Clear the Course!

On Saturday, Justin and I headed to Eldama Ravine town where one of the regional cross country meets was being held for juniors (under 18) and seniors (over 18). The town is 100 kilometers- about a two hour drive - from Eldoret and we watched the dawning of the sun on the trip. The GPS had a ridiculous notion that maintaining a steady speed of 80 kilometers an hour is possible. Not if you want to have your car survive the journey. We averaged considerable less, but still made it to the meet early enough to grab a quick breakfast of tea, samosas, and chapatti.

The races, four total, were held at the fairgrounds. Pulling up, it reminded me of nearly all the small meets that the Asotin kids run, with the limited flagging and small but vocal crowd. As you'd expect for a regional, the officials did a nice job of keeping things organized, and there were race marshals out on the course. The crowd helped shoo cows and little children from the raceway.

The course was a two kilometer loop with open ground through the fairgrounds, some single track out on the far end, and enough turns to allow for some tactical maneuvers. It didn't have much in the way of hills. The juniors girls were running 6k, the junior boys were running 8K, and everyone else was in for five laps, or 10K.

The biggest difference between the local races I attend in Washington State and here was the speed (though this was a regional championship, so more like our state meet than a local district meet.) The races started with a simple whistle and the runners left the line like quicksilver on a downhill slope.

Nandi County ended up very well represented in the finishes, sending three girls to the next meet. Similar results for the boys race. Both races were relatively competitive for the first couple of laps until the winners made moves and gapped the fields. 

The senior races, on the other hand, weren't nearly so competitive. The woman's race was won at the beginning of the second lap when the leader made a move past the pair next to her and never looked back. She ended up winning in dominating fashion by over a minute and a half. There's always a concern when someone breaks early that they may have made the move too soon. This young lady dispelled that notion by crushing the last lap and showing a hell of a kick to the finish.

The men's race saw an early lead by a runner who expected to win. Rather than play a conservative game, he left the line hard and maintained that. Unfortunately for him, another young man had a bigger engine. He chased the leader and, on the third lap, made a move to go past him. Like the lady in the race before, he didn't look back, building a commanding lead. The first man continued to run hard and will be moving on to the next race, having taken second.

The finish line was old-fashioned, with runners given placement cards to present as they exited the chute. I didn't get results or names to go with the faces. It's a different feeling watching races where you don't know half the athletes personally. In most of the races I attend in Washington, I've been watching the same kids, whether it's Tiegens and Egglestons/Dykstras at Asotin, or Ward and Vanos from St. George. Anyway, an odd juxtaposition of familiarity and disconnection.

Justin was hustling after every race, getting interviews so that he could write stories for freelance sale.


Done Coaching, So Now I Can Cheer

GSL (Greater Spokane League - 3A) Mead/Ferris/SP/MSHS

The junior high season at Asotin ended on the 13th, so I had some time to go watch the older kids racing. I was at Mead in Spokane on Wednesday and at Clarkston for the District 9 meet Saturday.


The Mead meet was right after school and the GSL women's championship was on the line, with the hosts in contention. Last year it rained, a slow cold drizzle. The sunshine and sixty degrees temps were a substantial improvement.

After the JV races, the women took to the line. The emotional leader of the team, Rayanna, kept the ladies focused on getting ready for the race. Once it started, a cold bug kept her from having the race she hoped for. She ran with a lot of guts

Teammate Hannah Tomeo went out with the Mt. Spokane ladies at Coach Dori Whitford's direction. As Dori said, she "wanted to give her more than one way to race." To often, the coaches aren't teaching racing strategy, turning a foot race into a horse race. Yet, as Rono and Lindgren proved, strategy has a place in cross country and forcing your opponent into mistakes can lead to satisfying victories.

In the end, the top three Mt. Spokane ran away from the Mead ladies. Mead took the next four spots. A pretty good dose of dominance by both programs. Something that should cheer the Mead ladies - Mt. Spokane graduates two of those top three. Mead has their top six back and several JV girls nearly ready to step up to help the squad.

The men's race was more balanced, but Ferris edged Mead. Mt. Spokane runner Hayden Dressel took the lead from the start, but his team was never in serious contention. The real battle occurred in the 2-5 positions with a pair of Ferris runners, Erik Holm and Amir Ado, running stride for stride with a pair of Mead men, Will Medellin and Cameron Dean. Will, who was also in the creative writing class I taught earlier in the day, pushed against the Ferris pair, holding onto them for the entire race, with Cameron a few steps back. Behind them, a trio of Mead men tried to close on a quartet from Ferris.

