Saturday @ Parkside (Rebel Invite)
I'll take the blame that the energy didn't feel quite right when we were at the starting box doing dynamic. By putting everyone in the same race and worrying about the heat later in the day, I unintentionally sent the message that the meet was not as important as it is! And honestly, a 4K race is a weird distance, too. BUT, every race is a chance to grow, a chance to bank miles and hills, a chance to learn how to race. I give you all credit that when the gun sounded, you all took care of business! Coach Hamilton stationed herself at the top of the hill, and reported that you all looked SO STRONG at the top. Everyone did a nice job resetting and using the next part of the course as a reset. By the time I saw you all again, you were over halfway through the race (I don't like this course for this reason only: I hate that it's hard to see you all more than once!)
I was happy to see Rachel and then Fia so close to the front. Both of them expressed UNFOUNDED doubts pre-race, and I was pleased that they set those doubts aside and just raced according to their abilities. It's a good experience to run with the front pack, and I'm glad that these two did just that! They both looked poised and powerful as they zoomed by me, using the slight downhill. They finished 3rd and 5th respectively, earning medals in the JV race. Nice work you two! Our third finisher was Jana with a really nice breakthrough. If Lauren & Brionne had been healthy and racing, Jana would have been our 5th. She was much closer to Sofia (1:42 gap) than she was to Brionne on Wednesday (2:59 gap). That's a huge improvement! This growth means that she got out harder and is starting to truly trust her fitness that she earned this summer. Keep reaching for your teammates, Jana! Speaking of reaching for a teammate, Alivia had another nice race today. She was not far behind Jana, and she looked professional in her spikes! Quick side note: Spikes are not required, but there is something about taking off your training shoes and putting on those sleek, light, aggressive shoes that signals to your brain that it is RACE TIME. Ok, back to Alivia. She did a great job of using the course to her advantage. Bravo! When the timers separated out the freshies, she ended up 5th and took home a medal. Nice work! Liz was our 5th finisher overal (4th for the open race). She is looking stronger and stronger as the week moves on. I know she is still ridding her body of that nasty cold bug, but today she looked more like herself. She was assertive early on and did a nice job of pulling Anesa along when I saw the two of them at the 1.5 mark. This race shows how much Liz has improved since last year: she ran nearly 3:30 faster than last fall! Take that knowledge and keep taking risks, Liz! Anesa did a great job of pulling on Liz's experience. She had a great day on this hilly course. I hear that she had a fantastic kick, too. Nice work, Anesa! :) Although Juliana was not satisfied with her race today, I am here to report that I am! She was our 7th finisher overall, and she looked GREAT on the hills, and she gave Aniya a visual to pull on. Proud of you, Juliana! Aniya had a strong effort today, too. She did a nice job of using others to help her push in the middle of the race. She was also smart about the course, using the downhill by me to push herself out of her comfort zone. Proud of you, Aniya! Alisia was our next finisher, not much behind Aniya. Not only did she have a great, open stride kick, but she also worked well on the downhills! Nice work, Freshie! Cheyenne was not far behind Alisia. Although her knee has been bothering her, she soldiered up and looked FANTASTIC on the small hill I was near. I know it can be frustrating to compete when not at 100%, but getting that hill work in now will pay off HUGE in the coming weeks! Like Liz, Cheyenne's strength gains have been HUGE in the last year. She ran nearly 2:00 faster than last year on the same course. Impressive growth, Chey! Proud of you! Mary looked strong today! She was cruising through the woods when I saw her, and her kick was impressive. Nice