After nearly losing her son Ann-Marie McGlynn returned to running. Ten years later she is in the form of her life as she prepares for a busy summer
Ann-Marie McGlynn has been through a lot down the years during her time inside and outside athletics. The Tullamore native was a talented juvenile athlete and had made a strong progression to the senior ranks competing for Ireland at the European U23 Championships before making the decision to step away from the sport in her mid-twenties.
Last year McGlynn missed out on a place at the Olympic Games by four seconds, running a time of 2.29.34 for the marathon in Cheshire.
Four seconds off in a 26.2-mile race, agonisingly close to reaching the pinnacle of the sport she loves.
“The calls were coming in and the messages and that was hard, I think I just shut down my phone,” she recalls.
McGlynn went in search of the qualifying time in Austria a couple of weeks later but to no avail.
“I suppose you just had to put it behind you because there’s no point dwelling on it. As my daddy says, maybe I wasn’t meant to be there and maybe I wasn’t.”
Given the adversity McGlynn and her family had overcome she was able to easily put things into perspective and acknowledge that running is not “the be all and end all.”
Ten years ago, McGlynn and her husband Trevor had their world turned on its head when their three-week-old son Alfie ended up in intensive care at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital with a strain of Bronchiolitis which caused his lung to collapse.
“I was getting pulled into this blackness and I was like, god, something’s not right. They told me we probably wouldn’t take him home.”
Understandably struggling to process what her family was facing McGlynn returned to running, which she says helped her.
“I wouldn’t say I switched off because I just couldn’t get it out of my head, but it definitely just got me out of the hospital and got me out of thinking the worst,” she says.
Alfie went on to make a full recovery and McGlynn kept running before she returned to competitive action in February 2013.
“I looked up the calendar for Athletics Ireland and I saw that the National Indoor Championships were actually on Alfie’s first birthday, the 16th of February. I thought, that’s the one. I brought him there and it was emotional. I came second and the rest is history.”
McGlynn’s silver over 3000m that day in Athlone capped off a remarkable comeback to the sport.
She is now preparing for what will be a busy summer ahead. McGlynn, under the watchful eye of Emmett Dunleavy, has achieved the standard for the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games over the marathon. She has decided to focus on the marathon at the European Championships but still isn’t ruling out the possibility of competing at the Commonwealth Games and heads to Highgate in London for the ‘Night of the 10k PBs’ meet this weekend to see if she can achieve the standard for Birmingham.
The Letterkenny AC athlete certainly shows no signs of slowing down something she praises Dunleavy for. She currently runs around 90 miles a week which she says works for her.
“He’s (Dunleavy) got it down to a tee now, I think less is more with me. We don’t go redlining, we stay under threshold, and it seems to work for me. I think with that kind of training, I’ll have a few more years in me definitely.”
While training hard McGlynn also juggles part-time work doing sports massage and her role as a mother to her two kids, Lexie who is 12 and Alfie who is now 10. Both are involved in various sports and McGlynn’s evening schedule is busy bringing them to and from training. Her kids are definitely proud of her achievements.
“After Cheshire when I missed the standard by four seconds, I got a flight home the next day and the kids met me at the door. They hugged me and they kissed me. They were delighted for me regardless of not making it. Then I got up the next day and we done the school run. Now it’s they that come first and running comes second.”
McGlynn still has aspirations of making it to the Olympics.
“2024 is not that far away,” she says.
But before Paris comes Munich this August and McGlynn will be looking to show her dogged determination and put in a performance she can be proud of on the day.
Ann-Marie McGlynn was speaking as an ambassador for the Irish Life Dublin Marathon and Race Series. Entry is open for the Irish Life Dublin Race Series; 5 Mile, Fingal 10km, Frank Duffy 10-Mile and Half Marathon at IrishLifeDublinMarathon.ie. The Irish Life Dublin Marathon on Sunday 30th October is sold out.