Woman of Steel - Ariati Bounces Back After Her Accident
Ariati Karina Khalid is an active person and also a familiar figure in the running circle.
A strong runner who is always cheerful, she aced her virgin ultra trail run at The Magnificent Merapoh Trail 2017. She ran in the 70K and finished 18th place.
Ariati after finishing The Magnificent Merapoh Trail 2017.
She had raced in many races and achieved a number of notable successes too.
Ariati winning the 12-hour Women Category at Malatra Endurance Run 2017.
Ariati before the start of Tokyo Marathon 2018.
She was in high spirit after completing Tokyo Marathon in March 2018 with a new PB and a 4:50 timing when tragedy strikes.
On March 24, 2018 she met with a terrible accident in Putrajaya after her LSD session there.
Captured from her Instagram post after her operation:
"Alhamdulillah, but the fractures were too major and it was not as suspected prior to the procedure. My knee was completely damaged but the doctor has repaired it, and for the next few weeks/months, is for me to do recovery and physiotherapy sessions."
She posted updates on her recovery process on Instagram and everytime, she always wear her trademark wide smile.
To see such positive attitude is indeed inspiring, despite the challenges and hurdles that she had to overcome. With her never-give-up attitude, she is now back to the welcoming arms of running (among other many "activity lasak" that she loves doing.)
We are honoured and grateful that she agreed when we approached her for permission to share her story in our blog and also answer some questions.
First of all, congrats on finishing your half marathon at Seremban Half Marathon on July 7, 2019. It was your first 21K run since the accident and you managed to run in a time of 2:28!
Ariati proudly displaying her Seremban Half Marathon 2019 (SHM) finishter tee.
Q: How does it feel to be back to running competitively in races again?
A: Happiness and gratitude . I didn’t tell anyone that I was going to do the SHM. Not to my sisters or my closest friends, because I felt that I need to do this alone. No (possible) negative vibes/comments or no unnecessary excitement for nothing (this would be from my sisters).
Just me at the starting line, with the crowd. Just need to get the feel again, you know. I felt that I’ve been on the sidelines for so long and just waiting for the perfect moment. So I thought, it’s time to get back in the game, see where my fitness is at and use this as a starting point.
Q: You've done many races prior to the accident. Can you share what are the most memorable ones that you did?
A: Definitely the ultra-distances that I have done, because it challenged me mentally and physically and I didn’t think I was capable of doing it.
The Magnificent Merapoh Trail (70KM)- where I first met you (live) for the first time hehe, the Borneo TMBT Ultra-Trail (50KM – 12th placing) and the Malatra 12-hours Endurance Run (I won this one yeayy, but I knew it was just luck, because there was no elite runners participating), and the FM race that I love most, Tokyo Marathon 2018 of course, and I like Bali Marathon 2017 too!
(editor: nope, she didn't win Malatra 12-hours Endurance Run due to luck but because she is indeed capable of winning it)
Q: Your accident happened just weeks after you finished and PBed in Tokyo Marathon 2018. It also sent shock-waves in the running circle when word got around.
You wrote in your Instagram account:
"This is bigger than any marathon or ultra race I have done. And I’m working my hardest (I think) to trust the process."
If we may ask, how did you cope with the situation? From being on top of the world to the uncertainty of being able to run after the accident?
A: I cried a lot.
I had emotional broke down a few times since at the hospital, because of what the doctor told me after the surgery when I was still in the ICU. He had fixed me and he said I may be able to walk again, but running, he didn’t think so.
I remembered the day I walked out from the hospital, using the walker – I felt it was the longest and hardest walk ever, when I finally reached my sister’s car and was seated sideways at the back seat (because I couldn’t bend my right leg), I burst out crying, feeling so helpless and useless and sad of my condition.
Nothing about this is all that serious, if you think about it. I’m not a professional athlete, no career will be damaged, no sponsorship deal will be affected. But because when you are truly committed (to running), irrespective of ability, it starts to define you.
