• Bernice Cooke

I ran my first Half Marathon during Lockdown.

Running a half marathon has been on my bucket list since I turned forty in June 2019. I've always admired long-distance runners and the fact that they can keep on running. So I set myself a challenge in June 2019 that I would take part in the Portumna Forest Park Half Marathon in June 2020.

But first things first I had to train. My running distance had to be increased and I had to be able to stay the distance and not hit a wall. So with that in mind before Christmas I signed up for the Clare series which is one race per month, beginning with the first one at the end of January.

With each of those four races, the distance increased, with the final race in April being 10mile or 16km. I love to run, it's a great way to meditate whilst eating up the miles on the road, many of my business ideas and creativity have come as light bulb moments on my run. It's the wind in my hair, the sharp cold rain on my skin, it's the rhythmic beating of the steps as your feet hit the ground. I don't run with music I let nature and mother earth entertain me.

College decisions have been finalized on my run, new art images have been formulated in my mind, and complete product collections have been created, my most recent being the holiday destination collection available to purchase here

As my training increased so did my mileage.

But little did we know how much life would change in March, my last race was Spanish Point and I remember the fierce thunder and lightning, wind, rain, and hail that pounded the route that day. But it was exhilarating running beside the sea and even though it was though with the storm raging I still completed all 5miles without missing a beat.

But that was all to change and it would be the last race we would run for a while. COVID 19 arrived in Ireland in March and everything came to a standstill. Instead of giving in and putting off my half marathon dreams, I decided to continue on with my training.

Lock-down enforced a distance rule that we could not travel past a 5km radius from our home, this meant I couldn't run laps so it had to be running back and forth several times to bring up my distance all within the 5km radius of my home.

Yes, it took a lot of conditioning my mind because when you are running back and forth a few times your mind begins to get bored and you begin to get bored, but I started to focus on my surroundings, count sheep or cows in the fields, play little games in my head, anything to keep my mind off the fact I was running back and forth from point A to point B. Slowly my distance increased and I found myself loving that same stretch of road. I looked forward to the days I ran and what nature would throw at me, Kingfishers, Heron's Buzzards, fox cubs, foxes, hares all out and about on my early morning runs. As I slowly brought my distance up to 19km, I felt I was ready to take on my half marathon. Luckily enough restrictions had lifted allowing me to travel to the Forest Park in Portumna, I had my route mapped out, and my team - aka my husband and son ready for support.

Among the beauty of the trees on a damp, miserable Saturday morning in June I ran and completed my first half marathon - just me and nature.

So nothing in this life is impossible, even if there are hiccups along the way.

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Killadulisk, Killimor, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway