Inspirational Runner: Ebrahiem Mohedeen
Ebrahiem Mohedeen ran a race in 2013 and felt short of breath and nearly passed out at the finish. He went to see a cardiologist and heart surgeon for an ECG where they discovered that he had blockages. A triple bypass operation was recommended.
It has been a long and arduous road to get back to where he is now, but the tenacious 51-year old from Wynberg in Cape Town - who only took up running at the age of 44 in 2008 - has made a remarkable recovery and will be doing the 10km Old Mutual Two Oceans Trail Run on Good Friday, 3 April 2015.
He says after the heart surgery he was terrified. He thought his life was going to end and he would never experience the joy of running again.
“At the time I didn’t realise how big a deal a bypass operation was. When I woke up in ICU, I realised how serious the operation was and I thought I was not going to make it,” an emotional Ebrahiem explained.
“I didn’t believe my heart surgeon when he told me that when I eventually recover mentally, I will ultimately be a better runner. I never believed him when he said that to me because after the operation, whenever I went out for a run and my heart started beating too fast. I thought it was the end of the world for me.
“I really believed I was going to die. The doctor told me to just start slowly and eventually I will get back to where I was before the operation.”
Ebrahiem said it was particularly difficult for him after the surgery, because besides the trauma of losing his dad, his daughter was involved in a serious car accident, which complicated his life even further.
His first race after the heart surgery was the Chapman’s Peak 10km. He had the operation in May 2013 and started running again a year later.
“I thought it would be impossible for me to run again. I had to visit a psychologist a few times to get my mind right. It was tough initially. However, I never lost my passion for running. I listened to my doctor and started slowly.
“It took me a solid two hours to do that 10km, but it was the best feeling of my life when I finished it. I then realised that running was possible again. I just had to believe that I can and it will happen. I just kept going. The death of my dad and my daughter’s car accident were obviously traumatic incidents that stalled my progress in running, but through all that I always knew that I was going to run again. I just had to get my weight down slowly.
Ebrahiem has always believed that pain is temporary, but giving up is forever.
“That mantra remained with me throughout. Even though most of the times I would finish last in races, I never ever gave up until I crossed that finish line. I knew my father wouldn’t have liked me to mourn forever. He would have wanted me to continue with my life.
“After my daughters’ car accident, I experienced the pain with her, but I had to remain strong and positive like when I am running races. My wife, Nazli, who is also a runner played a huge role in my recovery. She was unbelievable in the way she supported me and looked after me when I was incapacitated after my surgery.”
Ebhahiem’s cardiologist advised him not to run more than 21km for now. He first has to work on getting his weight down again. The maximum distance he is allowed to do is 15km. But Ebrahiem is just happy to be being part of the Two Oceans experience again.
“The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is a huge event that comes around once a year and it’s an awesome feeling to enjoy the spirit of this remarkable race. I didn’t want anything to stop me from being part of the Oceans experience, so I opted to do the 10km trail run on the Friday just to be part of the festivities,” he said.
Ebrahiem says he has fond memories of his first Two Oceans experience.
“It was absolutely amazing. I had never been part of such a huge event in my entire life. I was so in awe of the amount of runners and spectators around me. I was just a great achievement for me to be part of such a huge event.
“Even though I didn’t make the cut-off time, it was still an enjoyable experience. I felt like a world class athlete because people knew my name, but I didn’t realise at the time that my name was on the front of my number. It was an amazing feeling that people knew my name,” he quipped.
“I attempted my first Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2010. I didn’t make the 3 hour cut-off time. I ran 3 hours and one minute. It was very close. Later on the cut-off time was increased to 3 hours 10 minutes. At that time we just ran and there was no structured training and we didn’t know about cut-off times. My weight came down from 130kg to 104kg just through running. As my health increased, I started feeling a new sense of positivity around me and I felt that nothing was impossible to achieve.
“One of the biggest spin-offs was making new friends and meeting great people though running. When I saw what running was doing for me, I wanted other people to know what running can do for them as well. I never stopped spreading the word. People that knew me saw the obvious change because of the weight loss and of course the positive attitude that I had around me towards people.
“The heart attack was very sad, but it was also life changing. I feel that I am lucky to have been given a second chance and it is just great to be out running and again.”
By Adnaan Mohamed