This week provided a dose of deja vu: just like last week, our race was postponed due to weather, and just like last week, we combined with the men for a Wednesday race. I was so optimistic about this race due to the breakthrough workout on Saturday and the magic of the Darwin Run on Tuesday (thanks for that brilliant idea, Anderson), yet the deep puddles I found on the course curtailed my enthusiasm about particularly fast times. Like last Wednesday, the hecticness of managing multiple races and teams left me unable to view as much of this race as I hoped. Thankfully, you guys really don't need me. The conditions of this season have made you all laser focused during races, and your efforts today proved it. Here's what I loved:
You embraced the conditions. While I watched MANY athletes from LZ run around the water challenges on our course, especially in the last 400, I was elated to witness you all run the tangents and charge through the puddles. That mindset will serve us well at Grant, which will definitely be a wet and muddy challenge. You also leaned into the absolutely fantastic racing weather. The cool temperatures and light mist felt refreshing, and you all took advantage of the difference in the thermometer this week! Finally, I saw you exploit your deep knowledge of the course. While our course is relatively flat, the turns can be a disadvantage if you do not use them wisely. I was thrilled to watch you all lean into the last 800 turn going into the little loop by the football field. Every one of you whipped around that corner and attacked the little hill. More impressively, as you came down the other side, I was so happy to watch you open up, using the slight downhill to help you gear up for the last 400. I'm proud of you all for owning our home course. Remember that feeling when we host Stevenson next week!
You used the order to your advantage. I made a few small adjustments to the line up, and you all adapted well, feeding off the energy of your teammates. In particular, Audrey, Katelin, Illyana, and Julien stood out in this respect. I enjoyed watching these four pull on teammates and challenge themselves to move up in the race. It seems like this order was a winner, but I don't know how each of you felt individually. If there is a placement that might help you more, please let me know, and I will try to accommodate your preference. :)
You looked CONFIDENT. Last season, I smiled non-stop. We made huge gains as a group, and watching you race was just plain fun. At this race, we built upon that progress because so many of you are owning your fitness and greatness. I noticed on the starting line just how loose and yet focused you all looked. As you stepped to the line and waited for your individual "go," I listened to you encourage one another, and I watched your eyes as you toed the line. Your faces said, "I've got this," and then you let your race illustrate that belief. As I said at Deerfield, there is nothing more satisfying to watch than a group of athletes that know their worth. From Keeley and Belen who faced their first races ever with faith in their eyes, to 4-year veterans like Karen and Ashley who showed off their wisdom, you all just looked READY. On the course, I was particularly impressed by a few of you in this respect. Audrey. At Deerfield, you looked confident when you took the lead, but I could see the concern on your face as the race came down to the last 800 (let's be real--I was concerned, too). Not Wednesday. Wednesday, you owned every inch of the course, leaning into turns, pushing the straights, and kicking like crazy to the finish. Your mindset was all in, and it was so fun to watch. It was even more fun to move your name to the #2 spot. Marisa. When I saw you in the last 800, and you were still in contact with Maya, I was elated. You looked like you knew you belonged there: that you weren't intimidated by Maya's stoic attack or her killer kick. Your mind is in a new place this season, and I'm here for every second of it. Lesly. Early in the summer, you were putting together some strong efforts during the solo part of e-camp. When we started in person, I was so disappointed that you were not able to join us to capitalize upon the gains you had made. I knew that when you were finally able in August, it would take a bit for you to adjust to racing. To see you make such a breakthrough so quickly was just a joy to witness. Your focus was evident: not only were you locked in mentally, but you also looked smooth. That combination of intensity and flow created such a great race! I'm so proud of your progress, and I know that you will be able to help us fix the gap between our top three and our second half of our varsity. :) Illyana. Man is it cool to see you shine. From the moment you joined track, you were all-in in terms of attendance, dedication, and team mindset. But to see you connect all that base and hard work with such an awareness of your strength is just plain fun. Keep leaning into this power, and you will be in the 24s in no time. ;)
You let yourselves have breakthroughs. Real talk, you guys are FIT, as exemplified by Saturday's workout. But during the race, ALL OF YOU got out of your own way and allowed yourself to have a breakthrough performance. Audrey broke 19 for the first time this season and only second time in her career, earning herself the #2 spot on The Board. Maya, although I can tell she was not satisfied with her performance, did not overthink the race like she has in the past. She looked smooth as she finished sub-20, something she has never done on our course, and something that bumped her up to #5 on The Board. Her performance also helped us get one step closer to one of my team goals: to eliminate all the 20s on The Board. ;) In adverse conditions, Marisa ran a 15 second LPR, and looked fantastic doing so. Lesly also ran an LPR by nearly 30 seconds; unlike last year, she let herself simply race today. Natalie, after struggling the previous week to manage the time trial format, looked infinitely better today, working with her teammates and competing in a way that would make Kaila proud. Jenna, smiling the whole way, continues to have