I’m not going to lie. This blog post has been one of the most difficult ones for me to write. Not due to lack of material (there’s actually too much to write about), but more due to me not wanting to sound too sappy or emotional.
Making friends in a new area was the main reason I became an Eagle in 2015. I had recently moved to Ealing for work and didn’t know a soul so I decided joining a running club would be the best way to meet new people. I barely ever ran and was SO nervous before my first club run. An occasional Parkrun was the extent of my running at that point, and I wasn’t sure I would even be able to make it round without walking. Eagle support and encouragement started from the second I arrived. Allie was leading that night and was incredibly positive, welcoming and reassuring. Something that I see week in week out when new members are welcomed with open arms. My first club run also happened to be a social night, so I had the added bonus of meeting loads of Eagles! I was hooked from day 1!
I have met so many of you over the past 2 and a half years and made so many life-changing friendships. You guys are some of the most encouraging, supportive and helpful people I have ever met. The friends I have made in this club have not only supported my running, but been there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, a bit of a bitch and a moan or a well deserved late night out on the town.
As a runner, so many of you have been there for me in your own unique way. These range from drunken encouragement that I could make the Welsh Castles team, letting me chase you around the track, up and down hills (Charlotte and Abi basically put me on the bus to Wales), pacing me to PBs while I swear at you silently under my breath, and most importantly helping me to respect the process and celebrate each and every success along the way. This last bit is what makes this club so unique. We have such a wide range of speed and endurance yet still take time to encourage each other.
There is no way I would have ever dreamed of running a marathon without the support of the friends I have made in this club. And without that support, and some gentle pushing I would have no business setting my sights on a 3:30 marathon. The past 14 weeks of marathon training have been mentally and physically tough; training for a marathon can be an isolating experience. There have been days where I've been on the top of the world and days where all I've wanted to do was hang up my shoes and curl into a ball. Having a supportive network of Eagles has kept me going. Your words of encouragement, congratulations and kudos have picked me up after a bad run and pushed me to try even harder after a great session.
Fleet half was not my day. My legs weren't fresh, my head wasn't into it, and I had a lovely cold brewing. I would never have made it without Yvette dragging me around the last 3 miles and was overwhelmed with the messages of support I received in the following days. I was able to bounce back, refocus on my training and got a considerable 5k PB a mere 7 days later at the SEAA relays in Milton Keynes (a race done with the Eagles which is probably a contributing factor. Although there was an Eagle or two who were very quick to suggest if it's not Gunnersbury, does it count?).
So what am I going to take from this? The first is the fantastic friends I have made and friendships that have gotten stronger. There's nothing quite as special as knowing so many people have your back. I'll be carrying this with me on race day. The second is resilience. All the encouragement I've received has made me realise just how strong and unbreakable I am.
I am so proud that in just a mere 3 weeks I will get to fly around London on behalf of each and every one of you.