Ok I admit, I genuinely think Dermot just expected me to stop by for a few minutes as an odd example of what can be achieved when you put your mind to it. Ok I did go from not being able to run, to running a marathon within less than a year. To some people inspirational, to others completely mad. However I am sure it was to prove to the group that within the next 6 weeks, they could achieve the 5k distance.
Though although I was meant to be just passing, Caitriona and I stayed for the whole session and stuck at the back where we are always most comfortable and that began 6 weeks of sharing in the experience of getting these terrified but determined runners to 5k. Read about the night it all began, here.
As the weeks went on, everyone began to settle into the routine and week on week they pushed themselves that bit further. Of course Caitriona and I where always there to brighten the occasion. Week 2 seen the addition of Hugh to the coaching line up and I am sure seeing the familiar faces of the now rightly named “craic at the back” was a nice touch to his first session with the group.
Week 3 I was already very aware at this stage that those who had been out doing their “homework” where well capable of kicking my ass already over the distance. I had to keep telling myself that I am all about endurance and not primarily about speed to keep my self esteem in check. But it was great to see new runner learning the ropes and even at that by the half way mark in the sessions they were completing the distance with minor breaks in between. An achievement to be proud of.
However the full scale badassery of the group came in full force in Week 4. It was an absolutely minging evening that even the most die hard would have said you’d be mad to go out in it. However dedication prevailed and one by one each runner tentatively got out of their cars and took on the best that the wind and the rain could offer. An epic session in my opinion as nothing beats knowing you are dedicated to something and focussed on the aim, with nothing stopping you, even the Weather Gods.
Week 5 didn’t get any drier, actually the ducks didn’t even come out for it however the Newcastle hardcore posse made it to Donard Car Park and off we set. Not caring that we were wet, not caring about the on lookers and running up Newcastle main street with our arms in the air literally like “we just didn’t care.” All sense was out the window and where a few weeks prior everyone was very self conscious – no one cared anymore. We were running in the pouring rain and loving life.
Dermot went on holiday and left the group in charge of Hugh and his 2 self proclaimed beautiful assistants. So The Hugh take over was underway and with the final night challenge only a week away, the group proved that they had heart, determination and had worked hard to get to the level they where achieving. The next week would be a breeze.
The final night saw the group cruise down the promenade, bounce over and back across the bridge and then curse the sight of the Barbician as they prayed for the turning point. Absolutely nailing their 5k without stopping and earning their shiny medals. The group who on January 9th never ever imagined they would be able to run a full 5k, non stop proved to themselves that with the right work and belief they could achieve that.
What even made me prouder was the fact the majority of the group are coming back next week to the “Progressive Group” with the desire to continue to improve. They have the belief in their abilities, they want to keep going. This just proves how successful the sessions have been and the fun that they had learning to run.
The thing about running is that the sky is the limit. New skills, improved form and plenty of practice can lead to more than just running. I hope that each runner in the group is sitting at home very proud of what they have achieved. I also hope they continue with that thirst to improve and come along to progressive group. Running is more than one foot in front of the other, its time to yourself, its good exercise but most of all it is great fun and I think the group sees that now.
Well done everyone! It has been a pleasure being a part of your journey and I’m allowed to come back next week to do it all again with the new beginners. Can’t wait!