‘ Every race is run for my family’
For the winner of last year’s Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, Ann- marie Mc Glynn, a return to running was a way to stay positive about her son’s illness
Running is an exercise with many health benefits but it c a n a l s o a c t a s a s a l v e , safe- guarding the mind in a time of crisis, as professional runner and last year’s Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon winner, Ann- marie Mc Glynn, discovered in 2012.
While Mc Glynn was never in doubt as to the benefits of running, her motivation to return to it and eventually to take part in the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon came from a much more personal experience.
She had just given birth to her second child, Alfie, and was getting to know her little boy when, at three weeks old, Alfie was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and subsequently suffered a punctured lung.
He was brought to the Royal and Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where doctors and Mc Glynn feared the worst. She stayed by his bedside for three weeks and Alfie went on to make a full recovery, but during those painful few weeks, Mc Glynn says she almost went out of her mind with worry.
“It’s not something you think will come to your door. You read about it but when it happens it takes you completely by surprise. To be told at three weeks old that it was touch and go and that we might not bring him home was just horrible,” she says.
Six years on, she still finds it difficult to talk about that time but she acknowledges that one good thing emerged from such a distressing experience – she started to run again.
Mc Glynn had hung up her athletic gear in 2005, deciding to concentrate her efforts on starting a family with husband Trevor. She moved to County Tyrone and set up home there.
“I ran at an underage level right up to 24 or 25 years old. In university I met my husband and we decided to move North. I was still training and competing internationally but I felt I wanted to take time out to get married and have a family. In 2010 I had Lexie, who is now eight and in 2012 I had Alfie. I still had not run at that stage,” she says.
But when her baby son got sick, she felt compelled to return to her old sport, in order to clear her mind.
“My husband was amazing and he kept reassuring me that Alfie would be ok but I couldn’t help thinking, this doesn’t look good. I think he shocked the doctors and nurses when he did pull through.
“I knew that when I used to run, it was a good feeling and I would forget about everything. That’s what I needed to do to keep me sane during that time – my way of dealing with it. I literally could not see the next day, all I could see was the worst situation and that was him not coming home.
“I knew Lexie was home with Trevor and she was only two. She had a little brother and all of a sudden she didn’t and her mummy was gone too. It was really hard on her. It was a terrible time,” she says.
Each day Alfie fought and got stronger while his mum’s fitness levels started to improve too, both taking tentative steps towards being fit and well again. Alfie is now a happy, healthy six- year- old, playing football and following in his mum’s athletic footsteps.
Mc Glynn says it was always her intention to get back in to the sport and a year on from Alfie’s diagnosis, she competed nationally again.
“I decided to set a goal of competing at the National Indoor Championships, over 3,000 metres, and ironically it was on Alfie’s first birthday and he was there for me. I came second and from then on I set my goals going forward. After that, every race was run for my family.”
She says she always “kept an eye” on the Women’s Mini- Marathon. “In my childhood my mam, aunt and neighbours would do the Mini Marathon for charities close to their hearts. They talked about it for months afterwards and I thought, I want to do that. Never did I think that one day I would go on to win it.”
Mc Glynn first attempted the race in
Regardless of fitness levels, find a running buddy and consider a short race first, in order to kick start health and well- being