Conference @ Lake Forest: Our first race of the day was Varsity. After watching the courageous finishes of our Varsity boys, I was pumped and ready to watch our girls race. While there were a few good kicks (Karyn & Asia), I am still wondering when this group will finally say enough is enough...we will race the way we are capable.
The Frosh/Soph girls brought home five of our teams lifetime PRs today. Taylor dropped 38 seconds, Jackie dropped 33 seconds, Tianna dropped 37 seconds, Sam dropped 42 seconds, and Alexia dropped an amazing 1:43! This group looked sharp overall...getting out well and working hard in the latter parts of the race to pass. I look forward to what this group will do in future seasons!
The women in the Open Race had to endure a recall due to a pile-up of girls right after the starting gun. They handled the restart in stride, and got out well on the second gun. This group raced extremely well, earning 11 lifetime PRs! :) Nicole dropped 1:30, Melanie dropped 4 seconds, Tiffany dropped 54 seconds, Syra dropped 50 seconds (and looked really tough in her kick), Jennifer dropped 1:12, Alicia dropped 41 seconds, Kealy dropped 2:12!, Desiree dropped 2:57!, Julissa dropped 1:38, Destiney dropped 16 seconds, and Asante clocked the biggest improvement of the day, dropping 4:28. I am really proud of this group; not only did they race with pride, but they also dealt with the worst conditions of the day in terms of the course and the weather.
Pictures to come! :)
Monday @ Lakewood vs. Lake Zurich, Vernon Hills and Wauconda:
We went into this race with the right attitude; in the past, we feared the former and longer Wauconda course, but it seems that most of you have embraced this new course. The challenge for today was to run negative splits. Unfortunately, while the mentality was there, no one stepped up to the challenge. We MUST work on the middle mile in order to make our season goals. On a positive note, I did see better racing than Saturday, and I was glad to see a better team-effort. The highlights of this meet came in several races: Violette's triumphant return to her real-racing-self (great job adjusting your mindset for this race!), which earned her a lifetime PR of 22:50; Lainey's impressive race which resulted in a 14-second drop to set a new lifetime PR of 23:53 (first time under 24!!); Sam's 7-second drop since the Wauconda Invite to earn her a new lifetime PR of 28:21; Desiree's 5-second drop (from Warren--which is really a bigger drop than it seems on paper) to earn a new lifetime PR of 30:36; and most importantly, Asante's first every 3-mile race! She has been steadily improving throughout the weeks, and she was ready to take on a whole race today. Anyone who saw her finish knows that she understands what it means to be a runner. :) Let's keep moving in a positive direction this week with our workouts, ladies!
Thursday & Saturday Workouts:
After witnessing the mental-toughness and team-effort of these two workouts, I simply cannot wait to see you all race again. Not only did you embrace the negative-splits of Thursday, but you also took on the speed of Saturday with gusto! I am STILL smiling ear-to-ear. Based on the consistency of your times, I KNOW we are ready for some big PRs in the coming days and weeks. If you take nothing else away from this week, please remember that YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE!
Saturday @ Bartlett: Historically, we have not run well at Bartlett. There is something about the difference between Warren's flat, fast course and the rolling hills of Bartlett's course that does something to our mentality. Until this year. Now I am not going to say that I am thrilled about our performances today--I believe there is still plenty of room for growth at this particular invite. BUT, I am pleased that we looked stronger than usual at this meet. Thanks to our awesome managers and Violette, you can click HERE to see your mile splits from this meet.
In the Fresh/Soph race, Jackie was our early leader with Shayla and Lainey not far behind. Shayla emerged in the middle of the race, surprising me with her tenacity on the hill section during her second loop. Her mental toughness was rewarded with a lifetime PR--no easy feat on this course--of 22:53. Jackie was second and not far off her PR. Lainey is looking more and more like her Oshkosh-self as the season progresses. She was our only other bee to set a lifetime PR today of 24:07, and she earned it by being consistent in the second loop. Sarah looked good in her first three-mile race of the season after an extensive illness. She looked competitive and did a good job of using the downhills; now she just needs to get fit! Overall, our remaining competitors looked solid, but there is still be work to be done with this group. While they did an outstanding job of supporting our runners in other races, they did not offer themselves that same enthusiasm or encouragement during the warm up to their own race. I know there is great potential in this group. Who will be the one to step up and make this group into a true team?
