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! :)