Woohoo!! I did it!! I did it!! What did I do? I completed the Lord Mayor’s Challenge, and I’m only delighted with myself.


The Lord Mayor’s Challenge happens every year, at the invitation of the Lord Mayor, currently Críona Ní Dhálaigh. It is designed to encourage people to get fit and to challenge themselves to run or run/walk the various races. It begins on New Year’s Day, hoping to get people to kick-start their health and fitness plans for the new year. People who complete the challenge are invited to City Hall for a reception with guest speakers, nibbles, and presentation of the medal and scroll – a fun night.


The Challenge consists of 5 races and begins with the Tom Brennan 5k in the Phoenix Park on New Year’s Day. Getting to the starting line can be a challenge in itself, especially if you like to partake of usual New Year’s Eve celebrations. Thankfully, I’m more of a stay-at-home-with-the-hubby-and-kids kinda gal, and I hit the sack as soon as the bells finished ringing, so no bother to get to the Phoenix Park for the 12noon start. The weather wasn’t great, but no worse than you’d expect in January. It was particularly bad for the slower runners like myself, as the second lap the rain came down heavier and we got soaked. However, first race done.


The second race was the Raheny 5 Miles. I was so looking forward to this as I’d heard so much about the atmosphere, the route and the goody bag. I was in great form and reckoned I could pace myself for a PB, and everything went according to plan. I was delighted with myself. And it was lovely to meet other runners who had previously run 5ks and never thought they would go any further, and here they had finished their first 5 miler. I enjoyed pointing out that it was only 2 more k to a 10k, no need to stop at the 5 mile distance. I was buzzing.


The third race was the Garda BHAA (Business Houses Athletics Association) cross country in the Phoenix Park. This was a 2 miler and was a 2 lap course on mucky hills. It was hard, very hard. But, another race done, 3 down, 2 to go.


The fourth race was the St Patrick’s Festival 5k organised by Metro St Brigid’s Athletic Club and taking place in the streets of Dublin. I got myself all dolled up in the green, white and orange from head to toe, just for the fun of it. I felt in great form before the race and knew it was a flat course, so reckoned I could go for it, aim for a PB. However, the minute I started running I found my legs heavy and my breathing difficult, so I took it very handy and aimed to finish.


The final race was a 2-miler in St Anne’s Park in Raheny, also organised by the BHAA. I had been struggling with my paces the previous few 5ks, and found that I got breathless with exertion in work on the previous day, but I reckoned that I was brewing some sort of a bug and a good run would sweat it out of me. Again I felt full of energy and sure it was only 2 miles, 3k, a doddle. However, only a couple of hundred yards in I was very breathless and had to come back to a walk. This was the last race in the Lord Mayor’s Challenge, so I was going to finish it, if I had to crawl home. Any attempt to jog, however slowly, was met with breathlessness, and I just kept telling myself that I just had to finish, and I did, thanks to Aideen O’Connor for her help over the final stretch. Thank goodness it was only a 2 miler. Anything more and I would probably have had to withdraw.


So I have earned my medal and scroll. But the Challenge gives so much more than that. It is so supportive. This year there were approx. 400 people signed up for it. We all received free T-shirts so that we could recognise each other at the races. We had a group warm-up by the lovely Aideen, who seemed to have boundless energy. She encouraged us all the way and saw the last person home at every race. And the other participants are very supportive of each other. I think we all know how difficult it can be to complete these races. There are so many of us at different levels of fitness and different stages of our running, and on any given day any of us may need help and support to get to the finish line. And that support is always there. It is like we are all part of a large team and we all want to see every team member finish. And Joanna stood out in all weathers to take photos of us. So after the race is over, we still get mileage out of getting the race times and seeing the photos, hoping against hope that there’s a decent running photo of yourself.


After the final race, I rested for the weekend as there was no sign of this bug passing. However, it has come to pass that this was no bug, but my thyroid has gone into overdrive. This causes rapid heart rate, breathlessness, feeling hot and sweaty, and muscle weakness, and all of this before I even start running! It also gives you a false energy, whereby you think you are able for anything, but it also causes extreme fatigue. This explains fully how I always went to the start line thinking I was on for a PB, but my legs, heart and lungs had other ideas and my times were going down the tubes. Anyway, I’ve started the tablets, it will take a few weeks for the levels to normalise. Until then, no running for me. Missed parkrun on Saturday and the Great Ireland Run, (felt very sorry for myself, I don’t mind admitting), missing Jog for a Dog next Sunday, which is for a great cause (My Canine Companion) and has a gorgeous medal that I really wanted. Lots of other races booked and payed for and being looked forward to, but not going to happen. But I completed the Lord Mayor’s Challenge. That’ll do.