Saturday, October 22nd--IHSA Regional @ Adler Park (Libertyville):
To be a great runner, it is imperative to invest time and energy and faith. It requires physical and mental and emotional growth. And the difficult part is that it doesn't always pay off the way we want.
Back in June, we started a journey together. We had a small but dedicated group of summer runners. And as the group's fitness started to show, we started to get excited. The size of our group didn't matter...the fight and the focus did. In PPM workouts, the power of the pack was evident. Together, we were achieving far more in the summer than we did all season last fall. By the time Oshkosh rolled around, we were breaking more boundaries: the previous records for Garbage Hill and the DMR weren't just broken--they were decimated by multiple teams. The previous long run was now replaced with a 13.1. The positive energy between the men's and women's teams was evident in our work. And we started to dream big.
At the first race at Deerfield, I simply could not contain my joy as I watched the pack work. We looked like real racers because we looked confident and strong. And as the season progressed, we kept tearing up negative workouts and growing as a team in races. At home, we looked like a team on a mission. Elsewhere, we dropped time and kept looking for ways to improve.
And at the Regional, I was proud to see the way you all raced. Even though it was clear that the outcome was not the one we wanted, not a single one of you gave up. Julia clearly had the race of the day; not only did she work well with Jo in the first mile, but she also kept her aggression throughout, which resulted in an impressive 40 second drop over her time from just the week before. Jo had a great start and a great finish. Jacqueline, Mary, and Lainey worked well together in the first part of the race, and Jack and Mar kept that energy for most of the race. And although Lainey lost those two, I watched her keep trying to pick off runners in the latter stages of the race. Shayla and Taylor started strong together, and Shayla moved up to help as our 5th runner. While it hurts to have the team effort cut short, we were simply beaten by faster teams. And while these next few days will continue to sting, we can rejoice in the progress of the season; we can celebrate the fact that Julia will represent our team at the Sectional; and we can take pride in the fact that we were willing to dream big dreams.
The sting is the risk. If in June and July, we were satisfied with people showing up when they could...if in August we said we didn't care how the race at Deerfield went...if all season we were satisfied with good enough...then this Regional would have been more of the same. But this season we were different: we set high expectations for the season, and we chased the dream with all of our energy.
So what do we do with this hurt and frustration? Alfred Tennyson wrote "In Memoriam A.H.H." to sort out his pain from the sudden death of his dear friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. And while we have not lost each other, the dedication of a season creates an important relationship. The line that helps me most is, "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," or as I said on Saturday..."I'd rather go out swinging." I take solace in the fact that you were all willing to give it a shot. That your character is such that you believe in beeing linked. That your work ethic is such that you kept each other accountable to a higher standard than last year. That your pride is such that this ending does sting...but that you will use it to fuel you in track and future endeavors.
Let's take our energy and put it into Julia this week. Let's show her that our dedication to our goals is still real, and that we want her to have a great sectional race. We will do it by pushing her on the sharpening workout this week. We will do it by surrounding her in the power of the pack during CT days. We will do it by being in every corner of the course on Saturday. We will do it by being what we have been all season long.
I'd like to give a shout out to Kaila and Alexia for getting splits and supporting our runners. I'd also like to thank Victoria, Ashley, Karyn, Janelle, Steff, Naya, Meghan, and Tianna for making the course feel like home with their positivity and enthusiasm for our runners. All of you could have stayed in bed, but your willingness to be there for your teammates speaks volumes about your dedication and your true linkedness. (Yes, that's a word). :) I really appreciate all of you!
I'll just close by saying what is so true this season: I am proud to be your coach. Thank you for restoring the tradition of greatness of this team, and thanks for all the fun in between. It has been a great season!