The Ironlady | Bangkok Post: lifestyle
The couple flash their medals after completing the marathon. Melalin Mahavongtrakul
At the Osaka Castle Park, Arjaree Kiatfuengfoo broke into a light jog to warm herself up for the 42.195km run she was undertaking on a recent Sunday. The big crowd was cheering in the cool morning. The sky was slightly overcast, with colourful leaves and trees lining the city streets. To Arjaree, it was a great day for a marathon.
Just two weeks ago, Arjaree and her husband Veerapat participated in the Osaka Marathon 2017 — the city’s annual fete that began in 2011. Each year, more than 20,000 runners from all over the world joined in, with many dressing up in fancy costumes such as the Minions, Pikachu, a giraffe, a squid, an eggplant and more.
It was indeed a crazy and all around fun day for both runners and the audience in Osaka. The run started at 9am, with the course weaving through the city centre before concluding outside the Intex Osaka exhibition centre.
Arjaree Kiatfuengfoo. Melalin Mahavongtrakul
Non-professional marathon and workout enthusiasts Arjaree and Veerapat were among only a few Thai people at this year’s marathon. They were invited by the sporting goods brand Mizuno to participate in the event. Renowned author Sarawut “Roundfinger” Hengsawad also ran at this event.
“It was the most fulfilling run ever,” commented Arjaree, 37, during her post-run rest. By “fulfilling”, she was talking about all the scrumptious savoury and sweet goodies available for runners along the road. Moji with red beans and rice balls were her favourites.
Arjaree finished the marathon at a little over five hours. Her husband came in not long after. It was surprising how Arjaree later told us that, just three years ago, she had a trouble completing a run around Lumpini Park, which is about 2.5km.
“I was shifting between running, walking, and panting during that first run,” said Arjaree.
Before, Arjaree was by no means a sports enthusiast. She usually waited at the sports club where Veerapat played rugby, then one day concluded she might as well start doing some exercises while she was at it. She started out on the treadmill, then later migrated outdoor.
From that small start at a sports club three years ago, Arjaree has since stormed the world. She has participated in the Honolulu Marathon — her first event back in 2015 — and later the Berlin Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, and more.
Just earlier this year, Arjaree also completed the Ironman Cairns — a long-distance triathlon consisting of 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bicycle ride and a 42.20km run — in 15 hours and 30 minutes. It’s an accomplishment in its own right for someone who began running a few years ago.
Arjaree and Veerapat Kiatfuengfoo. Melalin Mahavongtrakul
It reportedly took several years for Arjaree’s husband to convince her to take up a sport. And now that she does, she is unstoppable. Sports has had a strong impact on her life, especially on her relationship with her husband Veerapat. With a now shared interest, the two get to spend more time together.
“People often call us the sporty family,” she said fondly. “My husband is a triathlete, too. And so it became our shared lifestyle that we would exercise together. We practice at the same sports club, and when we finish we would eat together. On Saturday, we would go for long-distance cycling. We may see our parents on Sunday, just spending time with the family.”
Next year, the couple will be participating in the Ironman triathlon in Kalmar, Sweden, and the Big Sur International Marathon in California together.
Arjaree’s ultimate goal as an athlete is to participate in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii — a dream arena for all triathletes.
While she’s a dedicated runner who now spends hours practicing daily, running is not her only passion. Arjaree is an engineer working at the Ministry of Energy. Outside of her main job, she’s also a food writer and a blogger for Rong Tao Song Koo (Two Pairs of Shoes) — a blog dedicated for running.
Tackling different roles in life requires great management of time, in which Arjaree said taking up sports helps her to become more disciplined in a daily life. It takes setting goals, laying out plans, and to basically have fun with it all. That’s how she proceeds, both in running and in different aspects of life.
Arjaree, centre, joins husband Veerapat, left, and author Roundfinger, right, for a jog at Osaka Castle Park. Melalin Mahavongtrakul
“It’s easier when you have plans,” she said. “It gets you to enjoy things more. If you just think that, oh, you’ll exercise tomorrow without knowing what or how it will be, one day it may not be fun anymore.”
“Say you’ll cycle for 50km tomorrow and beat it. You set a small goal for yourself each time. And what you end up feeling when you accomplish it is pride — that you can do it. You’re not competing with anyone, and it works the same way in a marathon and everything else, too. Everyone has the same goal, which is to cross the finish line no matter how fast or slow. Everyone has their own plan on how to reach it. So, when you can achieve that, the pride lives in you forever.”
Arjaree’s running tips:
Shoes matter a lot. Looking for a pair of shoes works on the same mindset as looking for a boyfriend. If you can get good shoes that are right for you, they can make you go further and better.
Start slowly. Get your body to develop the muscle and the joints first. Running a marathon may seem like a fashion for some right now. And many just want to jump straight into it even when they just started out and their body is not ready. If you get injured, then you won’t have fun with it anymore. Start with a 10k run first, then build your way up to a half marathon, then a full.
The Osaka Marathon saw runners from all over the world participating in the fun event with many dressing up in fancy costumes. Melalin Mahavongtrakul
On the run. Melalin Mahavongtrakul