Sunday, March 17, 2013

ThunderRidge/Disney Rewind

I'll be honest, I really can't believe I am sitting here on this plane working on this blog post. The "computers went down" this morning at the Southwest Airlines ticket desk. I was the last one on the plane, our team literally was sprinting through the terminal after security to get to the gate. Good thing we are a track team I guess, huh?

That's not really important, however, what's important is how well we competed yesterday. Our mens team came in 8th in Florida, out of well over 40 teams. That was based on no points from the sprints or field events, which does not diminish the efforts of those guys, but shines a spotlight on the efforts of the distance kids. Those sprint//field event points were tough to come by. For example, the long jump was won by a 24.5 ft jump (that's NOT a type-o) and the we were so very close to qualifying in the sprinting events for finals, but those full-ride-to-LSU/FSU/UGA boys were pretty fast.

Before we get to the Disney recap, I want to report out on some really great results from home in Colorado. Through the magic of smartphones, I can deduce that both the men and the women had a really solid day at the ThunderRidge invite. Katrina B. equaled her PR and won the high jump with a jump of 5-2. Ciara D. got her first taste of elite racing, and held her own in the 800, running a new best time of 2:35. Javon S. ran a 11.54 in the 100, and Hanna B. went 1:03 in the 400. The boys 4 x 800 m relay of Austin D., James B., Jack D., and Evan J. went 2:15 (new personal best), 2:27 (new personal best), 2:30 (new personal best, I think) and 2:18 (huge personal best). Matt K. went 10:37 (new personal best) and Steven R. went 11:00 in the two mile. In a race I had wish I had witnessed, the gauntlet was thrown with Devin R. running 1:59.4 in the open 800, running negative splits. Sub two on a balky heel? That is some impressive stuff right there by big Dev. If anyone has video of that, let me know, I would love to see that race. On a chilly drizzly day, marks like that really show how hard we have trained and how much work all the athletes have put in. I am very pleased and very happy with all of those results.

What I did get to see was the Disney meet. (All 13 hours of it.) I think everyone had a really good day in Florida. Spencer B. and Nolan E. competed well in the 100/200 and long jump, with both of them coming away with new personal bests in the 100. (12.11 and 12.85 respectively). Jen C. threw a new personal best in the discus, flinging that disc 109-11 in the heavy air. Mackenzie H. had a new best for the mile in March, getting under 6:00. I have coached Mackenzie for a very long time, and breaking 6:00 in March is a great indicator of future racing for her. Jill H. ran a great open 400, 65.8, and knows she can greatly improve that time. Both Jill and Mackenzie came back later in the day to run tough 200's and 800's. While neither of those races were their best, we learned a lot about what we need to do in training to improve. Sometimes racing is about figuring out how to improve, and improve we will. Olivia P. had a great day at the HJ, easily clearing 4-6 before running a beautiful 200 race in 27.31. Whitney S. came home with a medal and a new personal best in the 800. 2:30.2 was good for 8th overall, and a 5:37.3 in the mile shatters her old record by over 9 seconds. Whit ran a great mile race. The leaders went through the 800 in 2:49, and Whitney was clinging onto the back of that pack. She had an awesome overspeed third lap, then busted out the slingshot to come in second in her heat. That was some excellent tactical racing by Whitney, running negative splits to really get things going for the CHAP team.

Speaking of tactical racing, the boys 800 was a tactical race, as well as a fast race. The lead pack, which all the CHAP guys were in, went through in 60, which was a little slower than I wanted. The second lap was just a series of accelerations, with Ryan K. leading our boys in 2:02, good for 8th and a medal, then Johnny B. in 2:03 and Zach Y. in 2:07. Once we get this running in traffic technique down, we have the fitness to be leading these races. That will come soon enough, I'm not worried. Soon thereafter, Dane G. ran the 300 hurdles in a new personal best, 42.44, and he has not had a ton of work on those things. More hurdle work under his belt in the coming weeks will lead to times in the 40.00's for sure.

My favorite race to watch, when it is run well, is the two mile. Girls or boys, it doesn't matter. A fast two mile, executed by runners who know how to race it, is just awesome to watch. It is because everything seems to happen in slow motion. Compared to the explosiveness of the 800, the process 3200 is like reading Michener. It takes a while, but the journey is amazing. We had one of those races yesterday. Watching Dominic C. and Travis A. just run controlled and mature was awesome. They went through the first mile in 5:05, with Bryce K. and Kaleb R. not far behind in 5:10. However, they were all buried far back in the second pack. After that first mile, the boys started to crank it down a bit. The next lap, Dom and Trav were leading that second pack, then the started bridging the gap to the leaders who were all spaced out. By the last lap, they were firmly ensconced in 4/5 position, and they were gunning for that third guy (who hadn't raced all day, but more on that later). While they didn't get him in the end, they both crossed the line at 10:00 flat. Trav nipped Dom at 10:00.3 to 10:00.7. (Two huge negative split PR's that should qualify both of them for the Broomfield Shootout in a couple weeks.) Bryce finished up at 10:31, and Kaleb ran his first 3200 in 11:00. It was a great race for all of those guys. Dom raced so well, and Trav really established some credentials out there. Plus, it was some more points for the team score, which was huge. Great race to watch, you couldn't pull yourself away from watching it, because you knew something awesome was going to happen. Two more medals was what happened, and Travis and Dominic deserve them.

