|Lê Phương Vy|
From a little girl who was clueless about sports for 21 years, Lê Phương Vy has come a long way. She is the first Vietnamese female athlete in the 18-24 age group to complete Ironman 140.6, one of the most difficult triathlons in the world. And she achieved this feat only two years after she started running. Vy talks to Bùi Quỳnh Hoa about her passion for the sport.
Lê Phương Vy finished the Ironman 140.6 triathlon, with a total length of 140.6 miles (some 225.8km, consisting of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycling and a 42km marathon) in 15 hours, 16 minutes and 59 seconds late last year in Langkawi, Malaysia. She was also selected as one of the two most inspiring athletes of the year by the Long Distance Race (LDR) Group.
Inner Sanctum: Please say something about yourself.
I am Lê Phương Vy, and I am 25 years old. I work for the Evergreen Investment Joint Stock Company, a real estate and services company in Hà Nội. I love running.
Inner Sanctum: What inspired you to take up running as a sport?
It was a simple and natural instinct. My house is near West Lake in Hà Nội’s Tây Hồ District. Every day, I used to see many people running around the lake early morning. I wondered what they loved so much about running and decided to try it myself. I found out that it was not too bad in the first few days and became interesting gradually.
I enrolled in the LDR Group in 2015, but I considered running professionally only a year later, when I was 23.
Inner Sanctum: What made you develop a passion for running, since you were not interested in sports till you were 21?
Running gives me a lot. I want to devote my life to it and go far.
Inner Sanctum: What do you think are the advantages of running?
For me, running is a good way to balance my life. It helps me improve my health, have a strong heart, develop an iron spirit to finish any race and overcome challenges in life. It also makes me feel beautiful in both outlook and soul.
Inner Sanctum: Don’t you mind getting sunburnt and wet in the rain when you have to run in tough outdoor conditions?
(Smiling) All girls prefer to be beautiful and attractive for themselves and in the eyes of others. But I love running too much to care about my looks.
Inner Sanctum: When was your first race?
My first race was the 21km Ha Noi Half Marathon, held by the Red River Runners Ha Noi and Sporting Republic in 2015.
Inner Sanctum: You said you quit running after that. What made you return?
Covering 21km was really tough for a beginner like me. I finished the race, but I was completely exhausted. So, I quit running. But thanks to the inspiration and support of my friends in the (LDR) Group, I made a comeback and started taking part in professional races.
Inner Sanctum: What are the challenges you face while practising for a race? And how do you feel upon touching the finish line?
Balancing my practice sessions with work and social life is the most challenging thing for me. But if you really love something, you will find a way to overcome the obstacles. Success never comes easily.
To me, moments before and after the race are amazing.
Practising together with fellow runners and sharing the joy and nervousness before the race is exciting for me.
After the race, some reach the finish line and some don’t, for many reasons. But it does not matter. There is no distinction between a CEO from a well-known corporation and a street vendor participating in a race. In the end, it’s the friendship with fellow runners, love for the sport and sweet memories during a race that matters.
Inner Sanctum: What are your records in running so far?
I have mostly taken part in marathons, including Viet Nam Mountain Marathon, Viet Nam Jungle Marathon, Tamdao Mountain Trail and Dalat Ultra Trail.
My records include finishing the 100km Viet Nam Mountain Marathon in 22 hours and recently finishing the Ironman 140.6 triathlon in 15 hours, 16 minutes and 59 seconds.
Inner Sanctum: How do you feel about your achievements?
I am very proud of what I have achieved. I am thankful to all the people for their love and trust. Together with Mr Cao Ngọc Hà, I am lucky to have been voted as an inspiring athlete because there are so many people who were better than me.
I hope professional running is developed in the country in the future.
Inner Sanctum: What are your passions besides running?
I love all outdoor activities, such as boat rowing and mountain climbing, as well as painting.
Inner Sanctum: What are your future dreams?
I want to be healthy, have a good job and pleasing personality and have more experience from running. VNS