Three am has a strange feeling. It's slightly less strange when you're not alone, but still odd nonetheless. Tragedy often brings people together and last evening, I found myself capturing a run that traveled 9.5 miles from The Rite Aid parking lot in Northford to the Liberty Bank in Durham. The run was a segment of a much longer collaborative effort of runners making their way from California to Boston. They were running, "One Run For Boston" to honor the spirit and raise money for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing back in April.
When I told Michael, Patch's editor that I would consider covering the event, I thought I would be in bed by midnight. But running three hours behind, we all became true night owls. I had mentioned the run to my son Peter and like a typical 11 year old, he enthusiastically responded to the proposition by saying, "challenge accepted".
When you are young, true recognition of childhood memories come into play in early adolescence. Your life begins to shape into something based on these experiences. So at 3am, a boy's memories were being shaped in the pitch black that was route 17. He molded them them with fellow runners who came from near and far to share the experience. He traveled by the homes of many of his friends who were sleeping in their beds. He was living for the moment, a hot and sticky one that summer loves to boast.
He made quick friends out of total strangers. Among them was a large group from the Essex area and local runner Andy Mieman, all running Boston Strong. Speaking of strong, they were led by Durham Director of EMT, Francis Willett and Fire Chief, Robert Chadd who was accompanied by his wife Heather Chadd. Also on the cheer and safety crew were members from Durham's EMT and Fire that included: Chief of services, Thomas Whimler, TJ Finley, Jennifer Kinzel, Lou Brockett, Anthony, De Marinis, Nate Ravid, Sue Wimler and Scott Wright. Also helping were State Troopers from Troop F under the direction of Sarget Sal Calvo.(Apologies to anyone I missed).
Together, they would run along a very darkened section of road that had few turns and fewer views in the darkness. Is this the place that Dr. Seuss talks about in his storied tale, "Oh The Places You'll Go"? They would see few lit landmarks that included Time Out Tavern, but only the locals knew they were nearing the finish as they ran past The Durham Dari Serv around 3:30 am. In the end, the group successfully handed off the Baton to the Middletown crew. The baton will make its way to Boston sometime on Sunday due to the sweat and energy of those linked tother in this effort since June 7.
Upon Entering Strong school in September surely Peter will divulge, "What I did this summer", in the usual obligatory essay. A strong boy will enter Strong school. We find our memories in the our greatest of efforts, this time, from one one runner to another all sharing a united goal. One that say's, "Boston Strong".
As Phineas and Ferb says, "There are 104 days of summer vacation". We really get somewhat less, a mere 60 or so days. So here's some cheap advice from someone who dreads the winter months. Soak it all in! Waste no time because it's short-lived but in the same breath, ease your time so the days feel longer. Saturate your life with summer so it can continue to hydrate you into the cold months. Squeeze in every perfect moment that it allows.
Reflect on the blue sky's of summer, they never fail to please. Consider life's proverbial summer glass, full of fresh lemonade and positivity. Go to the beach when it's supposed to rain. Be spontaneous because it feels adventurous. Capture and file away the details so they stay with you when you need them later. Let your kids explore freely and unstructured. Ride your bicycle to the beach! Find friendship and embrace it. Eat ice cream only minutes before dinner. Go home salty, sun-kissed and fulfilled.
I spent the last two days attending three District 13 graduations. In that time, I have lost about a pound of joyous tears. Connecting your own emotions to each kid's story is an emotional overload. Add the bond created with teachers and parents who have raised them and you realize that you're fully invested. There is a perk that goes with spending the time to get to know a child's weaknesses and strengths. In creating that connection, they become a bigger hope than they realize. Part of being young is not understanding his or her individual value.
(See the graduation album here!
or tag friends on Facebook)
This value comes in the small interactions that happen though-out our day. These connections make a town into a community. The minute details are too many to list here, but take just a second to think about it. Who have you connected with today and have you considered the path that lay ahead of them? If you somehow cross directly into that path, will you help send them in the right direction?
To all the kid's that stepped up this week, I hope your path leads you on a great adventure. Life should truly be that, one that's uniquely your own, but still somehow shared with the people around you. Congratulations and enjoy the road ahead! We'll be looking out for you.
