Tuesday @ Home vs. Lake Forest
I felt good going into this meet: our course looked great (especially the senior signs--nice work, Hives!), everyone was in good spirits as we set up the chute and flags, and the weather was decent. I was really happy with the way we raced at Parkside, and I hoped that we would bring the same energy to this meet. Prior to racing, the Lake Forest coach indicated that he was sitting a few of his top runners; I believed that a few was more than two, so I thought we had a shot at beating this very strong team.
Our bees got out very well, looking poised and in contention at the 800. I was happy to see us competing hard like the men did in the previous race. Heading into the woods, Audrey was in the lead with Riley and Lauren not far behind in 4th and 5th respectively. Rachel and Fia had great starts, sitting in 8th and 9th with Kate only steps behind in 11th, ahead of Lake Forest's big pack. Janalise and Brionne were hanging onto that pack with strong starts, too. Aniya rounded out our top group, looking tough and using the downhill to her advantage. Our newbees looked great at the start, too. I can see that they are starting to feel their new fitness as well as figure out this racing thing. Sofie A. looked smart and open down the hill while Nathaly pulled on the wisdom of Estrella. Emily got strong start while Eva and Tati worked so well together in that first half mile! Melanie bravely battled her tight hip, keeping her stride open and her eyes on the competition.
In the beginning of the woods, Lake Forest made some moves and shifted our places a bit, but I was happy to see that we were still competing hard. Heading back into the trees from the volleyball courts, I was so proud to watch everyone push hard off the turn and work to keep their spots. We put up a good fight, but Lake Forest is just GOOD. They have more depth than we do right now, and they have some impressive pedigrees. Lucy, the eventual winner, has an older sister who is running professionally. She just competed today (9/11) in the 5th Avenue Mile in New York City. It's a really cool race--a mile straight down 5th Avenue--no laps or curves. If you check out this video, she is in the second row on the left in front of the woman who bends over to stretch before the start. She ended up 8th with a time of 4:20! Now, does Lucy's sister mean that we should be intimidated by Lake Forest or Lucy? Nope. But I think it helps to have some context about who we were up against as we look at the final results.
We gave Lake Forest a good fight, but they were the better team today. You can click here to see that they beat us 25-32. In the past, they would have shut us out, 15-50. I like that we were that close, and I like the performances I saw. I am proud of Audrey's gutsy race. She didn't give up on Lucy and tried to close at the end. Her time was strong, and she looked more like herself since her illness. Riley and Lauren had huge races, keeping the gap between them and Audrey small (a key to our team doing well), and running times that are impressive! More importantly, these two really battled like Audrey, trying to close on the LF girls ahead of them. Rachel stepped up to be our #4 today, which is huge! She fought hard, and she seems to have bounced back from some fatigue last week, running a strong time for her team. Fia-Fia wasn't far behind, running a time that is equivalent to her peak at the end of last year. Nice work, Fia! Kate was our strong #6. She put together an impressive race, and she fought through some last mile pain and earned a time she ran mid-season last year. Nice work, Katie-Kate! Brionne finished as our #7, running an impressive race, also earning a time that took her over half the season to achieve last year. Proud of you, Brioche! Our seven really fought, and I'm proud of every one of them!
After being sick, Aniya is back in top form, matching her time from Deerfield. I anticipate that she will have a big drop next week as she feels more confident in her fitness! Janalise had a great first XC race. She was courageous and got out hard. Although she paid for that zesty start, I know that she will eventually be able to hold onto that pace. In the meantime, I'm proud of her gutsiness and willingness to race hard. Nice work, Janalise! Sofie A. wasn't far behind Janalise, running a strong race! I think she is going to have a big drop when we head to Warren next week. Nice work, Sofie! Estrella wasn't far behind, looking much more like her last year's self. Her time was equivalent to her mid-season times last year, so I am excited to see her fitness ahead of schedule! Nice work, Senior! Nathaly was our next finisher. She looked joyful from start to finish. I think she is going to be a surprise for us this season as her fitness grows. Proud of your mindset today, Nat! Emily is also starting to figure out racing. She looked strong in the first half, and she did not give in to that voice that says "Walk!" today. Proud of you, Em! This is a big breakthrough, and I cannot wait to see you race again! Tati was next, complete with a beautiful kick down the hill. She gave everything she had, and I am proud of her toughness! Keep fighting, Tati! Eva wasn't far behind her, looking strong in her final kick as well. These two just keep making each other better! Nice work, Eva! Our final bee was Mel, who fought through a tight hip to compete today. Proud of you, Mel-Mel!
Overall, we had a really strong day. Shout out to Julianna and Yazaira for helping direct traffic on the course, Ashley and Syneisha for handing out cards at the finish line, and Chey for helping Ms. Morelli with cards and names. Thank you all for your help setting up and taking down the course. It takes the whole team to make the meet happen, and I'm proud of everyone's helpfulness.
On Saturday, Varsity ran the long run on a simply beautiful morning at Van Patten Woods. I came home so refreshed from running among the trees, watching the mist come off the lake, and feeling the positive vibes from the team. We talked about an important part of racing: how to deal with "The Red Zone." The Red Zone is that moment of truth that comes in every race--it's when your body is tired, your lungs are burning, and your mind is screaming, "QUIT THIS PAINFUL RUNNING!" This moment comes for different reasons. For some, it's because you are still working on getting fit. For others, it's because you went out harder than you ever have before. And still others, it happens when an opponent presses you, or the course challenges you. And sometimes that Red Zone pops up because our own minds betray us with negativity. The point is, we ALL deal with this feeling. The question is: How should we try to deal with it? Our varsity pack brainstormed some great ideas, and I want to list them here so that you have some techniques to try:
Before I close this blog, I also need to give Coach Anderson a shout out for the cool idea for the First Annual ZBXC Jamboree! It was so nice to see all the families together, and the relay was fun to watch! I'm glad we had some alums attend, and I hope more will come next year. Thanks to all who contributed somehow, whether it was bringing food or helping clean up after. I expect to see our fans in all that XC gear, too! :) If you haven't checked out our Facebook page, you should. Mr. Davis and Mrs. Luell post pictures from a lot of the meets, and Mr. Davis got some great shots at the Jamboree. Search for our team page: Zion Benton Cross Country and Distance Crew. Yes, we post pics on the 'Gram, but there are many more on the FB page due to unlimited uploads.