In April 2011 I applied through the ballot to run the 2012 London Marathon.
At the time I had never competed in a road race.
I failed to gain a place.
Since then, my marathon journey has been progressive and transformational. The distance has been by far the most difficult, painful and yet rewarding aspect of my running career.
My first marathon was run without full appreciation and I subsequently fell far short of my expectations. I ran it in September 2013 mainly out of fear; I wanted a unique experience and knew that the longer I waited, the harder it would be to start.
That race is one of my greatest accomplishments as a runner, in most part because I refused to quit.
For the next two years I focused exclusively on bettering my performances, experimenting with training, pacing and fuelling. In 2016 I took a short break from marathon training to focus on shorter distances. My performance at the marathon late that year demonstrated my enhanced fitness.
Then I learnt about the ‘Good for Age’ entry. For my age category (18-40) I needed to run a sub 3:05 marathon to guarantee my place at arguably the greatest marathon in the world. I lowered my personal best from 3:17:59 to 3:13:21 in my three most recent attempts.
Despite the enormous challenge and commitment I have improved my finishing time in five of the six marathons I have run since my first, including running all four Chelmsford Marathons (my local event) organised to date. I have learnt a great deal about running from all these experiences and am proud of my results.
Ultimately, my ambitions were greater than my abilities. However, when I failed to obtain a ballot place in the 2017 London Marathon I vowed to succeed on my terms.
I have faith that I will accomplish my goal of running the largest and most awe-inspiring marathon by ‘earning my place’. But I have had to accept that peak conditioning for marathons requires strategic training periodisation. I have therefore given myself at least two years, satisfied in the meantime by watching each year’s spectacle unfold on the television.