We had two meets this week--a triangular make-up at Libertyville on Monday, and the NSC Conference Meet on Saturday. The theme for the week was HEAT. After freezing our butts off at Tremper on Friday, we showed up at Libertyville to compete in beautiful but hot weather. Although we have been waiting for better weather, this kind of swing (nearly 60 degrees) is difficult for the body to adjust to in such a short time. The good news is that each time we race or work hard in this weather, we become one day better at regulating our heat.
Monday @ Libertyville with Warren: This was SUPPOSED to be our outdoor debut in the first week of April, but due to a snow-covered track, the meet was rescheduled for this week. I have mixed feelings about this reschedule. Although it did give us two important opportunities--the chance to acclimate to the heat, and the chance for our JV&F/S to compete some more since they lost so many races--I was a tad bummed that we lost our "clean week" of training leading up to the NSC meet on Saturday. I will save my feminist rant for another day, but I will summarize by saying that the boys get an extra week in their season, and it is simply not equitable nor fair that they get an extra week to prepare for the IHSA Sectional and State Meets. #theyfinallyfixedxc #whenwilltheyfixtrack #titlenine #it's2018 #willoneofyoubecomealawyerandfixthisproblem?
Onto what matters--how we raced! Our 4X800 started us out right. Even though we were no match for Libertyville and Warren's squads, I was proud of the focus of our group. Angie started us out with a strong effort--her closest to where she should be in quite some time: 3:05. She handed off to Jayla who was in the right neighborhood, too, with a 3:11 split. Alexia ran very even splits to finish in 3:29. Diana brought us home with a solid 3:14. I could see that the temperatures affected this group a bit, but they did not complain at all and instead focused on hydrating for their other races.
We had a small group for the 3200: Kelsey, Vic, and Karen. Kelsey did a great job of competing smartly; she came through the mile in 5:53 (84, 87, 88, 94), and her splits were pretty even in the second half (95, 97, 97, 91). My only complaint is that her final lap (91) should be more aggressive, but I know that those 90s were due to the heat. Overall, she competed well, which is what I am looking for! Vic's time was solid--14:17. While the time was close to her PR, what was more impressive was that she raced hard. She did a fabulous job of passing other competitors, and she was tuned in for the whole race. She came through the mile at 7:04 (98, 1:47, 1:48, 1:51), and ran pretty even mile splits (mile two--7:13--1:51, 1:48, 1:49, 1:45). She, too, needs to have more faith in her kick, but I can also see how there would not be much pep in those final laps due to the heat. Karen, in her first race back since an uneven sidewalk tried to talk her out, looked to suffer most from the heat. She did work with Vic for a few laps, which was definitely a highlight of this race. As she gains more experience, I know that she will be able to better negotiate the weather. In the meantime, this was a good learning experience, and I am proud of her tenacity in the latter half of the race!
We had a few athletes in sprint events in this meet again. Maya, Cynthia, and Vic all ran in the open 100 to work on their gears. Maya won here heat (and our timers made a cute crown for her). Just like last Monday, the times do not matter so much as the experience. Running a 100 in practice is different than racing one, and the pressure of this race helped these three work on their sprints. This should translate into better kicks! :) Nice work, women!
In the 800, we had three competitors: Maya, Mary, and Crizaber. Maya had to work through the mind game that is running the 100 and coming back to an 800. Although her 800 time was solid (2:38), we both know that she let the race order get the best of her. What I love about Maya, though, is that she was honest about this problem after the fact, and I know that she will grow from it! Mary had a really strong performance, despite her sore throat (which would later be diagnosed as Strep that evening)--she busted out a 2:46, looking much stronger than at Tremper only days before. Crizaber ran a gutsy race despite her knee injury, coming home in 3:21. Her form is looking stronger, and I'm hoping that the PT she has started will help her finish the season strong and prep for XC. More importantly, she has been gritty through this whole experience, fighting through obvious pain in order to be with her teammates in practice and meets; I'm proud of your effort, Crizaber! :)
We had a strong group in open 400, too. Kelsey ran a nice 67--impressive after a strong 3200 showing. Jayla looked aggressive, too, dropping a nice 79 to add to her solid day. Diana looked a bit tight as she battled with her back issues. I'm hoping that we can get her to feel better for Conference on Saturday! Charmaine looked like the heat beat her up a bit for the day, but Ashley ran a speedy 88, one of her fastest 400s yet! Nice work!
We had a huge pack in the mile, as did Warren and Libertyville. To be honest, the start looked like an XC race, and I could do nothing but smile! Our pack navigated the crowd well, and we ended up with some solid performances. Here's the time list:
Janelle--LPR of 5:55
The times do not tell the whole story, though. I saw some great racing in this event, especially from Janelle. She pinky promised on Friday that she would "properly" break 6, and she did so with style. Not only did she run a very even race, but her kick looked magical. Julia ran a season PR. Although she was not pleased with her time, the race is in her system now, which will make her much stronger for our last races of the season. She also gritted out the finish despite the fatigue that her disease creates. Taylor broke 7 for the first time this season, and she closed her race with an impressive kick; her last lap was the second fastest of her race! Nice work, Tay! While I wish that Steff's story had a happier ending, the message is an important one. It is important to learn when you can and cannot run through pain. Of course I want you all to be mentally strong, but when your body tells you that you need to fix something, you need to listen. Steff was honest with me post-race about pulling the plug for this season. We are going to get that hip healthy so that she can have the senior year that she deserves! Angie had an impressive kick to finish her race, following Taylor's pattern of her last lap being the second fastest. Daz acted as an important leader for Alexia. She kept a great pace throughout and helped pull Alexia through a tough race. Both of these women summoned strong kicks, too. And finally, Ashley ran a solid mile with a strong kick in the final 100. Nice work, milers! :)
We had several d-crew women in the 200 today: Maya, Karen, and Cynthia. Maya bounced back from her frustrating 800 to run a really strong 200 in 28.5. Karen and Cynthia both worked on their speed to run 36.7 and 37.9 respectively. Nice work, women!
Finally, we had two 4X400 relays for the day. I could see that the heat took its toll on these runners. The times were not blazing, but Cynthia, Karen, Mary, Kelsey, Charmaine, Klyde, Julien, and Alexia all gritted out that final 400. Shout out to Charmaine for bouncing back to run a much stronger 400 here--she dropped 4 seconds from her open 400 time. Nice work!
