It’s a familiar feeling, the beginning of May. For the sixth year in a row, I have my ballot entry into London and now I sit here with baited breath, clutching my virtual lottery ticket tightly against my chest ahead of the six month wait until the dreaded SORRY! magazine flops through my letterbox and crushes my dreams for another year. I watched it on TV again this year, with the memory of my own exertions the previous week still fresh in my mind, and thought to myself how bloody amazing it would be to be there one day. Finishing on The Mall. Crossing Tower Bridge. Chipping round the Cutty Sark. Big Ben. The Houses of Parliament. All while roared on by hundreds of thousands of fans lining the course. The very course I saw my uncle and cousin on TV all those years ago, inspiring me to (eventually) become a marathon runner myself. Thanks, I guess.
As with entries in the years previous, it’s ballot or nothing. The two grand minimum to raise for most charity places rules that avenue out, and with the Good For Age time predictably staying at 3:05 this year, my 3:07 from four weeks ago just isn’t quite enough to get in that way either. It’s a bit of a shame that; the Good For Age crew get their own startline and everything, away from the 30,000-odd at the mass start and the huge queues at the portaloos, but I suppose at least starting with the majority will make it feel like the massive event it really is, rather than just having a pretty lonely opening three miles with only a few other Proper Runners for company ahead of the race all coming together.
The other familiar feeling at this time of year is the slightly odd one of “I don’t know what the fuck to do with myself now”. It’s the same old routine at the start of every year; plan event, train for event, run event. Then: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Like waking up from a long, deep sleep, I suddenly emerge back into society, bleary eyed and confused. Re-integrating myself with my friends, my family, my social life. I can go to the pub on a Saturday, I can lie in on a Sunday. It’s bloody great, if not a tad disconcerting. It takes a bit of adjustment in any case.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, it’s all a bit up in the air. As a family favourite, I’ll probably do Standalone again, and might even chuck in another 10k or two before then. The masochist in me could have a go at the Chester Marathon in October for a second attempt at a 3:05, but on a hillier course I don’t fancy my chances of making up that two and a half minute gap. Not to mention the fact that training would have to start in a month’s time and would probably kill me in the summer heat. That’s if the other half didn’t get there first. And anyway, what sort of wrong’un does two marathons in six months anyway? Or three in a year if I actually managed to hit the target? Nah. Not for me thanks.
So for now, it’s quiet time. The calm after the storm. A nice, tranquil period with nothing to train for, enjoying the spring warmth in the park or a beer garden. I’m jogging home from work every so often, and I’ve started doing the Saturday parkruns again with a few chums. I’ve got a new (old) bike which I’ve spent the past two months getting roadworthy, and hopefully she’s not that far away from spreading her wings on the open road in search of new and exotic places. Or country pubs I’ve never been to before, if you want to put it that way. But ultimately, that’s all there is. A long, drawn out summer, waiting to see if I’ll be on the startline in Greenwich Park in a year’s time and that’s about it. Safe to say, I’m pretty bloody used to it.