Blood, Sweat and Cheers!

We left for London on Saturday morning and headed straight for The London Marathon Expo. The marathon weekend starts as soon as you walk through those doors to the famous London Marathon theme tune – ‘The Trap’ by Ron Goodwin. We queued for a few minutes, before it was time to sign on the dotted line. With my running number in hand, we made our way to the Parkinson’s stand to meet Bill and the team. On my way out, I passed an Adidas stand selling sunglasses. I wouldn’t say I’m much of a big spender – I like my gadgets but I don’t waste money. Did I need a pair of sunglasses? Well, as soon as I put them on I was sold, and as I work outside, I felt they were perfectly justified!

We checked into the Ibis City London Hotel in Tower Hill. Instantly, I spotted other marathon runners. They almost give you that look as if to say ‘he’s running it’. It adds to the whole marathon experience, mixing with other people and sharing stories from races of the past. Our initial impression was that the hotel was very good. The room was clean, it had good facilities and breakfast was being served from 4am! I was keen, but not that keen.

I laid out my kit and checked I had everything ready and in place. Everything was good except for my Garmin, which started reverse charging. It seems this is a known problem and luckily after a few hours on charge, it managed to sort itself out. To say I was relieved, would be an understatement.

Ready for action!

Ready for action!

I always eat my last main meal a few hours earlier than usual to give my body time to digest before the morning. We booked a table at Zizzi, Tower Hill. I didn’t want to stuff myself full, so half a garlic bread and a bowl of spaghetti bolognese was more than enough.

Hmm... Pasta, pasta or more pasta?

Hmm… Pasta, pasta or more pasta?

I woke up at 5am – even though it was an hour earlier than I’d planned, it was by far the best nights sleep I’d ever had before a marathon. I suddenly felt slightly nervous… I had been completely relaxed in the weeks during and even the night before. There was no doubt that this was down to training. I had trained harder than ever this year, running further than I’d ever managed on my own and had been strict when it came to food and drink. I wasn’t scared or worried, I just wanted to get there on the start line and finish with a new PB.

We went down to breakfast… which was a disaster. There was no porridge and no edible bananas as they were green. I made do with a couple of slices of toast and a coffee. Good thing I’d packed a couple of bananas just incase! You would have thought the hotel would have provided the perfect start for their guests, especially as some of them were from overseas! Embarrassing to say the least and not only that, but at £9 a head, it was a disgrace!

The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm

We jumped on the tube at Tower Hill and made our way to the DLR. On route we met Mark who lives in New York City – he’s in my marathon film, wearing the blue jacket as we head for the escalators. He ran Boston Marathon last year and finished 7 minutes before the bombs were set off. I can’t imagine how it would have felt to be so close to such a tragic event.

Mark from NYC

Mark from NYC

I arrived at the runners village and found some space to organise myself. I finished sorting out my bag making sure I had all my running gels and drinks before putting my stuff onto the lorry. A few minutes later I realised I had left my headphones in the pocket of my jacket, which was now in the bag! I struggle to run without music at the best of times, let alone during a marathon. Thankfully, the staff were able to find my bag and I was able to get them.

On my way to Greenwich Park

On my way to Greenwich Park

The time had come. I was on the red start line with my GoPro in hand. I had been filming all morning, as you’ll see in my marathon video. Mo Farah had just been announced and the race was about to kick off… 3, 2, 1 go! We all walked forward, slowly making our way towards the start. 10 minutes later, I crossed the line and started my Garmin. I’ve since found out that it took over 20 minutes for the last of the masses to start the race!

I was one mile in. I felt confident, the sun was shining and there was a cool breeze in the air. The residents from East London had lined the streets to cheer us on, I’d often hear ‘come on, Lee!’ I captured many of these moments on my GoPro. Incase you haven’t heard of a GoPro before, it’s a small camera that’s mainly used to film sporting activities and is often referred to as ‘the world’s most versatile camera’. I had planned to give the GoPro to Lauren at Mile 6, however it wasn’t causing me any problems and I wanted to film as much as possible.

