Saturday, October 27th--Hoffman Estates Sectional @ Busse Woods
After an outstanding week of practice, I knew that Vic and Kelsey were as ready as possible for the battle at Busse. Looking at the times from other Regionals as well as the good weather, I knew that this would be a fast Sectional. While a speedy race might intimidate some runners, I felt confident that Vic and Kelsey would rise to the occasion and roll with the competition--they had used speedier people all week (at practice at Busse as well as in their 400s ) to help propel them to faster work.
So why couldn't I sleep on Friday night? I mean, Friday morning was great--complete with the inspirational words from the only Zee-Bee woman to ever qualify for State in our history--Kim Johnson, class of 1992. (More on her in a blog to come!) I knew that the locker room was ready for them in the morning. I knew that there were letters from multiple people for the bus ride. I knew that our two runners had done the right things all week--soaked up the experience, pushed and rested when appropriate, made sleep and recovery a priority, ate like champs, and prepared mentally every day. I think it boiled down to the fact that I simply could not wait to watch them race!
In the morning, I was elated to see the hallway FULL of bees who had dedicated their Saturday morning to helping their fellow runners do great things. Our bus ride was further bolstered by letters from alums (shout out to Coach Wynn, c/2011, Bailey, c/o 2012, and Alex, c/o 2018) for putting to paper their support. And thanks to Janelle, Julia, and Alexia for texting in their encouragement. And thanks to Collin, c/o 2018 for making the drive down to the course to yell in person! I could see that our runners were focused and definitely feeling all the love.
When we arrived at the course, I was happy to see that our box was on the same side as last year. This is a course where the starting boxes really don't matter much, but I knew the familiarity would be a boost for Kelsey, who competed here last year. After getting chips and bibs all ready, Kelsey and Vic headed out for the warm up, flanked by Diana, Carmen, Kaila, and Steff. When I returned from the coaches' meeting, the restlessness I felt the night before was allayed; I could feel the calm coming from Vic and Kelsey, and it set me at ease. As they finished up dynamic and some strides, I knew they were ready for great races. And as they were surrounded by their teammates in the breakdown, I knew that everything was in their favor: they had fans who would be everywhere to keep them awake, the weather was, to use Kaila's word: PERFECT, the course was incredible shape, and their mindsets were in a great place. Before they started, I was dreaming big dreams, but my B goal for each woman was for Kelsey to run sub-18:30, and for Vic to run sub-20:30. I felt confident about both of those goals; little did I know that each woman would blow those expectations out of the water.
When the gun sounded, our bees got out great, and then I saw some sort of trouble about 75 meters out. I could tell that someone had stumbled, but I would not know until after the race that one of the Prospect girls had fallen, and Kelsey and Vic both had to hurdle/push through others to avoid trampling the runner. Our bees kept their poise, though, perhaps from their experience at Warren earlier in the season, or perhaps because their focus could not be interrupted.
As I headed up the hill, I could see the bright pink sleeves of Kelsey in good position, and then Vic's as well. I was excited about their excellent starts, and I was losing my mind when I saw their faces up close. Kelsey looked focused and comfortable despite her fast pace; Vic looked locked into the group she was trying to catch, and did not look like the pace was a struggle. When they rolled through the mile (thanks Mario and Brandon for getting splits!), they both were on a hot pace: Kelsey came through in 5:42, only seconds off her lifetime PR for the mile; Victoria was in the same situation with a 6:20. Post-race, they both reported that the times did not intimidate them; instead, it made them feel strong and excited about the prospects for their overall races.
Although each runner did slow for mile two, they did not lose their positions. Each time I saw Kelsey, she was battling with the Prospect pack as well as a Grant runner and Raina from Warren. Vic was passing girls from Stevenson and Mundelein, working to move up in the pack she was in. Each time they came down the hill, they both used the momentum to push along the lake. Kelsey came through the 2-mile in 11:57 (split 6:15)--a new lifetime 2-mile PR! And Vic? She was running a parallel race: she rolled through in 13:21 (split 7:01)--also a new lifetime 2-mile PR! With this kind of momentum, I knew that we were in for big PRs for overall times.
I saw the girls coming up the hill along the road for their last loops. Kelsey looked so strong and was working to pull back up to Raina from Warren. Her head and eyes were up, and she looked ready for a great last drive. Vic looked so strong, listening as I yelled for her to drive up the hill. I dashed across to the lake, and saw that each bee was pushing hard. When I yelled their times, I could see each perk up even more and drive to extend their kicks. When Kelsey came around with 300 to go, she was pushing hard, mirroring her great kick at Conference only two weeks before. Victoria did the same, driving her arms and pushing all the way to the finish.
I found Vic first in the thick crowd outside the finish. She looked happy, amazed, and spent all in the same moment. I was so proud of her gutsy race. She had exceeded my expectations, finishing with a LIFETIME PR of 20:09 (split 6:48--a nice refocus for that last mile), and finishing in 119th place at the speediest sectional I can remember in some time. Honestly, there is not a single point where I saw her unfocused--she ran an incredible race! Focused, strong races result in PRs...and hers was a 39 second drop. What an awesome way to conclude her three-year career as a ZBXCer! For some perspective, she started her career as a sophomore (some people take a year to see the light!). In her first race as a ZB on Deerfield's flat course, she ran 28:31. That first season, she finally dipped just under 24 on our home course, a great progression as a first year runner. And yes, she improved as a junior, helping our team in some Varsity races and running solidly in the 22s for most of the season. But this Sectional race...it showed her progression as a senior. She overcame some mental blocks in order to grow all season long. She pushed herself in workouts in order to make her recovery days faster, and she ended in 20:09. THIS is what I mean when I talk about staying uncomfortable and seeking growth. Congrats on an incredible season and career, Vic! I am so proud of your gutsy and intense race!
Kelsey's race was equally courageous. After missing over two weeks of running due to a foot injury, I knew that Kelsey's confidence was not the same as it had been post-LPR at Warren. But I also knew that Kelsey had done all the little things right--she pushed on the bike and in the pool, she was dedicated to her rehab routine, and she had put together two nice races at Conference and Regional. I also had seen the light in her eyes after Tuesday's workout on the course. She had run a fast time and recovered within 90 seconds. She looked effortless that day, so I knew she had more to give on race day. Most importantly, she has a knack for rising to racing expectations; she does not let competition intimidate her--instead, she uses what some may see as pressure as a way to create more energy for herself. So when I found her post-race, I was excited to celebrate her huge PR of 18:07 (split 6:09--a great drop for her final mile). For some perspective, Kelsey broke 19 only one time last year--at the speedy Lake Forest Regional--and one time this year--at the Warren Invite--before her injury. Additionally, this new PR was a MINUTE faster than her race at the same course the year before. We use times to measure what we see--and Kelsey's race LOOKED great. She battled the whole time, did not give way after getting out harder than she has all year, and finished with a great kick. Honestly, I am floored that she was able to run so fast, and it is a testament to her focus and flexibility to overcome injury.
Overall, I had SO much fun today. There is no greater gift to a coach than for her runners to rise beyond expectations and to make their most important race sing. This Sectional was a masterpiece--both women walked away feeling that they had given every ounce. Their times proved it. And every witness (and we had 29 of them, plus coaches) saw the beauty of it. When Kelsey and Vic were swarmed by their teammates at the finish, everyone was excited for what they had just seen!
Whenever a season comes to a close, I cannot help but evaluate what I can do better because I want our team to keep growing. So here are my thoughts for the future:
1. Now that our weight room is almost complete, we are going to refocus on strength. I did not do a good enough job of adapting to this obstacle this summer, and I believe many of our injuries were a result of strength issues. Plan to be lifting in Polar Club, track, and this summer.
2. Expand our work on flexibility and mindfulness. I have just finished reading two excellent books by Erin Taylor about yoga and mindfulness training. We will be working more of these elements into our training to make us more well-rounded, body and mind.
3. Recruiting and connecting. I said it during the season, and I'll say it again--we have never had this many people quit during a season before. It is my goal to keep our team numbers up. Those of you who love this sport and team--you are my best recruiters. You are the ones who need to reach out and find people who share our values. You are the ones who need to wrap your arms around the newbees who are scared and sore and out of shape. I need you to help keep our team strong!
4. We are on the edge of something great. We had SO many people grow this season and drop incredible amounts of time. And yes, we had quite a few people quit, but we also had a dedicated core who simply GET IT. Core, I need you. I need you to see the races from Sectionals and get hungry. I need you to look at the stats on Athletic.net and see all the growth from this season and get ready for more. I feel so satisfied with Kelsey and Vic's performances, but I am equally ready for more during track and next XC season!
See you all at Fall Awards Night--let's celebrate the greatness in you all! Wednesday, November 14th at 7:30. We will start in the main gym, and then we will finish the evening with our XC family in the Courtyard Cafeteria.
Saturday @ Adler Park--IHSA Regional:
We knew what we were up against for the regional--it was going to take a perfect effort as well as another team's faltering in order for us to advance to the Sectional as a team. And all week, we worked hard, both physically and mentally, to prepare for our challenge on Saturday. I was proud of the way you all tackled the course on Tuesday. You all seemed to have an optimism about how to attack it on race day. And then during breakfast on Friday morning, there was just an easy joy among you as you laughed and ate. That easygoing attitude flowed into Saturday morning...the energy on the bus was positive, and it was the same as you headed off to warm up. As we circled up before the race, I could see that you were ready, and I was proud of the progress of this team. Many of you have stepped up into roles you were not expecting this season, and I knew that the race would be another learning moment for this team.
