I am a Marathon Runner

Mary Webb - I am a Marathon Runner

What an amazing and emotional few days it has been. As most of you will know myself and several of the Why Weight Ireland members were tackling one of the Run Kildare races last Sunday. Each and every one of them deserved to be there. They all trained so hard over the past few months, with some members only starting running for the first time a few months ago. It was an amazing experience for me to see the emotions and delight in each of their faces after their race. With some getting PBs (Personal Best) times, some are now marathon runners, half marathon runners and 10km runners. I was/am so proud of each and every one of them. For me, most of you will know I was taking on the full marathon again. Last year I had completed the Kildare marathon and came 5th with a time of 3:24 so this year I was hoping to better that time. To cut the story short, on Sunday, I came in 4th Place with a time of 3:19. I was over the moon with the result and how the race was run and was only a minute and a half off 3rd place. I gave it everything I had and was delighted with how it all went and I know I can do even better next time. 🙂 The support on the day was just fantastic around the course so thank you to every single person who was out there shouting words of encouragement to me and to every other runner. You really all make a massive difference 🙂

I’m now a Marathon Runner

Now today’s blog is going to be a bit different than usual. One of our amazing members who only started running a few months ago took on the Kildare Marathon and I am going to let her bring you through her amazing experience of the day. She is such an inspirational and determined woman and I’m sure you will be hearing from her again. Included in this blog is a collection of photos of some of our members on the day.

Here is how Marathon Runner, Mary Webb describes her day:

I don’t even know where to begin with this! I was nervous the week coming up to the marathon and the day before I just wanted to get out there and start it and DO IT! I was anxious about going over the 20 miles and was marveling at how I was going to get another 6.2 miles out of me and not only that but to have a decent pace. It took me ages to go asleep the night before and I knew I couldn’t back out now and after months of training and highs and lows, it was finally time and I had to get out there and complete 26.2 miles. It was quite humbling.

I felt nauseous the next morning putting on my marathon running gear, even though it gave me comfort at the same time to be putting on something so familiar. God, I feel sick reliving it right now as I write! LOL! Fair play to my sister Emma as she was with me and had stayed with me in the Keadeen Hotel the night before as so was with me at the Curragh Racecourse before 8am. We met Hannah there who, like the superstar she is, went down on the floor with her knobbly (and sore!) looking foam roller and rolled her back over it to “crack” her back – is that what you said Hannah?! Very funny!

It was quiet enough at the racecourse at that hour of the morning, just the loonies who were running the full marathon. I saw a few people I thought I recognised from FitA Very Happy Marathon Runner Magazine and The Irish Runner. There was a lovely woman, and I forgot to get her name, she was nervous as it was her first marathon on it’s own, in that she was used to doing triathlons!!! And SHE was nervous! It was magic to watch all the other athletes warming up and watching them wandering around and wondering what their stories were, what had brought them there to the Curragh Racecourse to run 26.2 miles? Every one of us there had our own hopes and dreams and had gone through our own grueling marathon training plans and here we were, all raring to go, and suddenly it was time and we were called to walk to the start line. I felt so privileged to be there among all these magnificent athletes of all different abilities, knowing full well that I was an absolute complete beginner and under no illusions about finishing with a strong time but also felt very comfortable there too, that I’d earned my place at the start line as had put in months of training. I was hopping from one foot to the other to keep warm in the lashing rain but full of awe and respect at what the next several punishing hours would bring.

I wanted to be able to complete the course, whether that meant shuffling or crawling on all fours at any stage, so be it, and as a bonus, I really, really, wanted to be able to finish the marathon in under the 7 hours as at 4pm the course would be closed and even to cross the finish line after that time would still mean a big fat DNF (Did Not Finish) as the timing chip would not be registered. I so wanted to be able to see my name on the results sheet as a marathon finisher, no matter what the time would be.

