Rachel climbs on the podium at the King of the Hill Triathlon
Monday, 28 July 2014 | Admin
King of the Hill
On Saturday I participated in King of the Hill Triathlon, a sprint in the beautiful town of Kinsale. Having done the race two years ago, I was well aware of the challenging run course that inspires its name. But before I got to tackle the 5km, I had a swim and bike to contend with…
I've entered all of my races this year with a realistic expectation of where I can finish. Usually, I am down the field exiting the water... all the more so when there are elite swimmers competing, which was the case in Kinsale. So I knew a strong bike leg would be needed to improve my position. I don't approach the race that way, though. I generally focus on pushing myself hard and consistently in each discipline, leaving the result to take care of itself. I certainly tick off women as I pass them on the bike... but I would be satisfied with not passing them if they were stronger than me. In that way, I'm very much consumed with racing to my ability. When a podium position is at stake, however, I do steal a glance over my shoulder on the run to see if anyone is bearing down on me...
The 750m swim was held in the crisp and clear waters of Kinsale Bay. It’s likely the route was long, however, as the overall times were slower than you’d expect. I’m certainly a stronger swimmer than I was two years ago but my split this time around (16:00) was almost three minutes slower. I managed to find feet for maybe one third of the route, which wasn't ideal. As well as doing the standard pool sets to improve my fitness, I have been working on swim tactics to increase my efficiency. It goes without saying that my technique needs some minor adjustments as well, which will be a priority in the off-season. I exited the water in 13th place, eager to make up some time on the bike.
After a speedy transition, I took the first few minutes of the bike to steady my breathing and get my legs ready to work. The course is straightforward, in that there are no technical parts to contend with, apart from a poorly positioned tractor on the first bridge. The handful of undulations slowed me down on the ascents but allowed me to fly on the descents. A small tailwind on the return journey kept me powering through the field, returning to T2 with a split of 36:25 and now in third place (by a few footsteps). I rarely acknowledge riders in a race and don't surge on when overtaking. As I said, I try to focus on only my effort, while still having an awareness of my position. I also don't think about saving myself for the run. My mindset (which is a work in progress) is to approach a triathlon as three time trials... so my goal is to give 100% in each discipline.
When I dismounted, I knew I had only a few seconds lead on fourth place and no real chance of catching those ahead. I set off slow and steady on the hilly route. It’s straight up to the sky out of transition so I paced myself, rather than sprinting and trying to extend my lead over fourth place immediately. I focused on my form and made progress through the male field, as the two leading ladies were well beyond my reach. I leaned forward and increased my turnover on the steep descents in order to make the most of the opportunity to increase my pace. You really appreciate how demanding the course is when you see quite a few competitors slowing to a walk. My 21:30 split gave me a finishing time of 1:15:58, which was good enough for the final spot on the podium.
I was happily greeted by my mom, aunt and boyfriend at the finish line. We mingled for a while and I chatted with some fellow Limerick athletes before setting off for home. Overall, I was delighted with my performance. I worked hard and consistently in each discipline and was rewarded with a finishing position I felt I deserved.
Next up, the Edge Sports Blackwater Triathlon in three weeks. In the meantime, I will be going to Russia on holidays so my swim and bike will be taking a back seat. I will certainly lace up my runners there though.
Thanks to Ken Murphy for the photos! Full album from the race here.