back to school for the kids…

Me and a couple of runners after running with the Boardtown Club on Saturday (Photo by Mrs. Harden).

Following the awesome Saturday morning run, I figured the Sunday evening might be more difficult. But, it was pretty decent too. I ran the 5.6 mile loop through campus with the following splits: 7:14, 6:32, 6:30, 6:35, 6:30, and 5:45 pace for the last 0.6 mile. Joseph killed me on the last 300m, although I did alright. Brent was not far behind. Jorge helped pace us, so that was helpful. But the water he gave me at 3.5 miles was more helpful. Our new buddy Jay also joined us, and came in a few minutes after us. Kamau ran 2 miles with us, then turned back around for 4 miles. The Musser sisters-Abigail and Shaunika, Kate, and Steve also did a 4 mile loop.

Joseph….(photo by Jim Harden)

Monday-rain! Thunder. Lightning. Power went out at home around lunch, but 4-county Electric Co. had it back up in no time! Those guys are awesome! Later at about 6:40 we did some hills at the South Farm-6 X 1 minute, 8 X 30 seconds, 1 X 1 minute, plus warm up and cool down. Joseph worked on relaxing his shoulders today, trying to get his arms in the right place. They tend to be too high, and he gets tense in the traps and shoulders. If you run relaxed, you notice a tremendous difference right away. Much easier. This was evident in Joseph’s killing me on the 30 second hills today!

me, running at the whites (photo by Jim Harden)

Tuesday, first day of school for our local kids. Bummer for them. Ha.  Hardly anybody ran with us today. Brent joined us, and Cleat showed up later. Most of the college kids are on break until they start back on the 20th. Of course, our MSU XC friends will be done with us and joining their teammates for their running starting next week. The Starkville junior high and high school kids that run with us have started practices with the school team, so we won’t be seeing any of them except on Saturdays at Boardtown when they don’t have meets and on Sundays, if at all, until the season is over in early November.  Steve will be helping out the SHS kids again, so we will probably only see him on Saturdays/Sundays. Joseph will still be running with us for a while because he can’t run with the team at the time they practice after school right now due to some medicine he is taking. Apparently, the sun or heat or something interferes with it. He either has to run early morning or later in the day after it cools down a bit. Anyway, he got in 6 easy miles, Brent and I did 5.5 easy miles, and I don’t know about Cleat. Probably seven. That joker has got the bug!

Wednesday, south farm, hill repeats. After the warmup, we did 6 X 30 second hills, then 4 X 1 minute hills, then cool down. Not as many as on Monday. Want to keep the second workout easier than the Monday one. It went pretty good today. For sure my best day.  The minute repeats were especially good. By the 30 second mark on each of them, I was farther up the hill than when I was just doing the 30 second repeats. Pretty awesome. I was even able to push Joseph a little. I think he was surprised! We concentrated on relaxation more today, which really helped. Loose lips and facial muscles and all that. Relaxed shoulders. Trying to not tighten the muscles we were not using. Bounding up the hill with relaxed energy! Crazy. Joseph is planning on also working more on deep breathing techniques. When I say deep breathing, I mean when you inhale you let your lower abdomen expand, and when you exhale your abdomen should flatten out as the air leaves. I would like him to do deep breathing exercises for at least 15 minutes before any race if possible. He was thinking of maybe putting some trippy music on his headphones while he sits cross-legged doing deep breathing. Sounds crazy, but if you want to run a good 5k, you need to be relaxed and oxygenated. Running is about many things, not just workouts and mileage. Attitude, form, good breathing, being relaxed, genetics, desire, being a weirdo, and many  other things play important roles in determining what kind of runner you will become.

Thurday, south farm at 7 pm….They had a “meet the jackets” deal at the high school tonight for the fall season athletic teams at the high school. Mostly that is for the football players, but the others also get to mill about on the field and be seen by parents. Joseph and his mom made it. I was working. But, he got done in time for a 6 mile run after. It was only Steve, Joseph and I today. Pretty danged nice out though.