I met the lovely Karl Fitzgerald on the way to the start line. I couldn’t miss him in his stunning pink race singlet, looking ready, looking psyched, and raring to go. It was a great feeling, being part of the Why Weight Ireland team, knowing that Hannah was up there at the front mentally getting herself ready, and knowing the other girls would be arriving soon at the racecourse to get ready for their races. The gun sounded and we were off. My Garmin was ready and as I crossed that start line I was starting a new chapter in my life as I took my first few steps into my first marathon. WHOOP!

Within a few minutes I was soaked in the rain but not too bothered really. I mentally concentrated on breathing through my nose and out through my mouth from the verySuper Women About to Cross the Finish Line beginning. And I also kept an eye on my pace, the ever threatening possibility of going out too fast, thinking I’m Zena Warrior Princess and then needing paramedics due to exhaustion under some furze bush out on the Curragh, marathon finishing dreams dashed. So I kept my pace as steady as I could, knowing I needed to keep reserves for much later in the race. There were two men in front who were walking and I relaxed a bit, knowing there were some walkers. Then another guy, in his 60’s maybe, and a woman in her 30’s I guess, passed me walking and they teamed up, walking and chatting. I decided to keep these two in my sights and keep near them. My plan was to run each mile with a 1 minute recovery walk in between each mile, I figured that would help get me to the finish line in one piece as was fully aware I wasn’t strong enough to run the whole distance in one go. At this stage I knew there was no one else behind me but I didn’t give a fiddler’s and motored on. After 3 miles I needed a toilet break and thankfully so did the two walkers in front of me so we all availed of the facilities and waited on each other and then carried on.

There were a few hills in the first half so I had to amend my initial plan and decided to walk the hills and run the rest. If any one mile had no hills in it then I still had my recovery 1 minute walk at some stage in it. I wanted to keep a 15 minute mile pace and if I could it would mean I’d cross the finish line in 6 hours 30 minutes, way ahead of the 4pm cut off. Seeing as we were the final participants in the marathon there was a squad car tailing us closely. At times I was cringing, thinking, “Christ, they must be cursing me at the back here, wishing they could drive faster!” LOL! And I was also not enamored with the realisation that they had a front row seat for a LONG time of my bum wriggling in my pink Why Weight Ireland t-shirt as I battered my way through my first marathon!!

Surprisingly enough I ran the first 9 miles without any music. My lower back pain was tormenting me for the first 9 miles also but disappeared after that for the remainder of the marathon. I was feeling quite tired mentally already so started to listen to my tunes, which featured a great deal of my lovely red haired boy, Mr. Ed Sheeran 🙂 The rain had stopped but it was lovely and windy with some sunshine. I don’t think I could cope mentally with the constant reality that I’d to complete 26.2 miles so what I did was I broke it down – first I had to run 6 miles, then when that was done I’d have a 20 mile run and sure hadn’t I ran one of those before LOL! It was much easier to break it down into chunks. When I had 20 miles still to go, I just focused on the next 6 miles, and then sure I ONLY had 14 miles left, but mentally that was much easier to handle than counting down an entire 26.2 miles. It was funny, when I reached the 15 miles, I realised I’d ONLY 11 miles left and that felt so manageable (mentally manageable now I mean, still wasn’t sure how I was going to get there in one piece 🙂

The stewards and gardaí presence around the course was fantastic and their support and roars of encouragement were so uplifting. I was well conscious that I was at the back of the pack but some of the stewards were trying to convince me that I wasn’t, that there were loads behind me and to keep going! So sweet! At one stage, the guards were holding up all 4 roads leading on to a round about so little old me could run around it!!! I could have been mortified but I chose not to be and just laughed and roared at the guards that “This seemed like a great idea a few months ago!!” and they just laughed with me and clapped me on through the roundabout and roared back at me” And sure Mary, it still IS a great idea! Keep going girl, you’re doing mighty!” So even though I was pretty much on my own out there for a lot of the run, the stewards and gardaí were great fun and helped keep me going.

