Monday @ Home with Warren & Libertyville: After seeing both of these teams race recently, I knew our only home meet would be a challenge. However, after seeing our workout in the "Twilight Zone" last week, I was confident that we would rise to the occasion. While the team race did not end well, individually, we saw vast improvements. There were 13 lifetime or season PRs: Chandell, Jocelyn, Ana, Asia, Tiffany, Mary, Syra, Jackie, Destiney, Taylor, Jennifer, Justine, Melanie, Alicia, Olivia and Takyra. Additionally, we had some significant movement on The Board: Asia moved onto The Board with a lifetime PR of 20:17 to nab the #8 spot; Ana improved her previous position by running 20:25, landing her in #6; and although Mary improved her time as well, Ana's effort bumped her down a spot to #7 with a time of 20:34. Overall, I was impressed by our positive mindset in this race, as well as some great kicks. We need to start focusing on the competition more, however, if we are going to evolve as a team. Saturday @ Warren Invite: Traditionally, this meet has been friendly to us. Not only is the course fast, but there is also some great competition in a smaller field than Wauconda. Our F/S group started things right. When they emerged from the woods for the first time, Mary was leading the pack and doing a great job of taking a risk in the race. Although she eventually ended up fifth, her great start gave her the fastest mile time and fastest overall time for our team. More importantly, it showed her that she can be with the front-runners in a very competitive race. I was pleased to see that Mary was not the only risk-taker. As our bees ran by, I could tell that EVERYONE got out harder than usual for this race. Needless to say I was going crazy as I ran to see them again just after the first mile. This group did a good job of fighting through the middle of the race and using the downhills to their advantage. We had eleven women in this race; NINE earned LIFETIME PRs: Takyra by 44 seconds; Alexia by 1:25; Taylor by 45 seconds; Tianna by 1:36; Vanessa by 43 seconds, despite her rude ankle; Jackie by 12 seconds; Jocelyn by 1:07, Janelle ran her FIRST 3-mile race ever after dealing with knee issues; and Karyn by 40 seconds. Mary earned a BIG season PR by breaking into the 19s. We had three medalists in this race: Mary in 5th place, Karyn in 30th place, and Jocelyn not far behind in 39th place. We ended up 10th out of 18 teams...only two points off Evanston's 9th place. I was really happy to see everyone give effort and enthusiasm throughout the race! Varsity had a specific goal: to take some risks. Since we were still not running our true Varsity group, we hoped that the lack of team-point pressure would bring out some great performances. Asia and Ana started out strong and were running stride-for-stride after the 800. Ally was a bit off of them, but within striking distance. Violette got a strong start (sub-7). Olivia and Syra looked great...finally breaking out of the even-paced comfort of past races, and Tiffany, despite still being sick, looked aggressive and focused at the start. The middle of this race was a problem; we let too many people pass us without consequence. I'm not sure if some of you were lulled into the repetition of the course or the pattern of running with a teammate; all I do know is that mile two killed us. That being said, there were some good times that came out of the race: Asia set another lifetime PR in 20:20; Ana set a season PR in 20:04; Violette set a lifetime PR of 23:11; Syra was only a second off her lifetime PR; Olivia set a season PR of 23:21. More importantly, Tiffany, Violette, Olivia and Syra took on the challenge of the Varsity race because they knew the competition would force them into a different mindset; I applaud that risk-taking! What I liked most is that when I finally calmed down and the Varsity cooled down, we had an honest talk about the results. We know we can do better, and we will. This season has been and will continue to be about growth--the workouts this week should help, as should a break from racing on Monday. In the Open Race, we had some more risk-taking! The whole group got out hard, with Tiara, Justine and Melanie leading the way. As I waited for the group to return to behind the starting line again, I was impressed by the teamwork I saw: Melanie and Justine, Ashley and Monica, and Chandell and Nicole were all working in tandem to help each other and to pass others. Out of the eleven women racing, SEVEN earned LIFETIME PRs: Tiara by 1:06, Chandell by 1 second, Jennifer by 13 seconds, Nicole by just under 3:00 stinkin' minutes, Justine by 44 seconds, and Desiree finished her first race ever! Two earned significant season PRs: Sabrina by a whopping 1:51 and Monica just under 2:00! Overall, I am really pleased with the progress of this group. Not only did I see some big improvements, I also can see that fitness is coming along for the newbees. We will continue to grow!