Ursula will join up to thousands of runners and wheel chair users, many of whom have been running the course on an annual basis since it launched in 1981.
She first signed up to the half marathon in 2014, after vowing her birthday present to herself would be a download of the Couch to 5K (C25K®) podcast. Since that moment, she has never looked back.
Ursula, who lives in Claudy, works as a Speech and Language Therapist for the Western Trust and is married with three children aged six, fourteen and seventeen. She admits a jealousy of her husband Tony’s natural fitness prompted her to take action and thanks her sister Jayne for encouraging her to get into exercise.
“I was by no means experienced in running or any form of exercise. Following two difficult pregnancies and lengthy recover times, I felt very jaded and had a lack of muscle tone.
“I barely ran a day in my life before downloading the podcast to my iPod but I had heard lots of people talk about the C25K programme and how it really worked for them.” Said Ursula.
The Couch to 5K (C25K) programme is a programme designed to get new runners motivated through measurable expectations.
The programme is promoted at Council leisure centres as part of ongoing activity programmes throughout the city and district and has proved to be highly popular as a means to get into shape.
Ursula says her new exercise and training regime has been a transformation for her, as she never dreamed she could achieve what she has to date.
Ursula added:“I feel terribly petty admitting that it was the jealousy of my husband’s fitness that spurred me on but honestly, he made running look so easy.
“One day I had a realisation that I wanted to be like that and I could do it, so every wedding anniversary I would ask him to teach me to run but with family life and work schedules, it didn’t happen.
“As a naturally shy person, living rurally, joining a running club wasn’t really an option for me, so I downloaded the C25K podcast onto my iPod and took my fate into my own hands.
“Almost immediately I felt great. Laura, who talks you through the programme is very reassuring and the programme itself is simple to use, well-structured and gets you up and moving in no time.
“I find that running and setting myself challenges like the Waterside Half marathon, help me to keep a clear mind and at times gives me inspiration on how I can help people or de-stress after a difficult day.
“I stopped smoking ten years ago after a heartfelt plea from my then four year old and suffer asthma but I can genuinely say since taking up running, I have not had as much energy, stamina and quality of sleep in years.
“I feel like I’ve been given my youthfulness back. Anyone can do it, some people are motivated in groups, and some are not.
“Logistically, with my location and work hours, joining a running club was not possible so I relied heavily on the podcast. Running clubs are great though, there’s no judgement or elitism, just a willingness to see everyone achieve their potential.”
Ursula’s advice to anyone interested in getting fit or taking up running?
“Work at your own pace and do not worry about other people. The fact you get out there is a positive thing and a bad run is better than no run.
“We all have aches and pain as our bodies get older but it shouldn’t hold you back, listen to your body and work with your GP to set your own pace.
“Thankfully I have not experienced any injuries since I began training, following Laura’s rules on the C25K podcast – good shoes, socks and proper warm ups and stretches seem to keep me right.”
Ursula is now focussed on her last few weeks of training before she joins individuals, groups and teams for the Waterside Half Marathon at Ebrington Square on Sunday, 3rd September at 10.00am.
The 13.1 mile route crosses the River Foyle to the cityside before finishing at St Columb’s Park.
She added: “This will be my fourth half marathon, three of which have been the Waterside Half Marathon.
“I simply run because I can. As a younger person I thought I couldn’t run well. After downloading ‘Couch to 5k’ I have been running ever since.
“I am not fast or elegant but I get there, leg cramps and all. It was for me the easiest way to get me from literally the couch to running 5k within eight weeks.
“I never thought I could achieve what I have so far, I certainly never thought I would be signing up for the Waterside Half Marathon.
“My dream is to eventually run a full marathon so this half marathon is helping me realise my dream and get there, I’m really looking forward to it.
“The support of my family, the crowds and the half marathon team always helps me get through it. I love the craic and support of fellow runners, spectators and the stewards.
“The best thing though is seeing Tony and the boys at the finish line roaring me home. If I can do this, anyone can. I feel like a new person, full of life and vitality.”
The Waterside Half Marathon will leave from Ebrington Square at 10.00am on Sunday, September 3rd, the route crosses the river to the cityside taking in local parks, bridges and greenways before finishing at St Columb’s Park.
For full details on how to register for the Waterside Half Marathon 2017, which is now in its 36th year, visit www.derrystrabane.com/halfmarathon. Registration will close on Monday 14th August 2017.Tags: