Dublin Marathon – Meet the Runners – Suzie O'Neill

October 27, 2022

With just a few days to go until the Dublin Marathon, we have been talking to some runners about why they are running the Dublin Marathon, as well as some questions about their running journey. 

Next up is Suzie O'Neill of Clane AC in Co. Kildare.

Hi Suzie, tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure, I’m Suzie O’Neill, I am a runner, and I have my own business, AYU Cosmetics. We have a full range of beauty products and brushes. I started the business when my first child was born, Ollie, and I was working at a college. I always felt that tools were really important part of a makeup routine and at that stage there wasn’t the brands there is now so they weren’t as affordable as you would want them to be for students to be able to have them. I wanted to see if I could make something that the girls could afford. That’s how it originally started.

Once they started getting a bit of interest, I felt there might be a little niche in the market for a new business. At the time I was working 6 days a week and 3 of those days were 12 hour days. I didn’t have the opportunity to move it on. Ollie was so young, and I wanted to have time with him but I also wanted to have my own business, to run my own diary. I decided to take the leap and leave my job and go all in with the cosmetics. We actually only brought out our first cosmetic five years ago but the brushes were on the go for years. Thankfully we’ve been growing every year since so it’s been great.

With everything in work being so manic in the last few years, I have found running to be the place I go where nobody can get me. When I’m out for a run, I can clear my head and have some quiet time. I always think if something goes wrong, I can go out for a run, have time to think, and get a more balanced view of a situation. Often some of the best ideas I’ve ever had have been when I’ve been out going for a run.

To be honest, it’s not always that easy to just say I’ll just go for a run because when I was starting the business, it was just me and I had two kids under 2, and Alan was working six or seven days a week on the farm. I would be at home all the time with the kids. So getting out wasn’t that easy, but you know I used to just get them in the buggy rain hail or snow and I’d run along with them. I think getting out with them has probably got them interested in being active too.

Why are you running the Dublin marathon?

I started training with Garry Cribbin and his group back in March his year, the marathon wasn’t on my radar at that stage, I just wanted to join a group as I had always trained on my own. Most of the group were doing it so I was having a bit of FOMO and when the extra tickets were released I was lucky enough to secure one. I’ve obviously watched it myself a few times too and the atmosphere is just unreal so I am excited to experience it as a runner now! We’ve all put in a lot of work and Garry has been absolutely brilliant in coaching us so I just can’t wait.

Can you remember the moment when you decided to run your first marathon?

The first virtual marathon I did, I actually did it for Down Syndrome Centre, I am still a brand ambassador for them. I have a niece with Down Syndrome and she was a motivating factor for me to try something and raise some funds for the charity. So we started with a 5k, then a 10k, a half marathon and then full marathon. I managed to rope in a few family members to take part too. My sister in law did the marathon with me and we loved it. I loved the work involved in doing it, and training, it required a lot of discipline with I love.

Our family had come out with their banners to cheer us on at the end which was lovely. That sense of achievement lead to me then running the Donadea 50Km virtually and then doing it for real the next year at the course, the atmosphere was amazing. That’s what I love about the running community, everyone is so nice, and they’re so supportive and so encouraging and it’s such a lovely space to be around.

Have you run many marathons before? Have you any run this year, or planned for next year?

Garry has suggested going to London so we’ll see, I need a little rest first!! I’ve done a few locally and two ultra’s, my last being Donadea 50K in February but Dublin will be my first big one. It’s been really nice for me to run with a group because in my line of work there are a lot of lonely times when you’re working for yourself. You’re running your own business so it’s nice to just go to a place where there’s it’s a total switch off. I am planning on running in the Donadea 50km again next year but we’ll take it all day by day!

How did you get into running?

I’ve always kind of dipped in and out of running. I did triathlons when I was younger, but I never really kept it up consistently. But then about three years ago, I started running 5Ks and 10Ks but never over 10K. My husband was running a half marathon in Kerry, and asked me would I not be interested in doing a half marathon? I said no way, anything over 10k would just bore me. I just couldn’t do it. He went off to run the half and myself and the kids went to Donadea. I was running and my kids were on bikes, I decided to see if I could do the same distance as my him, and ended up doing 26K that day. The longest I had ever done before that was 10K, but after that I was hooked. I couldn’t believe I had run that distance and it just made me think, what else can I do?!

For me as well because I run my own business, running was always my escape. It’s where I went to think things through and I got so many ideas. I actually found that through running I became so much more confident in myself and in my decisions. For me, I think running brought my business from one level to a totally different one because of how it made me feel and how much more confident I’d gotten in myself, so now I couldn’t be without getting there for my run.

How do you find the time to train? And how do you cope with missed sessions?

For me, training is a non-negotiable. It’s fit into my diary throughout the week. I suppose nowadays I’m a little luckier and that I run my own diary so there’s times where I can fit it in during the day. Most of the time though I try to get first thing as it starts my day the right way.

In relation to missed sessions, they used to get to me but now I just park them and move on. I was sick two weeks ago and I couldn’t run for three days, of course it’d be the weekend where I was meant to do my last long run for Dublin. If you miss a run like that, you just have to accept it and move on. A few years ago, if I had missed a long run like that, I would have panicked, but now I’ve kind of relaxed a little bit knowing that the legs have it. I think consistency over perfection is key.

How has your preparation been for the marathon? Have you run other races, or shorter races? Have you had injuries?

I’ve been quite lucky overall. I have a little hip issue at the moment that I’ve had for a few months. It raised its head first in the Donadea 50 last year but it raised its head again there a few months ago. I’m trying to just keep it managed at the moment and just get through the marathon. I have been lucky enough that I haven’t had anything severe.

What would your advice be to runners heading into the marathon?

The first marathon which I ran was virtual so I didn’t really have any pressure, I got to enjoy the whole experience. When I started doing a few races like 5K’s etc., I felt a bit more pressure and nerves, it actually would have stopped my sleeping at times but over time I’ve changed the chat n my head to use that energy for excitement, I try and remind myself of how lucky I am to be running full stop so I would say to anyone feeling the nerves to try and relax, take it all in and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work over the past few months.

Do you have any techniques to motivate yourself when the going gets tough?

Well, there’s a few things I try and tell myself. I always know that this is going to hurt no matter what. I have to expect that and know that it’s coming and not be shocked by it. I would always tell myself that I can rest for as long as I want once I get over that line.

I’m a big believer as well that it’s mind over matter, like how bad do you want it? How bad do you want to get a finish line? If I started to let my mind wander, it could get negative on me so when it is starting to hurt I just keep telling myself, one foot in front of the other- just keep moving.

My kids motivate me to get through the hard times too, Ollie my son in particular, he is a dog when it comes to racing. He just has such drive and determination and never gives up. He never ever gives up the fight to the very end. I always watch him and think that if he’s doing that at 11, I can do it. I’m an adult I should have the strength and the ability to keep moving if he can. They’re the things like that will be rolling around my head when I’m hitting Heartbreak Hill!!

You seem to have a massive passion for running. What next?

I just launched a new business a couple of weeks ago called Koolfit Apparel. We started with some sports leggings but the whole point of starting that business was to get people up and running and to get people to fall in love running again. I know how nervous people will be when they are running the marathon on Sunday, but for some people a doing a Parkrun, that’s their marathon and it’s just the same feeling. People should enjoy what they’ve achieved. This Saturday, we have the Koolfit 5K which is the end of a Couch to 5K program which we’ve been running. There will be people taking part in the 5K from all around the country so it’ll be great to see how they get on.

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