Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hello from the Other Pie

Thanksgiving morn, and the tradition that has now become a fixture on the running and walking circuit for the extended E Streeters family, which this year seemed to grow to bursting numbers.
It's the Thanks4Giving 5K at the Lowell Elks to benefit the Alternative House battered women's shelter of Greater Lowell. 
As regular readers of this blog know, we're proud and honored to support local charities as much as we can when we log our miles, and this particular event has evolved into quite the reunion of friends and family, as you'll see in the pics that follow.
Pre-race at the number pick-up, we sport all colors
This year's poster family for the race promotions this year, the running turkeys of Clan Cassidy 
The Cali girls, Heather, Court, and Heather 
A man alone at the start, Scott eyeballs his competition before the big race. 
With two of his three favorite ladies.  Sue - you've got to join us next year! 
Some of the males of E Street 
The Corbin ladies, reunited for the holiday  Trying to look tough, but we know better. 
You can't lose these Cassidys in this crowd 
Five fine looking ladies are still all smiles, because the start gun hasn't gone off yet 
And then some clown had to come and spoil the shot 
The ladies of Clan Kenny 
Heather hates when her dad runs with his camera.  Mike, however, loves it 
All the way from the left coast, Heather represented well
John came out of retirement to pace Barry in to this year's finish
Heather's listening to live coverage of the race to gauge how she's finishing 

Clearly, she got a good report
DJ leads the orange shirts in 
Joni, refusing to let her brother beat her in to the finish, turns on the after-burners 
Post-race, Andrew was ready to do some primo photo-bombing.
Until his sister warned him not to. 
Clearly, he didn't listen. 
And even got Scott and John to join him in his antics
So to be fair, here's what the ladies look like without the bouncing brats behind them 
Taking some pies home for Tom 
Weezer refused to cooperate for the Kenny family pic 
Heath and Liv, who would have run, but was too busy helping people pick up their numbers at the start 
They really do love each other. 
All smiles and thumbs up from Kimberley as she wraps up her outing 
And finally, the group of pies 
Taking a moment as I do each year on this blog to give special thanks.  Thanks that we're all still able to gather for this outing and are healthy enough to still walk and run it.
We lost one of our extended family this year - missing you, Martin - but as a sprawling group of friends, we're still holding on remarkably well.
The next generation of E Streeters is making their mark and doing us all proud.
Thanks to the rest of our families who are there to support us all year long.
Thanks for continued good health and happiness for all.
And thanks to the regular readers of this blog, who schlep through all the other posts throughout the year and yet still keep coming back.
Happy Thanksgiving all!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thoreau Not Taken

EStreeters Varsity run through the magnificent trails in Concord and Lincoln around Walden Pond - a first for the running crew even after all these years of logging the trailrunning miles.
Seriously - what took us so long?
It took Scott to mastermind the route to bring us onto unexplored pathways, and a picture perfect New England fall Sunday did not disappoint.
Though truth be told, when he told us to meet him at Mount Misery, I was a tad worried.
No Blood on the Tracks, just hardcore runners
For The Walking Dead fans among us, thankfully, we didn't come across any signs for Terminus.  Because you know, those who arrive, survive 
Time to take a historic run through history on the Walden Pond Conservation Land
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live to sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms." - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
After that build-up, Andrew was expecting more from the literary giant's homestead 
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Thoreau
"We need the tonic of wildness....At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that landand sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.  We can never have enough of nature." - Thoreau
"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth." - Thoreau
"Norman.  Hurry up.  The loons!  The loons!
- Ethel Thayer, On Golden Pond
"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour.  It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do.  To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." - Thoreau
Because sometimes, pondside trails and hilly pathways around meadows and streams aren't enough, so you need to add a stair workout in. 
Because you never know what waits you at the top.  Andrew keenly spotted this gem and claimed his prize with pride 
In the end, Mount Misery was the victim of bad branding.  It's a glacially-carved hill less than 300 feet above sea level, but its' environs cover more than 200 acres next to the Sudbury River. 
Get out and explore these trails at your earlier convenience.
You'll Thoreau-ly enjoy them.

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment." - Thoreau

"There's ice at the finish line." - Scott Spence

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Ties That Bind

The Wolf Pack
Last in the line of blog posts chronicling our skip Across the Pond to honor our mate, Martin Brewer.

This one takes the form of a long thank you note.
While the trip from front to back was unforgettable, it was also a somber, sobering, and yet rewarding trip.  It was a time for all of us to take a look at where we are in our own lives, and to honor the memory of a guy who lived every day to the fullest.
And for three blokes from Lowell, it was an opportunity to forge some bonds with a great group of Brits who had never met us before, but welcomed us with open arms as if we were a member of their own families.
A common thread that wound its way throughout the trip was Martin's love of music, and obviously, Bruce Springsteen.  It marked, at least for me, the first time a pastor at a funeral service made mention of the E Streeters in his opening remarks.
It also marked a first when Martin's longtime bud Paul Askew during his remembrance pulled out his original copy of Springsteen's double album, the River, the music that introduced Martin to the Boss and helped kindle his love of all things Bruce.
From the first night in Arundel, where many a pint were polished off - not to mention bangers and mash for Andrew and Barry - to our drop off by Paul at Heathrow, it was like we were in the company of people we'd known our whole lives.
I can't name everyone for fear of leaving out any one, but special props to Martin's mom Gill for being the rock from which everyone drew strength
I detailed earlier how Paul Askew took us to all of his and Martin's childhood haunts, including the cricket fields below, where Martin CRUSHED all opponents.  *cough*
Lyrics from Springsteen songs seemed to resonate with the emotions of the week

I don't wanna fade away
Oh I don't wanna fade away
Tell me what can I do what can I say
Cause darlin' I don't wanna fade away
Andy and his new running buds logged the miles where no E Streeter has run before

Well the Maximum Lawmen run down Flamingo
Chasing the Rat and the Barefoot Girl
And the kids round here look just like shadows
Always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails
Tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand
Down in Jungleland

There was chili, there was tea, there were tons of laughs, and lots of fond memories.

Bruce's My Hometown was played at the funeral service.  

I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
I'd sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town
He'd tousle my hair and say son take a good look around
This is your hometown

I like to think it was a tribute to Martin character that even in death, he brought people together to appreciate life.

So with that, I offer up a fond 'cheers' to all our new mates in Great Britain.  We couldn't have asked for nicer or more gracious hosts during an especially trying time in your lives.

I leave you with the words of the Boss himself, from the opening track of the River, and speaking for my son Andrew and I, thank you profusely for new Ties that Bind

You sit and wonder just who's gonna stop the rain
Who'll ease the sadness, who's gonna quiet the pain
It's a long dark highway and a thin white line
Connecting baby, your heart to mine
We're runnin' now but darlin' we will stand in time
To face the ties that bind
The ties that bind
Now you can't break the ties that bind
You can't forsake the ties that bind

And of course, the encore that lives forever

The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody's out on the run tonight
But there's no place left to hide
Together Wendy we can live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
H-oh, someday girl, I don't know when
We're gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run