8 Mile (in which both you and Africa WIN!)

Have I ever mentioned that for a brief stint about 8 years ago I was a college instructor? For the most part, I think I was a fairly decent teacher. I tried to be entertaining and interesting in class, and I cut my freshmen a LOT of slack. The one thing that would always trip me up while teaching composition was when I had to collect and grade a stack of papers. The few times I promised those papers to my students at a certain time, I would almost ALWAYS miss the deadline. I'm sure it was frustrating for my students, but it was REALLY irritating for me to not deliver as promised. It always seemed like the universe was up against me when I had grading to get done. I mean, have you ever tried to grade like 90 essays in a two-day period and then calculate final grades once you're done with that?! It's pretty much the Worst Ever.

And thus answers the question "Why didn't you stick with teaching?"

ANYWAY! This is to say that I promised to announce a raffle winner on Saturday. I have been crawling out of my skin trying to find a moment to draw names and write this post! And of course here we are on Monday. OOPS (and let's just cut the suspense and say that the scarves didn't go out on Saturday as I hoped either but TODAY IS THE DAY *crosses fingers*).

But first I must tell you something:

On Saturday I ran 8 miles. The furthest I've run since before I was pregnant with Sydney.

Going into it I was pretty freaked out. Last week we didn't sleep much around here. I think I got about 10 cumulative hours of sleep in three days (Wed, Thurs, and Friday night). Wednesday and Thursday the kids were both up in the night and I ended up sleeping part of both nights in Elijah's crib. Yes, I said IN HIS CRIB (and to your question "HOW?!" I will reply that I fold myself up like a wallet and don't get much rest. But the baby calms down! WHEE!). The night before the run I was up until 2 am making gingerbread men for Sydney's preschool holiday party.

In which the gingerbread men lie there asleep MOCKING ME.

The next morning my alarm went off at 6:15. And then 6:30. And then 6:45. And then 7. At which point I started slapping myself in the face to try and wake myself up. And then I checked Twitter on my phone. And then Facebook. And then Sydney tiptoed into my room and it was a whirlwind of panic for the next thirty minutes as I frantically tried to get the three of us ready (John had gone ahead to mark the route for the other runners). I even called my neighbor to see if there was a remote chance she could watch the kids for me during the run (she was not available).

I made sure to eat a bowl of cereal. I made sure to drink my coffee. Then we loaded up the jogging stroller and got to work. Since I was running late I jogged to the coffee shop where we begin our group runs … half a mile. My body was PISSED. It was cold outside (cold for California!), I was running on empty after just 4 hours of sleep, I hadn't run all week … it was all stacked against me and I was very discouraged as I pushed the stroller up the hill.

But then we got going. John was there to push the stroller (and Maggie too! Thank you for your encouragement, my friend!) and for the first mile I kept up with him. Um, he's fast … I ran a 10 minute mile with him, but after a mile and a half he ran up ahead to make sure people weren't getting lost. After that I settled into my 11-minute pace, paused every so often to take a photo, and before I knew it I was on the home stretch. Eight miles under my belt. I still can't believe it.


After the run I limped home, got showered and dressed, and we all headed to Sydney's preschool holiday party. One of the other moms (the one who planned the event) DARED me to get up on stage and sing "Frosty The Snowman" in front of everyone for a hundred dollar donation to Team World Vision and clean water. Um, YES! And I even made myself a special hat for the occasion!


You guys? If I'll run eight miles for clean water? Making a total fool of myself in front of our entire preschool community is CAKE! And guess what? My friend made good on her donation and another family from the preschool donated a hundred bucks too. FOUR MORE people have clean water. Our current tally is at $2244.40. Forty-four people will now never have to risk the walk to a contaminated water source again. THAT IS AWESOME!

Which brings me to the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Our raffle winners!

We put everyone's name in our special jingle bell hat and had a very scientific process. It was legit, y'all.


And we are happy to announce the winners! Our runner-up, and the winner of the box of Meyer Lemons from Elizabeth is ….


Jennie! Congrats Jennie! I'm so grateful for your friendship and support. You can check out Jennie's awesome blog here, and also check out Jennie's labors of love Style Lush and Food Lush. I am so blessed to know Jennie and to be a part of the Style Lush team. She is one of the finest people I know, and that goes for real life AND the internet.

And finally! The winner of the African Love necklace is …


Kara! Congrats Kara and thank you for donating. Kara sent me the sweetest email, you guys. She's 21 years old and in college and does NOT find my blog boring! See?! Manda's still GOT IT! In all seriousness, Kara? I hope that whenever you wear your necklace you are reminded of the life that you helped to save in East Africa. I am so grateful to you on behalf of a person across the world who will never have to drink dirty water again.

I am so grateful to ALL OF YOU. Please know that as I put your names into our jingle bell hat, I thanked God for each of you. As I work on your scarves and address the packages my heart is just so full of love and gratitude for those of you who are joining with me to provide clean water to our brothers and sisters in Africa. It is a life-giving gift. It's water, but it's so much more. It's a chance at a new life.

This Christmas you have been compelled to give, and my hope is that by December 25th we will know that at least 50 people have clean water.

We have just eight people left to go to reach that goal. Any amount helps, and if you donate just one dollar per mile ($26.20), you will get a free t-shirt scarf!

No matter what, I will keep running. And frankly? I cannot wait to hear news of an entire continent covered in fresh, clean water. And it will be because this Christmas season? We did something awesome together to help make that happen.

Donate here to the half marathon.

Donate here to the marathon.


3 thoughts on “8 Mile (in which both you and Africa WIN!)

  1. Sarah in Ottawa says:

    You are amazing, Manda. Seriously. You’re inspiring me to get off my butt and do stuff. Congratulations on your 8 mile!

    On a selfish note, I am so glad to know you, and I’m super excited to hang with you again next year in NOLA.

  2. Karafagan.blogspot.com says:

    Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to wear that BEAUTIFUL necklace- I’ll be sure to tell everyone about World Vision when they comment on it!

    I’m so glad I could find a way to be a small part of something so hugely important, thanks to you! I’m rooting for you and your continued progress and success! GO MANDA!

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