• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #7: Lindsay


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 Lindsay, who ran VLM19 for The Institute of Cancer Research and to settle a score from VLM18. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I started running about 5 years ago. I was inspired by a colleague who ran ultras. I didn’t even know they were a thing until then.

I went out one night as I was really stressed and managed 2km. I was so pleased with myself. I started to go to Parkrun and then worked hard to get to 10km. After that I planned a half marathon as a real challenge.

I found out I was pregnant after a 15 mile training run so never did make the half. It took a long time after my second child was born to get running again, but I started with couch to 5 km and worked to extend distances again, bit by bit.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

I decided to run after watching a friend run in 2017 … I had previously said I’d never run more than a half but the atmosphere was so incredible I had to be a part of it.

I also feel that it is important to challenge yourself to do things that aren’t easy; it’s how we grow as people. Lastly as a teacher I want to show my students that you don’t have to be good at something to do something.

How much have you raised for your charity?

In 2018 I ran for a disability charity called Livability and this year I ran for The Institute of Cancer Research.

I had a combined target with James, my new boyfriend, of £3000. We had both raised so much in the previous years that they went easy on us.

We hit our target at Christmas and in total we have raised almost £4500 this year. It was harder as we had raised a lot the year before (James raised £6000 and I had raised about £4000).

For us the fundraising was the best bit. We planned our fundraising at the start and worked steadily through the plan. We had some corporate sponsorship, I collected nearly £400 of unwanted clothes which I cashed in each month from friends and neighbours. We held curry nights, and cake sales.

It became a bit of a joke as whenever we went out we left with either a raffle prize or an event booked. Date night just isn’t the same now it’s over and we can just relax.

If you are following a plan read REST as charity planning.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

Last year I put loads of pressure on myself to get a good time. I really wanted to get round in under 5 hours, but I was never going to get it. I set myself up for a massive fail.

I’d love to say the heat and the injury stopped it from happening, but the reality is, I just wasn’t on for it, even it perfect conditions.

This year I had an epiphany on a 20 mile training run. I didn’t care how long it took, just enjoy it. So my goal this year was to have brilliant pictures on route. The ones last year were awful – full on bulldog chewing a wasp face.

How did your training go?

Not as well as it should have done. I thought I’d do loads but a new relationship, moving house and everything else made it harder. I did what was needed and no more. I did 2 back to back 20 mile races and got round within a respectable time (the cut off). Yes I could have done more … should have done more … but no regrets here.

What do you love and hate about running?

Sorry, but I did say it is about challenging yourself … I don’t like running. FULL STOP. I particularly hate running up hills and I hate how long it takes me to cover the distances on the plan – I mean who has the time??

But I like the feeling when I have finished and look back at my progress. And mostly I love how proud it makes James of me.

I did quite enjoy running round my estate dressed as a pizza in return for the pizza shop sponsoring me.

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

James. He managed to do it at the MK 20 and even wrote to VLM to ask if he could do it in London.

Do you have any running “superstitions”?

Yes, and it is really irritating. I have to physically touch each mile marker, meaning I have to weave through the crowds to get to them. Don’t know why it started but now I can’t stop.

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

Smiling and thinking about the journey this year. To be honest I was more excited for James who was aiming for a sub 4. He was full of self doubt but I knew he could do it. I just wanted to see him achieve what he is capable of and be part of that.

Tell me about race day?

I ran London in 2018 and for me it was all about doing something that was outside of my comfort zone. I’ve always watched it and been in awe of people crossing the line with their arms in the air, full of smiles and pride.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen for me as I picked up a suspected stress fracture in my leg at mile 20 and I crossed the line in pain.

Injury aside, I felt nothing when I crossed the line. I realised that I hadn’t really felt anything for a long time and that’s when everything started to unravel and my depression kicked in. I realised I had been chasing that feeling of achievement but I got nothing. If felt like my world was in black and white. Over the next few months things were tough but I made some huge life changes (including ending my marriage) and things started to get better.

For me VLM 2019 was about closing the door on a negative experience.

This year the first 10 miles went remarkably well. Then I Jeffed a bit to mile 12.

I stopped at Mile 12, just before Tower Bridge, to get 12 inches of hair cut off to donate to the little princess trust!!!! That felt awesome and broke the marathon into two halves.

The second half included not running as much. My belt was giving me serious stomach ache and I had decided at the start that I wasn’t going to push myself to the point of misery. So I walked and ran to my mood.

The best part by far was in Shadwell where the course passes itself. I was running out at mile 13 and looked up to see James on the other side running at mile 20 (or whatever it is) I couldn’t believe it … what are chances. We had a very emotional hug and went off on our separate journeys.

My goal was great pics and I think I achieved just that. I also beat my time from the year before by a whole minute … but the time it took was irrelevant – the journey was the important part.

Lindsay 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.