Monday: Now that I have had time to digest the meet, I am proud to say that nearly half of you had a PR or lifetime PR--very impressive. Although the times reflect improvement, I know we still have room for growth when it comes to racing tactics and believing in our fitness for the later stages of the race. Here are the positives I saw:
First, I was pleased to see our pack look strong and assertive at the 800 mark. As we discussed, most of you got out harder than you have all season, which is an improvement over Bartlett. Many of the first mile splits reflected that aggressive start. Second, I was pleased with our placement going through the woods and around the volleyball court. Many of you did a nice job of working with your teammates, or rejoining them during this segment of the race. Finally, I also witnessed some nice kicks from Sam and Riley. The following women set season PRs: Jasmine, Bug, Kimmy, Haley, and Olivia. The following women set lifetime PRs: Violette, Syra, Sam, Stephanie, Arranda, Maira, Marlen, Riley, Jazzman, Yazmin and Ashley. Alexis and Ana improved their times on the Top Ten Board, and Kimmy earned a spot on the Board.
So what do we need to improve? I have watched you ladies work your butts off in practice, and I know what kind of times you are capable of racing. While the list of PRs is very impressive, I know that you have yet to showcase what you really have. Let's use the workouts from this week (Thursday's breakthrough and Saturday's gut check) to help boost your confidence in the second half of your race. It looks like Monday's course is not super-fast...let's use the race as an opportunity to put times
Tuesday: The way you conducted yourselves during this competition made me so incredibly proud. Several individuals stepped up BIG TIME in order for things to run like business as usual: Bug was more than a captain as she directed the course walk, warm up, drills and pre-race huddle, all despite still battling the stupid plague. Halie was invaluable at the finish line, organizing finish cards and collecting the final results. And the team in general? You handled what could have been an awkward situation with tenacity and grace. I received an email from the Lake Forest coach this week--he and his team were both impressed by your sportsmanship and thoughtfulness. Kudos to you all, and thank you for your support from the bottom of my heart!
When the gun went off, I walked to the back of the course so I could watch the race unfold. I enjoyed watching you guys from that vantage point: I saw lots of competing and some set ups for great kicks. With 300 meters to go, we were beating Stevenson. Unfortunately, I could not see that we lost some key positions in the final meters of the race, so I did not realize that we had lost until after we were on the bus. While I would much prefer a win, I care more that we learn from this race: never forget that the spot you have, or the girl you could catch might be the difference between a medal or nothing...or the difference between a team trophy or nothing...or the chance to race at Sectionals or have the season end too soon. That being said, there were several stand out performances for the day: Alexis finally put together the race we knew she could when she set a lifetime PR of 20:05 by running with confidence; Angie, although still not satisfied with her progress, ran a lifetime PR of 25:06...a nice drop from the short Warren course time she ran only days before; Sam ran a lifetime PR too in 25:18; Peyton ran a lifetime PR of 23:37--an 8 second drop from last year at Conference!; Haley finally felt strong enough to race a full course, and it was great to see her out there; Iris ran a lifetime PR, dropping 16 seconds from her Warren time; Joseline ran a season PR of 21:22, but more importantly looked confident the whole way; Leslie dropped a whole minute off her lifetime PR, despite battling some medical issues this week. I am so impressed with her courage to race! Riley looked super-strong while running her season PR of 24:22, a drop from Warren's short course. And Yareli rounded out the PRs by running 30:16. In addition to some great times, I also witnessed some milestone performances: Erin and Marlen each completed their first 3 mile races today!
Thursday--I have to make a quick mention of our workout today. I was so pleased to see the teamwork and tenacity from each of you. This workout should be one of those moments you mark in your log as a season-changer. Not only did you endure the physical demands of the workout, but you also worked through the surprise mental demands with poise and determination. I was especially proud of Jennifer for her impressive work ethic, and I was SO happy to see Halie running again! Remember this day, ladies!