work, Mary! Tyla was our next bee with an impressive performance. Like Mary, she was working the woods and challenging herself. I caught the tail end of her kick, and it was pretty to watch! Nice work, Ty! In the woods, Joi and Eva were working so well in tandem. Once past me, Joi made the move to catch the next pack, and she did it while encouraging Eva to pull with! She had a great kick at the end, and is really starting to learn how to challenge herself mid-race. Nice work, Joi! Tati was our next finisher, and man did she look good in the woods! The pic I took of her is the best one of the bunch. Her eyes are open...but more importantly, her stride looks so strong. She improved by 2:32 compared to her race at Parkside last year, and it shows in the pic. Her confidence is so obvious now! Proud of your growth, Tati! Keep it up! Eva finished after Tati. Although she didn't feel well in the second half of the race, Eva pushed herself so hard! Like Tati, she had BIG growth compared to last year: she ran nearly 3:00 faster! I hope these stats are showing veterans and newbees alike the power of showing up, day after day. Those cumulative steps matter! Proud of your grit today, Eva! Sasha was the next finisher, and did she look good today! Sasha ZOOMED down the hill I was near, using that momentum to propel her up the small hill on the other side. This is what I mean about using the course--awesome job, Sasha! And tremendous kick! Cici was our next finisher. Like her fellow veterans, she showed SO MUCH GROWTH today. She knocked 3:09 off her time from last year. So impressive! She did it with an open stride and an open mind. Nice work, Cici! Dani was our next finisher. Not only did she do a nice job with the hill when she zoomed by me, but she also let the crowd fuel her kick. She looked so powerful with her quick turnover in the final stretch. Awesome work, Dani! Our final racer today was Crys. Not only did she push herself on the hills, but she also had a tremendous kick, too. She did a great job of using Coach Hamilton's inspiration to open up and fly down the final stretch. Great work!
Overall, we placed 4th as a team for the Open Race, and 4th for the Freshman Race. That's a nice outcome considering how many people are recovering from illness or did not race today. We will use the momentum from today to propel us into some work this week.
Please note the schedule on the front page of the website. I am going to try to move our picture day, but if I can't please plan to be at school at 3:35 in uniform (just the singlet and black shorts) on Wednesday in the South Commons. We should be done within 30 minutes. More importantly, Friday is our Second Annual ZBXC Jamboree! The weather should be beautiful! Please plan to run a bit, then enjoy some food and bonding! Please make sure you fill out the form that Anderson sent out via Remind so that we can plan food. We ask that you bring something to share to make the event even yummier. We had a great time last year, so please make time to join us!
LAST NOTE: It is important that we take good care of ourselves this week. I want you all feeling great for our one and only home meet on the 12th. Please make sure you are washing your hands before eating, getting 8 hours or more of sleep per night, and fueling/hydrating for success!
Wednesday @ Lake County Invite, hosted by Grant
This invite has been at Waukegan for quite some time, which is a delightfully short drive of 10 minutes from ZB. I was admittedly caught off guard by how long it took us to get to Grant's Athletic Complex on Wednesday, and my mistake led to our Varsity Crew having a rushed warm up. I'm sorry, women! Thanks to the teammates who grabbed their bags from the bus so that they could maximize their warm up time, though! As we huddled up before the race, I could feel the tension from these bees, and I asked them to let it go and just race. When the gun sounded, the temperatures were definitely warmer than what we enjoyed in Zion before we boarded the bus, but I'm proud to report that our crew handled that, the rushed warm up, and the competition with bravery.
