Everyone can complete an Ironman race. This is according to Dr Joanna Lin, 53.
Said Joanna, an Ironman triathlete who works full time as an oncologist at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, “Many people think that doing an Ironman race is crazy and that they would never be able to do one. But the most important thing to realise is that anyone can do one, and in fact, even people who are disabled, can finish. Watching the disabled athletes participate and finish is a very inspiring sight. So any able bodied individual should be able to finish one.”
For example, at her recent Ironman races, Joanna pointed out that she had seen competitors who are blind, or missing a limb, as well as people who didn’t look physically fit, yet they were still determined to complete an Ironman race.
Added Joanna, “It is a question of motivation. The most difficult step is the first one, which is to realise that exercise is a very important part of life, and to be able to motivate ourselves to get moving. There is often ample time to exercise even with a full time job. Most of us have at least 30 minutes in a day when it is possible to lace up a pair of shoes and just go out there for a walk or run. Once a person can do that on a regular basis, which is three times a week – and not once every three weeks – then training for a triathlon is just a few more steps along the way.”
She recently returned from her third Ironman triathlon
Joanna has recently returned from her third full Ironman triathlon, which had taken place at the end of last year in Brusselton, Western Australia.
Said Joanna, “Ironman Brusselton 2016 was a very nice experience. Brusselton is a three hour drive from Perth and is a well known seaside resort with beautiful beaches and an iconic 2km long pier which is the longest in the southern hemisphere.”
During the race, while Joanna was happy with with her swimming and running, she was a bit disappointed by how the bike leg had gone. Said Joanna, “I was hoping for a faster bike leg but the wind picked up during the second loop and combined with the fatigue, my time for the second loop ended up much slower.”
Joanna added, “Perth is a very nice city and only four hours or so from Singapore, and in the same time zone. I spent most of the time after the race with relatives who had come down from Perth to support me. The best thing about the Ironman races is the family participation, their love and support. It’s even better than finishing the race. My son even posted about me and the fact that I had finished my third Ironman race on his Facebook page.”
Picked up triathlon in 2010
Joanna had initially started doing triathlons in 2010, soon after having been spurred on to do something about her own health and fitness levels, after the premature death of a cousin of hers to heart disease.
Prior to that, she confessed that she had used to be a couch potato. Apart from the occasional tennis game or swim, she didn’t exercise at all.
Joanna’s first full Ironman triathlon had been in March 2014, at the Ironman Melbourne – and she had signed up for it even though she had no idea whether she had been capable of finishing it, at the time.
Said Joanna, “It had seemed like an exciting thing at the time, but I was not sure if I could finish it. I had already done a couple of half Ironman races by that point, and it’s the aspiration of any amateur triathlete to go for the full Ironman. I had initially thought that it was beyond me, but as I thought more about it and trained, then I realised that it was doable, after all.”
Joanna successfully completed her maiden full Ironman race in 16 hours and 44 seconds, and she got hooked after that. The rest is history.
To keep fit, Joanna’s training routine typically ranges from 5-6 hours per week during her off season, to a maximum of 10-12 hours weekly when she has an Ironman race coming up. Out of her training mileage, about 50 per cent of her time is allocated to cycling, which is the longest leg in a triathlon.
She said, “Triathlon races are basically cross training in itself – a combination of runs, swims and biking, together with other types of cross training thrown in. I believe that this is actually good for most people, as it avoids excessive training and potential injuries if one only does one sport, such as running.”
But no matter what sport or sports you choose to take up though, Joanna strongly believes that exercise can help to improve one’s quality of life. She said, “Exercise is the best medicine. It has helped me to feel healthier and has improved so many aspects of my life; I now feel more mentally alert and emotionally stable. Exercising will be something that I will now keep on doing until I am no longer physically able to do so.”