Fiona Dowling tells us how she went from never running to completing the Dublin City Marathon. Here’s her inspirational story of how you really can do anything if you put your mind to it.
My parkrun story started back in early 2018. My mam and I used to walk through Rivervalley park on a Saturday morning to go to the shops and pick up the papers.
While going that way we always saw the parkrunners heading towards the finish line or some starting their second lap.
A couple of weeks later we signed up and went down and did our first parkrun. It was lovely to meet all the gang; the core group in Rivervalley Pete, Andy, Brian, Margaret, Deirdre etc all made me feel so welcome.
I initially couldn’t run a lot of the course at all, as I had asthma and needed my inhaler.
I did a couple of parkruns between January and March but fell off the wagon when I joined a gym and then came back after the summer. When I restarted doing the parkruns again I found I enjoyed them more and went up to the club for a coffee with the gang after.
In October 2018 my cousin Pauline and her husband came over from New York to run in the Dublin City Marathon and we went to support them and cheer them on. Out there we met a group of women the Sloggers to Joggers running group and I recognised some of them from the parkruns.
I said to mam I wanted to do the marathon before I was 50, and 3 weeks later I told mam I had signed up for the 40th Dublin City Marathon.
Now I kept up doing the parkruns on the Saturdays over the winter and started doing a run around swords mid week. During the parkruns I met Aine McLaughlin who was in the Sloggers To Joggers and I told her I had signed up for DCM.
After the new year she rang me to say The Sloggers for Joggers were doing “bring a friend for February” and invited me to be her buddy.
parkrun started me on a running journey which only continued with their support and the support of Sloggers to Joggers. They started with couch to 5k , 5k to 10k and so on so forth.
I went from strength to strength with running. Being part of 2 groups that I started at 5ks then did the 10k night runs, building up slowly doing 10k and then a few half marathons and I ran my first DCM in 2019.
If someone had asked me 5 years ago would I ever see myself doing a marathon I know I would have said no way but now I can honestly say I believe that if you put your mind to anything you can do it.
Looking back over the last 2 years now I still find it hard to believe that not only did I run 2019 DCM I did the 2020 KBC DCM virtual marathon and this all started from doing parkruns in 2018.
Healthwise, my asthma has improved through the running and I feel happier and healthier. And I went from running with two knee supports on to none.
I can honestly say that this all happened from going out to do the first parkrun. It introduced me to a love of running and the community of runners and running groups that are out there.
It doesn’t matter if you have never run before because you are making that decision to go.
You will love the camaraderie and community spirit at the parkrun and if you believe in yourself it’s amazing what you can achieve.
It doesn’t cost you anything to go on a parkrun and the friends you make are friends for life.
Another great thing about parkrun is that we all start our run together and no one is left behind at the end. Everyone is there to cheer you on going over the finish line in the parkrun and the volunteer Tail Walker always ensures that they are the last person through the finish.
I miss doing the parkruns and the chats and trying to get up the hill in one go and all going well we will please god see you all back in 2021 for the real parkruns all over Ireland and beyond.
Name: John & Liz O’Dwyer Age: 52 & 53 Occupation: Airport Security & Housewife Local parkrun: Father Collins Number of parkruns completed: 51 & 57 How did you get involved in parkrun? I’ve been doing them on and off for years since Malahide Parkrun started and did a few in St Anne’s. I got…
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