In the Varsity race, we busted out our BA black uniforms. We have been on the verge of a breakthrough for several races, and I hoped that a change in clothing would spur a change in swagger. Ana, Mary and Asia got out strong at the start and looked like they were working well together by the 800. Ally and Jocelyn and Karyn were also within steps of each other at the half. After several weeks of great racing, Taylor took on the challenge of her first Varsity race. She got out solidly, but did not seem to be in the rhythm of this race; racing Varsity for the first time provides a different race perspective. I'm confident that Taylor will continue to grow into this role. Overall, our first mile splits were decent, but I still believe we can get out faster. The second mile has been our Achilles heel all season, and our workout this week will address that issue. While the finish times did not match our pre-race mentality, I am happy with the progress of the returning runners. Last year I was furious at this meet because to a woman, we rolled over and gave up--physically and mentally. This year, I saw you all battle to reset, battle to work through the physical and mental. That is a big achievement! Now we need to continue on that path of growth--we need to take all the lessons from our post-race chat and apply them to Monday's race.
By the time the Open Race was about to start, the temperatures were pretty toasty. Not only was it near 80, but there was no breeze and little shade on the course; the women of the Open Race definitely faced the toughest conditions of the day. Like the other two races, these women stepped up to #runforthem. What I liked about this race was some very courageous moments: Violette's aggressive start, Tiara's strong middle section, Olivia's nice kick, Chandell's reset and surge by the pond on the second loop, Jennifer's fight against her knee, Melanie's comeback after an illness this week, and Sabrina's hard work to catch a pack ahead of her. If I didn't say your name, it's not because you weren't courageous; these snapshots are simply the moments I happened to witness. Overall, times were off in this race, but I anticipate that this group will bounce back and race well on Monday.
This weekend, take care of yourselves, stretch well, and do lots of rehydration! This warm weather takes more out of you than you realize. Bee ready to race at Lakewood on Monday (bring food, water, clothes, bug spray, etc.). We should be home around 7:30.
Some food for thought for this week: We are at the point in the season where we need to cast our eyes to overall goals. What do we want to have happen by Sterling/Wheeling? Conference? Regionals? Come with answers on Monday! #irunforthem
BEAT D CHALLENGE: My husband and I made a pact to run at least one road race each month. We both raced in July (I ran at the Titan 5K with an Olympian and many of you, and he raced at Bee Linked with many of you!), but we slacked in August. Welp, it seemed silly to make a pact and then not follow through, so I took to the mean streets of Schaumburg this morning to race in the Run to Read 5K (great choice, right? A race that helps put books in kids' hands? Love it!). I am proud to report that I shaved a minute off my Titan 5K time, but I still have A LOT of work to do. I'm hoping this challenge will encourage you and me to keep working toward our goals. There are two different ways you can win the challenge:
1. If you are already ahead of my current PR of 3-mile PR of 26:45, then you have to "beat" my splits (9:00, 8:45, and 8:52) by having your second mile be your FASTEST, and your third be your SECOND fastest. This requires you to be mentally tough in the middle of your race. Are you up for the challenge? **Please note, if you are one of those stat people who is looking up my time online, I'm using my 3-mile split from the 5K race to make an apples-to-apples comparison. ;)
2. If you have not beaten my 3-mile PR of 26:45, then that's your goal! I'm old, and I have not done HALF of the training you have this season! So stop letting an old woman beat you when you are in the prime of your life! :)
