• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #19: Natasha

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 Natasha, who ran VLM19 for Wellchild. Please read on to hear her story. Click HERE for her charity fundraising page.

Tell me about your running journey

I started running for ‘fun’ in April 2018. I would regularly put on my headphones on a sunny day and set off for a run, running anything from 3 to 8 miles. I found running as a great way of clearing my head and forgetting about the stresses of work.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

After watching the London Marathon on TV, I remember thinking how much I admired the runners and thought how I would love to be able to run that distance. I decided to apply to set myself a ‘challenge’. I remember telling people I had a place and their initial response was “Do you even like running?” I had never mentioned running much before so it came as a shock to friends!

How much have you raised for your charity?

I ran for WellChild and was set the target of £1600 to raise and have raised over £2000 so far.

I held a charity ball, had several raffles, buy a square, Krispy Kreme fundraising doughnuts and a bake sale.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

I wanted to finish in about 6 hours and enjoy every minute. I wanted to see the landmarks in London as opposed to completely zoning out and seeing them!

How did training go?

Training started really well until I got an ITB injury and a knee injury. This set me back then by about 4 weeks.

I went to see a physio who referred me for a specialist gait analysis. After new running trainers with special insoles I got back to running but had to take it easy for a couple of weeks. This was frustrating as I knew I had to run further than I was doing, because the training plan told me to! But I also knew an injury could potentially mean I would have to defer until 2020.

What do you love about running?

The thing I love most about training and running was that I could zone out when I ran. I found it really relaxing running in the morning sun. I felt happy and found it was a great way to clear my head.

What didn't you like about training?

Running on a cold, frosty Saturday morning was awful. I remember having to really talk to myself whilst I lay in bed and encourage myself to get out for the run. Once I was out I was okay – but encouraging yourself to go or a run on a weekend when it was your day off was really tough.

One particular run that sticks in my head was on an icy morning when I was trying to run but ended up skating down the road like Bambi! I decided to persevere though and hoped that once I got to some grass it would be easier. I then slipped on ice on grass and was so wet and muddy – I said I wasn’t going to run again after that!

Do you have a post run treat?

Weetabix protein chocolate crunch was always my go to after a run! I became obsessed with the cereal during training!

If you could choose anyone who would you like to present your finishers medal?

My Grandmother. She died when I was 8 and I remember her always telling me that when I grow up I could achieve anything I wish if I put my mind to it . I’m sure she would have been very proud of me.

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

All my siblings, partners, their children etc were there to watch this year. I couldn’t wait to see them! I simply love running over tower Bridge – best feeling.

Tell me about race day?

I woke up on race day morning feeling exhausted but also very excited.

I managed to get to the red start area nice and early so I could relax. I met up with a friend who was also running and I hadn’t seen her in nearly a year so was really nice catching up and getting excited with her.

Then the race started pretty well. I remember feeling a little heavy in the legs but just reminded myself I needed to warm up.

Mile 3 I had to join the queue for the toilets, even though I had went lots before I suddenly started to see everyone flock to them and decided I better go too! After that I just tried to get in the zone and enjoyed seeing the landmarks such as Cutty Sark.

Approaching tower bridge was an amazing feeling. I felt like I had got this far so I knew I could do it. I was looking pretty good for time and I had been receiving messages of support from family and friends along the way that I could read on my apple watch – this really helped!

Then I met my family at mile 14 and they said how proud they were of me and to keep going. I was back in the zone and ran really well until about mile 17. At this point my back started to hurt and my neck. I was getting tired and decided to walk a little bit. However I soon realised that after walking for too long it’s really hard to get back into running again and I ached much more than usual.

Mile 18-20 was the worst. I was tired, I was sore, I was really emotional. I remember texting my boyfriend at mile 20 saying I don’t think I can do this I’m in so much pain. He said “You’re so close to finishing. You can do this!” I picked up my legs, I listened to the crowd and I just went for it.

Embankment was such a long mile. I remember seeing Big Ben and hearing people tell me the finish was just around the corner. But it felt like it was ages away!

I finally approached the signs that said 1km left and I’m not kidding you – that was the longest km of my life! I saw and heard my family cheering like crazy in the grandstand and somehow managed to sprint to the end. That feeling crossing the finish line was the best feeling in the world – I still cant quite believe I did it! It’s so surreal!

How did you celebrate your achievement?

I‘m a primary school teacher so I proudly wore my medal to school the next day and all the children kept asking to see it and congratulate me. We looked at highlights of the race in class and I showed them photos etc. I felt like a celeb! I haven’t stopped talking about the marathon since!

Natasha You're Awesome! You smashed VLM19!

If you're already thinking about your next marathon, maybe you've got a race this autumn or you're entered into one next spring you'll be pleased to hear I'm opening up Marathon Club Hub.

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 get going NOW!