2018 ZBXC Blog
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!