Bouncing back (with a punch)!

What does it take to bounce back?

No. Really, what would you do to bounce back – despite the ongoing struggles, roadblocks, walls, rivers, or mountains that seem insurmountable?

My method of bouncing back to the take all these struggles and turn them on their heads.

19th May is a special day for me. It is a day that I remember, and celebrate, losing everything that matter to me. It is also a day I gained everything I could ever need and want. I use this day to launch myself into the atmosphere, by doing something completely scary and completely rewarding.

SEVEN YEARS AGO, I walked a marathon. Yes, WALK. 10.5 hours of it.

Why would anyone walk a marathon? Wouldn’t you train for it, run it and make it to the finish line in as short a time possible?

If one could run a marathon, by all means, run it and run it quick.

If one could only walk, because one was only given weight bearing privileges three months before said marathon, one would jolly well walk it, and walk it with fervour. The journey was no less. It could even be argued that the journey was more valiant an effort than any record breaking attempt.

A year after a horrific near-fatal motor accident, I stood on the start line of Singapore’s iconic marathon, Sundown Marathon 2012 with as much training as I could physically endure after being surgically put together 20 times in hospital over a period of three months. I never felt more prepared to complete the arduous and terrifying task.

The journey was long; the night quiet. Pain shot through my legs, up my hips and back and into my body. I systematically and strategically took my painkillers; I kept walking. Then it thundered down with a Category 1 Tropical Storm. As if my job wasn’t hard enough as it was, the heavens unleashed its mightiest.

Then, I remembered. Buried in the recesses of my subconscious was my athletic spirit that loved a good ol’ brawl to the finish.

I was, and still am, that triathlete that loves racing in the rain.

I made it through three months of learning to walk, walking slower than stringed puppet manoeuvred by a sloth. I forced myself to walk when I really didn’t feel well enough. I’d made myself so unwell by walking that I was taken to the emergency department. I walked 10km to work and walked 10km home, in my best effort to prepare my body for the 42.

So, when I raised the finish line up in the air with all my family, friends, colleagues, students and supporters, I stood victorious; I stood with pride.

Fast forward to 2018, seven years after my life-changing chapter and marathon-walking achievement, I am proud to announce that I am taking part in Sundown Marathon 2018, on the anniversary of my accident.

*PUNCH*

What’s even more exciting is, I am taking a whole bunch of girls* with me to the start line. The finish line is a given.

So. If you are looking to turn whatever struggle you might have on its head by completing the Sundown Marathon or Half-Marathon in your best time yet. You are at exactly the place to start preparing your body and mind for your valiant attempt!

Find out how you could turn up your training with my True Grit 10-week programme!

*This program is introduced as a women-only program this year. It will be made available to the men in 2019. Incidentally, we should still have 19th of May as our day of reckoning.

Hello, it’s me.

January 2012: Physical in the water

I’ve been racing triathlons since 2008 when I was still finishing my Honours studies in Human Movement at The University of Tasmania. I hadn’t grown up swimming so my first novice triathlon was completed in breast stroke. My best leg was the bike because I used to race buses back home from college and work growing up in Singapore. My running fitness really only picked up when a great group of runners in Launceston took me under their wings and helped me prepare for my marathon in Gold Coast in 2004.

I credit my attitude and tenacity in training to my late coach who helped hone my skills and mould my character when I represented my secondary school at tennis. He practiced tough love and he made sure everyone on the team understood the great life virtues: persistence, integrity and teamwork. My dedication to training and to a sporting life is part tribute to this incredible coach we knew as Mr. Quah Siew Kow. Little did I expect his coaching to resurface in my darkest period in my life.

I was racing in triathlons in Singapore for a couple of years with great success, having achieved personal bests and podium places, until I was literally taken of the scene by a lorry while cycling home on the night of 19th May 2011.

Kirsten in ICU
In a coma, Kirsten’s life was supported by a ventilator, feeding tubes and monitors.

Two weeks in ICU on life support helped me progress to the general ward for a further 10 weeks. After 20 surgeries, 10 units of blood, countless injections of morphine and other painkillers, 10 kg of weightloss and a grim prognosis of never being able to run again, I went home to swap my racing bike for a more appropriate wheelchair and continued seven more months intensive rehabilitation.

When I was finally given weight bearing and walking privileges in February 2012, I knew I had to turn that horrendous chapter into one of opportunity. I signed up for Sundown Marathon held in May that year. Yes, just three months later.

I completed the marathon walking for 10.5 hours. Since then, I have defied doctors’ prognoses (and orders) about never being able to run again. I completed more triathlons, some sprint, some standard distances, a couple of half ironman distances, and even one full ironman distance races.

20x30-CRFQ3684

The last 7 years has taught me more than I could ever hope in my ability to not only cope with adversity but flourish in the face of hardship. I had lost a lot but I have gained a hundred fold. It is now time to honour my blessings.

This website is one of my chosen ways to honour my life, my blessings and all my loved ones and supporters. I hope that anyone that visits will benefit from the nuggets of wisdom, maybe a quirky joke or two, and most importantly share this website to others.

I have also embarked on a coaching career to share my training experience with others. For a small fee, anyone can access my coaching support through TrainingPeaks and dedicated members only Facebook groups.

It is 2018 and it is a marvellous time to be alive! I welcome you to the various blog posts as I write them, and I hope you’d get in touch if you are looking for coaching support. Of course, I wouldn’t mind notes of well wishes should you feel compelled to write them!

I wish you all the very best!

That's true grit!

Kirsten