Schaumburg Sectional @ Busse Woods: After a week of great practices, I looked forward to seeing what you could all do on an easier course. Let's be honest, Grant's new course at Camp Henry Horner was anything but fast, and Libertyville's hilly course did not afford great times, either. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not want to let us run super-fast; starting at the tail-end of our practice on Wednesday, she let the rain fall for several days. While the course was not in terrible shape (2009 was far worse), it did not allow for great times. As we warmed up, I could tell that the team was nervous, but not nearly as tense as last week. Once we were on the line, sporting our brand new, bright pink arms, I could see the stress fade away. For once, you all seemed happy to race...ready to celebrate the challenge. At the gun, you all got away great, despite our box on the far side of the course. Coming down the hill, I was pleased to see Kimmy with the top group. Mary, the rest of our pack was a bit further back than I would have liked, but the good news was that I saw you all putting our plan into action: each of you came wide on the turn and started passing down the hill. Nice work! On the first loop, I had trouble spotting all of Mundelein's girls, but I thought that Maira (#6) and Lindsay (#7) were ahead of their #5. One benefit of our new "pink," coupled with the topography of the course, was that I could pick each of you out as you headed to the lake, behind the start, and into the mini-loop. As you each emerged from the road again, I was pleased that we had moved up; Kimmy was now in the twenties, Mary had moved up significantly, Ally was working up to her, as were Ana and Joseline. Maira and Lindsay looked like track season again, working in tandem. At this point, I saw Lindsay point back, as if to ask if we were beating Mundelein; amid my excitement, I couldn't get out the word, "YES!" I confirmed that our 6-7 punch was indeed in front of their 5th. I kept my fingers crossed as you all headed down the hill and to the two-mile mark. As the final loop began, I yelled to Kimmy that she had to get the Fremd girl in yellow and green, which she worked on immediately. Mary flew down the hill without needing any push, and Ally looked aggressive as well. Joseline and Ana had separated slightly, but were within steps of each other, and Maira and Lindsay were still in striking distance as well. I ran to the final stretch to try to yell over the roar of the crowd. I watched each of you muster better kicks than I have seen all season: Kimmy looked great, working to recapture DelPrato of Libertyville; Mary kicked hard, defending her spot amid a rush of four girls; Ally had that same determined look from Warren; Ana and Joseline looked great from the 300; Maira reached to catch several girls while Lindsay pushed not far behind. Outside of the chute, everyone looked satisfied, which is all I can ask at the final meet of the season. To walk away with WhatIfs is maddening; we completed our team mission...we beat Mundelein handily. The seniors had a great day, and the juniors/freshie now have a taste of the team race...I hope you all come back hungrier for next year. This blog wouldn't be complete without a shout out to Kimmy: not only did she set a lifetime PR of 18:54, but she also nabbed the best finish by a ZB woman at this Sectional, coming in 26th overall. Several coaches came up to me afterwards to compliment her race. Although she missed a berth at State, she left it all on the course.
As I drove home from school, I couldn't help but think of the character of this team. For the last two weeks, we have had great fan support from countless teammates strategically stationed throughout the courses to make our team feel focused at every point in each race. We have grown up tremendously since last year, and I am proud of all the hard work you have each put into the season. A few weeks back, I challenged you to bleed for your teammates...while Maira took me a little too literally, I can see that you now understand what I mean. So I'll end this year's blog with this: beesbeesbeeshah!
Regional Meet @ Adler Park: After a lot of stalking, I concluded that our best bet to get out of the Regional was to beat Waukegan, Stevenson and Mundelein. Even with Stevenson's top girl back in the meet, I knew we could beat them, and Waukegan would not be a problem either. Mundelein, however, was tricky: they beat us head-to-head by one point, but we beat them at Conference (without their #3 runner). So going into the meet, I knew we had work to do, but I was confident after a solid week of training. At the gun, our group got out well. At the 800, I was worried about Mary's placement, however; I later learned that she was pushed into a tree on the first turn. Despite that bad luck, Mary worked back to her teammates by mile two in a great display of poise and courage! Meanwhile, Kimmy was in a great position (around 7th), as was most of our pack. At the mile, however, we had some significant work to do; not only was Mundelein beating us, but I was also worried about Stevenson at this point. Ally and Ana responded to my plea and moved up in the race, while Joseline did work to catch a few as well. In the final stretch, I was confident that we had taken out Stevenson, but I was still worried about Mundelein. Kimmy had moved up to 4th, which helped, but our #2 and #3 runners were being beaten by theirs. After the race was over, I was uncertain of the outcome...I knew the scores would be close. Unfortunately, Mundelein bested us by 10 points, but we were able to beat a injury-ridden Highland Park team in order to secure the 6th qualifying spot for the Schaumburg Sectional. Highlights from the race: Kimmy was All-Regional, earning a medal for her 4th place finish; Ana finally looked aggressive again in a race after battling her stomach ulcer for several weeks; Mary rebounded nicely after a tree incident that could have derailed her race; everyone had solid kicks (the hill workout must have helped!); and we qualified for one more week of team racing! Congratulations, ladies! :)
Click here to see a GREAT slide show, courtesy of Mr. Thompson!
