I knew my first season in the Youth Elite Super Series was going to be tough, and I would have my work cut out to prove my place. This season was always going to be about getting experience, mastering transition, and aim to get in a pack during the swim and bike legs (draft legal racing). I did manage to get into a swim pack at Blenheim, but I was out on my own on the bike, which was hard work, trying to catch up and join a pack. At Leeds I was determined to get the bike section to work for me, this required me to get out of the water in a strong middle pack position, which would enable me to find a good cycling pack to latch on to.
Leeds race day - My day started a 4:30am, it had already started raining heavily and this continued throughout the day. The lake did not look inviting as I was already shivering as wet through. I managed to get into a good position on the pontoon, which gave me some confidence. The scary drum role music started and the horn went! We dived in and the fight began. I tried hard to hold my position when turning at the first buoy but I got a bit battered and fell back slightly in the group which didn’t help my cause! Transition one was long and slippery but I hauled myself out of my wetsuit pretty neatly, something we had all been working on with Brian during the Monday morning Natural Ability swim sessions (Brian’s wetsuit challenge 😊). Again, there was a long run with bike down to the bike mount line where I got stuck behind a girl who didn’t seem to be in a hurry, I could see a group of girls up ahead and I was desperate to keep with them so I could get a chance of a bike pack. I managed to jump on the bike quickly and dig in deep, as the route went straight up a steep hill. This worked in my favor, as this is where I managed to overtake a few girls and join the pack I wanted.
The difference of riding in a group was amazing, we all worked well together under very slippery and tough conditions, the rain was hammering down but we just kept going. Then the leader of our pack slipped and fell nearly taking us all down with her on a hairpin turn. I really felt for her as she had worked so hard, but I had to move on and just get on with my own race. I came into 2nd transition feeling relatively fresh in comparison to the previous weeks race. It was such a buzz to ride the bike section, as it should be done, working together!
The run again was straight up a big hill. I had a group of girls behind me and my main goal now was to keep them behind me and hold my place. I started to pull away from them and over took the girl ahead. Now, I was pretty confident I could keep my place. I finished in my best position so far this season and was pretty pleased.
I know I still have a lot of work to do to keep improving, but I do feel with each race I am getting better and stronger mentally and physically. Thank you to my mum and dad for travelling with me up and down the country, and Brian at Natural Ability for his support, guidance, and for pushing me just at the right time.