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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 3 September, 2014

Column: I’m running in the London marathon and I’m proud I’ll be able to pay my respect to the Boston runners

Jenny Conlon says it’s difficult to understand why an event of achievement like the Boston Marathon would be targeted in such a way. Training for a marathon is one of the most challenging things you can do and it makes you realise that life is for living, she writes.

Jenny Conlon

THE BOSTON MARATHON shocked me to the core this week. I was out doing my final run ahead of the marathon this weekend and when I got back to my house I had a text from a friend telling me what had happened. I immediately turned on the news and was glued to the TV the rest of the night.

It’s so distressing and incomprehensible to even try and understand why people would destroy such an inspirational event of achievement, where all the runners have trained for months to help and raise money for those who really need it. I know Boston has such a strong Irish community so it was quite a worrying time for everyone who has family and friends there.

A black ribbon as a mark of respect

They’re increasing the security for the London marathon this weekend but I’m not scared, fearful or worried about it as I feel the people who carried out the Boston attacks are nothing but senseless cowards. The Virgin London marathon organisers have been really fantastic and emailed us everyday with updates. There is going to be a minutes silence at the start line in Greenwich and every runner will be given a black ribbon to wear as a mark of respect for the people in Boston. I’m even more excited than I already was and so proud to be taking part in this amazing event.

As I’ve never really ran any further than up a staircase in my life, the prospect of signing up for the London marathon was quite a daunting one.

It’s probably one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever signed up to especially as I’m a social animal who likes to live it up in London. The gym has become the new pub and the pavement has become the new dance floor. My Friday night heels have been replaced by trainers and the only drink I have is my hand is water and diet coke as a treat! My friends have been so supportive although I think they were astounded at first as I wouldn’t strike them as the running type.

More things to life

You soon begin to realise that there is more fulfilling things in life to do on weekends instead of hangovers, which have gladly become foreign to me. Let’s just say I’ve seen a lot of London over the past few months. It’s actually unbelievable to run past Buckingham palace on a 20 mile run and discover this fascinating city. You discover little secret streets and areas that you’d never even come close to on a bus or a Tube. I have discovered so many little authentic gems on my adventures which have inspired me for the summer.

I’ve been blown away and overwhelmed by the generosity of all the people who have sponsored me and even more so by people who I’ve never even met. One of my friend’s boyfriends donated me €100 as a good deed gesture and I’ve never even met him. It’s a very touching and a great feeling when people believe in you and sponsor you along the way. That really keeps you going.

I think I realised the extent of how much my life changed when I found myself ringing the gym one Sunday morning to find out if they were showing the Six Nations rugby match. It was the Ireland versus England game and as I was in an English gym, the tension was high. I was so fixated on the match that I ran my first 22k, in a mild rage!

A rewarding journey

Running a marathon takes consistency and dedication. It starts to become part of your daily life but it’s such a rewarding journey and I’m so happy I’ve had the opportunity to take part. As I’m running for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, I spent a lovely day with the charity, the other runners and more excitingly the beautiful dogs they train. It was such an inspirational experience and one that really motivated me to make sure I cross that finish line.

I feel a lot healthier since I started and I’ve found myself eating particular foods like they’re going out of fashion. Averaging a jar of peanut butter has become a normal weekly occurrence. I’ll have to make sure to adapt back to normal eating habits when it’s all over or we could have another story too write about.

Inspiring people

Some of the reasons I decided to run a marathon was, as much as I love heading to the pub, I could use a break. I don’t miss them or the Sunday night fear. I now welcome a Sunday night with my Barry’s tea and biscuits. While people gave chocolate up for lent, I took it up! Other aspects I have enjoyed are the people. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of friends, family and random people who I’ve never met. People who do things for charity as so inspiring and human.

Something to look forward to is your body will become more toned and you’ll feel empowered as to how far you can push your body through your own aspirations. Running a marathon is more than just a race. It changes your life. You’ll find things in life when you’re not looking for when you’re dedicated, focused and in the zone. It’s inspiring to see and discover life out there before 10am on a Saturday and Sunday. I’m loving my new non hangover life. So far, I’ve gone from running up a staircase to running 26.2 miles. This Sunday, I’m doing it for the dogs, for Ireland, and of course, the people of Boston.

Jenny Conlon is an Irish journalist living in London. She is running in the London marathon for Hearing Dogs for the deaf. If you would like to make a donation please click here. Jenny also writes a blog called Living the Disco Dream.

Read: London Marathon runners asked to wear black ribbons>

Read: Red Sox honour victims of Boston Marathon bombing>

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