Conference @ Grant--Camp Henry Horner: Thanks to Grant, there were three races for the women today, rather than the usual two at Conference: Varsity, Frosh/Soph and Open. Per our Conference guidelines, the Varsity women ran first. After a flat performance at Sterling, we agreed that our team goal was to race hard and to kick with purpose. Kimmy was our first finisher, running 19:40 and earning All-Conference Honors with a 10th place medal. Way to go! Ana and Ally finished within a second of each other, both displaying strong kicks. Mary, who was trapped by the narrow course in several spots, was our 4th woman for the day, finishing in 21:17. With a strong second half of the race, Joseline was our 5th scorer, finishing twenty seconds behind Mary. Maira and Alexis rounded out our seven on this challenging course. As a team, we finished 8th, beating Mundelein (who was running without their #3), but not competing at the level I know we are capable of. We will need to strengthen our mentality for the challenging Regional at Adler Park next week.
The Frosh/Soph Girls ran second, and looked great doing so. After a late-race surge, Karli finished first for our team and earned a 10th place medal! Madi, who also ran a gutsy race today, was not far behind in 12th, and also earned a medal. Jocelyn was our third finisher for the group; despite a nagging hip injury, she looked strong throughout and had a nice kick to finish. Nala was our fourth runner, running an outstanding race! Not only did she set a Lifetime PR on this challenging course (25:11), but she also showed that she is staring to understand this sport! Way to go! Jacqueline was our fifth woman for the day; she, too, ran a great race, only seconds away from her Lifetime PR. Outstanding! Monica had a great kick as our sixth runner, despite battling a nagging injury for several weeks. Her strength and determination are to be admired. :) Ashley was our 7th finisher; she finally let loose on her kick and looked aggressive down the hill and into the final straight--nice work! Kealy was only seconds behind her, running aggressively throughout her race in order to take home a Lifetime PR of 27:08--great job! Daysha was only steps behind with a great kick; although she did not best her PR, she came very close! Iris was our final bee in this race; although we tried to rest her hip this week, she was not able to race up to her normal standards. Despite her injury, Iris raced with courage the whole way, and still had a great kick. I am very proud of the Frosh/Soph Squad--they have all improved tremendously this season and will have an important role next fall for the team. This group finished in sixth place as a team...only one point away from Stevenson. Nice work, ladies!
The Open Race was the final race of the day, and our runners were ready to prove themselves. Asia ran a gutsy race, finishing in 27th and earning a medal. She looked more like her competitive self today, which was great! Lindsay was our second finisher, closing with a great kick. She finished in 32, only two spots away from a medal. She has continued to improve since Bartlett--nice work! Halie was our third finisher for the day; not only did she look great throughout, but she also finished with a great kick. This was the race I've been waiting to see all season from her--nice work! Jazzman, despite an angry hip flexor, looked great today; she was aggressive throughout and kicked like a sprinter at the finish. I know this great season will translate into an amazing track season this spring--nice work! Tori was rounded out our scoring five with an amazing kick today. I know she would rather have a faster time, but I am proud of how tough she proved to be all season, despite a nagging achilles/calf injury. Way to go, senior! Cora was only seconds behind Tori, also finishing with an amazing kick. Great job! Karolina and Peyton, true to their training over the last few years, finished within one second of each other today. Despite her rude hip, Peyton had one heck of a kick, straightening out her form for that last drive to the chute. Nice work, ladies! Lydia and Olivia also finished within seconds of each other after helping one another throughout the challenging course. They both had strong kicks and looked great today! Tiara was close behind with an outstanding performance for the day. Not only did set her Lifetime PR at this course, but she also looked like a true runner today; great job breaking your PR by over 2 minutes--what a break through! Aurianna showed her dedication today; after arriving only minutes before the race due to a college visit, she ran with tenacity and grace. She looked strong with her kick, and I know this season will help her with basketball and track this year. Nice work! Violette also looked strong today; although her time was not what she hoped for, her kick was certainly great. :) Josefina worked with Tiffany early in the race, then broke away to finish strong at the end. Syra ran a strong race, too, kicking at the 400 and using the hill like a pro--nice work! Tiffany was not far behind, looking great despite this tough course. Sabrina set a season PR by seven seconds, despite the fact that most people struggled with this course--what a great way to end the season! And Sabina rounded out our team today with a strong effort, especially in the last 400 meters. Nice work! Our Open Team took 6th place to beat Stevenson, Grant and Wauconda. Excellent efforts from this group today--I'm proud of you all!
Monday @ Warren with Mundelein:
I was looking forward to this race for a number of reasons: I knew that you ALL liked the course, that there would be great competition, and that we would have an opportunity for comparison from the invite earlier in the season. I also felt that we had a good plan going into the meet, and we seemed ready to race.
We had TEN PRs for the day: Kimmy in 19:05, Mary in 19:47 (first time in the nineteens!), Maira Gonzalez 20:44 (first time in the twenties!), Madi in 21:10 (first time in the twenty-ones), Lindsay in 21:14, Aurianna in 24:24 (first race, finally!), Violette in 24:55 (first time in the twenty-fours!), Jacqueline in 25:12, Josefina in 26:40 (first time in the twenty-sixes!), and Tiara in 28:14 (first time in the twenty-eights). That's a pretty impressive list! What I liked most was that I saw some great racing going on. Lots of working with teammates and working to pass other teams. We still need to work on kicks (I feel like a broken record on this point). And although Mundelein nipped us by one point, I was still happy with the day.
