@Shiloh Woods vs. Mundelein and Stevenson: I know many of you begged to differ, but the temperatures felt more manageable on Monday; unfortunately, the mercury rose again on Tuesday, leaving us with another hot race day. Our energy felt good coming out of the pre-race breakdown, and I looked forward to seeing some great racing. You did not disappoint. We faced an ever-improving Stevenson team (who looked impressive despite holding out their top runner, Isabelle Sparreo), and a young but strong Mundelein squad. We got out well as a group, and at the "Sectional Loop," I was impressed by your willingness to put yourselves in the race for real, but I knew that times would not be super-fast.
My favorite part of the race was watching you all work the Twilight Zone. It was fun to watch you all own the part of the course that we have worked so hard this summer and fall. Without exception, I witnessed you pick it up by the duck pond go-zone, and I SO pumped as you all rounded the corner back into the woods just beyond the volleyball courts, because you all took that turn as an opportunity to shake up your pace and race. This kind of mid-race focus is what created gritty outcomes today. I am proud of you all for taking a risk!
While I was proud of our collective effort, I'd like to highlight a few particular racers from today. First, we had FIVE women pop LPRs today: Naya by 42 seconds; Delilah by 4 seconds; Jayla by 1:28; Karen by 1:27; and Ashley by a whopping 2:20! These women were able to drop time despite the warm temps--so proud of you all! Maya, Janelle, Diana, Kate, Lindsey, and Charmaine were all within 15 seconds of their lifetimes today. Again, to be that close to a lifetime in these conditions is impressive!
As I mentioned at practice, what I really want to focus upon for the remainder of the season is gritty racing. As we roll into the championship part of the season, times matter less and places matter far more. While you all raced well, there were a few people who really stood out to me today. First, Steff looked much more like the racer I know she can be today. She surged well in the Twilight Zone, and she had a great kick. Nice work! At two points, Diana looked stronger than she has all season: crossing the street just before the 2-mile, and coming out of the Sectional Loop for the last time. Coming down that hill, I saw a confidence in her eyes and a determination to catch some more runners going into the final kick. That focus and hunger is what every coach wants to see! Naya took a situation that could have blocked her from having a good day or race, and she turned it into fuel for a lifetime PR. She ran very even splits, but she did so because she had a laser-like focus for the entire race. She looked much more like the Naya of early summer: assertive, goal-oriented, and strong. Alexia, like Naya, turned a negative into a positive. After a tough race on Saturday, Alexia put her mindset back where it needs to be. She had a calm and business-like demeanor about her, and it allowed her to respond to the race as we both know she can, rather than let the mental side stifle the physical. It was a delight to witness! Jayla continues to improve with each race as she learns about her capabilities. She got out HARD and challenged herself to run with Karen and Crizaber. Despite an early-season setback with her feet, she has been using each race as an opportunity to prove her fitness and grit, and I appreciate the way she treats races with respect. I have to give a final shout out to Janelle for her gritty race today. The Mundelein coach came up to me post-race and asked about her; she said she was impressed to "see someone with all that tape push so hard." I could not agree more; as I watched her in the final sectional loop, I was almost breathless--I was stunned that she was able to will herself to race so hard for her team. And after she finished, I thought about the journey she has been on as a runner. To paraphrase her own words, she is not the same person she was as a freshman, when she barely understood what running was really about. Despite injury and surgery and countless other reasons to give up, she has given her all to this team. It makes sense that Victoria passed the Courage Award on to Janelle this past week.
I ask that you consider all of their mindsets as you prepare for your next race. If you are not getting chills when you are on the line because you are happy for the opportunity to race, then you are missing the point of our sport and our team. If when the gun sounds, you are not thankful that you have air in your lungs and blood surging through your heart, then you need to rethink your mindset. If you are not spending the entire race trying to catch one more girl or help your teammate pass one more pack or use the course to your advantage, then you need to think of these women.
A few other things on my mind:
1. I cannot tell you how impressed I was by our collective effort in the workout on Saturday. You all simply ROCKED the workout. You worked so well together, and I am so impressed by the times you were able to run. If you apply that same team-mindset to the next races, we are going to look amazing!
2. I am concerned about some of the nagging some of you are experiencing. After your run or bike ride today, please stretch well. Check out this video for stretching your psoas; it's a muscle that connects from your spine to the front of your hip. If it gets tight (which it is in most people due to the amount we sit each day), it can cause problems elsewhere, including shins, knees, and hips. Be mindful as you complete each stretch. Finish up with lots of water and great meals today. Help your body recover from yesterday's tough effort! Click here for the stretching routine.
3. I am impressed that we are doing so well academically. There can be NO breaks, though. Keep being attenditve in class, planning ahead for homework and studying, and balancing your assignment completion with a consistent bedtime. As always, if you need help, please see me, one of the other coaches, or one of the seniors. We want you to do well in your classes! :)
4. Last, but not least, bee on the lookout for how your teammates are doing in workouts and meets. Let's lift each other up and give specific, positive feedback when it is due! #linked4life
5. I will hand out invitations to Sterling on Tuesday.