This week it’s the sixth anniversary of my younger sister Deborah’s death. She was just 39 when she died very suddenly and totally unexpectedly from a brain haemorrhage, leaving behind her husband, three children (the youngest just five months old) and a devastated extended family. I still miss her every single day, but I try to concentrate on all the happy memories, and the fun and great times we shared over the years. There were five sisters and one brother in our family, and it was always chaotic and loud and hilariously funny when we all got together, even as supposedly mature adults – it still is like that, just a little quieter these days. As I said, I miss her every day, but this week is always particularly difficult every year, and has meant the training I’m doing for the charity challenge I’m doing in Deborah’s memory has taken on a new significance.
If you’ve missed me talking about this before, I’m doing the South Coast Challenge in August – a 100km trek around the south coast of England, described as “a sleep deprivation and endurance” challenge because it’s almost two and a half marathons non-stop, other than a few meal breaks. Training is really kicking in now with three months to go, and I’m doing twenty miles at a time, but every time it gets tough or my feet hurt or my legs ache, I remind myself why I’m doing it – to raise money for the charity Headway, which does so much to help people with brain injuries, like the one which tragically killed my sister. I also think of her wonderful infectious laugh…I’m not sure what she would have made of it, but I suspect she’d find it highly amusing that I, who was utterly rubbish at PE or anything physical at school, am doing such a crazy challenge! I’ve definitely got sportier as I’ve got older, but even so, this is hard work.
I’ve been trying to find ways of making it less hard on my body – I ended up buying THREE pairs of shoes before I found the right ones, light enough to be cool and comfortable but sturdy enough to be supportive and cope with the long distances. Two expensive mistakes, but fortunately third time lucky. (The pair I settled on are by Scarpa.) I’ve now found the right backpack too, and learned which snacks sustain me best (Jelly Tots are excellent!).
I’ve had so much support from friends and colleagues as well, and when the lovely Luke, one of our co-ordinating producers at QVC, heard about what I was doing he offered me a Fitbit to try out, to help monitor my progress – I’ll be reviewing that for you in a separate blog later this week.
As far as the challenge goes then I’m pretty much kitted out now – although I need to dig out my old head torch one of these days to check it’s still working, as I’ll need that for the night phase (we start during the day on a Saturday and continue all night, finishing sometime on the Sunday). The last time I used it was many years ago when I was still a news reporter, covering the famine in Ethiopia, so it’s been a while – I may have to invest in a new one!
I also need to start fundraising in earnest as I haven’t done that much yet and I’m aiming to raise at least £2,000 for the charity. If you would like to donate even a few pence, I have a JustGiving page (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jackie-Kabler) – thank you so much to those who have donated so far. I’m determined to go the distance even if I have to crawl on my hands and knees to the finish line. I won’t be alone though, as my colleague Natalie and ex-colleague Danni are doing it too, each fundraising for charities close to their hearts. We can do this, ladies!
That’s it for now. Have a great week – and if you have a sister, maybe hug her a little harder next time you see her. I’d give anything to hug mine again.