Reflections on the 2015 Cross Country Season

Wow, what a fun season. I’m going to call it over even though there are a few Harriers going on to Nationals in a few weeks in New Mexico. This is Aleah and my third year coaching cross-country with youth and we’d like to share with you the ups and downs of the season.  Cross country is a lot like life, nothing is perfect, and lots can be learned from both the good and bad.  My favorite is always the growth that I see throughout the season and especially from Harriers who have persevered year after year.

The 8 & Under boys got off to a great start yesterday in Pasco.

The 8 & Under boys got off to a great start yesterday in Pasco.

Here is by no means an exhaustive list but some of what we have journaled through the season. The good:

  1. The split up of the regular and post-season. This was a new idea from the result of a fair amount of burnout from the previous years.  It was also to accommodate runners from other teams (both Wenas and middle schools) that didn’t want to leave their teams but wanted to continue running. Next, it was also for those families who were not like us that wanted to run a full regular season as well as a full post season.  We really liked this idea and felt it worked great.  It was also good for some of our volunteer coaches who felt they could commit to five weeks of coaching in the regular season but not the entire 12 week season. We will be doing this next year again.
  2. Increasing our base distance. We have always done quite well locally at both Sunfair and Apple Ridge but we were destroyed as a team in the Junior Olympic meets as the base distance we raced went from one mile to 2, 3, or 4k. We worked really hard to increase our mileage as a team carefully this year and it paid off.  There is still more to do, but we are making a lot of progress as evident by the performances we saw at JO’s the last two weeks.
  3. We had a crazy number of PR’s this year.  PR is a personal record and what we focus on because as athletes the only person we can control is ourselves. If you didn’t see it, look at the FaceBook post from last week where I listed the time improvements year over year.  Likewise, we had a similar situation at Sunfair which means our team is doing something right as our Harriers naturally develop and grow older.
  4. We drew a few new Harriers from both Wenas and local middle schools. This is one thing the Spokane Mercury does really well.  There is only one team in Spokane but they draw from all the other teams at the end of their season.  This is one of our visions for the Harriers next year.  We can have up to eight athletes per team in the Junior Olympics and if we even go over this, we can even have A, B, and C teams so we can never have too many Harriers.
  5. We are seeing a number of kids stick around year after year.  We even had a number of kids come back to the team this year after taking year two off because they missed it last year. As anyone who does a trade, it takes a long time to get good at your job.  The same is true with running.  We are teaching our bodies “how” to run.  How our feet strike the ground in an efficient manner with proper form, etc. This is one of the many reasons it is not a coincidence that the Harriers who have been around for longer tend to be improving. On average it takes about seven years for an athlete to really perfect her/his form depending on how hard they work at it.
  6. We are having fun! There were the old standbys: “Sharks and Minnows”, “Capture the Flag” and “Steal the Bacon” and we made up a few new games this year as well. Even on those days when the workouts were hard, the Harriers seemed to have a good time as well seeing how hard their bodies could be stretched.  We were made to improve and be active which is what makes this so much fun.
  7. This year we had the best parent support we have ever had.  This makes it so much easier to coach for Aleah and me.  We also had numerous volunteer coaches and those who were not coaching were running with their kids, walking in the park, or being social with other parents. Thanks parents and grandparents!
  8. From a personal standpoint I was healthy this year.  I shared last year that Aleah and I faced burnout.  I also herniated my L5/S1 disc and had surgery. The changes I made were I lost 25 pounds, got my back healthy, and really focussed on the Harriers who wanted to run in the Junior Olympic meets which is my personal passion that gives me life.  We all have our own strengths and weaknesses but this last post-season is hands down the highlight of my 2015 year.
  9. We had very few injuries this year as a team.  With close to one-hundred athletes, our percentage of injuries is one of the lowest of any sport.  I atribute this to how careful we are as coaches and training as much as possible on soft surfaces. We do look very closely at the few injuries we do have and do whatever we can do so we don’t repeat them.
Joy and Kate started quickly yesterday in the 8 & Under girls yesterday.  It was a crisp 30 degrees at the time of their race!