At the gun, the group was off well, unencumbered by the narrowing of the course. At the 800 mark, Kelsey was almost 20, Vic was in the early 40s, and the majority of our pack was working together to move up. Unlike the boys' race, ours seemed to get out very aggressively, and all of our bees adjusted well. Heading into the mile, Kelsey had moved up to 17, Vic had moved to the front of the group she was running with. Karen was our #3 and was working hard to move up to the next pack of runners. Marisa was not far behind, working toward Karen, and Kaila was doing the same to catch Marisa. Carmen looked focused as she surged into the woods, and Steff was working on an HP girl and Waukegan girl. When I saw our girls again by the river, both Kelsey and Vic had moved up considerably. I was impressed by how Karen and Kaila used the gradual downhill to catch people, too. Marisa looked tight, but then opened as all her teammates cheered for her, and she too pushed down the hill. Carmen's form looked impeccable as she coasted down the path, and Steff rallied at the cheers of her team. In the final loop, I was impressed by everyone's focus; however, it was clear to me that we did not have enough today to surprise any of the teams ahead of us. After watching some gutsy finishes, especially Marisa's where she outkicked a girl from Waukegan, I was eager to talk with our team. In our circle, we talked about what went well: using the course to stay awake; catching girls in the latter parts of the race; kicking with guts; using our teammates' energy to help fuel our work.
I knew Kelsey was far enough up to earn a spot at the Sectional, but I was worried about Vic; although she had worked hard, I was not sure about the 6th place team, so she was on the bubble for advancing. When the results were finally posted well after the finish of the boys' race, I held my breath as I flipped to the second page. Elation is not a strong enough word to describe my emotions as I saw Vic's name in bright yellow highlighting. As I ran up to tell her, I could see her initial shock, then joy as the great news sank in. I was stoked to see her teammates celebrate this great news with her, and I was equally happy to know that Kelsey would have a fellow bee on the starting line at Busse.
I need you all to know how proud I am of you. You fought hard in a tough race--both course and competition. You kept yourselves positive to give yourselves the best possible chance. And you used your resources throughout the race--time and time again, I watched you feed off the energy of our fans, and it was awesome to watch!
So where do we go from here? First, we take some time celebrating Kelsey and Victoria's accomplishment! Their efforts continue our trend since 2001--that we have qualified individuals or a team every year! They both battled hard all season and in the race in order to become Sectional Qualifiers, and I'm so proud of them both! This is Kelsey's second time qualifying, which shows her continued commitment to racing hard. And this is Victoria's first time qualifying, which shows her faith in the growth mindset. Way to go, women! :)
This coming week, we will support them as they prepare for the Sectional at Busse. Unlike Adler, the sectional course is relatively flat. It is a simple course: just a mile loop repeated three times. It is very spectator friendly--most of the course can be seen at once. The only problem is that SO many fans show up, that the crowd can be four to five people deep, especially at the finish, which makes seeing the runners difficult at times. We are going to try to check the course out on Tuesday (just waiting to hear about spirit bus availability). On race day, our mission is to watch and learn as much as possible. We have most of our team returning, and our goal needs to be that we make it as a team in 2019. Please--watch and learn!
Before I close, I need to thank the bus FULL of fans who helped our team with their love and support. Shout out to Jayla and Crizaber who were among the first and most helpful to arrive--they moved all the gear out to the hallway by themselves; thank you for your selflessness! Thanks to Maya and Nathalie for their help with chips and times; their diligence makes my job so much easier! There were plenty of fans who were spread out to cheer their heads off: Jenni, Sirrenda, Delilah, Loula, Claudia, Ashley, Melanie, Di, and Jenna. It was beautiful to have your warmth, positivity, and selflessness here to share the joy of the day. Thank you--I appreciate you all! And finally, thanks to the alums who came out to cheer, too: Cynthia and Julia. You two have made a lasting impact on this team, and it is evident by the way that they reacted when they saw you show up! We have had a lot of alum support this season: Janelle planned to come to Sterling before it was cancelled; Ana joined us for practice; Alexia joined us for a meet; and countless others have sent their well-wishes! #linkedforlife :)
Saturday-North Suburban Conference Meet @ VHAC (Stevenson):
After a powerful week of running, I woke on Saturday with excited anticipation of what you would do race-wise. How could I be anything but stoked after the awesome mile time trial, the 400s despite the rain, and the speedy power from Thursday. When we arrived at the course, it felt less than speedy; not only had the rain rendered some sections a sloppy mess, other parts were really soft. But I knew that despite the course, you would rise to the occasion. The energy as our first group--Varsity--headed to the line was focused and positive. Our pack got out well, and after the tennis courts, Kelsey was already in All-Conference position--17th place. Vic was in the mid-40s. The rest of our pack was toward the back of the race, but upon my prompting, Karen started moving up, along with Kaila and Marisa, and Carm was not far behind. Di, Delilah, Jenna, and Steff all worked together to move up as well.
Our overall times were solid, and I was happy with the effort I saw on the back stretch as well as on kicks. Specifically, a shout out is in order for Kelsey. This is her first race since Warren, and she looked fabulous. After only a few days of running on solid ground, she got out hard in 6:14, closed on a few people in the second loop (6:39), and finished strong with (to paraphrase her words) the best kick of her career, which allowed her to hold off a charging Jacklyn Hernandez of Waukegan. She finished in 12th, a significant improvement over her finish at Conference last year. Her race revealed her grittiness; not only did she have the courage to go out hard, despite limited workouts this week, she also worked through her doubts to create an impressive race! We are proud of you, Kelsey! Vic also looked great today--she got out harder than last time she ran this course, and moved up significantly in her second and third laps. She finished in 37th, which means that she caught almost 10 people in the middle of the race. Her workouts and races recently indicate that she is ready for an even faster race. I know that if she can focus on mile two as well as the kick, she will put together the race that we both know she is capable of! That being said, this race was important because she took some risks that she never took before. Specifically, I saw her make some nice moves to pass on the mini-hill as well as on the back stretch heading into the tennis courts. She has progressed so much as a racer this year--I am proud of her growth! Karen was our third finisher, and she, too had a solid race...only seconds from her lifetime PR. She looked smoother than in previous races, and her focus was evident on her face. That being said, she ran along with Vic all track season, and I'd like to issue a challenge for her to rise to that level again. With the evidence of her new LPR for the mile, I know she can get out a bit harder and take a risk with Victoria; she definitely has the strength to hang on in the latter miles, as evidenced by her hard work this summer and fall. Food for thought! Similarly, Marisa, our fantastic freshie, was only a beat behind Karen in the mile time trial. Although her time was solid today, she too has more in the tank. I can see how much she is learning each race, and I was impressed by her open-mindedness during the Sterling weekend. The regional provides an opportunity for her to take a risk and run with Karen to see what make a statement for her team. Kaila was not far behind Marisa; she told me post-race that the the muddy conditions were not favorable for her knee, and that she was a bit tentative after the first loop. That being said, she still ran a 3 second SPR in these conditions. The good news is that it is supposed to be dry all this week. Although Libertyville's course is challenging, mud should not be a factor on Saturday. I think the course will play into Kaila's strength. She has a strong base from running as a freshman as well as playing soccer for most of her life, so I look forward to her taking a risk with her racemates! Carmen, like Kelsey, has been battling a sore foot for some time now. This week, she seemed to be on the comeback, with her foot feeling better than it has in a while. The mushy conditions made it a bit difficult on her, though. She found herself in a no-man's land: not in contact with Kaila's pack, yet ahead of Di and our other pack. I offer her the same challenge for the regional: take a risk and go with Kaila. Di had her first race back after being sick. She looked stronger than she has looked all week, attacking the mini-hills and using the downsides to work on people around her. Her finish time was in the neighborhood of her SPR, and it was good to see her back in action! Jenna, Delilah, and Steff all leaned on one another today to keep focused. Their splits were very similar, and they finished within seconds of one another. I know that the sophomores definitely helped Steff out as she pushed through significant hip pain, likely exacerbated by the soft ground. Watching these three work together and keep each other accountable was beautiful; not only did they change the lead several times, but I could see them staying focused throughout. Nice work, women!
Now, on a soft course like this, it is more common to have more difficulty to maintain an even pace; not only did the squishy ground require more energy to propel yourself forward, but each time the racers circled the course, they tore up the ground even more. On the flip side, however, a mile-loop course normally allows for even splits since the terrain remains constant for each mile. Considering all of this, our second lap splits were too pokey. I know all of our runners were working hard, but the time differences between the first and second lap indicate that we were not quite focused enough, especially because almost all of you were able to bring the last lap down significantly. Let's use that info as a point of emphasis for next week at Adler. To be clear, Libertyville's course is vastly different than Stevenson's, but we can still apply the lesson: mile two must be a focus. After looking at the stats of other teams from our regional, I have concluded that there are five teams who are very likely to make it out. By my estimation, the sixth team spot is wide open. If you look here, you can see my predictions. The green teams are the ones I believe (based upon their previous performances) will likely advance to the sectional at Busse. I have highlighted individuals who have a chance, but that will be determined by the sixth advancing team. Honestly, our group has been improving by leaps and bounds each week. With Kelsey back in the mix, and the rest of you staying hungry, I offer up a challenge: Could you be the ones who break our drought of advancing to the Sectional as a team? Keep in mind that times DO NOT MATTER for the purpose of advancing. I offer the times to give you a reference as to what they have done during the year. The only thing that matters on Saturday is place, which leads to team points.
