Just when you think you're tough enough


Doctor Juggles Between Hospital Work and Virtual Races

A 5am indoor bike ride at home, followed by a 45-minute transition time to commute to the hospital to continue with a run on the treadmill. When the going gets tough, the tough – Dr. Lynn Azura Md Sham gets going to complete last weekend’s IRONMAN Virtual Race 3 Challenge.

Practising in a government hospital in Kuala Lumpur, the 46-year old orthopaedic surgeon is still busy these days attending to urgent cases although not at the frontline of the COVID-19 response.

Growing up, Dr. Lynn was not athletic. Before dabbling with triathlon, she started off with running in late 2015 – likely a factor midlife crisis, according to her – when her husband signed her up for a half-marathon event.  Swimming came later and by 2018, she found passion on two wheels.

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ToughASIA hustled up to warp speed to catch up with the triathlete doctor when we heard about her racing the virtual duathlon.

ToughASIA: How do you juggle between your work at the hospital and doing a virtual race?

Dr. Lynn: It’s a juggling act – family, work, training – and sometimes I fail miserably. However, I find that not compartmentalising things makes it easier. I have a treadmill and some weights in the office.

During lunch or before going home, I try to fit in some workouts to keep me sane. Furthermore, exercising does relieve stress. And the more stressed up I am, the harder I train!

ToughASIA: How did it feel racing virtually compared to the normal race?

Dr. Lynn: It’s a bit tough because you don’t have the atmosphere that pumps your adrenaline to push you to the finish line.

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Running around the house 250 times to complete the IRONMAN VR2.


ToughASIA: What equipment and gadgets did you use for the IRONMAN VR3 Challenge?

Dr. Lynn: I used a smart trainer Magene Gravat2, Garmin Forerunner 935 and a treadmill.

ToughASIA: Did you race in IRONMAN VR1 and VR2 Challenges?

Dr. Lynn: I did not dare to attempt the first race, VR1 which was the half IRONMAN distance. The VR2 was my maiden 5150.

For the VR2, I ran about 250 times totalling 15km around my compound. It was such a mental stress, running like a guinea pig. I almost quit! And all the hiccups happened during IRONMAN VR2.

ToughASIA: Did you like this method of racing virtually?

Dr. Lynn: Yes, because I can do it at my own timing or convenience. But also no, because I don’t meet people that can inspire me. Nevertheless, I would still do another virtual race.

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Dr. Lynn’s avatar simulated in Zwift via the bicycle trainer

Virtual racing aside, Dr. Lynn started her triathlon journey only last year, as she “wanted to push myself to the limit and test my endurance and mental strength”. She took up a group swim class with RC Coaching and had completed the sprint distance category of Putrajaya TriFactor Triathlon. She had also looked forward to IRONMAN 5150 and Perak Triathlon which were postponed due to the pandemic.

Training for a mother is never easy, as when her children were still young, she had to sneak out to train on her own. Only last year, Dr. Lynn decided to join RC Coaching for consistency, motivation and meeting friendly like-minded people.

As Dr. Lynn puts things aptly, “that’s why now I am a ‘makcik’ who wants to tri?!”.