Joy and Kate started quickly yesterday in the 8 & Under girls yesterday. It was a crisp 30 degrees at the time of their race!

What needs to be improved for next year:

  1. For those nine through fourteen, I would like to see our base mileage increase another 25% for those wanting wanting to do the postseason. Even though we did significantly better this year, our lack of base was still evident in the Junior Olympic meets.  Aleah and I are already working on how we might do this.  This has to be done really carefully because if it is done too quickly, the young harriers get injured so there is a fine line here one must walk.  Initially this will probably look like an extra optional practice on a soft surface one day a week (or an extra run the kids do by themselves) very similar to what we did at Cowiche Canyon on Saturdays.  Talking with the teams on the westside of the mountain on Saturday, this is what they are doing.
  2. We would like to field eight full Junior Olympic teams in the USATF cross country meets next year in the 8 & under through 14 & under age groups.  This year we had three, and in two other age groups we were one athlete away from having a full team so we are really close.  If we could have our little Harriers talk to their friends we could be there!
  3. I would like to see us work more on nutrition.  We are not exactly sure what/how this looks like but a Harrier can only go as fast as he/she is fueled. Also if one has too much mass, they are slower, but on the other side if they don’t eat enough they don’t have energy to get through workouts and can even deal with eating disorders such as anorexia. We want to encourage families to eat healthy and eat proportionately. We would love to find some resources to support our Harrier families who are like us, we want to be healthy but also live a very busy life.


  1. For those that made nationals a huge congratulations.   This is huge.  The regional meet was all of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and drew from over seventy teams. Congratulations to  our five ladies Joy Lally, Kate Mickelson, Claire Branch, Olive Clarke, Ciera Reyes and five guys Kian Compton, Mack Stephenson, Shepherd Lally, Aiden Waddle, and Brayden Packard who qualified for nationals in Albuquerque New Mexico. I am super proud a small group from Yakima, Washington qualified ten runners for the national meet.
  2. Our family is making the trip to New Mexico.  If you are one of the ten, let us know by this Thursday so we can register you for the national meet.  The entry fee is $25 and our club will pick this up but the athlete needs to figure out how to get themselves to the meet.  We will be there from Thursday to Sunday and then turning it into a family vacation to the Grand Canyon post-nationals.
  3. We will not have any formalized practices the next three weeks but I will write up a training schedule for the Harriers competing at Nationals and will post it by tomorrow.  I will be training Kate and we will have all of our practices at Franklin Park.  We will probably have to move this up another 15 minutes to 3:45pm since it is getting darker every day. I need to verify the times because it will have to work around her ballet schedule. Any nationals bound harriers will be welcome to join us.
Yesterday's race at Big Cross in Pasco was a fun rolling course.

Yesterday’s race at Big Cross in Pasco was a fun rolling course.

Track Season:

  1. We are already thinking about track season.  Just as we made some changes to this year’s cross country season (splitting up the regular and post-season) we will be making some small tweaks as well for track season. A few initial thoughts about what to prepare for those wanting to do track:
    1. The season will be shorter this next year. We will be starting later in the year so it doesn’t drag on like it did last year.
    2. One of my passions with Aleah is the middle distances (400-1500 meters). We will be coaching these events and not the sprints this spring/summer.
    3. We are not exactly sure of the dates yet but we will figure out when the Junior Olympic meets are and then reverse engineer backwards so we will be posting these dates in early March.  Our guess is we will start track in May sometime.

Thanks again for a great season. Congratulations to all the Harriers whether you came out for just a few weeks or the entire season.

Coach Erik

Sunfair 2015

Great job at today’s Sunfair Invitational cross-country meet. Here are the preliminary results.  Official results should be posted to later on tonight. See you at practice Tuesday.  Last regular season meet is two weeks from today.