The race at the front came down to a hard chase and kick. Will Medellin managed to get past Ado and Dean did as well. Into the final stretch, Holm led those two, and then launched a kick. Dean unleashed a huge kick of his own, caught Holm and captured the number two spot. Medellin didn't have quite the same finishing speed but fought like heck anyway. I love watching athletes leave it on the course.

District 9 - 2B Meet

Back on home turf, I got to cheer for kids that I coached and some that ran with my daughters. I think this is the last year I can say that. Time moves quickly - the Asotin assistant coach, Jessie Johnson, was a teammate of my middle daughter.

Photo courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey

Photo courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey

Girls raced first and Asotin was expected to win the team title. A pack of four ran away from the rest of the field, led by Anna Ruthven of DeSales. Emily Adams stayed hard on her heels, and Carmen Eggleston and Maia Dykstra maintained contact. Mykayla Miller from Pomeroy, Celeste Davis of TCP, and Kat Stephenson (Asotin) formed the next group. Lauren Ruthven (DeSales) and Adriana Bernal (TCP) held position, and then a wave of orange crested as the rest of the Asotin Panthers flew by on the outbound leg of the course.

On the return part of that leg, before the big hill, Ruthven held the lead on Adams by about 20 meters. The Asotin freshman pair had split apart (Maia Dykstra was running with a lingering cold) with Eggleston in front. Forty meters behind them were Davis and Miller. Another gap appeared before Stephenson, running strong, popped into view. It would be nearly a minute before the next runner showed up.

Photo courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey

Photo courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey

By the bottom of the hill Adams had closed the gap on Ruthven to a few seconds. Midway up the hill, she through on a hard surge topass the DeSales lady. The change in Emily Adams over the course of the season has been impressive. She's learned to race, and when to take chances to bust open a lead. Ruthven took second with Eggleston locking in third place. Dykstra, despite the cold, battled her way up the hill on guts to hang onto fourth, holding off another freshman, Mykayla Miller. Freshman Celeste Davis trailed in Miller.

Samantha Nicholas stirred the local crowd with a terrific kick and Paiton Vargas, in a bit of a surprise, was the number five runner for Asotin as she seems to be figuring out the whole racing part of running. All eight Asotin ladies placed in the top fifteen.

In all, freshmen captured four of the top six placements. Something that should worry other teams is that Asotin does not have a senior in their top eight. Four are freshmen, four are juniors. The Panthers appear poised for an extended run at the podium. Pomeroy also has a very young team and a growing tradition.

The men's race didn't resolve itself so quickly. Asotin and TCP were in the mix for the team title. The strength of the TCP program under Scott Larsen has always been the quality of the runners, top to bottom. He does a really nice job of bringing them along, and in good numbers, so that the middle of his pack never has a hole that a competing team can take advantage of. TCP put seven runners in the top sixteen to win the race, but only by a point as Asotin did a nice job of scoring.

Kenneth Rooks was the overall winner, and Thomas Weakland led the Panther squad. Third went to DeSales Daniel Ness, fourth to TCP's Phillip Geist, and fifth to Asotin freshman Eli Engledow. Landon Callas of Waitsburg-Prescott finished in sixth. TCP began to flex the mid-pack muscle with Cesar Robles and Thomas Mercer leading the way, Spencer Williams of Asotin in pursuit. Senior Nate Prior would be the next Asotin finisher, in twelfth place. TCP put four consecutive harriers across the line to seal the race. Thomas Martin, another promising Asotin freshman, closed out the scoring for the Panthers.  

Photo courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey

Photo courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey

Next week, and presumably at State, these team will meet again. Podium spots and bragging rights will be on the line.

Hanging out at the Inland Empire Classic XC Meet

WIAA - Bless Their Little Hearts

The WIAA has seen fit to break apart middle school cross country squads, because their rules were built around the junior high concept. As a practical matter, that meant that we ended up with 7th-8th-grade runners, all young men, at the meet yesterday while the other nineteen runners took the day off.

Picture courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey.

Picture courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey.

