Three more practices in the regular season

Hey Harriers!

Thought I would do a quick blog post update to let you know how well the team is doing.  If you have failed to see, yesterday was the first repeat workout of the season (from a previous practice).  Coach Aleah and I saw a huge improvement from everyone who was doing dogleg hills and triangles from the first week.  I would go so far as to say night & day improvement.  So congratulate your Harrier on improving as that is what the season is all about.

We are down to the last three practices in the regular season. This Thursday will also be a hard and long workout and then the coaches will be slightly tapering the athletes the last week so as to have their best performance of the season at the last regular season meet at Apple Ridge.

We will be handing out and posting to the website next week an update for anyone wanting or curious to go on to the post-season.  Last, nothing scheduled this weekend.  If your young Harrier wants an extra workout I’d recommend either the Sun City 5k out in East Valley (go to, anyone under the age of 12 is FREE with a registered adult (Aleah, myself and the kids will be out there). I might also recommend an easy 2-4 mile run on a soft surface as another option.

Keep up the great work!

Coach Erik

Sunfair’s first race is tomorrow at 8:45am, meet at 8:15 for warm-up

For those who were not at practice on Tuesday or Thursday, the 3rd-6th grade race goes off tomorrow at 8:45am.  Our guess is there will be between 200-300 kids in the race tomorrow morning so please come no later than 8:15am and find coach Aleah who will be handing out the race numbers.  See you tomorrow, it will be a great day!

You see our pre-race clothes all laid out for tomorrow's race

You see our pre-race clothes all laid out for tomorrow’s race.  Definitely don’t need to do this, but with three kids running all in the same race, it makes our morning more enjoyable.


Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Pasco November 14th

Here is the official information on our first post-season meet for those competing this fall.  I will be talking more about this in the coming weeks but wanted to post this for now.  If you are going to print it, click on the PDF picture as it is a better quality.  Aleah and I do all registrations.  The cost is covered by Sun City Harriers for anyone that has signed up for the post-season.  For those that have done the regular season and have then changed their mind and want to do the postseason, they will have the ability to add on but I will talk about that the last week of the cross-country season.

2015 Association Information-1

Association Brochure November 14th in Pasco

Association Brochure November 14th in Pasco

Sun City Home Meet This Saturday

Sun City Harriers practice starts this afternoon at Kissle Park today getting ready for their home meet Saturday, September 26th which will be at Franklin Park.

Sun City Harriers practice starts this afternoon at Kissle Park today getting ready for their home meet Saturday, September 26th which will be at Franklin Park.

Now is when the season gets really fun! This Saturday is our home meet. We will be gathering at Franklin Park at 8:15am for warm-up. Team pictures will be at 8:45am and the girl’s race will go off at 9am and the boy’s race will go off at 9:30am. Aleah and I as well as several other parents will crunch numbers as quickly as possible and we will hopefully have awards at 10am. The course will be the exact same as the time trial as well as the mile for Sunfair. There will be medals for the top three in each age division and ribbons for the rest of the athletes. The age divisions will be: 2nd grade and under; 3rd-5th grade; and middle school. For anyone that is not a member of Sun City or Wenas Valley, he/she is allowed to run, they just need to register and the fee is $5/athlete.

On race day, make sure you have your young harriers uniforms set out (new green shirts) as well as shorts, sweats, running shoes and a sweatshirt so you are ready to roll come wake-up time.

Second, plan your breakfast ahead of time. Mom, dad or harrier what are you going to eat? Please do not eat donuts, or any fatty food for breakfast. Fats take several hours to digest and will be rolling around the harrier’s stomach come race time. Aleah and my favorite pre-race food is toasted peanut butter toast (two pieces) about two hours pre-race or workout. Perhaps also have a banana since these have a great nutrition source as well. We would strongly recommend eating nothing at least an hour before the race. If your harrier does need something this soon to the race make it super-simple, fast digestible carbohydrates (Gatorade or equivalent, banana, Gu packets (without caffeine), white bread with jelly, etc.

As always, have fun on race morning. Your child may “freak-out.” No worries, this is a really safe environment to learn and grow. Some harriers want to win or place Saturday. For others we want them to just run the entire way. Others hitting the start AND finish line will be the victory.

If you have any questions feel free to call or text Aleah (833-5952) or myself (941-5191).

Coach Erik

Time Trial Tomorrow & Commentary on First Week of Practice

Congratulations Harriers on your first week of practice this year.

Some of the Harriers run yesterday around Kissle Park.  Yesterday's workout was 1-3 laps steady running before doing 300 meters of repeats.  Groups 1 & 2 finished with an intense game of Sharks and Minnows!