Girls Results Sunfair 2015

Girls Results Sunfair 2015 sheet one


Boys Results Sunfair 2015 3rd-6th Grade

Boys Results Sunfair 2015 3rd-6th Grade

Girls Results Sunfair 2015 7-8 Grade

Girls Results Sunfair 2015 7-8 Grade

Boys Results Sunfair 2015 3rd-6th Grade

Boys Results Sunfair 2015 3rd-6th Grade b

Girls Results Sunfair 2015 b

Girls Results Sunfair 2015 b

Sun City Harriers 2015 Cross Country Meet Results

Sun City Harriers 2015 Cross Country Meet

Weather 60 degrees and clear / Distance 1 Mile / Little to no wind / Franklin Park


Pre-K to 2nd Grade Girls               

Place Name Time Team Grade
1 Joy Lally 7:37 SCH 2nd
2 Kate Mickelson 7:46 SCH 2nd
3 June Sawyer 8:41 SCH 2nd
4 Kennedy Day 9:05 SCH 2nd
5 Brenna Gamache 9:25 WV 2nd
6 Gabby Landvoy 9:51 WV 1st
7 Ellie Suhm 10:10 SCH 2nd
8 Rylie Clark 10:15 WV 2nd
9 Katherine Forsyth 10:25 WV 1st
10 Elizabeth Carroll 10:35 WV 2nd
11 Allison Teerink 10:37 SCH 1st
12. Jinger Homer 10:38 SCH 1st
13. Claire Branch 10:48 SCH 2nd
14. Anya O’Brine 10:57 WV 1st
15. Bridget McCoy 11:02 SCH 2nd
16. Ioanna Forsyth 12:19 WV Pre-K
17. Nora McCoy 12:20 WV 1st
18. Miriam Carroll 12:39 WV 1st
19 Abby Christianson 13:24 SCH Pre-K

Team Scores

1st: Sun City Harriers 17 points

2nd: Wenas Valley 38 points


Pre-K to 2nd Grade Boys               

Place Name Time Team Grade
1 Kian Compton 7:48 SCH 1st
2 Colton Worley 7:59 SCH 1st
3 Oliver Anderson 8:03 SCH 1st
4 Shephard Lally 8:14 SCH K
5 Matt Joiner 8:15 SCH 2nd
6 Kyle Blanchard 8:31 SCH 2nd
7 Milo Douglas 8:32 WV 1st
8 Amos Douglas 8:38 WV 2nd
9 Mack Stephenson 8:41 SCH 2nd
10 Brent Johnson 8:47 SCH 2nd
11 David Cardon 8:51 WV 1st
12 Lucas Suhm 8:57 SCH K
13 James Branch 9:08 SCH K
14 Casey Smith-Apperson 9:13 SCH 1st
15 Ryan Thompson 9:13 WV 1st
16 Noah Collins 9:17 SCH 1st
17 Madden Ray 9:24 SCH 2nd
18 Noah Gonzalez 9:32 SCH 1st
19 Caleb Kalombo 9:33 SCH 2nd
20 Ryan Shipley 9:36 WV 2nd
21 Asher Temple 9:54 WV 2nd
22 Orrin Gamache 10:05 WV K
23 Alonzo Yrigoyen 10:15 SCH 2nd
24 Henry Johnson 10:29 SCH K
25 Ethan Thomas 10:45 SCH 1
26 Nathan Lund 10:52 WV Pre-K
27 Jaxon Beck 11:42 SCH 2
28 Ethan Orily 14:58 WV K
29 Jonah Travespowers NT WV 2nd


