• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #23: Emma

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 Emma, who ran VLM19 for Macmillan. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I couldn’t run less than a year ago. Last year I moved to Kent and joined a Couch 2 5k group to make new friends. I graduated from from my C25K in July.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

I had always watched the London Marathon as a child, and it has been a life long dream to run London, no other Marathon would do!

How much have you raised for your charity?

I got my place to run London Marathon through my work at London Luton Airport and ran for Macmillan. They cared for my Mum in 1997, shortly before she passed away. So this charity has personal meaning to me and my family.

I had the fundraising target of £2,500. I’ve raised over £3500. I bought a load of Easter eggs and put a hamper together for a raffle, I offered staff a paid day off work for a raffle. I work in in Airport Security so I gave talks to the local WI and Rotary groups in exchange for a donation, memory miles and a sweepstake.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

My husband ran the London Marathon in 1997 and ran it in 4.57. I was determined to beat his time. I didn’t and I’m disappointed with that, but still happy I finished in 5.36.

How did training go?

My training was helped by two amazing friends I met at my running group. They came on every run with me, even the windy ones, the wet ones and long ones, and they were not even training for a Marathon!

What do you love and hate about running?

I loved putting together training routes, finding new places to run to in a fairly new area to me. I also loved spending the time with my new found friends. We would chat all the way round the route and now have a really solid bond.

I'm not keen on hills. There are a lot of hills where I live, so they were hard to avoid. The early weekend starts were quite challenging, and the very cold mornings.

Do you have a post run treat?

Anything I can get my hands on. Bread and muffins mainly.

Is there a song that motivates you through training?

Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, was a regular on the playlist.

Who would you like to present your race medal?

My Mum and Dad. Sadly, they are both gone. I dedicated my final two memory miles to them, and I know they would have been so proud.

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

The atmosphere, there was such a massive build up and Expo. I was given so much advice in the London Marathon Training & Support Facebook Group, and I couldn’t wan to see and hear the crowds.

Tell me about race day?

I was buzzing from the moment I woke up. I was expecting the nerves to kick in but they didn’t.

My husband and two kids drove me to Greenwich and I left them there. I walked up the hill in Greenwich Park to General Wharf, and said a quick hello to my mum (who’s ashes are scattered on the area overlooking London at the top of that hill). I then went through to the meeting area and I was approached by a fellow Macmillan runner. We were then joined by several other Macmillan runners which was great.

Lots of hanging around, then we got started. I went against all advice, and foolishly shot off – way too fast for the first 7 miles as I was so excited! I realised my error too late.

I sucked up the atmosphere, everyone shouting and cheering your name. I saw my family at several points around the course which was literally like a recharge of my batteries.

I made another mistake in drinking Lucozade. I had never trained with it, and it made me feel sick. So come mile 15 I only had water, not even the planned gel at mile 20. Energy started to flag, and looking at some of the professional photos I really wasn’t enjoying it. My thighs were really painful, and I could feel the niggly blister emerging on the side of my inner foot (incidentally it’s the only place I put a compeed plaster before the race). Running through the tunnel with no shouting supporters was actually a welcome break for a few minutes. It gave me time to collect my thoughts and give myself a talking to.

I ploughed on, and seeing family and friends again and again lifted my spirits. I was surprised at how many other runners were walking.

The final two miles were tough emotionally for me, as they were dedicated to my mum and dad. I had to do everything I could to fight back the tears, as I knew if they came, I wouldn’t be able to stop. I kept them back, took a final selfie by Buckingham Palace and then trotted round to the finish.

I was a bit underwhelmed with how I felt when I crossed the finish line, I’m not sure what I expected really, tears, elation, but I just thought thank God I made it.

I took the long walk to reclaim my bag and then went to hunt down my family. At the time I thought never again, but within a couple of hours I had already entered the ballot for next year’s London Marathon.

On reflection I would definitely do things differently, lets hope I will get the chance to run it again one day….

How did you celebrate your achievement?

I arranged to meet some of my supporters in a pub afterwards. All my family and a couple of friends were there. They blew their whistles when I walked in which was quite amusing as the pub was packed! I celebrated with my first alcoholic drink in 8 weeks!

Emma You're Awesome! You smashed VLM19!

Marathon Club Hub coaching programme

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!

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