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.