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How OMTOM Changed My Life by Leonie Mollentze

  • Half Marathon

My journey to health and wellness started in 2011 as the fitness diarist for Shape magazine.  The original mission:  To ride – and finish – th100km Karoo To Coast MTB Challenge.

There I was.  A serial race non-finisher, unfit, overweight, Lindt-bunny addict who could eat (and still can, actually) a slab of chocolate like a KitKat, hoping for some kind of miracle.

Little did I know that this adventure would have many twists and turns and lead me to the world of running…

I clearly remember the first few times my personal trainer tried to make me run on the treadmill.  He would increase the speed and I’d slow the thing down as soon as he wasn’t looking. 

But sure enough, my 30 second run became a minute, then two, and the next thing I knew I was able to run for 10 minutes.

It was about the same time as the 2011 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and my friend Buyiswa convinced me to enter the 5km fun run.

And ran it, I did!  I didn’t walk.  I didn’t shuffle.  I RAN.

Sure, it took me ages to finish.  Ja, I really DID think that certain death was only a footstep away as I ran up the hill at UCT to get to the finish line.  

But as I turn the corner on the finish straight and I heard my kids shout “RUN MOMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”, I realised that I have just achieved something I never thought was possible in my adult life.  Ever.

A baby runner was born that day.

Fast forward past a successful (only just) Karoo to Coast, my first 10km run and a very traumatic triathlon, a little voice inside my head kept on nudging me to give the Two Oceans 21km a try.

So I entered.  Not knowing what to expect.  No having any idea how a 21km actually feels.  Not knowing where to start.  And being inherently lazy I knew I had to join a formal programme if I ever wanted to make it. 

The Sport Science Institute’s OptiFit 21km running programme introduced me to the social aspect of running and three weekly runs slowly built us up to what would be a memorable day.

I still have fond memories of Coke-filled Hello Kitty cups, tough hill-climbs and learning how important it is to make sure you wee BEFORE you go out for a run!

The rainy day which was the 2012 Two Oceans Marathon was without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The crowd at the start. The bands that kept on playing as we snaked our way up Southern Cross in the pouring rain.  The pride and feeling of accomplishment to cross the finish line before the cut-off (which was my one and only goal).

This baby runner was growing up…

I love running today. I may not be the fastest or the best or the skinniest, but finishing a half marathon barely a year after doing dreadful 30 second runs on a treadmill and telling my trainer “I’m a cyclist, not a runner,” gave me the courage to dream bigger and aim higher. So I entered the 2013 Specsavers Ironman 70.3, which I’m currently training for.

Will I be doing the World’s Most Beautiful Half Marathon in 2013?  Yes, indeedy, I’ll be there! Because if it taught me anything it is that even the most ambitious goal can be achieved, if you take it one step at a time.

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