Some of the Harriers run yesterday around Kissle Park. Yesterday’s workout was 1-3 laps steady running before doing 300 meters of repeats. Groups 1 & 2 finished with an intense game of Sharks and Minnows!

I love the first week of practice. Everyone is excited. Many kids are nervous for something new. Most have nowhere to go but up and to get in good shape. A few observations from the first week of practice:

  1. This is the most energy we have ever had the first week of practice. I think this is a combination because we started a week later this year than the last two years. The weather is a little cooler. A lot of kids are a lot more experienced as well too.
  2. Compared to the last two years, we ran the kids harder for the first week of practice. Some of this is that this season is shorter. I also think our kids want more. Several kids in practice all but begged yesterday to jump out of group one and before I knew it they had put themselves in group three. As always, kids can put themselves in whatever group he/she want to be in, but I love their attitude so far.
  3. I love how everyone is working together. I saw multiple times kids encouraging one another to run when others got tired. I saw others offering encouraging insights that she/he had learned from last year. Keep it up, nothing better than being part of a team!

Tomorrow we have our practice race at Franklin Park. We will meet at the Rotary Pavilion at 10am for a warmup and then the race will go off (everyone at once at 10:20am) for one mile. This is just to get the cob webs out. It is a mostly flat course, no awards but we will time it. This is also great because I have found in previous years, kids will run much faster later on in the year and if they have run the practice race, you can show them how much they have improved from week one. So if it is possible to get them to the park tomorrow, we’d love to have them.

Last, I’m putting in the last sweatshirt order of the year on Monday morning.  If your child wants a sweatshirt, please bring a check to the time trial tomorrow.  They are $35 for the sweatshirt an additional $5 if you want their name on the back.

As always, call me if you have any questions. Even better, respond to this post on Facebook so all the other parents can see the discussion because not everyone asks questions.

Keep on running!

Coach Erik

Ready for the first week of practice

Welcome 2015 Sun City Harriers!  Our first practice looks to be perfect with temperatures in the low 70’s (remember two years ago when it was 99?) so we are starting the season off perfectly this Tuesday at 5pm at Franklin Park.  For those that are new I want to walk through what to expect the first week.

Our kids (and parents) are all wired differently if you didn’t know that.  Lions, goldfish, Golden Retrievers and owls are the illustrations we’ll use. Kate (my eight-year-old) is a lion as example. Just get to practice, run the intervals and call it good.  Some yelling is always good as it gets us lions fired up.  Us lions like to run together (she is like her dad). Roar!  Next on our team we have a bunch of goldfish.  My family loves goldfish.  They are fun, they especially love the games, the cheer at the end of practice and popsicles.  Usually, they also have the best sense of humor of all our Harriers!  The largest group of Harriers on our team is probably our Golden Retrievers.  They are the most steady of all our runners.  They are dependable, encouraging, but they also need some prodding to the start line of races.  It is also these parents that are reading this blog because they want to make sure you know all that is going to go on at practice.  It is my Retrievers who can sometimes be caught off guard if the situation ever changes (torrential rainfall, the race time changes, etc.) but as long as they know what is going on, they are good. Last, is my group of owls.  I love owls because they are brilliant. They frequently need to know all the facts and will sometimes just watch the first practice or race before jumping into things because they want to know exactly how everything goes. They are great though as they keep us lions in place because we forget some drills sometimes, or the team cheer.  Without the owls, we might miss our race!  In the end, everyone on our team is equally important.

So for our Golden Retrievers and Owls this is what the first week of practice looks like:


  1. Practice always start promptly at 5pm at Franklin Park. I will blow the whistle exactly at 5pm and we will do a half-mile warmup as a team.  If you are not there exactly on time, just cut the corner and catch up with everyone else.  If you are too late, just wait for us to come back and then jump into stretching.
  2. After warmup, we stretch and then move into drills. Drills are part of the secret sauce of the Sun City Harriers.  It is what turns us into lean, mean, running machines years down the road.  Runners who are efficient are less likely to get injured and are faster which is why we do drills each and every practice.
  3. Next is the meat of our workout.  This will change each workout but we will do repeats, hills, or something like this.  Our job as coaches is to gradually build up each and every practice.  This portion of the workout goes to about 5:50pm for everyone except group 3.
  4. Last is the best part of the workout for groups 1 & 2, we have games, popsicles and team cheer for the last ten minutes of practice.  We also do whatever we can to always end practice on time.


The exact same format as Tuesday only we are at Kissle Park instead of Franklin Park.  If you are intuitive, this means no hills for Thursday’s workout!