Our group was ready to take care of business after watching the other races. I loved the positive energy on the starting line, and the races did not disappoint! Jayla took the early lead for our group, getting out sub-8 for the first mile and looking assertive every time she passed me. Her form looked impeccable: tall, strong, and focused. She caught several sleepy runners on the second loop, and her finish was outstanding; she used the momentum of the last mini-hill to propel her onto the path. In her words, paraphrased, she kept accelerating until the last stretch, where she kicked harder than she has in the past. It earned her a new LPR by a whopping 52 seconds. Honestly, it was great to see her looking so strong after her back issues mid-season. I am so proud of her progress this season, and I am challenge her to plan her work schedule around summer running camp next summer--I know that she has the tenacity to make the Varsity squad next year! Really proud of your race, Jayla! :) Angie was our second bee for the race. She had a great start, too, and was actually ahead of Jayla for the first mile. She experienced a cramp in the second loop, but she overcame the pain to drop her time considerably for the last mile. She looked like a woman on a mission in the last mile, passing people like they were standing still and attacking the hills with gusto. I know she could have run a PR if that cramp had resolved earlier, but I am proud of her focus in the latter stages of the race. It shows her focus and grit! Proud of your race, Angie! Crizaber was not far behind Angie as our 3rd bee. She got out great--only a step behind Jayla at the mile--and looked amazing for the first half of the race. The muddy conditions were not favorable for her knee issue, though. She fought through the pain, however, and finished strong. I am so impressed with her grit--I gave her the option to step out of the race when I could see her knee was bothering her, but she shook her head and fixed her posture instead. Thank you for your dedication and tenacity, Crizaber! You are a real fighter! Loula was not far behind Crizaber. Honestly, this kid just keeps dropping time. Not only did she earn another LPR today, but she looked amazing earning it. She took a risk and got out hard--only 15 seconds off her mile PR for her first mile of the race! She kept passing people all through the race, and her kick was beautiful. Congrats on a 25 second drop, today! I cannot wait to see what you can do during track season! Sarah was only seconds behind Loula. Her first mile was more conservative than Loula's but her even splits allowed her to keep closing on her. I loved watching Sarah attack the mini-hills and work with her teammates to produce a huge SPR; she dropped a whopping 1:09 today, which is proof that mindset matters! She was super-positive before the race, and she kept focused during the whole run. Awesome work, Sarah! Elyssa was our next bee, and I need to point something out about Elyssa's season. She pulled a quad muscle early in the summer. She could have given up multiple times this season. Instead, she worked hard at PT, kept learning new taping techniques, and refused to lose her optimistic mindset. This muddy course did her quad, knee, and hip no favors, but she refused to quit. Not only did she push through, but she also helped Sarah and Loula with their races. Honestly, Elyssa is the epitome of the 62 mindset, and I look forward to helping her get healthy and pain-free this off-season. Proud of you, Elyssa! Claudia was our final bee of this race. As one of the last people to join the team, Claudia has come such a long way this season. After a prolonged mid-season illness, she looked sharp in practice all week, and even sharper in this race. Not only did she get out strong, but she kept battling to work up to the Libertyville runners ahead of her. Thanks to a heads-up move from Carmen, Claudia did not run the wrong way in the final loop, and she was able to run a HUGE LPR to shatter her pre-race goal! What was most fun about Claudia's race was the look on her face. Earlier in the season, she wore doubt every time she came to the line, but not today. Instead, she wore a smile from start to finish, attacking hills and kicking to a 6:51 time drop. So proud of your growth this season, Claudia! Great work! This crew certainly inspired the other racers of the day with their performances and positivity--nice work, women!
Our last racers of the day had to deal with a pretty torn up course, but they did it with grace and focus! Pre-race, they enjoyed some great advice from Angie: she told them to lean into the mud because "sliding is fun." Of course, I could say that, but it means so much more from someone who raced through it. These youngins took Angie's advice to heart and got out hard. Bianca was our first finisher for the day; she did so by running an even, focused race. Although her IT band has caused he some pain throughout the season, she looked open and strong at all points of this race, especially on the hills. She just kept passing people throughout the race, and her teammates saw her greatness and acknowledged it on the bus. Her focus earned her a huge LPR--a drop of 1:22! Awesome racing and impressive drop; so proud of you, B! Melanie was only a second behind Bianca. She got out hard and fought the desire to slow down in the middle mile. Anyone who saw her race KNOWS that she was focused throughout--it was all over her face! She finished strong to come within seconds of her LPR. Great first season, Mel! We look forward to watching you during track! ;) Joceline was only a few seconds behind Mel. She irritated her knee in the workout on Tuesday, but she toughed out the race today to show her team that she was committed to the whole season! She was a beast on the hills, using the downside to zoom past her competition. She earned a new LPR by 19 seconds. Of course the LPR is fun, but I am proud of her sticking out the season even though all of her friends quit. I hope that she found pride in this and that she will join us for track as well as next xc season! Ashley was our fourth finisher, and she looked awesome today. Although she did not beat her PR, she ran through considerable back pain to run a great race. Her form looked amazing (have you seen the pics on the gram?), and she was passing every time I saw her. More importantly, she stayed focused throughout the race. When I think back to where she was last year, I am so impressed by her growth over the course of the year. She has become a real leader on this team, both through her positive words and her dedication. I look forward to seeing what she can do during track season! Proud of you, Ash! Ixa was only seconds behind Ashley, and she did it by getting out HARD for the first mile and closing hard in the last mile. She struggled with some IT band pain this week, but she did not let it stop her from attacking each mini-hill and working with her team to move up in the race. She dropped an impressive 45 seconds on this muddy course, and I could not be more proud of her season. I appreciate her enthusiasm during our post-race discussions, too--she is the whole package! I hope she will join us for track, and I am glad she is part of our XC family! :) Jenni was not far behind Ixa, running a huge LPR, too. Jenni's shins have been non-cooperative all season, but she has been feeling good this week and was ready to race. She got out hard, and she her form looked impressive throughout the race. Her teammates complimented her for being in tune with their words of advice because she always zoomed when they cheered, and she really attacked the mini-hills. All this focus helped her drop 1:32 to earn a new LPR. Honestly, Jenni could have given up so many times this season, but she always looked for an opportunity to get better. She embraced the workouts she could do, and she cherished her race when she had the chance. Awesome job, Jenni! Sirrenda was only steps behind Jenni, and she also earned a big LPR today! Sirrenda has struggled with hip pain and then a nasty respiratory virus this season, but her race today was awesome. Not only was her mindset positive, but she also worked hard to be consistent in her second and third miles. She did a great job of using the down hills to help her drop a whopping 4:16--awesome work, Sirrenda! :) Nataly was our final bee for the day, and she too earned an LPR. She got out strong and didn't let her shins or allergies stop her. She had a great kick because she used the path and the final stretch to really push herself. She dropped a huge 1:05 to earn a new LPR. Awesome work, Nat! Overall, this group really shined today. Not only did they all help each other, but they also were out there cheering hard for the first two races of the day.
Overall, I came home feeling satisfied today. You all showed tremendous growth since the start of the season, and our team has become unified, as illustrated by the beautiful talks we have had on our bus rides. Honestly, we have not done that good of a job with that kind of positive feedback in the past, so it has been truly refreshing. As I reflect on the season, I know there are a few spots I will revise so that we can be stronger next year. But for now, I look forward to Saturday's regional. I hope we have full bus with the same positive energy of the regular season. Until then, please think about who deserves a link in our team meeting tomorrow. (You can see who has earned one on the Links Page on this website). Consider who has truly helped our team grow and who has helped you on your journey as a runner.
Finally, special thanks to Nathalie, Maya, and Noel for helping with bib numbers and splits today. You three really helped me and the team make the day successful! Thank you to 2018 alum Alexia for coming to support our team. It was great having your positivity on such an important day! I'm sure she can see how she has influenced this team. :) Linked for life!
One addition! Click on this link to see finish line pics of yourself. Simply scroll to our team, then click on your name! :)
Tuesday @ Warren with Mundelein:
Although we had several sick and injured athletes for this meet, those of you who were ready to race looked outstanding. I thought the results would be posted on athletic.net by now, so I don't have them in front of me. Here's what sticks in my brain almost a week later:
Victoria had a gutsy race with a better kick than at Stevenson. She needs to continue to develop this part of her race! Marisa looked more "in" her race this week and earned an LPR--nice work! Jenna and Delilah were a great duo, helping each other focus on different parts of the race and propelling Delilah to a new LPR! Great work from this pair! Kaila looked so strong today, with a much more confident demeanor and finish (despite the wet conditions)--bravo! Steff! To see Steff shut down the bad juju from this course and finish her first race of the year with grit and grace was a sight to see! Honestly, her race made me jubilant; not only does it show that hard work and patience pay off, but it also shows how a broad base (she has been running since the summer before her freshman year) helps make comebacks possible! So proud of you, senior! Ixa's kick was simply breathtaking--she had her team talking about her non-stop after the race! Loula is probably tired of hearing her name so much, but she keeps showing that she gets this sport even more every week. She looked SO strong from start to finish and earned a new LPR--congrats! Ashley also ran an LPR and seems to be moving to the next level of racing; proud of your kick, too! I know that without the stats in front of my that I am missing some of the story, and I will add it soon! Shout out to our timers, sticker peeps, and super fans. You helped everyone stay focused so that we could earn 12 PRs out of 15 finishes--THAT is an impressive stat, considering that the course was long due to the cut-through being flooded. Proud of you all today!
