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!