1. Helping the team become more successful. #irunforthem
2. Gaining some more pride and confidence....which will help the team become more successful. #irunforthem
3. Drinking a free Gatorade (flavor of your choice) that was purchased by D for you.
Monday, September 8th @ Mundelein with Lake Forest:
I was worried going into this meet. Our last race here (two years ago) was miserable due to two factors: the ridiculously tough course and the competition. This year, the course was in better shape due to the plentiful rain (last time, the ground was worse than concrete), but the competition was still challenging. While many performances were not up to what we are capable of, there was still some great news from this race. The following bees completed their first 3-mile XC race EVER: Julissa, Jackie, Destiney, Tianna, Nicole, Alexia, and Takyra. Way to go, Bees! While the times were decent, we walked away knowing that we have some work to do. Most runners agreed that we need to work on more aggressive starts and a more focused middle-of-the-race effort. Our Wednesday workout at Shiloh addressed these issues and hopefully added some mental toughness. Remember--you are faster and stronger than you think! Never sell yourself short!
Saturday, September 13th @ Wauconda Invite at Lakewood Forest Preserve:
After an OUTSTANDING workout at Shiloh on Wednesday, I was really looking forward to our first invite. I was not disappointed with the effort of the women in the Frosh/Soph Race. Our group had a good start, and at the half mile, Karyn and Mary were in position to medal. The rest of our group worked well up the hill and took my direction to move to the outside to be ready to pass on the downhill. When I saw everyone again as they headed into the second loop, I was impressed by the GRIT I saw. Shayla in particular did a great job of maximizing the downhill as a way to gain momentum into the next loop, as did Jackie. I was pleased with our position and waited anxiously for the group to emerge from the woods once more for the final 400 kick. This part of the race was most satisfying to watch. As each of you crossed the road, I saw gears shift and competition being passed. Lainey, Taylor and Tianna did a great job of passing people along the road in order to set up for a good final kick. We had eleven runners in this race and ten PRs (most of which were lifetime): Mary--a season PR of 20:59; Karyn--a lifetime PR of 21:21; Jocelyn--a lifetime PR of 22:58, despite a rude hip; Taylor--a lifetime PR of 23:15; Jackie--a lifetime PR of 23:51; Lainey--a lifetime PR of 24:16; Vanessa--a lifetime PR of 29:27; Sam--a lifetime PR of 28:29; Alexia--a FOUR minute drop to reach a lifetime PR of 29:16; and Tianna--a 3:25 drop to reach a lifetime PR of 29:28. And though I know Shayla would like to be on this list, I love her GRIT--she raced sick and without complaint, and nearly matched her lifetime PR (only missing by 13 seconds). Overall, this group had me and the rest of the team totally pumped for the following races. GREAT way to start the day, ladies!
Varsity: We only ran four in this race due to a variety of reasons. Despite our diminutive numbers, this quad ran with courage in order to create two lifetime PRs and two season PRs. What I liked most was the aggressive start from all four of our Varsity women: Asia, Ally, Violette, and Syra. At the half-way point, Asia and Ally did a great job of resetting and using the downhill. Violette looked strong and focused. Syra shook out and accelerated. What else could a coach ask for? Asia was more consistent than the rest, but we still need to work on that second mile. When these four came around for the final kick, I was really impressed. Not only did I see fight until the line, I also saw elation as the clock came into view: each woman knew what she had accomplished and wanted to finish it off strong. Asia ended with a season PR of 20:53, putting her a minute ahead of herself from last year at this course. Ally ended with a season PR of 21:28, a significant drop from earlier performances and indicating a true return to her real race mentality. Violette ended with a lifetime PR of 23:20...and a need to re-evaluate her season goals. :) Syra ended with a lifetime PR of 25:19...and a new confidence in her hard work from this summer. Overall, I was very pleased with this group, as I can see that they are all hungry for more growth this season.
