We have just finished running our “Tell Your Story” competition, where runners had the chance to win free entry into one of our European events next year. We received two stories from Donna Fitzpatrick that demonstrates how powerful the mind truly is.
Donna took part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon this year. Donna arrived in Edinburgh the day before the race. The skies were blue; the sun was shining, and it was a stunning day in a beautiful city. The omens looked promising, but British weather is not known for its predictability. The morning of the race the weather (in typical fashion) took a very serious turn for the worse. Excited runners suffered lashing rain, driven by 40mph winds and everyone was practically soaked and frozen before the race had even begun. The marquees at the expo were closed and taken down for safety reasons, and many runners pulled out of the event. Not Donna though.
This was only her second ever half-marathon, and despite the atrocious conditions she was desperate to participate. This was her experience in her own words:
“We set off, and the rain was relentless, the wind meant battling along the seafront. I was glad to have had my headphones in (to keep the driving wind out of my ears) only removing them to hear the fabulous bands that were playing to keep me going along the way. As I ran, railings were being blown down, signs & wheelie bins being hurled across the route and still I just kept going. The route started to get hilly about mile 6 steadily climbing up Arthur’s seat and was tough, but what goes up must come down, and that was what I’d had as my plan…except it went wrong!
“On the first steep descent my IT (Iliotibial) band in my right knee was excruciating. I almost had to hop down the hill. Back on the flat I could run no problem, but as soon as I hit a descent I was almost stranded; my knee just didn’t want to bend to allow me to descend, let alone run down. But, I was determined not to be defeated, I would not give in! I kept going and going and when I reached the top of the Mound I knew I was less than 2 miles from the finish. I started to descend the hill and cried in pain, my right IT band felt like it was tearing with every attempt to step down. I kept going, side stepping down the hill, praying that a race marshall, or a first aider wouldn’t see me and pull me from the race so close to the end. I made it down the last hill and I was back onto the flat and off running again. I completed it in 2hrs 50mins, slower than my other event but I was so elated to have crossed the finish line.”
Donna’s elation was cut short whilst on the train back home, by news of the Boston Marathon Bombing.
“We were stunned, having just experienced our finish line, the joy and euphoria, knowing how those runners and participants would have been feeling. We were devastated; this crime affected us runners so deeply. Right then I pledged to run the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon, in memory of those who died and were injured at Boston.”
Donna’s second tale comes from her Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon experience this August. She had been training very well, and was excited to tackle the course. However, disaster stuck one week before Donna was due to race. She’d been awakened through the night with pain in her left foot; pain that had left her unable to bear any weight on her foot. She was devastated but refused to admit to herself that she wasn’t going to compete. Donna went to A&E and was told the most likely cause of the pain was a stress fracture to her metatarsal. She was put on crutches and told to stay off it, and was instructed under no circumstances to run in Dublin. But as you may have gathered already, Donna is fairly stubborn.
“I wouldn’t give up on my summer long dream. I used my crutches all the time that week and didn’t dare put my foot down in case I made it worse. I used ice-packs and ibu-gels to encourage healing, and I hoped and prayed I could still do this. I boarded the flight on crutches, my friends kindly taking care of my luggage and helping me out. We told everyone we were on our way to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon and when they looked at me, I said I was too! Most people laughed, me included, who was I kidding, right? On the Sunday night, a full 7 days since the pain started, I put my crutches down; I knew it was decision time. The race was less than 12 hours away and so I stood up, weight bearing on my foot for the first time…but it felt ok! My leg was weak with not being used and there was some mild pain, but it was actually ok! I went out for a short walk (carrying my crutches just in case!) and it was still ok. I got back to my hotel and looked out my race gear, my friend looking at me with a questioning look, are you sure she asked? I promised that if it hurt I’d pull out no matter what stage I was at. I went to bed feeling excited but apprehensive.
“5am on race morning, I sat up and swung my legs off the bed, ready to stand up but scared in case it would hurt; again it didn’t. The excitement for the event kicked in, making porridge in our room, getting race numbers onto our newly printed running tops… and the event was fantastic. I ran so well. I was at mile 9 before I had even realised how far I’d come, and I crossed the finish line at 2hrs 41, a new PB and 9 minutes faster than Edinburgh. I’d collected my race medal and achieved my world rocker medal!”
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon meant so much to Donna that she now has an Irish shamrock tattoo on her left ankle, and an inspiring story demonstrating how far a willing mind can take you!
We asked Donna how important running was in her life.
“There aren’t enough words to describe how passionate I am about running. It’s changed my life, and made me realise that I can achieve things I’d never thought I could. I only started running in January 2012 and I feel like I’ve achieved so much already. Through running I have met so many genuinely lovely people, some of whom are now my amazing friends and running buddies. Running really is a metaphor for life, in that you really do get out what you put in. Whether I’ve had a tough day or a fantastic day, there’s nothing better than putting on my running gear and going out for a run; it’s the best feeling in the world!”