Saturday--Well, after several weeks of drastic improvements and a "shortened" week due to a Tuesday race, I thought we might look a tad flat on Saturday...unfortunately my prediction was right. Mother Nature was not on our side as the winds howled and the temperatures refused to rebound from the overnight chill. While all of these factors certainly affected our performances, I hope that no one walks away from this meet feeling ok. True athletes perform despite the conditions. There were a few of you who rose to the occasion: Yareli ran a lifetime PR by knocking 1:24 off her previous best in the Frosh/Soph race. Karli, despite an angry achilles, ran a courageous race. I moved up several F/S women to the Varsity race for today with mixed results. Ally truly stepped up and ran a solid race--she got out strong and looked confident the whole way. She ran a season PR of 21:31. I know that she can work on that final mile to improve her race even more. Kimmy and Joseline also ran solid races, but like Ally, will need to continue to improve in order to get to where we want to go by the end of the season. The Open Race showcased the best performances of the day. Bug and Lindsay went out strong and looked confident throughout their races. Lindsay finished with a big kick to bring home a ribbon in 22nd place. Riley ran a breakout race, running a LIFETIME PR of 23:41--18 seconds faster than her Conference performance from last year! Marlen dropped almost a minute from her time on Tuesday to set a new lifetime PR of 30:21! Erin, despite losing her shoe in the beginning of the second loop, also dropped time from Tuesday to set a new lifetime PR of 34:08. Click here for a link to the meet results to see how you placed.
After an amazing invite performance on Saturday, we returned to Lakewood for a dual against Lake Zurich. Unfortunately, most of our women looked anything but intense during this dual. Not only did LZ run a perfect score on us (15-50), but many Bees ran significantly slower than Saturday. While it is sometimes difficult to get back up emotionally for a Monday meet, we need to do a better job with this in coming duals.
On a VERY positive note, though, we did have two women who ran exceptionally well against LZ: Olivia and Ashley. Both ladies ran a full minute faster than Saturday! I am confident that Olivia and Ashley will continue to shed time as they become more confident in their fitness.
On Saturday, we ran at the notoriously fast Warren Invite. The course was altered slightly, which made it even faster. The weather was perfect for racing, and the Bees were ready to PR! The Frosh/Soph Crew started things off right with a great team race (7th place out of 15) and some fabulous individual efforts: after battling some illness and shin problems, Ana ran a LIFETIME PR by 45 seconds in 20:39; Alexis ran a season PR of 21:21 and earned a 9th place medal; Violette dropped nearly two minutes to run a LIFETIME PR (she is finally figuring this whole XC thing out!); Ally ran a season PR in 21:47 and looked great racing with Rachel; Rachel ran a LIFETIME PR in 21:49 (I can't wait to see her run when her hip is 100%); Syra also ran a LIFETIME PR by nearly 2:00, finishing in 27:30; Monica ran a LIFETIME PR, despite a very sore achilles, finishing in 26:06; Iris ran a LIFETIME PR by almost a minute, finishing in 25:58; Karli also battled a super-angry achilles and ran a solid race as our 5th runner and beat her best 3 mile time by 30 seconds; Jennifer ran a great race, shedding 2:00 from her best 3 mile time, clocking a LIFETIME PR of 26:56; and Alexis R. showed true courage as she continues to battle a bad hip and continues to drop time! She ran a LIFETIME PR of 28:34!
The Varsity race also provided some great highlights: Kimmy ran a gutsy race in a season PR of 21:32; Joseline matched her season PR of 21:51; despite being very sick much of this week, Lindsay ran a LIFETIME PR of 22:09; and not to be outdone, Maira did the same by running a LIFETIME PR of 22:48; Bug rounded out our 5 with a gutsy race in a season PR, holding off an opponent in the final meters of the race despite waking up with the plague that has made its rounds on our team. Overall, I was also pleased with the progress of this group this week!
