On Boston and a couple of old shirts

A week ago today, without even thinking, I put on an old grey sweatshirt I’ve had since 1996 but have probably not worn for several years. It wasn’t until after hearing about the horror in Boston last Monday that I thought about the shirt I’d worn the night before. It was an inexpensive sweatshirt with the word “BOSTON” printed on it that I’d bought it as a souvenir of my trip to run the Boston Marathon 17 years ago. I got a chill when I realized I hadn’t even remembered that it was marathon weekend until I heard about the bombings the next afternoon.

Yesterday I wore a Twin Cities Marathon shirt to the health club, as I often do. A woman walking by me said, “good to see you guys wearing your shirts”. I looked around and two other people near me had marathon shirts on, too — but they were from other races. I wondered why a stranger would say she was glad to see the shirts. As I watched some of the endless reports about the tragedy on the TV screens while running on the treadmill, it dawned on me that she might have been referring to our shirts as a sign of support for the people at the Boston race.

As I chugged away on the treadmill — 17 years older, 20 pounds heavier and a LOT slower — memories of my big race day flooded back to me. I thought about the bus ride to the little town of Hopkinton, part of the enormous field of runners (almost 40,000) who ran that year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this unique and historic event. I remembered the exhilaration of the start and the energy created by the river of thousands of runners flowing through the countryside and small towns on the first part of the course. I could picture the huge billboards with old black and white photos from the early races. But most of all, I remember the people, the spectators, all along the course. They were there to cheer on the runners, to be sure, but really they were there to cheer for the community — to cheer for themselves and for each other. There were bands, there were Patriots Day parties, there were kids up in trees, there were people wearing (and painted in) red, white and blue all along the way. All were cheerful, all were proud and all were glad to be part of this American spectacle.

I think an urban marathon is a community event in ways that no other sporting event can match. It’s about so much more than just the athletes. Think about it — you can walk up to the course at any point and (free of charge) literally touch everyone from a world-class runner down to a plodding 6-hour jogger. The race cuts right through neighborhoods and downtown streets — no need to drive to a suburban stadium or buy an expensive ticket at a downtown arena.

Over the past week, the people of Boston have shown what they’re made of. They’ve shown the rest of us how to handle unthinkable tragedy — just like New Town has recently, just like New York City did in 2001, just like Oklahoma City before that, and just like other communities who have suffered severe trauma. None of us know for sure how we will react when and if it’s our turn, but this week we can take strength from watching and listening to the people of Boston. Because they are strong and resilient — even defiant — we believe that we can be, too.

The bombers chose a big event, an important event, an event with easy access, to spread their particular brand of terror. What they didn’t realize is that they chose an event in a city that will not shrink in fear and ultimately will be stronger, not weaker because of their actions. My deepest sympathy to those directly affected last Monday and my thanks to the people of Boston for what you’ve taught us.

I’m wearing my BOSTON sweatshirt as I type this and I’m going to be wearing it a lot for a while. It’s an honor to have had the chance to be a miniscule part of the history of this great event and great city.

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Finding a view

A couple of months ago, the editors at MinnPost asked me if I’d be interested in doing a weekly blog for them. They suggested a photo-based format that would feature a variety of subjects from week to week — events, places, people — anything that I find visually interesting. I thought about it . . . for about a second . . . and then jumped at the chance. It was a generous offer and an amazing opportunity to let me give myself a weekly photo assignment and have a forum for sharing it.

This week I posted my fifth “View Finder” piece, a group of pictures about the section of the Mississippi River that flows between Minneapolis and St. Paul south of St. Anthony Falls. The fall colors had peaked and were beginning to fade.

Here are my first 5 View Finder posts. Just click the blue link to go to the MinnPost page.

Monarch Butterfly Festival at Lake Nokomis
September 15, 2011

My love affair with Keller Golf Course
September 22, 2011

Revisiting Highway 61
September 29. 2011

Twin Cities Marathon
October 7, 2011

Exploring the Mississippi River Gorge
October 13, 2011

It’s Lauren Date’s birthday!