The moon was rising quickly. I jumped the barrier fence and I was in. (yes, I had permission). Soon I was being followed in the darkness, by some ladies that weighed far more than me. At least 10 of them tailed me closely, taking turns nudging at my shoulders or slobbering on my lens . They gathered so tightly, it must have seemed like I was handing out free candy and puppies to little children. I could barely see the moonrise around their massive bodies. I finally saw a window of light between the animals and clicked the shutter. I laughed at myself, a girl from the suburbs of New York City hanging out under the twilight of a full moon with a bunch of cows. This is it kids. Marveling over the view, not caring what I was stepping in and mooing under the magical MOOn!
Davey Duck and his twin Dave!
hey, where's my picture? Click here
Today is the first day of summer. Nothing says summer like the Lake Terramuggus Triathlon Series. I hope you have come to love it as much as we have. I love the routine of it. For this family, the journey brings us through the rush hour of Middletown and over the river and through the woods to Marlborough. We gather, hobnob, tinker, have some laughs, swim around a duck, hear some clunky gear changes, get passed or dethrone someone if your feeling lucky. The run around the lake is usually followed up with a cold PBR thanks to Bill's exquisite taste in beverages. As it all unfolds, I click the shutter again and again. The pictures are always kinda the same, some blurry, some not; but that's ok because it's the history of us and the people that fill the world we love. What makes it precious is that we know this summer tradition is always fleeting. We feel the chill early on as we set off for June's first race. In the blink of an eye, we feel July's oppressive heat only to have August come and sense fall creeping upon our tanned summer shoulders. So I take these shots, to capture the short magical time when we feel like kids again, riding our banana-seat bikes around the neighborhood. For the old dogs, things narily have changed since their youth as they try to stake their claim as king or queen of the neighborhood. The bikes have just gotten more stealthy and the saddles shorter. These old dogs often look over their shoulders only to see the new kids on the block chasing them down. It's not a vicious circle, but a welcome one that gives life a sensible pattern. Enjoy this because before you finish that cold PBR, we'll be longing for for this season again. Racking one's bike is no different than hanging stockings on the mantle. It's the home of nostagia. This is your own personal Norman Rockwell scene. Remember to smile and thank those that make it all happen: The town of Marlborough, sponsors, lifeguards, Billy, Diane and crew, and that person pointing you in the right direction. They're suppling you with the memories that will carry you through. Happy summer, happy racing!
Wondering where you are. click here to see the facebook album
It's a teary time of the year as we watch out kids age up. The bittersweet tears come not from what were losing but for what we have all gained. I have had the distinct fortune to share hundreds of hours with the kids of Memorial School for the past four years. I've watched both my children grow into the strong, hard-working, and positive individuals at this remarkable school. It's hasn't come without the thoughtful and selfless staff that has made it all possible. What makes my experience unique is that not only have I hitched a ride on my own children's experiences, but I've tagged along with so many other incredible kids along the way.
Many wouldn't want to do middle school twice. It's a tough age. But this time around I realized the importance of helping these kids embrace their age, rather than loath the typical self-conscious drudgery of it all. After four years of trying to help kids Go Far here, I have learned that all middle-schoolers want or need is to feel accepted among his or her peers. Every kid has greatness within. Sometimes this greatness lay just beneath the surface until he or or she matures just enough to let it bubble up. It lives in each child, waiting for it to uniquely present itself. If you're lucky, you happen to be there to see it. A community magically appears when uniqueness is embraced and celebrated. I have witnessed it on many occasions at Memorial School.
Sometimes the magic happens watching one perform in a talent show or a school play. It can happen when one sticks up for another during recess time. It happens when an experienced athlete helps out the novice. It even happens when a child holds open a door, calls you by your name and ask how your day is going.
There were academic milestones achieved by both kids, thanks to Martha Swanson who taught them to work harder than they ever knew they could. There were defining moments. For Kate, it came as she got up on stage to perform at the talent show. She was terrified, but she did it and did it well. I'll never forget that day. Peter defined himself by forging ahead in his love of sport. He completed his first full triathlon after three years of training for it. He would be the kid that would run to school when no one else did because he believed in his goal. I believe his enthusiasm would carry the Go Far X program and many kids would benefit from it. It would be his legacy.
I know this community will thrive if we keep our eye on the ball. Now, more than ever, I am driven to continue to foster it. In my biased opinion, if these kids continue to embrace each others qualities and the adults continue to cherish them, their future is ensured.
Memorial School, thanks for letting me reach out in the best way I know how. I'm lucky to have connected. You'll always have a special place in my heart.
INFINITY: The definition refers to no end or without bound when it comes to quantity. We see this symbol everywhere. I saw it last night in my driveway as Chris and Pete burned off some old bike cleaning rags. Pete grabbed a stick tipped by a hot ember and started dancing in the dark. As he swung his arms, the hot writing instrument scrolled its message in the twilight.