As to why we had no girls, we ran into (again) the small school problem of facilities. Because we don't have adequate gym space for six basketball squads in the winter, the middle school plays b-ball in the fall. We see a goodly number migrate back once they reach high school and the schedule normalizes.

For those not familiar with the changes in the organizing structure of most schools, the old junior high system of 7th- through 9th-grade with single subject instruction (similar to high school) has been supplanted by the middle school system which incorporates 6th-through 8th-grades that focuses on team teaching. The WIAA, rather than revise the scope of activities they oversee to reflect the very real changes in school organization, created clunky rules that sometimes allow younger students to participate with their friends a year older. Mostly, though, the rules exclude student participation and split a third of a middle school team from the rest of the program. Foolish.

Inland Empire Classic Meet

LCSC Coach Mike Collins and all of his athletes that volunteer to work the event again put on a terrific meet. My four, all young men, ran a 3,000 meter course - the longest they'll face this year. All of them did well, with three of them PR'ing. More importantly, I loved the effort I saw from all of them.

I'm beginning to think that Mike Collins is an organizational genius. All the races started right on time and a total of 566 athletes raced the Lewis-Clark home course. The biggest race was the junior varsity men with 170 participants. Eleven middle school teams ran, from Waitsburg-Prescott from Washington to Timberline from Weippe. Twenty-eight high school teams made the trek, coming down from Spokane and Sandpoint, up from Grangeville, and over from Kennewick. The event continues to grow.

Koby Harris was the solitary runner for W-P and he joined our kids for the start, even doing a little final bit of warming up with them. He ended up right in the thick of things, a little ahead of one Asotin runner, a little behind another.

One point that I emphasized with the youngsters yesterday was the final kick. I made them two promises about that kick. First, it would hurt. Second, it wouldn't kill them. As they mature, I'm watching them accept that they can do more than they expected. Saw a lot of nice efforts at the end of the race. None of them died, so I didn't have to worry about having lied to them.

My coaching day finished at eleven, but I stuck around to play cheerleader. It's been a while since I yelled myself hoarse. Managed it while logging a pretty good fartlek workout, trying to get to the various points on the course. The way that Coach Collins laid it out makes the xc course very spectator-friendly.

During the women's varsity race, I got to encourage two freshman that I had last year. Carmen Eggleston and Maia Dykstra are off to nice starts for the their high school careers. The best race of the day for the Asotin women got turned in by Maria Eggleston, the only Eggleston girl that I didn't have the privilege of coaching. Maria just kept moving steadily through the pack to eventually finish with another PR. I'm not sure she realizes it, but she's run three different distances so far this year and PR'd at each one.

Kat Stephenson is another lady PR-ing every race right now and took third. Christina Vantrease scored in the fifth spot.

The best moment of the meet, from a coach and dad's perspective, was watching Adrienne Washington of Asotin fighting her way to the finish line and getting a huge hug from Maria. The young lady is running with a tweaked ankle from last week's meet and a broken wrist that she's dealt with all season. She's a gutsy kid, but she's digging deep into her reserves. Maria saw it, I think intuitively, and reacted. The folks of both have reason to be proud.

The men's race watched locals grab the top four spots, with Lewiston's Austin Byrer and Joey Perez taking first and fourth, Thomas Weakland of Asotin taking second, and Logo's Josiah Anderson snagging third with a nice tactical run. Eli Engledow and Thomas Martin, both freshman, seem to be getting the hang of the running thing. Nate Prior and Zack Sokoloski continue to improve.

I think the chip timing got a mite goofy as it has Samantha Nicholas running in the men's race - pretty sure I saw her in the women's race. When the final results go out, Asotin will drop one place as the inadvertent chip-reading gets removed.

The inland Pacific Northwest has some excellent high school running right now, men and women, much of it on display yesterday. Now, on to Tuesday when the sixth-graders get to show their chops.

Adding to my schedule - I'm doing a book reading in Spokane at Auntie's Bookstore for those that can make it. That's Friday, October 9th at 7:00PM. The next day, I'm going to be selling and signing books at the Spokane Marathon packet pickup.

Chief Timothy State Park with the XC Kids

A great day for our first training run away from the school campus. The kids were awesome and we had a lot of smiles over the course of the run. Plus playing in the water and tossing footballs waiting for the high school team to finish up.

