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Running for Rimrose: Tracey's Story

My Rimrose Story, by Tracey Boileau

Although I’d done quite a lot of Race4Life 5k runs for several years, I’d never classed myself as a runner and didn’t enjoy running but I did love taking part and the sense of all being in it together. I had occasionally thought it would be a good idea to take up running more seriously but just as quickly dismissed it.

The Rimrose Runners. Tracey Boileau (far left)

As I approached my 50th birthday I was struggling to manage my weight and I was about to become a Nan. I wanted to be fit enough to play with my grandchild and I wanted to be a “glamorous granny” so I decided I needed to increase my exercise. I decided to do a “Couch to 5K” (C25K) and then do another Race4Life race, this time as a runner. I also applied to Mind, the mental health charity, for a charity place in the London Marathon 2014 – well, you’ve got to have a goal haven’t you!

In March 2013 I went over to Rimrose Valley first thing on a very frosty, chilly morning for my first run. It was freezing cold but the mist across the Valley was enchanting and took my mind off what I was about to do (a little bit anyway). I thought my phone was broken when I’d been running for ages and my C25K app was only showing a minute; surely it was at least 10 minutes by now! I’d decided to run in the Valley because I didn’t want anybody to see me. I was bright red, gasping for breath and exhausted but running was surprisingly exhilarating. The C25K programme is three runs a week gradually building from 1 minute running and 1.5 minutes walking, repeated 8 times up to 5 minutes, then 8 minutes running. I religiously stuck to the programme come hail, rain or shine and still remember feeling amazing after doing my first 20 minute non-stop run.

I never regretted having gone out for a run but it was often a chore to go out in the first place. When I started running it was a means to an end, getting fitter and slimmer, so I was determined to carry on. I still wasn’t ready to run on the roads but in truth I didn’t want to anyway; I was discovering little trails and paths to explore in the Valley, watching the trees budding, hearing the birdsong, spotting wildlife emerging after the winter. As I was running for longer, so my distances increased and I got to see more and more of Rimrose Valley. One morning I was out running very early in the morning, the weather was getting warmer and the Valley was so calm and tranquil. I suddenly realised that it was no longer a chore – I had caught the running bug and I was loving it!

' I was discovering little trails and paths to explore in the Valley'

I completed the C25K and my first Race4Life as a runner, pretty pleased with myself for running 5k non-stop. In the October I received a phone call from Mind asking me if I was still interested in running the London Marathon for them. I was so shocked and stunned when they offered me a place and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry knowing that in just over 12 months I’d be going from starting the C25K to being a marathon runner.

I had chosen Mind as the charity I wanted to run for as I had previously suffered from depression on and off for many years. One of the benefits of running is the endorphins or happy hormones that are released and create “runners high”. Combined with running in the beautiful, peaceful greenery of Rimrose Valley, I had seen my mental health improve dramatically over the months and even though I had outgrown Rimrose in terms of the mileage I was running as part of my training for the London Marathon, I started every run in the Valley and went on from there. Running the London Marathon was one of the best experiences of my life and I loved every minute of it.

Fast forward 4 years and due to family circumstances I hadn’t been able to run for over 2 years but wanted to get back into it. I half-heartedly did a bit of running on my own but struggled to find the drive and passion I’d once had for it. I’d gone from running a marathon to not being able to complete a 5k and found it difficult to accept that I’d have to start all over again. Happily for me, Rimrose Runners launched in March 2018 and it was just what I needed to get me running again; being part of a group of people that I didn’t want to let down gave me the commitment I needed to fall in love with running all over again. Joining Rimrose Runners on the C25K again and steadily progressing every week was fantastic. The run leaders, Sarah and Sonia, perfectly complement each other with their very different but equally passionate approaches to coaching and the other runners are all so supportive of each other.

I’m quite a goal-oriented person and I wanted to have something to aim for so I entered the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon and decided I would do it to raise funds for the Rimrose Valley campaign against the road proposed to be built right through its heart by Highways England. This time I got myself a running coach I’d met through Rimrose Runners, ran over 300 miles in training and set myself a target of raising £1000 which I am delighted to have achieved.

Rimrose Valley has been a vital element of my physical and mental health and well-being and I am passionate about preserving this beautiful, natural environment for my 5 year old grandson, Charlie, to enjoy as much as I do as he grows up. Charlie regularly runs at Junior Parkrun sporting his Rimrose Runners t-shirt and has completed the equivalent of a half marathon. He is starting the C25K with his Grandad soon and I hope we’ll all be running together in Rimrose Valley for years to come.

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