• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #9: Marie


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 Marie, who ran VLM19 for Tommy's. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I initially started running in 2015 for a 5k Santa Fun run to raise funds for a friends daughter who needed a special needs trike.

I went on to run my first Half in October 2016. And there it ended. I moved house, struggled to deal with various things going on in my life and consequently lost my running mojo.

In Aug 2017 Remember My Baby, a charity that provides remembrance photography for families of babies that sadly have passed away before during or shortly after birth, announced they had been successful in securing their first ever charity place for VLM 2018! I was and still am a volunteer photographer for them and saw this as my chance to find my mojo and support an amazing charity so immediately applied.

Initially I wasn’t selected but on 1st Jan 2018 I received an email saying the initial successful. Someone had had to pull out and they wanted me to step up! So with 16 weeks remaining I was thrown into training for the epic London Marathon.

2018 as we all know was hot hot hot yet it was still the most amazing day ever. Training and completing the marathon helped me battle many demons and overcome so many issues.

Within 24 hours I knew I needed to do it all over again and see if with more time to train I could improve so straight away entered the ballot.

I knew Remember My Baby wouldn’t be able to secure a charity space for 2019 so started to think about alternatives. In the meantime, I talked my 2 brothers into entering the Brighton Marathon together, however I kept going back to wanting to run London again. People kept telling me I was crazy to consider 2 marathons 2 weeks apart but I knew I had to be there again. I was offered a place with Tommy’s, keeping with supporting Baby Loss and honouring my own angel Twins.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

I’ve always watched London on TV and thought about how amazing it would be but it was definitely Remember My Baby securing their charity place that pushed me to finally apply and join the fun.

How much have you raised for your charity?

This year I fundraised for Tommy’s with the target of £2,000 and it’s been much more challenging this year and I’m still a little off my target.

My daughter went temporarily blind in Jan and required emergency surgery. In Feb my brother suddenly passed away and throughout March and April my daughter has continued to have vision problems and requires further surgery.

Whilst running has defiantly helped me cope with all of this (I ran my first sub 2hr half 4 days after my brother passing away), it has affected my fundraising and I lost sight of that for a while.

However I held a pub quiz and a Christmas craft fayre towards the end of 2018, a couple of virtual runs, where friends and family completed the marathon distance during a month by running, walking, swimming or cycling short distances. Sweapstakes to guess my finish time for both Brighton and London and asking people to sponsor a mile in memory of babies or families battling with baby loss have also been significant parties of my fundraising. I have also done a bucket collection in my local supermarket and had support from the village store who hosted a guess the bear game and held a charity tin in store throughout. I currently have a 100 square game running and am hoping to round things of with another pub quiz in the next few weeks.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

In 2018 I wanted to just complete it however was aware that my training had put me on target to complete somewhere between 5.15 and 5.30. I completed in 5.46.21.

In 2019 I knew that I was stronger and fitter and my 20 mile race (Ashby 20) finish time put me on target to come in somewhere between 4.20 - 4.30.

In my head my plan was to push hard at Brighton and then enjoy London. I completed Brighton in 4.21.50 and was over the moon with this. In my stubbiness I immediately decided it was to close to sub 4.20 for my liking so decided London was back on for a time.

How did your training go?

Training has gone well this year. I created my own plan. Being a single mum I knew I needed it to be flexible and work around my children as much as possible so creating my own was ideal.

I completed 1 long run a week working up to 2 x 20 miles. 1 short run, one speed / interval run and Park run wherever possible.

What do you love about running?

Running has given me time for me, something I am not very good at doing. Its given me a focus, its reminded me how strong and determined I can be (and consequently the strength to stand up to some toxic people in my life). Its helped me manage my emotions surrounding my loss of twins, the challenges my visually impaired daughter is facing, the loss of my brother and many feelings surrounding family that have risen to the surface following my brothers passing.

Training for specific races provides me with the order and focus I need to stay motivated and get out! Its all too easy when the kids are playing up or my insomnia has been bad to think not today, but if I have races planned I know I need to crack on.

What's your favourite post run treat?

Always a glass of milk!

But since London this year I can not stop eating potato waffles and fried eggs, I’ve had it 3 times in 6 days! Opps!!!

Is there a song that motivates you through training?

I generally listen to Now Running 2017 and so many of those songs get my heart racing ‘Roar’, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ really get me going!

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

VLM 2018 was all about just soaking up the experience and proving the haters wrong.

This year I was looking forward to soaking up more of the atmosphere and taking more of the sights in. I also had my brother in my mind, running for him. He had entered and been unsuccessful in the Ballot 10 years on the trot! SO he was very much with me this year.

Tell me about race day?

This year I loved that I had other people to share the experience with. Faye who I had met via the Facebook group in 2018 and my friend Lisa who was completing her first Marathon. I decided to attempt to stick with the 4.15 pacer and despite being in the zone behind I was able to join him in the holding area.

The first 15 miles were great, nice and steady and dare I say easy. Around mile 15 my left hamstring started to pull so I eased off slightly and gradually lost sight of the pacer. Somehow my Garmin had a little fit around mile 17 and started only telling me the time of each mile so I started to loose focus as to if I was on for my Sub 4.20.

However I kept pushing and at Mile 17 took my caffeine gel, which after 2 miles turned me into a Bullet getting me my fastest mile between 19 - 20. At mile 22 I started to struggle a little (I didn’t get my rocket up my rear with my 2nd caffeine gel) so allowed myself a 1 minute walk at each of the next 3 mile markers. This was enough to keep me going. I didn’t need to worry about looking for spectators on course as my Aunt and children were lucky enough to secure grandstand tickets this year so I knew they would see me finish instead!

Running down the Mall was just as amazing as I remember it being in 2018, i moved across to the right to wave at my children as I went past then picked up the pace to cross the line in 4.19.54!

Marie 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.