Open: Every single runner in this group ran either a season or lifetime PR...our theme of the day! Tiara and Justine had great starts, followed closely by Melanie, Tiffany, Olivia, Alicia, Chandell, Kealy and Ashley. Julissa had her fastest start of the season, as did Sabrina. I knew that we were in store for more PRs as I watched each woman reset and work with her teammates at the half-way point. I LOVED the kicks in this race. Much like the frosh/soph group, I saw a lot of grit in the final 400 of this race. Tiara ended with a lifetime PR of 24:19...illustrating that summer running and consistent training create great gains! Olivia, running nearly even splits the whole way, finished in a season PR of 24:28. Melanie, with a minute drop from Monday, ran a lifetime PR of 24:38! Tiffany, showing that mindset really matters, ran a lifetime PR of 24:45 (1:30 drop from Monday). Justine ran a great time of 25:24, finishing her first 3-mile race and showing true grit as she battled her mind throughout. Ashley Woodman ran a season PR of 26:12 and looked aggressive and focused throughout. Chandell dropped nearly a minute from her best to earn a lifetime PR of 27:17! Alicia was only 6 seconds away from her lifetime PR; she ran 28:22. Kealy ran a season PR of 28:44 and besting her time at this course last season by nearly 10 seconds. Julissa dropped a whopping 3:30 to earn a new lifetime PR of 30:25! Finally, Sabrina ran a season PR of 37:20 and concluded her race with a great kick. This group looked great from start to finish--great teamwork and great kicks!
Overall, we earned 15 ribbons and 2 medals for the day. More importantly, I think we took a GIANT step toward true racing. It's my hope that we will take the lessons we learned to our home course on Monday. Let's defend Shiloh!
Special thanks to Janelle and Karyn for all the great race pics! :)
Quick note--don't forget to check out your results on athletic.net. Just type in your name or Zion-Benton to see your growth for the season. It's a great tool! :)
Wednesday, September 3rd @ Lake County Invite: I have been cautiously optimistic all summer; our "top" group has grown tremendously--we have worked on the mental game, the physical weaknesses, and spiritual connectedness of the team. Sure, there have been some bumps in the road, but I have been pleased to see this group, especially the seniors, grow into the role of leaders. So as we headed into the first Varsity competition of the year, I decided to keep quiet and see what the seven would do. In our post-race discussion, the girls identified all the good they had done, and where they needed to improve for next time. The positives included the best kicks I have seen from any ZB team ever. Ana, Alexis, Asia, and Karyn had the best of the whole group. If we can continue to finish this way all season, I will be a happy coach. Karyn ran a PR (compared to Bee Linked in July) in her first official XC race. Asia and Mary ran in tandem for a good part of the race, which is what most of our pack has been doing all summer. We also agreed on growth areas: throw out the timid starts and just get after it in the first mile. This will be important on Monday against the tough Mundelein and Lake Forest teams. Stop pity parties early and run into the pain. Most importantly, keep being honest like we did in the debriefing. Compared to our effort at Lake County last year, our pack was in a better within the race this year, and our split of 1:49 from 1-5 was stronger too. Let's capitalize on our strengths and work on a better race at Mundelein!
In the open race, there was much to be happy about. Violette got out strong and seemed determined to run a great race from the gun. Olivia and Tiara were not far off her pace and seemed to feed off her leadership within the race. Although all three need to work on their second mile, their races were strong. Violette finished with a lifetime PR of 24:37--no doubt earned by her hard work and increased mileage this summer. Her nearly 20 second PR smashed her previous best from last year's race at Warren (a known fast course). This bodes well for the rest of her season. :) Tiara also ran a lifetime PR--six seconds faster than her break-through performance at Conference last year. Tiara is showing the strength of multiple seasons of miles and conditioning. I know she will continue to improve this season as she works on her speed! Although Olivia's time did not reflect her hard work this summer, I know that the times will come soon enough.