The Open racers continued the great parade of PRS. Cora looked amazing throughout the race, running a LIFETIME PR of 22:53. She was outkicked by a very determined Karolina. Every time I saw her during the race, she was passing people...up the hill, down the hill, around the path--what a great race! She, too, ran a LIFETIME PR of almost a minute improvement: 22:40! Angie, despite having her wisdom teeth out just seven days ago, ran a LIFETIME PR of 25:10; after the race, she was disappointed with her time...I love that she is not satisfied! Peyton ran a season PR of 24:10, only 25 seconds away from her lifetime; I know that will come once her legs are feeling better. Stephanie continues to improve from race to race; she ran a LIFETIME PR of 31:04, and she looked great doing so! Neida and Marlen both completed their first races as zbxc members! Both of them showed courage and tenacity throughout the race--I am SO proud of both of these young women! Arranda is showing that she is figuring out this XC thing--she continues to improve from meet to meet, and she ran a LIFETIME PR of 24:23--a huge drop! Riley ran a great race (and finished with a "flourish"), running a season PR of 24:30 and inching closer to her lifetime. Tori broke the 24:00 barrier and keeps looking stronger with each race; she ran a LIFETIME PR of 23:55! Lydia, despite being very sick this week, also ran a LIFETIME PR of 26:46, and looked great doing so! Jazzman continues to drop time each meet, running a LIFETIME PR of 25:05! And her bus-buddy Paris ran a HUGE race on Saturday, shattering her LIFETIME PR by nearly two minutes when she ran 23:12!
While all of these times are fun to report, I am most impressed by how we are starting to gel as a team. As Neida finished the last loop of her race, I saw her teammates cheering her on from every corner of the course. When we returned home and nominated people for links, I loved all the positivity. If we can continue to build that support...if we can continue to work hard, I know that we will surprise some folks at the end of the season. I saw a glimmer of what we could be during the workout on Wednesday...let's continue the momentum of this week!
9/4/2012: After practicing on our course a couple of times recently, we finally had a chance to race at home. We had several women run some great races: Lindsay ran out of her mind...setting a lifetime PR of 22:24 (nearly 1 minute faster than her time on our course at Conference last fall); Yareli sliced off 8 MINUTES from her best 3 mile PPM time; Violette looked MUCH better than at Deerfield, shaving 6 minutes from her time; Angie also PRed, improving by 3 minutes and looking very competitive; Syra joined Angie in shedding 3 minutes from her PR; Maira, like Lindsay, ran a lifetime PR on our course, cutting 1 minute from her Conference race last fall. For many, this was the first time racing 3 miles, and overall I was impressed with the results; I saw most of you work hard around turns and work to stay with each other. We ended up with a win against Grant: 23-37. The win is nice, but we still have work to do, especially on the middle mile. I know that it will come, though. Click here for splits (sorry--some are missing).
Thursday Practice Note: For many of you, this was your first time experiencing Paavo's Slow Interval workout. I was so impressed with how easily you all jumped into the process, despite the lack of watches. I was really pleased with the times, efforts and overall feeling from the workout--you ladies are awesome! :)
9/8/2012: Wauconda Invite: I decided to have everyone run in their grade-level race to change things up and try to win some bling today. The frosh/soph women started things off right with a tremendous team race. In our pre-race talk, we agreed to be more mindful of the first 400 meters of the race in order to be more competitive in the second loop of this challenging course. Our pack got out well (*side note--Diana got tripped up at the start, but like a soldier, popped right back up into the race!), and our sophie trio of Alexis, Ana and Ally came through the 800 close to each other in the high 30s place-wise. Rachel and Karli were close behind. At the mile, Alexis had moved up to the low 30s and looked strong. By the time I saw her again with 800 remaining, she was in 14th place and looked great! She out-kicked two more girls for a 12th place finish and a nice medal. Ana, Ally, Rachel and Karli all brought home ribbons from this race, too. Of the 15 Bees in this race, 13 (Alexis, Ana, Ally, Rachel, Karli, Sam, Monica, Jennifer, Iris, Olivia, Violette, Yazmin, Alexis) ran faster than on our shorter home course on Tuesday--that shows that you newbees are learning how to race and are willing to hurt to turn in great times. Nice work! As a team, we finished a respectable 9th in this strong field.
The Varsity women could not help but be pumped up after hearing about the success of the Frosh/Soph race. Joseline, Bug, and Kimmy started strong--all dipping under 7:00 for the first mile, with Maira and Lindsay close behind. Joseline was the most consistent for the day with pretty even splits, with Lindsay having the best recovery in her third mile split. Overall, I was very pleased to see the progress all five of these ladies have made since Lake County: Lindsay dropped 2:21; Bug dropped 1:29; Kimmy dropped 2:48; Joseline dropped 1:29; Maira dropped 1:45. What a difference a week makes! I know they will continue to peel off time--this group is hungry for improvement.
