I started running over seven years ago with a running club, Forget the Gym. When questioned if I would ever think of doing a marathon, my answer was always the same. It seemed like it would be a great thing to do, but I didn’t think it was for me. I knew the time commitment involved in the training and I thought, surely there were better ways to spend your evenings than pounding the pavements for hours!

However, a friend I had met through running had returned from travelling and filled with enthusiasm she asked if I would join her in signing up for the Causeway Coast marathon. She wanted someone to do the challenge with her and I think that was the push I needed. It meant that I’d be helping someone else achieve their goal too. I liked the idea of having company and getting to know each other better over long runs!

My first long run out to Dun Laoghaire was amazing. I felt such a great sense of achievement in making the first step in the challenge. There were days when I thoroughly enjoyed the runs, taking pictures and chatting. There were other days that I struggled, especially on the last few kilometres or climbing hills. It was on those days, that the company from the others on the runs really mattered and helped me to get to the end.

I made sure to enjoy the training runs and the experience of being out in the long summer evenings, running in places that I wouldn’t normally be. I felt that I got to explore all along the coast of Dublin and even had some runs in Mayo and Offaly too to mix it up. I liked the variety and keeping it interesting; the idea of running around in loops didn’t really appeal to me!

As the marathon came closer, I was asked if I was collecting sponsorship. I had thought about it but I hadn’t picked a charity. I had heard about One In Four and the amazing work they do, helping people who had suffered abuse, and I really wanted to choose it as my charity. However, I was worried that people might not have heard of it. When I spoke to my partner, he reassured me that I should pick One in Four because I would be more passionate about raising money for it and that it is such charities that need the funding and publicity the most. So, I went and set up a fundraising page on Just Giving.

I got off to a great start with the page, and lots of donations came in from my friends and family. I even got a  donation from my two week old nephew with a message to wish his auntie good luck! In order to raise more funds I sent around a link to my page to my work colleagues and I was overwhelmed with the great support and donations that I got as a result. I rewarded them with cakes a few weeks after!

I found that talking to people about the marathon and sharing updates of my running on social media helped bring in more donations. I was delighted when the fundraising topped €1,000; I really couldn’t believe how generous people had been.

The weekend of the marathon arrived and I travelled to Antrim with others from my running group. Travelling there, chatting and laughing, I almost forgot that we had a marathon ahead of us! The day itself was amazing, the sun was shining and there were about 200 others at the start line.

The run was broken up with taking photographs, talking to the locals and visitors, and eating cake at the fuelling stops! I made sure to take in the beautiful scenery of the Antrim coast. At one of the water stops, we were told that the number of miles left was in single digits, and that was a great relief. As the finish line came into sight, it was a great feeling. It felt amazing, I was so proud of myself to have done it!

I feel a great sense of achievement, having run the marathon, raising money for One in Four and helping build awareness of the charity among my friends and family. As a result of the funds raised, other people who are struggling because of past abuse, will be able to get the help they need from One in Four. I even managed to inspire a few people to lace up their runners and get out for a run!

Having completed the Causeway Coast Marathon, my attention has now turned to the next challenge. I have already registered for two half marathons and a marathon this year, one of which will take place in the Alps! That will keep me busy for the next while for sure!!