Finishing a race with finesse

Dr. Steve Miller, RFT Coach

Dr. Steve Miller, RFT Coach

In some sports there are coaches that focus on just one small aspect. Football teams have a linebackers coach, special teams coach, strength coach, and a whole bunch more.

Distance running is seeing this specialization as well. Dr. Steve Miller is one of the nation’s top RFT (race finish techniques) coaches. I always thought how you finished wasn’t important, and if you did something fancy, you were grandstanding. But Dr. Miller insists it isn’t so.

“Like other areas of life, you need to self-promote to be successful. Finishing a race is your most visible moment. You need to take advantage of that. So many people are focused on stopping their watch and checking their time. That’s not going to get you into the Olympics.”

Coach Miller says he can improve this race finishing form

Coach Miller says he can improve this race finishing form

I know a great time can be advantageous, but I questioned how a unique or stylish finish gives you an advantage other than being noticed by onlookers. Dr. Miller insists I can’t see the forest for the trees.

“Jim, when a basketball player steals the ball, do you want to see him trot to the basket and lay it up, or would you rather see him do an aerial 360 and a reverse slam dunk?”

I thanked Dr. Miller for enlightening me. For sure, I do want to see fancy stuff. Dr. Miller went on to describe the transformation of one of his best students, Todd Oglesbee.

“When Todd first came to me, he didn’t have a race finishing technique. He just crossed the line. But we worked hard together. He wanted the arms in the air in victory look, but at first he looked like a monster trying to scare children. Now look at him – hands made into fists, elbows even with the shoulders, and an expression of painful satisfaction. Todd is on the path to stardom.”

Dr. Miller says Todd Oglesbee has a bright future because of his distinct race finishing technique.,

Dr. Miller says Todd Oglesbee has a bright future because of his distinct race finishing technique

Another student Dr. Miller has high hopes for is Hsiang Chun Yu.

“He has unbelievable leaping ability. I’m working with him on his form, and we’re doing workouts to gain even more height. You’re going to see him doing fantastic things at the finish line that you’ve never seen before.”

Hsaing Chen Wu brings enormous talent to race finishing

Hsaing Chun Wu’s enormous talent is pushing the limits of race finishing

Lets go for a run in my yard

A few years ago I covered my front yard with a layer of flattened cardboard boxes and newspapers. With several pickup loads of chipped wood that I got free from a tree-thinning project at a nearby state park, I covered them up and said good-by to my lawn.

My front yard before I changed it

My front yard before I changed it

On Craigslist I found a woman giving away river rock for free. I dug up a bunch of common indigenous plants, mostly bunch grasses, that wouldn’t need any watering. It took several days of work over 1-2 months, but doing it entirely myself, and for a total cost of $44.10, most of which was for gas for the pickup I borrowed, I turned my lawn into a nature preserve.

My front yard today

My front yard today

The wood chips I got from the state park had lupine and ponderosa pine seeds that eventually sprouted and made my preserve even more beautiful. The lupines have really proliferated which is good because I like their purple flowers. With each passing year, the plants get thicker.

My front yard has led to a great fringe benefit. Instead of driving for miles when I feel like doing a run in the country, I run in my yard.

I’ve created several routes, and I call my favorite Lupine Lane. It’s a figure 8 on one side of my yard. I usually do it when I want to put in six miles, which means 1,084 laps. Sounds like a lot, but they add up fast.

i like to do high mileage runs once or twice a week

Doing my favorite front yard route – Lupine Lane.

My second favorite route is Country Fields. It follows the property line around my entire front yard. I like to use it for speed workouts.

When I invite friends over for a group run, we do a course I call Whispering Pines. The trail is wide, and we pass right by the front door, making a detour inside for water convenient.

Coming off the corner during a demanding interval workout

Coming off the corner during a demanding interval workout

Though my yard is thick with drought tolerant native plants, I can still get around on the running paths

Though drought-tolerant native plants are thick, I can still get around on the running paths

I really enjoy my front yard preserve. It saves on my utility bill, it’s low-maintenance, and I think it looks prettier than a lawn. However, one thing it is not is a running course. I don’t really go distance running in my front yard. 🙂

Runner Has Meltdown at Race

Members of the Manito Runners Club team were involved in a very unfortunate incident

Members of the Manito Runners Club team were involved in a very unfortunate incident

Last weekend I ran in a relay race called the Teen Closet 50. I’ll give readers a few moments to genuflect (genuine reflection) to figure out why teen closet is in the race name.

The 50-mile relay has ten legs that start and end at the large, public high schools in my hometown of Spokane, Washington. A ten-member team is ideal, but teams can have fewer runners.