In this mind, infinity means:
…that life has endless opportunity and possibilities.
To go beyond the status quo.
To treat life like it’s an endless adventure.
To care far beyond yourself.
To endlessly create.
To fully love what you have been given.
To let positivity rule over all.
What’s you infinity?
More than 10 years ago we started going to a small race in Marlborough created by a friend of ours. My kids were babies. Chris was just out of med school and our triathlon family was in its infancy. Pete would push sand around the beach and toddle among the wetsuit clad athletes. Kate would go looking for frogs in a little area off the finish line. It was a tradition that we could come to cherish over the years. We marked our summers’ beginning and end by these races. Though out it all, we would build an extended family of athletes.
Peter would grow up around the distinct smell of bicycle tires and chain oil. At two and a half, he would proudly show his grown-up bicycle friends how he could ride without training wheels. As his dad would tinker with his bikes, Pete would always be close by playing with a set of Allen wrenches or spinning a wheel in a truing stand. He was being imprinted with a culture of health and wellness long before he even realized it. He felt at home with it. When Go Far started at the age of 6 it would bring wellness down to his level, something he could truly grasp and understand. It would become his winter, spring and fall, but summer belonged to triathlon season well before he could even race.
I could see the glint in his eyes while he watched his dad race. I did my best to hold him back for as long as possible. It was a grown up sport after all. At 9, I finally allowed him to relay the run portion of the race. He had caught the triathlon bug. As ten approached, we reluctantly threw the bicycle leg into the mix. I worried about the aggressive adult riders stumbling over him or even worse, the possibility that he could make an inexperienced mistake that could cause injury to others. Bike racing can get hair raising and when you add cars sharing the roads, it can get down right terrifying. What made this all doable was the fact that he had his family of triathletes that were keeping an eye on him. While I couldn't always see him, I know this group protects him. Throughout the entire course, he has support from his older mentors.
He knew he was missing the last major piece of the puzzle and it was a daunting one. He couldn’t swim a lap. The only real solution would be to join the swim team, somewhat of a time commitment that I dreaded. Luckily we hooked up with CAT swimming at HK High School who in under 6 months had him up to speed. Their talent in coaching has been truly remarkable.
So on this Thursday night in early June, he was ready to put it on the line. He was welcomed into the club of seasoned athletes. He would follow his dad like a duckling as he awaited the start. He has witnessed and awed over the many details of Chris's successful race career. He had already learned so much. He would also stay close to Bill one of my best friends because Peter has always looked up to him. Newington Bike, our amazing local shop would make him feel like he belonged. Our close friend JD would swim along side him making Peter and this mom feel much less apprehensive. With my camera, I captured the first stroke of his first open water swim. So few times do children experience the complete unknown, and this was not without fear. He looked back for only a second and I knew he would be OK. Throughout it all, I had profound appreciation for the goodness that others can bring to my own.
Nothing says you love what you do more than the smile you wear when you’re doing it. I often find myself mesmerized by his smile because I know it’s genuine to the very core. I believe tonight was the first of a lifetime of adventures in this arena. It’s cradled him since he was a baby but now he can begin to create a legacy of his own if he chooses to do so. Thank you to this two wheeled extended family of ours that has gotten him this far. Better keep training, he’ll be on your heels.
Nothing says, “Hey son (or daughter) I love you", like a field trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. After more than 3 hours of headache inducing bus fun, we made it into the hallowed halls of the monstrous museum along with 85 percent of NYC’s boroughs kids. Like ants looking for food, we were off, looking for Gum Gum. If you saw the movie, Night at the Museum, how could you forget, “Hey Dum dum, I want gum gum!” The search was on. We hustled like line backers through the hall of ancient civilizations, but admittedly slowed down to get a good sixth grade laugh out of some anatomically correct ancient statues. We joyfully found the famed Easter Island hunk (of rock). As I gazed upon it, I wondered if this priceless artifact could be real if they were letting kids touch it with sticky orange Cheetos fingers.
The kids had the dreaded obligatory work sheets to fill out, you know, the ones that would force us to stop and read. I had offered to take one for the team and catch the blame for “losing” them since I am known for being disorganized. They must have known I was coming because there were extras in the packet. When I asked my son what he most liked about the trip, he admitted that it was the exhilarating minute or two when a T-rex chased he and his friends up the stairs. For me, it was the half hour I got to take a nap in the Hayden Planetarium while over the loudspeaker, Whoopie Goldburg pondered the origins of the universe.