A noteworthy event happened while I was out there running – I got to pass someoneKildare Marathon 2013 Start Line out!!!! Couldn’t believe it, I know it’s a silly thing really, but it hadn’t been on my radar at all that I’d pass anyone at all, I was content to finish my own marathon and didn’t mind being at the back. Still though!! Now it didn’t last long either, the walking man in front of me needed to attend to a call of nature so I was able to speed (LOL!) off in front of him and was leading him for maybe 20 minutes or more so that was nice for a change 🙂 Then when he was passing me out he offered me a sandwich which I declined graciously as I thought I’d vomit if I ate anything (think we may have been half way there) and on he sauntered in front of me, walking, eating his lunch from a lunch box, while I battered on behind him to keep up!!! LOL!

I tell ye cailíní, I think I’ve taken the ability to accept myself to a whole new level because of my marathon training and was well able to apply it out there on race day. Like, mentally I was grand accepting that I was the last runner and more than likely would be the last runner of all three races into the racecourse to cross the line and if someone has presented that scenario to me a few months ago I would have quaked and ran for cover but I didn’t give a hoot, it didn’t make a blind bit of difference to me out there! 🙂 Like I tell my boys, the marathon is a race where everybody wins and everybody is given a medal when they cross the finish line so that was my belief out there so it was very refreshing to not care that I was last, and even though I was a little self conscious about my girth and size and being a very obviously overweight runner, I didn’t let it sap the enjoyment of the day from me, I just parked the insecurities and focused on the goal at hand, getting over that finish line.

By the time I’d gotten to mile 17 there was an ambulance jeep cruising behind me instead of a squad car. Every so often they would drive past me and park a little way up and then when I’d pass them they pull in again behind me. I was past caring at this stage about my wobbly bottom and fat back, the heart of my concentration being on getting back to the Curragh Racecourse and see my boys and my family and finish my 26.2 miles. I was still on my own two feet so that was a good sign. The gels were going down well and I was relying on my electrolyte tabs in my water to keep me refreshed. I had written on my arm in biro hours before all the toilet and water stations so I wouldn’t forget and that kept me going as well, knowing what was coming up. After mile 17 I could see ahead of me the runners in the Half Marathon and was so excited to be getting back in a running pack! As lovely as the gardaí, paramedics, stewards and sheep out on the Curragh were, it was thrilling to be running with other runners again! 🙂 I think when I met them at my 17.25 mile, they were on mile 4. So I motored on in the middle of them and it was inspiring.

Eventually I could sense a hot pink t shirt in the vicinity and turned my head and before I saw her I could hear Zoe Doheny roaring at me “KEEP GOING MARY WEBB!!!” and she thundered past me in all her glory on her maiden half marathon voyage. You looked incredible out there Zoe, so confident and determined, it heartened me big time to see you.

When I reached 20 miles and continued on, this was unchartered territory and still had no idea on how I was going to finish in one piece. The only thing really that I could keep telling myself was to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep doing that, to run as much as I could and to walk briskly if I needed a recovery but I really pushed myself to at least run when I could, that it would all be over soon, that the quicker I could do it, the quicker I would be over that finish line. I probably looked like I was shuffling though!

I think it was around mile 21 that I spotted the portaloo and was even thinking of just continuing on as I wasn’t in a bad way but figured then that I had just over 5 miles left and needing the loo further on with nowhere to go would be torture. So I hopped into the portaloo and my trailing paramedics zoomed ahead in their jeep. And Christ Almighty,Some of Team Why Weight Ireland what an ordeal that toilet break turned out to be!!! I became very disorientated when I was in there, I could have sworn the portaloo was on a tilt and I felt like I was tipping over so slammed my hands onto the walls to stay upright LOL! I couldn’t seem to focus on the door lock so left it unlocked and pulled down the very tight skin like running tights and lo and behold I still felt disorientated, dizzy even, it really felt like loo was tilting and for a horrifying couple of seconds I thought I was actually going to fall out the unlocked door on to the path, with my running tights and knickers down at my knees and expose all my loveliness to the nearby stewards, gardai, and my trailing ambulance crew. My plan, all devised in a split second, was that if I did indeed slam out of the door on to the path, I was definitely going to play dead and there was no way, come hell or high water, I was going to show any signs of consciousness until I was tucked safely into a bed in Naas General Hospital. The Gods were kind and I managed to lock the door without losing any fingers in the process. I felt like a new woman when I emerged from the portaloo and the disorientation vanished. Maybe it came about because I was in such a small enclosed space. Still convinced it was on a tilt though. LOL!

