Friday, September 10, 2010
This morning was our pre-meet practice. We began with our usual dynamic stretches, followed by a short devotional continuing with our theme for the week, "Giving the Gift of Courtesy". Interesting thoughts regarding a statement in our book - Kindness and courtesy are more important than laws.
Then the women and men met separately to allow our team captains to go over the race course (they had the map and past few years' experience) as well as mile splits from last year. Then the team went for an easy run arriving back at different times to allow me to meet with each to discuss individual race strategies.
After a quick shower I went up to the cafeteria to have breakfast and saw some of our team sitting on the couches "chillin" before class. It's always nice to see our students around campus.
Tomorrow is an early bus departure - 5 a.m. so, it's going to be early to bed tonight.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The team indicated that almost everyone has a 10 a.m. class or later and wanted to try a new trail. So, we went to the east end of Las Virgenes and ran what is called Victory trail (at least that's what Kat told me it was called and I liked it). It was a fun day since our new shoes arrived and we got to distribute them after our workout. Lots of smiles on shoe day. I always feel like Santa Claus.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
After yesterday's hill repeats we needed a recovery day and took it in Alumni Park. It was an nice easy run for most as Wednesdays are easy academic days. We have decided to have our team breakfasts on this day and have our men and women meet over a meal and continue our devotionals as well as discuss plans for our weekend racing at UCI.
The theme for the week is Giving the gift of courtesy. It was interesting to let this discussion lead into our running. One of the ending statements had to do with "putting your interests ahead of mine". In competitions, how can this be so. This led to great conversations for both the men and women. It's fun to see our students thinking.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Today is a tough one. We are at Malibu Creek State Park and it was a tough hill that is similar to the ones at Crystal Springs in northern California - site of our WCC Championships. So, we often run in this park. The workout consisted of intervals up one side of the hill and own the other. We started with some instruction on how to run hills - particularly downhill. Bill Rodgers was one of the best American marathon runners of all time and credited his performances on downhill running.
Then it was off to punish the hills. I know this will take a lot out of our bodies but we are going to take a few recovery days rest afterwards. Everyone runs them well.
But, it is a sad day for me as it has been one year since my dad's death. Many on the team know it and at night, the Wilson's, Claudette and John, take me to dinner. They are so kind and nice and loving - they embody the Habits of a Loving Heart.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I'm not in town, opting to go to Phoenix to be with my mom as she continues to struggle with life after my dad's death. It's been a year.
So, Coach I, takes the team to Sycamore Canyon for our long run. This is a very popular trail and I know our team loves it. We can get up to 17 miles in a very scenic and picturesque setting and finish back at the beach. A great place to run.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Sensing that we might need some additional recovery and that I want a good long run tomorrow, I move our hill repeats day to next week after Labor Day. But, we still go to Malibu Creek State Park as it is a great place to run.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Everyone is pleased with yesterday's winning race and we have an easy recovery day in Alumni Park.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
It's race day! Our first competition of the year is called The Malibu Oceanside Open. It's not very open this year as we are just hosting the University of San Diego and Cal State Bakersfield. But, the meet serves several purposes. By NCAA rules, we can begin cross country practices 21 practice units before our first meet and the first meet can not be before September 1st. By hosting the meet on a Wednesday, rather than waiting until the weekend like most teams, we can begin practice four days earlier than most. Since we have new student orientation (NSO) just before school starts, it is important for us to do this.
It is also a good chance for our younger runners to get some college running experience. And, today was a good one. Our teams handily beat both schools and we are off to the races.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Today is the day before our first meet. We had a nice easy run in Malibu Creek State Park. Though it started out cold for us (probably about 60F frigid degrees) it did warm up nicely. It seems like everyone on the team is excited to finally get to a race. We have a double dual meet with the University of San Diego and Cal State Bakersfield.
Each school sent in their entries and it should be fun. I got our the flagging, grass paint, markers, banners, finish chute, etc. for course preparation. I always enjoy setting up our course - which I believe is the most beautiful cross country course in the nation. And, it is real cross country; not track on a flat golf course, or a road race. We have nice hills, lots of grass, and awesome views of the Pacific Ocean. A coach, parent, or spectator can see the athletes 12 times in the 5K race without moving more than 200m.
