Thursday, April 23, 2015

Expo-sing with Andrew and the Hatems

First in a series of blogs spotlighting this year's 119th running of the Boston Marathon, so if you're weary of running stories, or the majesty and glory that is Boston, you're gonna wanna sit out the next few days worth of posts.  I just can't let the historic event pass without some documentation of all the laughs, achievements, and milestones that mark this weekend every April.  This year was a special outing, coming on the heels of the most historic winter we've ever experienced, along with the debut of some first-time Boston runners.  (More on them later.)

But anyone who's been a regular reader of this blog over the years knows that it all begins with a pilgrimage to the expo that packs them in by the thousands at the Hynes Convention Center.  You know, some years, I truly think Andrew has more fun at the Expo than he does at the actual marathon itself.  He certainly eats more there.

Before we could spend a small fortune on memorabilia at the expo, though, there was a pit stop on Boylston Street to pay tribute to the four victims whose lives were lost when a pair of cowardly terrorists attacked the finish line two years ago.

It was nice to see the acknowledgement at the site of where the first bomb exploded.  Never forget them.
A new addition this year were the hundreds of daffodils scattered around storefronts on Boylston Street and Newbury Street, sporting the blue and gold colors that have come to embody the spirit of the 2013 Marathon. 
At the Expo, after producing the necessary paperwork to confirm he was the crazy fool who had committed to running the 26. miles, Andrew was handed his badge of honor. 
Because anyone who's ever run even one step of the course knows, there's only One Boston. 
Oh yeah, and there's only one of these, too 
Andrew and I got there early on Friday so we were able to stake a claim to primo real estate on the autograph banner.  So natch, we left our mark for the 2015 edition.  By the time I returned on Sunday, there were thousands upon thousands of other sigs surrounding ours.  But there was only one E Streeters. 
And then it happened!  Andrew connected with his lifelong bud and first-time Bostoner, Nicole Hatem, who was doing her doggonest to support the Boston running economy.  Nicole gets props for logging her first marathon after taking on most of her longest runs on some of the coldest days of the 2015 season! 
Yup, Andrew was ready to meet the challenge. 
Tell us: what's been YOUR Greatest Run Ever? 
Anyone who's trekked the final mile of Boston knows these two street signs intimately.  Say it with me: Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  And then straight on to victory. 
Mugging it up for a Runner's World Magazine Cover 
Wheedling our way through the aisles, we came upon Dick Hoyt - an icon known far and wide across the nation for his inspirational achievements, pushing his son Rick in his wheelchair.  Dick stepped back this year to let another member of Team Hoyt pick up the mantel and run Boston (no, not John Piekos) but it was still an honor to shake hands and thank Dick for all of the lives he's touched with a father's love over these past two decades. 
Scoring a pair of lobster socks (don't ask), Andrew took to the Brooks treadmill, hoping he'd look this good come Mile 17 on the real course. (He did).
But no matter what, he'd never look as good as THIS guy - a critical member of our Marathon team and clearly, the best dressed runner on the fabled streets.  Take a bow, Elias! 
Yeah, there's only one E Street.  Shuffle on over there. 
And finally, a sign of the times to come, perhaps? Hamming it up in the Boston 2024 Olympics pavilion to throw our support behind Boston's bid to bring the world showcase to Beantown come 2024.  I doubt I'll be a medal contender at that point, but Andrew?  Don't count him out! 
That's a wrap on Expo Day One!  We're not done yet......

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Track Your 2015 Boston Marathon Runners

The glory that is Marathon Monday is upon us again, and that means it's time for this blog to collect all the info you need for one-stop shopping to track the extended E Streeter family who'll be logging the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston this year.

As followers of this vaunted blog know, we try to make it as easy as possible for you to get live-time updates about our runners, with a little help from the BAA and the AT&T Athlete Tracker.

So without further ado, here's what you need to know.  And ado.

Start here, at the BAA's official website to get the details.

You just text the runner's bib number to the following number: 234567

So where do you get said runner's numbers?  Well funny you should ask.

