On the 7th of September, I got home, opened my letter box and found a Jiffy bag from Blighty waiting for me. Many of you know that I live in the Languedoc, so although anything in a Jiffy bag is deemed exciting simply because it is not a bill, Jiffy bags from home make my heart skip a beat.
On that particular day, my heart was in my boots. I was dressed in black from head to toe and my eyes were redder than a baboon's bum, having spent the morning at a funeral. The previous two weeks had been trying, with days spent at the hospital supporting an old lady whose big brother was not going to wake up. By the time the funeral came round, I'd been wearing my big girl kecks for way too long, and they were pulled up so high that I had an emotional wedgie. Luckily, the vicar's CD got jammed in the village church, making for an impromptu DJ moment that lightened my mood slightly.
When I opened the envelope and I found my own personalised HM medal made by aliboo70, the tears welled up again, but this time it was different. I realised that after nearly three years on the forum, I had made friends whom I had never met, but who were prepared to spend time and effort making something to make me happy after I had griped about not having a medal for my first HM - French races rarely involve bling, which is mainly attributed for marathons. As I stroked my medal, I realised that although kindness and support between strangers is increasingly rare in this day and age, it is omnipresent on this forum, and shows how a simple platform where people can meet can work wonders.
What particularly impressed me was the amount of thought that had gone into it. On the photo, you can see Mrs Playmo and her sexy playmo trainer. Mrs P has been my right-hand woman for years now - I take her everywhere with me. She is addicted to rosé wine and Tupperware parties, pole-dances at a local Playmo club, and is the vicar's wife. She decided that she wanted to run a half marathon, and signed me up before running me through my paces for six months and getting me to raise money for an association supporting children who are undergoing cancer treatment.
On the big day, Mrs P dressed up in her black lycra and 'ran' in my armband with her own bib number 261, because she considered that she would be the first female Playmo to complete a half marathon: the self-proclaimed Kathrine Switzer of the Playmobil world. She was as proud as I was to have finished, and is now standing proudly beside our own special edition Aliboo medal on my desk. And of course, she has signed me up for another HM, but this time in London.
Our training for the London Big Half is now going to start in earnest, with a special thought for the fantastic support and friendship on this forum, which has got me into my trainers and believing in myself so many times. Thank you, Ali, for my wonderful medal - I cherish it. And thank you, forum-dwellers, for the magic you all work for each other.