Rachel reports on a great day at the Hell of The West Triathlon.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013  |  Admin

Rachel : Hell Of The West

Hell of the West – June 29th 2013

I ventured down to Kilkee on Friday night to register for the biggest domestic race of the season, Hell of the West. After picking up the epic goody bag, I settled into my B&B and relaxed. I got up at 7:50 on Saturday morning, expecting to be greeted by beautiful weather. Although the sun eventually broke through in the afternoon, the morning was pretty gloomy. I had porridge, toast and a boiled egg for breakfast, then headed down to transition at around 8:40. All the spots were numbered so I found “7” and readied myself. Of the 700-plus competitors, around 230 were from Limerick Tri Club so there was a great buzz in the air. I chatted with some friends, did a short warm-up and put on my wetsuit before the race briefing.

After the first wave (men under 40) launched into the bay, the second wave was escorted down the blustery beach. I dipped into the water, which wasn’t too cold, before returning to shore and lining up behind the start rope. “Hell” broke loose at 10:40 as 400-450 people fought for space among the waves. An early kick to the face caused my goggles to slip off. Fortunately, I had the strap secured under my hat so I didn’t lose them. I flipped onto my back to splash out the water and reposition them, then settled back into my stroke. It was a fairly aggressive swim, with lots of bashing between competitors and massive waves (in my opinion) to contend with. I was happy with my swim split of 27:04 and flew through T1 in 43 seconds.

Swim Garmin : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/335299741

The 44 km bike course was tough and included steep climbs, long descents and some crazy wind. I enjoyed a tail wind for quite a while, which transformed into a nasty crosswind after the first major turn. I got stuck behind a tractor and two trucks, which was slightly frustrating as it was difficult to pass on such a busy road. At the Creegh junction, which directed us back to Kilkee, everyone was hit with a ridiculous headwind. All the racers really slowed, which meant that quite a few groups formed. Again, frustration set in… You’d pass a few people, only for the same group to circle around you. It was very crowded so I spent a lot of time out of the aero position so I could access my brakes. Some racers didn’t look over their shoulders before moving out to pass, which resulted in a few close calls and people spilling onto the opposite side of the road. I wasn’t very pleased with my 1:19 bike split but put it out of my mind as I went through T2 in 37 seconds. My transition times were good anyway!

Cycle Garmin : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/335299747

I took on a gel as I headed out on the testing run course. It was very hilly and windy but thankfully the sun had finally arrived. I eased into a rhythm for the first 2km and then picked it up a little. At the turnaround point, I saw two women closing in behind me. Unfortunately they passed me with about 2km to go and I couldn’t chase them down. I pushed hard to the finish, clocking a 44:49 run split. My finishing time of 2:32:57, 14 minutes faster than last year, was good enough for 7th place.

Run Garmin : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/335299754

There was a huge crowd at the finish line and the atmosphere was amazing. The good weather meant that people milled around for longer than usual. I got big hugs from my mom and aunt, then chatted with friends and enjoyed some recovery food. I also jumped into the Limerick Tri Club photo as we all shared our thoughts on the day. After a well-earned shower, I enjoyed a delicious Italian meal with my main training buddy. I went back to the Kilkee Bay Hotel at around 5 for the prize giving. I received a lovely trophy for being the first Limerick lady to cross the finish line and an envelope for finishing second in my age group. I didn’t win one of the cool spot prizes though, bummer! I hung around to chat for a while, then drove back to Limerick at around 9.

Overall, I really enjoyed the day. 7th place was a higher-than-expected result, although I was somewhat disappointed with my bike and run. There is plenty of work to be done, as always. As my ultimate goal is Las Vegas in September, I know I still have time to get faster and stronger. I want to extend a massive congratulations and thank you to Limerick Tri Club, who put on a great event. Kilkee was overflowing with marshalls, volunteers and spectators, who all provided fantastic support. Last but not least, thank you to Mark Kennedy, who did a superb job as race director, and Niamh Yelverton, who was a pro as emcee.

PS – My Garmin heart rate data are all wrong for some reason so ignore those numbers…

Thanks to Sean Power and Gordon Thomson from TI Media for the images.

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