Overall, this meet was toasty, but the work matters. We are one day better at dealing with the temperatures. More importantly, you all faced this obstacle with optimism and tenacity. Proud of you all!
First--Monday's meet at Libertyville:
Following this season's theme of unpredictable weather, we experienced all the conditions this week. On Monday, we hosted Lake Forest, and the weather started out sunny but windy. As the sun slid behind the clouds, the chill made life a bit more difficult. Despite the cold, both Karen, Daz, Vic, Crizaber, and Charmaine were all able to run PRs in the 4X800--nice job women! Our next distance event was the 3200, and our sole competitor was Ashley. She ran an amazing race by competing with the two Lake Forest runners for the first half of the race. Using the competition helped her to run two PRs in the same race: a mile PR AND a two-mile PR. Congrats, Ashley!
Normally, I would not be writing about sprint events, but several of our crew members participated in several shorter races in order to work on sharpening their speed. In the open 100, Julia, Janelle, and Vic all earned PRs; more importantly, they used the race conditions to push harder than a workout to gain that speed stimulus. They recovered while our open 800 women raced: Jayla and Cynthia. I was really excited to watch Jayla's gutsiness in this race. Not only did she earn a new lifetime PR, but she also ran a smart race. She pulled on Cynthia's strength and looked determined the whole time. Nice teamwork, women!
The sprint theme of the day continued as we entered TWO distance 4X200 relays. While the handoffs were not the cutest I have ever seen, the purpose was served: we got some valuable speed in through competition and team effort. I'm really proud of all of you who took on this challenge. It can be intimidating to run races outside of our comfort zones, and the sprints are certainly that. Although it can feel daunting, facing that feeling is an important way to grow. Not only does it teach our brains that we can deal with uncomfortable situations, but it also makes us grittier for the future; our brains get less anxious about "newness" because the repeated exposure helps us learn that "new" is not "bad." Nice work, squad!
In the mile, we had a whole pack of competitors. The times were as follows:
Kelsey--LPR of 5:41
Taylor--SPR of 6:56
Angie--SPR of 6:57
Elyssa--LPR of 7:08
Jenna--HUGE LPR of 7:08
Diana--SPR of 7:11
Alexia--SPR of 7:12
Although I was timing, there were several things I was able to catch as the race unfolded. Kelsey was gutsy, using the Lake Forest runner for as long as she could as a draft. Mary looked more tuned-in to this distance than she has in the past. Taylor looks like her fitness is back after nursing her knee along for a bit! She also worked well with Vic and Angie as a pack--I liked the energy from these three! Elyssa and Jenna were also a powerful duo, helping each other to new levels of competition. Diana and Alexia pulled on each other for nice breakthroughs. Overall, teamwork really mattered in this race, and I'm proud that you helped each other; it was fun to watch!
As always, we finished the night with some speed in the 4X400. I came away from this meet with a smile on my face, even though it ended with a considerable chill. I'm proud of this unit for all of their hard work! :)
Next, Thursday's Varsity Meet @ Grayslake North--Lake County Invite:
The weather gods smiled upon us on Thursday. The wind was almost non-existent and the sky was sunny; the conditions were nearly perfect for distance racing. Our 4X800 started the night off right--Kelsey got us out strong, with a peppy 2:29 split, and handed off to Julia, who looked outstanding--she ran a 2:38, getting back to where she was before she was sick. Janelle looked aggressive, earning a 2:40 split. Maya closed out our relay, dropping an incredible 2:23+ split and looking awesome. Overall, we set a huge PR as a team, which is the most exciting headline of this race. We are down to 10:16. There is still a long way to go for this group, but I am really excited by our progress as a group!
I will only take one line to talk about the 3200: my bad, bees. That will NEVER happen again.
In the open 800, I was excited to see the twins throw down some impressive work. For their second races of the day, they looked sharp: Julia finished with a 2:42, solid work after her impressive effort in the relay; Janelle set a lifetime PR of 2:35, showing that she can get stronger as the meet goes on. It takes mental and physical strength to run consistently in a second race, and both of these seniors have that grit!
In the mile, each of our runners threw down new LPRs. Cynthia and Mary got out aggressively, working together in the first two laps to put themselves in great territory at the half: 2:56. At this point, Mary pulled away, running as strong 3rd lap, the toughest part of the race. Cynthia kept grinding, listening to all of us as we pushed her on, and working on her form. Mary finished in a new LPR by 7 seconds: 2:35. If she can trust her fitness and find a stronger kick, I have no doubt that she can break 6 this season! Cynthia picked it up slightly for her last lap, taking two seconds of her previous lifetime to finish in 6:17. Both women ran real races--using the people around them to help them earn new LPRs. Nice work! :)
Our crew finished the night with a strong showing in the 4X400 relay. Kelsey started us strong with a 65 split, handing off to Maya who ran a 64--the fastest split of the relay for the night. Kaylah with an H had an outstanding night, running a 66 split after a great open 400 of 65. This is the first time she has run great times in both races, a sign that she is getting stronger! Aja closed anchored for us by mirroring Kelsey's 65. Our 4:22 was a season PR for the relay, a nice bookend to our PR in the 4X800! :)
Overall, I came away from this meet excited to see where we will go next! Let's keep the momentum!
Finally, Friday's Tremper Twilight Invite:
Wow...what do I even say about this meet? I was concerned by the weather from the start, and it did not disappoint. We went from mild, cooperative skies on Thursday, to 15-20 mile per hour wind gusts, sleety rain, and foreboding skies on Friday. That being said, you all embraced the challenge and showed that you know what grit looks like.
Our JV 4X800 started things off with some solid performances. Jayla was our first leg, and she earned an LPR of 3:06. Despite this great effort, the small race (only 3 teams) made it tough for our other racers to feel connected as the race spread out. Carmen ran a solid 3:17, followed by Karen in 3:15 and Vic in 3:13. What made me happy was that each woman pushed hard when the wind was at her back, and kicked hard for the finish. Our Varsity 4X800 dealt with the wind like champs, too, running solid splits. Mary in 2:50 (running well for her second meet in two days), Julia in 2:45 (same as Mary--looking strong), Angie in 3:07 (getting much closer to where she belongs), and Taylor in 3:15. Overall, this group was a bit disconnected from the other competitors, and I wish that the JV and Varsity heats would've been combined to help out each group with more competition, but we cannot and should not stress about what we cannot control!
