Category Archives: Personal

My Year of Running

Running has taken over my life this year. From taking part in 10 races in 2018, including the Liverpool Half-Marathon, Southport 10k, Run for Rhys 5k and the Liverpool Santa Dash, I have lost over 2 stone in weight since January. In addition, my year in running has given me some proud memories, which I would like to share with you as 2018 draws to a close.

It was back in January when I set myself the goal of running the BTR Liverpool Half-Marathon. By running that race for the first time ever, I was out of my comfort zone, but at the same time relishing and energised by the challenge of pushing myself. Looking back, it was a proud and rewarding experience for me, even if I had to perform through the pain barrier, and I would gladly repeat the experience again. I say this because crossing that finishing line in under 3 hours was a great feeling, and I am convinced this was when I knew I had caught the running bug.

Another pleasure was the opportunity of experiencing such delightful scenery. This is because running has allowed me to take in some picturesque views of the River Mersey, the lush outdoors of Croxteth Park, and the Three Graces of Liverpool. As I have pounded the pavements and off-road tracks, seeing such fine sights through my own eyes has been a lovely treat.

Through the races and training, I have also learned about running in different weather conditions. This year, I have run in conditions where the weather has been either very hot or cold. When I ran the Southport 10k in July, the weather was very hot, meaning I had to adjust my running style to suit the conditions, by pacing myself and keeping hydrated.

In comparison, the Run for Rhys 5k was on a day of torrential rain and winds. This meant the course in Croxteth Park was full of mud, fallen leaves and big puddles, making it extremely difficult. On reflection, I was glad to have done the run, if only to experience the feeling of running when it is very wet and windy.

In addition to the races, I have done plenty of running in the countryside as part of my training, which has been extremely enjoyable. An example was back in October, when I ran 7 miles from Ormskirk all the way back to my house. This was on a cool Saturday morning, and my route took me past Edge Hill University, through the village of Bickerstaffe, and all the way back home. I also vividly remember being surrounded by blue skies, hanging clouds and being surrounded by peaceful countryside. Running along the pavements and open roads surrounded by silence, I can honestly say it was pure bliss!

There has been plenty that I have learned from my year of running. I have learned that anything is possible when you put your mind to something you want to achieve. Secondly I have also learned that training and preparation is important, and that you need to be courageous and willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Finally I have also learned is that running is not just good for losing weight, but it is useful for relieving stress. This is because after a hectic day, I enjoy going for a quick run, as it helps me to mentally clear my head of stress and doubts, and allows me to calmly think more clearly with perspective, and it makes me feel good about myself. I also find running outdoors to be rather meditative.

And that’s all I have to say about my year of running. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences and also what I have learned from them. Rest assured that I will be keeping up the habit, and will be looking forward to more running exploits in 2019.

In the meantime, I would like to wish all you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thanks for reading!

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BTR Liverpool Run for Rhys 5k – My Recollections

Last month over the Bank Holiday weekend, I took part in the BTR Liverpool Run for Rhys 5k event. Held in the lush surroundings of Croxteth Park, the purpose of this was to support the Rhys Jones Community Centre in Croxteth, setup to celebrate and honour Rhys’s memory after his tragic murder eleven years ago, which shocked Liverpool and the whole nation.

This was the first time I had taken part in the run, and I enjoyed it despite the heavy rainfall. Arriving at the start outside Croxteth Hall, there was a good crowd of runners taking part, along with representatives from Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Radio City, and Everton in the Community, all giving their support. The weather certainly didn’t affect the positivity and feel good atmosphere, although there were a good number huddling inside the hall foyer to keep dry before the start. Who could blame them?

For me personally, the run was memorable for several reasons. From standing in the pouring rain in a sea of blue at the start, passing a loud mooing cow (no seriously!), stepping in a big puddle twice, to crossing the finishing line, my memories of the day were plentiful. In addition, I also remember the course being tougher then I anticipated, due to the rain, wind, mud, puddles and leaf stained track making this 5k run, the toughest I have ever done. This is because I had to concentrate and stay mentally sharp throughout, which as a runner was a useful and valuable experience.

Previously I had never completed a run in such conditions, so this was a new challenge I faced head-on. I was never dazed by this, and I managed to overcome the difficulties posed by the weather and complete the run in 34 minutes, which I was delighted to challenge and conquer. Despite being completely soaked to the skin, I really enjoyed the run, with the warm support and camaraderie among the runners and local crowds certainly gaving a warm buzz, to a wet Sunday morning in Croxteth. I would certainly do it all again whatever the weather brings.

