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!
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?
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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 – 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!
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
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?