At 10am at Franklin Park, we will meet for a small practice race.  This wont take much longer than thirty minutes but we use this as a chance to get rid of some of the butterflies that may be flying around us before our stomach the next week which is our home meet.  The practice race will be one mile long and we should be over by 10:30am.

Volunteer Coaches:

I had several people say they were interested in helping out.  We currently have five coaches but I really would like us to see it closer to ten for a better parent/child ratio.  If this is you, please just place yourself in one of our groups on Tuesday and just start interacting with the kids. Encourage them, do the workout with them, etc.  I have usually found it best to be in a group with one of your kids but there are always those parents who don’t want to which is fine too. Also, let me know (via Facebook preferably) what your shirt size is and I can get you a Sun City shirt for helping out. Remember that families that run together stay together!

As a refresher:

Group 1: Head Coach is Tracy Sawyer, assistant is Christina Beck

Just out to have fun, learn a little bit about running, and pay a few games at the end of practice.  This is our beginning group.  For those kids eight and under with no experience a great place to start!

Group 2: Head Coach is Aleah Mickelson (we really need a few parent helpers to help Aleah out hint hint)

Thinking about being serious but still loves the game and popsicle at the end of practice.

Group 3: Head Coach is Erik Mickelson and Chris Waddle

Loves to see how fast she/he can run all the time!

Coach Waddle and Mickelson ran against each other over twenty years ago.  This fall they are excited to coach our Harriers in group 3.  Also after Tuesday's practice, we'll have pictures of the kids and just our coaches.

Coach Waddle and Mickelson ran against each other over twenty years ago. This fall they are excited to coach our Harriers in group 3. Also after Tuesday’s practice, we’ll have pictures of the kids and not just our coaches!

At any time, kids can move up and down groups.  Sometime they will go out too fast at practice and we will move them down a group. Other times, we will encourage them up a group if we think they need to be challenged.

See you Tuesday!

Coach Erik

Last, if you haven’t registered, just bring your registration to practice on Tuesday.  It is never to late to join cross-country.  Call me at 941-5191 if you have any questions.

* For you who are curious, I took all of these personality types from the DISC personality test. I find it helpful to realize we are all created differently.  The test has some flaws but is my favorite of all the ones out there.  All illustrations eventually break-down but hopefully it helps us all teach our kids this fall.

One month until cross country–Welcome Coach Sawyer who will coach our Group 1 kids this fall

Coach Sawyer will be coaching Group 1 this fall.

Coach Sawyer will be coaching Group 1 this fall.

Sun City is excited to announce that Tracy Sawyer is going to be our Group 1 coach this fall. Our group 1 kids are the kids who have zero or little running experience and are just getting their first taste of cross-country or still getting acclimated to the sport. Her last name may be familiar because her husband Andy was our hurdles coach this spring during track season and did an amazing job.

Our first group in cross-country is for kids just out to have fun, learn a little bit about running, and play a few games at the end of practice. No one ever has to run a race but we would encourage these “harriers” to race as well, especially with the reward of a popsicle and ribbon at the end of a meet.

Group 1, since it is our beginners group only practices during our regular season from September 15th to October 17th.  Any child who would like to continue training after the 17th we will move to Group 2 for the 2nd half of the season if he/she would like to continue on running.

Coach Sawyer, like the rest of the coaches, has kids on the team and her entire family runs.

Currently we have coaches for each of our groups but we could use some extra help in both group one and two to help Coach Tracy and Coach Aleah out. Whether or not you have any running experience we would love to have you help. Message me on Facebook if this is something you are interested in.

Remember, there is a discount for signing up for Sun City by September 8th.

Coach Erik

Do I register my child for the regular or full season?

Today, we had a great question on our Facebook page.  It was, “I have a question about registration fees. The full season fees include all the extra meets. What if we only want to go to the meets during the regular season (ending with Apple Ridge) but would like to continue at the practices after that just for exercise and fun?

Post-season is only going to be geared toward those who are going to be racing in the Junior Olympics which is why we split the season up in two. Previously even if your child did not want to compete anymore we let him/her continue practicing after the regular season was over even if they were not going to race. Unfortunately, we have a limited amount of cross-country coaches. Come the post-season, we will be focusing on race strategy, more intense training, and the dynamics of cross-country.  Aleah and I also experienced a fair amount of burnout the last two seasons. So in order to stay refreshed as coaches, as well as having a competitive post-season team, the post-season team will be reserved for athletes who want to run in the Junior Olympics.  We will also be inviting other teams and middle schoolers to join us for the post-season so we can compete against the larger regions in Spokane and Seattle.