I would like to thank BTR Liverpool, Rhys Jones Community Centre, Croxteth Park and to everyone else involved, including to Rhys’s family for organising and supporting the event. It was a very special day for the city of Liverpool, in not only supporting the centre, but also to honour and celebrate Rhys’s life.

BTR Liverpool Half Marathon 2018 – My Recollections

Have you ever felt the urge to do something you have never done before?

Something that challenges and pushes you out of your comfort zone?

Last month, I did exactly the above, when I ran the BTR Liverpool Half-Marathon for the first time. Whilst I have previously taken part in the Santa Dash and Scouse 5k for charity, my reasons for doing the Liverpool Half-Marathon were different. As well as to lose a few pounds, I had also set myself a personal challenge of running a half-marathon, so this forced me to step out of my comfort zone.

In order to take the half-marathon seriously, I trained hard over a period of 12 weeks. This was to ensure I was physically and mentally prepared, although I must confess there were occasions when I wondered what I had let myself in for. However I was excited and looking forward to tackling the half-marathon, and as race day approached, the hardest part was keeping focused, whilst trying to remain calm on the surface.  Indeed the night before, I barely managed to grab any sleep, as I was pumped up, full of adrenaline and raring to go!

On the morning of the half-marathon, I arrived at the Pier Head feeling relaxed, calm, and yet keeping my mind solely on the challenge that lay ahead. Taking up position at the start, I was surrounded by blue skies, beautiful sunshine, and a carnival-like atmosphere, with plenty of colourful sights, sounds of music and joyous excitement. There were thousands of runners taking part, with lots running for charity, including several dressed in superhero outfits and funny costumes. I even recall noticing a runner dressed up as Captain America, and another as a bumblebee, which certainly added to the fun-filled mood.

Soon the run started, and everything that I had prepared and trained for, came together instantly. It struck me that I was now entering the unknown, like Christopher Columbus sailing and discovering America.

The route itself was demanding, yet also picturesque. From Mann Island, the route passed along Upper Parliament Street, Park Lane, Sefton Park, through Otterspool Park and back along Otterspool Promenade, to the finishing line at the Three Graces. Running along the route, taking in the sights was a delight for me, and along with the cheers and encouragement of fellow runners and passers-by, certainly kept my spirits up.

I realised the half-marathon was always going to be a physically draining effort. However I learned it also required a great amount of mental strength, to persevere to the finish. I discovered this when I felt a sharp pain in my right leg, about halfway through the race, which prevented me from running at my best, meaning I had to power walk the remaining distance. Rather than damaging my confidence, this setback only served to spur me on to keep going, despite the pain. This was rewarded when I eventually completed the half-marathon in a time of 2 hours and 51 minutes, of which I was delighted and ecstatic.

As I crossed the finished line, the reality of what I had achieved sunk in, and I felt extremely proud, even I was feeling numb and in pain, whilst walking like John Wayne!

Looking back, I feel great pride in succeeding and meeting my goal of completing the half-marathon. Of course, there are aspects of the training, preparation and running I would have done differently in hindsight, but what I achieved in completing the half-marathon though my hard-work and determined efforts, shows that anyone can achieve anything.

To conclude, if what I have achieved inspires other disabled people like myself, then I am proud to have helped in blazing the trail.

Thanks for reading!

Taking the Occasional Break

I recently returned from a holiday in Orlando with my family (and no, I was not caught up in Hurricane Irma). With hot weather, laughs, roller coasters and Disney fireworks galore, I not only enjoyed myself, but it was lovely to spend precious time with the family, and visit the wonderful sights including the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios. All of this allowed me to rest and recharge my batteries, whilst exploring and educating myself on American culture, such as pancakes for breakfast, sports bars, and flea markets.

As professionals, there are occasions when we need to take a short rest, by switching off and recuperating, with little distractions. To achieve this, I cut myself off from LinkedIn and any professional e-mails, to focus on enjoying myself with my family, as well as making the most of what Orlando had to offer. Feeling the warm Florida sunshine and surroundings was so stimulating, that I was so immersed in my holiday and I hardly thought about working or networking.

Taking time away from the trenches of professional life is important for mind, body and soul. The reason is that if we want to remain at our optimum best, we must remember to take an occasional break to unwind and relax, wherever it is in Orlando, Ibiza, Cornwall, or just from the comfort of your own home. It is about taking a short time to do something enjoyable, or completely different, before returning with renewed energy and vigour, and in my case a good tan.

As for Orlando, I will honestly say with a full heart and contented mind, that it was a great experience. This was despite feeling physically fatigued toward the end, due to the constant travelling to and from the resorts, but the great times, laughs and memories was certainly well worth it all.