Team Scores

1st: Sun City Harriers 15 points

2nd: Wenas Valley 48 points


3rd-5th Grade Girls          

Place Name Time Team Grade
1 Avery Hartman 6:50 WV 5th
2 Kieryann Mattson 6:57 WV 5th
3 Yobi Ruark 6:57 WV 4th
4 Anna Landroy 7:19 WV 4th
5 Bevani Yrigoyen 7:24 SCH 3rd
6 Olive Clark 7:24 SCH 3rd
7 Eliza Cardon 8:02 WV 3rd
8 Ella Steinhilb 8:05 SCH 4th
9 Hazel Douglas 8:06 WV 3rd
10 Jocelyn McCoy 8:10 SCH 3rd
11 Mary Mickelson 8:12 SCH 5th
12. Lucy Sawyer 8:17 SCH 4th
13. Erica Nass 8:17 WV 4th
14. Isabella Escamilla 8:18 WV 4th
15. Khalia Yrigoyen 8:26 SCH 4th
16. Madelynn Cardon 8:26 WV 5th
17. Hannah Rees 8:30 WV 4th
18. Charlotte Smith 8:32 WV 4th
19. Gwen Dawes 8:33 SCH 5th
20. Claire Emmans 8:46 WV 5th
21. Mackenzie Braegger 8:48 WV 4th
22. Cindy Nulsen 8:50 WV 5th
23. Abigail Cardon 8:53 WV 3rd
24. Natasha Kalombo 8:56 SCH 3rd
25. Nora Emmans 9:24 WV 3rd
26. Cadence Day 9:28 SCH 4th
27. Lizzie Beck 9:30 SCH 5th
28. London Queen 10:01 WV 3rd
29. Cassidy Smith-Apperson 10:09 SCH 5th
30. Addison Coley 10:47 SCH 3rd
31. Karis O’Brine 10:56 WV 3rd
32. Brenna Baker 11:02 SCH 4th
33. Audrey Harveaux 11:10 SCH 4th
34. Ava Christianson 11:29 SCH 3rd
35. Lauren Harveaux 12:10 SCH 5th

Team Scores

1st: Wenas Valley 17 points

2nd: Sun City Harriers 42 points


3rd-5th Grade Boys          

Place Name Time Team Grade
1 Nathan Stephenson 6:34 SCH 4th
2 Aiden Waddle 6:39 SCH 4th
3 Dallin Smith 6:40 WV 5thmccoy
4 Daniel Teerink 6:49 SCH 4th
5 Caleb Burton 6:54 SCH 4th
6 Nathan Johnson 7:09 SCH 5th
7 Jaden Gaudet 7:10 WV 4th
8 Cody Leaverton 7:14 SCH 4th
9 Nathan Shipley 7:14 WV 4th
10 Zachary Wagner 7:23 SCH 3rd
11 Spencer Johnson 7:32 SCH 4th
12 Jack Pietrusiewicz 7:46 SCH 5th
13 Will Adams 7:48 WV 4th
14 Cameron Teerink 7:52 SCH 5th
15 Tyler Welch 8:10 SCH 5th
16 Jacob Rettig 8:12 WV 5th
17 Sam Rettig 8:21 WV 3rd
18 Paul Lally 8:27 SCH 3rd
19 David Joiner 8:54 SCH 4th
20 Tristen Temple 9:00 WV 4th
21 Sean Mefford 9:23 SCH 3rd
22 John Curtis 9:51 SCH 3rd
23 Samuel Gonzalez 9:59 SCH 3rd
24 Isaac Thomas 10:12 SCH 4th


Team Scores

1st: Sun City Harriers 18 points

2nd: Wenas Valley 42 points


6th-8th Grade Girls          

Place Name Time Team Grade
1 Kara Mickelson 6:54 SCH 6th
2 Anna Emmans 7:10 WV 7th
3 Emma Christianson 7:32 SCH 7th
4 Julia Johnson 8:59 SCH 7th
5 Savannah Smith 9:02 WV 6th
6 Kaelyn Blanchard 11:12 SCH 6th

Team Scores

No team scored


6th-8th Grade Boys          

Place Name Time Team Grade
1 Shea Mattson 6:06 WV 8th
2 Cooper Quigley 6:10 WV 6th
3 Matthew Hernandez 6:33 WV 8th
4 Benicio Yrigoyen 6:53 SCH 6th
5 Bryson Braegger 6:54 WV 6th
6 Sam Rees 7:19 WV 6th
7 Orin Douglas 7:38 WV 6th
8 Caleb Stephenson 7:43 SCH 6th
9 David Queen 8:01 WV 6th
10 Jared Briggs 8:20 WV 6th
11 Colin Thomas 9:04 WV 6th
12 Noah Harveaux 10:30 SCH 6th

Team Scores

1st: Wenas Valley 15 points

Sun City, no score


Next week’s race is Saturday October 3rd—Sunfair Invitational

October 17th –Apple Ridge Invite (last race of regular season)

***For any Wenas Valley runners that would like to join Sun City for the post-season, the cost will only be $25 for Wenas Valley runners for the two postseason meets in Pasco (includes team t-shirt). If interested, please contact coach Matson.