“BabyDate” has been a part of my life for 26 years now — even longer if you count the rolling around and kicking for a while before that.

It’s been 8 years since she’s lived here – 3 in Madison, 1 in Spain and now 4 in Chicago. Everybody talks about how fast time flies by, but I have to be honest — sometimes it works both ways. When she does come back to Minneapolis for a few days, it’s now as a visitor, and it sometimes seems like a long time since she was a kid.

Memories are only fragments. And they fade, they change. I want them to be complete. I want to be able to conjure up whole scenes, but quite often all I have are little bits and pieces. I want to put her on my shoulders again and hear her giggle when we play “where’s baby bear?”

The photos help. Sometimes I find one I haven’t seen for awhile I can actually revive a forgotten memory. I love looking at pictures of Lauren when she was a kid. If you’ve only known her as an adult, you only know part who she is.

The photos are triggers. A photo can be a “play” button to a mental video of a certain day. This next one, for instance. Lauren’s always liked baseball for some reason. I love this one where’s she’s got catcher’s gear on. When I think of her love for the Minnesota Twins today, I think of this picture and this kid and this day. It’s an ordinary picture of an ordinary ballgame at Lynnhurst Park, but it’s much more than that now.

When does a person move out of childhood? Of course, it’s not a certain day or even year. But there’s one photograph that captures Lauren’s transformation in my mind’s eye. I’m not even sure how old she was in this one, but for me it’s the earliest one that shows her the way she looks now. I like the fake contemplative look and imagine her breaking into a laugh a second later.

It’s funny how you can never imagine letting go of your kids when they’re little. Then all of a sudden it’s been 8 years since you did have to let go — that’s the cruel paradox of the passage of time. It passes both quickly and slowly, and as a parent, it’s never in your favor.

She doesn’t like it when I post picture of her as an adult, but here’s one anyway — collapsed on the ground after completing the Twin Cities Marathon last October.

Lauren has grown into an amazing young woman. She’s made her way in the big city for 4 years now. When I say I’m proud of who she’s become, I don’t mean to imply that I think I had a lot to do with it (those kudos go to her mother). Lauren has become who she is mainly because of her own thoughtfulness, curiosity, hard work, sense of humor and moral integrity.

Lauren was a great kid and now when I see her or talk with her, I feel so fortunate.

Happy birthday Lauren! I love you.

See you in a few weeks at Target Field. Go Twins!

(To see a bunch more photos of Lauren, you can time-travel back a year by clicking HERE for last year’s birthday)

We’ll always have October

I remember Harley, my father-in-law, when he was my age, saying, “I’m only middle-aged if I’m going to live to 115”. People my age — born in the ’50s — have to face the fact that we’re in the October of life — at best. But this is not entirely a bad thing, as October is a beautiful month.

The Twin Cities Marathon (Oct. 3) started on a sunny, 39 degree morning that was perfect for a 4+ hour run. The 2nd mile takes runners past the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis (photo by Steve Date)

This year, we had 5 October weekends and in my part of the country, they were all spectacular. As part of my “Photo of the Day” project — now 7 months and counting — I made it a point to get outside on weekends and shoot some of the things I noticed. I’ve posted a lot of these photos to Flickr in a collection called “October Weekends“.

A biker heads toward the late afternoon sun on Minnehaha Parkway (photo by Steve Date)


But even on the nicest of October days, the mornings are cool, the shadows are long and the days are getting short. In Minnesota, we know winter is going to hit us soon, so on those bright, colorful days we need to get out there and take it all in.

