Thursday 8/23 @ Deerfield with Warren and Mather
Special thanks to Mrs. Hamilton for some great race pics.
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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!