November 14th USATF Association Championship in Pasco (Inland Empire Championships)

November 21st USATF Region 13 Championship in Pasco (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) top five teams and top 30 individuals qualify for USATF cross-country nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico December 12th.

December 12th USATF Cross-Country Nationals in Albuquerque New Mexico

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.

Sunfair–Two days until the big race!

Greetings, Harriers!

The Sunfair Invitational is almost here! Here’s our team schedule for Saturday:

8:00 am – Arrive at Franklin Park
8:15 am – Team Warm-up
8:45 am – K-6th Grade Race (Boys and Girls Combined) – 1.0 miles
9:00 am – 7th-8th Grade Race (Boys and Girls Combined) – 1.5 miles
10:00 am – Jr. Class Boys Race (JACOB LAMAY) – 3.0 miles

When you arrive on Saturday morning, please come find me for your race number bib. I will have a race number for everyone registered through the Sun City Harriers team.

PLEASE NOTE: Franklin Park will be fenced off for the meet. Admission gates will be established at various locations around the park. All participants will be admitted for free, but all adults (yes, even parents) will be charged $5.00 to enter the park. Seniors, children and students with ASB cost $4.00.

The Sunfair Invitational is a large, prestigious meet with more than 2,000 runners from schools across the Northwest. (For more information on the meet, check out You can expect the elementary and junior high races to start promptly on time, so make sure you know where the start line is and get there with plenty of time to spare before the posted race start time!

I expect our team to run well on Saturday — the course is drying out, the weather looks perfect, and our team is getting fitter and faster by the week.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to respond to this email or give Erik (509-833-5951) or me (509-833-5952) a call.

Go Harriers!
Aleah Mickelson

We love living on Franklin Park.  It has been a blast watching the course come together this week.

We love living on Franklin Park. It has been a blast watching the course come together this week.

It’s Race Day Tomorrow!

Kara Goucher, leading US women's marathoner sets her gear out before she runs every race.

Kara Goucher, leading US women’s marathoner sets her gear out before she runs every race.

Tomorrow is race day. Race day in the Mickelson household was an amazing time for me growing up. I started running track at age eight and cross-country at the age of ten so it is in my blood. I also had amazing parents who understood being an athlete. My dad ran track and field for the University of Washington and knew what it took to get an athlete ready in the morning so he engraved this into me with my mom always making me a good breakfast in the mornings.

The first thing on race day is to ALWAYS know your schedule. It is also imperative to know it the night before. So for tomorrow this means we all know pictures are at 8am tomorrow morning. Former Yakima Herald photographer Andy is doing our pictures and giving them to us AT-COST! This means he is volunteering his time and will post the pictures for free-download. Also, warm-up will be at 8:30 for Kindergarden-2nd grade and a half-hour later for 3rd-6th grade and 9:30am for 7th and 8th grade.

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

Third, 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 tomorrow. 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 (833-5951).

Harriers, harriers, harriers!

See you tomorrow,

Coach Erik

Is my child in the right group at practice?

Wow, we have an amazing group of harriers.  We are in week three of practice, and compared to last year, the kids are doing a better job at drills, the enthusiasm is greater, and everyone seems to be having fun.

Here is one of our younger harriers who is doing great in her current group of peers.

I had several parents and kids ask me today at practice if they can move up to a new group. The quick answer to this question is “yes.” If you are looking for a more challenging workout, just ask your coach and we can shift you up a group for a practice or two and see how you fare. Likewise, if you think your child would benefit by moving down a group, talk to us about this too and we can see if this is better for them too.