The first cheering point - mile 6

The first cheering point – mile 6

I was still feeling fresh as I approached Cutty Sark. Lauren and the first Parkinson’s cheering stand were coming up. I couldn’t wait to see them all. The noise was getting louder as we neared the charity stands. I could see the Parkinson’s flags up in the distance. I moved over to the left so that I could get a good shot on my camera as I ran past. If you look closley, you’ll see Lauren a bit confused as to why I didn’t stop and give her the camera – I was having too much fun filming and didn’t want to miss out on any golden opportunities.

Mile 6 - Amazing support!

Mile 6 – Amazing support!

At mile 7 things took a slight turn for the worse. I felt some pain in my right ankle… I ignored it, hoping that it would pass. It was now clear that we were in for a hot one. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky – good thing I bought the sunglasses. I had fallen into a comfortable pace of around 9:20 min/miles. It was slightly slower than I’d wanted for this early on, although I thought if I could keep this up, I was in for a new PB for sure.

I had reached the halfway point in 2:02. There was still a long way to go and it wasn’t getting any cooler. The pain in my ankle was getting worse. I wouldn’t call it an “injury” it was more of an ache, like you’d expect to feel after 20 miles, as opposed to just 7. I was landing my foot slightly differently to to avoid the pain, which could have been a bad move as it could have lead to further pain or injury elsewhere.

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London

Mile 16 was the most mentally challenging point of the race. It had been 10 miles since Lauren cheered me on at the first Parkinson’s stand and I was 10 miles away from finishing. Another problem had developed over the last few miles. I looked down at my vest to see a huge patch of blood. My plasters had fallen off of my nipples, which had resulted in some chaffing. This is a common problem for runners… you will see the blood in some of the photos. I was more concerned about the pain in my ankle and there are far worse places to chafe, so it was really no issue.

I kept telling myself ‘eyes on the prize’ and to ‘battle through the pain’. I had just turned on my music when I heard someone screaming ‘Come on Leeeeeee!’ in the background. I looked over to the left and saw Hannah, Lauren’s brothers girlfriend with her mum. It really helped and gave me the boost I needed. A few minutes later, I passed Lauren and her family all cheering as I ran through the streets of Canary Wharf. Shortly after, I started feeling weak. I felt a tingly sensation in my finger tips and legs. I walked for a few minutes an washed an energy gel down with some water – I instantly felt better. Making that pit stop and refuelling was key and it carried me through the next couple of miles.

Mile 19 - Canary Wharf

Mile 19 – Canary Wharf  - Amazing!

I had just passed mile 22 – this is where the race really starts. I had 4 miles to go, my legs were killing and I had to dig deep. I kept saying, ‘just one foot in front of the other’ and ‘you can do this’. I was so close to finishing, but I knew this was make or break. If i was going to get a knew PB, I has to keep on going, no matter what. I passed the final Parkinson’s stand at mile 25. I was well on my way to securing a 4th London Marathon medal. I started filming the crowds of people and thanking them for their support. This gave me a huge adrenaline rush and carried me through to those final 385 yards. I turned the corner, waved to Her Majesty and ran towards the finish line. I had done it… my 4th London Marathon and a new PB – official time 4:23.

Crossing the line in 4:23 - a new PB!

Crossing the line in 4:23 – a new PB!

The medal was placed around my neck and I smiled. I had done it – but I felt sick. I sipped at the cold water I had been given from inside the goody bag and slowly made my way towards The Strand Hotel. It was a long and slow walk, but eventually I started feeling better and made my way down the stairs. I walked in to a round of applause and cheers – it was amazing! Thank you. Lauren’s mum Jackie passed me a lemonade and some biscuits and I went off to have a massage, followed by a shower. It felt much tougher than the last two marathons, nothing will compare to that of the first when I got injured early on. I think the heat played a massive factor this year but all in all, it was a brand new PB and an truly enjoyable experience.

You can help too

A lot of people have asked me how they can help. I would LOVE to see as many of my family, friends and customers at our Party For Parkinson’s on 26th April.

Full details can be found on the flyer below. It’s going to be a fantastic day of live music, local ale, bbq (including pulled pork) and bouncy castles for the kids. Tickets are on sale now at only £5 per adult and kids (under 12) go free!

