Running for funds... and fun! Plus, GRAND Social No. 227 link party for grandparents

Running for funds... and fun!

When my daughters were in school, fundraising typically revolved around candy bars. Moms and dads, grandparents and other friends and family were encouraged to purchase a chocolate bar — or a boxful for the really enthusiastic supporters — to help cover the costs of school activities, sporting equipment, and so forth.

Kids nowadays (yeah, I sound like a grandma, don't I?) raise funds in a far more healthy manner. At least that's the case with my grandsons. The school both Bubby and Mac attend makes their students run for the money. Run laps, that is. And grandparents and others sponsor the children on a per lap basis or a lump sum, if preferred.

It's a far more healthy way of raising money for one's school. Far more healthy for the students as well as avid supporters.

Bubby and Mac ran for funds — and fun — last week. And racked up thirty-five plus laps each!

brothers fundraising run

Such accomplished little runners, those kiddos are. Thanks heavens Jim and I...

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Running from the running bug

Somewhere along the line my daughters became runners. That should come as no surprise to regular Grandma's Briefs readers as I've shared many times the victories — mini and marathon — of Andrea, Brianna and Megan.

kids run mile marker

Though he's the son of running enthusiast Mommy Megan, Bubby does his very best to run from the running bug that nabbed his mom and aunties. That was confirmed again this past weekend.

Bubby, Mac and Mommy participated in a 5K...

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Photo replay: Run, Bubby, run

Bubby participated in his first organized run yesterday — the half-mile kids' dash during an annual community run that benefits local families in need.

Bubby ran with Mommy (who placed first in her division in the adult run), and when the going got rough after about a quarter of the way, they held hands and pumped their arms together.

kids dash

Megan reported that they sprinted at the end, and Bubby was quite proud of himself once he'd crossed the finish line.

Soon after, I received this text from Megan: "I just asked him if he would ever do a race again and he said 'No way! But you know what I got from my race?' Then showed me his guns! Ha!"

Seems for a nearly 5-year-old, the arm pumping is far more enjoyable — with better payoff — than the leg pumping.

Today's question:

Which do you work harder to keep fit — your guns (arms) or your legs?

Photo replay: Run, Andie, run

My youngest daughter, Andrea, set a personal record in her most recent five-mile run, yesterday's Frosty's Frozen 5 & 10 in Denver. With a final time of 42.32, she broke the 9-minute-mile barrier and averaged 8.5-minute miles. Woo-hoo!

Congratulations to Andie, not only for the PR but for finishing 171st out of 714 overall and 17 out of 82 in her division. (Plus, major props for picture-perfect posing for mom mere moments after crossing the finish line!)

Today's question:

If you could set a personal record in anything—sports-related or not—what would you like your record to be?

No trophies for this grandma

Megan after Mad Mud Run 2011I've never been an athlete, never been competitive when it comes to sports and physical exertion. The only time I came even close to thinking I could come out on top in a sporting event was in first grade. It was field day and I was so enthralled with Frankie, the cutest of cute boys in my class, that I felt I could do anything, beat anyone in any competition I was signed up for—which was only the three-legged race and the tug-of-war every kid in the class was signed up for but, hey, I was ready.

Elementary school field days are a magical day near the end of the school year when the sun is warm, the excitability high, and the festive agenda includes running, racing, jumping and more. One of the highlights of field days back in my day (and back in the cold of Minnesota) was the rare opportunity to eat outside on blankets carefully placed across the school lawn instead of crammed onto cafeteria tables with built-in benches inside the dank, stale lunchroom. The picnic-style lunch was a favorite of students one and all.

My main event—the three-legged race—was scheduled for late afternoon, so I joyfully ate my lunch, sneaking peeks at Frankie across the lawn every chance I could, then looking away the second his head turned my way. We'd not yet spoken to one another; he likely didn't even know my name. But I was determined to change all that on our glorious day on the field.

My opportunity to do exactly that came just after lunch. A creek ran through the grounds just behind the school, and when we weren't on the roster for field events, many of us played along its banks awaiting our competition. Frankie was in the group of boys daring one another to jump across the water, I was in the group of girls fawning over their agility.

My eyes were in all-out adoration mode, focused on Frankie...until I saw in my peripheral vision a frog. A hopping amphibian of magical proportions that I was sure would garner me attention from Frankie, if only I could capture the creature and present it to him.

As the boys jumped and the girls watched, I stealthily approached the frog no one else seemed to have seen. The frog hopped ahead a bit. Then it hopped farther...and faster...with each step I took toward it. But I, too, moved faster and faster, determined to nab the prize and present it to my potential beau. Sensing my plan, the frog took one fantastic leap, right over the muddy bank and downward into the stream. Thanks to the momentum built in my pursuit, I, too, went over the muddy bank—then tripped and landed face first in the mud and tumbled on into the stream.

By then my stream-mates had gathered at the top of the bank, giggling as the frog hopped away. I gave up on the frog and, doing my best to hold back the tears, began my ascent up the muddy bank, slipping, sliding, stumbling as I tried to grab hold of anything that might help me reach the top. I finally made it—with no help from any of the other kids. Not from my girl friends, not from the boys, and especially not from Frankie.

I was a mess, a stinky, muddy mess. My mom was called, I was brought home to change, and I arrived back at the field just in time to join the three-legged race, which I reluctantly ran only for the sake of my assigned partner.

I can't remember whether we won or lost the race that day, but I do remember the entire experience revealed Frankie as a creep unwilling to help a lass in need. My crush was over, gone, abated for ever more.

My Frankie-and-the-frog incident had little to do with my athletic ability, but I don't recall ever being as excited about my subsequent field days and athletic attempts as I was that first fateful one. I grudgingly participated in P.E. classes throughout my school career, had a brief stint as a junior-high cheerleader, and joined a summer softball team only once as an adult—and quit soon after the team captain told me in not-so-polite terms that I really shouldn't be allowed on the field after flubbing the art of catching, throwing, batting so horrendously during practices.

There's no question about it: I'm no athlete. Jim is definitely more athletic than I, having been on wrestling, baseball, and football teams in high school, but he was never considered, by ability or association, a full-fledged jock.

Which is why it's so surprising our daughters were...and are. We could never afford for the girls to be on park & rec or club teams as youngsters, but from middle school on, all three were firmly entrenched in school sports. They continually impressed me with their participation in swimming, cross country, track, cheerleading, volleyball, soccer. Brianna and Andrea both received high-school letters and letter jackets for being three-sport athletes; Megan received the same for being in two sports plus choir.

Now that my daughters are adults, they continue to impress me with their athletic pursuits. Primarily as runners...running long distances.

Turkey Trot 2010

My daughters happily, willingly participate in 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and more. This weekend, in fact, both Megan and Andrea are running some sort of Jingle Bell race, each in their respective cities.

The athletic (although not yet all that competitive) spirit continues with Bubby. At three years old, he's an avid swimmer, loves to hike and bike, and just last week he finished up his soccer season. For his effort on the team, Bubby garnered his very first sports trophy ever.

It surely won't be his last, especially if his mommy and aunts (and daddy, too) have anything to do with it. And if he's fleet-footed enough to dodge any non-athletic influence his grandma may have on him.

Today's question:

To whom would you award the Most Athletic trophy in your family?

Failing as a mother, and other pride-filled moments

I pride myself on being a good grandma, a good mama. Sometimes I fail miserably though. Like I did yesterday.

As most of you know, my daughter Megan had Baby Mac in June. And as some of you might know, since having Baby Mac, Megan has made running her thing, her time for herself, her time devoted to being Megan not just Mommy. And devoted she is, running 5Ks and 10Ks and "fun" runs for practice most days of the week. She's become quite the long-distance runner despite being a sprinter—and a reluctant one at that—during her high school years. She sets goals; she accomplishes them.

Yesterday featured a big goal, one Megan hoped to accomplish with aplomb: her first half marathon. That's 13.1 miles for those non-runners (like me) in the group. She's been training for it since right after having Baby Mac, and nothing was going to deter her. Except maybe that Preston, her hubby and daddy to the boys, was scheduled for a business trip that would take him away the day of the half marathon. Which meant there'd be no one to cheer her on with her babies in tow (yes, the babies should to be in tow, to see the importance of Mom setting goals and accomplishing them). And no one to take photos of her crossing the finish line.

So she asked me and Jim—Mom and Dad—if we'd cover the support shift. Which, of course, we were happy to do. Not only would it be a chance to see our grandbabies, it would allow us to cheer on one of our daughters in her athletic pursuits, something we've missed since our nest emptied out.

We arrived in the desert, prepared for duty. The plan involved Preston driving Megan to the Women's Running Magazine Women's Half Marathon starting point before hopping the plane for his business trip. Then Jim and I were to pack up Bubby and Baby Mac and arrive near the finish line of the marathon pert near the time Megan figured she'd be crossing. Other than getting us there, my primary job (in addition to caring for the grandkiddos, of course) was to take pictures of Megan meeting her goal.

I failed. On both counts.

Despite setting out as planned, with detailed directions and maps for a city we'd never visited, we got within blocks—"Special Event" flags marked the area, so there's no questions of that—yet couldn't get to the exact area we wanted. Because of the special event, because of all the roads closed for that very same special event. Because not a single direction for spectators was given on the official website and because Google Maps didn't note the very roads we needed, the very roads we were instructed to take would be closed. There was no way to get were we wanted to be. At least not by the time we needed to be there.

AS we drove around the special event area, we lucked upon a spot where other folks were cheering on their running mothers and daughters and sisters and friends. We hopped out. We ran into place. And, heavens-be-shining-down-on-me, Megan was coming around the corner. She was smiling, Bubby was waving, Jim was shouting GO, MEG! and I was scrambling for my camera...and in all the excitement I couldn't get it on and get it focused, get it shooting as it should. At least not while she was in front of me. This is what I managed:

Then Jim and I were off and running ourselves, with the kids, trying to figure out how the heck to get to that freakin' finish line before Megan did. Not knowing the city at all, not having uninterrupted service on my iPhone that would provide me a map and direction and GPS or something of use, I asked another spectator for assistance. He told me how to head in the general direction, "but I don't know how you're going to get there with the way they have the roads all jacked up," he said. "Just get as close as possible then walk as fast as you can," was his only suggestion.

Thing is, that "general direction" he gave was off by about 15 blocks. Or maybe my interpretation was off by about 15 blocks. And in those 15 blocks, the tension in the car rose. Baby Mac was hungry, Jim was frustrated at my (usually stellar) navigation skills, and Bubby was asking from the back seat, "Why are you so mad?" The "you" meaning me and Jim, as we were bickering and not being our best Gramma and PawDad selves by any means. But gee freakin' whiz...we couldn't get to our daughter who would soon be wrapping up an incredible feat and it appeared we weren't going to be there as promised.

And we weren't. Just as we got as close as we could possibly get, the point from which we'd have to quickly pop open the stroller, throw the two boys into it and make our way across a seemingly endless obstacle course, heading for the very same finish line as Megan—where Megan would be—my cell phone rang.

It was Megan.

She'd crossed the finish line.

And wondered where we were.

Oh, the humanity, er, humility...of having to tell my daughter I'd failed. I'd failed to get us there on time, I'd failed to get photos of her accomplishing her goal, I'd even failed to get one front-facing photo of her at the one single moment the gods did allow us to see our pink-clad racer girl despite our missteps.

No big deal, Megan assured us, just get here. Call when you get to the finish line, she said.

With my tail between my legs I got us there. And I got a few photos of Half-Marathon Megan with her medal:

... and of Half-Marathon Megan with her babies:

I failed at my task. Megan didn't. At all. She finished her very first half marathon in a respectable 1 hour 54 minutes and 52 seconds. An amazing feat any time, but especially impressive just six months after having a child.

Oh, and that 1 hour 54 minutes? Exactly the time (well, minus the 52 seconds) I guessed the night before, when Preston, Jim and I all put in our guesses for what Megan's final time would be. While I'm not so proud of my mom fail when it came to getting us to the finish line for photos, I am, in a very small way, proud of my accurate guess on Megan's time. (I gotta take my successes any where I can find them.)

In all seriousness, though, and in a very large way, I'm proud of Megan—my marathon-running mommy/daughter—and all she's done to get where she's at.

(Disclosure: All guilt mentioned above was purely self-inflicted; Megan never took me to task nor seemed even slightly disappointed at my failure to come through as promised. Yet another reason I'm proud of her.)

Today's question:

Describe a recent fail on your part...and/or a recent moment that filled you with pride?