Ground Hog Day 1983

Dear Friends-and-Relations,

In the course of my 62 years I have been called many things by many people, and I have shaken hands with men and women of various degrees of distinction. But on October 8, 1982, I was called “A Unique Wellness Model,” and I shook hands with the King of Norway.

I would love to tell you about it in great detail, but that would involve talking a great deal about my running. As my Most-Intimate-Relation-and Very-Best-Friend (and-Severest-Critic) points out, most of you are not runners and have a limited capacity for absorbing “minutes-per-mile,” “PR’s,” “age-group-winners,” and other such jargon. So for the benefit of runners and non-runners alike, all mention of events before, during, and after the Twin Cities Marathon on October 3, 1982, has been relegated to an Appendix, and the remainder of this letter is devoted to news of the rest of the family.

I won’t say anything about my two exceptionally intelligent and incredibly delightful granddaughters who are now both incessantly active and continuously talking, except to mention that if you haven’t seen “Annie” and/or “ET” at a matinee performance with a five-year-old granddaughter on your lap, you are hopelessly deprived. Instead, let me inform you that their parents, my daughter Sue and her husband David, are both Assistant Professors at UCLA, and that they have actually bought a house in Los Angeles. When they first moved in, a neighbor came to call and after a bit enquired about “the other family.” Sue was puzzled by the question, so the neighbor explained, “We heard that the house had been sold to two professors.”

Younger daughter Lisa contrived again this fall to get her Los Angeles employer, Control Data Corp. to send her to Minneapolis for a couple of weeks this fall. She is a delightful person, and we really enjoyed her visit. Like all the women in my family, she works too hard, but she enjoys it, and CDC keeps giving her raises.

Those of you who are avid readers of the Chicago Sun Times already know about my son Philip T. In case you missed it last month, I refer you to Appendix I. However, Philip asked me to tell you that the “quote” about trains and flocks of bicyclists was journalistic license and he really used words more appropriate to a professional engineer.

The most important news in the family concerns the new job of the above mentioned MIRAVBF (ASC) with whom I have shared more than 40 years of ever-increasing marital bliss.

Since it is her job and her adventure, you will get a much more accurate picture of it in her words rather than mine. Let me just say that when she joined Cray thirteen months ago the company’s stock was at 32 and in less than a year it had risen to 45!

The next voice you hear will be Thea’s; for those of you brave (or foolish) enough to eventually read Appendix II, I shall return.

Greetings, friends and family!

A year ago at Christmas time, I committed the unthinkable act: I resigned from an academic position at the University of Minnesota. Specifically, I resigned my Assistant Directorship in the Computer Center and joined Cray Research, Inc., as manager and head of the Compilers and Products Department in the Software Development Division. I exchanged a quiet job with a measure of security, a reasonable salary, and a large component of boredom for one with stress, insecurity, a big jump in income, but above all for excitement, for a valid reason for getting up in the morning, for the opportunity to build something new and maybe better than anyone else.

By the time you read this, I will have completed one year with the company and still feel good about it. What do I do? I manage a department of 26 professionals (bachelors, masters, and PhDs in math, computer science, physics) who design and write the compilers, assemblers, and related software programs that let you do your thing on a Cray computer. I develop one-year, three-year, and five-year plans for software projects and for the manpower to develop it, manage a 7-figure budget, and meet with Cray field employees and with customers to discuss my plans and their needs. I make lots of speeches and I supervise a few of the projects directly.

We’re a small company, about 1200 employees world-wide, with 1982 revenues of 140 million dollars. Our guru is a genius named Seymour Cray who climbs vertical walls and walks on water and expects us to do so also, which we valiantly try to do and sometimes succeed.

The Cray computers are considered a national technological resource. As such, they enter into direct discussions between the president of the U.S. and the President of France. Consequently, discussions in our hallways are very likely to be of politics as well as of football and ice hockey.

I have done a lot of travelling in the past year: Boulder CO, Santa Fe NM, Washington DC, Livermore CA, Cleveland OH, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and more to come. The company treats its staff well, at home and on the road. Nevertheless, most trips involve a heavy work schedule, both before and during the trip. However, any trip to California lets me visit my Mother and our children and grandchildren, which is a marvelous bonus.

The first few months at Cray Research were fraught with “culture shock.” Many evening conversations began with: “Phil, guess what happened today!” After a while I began to see that the differences between industry and academia could be attributed basically to four factors: 1) industry projects are revenue driven and therefore easier to measure and validate, 2) in a successful company money is readily available to optimize the time of expensive personnel, 3) a department head has authority to match her responsibility, and 4) it is possible (within certain EEO restraints) to fire incompetents.

Perhaps Phil will let me write again, in this space, next year, to tell you if I still then have a good opinion of life in industry.

Have a fun-filled year, as I hope to do, with luck and good health.


If you can’t read the Sun-Times article above, find it here.


October 3, 1982

Mile 17.   My legs feel a little heavy but not near as heavy as they did Wednesday when I started my last ten-mile depletion run. And now I only have to go another 9 miles. Piece of cake!

Mile 19.   A female voice shouts, “Come on, Professor Hodge!” I look but don’t recognize which student it is in the sea of faces that line the course.

Mile 20.   Now come the hills. Gee, they’re not near as steep as they were last week when I scouted the course. I’ve lost the one-minute bulge I had on a 7:30 minute-per-mile pace, but I’m feeling great. Hey, that’s John I’m gaining on. I’ve never beat him in any race, but I leave him behind today.

Mile 22.   I catch up to Phyllis. She always beats me in long races. Today, she looks surprised to see me and speeds up. I keep coming steadily and pass her again.

Mile 23.   Summit Avenue. Beautiful, wide, smooth (in the Twin Cities a road without potholes is news), and level. Only 3 miles to go. I lose all track of time. My feet skim the pavement. That guy ahead looks like he might be 60. Better pass him just in case.

Mile 25.   St. Paul Cathedral. Throngs of people cheering. From here it’s all downhill. A beautiful view of the Capitol below. I fly effortlessly down the long gentle hill, passing runners as I go. Now a level stretch as we turn across the front of the Capitol. There’s another maybe-60 year old keeping ahead of me. I speed up. I pass him. I don’t slow down.

Turn the last corner. Down Cedar St. And I do mean down. Legs, I’m counting on you to keep up with gravity. They do, and for that last 200 yards on level they go even faster. Arms pump. Breath gasps. It’s all anaerobic now. I think people are shouting, but all I hear are my own gulps for air, and all I see is that finish-line clock   3:15:58,    3:15:59,   3:16:00,   3:16:01     I’m under it and into the chute. Great rasping, gasping breaths. I may sound awful, but I feel wonderful. Legs don’t hurt a bit. Breath soon returns to normal. I get my T-shirt. I’m ravenous. I grab a yogurt

Yes, folks, it’s marathon time again. But what a difference. You may recall that I was last heard from at Boston, April 19, 1982, bloody and bowed, but undaunted after literally staggering to a 4:02 finish. Turns out I had a stress fracture. For which the cure is six weeks of no running and then a slow return. But I was a good patient and took it easy. Built the mileage back slowly and the speed even slower. Before Boston I’d run a 10k at a 7:00 pace; it was August before I got down to 8:00. I concentrated on the joy of week-by-week improvement, and refused to think about how far I still had to go to get back to where I had been.

In mid-August I ran the Paavo-Nurmi marathon in Hurley, WI in 3:59:45 and felt good. That was my plan, and it included a three-minute walk break every 3 miles. Then, in September, things started to come back. I won a couple of 10k’s in my over-60 age category (mostly because there wasn’t much competition), one of them in under 45 minutes. We went to Thunder Bay Ontario for a half-marathon and I won my division with a 97:44 which is a 7:30 pace. At the awards ceremony some group-winners had left, so there were only three of us up there on the stage: Dick Beardsley (overall winner who had dueled Salazar to a photo-finish at Boston), Alex Ratelle (age 58 who holds most of the national and international 50-59 age-group records), and me!

Meanwhile, I had sent in my entry for the new Twin Cities Marathon from Minneapolis to St. Paul, “The most beautiful urban marathon in the country.” It is, too, in more ways than one. Especially on a sunlit Sunday morning, no wind, 50-degree temperature, Fall colors at their very best, and a course that goes from one downtown to the other past parks, stately homes, lakes, and the Mississippi River.

Based on my last-year’s best of 3:24:50 I was one of the “seeded” runners. And did we get the VIP treatment! Special lunch Friday at the Minneapolis Athletic Club to “meet the press” (the press ignored me but it was a good lunch spaghetti, of course). Special paragraph in the program:

#966, PHIL HODGE, 61, Minneapolis MN

3:24:50  (City of Lakes 1981). Phil’s time was one of the top 50 in the 60+ division last year. A newcomer to running, it was only a few years ago that he could be seen jogging in hiking boots and cutoffs. Now he manages at least one race most weekends, often two.

Special room inside a warm building to wait for the 7:00 a.m. start of the marathon and from which our warm-up bags were transported direct to a special hotel suite with showers, fruit, yogurt, juice, coke, etc. at the finish line.

To which suite (to return to my narrative), I hastened and in which Thea found me shortly thereafter, showered, cleanly-clothed, fed, liquefied, and still floating on air.

But more was to come. At the awards ceremony I found that I had, in fact, finished ahead of the 13 other men who were in their sixties:

Top age-class finishers

MEN 50-54
1. Charles McJilton, 2:51:46; 2. Don Kampfer, 3:04:35; 3. Clyde Gates, 3:04:47.
WOMEN 50-54
1. Diane Goulett, 3:44:42; 2. Mary E. Bonstrom, 3:58:14; 3. Margaret Johnson, 4:03:04.
MEN 55-59
1. Alex E. Ratelle, 2:35:51; 2. John W. Brooks, 2:59:25; 3. Harold H. Hubbard, 3:07:06.
WOMEN 55-59
1. Mary Lou Carlson, 4:17:32; 2. Betty E. Sandberg, 4:44:21.
MEN 60-69
1. Phil Hodge, 3:13:11; 2. Owen J. Hefner, 3:19:57; 3. Robert L. Howard, 3:29:00.
WOMEN 60-69
1. Betty Haleen, 4:22:56.

So I was presented with a handsome medal and a 16″ high hand-blown glass trophy inscribed:


And still more. For a drawing was held to determine which of the 8 age-group winners (of each sex) would win a free trip to the Boston Marathon, and 60 turned out to be the lucky number. So, come April 18 I’ll have a chance to repay those million Bostonians who cheered me in my fiasco last year. (Sorry, you’ll have to wait until next year’s edition to find out what happened I can’t neglect the groundhog two years in a row).

“All right, already,” the few of you who have read this far are saying, “Enough of this detail; tell us about the King.”

Well, the King of Norway is a very nice old (even older than I) gentleman who has long espoused the idea that “being well” is something more than just the absence of sickness. He was visiting Minneapolis as part of the Scandinavia Today celebration going on all year. By coincidence or design, his visit coincided with a two-day Wellness Seminar being put on by the YWCA whose goal was to help people “die young as late in life as possible.”

The UWM’s* were the 6 men and women over 50 who had won our age groups, the wheelchair winners, and a blind marathoner (who is considerably faster than I am). We were each presented with a certificate by the Governor, asked to give a 1-minute talk on what running meant to us, and in a little private ceremony during the coffee break, presented individually to King Olav.

Long live the King.
Long Live the King.

Awards Ceremony for *Unique Wellness Models


Multi-Media Prelude
Introductions and Remarks
Welcome and Recognition
of Unique Wellness Models
Attendees break to receive:
Marilyn C. Nelson, Chairperson
The Honorable Albert H. Quie,
Governor, State of Minnesota
His Majesty King Olav V
This letter was typed on a computer and printed on a dot-matrix printer.