A friend suggested that we should run the Marathon raising much needed funds for Aiséirí. This had been a lifelong ambition and I had participated in small runs before but never any longer than 10 kilometres.
I was full of enthusiasm and was anxious to get out on the road, maybe a little too eager. On the first day I planned to run ten miles and twenty miles by the end of the week! It wasn't long before I realised that my plan would not work, and it soon left me exhausted, I began to wonder: was this challenge too big?
My daughter made out a programme of training for beginners, which she had sourced on the Internet. It involved timing and distance, building pace and strength slowly and steadily over the months. When I first read it I didn't think the programme suited me. I thought I was already fit enough to skip the first month but my family convinced me to stick rigidly to the programme, quite literally, I had to walk before I could run.
At first I didn't understand why I must do the things suggested and do things the way I would like to do them. Just like I followed Aiséirí plan for success, I was quickly seeing the same results for my marathon training as each day I grew stronger.
With less than three weeks to go to the big day an accident left me with an injured leg, I was devastated! Fearing the dream was at an end how could I be fit in time, my physiotherapist, Damien said if I do as he suggested I would make it. I had to slow down, rest the leg and do nothing for a couple of weeks. Yet again I had to follow someone else's suggestions and for the first time in my life I was left with hours to fill, doing nothing but rest. It was probably the hardest part of the training while the hours and days passed so slowly.
Running long distances left me with a lot of time to think. One night in February, when the evenings were dark a thought entered my head. Training for a marathon reminded me of my early days in recovery from alcoholism.
Only three days before the race Damien told me to stop using crutches and I walked slowly testing the leg, it was still sore. My confidence was very low I really didn't think I could make it, but Damien thought differently!
The race day had arrived, I was in Dublin. As I put my foot to the floor, I felt a slight twinge but nothing that could stop me at least starting the race. I met my friend for a light breakfast and some last minute arrangements. He had kindly offered to stay with me regardless of whether I needed to walk, or even stop. This gesture gave me strength and I felt if I could get over the first few miles I would make it!
Once I began running there was no real pain. I felt stronger with every mile and was really enjoying this marvellous occasion. The miles passed very quickly and soon we were half way there being carried along on the good will and excitement of our fellow runners. It was also great to feel the support of friends and family, arriving at the finish line is a feeling I will never forget.
The Marathon taught me that when I listened to plans that were intended to help me I was able to succeed. Without these plans, I believe I would not have run the marathon. To have a plan you must also accept this help and support being offered. This is what Aiséirí had done for me during my recovery and I would like to thank my family also for helping me to complete the many tests of endurance I have had to face and the 18 marathons I have completed since.