Triathlete Alycia Hill describes the final six weeks of summer as a “whirlwind.”
A quick recap: On Sept. 19, she finished second at the Age Group Standard World Championships (0.93-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run) in Chicago.
The 26-year-old Tacoma native was in Austria on Aug. 30, where she finished fifth in her age group at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. On Aug. 8, Hill finished fourth in her age group at the Olympic-distance national championships in Milwaukee.
And in the middle of it all, she started graduate school at the University of Utah, where she’s studying to be a nurse practitioner.
The daughter of Doug Hill, an accomplished Tacoma triathlete who also finished second at worlds Sept. 19, she seems a lock to turn pro at the Ironman 70.3 distance (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1 mile run).
This means an even busier schedule, but she recently carved out enough time to field a few questions:
Q: How do you manage the workload of training and grad school?
A: It’s a balancing act. The past four years I worked as a nurse in a trauma facility (Everett’s Providence Regional Medical Center), I was on my feet all day, and it was a reasonably high-stress environment. School will be a different kind of stress, but I think I will be able to balance it just as I did with work. It will just be a different kind of balance. ... You definitely need to rely on family support. Without them you’d be drowning for sure.
Q: How did things go at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships?
A: My age group started late, so by the time I was running it was a hundred degrees. Unfortunately, I ran into a few technical difficulties (her cap and goggles fell off several times during the swim, and she dropped her chain while biking). Beyond that, it’s always a good day to race.
Q: Do you think that bad luck kept you from placing higher than fifth?
A: You never can say yes or no on something like that. Sometimes your mental determination takes over and you might race faster than you would otherwise. ... Adversity comes with the sport. Adversity makes you stronger and more determined to do the best you can. That’s how an athlete needs to look at it rather than “Oh, crap.” How you deal with adversity is what makes or breaks an athlete.
Q: And at the Olympic-distance world championships you were second in your age group, the third woman overall and the fastest woman in the run. Are you happy with your performance?
A: It was a fun race. I came out of the water where I wanted to be. But, unfortunately, in one of the tunnels (Hill estimates about half the bike portion was in poorly lit tunnels) I got a two-minute penalty. Then I had to do my best to make up the time. It was a judgment call by a ref that as an athlete you need to respect. It was the first drafting penalty of my life, so it was a surprise.
Q: If you take your pro license in the long course, what it will mean for next season?
A: I will be racing Half Iron every four weeks or so and doing more traveling to race. And I will not be competing at national and world championships with my dad, which is a definite bummer. That is the main reason I would stay in the age groups. He showed me the sport, and it changed my life. I traveled the world with the sport. I couldn’t imagine a better gift to receive from a parent than the gift of a passion for a sport.