Build on the passion
Endurance sports is for anyone, an experienced woman triathlete tells SU AZIZ, who hears about how anyone can prepare for the sport from scratch.
Having competed nationally and internationally, she said she used to compete a lot a few years ago. “About 15 races per year. I have cut down considerably as I am very busy at my clinic nowadays.
“I compete both nationally and internationally. I like to coincide my races with new destinations as I enjoy travelling and visiting new places. Japan, USA, China, Korea, Philippines, Macau, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia … these are some of the places I have raced at.”
Triathlon, as you already probably know, is an athletic competition comprising three consecutive events, usually swimming, cycling, and distance running.
“I don’t view triathlon as training anymore because it’s now my passion. I spend at least an hour each day on fitness training. At the moment, I am training for the upcoming IM (Ironman) Langkawi on Feb 23”.
Were you in good physical shape when you first started out in the sport?
No! I was fat and weighed 65kg at that time! Now my weight averages at 51-52 kg. I was very determined once I decided I wanted to make a positive change in my life. I started working out at the gym and taught myself to swim, bike and run from scratch. It was trial and error at first as I had no background whatsoever in any of them.
I learnt everything (about the sport) from books, magazines and the Internet. I also stopped eating junk food and improved my nutrition intake generally. I had never run more than 200m in my life! And the only time I did that was to catch a bus! Learning to ride a racing bike was hilarious as I had to wear knee and elbow guards to prevent injuries from falls. I definitely did not swim like a dolphin! I simply persisted and improved as I learnt from my mistakes.
Q: Where did you go to get started?
A: I just participated in any race I could find. I met many friends and things picked up from then onwards. Nowadays, information about triathlons in Malaysia can be accessed through these websites like http://www.powerbar.com.my or http://www.swimbikerunmalaysia.com and http://www.malaysiatri.blogspot.com.
Q: What do you need to get involved in the sport?
A: Getting some help with any of the three sports that makes up the triathlon would definitely benefit. It need not be expensive as you only need swimming trunks or swim suits, a bicycle and a pair of running shoes to start with. Later, as you get better at it, you can purchase better equipment like proper racing bikes and shoes.
Q: How much of time and money do you have to invest in this sport?
A: I can only train 12-15 hours a week because I work full-time five days a week. So, my training revolves around my work schedule. I spend a lot of money travelling to the races, as well as on maintenance of sports equipment. I would need around RM3,000-5,000 to attend a race in West Malaysia, and definitely more for overseas trips.
Obviously, you still get a rush and satisfaction from the sport. Do you still feel it?
I don’t think I will ever tire of triathlons. It has become so much a part of me now that I can foresee myself participating even in my 80s! It is, in my opinion, the best sport in the world. Which child wouldn’t like to swim, bike and run? It’s such a carefree sport. I am just a big kid at heart. Every morning I get excited about waking up to swim, bike or run or go to the gym. I like being fit and it keeps me alert at work. I feel very satisfied over a great workout completed even before sunrise .
Q: What has been the most memorable moment for you as a triathlete?
A: It’s always crossing the finishing line in an Ironman race. The race is always hard because of the distance, terrain and weather. It’s an achievement just to cross the line.
Q: And the most excruciating as a triathlete?
A: For me, the day after the Ironman race! Because the body is so sore, even getting out of bed is an Herculean effort, believe me!
Q: What do you do to relax, when you are not competing or training?
A: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, dining out and listening to music and watching movies. I have many dogs at home and l like to play with them in the garden. I don’t have a lot of spare time so if I can, I like to nap.
Q: Any last words to our readers out there who would like to plunge into triathlon?
A: I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all Malaysians, young and old, to keep a healthy lifestyle. Even if it is only a 30-minute walk or stroll in the park. The number of heart-related ailments in this country is alarming. Triathlon is a very friendly sport. Not only can you get fit, you also meet a lot of wonderful people in the triathlon circle. For beginners who feel they are not ready to take the plunge yet, we have team relays in all the races so you can try these fun races with your friends and family. There are also many sprint races for young children. The great thing about a triathlon is that there is no age limit. Plus, there are many categories. Once you give it a go, I promise you will be hooked, just like me!