• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #22: Kate


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

Tell me about your running journey

I was a bit of gym bunny before starting running on holiday in Majorca, exactly a year to the date of the marathon! I’d packed my trainers and a pair of shorts, as I knew we wouldn’t have access to a gym and it was a bit too chilly to swim in the sea! I only managed 20 minutes at a time, but along the beautiful shoreline at sunrise it got me hooked!

I gradually built up to a 10k race by Sept 2018, then ran the Cardiff Half in Oct 2018 before I started training in earnest for the marathon.

I’ve almost always exercised. It makes me feel good not just physically but gives me fantastic headspace.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

Firstly, it was to a complete bucket-list item! I remember growing up watching the marathon and thinking ‘maybe that could be me one day’ and when we lived in London for ten years I’d head down to the Embankment on Marathon day (early!!) and stay there all day, my hands raw from clapping the incredible runners, each and everyone as inspiring as the next.

Secondly, it was an opportunity to run for a charity I felt passionately about supporting, Tommy’s, the baby charity. We are so lucky to have two healthy, happy children, but we know how very fortunate we are. I had complications at the end of each pregnancy and the information provided by the charity was so helpful and valuable. They also fund vital research into the pregnancy conditions I had.

How much have you raised for your charity?

Tommy’s, the baby charity who fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provide pregnancy health information to parents. I was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) also known as obstetric cholestasis (OC) and intrauterine growth restriction with our daughter, Meggie, which caused a huge amount of worry and anxiety. Amongst all the reading we did at this time to try and understand more, it was Tommy’s that provided us with the most accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based information. They are currently funding research into this area to help further understand the impact of a diagnosis of obstetric cholestasis on a pregnancy.

I was asked to raise £2000 and so far I’ve raised over £3000.

I held two events; a coffee morning (advertising it to be for families as it included a children’s singing group, who volunteered their time for free) and Family Fun afternoon (stalls, entertainment, soft play, refreshments). Together, they raised just under £2000. I also had a money tin at the local Co-op.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

My training runs suggested I would finish around 4.45 according to online calculators. I wanted to get under 5 hours but, above that, enjoy it! It felt such a privilege to be running for Tommy’s and lining up on the start line of the world’s best marathon, I wanted to enjoy every second.

I did it in 4.40.20; yay!!

How did training go?

Pretty good actually, the hardest thing was juggling work, two children under three, and fitting in the long runs. I saved up some annual leave to use for the long runs so they didn’t impact as much on precious weekend family time. I was apprehensive about injury so went along to a strength class and Pilates class each week, which I think helped enormously.

What do you love about running?

I love how it makes me feel; I love the adrenaline, I love the headspace, the fresh air, the sense of feeling fit and strong, the ability to eat ALL the chocolate, the community (both online and at run club) and being part of an exclusive club training for the London marathon.

I’d get pretty nervous the night before each long run, a little anxious that I’d hate it. But then I read about changing my mindset, thinking of each long run as a milestone to embrace on the journey to the start line. I found running with others helpful and tried to attend a local run club for the intervals and sprints part of the training.

Do you have a post run treat?

High 5 cherry hydration tablets mixed with Robinsons peach squash; its yummy!! And a couple of hours later- cheese on toast and a cuppa. I always feel a bit chilly after a run and this warms me up no end.

Is there a song that motivates you whilst you're running?

So many! I have a little playlist of songs, everything from the Rocky theme tune to Kanye West Homecoming to Avicii Wake Me Up to Bonnie Tyler Holding out for a Hero to Rachel Platton Fight Song to I’ve had the Time of My Life (ironically this was the song playing as I ran down the Mall so it has even more significance now!).

Do you have any running superstitions?

Erm, half a tin of pears the night before help to ensure I’m ‘empty’ before the race starts! And my lucky knickers!

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

The crowd. They say here in Cardiff that the Welsh supporters at the Millennium Stadium on rugby match day are the 16thman on the pitch. The cheering crowd at the London marathon were the equivalent, they were phenomenal, even more than I could have ever hoped!

Tell me about race day?

It was extraordinary. Epic. Beyond any expectation or hoped. I loved it!

The build up was so exciting. The expo just brilliant and I met with other Tommy’s runners the day before and again at the start line, which helped calm nerves- they were a fantastic bunch, incredibly inspirational.

The first two thirds I took it all in, congratulated every person I passed in fancy dress (the rhinos, serious kudos in those costumes), high fived lots of kiddies and acknowledged every amazing ‘Go Kate’ or ‘Go Team Tommy’s’ with a thumbs up. Mile 10 was a huge highlight- seeing my family and some emotional hugs!

I loved the iconic run past the Cutty Sark and across Tower Bridge. I felt I was dreaming, it was just like the telly all those years ago!

By mile 18, the fatigue was physically kicking in, my knees and legs were tiring. I suddenly understood the cliché that a marathon starts at Mile 20. Mentally I reassured myself I ‘just’ had the equivalent of a 10k, one hour, 2 x ParkRuns left, but physically every step was harder than the previous one. It was a real case of head down, grit teeth, I WILL get to that finish line. I was in the zone.

Around Big Ben I reminded myself to look up, take it all in, I didn’t have long left and I may never be fortunate enough to run London again. I’m so glad I did, it gave me that little spurt to run faster, to lap up the crowd support and salute the Queen on the bend round the Palace.

I took a deep breath and ran as fast as I could towards that red line. The finish. I’d done it! The London Marathon! I turned to hug a lady next to me, who kindly asked if it was my first; when I tearfully nodded, she raised my arms in the air and promised me there would be no other moment ever like this one. She was absolutely right of course. I was ecstatic. On cloud 9. And I think it’s taken me a whole week to stop grinning with delight.

How did you celebrate your achievement?

Huge hugs with all my family and then at the Tommy’s after party with a sip of fizz (it went straight to my head!), a much welcomed massage and about ten mini burgers!!

Fiona 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!