I started running when I was very young . I had three brothers one just older than me and two younger and as my parents didn’t drive I was the one who had to go to the shops and do the errand as my mother had to look after my brothers. In those days it was safe for children to go back and forth to the shops . They would give me the money and of I would run , each time I would try and do it faster. At the time I used to whinge about going as it was always me that had to go . Looking back now I’m please they did as it was this that got me into running without even realizing it . When I got to high school my running continued as my friends would get the school bus and I would have to run home as my parents couldn’t afford the bus fare home. My target was to try and beat the bus home which 75% of the time I would. I sometimes ran for the school doing cross county and usually came in the top three , but I could only go to races if the school took me .
I left school when I was 16 and got a job in a shop in the village it was about half a mile away but I used to run there and back every day ,that was until I passed my driving test and then I drove everywhere and my weight started to go up!. At the age of 19 I moved over to Cumbria to work and my running stopped and I started to gain weight and reached about 11 stone .Feeling very unhappy about this I decided to start running again. My first run was during my lunch hour it was only 3 miles but I found it so hard that I had to walk a lot of it. I was so upset that I couldn’t do it, as when I was younger I found it easy. I was determined to run all the way so I did the same route 3 times a week until I could .It took me several weeks until I could do it without stopping . It was around this time that I started running with my best friend Linda , and we used to run and chat together.
We both decided to do our first event together , which was the Cumbrian run on 6th May 1990. With not much training in old shorts and T-shirts , we were both terrified . We both finished in 1hr 59. and over the moon. As we crossed the line we saw the first three ladies receiving the prizes and I thought to myself I’d love to be up there winning a trophy but as their times where around 1hr 30 It was just a distant dream.
I join Border Harriers at the beginning of 1991 and started training every week, running track and cross county for them .I also started running more road races, 10k and half marathons .
As a child I used to watch the London marathon on TV and after watching it me and my friends would go out after and run around everywhere but this only lasted about a couple of days and they would get fed up but I would still run. And so in 1991 I was lucky enough to get a charity place with the company I worked for. My friend Linda also got I place and so we trained together. Leading up to the marathon we hadn’t prepared well , we didn’t have a training plan and we didnt do lots of long runs. We ran together all the way and when I felt bad she helped me and when she felt bad I helped her and some how we both made it to the finish in a time of 4hrs 10mins 38 sec(it took 5 mins to get over the line no chip timing back then). We were tired but over the moon. I was buzzing for about 2 weeks after. When I got home I watch the race on the TV and saw the elite ladies race and this inspired me to try and get my times down .
I won my first race in july 1991 . Its was a 5 and half mile run at Gretna but there were only two ladies in it but a wins a win! I beat her by 8 minutes and was so happy. I started to do as many races that I could and I started to chip away at my times .
In 1992 I ran the Cumbrian run again and this time I came 5th lady and my time had dropped to 1hr32 .46 I won pink t-shirt and a mug . It wasn’t until 2001 that my dream of getting on the podium came true and i finished 2nd lady
On the 23rd Jan 1995 I fell and broke both my wrists and a week later found out I was pregnant ,which was great news but in feburary I received a letter that said I had qualified for the championship category for the london marathon but being pregnant meant I coudn’t enter and soon after this I had to have a break from running race and start a family and in October my first daughter Emily was born.
In 1996 a new running club started in Penrith where I lived I was one of the first members and have been there for the last 20 years. In march 1997 I had my second daughter Tiffany and it was a little after that I started running again . Just 2 miles at first but was soon back racing .
I ran london marathon again in 1998 and my time had dropped to 3hrs 14.
I ran it again in 2000 and then from 2003 – 2013 I ran every year and my pb of 3hrs 3mins 40sec came in 2006. My highlight being on the elite start with Paula Radcliffand I used to try and get myself as close as I could at the start as I would know I could get on the television so that my daughter’s could see me.
How I got into Triathlon
After nearly 20 years of running I was starting to feel a bit stale and looking for a new challenge.
I was running with my club on a training night and one of my friends mentioned that there was a local triathlon coming up and they needed someone for the run leg as they were entering a relay team in the “Day in the Lakes triathlon”.. As my leg was last I watched everyone do the 1.2 mile lake swim and set of for the 56 mile bike leg which went over Kirkstone pass and back over Shap summit. I completed my 13 mile trail run which ran up and over Fusedale and back along the lake road and as a team we did fairly well 6th team overall. It was a lovely hot day and there was a fantastic atmosphere and watching people finish really inspired me to have a go at the full event even though I could hardly swim and didn’t even have a bike. I heard about a new sprint triathlon in Penrtih and this planted a seed and I thought I could have a go. I believe a lot in fate and things happen for a reason and it was while I was out for a run I passed a house that were selling 2 really old road bike , a man’s and a lady’s for £25 each. I was meant to run passed that house that day and I was meant to have that bike. They were in really good condition and well looked after and in their day would have been good bikes,but compared to the ultra light bikes with carbon frames, gears on the handle bars and clip-in pedals it looked more of an antique . Being cheap it meant that I wouldn’t loose much if I couldn’t ride it or didn’t like triathlons. I bought the bike and started to practice on it . The gears where on the frame so I had to learn to take my hand of the handlebar to change gears which I found hard work as I wasn’t confident . Shortly after buying the bike I join the local Tri club and started going to the swim sessions on a Thursday evening. I started in the beginners lane and was there for a long time and getting frustrated as I watch many people join my lane and get moved on pretty quickly.
