This marks week two of unseasonal temperatures. I am impressed with how well you have all done with hydrating and replenishing all week. Made easier by having a "bye" for our conference duals during the week, we were able to properly prepare for the hot temps on Saturday at the JT Invite. Mid-week, the Grant coach emailed to inform us all that the meet would be moved up by an hour and the order of races changed in order to avoid the hottest temperatures of the day. Since the course is new to us this season, we wanted to arrive early to scout the new locale. As we walked and ran the course, we were all pleased to see a true XC course, full of hilly opportunities to work on different racing tactics than we used at the flat Warren course last week.
Varsity Women: Thanks to the schedule change, this group enjoyed the easiest (although not easy) weather of the day. At the start, we got out well and looked great going up the hill for the first time. Kelsey was our first bee to emerge from the woods, and she was sitting in the low 20s place-wise. Julia, after getting out stronger than she has in past meets, looked confident and peppy--much more like the Julia of sophomore year. Maya was our third bee, looking strong, but a bit further back than I would have preferred. That being said, I would rather a more conservative start considering the weather; I cannot help but wonder if she knows how strong she is, especially after her amazing 1000s workout with Julia on Tuesday. Taylor, Cynthia, Steff, and Vic came through within steps of each other. Again, while I appreciate some patience on a hot day, this quad is significantly underestimating their collective and individual strength. Their times in the mid to upper 7s for the first mile does not match their true capabilities!
After the two-mile, Kelsey had moved up significantly in the race, putting herself in the low teens with a great opportunity to break into the top ten of the race. Much like many of her other successful meets, her ability to run even splits (6:39, 6:41, 6:39) allows her to make impressive moves on her sleeping competitors. By the race's end, she had secured the 10th spot overall (and a medal) by staying focused and kicking with authority. Julia ran more evenly today, which allowed her to match her finish time from last week's much easier course at Warren. If she can apply this same mindset to our home course on Tuesday, I know that her time, place, and overall race will be more in line with her long-term goals for this season. I need to give Julia a shout out for her impressive kick today; she used her speed strength to finish like I know she can! Her efforts earned her a ribbon today! Maya was our third finisher today. I was proud of her desire to move up to the Varsity race for the additional challenge today; I was also proud of her progressive kick. She looked strong coming into the finish field, and changed gears with every turn--nice work! Taylor eventually broke away from our group of four to be our fourth finisher on the day. Her splits were relatively even, and her kick was solid (although last week's was more impressive). Vic, Steff, and Cynthia all finished within seconds of each other. While they all had great kicks and ran even splits, I need all of these women to take the risk to TRULY race on Tuesday. I was really pleased to hear Steff speak up, and all of these four nod in agreement as we talked about our day in the locker room upon returning to school. Overall, I see so much potential with this group--I cannot wait to see what they come up with goal-wise after our talk.
Frosh/Soph Women: Last week, these women set an aggressive and positive tone for the meet when they all PRed at Warren. They attacked this race with the same mindset, but the warmer temps definitely stifled their attempts at another time drop. There were several moments that stood out during this race, however. First, Klyde's gutsy start was inspiring; she ignored her healing ankle and really went strong. Angie, too ran an aggressive start. Most impressive was Karen's start, however. Not only did she break her mile PR (8:53), but the look on her face was intense! She looked like she was on a mission and was not afraid to take a risk. The other two starts that stood out were Crizaber's (she looked great after nursing her arch issue this week) and Jayla's (her first three-mile race of the season after dealing with some issues with her feet!). Both these women threw caution to the wind and trusted their training--nice work!
Angie ran the most even race of the day, while Jayla did a great job between mile two and three. Crizaber had the best kick of this group, but Delilah and Ashley were not far behind in that department! Elyssa was affected least by the heat, with her time being closest to her PR. The big shout out needs to Karen: she earned the ONLY LPR of the day on the women's side. She did it by starting aggressively and working hard through the middle segments of the race--nice work! I continue to be impressed by the mindset and progress of this group, and I cannot wait to see them race at our home course.
Open Women: Our final group of the day faced the worst of the heat, but they did so with the best mindsets! During their warm up, they looked relaxed and focused, unphased by the rising temps. At the start, they got out strong. After the first loop, Di looked amazing in the top seven, and Carmen was not far behind. Naya was working hard behind Carm. All three women had great first mile splits, with Diana running the most even race of the group. Our 4th bee was Kate, who keeps improving by leaps and bounds each week. Not only did she run an even race, but she kept scrapping the whole way! Daz was not far behind her, using Kate's energy to propel her to a strong race. Alexia and Addy rounded out our group and looked focused the entire race. Out of this group, Di, Carm, and Kate all earned ribbons for their outstanding efforts. As I watched our girls on the hill and then heading into the woods, I was impressed by how EVERY SINGLE ONE allowed herself to be "coachable." They listened to their cheering teammates and coach, and used the positive suggestions to take action at that moment. ALL of you worked hard around the flag that took you into the "zig-zag" section leading into the woods. On the final loop, I saw Di pass a Lakes girl, Carm catch a pack, Naya reset her cadence, Kate catch a pack, Daz zoom the tangent, Alexia work to reset her breathing, and Addy work on her cadence. I was so impressed by the grit of this group while attacking the hill as well as the finish. Although the heat did not permit the times to reflect their efforts, I was very pleased with the mindset and approach of this group as a whole.
For the coming week, I invite you to do some soul searching. We gave out links this week, completed a Darwin run, and witnessed Vic passing the Courage Award to Janelle. As of this writing, we have completed six weeks together as a team. Where do we want to go from here? Do we want to continue focusing on individual PRs and supporting each other individually, or will this team truly come together as a united force? I have seen glimpses of what we can be: Oshkosh was the most cohesive and productive trip we have EVER had; many alums have come back to offer support (Karyn, Shayla, Jo, Lucas, Helen, to name a few!); the chemistry with this group is outstanding; and the new kids are hungry to learn from the veterans. What are we going to do with all of that energy and opportunity? Will we start TRULY racing for one another? Will we feel that authentic linked spirit? Will we dare to trust one another with big dreams? Will we trust ourselves enough to break out and accept the cost (temporary pain) for greatness (permanent pride)?
I invite you to show me your collective answer this week.