WHAT A DAY! :)
After a strong debut at Warren and weird week of rude heat and ROYOs, I was glad to see everyone at morning practice on Friday. Friday was sneaky-hot: the temperature was not bad that early in the day, but the humidity was ridiculous. It was good to reunite, though, and the energy of the team was fantastic. I was optimistic that the vibe would continue into Saturday. Mission accomplished! As I checked everyone in, I had a good feeling from everyone, but I had no idea that it would be such a great day.
Our Varsity boys were first, and I was hyped after watching so many of them shine, especially Alex and Tony. What a great start! :) When our 11 bees got ready for the varsity race, I could tell from the breakdown that we were ready. At the gun, Audrey got out hard in her typical style, pressing to the front of the pack. Maya was well up there with Warren's strong pack, and Marisa was only steps behind. Natalie had the best start of the group for sure, looking like a woman on a mission to stick on Maya. Jenna and Riley also were looking great in that front group. In our second group, Delilah was also out strong, and Jenni was playing NO games with her aggressive start. Illyana was a little more conservative with Blanca and Mia within steps. After the first loop, I was already fist-pumping and smiling hard through my mask.
On the other side of the creek, I could see that Audrey was continuing to gap the pack, assertively chasing the lead vehicle. She amazed me today with her tenacity. Not only did she start and end as the leader, but her demeanor screamed power. Her splits were impressive: 6:29, 6:14 (woot woot), 6:31. That even race allowed her to put a hurting on Warren's pack, and made it hard for them to close the gap in the final part of the race. When their top runner made one last attempt in the final 400, Audrey responded with an amazing kick, going to her arms and defending her lead. Last year at this course, Audrey ran 20:57, and today she popped a 19:14. What? She did not beat 20 last year until Sterling, so she is WAY ahead of her freshman self. Now I need her to remember that this race is who she really is, and she needs to give herself credit for a gutsy win! :)
Maya also had a great breakthrough today. She was not satisfied with her performance on Tuesday, and she made up for it today. She stuck in Warren's pack for the entire race, looking smooth and easy as they did the work. Although that can be intimidating to sit alone with another team (and their pack was TOUGH), she looked effortless! Like Audrey, she ran incredibly even splits: 6:38, 6:26, 6:37. She also closed with a really nice kick, picking off one of Warren's pack. Last year, Maya ran in the two-mile at Deerfield, finishing in 13:34 (which was great!). This year, her two-mile split was 13:03. Whew! Last year, she didn't hit the 19s until Conference at Lake Forest. Not this year. She is a woman on a mission, and I'm here for it. ALL DAY. What a great performance!
Marisa was our third bee today, and she looked sharp. Her splits were super-even, too: 7:02, 7:04, 7:12. That kind of consistency shows that she is FIT. Last fall, she ran 25:01 on this course. Today? A new LIFETIME PR of 21:18. She smashed her previous PR (from Lake Forest's speedy course at Conference) by 1:20. And it is still August! :) The other exciting part of Marisa's race was her kick. With 400 to go, she looked up and decided that she was going to get the runner from Warren, and get her she did, sneaking into the chute one second ahead of her. Over the summer, I could see that Marisa was a different runner. Tuesday, she looked strong, but today, she seized the gift. Congrats on a great day, Marisa! :)
Natalie is back. Real talk, her Tuesday performance looked a bit flat, but today's was sharp and focused. After getting out hard, she raced hard, working to keep the gap between her and Marisa the same. Her splits were solid, but clearly her third mile needs to be the focus in the next race: 7:03, 7:27, 7:48. She finished in 22:18, a full minute faster than last year's race on the same course. The times are sweet, but her last 400 showed that she is a real junior. I yelled that she needed to decide that she was going to catch the girl ahead of her from Deerfield (who was a good 20 meters ahead). She looked me dead in the eye, nodded, and got to work. It was so fun to see her feeling strong and confident. This kick was exactly what I know she can do, and I cannot wait to see her continue to grow into this more mature role on the team. Proud of you, Nat!
