Supporters can lift you from a fall
I hope I don't sound too boring, but my idea of a good day out is going to a race with a few friends and chatting to people from the athletics community. I ran a five-mile race in Raheny last Sunday and it was an enjoyable and adventurous day.
The good thing now for me is that I can turn up to a race without anybody knowing I'm taking part until I line up at the start. During my competitive career, when I had a race anywhere in the world, the whole running community was on the look-out to see how I would get on.
Needless to say, they were supporting me and wanted me to put in a good performance, but I found this pressurising, and people deal with pressure in different ways.
I am very lucky to have a few friends that I run with in Phoenix Park each morning. We motivate each other and some of them have also run the Raheny five-mile. I felt good the week of the race and I said to one of my friends that I might do the race on the Sunday.
I was very busy for the remainder of the week and did not have much time to think about it, so much so that on Saturday night I realised I had not pre-entered and was not sure if they were taking entries on the day. I rang my friend, Feidhlim Kelly, who is an active member of Raheny AC and who writes a very informative running blog called Jumping the Gun.
He had an entry and a race number sorted out for me in no time.
The race wasn't until three o'clock, so I had a little sleep in on Sunday and we travelled out to the race shortly after one o'clock. I am glad I didn't have to drive by myself as I would have probably got lost on the journey from Castleknock to Raheny. I suppose that is the country person coming out in me.
When we arrived, we collected our race numbers, chatted to some people and did a good 20-minute run to warm up.
About 3,000 people lined up at quite a narrow starting area and one of my friends told me to be careful as he had run the race the previous year and it was a little dangerous for the first few hundred metres.
Thankfully I started off safely and was running at a nice, relaxed rhythm. Just after the first mile, I was running in a group of six and the next thing I was on the ground. Two of us managed some way or another to trip each other up and we hit the road quite hard.
Without thinking twice, I got up as quickly as I could and ran to catch the group I was pacing myself off. I had a look down my body to see what damage I had done but thankfully I just had a few scrapes and bruises.
I got back into my stride and felt none the worse from my fall and, to be honest, it made me more determined. I felt I was running very strong and the support was fantastic.
It reminded me of old times, people shouting my name, and I can really rise to occasions like that. Enda Fitzpatrick was on his bicycle helping and encouraging one of his up-and-coming athletes and he gave me great support and encouragement.
Sports people use different things to 'spur' them on during competition. My parents, brothers and sisters were always my motivation to push myself to the limits and they were foremost in my mind during that five-mile race in Raheny. They were the reason for my success down through the years and they still look after me extremely well.
I ended up finishing second in a very respectful time and I really enjoyed meeting and chatting to people afterwards. That's what running is about for me now and I thank God every day I can go out running. Hopefully, I will have many more enjoyable and sociable days at races over the coming years.