Saturday @ Sterling: After a chocolate-covered pretzel fueled drive to the course, this group seemed ready to race on Friday. Goofy, goofy, goofy as we ran the course and discussed strategy. For our evening meeting, there was more of the same...light-hearted conversations peppered with bouts of crazy laughter. I felt that the team was in a good place mentally--happy and relaxed for racing.
Although we lost out on premium parking for the spirit bus, our spirits were buoyed by a great design for the Sterling t-shirts. :) I already told you this in person, but I was concerned by the energy of our group (or lack thereof) as we talked in our pre-race huddle and did the breakdown. The start looked good, and I raced down to the bottom of the hill to await our bees as they emerged from the woods. Kimmy and Ally were in good position at this point, somewhere in the low 30s. The rest of our pack was still working to find one another. The first mile proved to have solid times, and everyone looked good heading into the woods. After the second mile, I was concerned about the demeanor of most of you; I didn't see the intensity that you all exhibited at Warren just days earlier. Coming out of the final loop, I was also worried about our lack of kicks going into the chute. My final analysis is this: we ran alright, but we left some opportunities on the course, especially after the epic Pes-Os workout on Wednesday.
The ladies in the Open Race agreed that they needed more intensity in their races. At this point, the course was pretty beat up in the park loop, but was still looking good everywhere else. Joseline had an amazing start in the teens, while Lindsay was near fortieth. Madi and Halie were not far off Lindsay, so I was pleased heading into the woods. Joseline grew into the race, moving up to 12th place and looking great doing so! Lindsay moved closer to 30th, while Madi and Halie faded slightly. At the finish, the kicks were not as crisp as I would have hoped. That being said, Joseline brought home a new lifetime PR of 20:47, and a medal for 14th place. Nice work! Lindsay had to deal with the same disappointment as Kimmy, missing a medal by one place.
@ Wheeling Invite: While the top 11 were at Sterling, our F/S and Open women ran at the very weird Wheeling Invite. The course was short, but the times were long...most likely due to the spongy nature of the course. I'm hoping that the meet will return to Wheeling's true home course for next fall. Competition-wise, this is a great meet! All the girls I spoke with said that they felt like they truly raced, but the times did not match the effort. Despite the conditions, we did have two PRs for the day: Tiara in 27:45 (first time in the twenty-sevens), and Kealy in 27:10. Great job, ladies! :) The places looked good, and Cora looked to be competitive with her finish in the Open race.
On a related note, Shorey reportedly mastered the breakdown! Bravo!
Monday @ Home vs. LZ: Our last home meet of the season went well. Although Lake Zurich's strong team bested us, we looked much sharper as a team than we did at Bartlett only days before. To say I was nervous going into this meet would be an understatement. After Homecoming Weekend, I anticipated we would look sluggish and just not ready to race; you all proved me wrong! We had SEVEN LIFETIME PRs at this meet: Joseline was first with a solid race, finishing in 20:50; Maira was not far behind and bested her Saturday performance by running 21:10; Lindsay, just like Saturday, was only seconds behind in 21:19; Madi looked like a different runner than Saturday with a big PR of 22:18; Cora, despite her hip, looked strong when she finished in 22:39--a big improvement for this season; Nala continued her improvement streak, dropping 22 seconds to run a lifetime PR of 25:26; and Tiffany made the most dramatic drop of the day, finally destroying that 30 minute barrier by finishing in 28:03! While all of these performances were outstanding, there were others that stood out, too. Josefina helped Tiffany make that huge PR happen by encouraging her teammate the whole way. Sabina almost broke the 40 minute barrier, and will likely do so at Warren! Alexis and Asia looked MUCH better than they did at Bartlett because they both worked on giving a consistent effort throughout the race. Halie ran a courageous race, despite catching the plague over the weekend. And Kealy was only six seconds off of her lifetime PR. Overall, we looked strong!
I am also proud to announce that we met one of our team goals: to rearrange The Top Ten Board. Check it out below! Look at all those 2013 times!
We also are coming closer to one of our academic goals...we only had three women on the eligibility list this week. Let's keep taking care of the books!
I look forward to seeing what you can do at Warren's course on Monday. Bee ready to race! :)
@Bartlett "Flyin' Hawk" Invite: After a solid week of workouts, including an impressive hill workout at Wadsworth and an equally good PPM at our course, I was hoping that we would break our historical struggle with racing this weekend. It seems that this week has been our "crux" over the years: last year, many blamed our poor races on the cold; the year before, we struggled with injuries; and the year before that? Homecoming Week is just too tiring. But as I warmed up with the Frosh/Soph squad yesterday, I felt optimistic. When we arrived at the hilly section, we all agreed that it felt like nothing compared to Wadsworth. And when the gun sounded, the group looked confident. At the 800, we seemed to be ok; it wasn't a great start, but our leaders were in a decent position to run well, and our other packs were finding each other. In the hilly section, we looked strong; each bee worked the uphills and downhills with confidence. It seemed that we lost steam in the back section, which was devoid of fans, and heading into the second loop, we lost all focus. By the second hill section, we did not look as confident, and by the finish, our kicks were non-existent. All finish times were slower than at Warren, which is not surprising since Bartlett's course is a true 3.0 miles. But the times were significantly slower, which shows that we also had a mental lapse today. But the Frosh/Soph team did not let their races go to waste; they quickly dispensed advice to the upcoming racers, and vowed to disperse to the empty spots on the course to cheer.