The Asotin Junior High squad at the top of the hill at Chief Timothy State Park. Getting a feel for the course. Island run is in nine days.

The Asotin Junior High squad at the top of the hill at Chief Timothy State Park. Getting a feel for the course. Island run is in nine days.

Figuring out the start line - most of them have never run a race.

Figuring out the start line - most of them have never run a race.

Rick Riley's X-Country Camp

Good thing I brought run gear. I took the morning off to head up to Spokane and meet with Rick Riley at his annual running camp. Due to the multitude of highway repairs, I managed to arrive only five minutes early. I'd been hoping for thirty minutes.

The kids were already assembled, tweaking shoes and sunglasses as they got prepped for the day's session. Unlike a lot of camps, Rick runs a day camp with the sessions going about 2 hours officially. Since everyone (except me) arrives early, it is closer to 2.5 hours.

The other point that jumped at me were the ages. Most of the running camps I'm familiar with cater to the high school athlete. The Rick Riley X-Country Camp encourages all ages to attend. I think the youngest this year was Katie, age eight. I didn't get Ryan's age but he's right around there as well. A couple of other were nine. Rick has a pretty fair number of his St. George's squad helping out as coaches for the youngsters, along with TJ, a former Spokane Falls decathlete.

I asked Rick about how young a runner he'll allow. "first-grade on up," he said, "and we'll figure out how to make it work for them." Very different from most camps, indeed.

On the other end of the spectrum were the high school kids. These headed out for a 45 minute easy run just after I got there. Pacing them on the boys side were Nathan Vanos and Emrek Danielson for the guys. The ladies were led by Marika Morelan and Madie Ward. Madie was on a bike for the week as she heals up from a lower leg issue. Coach Riley was hoping that she'd be back on the run in a week or so.

On a side note, it was my first exposure to these runners on a non-race day. Lots of cheerfulness and smiles. It's easy to forget that the race day face the kids wear is only a small glimpse of them.

The rest of us took a warm-up lap around Audubon Park, where the North Central team holds its home meets. Once around, and then the teaching started, first with the coaches leading the group through a stretching routine. Rick followed up with the philosophy behind the stretching, just enough to get their attention.

Then it was out for some easy running. I managed to land on a recovery day, which was helpful. When the youth coaches asked the kids how they were doing, a variety of aches and pains were reported, mostly calves and quads. When Rick asked five minutes later, all those miraculously healed and everyone reported, "Fine!"

Off we went on an easy run. The coaches bounced up and down the group, providing feedback and encouragement. Lots of encouragement, actually, which is awfully nice to hear. I hung out with the little kids, both because I wanted to chat to TJ and also because it's been a lot of years since I've run with kids that only come up to my waist. The shorter girl wasn't even that tall. Pretty much they're all Chatty-Cathy's, so I just listened in. When a couple dropped off pace, TJ dropped back with them and I ran with the rest.

Next came speedwork, disguised as a game. Rick picked the littlest kids to be the team captains and then ran a relay. Again, a lot of smiles, though the team captains looked a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility at first.

As the kids cooled down from that, Rick had them settle in for a short lecture. Today, he covered goal-setting. He gave them a ton of ideas on how to go about setting goals, had Nathan and Madie talked about their goals from the previous year, and talked about his experience when he set the National Outdoor record. 

Then he hit them with the kicker: you got to do the work.

If you're interested in Rick's camp for next year, you can click here for the info.

May I Listen?

As part of a new book that I am writing, I've been taking a look at communication. Since the book is about coaching, I went looking for someone with very particular skills.

I found her, and her name is Neely Spence Gracey. If her name seems familiar, it might be because she's an 8-time Div. II champion. Also, the daughter of Steve Spence, Olympic Marathoner. I discovered that she coaches when I came across a comment of hers on She got bonus points in my book for posting there using her real name, plus she exuded a positive attitude.

In addition to being an outstanding athlete, Neely coaches other runners to achieve their best. She was kind enough to reply to an email that I sent her out of the blue a couple of weeks ago, and agreed to help me out with my book project.

Now, I have to confess, I am fascinated by communication and not just in the realm of coaching. My regular job has me working with homebuyers, most of whom I never meet until the day of inspection, most of whom are under stress with the home-buying process. In the three hours or so that we're together, I have to find a way to build rapport, and to identify how best to deliver the information I divine from the crawlspace, attic, or electrical panel.

