Runner Profile: Lucy Sheehan
How did you get into running?
It feels like running has always been part of my life but it most certainly hasn’t! Like many women I decided to give it a go when I wanted to lose weight for a holiday. I think this was when I was around 20, which means I’ve been pavement pounding for nearly 13 years.
I had never been a natural athlete and none of my family members were even slightly interested in exercise but I was massively enticed by the challenge. I still remember the first attempt – feeling like there must be something medically wrong with me to find running so horribly hard. Thankfully no, I was the same as any newbie runner – painstakingly finding my lungs and slowly increasing my distance inch by inch. I entered a Flora 5k race in Hyde Park in 2004, and still remember the adrenaline high when I crossed the finish line (I have no idea what my time was and back then I wouldn’t have cared). Little did I know that this would be the start of a complete life change.
I did lose some weight and soon became hooked. I’d been running with my lovely brother for a while and he was moving away for work, so I decided to join FRR for some company and motivation. The club was extremely different then to how it is now, with lots of different faces, but the same welcoming spirit and fantastic team ethos. I was lucky enough to discover Christina Howland and Sallyann Pearce, among many others, such as Phil Cooper, Kate Sherwin and Adrian Hine, who were to become the first of many close running friends who supported, encouraged and provided company week in, week out. They would be the team of mates (apart from Sallyann who doesn’t do long distance!) who I completed my first marathon with in Dublin 2004.
It occurred to me whilst thinking about writing this that ever since joining FRR, I’ve never had a prolonged absence from the club, apart from when ruled out with injury or when I was away travelling. I absolutely love it and could never dream of leaving, even when my relationship with running is littered with such highs and lows! I’ll never be up there with the quickest, I also know I’m not the slowest, I’ll never feel confident enough to ‘back myself’ in the way I should, but I love running and I love our running community. Running provides mental therapy like nothing else – I still remember going for my first post-baby run when Leo was 6 weeks old and the wonderful Christina had come over to hold the baby. When ravaged with sleep deprivation and a crying, clingy baby, getting back out in the fresh air to run was bliss.
I am a massive race dodger, and that won’t ever change. But those of you who know what kind of panic I get into before a race will understand why that is the case and why I really shouldn’t subject many others to it! If only I could bottle the high at the end of the race and feel that at the start – I’d be racing as much as Harper! Looking over my running career I am really pleased with what I’ve achieved. Never in a million years did I think I would run a marathon. The very idea of running for that long seemed impossible. I’ve now completed 5, which shows that anything is possible and anyone can do it if they put their mind to it and have the support of family and friends.
This is soooo hard. I’ve had some great ones. I think it’s a three-way tie…..
- Race the Sun 2010 – This is a charity event for Action Medical Research which sees teams completing cycling, climbing and canoeing sections, starting just before sunrise and aiming to finish before sunset – racing the sun. You cycle approximately 50 miles (80km), hike to the summit of England’s second highest mountain – Helvellyn at 3,116ft (950m) and canoe a 3km course on Lake Thirlmere. ‘Felixstowe’s Fearless Foursome’ of myself, Christina Howland, Michelle Gordon and Kate Creake (was Beach), took on the challenge, without a clue of how we’d get on or really what we were letting ourselves in for. Not only did we finish first female team, we broke the female record. It was so hard but so brilliant, and I don’t think they’ve ever heard me swear as much since! Afterwards, one male team commented “you girls are legends.” Oh yes we were!
- London Marathon 2014 – I just loved it. I was lucky enough to be in the Good for Age start section so had a fantastic start, hob knobbing with celebrities and getting jittery with Michelle, and I honestly felt like I bounced round. I had so many friendly faces that had come to support, from the FRR crew to work colleagues and family that I spent mile after mile searching for people, and enjoying the buzz in between. I’ll never forget the wall of sound that hits you as you enter Tower Bridge, epic. If you’re even slightly tempted to give it a go, enter!
- Coastal 10 2015 – This race had been hyped up for all the wrong reasons. Certain club members had turned it into a Sheehan / Mackie smackdown and were piling on the pressure on both of us. Due to sheer luck, I had won the fastest FRR female trophy for the first two years, and now it was very likely to be taken off me by Zebedee (!) I remember being on the start line and various men (who won’t be named) winding us up as we looked at each other in utter panic. The wonderful Roger Stone had kindly agreed to pace me and we were aiming for 75 minutes. I don’t know why I had picked this time, which now seems super human, but at the time it was in reach. We shot out with Gail taking an early lead and all of us netting a sub 7 minute first mile which almost sent me into panic overload. I then spent the next 9 miles glued to Roger and doing everything he told me to do, even when I nearly punched him as he told me to effort up Maybush Hill. On the final mile he said “empty the tanks” and got a reply that was something like “they’re totally F***ing empty!!!” Somehow I did it, coming in at 1:13:49. That will be the last time I win that shield and more importantly, the last time I beat Gail who has rocketed ahead to become a fantastic athlete that I will now only attempt to keep in my sights during a race! I was over the moon and I don’t know if I’ll race it again for fear of damaging that brilliant result!
Favourite Moment ?
There’s lots of these too! Every time I have crossed a marathon finish line, seeing friends achieving their goals, winning lady runner of the year and club member of the year, Twilight 10k PB last year, seeing Leo and Chris during London, but one of the best ones was quite recent. Last year’s Tarpley 20 was a mixed race. I’d started with zero confidence, then enjoyed most of it with my marathon training companions. The final couple of miles turned into a race with Shabba who suddenly decided he was going to try and beat me…..I knew I had no chance in a sprint finish so had to get to the green long enough before him. I somehow finished with a sub 7:30 mile, but the ‘best moment-bit’ was when the race was over and we heard that we had won the female team prize. Michelle Gordon, Sarah Parker and I were crowned team winners! Both Sarah and Michelle are close friends of mine and amazing athletes so I was very proud to be sharing the prize with them. We were all so chuffed and had a fantastic afternoon celebrating.
Plans for 2016 / 2017
Who knows!?! I haven’t hidden the fact that my mojo has gone awol since Manchester this year but I’m confident it’ll be back. Despite losing all form, I’m still running regularly and also cycling to keep my fitness up. I will be doing the Wattisham Sprint Triathlon in October and will have a bimble around the One Lap to Ultra but that’s all that’s planned this year. I have another GFA place for London 2017 so assuming I learn how to run again, I hope to enjoy it as much a second time. In the meantime, I’ll keep loving being an FRR, supporting, training and minimal racing….:)
November Runner Profile
My running inspiration and all round machine – Michelle ‘Flash’ Gordon.