The Varsity race offered the same story: a decent start, a mental lapse at the start of the second loop, and missing kicks. Admittedly, Joseline did set a lifetime PR in this race: 20:52. She dropped significant time from this season, and just edged out her lifetime PR of 20:53 from Sterling last year. That being said, this group (as we discussed) needs to bounce back from this race by displaying mental toughness on our course Monday.
The Open Race offered some more success: Maira and Lindsay seemed determined to break our "bling-jinx" of the day. Both started strong in 10th place at the 800 mark, and raced with courage the whole way. What had been missing from most of our previous racers--confidence and determination--was all over their faces whenever I saw them. Both moved up during their races, and they ended up 6th and 8th respectively in order to earn medallions. They also each set lifetime PRs for the race: Maira shaved :33 seconds from her previous best, and Lindsay dropped :14. The other lifetime PR setter of the day was Josefina in that same race. She too looked confident each time I saw her, and she finished with a great kick. That confidence paid off in a new lifetime PR of 27:57, dropping :51 from her previous best! Also, congrats to the Open Crew--although not everyone was happy with their races, you guys placed 5th as a team. Nice work! :)
In reviewing our results, it is interesting to note that the four PRs from the day were ALL from women who did not race at Warren. This leads me to believe that many of you are simply struggling with mid-season fatigue...the tiredness that comes with the accumulation of racing, homework, and a long Homecoming Week. And let's be honest...while it would be AMAZING to set a PR every single race, it is not likely for it to happen. While it is so much fun to have a weekend like we did at Warren, we must learn from our successes AND our struggles. This meet shows that we need to work on the mental-toughness required to work through fatigue...to work through the crux. I believe that you all have the strength and integrity to do so! So let's get some rest and come back ready to protect our house on Monday. Look at your splits below, bee honest about mile two, and set some goals for Monday! Click here to look at your splits (specifically mile two) and set some goals for Monday.
Monday @Adler Park with Libertyville and Grant: After a great outing on Saturday, I was worried that we would not be able to keep the momentum heading into our triangular at the challenging Libertyville course. Unfortunately, my worries came true for some of the team. If you look at our results grid for the season, there was not a SINGLE PR...season or lifetime on this course (September 16th race):
So what do we do with that information? Learn and reload. So here are the key lessons I gleaned from this race: 1). We need to work on hills 2). We need to work on kicks 3). We need to work on mental toughness.
The good news is that when I threw a workout at you (Wednesday's Darwin Run/Time Trial), you ALL rose to the occasion...perhaps not for the full workout, but you each found some strength that day. I know we will be stronger due to this outing. And count on a focus on those three lessons in upcoming workouts.
Saturday @ Warren Invite: Well, it seems as though many of you learned from Monday and Wednesday...and in spectacular fashion! If you look at the results chart above, you can see the results from this race are awash in yellow and red. That is because EVERYONE ran either a season or lifetime PR. **Note--the official results from Wauconda's F/S race are still not revised from the 1:00 error...so all of those results should have 1:00 added back. Let's celebrate each race:
Frosh/Soph Race: Although missing a few key runners due to illness and injury, this group looked ready to race at the starting line. At the crack of the gun, our group got out hard and had to deal with a giant Evanston team to their right. They handled the crowds well and were in great position at the 1,000 meter mark. At the mile, Mary was our leader, followed by Karli and then Jocelyn. Monica and Iris were working in tandem, as were Nala and Ashley. Kealy, Jacqueline, Daysha, and Alicia were all within steps of each other. I went to the "hill" to watch everyone's efforts for this section of the course; I am pleased to report that every one of our women handled the hill with great form and mental toughness. Many of our F/S runners gained an advantage at this point of the race. We do need to work on downhill running, however. I watched too many of you lean back and put on the brakes as you descended, failing to utilize another passing opportunity. On the final loop, Mary was in great position: she moved up continually during the race to end up in 8th place and to earn a medal. She also ran a lifetime PR of 20:15, a :46 second PR! Karli ran an OUTSTANDING race; not only did she look determined the entire way, she also worked to pass throughout the race. She finished 47th overall and ran a LIFETIME PR of 21:50...a drop of 1:07. Jocelyn was our third finisher for the day; she ran a LIFETIME PR of 24:06...a drop of :44! She continues to make dramatic improvements each week. Monica finished close behind Jocelyn. As our 4th finisher, she too ran a LIFETIME PR of 24:19, dropping :42 from her previous best. She looks so much stronger than last season--a testament to her summer efforts! Iris was our 5th Bee; her race was strong throughout, although she definitely needs to work on her kicks. Her finish time of 25:00 was a :32 for another LIFETIME PR. Jacqueline, although nervous about some leg issues from the week, also ran a LIFETIME PR of 25:38, dropping an impressive 1:04! Nala's race really stood out today. Not only did she break out of her comfort zone, she also looked impressive on all the hills. She ran a LIFETIME PR of 25:48...dropping an impressive 2:33. This meet is definitely a turning point for her...she has figured out how to race! Way to go! :) Ashley was not far behind her, running a season PR of 26:18, dropping 1:10 from her season best and inching closer to her lifetime PR. Daysha was our next finisher, running a LIFETIME PR of 26:54(her first time under 27), shedding 1:56 from her previous best. She, too, is figuring out how to race! :) Kealy finished in 27:53, dropping 1:02 from her previous best! Another substantial drop in time :) Alicia was our final finisher. While her kick certainly does not need any assistance, she needs to work on her second mile so she can continue to drop time. That being said, she dropped 2:27 from her time at Libertyville, finishing in a solid time of 28:15. Our F/S squad finished in 13th place out of 16 teams. I know this squad will continue to make dramatic improvements! Nice work to all of our young Bees. :)
