My grandad was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). I was very sad to hear about this as I love my grandad very much and have been particularly close to him and my nan whilst growing up. I decided that I would like to do something to give back to a charity dedicated to leukaemia. At the same time, I wanted to focus my efforts on something that would make me and my family (in particular my grandad) proud.
My grandad spent about a week in hospital before they discharged him so that he could live out his final days in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his family. He lived for a further two weeks at home and we were all very fortunate that we got to say goodbye to him properly. I applied for the marathon the day after his original diagnosis and feel very lucky to have been offered a place. I know my grandad is up there smiling on me and helping me when it gets tough!
Training is going very well. I am by no means a long-distance runner, however I do keep myself (sort of) in shape and am a regular visitor to the gym. I did a lot of research online about marathon training and from this I constructed myself a training plan to follow. I have bought myself all the running gear, including a decent pair of trainers, arm band for my phone and also have a Leukaemia Care t-shirt to wear when I run. Most importantly, I have got myself some decent headphones for those all-important running tunes!
Luckily, I had pretty much exactly six months from starting my training until race day, so this made it easier to construct the plan. I run five miles on Tuesday and Thursday, with a view to decreasing the time taken to complete the distance. On Sundays, I run a mile further than I did the week before, increasing up to a maximum distance of 20 miles, which is completed around four weeks before race day. The idea of the Sunday run is to just run the distance and not place an emphasis on the finish time. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I go to the gym, do some light weights and also spend around 30 minutes on the cross trainer or swimming in order for my muscles to recover quicker.
To fundraise, I have a JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/jamie-stepien. I also put up posters at my workplace. Fortunately, I work in a large factory, so this has helped me to gain support for my challenge. I also use social media platforms as much as possible to spread the message.
So how am I getting on? Currently, I can run five miles in about 40 minutes on the Tues/Thurs runs, and my maximum Sunday run is currently 10 miles (in one go!).
I am a propulsion engineer and I work at Airbus Defence and Space testing space satellites. My job sees me travelling a lot and currently I am working in Noordwijk in the Netherlands. It is a really nice place to be and it is nice to train in a change of scenery, even if it is very cold at the moment near the coast!