I had never dreamt that I could ever run 26.2 miles. This was such a mammoth task. It was my first Marathon and I was the first and only Irish runner for CRY.
The great event started at 8.30am, on a cold Bank Holiday Monday morning on 30th October 2000. This was the 21st Dublin City Marathon and 8,625 runners ran through the scenic suburbs of Ireland’s capital city.
In August I heard an advertisement on 98FM-radio station that they were looking for participants to run in the Marathon in October.
Immediately, I decided I was going to do the run and I wanted to do it for a personal charity, CRY. It is personal as my cousin, Peter Greene, died at 15 years of age, four years ago, of an undetected heart problem within hours of showing symptoms. I wanted to do this race in memory of Peter, and his cheery outlook on life. He was very much involved in sports and was the captain of the school rugby team.
I knew that once I told Marie Greene, (his mum), that I would run the Marathon for CRY that I would definitely set my mind to the personal challenge and I was determined to complete it.
As I had only decided to run the race last August I started to train extensively for two and a half-hours every day for the next 2 months. I joined an Athletic Club and ran with them regularly. Paddy Craddock trained me and gave me advice and continuous encouragement. Paddy is an experienced runner, this being his 37th marathon. I also joined 2 walking clubs, an aerobics class, swam, walked and ran every day. I did some research on the best food, the best stretch etc, and had to purchase the proper road running Marathon shoes, shorts and dri-fit running vest. With all the training, no alcohol, loads of advice from the professionals, long list of the low-fat/high energy foods to eat, I prepared myself for the Marathon day.
I put a lot of hard work in to looking for sponsors. A big thanks to Marie & Michael Greene who prepared a support letter, which I sent to many people explaining about the charity and seeking sponsorship funds. I spoke to people about Sudden Death Syndrome and raised awareness of the cause. From that a huge amount of money was raised for a great cause, hopefully for a pilot project to bring a mobile screening unit to Ireland to detect early diagnosis of heart conditions in the young.
I know all the hard work is worth it. I am touched by the kindness of all my sponsors. The week before the race a raffle was organised at work, my office manager donated the prizes, to raise extra funds for CRY. Due to the excellent prizes the response was fantastic. £343.00 was raised, everybody was so generous. I received a huge amount of Good Luck letters, e-mails and telephone calls, which I really appreciated. With all the encouragement from my friends I trained even harder. I was so excited (my stomach was wibbly wobbly) and really looking forward to my run.
Now it was time to prepare myself mentally for the day. I enjoyed a massage and relaxed as best I could. The day before I walked a few miles, ate no fruit and stocked up on isotonic drinks, sugar, pasta, vegetables and salmon the night before.At last the “Big Hype” was over and the day had finally arrived.
I had to eat my breakfast 3 hours before running (5.30am!) and smother myself in Vaseline. My dad drove me into the city centre and I was a bag of nerves. I ran with Ruby, from Singapore. This was her 15th Marathon. The starting line being The Four Courts on Arran Quay. The atmosphere was electric, and everybody anxious to start, there was a bit of fun when someone started the Mexican wave. Over half the runners were foreigners, mostly Americans and Canadians and were really in a holiday mood. The gun fired at 8.30am and it took us 7 minutes to cross the starting line. We had promised each other that we would start and finish together. We kept that promise and never lost sight of each other. I had trained with Ruby and throughout the race we had kept a steady pace, running at 5 miles an hour and thinking positive. We motivated each other.
Soon the nerves subsided and I got on with what I had worked so hard for. Unfortunately, it started to rain and it only cleared up for a while. The crowd of supporters that were throughout the race was amazing especially the Americans who were shouting “Good job”, “Keep going”, “Well done”, “Need a rub”. What kept us entertained were the cheerleaders and the other runners dressed in costume. I enjoyed crossing the 15th mile marker knowing that I had run more than half the race and that I was getting nearer and nearer to the finish. I had only trained up to 15 miles and I knew that I would be struggling beyond that on the day, I was right. I only had to walk a mile of the race, as my knees were very painful. Ruby and I kept each other going throughout the race, as we chewed Jelly Babies, Mars bars and drank isotonic drinks!
At times I had a tear in my eye (not just with pain) as I thought of the reason why I was running. I also knew that CRY would be financially better off with all the money that I raised. All morning my supporters chased from one venue to another appearing at various points along the route. I could see the red CRY balloons in the distance and cheers “Come on Susie, keep going”. My supporters kept in contact with each other by mobile phone reporting where I was and how I was doing. I was determined to complete the race.
The last 4 miles were the worst ever, I was really struggling as I thought I would never see the finish line. I was absolutely delighted when I saw my supporters at the 22-mile marker and thrilled when I saw my cousin, Kenneth Greene, running beside me for the last 4 miles carrying the CRY balloons and my drink. He encouraged me to keep running when I thought I had no more energy left. Kenneth is Peter’s brother so it was apt that he would finish it with me, it was also unplanned.
As I headed into Smithfield, it began to rain again, the supporters were lining the finish area, and it was an exhilarating feeling. I successfully completed a 26.2 mile run and the adrenaline flowed. When I crossed the line with Kenneth, still carrying the red balloons, I was so overwhelmed that I had done it. Peter’s face flashed across my mind. I was so happy to finish especially when I saw my family waiting for me. It was wonderful, I felt proud. It was such an achievement for me, I would recommend it to anyone, once in a life time experience and one I will never forget. I owe a Big Thank You to my team of supporters. I thoroughly enjoyed the day.
I will always cherish the commemorative plaque that I received after the race. Needless to say I really enjoyed a long hot soak in a bath, followed by a celebration party with my family and my massage the next day. My legs were quite sore up to the 4th day after the race. I can say that I once ran the same race as Irish Olympic Silver Medal winner Sonia O’Sullivan. A goal I achieved for the Millennium year. At 31 years of age my dream became a reality.
MY TIME: 5 HOURS: 23 MINUTES: 5 SECONDS
RECEIVED: £3,757 FOR CRY A BIG THANKS TO ALL SPONSORS