Varsity Race: Our Varsity was missing a few members due to the ACT today, but they stepped up to fill the gaps. At the gun, I was impressed by our aggressive start; I was equally impressed when I got my first glimpse of our team coming off the trail. Kimmy was in a great position with Ally and Ana in tow. Alexis was only seconds behind, working through the crowd to find her teammates, and she was closely followed by Asia. Halie was only seconds behind Asia. Our team got out hard and was in the front third of the race, ready to do battle where they belonged! After the mile, Kimmy and Ally were still working in tandem, with Ana only steps behind. Alexis was looking strong, as were Asia and Halie. The mile splits show that we have been holding back a bit in practice, but I'm sure that they were an "Aha" moment for all. The good news is that while mile two was slower than I would like, none of you slowed down as much as usual...we are making strides in this section of the race. I was really happy to watch the work each of these women did in the final loop of the race: Kimmy moved up into the teens, Ally woke up to make up some places, and Ana nearly regained her position with Ally. Alexis and Asia both moved up in the race, and Halie dropped her 3rd mile time significantly. The area we MUST make a priority is kicks. My husband was positioned in the final stretch; he reports the following: Kimmy was outkicked by two runners in the final steps of the race; Ally got passed by two people in the final 50 meters, and was nearly caught by Ana; Alexis let Asia and one other pass her in the final 50 meters, and Halie did not catch a single person in the final stretch. If we are to be competitive at the end of the season, we MUST adopt a philosophy of toughness in the final steps...that small mental lapse can make the difference in determining a Sectional berth...or even a State berth. I am proud to announce, however, that ALL SIX of these women ran either a season or lifetime PR! Kimmy ran 19:09, a lifetime PR by :44; she also earned a medal by finishing in 20th place. Ally ran a lifetime PR of 19:52, dropping :48 and also earning a medal in 44th place. Ana had a nice comeback at the end to finish in a lifetime PR of 19:54, dropping :58 and earning our final medal in 45th place. Asia was our 4th finisher with an outstanding finish. Her final time was 20:44; she dropped 1:11 to earn that lifetime PR. Alexis, despite a calf issue, ran a season best of 20:45 to round out our top five. Our 1-5 split was 1:36. Halie, our sixth finisher, also earned a LIFETIME PR of 21:18...a drop of 1:06! So five lifetimes and one season PR added up to a 10th place finish for the day...not a bad outing at all!
Open Race: Our Open runners anxiously watched as their teammates came back with news of great times and great races. They used that information to fuel their own outstanding races. Our pack got out strong at the gun, and was in great position coming out of the woods. After the mile, Karolina and Tori looked strong...only strides apart, with Peyton following closely behind. Lydia and Jazzman worked well together for the second mile, while Olivia and Violette followed closely behind. Syra had a nice first mile. Tiara found a good pack to pace with, and ran a lifetime best in the first mile of the race! :) Tiffany and Sabrina also competed well with the racers around them. Karolina finished first for us for the day in 30th place with a lifetime PR of 22:03, dropping :34 for the year! Not only did she look confident throughout, she also ran a very consistent race and earned a ribbon for her efforts. Tori, despite a calf strain, looked strong throughout her race; she finished 2nd for us in 22:12, dropping :29 from her previous best and earning a ribbon. Peyton, still working through a nagging hip/groin issue, ran an outsanding race, finishing in 22:16, dropping a ridiculous 2:02 from her best and also earning a ribbon. Jazzman has made incredible strides this season. She looked focused and strong throughout her race, dropping :29 from her previous best to finish in 22:19. What an improvement over last season! Lydia was not far behind, finishing in 23:21, also a lifetime PR. She, too, is figuring out how to run through pain; she dropped 1:22 from her previous best! Olivia was our 6th finisher, running a season PR of 23:39, a drop of 1:14 from her best. :) Violette rounded out our seven, finishing in 25:09, and looking great doing so! She dropped 1:47 to get to her lifetime PR. Syra was not far behind, running 26:42 to run a HUGE lifetime PR. She shed 1:36 to get to this time, and looked confident doing so! Tiara had the most dramatic race of the day. Not only did she run a lifetime PR for her first mile, she ran her first race under 30 minutes, finishing in a lifetime PR of 29:24! Way to go! :) Tiffany looked much stronger than Monday, dropping 7 seconds from her previous best to finish in 30:09. Finally, Sabrina raced hard today, running much more consistently to finish in 33:47, a 2:40 drop from her season best, and moving her closer to her lifetime PR. Overall, the Open Women looked great, finishing in 8th place out of 13 teams.
Saturday @ Wauconda Invite: In the early hours of Friday morning, Violette asked her teammates to close their eyes and trust her. She helped them paint a picture of what could happen on Saturday...she helped them envision the perfect race. And at the conclusion of her thought of the day, she said, "Open your eyes." On Saturday, the Bees' eyes were OPEN and ready to race.
