This week was a weird one. After two attempts to get our meet going with Mundelein, we opted to cancel due the foreboding radar predictions. The rest of the week was cold and wet--a stark contrast to the warmer weather earlier this spring. Despite the unsavory conditions, you all had the right attitudes about training through it.
Lake County was moved from Thursday to Friday in an attempt to enjoy some slightly better weather (which ended up being a smart choice--we actually saw some sun on Friday, and the wind was not a factor). I was hoping that after a lighter week of training, including the canceled meet from Monday, that everyone's legs would feel fresher and ready to race. Unfortunately, with the exception of Shayla's new LPR in the 3200, everyone else looked flat. I could see that there was a positive mindset and good effort in each race, but we need to turn the corner and start racing with more passion, especially in the later part of races. Why do I say this? As I watched the fast heats of each distance race, I couldn't help but note passion of each Grant runner. Without exception, these girls were attacking the end of their races, trying to earn as many points as possible for their team. In the mile, Danielle Osmon almost threw herself at the finish line in an attempt to earn 6th place (and a point) for her team. We need to regroup this week and figure out our purpose in these final races so that we can race with that same kind of drive. I KNOW it is in all of you...we just need to find it! Click here for the full results from Lake County.
On Saturday, the other coaches and I had to make a judgement call. Of course, our mantra is always "All weather is ZB weather," but there has to be some purpose for running through bad conditions. Early in the season, that type of "resistance training" is good for your mindset--it forces you to callous yourself to difficult situations. At this time of year, however, we agreed that sitting in the cold and rain all day would not have produced a favorable result. With Conference coming up this weekend, I wanted to make sure that you were all healthy and ready to give your peak performances. After watching the radar all day on Saturday (second-guessing our decision) and then looking at the race results from the Rockford East Relays, I know we made the right choice. The times were not quick, and the weather was certainly rude. That being said, when and important race day (such as the Sectional meet during XC) presents less-than-favorable conditions, it is the duty of each runner to find a silver lining and run through the adversity!
I hope that each of you have used this gift of time on Saturday to recuperate and reset your minds, so you can look sharp on Monday! Here are my expectations for this last Monday meet:
1. Before we leave, let me know your purpose for the meet. Why are you running?
2. Positive mindsets on the bus, warm up, and starting line.
3. Aggressively smart races--take a risk and go with someone you would not normally start with.
4. Purposeful finishes to each race, and not just in the last 100 meters.
I hope if we keep these four items in mind, we will walk away from Monday ready to hit some great times on Thursday and Friday. #letsgo!
Women--nice work tonight! We had several highlights, including the following PRs:
Helen-2:59 LPR split in the 4X800
Naya--3:35 LPR split in the 4X800 (and a gutsy first lap!)
Mary--13:28 SPR--a really nice drop since Waukegan
Kristina--3:26 LPR in the open 800 (with great form, btw!)
Ivory--3:07 LPR in the open 800 (with a nice kick!)
Alana--3:42 LPR in the open 800
Julia--SUB SIX for the first time in the mile! :) :) :) 5:55 LPR
Janelle--LPR of 6:12--huge drop!
Jo--SPR of 6:10--big drop!
Karyn--SPR of 6:03 (great mindset!)
Jackie--LPR of 6:38!
Shayla--BIG LPR of 6:17!
Steffany--NEW LPR of 6:45!
Em--LPR of 6:23--huge drop!
Mel--SPR of 7:03--getting closer to that LPR. :)
Diana--HUGE LPR of 7:38! First time sub-8! :)
Overall, you guys are doing a great job of supporting each other and pushing to improve. We need to keep fostering high expectations for each other. I know that there is much more growth to come. In the meantime, please consider our GRIT wall as some inspiration for your next races: Growth, Resilience, Investment, Tradition.