One of the highest compliments I've ever received came from an agent in Moscow, Idaho, who told her client that I was a great educator. That is, in essence, how I see the core function of my profession. All the technical knowledge in the world won't help if I can not accurately transfer it to the client, both for the defects that might be present, but also for all the other systems present.

This is also the reason I like having the client with me - I never know when they will ask a question that may take us into a discussion that, while not strictly inspection-related, is important to them. The client may not care that the electrical panel is fine, they expected that; instead, they want an open floor plan and need to know if a particular wall is a bearing wall.

Through listening to their words and watching the body language, I can see what is important to them, and simultaneously figure out the best means of presenting information. For some, bluntness is best. Others need to be led to the information in baby steps with supporting data at each point.

Similarly, when I am coaching with the junior high kids, listening and watching are mandatory. With the kids, all their emotions write themselves across their faces and their posture. Also, because they're pre-teen/early teens, those emotions flutter faster than a hummingbird's wings, the process never stops.

In one of Neely's responses to me, she mentioned that her dad started by coaching 13 year-old her like she was a college athlete. Her answer reminded me of coaching my own girls. I quickly understood I couldn't treat them the same way I did myself. Our motivations, expectations, and fears weren't the same.

Relentless positive reinforcement works. Bashing them doesn't and the athletes simply check out. Presentation counts. Kids don't like backhanded compliments, they need the truth straight up, with zero snark. Joking and humor work, but running people down, even ones that aren't on the team, makes them think about what you're saying about them when they're not around. Once you've destroyed that trust boundary, you might as well quit. When I work with the kids, I focus on what they're doing right. We build on that, one baby step at a time.

I also look for the triggers that influence them.

One young lady would get nervous to the point of hyperventilating while standing at the start line. The solution that worked was to get her to the line just in time. Her warm-ups we did off the course, with friends. Once they dropped into that easy getting-going rhythm, they'd chat about a dozen things, none of them race-related. When she got to the line, there was no time to panic.

This is the antithesis of my warm-up and thought process. I operate very differently, with long warm-ups and visualizations. A couple of the kids work the same way, but most don't. By watching them, and listening to the emotions below the words, I could see and feel her concern. As Neely Gracey said to me, "Just like actual coaching, communication needs to be individualized and adjusted based on need. Creating an environment for confidence is so critical . . ." 

In one simple statement, Neely hit on a point that everyone can learn from. Most people, when considering communication, talk about talking. How to present yourself, highlight your ideas, how to convey your instructions, how to modulate your tone to influence. All of that focuses on one-way communication. Sadly, this often leaves the speaker talking to themselves.

Good communication is a two-way process and constantly adapting on the part of all the participants. Average coaches can tell you what you need to do; great coaches listen, adapt, and lead.

For those interested in getting coaching from Neely Spence Gracey, visit her at her website. Neely is incredibly approachable and open, and has been through the running wars.

McFarland, USA Review

Went to see the movie "McFarland, USA" last night, in a nearly empty theater.

Got a senior citizen discount, so it might be time to trim the beard and ditch some gray. I thought it funny, my sweetie not so much.

I went in with fairly low expectations after reading too many other commentaries. Glad I went, though, as I enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

Costner was his usual very smooth self, sliding into the role and convincingly playing the part of a coach that knew nothing about cross country. Even better was his portrayal of a man unaware of the conditions in the fields. Disney and the director handled this deftly, avoiding the easy screeds to touch on the humanity of the pickers and the hardscrabble work they do.

The running scenes were okay, but the most dynamic parts of the movie occur off the course, and between the team and their coach. "McFarland, USA" does a wonderful job of showing the meaning of community and the power of hope.

That hope gets embodied into the character of the team and inspires a community that had little to cheer for. Even in a small audience, we had folks cheering the runners on in the last race scene.

The biggest complaint I've seen from runners is that the actors didn't look like runners. I think, for movie purposes, that might be better. If they had all been extomorph's that weighed 120 pounds and looked as though they could fly, an essential element of the theme of the movie would have been lost.

These weren't runners, not at first. They were incredibly hard-working kids who took on running on top of everything else. Portraying them as a cross-section of some skinny, some not, and showing the heart they brought to the course was more important for the movie than accurately portraying a team of ultra-skinny runners.