For the second year in a row, Wauconda's course was altered due to construction. This year, the course was shortened from 3.1 to something under 3.0 (depending on the coach I spoke with, the course is anywhere from 2.8-2.9). To be honest, I don't much care. I know the times are a wee bit fast, but what was most important was the way the Bees RACED. Our Frosh/Soph team set the tone for the day: Mary got out hard, followed closely by Madi, Rachel and Karli in a tight pack. Jocelyn had a nice start, but I think she will race better if she decides to race with that pack, rather than roughing it alone. Monica and Iris worked together, while Jacqueline, Ashley and Nala came through the mile in close proximity. After the mile, Kealy worked up to this group and raced much more strongly. When I saw everyone with about 400 meters to go, I was blown away by how much work everyone had done in the woods. My only complaint was that this group needs to work on stronger kicks. I'm guessing the kicks were a bit weak because EVERY SINGLE BEE in this race ran a season PR, and nearly everyone ran a lifetime PR. Mary was our first finisher in 33rd place for a medal; she dropped 1:17 off her best time to earn a lifetime PR of 20:01. Madi had a great race, dropping a 2:11 from her best, to finish in 21:15 (also a lifetime PR). Karli was not to be outdone; she shed 2:25 off her season best to finish in a lifetime best of 21:57 (over 2:00 faster than her best last fall). What a great race! Rachel made her racing debut with a speedy time of 22:37, besting any of her PPM workouts this season! Jocelyn seemed to start to figure out real racing; she dropped 1:48 from her season best to finish with a solid time of 23:50...another lifetime PR. All of Monica's summer miles clearly paid off: she looked strong the whole way and finished in 24:01...2:38 faster than her previous best! Iris's dedication this summer also showed: she dropped 2:07 off her season best to run a lifetime PR of 24:32! Jacqueline, who was nervous about a nagging injury at the start of the race, ran a ridiculously fast time of 25:42, dropping 6:47 from her 3 mile best; she truly learned how to race today! Ashley looked more like herself, especially in the last mile of the race today; she ran a season PR of 26:41, dropping 4:19 from her season best! Nala also looked much healthier, finishing in a lifetime best of 27:54. Kealy also bounced back from an illness earlier in the week, running a lifetime best of 27:52! Overall, I couldn't be more proud of this group. There were many breakthroughs today, and I know they will continue to work together as a team to keep dropping time.
After watching the F/S race, our Varsity crew knew they had to make some adjustments. In the huddle, we discussed getting out strong before finding a race groove. Our seven followed the plan and found each other quickly in the large field. By the 800 mark, I was thrilled to see Kimmy, Alexis, Ally and Ana running in a solid pack of four. They looked strong and determined to work together. Halie was quickly followed by Lindsay and Joseline working in tandem to reach their teammate. We were in great position heading into the woods, and my adrenaline was pumping as I ran across the course to catch another glimpse as these women began their second loop. What I found there made my heart sing: Kimmy had moved up several positions; Ally was digging in to catch her; Ana and Alexis were working to get the pack back together; Lindsay was having the race of a lifetime; Joseline was battling to move up in the race, and Halie was looking strong in pursuit of Joseline. At that point, it appeared as though we were beating Warren...a team that qualified for State last year (full disclosure: they did graduate two top runners, and according to their coach, were running without two injured athletes today, but I was pleased that we were competing with a team that we would have never considered a possibility in the past). As our Varsity Bees worked the final loop, Kimmy moved up into the medalist position of 39, beating four of Lake Forest's runners (something she was unable to do in head-to-head competition on Monday). She looked aggressive, confident and hungry every time I saw her, which explains her LIFETIME PR of 19:55. Ally was our second runner on the day, finishing ahead of one of Lake Forest's girls (again...an achievement we were not able to reach on Monday), running a season PR of 20:40, only a second away from her lifetime PR! Ally looked effortless throughout the race--a sign that her fitness is finally back! Ana was our third runner for the day in a speedy 20:55, despite a bloody shoe (not the only one for the day). Alexis was only seconds behind in 20:58, a season PR; more important than her time, though, was Alexis's demeanor throughout the race: she looked confident and was continually working to repack with her teammates. Joseline moved up considerably during the race to finish 5th for us in 21:23, a season PR of :46. After the race, she said, "I know I moved up, but I'm not happy." That kind of honest assessment is going to help us get stronger every week! Lindsay was our 6th finisher in an outstanding comeback after a rough week of workouts; she ran a LIFETIME PR of 21:41! Throughout the race, she had that same look of confidence as her teammates. It was great to see her race so strong! Finally, despite a rough week of workouts, Halie finished with a solid time of 22:24, matching her effort on Monday for a tied season best. Despite her aching legs, she finished strong to round out our team effort for the day: we finished just three points behind Warren for a 12th place finish out of 24 teams. We beat Grant (who ran several of their top girls in the F/S race) and were close to Mundelein (who also ran several girls down). Overall, it was a very nice step in the right direction for the season. We have not looked this competitive in some time; I still have goosebumps! Let's keep this moment tucked away as a positive, but let's not be satisfied!