Lauren was our leader today, and she did a great job of getting out strong. She moved around the mid-teens all race, looking great up the hill each time. She finished disappointed with how she felt in the last part of the race. I have had the luxury of time and some perspective, though. On this hot day, she matched her time from last season at the JT Invite on the same course. That meet is three weeks away! Additionally, Lauren had really kind conditions that day: we didn't run a full team, so there was no team pressure; the weather was absolutely perfect (go back and look at the Week 5 Race Blog from last year); and she didn't have a rushed warm up. To match that time from last year is really exciting, considering she didn't feel great in the race this time. On Thursday at the end of practice, we had a good talk about the race, but I'm hoping that this added perspective will allow Lauren to use this race as a jumping off point for our upcoming races! Proud of your grit, Lauren! Rachel was our second bee today, and she looked gutsy! She got out well, pushed the hills like a champ, and had a great finish! I can't remember why she did not compete at JT last year (were you sick, Rose?) but I know she went crazy at the Regional at the end of the season. She was only 24 seconds off that Regional time--impressive! More importantly, I like how she simply raced today despite the aforementioned obstacles. Keep up that gritty racing, Rach! Fia was our 3rd bee, and she showed us so much growth in this second race. She is starting to let go of the "I'm afraid to make a move, so I'm going to stay competitively comfortable" mindset and replacing it with confidence in her training. She told me last week that she wanted to beat freshman Fia, and she is doing just that each week! For this race, it came in the shape of pushing the hill, catching people in the last 800, and pulling on Rachel in the latter half of the race. Proud of your newfound gutsiness, Fia-Fia! Brionne was not far behind, looking happier and healthier than at Deerfield. She posted a season PR by racing hard and working to catch Fia. Each time I saw her, she looked locked into the race. Proud of your finish, too, Bri! Nice work! Last year at this time, Jana--our 5th and final scoring runner--wasn't even eligible to race yet because she had not added up enough practices yet. To see how she raced today compared to last season is just impressive! Such growth! Liz was our next bee, and it's clear that this respiratory junk is just that: junk. Although Liz has been feeling better, our sport is ALL about oxygen, and I could tell that she is just not processing oxygen at 100% yet. That being said, I was really impressed by Liz's racing today. She looked great after the first 800, and her effort on the hill was fantastic every time. I think it was her last time up that she did such a great job accelerating around the turn onto the flat. Despite being sick, her time beats all of last year up until the Lakes Sunset Invite, which is in October. She is well ahead of last year (as I predicted to her when we talked in Oshkosh...). Proud of your growth, Liz! Cheyenne was our 7th finisher for the day. Like Liz, she has grown SO MUCH since last year. Despite a sore knee, Cheyenne fought hard today. She looked strong after the first 800, and her hill work was so powerful! I like how she worked the down hill heading into the woods in the last loop. Like Liz, her time is VAST improvement from last year, and she did not run close to this fast until the Lakes Sunset Invite. That growth is important--proud of your commitment to breaking out of your comfort zone, Chey! Aniya was our final bee today. I know she was not satisfied with her race, but I am proud of her gritty racing. She did not roll over in this race, despite not feeling like herself. She kept pushing to catch people, and she looked so strong on the hills (a recurring theme today for our team!). We are going to figure out what's going on with her health, but in the meantime, proud of your fight, Aniya! Overall, our varsity squad took 10th out of 15 teams. I am confident that some of the teams who got us today will not be able to hang with us later in the season when we are healthier! We also need to start working on our 1-5 split. Check it out here. Look at the graph on the right. If you roll your mouse over each bar, you can see the time difference between each teams' 1st and 5th runners. We are green in the middle. You can see that we were close to Lakes points-wise, despite one of their runners winning the race, because their 1-5 split was not great. That's an area that can help our team score this season! I am confident that we will improve here--I just wanted to make you all aware of that stat!
