Mandy's 2021 Virtual London Marathon Story

Mandy is a 48 year old single mum of two and originally from Reading. She now lives in Birmingham and currently works at the Ladywood Leisure Centre within the city, run by Serco Leisure.

“After 15 years as a receptionist in the leisure industry I was offered redundancy. It was a tough time but it highlighted that I still wished to continue my journey and that perhaps a new challenge was what I needed. I was thankful to secure redeployment to a new build site at Ladywood, Birmingham and I am enjoying the change in environment. I have settled in really well and was made very welcome. Everyone is extremely friendly and I am learning so much. As someone who loves to help people with their health and fitness the impressive facilities here have been great. The new centre is in quite a deprived area which means that it has to deal with many challenging issues. Since starting I have felt empowered and fed off the passion of the managers to help make a difference to the community through various projects. Moving to Ladywood was definitely the right decision for me and the variety makes going to work even more interesting and enjoyable.”

This past year has been very much a life changing one for Mandy. She continues, “I have been on my own personal journey during lockdown. I have lost 3 stone by adopting a keto lifestyle. I stopped eating after 8pm and my home workout routine consisted of hula hooping, boxing, dancing routines, yoga, abs training, meditation, and mantras. Together it has given me a more positive outlook on life and because I made the routine myself it was more manageable to do on regular basis.”

With a new positivity Mandy continues to accept new challenges and it was at this time that she also accepted an offer of becoming a fitness instructor. Studying regularly Mandy was now juggling many aspects of life which became a real test for her. As she explains, “With my new outlook and a career pathway to becoming a gym instructor I wanted to share my story with others and during lockdown I nervously sent details of my health and fitness journey to my employers (Serco Leisure) which was then featured in a monthly newsletter. I am now near the end of my training and will soon be sitting the exam before the end of August 2021.”

Since taking up her new role at Ladywood Mandy has experienced lots of life changing moments and on top of her busy schedule she is now training for a very exciting personal challenge.

“My employers Serco announced that places were available for the London Marathon through WheelPower. I decided to look into it and spoke to lovely lady at the charity called Jo Hall and we decided the best option for me would be to do the Virtual London Marathon, as I had not done any running before. Learning about what WheelPower do as a charity is amazing. I know that nothing is certain in life and that any one of us could sustain a life changing disability (physical or mental) so to be part of such a great cause and to help disabled people in to sport is really inspiring to me.”

Mandy is now signed up as a member of Team WheelPower for the 2021 London Marathon which promises to the biggest marathon that’s ever taken place. On October 3rd 100,000 will run 26.2 miles. Half of these on the famous London course, and a further 50,000 on a course of their choosing on the very same day. WheelPower are so grateful to Mandy for taking up this opportunity and we will continue to support her all the way to the finish line.

Training has been going well for Mandy so far and it’s been great to receive updates from her as we now get closer to the big day itself. “Training has been a real mix up of different levels and strategies from power walking to short runs, running/walking for 5k, and then 45 minutes continuously on a treadmill! Endurance training is certainly the major challenge to me and it feels like it’s more mental attitude over physical which I am working on. I recently printed off the London Marathon 16 week plan that I will be using going forward.”

On October 3rd as a Virtual Runner Mandy will have the whole day to complete her run and she is considering doing it in multiple stages. As she explains, “The site Wyndley where I used to work has a running track and at my current site in Ladywood they have a lovely round flat route at Brookvale park which has a beautiful lake in the middle. I hope to gain some supporters at the sites to encourage me on which would be amazing.”

“I have never done anything like this before! I attended the live online event and got to meet the London Marathon experts and it made me realise what an amazing challenge I have committed to. Hearing about other people’s journeys and how they felt made me feel better about it and also getting tips on hydration/nutrition and the overall community spirit the London Marathon has helped me to.” 

“I have been working with a personal trainer who has helped my strength training. My body is changing in ways I could not have imagined a year half ago and I am felling fitter, healthier and happier mentally too. I feel like I'm getting younger not older! The body is an amazing thing and have I discovered it’s only my mind that can limit it.”

It is fantastic to hear about Mandy’s journey and how in the face of the pandemic and change that she has been able to make so many positive steps. A new job, new fitness qualification and now with a London Marathon challenge upcoming it is safe to say that the future looks bright for Mandy. We are so happy she chose to run for WheelPower and we wish her all the best over the next few months.

Mandy concludes, “I hope I can inspire my kids and show them that it is never too late for change. I am feeling confident and I am now putting all my efforts into my training for the 3rd of October, which is just before my son’s 18th birthday. I hope my sponsorship will make a difference to WheelPower and I thank you for the opportunity to run for them in the Virtual London Marathon.”

Mandy will be taking part in the Virtual London Marathon in support of WheelPower and she hopes that you will be cheering her on along the way.

UPDATE (4/10):

"Yesterday I completed 26.2 miles for my charity WheelPower by running/walking 105 laps of the Wyndley Leisure Centre track. Even though the app said I finished the 26 miles I had to keep going 2 miles more just to make sure! This was the biggest challenge I have ever set myself and all for great cause WheelPower. They give people a chance to gain access to sport in wheelchairs and I can't wait to go up meet them all next year.  It really was an amazing day and event though it was tough on my knee all your support helped me get through. Thank you all for your donations so far and supporting my journey to the finish line." 

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NEXT: Chris's London Marathon Diary

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