To buy a ticket, simply sponsor me here £5 for each ticket and we will hold them for you on the door. We would really like to know number advance, so if you’re coming please let me know :)

www.virginmoneygiving.com/sullivan

www.virginmoneygiving.com/sullivan

Thank you

I’d like to finish by saying a massive thank you to all family, friends and everyone who has supported with words of encouragement and donated to my page. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Parkinson’s UK for letting me running 4 years on the trot!

Maybe next year will be 5?

The Weyfield Mini Marathon

I’d like to tell you about an event we held last week at Weyfield Primary Academy. A couple of weeks back I was thinking about how could we involve Weyfield again to help raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease. You may remember that last year, during Parkinson’s awareness week, we organised for 450 pairs of shoes to be placed in a spiral across the playground. I had an idea to hold a ‘mini marathon’ and after a meeting with Assistant Headteacher, Mrs. Mack the ‘Weyfield Mini Marathon’ was born.

We called the whole school to an assembly on Wednesday morning. I ran through a presentation explaining what Parkinson’s Disease is, how it affects people and what we can do to help. The children were incredibly focused throughout the talk, with many of them asking questions and thinking up ways in which we can help. It was around this moment that I announced that we would ALL be taking part in our very own mini marathon at Weyfield. The children were really excited and couldn’t wait to take to the field.

Who are Parkinson's UK?

Who are Parkinson’s UK?

We had organised for the children to run set distances depending on their age. We tried staggering the year groups but as soon as they got outside they couldn’t wait to get going! We had no choice but to let them all run at once. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow… Some children ran 5 or 6 laps – almost 2 kilometres!

Order, order!

Order, order!

The whole school - raring to go!

The whole school – raring to go!

We finished off the event by awarding all 350 children with a gold medal and certificate thanking them for their support.

The Winners!

The Winners!

I’d like to say a special thank you to everyone at Weyfield who helped make this event happen. It was an amazing event that I’m sure left many children inspired to help and to even run marathons of their own one day.

Recovery

A couple of days after completing run 4 of ‘The Big 6′ I felt a slight groin strain on my right. A few days passed and there was still no improvement. I booked myself in with Danielle at Optimum Fitness (you can reach Danielle on twitter, highly recommend @dssportstherapy) She was quickly able to diagnose the problem. It seems that once again, my tight glutes would come back to haunt me. After a good massage on my legs and a couple of exercises to do in the evenings I felt confident that I would recover in time for the race. With only 3 weeks away from the day, I made a conscious decision not to run another long run, meaning that run 5 and 6 would not happen. I think this slight injury was a way of my body telling me that enough was enough and it was definitely time to enjoy the taper period and let it recover.

The injury has now healed and I’m feeling in good shape. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks running much shorter distances. On Tuesday I ran 4 miles in 30:45 which was an amazing time for me – proof that the taper does work!

Fastest 4 mile run ever

Fastest 4 mile run ever

Party For Parkinson’s 2014

We’ve been really busy these past couple of weeks organising our main event for this year, Party For Parkinson’s 2014. The local ale has been ordered and the gazebo has arrived. More and more companies have donated some excellent raffle prizes too. I’ve even bought a new BBQ – get ready for some top food!

We’re also pleased to announce that ‘HammerJacK’ will be performing a live set for us. They’ll be showcasing their brand new EP – so don’t miss out on that.

HammerJacK

HammerJacK

I’ll leave you with this image…

Pulled pork and BBQ chicken - just a selection of grub that will be on offer.

Pulled pork and BBQ chicken – just a selection of grub that will be on offer.

You can buy tickets from me directly or online here at £10 per adult – kids under 12 go free!

Waiting for a train…

Sunday afternoon marked run 4 of ‘The Big 6′. After a great run out to Ash the previous week, I decided to run it again, only this time I’d run a little bit further.