Every child is different. In our family’s case, we have to push our kids because they would be content jogging a half-mile and calling it a day.  As parents, we walk a fine line between encouraging our children to try their best and pushing too hard, when running turns into punishment.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether your child is in the right group at practice:

  1. Are they having fun? This is the most important thing we can stress in youth athletics. If they are not having fun, we’ve missed the mark. Of course, there are times when a child gets a side ache or just has a bad day, but there should always be some sort of enjoyment.
  2. Are they able to finish the workout?
  3. Are they competitive to a degree?  This will look different depending on your child. For example, I was born with a competitive streak but several of my children couldn’t care less for competition. Still, we want to place kids in a workout group where they can work together as a group to accomplish a goal – finishing an interval in a certain time, for example. A bit of competition can motivate us to perform better than our best solo effort. I feel it is important for my children to be exposed to competition, as this will help them perform under pressure later in life: In high school, college, and the job market.

See you Thursday!

Coaches Erik and Aleah

Time Trial Information

Dear Sun City Harriers,

We had a great first week of cross-country practice! I love everyone’s positive attitude and hard work!

Team shirts will arrive this week – probably Thursday. We’ll distribute the shirts after practice, so make sure you’ve turned in your registration form and team fee.

Our team time trial is scheduled for this Saturday (September 20th) at 11 am at Franklin Park. Sixth grade and under will run a 1-mile course; Seventh grade and above will run 1.5 miles. The time trial will serve several purposes. Think of it as a “practice race.” We will follow our typical pre-race routine with a warm-up, stretching, drills and strides. After the warm-up, the team will run a timed mile or 1.5 mile course.

I want to encourage everyone to participate in the time trial for several reasons: 1) It will help decrease pre-race “jitters” for upcoming races; 2) It will give you a good indication of your current fitness level; 3) It will help us set appropriate goals for upcoming races; and 4) You’ll get to preview the course for both our upcoming Sun City Harriers Youth XC Invite (September 27th) and the Sunfair Invite (October 4th).

For the time trial, meet at our regular spot near the playground at Franklin Park. Wear your team t-shirt and bring a water bottle. Eat a small snack about 1-2 hours before the time trial.

It is time to start thinking about our upcoming Sun City Harriers Youth XC Invite and Sunfair Invite. We’ll need lots of parent help with this meet, especially at the finish line and along the course to ensure runners are staying on course. I’ll have a sign-up sheet at practice where you can sign up to help. Our youth invite is open to all ages of runners, including preschool-aged children.   As for the Sunfair Invite, I’ll need to know by this Thursday whether you plan to participate. Sunfair is available to our elementary, middle school, and high school runners. (Sorry, no Pre-K at Sunfair.) I will assume you plan to participate in Sunfair unless I hear otherwise.

As always, please feel free to give us a call at (509) 833-5951 (Erik) or (509) 833-5952 (Aleah) if you have any questions. You can also email me at aleahmickelson(at) or talk to us before or after practice.

Go Harriers!

Aleah Mickelson

What to expect for cross-country practice

For those newcomers who have never been to a Sun City Harriers cross-country practice I have some good news: there will not be a hilly ten-mile run the first day of practice.  In fact, for you newcomers you will run probably one to two miles. I think my eight-year-old last year only made it a half-mile on her first day of practice last year.

Our practice always starts promptly at 4pm with a quarter-mile warmup. If you happen to come one-minute late feel free to cut a corner and catch up with the rest of the team as we are warming up on the field closest to the Yakima Valley Museum.

After our warm-up we then move into stretching and drills. Before doing any hard and fast movements it is always best to have your body ready for them.  The drill portion of our workouts usually lasts about ten minutes.  These are fun ways of team bonding.  Running drills are imperative to cross-country runners.  For runners that don’t have great form, it is equivalent to driving a car with bad gas that is also out of alignment. It will get from Yakima to Seattle but you will get 12 miles/gallon instead of 20. For the harrier (cross-country lingo for a runner), this means you can add 2-10 seconds a mile by just being more efficient.

After our team drills we then go into our workout groups.  It is our goal this season to move up from three different groups to six or eight.  For example, our young kids (usually six and under) will do something in the realm of 200 meter repeats with lots of rest. We say our age range is 6 to 18 years old.  If you have a younger child (5 and under) feel free to bring them out to run with us but plan on doing the workout with them (walking and jogging) to make sure they don’t get lost in the commotion.

