It’s a long way down Long Beach Road
IF you spot a runner heading up – and down – and up – and down Long Beach Road, give her a cheer.
Mary Williams, 46, is completing a full marathon just running in circuits around Long Beach Road in Longwell Green.
She is taking part in the Virtual London Marathon on October 3rd, where the 26.2 miles can be run anywhere.
This is an amazing feat for Mary because she only took up running during the pandemic, after not exercising since school.
Even back then she confesses to hating PE, once faking an asthma attack to get out of doing a cross-country run.
She said: “I did Couch to 5k in the first lockdown on a whim because I saw someone I knew had done it.I just put my trainers on and went out of the door. The app wanted me to run for 30 seconds and I struggled to do 20. The Couch to 5k programme is supposed to take nine weeks and it took me three months, but I did it.”
Buoyed by her success, she built up to longer runs, completing 10k by December 2020 despite an ankle injury.
She said: “I was a bit like Forest Gump – I just kept going. Then I wondered if I could do a half marathon, so signed up for the Bristol half marathon.
“The someone said, ‘Well, if you can do a half marathon, I bet you can run a marathon.’ Once someone dares me to do something like that, I can’t say no, so I signed up for the virtual marathon.”
Her training takes her up and down Long Beach Road, but also along the Bristol to Bath cycle track and along the Ring Road. Her longest training run has been 23 miles.
Mary plans to start the run around 10am, following a breakfast of Protein Weetabix with banana and two cups of tea.
She plans to leave snacks and drinks in a container outside her house in neighbouring Edgewood Close so she can refuel when needed during the expected five-hour run.
Mid-run snacks will include cheese and Marmite sandwiches, jelly babies and flapjacks.
Sadly, Mary’s husband, Drew, used to be a keen runner, but can’t join Mary on her runs because of a hip injury.
Before the pandemic, Mary ran two choirs and missed the social aspect while rehearsals and performances for Avon Harmony and Zest Tone Deaf Choir during the lockdowns.
She said: “I love singing and it was awful when everything stopped. I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t see my friends. When I go out to run I listen to my choir music on my headphones and sing along as I run. People probably think I’m mad but it’s given me a lot of headspace.”
Mary favours the “Jeffing” running technique invented by Olympian Jeff Galloway. By running for 60 seconds then walking for 30 seconds repeatedly, she’s found she can cover longer distances in a faster time than if she solely ran.
Mary is hoping that fellow Longwell Green residents will line Long Beach Road to cheer her on during the marathon, or even join in for a few laps to keep her company.
She is raising money for Barnardo’s, which helped support her during many years as a foster carer and while she adopted one of her three daughters.
To sponsor Mary’s marathon, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MaryWilliams27