20 miles

I slept in slightly later than usual as we’d been in Brighton the night before to see Russell Brand – which was brilliant! I set off at around 10am. The sun was shining but there was a fairly strong breeze which helped. Almost immediately after leaving the house I could feel how tight my legs were; my calves especially. I kept a steady pace and pushed through. It wasn’t long before I’d warmed up and they felt much looser.

I was a good 6 miles in when I began to feel quite comfortable. I planned to run 20 miles and given the fact I was tired, I was going to make damn sure to reach 10 miles before turning on the spot and running home. I reached the level crossing at Ash, but was only 9 miles in. Unfortunately a train was coming in, so I had to wait around 5 minutes for it to pass. Soon enough, the barriers raised and I started running again before finally reaching mile 10 down in Tongham, Surrey. At this point I felt great. The slight discomfort in my legs had completely passed and I was running at a stead 9:30 min/mile pace.

Lee Sullivan

Waiting for a train?

I called into my nan’s house on the way back and filled up my water bottle. She had cold water in the fridge waiting for me. If there was ever a day I needed cold water, it was Sunday. By midday the breeze had died down and I was running in the sun, it was a hot one. As I approached Guildford, some 17 miles in, I started to struggle. By this point my run had turned into a slight plod, nevertheless I pushed on through and made it home in 3:20. Although my time was slightly slower than I was expecting, it was still fairly good considering how tired I’ve been feeling.

That’s it, run 4 of ‘The Big 6′ complete. Just a couple more to go and then I can rest…………….

Running on empty

My legs were very tight after running Reading Half last Sunday. I went for a very gentle 3 mile run the following day to try and loosen them up. It was quite relaxing. I managed to squeeze in another couple of runs – a gentle 5 miler followed by a much quicker one on Friday.

My plan now is to run a couple of times during the week to keep fit and concentrate on covering the long distances at the weekend. I always make at least one weekly run a fast paced one. It’s the fast paced/interval runs that have greatly improved my fitness over the years and no doubt paved the way to quicker marathon times.

Sunday

I woke up to the sun streaming through my bedroom curtains. I got up, had my usual morning shower followed by two slices of toast and a coffee. I had planned a different route through Normandy to Ash, as my usual route to Woking would be difficult due to the inaugural Surrey Half Marathon. It made a nice change to run somewhere completely different. I set off at around 9:30, holding a couple of SIS energy gels, shot blocks and Lucozade drinks.

The plan was to run 18 miles. I knew that it would be tough as soon as I left the house. My calf muscles were still aching from the weekend before and I struggled to find a steady, comfortable pace. What made it harder was that this route was much hillier than what I’m used to. I avoided looking at my phone to see how many miles I had covered until I reached Normandy… 6 miles… I felt I had ran a lot further. It could have been because I’ve driven this route hundreds of times but never ran it.

The scenic route

The scenic route

The first 6 miles were the hardest, and I’ll tell you why. At 6 miles in, you’ve been running for almost an hour. If you’re tired and struggling to find a steady pace (as I was) you feel like you have ran further than you actually have. You still have 3 miles to run before you can turn around and run home. When I’m faced with this situation I trick myself. Instead of thinking, I’m 6 miles in and I have 12 to go… I think, just 3 more miles and then I can turn around and run back… at that point, I would have covered 9 miles and would only have 9 left and because I have already ran the route, I know I can do it! It’s all in the mind.

I was running back though Normandy when I realised I had ran out of water! I’m usually good at judging how much I’m going to need, but with the hot weather, I clearly needed more. I called Lauren and she came to the rescue and met me on route. I turned the corner and passed Rokers when I saw her up ahead – my very own water station was there waiting! By this time my legs were feeling better and I had managed to find a steady 9:30 minute mile pace.

 

Lauren came to the rescue

Lauren came to the rescue

I had just 4 miles to go, the sun was still shining and I felt comfortable. I continued my run through Stoughton knowing that there was only a short distance to go. I started to think about what I was going to eat when I got home. I arrived home with a new 18 mile PB of 2:59!

Thanks for reading, if you’re looking for ways to support then please come to our event ‘Party For Parkinson’s 2014′. You can buy tickets here or from me personally. Check out our Facebook page for further details.

