Unlike most years in the past, this Deerfield Triangular was marked by cool breezes and easy skies, making conditions for our first meet of the year more than cooperative. I am happy to report that our team seized this great opportunity and earned some impressive performances.
2-Mile: Only one of our competitors in this race has any high school XC racing experience, so I was elated to watch them warm up, ask questions, and compete. As we warmed up and discussed the course, I could feel the nervousness in the group; once the gun sounded, however, I knew that they would be ok. The group had a great start, listening to my advice to start conservatively and then work to catch other runners. Maya was our first through the mile with an impressive split of 6:49. Sarah "Blue" D. wasn't far behind, working hard to run a lifetime PR in the 2-mile. In her XC debut, Crizaber looked outstanding as our third runner for the day, running a smart second half of her race. Noel also looked strong as our fourth runner, finishing with a great kick. Kate rounded out our scoring five with a strong kick as well. Despite some arch issues, Jayla looked focused throughout her race and finished strong. Elyssa ran an outstanding first mile, and finished by closing hard on Jayla in the final loop. Delilah ran a strong first mile as well and showcased an outstanding kick to the finish. Karen looked outstanding in the last loop, catching several runners before the kick. Freshie Sarah courageously tackled this race after only a few days of practice, and looked great doing so! Lindsey, after a strong start, finished with a nice kick. Ashley courageously finished her first race with the help of her teammates. I am proud to report that this very young and inexperienced group embraced a ZB racing tradition: not a single runner dropped to the ground or acted dramatic at the finish line. Each woman gave her all, and then walked out of the chute with her head held high. This is the kind of strength I expect from every race; we are NOT drama queens--we are runners! Overall, there were A LOT of lessons learned in this race. During Saturday's workout, I could see the growth already! My biggest goal for this group is to start working on more even splits. Many of you had over a minute drop between the first and second mile, with the exception of Maya. Take note of her finish place--her ability to run only 14 seconds slower in her second mile illustrates her fitness as well as her mental strength; those two assets translate into a great time and finish! We will work on pacing, and you will only get stronger as we continue training. I know that this young group will be ready for their first 3-mile race on Wednesday, and I cannot wait to see it!
3-Mile: Although we were not at full-strength due to the twins' absence for their brother's wedding, we still looked great as a team. Twelve women toed the line for us in this race, and I could feel the nervous anticipation of the gun; once it sounded, I was really proud that our team followed our race plan: start at PPM pace and then race the second and third miles. Kelsey, Steff, and Cynthia looked great running three-across during the first part of the race. Kelsey emerged as our leader, running negative splits in order to chase down several Deerfield and Warren runners. She took 3rd overall after a gritty race, running 6:47, 6:48, and 6:35. Like Maya in the 2-mile, even and negative splits are the way to a more competitive race! I'm really proud of Kelsey's second-half mindset; she kept working to pass people when she was the most tired, and she was rewarded with a 6:35 split and a lifetime PR! Cynthia ran pretty even splits, but her middle mile (7:17) is where Kelsey pulled away. She was able to bring it back down to a 7:14, but I know that these times will continue to fall. That being said, Cynthia also ran a lifetime PR of 21:27--nice work! Steff was clearly still feeling the long run during this race, while she went out in a nice time of 6:50 with her pack, her middle and last miles-- 7:58 and 7:52--is uncharacteristic of her training this summer. I know she was disappointed by her time, but she earned a new lifetime PR by 7 seconds; even with a sub-par performance, she easily bested her best sophomore performance. I know that she will look fresher for our meet on Wednesday--she already looked much stronger during Saturday's workout. Vic was our next finisher, running a solid race, especially in the latter stages. Her splits were all in the sevens, with her second being the slowest. Watching the race, her second mile looked fast, as she was consistently passing people. She moved up significantly within our team, and helped rally her teammates. Her final time was a lifetime PR by over a minute (1:14) and significantly faster than her Bee Linked performance this summer. I know that she will continue to improve as she gains more experience. Taylor rounded out our scoring five with a great season PR of 23:12. She looked positive the whole race, working well with Diana to catch Warren and Deerfield. That middle split of 8:15 was her only weak spot, but I know that she will work on it, as evidenced by her strong work on Saturday in both segments of the workout. Diana ran with Taylor for most of the race, starting with a very strong 7:12--an impressive open that will eventually become part of what she does without the second mile dip. She smashed her Bee Linked performance and set a new lifetime PR of 23:23--over a 2 minute drop from her sophomore year. If these two keep working together, I cannot wait to see what they can do to help our Varsity squad! Carmen rounded out our Varsity Seven for the day, running a season PR of 24:21. She looked focused the entire way, especially during her sprinter kick! Like her teammates, she needs to work on her focus during the second mile (8:38) in order to drop her time to earn a new lifetime.
Angie and Naya worked together during the middle of the race, working to pass Deerfield runners. Angie's improvements since last year are a testament to hard work and dedication. During track season, she learned how to race and improved her fitness. Her finish time of 25:48 smashes her freshman PR by over 5 minutes and her Bee Linked effort by almost 3 minutes. Her kick was outstanding, and I cannot wait to see where she goes this season! Naya did not let Angie go, finishing only a second behind her. Naya is starting to look sharp again, and I am excited to see how much she improves in the next race; attacking that second mile will make huge difference and get her back in the neighborhood of her LPR. Klyde ran her first ever XC race and looked positive the whole way. Her fitness is improving, as proven by her solid last mile split. Like Naya, if she can tackle that middle mile with more focus, she will see huge drops. Alexia looked sharp in her first XC race since her surgery. Like her teammates, her middle split is hurting her overall time. Her experience will help her focus on that weak spot, and I anticipate a stronger middle mile at Lake County. That being said, her time was outstanding for her first XC race back, and I cannot wait to see where she goes this season! In the absence of the twins, her leadership today was invaluable; with so many newbees, her veteran experience helped make the meet go smoothly. Adellie was our final bee in the 3-mile race. In her ZBXC debut, she ran a lifetime PR despite a missed turn on the course and a resulting back track. Thankfully, Lake County is a well-marked course, so I look forward to getting good data split-wise for her on Wednesday! As is, her middle mile looks to be the trouble spot for her, and it will be the focus for Wednesday.
Overall, this group created an outstanding starting point for this season. We lost to a very deep and experienced Deerfield team, but we bested Warren by two points, thanks to Kelsey's strong performance up front and the grit of our other runners. Cynthia, Vic, and Taylor all beat their matching runner from Warren, and Diana "pushed" up Warren's score by beating Warren's scoring #5. That kind of teamwork is what it will take for us to do great things later in the season. On Saturday, I already saw efforts to continue improve; not only did our teamwork look amazing, but the mental grit in the second half of the workout was impressive. Everyone hit or beat their targets and looked sharp doing so. Nice work, women!
For this week, please remember my advice about sleep. You no longer have the summer luxury of an afternoon nap to supplement your recovery; you must commit to a habit of going to sleep at the same time each night to help boost your immune system and aid your recovery as we head into a week with two significant races. I'm going to be preaching about sleep all season, but it is a hidden commitment; you have to make the smart decision when no one is looking. #beelinked
I am proud of this very young team, and I cannot wait to see what we can do this season!