A gruelling 3.8km swim. A 180km bike ride. A 42.2km run. This is Ironman Melbourne 2014.
And 50-year-old Dr Joanna Lin conquered it all – last month.
She finished the challenging race in 16 hours and 44 minutes.
I recently interviewed the oncology specialist about her very first Ironman race. And here is what the doctor said.
Joanna, why did you participate in the Ironman Melbourne 2014 race?
This was a 50th birthday present to myself – it was my first Ironman race.
What was your finishing time?
It was 16 hours 44 mins. I was quite pleased with the fact that I was able to finish. It was a huge relief to get to the end of the race, which I initially had hoped to finish in around 15-16 hours.
How did you train for the Melbourne race?
I had been training for about six months. My longest training hours per week were around 10-12, with a mixture of running, cycling and swimming.
How did your medical training influence you, in your preparations for this gruelling race?
I think being a medical doctor helps in the understanding of sports nutrition and physiology, but there is a lot of information available that can enable anyone to follow a healthy lifestyle. What is most important – is the will to change.
What was the biggest challenge that you faced during the race?
It was the head wind associated with the bike leg of the race. There was a significant speed difference depending on the direction travelled, and I was a bit disappointed with my time on the bike leg as I was hoping to get through that in seven hours. Instead, I took eight hours for that section.
The other challenging part was during the last half of the run. This took place at night and long stretches of the run course were by the sea. And there was inadequate lighting on the path, which made me slow down to a walk to avoid tripping, twisting my ankle and falling over. After I slowed down I was not able to pick up speed again – so the run was slower than expected.
What was the most memorable part of your Ironman race experience?
Other than finishing, it was just the overwhelming encouragement I received from my family who were in Melbourne to support me. Apart from my husband, children and in-laws, my cousins from Melbourne also came and stayed late to support me. I was very touched by that, and felt very lucky to have such a supportive family.
If you had the opportunity, would you take part in another Full Ironman race?
I would definitely do another Ironman race again. It was an amazing experience for me and my family too. I have been told how inspiring it was.
I understand that you only started exercising regularly a few years ago. What made you start?
After seeing some close friends and relatives getting sick about five years ago, I started exercising. I was 45 at the time and I realized that I was approaching that age when illnesses begin to appear, and I wanted to stay healthy for my family. My youngest son was only six years old at that time.
I had never really exercised much before, except for the occasional tennis game and swim. My husband called me a couch potato.
Around early 2009, I started walking to music and began by walking around 30 minutes a day, and then slowly adding short runs in between.
I signed up for my first race in September 2009 which was a vertical marathon climbing up the 73 floors of the Swissotel The Stamford. My time taken was 19 minutes.
I kept slowly increasing the distances over the years and have now done more than 30 races including half marathons, full marathons and triathlons. I started doing triathlons in 2010 and my first Half Ironman was in March 2012.
How do you continue to stay so fit and active – for your age?
I think in general, we tend to let ourselves go health-wise when we hit 40 years of age – which is rather dangerous. That is the age when many age and weight related illnesses start, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Many of these diseases are preventable with a good controlled diet and a good amount of exercise.
I have noticed higher energy levels, more clarity of thought, calmness and contentment – in addition to the physical benefits, since regularly exercising.
But I think a decent level of fitness can be achieved by anyone if they set their mind to it. Many people cite a lack of time and so on, but those are only excuses. Everyone has half an hour in their day that they could devote to exercise as opposed to watching TV or surfing the Internet.
I am running the 42km Sundown Marathon this year to raise funds for the Singapore Disability Sports Council – as a Sundown With Love Charity Ambassador. Click here for more.
Other Blog Posts
Click here to read about an Austrian who has run 180+ marathons.
Click here to read about organising a marathon… on a cruise ship.
Click here to read about an Austrian’s trail marathon experience in Singapore.
Click here to read about two Singaporeans who are running 250km across the Sahara Desert for charity.
Click here to discuss Joanna Lin’s feats in the Just Run Lah forum.