A good few hills ensued, but lots of lovely views too out on the Curragh. My Garmin had died at this stage just before mile 17 but was expecting that so had my phone in my hand keeping an eye on my pace. (Raging that I don’t have a Garmin report now of 26.2 miles). I was delighted with myself to have reached 22 miles and thinking “Only 4 miles left!” even though I knew they would be hellish, I still had 22 miles in the bag. When I hit mile 24 I thought I must have been on fire and so focused to not have noticed the 23 mile marker at all and was calculating that I could get in over the finish line with half hour to spare until the cut off. So off I motored to find the 25 mile marker and marveling that I had less than 2 miles to go, WHOOP! So I came crashing down to earth when the next marker said “Mile 23” L I was fierce confused and knew I hadn’t gone backwards so asked the girl at the water station which mile I was actually at. She confirmed that I was at Mile 24, that someone had changed the markers. GRRRRRR! So I was back to 2.2 miles and could still make it in before 4pm.

While coming out of Kildare Town there was this ridiculously steep hill to climb and when I got to the top of the hill it reminded me of that scene from the film “Flight of the Doves”, you know the film we were all reared on, if you lived in Ireland, the part where Finn and Derval finally get to Galway but are feeling distraught at ever finding theirThe Super Mary Murphy Completing Her 1st Race Granny’s house and poor Derval up crying on Finn’s shoulder that they’ll never find Granny and then Derval opens her eyes and sees her Granny’s house in the distance and they are ecstatic and tear off down the lane towards the house. Well, when I got to the top of that hill what I could see in the distance 2miles off was the Curragh Racecourse!!! I felt just like Derval LOL! And off I sauntered again. I knew my boys Jonah and Ethan would be there waiting for me, and also my family (Mam, Stepdad Leonard, Emma) and my friends Suzanne and Michelle, who would have finished her 10K promised she’d come back for me. I was so close but yet so far! I called my Mam at mile 25 to tell her I’d just 1 mile to go. This guy appeared out of nowhere with a half marathon blue bib and was walking behind me for the remainder of the race, with many words of encouragement to keep me going. There was also these two guys on bikes that I kept seeing and had been asking me was I ok a few miles back and any time they passed me were telling me that I was doing great etc and I thought they were out for a mad cycle but turns out they were part of the Run Kildare Team LOL! I was coming up onto the straight and nearing the racecourse when I saw someone in pink walking towards me in the distance. It was Michelle Harrington, from Carlow too, who had already finished her 10K hours before, roaring encouragement at me to keep going and Hannah was close behind her. Thank God!! The cavalry had come!!!!

I was in ribbons at this stage, the soles of my feet felt like they were covered in blisters and only for the two girls on either side of me I think I would have gladly wandered in under a furze bush to sleep. Hannah and Michelle, thank you so, so, much for coming out to help me finish my 26th mile! Your words of encouragement really kept me going and it was so lovely. It looked like I was going to make it in over the finish line under the 7 hour cut off time but I had to hurry and keep running. I was mangled. And then Gerry Nolan, Hannah’s husband meets us out on the road telling us we have 12 minutes left to get in by 4pm or else I’d be registered as a DNF (Did Not Finish). Thank you Gerry! 🙂 Hannah reassured me that I’d make it in plenty of time and we motored on. I was tormented at this stage with fatigue. It was coming up to 4pm and I’d been out on the course since 9am. For the remainder of the race I was moaning out loud every time I exhaled. I thought I was going to vomit or cry. Hannah pointed out the finish line, I only looked once, didn’t want to focus on it as it felt like I’d have a meltdown because I wasn’t near it yet LOL!