Riley was our 5th bee to round out our team scoring. She had a great day, working with Jenna smartly to drop over two minutes from her debut on Tuesday. :) It was good to see Riley in true race conditions; I figured she would be a gamer, and I was not wrong. She responded well to other racers, and her splits show it: 7:25, 7:44 7:50. I know that with a little more experience and strength, she will be able to get the second and third mile to match the first. Her speed is definitely her strength; she had a beautiful kick that dispatched a runner from Deerfield and a runner from Warren. She looked powerfully graceful as she opened up her full stride for the last stretch. What a great race from start to finish, Riley! Proud of your growth today!
Jenna was our sixth bee, and like Nat, she got out strong, pulling Riley with her. From start to finish, she was smiling and leaning into her work. Her splits reveal her strength: 7:35, 7:36, 8:06. That fast start got her in the last mile, but I know that she will get that fixed as she gains more confidence and experience. Last year, she ran almost four minutes slower and was frustrated with a comment (albeit an on-point and honest one) made to her by one of the coaches. This year, she ran a LIFETIME PR by 50 seconds by simply deciding to let her hard work of the summer shine. What a joy to watch that transformation! :) My goal for Jenna is for her to work on her kick. She has the gutsy start and smart mid-race moves; a strong kick will make her even more lethal in our top 7. So proud of her big performance today!
Delilah rounded out our top seven today. Only two weeks ago, she had her wisdom teeth out, which kept her out of practice for 7 days. Today, you'd never know that. After making the wise choice to run in the varsity race, she got out well and battled with herself when she was stuck in limbo without any racers nearby to draw upon. Her splits reveal that she needs to work on her last mile: 7:54, 8:28, 8:44. That being said, she ran nearly a minute faster than last year on this course, and she did it by herself in the second half. With 400 to go, she listened to my advice and made as strong move on the long straightaway. Her final kick was strong, and her post-race speech was simply lovely. It was good to see this senior race again, and I'm proud of her for being so far ahead of schedule!
Illyana was our 8th finisher, looking really strong in the second half. She got out well (8:09), worked so well with her pack in the mid-race (8:43) and had a strong kick at the end (9:11). Last year, she admitted that she was super nervous about racing. This year, she was a different woman, looking assertive and proud of her fitness, and dropping nearly 4:00 from her Deerfield time last year. What?! That time drop highlights just how hard Illyana has been working this summer. She made a strong move in the last mile that put her in the position to set a new LIFETIME PR by a whole minute! Whew! Awesome work, Ily!
Jenni had a tremendous start today, getting out harder than usual for herself: 8:09, 9:13, 9:26. Her courage pulled her teammates along, which is important! I know that with a better back, Jenni will be able to bring those second two miles down. Today she looked like woman on a mission, shaking out her arms and focusing a head with laser-like focus. This confidence helped her knock almost 2.5 minutes off of her time at Deerfield last year. It also helped her earn a huge LIFETIME PR. She dropped over a minute from her previous PR (that came in October last year). She is fit. She is strong. She is ready to make an impact this season! Nice work, Jenni! So proud of you!
Blanca ran a tremendous race today, too. She pulled on her pack to help her run solid splits: 8:24, 9:02, 9:25. What is most important is that Blanca is not afraid to take the lead. She earned a new LIFETIME PR today, too. Last year, she ran 32:25 on this course, so her 26:51 today is a testament to her growth. She is 12 seconds ahead of schedule from last year, and it is only August. :) I'm really proud of how Blanca is growing into a true runner--awesome work today, Blanca!
Our final runner in this race was our brave freshie Mia, who chose to run with her teammates in the varsity. She got out really well, pulling on Jenni's aggressive lead. Mid-race, she smartly worked with Jenni and Blanca, trading leads and putting in surges. By the end, she earned herself a nearly two minute PR from her time on Tuesday. Awesome work on the new LIFETIME PR, Mia! :) Her splits reveal her need for some more strength in the latter half of the race, which WILL come sooner than later thanks to her impressive work ethic: 8:17, 9:08, 9:55. Like Riley, Mia has that gamer mindset and is not afraid to challenge herself. I cannot wait to see her keep peeling time off week to week!
