The Road to London: Coming to terms with being an habitual loser

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Someone asked me the other day if I had ever won a race.

It’s not something that I had ever really considered before.

I crossed the line first at Leamington parkrun once but as people never tire of telling us, that is a timed run and not a race. And, technically I was second, as the dog that was towing me around crossed the line ahead of me.

I was also second late last year at a parkrun in Hull and led for much of the opening lap of a parkrun in the Lake District where, giddy from my unaccustomed position, I took a wrong turn to emerge in second. I then followed the new leader on another detour down an alleyway deaf to the shouts of the marshals, finally trailing in fifth, my dreams of glory well and truly dashed.

However, in proper races I have never even entertained thoughts of winning, let alone come close to doing it.

But when questioned about my lack of success, it does now strike me as a bit strange that I keep entering races with absolutely no chance of winning them.

There are few other sports where you can put in the training I do and compete as regularly as I have without winning once.

It’d be pretty demoralising if I was boxer for instance. Even horses are handicapped to such an extent that they eventually find a race which they have a decent chance of winning.

It’s not even as if I have had an age category win along the way.

But still I persevere.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not because I want to win a race (though it would be nice, obviously) but because there’s one person I want to beat. And that’s myself.

I still believe I can do it, even as I come out the other side of the veteran stage, and that’s why I am still out there, clocking up the miles.

I especially think I can do it in the marathon where any finish time starting in a 2 will be the give me as much satisfaction, if not more, as the race winner will get from crossing the line first.

Completed training:

Saturday: 9 miles including Warwick parkrun at 7-min mile pace.

Sunday: 18.5 miles at 7:58 pace.

Tuesday: Mile warm-up, speed session at track (3,4, x 6), mile warm-down.

Wednesday: 16 miles at 8.03 pace.

Thursday: 3 miles easy, easy, easy.

Imodium usage (running total): 5 (a heavy week).