I wouldn't be exaggerating when I say that this weekend was one of the most emotional, powerful, inspiring weekends that I've ever experienced in my life. I feel like I may need to swallow a dictionary just to try describe how utterly amazing it was (and if you don't know what the hell I'm on about yet, well its the incredible Team Bangs On The Run 2 at Run To The Beat Half Marathon in London.)
Here we go.
My perspective is that of, and very proudly, Head Cheerleader. As most of you know, I was injured a while ago, blah blah, which meant - no running for me. Doesn't mean I can't stand and shake some pompoms though, does it?
This is going to be a long one, I hope you've got a brew handy or something.
I was stood with the sun beaming down on my face, pompoms in hand, "I Heart Team Bangs 2" t-shirt proudly showing, looking up towards the start line, where the most beautiful bunch of girls were deservedly getting their snaps taken by Nike. Reggie Yates was nattering on the stage behind me, playing the above song (which I had a little boogie to) and he then announced that the race was soon to start.
I can't begin to describe the amount of excitement I had bubbling up inside me.
9.45am came, and the runners began to filter up towards the start line in groups of 'colours' based on how quick they intended on finishing. There were 17,000 runners there, the first ladies up for Team Bangs were - the brains and beauty behind this group - Bangs, along with Elle and Sam. Cue lots of pompom shaking. Followed by tears on my part (some cheerleader huh?)
More runners in their groups came jogging round to the start. More tears were shed. Its hard to say what I was feeling. Mr Yates was playing almost every, single song that is on my personal running playlist; it made me want to be there with them, of course. It made my adrenaline pump. I was sad, yet proud of my achievements but more than anything it was a real realisation of what was just about to happen for them all and the goals they were about to smash - plus, I am a cry baby.
Then through the purple swarm of t-shirts I spotted my long limbed, gorgeous girlies heading towards the start with huge grins on their faces and amazing Team Bangs t-shirts on their backs (huge thank you's to Simon Freeman for those) - major pompom shaking happened.
Then that was it, they were off on their long 13.1 mile journey around London.
I stood for a while, to take in what exactly just happened, then realised I had said I'd be there cheering from mile 12, however my feet did not want to play game. I set off walking anyway, made it to the "500m to go" sign and decided to set up camp there. Around 40 minutes in, baring in mind I'd only just made it about half a mile up the road - some sort of rocket fuiled 'human' had made it 12 and a half miles around the course... Just have a little think about that. Mind blowing.
I had a little sit on the grass, took in some sunshine and wondered where they'd all be by now - thanks to Candie and her crazy tweet/run antics, I knew exactly that.
Unfortunately thats when I found out Cass had had to pull out a few miles in due to a bad accident, I was so gutted for her - but attempting that course and the training she had put in was a celebration in itself - and I hope she isn't being too hard on herself right now! :)!
After an hour or so of clapping (you begin to wonder if you're even doing it right) I was peering out for any white t-shirts I could spot... 1hr 50 ish in appeared the wonderful Bangs! She was so in the zone she didn't notice the lunatic screaming, shouting & shaking things; dedication! (She also got a PB of 1.57 I believe, talk about impressive) Very shortly followed by Elle - who also was completely in the zone, and still rocking her shades. Begin me tweeting, excitedly about people finishing! The support for the team online was so heart-warming.
Next came Sam - who did spot me! Followed by the wonderful Sarah, powering through, joint after this came Michelle & Jo looking (rightly so) very happy & pleased - they also spotted me shaking about. Lauren was shortly after who did extremely well. Then "is that Cand... Yep, thats her! In her bra" - a point where looking out for white t-shirts clearly failed me! High fives and cheers where had. Next was Jayne - she looked so happy and even stopped for hugs! We then waited for Tahirah, and she did so, so well. I got up and quickly walked, hugged and cheered her on down the last 250m of the race...
...They were all over the finish line :) and I was beaming with pride.
What these girls achieved - is beyond amazing. How many people do you know that can say they ran a half marathon? I know only these girls.
Being part of their life and seeing their journeys was an incredible honour. What they did to get to this point has been an inspiring story that each and every one of them should be extremely proud of. They are people I truly feel are meant to be in my life a very, very long time.
I never expected running to do such wonders to my life, or anyone elses. What is normally a chore to other people became my life, my routine and brought 12 other fantastic women into my world. They are all my rock, and we all have more adventures to come as part of Team Bangs on The Run 2. Which leads me to say the biggest 'thank you' of all time to Miss. Muireann, because without her this all wouldn't have happened.
It was a weekend I will never forget.
And as much as I enjoyed cheerleading - the next time I'm at a race, I will be in dri fit.
All I have to say is, Berlin Half, anyone?
See you then.
Courtesy of iD magazine, that I bought on the way home - Dreams and Aspirations issue.
It seemed fitting.