Thursday @ Deerfield Triangular: I still have chills from this meet! After getting to watch the Varsity race on Wednesday, the women of Thursday put the lessons into action. Although it was even hotter than Wednesday, our runners looked strong and focused in each race. Our first group raced 2.25 miles. After 1/4 mile, Justine and Jackie decided that the pace was too slow and asserted themselves at the front of the race. I loved this gutsy risk--not only did it show that they believe in their training, but it also helped their overall times. Jackie ended up moving ahead in the second mile and finished as our first bee with an outstanding kick. Justine was not far behind, looking strong despite her shins. Sarah was our third bee in the race, taking a page out of Jackie's book with an outstanding kick. Not only was her speed good, but she challenged a girl all the way to the last minute of the chute. That kind of fight is what makes great runners! Jennifer had a great race, too, despite an irritated knee; not only did she challenge herself and others throughout the race, she also provided the pack of Takyra, Janelle, Ashley and Alicia with a great goal. Speaking of this group...they did a great job of feeding off one another a different points in the race. A special shout out goes to Takyra for letting a walker know about herself, and another goes to Alicia for having great positive self-talk during the race: "C'mon Alicia--let's go!" All of these women also had nice kicks. Kealy was not far off this group and looked great in light of the fact that she spent much of the week on the bike due to shin problems. Alexia, in her first race every, looked confident throughout her race and ran well-under her goal time for the day. :) Vanessa and Julissa worked well together for much of the race; Vanessa broke away in the final loop and looked strong doing so. Julissa did a great job of changing her stride with 300 to go; she also scared the spectators with the intense look on her face! :) Destiney was our final bee in this race; much like many of her teammates, she completed her FIRST race every as a ZBXCer. She looked strong throughout and finished with a great kick! Overall, this group looked gutsy! Nice work bees!
The remainder of our women competed in the 3-mile race. I think the 2.25-milers inspired them because they all looked great! From the start, Shayla and Taylor worked together in the front of the pack. Shayla's summer miles and Oshkosh experience surely helped as she battled the girl from Grayslake. Although the GL girl bested her in the final loop, Shayla finished with an impressive time of 23:02--a 1:38 drop from her Bee Linked time. This was her first official XC race, and it was a great one! Time aside, I liked her confidence and risk-taking. Taylor finished her first XC race ever, too...running an impressive time and finishing with a GREAT kick. I look forward to seeing these two continue to challenge themselves and each other in practice and meets. Our next bee was Tiffany. Talk about GROWTH. Last season, she finished in over 33 minutes at this course. Her time this year is a LIFETIME PR by almost three minutes. Tiffany's race is an excellent example of how hard work and a great mentality pay off! Lainey, Melanie and Karli were our next bees. They worked together for most of the race and looked phenomenal the whole way. Lainey ran 18 seconds faster than at Bee Linked and looked great in her first official XC race. Melanie, a super-newbee, looked mentally tough the entire time and finished with an outstanding kick. Karli surprised me with her performance; still dealing with a bum hip, she looked focused and aggressive throughout the race. Syra was our next bee. Her post-run talk with her brother sums up her race; although she was disappointed that her knee problem affected her ability to compete, I know that she will come back stronger in our next competition. Monica, another runner battling injury, looked fabulous in her first race of the season, finishing three minutes faster than her performance at Bee Linked. More importantly, her ankles and knees cooperated the whole way! :) Chandell finished her first official XC race just moments after Monica. And just like Monica, she improved greatly over Bee Linked--nearly two minutes! I know that she will continue to peel off time throughout this season! In an act of courage, Sam decided to race 3 miles rather than 2.25, despite being sick all week. In her XC debut, she looked strong and finished with a good kick. I know when she is feeling healthier, she will drop some significant time! Sabrina, one of the few veterans of this group, accepted my pre-race challenge of going outside of her comfort zone. She had a strong first mile and kept that pace rolling throughout the race! With her teammates cheering her on, she kicked hard to the finish. The women in this race should be extremely proud of their 2014 debut. Not only did I see risk-taking and teamwork, I also saw HEART. If we can keep that up all season, I know that we will achieve great things! :)
On Saturday, we met at the beach to run and to help out with Run with the Boyces--a 5K fundraiser for research into possible treatments for Sanfilippo Syndrome. Justin Boyce, ZBXC class of 1998, and his wife have two children who are afflicted with Sanfilippo. I was so impressed with our team--they enthusiastically cheered for and directed runners throughout the course. Several racers came up to me afterwards to compliment the team's positivity. Justin and his wife were thrilled to have us there and said the race would not have been a success without us. Bees--great job showing your true character! I'm so proud of you all :)