I am pleased and proud to report that my son, Ollie, completed the London Marathon and raised over £2000 for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. He had taken part in two half marathons previously but this was his first full marathon. I am particularly proud of him because he finished the marathon despite suffering severe leg cramping for the last 10km of the race. He was also affected by the heat (the sun shone brightly and relentlessly) and he felt quite unwell at the end of the race. The leg cramps and the sun did not, however, prevent him from finishing in the very respectable time of 3 hours 50 minutes. He was slightly disappointed as until the cramping started, he was heading for a time of around 3 hours 15 minutes. The time he completed the course in, however, was still exceptional. The average for a first time runner in the London Marathon is 4 hours 40 minutes. His problems towards the end of the race have not deterred him and he has already applied for the next Paris Marathon and plans to apply for next year’s London Marathon too.
I was able to track his progress via the London Marathon website throughout the race but this turned out to be a slightly stressful experience. The tracking program calculates each runner’s running speed from tracking points located on the course every 5km and extrapolates his position in between. This was all very interesting and exciting until he failed to appear at the 30km tracking point at the time his previous running rate had projected. It seemed like a painfully long wait but in fact it was less than 10 minutes, but clearly his pace had plummeted and something was wrong. I assumed he had exhausted himself and was at the point of collapse and even longer waits at the next two tracking points just heightened my despair. I obviously was not aware that he had cramp which whilst very unpleasant and disabling, is not life threatening. I blame my panic and stressed out state on my Parkinson’s disease (PD). As well as depleting our dopamine producing brain cells, PD is thought to affect our serotonin levels in the brain. This is an area of the brain that helps us deal with stress or not deal with it, which is my mitigation for my parental panic. My other mitigation is that parents never stop worrying about their offspring no matter what age they are. Ollie is 31!
Despite his problems towards the end of the race he clearly loved the whole experience of taking part in the London Marathon. Apparently the crowds lining the route were the largest in the race’s history and I guess the sunny day was very pleasant for them if not for those taking part. In pursuit of trying to raise funds for PD research Ollie had trained for over six months by running after work, in the dark, at least three times a week. He also joined his local gym for the six months to help build up his strength and fitness. He tells me that the whole process took over his life but not in a negative way. I do not know how much money was raised for the various charities by the 37,000 entrants in this year’s London Marathon but it must be a significant sum. In the process of raising that money most of those taking part will have trained just as hard as Ollie did and each made someone proud of them just like I am of Ollie. They will also be feeling the personal pride from the achievement of completing the 26 mile marathon whatever time it took them.
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