Tuesday @ Lake Forest with Stevenson
After a terribly difficult start to the week, we headed to Lake Forest's lush course on Tuesday afternoon. When we left Zion, it was a bit hot and sticky, but the weather gods smiled upon us and sent a cooling breeze that led to fantastic racing conditions. While the boys raced, we prepared by walking and running the course, discussing the changes, go-zones, and tactics. Once our race began, I was interested to see how we would fare after an awesome but challenging workout on Saturday. I wasn't sure how everyone's legs would feel between that work and the stress of Monday. I was pleased to see a few things. First, we had ELEVEN LPRs at Lake Forest: Leilani, Aniya, Riley, Wendy, Sofia, Lauren, Sheila, Adrianna, Melanie, Cheyenne, and Brionne. Congrats to all of these women for huge performances! We also had FIVE SPRs: Natalie, Katelin, Audrey, Aubrianna, and Illyana. Proud of you, bees! That is a really impressive list! I'm so proud of the work we did in this meet. Realistically, Lake Forest is ahead of us ability-wise right now (not by much. They ran all out instead of running a workout against us, and we didn't get shut out like we would in the past), but I didn't know what to expect from Stevenson. We ended up losing to Stevenson by one point. I have confidence that we will be able to mix it up with them at Conference and the Regional when it counts. In the meantime, I am proud of you all for embracing this course and beautiful evening. There was good team energy, and I want that to continue!
Saturday @ Bill Dawson Invite (Warren)
I was excited to get to this meet. Not only is the course flat and fast, but the energy is fantastic, and the timing company provided awesome stats to nerd out on. You can check the results at pttiming; go to the bottom right in the live results. The stats are so cool on this website. You can see your mile splits as well as how many people you caught (green numbers) or how many caught you (red numbers) after each mile. Our racers embraced the day through great effort and earning lots of PRs!
Frosh/Soph Women: Our bees in this race enjoyed a ton of success. Brionne was our first finisher--she did a great job of getting out hard, and finishing with a great third mile and kick. Her only weak spot was the second mile, but I know that as she gains more experience, she will improve here. Great job today, Brionne! Our second finisher was Sheila, who has had an outstanding week! It started last Saturday when she stepped up in the workout, and it continued today as she blew away her PR from Tuesday. She dropped 2:36 because she was locked in the whole race. Proud of your effort, Sheila! Cheyenne was our next bee in the race. She improved by 28 seconds since Tuesday, and she had a strong kick. Like Sheila, she has started to figure out how to push, and her new LPR shows it. Nice work, Cheyenne! Aniya keeps improving, too. Today she looked just as locked in as Sheila. Through consistent effort, she dropped 1:49 from Tuesday! Whew! Great work, Aniya! In only her second race, Wendy also had a great day, earning a new LPR by dropping 2:01 today. When I was talking with the captains, they remarked how Wendy was so determined, and that they were particularly impressed by her kick today! Proud of your growth, Wendy! Our next two finishers were separated only by tenths of a second: Melanie and Aubri. Melanie ran a huge LPR today, dropping 1:48. More importantly, she got out hard, packing up with her teammates and working hard in the second half of the race. What impressed me most was watching her help Aubri in the final section of the race. Aubri was suffering from a side cramp, and Melanie (without slowing down), encouraged Aubri to stay with her, visibly gesturing with her hand. In the final straight, they both shifted to kick mode, challenging one another the whole way! Great work you two! Our final racer in this event was Leilani. In her second 3-mile race, she shaved off two seconds. Nice work! Overall, this group needs to keep believing in the fitness they are building and keep challenging themselves in races and hard workouts. I can see that they are close to a Jackie-like breakthrough. Let's go, newbee crew! :)
Varsity Women: Whoo-wee! I cannot put into words just how excited I am about the effort this crew displayed. The stats say a lot: An SPR for Audrey, and LPRs for Lauren, Riley, Marisa, and Sofia. LPRs are always exciting, but they come more readily to new runners as they gain fitness. Earning an LPR at the Varsity level becomes more precious, and the fact that these women pulled it off today says a lot about their willingness to embrace the fantastic conditions and the race itself. Audrey was our first finisher again. I want to take a moment to give her the credit she deserves. It is no easy thing to be the fastest person on a team. She sets the pace in workouts and races. She has to be self-motivated in order to push beyond her previous limits. Today, she went out with the top racers, challenging them in the first mile. She said that the sun got to her in the second mile; she did slow slightly, but she was able to hang on in the last mile and earn a trophy for her 7th place finish. More importantly, her early push helped her earn an SPR by 11 seconds; her time was only 4 seconds off her time from her Conference performance on the same course last year. Proud of you, Audge! Our trio of Lauren, Riley, and Marisa crafted a special race today. These three went out as a pack in a more conservative pace. They rolled through the mile around 6:45. What's stunning is that they were about 50th place at this point. Because they saved some juice in that first mile, they were able to run nearly an even split for the second mile; while others were suffering for enthusiastic starts, these three ATE. They each caught about 20 runners in this stretch--an impressive feat in the hardest part of the race. What I love the most is that Lauren and Riley were able to go negative for the final mile, each gobbling up seven more competitors. Marisa was no slouch in the last mile either--she only slowed by 3 seconds and was able to catch one runner in the final mile. The patience and effort of these three is so impressive. Their LPRs were the direct result of their smart tactics! Lauren broke 20 for the second time this week, shaving off a second from Tuesday thanks to her intense kick. Riley dropped a big 28 seconds from her Tuesday breakthrough, thanks to her speedy