Come on out and watch your 2010 Waves!
Monday, August 30, 2010
It's the first day of school and everyone is eager to start classes (or so I think, being not able to remember how the first day really felt). Because of the nervousness that everyone might feel, practice is held in Alumni Park. Our early start time assures that we get to see the sun rise during dynamic warm-ups. But, everyone is ready to go as we have mile repeats today over our cross country course. This will help our runners prepare for our first meet on Wednesday. We will not back off on training but train right through the meet. I hear some of the grumbling when I announce hard workouts on Monday and Friday. Distance runners always grumble about things. But, then we get out there and get it done.
The repeats go very well and the team is starting to shake out and our number 5-7 runners are getting closer to the top runners. It's all good.
In the meantime, we are getting organized for the start of off-season track athletes. Tomorrow we will meet with our group of about 20 sprinter/hurdlers.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
In the morning, Pepperdine hosts our University Church services in the fieldhouse with new minister Rich Little (didn't he do great impressions when I was a youngster in college). This is an Australian by the name of Rich Little and he's a marathon runner along with his wife. I am hoping he will join us for a run sometime.
In the afternoon, the men go to the beach while the women gather for a barbecue at Coach Iryna's home. Then the guys come over to my house for food. In both groups, there is lively talk about commitment, goals, and creating a wonderful season and year at Pepperdine.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Today is a big day. It begins early with a long run in Chesebro Canyon. Some athletes complete the 17 miles complete trial, while others do a little less. Then it's off to Future Track for shoe selection and sizing. And, now everyone is hungry so we have our last team breakfast at Terry's Cafe next to Future Track.
By the time we are back to campus it is almost time for our community service project - Waves of Flags. We committed our team to working 1-5 p.m. installing about 3,000 flags to honor those killed in 9/11. The installation will take about two weeks. But come by Pepperdine's Alumni Park to check out the flags in mid-September. It is spectacular!
Friday, August 27, 2010
One of our favorite places to run is Malibu Creek State Park. This is our first time there and it's another perfect day to run (isn't every day!). I can tell many are getting tired of all the running from pre-season and ready to start school and racing. We are almost there; with school scheduled to start next Monday and our first race just five days away.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
It's breakfast burrito day after hard hills at Zuma. Zuma Beach is famous for beach films by Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. And today the waves are pretty good and I can tell some would prefer to be surfing than sprinting up hills. But, running hills is what makes good cross country runners. And, that's what our team wants to become. The reward is Lilly's burritos. They are great with chocolate milk after Zuma hills!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This morning was one of those morning when things did not go according to plan - it happens.
We were scheduled to run the Backbone Trail. This is one of our favorites and we were catching the trail at Kanan road today. Unfortunately, about a mile into the run we ran into a swarm of bees and several of our athletes got stung. Some multiple times. Everyone was okay and the first group to make it through did not even know it had happened. But, I think they just stirred things up for the trailing group. These athletes were forced to turn back and take another trail. We have lots of trails so no problem.
In the early evening, we had our aqua running session at the pool. This is a always a fun way to get some extra training in without the added stresses on the body. It was a warm day with lots of sunshine and a welcome break from just running.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This morning we went to Santa Monica for our tempo run. The famed Ocean/San Vicente Boulevard grass running trail was used for our tempo. This was one of our first glimpses at what might be our top runners. It's not a race, but a tempo we instruct the team. The men are led by Seth Allison with good performances by Jordan Wozniak, Jonathan Rahaeuser, and Wesley Blundell. The women are led by Lauren "Lolo" Lodge followed by Hannah DeWalt, Megan Doeding, Aneasha Lawrence, Emily Branch, Paige Mobley, and Freshman Adie Davies.
Afterwards everyone enjoyed bagels and chocolate milk in the park.
Monday, August 23, 2010
It's back to Malibu and we meet in Alumni Park to have the team run our home course and the surrounding areas. Every seems very pleased with our traveling camp over the past week, but are excited to be back in Malibu to have time to move in and take care of things in their homes for the year. It's an easy run day.
