• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #28: Nicci

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 Nicci, aged 42 and a third, who ran VLM19 for Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. If you'd like to help her with her fundraising click here for her fundraising page. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I've always wanted to run the London marathon and was convinced that one day I would, espite the fact that I hadn’t ran since school! Last year I decided to just go for it, alongside raising money for a charity very close to my heart. I applied to run for GOSH and was surprised, excited and more than a bit nervous to learn in October that I had a place with them.

I’m a great procrastinator and between October and Christmas I went out running a handful of times on the couch to 5k plan. I used the Zombies run app for all my training. There's nothing like being chased by groaning, imaginary zombies to keep you motivated!

At Christmas I suddenly realised that I had four months. FOUR MONTHS and I could barely run for 30 seconds! So I knuckled down and started running 3 or 4 times a week.

I finished a homemade(!), condensed version of C25K and then did a park run. It felt strange running with other people and I was so nervous, more nervous than for the actual marathon, but I ran it in 30 minutes.

At this point I was amazing myself every day. I had gone from only being able to run for 30 seconds before Christmas, before feeling like I was going to cough up my lungs, to now being able to run 5k! I felt I could just run and not have to stop! I was counting down the days (hours!) until my next run to see how much further or faster I could push myself!

A few weeks after I was due to finish the 5k to 10k plan I entered a half marathon. A beautiful, flat (yay!), scenic one in my home town of Weymouth. And I wanted to run it all. So I cobbled together a marathon plan which would increase my miles in the time I had left and on the 17th March.

With only 4 hours sleep, I ran the half, in 2¼ hours, cheered on by my family. When I had arrived at the race I felt overwhelmed with all the ‘proper runners’ there. But I was beginning to think that maybe I was one of them: a runner! Despite the fact that every time I went out I used to think "What if I can't do it anymore? What if I've been imagining it all?"

Over the next few weeks I increased my distance to 20 miles before tapering. I then entered that wonderful phase of carb loading. I did mean to eat extremely healthily, but ended up gorging on bread, noodles and pasta! Yum! And Easter eggs - they're carbs aren't they?!

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

It's something I've always wanted to do and I like a challenge. Am I up for doing something/anything? Err… YES!!

How much have you raised for your charity?

I ran, for Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. My family have been helped enormously by GOSH.

My little boy received amazing care and life changing surgery there in 2017. I don't want to think what his or my family's life would be like if it wasn't for them. They were also incredibly supportive and caring to me.

My husband, who had been a runner, sadly died the previous year, just as our little boy got poorly and went into hospital. He was only 37 and our children just 1 and 4 years old. I know just how hard it is to have a very sick child and I wanted to try to ensure that GOSH continued to have the funds to save and change lives.

My fundraising target was £2000 and I’m almost there! I donated a good amount myself and family, friends and other lovely people donated the rest. I'm doing an event in a few weeks as well.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

My main goal was to finish it and have fun! My original "running" goal was to be able to run for 6 miles then walk for 4 and repeat. By the time it came and I realised I'd be able to run most of it so my goal was still to just finish it, but secretly I wanted to do it in under 6 hours!

How did training go?

Amazingly well, I enjoyed it all and have finally realised what people enjoy about exercise! I got a real buzz from it and a sense of achievement! I was also lucky I that the worst injuries I sustained was one small blister and one bruised toenail, caused by my sock seam pushing on it.

What do you love about running?

The sense of achievement and amazement at what I can push my body to do. I also love that I feel healthier and want to try to continue this in what I eat and drink. The most surprising thing has to be the natural buzz and joyful feeling I get from it.

Do you have a post run treat?

Cup of tea and a fried egg sandwich. Mmmm.

What's on your running playlist?

90s grunge keeps me going, although I have to work at stopping myself from playing air guitar!

Do you have any running superstitions?

I always run with my buff. I find it helps to breathe through it, especially if it's windy or cold. I just have to make sure people don't think I'm a cowboy.

Who would you love to present your marathon medal?

My children! Although they probably wouldn't give it to my but want to wear it themselves!

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

The crowds, the entertainment and getting the medal!

Tell me about race day?

Amazing! I loved every minute of it, well, apart from queuing for the portaloos!

The crowds and entertainment were brilliant, the Run Dem Crew in particular were fantastic. I managed to see my partner three times which was impressive. He practically ran a marathon himself trying to get round to the different cheering points!

I ran practically all of it and did it in 5:28, which I was so happy about, especially considering where I had been four months ago.

If I could do it again (and yes, I have entered the ballot for next year!) I would not start right at the back (according to the VMLM stats I overtook over 4½ thousand people) and would try to make fewer trips to the portaloos on route!!

How did you celebrate your achievement?

We had a couple or glasses of wine afterwards surrounded by other runners but the best bit was a hot bath!

My children stayed at home (they're little still) but I got them both "Number one supporter" medals which they loved!

Nicci 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!