Saturday, Saturday, Saturday:
I honestly do not understand what is happening to cross-country. In my 22 years of coaching, I can only remember TWO races being cancelled due to conditions: once Wauconda Invite was cancelled due to flooding on the course, and last year, Conference was rescheduled due to lightning. Our sport *usually* does not get fussy about heat or rain or cold or snow. *Usually* our sport simply carries on, one foot in front of the other. I mean...we are tough cookies! So when I received the email about Sterling being cancelled the night before the race, I couldn't catch my breath for several seconds. How could it possibly be cancelled before the day even arrived? How could anyone know the conditions until the racetime? Although I wanted to call the Athletic Director to persuade him to change his mind, I knew that I had to put my energy into something worthwhile: focusing on our team building. Up until that point, our posse of 10 had done a great job of getting to know each other more, and our shared letter writing completed that process. I had chills watching you all read each other's words because I saw you all buying into the team culture. The next day, I could see the difference reflected in the workout. You were flexible about location, and you fought hard to work for each other. That kind of mindset is going to serve us well as we head into the championship part of our season. Hang onto this feeling this week.
For those of you who were supposed to run at Wheeling--I'm sorry that the sally-fication of our sport affected your race, too. I know that you would have run through puddles and mud and cold--you showed that with your mindset at Stevenson the first time. Coach Franklin let me know that you had a great workout--thank you for your flexibility and focus!
Let's come together this week to bring out our best performances at Conference this Saturday!
Tuesday, then Thursday @ VHAC vs. Stevenson and Lake Forest:
We tried to race on Tuesday, but Wizard of Oz-like conditions at the conclusion of the boys' race precluded us from even getting our race started. Although it seems funny to write about a race that did not happen, I have to make a quick note about our team's reaction to the postponed race: once we were all safely on the bus, and the furious rain slowed to a normal shower, you all proclaimed, "The rain is stopping! Let's race!" That kind of #raceday reaction is all I can hope for. Having that kind of hunger for racing is what has made us continue to improve all season, and is what will make us shine as championship season arrives. I could not have been prouder on our bus ride home!
When we had the chance to race on Thursday, the weather was nearly perfect: there was a slight fall chill in the air, there was hardly any wind, and the course was in perfect condition. Although we only had 11 racers on Thursday, the effort was outstanding. I asked Victoria to try to pack our top girls with her through the mile, and I asked for a second mile hammer. In the first loop, Vic and Karen worked stride for stride, while Kaila and Marisa helped each other significantly. Jenna and Delilah were an awesome tandem, too, as were Sarah and Angie, with Joceline and Loula within arm's reach. Nataly and Sirrenda were also a powerful force together. Our non-racing bees were all over the course to help people stay awake. Although my hope of having the second mile be the fastest did not come to fruition, Vic's splits were even (well, according to my watch...the splits by the managers were slightly different...could the course mile marks be mis-marked?). Almost everyone ran an LPR or SPR in this race, which says a lot about the focus of this group. This course is labelled as a true 5K; most of our racers had it mapped at 3.07-3.09. The important takeaway is that the course is long, yet our racers ran their fastest of the season. Here are the numbers:
Karen by 12 seconds
Marisa by 41 seconds
Jenna by 9 seconds
Delilah by 19 seconds
Loula by 31 seconds
Nataly by 3 seconds
Sirrenda--first race at this distance for the season! :)
Kaila by 6 seconds
Sarah by 26 seconds
This list illustrates the RESULT of teamwork. Not only did non-racers help keep each of these women focused, these racers also worked with one another to keep pushing throughout the race. I'm really proud of the effort at this race, but I would like to make a few notes for when we return for Conference. First, we must be honest about our confidence. While running PRs and breaking through boundaries help to build confidence, we must also actively work on accepting our fitness. One way to illustrate that trust is by kicking much earlier. Too many of you were caught by competitors in the final stretch because we were fooled by the course. If you wait until the final turn to kick, you have waited too long. My advice is to start shifting at that small berm, shift when you are on the crushed gravel, and find your final gear when you hit the home stretch. Let's make a commitment to that mindset as we head to Warren on Tuesday. Although I did not see it, many of you commented on Joceline's excellent kick; multiple people told me that she shifted several times, which is what you should all emulate! Special shout out to Noel for helping with finish line stickers and cards--you made my job easy!
One other reflection before I close this week's blog. I am thrilled about Saturday's effort. It was a tough workout, but you all brought the right mindset and a focused effort throughout the workout. Those of you on bike did a fabulous job of keeping one another accountable and making sure to maximize the training effect of the workout--excellent job! I am proud of the mile PRs because they reflect your growing fitness and confidence. I definitely had my eyes open as you were all working, and I am using today's effort as well as Tuesday's to finalize my list for Sterling. If making that list is your goal, then show me--from the moment you walk into the locker room, to the time we shake out--show me that you are willing to give your all to your team. Special shout out to Maya and Carmen for taking splits--I appreciate you both! You helped keep your teammates accountable to being consistent throughout the workout, and you also helped them SEE their strength. Thank you! :)
Let's have a great, focused week. Please be sure to stay on top of your learning and grades; you are a STUDENT FIRST! Be sure to use your free time wisely. Get to school early? Use that 15 minutes to get some reading or homework done. Have time during advisory? Sit down and make a plan for your homework after practice. Need help before a skills check? Make a date with a teammate to study. Just like running, you cannot expect your performance to just happen: you must make your learning a priority. In order to be a great student, you must also make nutrition and sleep a focus this week! The temperatures are supposed to climb, so keep at that water bottle, too. :)
Saturday @ JT Invite--AKA My New Favorite Meet
We had a bye week for Conference racing, so we were able to get some serious work in during the week. I was impressed by your focus during the cut down on Monday, and I was equally thrilled by the grit in the 90-90 workout the following day. It was fun to watch you all push to reach the same goal for each interval. Although the middle of the week was difficult due to illness, injury, and otherwise, Saturday was simply rejuvenating.
Although we only had three fresh/sophs on the line for the first, race, they ran like an army of twenty. Delilah go out hard and was sitting in 50th place after the first loop. Driving up the hill for the second time, she looked so strong! She kept that momentum for the entire second loop, and she moved up at least ten places, catching sleeping runners at every turn. Her finish was the best part of her race, though. She took my advice to heart, shifting gears on each of the last turns, and then simply flying down the home stretch. It was awesome to watch and capped off a tremendous effort all race. Bianca had her best race of the season by far. She went out sub-9 for the first time, and she looked open and strong the whole way. She kept all of her splits sub-10 by being aggressive on turns and focusing on passing throughout the go-zones. Her finish was also flawless; she caught people on each stretch, and she looked unstoppable. Her gritty effort earned her a new LPR by 22 seconds--outstanding work, Bianca! Ixa was our other F/S racer, and her race was just as remarkable. Not only did she do a fabulous job of driving up the hill, but she also looked aggressive in all the go-zones. Like her teammates, her kick was incredible! In the final stretch, she caught sleeping racers, and she earned herself a 9 second LPR. The energy from this race was infectious, and it spilled into all of our other races of the day.
We did not run our normal line up for Varsity today, but the grit was definitely evident. Karen was our first runner, and I think not having anyone to key off of helped her feel more limitless. This was her first race where she didn't touch the 8s for any split; that kind of consistent pacing matters. Not only does it show a more focused mindset, but it also earned her a new LPR by 19 seconds! More importantly, I never saw Karen let down in this race; she kept passing and working the hill aggressively. Congrats on an impressive break through! Remember this race! Kaila, although a bit nervous about it, ran Varsity for the first time today. I knew she was ready, and her race proved it. She looked confident and strong every time I saw her, and she looked impressive on the hill all three times. What impressed me most was that she did not mention her knee post-race; my hope is that this race will serve as a turning point for her mindset-wise. I know she is ready to race faster, and her 10 second SPR shows it. Proud of your gutsiness today, Kaila! In a great breakthrough race, Diana was our third bee for the day. Plagued with sickness and some knee issues earlier in the season, Di finally looked like the Di of the summer. She got out hard and kept all three of her splits sub-8, running a very even race. This race shows that she is ready to get out more aggressively and show off her fitness. Post-race, she told me she felt fast, and she certainly looked it. Like Karen, she looked engaged for the whole race, constantly passing and kicking aggressively. Marisa, sporting new spikes, was our fourth bee today in her second Varsity race. She started strong with Carmen and Di, using her teammates to help her push. She looked incredible on the hills, and I was impressed by her passing on the top part of the course. Her middle mile was uncharacteristically uneven for her (7:42, 8:36, 7:53). If she can focus on that section for our next race, I know she can earn herself a new PR. That being said, I was really pleased with her race today, and I look forward to seeing her continue to improve and challenge herself. Carmen, despite nursing her sore foot this week, opted to take on the challenge of Grant's course, and I'm so glad she did. Although the course took a few swings at her ankles today, she still ran a gritty race, looking strong in the first half and finishing with a great kick. More importantly, her gutsiness of taking on the race shows her mindset continues to improve as the season continues on. She is ready for a breakthrough race! Speaking of grit, our final racer had the option to run fresh/soph or varsity, and she courageously accepted the challenge of the tougher race. Jenna's choice represents our focus for this week: risk. Although our brains want to protect us and keep us conservative when it comes from racing. we must constantly challenge ourselves to move beyond our comfort zones. Jenna's choice represents just that--she moved byond her comfort zone and said, let me step up and help myself and my team. Her risk helped her get her time closer to her PR after a bit of an off race at Warren. I know that this moment will definitely help her improve in future races, and it certainly embodied that #62 mindset we are striving for. Overall, this group looked sharp, gritty, and fun to watch!
