Well I've gone and got myself involved in something huge. And now I'm a part of it, it feels really quite daunting. What started as a whim almost, now takes on a life of its own as the campaign hots up. Yes folks, I'm announcing my participation in the London Marathon 2007 (sponsored by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People). At least that was what I thought I'd signed up to. Turns out they want money from me (and anyone else I can lay my hands on)! Surely Paula Radcliffe doesn't have to work under these sorts of conditions!

Let's get things clear from the outset. I am not athletic. I did a bit of running last year (Wimbledon 10k, Nike Run London etc) but nothing major. Oh yes, I did the Reading O2 10k and got my worst time ever. 10k times vary from about 53mins to just over an hour. That's not fast. As I said, I am no athlete. I'm around 6' 4" and weigh (currently) 106kg. This is going to change...

Two things inspired me to do this. My partner (Gemma) who ran the London Marathon two years ago and, having said never again, entered the draw both last year and this (yes, for those of you that don't enter marathons regularly, there is *huge* competition for places in the London Marathon). Gemma got a place this year, I didn't. Of course there is always the option of a "golden bond" charity place where you commit to raise a set amount of money. I immediately thought of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and was very fortunate one of their runners had pulled out so they could offer me a place.

What raised Hearing Dogs to my attention was my friend Karen (who gives up her free time to give presentations on Hearing Dogs to raise funds for them) and a chance encounter in my local barbers. As I sat waiting, the man in the chair (who was moving around with the aid of crutches and had at his feet a small whippet type dog wearing a dayglo coat) told with great pride what a difference this dog had made to his life. How she walked in front of him and forced him to slow down if he walked too fast and risked putting a strain on his heart. And how she checked on him regularly throughout the night in case he rolled into a particular position that again would strain his heart. In which case she would wake him up and save his life. Simple as that.

It wasn't just the story he told that touched me deeply but the way in which he told it. He was so proud of her and so grateful. Not to mention the obvious joy this small dog had brought to his life. It made me think not only about how fortunate I am but about how big a difference something like a medical dog or a hearing dog can make to someone's life.

So I find myself with about 14 weeks to go and a marathon to run (that's 26.22 miles or 42.195km to you). The longest distance I have ever run is 6.5 miles and that was last weekend in Windsor Great Park. I have something of a task ahead of me.

I intend to keep a (limited) diary of events here so others can bath in my schadenfreude.

In the meantime, if you would like to sponsor me and help support the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, please visit my justgiving site (or use the link in the sidebar on the right). Thank you!

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