Just don’t let go of the bars! That was my first thought the moment I stepped onto that treadmill. At age 30, weighing 109 kg, I needed to make a lifestyle change and joined the local gym. What was I doing? Walking?
Running? Trying to lose weight? Getting fit? I was never an athlete, I never hiked nor played any active sport – that was me.
Time is the master of all things and within a few weeks I was briskly walking on the treadmill with confidence. I made some wonderful new friends – all supportive and encouraging me to become a better version of myself.
I was encouraged to run the Nike Soweto race. Me? Run a 10 km?! I find it hard driving that distance!
Nonetheless I thought to let go of the bar and decided to give it my best. The morning of the race I was filled with nerves, anxiety and fear – I don’t run, I had never run this distance and I had never run outdoors. I was crazy – I didn’t know how to breathe correctly, I didn’t have the stamina, what was I doing here at 6am? It was the hardest thing I had ever done –I was mentally and physically exhausted when I was told “cry, but run and cry because you can’t stop now.” Completing the run was overwhelming, amazing and exhilarating – one of my most memorable moments.
The bug had bitten… 21 km….. Dare I? Let go of the bar!
My training for the Two Oceans half marathon started when I joined Jozi X running club. We trained as a team on cold mornings, ran races together and eased away any self-doubt and uneasiness. The morning of the race, I was cautiously confident, I had put in the hours that were needed. I could do this.
The sight of 11 000 runners encouraged me and I drew strength from their nervous energy. It dawned on me that I was RUNNING a 21 km. From holding the treadmill 8 months ago, struggling to finish a 10km 5 months ago, I was running a half marathon and nothing else mattered. From that moment on, I smiled and ran with my heart. I finished my first half marathon and to date, have lost 27 kg, I have learnt to never underestimate the difference you can make to someone, a little advice goes a long way, a
few words of encouragement changes one’s life, a high 5 when achieving goals warms the heart, and that you are only as strong as your mental game. I thank all those who helped me prepare mentally and improve physically, restoring my faith in myself and for discovering my love of running. The most important lesson I’ve learnt is that although I still sometimes hold onto the bar, I now know that the bar can always be raised.