The following was my first article on run247.com, published on the 16 May 2010, for those who missed it
Thanks to Andy Tomlinson and the run.247 crew for their help and support:
France is passing me by as I write. I’m sat on the Eurostar heading home after a friend’s wedding and while here I thought I’d make the most of the moment to explain who I am and what I’m doing. My name is Alex and I’m a thirty eight year old, with family, and a history of running ultra marathons. I also have Parkinsons Disease. If your not aware of exactly what Parkinson’ Disease is, it is a (currently) incurable chronic degenerative disease of the brain, which prevents movement and effectively imprisons the sufferer in his/her own body. Not the greatest disease to have as an adventure racer, I think you’ll agree.
I was diagnosed two years ago and since then I’ve decided to make the most of now! I live life to the full and have taken those plans that we all have, to one extent or another, and realise them. In the process, I hope to raise £1 million or more to fund vital research into Parkinsons and, hopefully, find a cure!
Although, I say that I run, my days of running marathons and more are becoming increasingly difficult. Nowadays, I run and walk (a fast walk) when the Parkinsons kicks in and makes my leg do it’s own thing; like stepping over invisible boxes. It causes alot of comment in each race but I have to laugh. At least on the less scenic races it serves as a distraction. I have a good friend (Rich Merry) who has joined me to raise donations for the Cure Parkinsons Trust. Rich nags me round each course. Even when he’s not there, his words of encouragement or affectionate abuse are always at the forefront of my mind when I want to give up. This helped me become the first Parkinsons sufferer to complete the Marathon des Sables 2010, covering a course spanning 250km of the Sahara in temperatures averaging over 140 degrees farenheit! My thoughts as to what he would say if I had given up, were at times the motivation to move my backside and get to the end of each day. Cheers mate!
There are more races to come and with the possibilty of a last minute entry into the Grand Union 145 and the Europe135 this September there’s alot on. As the saying goes, “nothing is for free”, and this is true as some of the planned courses and events will be the toughest and nastiest on the planet; including plans for a 1400 mile run across Europe and payment for these will most likelybe made in pain and sweat. However, running is only part of the plan. Not wishing to add too much more to the image of “nutter” that I am painting of myself, I have decided to incorporate Triathlons into the mix. Why?
Well, I believe that I have an Ironman inside of me. For that matter, i also believe that we all do and Parkinsons be damned, I’m going to do it. Rich has got involved too. So with my “nagger” on board, I have commenced training with, body permitting, a vengence!
Having got the idea in my head, I realised that I needed kit, aside from my normal running gear. Well, Orca have stepped into the breach and are allowing Rich and me the opportunity to use their kit, and I will let you know, from a complete novice’s point of view, how it shapes up. Buff and Tri247 have also offered support in race entries, so I hope I can meet the expectations I feel have been set; probably by my big mouth!!
For now, while confident in my running and cycling, I am less than sure of my swimming. Having previously smashed myself up in a duathlon and made a mess of my right shoulder (to add to the Parkinsons) my crawl is officially shite. So with the Henley Sprint Tri and London Tri (Olympic distance), to name a few, which are coming up fast on the horizon, I am taking swimming lessons to improve the technique and will let you know whether this has any benefit and how I get on. In fact, apparently I am trying out a Orca wetsuit in my first open water swim this week. I have to say I am a bit nervous….any helpful tips are welcomed.
If you want to know more about and Rich’s and my efforts, or maybe wish to comment, contact us, or donate, the information and links can be found at
www.alexflynn.co.uk or for the facebookers out there, www.facebook.com/10MillionMetres
Till the next installment, keep moving!!