I have always been overweight, with my weight yo-yoing up and down with every new diet I tried and due to hormonal fertility treatments my weight had ballooned. After hearing the news that having children of my own would probably never be a possibility, my weight reached an all time high as I comfort ate everything in sight. Exercise was also a word that didn’t exist to me. I joke with people that I got off the couch for the first time at 40 but it’s actually true. I never did sports at school and tried every trick to get out of physical education classes.
Forty and miserable, I realised something had to be done and when I got on the scale, I was shocked to find that I had comfort eaten myself to over 100kgs!
For five months I lifted weights at the gym and convinced myself that I had cleaned up my eating, but nothing happened. It was then that I decided to get serious. I started making lifestyle changes, drank two litres of water a day and downloaded a running app and started running on the treadmill. I remember hearing about Parkrun and decided to try it. It took me 50 minutes to do my first Parkrun, walking most of the way. Realising how unfit I was, this spurred me on and I started making running a regular activity.
My friend Renae and I started running together three times a week and I remember, in the beginning, not even being able to run from one lamppost to the next without having to take a break and walk. She has been so supportive and we run together regularly even though she is much fitter and faster than I am. My boyfriend is also amazingly supportive of my running, going as far as to buy himself running shoes so that he can run with me, even though he is more of a cyclist than a runner.
In January 2015 I entered my first 15km race. I didn’t make the cut off but I was so happy because I had achieved something that I thought I never could. It was after this race that my brother challenged me to do the Two Oceans half marathon, and before I knew it, I had entered the race. I was terrified, realising that I had no idea how I was going to run 21km!
Renae and I joined a running group and trained for 12 weeks for what was to be our first ever half marathon. I cannot describe the feeling of crossing that finish line to anyone, months of hard work and training culminating in this huge event. I finished in 3:08 and I remember being so scared that I wouldn’t make the 3:10 cut off. I was in tears at the end of it. My brother ran with me over the finish line even though he didn’t actually do the race and Renae was waiting for me at the end. It’s a very humbling experience.
I have done many more races since this first half marathon and even been featured in the November issue of Runner’s World but this first Two Ocean’s will be the one that I remember the most – from a 40-year-old couch potato to a 41-year-old half marathon runner. Joining Itheko at the beginning of the year has been one of the best decisions. What a wonderfully supportive and nurturing group of runners and who I’m proud to be a member of.
Since that first day two years ago I have lost 20kgs, so yes I would say that running has changed my life, but it has become so much more than weight loss. It’s about challenging yourself and reaching your goals, about doing things your never thought you could, about inspiring people, knowing that you can do anything you set your mind to, that hard work always pays off and to always strive to be your best self.
By Jacqui Rens