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Countdown to walking my way to a marathon medal

Apparently, I have the metabolic age of a 20-year-old.

This news was delivered to me by this country's best-known nutritionist, Paula Mee, the day after my 35th birthday. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever. I was beyond nervous going to see her, thinking that the three-day food diary she asked me to keep in advance would lead to a disapproving face and a major lecture.

Turns out I'm not as unhealthy as I thought. Nevertheless, since meeting Paula, I have executed many of the changes she suggested as I am serious about walking the Dublin City Marathon this October. Some time ago I was asked by the convenience store Spar to do it on their behalf for a charity of my choice, and if column inches were available in this paper to promote a healthier approach to life, then that was a Brucie bonus.

So, apart from nutritional advice, I was also introduced to Karl Henry — the son of this paper's exercise expert Pat Henry (see the Herald every Monday to transform your body). Karl registered the fact that I am a dedicated walker and that distance is not a concern to me — but he also advised me on how to make my walks more effective: to leave the handbag at home or use a back pack; swing my arms and time myself with a Garmin so that I realise my ambition of doing the marathon in six hours. I also got some pretty cool Adidas walking shoes.

Armed with Karl and Paula's advice I am making some healthy changes in my life. I'm not doing all of the above to lose weight — despite the fact that Paula's Tanita Body Composition Analyzer recommends I shed two pounds to be at an ideal weight for my height etc. I'll settle for the 15 years being knocked off my metabolic age and raising money for Cheeverstown, a residential care centre where my late brother Michael spent some of the happiest years of his life and a place where my best friend in the world, Leo, still lives.

And above all that, I reckon that we all have at least one marathon in us. I'm half dreading it and half looking forward to getting a medal if/when I finish — I've not had one of those since I blazed a few trails at the Community Games events my parents encouraged me to enter as a child. So if I do pull it off and cross the finish line, it will be a real badge of honour on many different levels.