Since this meet is in Wisconsin, the next distance race was the mile. At this point, the rain started up, albeit lightly, and the temperatures were chillier. That did not stop our crew, though. In the JV race, Di ran a season PR of 6:55, looking strong despite the chilly conditions. I loved her feistiness and solid kick--great work! Elyssa was not far behind--they started together, and Elyssa pulled on Di's lead through the half. She was only seconds away from her LPR, finishing in 7:11 despite her hip flexor issues. Nice work, E! Alexia had a gritty race, too, working hard to break a competitor by truly racing--it was great to see! She finished in a strong 7:15, closing hard on Elyssa in the final straightaway. Daz was our final competitor, only steps behind Alexia in SPR of 7:17--great job, Dazzlie! ;) Overall, I was pumped after watching these races because our bees really embraced the competition and helped each other push in the latter part of the race. Proud of you all!
In the Varsity, we were allowed three entries, and they all looked awesome, too, no doubt inspired by watching their sisters in the previous heat. Kelsey was our first competitor, running a 5:41 and matching her LPR, despite the worsening conditions. Janelle had a gritty finish, just sneaking under 6 for the first time in her life! She later told me that she wanted to do it "legit", so I look forward to seeing her break 6 by a bigger chunk of time. :) Nice work, twin! Karen was our final competitor, dropping 7 seconds from her lifetime--what a great race! I was excited that all three of these women looked so strong after great performances the previous night. Bravo, women!
At this point, the conditions got stupid. The rain turned to sleet, the temperatures dropped even more (about 25 degrees with the wind chill), and the wind picked up. Maya would not be deterred, however. She and Kaylah with an H braved the open 400 with virtually no competition. Maya went out hard, looking smoking fast and earning a new LPR of 62.8! I was so excited to see her grit in her second day of racing; like her teammates in the mile, she did not let the conditions phase her! Studly work!
At this point in the meet, many of the other teams left, admitting that Mother Nature was going to win. We pulled our sprint 4X100, not wanting to injure anyone in the cold. I gave the 800 runners the option to run or to pack up; before anyone could even shake their heads no, Ashley declared, "I'M RUNNING!" Although I assured everyone that this was not a test, my heart DID sing when everyone said they were in. Yes, the conditions were atrocious at this point...to be honest, I don't even have times for this event because our split sheet was so water-logged, and the timing system had been destroyed by wind and rain. Honestly, I didn't care about times--I was just so proud to see Daz, Angie, Taylor, Ashley, Jenna, Crizaber, and Charmaine OUT THERE. They looked determined on the line, and they pushed hard to the finish. Sometimes, the watch just doesn't matter; the heart does.
We packed up and headed out after this race. Hopefully, the conditions will be better next year. I liked the opportunities this meet afforded us, and the stadium and track were beautiful. More importantly, the mindset you all displayed made this coach really proud.
Takeaways for the week:
1. Never let the weather dictate your mindset.
2. Never let a teammate's bad mojo about the weather dictate your mindset, either. You have the right and responsibility to tell her: "Hey, I'm trying to get my mind right. Can you please help me by saying something uplifting?"
3. Look out for your teammates at the end of the meet. #getonthebus #thatsthelasthashtagaboutthat
4. You all are simply impressive, and I am proud to be your coach!
What a crazy outdoor season so far. In all my years of coaching, we have never cancelled more than one outdoor meet in a season. After four cancelled/postponed meets, we finally raced on a beautiful night at Antioch. Not only were the winds calm, but the temperatures were really pleasant--perfect for racing fast! Although the nine day wait was frustrating, I think the delay made us even more hungry.
Our 4X800 started the finals strong. Kelsey was our lead runner, and she looked amazing. She already has developed a keen sense of where to be within the pack, and she expertly navigated to put herself in a clear spot after her opening 72 second lap. On the backstretch, she looked strong--moving up to second and working on the leader. Her second lap was a speedy 77, and she finished in a new LPR of 2:29. Her aggressive racing in her second lap helped her keep that second split under 80 and pushed her to the PR. She handed off to Julia who looked solid after a prolonged illness. She opened with a speedy 76, her stride looking open and powerful. Her second lap revealed that she is not quite back to processing oxygen at full capacity; she ran an 88 to finish in a solid 2:44. Although I know she is not satisfied with this time, I also know that she will bounce back with some more rest and some speed training. Her years of experience and base will help her on this journey! She handed off to Janelle, whose form looked impeccable in the first lap. She opened with a swift 75. Her mission is to now to work on that second lap; when she does, she will help make our relay even more competitive! She closed with an 86 and a solid 2:4--a season PR by 3 seconds! When she handed off to Maya, we were in good shape for a medal. Maya got out hard with a 74; she closed with a 76, running very even splits. She looked really strong in the final 100 meters, kicking smoothly to the finish. Our relay took 4th overall with a time of 10:25.22 (official). I'm really pleased with the progress of this group, and I look forward to watching them continue to work hard for each other next week at Lake County.
Vic and Karen represented us in the 3200, and they both excelled in this event! The pack got out unexpectedly slow for the first two laps--95 and then 96. Our bees tucked right into the pack and pulled along for these laps, enjoying the competition. As the pack began to string out in the third lap, they both continued to pull on the runners near them. It helped them pull through the mile faster than they have this year; Vic ran a 6:52, and Karen was not far behind in 7:00. They each finished with PRs--Vic with a season PR of 14:11 (by 13 seconds), and Karen with a new lifetime PR of 14:39 (by 19 seconds). The highlights: Vic got out much more competitively in this race, something we have talked about extensively this week. Her second mile is getting stronger, too--she ran a 7:19 for the second half. Karen ran a gutsy race, following Vic's lead and using the go-zones to her advantage. She closed in a 7:39 and looked tuned in the whole second half. So where do we go from here? The lap splits reveal where each bee can improve. Vic's splits (96, 1:40, 1:48, 1:48, 1:52, 1:49, 1:52, 1:46) show that she needs to get out of a rut in 5, 6, & 7. She can try to implement two go-zones for these laps in the next race. She also needs to work on kicking harder; I'd love to see that final lap closer to 1:40. Karen's splits (96, 1:43, 1:47, 1:55, 1:58, 1:56, 2:00, 1:45) illustrate a similar area for improvement--if she works on laps 5, 6, & 7, her times will continue to drop. A great goal to work on is to make sure she stays below 1:55. Like Vic, she can make that happen by starting her kick sooner--around the 500 mark--and shifting the whole last lap. Overall, I was really happy with these two; great work, bees!