You don't have to go far to find something nice to look at. (photo by Steve Date)

Time for a last round of golf or two before winter hits. Roger Buoen contemplates his approach shot on the 18th Green at Keller Golf Course in St. Paul (photo by Steve Date)

When I was thinking about being in the “October of life”, I started going to various websites to find out what my life expectancy actually was. I figured I could put a percentage-of-lifespan number on my life and then calculate where on the calendar of life I am. After becoming completely confused by the myriad of different numbers out there of how long people tend to live these days, I came to the realization that it’s not about that at all. Plus, it was a heck of a lot of research to do just to develop a metaphor.

The truth is, October can be a beautiful time. It can also be cold and miserable. I got out and enjoyed the beauty while it lasted. And now that October has passed and I’m tempted to complain about the passing of summer and fall, I only need to remind myself that I’m not guaranteed November or December.

Frost on Halloween morning (photo by Steve Date)

If you’d like to see more of my October Weekends photos, go to my Flickr page here.

3 Dates run the Twin Cities Marathon

Yesterday was great. I got a chance to run a marathon with my two daughters. Think about that for a minute. What a wonderful thing.

7:00 AM - It's go time! (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Last April, Emily ran the Charlottesville, Virginia Marathon with her husband, Kyle, his two brothers and their girlfriends. She did very well on a difficult course, posting a 4:19. Younger sister Lauren had also been doing a lot of running over the winter and spring, working her way up to some significant mileage. Dad, on the other hand, had been slowly, but steadily sliding into old age. Although I ran marathons regularly for about 11 years, I had decided in 2002 that I would retire from the sport and put on weight (apparently).

When Emily found out that Kyle had been accepted for a residency position at the Mayo Clinic and they would be moving to Rochester, she called me up and told me she was thinking about entering the Twin Cities Marathon. She asked me if I’d like to run it with her.

Yikes.

I was having trouble running 3 or 4 miles at the time. But of course, I said yes. I would have been a fool to turn down an offer like that.

Lauren and Emily before the marathon (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

When Lauren decided to enter, too, I was thrilled. It would be her first, and I was glad she was going to give it a try.

I wished I had more months to prepare myself and at the same time I couldn’t wait for marathon day to get here. Because Emily lives in Minnesota now, I was able to do some long runs and a couple of races with her (see earlier posts). Lauren was doing her training in Chicago, so I was only getting verbal reports about that. But she did a 5 mile and 10 mile races and then a half-marathon, so I knew she would be ready.

It was a great weekend. It was good to have the whole family (including Kyle) together. We went to the Twins game and the marathon expo on Saturday. The Twins won!

This is what it looks like from the start corral, just before the race begins. (photo by Steve Date)

The three of us ran together for about the first mile and a half. Then Emily took off a little faster than Lauren and I were comfortable with so we ran together for a while. I intended to stay with her longer, but when we went past Alan Page playing his tuba at about the 2.5 mile mark, I ran over to snap a photo of him. After that, I couldn’t find Lauren again in the huge crowd of runners.

Lauren (in center with white shirt) as we ran through the Kenwood neighborhood, just before I lost her. (photo by Steve Date)

Minnesota Viking great and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page entertains marathon spectators near his home in the Kenwood neighborhood. (photo by Steve Date)

I’ll spare you the details of the actual race, but let’s just say that it was painful. Kyle and Sandy were at mile 7 along with friends Mary and Diane. Then they met us again just before the 18 mile mark.

Emily says goodbye to husband just before the 18 mile mark. (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Emily finished strong, cutting more than 6 minutes from her previous marathon time to finish in 4:13. Lauren ran a wonderful, steady pace throughout and finished her first marathon in a very impressive 4:25. Little did I know she was only about 30 seconds behind me at the end. I wish we could have crossed the finish line together. But it was very cool being with the two of them just after the finish.

Emily waves to Kyle less than a quarter-mile before the finish line.

Very proud Dad with two great daughters. (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Gotta have the space blankets. (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

It was an amazing day for me. I’m so proud of the girls. I’m so lucky to have been able to share it with them. It was a day I’ll never forget.

The Date girls are ready for the Twin Cities Marathon

I know you’ve heard this before, but I like my daughters — a lot. Today happened to be one of those days where I was really feeling proud.