Not to be outdone by the Varsity group, the Open Women got things done in their race, too. Normally Wauconda does not score the Open Race, but there were team scores posted online when I arrived home. We placed 4th out of 17 teams, beating Warren, Lakes and Barrington, to name a few. What a great achievement! Most coaches agree that a program is truly strong when the depth of the team goes beyond seven runners; this showing in the Open Race confirms what I have suspected of the 2013 ZBXC Team--we are going to be amazing this season! In the huddle, Kimmy and others shared tips about the course: bee sure to take the turns wide; don't be afraid to go out strong; stay off the line and pass in the woods. All of that advice paid off. Maira got out strong and was sitting in 15th place at the 800. A pack of Karolina, Tori, Jazzman, Peyton, Asia and Cora looked strong as well. A few seconds back, another pack was forming: Lydia, Violette, Syra and Oliva were working to get together. Sabrina was working hard to pass a girl from Lakes, and Sabina was close to catching them. Heading into the second loop, some of the packs thinned, but I could see that each runner was trying to regroup. Asia looked impressively strong after a more conservative start, and Violette looked rejuvenated as she pumped her arms after I yelled, "Paint your picture!" At the final 400 mark, I was impressed by strong moves from EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. There were some HUGE PRs in this race! Maira was our first finisher in 20th place with a LIFETIME PR of 21:56! What a gutsy race! Asia was right behind Maira, also in 21:56, shaving 1:23 from her best to run a LIFETIME PR; she seemed to grow stronger as the miles clicked by! In third for the Bees was Karolina in a LIFETIME best of 22:38, despite having an "issue" that Lindsay could definitely understand. :) She looked strong throughout the race and finished with a determined kick. Tori, despite aggravating her achilles/calf, ran a LIFETIME PR of 22:42, 1:18 faster than her race on Monday. Jazzman had a tremendous breakthrough today. On Monday, she matched her lifetime best of 24:24; at Wauconda, she dropped 1:36! I can tell that she is on a mission this season! Cora was not far behind her in 23:48, a season PR and a strong effort despite the uneven conditions and a less-than-cooperative hip. As she moved to her kick, I saw her make some great form adjustments, something she normally does not do! Peyton, despite reduced mileage all week because of a groin/hip pull, ran a season PR of 24:17. Prior to the race, I asked how her hip was feeling after the warm up and dynamic; she looked me straight in the eye and replied, "I am going to race!" I love that assertiveness! Lydia found out her truth today, finishing in 24:43, a LIFETIME PR of 1:57! I can't wait to see her race again! Olivia was close behind Lydia in 24:54, a big season PR! Violette had an amazing breakthrough today, too. She ran 26:56, dropping 3:43 from her previous season best. After her race, she was feeling dizzy and had a bad headache. She said, "Maybe I did too much today. I was so pumped as people kept yelling, 'Paint your picture, Violette!'" I quickly responded that there is never "too much." Real racing hurts. But the great news is that it also produces amazing results! Before this race, she was sitting in her comfort zone; today, she broke through! Syra also had a nice breakthrough, running a season PR of 28:18 and looking more like the Syra we all know: pulling teammates along and racing hard throughout. Josefina ran through a nasty cramp in order to run a season PR of 28:48, a 1:20 drop from Monday! She looked great as she worked through the last 300 meters of the race! Tiffany was not far behind, running a big season PR of 30:11, shaving 2:20 from her previous race! Sabrina ran a far more consistent race today, battling with a girl from Lakes in several sections of the course. She shaved a whopping 5:33 from her Monday time, to finish in 36:28. And Sabina? After some help from Warren and Colgate, she nearly caught the Lakes girl and Sabrina, finishing in 37:37 for a ridiculous drop of 8:45 from her Monday race. Overall, I was pleased to see teamwork, mental toughness and pride in this race. Way to go, ladies! Let's get ready for our triangular at Adler Park against Libertyville and Grant on Monday!
Monday @ Shiloh Woods vs. Lakes, Lake Forest & Stevenson: Mother Nature is back on that crazy stuff again--one day we get the pleasure of running in mild weather, and the next we face a heat swing. The good news is that ALL WEATHER IS ZB WEATHER. :) You ladies proved it today. I did not see any theatrics in the race or at the conclusion. You showed up to race, executed our strategy, and exited the finish area on your feet. Thank you for competing in this manner; it's a ZB tradition, and I'm glad you all understand that no one joins cross country to be pampered.
On to some other good news: according to my calculations, the following bees ran season PRs today!
Jocelyne dropped 1:15
Ana dropped 1:11 and moved up on the Top Ten Board
Alexis dropped :41
Monica dropped :06
Syra dropped 1:10
Tiffany dropped :51
Mary dropped :26 and secured a spot on the Top Ten Board
Lindsay dropped 1:08
Kimmy dropped :36 (and a second over her fastest on our course)
Iris dropped 1:18
Joseline dropped 1:02
Tori dropped :13
Lydia dropped :24
Madi dropped :17
Halie dropped :28 Yeah, you read that right...15 season PRs on our course today...despite the heat. And the only reason we don't have more PRs is that this was the first 3-mile race for many of you! While we did not beat Lake Forest or Lakes, we did beat Stevenson...a team we struggled to defeat all last season.
