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!