Local business owner Michele Walters of Love Life Eat Cake is training to run her first half marathon in Manchester this weekend.
I've known Michele for a number of years now and until very recently (during the pandemic), it was well known amongst Michele's friends that she 'hated walking' and would use her car for the shortest of trips.
During the pandemic last year, Michele's cake artistry business was forced to shut its doors as weddings and birthdays were halted, but with her husband Pete, they started to enjoy walks together with their beloved late dog Oreo for fresh air during lockdown.
Michele and Pete enjoyed their newfound love of the outdoors so much that they began walking to new locations and longer distances, including discovering beautiful walks of Rutland like Brooke Hill Wood for the first time since moving to Oakham 12 years ago.
Inspired by the outdoors and wanting to challenge herself to focus on something new with the stress and worries of her work life being turned upside down by the pandemic, Michele downloaded the 'Couch to 5K' app.
Once Michele completed her 'Couch to 5K' goal, that was it! Michele was hooked on setting herself more challenges and the next step was 'Couch to 10K' - and so on!
Once Michele completed the 10K goal, that's where her love of running really began and in just over a year, Michele has competed in over thirty 5-10km virtual running challenges and races and has an impressive medal collection to show for it, on some of which she was joined by fellow local business owner runners, Anna Hughes of Anna Margaret Art and Nikki Loomes of Lola Rose Venue Dressing.
The Manchester Half Marathon (on 10th October 2021) will be the first physical event that Michele has competed in and has decided to run the race for local charity, For Rutland.
For Rutland is a local charity who raise funds to support advisers at Citizens Advice Rutland who advise people of all ages living with long-term health conditions in the area.
Michele has supported For Rutland for the past four years by donating cakes for raffles and events and is now running half a marathon to help support them further via a JustGiving donation page.
Michele's running ambitions don't stop here, with her running coach and strict training and nutrition plan, Michele's end goal is ultra-marathons and plans to run a full marathon at a race in April (2022) and then ultra-marathons by 2023.
Michele's running journey (which she shares on Facebook and Instagram, @OakMich) has inspired others, including myself. I've recently been so impressed with all Michele's achievements that she has inspired me to download the 'Couch to 5K' app and take up running myself.
With her days of 'hating walking' well and truly behind her, Michele's love of running helped her find focus and purpose on difficult days during the tough months for the wedding industry in 2020 and Michele said 'running really helped my mental health'.
Running is escapism for Michele who runs whilst listening to audiobooks in colourful running gear around Oakham. But running hasn't always been bright and breezy for as she's suffered two bad falls whilst out running, injuring her lip and chin, ending up in A&E which knocked her confidence.
As a determined character, Michele pushed herself to get 'straight back out there' after her trips to A&E and ran away the fears after her falls, inspired by the quote: “Mirror mirror on the wall I’ll always get up after I fall. And whether I run, walk or have to crawl I’ll set my goals and achieve them all”.
Michele advises everyone to give running a try, surprised by her new love of exercise Michele cannot recommend the 'Couch to 5K/10K' apps enough and encourages everyone to explore the outdoors on foot.
With the half marathon just around the corner, Michele just hopes to enjoy the race and take in the atmosphere and the event as a whole and run over the finish line. Michele is hoping to complete the race in 2.5 hours, but isn't putting 'too much pressure' on herself with timings and just wants to enjoy the experience saying she's '51 and can run 20+km without stopping and that is enough, for now!'.
Wishing Michele all the luck for her first half marathon on Sunday 10th October and if you would like to show your support by donating via Michele's donation page to help raise funds for For Rutland, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Micheles-Manchester-Half-Marathon