The Finish Line… is Just The Start

On Sunday morning next week, I’ll be running around the streets of Dublin with a big balloon tied to me.

That’s because I’m one of the official pacers at the Dublin Marathon, where I’ll be keeping a steady pace and helping other runners get under their target time of  4hr 30 mins.

I ran my first marathon in Dublin in 2008 in 4 hrs and 28 mins, the time I now help others to achieve.

Back then, I said ‘never again’.
This will now be my 45th Marathon.

Years before that, I said ‘I couldn’t run’.

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That’s what I truly believed.
Until one year I was dared to run the women’s mini-marathon, a 10k race in Dublin.
Training for it was a serious struggle.

Then, one day I ran 10 minutes without stopping. I started to believe that just maybe I could do it.
Then, bit by bit, I ran a little more and walked a little less.
Then, I ran all of that 10k race, something I never believed possible.

I didn’t know it at the time but finishing that day was just the start.
I joined a running group, made new friends and started to enjoy it.
I began to get curious – what else was possible?

I’ve now run multiple marathons and ultra-marathons, one of my favourites being the Maurice Mullins Ultra, a lovely 51km race along the Wicklow Way.
I’ve been an official pacer for the last four Dublin Marathons, this will be my fifth.

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It’s not just about those achievements though. It’s all the other benefits that are really what have made a difference for me.
It’s meeting people, forming friendships, increasing my network.
It’s seeing beautiful places. I now love mountain and hill running and some of my favourite places to spend time is in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.

It’s the easily accessible method to de-stress and be mindful.
It’s being able to help others achieve their running goals.

It’s getting outside, any weather, all year round, enjoying nature, moving.
It’s the chats or being a listening ear, or on my own for some thinking time.

I got all of this because I changed my belief of “I can’t run”.

I’ve also learnt tools and strategies for life, like goal setting, planning & managing time.
After my first marathon, I learnt you could achieve something by putting the hard work in.
I’ve learnt to deal with nerves, doubts and disappointments as well as build resilience. On the bad run days, I take the learning from it and move on.
I’m better at recognising previous successes, look back over the training done and use this to tell myself ‘I can’.

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Challenge your beliefs and bring in curiosity…
I still have limiting beliefs, we all do, but I do know the story we tell about ourselves isn’t always true and is often what holds us back.

If I kept thinking ‘I’m not a runner’, I’d never have reached those achievements AND more importantly, had all the other benefits in my life.

Confidence, or lacking confidence, can come up often in coaching. We work on manageable steps to build up self-belief.

Reaching each of my milestones, literally one step at a time, my self-belief grew.
It’s not about ‘being confident’, it’s finding the way, in small steps, to allow yourself to try. Then the self-belief will come.

I’m not saying everyone should run. What I am saying is be curious and try different things out before you decide if you can do it or not.
You could be saying no to something that could add such value to your life.

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So now I get to toe the start line, with all the other pacers helping thousands of other runners achieve their marathon goals.
I’m there supporting in the thick of it, not just cheering from the side-lines.

As a marathon runner, I understand their fears and doubts but I also get excited for them.
I know the joy they’ll be feeling when they cross the finish line.


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