• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #4: Heidi


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 VLM19 Meet Our Marathoners Series we meet ordinary people who have battled through and achieved extraordinary.

Today we meet Heidi, who ran VLM19 for Tommys. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I started running in 2016 whilst pregnant with my son James. I started initially to bring down my blood pressure. But when James was stillborn in April of that year running became a way for me to battle through my grief. It was losing James that has pushed me to run for Tommy’s the baby charity and I ran my first marathon for them in 2017 and to honour James’ first birthday.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

I chose to run London as it is an iconic marathon. I had a score to settle. The first time I ran I suffered badly.

I’ve learnt however, that my feet however don’t like anything over 10km they’ve taken a battering at VLM2019.

How much have you raised for your charity?

I ran for Tommy’s the baby charity.

In 2017 I had a £2,000 target but raised just under £4,500. In 2019 I was lucky enough to get a ballot place but I’ve also fundraised and run for Tommy’s. I’ve raised over £1,000 from baking brownies. I also have a habit of talking to everyone and anyone about my adventures so a good bit came from sponsorship too.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

My goal in 2019 was to beat my 2017 time, which I did by 9 minutes.

In 2017 my only goal was to enjoy the experience as much as I could on my journey to the finish line.

How did your training go?

My training for 2019 didn’t go well. I moved to new part of the country so didn’t have any familiar routes to run. I also was coming back to running after a car crash that put an end to my marathon place in 2018. I was A LOT less prepared this time round.

What do you love about running?

I love the challenge that comes with training. Knowing that each run is bringing you closer to your goal.

It’s actually race days I love the most. I love the people I have met along the way and the unexpected adventures that come along.

Is there anything you don't like?

I won’t lie, hills are not my friend. I struggle with exercise induced asthma and hills seem to properly knock the wind out of me!

I’m also not a fan of wet, cold, dark runs. I do however LOVE the hot shower after these horrid runs.

Do you have a favourite post run?

My most favourite post race treat is peanut butter toast! I LOVE peanut butter.

Is there a song that motivates you through training?

I have to say that different days require different songs. I found Sia’s GREATEST really spurred me along when I was struggling during VLM2019. I also love listening to AWOL Nation’s RUN and Andy Mineo’s YOU CAN’T STOP ME.

My playlist was made for me by my son and daughter so some of the songs have a really good rhythm for me to run to whilst others just make me smile as I think of them. There are a handful however including Meghan Trainor’s ALL ABOUT THAT BASS that I struggle to tolerate but when a playlist is made with love you can hardly start deleting songs.

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

If I could have anyone present me with my medal I would choose Katherine Switzer. I was gutted that in the year I would have actually been able to run the same race at the same time as her I was forced to withdraw. As a woman who changed the world of distance running for women I can’t help but be in awe of her and the hurdles she over came in Boston the day she ran alongside the other male competitors.

Do you have any running “superstitions”?

I run with running tags on my shoes with my kids names on. They don’t make me go faster but if my head drops I see their names and it motivates me to keep going forward and never give up.

I also run in the same pink undies 😂 I don’t know why but I do it anyway.

On “race” days I wear my Tommy’s vest. It has over 400 stars I have ironed on that represent each individual baby I have been told about on my fundraising and running journey. I am effectively powered by stardust on race days as it is really hard not to reach that finish line when you have so many beautiful stars reminding you exactly why the pain is worth it.

Tell me about race day?

Sadly 2019 race day didn’t measure up to 2017.

I was following the 7hr pacer and we were trailed by the buses and rear party cars from the 3km mark. The crowds had thinned out massively by the time we crossed the 5km mark and there were many unpleasant experiences throughout that day that I feel incredible sad to have been subjected to.

However, amongst all of that I still have some fond memories. My cousins had travelled to London and had made an AWESOME sign that made me laugh each time I saw it. My eldest son ran alongside me for the duration of the course. My incredible friend held my hand when my spirit was so broken by what was happening around me and encouraged me to keep going.

The Tommys cheer squad at mile 22 brought down the roof with their cheer as I passed by (there were tears on both sides by that point!) but what really impressed me was how loudly they cheered on EVERY other runner that passed by too.

Despite the negatives there were always glimmers of good shining through the people around me.

I managed to stay with my 7hr pacer until the 9mile mark when my feet became too painful to keep up. Callum was awesome and it was such a lovely surprise to see him still waiting for me with a huge hug as I crossed the finish line 26 minutes after him.

It’s the people that make the experience for me and I have chosen to focus on the positive people I encountered at VLM 2019 rather than the negative.

I hope to return to the happy memories I made in 2017 should I be fortunate enough to participate once more in VLM 2020.

Heidi You're Awesome! You smashed VLM19!

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.