During my schooling years, I had no worries in life except to do well in school, to please my parents (well…it was to avoid from being beaten up for bad grades actually), to fight for the scarce scholarship and to obtain a university placement abroad because coming from a middle income family, that was the only way I could travel overseas!
In my 20s, my only responsibility was to my employer, so, I worked hard, moved from one position to another to gain as much experience as possible with the hope that one day soon I would be at the top of the corporate ladder.
And then I got married and had my daughter, Tasha. I was in my early 30s and the minute she came out wailing, all my other priorities seemed miniscule. But commitments had been made, so, I juggled between my family, my studies for a Masters degree and work. It was the most stressful period of my life but one that I would not trade for any others.
It was a joy to see Tasha grow, I received my Masters degree eventually after 7 years of burning midnight oil and my career boomed. Having been brought up to always have a goal in life, the question I asked myself then was “WHAT’S NEXT?”
The answer came without me having to look hard for it. I was 40 years young then but my bodily functions started to slow down! So, I started running because people were saying that it was the best way to burn fat but the competitive side of me took over and before I knew it, I signed up for my first race of 7.8km in Putrajaya. There was no turning back after that. I couldn’t get enough of running. They called it the Runner’s High. I was so consumed by it and started to increase my mileage progressively to 10km, 15km, 21km and 30km. Through it all, I always had my husband to accompany me on the runs and Tasha was always there as my number one support crew – she would rocktape my old joints to prevent any kind of injuries, prepared cold shower, massage and nutrition after the race, took photographs as a reminder of the suffering I went through during the race! But that was not enough to stop me. The year I turned 42, I decided to celebrate it by running a full marathon, to commemorate a km for every year I have lived. I experienced such sense of accomplishment like never before when I crossed the finishing line that it kept me running a dozen more full marathons around the world before I asked that same question again, “WHAT’S NEXT?”
The natural progression would have been ultra running of 100km and more but I felt that I needed to do something different than just running. And that was how I stumbled into triathlon. My biggest challenge was swimming because I never knew how to swim freestyle. So I took lessons and when Tasha was home on weekends, she would videotape my strokes and when asked for comments, she didn’t spare me any details. Such tough love! Just like running, I approached the sport progressively. I did a few Olympic distance races in Port Dickson, Singapore and Miri, then 70.3 (half Iron Man distance) races in Taiwan, Bintan, Phuket and Putrajaya before I decided to step up and take the ultimate challenge!
Iron Man is the ultimate distance for triathlon as is the full marathon for running. It comprises 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run. It is a race of a different breed because it requires discipline in every aspect of your life – from nutrition to sleeping hours. For six months I breathe, eat and sleep triathlon. I swam 192km, ran 1301km and bike 7129km before the BIG day arrived. Tasha did her usual support crew duty the night before the race, Franco drove me to the race and stuck around until I was able to calm my nerve and went into the swim start. Everything went as planned from the swim to the bike to the run. 14 hours and 25 minutes later, I was on the red carpet heading to the finishing line. I saw Franco with tears welling in his eyes and heard Tasha shouting “I am so proud of you, mom!’ I was beaming with joy and as I stepped on the finishing line, the much-awaited announcement echoed in the air…
LINI KAZIM, you are an Iron Man.
That was just over a week ago, and now as I am writing this summary of my life, I shall let you guess what is the most frequently asked question that’s playing in my head?