Jorge, Me, and Kamau

Whew! The temperature on Saturday was awesome!! Mid to upper sixties. Still humid, but you can’t beat that for this time of year. Perfect for a longish run with the Boardtown Running Club. Lots of speedy folks there today. Several of the MSU XC girls such as Renee Masterson, Katie Huston, Jessica Comer, Jodie, McGuff, and a couple of others; Kamau Bostic, Damian Grady, Ethan Musser, Meggan Franks, Micah White, Brent Wallace, David Dycus, and others. Had a nice group from Starkville High’s XC there two, which was cool. Of course,  I already mentioned Damian and Ethan, and in addition to them from the team were Nathan Gaudin, Anna Jackson, and Haley Jenkins. The scheduled route for today was 9.8 miles. Both Damian and Ethan are looking great. Definitely running better and faster than the last two years. They said they finished up  the route in about 1:05 or so. Kamau, who graduated high school this year,  finished in front of them. Joseph and I ran the first 3.5 miles (to the 1st water stop) with the first group: Meggan, Kamau, David, Micah, and Damian. After the first mile, which most of us did slower – around 7:30 (except for Joseph and Meggan, who picked it up early before twice taking the wrong turns, so then deciding to run with us for a while), then our next 2.5 miles  were 6:28-6:30, with that last half mile being a little faster. Katie, Renee, Jodie, Ethan, and Brent arrived not long afterward. After the run last week that Joseph did ridiculously fast with the MSU XC dudes that were there, he thought today’s pace was slow! Funny kid. Since we were going so “slow”, we deviated from the route and added another 5.5 miles down some awesome gravel roads. Ended up back behind Dorman Lake somewhere and out to Hwy 25. Turned around and got back on the main route. Unfortunately, only  a couple of sips of  water and Gatorade were left at the first water stop, and that was about it until we got back to the Whites. Anyway, it was not hot, and we made it back. We ran together most of the way, except for the last three miles or so when he took off on me, probably running in the low 6’s, as I was in the upper 6’s. The gravel portion of our run was the slowest, as it was fairly thick in places, but even so, I ran the 15 plus miles at just under 7 minutes a mile, and Joseph a little faster than me.

Yep, ole Ethan and Damian are now seniors at Starkville High and excited about the upcoming XC season. This is their last chance to win a XC state championship. This would not be unprecedented for SHS, as I believe they won three state titles in the 90’s (1994, 1996, & 1997?) with some really good runners such as Nathan Moore who is still running here in Starkville. They are in a good position this year after finishing 3rd last year (girls were 2nd) at the state meet and being ranked no. 2 preseason in the 5A (http://ms.milesplit.com/articles/90605-mississippi-5a-boys-preseason-cross-country-team-rankings) behind Saltillo by only 3 points.  Of course preseason rankings don’t mean you will win the state meet, but its good to be up there. In fact, I would say the team is much better than the rankings indicate.  Joseph is ranked no. 1 ahead of the 2nd ranked 5A runner from Pearl by 31 seconds, but Joseph is running much better than last year. The same is true for Damian who is ranked 6th, Ethan Muser who is ranked 16th, and Alex Ross who is ranked 29th. Both Damian and Alex had an excellent track season with Damian running a 4:36 1600m run and Alex running a season best 10:37 3200m run. Ethan is running as good or better than he did last year already as evidenced by some of his awesome runs with us here lately.  I don’t know about the rest of the team, because they don’t usually run with us in the off season or weekends, but if these guys are any indication and they can stay healthy, it could be a banner year for the SHS jackets boys XC team. And, obviously, the girls probably even have a better chance to win the state meet after being led to a 2nd place finish last year by Kate Mattox.  The girls team looks really good.  Whether or not the boys and girls teams win the state 5A championship, look for them to have a great season.

After the Saturday morning run, I hiked the trails at Tombigbee N. F. for about 4 hours or more with Audrey Sheridan.  Then, later when I got home, got in a pretty good core workout in! Full day for sure. I think the hiking made me more sore than the running. Different muscles I guess, or maybe the fact that I ran earlier?

Sunday, planning on meeting at the South Farm for a run at 7 PM.

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