SR titleholder, winner at several cycling races, Delhi International Triathlon 70.3, second position, a podium finisher at sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, a woman who stood firm against society norms, mother of two, here is Gurgaon based. 42-year-old Kirti Virmani
House chores to running shoes
I was born in Bhiwani, Haryana. After completing my M.Sc in mathematics, I got married in 2001 soon after I had my first child. Due to domestic responsibilities I could not move out and work; hence I got absorbed in household chores. In 2007 we shifted to Gurgaon from Yamunanagar. I was keen to have another child, but I suffered from secondary infertility. I went through IVF and delivered a baby girl in 2012. It was a long gap between the two children. I had put on a lot of weight, and the entire IVF process drained me.
I was on a roller-coaster ride managing two kids with a significant age difference, and hence the demands were also different. I had nothing more to do other than kids and home. The responsibility was exhausting. I wanted an outlet to release my stress. It was disturbing to see myself in the mirror, as well due to post-pregnancy weight gain.
While strolling my kid in the morning, I used to see girls running in a group. I observed this every day and more number of females during weekends. Upon asking, I came to know about Pinkathon.
I gladly joined the group. I also started with power yoga to slowly get back the lost energy.
I joined the running group firstly to have a social circle of like-minded people and secondly to build up my running stamina.
I was loving this change and welcomed it enthusiastically. I didn’t need an alarm to wake me up, but I was up on my own and before the house buzzed with activity, I was back fully charged up to carry out the daily chores.
“In giving birth to our babies, we may find that we give birth to new possibilities within ourselves.”Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
In July 2015, I joined Gurgaon Road Runner(a running group). I was a newbie into running and a slow runner as well while the group had avid runners in it. I felt out of place.
I switched to cycling.
Cycling gave me a good kick.
I felt liberated while cycling.
Within a few months, I felt stronger than before and ready for my first 50 km ride. I took around 3-4 hours to complete the ride, but I was cloud nine. There was no looking back after this.
In 2016, I did my first longest ride to Jaipur of 200kms and Timber Trail of 300 km.
Around the same time, someone from the running group proposed a cycle ride from Manali to Leh. Alok, my husband, always came in as the most vital support and accompanied me in all my rides. I had never done any long-distance ride without him. Although he too started running and cycling just for fitness but was not keen to join the Manali-Leh ride.
I had a tough choice to make here.
He encouraged me to go ahead with the ride, and I mustered the courage to pack my bags and embark on this epic ride.
I could not complete the ride as I missed Alok all through and to so much magnitude that I fell sick. I am grateful to all my teammates, especially Nitin Yadav, who took care and accompanied me all through on that high altitude.
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”Walter Winchell
I made friends for life during this trip, and I shall always remain indebted to them.
Once back from the trip, I registered for the Golden Triangle tour(Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Delhi, 750 km in 3 days). It was a great learning experience for me. We rode in the dark, lost our way, boys chased us, managed punctures, and so many other thrilling adventures.
I also completed my SR series (Super Randonneurs) in due course of time. Till now, I was clueless about the types of bikes available in the market as I did the SR series on my 17kgs of hybrid bike.
I started gathering podiums in many races, and my cycle wheel was spinning in full glory.
The tri entry: better late than never
In the desire to add variety to my workout, I thought of learning how to swim. I started with properly guided coaching classes from July 2019 and attempted my first sprint triathlon in August 2019. I grabbed a podium in this race. Going ahead, I registered for the Olympic distance in October. The point of botheration here was that the event was in a 16 meters pool while I always practised in a 5 meters pool. On the race day as expected, I panicked due to the depth of the pool. I composed myself and requested the organisers to allow me to settle down. Once calm, I started the swim. I completed the race beyond the cut off timing, and I swim DNF. I am grateful to the organisers to not stop me from finishing the race. I knew my weak point now and scope of improvement as well.
In February 2020, I attempted the 70.3 distance triathlon organised by Delhi International Triathlon. DIT will remain an exceptional race to me, firstly because of the distance and secondly I completed this race under immense mental stress. I was reeling under tremendous pressure when I stepped on to the start line, I started to vomit at the 11th km in the run course but was determined to finish it. Seeing my family and friends at the finish line was a great reliever.I stood second in the race.
I took a significant decision and registered for Ironman 70.3, Austria in May 2020. Although the race didn’t take place due to COVID, I was adamant about overcoming my fear of open water. I enrolled myself for Open water swim sessions in Goa and was looking forward to training under proper guidance.
Neither the races nor the training happened, but the making up my mind to attempt the race has filled me with lots of self-confidence. The races also helped me in strengthening my mind and get over stress and anxiety quickly.
When God gives you lemons, squeeze them into tequila.
I remember the days when I was soaked in household chores and responsibilities. I had no time for myself and gave every bit to my home. During a crisis in my husband’s business, we were left with mere survival capital. I pitched in and started working to contribute to the household. My husband never fails in mentioning that the best thing I did during those hard times was, to stay back.
After all the years of struggle and tough times, both me and Alok have stood as the strongest pillar for ourselves and our children.
My husband encouraged and supported me in my passion, and I left no stone unturned to churn the best from every possibility.
I waited patiently for I knew that the cocoon will take its own time to crack open and the butterfly will be out in the open.
For all the women who are feeling stuck or are unable to muster the courage to stand for themselves then remember, no one else will do it for you. You have to take that first step and keep moving ahead, the universe will conspire to make it happen for you.