Janelle and Mary were up next in the open 800. Janelle's splits were more even in this race (79, 80), allowing her to match her lifetime PR of 2:39. I was able to get her 200 splits: 38, 40, 41, 38. These splits reveal that she had a great kick, and that her key to a faster time is to try kicking from the 300 rather than the 200. Although the third 200 is the toughest part of the race, focus on that backstretch pays big dividends! I was proud of Janelle's determination in this race; it is difficult to run faster in the second 800 of the day, and she did so through a focused and positive mindset--so proud of her! :) Mary followed in Janelle's footsteps for the first lap, matching the split in 79. She zoned out a bit in that tough 3rd 200, which is where El was able to gap her. She refocused on the last 200 and had a strong kick to the finish, closing in 84. I know that she will get that second lap down in future races, but in the meantime, she should celebrate the season PR of 2:44 (official FAT time).
After such a great start for the distance crew, I was stoked to see our milers compete. Cynthia and Steff got out hard, running 87 and 88 respectively. Cynthia's stride was open and strong, despite her recent calf issues, and Steff looked powerful despite her hip tightness. Cynthia rolled through the half in 3:06, much faster than she has run in an 800 outdoors! She competed hard in the third lap, battling with hard with the girls around her, not shying away from some bumping in the pack. She closed well to earn a new LPR of 6:18! Her splits reveal a pretty even race: 87, 99, 97, 95. If she has more faith in her fitness, she will be able to bring that second and third lap down (which is exactly when the leader of the heat pulled away). That being said, this was a great effort and an exciting race to watch! Steff was not far off Cynthia at the half; she pulled through at 3:10, looking outstanding! Her second half is where we need to focus. Post-race, she admitted that she needs to work on taking her vitamins so that she can feel strong in the latter stages of races. She knows that she is capable of racing stronger, and I know that it will happen in the coming meets, especially after our honest conversation! She knows what to do! Her splits (88, 1:42, 1:46, 99) show that she was able to muster a kick--an example of her feisty mindset. Despite her frustration, Steff ran a season PR of 6:36!
The temperatures for the 4X400 were a bit chilly, but our mostly-distance relay looked amazing. Kelsey was our lead again, and she looked incredible: focused, quick, and competitive (which is difficult when running in lanes). She ran a split of 64--a huge PR of 4 seconds! She handed off to Shaniah, who looked much more positive than earlier in the meet. She ran a strong 73 before handing of to Julia. Julia was not scheduled to run in this event, but like a great senior and captain, she stepped up when Kayla Kinney tweaked her quad in the 4X200. G looked awesome as she held off the competition for the whole lap, finishing in a 69+ split. When she handed off to Maya, it was game over. Maya looked just as focused as Julia, zooming down the back stretch and finishing with incredible speed in order to earn a new LPR of 63. Our relay finished in 3rd overall. I was so proud of the focus of our crew in this race--it was fun to watch them each fly! :)
Shout outs to Taylor and Takyra for timing, as well as Alexia and Sam (alum!) for coming to cheer, as well as Tristan and Avedis. It's always good to hear familiar voices as we work toward our goals!
Overall, I am thrilled with our collective efforts today. Yes, we brought home a ton of PRs, but more importantly, I watched consistent efforts in race after race. I also was excited to see the mindsets each competitor came to the line with. I look forward to seeing what we can do next week now that we have this stimulus under our belts.
I would also like to acknowledge the awesome practice our JV crew had on Saturday. These bees looked outstanding on the track, embracing the fast intervals in order to sharpen up for Tremper and Conference. The mood was great, and I cannot wait for this crew to race again!
So where do we go from here? I challenge you all to work on your mindfulness this week. When you warm up, think about our thought of the day from Saturday: helping others helps you. As you go through dynamic, think about each muscle group that each exercise works. As you do strides, feel fast and light. And as you race, remember that you are stronger than you think!
After THREE cancellations/reschedules for the start of our outdoor campaign, we FINALLY had a chance to race at home on Wednesday. As often happens at home meets, the weather was decent right after school, and then quickly deteriorated as the sun fell behind some clouds and the wind shifted off the lake. What made me happy was that I did not hear a single complaint from any of you about the weather. Instead, I watched you show up to the line, ready to race. Although I love when you have a chance to race at home, I do not have much opportunity to truly coach. You showed me that you could take care of business, though.
I was stoked to watch the efforts in the 4X800. We had three teams in this event, and all three looked strong. Our first team to finish consisted of Maya, Steff, Mary, and Cynthia. Maya started with an incredible split of 2:27, a new lifetime PR by seven seconds. Considering the temperatures, this new effort is an exciting development! She handed off to Steff who ran a 3:01. Although it was not a bad time for the cold, I know that Steff can run faster. Mary was our third leg, who ran a solid 2:50 for her first race of the season. Our anchor was Cynthia, who ran 3:11; I know when her calves are feeling better, this time will drop. Our second relay of Angie, Karen, Diana, and Jenna also looked solid. Angie started off the relay strong with a LIFETIME PR of 3:03--great job, Angie! She handed off to Karen who ran a solid split of 3:13. Diana looked great in her first race at this distance. She ran a solid 3:18, but I know that time will continue to drop. Jenna brought the relay home with a 3:22, a LIFETIME PR by 12 seconds! Great job, Jenna! She keeps getting stronger every week. :) Our final relay of Carmen, Jayla, Elyssa, and Daz looked great, too. Carmen started us strong with a time of 3:07, one of the faster splits of the day. Jayla ran a strong 3:14 in her debut at this distance. Elyssa ran a strong 3:22, close to her indoor PR. Daz brought the relay home in 3:22 with a great kick.