Rhymes & Records at the Jacaranda – Monday 7th August 2017

Writing and performing poetry is one of my favourite hobbies. Just the thought of creating a piece and reciting it to an audience of like-minded people, is an obsession that fills me with nothing but plentiful joy.

Last week, I attended an open mic night called Rhymes & Records, held in the basement of The Jacaranda. Located on Slater Street in the Ropewalks area of Liverpool, I was unaware of the famous historical significance of The Jacaranda. This was because it was one of the early venues where The Beatles played, so the location was very intimate, as the audience were sat very close to the stage.

I had never previously been to Rhymes & Records or The Jacaranda, so I was surprised with the layout and design of the basement. As I stood on the stage reciting my poems, I felt the buzzing anticipation and warmth supportive feel of the audience, and my fellow poets. It was a wonderful and uplifting atmosphere, which is a very special feeling. An added bonus was that I even managed to thankfully avoid bumping my head against the low ceiling!

In addition, I was impressed with everyone who got on the stage to read out their poems. It takes courage for a person to stand in front of a microphone, and read out a poem they have written to an audience of strangers, especially when it has been written from the heart, and of a personal nature.

There were so many poems related to different subjects, which made the audience laugh, contemplate and cry. These included subjects such as past nostalgic times, as well as serious topics including mental health, LGBT issues and also about grief. This last subject was magnificently covered by Christina Thatcher, who was headlining the evening. Christina performed some poems from her book “More Than You Were”, related to her own personal experiences with grief, which she performed so beautifully, that I was mesmerised and emotionally moved by her performance.

In conclusion, Rhymes & Records was an excellent evening, and I would like to thank Lyndsay Price for organising and hosting the event. My thanks also go to Christina for sharing her wonderful poetry, all the poets who performed, and to the audience for their support.

I recommend Rhymes & Records for an entertaining evening of poetry, of which more details can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Personal Thoughts on 2016

2016 will be remembered for many things. From the European referendum, a new Conservative PM, party leadership wrangles, Donald Trump becoming the next US President, the perception of 2016 is of chaos, panic and serious worry. However, as I wrote about last month, it is important to retain perspective and appreciate the simple things in life.

Reflecting on the last twelve months, I feel satisfied with what I have experienced and achieved. This is because I have been through several experiences this year. Such examples include moving to a new IT role in LCC, taking part in a poetry slam, and running the Scouse 5k charity run. This has allowed me to push out of my comfort zone and learn new skills in the process, to grow personally and professionally.

I have also had the pleasure of attending many events. Examples include IFB2016, Weightmans, Downtown in Business, Professional Liverpool and others, where I have met, talked and listened to plenty of interesting people, from Liverpool and beyond. These include coaches, innovators, company directors, chief executives, marketeers, enthusiasts, artists, poets and other inspirational storytellers. It is has been delightful to listen, socialise and document my experiences in this blog. Therefore I wish to sincerely thank all who have inspired, encouraged and supported my blogging endeavours. Writing gives me great pleasure, and I am looking forward to publishing and sharing more in the future.

And what for 2017?

My intention is to continue pushing myself, by learning and growing to become the best I can be. This includes my work for LCC, my blog writing, poetry, helping others and devoting time to family and friends.

On a final note, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you all in 2017!

Radio City Scouse 5k – My Recollections

Last month, I mentioned why I was taking part in the Radio City Scouse 5k on my birthday. I am pleased to say, that I completed the run in less than 40 minutes, and raised £980.10 for Maghull Young Adults Social Club (MYASC).

Two years previously, I had done the Liverpool Santa Dash for charity. However this was even more special to me, because MYASC is a cause very close to my heart. As I reflect on my achievement, I feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment.

My experience of the Scouse 5k was great fun, with so many colourful wscouse5k_pic1igs, Scouse moustaches, blue skies and sunshine. This contributed to a carnival atmosphere, which excited me. Whilst the course was more difficult than I imagined (especially running up Brownlow Hill), and my red coloured wig kept sliding, I never wavered in my determination once. This was rewarded when I saw my mum and dad, at the finish.

As I approached the finish, I saw my dad speaking to the announcer, who then shouted “Happy Birthday” to me over the loudspeaker, as I crossed the finish line. My mum told me later on, that she was emotional and extremely proud too.

I would like to thank all of my family, friends, colleagues and everyone who not only sponsored me, but also for their good wishes and encouragement. This was not only special, but it is also one of the proudest achievements in my life, and I hope this gives encouragement to many others. This is because what I have done proves that disability is no barrier, to what an individual can achieve.

To conclude, I would like to say once again…

Thank you for all of your support!scouse5k_pic2