This pic sums up our attitude vs the attitudes of other girls in the race. Peyton looks confident...and well, you can figure out the rest.
Saturday: Going into this meet, we knew that the course was not going to permit us to run blazing times. That being said, I was convinced we would come close to some PRs after watching the very fast boys' varsity race. I realize that Billy and Martin seem almost machine-like, but when they nearly broke 15:00 on this course, I figured we would fair well. Nonetheless, my pre-race letter and my pre-race talk focused on competing rather than worrying about times. On the starting line, our varsity seemed ready and focused. And despite a rather quick gun from the starter, we started well. At the 800 mark, before heading into the woods, I was pretty pleased with our placement. We were working into two packs, and seemed confident. I darted up the sled hill and caught a glimpse of some of our girls as they headed into a different wooded section, and we still seemed ok. Kimmy and Rachel reported that at the mile, we were on-mission in terms of competing with Stevenson, although our order had switched (which is fine with me...so long as we were still competing). I stationed myself at the climb to the sled hill, and I was worried at this point in the race. Ally looked strong, but as our number one runner, she was not near Stevenson's #1 in order to compete with her. Ana and Joseline were working well together but needed to be up further, and Alexis did not have that confidence that I expected on a hilly course (her favorite). Lindsay looked very determined heading up the climb, but Maira and Bug each needed to be woken up (they did respond, though). I then went down to the river to catch our girls for the last 300. At this point, Ally and Lindsay looked strong, but everyone else looked like they were mentally out of the game. The bottom line is this: I know that we are capable of beating Stevenson. This week will be all about finding the confidence to do so.
After the varsity races, Mother Nature decided to bring us REAL cross country. She saved the best for our girls in the open race. While we finished drills and strides, it started to rain steadily. And as we waited for the final open boys to complete their races, the sky unloaded. I am proud to report that while many girls from other teams were shrieking in fear, our team celebrated with arms raised to the sky. In that moment, each of you (at least outwardly) embraced the idea that ALL weather is ZB weather. :) Despite another abrupt gun from the starter, our girls got out well. At the 800, I was very pleased to see our bees either working up to each other (Cora, Riley, and Tori) or already in good packs for racing (Arranda, Jazzman,and Sam/Kamisha, Haley, Monica, Erin). I ran across the field to catch a few of our girls moving into another wooded section, and was thrilled to watch Yazmin, Haley and Stephanie all use the downhill to their advantage. When I crossed over to the climb up the back of the sled hill, Mother Nature decided that the course was not quite wet enough yet. And as the rain came down in sheets, I watched girls from other schools wince and literally cry....over some rain. And I watched as you all seemed to come alive in the rain. I watched you attack down hills and charge up hill with arms driving. I watched you pass girls who seemed to be standing still. It was simply awesome. And as you made that climb for the second and final time, you didn't care that the rain had destroyed the course...hair plastered to your faces, mud dripping down your arm, blood trickling from your knee, you finished as if the conditions were perfect. And I suppose they were...because you all seemed to embrace the race. And once I watched the final bee climb the hill and descend, I started heading to the tent. I was met by your smiling faces, anxious to report that you felt fast and that you loved the race. During the cool down, too many of you to count said that this course...this day was your favorite race of the season. I cannot help but smile as I type that line...because THAT is what cross country is all about: embracing whatever the world throws at you, and throwing everything you have--plus some--right back. I could not be more proud as a coach. I am happy to report that Marlen and Alexis Ransom ran lifetime PRs despite the conditions, and many of you (Kamisha, Arranda, Cora, Riley, Karli, Tori, and Lydia) were within 30 seconds of your lifetime PRs. Amazing! I am also happy to report that we had several studs in this race: Kamisha, Haley and Monica, who have been sidelined much of this season with serious injuries, soldiered through the sloppy conditions despite their angry ankles/hamstrings (YOLO!). All of you, please etch this race in your brain...if you are coming back next year, use it to start your season strong. If you are graduating...use it to remind yourself that you can overcome anything.
A few reminders: Monday, please bring your washed uniform and warm ups to turn in. We will meet to share links as well as to vote for MVP and the Leadership Award. You are all welcome to continue practicing with us this week (and hopefully next week, too).
Monday: @Mundelein: Well, this meet was interesting for sure. While I liked the comparison to running David Park miles, the course was a challenge for sure. While the times were not blazing, Yareli found a way to overcome it and run a new lifetime PR of 28:25. Times aside, I was pleased to see some progress on pack racing and racing in general. There are definitely a few lessons to be learned from this meet: 1. make sure you notice where to turn (on the THIRD lap...Maira and Joseline), bee careful of crazy debris in the path, and stay strong in the last half mile.
Saturday: @Wheeling: It sounds like this was an interesting day of racing...after the course was reconfigured to 3 (ish?) miles, the times still seem a bit slow (according to my sources). McPherson believes that we could subtract at least 45 seconds to convert the times to what we would run on our home course. Without the conversion, we had several PRs: Cindy, Kamisha, Erin, Tori, Lydia, Alexis R., and Ashley. With the conversion, we would have several more: Angie, Syra, Stephanie, Haley, and Yareli. Although I was sad to miss seeing you race, I am glad that so many of you kicked butt!
@Sterling: After a ridiculously long bus ride, we arrived at the park for a quick run of the course. As the sun was setting, we did strides up to the finish chute and imagined what would unfold the next day. A late dinner and a later chat finished up our evening before some much needed sleep. Saturday provided excellent racing weather--sunny and brisk--which was perfect for our pink shirts. After our small yet loud breakdown, I knew you ladies were ready to run. We had a perfect starting box on the far outside with no one to push us around during the long stretch to the woods. I would have liked to see you get out a hair faster, but when I watched for pink to emerge from the woods, I was pretty happy with our placement. The mile and two mile splits were solid, and I knew that you still had some juice to work in the woods. As I yelled times a the start of the finish stretch, I saw each of you wake up to attack the last climb. This has to be our best team race in several weeks, and I was equally pleased with the PRs: Alexis, Joseline, and Rachel ran lifetimes while Ally ran a season PR. Ana and Lindsay were both within 5 seconds of their lifetime bests, and Kimmy looked solid despite her recent leg issues. Clearly this goodness had to seep into Maira and Bug's races. They looked equally ready in their pre-race routines. Both got out GREAT, and were in fine position coming out of the first woods loop. I was very pleased with each of their splits, and saw them perk up in the final stretch as I yelled times. Maira popped a 14 second lifetime PR and looked great every step, and Bug finally looks like her old self after being sick. What a great way to head into Conference!