Andrew is running his third consecutive Boston Marathon.  He'll be sporting his Marvel Comics shirtwear throughout the day.  Avengers Assemble on the Marathon Course.
Andrew's number is 29336
Tom Beaupre will be making his Boston Marathon debut this year.  This from the guy who used to curse me out every time our annual three-mile jaunts during the holidays ended up stretching into 4 or God forbid, 5 milers.  And now he's about to crush 26.2.
Tom's number is 29335
Nicole Hatem is following in her mom's footsteps and blazing a trail through the hills of Newton for HER first marathon, and laughing all the way! The Scream Tunnel at Wellesley College will take on a whole meaning for the woman who used to lose her own voice leading the screams.
Nicole's number is 31437
The father-daughter tandem of Phil and Alyssa Maia are making history as the Senor and Senorita run into the history books, on Alyssa's birthday, no less.  And her dad marked the day she was born by logging a blazing 3:15 marathon 23 years ago!  All of Lowell High Cross Country and Track alum - take note - the Senor Is Holding Court!
Phil Maia is number 14712,
Alyssa Maia is number 28085
And finally, the Godfather of the Boston Marathon, Scott Graham, is running in his, like, 48th consecutive Boston Marathon.  Or something in that neighborhood.  When he's not occupied running runners off the road in Westford, Scotty G. is rocking the striped pants and burning up the trails and roadways at a blistering pace.
Scott is number 13791
And that's a wrap for this year's "Official" E Streeter entrees.  There's certainly more that will be checking in at various points throughout the run, but these are the folks who have earned the laurels, the blisters, and the accolades.
Follow them, get your text alerts, and wish them all their Greatest Run Ever!
See you on the other side!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Stepping Up For Sue

The wind was (maybe) the biggest blow in Tyngsboro on Saturday when nearly 200 people stepped up to log the miles around the Notre Dame Academy track in memory of Susan (Scanlon) Bradley who passed away last summer after valiantly fighting brain cancer.
Admittedly, more than a few people were more than wee bit concerned when we arrived to see javelin practice underway on the track.  It had all the makings of a Hunger Games competition.
So as the supporters began flocking in and lining up to buy their tee-shirts, make their donations, and hit up the raffle tables, a foolhardy group of E Streeters decided to log a few miles around town.
Proof that Scott, will indeed, run in Tyngsboro.
We had to allow Carlos to take the town line, seeing as how it's the town he patrols and keeps safe from all those Westford hooligans
But to get INTO a town, you have to get back out, and Carlos' streak was brought to a heartbreaking end, as a new Town Line victor emerged.  Who could that be?
Back at the track, it was time to get the walk-a-thon underway.  After, of course, an obligatory E Streeters group picture, which was missing a number of key participants who had other last-minute tasks to take care of before the opening gun.
The windswept morning also featured the reunion of three best buds from St. Joseph's Regional High School.  Brings back memories of Luke, Laura, Beecher's Corner, and the Ice Princess!
With inspirational words from Sue's daughters Mikaela and Lauren, the wild and woolly walkers were off!
The horde
You think these folks have their hands in their pockets because it was fashionable?  Wrong.  They were freezing.
These mugs apparently thought it was a STAND-a-thon 
Afterwards, it was raffle time, and E Streeter offspring held their own.  Heather got her spa treatment, and Finn, well, let's just say the lottery commission is still looking into that last second victory!
All around, a fabulous morning for family, and friends, and a great tribute to a super woman who's missed by everyone.
From the event's Facebook page:
Sue passed away from a Glioblastoma, a type of malignant brain tumor.  The Walk-A-Thon was organized as a way to remember and honor all the wonderful things she did for so many, while also allowing her family to give back to the community.
Susan was a big advocate of education her entire life.  She worked in the school systems for 25 years and was also very involved in the schools her children attended.  The funds raised at the Walk-A-Thon will be applied toward the Susan Bradley Scholarship set up at the Academy of Notre Dame so that even in her absence, she will continue to give back to others.
To find out more about Susan, the scholarship, or to make a donation, check out the scholarship's website here: Sue's NDA Page

We miss you, Sue!  It won't come as a surprise that your family kept their bad jokes running throughout the Walk-A-Thon in your memory!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Left to Stu's on His Own

