• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #33: Suze

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 Suze, who ran VLM19 for Dementia Revolution. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I started running in December 2017, when I found I had a charity place for the London Marathon 2018 for Marie Curie. I found out I’d got my charity place fairly late, so went from nothing to marathon in the space of a few months.

I had a month out for a foot injury, and after VLM 2018 I ran the Vitality 10k, then went back to my physio as I had a few post marathon niggles, (and knew they would have stopped me running if I’d gone back before the Vitality 10k!)

I had treatment and wasn’t allowed to run at all until October, when my physio ‘allowed’ me to get back running and to do 5 x 1 min treadmill sessions. When I started running again I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it, and when Dementia Revolution were announced as the official charity for 2019, I applied for a place, having said never again after VLM18!

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

The reason I wanted to run a marathon was to raise money for charity. But it was an unusual thing on my bucket list.

I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. There were a lot of people who thought I wouldn’t manage it being an inactive, underfit, overweight person. But in the end it came down to me achieving a personal goal and raising money for a worthwhile cause.

How much have you raised for your charity?

I ran for Dementia Revolution, which is a one year campaign between the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK to raise awareness and raise funds to fight dementia.

I was set the target to raise £2000 and I’m almost there. I raised money through friends, family and having collection pots at events.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

My goal was to finish in 6:30 – but really just to finish!

How did training go?

I started training in August (before I had my place!) with gym work and I also had a Personal Trainer. My whole lifestyle had to change and I had to learn to run. I kept up my gym work and Personal Trainer and added in running once I knew I had a place. I used the ‘Jeffing’ approach to my running and at it’s peak, I was training four to five times a week.

What do you love about running?

I loved exploring new parts of my town, and a Greenway which has been newly built. Although it wasn’t always the best place for my training because it could be quite exposed, on a windy day wasn’t too pleasant.

I enjoyed the time to myself and headspace, and spending more time outdoors than I used to.

If I’d been asked at the beginning of training why I run, I would say to finish the marathon. Now, I’d say because I enjoy it and for “me” time, as well as the side benefits.

What are you not so keen on?

I’m not a fan or running, but the thing I hated most was trying to fit everything in.

I’ve changed jobs since the marathon. But I was working long hours and some weekends and I found it hard to fit everything in.

Although I was doing it for a cause close to my heart, there were times that in all honesty I found it hard to find the energy or the motivation. Mentally, that made me feel guilty. And of course, with an April marathon, so much of training is in the cold, dark months!

Is there a song that motivates you through training?

The soundtrack from The Greatest Showman. And listening to football commentary to take my mind off things as well!

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

The atmosphere and seeing other Dementia Revolution runners – there was such a support and camaraderie between people running in the Dementia Revolution team.

Tell me about race day?

Race day was hard. I’d come down with a cold a few days before the marathon, and my husband collected my number for me from the Expo (cue, tears as I felt I was missing out).

I’d been feeling quite happy and comfortable prior to the event but the cold/virus knocked me for six, so that morning I was feeling nervous.

I started off with the 07:00 red pacer to slow down my expectations but couldn’t quite keep the pace after a few miles. Despite the illness, I felt stronger than in 2018 and was happy to pass where I’d hit the wall in 2018 (mile 10).

I enjoyed Tower Bridge, and was feeling strong until mile 14. Then I started to feel less strong and I wasn’t feeling good.

The red 07:30 pacer caught me up and tried to keep me with her, but I was struggling. I saw Mum at mile 17 and burst into tears; the first time she had seen me cry since I was a child! I made it to the finish thanks to the support of family and friends.

The key things for me were that I achieved what I aimed to do – I came in under the cut off, and I finished on the Mall.

How did you celebrate your achievement?

After crossing the finish line, I felt really, really ill! My husband, mum and friends looked after me and it took me a while to feel more “human.” I really wanted a diet coke, so we headed off to the local pub!

Suze 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.

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