At it's heart, this isn't a running movie - it's a movie about community and family ties that has runners in it. Just like life.

That's where the movie shines and why it is so much more popular with the audience than the critics, non-runners than nearly-elite runners.

Sometimes I wonder if they're putting us on . . .

I tend to frequent, which is a great site for all sorts of running information. The site has the best forum in the virtual world despite being testosterone fueled. While it attracts a certain percentage of jerks, always posting anonymously, it has a deep well of knowledge, too.

The questions posed can be thoughtful, interesting, and occasionally, inflammatory.  Or today, just flat out weird.

There is a very good chance my daughter will qualify for the upcoming state meet. However, her coaches consistently subtly undermine her confidence because they don't like her. They claim she is not very friendly to them... which is true because it is her way to protect herself from getting picked on.

I don't want drama, but if she does make it to the state meet (and the team doesn't), then I DO NOT want the coaches working with her alone for the week before the state meet. I also do not want her to have to ride over to the state meet with the coach(es). If I talked with the coaches in a straightforward fashion about this, I am pretty sure they would perceive me as being a difficult parent, and I think they would make things difficult.

What ironclad excuse could I use to meet my objective of not allowing interaction between the coach(es) and my child, and yet avoid other difficulties (like the coach trying to keep her from running at the meet)?

I really don't know what to make of this. Maybe because we have such good relationships with the parents of our kids, we don't see what happens elsewhere. Except I don't see any signs of it at any of our meets with other teams either. 

The deeper you get into this particular post, the odder it gets. 

Every coach gets the occasional odd or over-involved parent - Tim Gundy, Asotin's coach might even throw me in that category though I made him a deal - I'd train the girls out of season and deliver them to him healthy. Then I would butt out and cheer from the sidelines during the season.

I have never seen a coach that did not want his athletes to run well, so the idea of intentional sabotage hurts my head. Yet that is what the parent is stating, quite baldly.

His (possible) reason? He, the dad, was a better runner than the coach way back when and the coach is acting out of envy and pettiness.

And my thought? Is this guy for real? I can't help but feel that the guy asking the question is sitting at his computer chortling because he's having fun at everyone's expense. While, of course, besmirching coaches and making parents look like lunatics.

God, I hope we're not going to turn into Little League Baseball.

Anybody got some thoughts? Feel free to post them in the comments (if they work for you - Internet Explorer has problems with this platform.). You can email me too.

Run gently, folks. 

No ribbons, medals, awards

Lincoln Middle School, in Clarkston, held their annual Lancer Invite for cross country yesterday. Without the high schools, the atmosphere was a little more relaxed and the officials a touch less formal.

The other thing missing - no individual awards, ribbons, etc. Several of the coaches commented on it, and favorably. I know that we've been working with our kids to divorce the running from the racing, and the racing from the results. We've gone so far as to ban watches on athletes during the race. They can get their times later.

I don't think the kids actually missed it. They knew how they did and where they placed. When they weren't racing, they were cheering, not just for their own teams. Heck, most of the coaches were cheering for everybody, in between coaching their own kids as they went by.

Middle school is a terrific age to work with - there's enthusiasm and hope. Most of these kids don't care at this point if they're really fast or not. They have friends on the team, and they're doing this cross country thing together.

They may not even admit that they like it, but judging by smiles afterwards, they do.

I'm a big fan of competition and most of the kids are, too. But I'm not a fan of awards. The medal or ribbon changes the emphasis from competing to see who's best to doing well enough to earn some bling. It devalues the effort of the less physically gifted kids who work just as hard, and leaves the gifted kids with the idea that not gaining a medal is a form of disgrace. The awards value the result, not the race.

Asotin Island Run Course

The 8th Annual Asotin Island Run is on Saturday, Sept 13th, 2014 at Chief Timothy Park just west of Asotin. Race times are::

Asotin Island Run Men's Races

1.6 Mile Middle School 9:30 AM - 2.6 Mile Varsity 10:15 AM - 2.6 Mile Junior Varsity 10:45 AM

Asotin Island Run Women's Races

1.6 Mile Middle School 9:15 AM - 2.6 Mile Varsity 9:45 AM - 2.6 Mile Junior Varsity 10:45 AM

Pictures of the course can be found at

The Couch Potato Hall of Fame

Years ago, when we lived in San Diego, telemarketers would call and pester us incessantly. One evening, after dinner for a change, my wife ended up on the end of a sales call from somebody at 24 Fitness.

