Sinead’s Story

Sinead joined our Beginners Running Classes 2 years ago. From her first class of 1 minute jogs right up to completing the Dublin Marathon in 2012 she has surprised even herself with her determination, focus and hardwork. In her own words ‘It made me realise ‘I cant’ does not belong in my vocabulary.

A marathon you say? How far is that? This was me in January 2011. I had no concept of how far a marathon was, I knew it was far and could take hours to finish but sure only really fit and (crazy) fast people do them, right?

Bank holiday weekend October 2011, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. Never before have I ever felt so much determination to follow through with something. I joined Forget The Gym beginners running class that year and had done a couple of 10k races. I had a year to do this. I was going to do the Dublin City Marathon 2012!!

I am in no way slim, fit or fast so the reality soon hit that this is going to be tough but reading blogs of other marathoners helped me believe that I could do it too. I managed to talk others into it too and told everyone I was going to do it, so I knew I couldn’t back out and let others down.

Marathon Build Up I started training in June following Marys programme, who better to take the advice of than someone who has done over 30 marathons and a couple of ultra marathons on her days off! Marys programme was excellent, it was easy to follow and of course everything is at your own pace. I loved to fill out my training log after each run.

I did a lot of research myself also, reading blogs, finding out what to wear, to eat, how much rest to get, when to train, when not to train, what to listen to, how to avoid injury. I was a slight bit obsessed at times, it was all I talked about, I was lucky to have people around me who would ask and listen about my training and I liked to hear about their training too. We were training for the same thing but each one of us had a different story to tell. I found great tips on YouTube and my newsfeed on Facebook was full of running pages with more tips and motivation. If I hadnt done so much research I doubt I would have enjoyed the whole experience as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot of tough days, some runs were good and some were bad but I got out there and did them. I was in the Phoenix Park by 9am every Saturday getting my long run in and my God they were LONG. It was just myself and my music for the majority of these runs, I was used to running on my own so I didn’t mind so much but if you don’t listen to music it can be hard to stay out that long on your own. I always knew there was Running Chicks around the park getting their training in and I got to know the same runners that would be out on a Saturday morning. I am not always a fan of breakfast, I would rather the extra 5 min in bed but I made sure I had scrambled eggs (for the first time) on toast and some fruit. Then just before heading out the door I’d run a cold bath to hop into when I got back, still haven’t been able to try an ice bath but the cold baths really helped and started to look forward to them in a strange masochistic way, then I could enjoy the rest of my weekend and truly have a day of rest on Sunday.

One thing I wish I had done different was how hard I was on myself mentally, especially after a long run. I gave myself a hard time, mostly because I was slow and had negative thoughts about getting through the training but they were just coming from myself. No one I know ever questioned me (although I questioned my own sanity all the time) and I got great encouragement from family and friends. Usually by Sunday I would realise that I had got through my long run and was one step closer to my 26.2 miles. Then Id go do it all again the following week. Each week I was running further than I had ever run before so it got very emotional.

There was many tears shed in the 17 weeks training, for happiness, sadness, disappointment, for being proud, out of pain or just for the hell of it. I had heard of a lot of runners getting laid up with various injuries but fortunately I didn’t have any of that, the worst was sore knees in the longer runs but as soon as i stopped running it was gone and the chaffing. I tried many preventatives but nothing really worked, but if that was all I had to worry about then I was happy to suffer. I did think training for a marathon would help me shift some weight but I learned the hard way it doesn’t work like that at all. I had lost 2 stone but got to a standstill when training started. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

What inspired me the most was volunteering at the 2011 Dublin City marathon, 2 days at the RDS and then on race day at the water station in the Phoenix Park. I met so many amazing people, all doing this for their own reasons. There was young, old, fat, thin, blind people and disabled people. They were all doing a marathon, why can’t I? I wanted to be able to say I did a marathon that’s what kept me going all those months. I wanted the finishers photo. I wanted a marathon medal!

On the Saturday before the marathon i decided to volunteer again at the marathon expo, it was such a great day. There was such a great buzz around the place and picking up my race number made it all the more real. By then I had gotten to know more runners from doing my research so recognised a few and picked up some words of wisdom from the experts.

Race Day So when 29th October came around I was so excited, I think I had got all my nerves out of the way in the months before after my long runs. It wasn’t just about doing one run on a cold Monday morning, it had been the 5 months of training, thats what gets you to the starting line ready to go. The feelings and thoughts I had on race day are hard to describe, as I experienced so many. The first half of the race was good, I enjoyed it and felt strong, it was busy around me but after halfway mark things got very quiet on the streets and it became very lonely. People have said the Dublin marathon is one of the friendliest and most supportive marathons but when your good pace is a 15 min mile, the support tends to disappear. I knew it would be like this from being at the back of other races but this was not going to stop me. My parents were at the top of Roebuck Road with supplies and a cheer for me, when my Mam seen me, she asked if I wanted to stop. It was probably the one thought that hadn’t crossed my mind all day, I was finishing no matter what. If i was able to stand, I was able to walk. I was so glad I met a lady called Mandy who was same pace as me, we did the 2nd half of the marathon together and if I hadn’t had her there it would have been tougher to finish. We finished together (I shuffled towards that line) and I will be forever grateful to her for her support that day. It was dark as we got to the finish line and a bittersweet end as they had ran out of medals and t shirts BUT I did a marathon.

If you are thinking of doing a race, be it a 5k, 10k or a marathon I would definitely recommend volunteering at a race, you get to see the other side of things and appreciate how much effort is put in, a lot by people helping out in their free time. If you can’t get to volunteer then get out there and watch a few races and cheer runners on, it always helps them. Even watch highlights of some on YouTube. One of the things I wanted from doing the marathon was to finish wanting to do another one and i did that. I plan to do Dublin again this year, I want to knock a chunk off my time and finally drop the weight.

No doubt that I will be signing up for Marys 2nd marathon programme for this years marathon, I cant wait, hopefully I will see you there 🙂

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