Friday, July 4, 2014

Run Fourth

Fourth of July, and this year, Mother Nature decided to throw a monkey wrench into everyone's cookout plans.  She didn't however, derail our annual outing at the John Carson 2-mile road race in Chelmsford, a tremendous gathering of runners of all types.
This year marked the road race debut of Ben Nicholson of Lancaster, who, I might add, represented himself quite well out there.
Pre-race, Clans Nicholson and Cook
The running team 
Heather and Ben look so serious in the chute 
Krispy had some solid music cranking and pretty much tuned out the other 1,800 runners 
Stopped for a pic with everyone's favorite militia man.  In the future, take note: militia men don't know how to take pictures with modern technology. Years past, Captain America was John Greenwood's favorite super-hero, so he was only too happy to be seen with the Red, White and Blue Avenger.
Heather, rocking the cardinal rule of road race running - always know where the camera is - thanks Jill and Shea!
He was a football all-star at Nashoba, so this two-mile trek was a walk in the park for Ben 
Andrew may have worn the most interesting socks out there today.  He was running too fast for Zachary to capture him on film.
Josh was pumped
Ben thought ht was bench-pressing again
Heather had a smile on her face the whole way.  No, really.
In the finish chute, a proud dad 
Caught up with fellow Middlesex Community College running maven, Rebecca Newell! 
The red, white, and blue ribbon committee 
Afterwards for the E Streeter round-up, Finn proved why he is quickly replacing Andrew as King of the Photobombers 
Thanks to all who came out, thanks to the race organizers, and thanks to the fellow friends and family who make this quick mileage an annual tradition not to be missed  Enjoy your freedom, everyone!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ryan Strong

A glorious day on Saturday, and it provided a perfect backdrop for our annual outing to support the March of Dimes March for Babies, an annual event we enjoy participating in to help support one of our buddies, Ryan Fennell, son to Craig and Jessica Fennell.
In Jessica's own words:  "as you all know, Ryan was born early.  He came because I had a horrible disease, pre-eclampsia.  I wish they knew more and could prevent this disease from taking over pregnancies.  We with that no other family had to experience this and no other babies had to spend months in the hospital before they could be with their mommy and daddy.  We are walking for Ryan and the strength he had to survive."
To donate to Jessica's fund-raising efforts in Ryan's name, you can visit her page at Racing for Ryan
Speaking of the Super-Soldier himself.  With Sippy-Cup in tow, he's ready to walk (or ride) the three-plus mile course
From the website for March of Dimes March for Babies, the money raised in walks like Saturday's in Lowell supports community programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies, and funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies.  The walks have been going on since 1970, and have raised $2.3 billion to benefit babies.  For more information about the great work done by March of Dimes, visit
Meanwhile, back at the ballpark, Addy leads the Fennell team on their victory lap around the warning track.
The second wave of Team Ryan gets ready to head out onto the course 
Papa Bear, Polar Bear, and Haley Bear 
An impressive crew.  Ryan seemed rather non-plussed by all the attention 
Haley was working all the angles.  She must have been tired from maintaining that level of cuteness throughout the mileage.  (Even more impressive, behind her in the double-tandem is Brook, who slept through the whole outing.) 
Even Brady logged the miles, though truth-be-told, he was dogging it by the end, and was saved by a last-minute carry from mom
Papa needed a hand getting through the last mile 
Apparently, so did Uncle Chris 
Brady was too pooped to pose for the family pic 
The champion himself, storming across the finish line 
And finally, we get the thumbs-up after the walk was done.  Time for another Sippy-Cup! 
Great day, with inspirational stories, and yet another reminder for all of us to be thankful we have our health, family, and friends, around us for days like these.
Rock on, Ryan!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