Our final race of the day was just as thrilling because there were so many breakthroughs. Crizaber led the charge, looking simply amazing. Not only did she look strong and tall, she shattered her previous LPR by 44 seconds. That kind of drop happens a lot as a first year runner, but on year 3, it is hard to do. Crizaber created this drop by choosing several actions: she got out more aggressively than usual; she passed like crazy in the second loop; and she maintained her form when she was tired. I was so excited to watch her annihilate sleepy runners in the final kick because she deserves to feel that breakthrough. She has remained dedicated through crabby arches and funky knees for several seasons; her tenacity is finally paying off, and I am so thankful to witness it. I know she will hit the 24s in no time. Congrats an an impressive race, Crizaber! :) Angie was only seconds behind, and she looked great, too. She had an aggressive first mile and last mile. Her key to hitting her sub 25 goal is focusing on that middle mile. She did an awesome job of passing throughout the race, but mile two needs to feel like a fartlek in our next race. That being said, Angie had an inspiring kick; it looked like her speediness in the 800 during track season! Her great race earned her a 13 second SPR and moved her one step closer to her bigger goal. Proud of you, Angie! Jayla, like Crizaber, looked so strong today. Not only did her form look tall and strong, but she was also a passing machine! Her splits were very even, which shows that her fitness is really kicking in. Now she needs to challenge herself to get out a bit harder in the next race so that she can keep peeling off time. That being said, her performance today is to be commended; not only did she earn a new LPR by 11 seconds, she also had one of the best kicks of the day, using each turn to find a new gear. Congrats on a great race, Jayla! :) Elyssa ran a gutsy race today, despite some hip and quad pain. Her first mile was awesome; she was packed with Crizaber and Jayla in order to feel that power. Her middle mile shows that her blood donation is still affecting her a bit, but that is going to keep improving each week. (Quick PSA--while donating blood is a selfless and thoughtful act, it is NOT a good idea in the middle of the season. See me for more information if you have questions!). I could see that Elyssa was experiencing some pain during the final mile, but she gritted through it and brought her split back down significantly. I continue to be impressed by her grittiness this summer and season. Despite dealing with an irritated quad, she has improved tremendously over last year. She certainly gets how to race and stay engaged for all three miles, and this race proves it. Proud of you, Elyssa! Loula was our next bee, and I cannot say enough about her race. Although she was experiencing some pre-race doubts, her race was the perfect example of how running is so important in life. Let me explain: life is going to smack each of us around at different times. Sometimes it will crush us through loss or disappointment. Other times, it will pile so many stressors up at once that we feel like we cannot move forward. And still other times, we will doubt our abilities and worth. But running...running helps us gain the strength and perspective to weather these tough patches. Running reminds us that pain is temporary. Running shows us that we are stronger than we think. Running proves to us that we can tackle any problem one step at a time. Loula's race embodied all of these lessons. At the starting line, she was unfocused, doubtful, and ready to quit. Once the gun sounded, she put one foot in front of the other and let herself shine. Her form looked the best it has all season. Her racing was top-notch as she caught girls who were sleeping. ANd the result? All of her splits were sub-10, and she earned a new SPR by a whopping 1:54. What a testament to hard work and faith! I am so proud of her progress this season, and her willingness to trust her own strength. Props to you, Loula! Your race was simply inspiring! Our final racer also earned a huge new LPR today. Nataly has been battling through sore shins, but you wouldn't know it during this race. She kept all of her splits sub-12 by working with a girl from Elk Grove to stay focused in the middle of the race. The best part of her race was her kick, however. Not only did she pick it up on each of the final turns, but her final stretch was inspirational. Watching all of you lend your energy to her in that last section certainly boosted her to a great final kick. She finished with a new LPR by 1:380--congrats on a great race, Nataly! I know you will break 30 if you keep pushing yourself like this!
Overall, I was simply glowing on the ride home. You all turned a rough week into a great day of racing, and I thank you for that mental boost. Not only did you look out for each other, but you also raced with the spirit of 62. I am so proud to be your coach, and I cannot wait to see what you can accomplish in the coming weeks. Keep impressing yourselves and each other. This week, I invite you to consider what other limits you can tear down. Are you limiting your recovery by not getting enough sleep? Are you limiting your first mile by self doubt? Are you limiting your fuel by skipping breakfast or not eating enough vegetables and fruits? Are you limiting your energy by stressing out about things beyond your control? PIck one limit and attack it this week. Need help? Let me know what I can do to guide you. Need accountability? Tell a teammate about your goal, then check in each day on your progress. Let's attack this week with renewed focus and energy!
Tuesday @ Shiloh Woods vs. Libertyville
The day started fantastically as all of you embraced the "many hands makes for easy lifting" mindset. You all pitched in to get the course ready to go, and we were ready for Libertyville well in advance of their tardy arrival. The weather was great for racing, and Libertyville provided us a great opportunity to be pushed. I was proud that we were putting nearly our entire team on the line; only Sirrenda (who caught the plague) and Carmen (who was resting her tweaked foot) were not able to race today. That meant that many of our newbees were racing for the first time!
At the start, we got out very well, and I could see that you guys were enjoying the lack of race over the weekend; while the Varsity boys looked a bit heavy due to racing only four days prior, you all looked fresh and ready to engage. I was really happy about our placement by the time you hit the woods, and I was overjoyed as I watched you work the duck-pond stretch and back into the twilight loop. Honestly, the last mile was my favorite part. To a woman, I watched you smile at Anderson's mark in the "sectional" loop, and then drive to catch someone. Just like at Lakewood, your kicks were OUTSTANDING. Watching you eat coming down the final hill was inspiring! Your gritty racing resulted in the following incredible stats: 19 LPRs (5 for first races) and 4 SPRs. THAT IS AWESOME. When your job is to be your best version of you, and you are able to do that as a team, it is so cool to watch! Let's crunch those numbers:
Ixa--LPR by 3:59
Jenni with an i--LPR by 1:29
Jayla--LPR by 1:50
Bianca--LPR by 3:29
Delilah--LPR by 2:15
Crizaber--LPR by :46
Loula--LPR by 3:46
Nataly--LPR by 2:18
Marisa--LPR by :32
Vic--LPR by 1:28
Ashley--LPR by 4:12!!!
Melanie--LPR by :13
Karen--LPR by :02
Jenna--LPR by 2:33
First racers with new LPRS: Michelle, Joceline, Claudia, Emily, Jodi
Sarah--SPR by 2:40
Elyssa--SPR by 2:15
Angie--SPR by 1:16
Di--SPR by :12
Kaila--SPR--first race of this season!
Other important stats--
Kelsey improved her Top Ten Board performance by 2 seconds for a new time of 19: 16. She remains #2 on The Board.
Zoe had an outstanding effort to put her #4 on The Board with a time of 20:00.
Overall, I was stoked to see your commitment to racing hard on our home course. I'm bummed we only have one home meet this season, but you truly ran the course without regrets! Special thanks to Jodi for giving up her study hall 8th period to help Anderson and I pack up the truck full of our gear. Same shout out to those of you who waited forever for Anderson and I to get back to school to unpack all of our gear: Vic, Steff, Kaila, Maya, Di, Tristan, and Jason. I really appreciate you all! :)
Saturday @ Bill Dawson Invite--Warren's Invite Course
After all the good racing recently, I simply could not wait to get to Warren. We traditionally run well at this course--it's flat and fast, and there is great competition. The course was in excellent condition, but the weather was not as mild as I was hoping. That being said, anything is better than last year's heat wave. The temperatures and humidity were certainly a factor today, but I was proud of the way you all raced.
Our squad of Delilah, Ixa, Ashley, Bianca, Jenna, and Jenni represented us in the F/S race. They were lucky to enjoy the best weather of the day. Delilah was our first bee in the race. Not only did she do a great job teaming with Jenna, our second finisher, but she also had a great finish. Jenna was our second finisher. Like Delilah, she did a nice job of working throughout the race. Both of these bees PRd on Tuesday, so it is tough to come back and do so again in the same week. Their effort is definitely what mattered today; they helped each other move up in the latter part of the race. Ashley was our 3rd bee in the race. Not only did she embrace our three go-zones (Collin was particularly impressed with her surge at the downhill just past the start), but she also worked hard in between. These efforts helped her earn a new LPR by 23 seconds. Awesome work, Ashley! Ixa was not far behind. Her form looked great, and she too utilized the go-zones. Like Ashley, she earned a new LPR--by 38 seconds. Way to go, Ixa! This is her first race sub-30, and I know she will keep slashing time. :) Bianca was our fifth bee and final scorer for the day. Although the time did not show it, she looked sharp in the go-zones. I know she can stay with Ash and Ixa, so that should definitely be her goal at Grant next week. If those three can pack it up, they will help each other race harder. Jenni was our final racer of the day. Although she was unable to earn a new LPR, she did race with grit, pushing through some significant shin pain. I know that if she continues to ice and stretch, she will be able to race with her girls at Grant! Overall, this group set an aggressive tone for the rest of the day--way to set the table, bees!
