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!
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. :)