Tuesday @ Shiloh Woods vs. Lake Zurich and Waukegan
All day, my phone was buzzing: Mr. Bible sending me pictures of water on the course, Mr. Bible sharing updates about the predicted temperatures, and the Park District staff warning me of bees and a broken tree limb. How would our team handle all of this adversity? During 8th, a small crew of bees (Jayla, Lesly, Nay--thank you!) helped the coaches gather all the gear for our meet and load it onto the spirit bus. As we arrived at the Leisure Center, we started our assessment of the obstacles; we quickly decided that the finish line would need to be moved so as to avoid tearing up the grass too much (we want the Park District to keep loving us). We also saw that while SO much of the water had receded (no puddles were deep enough for ducks anymore), this would indeed be a wet race. True cross-country conditions! There was standing water in several locations, including the starting line, the mini-pond right before the first turn, the duck pond squish (but when is that ever dry?), the small pond post-volleyball court, and the splash zone by the creek. Our bees made quick work of setting up the course (thank you all!), and we were ready to compete!
At race time, the heat and humidity was still hanging on, despite a bit of a lake breeze. The heat index was nearly 90 degrees, and our bees certainly felt it. At the gun, we looked strong, with Audrey taking an early lead. I was interested to see what she would do without Kelsey as a key. The answer is that she would compete hard, trying to break up LZ's strong lead pack. Throughout the race, she lead, sat on their shoulders, fought back, and kicked stride for stride with their #4 runner. They finished with identical times, and the finish line crew could not distinguish who was first. This race was by far Audrey's best of the season. She was focused, fierce, and unyielding. Her racing tactics produced pretty even splits (6:43/7:04/6:44) despite the heat. More importantly, she made LZ's pack work, which is what we always want! After not having much of a kick at Parkside, she really worked hard today, fighting until the very end. I'm proud of her effort today!
Speaking of gritty races...Maya also deserves a shout out. Like Audrey, Maya got out well, sitting a little further back. Her splits were also pretty even: 6:57/7:20/6:59. More importantly, she RACED, working to pick off packs of LZ runners as well as Waukegan's #1 runner. Post-race, I asked her about how she felt about her performance, and she explained that she kept imagining catching the girls ahead of her until it actually happened. She said the visualization really helped her to believe despite the distance she had to overcome as well as the heat. What a great way to help her team! That kind of mental grit is what we all need to continually perfect.
Audrey and Maya were not the only standouts for the day. Joceline looked absolutely fantastic today. Like her teammates, her splits were solid: 8:44/9:10/8:58. What really stood out to me was her focus, though. She has improved SO MUCH over last year. This race was her best by far; not only was she actively passing people throughout the race, she listened whenever people gave her tips, working to push up to the next pack. All of this aggressive work rewarded her with a LIFETIME PR of 27:01, besting her speediest from last year by 23 seconds. Despite the heat and puddles, she let her training shine! Congrats, Jocy! :)
Speaking of LPRs, Blanca is also in that category. Her growth in the last few weeks has been remarkable. After building a base during XC and the summer, Blanca is really learning how to race now. What I love is that she is becoming fearless; she got out hard and worked to pass people in the latter half of the race. Every time I saw her, she was locked into the race and using the course to her advantage. Congratulations on a 34 second LPR, Blanca! :)
Aubrianna is in a similar situation to Blanca in that she built a base during track. We missed her this summer, though, and were thrilled when she showed up on day one of XC. She has been figuring out this longer distance, and the race on our home course was a breakthrough. Not only did she set a new LPR, but she also looked like she liked it. :) Every time I saw her, she was working hard to catch people; she also listened to advice to take advantage of the course. She dropped 7 seconds over her time at Deerfield (a much faster and cooler day). Great work, Aubrianna!
Our final LPR of the day goes to one of our newbeeist runners--Stacy. This woman has been working her tail off to improve since the first day of practice. Her efforts are paying off. She dropped over a minute from her previous best at Waukegan, and she did it by trusting her new fitness. Proud of you, Stacy!
Overall, I was pleased with our work today. Home meets are always tough because I have to work rather than coach, but our seniors took care of business so that when I showed up to the starting line, everyone was ready to go. I was thankful for everyone's efforts to make the meet go smoothly, from setting up the course, to dealing with a brief lightning detour, to taking down all the gear. Special thanks to Maya, Brandon, Chris, Davion for helping unload the bus at school and get all of our gear back into storage. That task would have taken forever if just the coaches had to take care of it. I appreciate all of your help! :)
Since we did not have a meet on Saturday, we scheduled two important workouts this week: Paavo 400s on Thursday, and tempo on Saturday. Thursday's workout looked chaotic. We were hustling to get the work in before the soccer game, and everyone took Anderson's guidance of the workout being continuous seriously. That led to a few missed times, but you all took care of business, getting in a solid workout. Thank you for your efforts! They will pay off next week! I want to take a moment to discuss Saturday, though. Not only did you guys rise to the occasion, but you learned some important lessons. First of all, I think you all KNOW now that you are ready to race much faster this week. Part of that is due to training effect, but more of it is due to some light bulb moments in the workout; you now see and feel your fitness! Second of all, you know that feeling accountable to a group is a great motivator. We need to make that transfer to race day: you are running for something bigger than just yourself. Keep your fellow bees in mind as we head to Libertyville on Tuesday. Finally, you can go out harder than you think. So many of you pushed the first mile, and then you were able to maintain serious work after. Trust yourself. Trust your training.
This week, we are faced with two vastly different courses. On Tuesday, we head to Adler, one of the true XC courses of our conference. It has hills, grass, trail, dirt, and more hills. It requires focus and grit, which is why I like racing there at this point in the season. After conquering Waukegan and Parkside, I am excited to see you all attack this course; I know it will be a favorite! On Saturday, we will hopefully be heading to Warren's flat and fast course. Their school backs up to the Des Plaines River; with all the rain we have had, there is a small chance they may need to move the meet to a different location. As soon as I know, I will share that information with you. We will prepare under the assumption that it will be at their course.
This week, let's attack the following goals:
1. Racing more aggressively and forgetting about time.
2. Letting our actions speak for our intentions.
3. Getting/staying healthy.
4. Getting a clean eligibility list
I'm proud of our progress, but real talk...it makes me hungry for more. Let's go, bees! :)
One last thing! IHSA has posted the assignments for the Regional. We will be heading to Lake Forest, which is great news. We race there in early October for a dual, then return for Conference the week before the regional. We will know the course well! We race against the teams listed below. We must finish in the top 6 to advance to the Busse Sectional. Food for thought in the coming weeks!
Deerfield (we beat twice)
Warren (beat us twice)
Highland Park (have not seen yet)
Lake Forest (beat us by 5 points at LC)
Libertyville (beat us twice)
Stevenson (beat us once)
Mundelein (we beat once)
Waukegan (we beat twice)
Wheeling (have not seen yet)