Overall, this group took the stank off of 2020. Not only did they celebrate each other's greatness, but they also sounded hungry for more after our debrief. Seven lifetime PRS and four season PRs from this group. Not a bad way to start a Saturday! :)
Our 2-mile group was smaller but just as focused. At the gun, Lesly got out HARD, challenging the group and the lead cart. She looked confident and smooth through the first mile. Due to my silliness, the splits are not exact (my bad everyone), but we think she rolled through in 7:14, with her second mile at 7:40. When the Deerfield girl came up on her, they battled along the creek for sometime before the Deerfield runner bested her somewhere near the bridge. I love that Lesly took a risk in that first mile today. That zesty start is now in her, and it will help her feel more comfortable at that pace for the next race. As she came in for a smooth kick, the Warren coach commented on her athleticism. It was so good to see her run well, and I'm stoked to see her run three miles on Tuesday at home!
Katelin was our second bee today, and I am equally happy to see her race. After a spring in a boot and a summer of being conservative, she is finally back to running. She responded to Lesly's aggressive start, running in tandem at first, then pulling off Lesly's energy. As her teammates noted, Katelin looked locked in the entire race; she took feedback and used it to adjust her form and work on other runners. Her splits were solid (7:28, 8:36), and I know that she will pull that second mile down as she gets more fitness. Post-race, she was typical Katelin--hard on herself, but I want her to know that I am proud of her gutsiness and mindset. It was really fun to see her out there again, and I look forward to what she can do on Tuesday.
Karen was not too far behind, pulling on Katelin's leadership and energy. She had a strong first mile, and she worked the second loop well, surging to make contact with other Deerfield runners. Her senior experience served her well with this last minute addition. I know that as she gains fitness, she will get that second mile to match the first: 7:54, 8:44. Her post race leadership was important for our team, and I look forward to seeing her grow into that role even more. In the meantime, her voice has been helping her younger teammates; we missed her dearly this summer!
With the best kick of the race, Aubrianna became our fourth bee in the 2-mile. She raced well in the second loop, but her last 400 was clutch. She started accelerating in that back straightaway. With every turn, she gained more momentum and confidence. In the final stretch, she was fully open and challenging a rather erratic Deerfield runner, who kept weaving to block Aubrianna from passing in the final steps. What I loved most about this kick was the fact that after the race, she admitted that it was fun to feel that open, free, and fast. I love that Aubri loves racing, and I know that as her fitness returns, she will continue to drop big chunks of time thanks to her competitiveness. Congrats on an incredible effort in that kick!
Aubrianna definitely played off Ixa's race, who had a strong first mile in 9:19. Much like Karen, Ixa's times are going to improve dramatically as she taps back into her years of base. In the meantime, if she keeps pushing like she did today, I am going to be a joyful coach! She worked hard to challenge Deerfield runners, and she pushed through a challenging last mile like a champ. It's good to have your energy back with the team, Ixa!
Finally, Nataly rounded out our 2-mile group today. What struck me most about her race was her open stride today. Sometimes known as "tall" Nataly, she does not always use her gift of long legs. Not today, though. Today, she looked open and strong and focused for the whole race. Her first mile was a great testament to her hard work this summer. I cannot wait to see what she does in a 3-mile in cooler conditions on Tuesday!
Overall, this group looked STRONG. They used each other's energy and really made us smile at the finish!
I was beaming on the bus ride home as I posted pictures and looked back on the times. Pending your feedback about safety and comfort levels, we will look into adding another invite-style meet to our schedule this season. While the racing was so fun, I am really impressed by the way the character of this team is shaping up. Illyana summed it up when she talked about her confidence shift this year. I feel it across the team, and it is exciting to take in. Let's keep leaning into that feeling...that knowing of our worth and power. It is where joy lives! Thank you all for an amazing day!
For Tuesday, we race first against Lake Forest. They are always strong, so we need to be thinking about strategy for our line up. Please put some thought into what order you would like to run, and prepare mentally to defend our house. I cannot wait to see you race again!