If your child is not going to compete in JO’s, I would just register for the regular season and both races and practices will be over at the Apple Ridge Race. T-Shirts are included in this fee (this was a typo on my part). If your child changes his/her mind and later in the season and wants to do the Junior Olympics, you can then register for the post-season at anytime during the season (the price is just a little bit higher than if you do it at the beginning of the season). Also, of the three groups that practice during the season, group 1 (the just out to have fun group) will stop practicing post Apple Ridge so if someone was in the group and want to continue racing he/she would have to both register for both the post-season and move up to Group 2.

This week and the next few weeks I want to introduce to you some of our coaches who will be coaching this year’s Sun City Harriers.  Aleah is going to be mad at me for posting this but I’m proud of her. Her junior year in high school she won two state titles in both track and cross-country.  She later went on to get a scholarship at the University of Porland before transferring to the University of Washington (where we met on the cross-country team). She also competed for the Junior Olympic Club called the West Valley Ramblers while in grade school which Coach Waddle ran for too (now no longer around).  Aleah will be coaching our 2nd group of harriers this fall.  Our second group is for people who are thinking about being serious but still love the game and popsicle at the end of practices.

Also, we currently need two coaches to coach our Group 1 (Just out to have fun, learn a little bit about running, and play a few games at the end of practice. Kids who wouldn’t mind running in a meet but only if there is a special prize like a ribbon or ice cream afterwards).  Aleah needs an assistant to help her out in Group 2. Last, if you are not willing to coach but want to be active, cross-country is a family sport. We always want parents, grandparents, guardians to come jog, run, and walk with the kids.  Stay tuned for next week and we might have a picture or two of Coach Waddle or Mickelson from “way back” when they used to run against each other several decades ago.   Coach Erik and Chris will be team coaching Group 3 this season.

If you are interested in helping out coaching, please contact me directly on Facebook (Erik) or call me at 941-5191.

Go Harriers!

Coach Erik

Flashback to 1995 and Aleah after she won the state 3200 meter run for Eisenhower.

Flashback to 1995: Aleah Thome (now Mickelson) after she won the state 3200 meter run for Eisenhower.

Track Season Ends On An Up Note

Sun City finished its very first Track & Field season this weekend at Portland for Regionals.  It had been over twenty years since Aleah and I were at one of these track meets and we forgot how large they were and how amazing the competition was.  We talked to several families and the consensus was, “Our kids eyes were wide open how fast everyone was!”

A few things:

  1. Our region is one of the top regions in the country. We are in Region 13 which consists of ALL of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho (with over 50 teams in Western Washington, 50 in Oregon, and 27 in Inland Empire). I will give you an example. Ashlyn who cleaned up in our home meet ran a PR (personal record) of more than four seconds and yet finished ninth overall in the 12 & under age-group. To put things in perspective, her time would win most high school dual meets. What I’m saying is the athletes at this meet were very fast!
  2. In life to achieve big things, you need to expose yourself to big things. In the case of my three daughters and eventually son, we want to teach them what it looks like to compete well. What it looks like to grow season after season. What is most important is what our athletes look like as athletes and people toward the end of their careers, not the beginning of their careers.
  3. This is our first season. Many of the clubs we competed against in Portland have been around for DECADES. They have a system, a way of doing things that work. We are thrilled to send ten athletes to the regional meet and for each athlete to go, this is an immensely valuable experience he/she will use toward next season and further in their athletic career.

I want to give a huge shout-out to these assistant coaches I leaned on very heavily this season:

Marie Welch—Marie spent her own money to buy bungee cords for our high jump pits. She also took it upon herself to work with her husband to come out to the practices early with her husband each week to wheel out the implements. Thanks Marie!

Andy Hanks—Andy was a former high school coach back in the day that not only helped us out in the sprints but talked me into buying shot put implements.  Andy went above and beyond the call week in and out helping our kids improve. Thanks Andy!

Andy Sawyer—“I think I could coach hurdles” was what Andy told me at the beginning of the season. I asked him if he ever coached hurdles before and he said, “no” but I can learn. This is the true heart of a coach. Andy did have a secret, his father was coach to multiple state champion hurdlers when he was a high school coach back in the days so he picked his brain throughout the season and Andy did a marvelous job. Coach Sawyer also made some smaller hurdles of his own out of PVC pipe. Andy even showed up to practice after his daughters’ seasons were over to help the rest of the hurdlers out. Thanks Andy!