Special shout out to Jackie's mom for bringing Powerade for the whole team! What a kind gesture on a warm day! :)
Well, we finally were given the opportunity to enjoy some GREAT weather and solid competition. Our 4X800 started strong with Liana earning a PR of 2:44. Unfortunately, her time was not enough to keep us in contact with the pack. This left Jo with motivation to try to recapture the pack for her first lap (which was a speedy 76), but no drive for her second. Janelle suffered from the same problem and did not look as crisp as expected. After one solid lap, I asked Julia to save some juice for her open 800. Overall, our team time is not yet where it needs to be. We need to find a way to push harder--to stay in the mix, or to get back into it. That baton needs to mean something more than just a way to hand off...it needs to symbolize maximum effort for one's teammates. All that being said, this crew earned 6th place and a point for the team, AND we are faster than last year. With the right mindset, we will continue to improve. :)
In the 3200, our two racers started strong, but then fell into no man's land. Although Shayla earned an LPR of 13:26, and Karyn ran an SPR of 13:18, I know that they are both more fit than those numbers indicate. I am yearning for the same grit that Shayla displayed at Carthage--with their current fitness and THAT type of racing, I know that some serious PRs will occur.
The performances by the twins in the open 800 made my night! Janelle, unsatisfied with her split in the 4X800, ran a gutsy race. She got out fast with a great split of 77, and closed with guts. Her racing earned her a new LPR of 2:42! Not to be outdone by her sis, Julia followed the same blueprint. She got out hard with the pack, running a speedy 73 split. She ran sub 80 for her second split as well, earning a new LPR of 2:31! One lesson to learn from her last 100 meters is to beware of drifting wide--it allowed her competitor to pass her on the inside. While this can be a good tactic to keep a challenger on the outside from passing, it can be difficult to hear someone coming on the inside. Food for thought!
In the 1600, Jo and Lainey got out hard and were on pace to go sub 6:00 at the 800 mark. I was pleased to see them working in tandem and pressing the pace! Laps 3 & 4 showed me that we still need work on dealing with the pain of racing. Our workout on Wednesday will reflect that need, so no fear! :)
Our day was not done after the mile. Julia ran a courageous 3rd race in the varsity 4X400. Her lead leg was the fastest of the relay--a speedy 66! Her service to the team is making her faster in her other races...a great lesson to learn. When you lose yourself in serving the team, each step feels a little easier.
Overall, a good effort on a beautiful night from our crew. Proud of you all! :)
Although I was busy working at the finish line, I was not too preoccupied to notice how great you all were tonight. Every time I needed hurdles set up or blocks moved, you guys jumped into action! Thank you for making my job easier! :)
Well, I wrote a really nice blog about this meet, and then it got deleted. Boo. Here some shorter highlights:
1. Steff ran a nice leg in the 4X800 to earn a PR of 3:06.
2. The 3200 crew really looked great. I know that there is some room to improve the times, but I was really pleased about the racing. Julia broke 13; Jo looked aggressive in 13:26; Janelle nearly broke 14; Em and Tianna took on this new challenge with positivity and focus. Overall, nice work!
3. Helen ran an LPR of 6:52! Nice work, Helen! :)
4. 4X400s looked great--MelPel, Mary, Helen, and Lainey won the Coach's Challenge 4x400--nice work, ladies! I owe you Gatorade.
Overall, you all embraced the challenge of the day: to really push through several races in order to gain a great stimulus/workout. So proud of you guys for your focused efforts!
Take a moment and check out this article that my husband found--it is an important part of women's running history, especially relevant as the Boston Marathon happens on Monday! Pay particular attention to the RIDICULOUS obstacles in Gibbs's way, and how focused she was to run them out of existence. You get to do what you do today because of women like her. #respect! Ok, click here for the article.
