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! :)