt I was in a movie at that point).  In October it’s dark.  It wasn’t when I began, but it certainly was by the time that I had finished!

The other thing is that it is cold…and wet.  By the time I had reached Thompson Avenue it was raining.  By the time I reached the public footpath across the field it was really raining.  Gone were the long shadows as I raced across the field, replaced instead with me splashing through mud and puddles trying to see where I was going (why don’t they put lamp posts in fields?).    The wheat had been harvested and the smell or sprouts ready for the Christmas market filled my nostrils.  Ahead of me was my next great challenge.  Ruff Woods. If I thought the field was dark, the Ruff (as we call it) would be even worse.

I was also trying something new on this run.  Usually by the time I reach the Ruff I am sweating so much that my glasses slip off and I end up carrying them for the rest of my run.  So on this occasion I ran without my glasses.  Before long I found myself running in a dark wood, tree roots protruding all over the place, mud under foot, without my glasses.  It was a blurry, murky mess.  I was relying on memory for where I thought the really muddy bits were and leaped about a bit to avoid puddles (the dog walkers behind me must have thought I was mad) and headed towards the sodium glow of the streetlights on Ruff Lane.  I completed my run in a truly atrocious time but at least I had done it. Last night I went for run number 2.  I ran after work, so about 7:30 and realising that the Ruff Woods run was not good at night I went for the 3K route of Derby Street – Stanley Street – Knowsley Road – St Helens Road – cut though Edge Hill – Ruff Lane – Mill Street – Wigan Road – Abbotsford – Derby Street.  The advantage of this is that it is all on pavements and quite well lit.  Karen was a bit concerned about me running in the dark so I have my reflective armband on.  In reality there was no need for it.

I have a pair of these Bluetooth headphones, which mean that you don’t have wires getting in the way when you run.  One thing I hadn’t realised though was that there is a flashing blue light on them.  It was only when I was at a darker part of my run that I caught in the corner of my eye the blue light flashing (we men don’t have peripheral vision.  That’s why we can’t find anything in the fridge).  It then dawned on me that I had blue shorts, a blue top and a blue jacket with a yellow reflective strip on it and blue flashing light on my ear.  I looked like the worst foot-based police response unit ever!

Added to this I had to try and straighten up as I ran through Edge Hill so that I didn’t look too much like a fat middle-aged man surrounded by fit young teenagers.   I completed the run in about 20 minutes so not too bad.  Tomorrow I hope to get out in the morning (light mornings again, thank you GMT) and tackle the 4K again.  Perhaps by next week I may be up the whole 5K (the Ruff Woods run but with Vicarage Lane added on as well).  That’s the plan.  I’ll let you know how I get on.  What would be encouraging would be sponsorship, so if you want me to continue with this blog then feel free to sponsor me here.


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