Our bees in the open race had cooler temperatures and the luxury of seeing their teammates attack the course. At the 800, Anesa was our leader, looking so strong! She is really starting to figure out racing, and she did a great job at the longer distance today. Her hill-form was absolutely on point! She looked like a sprinter for sure! Her third time up, she did a great job of extending her push past the hill, passing even more runners as she made the turn! Excellent work, Senior/Freshie! Speaking of freshies, Alivia ended up being our first finisher. I love that she is growing as a racer; she trusted herself in the second half to to catch people! I love even more what Anesa said about it on the bus: Anesa shouted out Alivia for the second half of her race. I want to underscore that message: NEVER EVER stay behind someone because she has beaten you before. EVER. Your job is to run as fast as you can on the given day, regardless of what your competitors or teammates are doing. You should NEVER EVER think that there has to be a special order! Ok, rant over. Nice work, Alivia! Norah had a similar race strategy: she got out well, and then she picked people off in the second half of the race. She did a nice job up the hills, and she had a great kick, too! Proud of you, Norah! Great work in your first 3-miler, Norah! Juliana was our fourth finisher today, and she looked great! She and Norah (aka "Sunglasses Crew") worked so well together in the first half of the race. Juliana did a great job of working the hills, too! Proud of you, Juliana! Alisia and Mary finished within a second of each other as our 5th and 6th finishers. Mary did a great job of working up to Alisia's spot so that they could finish in sync! On the last hill, Alisia had a slight lead, and Mary charged up and worked the loop to catch her! Despite being a more challenging course, Mary ran a new PR by over 20 seconds from last week at Deerfield! Impressive growth, Mary! Alisia did a fantastic job of using her long stride to attack the hill and zoom her finish! Proud of this duo! Tyla was our next finisher. She was within seconds of her time at Deerfield--nice work! More importantly, she did a great job of using people in the race to push her in the latter stages. Great kick, too! You've got some speed, Tyla! Proud of you! At the start of the race, Jazmin and Annie worked together for the first 800. Jazmin kept a super-even pace, working up on competitors and looking so speedy on the hill. Jaz also had a sweet kick--nice work today, Freshie! Joi moved up in the race, using Jazmin as a key! She did a fantastic job of calling on her summer strength to zoom up the hill. She also did a great job of opening up her stride for the final kick. Her mile pace today was FASTER than it was at Deerfield when she only ran 2 miles. Impressive, Joi! Annie was our next finisher. Like Joi, her pace per mile was FASTER than at Deerfield. Both of these freshies are showing how trusting your training and showing up each day will allow you to grow as the season goes on. Awesome kick today, too, Annie! Proud of you! Like the freshies before her, Sasha also ran FASTER per mile than she did at Deerfield. She also had such power on the hill! I can't wait for her to really see how powerful she can be! Impressive kick at the end, too, Sasha. Keep it up! Cici was our next bee...talk about growth! She ran 3 MINUTES FASTER than she did on the same course (but 3 weeks later) last year, despite getting over being sick this week. Cici's race shows that running is cumulative! Every step she has taken has brought her to this point and made her stronger as a runner and teammate! Proud of your racing debut as a sophomore, Cici! Dani was our next bee, and she handled her first 3-miler with grit! She looked SO STRONG on the hills, and she did a fantastic job of using the downhill heading into the woods. As her fitness grows, I know she will start trusting herself even more! Proud of your race today, Dani! Our final bee was Crys(tal). I don't want to call her Patient Zero for this back-to-school plague we have all been experiencing, but she certainly was an early adopter. Despite hanging onto a cough, she did a great job of working through her first race of her high school career! I know it was intimidating to start with a hilly 3-mile race. She handled the challenge so well! She used her teammates to motivate her, and she used her gritty mindset to get her to the finish line with a zooming-fast kick. Awesome work for your debut, Crys!
Overall, this group placed 9th as a team. How do they figure out the scores, you ask? Well, if you look on athletic.net here, you can see that each of you have a place next to your name. They take the first FIVE Zee-Bee finishers, and add up their places. That creates the team score. For an official XC race, the first seven racers are the official team. The first five create the team score, and 6 & 7 act as "pushers." They can push up an opposing team's score by finishing ahead of one of their scoring 5. They also act as alternates in case something happens to one of the scoring 5. Let me know if you have any questions about team scoring!
Overall, I came home super-happy about this meet. The racing was great, but more importantly, the vibe was right. You were all encouraging one another, and the shout outs on the bus were fantastic: you focused on growth and grit! I feel like we are starting to come together as a team. Let's keep that bond growing by leaning on each other in future races and workouts. We will be back at this course again later in September. I cannot wait to see the growth when we return! In the meantime, know that you have some proud coaches!