Saturday, August 21,2010
It's funny that as we wake up in the southern most city of our trip, it is foggy and cool. Our run this morning will be a long one in Los Osos' Montana de Oro, a popular running and cycling area near San Luis Obispo. The drive to the trailhead is quite interesting meandering through a sycamore tree forest which forms a cave like feeling as we approach the beach area for our run. Each athlete has different mileage goals for their long run and I go off one a sandy trail with one of our new runners. Little do I know that I am about to write a very interesting story. The sandy trail proves too difficult so we make our way to the beach and wait for the others who are running longer to return. A few days ago in Lake Tahoe, my left sandal broke. I was forced to walk barefoot on the left side until I found a cheap pair of flip flops to wear for the rest of the trip. But, I loved my sandal as it is very unique and has a design I have never seen except in the store I purchased a year ago in Malibu. So, I threw my left sandal away and kept the right one. But, amazingly, on that beach in Los Osos I came across one left sandal - the same style as mine that I left in Tahoe, and a near perfect fit and match to the right one I kept. What does this mean?
After our run and breakfast and a little more Jacuzzi time we head toward Malibu with a stop in Santa Barbara down near the beach area. Our athletes wander along Stearns Wharf, the Harbor, and the Cabrillo parks eating sushi and ice cream. It has been a great trip and now just an hour and a half bus ride back to Malibu.
In the parking lot I hear many making plans to go to Malibu Yo and other places together - We are a team - We are family!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Finally we are at Crystal Springs -site of our WCC Cross Country Championships scheduled for October 30, 2010. The course is a tough one and I want to introduce our newcomers to the ups and downs of a real cross country course. I have scheduled a hill workout utilizing the first mile plus of the course. This is one challenging workout and the top runners shine. We conclude with sprints into the finish line practicing for outkicking our competition. It was fun to see our athletes finishing their workout so strong.
Next stop is Pismo Beach! Our mileage has been good so we hit Pismo Beach for some free time to enjoy the sunshine and charm of this beach town. One of our athletes, LeeAndrea Morton, finds a Sand Dollar and I set out to find more. I've never found one that was not broken. But, today is my lucky day as I find 16 perfect sand dollars. I also locate a postcards which gives the legend of the Sand Dollar:
The legend of the Sand dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lovely shell.
If you will examine closely,
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes a fifth one
Made by a Roman's spear.
On one side the Easter Lily,
It's center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.
The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of his birthday,
Our happy Christmas tide.
Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace
This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.
In the evening back at the hotel we continue with our devotionals. First, I hand out a sand dollar to each of the girls on the team (via a contest in which the guys ask running or love questions and the correct answer getting one of the treasured shells). Then we delve back in our book, "Habits of a Loving Heart". Our group discussion focus is on habit one - doing the right thing for the right reasons.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
It is another beautiful morning as we have selected a run along the Rubicon trail around Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm. The description does not do the trail justice as it is one of the most beautiful runs I've ever had. Emerald is the color of the water and the trail meananders along the waters edge past Osprey and Bald Eagle nests. This is how cross country running should be and our runners appreciate the morning. Afterwards many take a dip in the pool and comment that the water is so clear (they claim 99.7% pure and that you can clearly see 75 feet deep into the lake). Lots of pictures are taken to be shared once we return home.
After a nice breakfast along the lake and our showers, we head toward San Francisco stopping in Sacramento at a family run homemade ice cream shop called Leathernecks. Wow! What a fun place for our students to stretch their legs and enjoy a treat. Then it's back on the road to 49er land. We decide the team should go directly to Redwood City to check into our hotel near Crystal Springs (site of our WCC Cross Country championships at the end of October). The hotel sits on Oracle's man-made lakes and the team goes to the pool for an intense game of Marco Polo. It is so much fun to watch our young people create fun and games from nothing and today is just normal for us. They say bored people are boring. Our team is not even close to that as they enjoy each other all the time.
