I’ve been involved with Dundalk Dog Rescue since 2012 and a lot of that time has been with the very busy fundraising team so when the opportunity came for me to combine that with my other passion, running, I couldn’t resist.
Coincidently, I took up running also in 2012 when a work colleague Andrew Gallagher persuaded a few of us to attempt the Dundalk 10k in aid of the Irish Kidney Association. He couldn’t have asked a more unfit bunch but we accepted the challenge. I remember very well the first night of training as myself, Brian Johnson and Niall Watkins ran a circuit of the Navvy Bank. We weren’t fit to speak for about 5 minutes when we completed our one and only lap and guzzled a pint of water each. We checked our Run apps and realised we had managed a fantastic distance of 4k!! There was a lot more work to be done.
Following about 5 weeks of training we were all a lot fitter and a little lighter too and managed to finish the 10k in very respectable times, anyway that was the start of it, I had ‘got the bug’ as they say and made an effort to keep up the training. I found it a very enjoyable way to keep in some sort of shape since I was at the age where it was too easy to put on the pounds and twice as hard to lose them.
Since then I have made it a point to sign up to regular 5k and 10k runs and there are no shortage of them around. I find it’s an extra incentive and motivation to continue the training when there’s an upcoming challenge.
As Dundalk Dog Rescue is nearing the goal of building their own Rescue Centre the fundraising team are flat out with the fundraising activities. We have our usual annual events such as the Table Quiz, sponsored walks, bucket collections, Paws in the Park etc. We have recently added pop-up shops, 100k walks, used clothes collections to name a few. Personally I have my family, friends and work colleagues tortured looking for them to buy calendars or Christmas cards or sponsor Alfie & Sofie on one of their dog walks. So last year when I heard the Dublin City Marathon only had a few places left available I decided to sign up and use it as a new one off fundraising opportunity.
Little did I know what was involved! At this stage my longest run was a 10k and I usually finish them completely out of breath so running four times that was going to take a lot of preparation. Apart from my own training I joined the local group Run DMC led by the very experienced Jim, Melanie & Colm. They taught me a lot about proper warm ups, cool downs and pacing and I was also able to speak to a lot of fellow runners who had already completed a marathon or were also planning their first. I invested in some proper gear too including my first proper running runners.
So the training began which consisted of two or three shorter runs during the week and a longer one at the weekends. It could not have been achieved without the support of my family, in particular Ann, as I was always disappearing, sometimes for hours, and missing dinner times. Even when I was there, I was looking for different foods, in an attempt to be healthier. The brighter summer evenings were a big help to clock up some extra miles and the long weekend runs became longer as I learned about re-fuelling and using energy gels mid run. Another challenge were the earlier nights as I tried to get a decent nights rest, which was not so easy for a night owl like me.
As the big day approached I began to ramp up the fundraising side of it. I set up a Facebook Fundraising page and printed off sponsor cards and went to work. With the help of many generous friends and family members, I raised a grand total of €2,300 and I was absolutely thrilled! I also received many messages of encouragement, all of which were gratefully appreciated.
When the day finally arrived I was a bundle of nerves. My start time for the race was 9.45am but we had to be there an hour in advance which necessitated an early rise at 6am. I had all my gear laid out like a child with his uniform ready for school. I had my runners, shorts, DDR top, race number, running belt packed with goodies and a ‘disposable’ top that I was planning to discard at the start line at the last minute, a valuable tip from a fellow runner. The event was huge with around 22,500 runners taking part. Despite an impressive turnout the event was superbly organised with approximately 1,500 volunteers acting as supervisors. I was told by many that the crowd support would be great but it I was genuinely blown away by their support. It began at the first mile and didn’t stop once the remaining twenty-five. The cheers, applause, and high-fives continued the whole race. If this wasn’t enough the crowd’s inspiring posters and offering of sweets and other goodies made the event one I would always remember. Taking another friend’s advice I had my name printed on front of my top and as a result heard my name shouted hundreds of times along the way by people I didn’t even know. With very tired legs I crossed the finish line after 4 hours and 46 minutes. I think I was the fastest 52 year old Paddy from Dundalk.
Now that I have my marathon medal, my Dublin City Marathon running top, a much loved woolly hat and a fantastic total of €2,300 raised for Dundalk Dog Rescue it’s safe to say that I’m a very happy chappy!!