‘ 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

The Irish Times Magazine - - SPONSORED -

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

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