Earlier in the day, before the 800, there were a couple of mile races. One was in the morning, one was a little bit later in the afternoon. In the morning fast heat of the unseeded mile, we had the blue train of Bryce, Kaleb and Travis coming through the halfway point in 2:23. Those three were totally controlling the race, and the last half of the race, they decided to blow the race up. Third lap, they had gapped the field, and the 4th lap was all about who would get gold/silver/bronze. It was so cool to see those boys running so well, it was like there was no one else in the race. The finishing order was Travis in 4:37.1, Bryce in 4:37.5 and Kaleb in 4:44, 3 enormous personal bests. Anything under 4:38 is high-end top-shelf premium, and Kaleb shaved almost 5 seconds off of his old personal best. It was just so cool to see those three boys just dictating that race, great great stuff.

The other mile race ended up being much later in the day. This mile featured James K. and a fresh Dominic. There were some horses in this race, as the lead pack went through the halfway point in 2:12.. Our guys were just on the back end of that lead pack, byt the third lap changed everything. When they came around again, Dom was in the middle of that lead pack, James was a couple steps behind him. The fourth lap (where both guys ran 63 sec), Dom waited and waited, James waited and waited, then they both slingshotted the leaders in the last turn, coming in for a 1-2 finish in new personal best times. Dom went 4:25.81, James, 4:27.71. Wow! Top two places, in a loaded field. Having two guys under 4:30 hasn't happened for CHAP since State Meet 2009. The best part about it was not the times, not the places, not the medals, but rather that both boys ran *their* races. They didn't have any instruction from me, the other competitors didn't influence them, those were races that they ran with their hearts. Racing is a work of art. (I got that one from Bode Miller.) Time does not matter, place does not matter. Running with your heart and your mind matters. Those two sub 4:30's were works of art. Both the boys and girls mile races in the morning were works of art. They were creative, inspiring and real. They give me goosebumps now just thinking about them. All racing is art, sometimes it is good art, and sometimes it is not-so-good. All those mile races belong in a museum in my opinion.

The last race of the day was the 1600 relay, or the four by four. We lined up in the dark (it was 7:45 at this time, 12.75 hours at the track meet and counting.) against some really athletic looking kids. Our seed time was 3:35, which got us in the fast heat, and we got creamed. Dane ran 52.5 out of the blocks, James ran a 55.2 with a blister the size of a sand dollar on his foot. (I didn't know about that little issue.) Johnny ran a 53.5 in the third leg, and Ryan finished up with a 51.9 as the anchor. We finished in 8th place in our heat, and I thought we ran great. We ran 3:33, and during the race there was literally nothing I though we could have improved upon. Our hand-offs were fine, our tempo was excellent, we ran that oval all out. Just a great race on our part that was overshadowed (literally) by being thrown in the deep end with a lot of Florida sharks. But, that 4x4 solidified 8th place overall as a team for us, which I am extremely happy about. What am I more pleased with than the results, however, is that everyone was the "best version of themselves". This was by far the number one group of athletes I have taken across state lines, and the trip was as fantastic as it was because everyone involved exhibited impeccable behavior, maturity and discipline. There were zero issues, and because of that, we are bringing home a lot of hardware, a lot of good racing experience and a lot of good memories. That's what these trips are all about aren't they?

See everyone Monday with some *forward* Kenyans! Gonna try and compile some pictures from the meet, so send any you have my way!


P.S. Huge shout outs to the following people for making this blog post (and this trip) possible. Coach Thompson, Cheri Whipple and Jana Moore, without them, we would NOT have gotten on that plane in Denver. If you see them in the hall, please say thank you. They do so much for us, they deserve all the gratitude in the world. Tim and Krisi Ryan, whose behind-the-scenes work of setting up hotel rooms allow us to recover during the day, sleep well at night and have easy transportation logistics the whole trip. They have been doing this for years, and I am so grateful to them. Of course, Coach Maroney and Coach Dianne. They were the best asst. coaches I could've had on this trip, they were the yang to my yin and I think that this trip would've been a disaster without their guidance, experience and flexibility. The relative smoothness of this trip was due in no small part to them. But the real goal of this trip was to run fast, jump far and throw long, and all the work they did made that happen. And finally, my awesome wife Beth. Without her help, this trip never would've even made it out of the planning stages, and without her enormous support at home in everything, none of this could've happened. she does far more than anyone knows and far more than I end up publicly acknowledging.

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