Our next distance race was th 3200 with five entries. Kelsey was our first finisher, running a great 12:13 in her debut at this distance. She looked focused the whole time, and she did a great job of pulling on the winner from LZ. I was really happy to see her strong kick, too. Janelle was our second finisher; it was so good to see her look strong and injury-free at this distance. Like Kelsey, her look was determined, and she did a great job of competing against LZ. She finished in 13:02 and accomplishing our goal of getting some strength training in during the meet. Julia was not far behind her in 13:25. I appreciate her grit in this race, knowing that she has been battling a respiratory bug for several weeks now. She pulled on Janelle's strong lead as long as she could, and finished strong. Vic was our fourth ZB to finish, running 6 seconds faster than her indoor time from Carthage. Although it was a season PR, Vic and I both know that she is capable of a faster effort; I know that she will break through in her next race! Our final bee for the day was Alexia. I was impressed by her focus throughout the race, and I was stoked to see her season PR of 16:25. Not only did she exceed her own expectations, but she overcame some early race doubts in order to run this time. Nice work, two-miler crew!
In the open 800, we had three competitors: Taylor, Ashley, and Charmaine. Taylor made her track racing debut in this event, and she looked great! She ran a solid 3:16, and I know she will continue to drop time in this event. Ashley looked strong in her racing racing debut, coming home in a time of 3:31. She has improved so much over XC season, so I know that this time will continue to drop. Charmaine was our final bee in a solid time of 3:38. In a conversation about her race the next day, she let me know that this time will continue to improve!
We had four runners in the 1600: Mary, Cynthia, Steff, and Elyssa. Mary started us off strong, looking focused in this longer race, finishing in 6:24. Cynthia ran within seconds of her indoor PR, finishing in 6:41. Steff was right behind her in 6:42. Elyssa came close to her LPR, finishing in 7:16. This was definitely the coldest distance race of the day, but these four looked determined the whole way.
We finished the day with several 4X400 relays. Our Varsity "sprint" relay included two distance runners: Maya and Kelsey. They ran 64 and 67 respectively, with Aja (66) and Kaylah (76) rounding out the relay. Our next relay consisted of Taylor, Janelle, Julia, and Vic. This relay looked really competitive, clocking in 84, 71, 73, and 84. I was happy to see a solid day's work from this crew, and shout out to Taylor for stepping up to fill in for Crizaber in this race! The relay of Steff, Mary, Cynthia, and Jayla was only seconds behind Taylor's squad. They ran 74, 76, 84, and 85. These are solid splits, and I was happy to see Jayla run so fast in her 400 debut. :) Karen, Di, Jenna, and Angie also posted strong efforts for the final race of the day: 82, 88, 85, 79. The one handoff that stood out to me today was from Di to Angie--not only was it perfectly timed on the line, but it was smooth as silk! Nice work, women! Our final relay of Klyde, Alexia, Daz, and Ashley also looked strong: 90, 97, 85, 88. Shout out to Klyde for stepping up to fill in this race!
Overall, I was impressed by the selflessness of this group. You helped make relays happen when we needed to switch things up (looking at you, too, Maya, for jumping into the 4X200 without any handoff practice) last minute, and you kept your wits about you as the temperatures dropped. We will need more of this mentality as we head into another week of cold weather.
Here's what I would like to focus upon this week:
1. Mid-race attacks. I want the "third" part of the race (400--the second curve; 800--the third 200; 1600--lap 3; 3200--laps 5&6) to be the GO ZONE. As Alexia pointed out to me this week, that tactic was particularly helpful during XC, so there is no reason why we cannot implement the same mentality this spring. Each of you need to decide how to implement this for your race. It could be that you choose to pass someone with authority. It could be that you accelerate for 100 meters. It could be that you shake out and focus on your heel lift and elbow drive. Decide what it will be in advance and commit to completing it!
2. Using competition to help us reach our goals. Race day is a big deal, especially this season as races keep disappearing before our eyes. It is never a good idea to run someone else's race, but race day allows us to use others to help us get to where we want to go. In the next race, choose to use someone to your advantage. That might mean drafting behind someone for a straightaway in the 400 or for several laps in the 3200. It might mean fartleking around someone to help you get out of a rut. It could look like using a person who is in the distance as a measure of your effort--that each 100, you work on shortening the gap. It is important to be mindful of the fact that other racers are planning to use you, too. Always be mindful at the start of the race--where will you situate yourself to avoid being used as a wind guard? Are you listening to where others are at so that you do not get outkicked due to lack of awareness?
3. Being students of our sport. If you are not racing, you should be actively watching other races. What do you notice about racers from other teams? How do they use other racers and the track to their advantage? How does their form look? How do they handle being passed? What about your teammates? Do you know their PRs? Are you helping them by letting them know how close the competition is and/or if someone is coming up hard? How do your teammates' splits look? What could you do to help them improve? The best teams are actively involved with one another. The reason this works is because being team-minded reduces individual stress and it gives each competitor a united purpose.
Please be ready to race at Stevenson with Mundelein on Monday if Mother Nature is cooperative!
:) :) :)
There's no other way to start this write up--we did some great work at the meet and then the next day in the time trial. Here's how I saw it:
We started with an incredible effort from our 4X800 squad. Kelsey was our lead runner, and she looked amazing. She started strong and was not afraid to go right with the lead runners of the fast heat. She made some smart moves: rather than get stuck in the tightly bunched pack, she ran on the outside in order to be free on the third lap when the race started to stretch out. She ran a lifetime PR of 2:31 by keeping her splits pretty even (36, 38, 37, 40). Clearly Kelsey has the guts and power to run fast; our spring break workouts as well as early outdoor meets will address that last 200. For now, I am stoked about her effort because I know how much stronger she will become. At the hand off, we were in great shape place-wise, and Julia got out hard, matching Kelsey's opening 200 of 36 seconds. Her splits were in a different pattern: 36-41-42-39. The great news is that she had a gutsy start, and she was able to hammer the last 200 to finish strong for her team. She earned a 2:38, her best indoor time ever! We will work on making her splits more consistent, which I know will come due to her work ethic and vast experience in this race. She handed off to Janelle, who ran a season PR of 2:42. Being in the third slot is tricky because the race tends to string out a bit at this point; Janelle got out strong, but we need to work on her third lap (38-40-43-41), but she did a nice job of dropping her last lap back down. I was excited to see how strong her form looked throughout the race, and I know that her competitiveness will help her get those splits to be more consistent. Maya was our anchor, and she took off strong and staying smooth throughout her race. She ran the most even splits for the day: 37-39-39-39. This kind of race is what is going to get us to continue to drop time. Let's make it that our goal is to have a two-second differential between the first 400 and second 400; Maya did just that with a 76-78. I know that she will continue to get stronger, so her goal is to get each 400 to drop evenly, which I am confident will happen as she gets stronger! Overall, this relay made my day! An overall time of 10:25 is impressive for this time of the season. I cannot wait to see how we look outdoors; I'm proud of all of you for working hard for each other!
