We’re all in different spaces, and as Pascal pointed out in his marathon review, a 2:20 marathon would be a jog in the park for Geb. That keeps things in perspective.

When you get to be my age, it can be depressing to be beaten by youngsters running what would have been an easy run pace back in the day. But for Boomers such as myself, they’ve come up with a handy tool to if not stop the clock at least slow it down: Age Grading!

Lots of people, particularly those still in the Open category, view this as being yet another sign of the end of civilization as we know it. But I think it affords everyone a frame of reference to use in assessing one’s performance across race distances. Most races now include age-graded figures, although you can readily get them from the Web.

I considered the first part of 2008 a success largely because I was consistent in my age-graded numbers and got them higher than they had ever been. There are qualifying times for which we can strive, the two major ones for the marathon being the Olympic Trials and Boston qualifiers. The NYC Marathon has qualifying times, including from half-marathons. They are arbitrary. Some will never get a BQ, as I’ll never get an OT qualifier.

Another fun thing to do with these calculators if you’ve been running for a while is to compare times to an Open runner to see the extent to which you’ve improved or digressed. I find my times are pretty close to what they were when I was a youngster. It’s all a feedback loop, helping to push to be the best runner we can be.

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