For our seven to ten year olds, our workout of repeats will range in the 2-3 mile range. Our eleven and older groups will be in the 3-4 mile range.  We spend about 30-35 minutes running.

Some of the different kinds of workouts we will do throughout the season are:

1. Repeats (usually intervals of 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters or 1 mile repeats) with 1-5 minute rest in-between.  These workouts are great at increasing the anaerobic threshold of a runner in a race.

2. Fartlek. No, I didn’t just swear. Fartlek is an European term for “speed play” in running.  You could also call it surging.  What we do with a fartlek workout is run fast for 60 seconds and then slow for 30 seconds. We will use different kinds of intervals and do this for time periods of 5-10 minutes.

3. Hill Repeats. If you are short, props to you. For the most part it is significantly harder for taller runners than short runners to run hills. I am 6’2″ and have always struggled running hills but have gone from being horrible to decent over my 30+ years of running. By doing hill repeats it helps the harrier develop good form, even cadence in a race, anaerobic, and aerobic ability.  With all there is to gain from hill repeats, several team incorporate this activity into practices at least once a week.  Consider hill repeats the broccoli of running!

4. Racing. Running a race is great for runners because it lets them know how much they have in the motor and tank.  We usually do not race in practices and leave this for the Saturdays but is a very important part of training. Taking one’s body to the end of its ability.

The last ten minutes of each practice we play a game that most of the younger kids really enjoy: steal the bacon, sharks and minnows, etc.

Last but not least, we finish with popsicles.  It helps to get the harriers to the finish line and helps replenish a few of the calories we will burn during the hour!

Summer Cross-Country Race Series

SummerCrossCountryRaceSeries2014As we start to gear up for another fall of cross country with the Sun City Harriers, I wanted to let you know about a great local race series. Sponsored by the Hard Core Runners and put on by longtime Selah High School cross-country coach Rick Becker, the Summer Cross-Country Race Series is comprised of 5 races, held every other week on Wednesday nights at Franklin Park.

This Wednesday’s race (August 6th) is 3 miles long, and consists of three 1-mile loops around Franklin Park. The race starts at 7 pm (registration starts at 6 pm).  The final race of the series is scheduled for August 20th, and will be a short 2-mile race. The races are low-key and family friendly. Another thing I love about the race series is it costs only $3/race/athlete.  Having paid for many a $45 5k on the west side of the mountains, $3/race is one heck of a deal.  To top it off, they offer post-race snacks and awards to the top-5 finishers in each division!

It’s hard for me to admit this, but last year two of my daughters ran only a quarter-mile of one of these races before, awash in tears, they insisted they had to quit the race because they hurt so bad. One of the many things I love about distance running is how it develops character, discipline, self-control, and how to deal with suffering (how to combat life’s challenges when it hurts). When it comes to running, it’s not about how well you place or how many victories you garner, but HOW you play the game. When my daughters dropped out of last year’s summer race, I praised them for trying and doing the best they could do.  Running is about competing against yourself and pushing to always do better. In the case of my daughters, we tried again this year and I am proud to say both finished their two-mile race. No, they didn’t win. But they were tougher and faster, and enjoyed the experience. So where am I going with this? I want to strongly encourage you to sign up for the Hard Core Runners Summer XC Race Series.

Do it because it is a fun way to spend your summer evenings here in Yakima. Do it because it is a great way to burn 200 calories. Do it because it will be a great excuse to take your kids out to ice cream afterwards. Do it because it can be the beginning of a great family summer tradition. Do it because there is nothing better than watching an amazing University of Washington bound runner run gracefully through the Franklin Park course. Do it because you want to do it! See you this Wednesday!

Coach Erik

I love the picture in this blog because it illustrates the diversity in running. You have a 4:07 miler in Drew Schreiber leading the pack; however, you have young kids starting the same race with them.  Who knows, one of the little kids in the same race may be a sub four minute miler in fifteen years!!!