When the gun sounded, I watched our pack push to the right, following my wish that we stayed to the right of the goal posts, putting us in a good position for the first turn and avoiding the sprinkler in the field. I was pleased with the start, and turned to find a spot to catch them as they emerged from the woods. What I could not see was a girl who stuck her leg out that tripped Kelsey so bad that she was flat on the ground for a second before springing back to her feet. Even though her fall was momentary, any disruption in the giant swarm of runners at these early stages of the race (before 400 meters) creates waves. Maya was cut off briefly, then boxed in, unable to keep contact with Kelsey and Zoe. Victoria, in a selfless moment of bravery, saw that Kelsey's fall had ripped her bib (and chip sensor) from her jersey, so she turned around to retrieve it. When she turned to try to catch Kelsey, she found herself in last place. Although these events could have ruined the races of our top runners, their gritty mindsets helped them control their reactions to events that were beyond their control. The result? Kelsey finished in 6th place with a new LPR of 18:37--a 21 second drop from her Regional performance last year on Lake Forest's fast course. Not only did she earn a trophy for her effort, but she also became the fastest woman I have coached at ZB. Congrats, Kelsey! Zoe was able to run an incredible race, too. I had her at about 40th place coming out of the woods, just beyond 800 meters in the race. By the end, she had snacked repeatedly, moving up to 21st place and earning a medal as well as a new LPR of 19:34--a 21 second drop from her previous best. I was so impressed by her gear-shifting in the final 300; incredible work, Zoe! Our third bee for the day was Maya. This was an important moment for Maya; not only did she work through some mental walls during her race, but she also shared her sheer joy for her teammates on the bus ride home. This kind of selflessness is the key to great racing. When we get stuck in a negative spiral, worrying about comparing ourselves to our teammates, we create more racing obstacles. Maya is free now, and I cannot wait to see her race at Grant. Hills are Maya's jam, and her mind is ready to pop a great race! Vic, another selfless bee, ran a simply incredible race. From dead last, she worked her way back up patiently, catching our pack of Karen, Carmen, and Marisa when she emerged from the woods, and then continuously passing to end up 72nd. That means she passed 56 racers...impressive! Vic's time is impressive considering that she doubled back to get Kelsey's bib number. I cannot wait to see her race at Grant, too! The trio of Karen, Marisa, and Carmen worked together for much of the race. At times they were a bit apart, but they kept pushing each other throughout. Carmen keeps running within seconds of her LPR; I know that this summer's training will give her the confidence to break through next week, especially now that her foot is feeling better! Marisa had a heck of a race today, and her teammates were super proud of her. Not only did she make the brave choice to run with Varsity for the first time (well, in a Varsity race...she stepped up and ran with them for the first mile at Lakewood the week before), she also earned a new LPR by 6 seconds. Proud of you, Marisa! :) Karen ran a strong race for her girls today. She ran an LPR on Tuesday, so it is tough to come back and do the same only days later. That being said, I feel like she is ready for another breakthrough at Grant--she is ready!
As a team, we finished 11th out of 18. We now know that our Regional will be at Libertyville in October (and yay--the Sectional is back at Busse!). Mundelein and Warren both beat us today (Warren ran three of their Varsity girls in the F/S race), and we beat Buffalo Grove...all three teams are in our Regional. We need to start thinking about our team race if we want to advance to the Sectional team-wise. I know what we are capable of, but we need to work on our 1-7 split. That means every woman needs to do some soul-searching and think about what she can do--whether it is sleep, nutrition, or mindset--to help improve our team standings. Let's make that a focus in our upcoming races. Please let me know if you have questions or if there is something I can do to help!
These brave women definitely dealt with the worst of the heat today. Despite this fact, there were still three season PRs from this bunch: Kaila (15 second drop), Angie (10 second drop), and Di (36 second drop!). So proud of your effort, bees! Kaila was our first finisher today. She got out hard, and looked strong in the first mile. Impressively, her second and third mile splits were almost identical, showing true grit at this point in the hot race. She looked more confident in her second race of the season, and I cannot wait to see her at Grant! Di was our second bee, and she looks like she is getting back to her old self post-illness and knee issue. Every time I saw her, she passed someone; she definitely used the go-zones to her advantage. With a SPR and a new confidence, I know she will slay at Grant next week! Angie's pre-race confidence was powerful. She promised she was going to go sub-25; although she came up slightly short on this goal, the intent helped her earn an SPR. She looked strong throughout the race, and I know she can reach her goal next week. Crizaber was our next bee. Today her form looked impeccable. Not only did she look tall throughout her race, but her arm drive is definitely getting stronger. Considering the heat, her finish time was solid--not too far from her LPR at home earlier in the week. If she can keep that same strong form in the next meet, I know she can bring that LPR even lower--nice work today! Jayla was our next bee in the race; like Crizaber, she looked strong today. She also reports that her knee is feeling much better, so I anticipate that this week of training will go much more smoothly for her. Great finish today, too, Jayla! You looked great in that final stretch! Sarah was not far behind Jayla, and she definitely keyed off her teammate during the race. She did a great job in the go-zones, and I know that she will reach her time goal at Grant. Keep pushing! Elyssa was only steps behind Sarah. Considering she donated blood on Thursday, her performance today was impressive. Quick note, ladies. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever donate blood during the season. We work hard all summer and season to build blood volume. The long run plus tempo work help you grow blood so that you can deliver oxygen to your hungry muscles during your races. When you donate (although it is an incredibly altruistic and thoughtful gesture), you give away your training. Wait until the off-season, or better yet, graduation to donate. In the meantime, you can donate your time to many worthy causes! Elyssa reports that she is feeling much better already, and I know that she will bounce back this week during workouts and our invite. Loula continues to impress me. She got out faster than in any previous race--8:43. Nice work! Now she needs to continue to work on her other miles in order to continue to improve as a racer. I know she can do it! She looked great in the go-zones, and worked through some doubts mid-race. I am astounded by her growth since the beginning of the season. Proud of you, Loula! Nataly, Claudia, and Noel worked together today, with Nataly leading the way for this pack. While Nataly (shins) and Noel (knee) were working through some pain, they both did a great job of overcoming those obstacles. Their grit helped Claudia pull through to a new LPR of 38:12--a drop of 55 seconds! You are moving in the right direction, and I am proud of you! One other bee was a fighter in this race, but was unable to finish--senior and captain Steff. This was her first race back since the winter track season, and she was ready mentally and physically. The good news is that her hip felt great; the bad news is that the heat took over for her after the second mile. Steff's story is an important one. When running in the heat, your body has to manage temperature and effort. It is important to monitor your breathing as your effort level increases; it is easy to start taking shallow breaths (more in your throat than deep into the bottom of your lungs/belly). When you resort to those short, shallow breaths, your muscles and brain are deprived of the oxygen that your body needs to function properly and nasty CO2 builds up in your system. Your brain is no dummy--when this happens, your brain shuts down operations, making you feel light-headed and confused. If you ever feel this way in a race, it is important to remember that you can control your breathing: shake out your arms, lower your shoulders, and take a slow breath through your nose, feeling your belly rise; follow up by slowly exhaling through your mouth. We have practiced this a few times, but we are going to make it a practice now so that your body and mind can return to it easily when under pressure.
Today, I drove home super-happy; I hope you did, too. It is truly a joy to watch you all help each other grow, and I am certainly proud to watch each of your race. I hope you are taking the time to soak in these moments because time flies by! If you are looking to analyze your race in more detail, the timing company reported your splits for each mile. Click here to see yours as well as those from all the competitors. Check out the people around you as well as the top competitors. What trends do you notice? With this information in hand, what do you need to work on to make your dream race come true?
This week, be ready for some workout challenges. Arm yourself with plenty of sleep, lots of good fruits and veggies, and lots of water. It's going to be hot on Monday!
Tuesday@Lakewood Forest Preserve vs. Waukegan and Lake Zurich
At noon, I received a flurry of emails from Lake Zurich regarding the heat; they were considering calling off the meet. Thankfully, we were able to compete despite the elevated temps. The high of the day was 92, and it was in the mid-80s at race time. After briefly discussing and walking some of the course, we warmed up and headed to the line. The team was in good spirits, and we agreed in our breakdown huddle that it was hot for everyone, so we were going to just race hard. The plan was to pack at 6:45 for the mile, then see what we could do racing-wise. Unfortunately, the LZ coaches were not allowed to mark the mile (and our managers tried but were sent to the wrong spot), so we do not have accurate splits for this race. Our lead pack of Kelsey, Maya, Zoe, and Vic had a GPS, and they hit their mile target looking strong. A second pack of Carmenita, Karen, and Marisa was only seconds behind and working well together. Packs were certainly the story of the day--Delilah, Jenna, and Elyssa worked strong throughout; Melanie, Jayla, and Angie helped each other; Sarah and Crizaber fed off each other; Loula was inspired by Ixa, Jenni with an I, and Noel. As we discussed the race on the bus ride home, I could feel the start of that linked feeling with this team. It does not just happen; it must be cultivated through thoughtful awareness of not only one's own contributions, but also an appreciation of the strength and focus of teammates. I'm stoked about it!
The middle and end of the race were just as exciting as the front. Kelsey ran strong to finish second overall; had I not held her back at the start, I have no doubt she could have run with LZ's #1. Maya and Zoe battled to the finish in a beautiful sprint--steel sharpening steel. Their tight finish made it impossible for any other competitors to affect our team score. Vic's break through race was critical for our team success. Not only did she run a lifetime PR (nice work, woman!), but as the 7th overall finisher, she beat LZ's 3rd and 4th runners, driving up their team score. All four of these women illustrate "taking care of your business." If you can beat another team's equivalent (if you are our #2, you beat their #2) AND beat the one ahead (beat their #1 as well), it makes our team score sing! :) Karen was our fifth and final scorer for the day. Although we need to work on our 1-5 split and 1-7 split, I was pleased with Karen, Carmen, and Marisa's races today. Although their times do not show it, each of these women showed considerable grit today. All three had great kicks, and all three worked hard to catch surrounding LZ runners.
Although many of the finish times are not record-breaking, the finishes WERE. I stood at the 400-to-go mark at the road crossing. From that vantage point, I could easily watch you all gear up along the road and then go nuts in the final straightaway. I am pleased to say that EVERYONE'S kicks were simply outstanding. Unlike last year, when many of the kicks were lackluster at best, you seem to embrace this requirement of great racing. I particularly enjoyed Maya and Zoe's showdown, Delilah, Jenna, and Elyssa's flying finishes, and Jayla's final drive. Yes, everyone's final kicks were fab, but those stood out to me even a week later. :) Special shout out to Vic and Jenna who both gritted their way to LPRs for the day, despite the heat! Nice work, women!
