It has taken a while for me to sit down and write this blog as it took me some time to process everything that has happened over the last few years and where I have finally arrived – plus it is me so I needed my thinking time!
However, I thought no better time to sit down and get typing then today as I find myself sofa bound this morning trying to keep my eyes open due to a sudden onset of “atopic dermatitis” (AKA I have a very attractive swollen face and skin rash!) so please apologise if there are any typos or even more lack of sense that usual, but here goes…
All my life I had dreamed of being a professional athlete as I used to run around the garden till I quite literally passed out – a relief for my parents, the easiest self-inflicted child calmer. At a young age I had a clear obsession with sport which found me glued to the Olympics every four years and cutting out pictures of my favourite athletes – yes I was one cool kid! As the years progressed so did the sports. At the age of ten I was so cross to not be able to jump any higher in high jump with the “scissor technique” I decided to teach myself the Fosbury Flop over google print outs as no one else knew how to do it at my primary school! Where was youtube then, it would have saved a broken shoulder as “bright spark” me thought no better way to perfect the motion pre-season than onto grass. Yes of course ironically this meant I was out for the whole of the summer high jump season – shooting myself in the foot for being stubborn, over committed and bloody-minded about my goals wasn’t going to be a one time thing it soon became clear… but hey I did get a few HJ records!
The first day I played lacrosse something clicked and this new game just excited me – what I can run wild around a field with my friends, be myself and be competitive; incredible! I would always turn up to practise eager to learn, have fun and get stuck in – sometimes too stuck as I found myself once again head first in the mud as I had 100% miscalculated an interception, YOLO!
I still remember the day my lacrosse coach, still one of my biggest inspirations, sat me and a few others down in the pavilion changing rooms and gave us the chance to trial for the England junior squad. The idea I was going to be able to prove myself against the best in the country inspired me further, let alone the thought I may be able to make the national squad – eek!
However, despite making the squad and then a few years later making the first few cuts for the Junior World Cup team the reality was that the continual drive for perfection and excellence in sport had once again shot me in the foot. Struggling with anorexia not only meant I missed the first round of trials, how that wasn’t a big enough motive to sort my **** out still amazes me, but also led to missing valuable playing time, match practise and selections which ultimately meant I was not good enough and probably never would be. I have written about my past before and how losing my dream to such a destructive illness emotionally hurt whilst created a world of what-ifs, regrets and self-hatred – and its true, when I decided to hang up my stick early on in my gap-year despite finally being mentally recovered from anorexia I cried for weeks about what I had done to my dream and the little girl who just loved to play and see what was possible.
So what is with the reminiscing and divergence Eloise?
Well, like I have also said before finding out about triathlon in a London office full of tax accountants (obvious right!) and then relishing under this new challenge, I just felt lucky that I could once again enjoy a sport, set some (un)realistic Eloise type goals and just press play. From early on it felt as if I had been given a second chance at living my life to the full again – free, happy and just being me (i.e. yes competitive, stubborn, mad etc. but a tad more controlled!), something I will always be grateful for and thankful to the people who helped me get back on track and smiling.
Wow – the first few years of triathlon were a dream, I couldn’t believe what I achieved barely being able to swim, being Bambi on a bike and then just praying I could run at the end of it. But like most dreams you wake up and boy did I. For the next two years reality checks from my past, current and future soon came hard and fast – often too hard. This pain (literal and mental) became my reality once again and despite still knowing what I wanted and could achieve I was wasn’t getting closer, in fact I was getting further away the more I tried to hold on to it – yup common theme!
Still reminiscing Eloise… yawn!?
Well, all of the above chat (if you stayed with me!) is why I have taken so long to process the last six months and understand/come to grips with the final result that I have recently been granted my Professional licence as a middle-distance triathlete.
Just reading the email made me burst into tears and then had to check the attachment about 100 times to make sure it had my name written on the ‘Pro Letter’ – and to my sheer surprise every time it did read Eloise du Luart.
It was bitter sweet to be honest, as like I said to my Coach in my mind I did not achieve it how I believed I would. In Luxembourg despite the swim and bike being bang on point my run wasn’t even close to where I am at, whether heat induced or not, which left me disappointed, deflated and wondering if once again I had just missed out. This meant despite the relief, excitement and sense of pride of receiving the one thing that drove me daily to claw myself back more than once over the last 20 months, I needed time to process the result, feel I am worthy and ready to race alongside the best in the World.
I am even emotional writing this blog (not just the weeping eyes!) as yes I have finally come to grips with it and I am excited to start this new chapter in my athletic career. I am ready to get stuck in and see what is possible, just like that girl who picked up her lacrosse stick and played for the love of the game.
My first Professional Ironman 70.3 will be Dublin on 20th August, followed by Weymouth on 17th September – so better put my head back down and get on with the day job!
All I can say is a massive thank you to everyone who has been a part of this ‘journey’ – sure I kept you all guessing and head scratching, however I am grateful to each one of you as you helped me rekindle the dream – so now lets just live everyday of it.
“Even Alice had to fall before she found her Wonderland”
Lots of love and always keep smiling,