Áine’s Alternative First Marathon Story

Training for your first marathon is exciting, daunting and a once in a lifetime experience. When Áine Scanlon set out on her marathon journey, she never imagined how her expectation of the finish line might change. As a regular at our Clontarf running classes, Áine  had built up her distance gradually from 5k to half marathon. But 2020 she had decided was going to be the year of the marathon.

So keen was she to get a plan in place, I sat down with her last September to run through what it would take and how she should approach the winter of training. But even with a solid training plan and a dedicated student, things outside our control can happen which set us back. When Áine’s marathon plans had to change due to the pandemic, she decided to create her own alternative special day out with a marathon finish line at her garden gate.

Here is her story…

“I had registered for the Tralee Marathon which was due to take place on April 11th but was cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Following much disappointment, all was not lost as I spotted an opportunity to do my own virtual marathon within the parameters of my own home.

This was followed by much planning in terms of marking out a route that would stay within the recommended radius, having my Dad and sister whom I live with ready at hand with water and fuel at the end of each loop and being ready for any setbacks that I may encounter. The weather was another element I needed to take account of which meant I had to carefully select a day in which the temperatures were not too high or low to allow for optimum running. With all these practical elements in mind, one thing I needed to focus on more than anything was keeping myself motivated and determined that I would complete the marathon and cross the finish line.

I knew that with having all the training completed, I was physically fit and able to run the 26.2 miles but I needed to train my mind the same and visualise that I could conquer this massive feat.  Training for a marathon is very much a solo process so you become more resilient and confident in yourself and in your abilities. It is this resilience that carried me through the most enduring parts of the marathon and enabled me to persist and prevail.

I remember that very morning over a May weekend when I set off, despite not having the buzz and adrenaline of the crowds and other participants around me, I remember feeling even more energised and even emotional at what I was about to do.

I had never done a marathon before and doing my first one on my own was certainly nerve racking but a challenge I was ready for. As I got into the rhythm of the run, I kept reminding myself how far I had come to keep myself motivated and with each mile behind me I was getting closer and closer to the finish line. As I reached mile 18 I began to hit the so-called ‘wall’ and this was my biggest stumbling block along the way. I was tired and hot but determined nonetheless and as I saw my watch hit the mile 20 mark, I knew that I was on the home stretch at that point.

Although I was starting to feel the impact of those 20 miles on my body I remember smiling running those last six miles. It was then that it really hit me, the dream I was witnessing come to fruition right before my eyes. A feeling of sheer pride and joy took over and I couldn’t believe what I was about to achieve. As I entered into the last mile it took me down the hill towards my house from where I had started hours earlier.

It was sunny, the wind was blowing in my face and below at the finish line I could see my Dad and sister waving and cheering me on. A wave of energy came over me and I ran as fast as I could towards the line, my hands waving in the air and I broke through it with an outrageous ‘Whohoooooooo!!!!!!’I did it, I had run my first marathon and had done it on my own. 


I can’t put into words how I felt crossing that finish line but it’s a feeling I will never forget. I still look back at the video my sister took of me crossing the line and it brings me right back to that incredible and momentous event in my life.”

‘Buíochas mór le Dia, tá gaisce déanta agam!’

Áines Tip : For anyone else who was training for a marathon, half-marathon or 10km and is thinking about doing their own virtual race I would say do it! From my experience of doing my own, whilst it’s not the same as a normal race it comes pretty close and if anything is even more special than any race you’ll ever take part in.

If you are tempted to create your own personal marathon finish line, come join Mary at ForgetTheGym for our marathon coaching programme for Summer 2020. We may not have the big city race finish lines but we do have an an opportunity to create a summer, and a finish line,  to remember. Starts mid June 2020.

See all our Summer 2020 Plans