Emily and I ran the City of Lakes 25K (that’s 15.5 miles to you and me) this morning. It’s two laps around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun plus an extra 2/3 loop of Harriet.

Emily looks refreshed and ready to enjoy a cold beverage in her commemorative stein an hour after running 15.5 miles around Lakes Harriet and Calhoun.

As was the case the day Emily and I ran the Gopher to Badger Half-Marathon (see my post from 8/15/10), younger daughter, Lauren was running a race in Chicago. Today it was the Chicago Half-Marathon. Over 13,500 runners finished this behemoth of a race. Lauren did great — ignoring the pain of her blistered feet, she finished in the top 27% of all women and top 39% overall. Way to go, BabyDate!

The City of Lakes is a nice race — beautiful but predictable course, plenty of water and porto-potties, small field of well-under 1,000 runners. One thing Emily and I both noticed right away when we arrived this morning was the general high-quality of the field. This is very much a tune-up race for people planning to run a fall marathon. The vast majority of entrants looked great — lean, mean and serious about running. So we had a little trouble blending in, but we got over it.

Emily was up to the task, running a steady 9-minute pace with enough left in the tank for a little kick during the last mile. I really enjoy running with Emily and I’m so grateful to be able to do these training runs with her. She’s going to do very well in the Twin Cities Marathon — 3 weeks from today.

Lauren is going to do great in the marathon, too. I should mention that she’s gotten herself into shape even while working long, stressful hours at a new job for the past 3 1/2 months. It’s very impressive. I wish I could run with her, too, but she’s over 400 miles away. She prefers running alone, but I’d still like to join her once in a while — or at least be there to cheer her on.

I’m so proud of both of my girls — not just because of the running, but because of the people they’ve become. It’s so cool to see. May all of you be so lucky to have kids like these.

I’m very much looking forward to October 3rd. See you at the Dome — and the Capitol.

There are no available photos from Lauren's race this morning, but I'm guessing she looked pretty much the way she did when she finished her first road race, the Get In Gear 1K in 1992.

Gopher to Badger 13.1 and 16 sweltering miles in Chicago: the Date girls seriously rock.

It’s time to get serious about the upcoming Twin Cities Marathon on October 3rd. OK, it’s BEEN time for a while, but we’re entering the toughest month of preparation. Emily and I ran the Gopher to Badger Half-Marathon yesterday morning as a checkpoint to see how we’re doing.

400 miles away at exactly the same time, Lauren was grinding out an impressive 16-miler in the heat of downtown Chicago. Lauren is the only actual Badger in the family (UW Madison, Class of ’07) and I thought about her a lot and how much she would enjoy this race — especially as we crossed the bridge over the St. Croix River into Wisconsin.

The G to B is a good race, on a mostly scenic course that begins in the northwestern edge of Stillwater, Minnesota (Gopher country) and ends at the riverfront park in Hudson, Wisconsin (Badger land). The field is a manageable size — 736 finishers out of about 1,300 entries. Shuttle buses efficiently take runners from the finish area up to the start before the race. With the exception of one early water stop that apparently ran out of water (?!?!) it was a very well-run event. They took good care of us — lots of treats at the end, too.

Emily was very strong for the first 11 miles and then toughed it out for the last two when she was having some muscle pain. She still finished in 1:55:36 and was in the top 15% in her division (age bracket) and top 16% of all women finishers — yowsa !!!!

I made her wear the Badger hat for the photo. Lauren, I know you wish you could have been here to wear the red!


There were no photos of Lauren's run, but I'm guessing she might have looked like this as she headed out yesterday morning.

I’m such a proud papa. It was so great to be able to cross the finish line with Emily today and I was thrilled to hear that Lauren ran her longest run ever. I’m really excited about the Twin Cities Marathon when both Date girls will be here and we’ll all be running together.

Emily and Lauren — you both rock.

Seriously.