The father-son Springsteen Break continued, but not before an early - and I do mean early - morning run with original E Streeter Tom Beaupre.  Andrew, still basking in the glory that was seeing Bruce in Hershey, opted to sleep in.  Shocker, I know.
That meant Tom and I had to log a run in the mist before he headed off to his teaching gig.  Seriously, we both ended up in education gigs.  Rewind to 1982, who would'a thunk it? If only the nuns of St. Joseph's High School could see us now.
With a farewell to Bones and family (thanks for the Pennsylvania hospitality!), it was off to our next stop.  This one wouldn't spotlight a concert, per se, but it would prove to be one of the most unforgettable sojourns this father-son tandem has experienced together, made only more memorable by the eerie mist that laid a quiet blanket over the landscape and provided an almost spiritual endcap to the road trip.
From one end to the other - Albany to Asbury - it was time to go back to where it all began for a guitar player from Freehold, N.J., and his legendary E Street Band.
After driving down Kingsley, having Proved It All Night, we arrived at the desolate beachfront along Ocean Avenue.
Those kids huddled on the beach in the mist that everyone's heard so much about for more than 40 years?  This would be that beach. 
Remember that scene in the Sopranos when Tony's walking along the boardwalk contemplating the family business?  Hopefully, Andrew had more constructive thoughts on his mind that didn't involve the waste management industry. 
Fourth of July weekend, 1988, the original E Streeters road trip, and it included a stop at the immortalized Madam Marie's.
Man, were we young.
Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie?
Actually, turns out she died in 2008, a passing that Bruce announced at one of his Florida shows we attended with Barry that same summer.
Madam Marie allegedly once told the Jersey Devil that he would make it big as a rock star.  Apparently she knew a thing or two about seeing the future.
Andrew and I couldn't get our fortunes told, but believe me, we already felt pretty damn fortunate. 
The Paramount, closed to visitors and under construction, but no less an impressive and dominant edifice on the shoreline.
It was two years ago, but the damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy on this historic stretch of beach is staggering.  It was startling to see the amount of reconstruction still underway to extract the shoreline out from under the specter of Sandy.  And we're not talking Bruce's legendary ballad on his debut album. 
There ain't even any horses in the carousel these days, and the once-upon-a-time home of the rock and roll museum that showcased many of the key pieces of Springsteen's career has fallen to the proverbial Wrecking Ball that would also eventually claim his Meadowlands stomping grounds. 
Finally, it was across the street to where it all began for the Boss, not to mention dozens of other rock-and-roll acts throughout the last 50 years. 
Inside all was quiet, but the memories and markings were there.
Dozens of guitars adorned the walls, along with the occasional rock poster commemorating a certain someone's musical releases
So of course, Andrew couldn't help but take the stage where it all began.  He kicked ass on air guitar. 
Welcome, indeed 
Pilgrimage: a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.
In the playbook of father-son experiences, this qualified.
Inevitably, though it was time to head home and reunite with the non-Springsteenians among the family.
And amazingly, and padded by just a handful of directional missteps along the highways of Connecticut, the trip odometer reached the 1,000 mile mark for the road trip just as we approached our driveway.  Sadly, our gas warning light also sang out to remind us that things had come to an end. 
Hiding on the back seats, were the carcasses of some of the CDs that provided the soundtrack inside our Ford Escape.  See a pattern here?
(For the record, we made it through about 70% of his anthology.) 
And yes, despite our attempts at looking bad-ass, Andrew and I were still talking to one another at journey's end.
I wasn't able to quote any of Springsteen's songs that spoke to a father-son relationship, mostly because they were all so dark and brooding, and reflective of a relationship that invariably shaped him, but clearly, was less than idyllic.
Anyone who's been reading this blog of late to follow our exploits throughout Springsteen's Promised Land knows that's not the case with Andrew and I.
This pilgrimage will go down indelibly in our history books, for a myriad of reasons.  There's no one I would rather have logged the miles with.  (Well maybe Jackie and Heather, but they would have complained about Bruce the whole time and made me change the music.)
Thanks, bud.
The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no I'm a man, 
And I believe in the Promised Land