I loved our debriefing on the bus ride home, and I look forward to improving our racing with each coming meet!
Wednesday @ Lake County Invite
Despite the wet weather prior to the meet, the course was in good condition for miles 2 & 3. The opening mile was sloppy for sure, especially the opening 300 meters, but our Bees handled the situation with the right mindset. There were two races for the women: varsity and open, both running the full course (which is alleged to be over 3 miles, especially with a few new sections to make the course safer on turns). This race was an important one, as there is a good chance we will be back at Waukegan Sports Park for the Sectional in October. Assignments will be posted for Regional and Sectional on 9/11.
Due to the spread out nature of the course, it is difficult to report on the whole race. Here is what I witnessed in the Varsity race:
Kelsey got out harder than usual, per our plan, and looked strong in each switchback. Near the top, she was in the 20s, and clearly she did a lot of passing to get to All-County Honors in 12th by the end. When I asked her to tell me something good about the race, she reported that she felt strong and that she really worked to pass. I can add that she looked mentally connected the whole time, which is great! Zoe was our next bee, and she did not look as connected as at Deerfield. With Maya out to tend to her hip, and Kelsey further ahead, this was a chance for Zoe to test her pacing skills. To her credit, each time I saw her on a switchback, she was working to pass people, especially when she had the downhills to assist her, which helped her to an impressive 37th place. I know that she will be able to put this aggressive mindset to work at our next meet on Saturday, too. Our next finisher, Victoria, had some bright spots to her race. Not only did she do a nice job of passing, but she also continued working on her racing mindset. In terms of our team, though, we have to have a better split between our 1-5 and 1-7 if we are going to be competitive as a team. At 90th, there were too many people between Vic and Zoe. It is early, though, and I know that we will fix this issue as we continue to get stronger. Carmen stepped up as our #4 for the day, looking tuned in on every switchback. She was very receptive about working to pass people, which is a bright spot! We have to get her time where it belongs, and I know that that will come in the next few races. I am proud of her for taking on the challenge of being a scorer today! Karen rounded out our 5 today, not far behind Carmenita. I know that she will race stronger when her hip is feeling better; she definitely had a good learning experience today--we know she needs to get out harder to keep contact with her team like at Deerfield. Lesson learned! In her season debut, Di was our 6th runner. It's likely that she was starting to suffer from the bug that got her sent home on Thursday and kept her out of Saturday's meet. She is on the mend, though, and I anticipate that she will be ready to step up to help her girls ASAP!
In the open race, we had several "firsts" as well as many pleasant surprises. Before we get to that, I invite you to check out the first finishers overall from this race: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/150405/results/623935
The Vernon Hills team put on a clinic! Not only did they place 5 in the top six, earning a score of 17 in an invite (wow!), they also did a great job of working with each other in most of the race. Food for thought! That being said, our girls did a fine job of keying off of each other, as was the case with Elyssa and Marisa. Although Marisa had the stronger kick, these two worked well together, and pushed hard to be awake and passing throughout the switchbacks. Delilah got out much more aggressively in this race, and did an awesome job of keying off of this duo as well. So impressive! The next set of teamwork was between Jenna and Angie, who only finished seconds apart. Although Angie put together a fine race, doing a particularly great job of using down hills to catch people, Jenna wins the outstanding race of the day for sure. Not only did she look supremely confident for the whole race, she also was a passing machine, both on the flats and on the hills. This girl has no idea how great she can be! Keep pushing, Jenna! Melanie got out much more aggressively this race, too, and it paid off with great racing as our next bee. She looked great, especially in the later part of the race. Jayla was not far behind, looking much stronger than at Deerfield. As her fitness returns, I know that she will close in on the girls ahead of her on the team. Crizaber was only seconds behind Jayla, and she looked pain-free and aggressive, despite the challenging course. Nice work, Crizaber! Sarah was our next bee. She had a great second half of the race, pushing herself to pass in the last few switchbacks. Ashley and Noel worked great with each other to keep pushing, especially in the latter half of the race--nice teamwork, bees! Jenny, although nervous, did a great job in her first 3-mile race on a tough course--nice job! Not far behind her was Bianca, who did a great job of passing in the last switchbacks--nice work! Loula was not far behind these two, also completing her first 3-mile. Proud of you! Finally, Nataly took inspiration from her sister, a ZBXC alum, and worked hard to finish her first 3-mile. Although she was nervous, she took on the challenge! Overall, I was REALLY happy with this group. Not only was passing the theme of the day, but the teamwork was outstanding. Proud of you all!
Saturday @ Rebel Invite--UW-Parkside:
If I was a proud coach on Wednesday, then "over the moon" is the only way to describe Saturday. On the bus to the meet, I could see that you were all buying into our goals for the day: flexibility, toughness, and teamwork. When we were told that the girls would all race together in a 4K, you took it like champs. When we warmed up on the course, you addressed the 800 meter hill like champs. And when you saw the muddy sections and the rolling hills, you took it all like champs. Most importantly, when the gun sounded, you took off with the power of your previous workouts and the confidence of two races under your belts. I could feel your energy, and I could not wait to see you after the mile. You can imagine my joy as I saw you rolling through the woods, looking simply amazing. To a person, I was amazed by your aggressiveness on the hills and the willingness to pass multiple people. Since I missed finishes on Wednesday, I made sure to make that my next stop, and man...was I pleased. Kelsey ended up 7th for us in a strong field. She reports that she was proud of her kick, which is exactly what we need! Zoe took 24th to earn a medal with Kelsey--amazing! Maya was our 3rd bee, and while she was not satisfied, I certainly was. Not only was she pain-free during the race, but she was able to kick some rust off to get ready for Lakewood on Tuesday. She also battled throughout the race, keeping her close to Zoe. In another great race, Vic looked so much stronger than Wednesday, and her kicked looked really strong. I can see her race confidence growing each meet! Despite some pre-race jitters, Carmen stepped up to be a strong 5th for us today. Not only did she set the jitters aside, she also looked aggressive, especially during her kick (have you seen that pic on the Gram?). Despite feeling under the weather, Karen fought hard for her girls as our 6th runner for Varsity. I am proud of her grit, working through her hip tightness and nausea. This group managed an impressive 8th place finish out of 18 teams. Last year, Varsity took 14th out of 18, and JV/FS took 16th out of 18. Great growth since last year!
For this next group, I'd like to talk about mile splits and kicks. Marisa (22), Angie (13), Jenna (3), Jayla (14), Sarah (14), Bianca(1!!!) had the most even splits out of the group, only slowing by the seconds in parenthesis, but Melanie won for going negative between mile one and two (9:35/9:13)! These numbers are important because they show fitness, but they also reveal where we can work. By lowering each mile split AND keeping this consistency, we can start to see some more connected racing. What do I mean? As we close the gap between our teammates, we can help each other for longer in the race. It also means fewer finishers between us, making our score stronger. I really want to work on this concept in our workout this Saturday. Since only the Varsity boys are racing, Saturday gives us a chance to focus on pacework and packwork. I also need to give some shout outs in this race for kicks. Marisa, Angie, Jenna, and Ixa had the best kicks of the day. Not only did they each catch multiple girls in the final stretch, but they also looked like bosses as they crossed the line. Remember, there is ALWAYS something to summon in the final stretch, so don't hold back earlier in the race. Instead, count on your finishing strength, and then work on keeping your mile splits even and aggressive. One last note about this race--Sirrenda finished her first race today! Although she was doubting herself a bit, she worked hard and finished hard! Great job! :)
The conclusion of the meet was just as great as the racing. You came together to cheer for the boys. You came together to get our gear onto the bus and then into the school. You came together as you discussed the race highlights. I'm really excited about the direction of this very new team. Let's keep supporting one another through our difficult by rewarding work. Let's keep finding the edge of our limits, and then creating new edges.
I encourage you to find greatness in each other as we tackle the course at Lakewood. Please pack extra stuff for the meet, as this weekend's rain has undoubtedly left this grass and dirt course more than soggy. If the puddles all over Lake County are any indication, we are in for a gritty, muddy run. Let's embrace it like you did the challenges of Parkside--I cannot wait to see you race!
1. Order your gear by 11:59 pm on Wednesday. READ the confirmation email.
2. Take care of your grades--checks are starting soon. I would rather hear FROM you than ABOUT you. Let me know if you need help studying or getting organized. NOW is the time to get into great academic habits.
3. Sleep, nutrition, and hydration are important ALL SEASON. Don't let go of these habits.
Thursday 8/23 @ Deerfield with Warren and Mather
Special thanks to Mrs. Hamilton for some great race pics.
Click here to check out your focus and form. :)
This joy of this meet began before the gun sounded. On the bus, I could feel the nervous anticipation of the race, and I was basking in the linked feeling. Across the aisle from me was Coach Wynn, one of our fastest ZBXCers ever; as we headed down 41, my phone blew up with texts from Alexia, Jacqueline, Julia, and Karyn asking about the meet; when we arrived, I was greeted by Alysia--class of 2010--who is now sharing her love of running as an assistant coach at Mather; and as the girls finished the first loop of the three-mile, I ran into Taylor--class of 2012--who came to check out the team and share her news about starting out as a private coach. How could all of that positive past not affect the day's race?