Tuesday @ Home: Well, the weather was slightly better than Saturday's mess, so we went ahead with our cold (but snow and rain-free) meet vs. Wauconda. Since the Gerald Green Invite was cancelled on Saturday and rescheduled for Wednesday, we ran a light line-up today. Our 4X800 featured two season PRs (Jackie & Mary) and two LPRs (Shayla & Helen). Of this group, I was most impressed with Helen's grit; in her first lap, she gained ground on the Wauconda girl, and in the second lap, she decided that she was going to win the race. Her race embodies what I am looking for from EVERY race: aggressive racing.
Our 3200 racers did a great job of showing flexibility during a meet by switching to the 800 after finding out that they would not have any competition from Wauconda (literally). In the 800, they both stepped up to run great races! Lainey ran a season PR of 2:49, looking assertive and poised the whole way. Em nearly matched her lifetime PR in 2:58. As a group, the 800 women looked great. Takyra looked focused during her race, Kristina's form looked outstanding as she cruised to solid 3:26 and and LPR. Naya completed her first ZB track race ever, looking so strong in 3:38. Diana ran her first 800 and looked great doing so. And Sam rounded out this group, running an aggressive race and earning a lifetime PR of 3:22. Great work, ladies!
Finally, our 1600 crew made me smile. Julia took control of the race from the start. She earned a huge LPR of 6:01 by running with confidence and focusing on great form in the final stretch. Jo was not far behind in 6:15, also an LPR. Janelle came in only a few ticks behind in 6:21 and earned an LPR as well. These three worked extremely well together during the race; their teamwork surely paid off! After a quick start with that threesome, Karyn earned a nice SPR of 6:32. Other highlights included SPRs by Steff, Ivory, Mel, Monica and Tianna. Alana finished her first race as a ZB and looked great doing so!
Overall, I was pleased with the way this group handled the weather and competition. In addition, I appreciated the camaraderie within the D-Crew and larger team. I watched you cheer for one another, set up hurdles, and generally make our meet run smoothly. Thank you for understanding that ALL of those "little things" add up and make this coach proud.
Wednesday @ Gerald Green Invite: Unfortunately, the rescheduling of this meet caused three teams to drop out. The D-Crew seized the opportunity to race against Waukegan and a very strong Grayslake Central team. Our 4X800 raced well. Liana started us off strong with a SPR match of 2:46. Julia took over with goals in her eyes and action on the track. She raced to a new LPR of 2:37; this record was short-lived as she shaved off a second in the open 800 later in the day. This impressive set of races shows that she is fit and ready to drop more time. Her sis was not to be outdone; she also earned an LPR for the day, running an impressive 2:47. She, too, came back with a solid race in the open 800 of 2:50. Although she claims to be disappointed with the second race, she looked strong throughout the race and corrected her arms for the last 200 meters to finish strong. I know that she will continue to PR with this growth mindset! Jocelyn rounded out our relay of PRs, earning a SPR of 2:47, and looking aggressive and focused the whole way!
Our second relay also looked strong. Lainey started our group off with a very peppy first lap of 78; her overall time was not quite as crisp as the prior day, but I know that her risk-taking in the first lap will pay off soon! Em ran a great race by following Lainey's lead of a strong first lap; her risk earned her a new LPR of 2:50! Ivory earned an LPR of 3:09 by having a strong kick. Monica did a great job bringing the race home by matching her SPR of 2:59. Although she was upset to not earn a new PR, I liked her focus during the race--that kind of tenacity will produce PRs soon enough.
Our 3200 crew got out strong, but let Grayslake control the race soon after. As we debriefed, we concluded that all three could work on using the right people in the race in order to improve their times. That being said, their times were solid: Karyn earned a 13:32 while running an SPR at the mile mark; Shayla ran her trademark consistent race, running close to her LPR from Carthage; and Mary looked stronger than I have seen in quite some time, earning an SPR at the mile and two-mile marks. I was tough on this group post-race because I KNOW what we are capable of racing-wise. I know they will rise to the occasion next week!
