After seeing my friend’s London Marathon journey last year, I initially swore that I would never put myself through it. But about a week after the event, the feeling of pride and accomplishment she had inspired me to want to do the same. The money that she raised funded an orphan in Cambodia to go to university for three years. If I could make an impact like that, I thought, I would feel amazing.
I entered direct to the charity knowing that I have a personal connection with Leukaemia Care; my father had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which developed into leukaemia. He passed away in July 2011. He was always a keen sportsman and played team sports until he was no longer able to. Enough time had passed that I was no longer angry at the cancer and was ready to try and do something about it. It was a physical challenge that I was ready to take on. I wanted to tick it off my bucket list and remember my dad in a positive way.
On August Bank Holiday weekend, my mum and I were told that my sister, who is just 33, had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although this is a fairly treatable type of cancer, it was a massive shock. It was seriously bad luck for our family.
The next day I started running.
Training is going well. I wanted to get up to 10 miles before the actual 18-week training plan started. I entered my first 10k race on October 2nd and each week continued to add on an extra mile. It was tough and painful, but some weeks I would run really fast, other weeks I just wanted to get to the end.
I have been keeping a vlog online and the support I have got from friends, family and complete strangers has been overwhelming. I have a hashtag that my friends and family are using: #runshizrun.
To fundraise, I put on a charity auction night, where we sold donated high-quality items. I made £700. I’ve also set up a JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/shireen-ayub-smith