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!