Seeing my family – my children Jonah and Ethan, Mam, Leonard, Emma, and my friends – Suzanne, Ryan, Evan, Megan, and all the girls from Why Weight Ireland – Mary Catherine, Suzie, Anne Marie, Zoe, Brenda, Kathya, Julie (apologies if I missed anyone out) – all flankingHannah Nolan No 4 coming 4th me as I ran up to and across the finish line was a tremendous feeling. I was euphoric to have finished my first marathon and the icing on the cake was to have come in before the cut off time 🙂 To experience so much love and support was phenomenal and such a privilege. Thank you to all the Why Weight Ireland members who waited around for me to come in over the finish line when you had finished your races ages before. Your support and friendship I will always cherish. We were all incredible out there weren’t we! WHOOP! 🙂 Hannah, having you with me finishing my first marathon, the memory I will treasure always and Michelle Harrington, thank you so much for coming back for me and roaring at me to keep going! You are a born leader 🙂 Thank you Suzanne for coming up with the kids on your own xxx. Thank you to my sister Emma who was my one-woman crew member and went over and beyond the call of duty to help get me through my marathon training and to the start line. I’ve turned into Gwyneth Paltrow, haven’t I!! LOL! Thank you Mam and Leonard for always believing in me when I didn’t have the heart to believe in myself at times, you are always in my corner.

I was drooling for my chocolate milk and was kind of in a daze really, and made up altogether sure when one of those aluminum blankets, or space blankets as I prefer calling them, was wrapped round me, I felt like a REAL runner then LOL! I kept walking around, as I knew not to just stop moving. The atmosphere was extraordinary and I was very happy.

The next time someone roars at me at how fat I am, how obese I am and how repulsive I look to them, with such distain in their voice that in the past it made my eyes water from the blow, I won’t even flinch, it won’t even get in under my skin because it won’t even register as being worthy of a response. I am MORE than what I look like, I am MORE than someone else’s perception of my attractiveness. I have completed a full MARATHON and I am a Marathon Runner!! My accomplishment on Sunday has shown me that I CAN achieve anything I set my mind to once I believe in myself and do what I have to do to make it happen. And it’s true what they say, the training is the hardest part, once you follow your training plan you will fly it on the day. It’s extraordinary what you can achieve, once you believe.

I also received this beautiful private message last night from a girl I have never met, Helen:

… I was at the starting line on Sunday, seeing a friend of mine off … and your bright pink Why Weight Ireland t-shirt caught my eye……Can I tell you something? Seeing you Sunday made me consider doing the whole marathon … and I started telling people today that I am gonna try DCM 2013 … and you helped influence that … Isn’t it beautiful how we can inspire strangers! Very best of luck to you Mary … with everything!! X”

My name is Mary Webb and I am a Marathon Runner 🙂


Thank you Mary for your lovely post and I am sure, like our other members, you will inspire others to take on something that they had been putting off for one reason or another or inspire others to do something about their own weight and not be afraid to do begin their journey.

I have received so many messages, texts, emails and phone calls from people over the past few days so I would like to personally say THANK YOU to you all. They all mean a lot to me. I also received several emails from people who had used my running plans for the Run Kildare races saying they received personal best times so that too is really great to hear.

On a final note, remember, if you put the work in to what ever you do, you will reap the rewards – like training for a marathon, you don’t suddenly just wake up and are able to run 26.2 miles, you have to train each and every day for it and in the end you will hit that finish line with the biggest smile on your face. Weight loss is the exact same – it doesn’t happen over night, you have to work at it each and every day but once you hit your “finish line (goal/target) you too will have the biggest smile on your face.

Why Weight Ireland is here to help every one of you reach your personal goals and targets, be-it for weight loss or fitness so please get in contact if you are looking to begin your “Marathon”.

Thank you all again for all your support, not just for me but for Team Why Weight Ireland on Sunday and over the past few days. Thank you and well done to all the Why Weight Ireland members who worked their butts off on Sunday and reached that finish line. You are all amazing 🙂 x

The Tinahely studio will be back open as usual on Monday and I’ll be ready and all refreshed to whip you all into shape lol 🙂

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Hannah x

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