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!
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