It’s been my pleasure this week to chat with Sandra Gowran. Newer club members won’t know how accomplished Sandra has been in her running career. With some international standard personal bests, Sandra is surely one of the top runners ever in the club An inspiration to many that run with her.
When did you join Sportsworld?
I joined the club sometime around the turn of the century! I think it was in 2001. I had just finished a part-time Masters whilst working full-time and the weight had piled on, I decided that as I’d recently turned 30 I needed to get in shape, so that was my motivation in joining.
Where do you work?
I worked for an NGO called GLEN – Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. We advocate for full equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people – my work is primarily in the education field (I’m a second level teacher by background), but I also had a big part over the years in the advancement of rights in relation to relationships and parenting. The pinnacle of which was the marriage referendum earlier this year.
What is your favourite club session?
I have so many of them, but I think it would have to be xc training sessions in the Phoenix Park in the winter, the summer track sessions are a very close second though, even though I’m better suited to the longer intervals.
What is your favorite race distance?
Longer suits me better and so I think it would have to be the half-marathon. I only have one full marathon to my name and I would like to try for a
decent time over that distance, but I fear time is running out for me on that one as the years fly by.
What is your favorite meal before a big race?
When I was competing I was very particular about my food, 10 years ago there wasn’t the saturation of recovery/fueling supplements that there is today and so it was all very basic plain unprocessed food. My breakfast before a race would always have been 2 weetabix with warm milk and coffee. If it was a long race I’d probably also have a ripe banana.
My Favourite place to train/compete is?
My favorite xc country course from my competing days is Belvedere House which coincidentally happens to be in my hometown of Mullingar. I love training in the Phoenix Park, but probably my all time favourite race is the 13km Ridge Run in Club La Santa, Lanzarote.
What is your target for the next year?
I’d love to get back into good racing shape and target the Masters xc and track next year.
What is your best Sportsworld memory?
My best memories of being part of Sportsworld are around team events, the best one being the year that we narrowly missed winning team gold in the National Clubs xc, a silver medal was great to get that day, but we all really worked hard as a team that year and we came so close, so it was bitter sweet.
What international events have you ran?
Stormount International XC; Bristol Half-Marathon 2004 (Irish mixed team); Sligo International Track Meet (Sligo 2004); Dublin International T&F (2004); European Clubs 15km Road (Team) – Italy, 2004.
What do you like doing when you don’t run?
My life at the moment doesn’t involve a lot of free time but I love playing any kind of sports really and love just kicking a ball around with the kids in a park.
How/When did you start your adventure with running?
I ran off and on when I was in school and in my twenties. I had a short spell in my mid – late 20’s when I ran more regularly and completed a
few half marathons and my only marathon, but really my running adventure didn’t begin until my thirties when I joined Sportworld. When I decided
to shed the weight the adventure really took off.
Tell us about your PB’s / What is your biggest achievement?
When I look at my PB’s now I wonder how the hell I did it. When you reach a PB you always think you’ll better it and I always did think I would, life, circumstance and a re-shifting of priorities meant that I never did. Now I can appreciate some of my achievements more. I’m probably most proud of my half-marathon PB which I achieved in an Irish vest in Bristol in 2004, I ran 78.27 that day about 2 weeks after winning a silver in the National
Half-Marathon, the Bristol time shaved 7 seconds off my 2nd place time that day. I’m also very proud of my 10km time of 35.47 also posted in 2004 in
the National 10km Road champioships in Sligo.
How often do you run / What is your typical weekly mileage?
Now I like to run as often as my home/work schedule permits. At present I’m getting out about 5 times a week, I tend to follow the pattern of the club training, interval sessions and a long run on a sunday supplemented by a couple of easy runs during the week.
What would you say is the best thing about being in a Running Club?
People think that running is quite solitary and at times there is nothing better than being out on a run alone with your thoughts, but being part of a running club is a brilliant way of getting the most out of yourself. When you train with others there’s always someone for you to aim to beat. Racing as part of a team can be as exciting as any team event. I agree with those that say that running is perhaps the purest of physical pursuits, there is never
anywhere to hide and you can only run to the extent you’ve prepared and trained for. I’m looking forward to running more as a master and getting hooked on that team spirit again.
What made you join a Running Club?
I like structure, routine and competition – running is one of the best hobbies you can take up, anywhere I go I pack my runners and explore new places in my running shoes.
What was your first day at the Club like?
I was quite shy and felt like everyone knew each other. Emily took a look at me and told me to walk and jog a top lap – I was disgusted – I’d show her!
Why is running important to you?
I’m at my happiest, most content and healtiest when I’m running. When I run it feels like what my body was meant to do. Of course not all days feel like this, but its a bit like a runners high, once you’ve experience it once you’re constantly chasing that high again.
Is there anything you would like to see more of or less of at the Club?
I’d love to see more people running in the championship races, there’s so many races on the running calendar now that its easy to go from one road race to the other and forget about the club aspect of racing. In my opinion championship running (at whatever level) is where it’s at – it’s the GAA/Croke Park of athletics. I think people miss the fact that much of it is not about individual performance but is actually about team racing and representing your club. I’d love to see the women’s teams in the Club in the ascendancy again!
Who is the person in the club who inspires/drives to run better?
Emily Dowling has always been an inspiration to me – her work ethic is something that I’ve always been impressed with, not to mention her dedication to the sport. Phil Kilgannon is someone who has always impressed me in life and in running, he’s been in the club knocking out great performances since I was running at my best, it’s pretty amazing that he’s still running at such a high level. I love to see people really into their running and doing everything possible to improve. I’d also have to mention people like Sean Byrne also who have run for decades and especially getting back to participating in races after major heart surgery. A bit like the marathon I think it’s the distance and longevity that inspires me most.
Do you do any cross training / other sports on a regular basis?
I work out in the gym infrequently and bike to work everyday and other than that race around after 2 young children!