Monday, 23 May 2011

Lucky 4-Leaf Clover

I’m not really the superstitious type and tend to believe that what will be will be, but after a disappointing end to last week, I needed a bit of perking up. As a child, I remember reading a story book by Enid Blyton about a lucky four-leafed clover and wondering whether they really existed. I used to spend hours crawling round in the grass, desperately trying to find this lucky token, only to find endless clover with just the 3 leaves amongst the dandelions and daisies in the summer time. But then one day, I found that four-leafed clover, and have found 3 others over the years since.

I suppose I need to explain what on earth clover has got to do with my running.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I would be interested in doing a 47 mile trail race, the only problem been that I would have to wear a GB vest. It dawned on me at the time that it meant running for Great Britain in the World Trail Running Championships in Connemara, Ireland and to say I was excited was an understatement. Having sent off details of all relevant performances for consideration by the selectors at UK Athletics, I was determined to train hard to justify selection once written confirmation came through.

Last Thursday all that changed. More people had put their names forward than expected and my place on the team was in jeopardy. I needed to provide more details about trail races I had done in recent years , but whilst I have done absolutely loads of them, they were too short to be considered – even the Dovedale Dipper which is 26.5 miles with over 4000 feet of climbing! To top it all, the Forest of Dean Ultra that I had raced but wasn’t really motivated for the previous weekend was working against me – I felt disappointed, let down and miserable. My only hope was my performance at the Marlborough Downs 33 Mile Challenge back in 2008, but even that was been called in to question despite winning the race and finishing 6th overall.

Having not heard anything by Saturday afternoon, I’d resigned myself to the fact that the World Trail Championships were no longer part of my plans and as my confidence had taken a bit of a knocking, I was reluctant to commit myself to the 100km in September for fear of facing the same disappointment all over again. At least I still had the Commonwealth Trail Champs in Anglesey to look forward to.

By Sunday, although feeling better, I still wasn’t myself and whilst out walking the dogs, we came across a field full of clover.  A moment of wistfulness made me wonder whether I could find a 4-leaf clover that would perk me up a bit and bring a bit of luck, and reminiscent of my childhood, I got down on my hands and knees and starting sifting through the grass. After 10 minutes of searching, low and behold I found one and putting it safely in my pocket, I literally couldn’t believe my luck.

Monday morning came, and whilst waiting for my lift into work, I went through my regular routine of checking my emails. I’d only had one but it was a surprising and humbling email. A certain friend had nominated me to be a Torchbearer for the 2012 Olympics, and with the Olympic Flame coming through Stoke next year, it was something that he felt I should be a part of. I can’t thank him enough for thinking of me, and whilst I’m sure there are far more worthy people than me to carry that torch, I feel honoured that he has taken the time to nominate me.

Monday lunchtime came, and I once again checked my emails, still desperate for news about my possible selection. Yet again, there was just one email, this time from the London 2012 Games Makers. I’d been invited for interview at the University of Warwick on 5th July for a possible position on the Olympic Volunteers team. With almost a quarter of a million applicants, I was so happy that I had been shortlisted, and whilst I still have to get through an interview and an assessment, I was one step closer to being a part of the London Olympics and contributing to their success.

I arrived home in a much better frame of mind, feeling excited and a lot more positive. As I was getting ready to head off for my evening run, the phone rang and it was Norman. UK Athletics had taken their time over selecting the GB Team this time but the good news is, I will be going to Ireland after all and I will be wearing the GB kit – and maybe, just maybe, I’ll pin that 4-leaf clover to my vest!

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