Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Yes, the times are not amazing from this race, but what is most important is that you rose to the occasion despite two obstacles. First, this course is a true cross-country course: it requires the racer to deal with hills, various terrains, turns and more hills. You all dealt with this challenge with ease--I loved watching people capitalize upon the downhills and set their faces with focus to attack the uphills. The second challenge was also a physical and mental one. The heat and humidity were rude, but you all stepped up to handle the situation. There were no complaints at the starting line, and there was no drama at the finish line--that's just how I like the meet to be. In the middle, we had some gutsy racing. Usually Libertyville rolls a perfect score on us (for those of you who are new, that means that they earn a 15 and push us to a 50--they win 1st-7th places). Today was different because Julia broke up their pack. I believe we can put more of us in their mix by the end of the season, though. Warren still beat us, this time by 7 points; that was without Jocelyn and Shayla, though...put them in the mix, and I think we can take them!
There were a few other highlights for the day: Naya finished her first XC race and looked amazing; Sam ran a season PR in a show of toughness; Taylor stepped up to score for Varsity; and Tianna and Helen made their season debuts with strong efforts!
Overall, I was pleased with the mindset and effort of our team today. I know that the heat was tough to overcome--there were several other conference teams that cancelled their meets today. Let's keep moving forward, but let's remember that the next time we run at Adler, conditions will be MUCH easier!
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Due to the weather, the order of races was changed--Varsity and Frosh/Soph swapped spots to ensure decent course conditions for the Varsity race. Our Varsity 6 got out well, and our pack was united at the 800. In the woods we broke up, though, and by the start of the second loop, there were significant gaps. Rumor has it that the course is now 3.1 due to mowing changes, but that does not completely explain the drop in our third mile splits. After the success of negative-split workouts this season, I KNOW we can close better with some more focus in this last mile. Let's make that the goal on our course on Tuesday. Overall, I was pleased with our effort; it was a solid team race. I am waiting to see what kind of statement you are willing to make when we head home. It was great to see Jo back in action, Shayla finishing strong, Julia and Mary taking command, Janelle gritting it out for her girls, and Jacqueline fighting so hard at the finish.
The Frosh/Soph women got out strong and competed well. Kaila was our leader for the day, running a really strong first mile in 7:02. Steff was not far behind, looking strong going up the hill after the 800. Victoria and Carmen both did a great job of getting to the outside and zooming around the crowds. Sarah and Diana worked really well together early in the race, and Emily and Daz were not far behind. Emily ran the most even splits of the day, and her efforts paid off with a new LIFETIME PR of 25:28--awesome job! Daz also earned a new LIFETIME PR by 5:19--ridiculous! Way to go, Daz! :) Sarah also stepped up to race a partial. Overall, I was really impressed by the finishes in this group: despite sloppy conditions in the final stretch, you all looked aggressive and competitive. Really proud of you all!
I have to reserve my biggest kudos for the women of the Open Race. When the 5 minute whistle sounded, the wind picked up dramatically, and the rain ceased to be refreshing. When the official started waving off the starting line, I could only assume he was saying sweats-off. My shock has yet to abate that he was signalling that the meet was over. Never in my 20+ years of coaching have I ever heard of a meet being called off for MUD. There was one time Wauconda was cancelled in advance because the course was flooded. And there was one time we had to shut things down due to lightning. That's it. I still cannot understand why the decision was made, but what matters most was how these women reacted. While other teams inexplicably cheered, our women were angry, shocked, and unwilling to accept their fate. So when I suggested that we run anyway, I knew that my words would be received well. I called the start, and our women were OFF. Our pack got out hard to the cheers of our team and other true cross-country fans. Lainey absolutely stepped up--not only did she run a season PR with hardly any competition (there were a few other teams that started to "race", but not at the same time as us), but she also looked confident and strong the whole way. This race shows that she is capable of running more even splits and racing hard despite tough conditions. Taylor had a great start, too, going sub-7 in the mud! Tianna looked strong in the first mile, too, with Ashley and Takyra not far behind. Sam had an aggressive start, as did Naya and Meghan. The finishes in this race were outstanding--each woman had a determined look on her face, and ran aggressively to the line--the same line that the officials said was too dangerous to run on. Sam ran another season PR today, despite the longer and very sloppy course--great work! Ashley finished her first race of the season after some knee issues--an impressive feat in this mushy course! Overall, this group raced well and took suggestions well as they raced. I also love that each runner in this group took pride in racing--that's what every coach dreams of! I can't say enough how PROUD I am of the grit of this group--you embody what cross-country is all about!
Let's take the courage and grit of today and translate it into great team races on our course on Tuesday.