Our next runners were in the mile (Wisconsin flips this event with the 3200 in their events order), and they did not disappoint. Steff set a lofty time goal going into this race considering her abridged training due to her conflict with her basement stairs. Although she did not reach her time goal, I was really pleased with her race for two reasons. First, she is thinking big, which is important to running varsity times. Second, she ran a big season PR despite some hip pain during the race. We will work on getting that hip happier as well as straightening out her arms in order to reach her original time goal! Cynthia was in the next heat, and her debut mile in an actual race was outstanding! The highlight was her aggressive racing style. If you ask anyone who watched her race, they will tell you that she hunted other runners down and passed at least one every lap. That kind of racing instinct is why I am so glad that she is with us this spring. It will help her continue to drop time; the 6:36 she earned at Carthage is just the start!
Kelsey was the lone member of the distance crew running in the open 400. Although she was concerned about her seed time of 68, her worries were unfounded. Kelsey got out hard and did a great job beating the masses to the cut line. On the second lap, she made smart use of the back stretch to pass one last competitor. Her finish off the final curve was aggressive, and she finished her heat earning a 68. This kind of speed will serve her well in any race on the track! Great work, Kelsey!
The twins doubled in the open 800 and in the same heat. Although they had plenty of time to recover after the relay, racing two 800s in the same meet is a tough double: I find the 800 to be the toughest race on the track because it requires speed, strength, and nearly perfect race tactics, as there is little time to recover from a bad position. They both got out hard, with Julia leading. The only difference between their lap times was on the second lap, with Julia running a second faster. Janelle kicked hard to try to catch her in the final stretch, and they finished one second apart: 2:43 and 2:44. These times represent solid work for their first double of the season. Not only will this stimulus help make them stronger, but it also shows their strength is moving in the right direction at this point in the season! Knowing their work ethics, I am confident that they will continue to drop time as we head outdoors.
The last open distance race of the day was the 3200. Victoria and Karen had to wait quite a long time to toe the line, but they kept their focus as evidenced by their great races. For the first mile, these two ran nearly identical races, with Victoria leading for the inexperienced but gutsy Karen in 7:02 and 7:03 respectively. At this point, Victoria started to pull away as she challenged several runners around her. She finished in 14:37, making her second mile a 7:35. I know that she will get better at this second half as we head outdoors, especially if she continues to apply the same gutsy race tactics as she did today. Karen, although nervous about this race, ran beautifully. After that courageous first half, she kept grinding in the second mile, keeping it under 8 minutes, unlike her tempo runs in practice. She earned an impressive 14:57 finishing time--well under my estimated 15:20, and well, well under her estimated 16:00. I'm so proud of both of these women for their great races, and I look forward to seeing them improve in this race when we get outdoors.
Our night concluded with an incredible 4X400. I was initially bummed that we were in the third heat, but our girls did not seem to care. Kayla got out hard and looked faster than ever as she took the cut in, battling right along with the other top teams, which earned her a speedy 66 second split. When she handed off to Maya, I was losing my mind! Maya took off more aggressively than she has in the past, going out in a 32 for the first 200. In the second lap, she embodied the phrase "eat" as she gobbled up her competition and giving us a beautiful lead and earning a new lifetime PR of 64! When Shaniah received the stick, she was all smiles, looking beautiful with her long, strong stride. She kept our lead looking strong, and she earned a new PR of 68! She is showed that she really GETS this race now. :) Cierra was our final leg, and she wore a face of determination, running the fastest split of the relay of 62. Our overall time was a NINE second PR: 4:20. To run this fast this early in the season is just awesome. As the weather gets easier and we can get more quality work outdoors, I am confident that this relay will continue to improve. In the meantime, their collective effort earned them a third place finish in the overall results, besting all of the second heat as well as several teams from the fast heat. There is something so beautiful about the 4X400--it brings the team together at the end of the meet, and when it is well run, it gives the team momentum as they climb on the bus. How can you help but be pumped for this week's workouts knowing how much it is paying off?
Overall, I am really excited about the direction of this team. With Jalah winning the shot, Maesa earning a PR by a foot, and Mora earning a PR in the triple, we have some great things happening. We finished 8th as a team, our best finish in quite some time at this meet. I haven't had this much fun since...well, this fall. :) I cannot wait to see this team outdoors. Let's have a great two weeks of focused training!
Shout out to the boys for coming out to cheer us on and special thanks to Taylor for taking impeccable splits for each race!
We had another great night of racing at Highland Park's relay meet. We are really starting to come together as a team, and we are showing a lot of courage in races--it is really exciting to watch!
We started the night with a gutsy performance from our 4X800. Julia started us strong with a 2:49 split (82/87). She looked more in-tuned with the race this week, using the people around her to help improve her time over Wheeling. Janelle was second and ran a 2:50 split (84/86). Like her sister, Janelle looked more race-ready today, with her last lap looking aggressive and with great form. Cynthia was our third leg with an improvement over Wheeling. Not only did she look stronger in the second half of her race, she also had a gritty mindset about her competition. It paid off with a split of 2:56 (85/91). Steff made her racing debut as our anchor, and it is good to have her back! Despite a reduced training load, she looked aggressive and strong, running at 2:59 split (85/94). I know that as she gains more fitness, her second 400 will continue to improve. Overall, I liked the fire of this group; not only did each woman fight for her teammates, but they also all had great kicks.
