#whywen - Waleed Deeba
On a mission to run his first ultra-marathon in London
Words and Images: Waleed Deeba
"Growing up I was diagnosed with severe Asthma, which impacted my whole life until I was about 8 years old. Those were the longest years that I can possibly imagine, walking seemed like a giant challenge. I still remember when my dad asked me: "Hey, I am going to buy groceries from a shop down the street, do you want to come with me?" my answer was "that shop is on another planet!" We still laugh about those days when that topic comes up, which reminds us to be very grateful for our current health.
To put things in perspective, during that period of time, when I walked about 500m I used to start breathing very heavy to the point that I had to say, "can we stop for a little bit for me to catch a break?" That also meant the idea of being part of any sports team was out of the question. I wouldn’t even be able to endure the team training. So, I told myself that sports were not for me.
One day we heard from my doctor that there were Clinical Trials happening for Children that have severe Asthma conditions. As a family we made a decision that regardless that clinical trial might work or not, we were going to give that a shot, because as I grew older my weight grew with me to the point I became overweight.
Fast forwarding 5 years, my asthma was cured and I was able to go for walks and that's when my story started of losing weight, once I saw results, I kept going to point I started to feel comfortable in own skin, made to the Colleague basketball team, when I went to university I was part of a boxing team and when I graduated and got my first job, I put so much focus on not getting fired and being able to deliver my best each day that multiple times I did long hours which meant... Yes, I was starting to get my weight back on.
Before I realised, I was overweight again, to the point that I had lost all the confidence in me even during work meetings. I was afraid of talking about my thoughts of what would be the best strategy to go forward with a specific project.
One day I saw my reflection in the mirror and I realised I was 95kg of weight, unhealthy which led to a flashback of my dad asking me "Hey, I am going to buy groceries from a shop down the street, do you want to come with me".
That day I decided that I am going to start working out to lose all that weight that I have put on so i can focus on my own physical and mental health, so i just started to walk and in couple of months I eventually start running again and eventually I was able to do a half a marathons, few months later, I had signed up for my full marathon distance run and I was able to finish that run and then I was introduced to triathlon so i signed up to the Ironman 70.3 in Dublin and coming to 2020... I had many triathlon and marathon races scheduled, but that ended up being cancelled due to COVID, so told myself I am going to challenge myself with an Ultramarathon 70km run that will be unassisted.
There is not going to be a medal at the end or a finish line, my medal for that ultramarathon distance run is going to be my own inner peace of knowing that I have turned my life around from being a 95kg to being more mindful of my own choices that will lead me to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Now, I am waiting for the countdown to stop and press start on my watch to kick start this new endurance challenge of an unassisted Ultramarathon distance run around London."