last mile and incredible kick (seriously, she looked like she was running a leg of the 4X100). And Marisa, after commenting before the race that she hadn't felt good since Deerfield, had a breakthrough race today, dropping 5 seconds from her previous LPR that she ran on this same course last year IN OCTOBER. To say that I am excited about the future of this trio is an understatement. Teams that race together do big things! Sofia was our final finisher. She dropped 15 seconds from her big performance on Tuesday. Immediately after her finish, she lamented that she could have run faster. While I don't want her to beat herself up, I do appreciate that she already sees an opportunity to grow! Since she joined us in the summer, Sofia has asked questions and quietly become a student of this sport. Today, she chose the challenge of racing Varsity, and I'm so proud of her for that! Without her courage, we would not have had five finishers and no team score. I need to give a shout out to Natalie, too. She has had a tough road since this summer; her ankle was finally starting to heal, and then she got hit with a nasty head cold. With her nose still stuffy, she took on the challenge of today's race. After the mile (time-wise was great, btw), she looked good, but the second mile made her breathing too difficult, and Coach Hamilton pulled her. What is important is that Nat got some more quality work in today without going too far. I know that this work will help her as we start to sharpen as a group in the post-season. Proud of your grit, Nat! Overall, the collective efforts of this group resulted in a 7th place team finish (out of 18 teams). The last time we ran this meet in 2019, we placed 11th with a very tough team--the first to make it Sectionals in six years! Today's effort was truly a team effort. Without Audrey's front running...without our pack's tenacity...without Sofia's courage, this placing just doesn't happen. A great example of EVERY LINK mattering. Proud of you bees! :)
Our JV bees had some impressive performances, too. Unfortunately, I only had the chance to be in the pre-race huddle and watch them immediately after the starter's gun, and I had to jet. When I look at the results, though, I am really impressed! Blanca ran a big SPR--1:20 off her previous best! She did this by going out aggressively--her fastest this season and then working hard in the last mile, where she caught four people. Awesome work, Blanca! :) Aubrianna also had a solid race. She got out incredibly well--a speedy 8:10! She suffered a bit in the warmest weather of the day and fell off pace, but we are working on a few solutions to resolve that. I know that she will continue to be gutsy as she races, and it will all fall into place for her! :) Nataly J. was not far behind Aubrianna, and-- whew--did she have a tremendous race! Last year, she had to have surgery at the end of the season; unfortunately, this past week, she started having pains similar to last year which is way she sat out of Tuesday's race. She was feeling better today, though, and she seized the day! She dropped 2:01 from her season's best and 37 seconds from her previous LPR. What a huge race! I have watched as Nataly seized workouts lately, so I had a feeling she was ready for a big drop. Way to go, Nataly--proud of your consistent effort! Estrella was our final finisher today. After a difficult week away from us, I was happy to see how excited everyone was to see her back. :) She did a nice job of running around her ability level in this race. I know that with a few more days of running under her belt, she is ready to drop some serious time. Proud of your grit today, Estrella!
Overall, today was a great day! The fact that you were all able to perform so well in the face of the week's events speaks volumes about your resilience. Please do not underestimate the toll that the week's stress had on each of you. If you'll indulge me with an analogy: Each of you has an energy fuel tank. You fill it by eating foods that help your body feel good (like the rainbow challenge, proteins, carbs, and fats) as well as water. But you also fill it by doing things that make you feel good--like having a good sleep schedule, taking care of homework, hanging out with people you like, participating in hobbies, and embracing nature (that's why we headed to Beulah this week!). There are plenty of other ways to fill your tank--you just have to figure out what fills you. For me, it's writing the race blog, reading books I love, talking with my friends, hanging out with my husband, walking my dog, eating ice cream, meditating, looking at beautiful skies, and witnessing as people grow--academically and athletically.
But there are things that deplete our tanks, too. The act of running uses up fuel (in a good way), as does doing homework or thinking hard or simply living. Dealing with unexpected stress depletes our tanks, too. Stress is different for everyone; for some, it's worrying about grades. Others, it's worrying about loved ones or dealing with difficult living conditions. And honestly, for most people, sitting on their phones (social media, games, etc) uses up fuel. Social media CAN be good, but so much of social media is like junk food--it might be nice for a moment, but it's not something you should consume all day long. This week, the lockdown took a ton of fuel out of my tank, so I knew I had to do some serious work to refill my tank. The problem is that if you are not mindful of refills, your body will still try to function at a deficit. Just like you wouldn't expect to drive to Los Angeles from Zion without stopping for gas, you should not expect to make it through the week without refilling your tank. When you don't refill your car, it eventually stops working; the same is true of ourselves. Sometimes that results in illness. Others it results in feeling sad or unmotivated. It can also cause injuries.
So my challenge to you this week is this: Find what refuels you, and work to incorporate it each day. Once you are more mindful of what fills you vs. what empties you, you can be more mindful of filling your tank.
We only have one race this week--it's Saturday at Grant. This meet has grown each year. The course is challenging, but I honestly like it. It's not as tough as Waukegan or Parkside, but it does require you to stay awake. We will focus our toughest workout early in the week so that we can focus on the race at the end of the week. In the meantime, let's fill each other up! :)