Party For Parkinson’s 2014 – Tickets On Sale!

News just in!

We’d like to officially announce that ‘Party For Parkinson’s’ – our first fundraiser of 2014, will take place on Saturday 26th April 2014, between 12:30 – 15:00 at Weyfield Primary Academy, Guildford. Lauren and I have planned a fun and exciting event, suitable for the whole family.

Click here to take advantage of our ‘Early Bird – Adult Ticket’ offer of just £8. They WILL be increasing soon, so grab them whilst you can!

Let's Party!

Let’s Party!

Man Of The Match

I’ve just got home after running my first half marathon – The Mizuno Reading Half. I’ve never ran a half marathon competitively before, and so I was really looking forward to it.

We woke at 6am, to the sound of our alarms ringing throughout the flat. It was a real struggle getting up due to only getting some 5 or 6 hours sleep. We went to see The Overtones on Saturday night in Brighton and didn’t get back until late. After a quick shower, some toast and the obligatory coffee, we jumped in the car and drove to Reading, Surrey.

game face

Game face

I couldn’t wait to get to the start line. I didn’t have any of the usual pre-race nerves that I get before the London Marathon, it was just pure excitement. We parked the car, and walked to the buses. Lauren and I said our goodbyes, we would next see each other at mile 7. I arrived at the runners village and got prepared for the race. I was expecting it to be exclusive to runners, however it wasn’t and this made for a very hectic 30 minutes, wading through thousands of people to the start line. I’m just comparing this to the London Marathon, perhaps most races are like this? It was no real problem.

keeping warm

Keeping warm – that’s one way to do it!

I arrived at the ‘Blue Start’ and positioned myself very optimistically, a short distance behind the 1.50 pacer. The plan was to run this as quickly as possible and to finish in under 2 hours, which would be a new PB. After a quick warm up the gun sounded, and runners started making their way over the start line. My running watch was set as I crossed the line. I fell into a steady pace of around 8:30 minute miles, which was quick. I’d never start a full marathon at this pace. I’d been warned that the first 3 miles were very hilly – they sure were, and they were testing my ability to keep up this 8.30 minute mile pace. Nevertheless, I pushed through it knowing that what goes up must come down! Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we were running downhill and letting the legs do the work.

I was approaching the midway point when I realised how comfortable I had become, running at an 8/8.30 minute mile pace. It was a great confidence boost, however I had to remain focussed, I had to maintain this pace for another 6 or so miles. The charity stands started to appear as I ran past mile 7. I could see Lauren and the Parkinson’s UK team up ahead. I think I was spotted by Bill, followed by Lauren. I couldn’t stop, so I sort of kissed Lauren as I was running – I completely missed her mouth but at least it was her and not someone else!

At around 9 miles in, I began to feel a slight niggle in my right ankle. I knew it was nothing serious, so I put it to the back of my mind. I kept reminding myself of a quote once said by Henry Ford whenever I needed motivation, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. I was so determined to do this!

I had just passed the 10 mile marker when I heard a voice to my left. It was a guy called Steve. He was also running for Parkinson’s. There were only 28 of us, so to find another runner for the team out of the 16,000 running was quite amazing! I looked at my watch, 1:24 and 3 miles to go! I said to myself ‘I can do this’ – 36 minutes to run 3 miles to set a new P.B of a sub 2 hour half marathon. However, I wasn’t going to slow down now! I kept pushing through.

So here I was, just before 12 miles, I had one energy gel left which I was saving for the final mile. I took a water from the drinks station and at the same time dropped the energy gel on the floor! I wasn’t going to go back for it, I was so close to the end and the chances of me being trampled on by a stampede of determined runners was extremely high! I kept running down the long straight road as other runners up ahead were passing us on our left. I turned the corner and opened up the pace as I headed for the Madejski Stadium. One final glance of my watch confirmed I had smashed my goal. I ran into the stadium, passing another team of Parkinson’s supporters. The crowds were amazing! I’ll never get the opportunity to run around a football pitch to screaming fans so I really made the most of it. I crossed the line and stopped my watch, 1:51 – I’ll take that!