Deerfield offers two distances for this opening meet of the year, and ten of our bees took on the two-mile race. Although we had a lot of newbees in this race, I was impressed by everyone's poise during the warm up and on the starting line. We went over A LOT of new information, and it can be overwhelming! When the gun sounded, our bees were off, and I was impressed by our start. Elyssa asserted herself early, and Ixa rolled with her, following her pre-race goal. Unfortunately, we had our timers at the wrong location, so we don't have any mile splits. What is more important, though, is that I saw some great racing. Elyssa passed people for the whole race, kicked like mad, and earned a significant time of 16:16, over two minutes faster than her effort on the same course last year. Sweet work earning that LPR through gritty racing, Elyssa! In her XC debut, Jenna was our second bee, earning an impressive time of 17:04. She looked poised throughout the race and did a great job of using other racers to her advantage. Jayla looked great as our third bee; not only was she tuned into the race the whole way, she had a strong kick from 200 meters out. Great work, Jayla! Sarah was not far behind Jayla, earning a time that greatly surpassed her pre-race plan of breaking 20. Although she could not run this summer, she is working hard to get back to XC shape, and it showed today. Ixa had her XC debut today, too. Not only did she earn an LPR, she also had the best kick of the day--outstanding work! Despite an issue with a mean pothole, Noel finished her race strong, and seems to be on the path to fitness. Jenny ran her first race in a ZBXC jersey today; she did a nice job working with people around her to earn an LPR of 20:48--nice work! Bianca, in her XC debut, finished shortly behind Jenny with a strong effort for the day. Her time of 20:53 shows tremendous growth since the beginning of the summer--proud of you! Nataly also ran her first XC race ever today. Although she has only been training for about a week, she did a great job racing and earned an LPR of 22:44. Loula and Nataly changed positions a few times, and she was not far behind Nataly when she earned her LPR of 22:54. Like Nataly, Loula is a fresh newbee and did a great job managing her nerves in order to race strong!
Overall, I am proud of this group because they helped each other before, during, and after the race. Women--take the lessons from this race, and let's attack Lake County!
Our three-mile group was also varied in experience. Our top six had a goal of packing through the mile at 6:45-6:50 pace. This goal required compromise for our pack: Maya, Kelsey, and Zoe geared back a bit, and Vic, Karen, and Carmen had to take a risk going out faster than usual. And sure enough, our six found each other, packed strong, and trusted in the process. Looping around the first field, it looked awesome to see our pack Kelsey and Maya expertly delivered the pack at 6:47. Although a few fell off in the final steps, I was beaming with pride that we committed to a goal and executed it. At the mile, Kelsey, Maya, and Zoe were told to try to run negative, and that they did. Zoe took off with gusto, zooming past packs of Warren and Deerfield girls. Kelsey and Maya followed with a more measured approach, but looking strong and hungry. By the two-mile, Kelsey had pulled back up to Zoe and was on the hunt for Warren's top three runners. Maya was not far behind, still aggressively passing people. Kelsey finished fourth for us, showing tremendous strength in the second and third miles. Not only did she pass at least 20 runners, she also ran very even: 6:12 and 6:16. Her final time of 19:15 is nearly a minute faster than her effort on the same course last year--what tremendous growth! Nice work, Kelsey! In her ZBXC debut, Zoe was our second finisher, just sneaking under 20:00. Her race was more uneven, but I know that Zoe learned a lot in this race. When she took off after the mile, she clocked a speedy 6:11 for her second mile, but she paid the price for the early pace of it, finishing in a 6:57. Zoe could likely maintain a 6:11 pace if she were to run it more evenly; that first 400 was too zippy to maintain. That being said, Zoe gritted through her final mile and earned an impressive finish time of 19:55--awesome work, Zoe! Maya was our third bee with a great race. She went negative in her second mile in 6:28 by catching at least fifteen runners. She looked strong and assertive heading into the final mile, but her pace suffered a bit (6:50). She finished with an SPR of 20:05. Compared to last year, when she was only ready to run the 2-mile, Maya's pace was significantly faster, showing her growth as a runner over the course of a year. I was especially impressed by her commentary post-race, explaining that since the effort felt "hard," she was proud because she knew she was racing right. That's the mindset we all need to adopt: lean into the racing pain! Proud of you, Maya! Vic was our fourth bee, and she did a fabulous job of holding onto the pack for the first mile, only steps off of our top three as they rounded the baseball diamond. In the second mile, Vic's struggle resulted in a revelation--that she can fix her mindset and overcome a physical obstacle. That knowledge came at a price--her second mile was 8:00. Thankfully, she fixed the problem, bringing her third mile down to 7:40 to finish with her best time on this course in her three years racing here: 22:31. Post-race, Vic and I agreed that armed with this new outlook, she can smash that time and pack up with our top trio and help our Varsity split. I cannot wait to see her race at Lake County! Karen's race effort was impressive, especially considering that she barely broke 20 last year for two miles. She embraced our pack strategy, rolling through the mile in 7:01 with Carmen. She kept pushing in her second and third miles (7:55, 8:11) and finished with an LPR of 23:11. This race showed her that an aggressive start is possible for her, and I cannot wait to see her race again! Carmen embraced our team mindset for mile one, fell off Karen in mile two, but finished with a strong kick. This second mile will be the key for Carmen for the next race; she needs to attack that section by sticking with Karen. Together, I know they can continue to help our 1-5 and 1-6 split. That being said, Carmen still ran her fastest time ever on Deerfield's course, and I am proud of her early race risk taking! Overall, this group did a great job of believing in each other, and I am excited where we can go from here, especially with Di and Steff coming back into the mix in upcoming races. Our 1-5 split was 3:56, and 1-6 was 4:58. Clearly this is an area we need to work on, but it is early, and I know we will tackle this issue in upcoming races. In the meantime, I am proud of these women for their gutsy racing! In the team race, Warren ran away with it with 18 points. We took second, beating both Deerfield (I cannot remember the last time we did that) and Mather. Great work, bees!
We had five more runners in the three-mile; they were a mix of veterans and newbees, and they all PRed! Newbee Marisa had an outstanding debut. Not only was I proud of her for taking on the challenge of three miles so early on, but I was also impressed by her splits: 8:06, 8:24, 7:58. By going negative, she was able to catch tired runners in the final mile, and she did a great job of kicking early. She earned an LPR of 24:28, but more importantly, her even race showed grit and focus. She is definitely one to watch in upcoming races as she learns more about the sport and her abilities! Last year, Delilah ran 9:45 pace for two miles at Deerfield. This year, she averaged sub-9 pace for three (8:06, 8:59, 9:20), showing off her tremendous growth (despite not running track in the spring). More importantly, Delilah looked engaged in the race, seeking out people to pass, and working hard in the final loop to the finish. Awesome work, Delilah! Congrats on your huge LPR of 26:25--over a minute faster than your best at Lake Forest late last season--so proud of you! Angie was not far behind Delilah in 26:52 and earning an SPR. Angie is quickly getting her fitness back, and she looked strong in this race. She fixed her form easily, and kept working on the Warren girls ahead of her. Her third mile needs to be the focus for the next race; I know she can hold a more even splits (8:18, 9:04, 9:30). Our other newbee Melanie was not far behind Angie, earning an LPR of 27:40. Melanie just kept impressing me today. First, she took on the challenge of the full 3-mile race. Next, she got out aggressively with Marissa and Delilah. Although she was not able to hold that early pace (8:11) into mile two (9:54), she was utterly coachable in that final mile. She listened to everyone who cheered for her, and she fixed her mindset to bring her final mile back down to 9:34. She worked hard in the final loop and had a great kick. Awesome work, Melanie! Our final bee in this race was Ashley, who was brave to take on the three mile with her girls. Last year, she only ran two, and her pace was much faster this time around despite going longer. I know that Ashley will do better when she has more people to pull off of; her disconnection from the other racers affected her pace today. After a great start of 9:39, her second mile dropped to 11:43. She worked hard to bring it back down a bit to 11:28 for the final mile, but I know she has more to give! I look forward to seeing her race at Lake County. Overall, this second group in the three mile showed a lot of racing grit, and I am excited to see how they continue to grow this season.
Some observations for the upcoming week:
First, we were lucky to race before school starts. Racing is a stress--both a physical and a mental one. It is easier to face that stress with the looser feel of the summer. Next week, we need to work hard to prepare for the new stress of school. Accordingly, sleep needs to be the number one priority during this transition week. Get yourself into the proper schedule (aim for at least 8 hours of good sleep each night). How do you make that happen? Pick a bedtime and stick to it. Set an alarm for 30 minutes prior to that goal. When it sounds, put away all your technology (blue light from devices interrupts your brain's ability to quiet down for sleep--it makes your brain think it is daytime!), pack your stuff for the next day, and spend a few minutes winding down. For some, the rhythmic eye movements of reading (actual books...paper is key) help them fall asleep quickly. Others prefer to spend five minutes focusing on breathing and and just letting the brain wander. And still others hit the pillow and just knock out. If you already have a great routine, then stick with it. If you struggle to get enough sleep, see me so we can work on it. Sleep is the single most important factor in recovering from the day, including our hard work at practice. During the different stages of sleep, your body floods with hormones that help build rebuild your muscles; your brain also moves short term memories into long term storage, so adequate sleep makes you smarter. Make sleep a priority this week, but keep the habit throughout the season and year so that you can run your fastest at the end of the season as well as become a well-oiled learning machine!
1. Next week we shift to 3:00-5:30 pm practices daily, with the exception of Friday--our first morning practice! :)
2. The last day to join the team is Wednesday, 8/29. Please help spread the word about our awesome family!
I am excited to see this team grow. Bee proud of your amazing debut meet!