The Classic Cruizers, first place, masters coed. I'm wearing the white hat

The Classic Cruizers, first place, masters coed. I’m wearing the white hat

My team, the Classic Cruizers, has finished first every year since the race’s inception three years ago. Our outstanding streak of first-place finishes is easy to understand if you analyze this year’s top finishing teams in our division:

  1. Classic Cruizers – 6 hrs. 19 min. 42 sec.
  2. (no 2nd place finisher)
  3. (no 3rd place finisher)

One of the highlights is the post-race freebies – pizza, ice cream and plenty of swag. The entry fee proceeds funds clothing needs of teen-aged foster children, which you should have figured out after your allotted time for genuflecting.

After taking this photo, I took the rest of the slices and wolfed them down

Despite our first-place masters division finish, I was miffed at the Manito Runners Club team that finished just ahead of us, winning the open coed division. I could have gotten two first-place medals. It gnawed at me until the awards ceremony when I lost it, charged the podium and yelled obscenities and slurs at the Manito team. I got into a scuffle with a couple race officials as they tried to pull me away.

I was told my conduct was a violation of race standards which I thoroughly disagree with, but I agreed to undergo sensitivity training. If there’s any reader who’d like to be a low-cost provider, please let me know by commenting.

As participants headed to their cars, a Manito Runners Club team member asked, “Jim, why did you yell at us? You’re in our club, and we’re friends with you.”

Friendship is neat, but winning medals is better. If someone on the MRC team would just fork one over, this riff would be healed.

So Nice to Run into Women While Running

I was running alone down a residential street when a woman, also running, turned into the street in front of me going the same direction. I was very happy about this coincidence, so I picked up the pace until I was at her side.

“Pardon me, Miss, I noticed when you turned onto this street, you failed to head check right.”

She glanced at me and didn’t reply right away. Finally she said, “If you’re a cop, I can tell you that I always look before turning. Where did you come from anyway?”

“I was running down the middle of the street. If you had head checked, you would’ve seen me.”

“Does that mean I’m getting a ticket?”

I told her that I usually give a warning for first offenses and then admitted I was just trying to be funny, and maybe I should’ve come up with something better. She didn’t seem to mind though because as we ran side by side, she seemed comfortable with my presence.

“May I inquire how far you’re running today?” I asked.

“I’m headed to the bluff. I’m gonna get on a trail and take it downtown. I have a route through the neighborhood coming back. It’s about seven miles.”

We were coming up to an intersection where I needed to turn. I was trying to think of something more clever to say than the cop bit, but nothing was coming to mind.

“So, I notice you’ve taken a little vacation from the Manito Running Club,” I said.

“Yeah, but I got a lot going on, Jim. I’m working through something. I haven’t forgotten about you guys, though. I’ll be back.”

I told Petra that I needed to take the next turn. I wished her a good run and expressed my sympathies for whatever she was going through.

Petra stopped at the intersection and told me it really wasn’t that big a deal and apologized for making it sound like it was. “Byron and I are breaking up. We…I’m just trying to keep it friendly.”

She gave me a smile, I wished her good luck, and we went our separate ways.

I Rate the New Line of Starbucks Running Shoes

I laughed when I heard Starbucks was coming out with a line of running shoes. Now that they’re out and I’ve tried them, my laughter has changed into a salute.

The Non-fat Macchito Runners are a great shoe for light to moderate training

The Non-fat Macchiato Runners are a great shoe for light to moderate training

I was especially impressed with the Non-fat Macchiato Runners. Despite being a medium coast shoe, they have a robust footstrike. However, not once during my entire run did I feel any bitterness. They grip wet surfaces very well because of the fair trade, coarse ground, composite sole.

I wore the Triple Espresso Racers at a 5k race. Being a light coast shoe, I felt like I was running in socks. Yet they finish well, and I was so amped up after crossing the line, I wanted to stick around and run another race.

For runners who like lots of bling, I recommend the Iced Double Mocha Cookie Crumble Strideaccinos. They deliver extra energy on hot, mid-day, summer runs. The thick sole has been injected with refrigerated whip cream that keeps the feet pampered and cool. The exterior has a double shot of reinforcing nylon with red and purple sprinkles.

No longer just a coffeehouse. It's your running shoe supply store.

No longer just a coffeehouse. It’s your running shoe supply store.

As good as these shoes are, I have to mention a couple problems. Starbucks chose to size the shoes the same way as their beverages – short, tall, grande and venti, which makes it difficult figuring out where you belong in their system. Also, I’ve been inconvenienced a couple times when I ordered a drink and then a box of shoes was plopped on the counter.