In the Atlanta Olympic Games of 1996, after winning a historic fourth gold medal, Sir Steve Redgrave famously said “If anyone sees me going anywhere near a boat again they have my permission to shoot me”. He then went on to win an even more historic fifth gold medal at Sydney four years later! I must say, moments after crossing the finish line on the Mall in London, I might well have uttered similar words because I got a glimpse of what Sir Steve may have been going though.
However, it’s several days after the adrenaline fuelled adventure of the weekend and we are now finally relaxing at home and it’s time for reflection. When you go though such an amazing experience, a common reaction is “let’s do it again”, but it’s not as simple as that. I got a London Marathon place this year because I belong to a running club that has an single allocated place that can be given to any member decided by the club. In the case of mine, they simply choose at random from those members who want to do it (priority given to first timers).
Apart from promising to raise a huge amount of money for charity, the main way of getting a place is the so-called public ballot. I don’t know why they use the word “ballot” because in my book, it’s a lottery. They put all the entries in a massive digital “hat” and the lucky ones are selected by chance. Although you can get in that way the odds are not exactly in your favour (maybe about 15:1 against you)!
There is obviously the option of doing a big charity effort again but over last weekend I was intrigued by another way of getting a place, the “good for age” category; I’d not heard of this one before. It means that anyone who has done (recently) an officially certified marathon at a certain time (depending on their age), can just get in, no questions asked! For my age category then, what is the qualifying time? I took a look at the London Marathon web site and they have a little table which gives the time for my age, which is, wait for it…… 3 hours 20 minutes (up to the age of 59).
So, what would it mean for me to qualify in the “Good For Age” category? Well, to me that is, to be frank, a stupidly fast time. Here’s me, dreaming that one day I might again run a marathon in sub 4 and then I start looking at 3:20, surely I must be off my rocker, in cloud cuckoo land! But I started thinking about this and asked the question, why not? Exactly how fast is that? Well technically it’s 7 minutes 37 seconds per mile and I certainly can run that fast (which is a good start) and have ran that fast even up to 10K which means, it’s a matter of stamina, endurance and strength (rather than speed). It would mean taking my training regime to a different level and degree of seriousness but hay, if people never had big dreams no one would ever achieve big things.
Now that my goal to complete the London Marathon 2016 is fulfilled, I can settle into, without time pressure, returning to full fitness and strength after which I do want to up my training and see where that leads. Good For Age is a great dream and will help me choose big goals but I won’t get carried away and I will take things one step at a time.
I saw a quote recently that said “I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds my future”. This reminded me that whatever my plans are , God has a bigger one and in any walk of life including running, I will accept Him as being in charge of my destiny.
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIVUK