Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Father of the Year

While I'm not in contention for the overall here, I'm at least ahead of one guy. Yesterday while I was running errands with Haiden (our three-year-old daughter), I took her to the indoor playground at the local mall. I'm not a big fan of this place (or malls in general), but when it's 106 degrees outside it's a nice way to let your kid run around a bit without getting cooked. As usual, there was one bully kid there with his father. We stayed for nearly an hour, and I watched as Dominic (the bully) took on kid after kid, pushing, hip-checking, pulling kids down from the slide backwards by their shorts, you name it. When a little rough-housing is mutual it's one thing, but this kid would chase the other children and continue to inflict punishment as they ran away. The father took a very passive approach do discipline, which pretty much consisted of playing games on his mobile phone and only looking up on occasion upon hearing the anguished cries of Dominic's latest victim. "Cut it out Dominic" was the standard phrase, then back to his phone. Once in awhile another parent would have to come in and physically remove their child from Dominic's immediate area to stop the pummelling. Haiden pretty much stays clear of trouble, and I decided to stay out of it as well. Just when I had Haiden's shoes in hand and was walking over to tell her it was time to go, Dominic finally found his way over to her and gave her a bit of a WWF clothesline move. The father saw this, and saw me walking towards him and finally corrected his boy. "NO, Dominic."

"Your child is quite the bruiser", I say. "Yeah, that's how kids are" is his retort. "How long do you let this go on, until he really hurts someone?", I ask, looking him right in the eye now. "Mind your own god-damned business, kids are kids." "When your kid maliciously hurts my kid (or something to this effect as I recall), it becomes my business. You need to control your child when he's acting this aggressively." "Do you want me to drop you and kick your ass right now??" (this was him verbatim, I swear). "Well, I see where your boy gets it now", I say. "Oh f--- off!", he says. I'm done with him, kids don't need to see this and I'm clearly not getting through to this guy. I turn my back on him, put my daughter's shoes on and leave as he does the same with his son. At least no more victims this day. My hands are shaking as I tie her shoes from the confrontation.

Kids will be kids, but their radar sweeps wider and more intense than is often realized. When I'm easily frustrated by things at home, or impatient, or just plain moody, I still get surprised for some reason when I see these traits in Haiden and Finn. It's hard to always set a good example, and while I often fail I do try and hopefully I can learn from my own mistakes.

Oh yeah, I ran this morning too.

At the last minute I decided to do my mile repeats on the road instead of the track, mostly so I didn't have to stop and buy gas on the way. While Lydiard training says to avoid anaerobic workouts during the base or conditioning phase, I've been calling this sort of a "recovery, pre-base" phase to avoid being called out for running quicker paces once a week leading up to the half marathon.

Today was three times a mile with a goal pace of 5:25-5:30, with a mile recovery. After a long, 4.5 mile warm-up, where I kept the average pace at 7 minutes I arrived at my appointed .92 mile loop, which pretty much negates any possible benefit I could get from a one-way course. The first half mile is slightly uphill and the second half naturally corrects that, and it's mostly through a nice neighborhood that affords some shade if traveled early enough. 5 am works fine in this regard.

I set off on the first repeat with the Garmin as my guide, and I was a little surprised at how much tougher 5:30 pace was when compared to 5:40 pace last week (or was that the week before?). Still, once I hit the half mile mark it got a little easier and I finished the effort at 5:30. At this point I wasn't looking forward to the other two repeats.

My heart rate was low and steady by the time the rest was over, and the second mile elapsed in 5:27. Again, the effort felt slightly aerobic, but my legs finally found the sweet spot where I could really dial in the pace. Number three was pretty much the same, but my breathing increased by the end of the first 40, instead of at 800 like the other two. This last mile was 5:26.

A 1.5 mile cool-down got me back to the house early, and I have a fair amount of things to do before going out of town for 10 days tomorrow afternoon. I won't be able to post as often (or read other blogs as often), but I'll squeeze in time when I can.

I'm hoping just giving my anaerobic system a little poke in the eye by running a little faster than goal pace will help stimulate things a bit without dragging on the other runs of the week. Hopefully I'll keep the paces brisk (7 minute pace or below).

Training: 10 miles, 1:06:12, 6:37 pace, with 3x1 mile with one mile recovery. 5:30, 5:27, 5:26.


Dusty said...

Good for you!! I don't have kids, but my nephew has really been bullied and I can't believe people don't say something. I would be shaky too - so glad you stood up to him, even if he didn't listen.

Nice run - can't blame you about the gas.

Mark said...

That other "father" is a jerk! Don't let it bother you or your family.

Nice work on the repeats, for minute there I thought you were going to blow it. It goes to show how well conditioned you really are. That half coming up is going to need the quick leg turnover to achieve your PR (unaided). Good luck.

Duncan Larkin said...

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing." - Albert Schweitzer

tb1 said...

I had a similar encounter about 5 years ago at a park. Some 6-year old kid was spitting on my 2-year old son while my 4-year old daughter was defending her brother. After the third time, I walked over to the kid and shouted, "You stop spitting on people. That is wrong!" The entire playground became like the old E.F. Hutton commerials. Not the most tactful move, but very effective. People don't realize the effort it takes to raise children. If they do, many times they choose to remain selfish and hope the kids turn out OK. At least you can use the experience for motivation to run fast.

Dusty said...

Just another thought about bullies... When I was a kid the neighbor kid bit me on my arm. My Mom called her out on the neighbors yard. She told her "dogs bite, little girls don't bite. Are you a dog or a little girl". Scared the crap out of her and I never forgot. I learned by her example (not the example of her mother who just shrugged her shoulders). I always remembered that and learned to stand up for myself or someone else who can't. Kudos again.

DREW said...

It mystifies me how most of the time people don't stand up to this sort of thing. You done good.

D said...

It takes guts for you to confront someone about their child's behavior (touchy subject) and then continue the conversation after you determine that the parent is a jerk. Good for you! Shame on Dominic's dad. (My Dominic - g-son - will not be a bully!)

Nice run!

Wayne said...

You did the right thing. I always tell my Soldiers to be man enough and walk away.

It must be nice to feel aerobic at sub-5:30s.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow, way to go. so many parents won't stand up to bullies or their parents. good for you.

Phil said...

Mike .. way to go. Thanks for standing up for all of us who don't have the guts to do so on our own.

And great run this morning.

Greg said...

I can totally relate to the shaky legs after the encounter. I think I would have felt the same way after the confrontation (Assuming I had the guts to stand up to him).

Nice job on the mile repeats.

David said...

You're braver than I. I'd always assume guys like that would just start beating the crap out of me straight away. Good for you for speaking up. I often lament the fact that no one reprimands other people's kids anymore; when I was growing up, kids were always getting hollered at by other (non-parent) adults out in the world. Now it seems to be taboo.

Joe said...

You have to speak up...and I'm glad you did Mike. You called a spade a spade, looked the guy in the eye, took his verbal abuse and walked away. Who knows...this may have a latent effect on the "dad". Perhaps to simply pay more attention to his kid.

I've done this a couple of times, when my kids were Heiden's age (which is now 20 years ago). Amazingly, later, they remembered parts of it. Yeah, the radar scans widely for these kids...and your daughter is the better for it.

Thanks for telling the story. I appreciate it.

George said...

Great post, Kids like that bother me, but parents like that, I really hate! If it would have been me, I would have probably smarted off even more, and the guy would have jumped me. I may have gotten hurt, but I bet the police would have gotten involved.