Tuesday 24 March 2015

My First Marathon

by Niamh Dorgan
When I was a young girl I loved running.  At our school sports days I would have been very competitive and I would throw off my shoes and socks so I could run faster, sometimes I won and sometimes I didn’t but I was always told it was about taking part and not the winning but if I didn’t win I would be very upset!  As I got older my interests changed and running was the furthest thing from my mind
Jumping forward many years running came back into my life again, more by necessity than love. My boyfriend and I got engaged and of course after getting engaged comes a wedding so instantly once the date was set I was determined to lose some weight!  I did a bit of research on how to lose weight and found that running was one of the key elements to successful weight loss.  I knew a lot depended on my success, so I had to become organised, committed and not to be afraid of the hard work that lay ahead.
During my weight loss program I started to love running, I had a great sense of freedom, not just physically but mentally too, when I ran I didn’t think about the hustle and bustle of daily life, I only thought about me and my run, how far can I run today and how fast can I do it in.
I joined the local running club, Midleton Athletic Club and I started to register for 5k, 10k, 10 mile road races and to me the elusive Cork to Cobh 15 mile.  Never in a million years had I ever thought of running from Cork to Cobh, usually getting the train or driving was the only way of getting there.  When the day came around I did it, I couldn’t believe it, when I crossed the line my elation was indescribable.  Physically this was the hardest thing I had ever done but the absolute joy of completing it was amazing.
Then one day my sister said “I think you have a marathon in you”.  Initially I thought not a chance but then as time passed by and I thought about it more, I considered the actual prospect of doing a Marathon!  To be honest, I am a bit of a starter and stopper, start something with gusto and then stopping with equal vengeance so hence never finishing anything.  So did I have it in me to commit to running a marathon?  Who was stopping me only me, myself and I.  After discussing it with my husband and with his full support, I finally took the plunge and registered for the Dublin City Marathon.  To start I downloaded a training program from the internet and so the training started.  I had so much support from family, friends and the club.  I followed the program religiously and also did a few half marathon races as part of the training.  I remember doing the Killarney Half Marathon crossing the line completely wrecked and thinking if I was doing a marathon I would only be half way there.  So the element of doubt started to creep in.  Then I injured myself on one of my training runs so that pushed me back a bit.  I went to my physio and she told me she was determined to get me to the marathon.  Following her instruction I had to rest and of course that was very difficult to do, as I always had it in the back of my mind how much time I was wasting by not doing my training and would this affect my overall goal of completing the marathon!  Thankfully 3 weeks before the big event I was back in action.
The weekend of the marathon finally arrived and my husband and I hit the road early the day before. We headed to the Marathon Expo at the RDS where I collected my race pack.  It was amazing to see all like-minded people in the queue who essentially were striving for the same goal, to run and finish the marathon successfully but all in our own good time.
On the morning of the marathon I headed to the start about an hour before kick-off, you could see all the different emotions on everyone’s face, nervous, focused, excited and happy.  Now I was hoping to complete the marathon in approximately 4 hours but I didn’t want to get caught up with the time thing as it was my first marathon and you just never know how it is going to go so I tried to think more about enjoying it and finishing it in any time.
Once the start was sounded we all headed off together.  From the word go there was unbelievable support throughout the streets of Dublin.  My family members were at different spots throughout the course which made a huge difference to me mentally.  Just to hear your name being cheered really does drive you on.  I have to say to my amazement the first 20 miles passed without a second thought and thankfully I did not hit the famous wall but I did get very tired around mile 23. The last 3.2 miles were definitely the hardest without a doubt but the last 500 meters was phenomenal, there were hundreds of people lining the streets cheering, a truly amazing experience. (I am getting emotional just thinking of it)  Once I crossed the line I just couldn’t believe I had done it. I HAD RUN MY FIRST MARATHON!
I am very proud to say I completed it in 4 hours 3 minutes.  I would highly recommend anyone thinking of running a marathon, it is an amazing experience and for me definitely one to do again.