Beaming from ear to ear, Dee Morgan is bursting with pride.
As the 43-year-old clutches her finisher’s medal she can’t believe how good she feels.
A year ago Dee struggled to run a mile.
Today she’s already got three half-marathons under her belt and hopes to run her first full 26-mile event by the end of the year.
‘You can’t beat the feeling that you get from the achievement,’ she says. ‘I’ve definitely got the bug. Running is for me, it’s my time. I can leave the kids at home and just get out there for me and nobody else.’
At a time when health experts say we need to get more exercise, Dee believes she’s proof that it is possible.
Despite being no stranger to exercise in her younger years, she fell into sedentary habits after the birth of her three sons.
But it was only when she joined a slimming group that she vowed to lose weight and get fit.
With around one-and-a-half stone to lose, she didn’t know if a group would be for her. Yet the support and advice she found at the Slimming World meetings gave her the incentive she needed to stick to a healthy eating plan.
And as the pounds started to fall off, she decided to make running her next goal.
After years of doing no exercise at all, she found it tough at first. But she persevered and now runs three times a week to stay in shape.
‘I used to run before I had children but my eldest is almost 14 so it was some years ago,’ explains Dee, from Milton, Portsmouth.
‘It was always something I wanted to get back into, but I never used to be able to run as far as I can do now.
‘I used to go down to the seafront and could probably do no more than a mile at first. I just increased how far I was running every couple of weeks until I could run the entire length of the seafront and then the entire way and back again. That’s six miles. I never thought I’d be able to do that.’
In October she joined Portsmouth Joggers and now enjoys running on her own and as part of a group.
Running competitively has kept her focused and she was elated when she ran her first half-marathon in the New Forest last year.
‘When I finished I just couldn’t believe it,’ she adds. ‘It was like winning gold at the Olympics.’
The Gosport and Portsmouth half-marathons followed and she’s now deciding whether to tackle her first full marathon in December.
Dee’s also taken on one more challenge. She’s just become a consultant for Slimming World and will lead a group every Wednesday night at Christ Church in Milton Road.
She hopes others will follow her lead and introduce exercise into their lives.
‘It’s not unachievable,’ she adds. ‘Everybody is individual and some people have got health issues which means they wouldn’t be able to do it but I think generally, most people could do something like this. There’s no reason why not.
‘It is realistic – with a bit of encouragement.’