1.51 a new P.B

1.51 a new P.B

Man of the match

Man of the match

…and finally, just for fun

Just for fun

Fundraising

I’ll be making a big announcement regarding our fundraising plans soon. Do check back here and also like my Facebook page to keep updated :)

Thank you to everyone for your support – family, friends and Parkinson’s UK – especially Lauren who stood for hours in the freezing cold today to cheer me on!

One Down, Five To Go!

Today marks the beginning of “The Big 6″. I’ve run a couple of half marathons this year during training, but 16 miles + is where the fun really begins. Preparations for my run started yesterday, where for lunch I had a HUGE bowl of pasta and green pesto. I’ve forgotten how much I enjoy it, so that went down really well. During the evening we were at a family gathering. A very generous selection of food was on offer. I was sure to load my plate a couple of times, before we left to get a good nights sleep.

Lunch - Pasta with green pesto, delicious.

Lunch – Pasta with green pesto, delicious.

After a good 8 hours, I got up and made some breakfast. Two slices of seeded bread and a glass of water. Many people will know that I often suffer from heartburn, especially whilst running. This is why I try and eat at least an hour before a run. I took some Rennie and created a new playlist on my iPhone.

It was time to hit the road. It was windy, but not too cold. I set off in my usual running gear plus a sweater. The sweater proved to be too thick and after a couple of miles it met its unfavourable destiny by ending up in the bin. I was running towards Woking – this is my usual ‘long run’ route. I always try and cover as much ground as possible before turning back and running home. I’ve always found this works a lot better than just running one lap for 16 miles etc… I managed 6.5 miles before I ran out of pathway and headed back towards Guildford.

Once I had arrived back in Guildford, I diverted off and ran my usual shorter distance training route. It’s a short lap through Jacobs Well and Burpham before finally running down Stoke Road towards Slyfield. I had broken my run into two parts – the first being a half marathon and the second being my usual training run. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, ‘It’s all in the mind’. I almost tricked myself to believe that I had just set off, as I began my final 5 miles.

Incase you’re thinking, ‘Lee, you said you’re running 16 miles tomorrow?”. True! I did, but I felt like my body could run further. I started to feel some pain in my right ankle at around 17 miles, but I fought on through. I tapped the ‘power song’ button on my iPhone and increased my pace as the Foo Fighters blasted through my head to ensure I made it home bang on 3 hours.

18 mile run, done!

18 mile run, done!

All in all, a really good, solid 18 mile run which I’m pleased with.

Next up: Reading Half!

THE BIG 6!

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to put a short update out there for you all. Unfortunately, I didn’t make my long run as planned last Sunday, as I spent most of the week dealing with a cold – it was nothing serious but it seemed to drain ALL of my energy for most of the week. As a result, I only managed a couple of fast paced runs before I had to rest up.

I felt a lot better by Monday. A good rest is sometimes needed after weeks of hard training. It seemed to work as my runs have been getting quicker! In fact on Thursday I ran 5 miles in record time – 43:49. This proves I’m making progress and it’s no doubt down to plenty of gruelling interval training sessions in the gym – something I’ve not concentrated on enough in recent years.

5 mile run, best time yet

5 mile run, best time yet

THE BIG 6!

The Big 6

The London Marathon is just 7 weeks around the corner. I have 6 long runs planned, which I’m calling the ‘THE BIG 6′ before race day, including Reading Half next week which I’m really looking forward to. If you remember, last year I had to pull out as a precaution due to a slight back injury.

Tomorrow marks the start of ‘The Big 6′ with a 16 mile long run, followed by Reading Half the week after. I’ve listed below my plan for the next 6 Sundays. An important tip for all runners is you should ALWAYS listen to your body. With this in mind, these figures may change slightly.

23/02: 16 miles
02/03: 13.1 miles – Reading Half
09/03: 18 miles
16/03: 20 miles
23/03: 22 miles
30/03: 15 miles

Fundraising

I’m hoping I’ll be able to make an announcement detailing our plans for one of two exciting fundraising events we have planned for April 2014 next week! I’m meeting with the venue on Monday to discuss details. More on this very soon :)