The main highlight of the trip for the kids was found outside the museum in the form of edible paper they got to eat that had been wrapped around an ice cream sandwich they bought from a food kart. For me the most memorable part was while sitting on the bus, whacking the messed up tv over and over again as it tried to play (you guessed it), Night at the Museum.
For many sixth grade parents, this would be one of our last school excursions that we would embark upon with our growing little ones. For a few moments, I would feel a twinge of sadness as a precious chunk of my life has gone by. It’s been a long time since my first visit here when I was just five years old. The dust covering the poor critters in the “Hall of Stuffed Animals” has accumulated since my first visit so long ago. This Museum is without question, a right of passage for all.
I walked out into the bright sunlight side by side with my boy. He hadn’t asked for a token from the gift shop, another sign that he was growing up. He looked at me and thanked me for coming. In the blink of an eye, a life happens and we’re fortunate to grab on to it.
At 74, My mother still talks of my 7th grade trip to the Bronx Zoo like it was yesterday. She too experienced the noisy bus ride, the silly work sheets and the organized chaos. Neither of us would trade it for anything. Like my mom, I wont soon forget these moments with my kids. Thankfully, I have the picture of the T-rex to prove we were all there.
Go Far started with just a few of us running around a field up at John Lyman school 7 years ago. I would go up to the school and run with the kids, beg some parents to help and try to convince people I wasn’t crazy for doing it. The one thing that has always been the key to the program’s success is having the community accept it. At first I wondered if it was possible.
(See the results here )
At Saturday's Go Far, Go Fast, I saw my community embrace Go Far’s wellness concept and the enormous energy that came it. Somehow , the program seems to have taken a step beyond acceptance by becoming part of the fabric of our town culture. If we build our children’s asset’s together, we’ll build their future and in the end, we’ll build our community.
While Go Far Go Fast is technically a running race, somehow it transcends the typical definition of it. I believe it’s all in the details. It comes from watching older kids mentoring younger ones. It comes from our local business not only donating money and services, but donating their creativity and energy. It comes from the teachers that embrace the program all year at school and then come out on their day off, to celebrate their students well being. It comes from the kids, who without prior knowledge of what their efforts will bring, trust us to get them to the finish line. Finally, it comes from the parents who believe in not only the potential in their own child, but everyone else’s.
This year’s race found success due to the efforts of so many. (Spoiler alert: This may take a while)
• The race committee that plays together in the sandbox better than any organization out there and it shows. You are the inspire-crew!
• RSD 13, who embraces us and accommodates our constant needs and helps us execute our craziest ideas. Educators that support this program give it importance.
• Our local teams, especially baseball and soccer, who give us the morning out of their very busy schedules. Thanks for sharing!
• The Durham Fairgrounds who gives this event a welcoming home, especially to you Hans Pederson for what you do.
• The Newington Bicycle crew( Timing Plus New England), who timed things perfectly in an atypical race set up. Because of you, Becky Finnerty had no migraine at the end of the day.
• A special thank you to Jen and Kevin Zettergren, who bravely reached out to the children giving this event poignant meaning.
• Our high school running mentors, who skipped sleeping in for betterment their community and themselves.
• For those (too many to write) who set up and took down the event in oppressive heat, I can’t thank you enough. I could write a whole blog on this crew.
• Woman’s Club, that was a lot of watermelon! Thanks for being everyone’s mom yesterday.
• Our friends at Durham EMT, for keeping the boo boos well bandaged and for your expertise when problems arise.
• For our sponsors. I don’t like to use the word sponsor, because your much more like a family to Go Far. You have enabled the success of this program.
• Local Wellness Council, thank you once again for trusting the vision of Go Far
...Cory Hassman, thanks for the great t-shirt design.
• Our school mentors, who willing act loony enough to keep kids running all year long.
• Parents for supporting our mission. We know your busy, but you’re the structural beam of this community.
• Personal friends who showed up to support this project when I know they have other stuff to do.
• To the kids who we all love and believe in. We’re committed to seeing you through your childhood because we believe in your future.
• To Becky Finnerty, the organizational brain behind all of this and my better Go Far "other half".
• My family, who are my rock. Pete and Kate. You inspire me every day. This all started with you! Chris, without the "follow me" guy, we would all be lost.
( See Lots more pics via facebook)
Enjoy the summer, keep running and well see you in September !