Chris Waddle—Coach Waddle coached our distances guys this season in-between everything else he has going on.  He was so devoted; he even was running hills with the team toward the team encouraging them to go the extra mile to get a few extra popsicles! For those that don’t know, I have been running with and against Chris since 1993 but I will let him tell you who is faster. Thanks Chris!

Aleah Mickelson—If it wasn’t for coach Aleah, none of the track meets would have happened.  She spent numerous hours sitting behind the computer inputting kids birthdates into the computer to get the kids registered for track meets. She also was the reason we never ran out of popsicles each and every practice. Thanks Aleah!

Last, a few other things to close out the last track blog of the season before turning it over to the cross-country blogs:

Aleah and I overdid it this season in terms of coaching.  In the middle of the season, I had a business opportunity present itself. All of the sudden, (quite literally we had a retail store in Ellensburg) we had a third store with team members to hire. So next year, I promise to not have major back surgery (which was XC season) or open a new store on the spur of the moment!

I am a “why” person. I like to know why things work. We are now two years into the life of cross-country and one year as a track club and are just learning the ins and outs of coaching.  Aleah and I both know running well, but it is another thing to administer, coach and lead a team. At the end of each season we sit down for hours and talk about what went well, what went so-so, and what needs to improve. The athlete as well as the coach who does the same thing over and over again is foolish. Just like we ask for our young athletes to give us their best, we will also commit to you that we will continue to learn as coaches to improve our craft to help inspire, lead and become better athletes. We are all in this together.

So the next blog you see this month will be for cross-country. The first practice will be Tuesday September 15th at Franklin Park.  The results for the Regional Junior Olympic Meet has not been posted yet but will be eventually at: You will also see the Mickelson family running at two of the next three summer cross-country meets at Franklin Park July 22nd, August 5th, and August 19th (cost $5/race) so come join us at 7pm.

Thanks for a great season!

Coach Erik

Celebrating the conclusion of track season in Portland

Celebrating the conclusion of track season in Portland

T-Minus 30-Hours Until the First Track Practice in Sun City History

It’s time!

The first track practice in Sun City Track and Field history starts tomorrow at Franklin Middle School at 6pm on the track.

If you haven’t signed up yet, please fill out the 2015 Sun City Track and Field Club–Info Packet and bring it to practice with the Waiver-and-release-form-2015.  We are not allowed to have anyone practice unless they have a signed waiver from his/her parents/guardian per USATF rules.  If by some chance you forget the packet, we will have a few more on hand.

For those of you who are high compliance individuals and don’t like change I wanted to blog about what we will be doing on the first day of practice. If you are not a high compliance individual, just show up at least by 6pm and watch what everyone else is doing, if you show up late, just jump on in practice.  If not, read on:

  1. Sun City athletes always start on time. You will hear a whistle promptly at 6pm and the whole team will start by jogging around the track once.
  2. After our warm-up lap we will be doing drills. Drills are imperative in any athlete’s development. This is how we teach muscle-memory on how to run with proper form which lessens the chance for future injury and makes one significantly faster and more efficient. Here is a YouTube clip of a few of the drills we will be doing.
  3. After drills we will split into two groups: sprinters and distance runners.
    1. Coach Erik (me) will take the sprinters. Sprinters are those kids who will focus on any event 400 meters and under. One lap is 400 meters for those who are novices. If you have no idea what group to join, start with the sprinters.
    2. Coach Waddle will take the distance runners. Distance in track is NOT cross-country. Our distance workout tomorrow will consist of 8X400 meter repeats or until we hit 6:55pm with a 2 minute rest in-between each interval. Distances races are 800 meters, 1500 meters and 3000 meters.
  4. At 6:55pm we finish with some quick striders to finish up, then it is team cheer time and a special frozen prize.
Track practice will be at Franklin Middle School track next to Franklin Park at the base of the terraces.

Track practice will be at Franklin Middle School track next to Franklin Park at the base of the terraces.

We will start both the hurdle groups and hopefully high jump on Wednesday’s practice at West Valley High School. Also, know that a child can change groups at any practice. What they do the first day does not mean they will be in that group the rest of the year. My 11-year-old daughter Kara is planning on doing sprints on Mondays, hurdles on Wednesdays, and running distance on Saturday morning (the optional distance workout which will be at Cowiche Canyon but more on that Wednesday).

Last, if you have an athlete who is still sitting on the fence wondering if track and field is right for them, have them show up for one practice (must have the parent at least sign the waiver) and they can decide by Wednesday before turning in their money and full-registration.

Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.  My wife Aleah will be walking around with the registration papers getting to know the parents.

Go Sun City!

Coaches Erik and Aleah

Call or text me at 941-5191 if you have any questions