Three out of four of our 800 posse were on their second races of the day. Steff was the one fresh freshie. Although she was mad about not breaking 3:00, I know it will happen if she keeps running her first lap so aggressively!
Finally, our mile crew looked great today. Jackie was our first finisher, earning a big LPR of 6:27 by finishing with a strong kick. Lainey was not far behind in 6:38, with a solid second effort for the day. Helen ran a strong race, finishing in 7:02, well ahead of her times from last year at this stage in the season. Finally, Sam had a HUGE race, earning an LPR of 7:23 and kicking with strength. Her exclamation of "I have butt lock!" post-race shows that she was not afraid to get out of her comfort zone.
Overall, I am proud of our racers and supporters today. There wasn't an empty corner of the track when our D-Crew was racing. That support is invaluable! I'm especially impressed with the back-to-back performances of our women. Let's keep that gritty mindset rolling into Saturday's workout and next week's races.
In case you haven't seen this video, please take 2:49 to watch it. And if you have watched it, go ahead and watch it again. This story should become part of your DNA!
A month after our first race, some of our D-Crew had the opportunity to race at Carthage. Although I was really stoked about all the races, Shayla certainly had the race of the day. While I was so impressed by her new PR of 13:34 in the 3200, I was more pleased to see her gritty mindset throughout the race. She battled a Grayslake North girl for much of the race, which allowed her to maintain her focus and pace. This kind of racing--a true engagement of the competition, a focus on positive mindset, and an unrelenting faith in the training--is what I want to see EVERY race day.
Shay was not alone in having a good day, though. Our 4X800 earned 4 PRs: Julia a LPR of 2:43; Janelle a match of a LRP of 2:57; Mary a LRP of 2:57; and Steffany a LPR of 3:11. I was really impressed by the business-like approach this squad took toward the race. Great work! :) In the 800, Monica promised to break 3:00, and she did just that, earning a SPR of 2:59. Her race was focused and gritty like Shay's. Tianna achieved her goal of a more relaxed and light form; if she keeps that up, her times will fall into place. Liana ran a brilliant race, looking sharp and focused to run a speedy 2:46. In the mile, Lainey and Karen both earned SPRs of 6:42 and 6:34 respectively.
This coach is extremely happy to walk away with a split sheet covered in PRs--they represent the right growth-mindset that I want to continue to see. And speaking of growth...bravo to the excellent work you all put in over Spring Break. Your dedication will pay off in the coming weeks. I am proud of the direction this team is taking!
As most of you all slept, Strickland and I speculated as to what this meet would be like. My best guess was that the meet would consist of a few Lake County schools and the remainder would be small, farm town schools that would not put up much of a fight. When we pulled up to the building, the non-descript farm building seemed to fit into our surroundings and support our hypothesis of a small meet. I suppose we should have started eating our words when we opened the door to the facility and our eyes were met with a brand new lobby that led to a brand new track. Not only was the surface outstanding, but the meet itself turned out to be the same. There were schools from all over northern Illinois, including some city power houses.
This meet is VERY early in the season, so my only expectations were that our distance crew would compete and maximize this great opportunity. It was obvious that many of the competitors had already knocked off the winter rust and were more race-savvy than us, but I was pleased with our overall performance. There were several highlights on the day...
In the 4X800, Julia earned a lifetime PR by starting our relay strong with a time of 2:51; she looked aggressive and confident the whole way. In the 3200, Lainey impressed me with her gutsy start; as she gains more fitness, I know she will bring the second half or her race to where she wants it to be. Shayla ran a very even race, earning a season PR at the mile split of 6:50. In the mile, Jacqueline also earned a season PR of 6:58 while Mary ran a race similar to Lainey's in the 3200: very aggressive at the start in order to put herself in with the competition. Ivory, Steffany, and Diana all competed like pros despite their "newbee" status at this meet.
Overall, I was really pleased with the positive outlook of each ZB distance runner at this meet. We have a lot of work to do, but I know we will get there!