Just when you think you're tough enough

Exclusive Interview Triathlon

Exclusive Interview: 2-time IRONMAN finisher Karen Siah faces a surmountable challenge

2-time IRONMAN finisher Karen Siah will have a whole new perspective on life very soon.

She discovered she was pregnant after the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships 2018 in South Africa last September. Feeling sluggish throughout the race but putting it off to a hard course,  Fitness Coach Karen Siah discovered the surprising news as the continued holiday-tripping after the Triathlon.

Team ToughAsia (TA) caught up with 2-time IRONMAN finisher Karen Siah on her new perspective of life.

TA: How does your new body feel?

Karen: I’m always in a profession which chase weight loss instead of weight gain, so seeing the numbers go up is quite terrifying.

TA: Anything that has surprised you?
Karen: How much pee I have, I keep peeing and I when I go out, I still have to pee again. I’m a lot more tired than what I’m used to. My job is quite a physical one and I need to adjust according to my client’s needs.

TA: What adjustments have you made?
Karen: I still conduct Personal Training classes from Mon-Sat. I also just started a kid’s running club and I have two corporate fitness classes. Instead of doing burpees with them, I just stand there and count.

From time to time, I’ve gotten some aches and pains. If it worries me, it’s nice to bounce questions off other expectant friends and experienced mother friends. Recently, I experienced groin pain that happened after a run, and I read up about it, it concerns the muscle that holds up the uterus and feels like it’s being stretched.

TA: Which races did you have to sacrifice?
Karen: I didn’t sign up for any races after the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships 2018 last September. The world champs was my biggest race already and I didn’t expect to get pregnant before the race.

Karen Siah with husband, Gary Fong at the IRONMAN 70.3 Bangsaen, Thailand recently.

TA: Do you still swim bike run?
Karen: Coming from a running base, I try to run as often as I can. For running, I started wearing a belly band which really helped lift up my belly so I don’t feel it pounding on my bladder and controls my need to go to the toilet.

I still swim because if you know me well, I don’t like to swim. But I still force myself to swim so that I don’t lose the muscle memory. Anyway, swimming is supposed to be the safest form of exercise.

Cycling wise, I only have a Time Trial (TT) bike, so it puts me in an awkward crouching position with an expanding belly. I don’t have a road bike so I can’t go cycling outdoors. With an expanding belly, I might also lose my balance and the roads would seem quite dangerous.

Motherhood will soon give Jessica Tang, Karen Siah and Serena Yang further inner strength.

TA: Given that you’re an IRONMAN twice over, what do you fear most about life with the little one soon?

Karen: I fear that first day out back on the bike, which I think can only happen perhaps three months after birth. Honestly, I just hope I can channel my inner Rinny Carfrae, I know I have it in me somewhere.

It’s going to be tough, I think my husband and I can say goodbye to training together, we’d have to take turns, but I’m looking forward to gradually getting back into the sport. So long as I have the right intentions.

Both multiple IRONMAN finishers in their own right, the little one will feel pressured soon enough.

TA: Food cravings versus Adrenaline cravings which one do you get?
Karen: I didn’t get any food cravings but people are even trying to guess the gender according to my preference for sweet versus sour.

TA: What’s the one piece of advice you would give other expecting Triathletes?
Karen: Know your own body, what you can and cannot do.

Going into her third trimester, Karen was seen supporting husband, 2-time IRONMAN finisher  Gary Fong at the IRONMAN 70.3 Bangsaen in Thailand. She was even spotted running alongside him at the race! We’re sure the little one will inherit all the speedy and multi-talented genes. Stay tuned for the arrival of the little one soon!

Photos provided by Karen Siah unless stated otherwise.

Karen running alongside hubby Gary at the IRONMAN 70.3 Bangsaen in Thailand.