Dance cross-training

Last weekend, I ran in the Newport Autumn Bloom 10k in Newport, Washington. I recommend it because it’s well-organized, a nice course, fairly small field, and good stuff to eat and drink afterward.

The start of the Newport Autumn Bloom 10k. I'm wearing the yellow shirt.

The start of the Newport Autumn Bloom 10k. I’m wearing the yellow shirt and white gloves.

Dancing and running are good pairings for cross-training, and this was illustrated at the race. There were several runners groovin’ to the music as they waited for the race to begin. A race official, pictured below, couldn’t help becoming infected by the music and dancing runners. He knew how to 5

Dancing has the potential to bring a big improvement to your running and vice-versa. That’s a good thing because I enjoy dancing, and I’m not the only one.

Several people in the Flying Irish running group, of which I’m a member, regularly go to a club after our group run. When I asked them why, they said, “We’re cross-training – until 1 AM.” I’m impressed by their dedication.

Though I go dancing now and then, I’m going to make it a point to do more. I’ve been working on my form and some new moves lately, and if you’re interested in dance cross-training, check out my body of work below. It’ll work well for you, 1

I call the above dance move swooning. Keep hands spread, slide them back and forth, and swivel hips slightly. An elegant style that can be used even for fast beats.

Sometimes after a hard run, you really get a runners’ high. Why not take advantage by groovin’ in a 60’s-style, drugged-out, endorphin haze at a club that plays loud rock music. This technique is more fun if you have a wig with shoulder-length hair. Just point randomly while turning circles.

dance 3If you’ve got lots of energy, do the swizzle. Really swing the arms, shake the hips, and do plenty of pelvic thrusts.

dance 2

Sometimes I like to class it up by dressing for a style I call pimping. Plant your cane, put your hand on hip, and shuffle in circles around it. Women will soon join 4

Did you notice I’m not smiling in any of the photos? That’s ’cause I take my dancing very ultra-doubly seriously.  🙂

Pass me and you’ll eat pavement

Ever been on a run and tried to catch up and pass a bicyclist, or keep pace with one? Usually cyclists are too fast, but there’s been a few times when I was feeling really good, and I’ve passed cyclists.

I lived in Japan when I was in my early 30’s, and during one evening run I was feeling great. I was slowly catching a couple teenage boys riding single-speed bicycles way ahead of me. One looked back, and I heard him say to his friend, “Mite, hayai!”, which means, look, he’s fast. I soon caught up, said hello as I ran past and then picked up the pace. I left them in the dust, but my pace was unsustainable. After a half mile or so I had to let up, but I didn’t see them again.

A very good runner I know once told me he didn’t like it when he saw another runner ahead of him. People would think he was the slower of the two. He pushed it until he was ahead and made sure to stay there.

Like him, when I pass another runner while on a training run, I consider it bad form to be caught and passed by the same runner, so I always pick up the pace to make sure it won’t happen.

However, I’m not quite the runner I used to be, so I rarely think about trying to run down a bicyclist, and it’s not often I happen upon a runner that I can catch up to and pass. These days, I’m the one that other runners chase down and leave in the dust, which has led me to develop a new skill set.

Anyone trying to pass me will find themselves unexpectedly taking a fall. I’ve developed very effective tripping strategies.

Petra gets risque

Several days ago, I crossed paths with Petra in the middle of a 6-mile run. I hadn’t seen her in two months. Ever since she walked into the Rocket Bakery and caught me with I.P., she’d stayed away from the Manito Runners Club. She was very friendly though, smiled a lot, and when I suggested she come to our club’s run on Saturday, she said she was already planning on it.

When Saturday arrived, I mentioned to Joe and Franklin, who both really like Petra, that I’d run into her and she was going to join us. However, as the time neared for us to head out, Petra still hadn’t shown.

“Go knock on her door,” Joe told me. I really didn’t want to do that, but I sprinted across the street anyway and climbed the stairs to her apartment.

The curtains of her front window were partially open, and as I walked past, I glanced inside. I couldn’t believe it! What a completely unexpected sight! Petra was getting dressed, and she was topless. Plain and clear. I paused a split second and then walked quickly to her door.

I felt really bad. I’d seen something I wasn’t supposed to see. I hoped, as I waited before knocking, that she hadn’t noticed me at the window.

When Petra answered the door, she greeted me warmly and said she’d be right down. I rejoined our group. A couple minutes later, she came down and went straight to a group of MRC girls.

Joe raised his hand to give a fist bump. “Good job, bro. I’m giving you a gold star.”

I was still worried by what I’d done. It hardly registered that Joe was talking to me.

“Dude…hello,” Joe said. “What’s wrong?”

“I saw something I shouldn’t have. When I walked past Petra’s window, I glanced inside and saw her topless.”

Joe looked at me like I’d done something great. “You’re the bomb!”

“No way. I violated her privacy. I looked in her window while she was getting dressed.”

“She saw you coming, Jim. Franklin and I were watching you go up the stairs, and we saw Petra peek out the window at you.”

I looked over at Petra. She was chatting with the girls and looked like she was in a very good mood.

“Whoa. That’s something else, Joe. That changes everything.”


Speedy 10K a hot race

Evan Sims, a fellow member of the Flying Irish Running Club, is part of a group starting a new race that will be held on Sept 28th at the Spokane Raceway Park. He asked early on if I could help spread the word. He agreed to pay $500 for a blog post devoted to the Speedy 10K.speedy_logo_small

As I was finalizing the post, Evan told me his $500 should entitle him to some additional race marketing advice, and he’d prefer to pay me in goods. I wasn’t too happy, but since I’d like to see the race do well, I agreed.

