03 January 2016

Seeking fitness...Finding fun - Ursula Story

St.Brendan’s AC members share their personal stories and different experiences of getting fit and embracing new challenges in recent years.

Seeking fitness...Finding fun – Ursula story

I have probably always been involved in some type of sport all my life. When I was young it was mainly swimming and athletics through school and community games. In college I dabbled in lots of fitness classes and some new sports and then once I moved to Kerry after my daughter was born I took up basketball. After a good few years playing for Ardfert Ladies and then Cobras basketball clubs and after the arrival of two more children I decided to retire from Basketball. The decision was probably more to do with the number of injuries and the increasing age gap between me and the rest of the players than the demands of family life. You see I have always been a bit selfish when it comes to exercise – I need it to feel healthy physically and mentally so I make sure to make the time for it! It’s that simple.

So what would I take up next?? I always knew St.Brendan’s athletics club was there and I had done the odd 10K in the past so decided I would give it a go. The transition to my new sport was so easy. The group were welcoming, fun and encouraging and the running wasn’t hard especially when I was so distracted with the banter on route. After a couple of weeks there was a race on the horizon – the Kilmoyley 5K. Most of the group were taking part and I decided to give it a go. There was a great buzz on race day as we all gathered for photos and a few warm up exercises before the race. Once the start was signaled my competitive streak surfaced and I pushed myself to do my best. I was delighted with a time of 23.08.

Once I started racing there was no stopping me. The runners high I got from my first race in June 2013 in Kilmoyley spurred me on to set a few ambitious goals. Next would be the clubs 10K race in Banna in August and so I couldn’t change my mind I also booked myself in for the half marathon in Dingle in September and a full marathon in Dublin in October. Since that first year there has been no looking back, just looking to the next challenge – I’ve finished 3 marathons, countless half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks. 

Just to keep some variety in the mix I also joined my club mates in entering track and field events and even competed in the AAI Masters all Ireland finals in Tullamore in javelin, shot putt, 200m and long jump coming away with a much coveted bronze medal. 

Other challenges included the Bewildered and Sandstorm obstacle courses in Glanageenty and Ballyheigue. 

There have been so many highlights to my athletics experiences over the past few years. My best race experiences include completed the Cork half marathon with my two brothers and sister and having a most welcome pint of Guinness afterwards. Getting a personal best in a half marathon in Killarney, flying down the home straight of the track in the 200m in Tullamore are just a few more great running memories. But while there are many highs from the many races the best experiences have to be the fantastic training sessions. The many St.Brendan's members and athletes from other neighbouring clubs that I have spent hours sweating, chatting, laughing and conspiring with have been the best part of it all.

Last year I also started helping out with the coaching side of the club. My daughter and two sons have both trained with the club and I have always been a believer that I should contribute to local clubs in whatever way I can. It’s great to see the younger members enjoying each other’s company and be part of their experience as they learn and master new skills is very rewarding.

What’s next – who knows. For now the next test of endurance is the clubs annual twelve pubs of Christmas and after that I’m sure 2016 will offer more fun, fretting on the starting line and making more friends.

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