Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cross Country? - WHY? - Part 2

(Continued from August 21, 2010) ….. From a website entitled,, I also learned the following about Cross Country:

What is cross-country running?
Cross-country running is running over a field that is wrought with pitfalls, that is, a natural landscape. Cross-country running is also referred to as trail running. The course can be woodland, grass, water, mud or a combination any such natural occurrences. Cross-country running is normally done by teams comprised of between five and twelve members.

Persons of all age groups participate in cross country running, some for the rewards, others just for the fun of running. Some long distance runners use cross country running as a means of exercise to build their stamina and strengthen their legs.

What are the benefits of cross country running?
Like all exercise, cross country running has its benefits, both physical and mental. Anyone can benefit from cross country running regardless of age or gender. Cross country runners are normally quite strong, with a firm muscular body. Persons who are into cross country running tend to have strong legs and hips as well.
  • Females especially will like the fact that running has been proven to help fight the signs of aging, as well as osteoporosis. Running also helps in fighting certain types of diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and can prevent or limit the recurrence of strokes.
  • Persons who want to lose weight will find cross country running particularly useful. It not only provides cardiovascular exercise but also helps to burn calories. Some fitness experts believe that running, including cross country running burns more calories than any other exercise.

  • Because the area in which you are running tends to be uneven and not one straight track you will get a better workout as you end up using more muscles than in any other type of running. Cross country running, if done properly and on the right track, is less stressful on the knees as the impact from the earth tends to be much less than on other surfaces.
  • Also like other forms of running, it provides relief from stress and other such mental problems. Running out in the open allows one time to think without the hustle and bustle of modern life.

  • Another of the benefits is that it stops your training routine from becoming boring. The variety of motions required to run on uneven surfaces and the changing scenery work together to stop cross country running from becoming mundane.

Of course, there are a few negatives that are associated with having your kid involved in Cross Country running:
1)     You will no longer be able to outrun your own child!
2)     Your child will suddenly believe that you have aged tremendously – and you won’t be able to prove otherwise!
3)     Your child will have a guilt-inducing comment for you each time that you reach for a candy bar!
4)     Your child will want to go to sleep early BEFORE  the 2nd game of Yahtzee has a chance to begin!
5)     Your child will be stronger, more in-shape, and full of more energy than ever! Wow, good thing that he was not involved in Cross Country when he was 6-months old!

Yes, Cross Country parents tend to be quite proud of their Cross Country kids, as their involvement with the sport leads to better health; better habits; stronger work ethic; better discipline in all areas of life; and, who knows, maybe dad will even feel a tad guilty if he feels like skipping a day of running!

I have long been an advocate of getting your child involved in ANYTHING at school. Whether it is a sport, music, chess club, science group, drama, dance, etc., your child’s involvement with other like-minded people in a positive setting will lead to tremendous benefits for your son or daughter.

Now, after all of these years of believing that Cross Country was all about “a bunch of people running through the fields and the woods after school”, I can now say that Cross Country is a GREAT activity for kids, one that I highly recommend if time allows.

While there are many negative peer-group activities in which some kids engage when there is nothing else to do, I think that I speak for most parents when I say that I’d much rather have my son running 5-7 miles a day with his peers and learning and internalizing terrific habits that he will be able to use for the rest of his life!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cross Country? - WHY? - Part 1

When I was a high school lad several hundred years ago, I heard of a sport called Cross Country! I had no clue what Cross Country was, but it appeared as though somebody did, because it was always announced on the P.A.

At some point I finally asked somebody to tell me about Cross Country. A fellow classmate described it as, “A bunch of people running through the fields and the woods after school”.

Well, as I was quite happy logging way too many hours on the baseball diamond and with my music pursuits, I really did not have the time to run through the fields and the woods, nor did I take the time to pursue Cross Country any further at that point. It seemed like a silly way to spend one’s time after school!

Fast-forwarding several years, my own son decided to try Cross Country as he was entering high school. I did not share my earlier disdain for “running through the fields and woods”. Rather, I fully supported his choice and together we began to learn the meaning and purpose of Cross Country.

After attending several Cross County meets, I learned the following:
1)     Cross Country gets kids in shape very quickly and it keeps them in shape
2)     Cross Country kids shy away from bad food and bad habits (i.e. smoking, drugs, alcohol)
3)     Cross Country kids develop a strong sense of discipline and a very strong work ethic
4)     Cross Country kids encourage and push each other to new heights
5)     Cross Country kids tend to have supportive parents
6)     Cross Country kids tend to get good grades in school, either through genes or the development of their work ethic and their learning to strive for excellence
7)     Cross Country kids tend to establish solid relationships with each other
8)     Cross Country kids tend to sleep more and party a lot less – if at all
9)     Cross County allows kids to compete against others and against themselves
10)   Cross Country can prepare kids for competition, success, and the knowledge that one can succeed through hard work

At meets, I am always amazed at the number of in-shape kids, dedicated coaches, and supportive parents who are in attendance. This is truly a great way to spend one’s high school years, with like-minded people who push each other to strive for excellence while denying themselves the negative activities in which others engage. After all, if one is going to run 5-7 miles per day to prepare for races, it would be ludicrous to then throw it away not taking care of oneself away from the Cross Country arena.

(Please come back next week for Part 2)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daughter Driving Home!

Well, all good things must come to an end and so it was with our brief, but great and fulfilling, vacation! We spent the days together, we spent the nights together, we cooked on a grill together, we shopped together, we saw a movie together, and, well, we pretty much spent all of our waking ours together and ...... nobody got hurt!!

During the long ago vacation days, I did most of the driving while my wife picked up the slack. In fact, over the years, a system had developed wherein I would drive for most of the sunlight hours and she would take over the wheel during the dark hours of the night. This system had worked well for years, as we would spell each other at the wheel to ensure some level of rest for each of us. We had also worked it out so that the driver would be responsible for the kids in the back - food, water, rest areas, etc.

However, on this trip, a new phenomenon occurred .... a 3rd driver entered the equation - my daughter wanted us to become a driving rotation of 3! Well, as she was 22-years-old now and as she is a responsible driver, I quickly said ........ NO!! My quick response was partly because I did not want to put that kind of stress on her and, admittedly, I did not want her growing up that fast (I know, I know, she is already grown up - that is the hardest part of all!).

So, yes, on this particular trip, on the way to and from the vacation, a pleasant (although it was gut-wrenching, as well) scenario unfolded, as our long-standing 2-person driving rotation became a 3-person group. Our 19-year-old wanted to jump into the fray as well, but we managed to preserve his youth a little longer!

I drove the first four hours of the trip, with my daughter taking over at that point. I jumped in the back seat expecting to be somewhat white-knuckled, but I found that I was instantly drowsy and I fell asleep. At some point early in her shift, my daughter woke me up to tell me that the tires appeared to be low on air. I told her to find a gas station and, knowing that I would soon be falling right back to sleep, I told her to wake me up when we got to the station.

At some point, I woke up on my own, looked at the clock, and noticed that 2 hours had passed since she first woke me up about the tires. Fearing that we might be getting a flat, I asked her why she had not yet found a gas station. With the maturity of a seasoned driver, she informed me that she had found a gas station long ago and that she had filled the tires on her own!

Why, that little whippersnapper! She was trying to show ol' dad that she was now a grown-up and she fully succeeded in her mission. Yes, our baby girl, diapers and car seat long ago tossed aside, was now in the adult world - driving the whole family in the middle of the night and filling tires on her own instead of waking mom or dad!

During the remainder of the trip to and from vacation, my daughter continued to take her share of driving turns. In fact, there were times that I had to convince her to give up the wheel, so that she would not get overly tired. Yes, the girl who once struggled with a few objects on her way to the beach (see February 6, 2010), was now taking charge and trying to do more than her share!

Where we once went on a vacation with a little girl, we were now vacationing with a young lady! Wow, what mixed emotions that stirred up - proud, happy, queasy, sad, wistful, and, well, you get the idea. Our little girl was all grown up and there was no turning back!

Yes, this might have been our final vacation together as a fivesome and it might be just as well, as we have found that it is tough and exhilarating at the same time to watch your kids grow up right before your eyes and take part in activities that are reserved for adults, such as driving in the middle of the night and filling tires with air!

So, how about you? Any big turning points in which your formerly young offspring convinced you that they were grown-up?

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Games on Vacation

As I wrote on December 12 and 19, 2009, we started a family game night in our household, mostly centered around Yahtzee. So, of course, with some upcoming concentrated time in a hotel room together, Yahtzee seemed like the perfect vacation companion.

Before departing for vacation, I was already estimating the number of hours that we would be spending with Yahtzee, not so much for the sake of the game, but for the time that we would be spending together with plenty of laughs and popcorn!

Well, we got to our destination and .... guess who forgot to bring the Yahtzee game? Ouch! Yes, the hours that had been given to our favorite family bonding game were destroyed because of somebody's forgetfulness (the person's name is being withheld to protect the identity of this author!).

So, to fill the void, we headed to the local Wal-Mart to search for an inexpensive game to fill the void. I will leave out the title of the game that we bought, as it turned out to be the most ridiculous and useless game in history! The game involved a deck of cards with statements on it. After a statement was read, the rest of our crew had to determine if the statement was a fact or a piece of fiction.

Such  riveting and life-altering statements like, "The inventors of Corn Flakes, the Kellogg Brothers, ran a school for delinquent youth" and "The armadillo is the only animal to suffer from leprosy" filled the air. I mean, REALLY? Who could possibly know the true or false answers on these types of issues? As you might have guessed, we did not know many at all!

Within minutes of first playing the game, I was met with a barrage of statements that centered around words like, "dumb game", "ridiculous", "what were you thinking", and "can we play ANYTHING else"?

Trying to save the moment, as well as getting something out of our modest investment, I reminded our crew that it was not the quality of the game that mattered the most. What really mattered was that the five of us were together at a kitchen table - laughing, joking, and enjoying each other's company. That line of reasoning worked for a few rounds of the game. But, then, the pleas and complaints became too much. So, we retired the game (for the night) and my daughter dragged out some cards and proceeded to teach us a few card games.

I am not much of a cards player, but I went along for the ride because, after all, the point was to be together, irrespective of the quality of the game (of course, Yahtzee would have been nice right about now!). We continued to play card games for another hour or two before calling it a night.

On each night of the vacation, we kept trying to find some purpose in playing our new game, but we always ended up dragging out the cards to save the night! I think that we put away the new game for good right after the following statement was read: "Tycho Brahe the astronomer wore an artificial nose made of gold and silver". I mean, seriously, does anybody really know if that statement is true or false and does anybody care? Away went the new game and the cards become the permanent game of choice.

But, as I tried to sell on my whippersnappers, while the game was awful, the time spent together was great! They actually agreed with me .... both parts!

So, yes, as awful as the game was, I just have a feeling that IF we ever pull it out again, all of us will remember our time together on vacation; the good memories will rise to the surface; we'll play the game for old time's sake ............ and we'll put it away and get out the cards!!

So, how about you? Have you ever engaged in an activity with your kids that turned out to be a dud, but it was fun anyway because you were together? Let me know!

Paul W. Reeves