Evan's two past-times - breaking course records and DJ-ing

Evan’s pastimes – breaking course records and DJ-ing.

Evan is well-known in the Flying Irish Running Club and is one of the top runners in Washington. I suggested he parley his celebrity by singing ballads and love songs as part of the pre-race entertainment. He said no way. So I recommended he lead a warm-up dance routine set to music. He hasn’t committed, but I saw him walking out of a clothing store with leopard-print dance tights.

As for the Speedy 10K, Evan and team have worked hard to ensure participants have a good experience. The course is flat as can be, accurately measured and marked, and USATF certified. There’s a purse of $1,550, and prize money will be awarded to the top 5 women and men finishers. Cost is $30. Day of race registration is $40. T-shirts are an additional $12. The race benefits Active4Youth, a non-profit that supports after school sports programs in Spokane area elementary schools.

The website,, is user-friendly and there’s no extra charge to sign up on-line. So go to the site and sign up now.

One final thing; shown below is Evan’s payment in goods for my hard work which I just got in the mail. A pair of socks? Are they worth $500? I was so enraged that I ripped my curtains to shreds and smashed my antique bottle collection.socks

To be honest, I didn’t really charge Evan to write about his race, so with the socks, I came out ahead. I think I’ll wear them when I run the Speedy 10K.

Runner moving on to higher level

I’ve been a runner since my sophomore year in high school. It’s been great, but after some recent genuflecting, I’ve decided that sticking with something for so long may not be a good thing. Change is inevitable, and if you don’t initiate it yourself, it’ll be forced on you.

After making a list of new activities that would be stimulating, exciting, and a good fit for my thrill-seeking personality, I’ve decided to ease out of running and move on to some new challenges.

I settled on two activities that I’m sure will get me out of bed at the crack of dawn and excited to get going.playing-cards

The first is card-playing. I haven’t played cards very much as an adult, so this will be a very exciting challenge for me. I’d like to focus on cribbage, hearts, and if I’m talented enough, pinochle. I’ve already bought a few decks, and lately I’ve been spending lots of time practicing my card-shuffling techniques.playing_checkers-13717

The second activity I want to get into is checkers. Sure, everyone played this as a kid, and so did I. But I never rose to a level I felt I was capable of. I really want to develop my checkers talent, and then hopefully, start entering tournaments.

Though I’ll be easing out of running, I won’t give it up entirely, at least for the time being. However, with the new activities, I plan on starting blogs for both of them, which means I can’t devote as much energy to this blog. I’ll continue it, but with fewer posts, and not on a set schedule as I’ve been doing.

So, my friends, I hope I can count on your support as I make this leap into my new passions. One day, after working my way up the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of championship card-playing and checkers, I ‘d like to be able to tell you that my opponents think I’m the most competitive, yet respected checkers and card player there is.

I’ve had it up to here with them

Yesterday I was reading the latest research done by the National Institute of Running Sciences and how running backwards increases leg muscle strength by 18% and can lower your PR by 11%. Even though running backwards is embraced in some places, the only thing going through my mind was what ridiculousness! (Photo by Metro News).running-in-reverse-L-DyrOye

I called running researcher Dr. Ayer O’Beck at the Institute. He explained, “It’s the muscle confusion theory that other successful exercise programs employ. When you only run forward, you get into a rut. You get stale. By using novel techniques, the body reacts quite positively.”

Though I’ve disputed the Institute’s research results in the past, this was way too hokey. I mean, it’s just plain stupid. Running backwards is hard to do, and even if it did any good, eventually it’d become a rut, too. I told Ayer this was the final straw, and they should either change their name to the National Institute of Running Jokes or dissolve the organization.

Dr. O’Beck didn’t appreciate my comment. “You should either apologize or get your ear ready for the slamming of my phone.”

There was a moment of silence before Dr. O’Beck added, “I shouldn’t waste my time on an idiot like you, but since I’m a professional, I’ll give you the short explanation; we found that running backwards works great, but you should mix it up. Run sideways sometimes. Do short runs where you kick yourself in the butt with every stride. Do a few runs in a crouch position.”

“Seriously, Doctor, is this really true?”

“You bet it is, and running backwards has even more benefits. The wind doesn’t blow in your face, leaving your skin more supple and youthful looking.. After a few weeks the back of your head adapts, becoming more pointy and aerodynamic, which many find attractive. And besides, people enjoy running backwards because they like to see where they’ve been and whether anyone’s following them.”

I apologized to Dr. O’Beck and told him I’d like to test the technique.

Now I’m planning to start a group. Is there anyone else who’d like to meet up and run backwards for a couple months?

Runners brought down by wasps

How big a bug does it take to bring a runner down? Of course, it’s not so much size as the painfulness of a bug’s bite or sting. I’ve been stung by yellow jackets like the one below many times. While running down a residential street, I watched one leave a tree, fly straight to me and sting me on impact. It must have been flying stinger first. wasp

(source: Wikipedia)

I’ve never been sidelined by a bug mid-run, but a runner recently told me how she inhaled a wasp and got stung inside her mouth. It was too painful to continue running.

A long time ago I was running in the woods and brushed a bush that had a wasp nest. I was stung three times on my lower legs. I kept going, but it was so painful, and I swelled up so much that evening that I couldn’t run for a few days.wasp nest

Here in Spokane, when the warm days and cool nights of early fall arrive, the air fills with millions of small, bluish gnat-like bugs. They’re not harmful, but there are so many that after running you look like the front bumper of a car that’s been on a long trip. Mid-run stops are necessary to wipe their little bodies out of your eyes.

How about you? Got a good story about bugs bothering you while running?