I'm starting off my thirties in a spectacularly non-Kate Slater fashion by running a marathon.
(I will pause while anyone who was in my PE class at school scrapes themselves off the floor.)
For everyone else, I cannot impress upon you enough how unlikely this is. When I was 10, I won the sack race and when I was 15 my PE teacher asked me to demonstrate backstroke to the rest of the class. Those are my only sporting achievements so far. (I might also be able to save you from drowning if I'm wearing my pyjamas but, let's face it, that's not a real life situation.)
When my brain isn't awash with the serotonin that swooshes round as I run, the main thing that keeps me marathon-motivated (apart from eyeing up fluorescent orange running gear online) is that I plan on raising some money for Teenage Cancer Trust while I'm at it, in memory of my lovely friend Ben.
I'm by no means the first of Ben's friends and family to run a ridiculously long way to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, but I promise you I'm the most unlikely runner of us all, so any donation, however tiny, will definitely spur me on! You can find my Just Giving page here. We all miss Ben so much; this is just another small way to remember someone really wonderful and hopefully make things a little bit better for the next young person diagnosed with cancer.
I started running (aka, jogging, very slowly, on strictly flat surfaces) just over a year ago, after reading Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Yep, not only has Murakami written 13 novels, been translated into 50 languages and won masses of awards, he's also run at least 25 marathons AND one ultramarathon (and seems to squeeze in quite a few triathalons too).
I borrowed the memoir from my friend Sarah and, thoroughly inspired, we decided to find out what all the fuss was about and go for a jog (under the strict agreement that we wouldn't try to chat at the same time).
We had a glass of wine before we set off, a slice of cake when we got back and managed at least half a mile! I wouldn't say I caught the running bug exactly, but it was a nice way to spend time together and I even bought myself an actual pair of leggings from TK Maxx. I hadn't worn leggings since about 1993. (FYI: I've since discovered that running leggings are called tights, which is just one example of the befuddling, yet rather alluring, world of sportswear; a world where the most reliable way to identify if something is for women is that it's got pink bits on, and where you find yourself trapped in a changing cubicle, ensnared in a sports bra you don't understand, wondering how likely it is you'll need to dislocate a least one shoulder to get out of it.)
By autumn we'd reached the dizzying heights of 2 whole miles, with conversation and the odd hill thrown in for good measure (and a shared slice of millionaire's shortbread at the end). It was quite brilliant. I had a vague idea it might be nice to be able to manage 6 miles, but that was probably enough and something I might accomplish in the distant future, around the same time I finally knit enough squares to make a whole blanket or learn to make gravy.
Then Sarah suggested we sign up for the Bournemouth marathon... and I said yes.
I was slightly alarmed, but it was almost Christmas, other parts of my life were going awry and I thought running a marathon seemed like the sort of thing the Kate Slater I would like to be would do without a second thought.
And it is quite handy, really, because when the question "what on earth am I doing with my life?" pops into my brain in an inconvenient sort of way, I have a ready answer: "I know! I'm running a marathon" which appeases my inner Spanish Inquisitor a little bit.
I am a gazelle. A gazelle in running tights. But really I fear I am more like one of the cows when they're let out in spring. Full of joy, rather ungainly, and you know it won't last.
Either way, I'd be eternally grateful if you could sponsor me, here.