A mother of twins. A finisher of running too many loops of the 400m track at the University of Malaya. And gunning for her first full IRONMAN distance triathlon. Ashley Koay Shih Chieh, 37 years old from Kuala Lumpur, is not your typical housewife.

If you ever see this beautiful, athletic lady running around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, very likely, she might be embarking on yet another ultra run. Still waters run deep, you would never imagine that Ashley had never swum 6 months before taking up triathlon! If she had it her way, she would swim her way to Kona someday.

ToughASIA took long strides to catch up with IRONMAN-wannabe Ashley to find out her zest for endurance races.

ToughASIA: How did you get involved in running and triathlon?

Ashley: After I gave birth to my twin babies in 2016, I felt anxious, worried, tired and frustrated. I tried running as a form of my therapy. Every run improved my mental health, happiness and I overcame my postpartum depression.

When one sport isn’t enough, why not try a triathlon? So In 2018, I started a new journey in triathlon.

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ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running locations and how often do you run?

Ashley: My favourite running routes are in the residential area of Subang Jaya in Selangor and the MBSJ stadium which has a running track.

Usually, I run 4 days in a week at 6am before my twins wake up and before my husband goes to work. The distances are based on four specific run types: recovery run 5-6km, interval run 8-10km, tempo run 10km-15km and long run 15-21km.

ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in running and triathlon?

Ashley: For running, it has to be the UM24 Ultra Endurance Run, looping around the 400m track in University of Malaya Stadium. It is my longest run at 121.36km!

In regards to triathlon, I was so scared of deep water and had never swum before. With 6 months back-to-back training, I competed in my first ever triathlon IRONMAN 70.3 race in 2018.

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ToughASIA: How are you celebrating Mother’s Day in this year?

Ashley: Have a warm and sweet celebration at home. It will be a simple home-cooked meal and my husband will purchase a cake.

ToughASIA: How does your husband support your passion for your sport? 

Ashley: I want to give a huge shout out to my husband. He always watches over our twins and gives me the time to train and go for races. I am so grateful for his constant support and encouragement.

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ToughASIA: Have you joined any virtual races?

Ashley: Yes, Virtual races motivate you to train as if you will be having a real in-person race. It keeps you physically and mentally strong.

During MCO 1.0, I joined the IRONMAN VR 1 to VR 11, totalling 11 weeks in a row. The longest distance was the 5km Run, 90km Bike ,21km Run.

For running, just in this month, I had completed the Garmin Enduro Ultra Virtual Run 50km. I carried a hydration bag running on the road with my favourite Ultra Team – Pace Runner spanning from Kuala Lumpur to Selangor.

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ToughASIA: Are you looking forward to any race in particular going into 2021 and beyond?

Ashley: Times are tough but I will keep my passion for sports alive. Full IRONMAN is my next to do list.

ToughASIA: Would you like to share any other perspective regarding your journey as a runner or triathlete?

Ashley: Be the person who got furthest, not fastest. Build endurance, physically and emotionally, and nothing will ever stop you.

Photos provided by Ashley Koay.

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