No.26 :60 Seconds with Harrier Aideen O’Connor

An athlete who in her 5 years with Clonliffe has blossomed into a fine runner, and who proves that enjoying the effort delivers the results. Enjoy this read: Bio: 40 yrs old, Work as Programmes & Services Manager for the Dublin City Sports Partnership. Over 22 years working in the sports, fitness & health industry. Mam to 7 year old son Rian.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I did a small bit of Athletics when I was kid and ran once or twice for my secondary school but basketball was my main sport at the time. I actually didn’t get into running until I was 26 yrs old , I was working as a fitness manager but wanted a new fitness challenge, so I decided I would run my 1st marathon in 2006.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I joined Clonliffe in 2015 at that stage I had done a few marathons, but all on my own and my own training. Through my job in sports with Dublin City Council I came across Eugene Coppinger and Jim Aughney at a Dublin City Marathon meeting and we got chatting and Eugene said to me you should join a club , it would really help your marathon training and times! I like to think I was scouted by Eugene lol. (well that’s what I tell myself) Pam Cooper was the 1st person I met when I walked into the hall & I remember thinking oh god what I have got myself in for…but Pam & Ben were unbelievable with their encouragement and it was one of the main reasons I returned the following week and another reason why I am still a member of the Club.

What is your favourite training workout? – I have to say I love the track, so any track sessions but I love the short ones so give me 200m reps and I am in my element!

And your least favourite? – has to be mile reps ……… slow and painful …..but also rewarding in a very weird way only runners might understand, having your running buddies beside you or ahead makes it all that bit more enjoyable!!!

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet?…… for me personally as a participant, the Dublin City Marathon hands down, it’s part of my life now and my sons birthday always falls on the Oct bank holiday weekend so it is always a weekend packed with great excitement and wonderful memories created with family and of course the Clonliffe Harriers gang & all the volunteers. After that you just can’t beat the Athletics @ the Olympics, what a show!!!

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Well after many years of running marathons I finally got sub 3:30 ( 3:24) , it was an overwhelming experience for me that year as I had struggled through some difficult times, when I crosses the line and seen all my club mates and my coach Ben & Pam let’s just say there were plenty of tears!! I placed 3rd in my age category that year and the women’s teams also got medals which I was part of. I did win a medal @ the National Indoor Championships in Athlone 2017 in the 1500m , it was the most unnerving experience I had ever had , I really wanted to hide , completely out of my debt & comfort zone but I got a medal in a small field ( shhhhhhhh!) and came 3rd . Ciara Peelo & Fergal O’Shea and Pam gave me great support & encouragement that day, and on the journey back up I have to say I was chuffed to be coming back with a medal!! The medal represented more that I had stepped outside my comfort zone rather than anything else.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? – My recovery from having my son was a very long one , I honestly thought I would never run again , to me that was my injury ! I spent a lot of time in out of hospital for many months after but I knew with some grit, self-determination I would get back running. I think they are many of my running female pals who can relate to this, but that’s what is so great about the club we support each other, motivate each other and bring out the best in each other! The club was my lifeline and it was one of the best things I ever did joining Clonliffe Harriers.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Let’s just say what goes on tour stays on tour!! Our trips away to Budapest, Berlin and Hamburg have all been epic.. with too many funny stories! we managed to leave 3 Clonliffers behind on our last trip so that might explain some of the mischief we get up to when away!

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition – ah there is always a bit of pasta carb loading somewhere B. Outside competition – Pasta lol

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish – I have a few from different sports , but in terms of Athletics ( there are so many Irish sporting role models at the moment but it has to be Sonia O’Sullivan , I was 15 when she won the world 5,000m title in Gothenburg in 1995 I remember watching it at home with the family screaming at the tv B. International – the list is endless but in my opinion one of the ultimate sporting heroes of all time , Muhammad Ali What’s your favourite…? A. Film – Goodfellas B. Song or Album – I actually can’t pick a favourite song , there is too many that are my favourite C. Book – well I am currently reading Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel and I am enjoying it

What’s your favourite holiday destination? – I still have so much of the world to see but I was in Rome last year & I loved it , but you can’t beat some beautiful destinations in Ireland too!

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? – I love to write, read and journal it helps me to set my goals, keep focused and reflect. I have completed a Reiki course so I am practicing that too and my 7 yr old son keeps me very active and busy and happy.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) motivated, positive, crazy

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) To run my 10th Marathon and to get PB .

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? – To be honest I am looking after my mam/dad & aunty in the house who are all vulnerable right now and trying to look after Rian ( RTE school hub was a god send lol) while getting some school work done and logging in from home for work myself …… motivation has always been a part of me ( it was something I instilled in myself when I started out playing sport and working in the fitness industry I realised very quickly if I am not motivated you will struggle to motivate others) so I just make sure I get my run/training in at any window/break I get and to be honest I am loving getting out for my runs in this weather even in a 2k radius!! Just want to say great news to hear Joe Cooper is out of hospital and all the Clonliffe gang are delighted with this news ! Sending him our best wishes

Aideen O’Connor: No words required!