The women in the Open race agreed that they would be the "dessert" of the day, and their pre-race prediction came true. Riley, Karolina and Peyton got out very well and were in great position at the 800, followed closely by Tori and Paris. The Jasmine/Jazzman combo were in pursuit of the main pack, too. Stephanie had a dramatic start--running a 9:06 for her first mile--a PR! Heading into the second loop, I could see that everyone was looking strong--I watched several ladies work to reunite with teammates and pass others. With 800 remaining, I was impressed how most of you used that nice downhill in the field to gear up for the final push to the finish. ALL 10 of you (Riley 1:19, Peyton :29, Karolina :52, Arranda 1:13, Paris 1:13, Tori 2:09, Jasmine 1:52, Jazzman 1:24, Lydia 1:42, Stephanie 3:11) ran faster than on our shorter course on Tuesday. I'm speechless! Again, this improvement shows that as you learn how to race, you are willing to endure the pain in order to improve. I can't wait to see you all race again! Click here for all the splits from Wauconda.
I am really impressed with the way the team is coming together, too. Special thanks to our split takers for the day: Robin, Neida, Marlen, Angie, Erin and our sticker-woman, Halie.
8/29/12: Today we raced at the new Lakewood course. Not only was the ground hard from lack of rain, but the course itself was just as challenging as the former one; it is almost a true 5K at 3.09 miles, and the terrain is very uneven, coupled with many twists and turns in the woods. We raced in trainers to keep shins and other ailments happy. The game plan for this race was to go out as a pack for the first mile and then see who could hang on. At the 800 mark, I could see that this narrow course was making it tough for our girls to find each other. Alexis got out very strong and was in the top 30, with Ana not far behind. Our pack then came through slightly slower than I would have hoped, followed up by Kimmy, Lindsay and Maira in a decent spot. Halie, Joseline and Ana had the best middle miles--they stayed awake and worked the tight course to pass people. Alexis woke back up for the final mile and finished very strong, nearly catching Ana at the finish. Halie, our third, finished with a very even mile split; she had the most consistent race out of our team for the day. Joseline was our 4th, followed by Bug, Lindsay, Kimmy and Maira. Overall, it was good to get a race under our belts, but everyone admitted that we have some work to do for upcoming races! We will be back to Lakewood two more times; I'm confident that we will race smarter on this challenging course next Saturday. Click here for splits.
8/30/12 Today, the girls had the choice between a 2-mile and a 3-mile race at Deerfield's course. Unfortunately, construction on a bridge has altered this course again, but our Bees took it in stride. We beat Deerfield, 21-38 due to a great pack up front, led by Rachel who set a new course record: 16:47! She looked gutsy and beat many boys, despite her hip troubles. She was followed by a nice pack of Karolina, Karli and Paris. Riley was almost on this pack, despite her mean hip. This group allowed us to have a great team score of 21! Other highlights: great mid-race tempo-changes by Monica, Jennifer, Yareli and Ashley to catch competitors around them. Also, Stephanie showed some dramatic improvements over her times from the summer. Overall, this race allowed our VERY young team to get some experience. Click here for splits.
The brave five who ran the 3-mile race also ran well. Ally went out hard, but needs to work on staying awake in her middle mile. Jasmine had a strong race and is showing that she is getting back into shape. It was great to see Angie race after her knees kept her away from serious training after Oshkosh. I know her times will continue to drop. Syra looked strong, especially compared to where she was at last year at this time! Finally, Violette, although only on the team for a couple of weeks, finished her race strong thanks to the support of her teammates. Click here for splits.
**Newbees--you can go to www.athletic.net, type Zion Benton in the search box, click on XC, and check out your times in the "Season Stats" section as the season progresses. This is a great resource for charting your progress each week and each year!
Overall, it was good to finally race! I look forward to running on our course on Tuesday. :)