USAT Nationals – Liberty Ricca
I walked on to the pontoon focused on the water splashing to my left. Thoughts raced through my head as I mentally reviewed my race plan. I was worried but, excited for my first youth elite nationals race as a 13 year old. I knew it would be a tough race, but I also knew I was ready. I picked my spot on the pontoon and glanced at the girls that stood around me. Then I settled in for the race, I took a deep breath in and stared in front of me. I got low, ready it dive into the water.
“You are in the hands of the starter.” A man announced over the mic. I tensed and lowered myself bringing the water closer. “Take your mark” said a voice, I stepped forward. A horn blast sent me and many other girls diving off the floating platform. I swam hard for the first buoy knowing that I wanted to make the first pack. I was sighting often, to make sure I stayed on line. This probably cost me a few seconds as I need to improve my skill at sighting. I made the first turn in contact with the lead pack. Working hard I maintained contact and turned the second buoy racing for the exit.
As I exited the water I sprinted up the steep exit hill and ran past several girls to enter transition with the first chase pack of 4 or 5 girls. I knew a few girls that I was about to ride with and expected we could catch the leaders, which helped me calm down a bit. I ran down the hill watching as others broke off to get to their spots. When I came to my spot I slid on my glasses and buckled on my helmet. I grabbed my bike off the rack and ran for transition exit. I crossed the mount line and did a “flying” mount. I ended up right behind the pack that I ran in with. Knowing this was my chance I quickly chased my way into the pack. After bridging into the group, I saw the leader not that far ahead, however we were not closing the gap. Knowing that we needed to pick up the pace, I pushed the pace at the front of the pack. As we rode down the road we slowly dropped people making the group smaller. I keep pushing the pace to widen the distance from anybody behind us. We caught the leaders on the second loop.
As we came upon the dismount line, we slowed a bit to make a graceful entrance into transition. I entered looking for my spot once more, seeing others struggling to find their spot. My practice runs through transition paid off as I easily found my spot and threw my helmet into the basket. I slid on my racing flats and took off running knowing I needing to push as my run has been the weakest link in races this year. I was holding a pace that I felt was hard but I knew it was what I needed to hold. I dug deep and held the pace thinking: ”so this is what running in the top ten truly feels like.” When the final turn came, I took off ready to feel overwhelming pain. In the final stretch on the grass I knew I was dead but still pushed right through the finish. I finished with joy I was so proud of myself for coming in the top ten. I had just given myself proof that i was ready to race in draft legal.
- Mount-Got on saddle without sliding off
- Swim start-prepared for horn
- Drafting-Worked well with others
- Pushed-I put in a sense of urgency through my race
- Communicated-I talked with the people around me to help keep the paces up and the group organized
- Could not hold pace on swim/run
On the swim , I could not stay with the leaders
On the Run: even though I worked on the run, I must still learn how to hold a strong pace because I steadily fell off pace when I got tired.
- Sighting: When sighting, I lost ground which made my not able to swim with the leaders.