TRI MY WAY!

It’s been a busy few months for Ros Jones from DSW’s Transaction Services team. She was promoted to Partner in April, and earlier this month, she undertook her first Ironman 70.3 Triathlon.

Ros (left) with her clubmates Al and Louisa before the race

What was involved with the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3?

Quaint countryside and castles in the Midlands are how the promotional blurb described it! In reality, it was a 1.9km reservoir swim, a 90km cycle course including a climb up through Cannock Chase – finishing with a 21.1km run – and on one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Have you always been into fitness?

In truth, I did very little until about ten years ago, and since then, I’ve been running and cycling on and off and doing the odd 10km and half marathon. Shortly before the lockdown, I joined Run Knutsford and Knutsford Triathlon Club and running became a greater part of my life. I’m now a qualified run leader and a regular volunteer at Run North West events – I really enjoy being part of the running community and supporting other people in their challenges.

Their bikes and triathlon medals
Their bikes and medals

Why did you decide to take on a Half-Ironman?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself several times in the run-up to the event! I entered a few shorter triathlons last year with a couple of friends, but being in a triathlon club and surrounded by so many inspiring people, we soon started talking about whether we could attempt a longer-distance event. After several chats about which would be best, we decided on the Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 and signed up last August. We factored in the time of year, difficulty, location and the free merchandise!

What training did you undertake?

In January, I started going to a weekly spinning session, knowing my fair-weather cycling needed some improvement. I kept up with running via Run Knutsford and joined coached swimming sessions with the tri club.

By mid-March, I was feeling tired and didn’t really know if I was doing enough, too much or even if I was focussing on the right things, as I had never trained for anything like an Ironman before.

The Head Coach at the Run Knutsford provides personalised triathlon plans, and my friend and I decided to get plans tailored to our abilities and around other commitments. Planning sessions around work, home life and the odd social occasion was almost as tough as the actual training! There were times I loved it and others when I felt both physically and emotionally drained.

Ros and her family at mile 12 of the triathlon
Ros and her family at mile 12!

What was the hardest part of the training?

Aside from the big step up in time and physical input, learning to eat and drink properly on the go was a huge learning curve. Trying out different options for taking on enough food and drink at the right times took a lot of planning and practice. In the end, I opted for jelly babies, squashed sandwiches and plain crackers on the bike, and energy gels for the run.

What was your favourite part?

I loved the swim! After the first few seconds of catching my breath (even at nearly 17 degrees, it still felt cold initially), I just found my own little space and floated around the reservoir in the early sunshine. Cycling is my weakest discipline, but the rolling course provided the opportunity to break the downhill. This meant I completed it well within the cut-off time, which I’d been worried about.

What was the most challenging part?

Without a doubt, the run. It was the part I felt most comfortable with, but the heat and starting in the midday sun made it such a tough ask. By the time I’d made my way up to Stafford Castle (for the first time!), I’d started to feel a bit sick and dizzy. I knew it was the heat, so I headed for some shade by a drinks station. A lovely volunteer, Jess, plied me with flat coke and pep talks – it did the trick, and I was back on my way. I will be forever grateful to the people of Stafford who were out with their hosepipes along the run route!

Ros at the triathlon finish line
Ros at the finish line!

How did you celebrate?

I had wonderful support from family, friends and clubmates on the day – with one of them bringing Champagne to the finish line! We had an Airbnb booked and relaxed there, ate pizza, and I took Monday off work to recover!

And would you do another?

I can’t say I was in a rush to sign up for another immediately…but never say never!

Ros, Al and Louisa with their medals

Thank you for your time Ros; congratulations, and what a journey!

Finance Careers with Work Life Balance