She listened to the spiel, tried to interrupt to say she wasn't interested. The guy on the other end kept rambling. My sweetie gave him another minute and finally, when the telemarketer stopped to gather breath and energy for another assault, told him this:

"I am the President of the Couch Potato Hall of Fame and want you to know that I could lose that just by talking to you on the phone."

The marketer laughed and hung up.

Mind you, my sweetie is more slender than I am and the doc keeps giving her good news on the checkups on all the usual issues, blood pressure, cholesterol, and what not.

She lost her Presidency yesterday in an act of voluntary resignation.

She entered the Benefit run, pinned on the race tag, and walked the course with one of my daughters and a granddaughter. My daughter is 8.5 months pregnant and pulled my granddaughters in the little red wagon around the course.

If talking on the phone put her at risk, pinning on a race tag puts her over the edge.

She's now the former President of the Couch Potato Hall of Fame.

Many thanks to all the wonderful people that showed up to walk or run the Seaport Striders Benefit 5K. It was a nice turnout. Mike Halverson, the President of the Striders, was there to help out and seemed quite happy to match funds for the race. He acted as starter for us and we actually got underway on time.

No one pushed especially hard so the fun run was actually . . . fun, though the last hundred yards got competitive a couple of times, especially as one young lady raced her dad to the finish . Apparently they had a bet - she won.

The weather, as promised, was nicer than it has been, dropping into the high 70's by the end of the race. With a 7PM start and the help of the nearby cliff, the runners were able to stay comfortable in shade the whole race.

A special thanks to all the volunteers. You folks, as always, were just awesome. The pictures are courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey, who volunteers at nearly all our races, usually handling the rush of people at registration.

To John Potter's son - I owe you a dozen cookies. We had prize giveaways after the race and I donated a copy of each of my books. John, the Lewiston xc coach, won his choice of cookies or a book. His son was pleading, "Not the book, Dad, not the book." John picked up a copy of Finishing Kick anyway - thank you for that and I hope you enjoy it. I'll get a dozen snickerdoodle cookies together for the son.

Have a great weekend!

Friday - Time for an Evening 5K, Right?

Getting my run done this morning. This evening is a 5K in Asotin. The Seaport Striders have pledged to match the entry fees for Asotin, Clarkston, and Lewiston as a contribution to the Cross Country Programs.

I will not be racing. I am the timer with a talented right thumb that will deliver accurate results for your race. My wife and daughter will not be racing. My wife does not run and my daughter is 8.5 months pregnant-they'll be walking. So will a granddaughter who was learning B Skips Tuesday night. Kinda, since she's only two but she thought it was fun to play with Poppa, especially when he's being a goof. Poppa has no problem being a goof for, and with, any of the grandkids.

It's a low-key fun race. Bring a towel - the beach is right there so you can take a dip to cool off afterward. And bring the whole family - running isn't solely for the fleetest. They only get the medals and stuff. Wait, no medals tonight - we have giveaways instead.

.Everybody gets a fair shot - see you there.


A Few Running Stories You Might Have Missed

First up, I'd like to buy two runners, Bob Mobach and John Davies, a beer. These two men, who don't know each other, stepped up to do what men are supposed to do. Here's the story so you can see what I mean.

Running Times has a great article on getting ready for running camp. An Insider’s Guide to Running Camp. Only thing they forgot to mention was to bring a great attitude. It's playing outside, people, just faster.

Do you get cramps while you're running? (or playing other sports/) Have you considered drinking pickle juice? Me neither . . . (I'm not telling you if it works or not - go read the article!)

Too old to run cross country? Nonsense! Competitor magazine, a favorite of mine when I lived in San Diego, gives you pointers on how to get ready, even if you're a geezer. (Technical definition of geezer is five years older than me.)

Group Run in Asotin, Tuesdays & Thursdays

Any of you junior high or high school runners that would like to jump in for a run, there's a group run Tuesday and Thursday mornings. All runners, regardless of ability, are welcome.

Currently, there are athletes from Asotin, Clarkston, and Lewiston participating.

The runs start at Swallows Nest in Clarkston in the park along the Snake River. Distances vary - I stay short and run with the young runners - the older kids have been known to rocket off.

Fun starts at 7:30 am.