Running my first 21km, the #OMTOM2017 !

Hi everyone

Today’s post is something I am VERY proud of: running my very first 21km last month (insert happy dance)!!!!  I got to run the half marathon of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (OMTOM) and finished in 02h53 min before cut-off time. See more details below

About the #OMTOM2017

If you are South African (or African for that matter), you will know that this race is very famous and often referred to as one of the most beautiful races because it quite scenic and connects two oceans (i.e. Indian and Atlantic). It happens annually on Easter weekend: he fun runs (i.e. 5 and 10 km) happen on Good Friday; while the long distance races (i.e. 21 and 56 km) happen on Easter Saturday. If you are a runner, you know this race is ALWAYS oversubscribed and therefore application does not guarantee being selected. In fact, they run a mini lottery and only a selected few that apply get to run the race. After a decade in Cape Town, I decided it was time I try my luck: I applied in November 2016 and entered the lottery… To my surprise, I was selected in December to run on the 27th of April 2017 🙂 !!!

A picture of the crowd of runners before starting: 27,000 people


You will recall from my post about what 2016 taught me especially the line about setting up ambitious goals I learnt from Terri Savelle Foy (here). Many of my Congolese friends and even my own mother just did not get why I was doing this especially since I suffer from Lymphoedema (a pre-existing condition I have to live with and manage). Well, running 21km was one of my goals, in fact the very first on my list. For me, ticking that box was crucial because it would also give me the confidence to believe that I can reach/achieve the others with God’s grace, self-belief, hard work and discipline.


I had such a brilliant plan all worked out in my head: I was to run 2-3 times per week in February & would get to running 10 km comfortably and later in March would move to 15 km. The last few weeks would simply involve maintaining my stamina and muscles… such lies I told myself, lol!  The reality is that I must have trained a maximum of ~10-15 times: only 5-7 of those were 10 km run, and I only managed to run 15 km for the first time the weekend before the race…lol! I only did one in-between 10 km race which was uphill (the Monster run in Pretoria)


Motivation-Truth is there was MANY times I thought I should rather give up (e.g. I just moved cities, was adjusting to a demanding job with deadlines close to financial year end,etc). However, luckily for me I already purchased the return ticket to Cape Town and simply could not get myself to go to Cape Town and not run. I decided giving up was no longer an option.

Mama bear’s visit-No training happened the week before the race sadly as my mother came to visit me that week. While I absolutely loved having her (my mother really has become very close to my best friend), the main challenge was that I did not have much time outside of work, hence we would spend the evenings together (she also felt very strongly against me running “on the road” and/participating to the 21km for that matter).

Lymphoedema-I was diagnosed with lymphoedema in 2001 and have learnt to accept/live with it since then. What it means for me on a daily basis is that I walk with a swollen foot, I can’t always buy any pair of shoes I want, long flights without compression socks are horrible and I need to watch out for very hot weather conditions and too harsh exercise as it exacerbates the swelling and can lead to fibrosis. I had to train taking into account the fact that I needed to listen to my legs and work with them.

Wearing my compression stocking on the day of the race


I am actually the couch potato in my family…lol! Both my brothers are quite active, play sports and both ran the #OMTOM before, so they helped me with my nutrition (i.e. carbo loading the night before), have electrolyte solutions, how I should pace myself, etc. This gave me the moral comfort to believe in myself despite my limited training. I decided to run relying on a combination of God, a kick-ass play list full of Congolese rumbas and the spirit of the race to carry me, lol!


Final touch-up with my brother as he was helping me attach my race number


My African parents lived up to their expectation and off course did not allow me to leave the house without quite a lengthy prayer (what we would do without our generous parents?…lol!).  Sadly, this meant we left later than we should have and were speeding to the race starting to make it in time…bleh!

Runners (and friends/family) after the finish line

I must command #CapeTown and its people for the incredible support during the race: families came out to cheer and applaud for runners IN MASSES: we definitely felt the love 🙂 !

Me post the finish line despite the many cramps I had, with my hard-earned medal after (2h53 min)
A picture of the finish line which was at The University of Cape Town, Upper Campus


Well, running was a mini goal to help me on route to shedding 10 kg and back to size 12 (never have aspired to be skinny and never will). So my fitness journey continues (although I must admit to having slacked with the start of winter in South Africa and a bit of a high post completing the #OMTOM2017…lol!). I am keen to run 15-30km per month and do a second 21 km maybe in the 3rd quarter of this year: let’s see.


I hope you enjoyed this post and, it has at the very least inspired you to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself in whatever area of your life.


Other links you might enjoy

  • Training for the first marathon by Lymphoedema runner (here)
  • Tips for your first half marathon by Runners World (here)
  • 7 training tips for your first half marathon (here)

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