Our Sprint Medley was next. Aja started us strong with an 11-second split for 80 meters; she handed off to Destini who matched Aja's time. The best moment of this race was how the second half of the relay responded to adversity. Upon receiving the baton, Saudi took off aggressively, but struggled to manage the banked curve and lost her footing. After she fell, she hopped back up and finished her lap with grit. When Cierra received the baton, she could have jogged it in; instead, she caught one team, and was gaining on the next. This "it ain't over until the finish line" mindset will serve us well this season, and it was great to see!
Our Mid-Distance Relay looked strong today, especially since they had to navigate a race-day change of line up. Mora, Jayda, and Shaniah looked great on their respective legs of the race, and Karen finished the relay strong. All of these distances are a bit weird due to the track's 160 distance, so the times don't carry much meaning. What is important is that all four women fought hard for each other!
I am really proud to report that we had a 55 Hurdle Relay compete AND medal. For several years, we have not had a full hurdle squad, but things are changing this year. Kayla, our only true hurdler over the last few years, acted as a mother hen to the three newbees. After minimal training this week, Saudi, Klyde, and Jasmine all stepped up to the challenge of using the race as a learning experience. This whole crew looked outstanding, and I am proud of their growth mindsets for the day. If they can continue growing as a group, we could earn valuable points in these races that we have neglected in the last few years. So impressed by this group!
OUr next race was the class 4X400. Freshie Kaylah with an "H" started us strong with a 73 second split; she looked aggressive the whole way, and her form was impeccable. She will only continue to get strong because she works hard at every practice! Sophie Jada looked awesome, matching Kaylah's time of 73 seconds. She looked like a different runner than last year, and she was all smiles after her performance. I cannot wait to see how she evolves as a racer this season with her new mindset! Carmen was our junior leg and ran a strong 83 split. I know that this time will continue to drop as she continues to gain fitness; her form looked impeccable today! Janelle was our senior leg, running her second race of the day (all the other distance crew focused on just one race). Not only did Janelle keep everyone loose before the race, but her performance also showed her team how to compete, running a 74 second split. Overall, this group looked impressive.
Our Distance Medley consisted of youngins, but they all competed well. Angie started us off with a strong three laps. What impressed me most was that she had calculated a goal time for this awkward distance based upon her performance at Wheeling--I love that mental prep! Her form looked good, and she competed well with those around her. Jenna was our second leg, running her first track race in ZB gear. She looked aggressive and earned a starting-point time of 3:33. She has already improved so much this season; I know that she will drop time soon! She handed off to Charmaine who had an outstanding first half. Not only did her form look outstanding, she also used the people around her to challenge herself. Again, she had a weird distance (7 laps), so her overall time doesn't mean much, but her grit while racing does. She is such a different runner than this fall; she looked assertive and confident throughout. She handed off to Crizaber who looked great, too! Crizaber's start was focused and speedy, clocking a 3:45 and giving her a chance to break 8 for the season. Unfortunately, the second half brought more pain in her arch, a problem she has fought for a year now. Despite that pain, Crizaber fought through, keeping a focused mindset. She finished in 8:10, her fastest mile of the season--nice work! Overall, this group supported one another and raced hard for each other--definitely on theme for this meet!
The 4-Lap Relay was next, and unfortunately, I missed this race because I was getting our milers ready to race. Looking at the times, it seems that our four sprinters--Aja, Destini, Mora, and Saudi--ran consistently, with their splits ending up pretty even (21, 23, 25, 22). I know this group will continue to improve, as we get to better tracks and work on handoffs.
The 4X1600 team had a great night tonight. Kelsey started us off strong with a new lifetime PR of 5:48. Her splits were pretty impressive (2:51/2:57), but more importantly, she raced well with some strong competition. She handed off to Vic who had a great race, too. She was really in tune with the competition, and it helped her to run even splits like Kelsey (3:23/3:29). I can't wait to see what she will do to with that mindset in the two-mile! Elyssa, whose previous best was 7:32, ran a new LPR by racing hard with the competition. Her first half was a speedy 3:27, and closed in 3:47. If she can get the second half more in line with the first, she will break 7 minutes easily. That being said, she had a significant drop today, finishing in 7:14--great work! Our anchor, Alexia, looked incredible today. Not only was she totally tuned into the race, but her confidence level was evident. Her first half was 3:42, and she closed in 3:57 for a pretty even race. This focus helped her run a significant season PR of 7:39--impressive! Overall, I was really happy to watch these four women work hard with the competition to race so well!
We closed the track action with the 4X400. Unfortunately, we were stuck in the slower heat, but our girls were not deterred. Shaniah got out hard, running her best time of the season--71. Maya was our second leg, and she looked focused and at ease. She matched her time from Wheeling (68), and looked awesome doing so! She handed off to Kayla who matched Maya's time of 68 and looked intense the whole way. Cierra closed out our relay with a speedy 64! These four women were racing the clock, and they earned a 3rd place finish overall, besting two relays from the fast heat--nice focus, bees!
In the field events, Jalah won the shot put with her first effort over 40 feet of the season--awesome work! Maesa fed off of Jalah's energy, earning a new PR of 31 feet. Veronica rounded out our throwing squad with her first meet performance ever of 27 feet. Awesome work to this group!
I don't have any info about the jumpers at this time, but I will add to this section when I do!
While I was really stoked about the performances at this meet, I was thrilled to see how you all chose to end the meet: together and smiling. I am hoping that we can continue to grow united as the season progresses, but that requires intentional work. Get to know your teammates. Keep supporting one another. Keep being a positive voice for the newbees. Keep the optimism coming!
I have enjoyed watching the progress of our training over the last month, and it was with great anticipation that I looked toward this meet so that we could test ourselves against other teams. I was not disappointed in the least!
The meet started with some "track school" for the newbees--exchange zones, warm up times, and general track etiquette were all important lessons for the day! Our veterans did a fantastic job of mentoring our new crew; thank you to Julia, Janelle, Victoria, Angie, and Daz! Before a single one of our D-Crew started to warm up, they were already showing their cross-crew support by cheering on Jalah and Maesa in the shot put as well as Aja and Taija in the 55. That kind of interest in the performances of others, as well as curiosity about how the other events work are how good teams become great!
