When you mention to your friends that you are taking up running or racing in a triathlon event, you would likely get all kinds of reactions. Some may support you while others may tell you how a slippery path the triathlon journey will be – and most of it is true!

But the REAL friend to have is one who would drive all the way and even pace you during the race. This is the story for 37-year old Kristy Chai, a consultant based in Kuala Lumpur.

ToughASIA: Why and when did you start running?

Kristy: I’ve never been much of a runner, I only started to get more serious about running in 2016 because it is one of the three disciplines in a triathlon.

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ToughASIA: What inspired you to take up triathlon?

Kristy: My first ever sprint distance triathlon was back in 2015, an event that my friends encouraged me to try out. Since I already swim and cycle, they knew that I would be able to complete it easily. Starting from the sprint distance, I naturally progressed to the Olympic Distance Triathlon and 70.3 events over the years.

ToughASIA: What keeps you motivated to train now, even when there are no races?

Kristy: My goal is to maintain my endurance fitness which I did so on an indoor bike trainer coupled with some treadmill runs. In hindsight, training indoors provided the perfect environment as it was safe, I did not have to worry about weather and road conditions. Also, I could start – and stop – anytime I liked and the best part was to have a kitchen within reach. During the lockdowns, I was still training 5 to 6 days a week, rotating between indoor trainer rides, runs and body workouts.

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ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running and cycling locations?

Kristy: My favourite cycling location would be Hulu Langat; starting from Batu 18 up to Peres back down and crossing over to the Tekala Waterfalls. Sometimes we will opt to cycle to Kong Koi or even Titi if we wanted to put in more mileage. Other cycling routes that I frequently ride would be from Bukit Jalil to Rimbayu (return) and Kota Kemuning to Tanjung Sepat (return).

As for runs, I will usually run loops (flexibility to vary the distance) in a park such as Desa Park City or Bukit Jalil Park.

ToughASIA: What is the most memorable race for running or triathlon you have competed in?

Kristy: Port Dickson International Triathlon 2016, Olympic Distance. I was taking part in the event by myself with very little running experience, however a friend was kind enough to purposely make a trip down to PD just to pace me for my 10km run. It was the most kind and thoughtful act someone has accorded to me.

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

Kristy: Langkawi IRONMAN 70.3; this has been my longest triathlon distance I have completed and my next goal will be to complete the full IRONMAN distance category.

ToughASIA: What is the most difficult part about triathlon and how do you overcome it?

Kristy: The hardest part has got to be the training; trying to schedule the 3 different disciplines: swim, cycle and run; keeping a balance between strength, technique, tempo and endurance based workouts. As I am working full time, all these have to be done before and after work. It is common to have two training sessions in the day, once in the morning and another after work.

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ToughASIA: Are you looking forward to any race in particular?

Kristy: IRONMAN 70.3 Desaru Coast, the inaugural event was supposed to have taken place on 19 April 2020 but has since been postponed twice, with the latest announcement that it is now scheduled for July next year.