Like yet another rite of spring and training for the Boston Marathon, Sunday marked a return trip to Clinton, Boylston and Sterling for the hill workout known affectionately as the Central Mass Striders' Stu's Run, a 30K (or 18.6 mile) meandering trek around some of the more scenic vistas you'll encounter locally courtesy of the Wachusett Reservoir.
Which this year, was nothing but a pure white blanket for as far as the eye can see.
But this year, unlike past years, Andrew - starting off his Spring Break with a long run - was fated to log the miles alone, as schedules and lack of Boston participation for others kept the masses away.
But that didn't affect this lone wolf.  Just the opposite, in fact.  He reveled in it.
But first, before heading out of the gym at Clinton High School, Andrew some inspiration from words that don't inspire fellow Avenger Nick Laganas.  It's an interesting, introspective, and motivational story for another blog.
Speaking of words of inspiration, I had a few to offer the lad before I headed out to meet him in one of multiple locations along the course.
The first location being alongside the Wachusett Reservoir, where Andrew was literally jumping for joy at seeing his father. 
Looking solid in his stride. 
Thumbs up at the 4.6 mile mark.  Only 14 miles left. 
And then there's THIS guy, who ran the race carrying not one, but TWO American flags.  So stop complaining about your aches and pains. 
Another staple on the course, a cookie shop sharing its name with this blog (check out the profile pic to the right to see it in a past year.)  Andrew makes a point of pointing it out. 
A rare, and maybe even a first father-son selfie.  Because you know, we really ARE Wicked Good Cookies. 
And with that, he's off again! 
With less than five miles to go, Andrew points the way 
Coming around the OTHER side of the vast Wachusett Reservoir
Paying the first of two homages to Leonard Nimoy, buried on Sunday, Andrew reminds us all to Live Long and Prosper 
A couple more shots of the Reservoir Dog 
And finally, at journey's end awaits the conqueror's medal 
Andrew notched a 2:20 18.6 miler, averaging a 7:27 pace throughout.  Not once during the race did he crawl north of an eight minute mile!  A feat made even more impressive by the terrain of the course, which boasts some of the steepest hills you can run in Central Massachusetts.
See how well he does when he doesn't have the rest of us E Streeters holding him back?
Quite the outing Andrew, you did us all proud.
May you Run Long and Prosper! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Running By the Woods on the Road Not Taken

(With apologies up front to the poet Robert Frost)

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promised to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
So there's this great scene in the Fellowship of the Ring, where the nine members of the fellowship try to climb the pass of Mount Caradhras, and Saruman is working his wizardry, sending blizzard conditions to stop the intrepid nine.  And leading the way, Legolas the elf walks atop the snow, not breaking the surface, while all his fellow warriors trudge through feet of untouched snow.

Here's a reminder, in case you've forgotten the classic scene:

So Sunday, it was time for Andrew and I to try our hands at recreating that scene during Andrew's 13 mile Boston Marathon training run.

The results were more along the lines of this:
Yeah, even Gandalf's staff or Gimli's battleaxe couldn't help us Sunday as we forged new paths in Paxton.
So the story behind the story - there's a terrific run through Paxton that Andrew and I have done in the past.  Scenic, quiet roads with gorgeous vistas and tree cover that really helps you appreciate nature and the views add an extra step to your run.
But as Andrew and I learned on Sunday, it turns out Paxton doesn't always plow those roadways.
The result, nearly a mile of trudging through three foot drifts of snow to get to the other side.  The other side being Moore State Park.
A couple of decades of running, and I have to confess, this turned out to be one of the most strenuous runs I've ever logged.
Just before we took our first steps onto the roadway, one of the crankiest old farmers we've met in some time basically told us we were jackasses for doing what we about to attempt.  He was like something you'd see in a Stephen King novel.

Turns out he was a fairly intelligent cranky old farmer.

Not even ten feet into the trek, Andrew gave me the thumbs up.  Or maybe it's the middle finger.
Really, he's asking himself, Dad, what the hell are we thinking?
And just like that, he was off.  He didn't really get that much of a lead on me.  I just lagged behind to catch this dramatic shot. 
See?  Eventually, I caught up to AND PASSED him. 
Cleverly, we both wore bright clothing in case rescue choppers needed to spot us from above later. 
Andrew got so excited when we finally spotted the other end of this maniacal mile, he just took off like the Flash.
Leaving the Jedi Master to follow in his apprentice's ample footsteps. 
Out in the free world, Andrew is dwarfed by the snowbanks, but he was just thrilled to be back on solid ground.
At run's end, Andrew's backside was a casualty of the messy roads. 
Seriously, this one was one for the history books.  Sure could have used Scott Graham's trusty snowshoes.  Course, we didn't KNOW we were heading up Mount Caradhras when we set out.
But I suppose, in hindsight, Robert Frost may have been on to something in another of his poemts when he wrote:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I (and my son)
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.