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We caught up with our inspirational Community Ambassador, Rhianna Parkinson, to discuss her experience of taking on the Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire. So over to Rhianna!
“What a day! 2 years ago I was looking anxiously out across Chase water Lake, about to tackle my first Ironman 70.3. I had the worst butterflies in my stomach as I queued up for the swim start and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make it! June 10th 2018, and I’m looking across the same water (albeit a lot mistier this year) feeling confident, fit and healthy, and looking forward to what I knew was going to be a great day, and training experience ahead of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in just 12 weeks’ time.”
The swim start was delayed by 1 hour due to safety concerns over very poor visibility as the fog descended over Chase water Lake, but everybody was in great spirits and the atmosphere was positive. Thankfully however, the swim eventually went ahead as planned. I loved the natural lake and steadied myself early – it’s important to get into your rhythm straight away rather than push too hard at the start.
Moving on to the bike, here I again set a comfortable pace early. Staffordshire has one of the most spectacular courses; encompassing everything from technical twists and turns, challenging hills, and fast descents (my favourite part!). I just focused on enjoying my day and taking it all in.
After 55 miles on the bike I span my legs fast for the last mile into transition to prepare them for the half marathon ahead. I stayed calm in transition (staying calm is always faster than rushing!) and spent the first few kilometres finding the pace I knew I could stick to and had practiced. I find the run the hardest element in triathlon, so I try and stick to my pace but allow myself to walk through the feed stations as a treat. This breaks down the run giving me regular small targets to aim for. Drinking lots of flat coke and water to stay hydrated was really important as the midday sun beat down on us and temperatures started to climb to around 24 degrees Celsius. Again, I took my race head off and just really embraced the day, taking in all the support from the crowd, and seeing my friends who I’ve made through sport, the atmosphere was just amazing.
I finished in 5 hours and 35 minutes – over an hour faster than my time from 2 years ago and just under 20 minutes off my personal best at this distance and Staffordshire is a far tougher course. Most importantly I had a lot of fun, feeling fit, healthy, and achieving something a lot of people would not dare to do! Thanks to Sports Tours International and friends for supporting me through my training and helping me do what I love!
Rhianna, is a truly inspirational person, she has gone from sitting on the sofa doing little exercise to qualifying for the Triathlon World Championships in only three years. She is living proof that an active lifestyle and a positive attitude can turn your life around.
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