Thursday 14 December 2017

I can't believe I'm saying this now but I think my first marathon won't be my last

IT'S 8AM, and fitness guru Karl Henry is giving me some last-minute advice -- start slow and then get going properly after five miles.

It was finally starting to sink in -- was I really about to walk 26.2 miles?

Six hours earlier, I had begun to question my own sanity -- never mind my ability to complete the Dublin City Marathon.

I'm an early riser so I had lots of time to consider how I was going to get through it all.

But the reality of the situation was that with €2,000 in the bag for my charity of choice, Cheeverstown House in Templeogue, there was no chance I'd shame my family by letting all the people who had sponsored me down.

So after a mini crisis it was into the shower and then into the sports gear.

I signed up for this after a savvy PR for Spar read a column in which I wrote that I love walking. They contacted me, asked me to be a 'Sparathon', got adidas to send me suitable attire and gave me a consultation with Karl Henry and nutritionist Paula Mee.

I did the half-marathon some weeks back -- but now it was time to focus on the real challenge.

Right from the off, I didn't clock-watch at all and before you could say "Run Forrest Run" I was half-way there.

I took three calls from a radio station, as well as calls from family and friends along the route -- and it is quite amazing how a simple 'keep going, we're proud of you' can egg you on towards the finish line.

Before I started to flag I somehow hooked up with two lads called Damien and Paul.

Damien was a fellow marathon virgin while yesterday was Paul's fourteenth race.

This happened to me during the half marathon too -- as I was about to start walking very, very slow two other lads adopted me and got me to the finish line. Marathons really are an amazing experience and everybody who takes part keeps an eye out for other participants.

So yesterday our little trio crossed the finishing line together and had a group hug -- we had completed in just over six-and-a-half hours.

I'm totally knackered from the walking and the build up to this day but it is a nice kind of tired.

So many people turn out to cheer you on -- and they are total strangers which just goes to show you that no matter how bad things have become economically we still have big hearts here in Ireland.

The marathon raises so much for charity and also generates over €10m each year for local firms.

I'll be aching for a few more days but the main thing is that I got the medal -- I haven't received one of those since my sprinting days in the Community Games.

I always thought that everyone had one marathon in them -- but I can definitely see myself signing up for this experience again. Mad but true.

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