Penrith Sprint Tri
The day of my first triathlon came. in Aug 2009. A 400m pool swim a 12mile bike and a 5k run. I felt really nervous and well out of my comfort zone, just praying to get through the swim and the bike. I lost a lot of places on the swim and bike but pulled a lot back on the run and managed to finish 7th lady. My swim was 10.09 T1 1.47 bike 53.04 T2 1.03 and run was 22.11 total 1hr 28mins 14 secs. My legs were screaming from pedaling a heavy bike and felt heavy going from bike to run , something I wasn’t use too, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was at that point I was knew I wanted to do more
I knew that I would have to improve my swimming and biking if I was going to do more triathlons. I found it hard to improve my swimming when swimming with others as I got disheartened so I took myself to the pool and practiced practiced practiced. I had to learn at my own pace in my own way. Which to this day I am still working on but my technique has greatly improved. I started to feel a little more confident with my biking as I had done a few long distant bike rides with friend C2C and biking around Arran. I had decided to do more triathlons in 2010 and if I wanted to do well I would need to upgrade my bike.
I decided to treat myself to a full carbon road bike I had never spent so much on myself before in my life. I put normal pedals on at first as I had never used clip-ins before.
I entered Keswick triathlon in June 2010. It was a lake swim which I was terrified of as I hadn’t done open water swimming before. I bought a wet-suit (more expense) and went for my first practice swim with a couple of friends in Derwant water. Well the water temperature in May was about 10 degrees , it was so cold I got brain freeze ,it took me ages to get in and we weren’t in long. I wasn’t put off but still very nervous about doing the event .
The day of the race came 23rd May It was a mass start and I positioned myself at the back as people told me it would be like swimming in a washing machine. I manage to finished the swim without getting kicked or punched and felt relieved to be out of the water and only the bike to worry about. I spent ages in transition but got away without any mishaps . I got back knowing I was well down the field and knew I had to work hard on the run . I still found it hard going from bike to run
The route was a tough off road trail run over walla crag but as my running is my strongest leg I started to gain places .I finished feeling pretty good and managed to finish 10th lady which made me feel a little more positive about my next event the”Day in the lakes” which was an Half Ironman .
Day In the Lakes 2010- 1.2mile swim 56mile bike 13 mile run
I knew the bike route was going to be tough as it goes over kirkstone pass the highest pass in the lakes at 1489 ft.
I’d recce’d the route a number of times .The climb up was hard but I wasn’t worried too much, It was the long fast decent that terrified me. Not being confident on the bike the fast twisting down hill meant I was on the brakes all the way down.
The day of the race came , I couldn’t sleep the night before worrying about doing the distance . I got up early and went down to rack the bike and praying the lake was flat calm. After racking the bike and fannying about in transition I walked down to the lake shore, it wasn’t as flat as I hoped but it was ok I was happy.
We had our race briefing and seeing everyone in their wets suits I started to feel a bit anxious . We were then led down to the lake shore and split into two groups. The faster swimmers went of first and I watched them go. It was then my turn to enter the water . I played safe and stayed at the back out of the way. It was a scary start lots of bodies splashing about ,
I just followed the best I could as I hadn’t learnt to sight properly. It was a two lap course and was the furthest I’d swam in open water. To be honest I just wanted to be out of the water and I was relieved when it was all over . I chuntered to myself from the swim to transition releved that I had survived the swim them thinking “o shit now I’ve got to bike over Kirkstone pass. The first part of the bike route is fairly flat and easy and I had ridden it a lot as it was on my training routes. I started to relax and feeling pretty good . I’d always reccied the route early in the mornings when the roads where quite and I so when I got to the foot of Kirkstone that I saw a convoy of bike and cars going up and cars and coaches coming down,It was at this point I started to panic as I knew that if I got knock off or stopped I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back on again as the road was to steep. As I started to climb and passing people I would shout ” I’m not very good on a bike so don,t get to close” I’m fairly strong at climbing and passed a few people going up but they all passed me going down. By the time we got half way the field started to thin out and so the climb back up to Shap summit was fairly easy but its still a 1245 ft climb. I started to feel a bit more relax when I started to get closer to home. I realized that I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since breakfast and that was about 5.30 am, so I tried eating some fruit pastels . I managed to get three into my mouth but then I dropped the rest , which wasn’t good as I still had a 13 mile fell run to do. I managed to get back to transition and was so delighted to have got round without any break downs or punctures and as I was getting changed any anxiety I had just disappeared . I set of on the run with wobbly legs but happy to be running. I had about half a mile to get my legs sorted before we started on the first climb up to Roehead , a climb of about a mile. Its at this point that the good bikers start to struggle and I started to pass people .I knew the route well as I ran and walked it several times with my dog Rosie. The more people I caught the more confident I became. The hardest part was the fell climb up Fusedale where most people had to walk including myself . The decent off the top was technical but I knew it well and so that helped me to keep passing people. The last 3 miles is on road which you would think would be easy for a road runner but I found it tough I had only eaten 3 fruit pastels the whole way round which wasn’t enough and I started to fade . I was just counting down the familiar land marks . As I approached the finish at park foot feeling drained and tired I was over come with emotion as I had completed my first half Iron man. I came home 14th lady and 4th in my age group in 6hrs 32 mins. at that point I was hooked .I learnt a lot from this race not just about triathlons but about myself as well . I have done this event nearly every year now as its my local race. In 2016 the bike course changed. I was due to do it but was to ill ,but did do it in 2017 and came 1st lady overall and first vet over 40. in a time of 5hrs 29mins more than 1 hour quicker.
From this event I started to do more local triathlons working hard on my swim and biking I started to get more podium places
The same friend who got me into triathlon had done an iron man the year before and listening to her experience of doing it inspired me to have go at the UK iron man at Bolton in 2011.