I am curvy, asthmatic, completely uncoordinated, so always agreed with that perception that being fast, strong, having endurance etc was a state I just wasn't destined to achieve in life. I'm not blaming anyone, I just did other things instead like helping a friend exercise her horse, swimming in an enthusiastic but really rubbish synchronised swimming team and enjoyed watching hours and hours of cricket (honestly I do love it).
Last year I got a bike and things began to change. For the first time ever I got that "buzz" thing energetic people talk about. It was hard, but enjoyable. I made some lovely cycling friends and it began to dawn that you didn't have to treat it as a sport or physical torture. I could take myself over that fence all by myself. If I only tried. I didn't need to be picked for a team (something that never happened to be honest!). I could just have a go.
So the running began. Very slowly but I've kept at it with my eye on our trip to Italy this summer and things working. My waist is a remarkable 8 inches smaller, just by eating a bit more mindfully and moving more. People keep asking when I will do a race, 10k? Half marathon? But they're not for me. I admit I shirk from challenges. They loom terrifyingly and put me off, I'd rather just keep on plodding.
Then Helen rang me. I love her to bits. She's the sort of lovely friend you can't say no to. So when she asked me to join a 20mile walk with her and some friends for Breast Cancer Care, I agreed straight away, forgetting that I just don't do this sort thing.
But I'm really glad I did! On Saturday we met at the glorious Chatsworth House and walked literally uphill and down dale in fabulous sunshine across some of the most astounding landscapes in Britain. It made me emotional, glad to be alive, chuffed to be part of something so powerful. 600 women took part (plus Helen's two border collies) and every time we crested a hill, that snaking line of bright pink bodies pulled us on and on.
But blimey it was hard. After four hours of Helen and I talking the hind legs off each other as we walked, my legs, (well hips), suddenly gave up. I'm fitter but not fit yet and haven't ever walked more than about 12 miles before. After the 11th hilly mile the pain leapt on me and all I could do was hobble. Only half way...another Herculean task. There was no question of giving up. People with breast cancer have no choice but to face the pain head on - get walking Steph!
So I did. Poor Helen, I went very quiet and stopped taking photos (see that's how bad it was!). But she did an amazing job keeping me going, so did the darling dogs who pulled me up the hills I swear.
And we made it, upright and in one piece, just about inside our eight hour estimate (this is us with our friend Catherine who finished miles ahead with some other friends). I can't believe it, can't believe I even enjoyed it. So that old thing about mind over matter is really true. Being on the verge of 40 helps too. I just don't care anymore and I finally feel a little more confident in myself to just have a go.
I've learned a big lesson and surprised myself. How about you? Surprised yourself lately? I'd love to know x