The marathon I was training for when the accident happened is one of the anticipated race (SCKLM). It was immediately obvious I wouldn’t be running the race, and one by one, as the day of each of the other races approached, I was forced to admit that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The damage to my ego was quite as bad as the damage to my leg. Scrolling down the Strava dashboard handing out kudos to friends for races, and PBs gained and all the rest of it. But I do it anyway, because it means I’m still involved, and being involved is the best remedy I’ve found for the loneliness of being injured.
The injuries I suffered was terribly bad. But I am determined and I prayed hard. It will heal and I will run again, I thought. And I’d proved my doctor wrong and the rest of other people too.
Q: How was the recovery process like and how long did it take for you to be cleared to start being active in sports again?
A: It was practically learning to use the leg again. Finding and building up the strength from ‘0’. My whole right limb is gone (damaged). My right knee learnt to bend again. Every physio session is important to me. I would be excited and looking forward to it every time. I went through 47 rehab sessions, 8 follow-ups appointment with the doctor and 4 times of x-ray, until the doctor was satisfied and cleared me to start doing activities again. That was about 5 months post trauma.
Q: What kept you motivated and how did you manage to stay positive throughout the process?
A: This is a pretty hard Q.
I am not always motivated and definitely not feeling positive all the time. Some days are better than others, but there are bad days too. There are times when I don’t see progress, although I thought I’ve worked hard and followed every advise of the doctor and physiotherapists.
Since the accident, I have a few mantra charms I wear everyday (BELIEVE, MIRACLE, NEVER GIVE UP) just to remind me of my blessings and that I have come such a long way - remembering my WHY in running, remembering my gratitude to be able to move at least. Just about anything on what works for me. And of course, simple kind words, support and thoughts (from family and friends) help me get through the day.
Q: How has the accident affected your day-to-day, both in general and in your approach to running?
A: I think I have come such a long way. Sometimes I stop and remind myself of that. I could not bend my knee for over 2 months, I could not walk for 6 weeks, I spent 3 months on crutches, and here I am taking my first running steps. I have worked as hard in rehab as I have in my toughest training sessions and I’m still fighting. My quads, glutes and body aches in pains and soreness from effort, but i love it. So many people tell me I’ll never be the same, and they’re right – I’m going to be better.
(I don’t know how to answer this question actually, I don’t think the above answers your question).
Q: Is your training regime different now from your previous training regime?
A: Basically it is mostly the same.
Shorter runs on weekdays, longer runs during the weekends. Zumba/SBZ and wall climbing are my cross trainings hehe. The only difference is, I will have alternate rest/recovery day from my activities. I couldn’t do it everyday like I used to prior the accident, because I’ll usually be in (extra) pain after the activity. I still go for my physio sessions too, either on Saturday or Sunday. The treatments help with the pain and the strengthening exercises I do during these sessions help a lot!
Q: Looking toward the future, what are you goals, running wise?
A: I hope I can get back my old running pace prior to the accident, and maybe break my FM PB one day.
CULTRA 2018 was supposed to be my first 100K debut, I missed it obviously. Hence I hope one day I will be able to do my 100K race. Lastly, painless running. That would be nice.
Q: Do you have any advice for those who is in similar situation as you but struggling to bounce back?
A: Trust the process. Every simple exercise/ process is important. Don’t take it for granted. Do it. It’s not going to be easy, it is painful and hard. Endure it, work it and you’ll get there inshaaAllah.
Q: Also, do you have any advice to all of us on how to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity (running or in life)?
Faith has been a good friend to me. Trusting that everything will work out. I know that sounds too easy, and I totally agree, but just think of how many times you thought your life was out of control and that it would end, but it didn’t, and you got through it, and you are who you are today because of it. Take each moment as a lesson or a blessing, so no matter what happens you can grow from it.
Thank you for spending time answering our questions.
We wish you all the best in your future endevaours and run and hope to see on the podium very soon!
You can follow Ariati on her Instagram account @ariatikarina or Facebook account @ariatikarina.khalid where she posts not only photos of her adventures, but also her stylish OOTDs.
She shows us that you can be very "lasak" and also love high heels at the same time. You go girl!