Small town to the city of dreams
Snail-paced cyclist to an Ironman finisher
Determination is the second name of Ritu Kudal, a Mumbai based 41-year-old mother of two beautiful girls.
Pallu (veil)clad Marwari to a girl in running shorts.
Ritu has quite a few finisher medals in her kitty like Dubai 70.3 (1.9kms swim, 90kms bike, 21.1 run) 2020; Kolhapur 70.3, 2019(Podium); Hyderabad 2018(Olympic Distance-1.5kms swim,40kms cycling, and 10kms run), Full marathon 2017, countless half marathons, 10km and 25kms pacer.
Let’s read Ritu’s story in her narration.
How and why?
I studied in Udaipur and was into sports right from childhood. Kho-Kho and running were my favorite sports; I have even played until the state level. I was selected for national and had to travel to Nepal for the race; my mother was in doubt. Firstly coming from a Marwahi community, there was a stigma for girls to participate in sports, and secondly, pursuing sports was not a serious discussion. Even I was unsure, so I left where I started and continued to study further.
Soon I was married, but I am glad that my parents respected my opinion to find an educated match for me.
I came to Mumbai after marriage and continued to pursue my Charted Accountant course. My husband, Tarun being a CA himself, helped me in the completion of the course.
I carried on with my duty as a dedicated housewife and managing children.
When my elder one was six-months-old, just to come out of boredom, I started to learn swimming. The oldest student was in the swimming class was 60 years old.
There is no age to learn anything newFirst lesson
It was during the Ganpati celebration when I was sitting in the pandal, holding my second child in my lap when my elder daughter’s gymnastics instructor uttered under his breath that I look like a Ganpati. I went home and looked at myself in the mirror, and he was not wrong. What had I done to myself? With a chubby body and bulging belly, I surely looked like Ganpati.
Do not neglect yourself after childbirth. Your body needs a lot of attention.Second lesson
I developed hypothyroidism as well.
I started walking and mild exercising until one-day, I met someone who had completed his half marathon. I was shocked by the distance he covered when I was struggling to walk even a 5K. When my younger one was six -months old, I ran my first 10K Pinkathon race in 2013 and finished in 1.02hrs.
It is always challenging to take the first step but dare to take it, and it’ll make all the difference.Third lesson
There was no looking back then. I did the Goa marathon, Kundalika river. Marathon, Stara Hill run and, after four years in 2017, ran my first full marathon with systematic planning and training.
The race moment
My first Triathlon was Hyderabad 2018, Olympic Distance. I chose to race here to test waters, and surprisingly, I stood 4th in my age category. Next was Kolhapur 2019 70.3, and the (OWS )open water swim came into existence. Ah! to face the fear of open water and then to swim through that distance was a tough task. I trained hard and was a podium finisher at the race.
Dubai 70.3 was announced by now, and after talking to Tarun, I registered. A race that I can never forget.
My coach Viv Menon and swim coach Ashutosh left no stone unturned to turn me into a beast by gruelling training plans. My day started very early, and after preparing the breakfast and packing my kid’s tiffin boxes, I used to head for my training. There were days when my body gave up, and my legs ached, but I had a massive target in front of me, and I didn’t pause.
Before the race day, I packed my bike, learned how to mend the puncture, made my mind to travel alone. Yes, it was my first international travel on my own. It was a great accomplishment to get the visa stamped, issue a new SIM card, and manage everything on my own.
After the trial swim, I was down with a cough, cold and high fever. I panicked as my body was too weak to face a tough race ahead.
On race day, my swim went well, but due to coughing I had gulped a lot of seawater, I started vomiting while cycling. My left side of the body was almost frozen, and I had severe pain. I was tensed not because of my state, but what if something happens to me? I have children back home.
My mind could not register a DNF (Did Not Finish), and I pushed myself hard to the finish line.
The glimpse of the India flag at the finish line, the sense of victory and achievement took away all my pains, aches, fever, and anxiety. It was a moment of pride and triumph.
You have to put effort on your own to achieve the impossible.Fourth lesson
I am very grateful to my parents, who ensured that I get a proper education. I can’t thank my coach Viv Menon, Ashutosh, enough, who pushed me hard and beyond my limits.
Most importantly, I could have never done any of my races without Tarun. Whenever I step out for a competition, I always ask Tarun to put his hand on my head. It fills me with immense confidence and trust. That cheer from my kids,” Mom, you can do it!” kept ringing in my ears all through my racecourse.
Is the hunger over?
No, the hunger to chase the impossible will never get over. Once I was back from Dubai 70.3, I enrolled for the Goa swimathon for 5K. My coach asked me, “are you ready to fail, Ritu?” I replied, “it’s not about failing or timing, but I want to test myself.” I am glad I took a plunge and finished the 5K swim.
Dare to dream and have the courage to chase your dreams. What seems impossible now will become a reality soon.Ritu’s mantra
Learnings from being a Badass mommy
Getting married or having kids is no reason to stop you from achieving your dreams. Never stop learning, never stop dreaming, and be happy for yourself and on your own.