The first race of the finals brought the D-Crew some hardware. Our 4X800 team of Kelsey, Julia, Janelle, and Cynthia looked outstanding. Kelsey, despite a rough bout of the flu a week ago, started us off with a gutsy performance. She started smart, sitting back in the pack, then wisely picking off competitors as the 5 and 1/3 laps ticked by (keep this lap count in mind when looking at the "final splits below--I believe our timers included the 1/3 in the final split time). She handed off the baton to Julia in a great position, running an impressive split of 2:41. Her lap times were very consistent (29, 29, 31, 32, 40) which is why she was able to reel in other competitors in the final laps. She handed off the baton to Julia who had a great start and looked amazing for most of the race. Her one "weak" lap was the 4th, which is a common problem (29, 32, 32, 37, 42). This is the part of the race we will work on in coming weeks. Her split was a solid 2:52 when she handed off to Janelle (which is a great sentence to write), whose form looked wonderful for most of the race. Janelle's splits did not follow the same pattern as her teammates (30, 27, 37, 34, 40). I believe the surge in the second lap coincides with Janelle passing another team, and that speed came at a cost in the third lap. This will be another point of emphasis for this season--working on surging and then holding on longer to avoid a dip. That being said, she still finished with an impressive 2:54--her first track race since sophomore year! When Janelle made the final exchange to Cynthia, we were in great shape within the overall race. Her newness did not show; instead, her gritty, racing mindset was all over her face. Even when the lead team (was it Stevenson? I am blanking out for some reason...) came up on her, she looked over with that "Heck, naw!" look, and pulled along with the runner. Her splits were pretty even (30, 31, 34, 35, 49), but she will need to work on closing out the race strong. For her first 800 ever, I was impressed by her grit in the 3rd and 4th laps--the usual time a newbee panics and backs off due to the pain inherent to the 800. Overall, we finished an impressive 4th place and brought home some hardware.
We did not enter anyone in the 3200 today due to the small track size (only a 150), so our next athletes were in the open 800. Our two newbees Elyssa and Karen were in the same heat together. Karen got out hard, running in 2nd place for several laps, while Elyssa took a more conservative start, gliding along with the back of the pack. Both women were alert within the race, using their competition to help them push. In lap 3, the pack tried to move on Karen, but she worked with them in order to keep pushing when she was tired. In lap 4, a few runners were able to best her, but she did not fold like most newbees do; instead, she tucked behind them and drafted until she started her kick. Elyssa continued to pull along with the pack, using their energy to help pull her to a great time. Overall, these two women looked impressive for their first races of the season. I estimated that they would run in the 3:20s, and Karen finished in an impressive 3:09 (30, 34, 36, 37, 52) while Elyssa finished with a zesty 3:18 (32, 35, 37, 40, 54). Clearly these splits show that we will need to work on second-half strength; this problem is common for early season racing! What made me most happy was how both of these women kept fighting to compete from start to finish. With that kind of grit, the splits will get more even as these women get more fit.
Our next race of the day was the 1500 Medley (300-150-450-600). This is a weird race, but our squad handled the handoffs like experts and raced well. Kaylah (sprinter) started us off strong in the 300 lap, and handed off to Julien for a speedy 150. When Carmen took the baton, she took off hard, but like many of her teammates, she struggled to maintain her speed toward the end (28-29-34). That drop from the second to third lap is definitely an area for future growth. Carmen's form was impeccable for the whole race, and her handoff to Angie was good. Angie looked strong at the start, matching Carmen's opening lap (28, 30, 38, 35). Her third lap was off pace, though. Her kick, however, was fantastic. She pushed hard on the last lap, especially the last curve, to catch a competitor before the line. That kind of grit in the final meters is what we are looking for!
Our milers outperformed my expectations today, too. Victoria's goal was to go sub-7, and Daz's was to be sub 7:50; both smashed those goals. Victoria started out strong and ran pretty even splits throughout (34, 37, 38, 39, 38, 40, 38, 40, 40, 42, final 2/3 25). Victoria has always been great about running even splits, and this race was no different. The area for growth would be that 42 lap; at this point, she is in the final 300, yet that lap is her slowest. We will definitely work on kicking from further out so that she can close the way she wants to. She might have been able to work on the Wheeling athlete she was racing most of the time had she taken off at that point. The good news is that Victoria reached her goal by running a 6:51--a good start for her indoor season. Daz ran a similar pattern to Victoria (34, 38, 38, 41, 43, 43, 43, 45, 44, 46, 44 final 2/3 28). Much like Vic, she stayed pretty consistent throughout the race, with the exception of that anomaly of the 46 lap. She, too, needs to trust herself to kick from sooner out, but her lap time did drop a bit to a 44. There were two impressive parts of Daz's race: first, she did an outstanding job of using runners to help her push in the first part of the race; second, when she was alone, she stayed focused upon her goal. These two factors delivered a LIFETIME PR of 7:24! So proud of this runner! With that kind of focus, I know she can break 7 early in this season. Nice job to both of these milers!
Our final distance runner of the day was in the 4X400. Despite having to wait all meet to get a chance to contribute, Maya did not let the nerves of waiting spoil her performance. She spent most of the day watching and learning from her teammates, and then she wowed us with her 400 performance. We were seeded into a slower heat, which is too bad because I would like to see what this group can do when pushed by faster runners. Jada got out strong in a 75+ and handed off to Kaylah, who ran a strong leg in 73+. When Maya took the baton, our whole team went nuts watching her extend her team's lead and lap one of the other teams. Maya looked smooth and assertive the entire race, running a 67/68 quarter. Iman brought our relay home with an improved 78 over her previous open 400 from earlier. To run such a quick 400 indoors is very promising, so I look forward to watching Maya improve this race throughout the season!
Overall, we had a great day as a track team. Not only was the positivity important, but we were able to bring home some bling: our 4X800, the 4X 1 lap relay of Aja, Jayda, Mora, and Taija, as well as Mora in the triple jump (her first time in the pit this year), and a win for Jalah in the shot put. I look forward to us working hard to improve as a distance crew so that we can contribute to our overall team success.
Food for thought: Let's make learning names this week's focus. We cannot support one another if we don't know each other. Sit with someone new in Strickland's room. Introduce yourself. Let's make this team feel like family! #oneteameffort
FYI, the official results for this meet are on athletic.net. Let's set some goals based on these performances! :)