On a separate note, thank you for being amazing about setting up our course and helping out in general. Your positive attitude made everything go smoothly! :) I CAN'T WAIT to see you all race on Saturday! :)
Friday, September 6th @ Deerfield Triangular:
On Friday, our women who were spectators on Tuesday got the opportunity to race at Deerfield's flat course. Our two mile group was first, and although the times were not blazing, there were definitely some highlights. Nala, Josefina, Alicia, Daysha, Sabina, Jacqueline, Tiara and Kealy all completed their very first cross country race of their lives! Coming out of the woods, I saw many runners working with teammates, a trend I hope to see continue. At the conclusion of the race, Daysha told me, "I know I can do better next time." I agree! Getting that first race under your belt is the key. I know this group will improve on Monday.
Our three mile group was ready to rock after cheering on the boys. I was able to catch this group as they came by the mile marker. Tori and Karli were working in tandem with a nice mile split, closely followed by Jazzman and Madi. Not far behind was a nice pack of Jocelyne, Iris, Lydia, Syra and Monica. Tiffany, my brave newbee who stepped up to race 3 miles, was not far behind. After the second loop, the Kiesels showed signs that their illness from earlier in the week was taking its toll; despite illness, Karli ran a lifetime PR for 3 miles. Way to go! Jazzman and Madi looked strong and worked well together through the last steps of the race, finishing 1-2 for us respectively. Jazzman ran a LIFETIME PR by nearly 40 seconds. Those summer miles are talking! The other pack spread out during this loop, and will need to work on sticking stronger when we race on Monday. Monica was not far off her lifetime PR at this distance; her hard work this summer is paying off! Overall, there were solid times from this group. Now that the racing rust is gone, I anticipate some great times at our home course on Monday!
I was very pleased with both sets of racers at this meet. I know it can be scary to race for the first time, and all the newcomers handled the stress well. We had no finish line dramatics that often plague other teams...I'm glad that we have a group of strong-minded runners on this team! I can't wait to see you all race at our house :)
Tuesday, September 3rd @Lake County Invite--Waukegan Sports Park:
After a great summer of training, I was more than anxious to finally see some bees race. :) As we walked the course, I soon realized that the times would not be super-fast, due to the conditions. The majority of the course was uneven, rutted and root-filled. Along the way, Alexis kept comparing different sections to other places we have run: Beulah, Wadsworth and a very dry and dusty Sterling were all brought up. We discussed our strategy for dealing with the course, and then headed off for a warm up. Varsity seemed to have a good start, and I darted across the course to catch them at the mile mark. The first mile is the only relatively flat portion of the course, and I was pleased with the one-mile split times. We almost had a pack of four (Ana, Kimmy, Alexis and Ally), but I could tell that the next section would split them up. Sure enough, the next time I saw our group, we were strung out a bit, with the exception of Kimmy and Ana working in tandem. As a group, we fell off pace way too much in this section. In the final mile, each of the girls woke up again, but pacing will continue to be a focus in workouts. Kimmy ended up being our first finisher for the day, closely followed by Ana and Ally. Considering Alexis was our #4 for the day; considering her foot bruise, I was surprised by how well she endured the very uneven footing throughout this crazy course. Asia, one of our surprises of the summer, ran a strong race for us as #5 (although she saved a bit much for her kick, but we will forgive her as this was her first XC race). Halie was close behind in #6, and Cora rounded out our seven. There are several take aways from this race:
1. Although our team place does not show it (13th, just like last year) we were over a minute faster in our 1-7 average over last year's performance, which is a huge improvement!
2. We are much closer to pack racing than we were last year (1-5 split was 42 seconds...vs. 2:06 last year; 1-7 split was 1:52 vs. 2:57 last year). This must continue to be an intentional focus at practice.
3. While we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goals, I feel like we are moving in the right direction!
Waukegan offered a co-ed open race today; six of our women toed the line with the express goal of beating some boys. This time, I watched the first portion of the race a bit more closely, opting to catch our bees at the 800 mark. Mary and Maira both had very strong starts, while Joseline, Karolina, Lindsay and Peyton worked in a pack with more conservative starts. All six women had good splits at the mile (all sub-7) and looked strong. Before the 2-mile mark, Mary was in 3rd place overall, with good momentum to catch the #2 girl. Joseline was looking aggressive, moving up to work with Maira. In the final mile, Mary was within striking distance of the first girl and looked poised to make a move. With about 600 to go, she was only 5 seconds off the leader; according to Coach Shorey, the girl pulled away with a strong kick (Mary--you now have homework!). Mary finished in a speedy 21:44, and bested all of our Varsity runners' times. Her race was a good lesson in breaking that girl-racing-mentality. Up until this point, Mary has not beaten the top Varsity girls in time trials. Without having that reference in the Open Race, she ran free and raced the other girls rather than her teammates...and what a great race it was! :) Our seniors helped round out our team score: Joseline had a nice finish, running a very even race (although admittedly without a finishing kick); Maira bounced back for a stronger last mile, almost catching back up to Joseline; Peyton and Karolina battled each other and definitely woke up for the last mile; Lindsay had a great last mile, really using the downhills to gain some momentum on her fellow seniors. Overall, we ended up 3rd out of 6 teams for the day. I can't wait to see the rest of our team race at Deerfield Friday!
Click here for Varsity and Open Splits!
Click here for full race results.
I'm proud to report that a very dedicated group of women has been running all summer. We had 12 strong at Oshkosh, and we started to dream big. This past Saturday, we had our first time trial with the whole team; I'm excited to watch everyone start improving from this staring point. Click here to see the results.