The Part-Time Running Years (Part 2)

(End of the longest training run leading up to the Belfast Marathon 2014)

Following on from Steven’s previous article…

Now that I was starting to set targets for myself, I began to run more and more; and I enjoyed running parkrun on a Saturday morning with my daughters. When I was on the bowling green, I often found I was day dreaming of heading out the gate and going for a run!

I had lost my Dad in 2010, and with the common pressures of work and family, it became more and more the case that bowls was only adding to them instead of being a release from them… whereas running was the opposite.

As I said previously, the need to focus on stride etc. rests the mind. I also loved the camaraderie amongst the runners… I had joined Springwell running club and was so appreciative of how inclusive and encouraging they were, even those who were, and still are, way beyond my capabilities.

I was/am also prone to being an over-thinker, but even in the part-time running years, as mentioned, setting my sights on a 2 hour half for example, meant I had finally found a way to give my brain a rest. If, at ANY time, I felt my mind begin to wander onto things that would be stressful or lower my mood – often things that I had NO control over – I developed an ability to switch my mind to thoughts of my next training schedule/ target/ race etc. – things that I felt I had TOTAL control over – and therefore had a great calming influence; because in running I believe you get what you put in. You can set yourself a target and just go for it.

Not long after the inaugural Belfast half marathon (2013) I was speaking to a Springwell Running Club clubmate. She was a keen ultra runner at the time and of course I expressed my amazement at her achievements, stating “I couldn’t even run a marathon!”… at the time I was still struggling to complete a half… but she insisted “I think you could!”

For her to have this confidence in my ability was so encouraging to me, it’s something I respond well to, in any walk of life… So I thought “Ok, if she thinks I can, maybe I can”… a few days later I entered the Belfast marathon 2014.

So in January 2014 my training began, I built the miles up slowly and managed around 21 miles as my longest run, finishing with the Portrush parkrun, where my youngest daughter (at just 6 years old!) ran with me the whole 5km to help me finish. I loved that!

On the day I ran comfortably to around 16/17 miles as it was in training, but the rest was a struggle, when I reached the Ormeau bridge at around 24 miles I had to stop, then came instant shooting pains up my back causing me to lean against the railings just to stay on my feet. Thankfully, a spectator came over to see if I was Ok… his genuine concern encouraged me to get going again, I walked/ran up the Ormeau road and from the turn onto the Ravenhill road I ran all the way to the finish; chip time – 4hrs 51 mins… for a first marathon I was happy to finish under 5 hours.

For the next year my running continued in the same pattern, training off and on and entering the odd race, until another change in career, in Spring 2015, forced my hand… I had to give up bowls and decided to focus on running, though in many ways I was glad, and looking forward to seeing how far I could really go!