One of our favorite restaurants is BJ's; and this stop has become a regular for the team since coming to Crystal Springs. The evening is topped with Pazzoki's and everyone is happy.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Our team gets up early to bright sunshine in Mammoth and we travel by bus to Convict Lake for a recovery run day. As we arrive, the athletes comment on how beautiful the lake is; they have not seen anything yet. Convict Lake features a wonderful lakeside trail that allows our students to run at high altitude, enjoy the magnificent views of the mountains and the lake. It is the perfect settng for our morning run. Each have their own mileage goals for the week and run appropriately with some runnng around the lake once and some going twice.
Coach I (that's what some of the guys have dubbed Iryna Vashchuk) leads the team afterwards in stretching and helping with recovery. All physical gains happen during recovery; not during running.
Then it's back to the hotel for breakfast in the lodge, showers, and on the road to a Hot Springs area on the way to Lake Tahoe. About an hour drive leads us to Travertine Hot Springs. The online description was written by a clever marketing person, as the hot springs are rather small - though the whole team fits into the series of about 5 pools. Our team though always knows how to have fun and enjoy themselves in every condition/situation. I am so very proud of them.
After the springs, we have lunch in Bridgeport and continue onto to Lake Tahoe. The road is mountainous as we make ourselves to South Lake Tahoe. But, as we descend into town, the lake is before us and beautiful. Those needing a little more mileage go for a shoreline run and then join the others in the lakeside pool and jacuzzi.
Props to our travel coordinator Daniel Williams, as our hotel is perfect - the Inn by the Lake.
Our evening devotional continues with Habits of a Loving Heart and tonight we have very meaningful and insightful group discussions based on yesrerdays story. At 10 p.m. or so everyone is tired and ready for a good nights sleep.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
We begin our 2010 XC practice with a try-out Tuesday in Alumni Park. Utilizing our cross country course, the women run 4 by 1 mile and men run three by 2 1/2 miles. Our course includes some tough hills on the grass but it prepares us well for the season. Several of us arrive early and are treated with a beautiful sunrise under clear sunny skies. I could not have painted a more perfect beginning of the training season. It's a tough workout but lets the coaches and athletes know who got their work done in the summer. At the end of practice, new assistant coach Iryna Vashchuk leads the team through a wonderful stretching routine. She reports that world champions spend much time each day stretching.
Afterwards we have a quick breakfast with our favorite drink, chocolate milk, then shower, and meet our bus for the ride to Mammoth. The ride is long but it does give the team time to talk and bond. We have a nice little hotel in downtown Mammoth and get a quick shake out run in Shady Rest. Everyone needs it. Then we go to Roberto's for some giant burritos! I could not eat more than half of the meal.
Our hotel has a nice lounge and jacuzzi and we hold our first devotional. This year I am going to lead them choosing to use materials I used in Hungary this summer. The basis is a book called "Habits of a Loving Heart". My theory is that you run faster when you are happy and loving. We will spend the season going through the 12 habits outlined in I Corinthians 13. Then most of the guys hit the jacuzzi and most of our women go to sleep. Tomorrow will be an early run in Mammoth.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Cross Country season has finally arrived! I am happy as our athletes arrive throughout the day. This year we have quite a few of our students living off campus (more than any year I have been here). But, even before dorm check-ins, a recruit and her family come for a visit and get excited about where are program is headed. I always have fun hosting recruits and telling them about our team.
Officially we begin at 1 p.m. with a team lunch. Almost everyone is on time and pumped for the season. Our new University Church minister, Rich Little, joins us for lunch and introduces himself as a marathon runner. I hope he will run with us sometimes. For introductions, our seniors stand and tell everyone about their summer and provide advice to the incoming freshmen. Then the freshmen stand and tell the team about themselves including an embarrassing story. Everyone is in good spirits and we have fun together. Then the NCAA Compliance Director, Head Trainer, Academic Advisor, and others join us to go over the required information and documents needed to be cleared for practice.
At 4 p.m., it's time for physicals and then dinner back in our trophy room followed by a team building exercise. The group is divided into four teams (we like competitions) and each is challenged with designing a team t-shirt and a recommended itinerary for our pre-season "Le Running Tour de California". I like our athletes to be involved and help co-create our program as part of our mission to prepare students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. Everyone gets into the exercise and as usual produce some amazing designs and plans for our trip. I am very proud of our team and look forward to a wonderful season.