• Helen Phillips

Meet Our Marathoners Jude #6

Not everyone can run a marathon. You have to be a special kind of determined and crazy to train and then complete 26.2 miles on the day.

In my Meet Our Marathoners series we meet ordinary people who have battled through and achieved extraordinary.

Today we meet Jude, who ran VLM18 to show her love and support to her husband who is battling a rare blood cancer. Please read on to hear her story ❤️.

Tell me about your running journey

I initially started running when I was 40 and decided to run the Edinburgh Marathon to help a close friend raise money for a private stem cell transplant for her MS.

I trained hard for that marathon and was so proud to use my old, slow legs to raise money for her, legs that didn’t work as they used to.

It was a great moment to cross that line and I absolutely swore that I wouldn’t do another one.

I kept up running short distances as it had become such a way of life for me. But sometimes life changes in a heartbeat and you have to go back on your “I’m never doing that again”.

My husband was diagnosed terminally ill 5 months after I ran Edinburgh and my running simply had to stop.

There was nowhere else I could be but by my husband’s side. I did go back to exercising after a few months of his illness, as I knew the importance of time out etc, but running drained me of any energy I had and I had to make the decision to move to other activities that left me less drained.

Tell me about your journey?

My lovely husband is terminally ill with a rare blood cancer that isn’t curable. Together with our young son, we have faced 20 chemo sessions without remission being achieved. It has turned our life upside down, inside out and back to front.

How did running help?

Well you could say that, in a way, it didn’t. It was beyond difficult to fit it into a chemo schedule, associated caring responsibilities, looking after my son, working and everything else that my life involved. I only did it because I got a marathon place.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

Because sometimes life really turns on its head and you can’t make sense of it, you can’t change it but you can be determined to make it count so that others don’t experience the same hell.

And because I knew I could raise a fortune quite frankly as people around us struggled to come to terms with not being able to do anything that really made a difference. They felt strongly that what they could do was donate money.

Did you running for a charity? Which one?

I ran for Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research) as they try to find kinder treatments and cures for the 137 different types of blood cancers and provide support to those affected.

What was your fundraising target?

I didn’t have a set target - it was more a promise to raise as much as I could.

I held a ‘Cuppas and Cakes’ event, made ‘little bags of happiness’ to sell, my son made and sold a blood cancer related word search, asked friends and families to give money rather than Christmas and birthday gifts. My mum made jam and chutney to sell, my sister made jam and gin to sell. I got my story and justgiving link in the local paper, I got profiled online to raise awareness. My mum stopped just about everyone in the street and at her church and asked for support. I emailed all my work colleagues, I sent letters asking for donations to friends and family afar. I asked my son’s school for their help with donations, I got profiled at my gym. I did a ‘come dine at mine’ and asked for donations. I wrote a couple of blogs for my charity’s website. I just about told everyone and asked everyone to consider helping.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

Given what else I had to factor in to training, I genuinely just wanted to finish.

It was never about time - it was about showing my husband just how much I loved and supported him and creating the opportunity for him to see the esteem he is held in and how far others would go to support us as a family. I was 6hrs+ in the end but crossed that line feeling I was a winner.

How’s did training go?

It was all ok until March when I developed a stress fracture and compartment syndrome and was totally off my feet!

The weather was particularly harsh but I just got out there and got on with it. Marathon day I was running ok and on course for a 4hr45 time until my body gave up and the injuries reappeared.

What do you love/ hate about running?

I don’t really like running - I’m not very good at it.

But I love feeling that I got out there and did it. I loved the sense of pride it gave me.

I loved the fact that I sometimes totally forgot about cancer, chemo and caring and just focused on one foot at a time, for me.

I could have, quite frankly, sat on my ass but chose to get out there to make my new hell on earth count.

Why do you run?

I ran to show my husband I had his back - there was really no other reason. He knew how hard the first marathon was, the focus it required, the dedication to training it involved and the family sacrifices that were necessary. And this time, he knew every step was for him and our son, out of pure love.

Is there a song that motivates you through training?

There are lots of them that motivated me. I loved Despacito, the Shape of You, anything by Maroon 5; the list could go on.

But I ran with my heart when I ran to ‘Never Enough’ from The Greatest Showman. Because the extra time that treatment has bought us as a family before the inevitable happens will never be enough. Not in a billion years.

If you could choose who would present your finishers bling who would it be?

I’d have loved my husband and son to have placed the medal round my neck. It was for them all along. In return for my medal, I did present them with ‘Best Supporter’ medals though along with my mum and best friend.

What were the best parts of race day?

On the day of VLM18, I was so proud that my husband was well enough to travel down from Scotland along with my son and my friend and her boy. My parents flew in from Northern Ireland, my sisters and families travelled from across the UK. It was a real family affair and a day to treasure. Seeing them at least 4 times over the course created memories that will last the rest of my life.

How did you celebrate your marathon running success?

As soon as I met up with my supporters, my friend pulled out a bottle of bubbly and proper glasses and I drank a glass like I was a champion! We then went for a Sunday roast dinner and a few drinks.

I was incredibly proud to reveal after the marathon that I had raised £19,287.53. Life changing monies for the charity and the gift of hope to families like ours.

If you're already thinking about your marathon next year, you'll be pleased to hear Marathon Club Hub is now open.

Marathon Club Hub is my training & preparation programme for first and next time marathoners to provide you all the advice, information and support you need to get ready to run.

Click HERE to join Marathon Club Hub to get going with your training for next spring.