a breakthrough season. She peeled another 7 seconds off her time, earning a new LPR and helping our Varsity pack. Katelin looked fantastic today! Gone is the negativity and self-doubt; they have been replaced with her killer competitive spirit and a quiet confidence that earned her an SPR and a truly impressive race where she caught SO many people. Only a second behind her, Riley showed that not all sprinters have soft mindsets. Despite dealing with a stomach issue, she battled through the race, finishing with her iconic kick! Karen looked fantastic, earning a SPR and looking much more fit. The interesting twist here is that last year, her fitness was much further along, but her mindset wasn't quite complete; now her mind is ready, and she will be an x-factor for Varsity once the physical effects of her gritty Saturday workout set in. Delilah's confidence is through the roof this year, and it showed in this race. I could see she was ready for it on Saturday, and she did not disappoint, earning a new SPR. Julien and I had a short, frank, and productive conversation on Tuesday after the Darwin Run. Wednesday, she showed that she gets it. Not only did she earn an SPR, but she also had a fantastic kick that capped a great race. It's nice to see you back, Julien! Last year at this time, Illyana ran 31:04 at home. Today, she ran a huge LPR, dropping 24 seconds from last week. She "gets" it now, and I cannot wait to watch her continue to peel away time. ;) Last year at this time, Jenni ran 31:15 at home. Although she worked hard last year, she stayed comfortable in the 28s most of the season. Today (Friday), as we pulled out of the parking lot and onto 21st, I watched her form. Gone is the wasted sideways movement. Gone is the short stride. She looked smooth, strong, and confident as she made the turn. She is the real deal now, and she earned a huge LPR by nearly a minute over an impressive performance at Deerfield. She. Has. Arrived. And I love to see it! Her energy is contagious, and Mia is definitely infected. Mia keeps pulling on Jenni, Blanca, and Illyana and improving each week. I am so glad that she took the risk to try something new this season because watching her improve is a treat! She earned a new LPR by 50 seconds! Congrats, freshie! :) Belen looked amazing in her debut today. Not only did she embrace this new experience, but her time was fantastic. I know that she will continue to improve! Ashley also looked amazing today, earning a new SPR and coming closer to her LPR. Her last 800 was fantastic, and her confidence at practice has been growing each day. I know that the 27s will happen soon, and I cannot wait to watch her smash her LPR. Ixa's energy is everything right now. Despite EVERYTHING being sore, she battled through Saturday's workout, and it showed in this race. She looked so confident on the starting line, and she earned a new SPR today. When that Saturday workout sets in, she is going to drop some serious time--I just know it! Speaking of Saturday, Aubrianna had such a great day. In particular, her 400s were fire, and I could see her gaining confidence with each interval. It showed in the race on Wednesday; not only did she do a fantastic job of racing, she also looked like her real self--confident and fit! Nice work earning an SPR, Aubri! Nataly also earned an SPR today, looking so much stronger than last week. Nat is learning to work through hot weather, so she was wise to make the most of the cool conditions on Wednesday. She dropped nearly 3 minutes from Warren, and she did it by opening her stride and believing in her strength! Finally, Keeley ran her first race ever on Wednesday. Compared to four weeks ago, Keeley is a different runner. On her first day, she could barely make it 800 before she needed a break. Today, she raced 3 miles, and she looked fantastic. I cannot wait to watch her start peeling off time as her confidence and fitness grow. Finally, I need to talk about Blanca. She texted me mid-day with a concern over a family member possibly being in contact with someone with Covid. She could have just said, "It's race day--I'm not going to say anything." Instead, she was honest with me and accommodating when I asked her to quarantine until her family member got her test results. Thankfully, her family member is clear and healthy. More impressively, Blanca went to the course before our race and ran an individual time trial without the energy of the team. She ran an impressive 28:50--a nice bounce back after a tough race last week in the heat. The most important part of this story is her selflessness. It is that mindset that has kept our team safe all summer and season, and it is that character that makes me proud to be her coach! Honestly, so many of you have handled these surreal conditions with grace and integrity--far better than many adults! I honestly feel blessed and proud to work with you all.
Overall, I was so stoked about our energy and purpose. I cannot wait to see us race at Grant. Let's seize the opportunity to race head-to-head by taking the lessons from Wednesday to heart: Embrace the conditions; Bee confident; Get out of your own way. :)
Shout outs to Joceline, Melanie, and Marleth for timing at the meet. Thanks to Kelsey, Durran, Zac, Chase, and Collin for helping direct LZ runners on the course. It takes a village to make a meet happen, and I'm thankful for everyone's willingness to pitch in!
One last point to ponder: LZ beat us on both the Varsity and JV levels. They did it by being tightly packed time-wise. We need to take a close look at our gap after Maya and the rest of varsity. We also need to tighten the gap between our Varsity and JV. I know that we are moving in that direction, but I want you to be mindful of that point in order to provide a bit more "why" to your racing. I've included a pic of the top of the results and the scoring to help you see what I mean. You can see the full results at athletic.net. If you make a free account, you can see results without annoying ads. This website is a great resource to be able to see your progress as well as that of your teammates and other runners in the state. Bee a student of your sport!