Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gloat the Ravens? Nevermore

This is a piece I wrote for today's Lowell Sun, in honor of this afternoon's AFC face-off betwixt the Pats and Ravens. With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe.

Once upon a January dreary, an important football game drew neary,
A team of mighty Ravens spread their wings and roared;
And came the mighty Patriots never bitter, says Ochocinco, he of Twitter,
Our Team's focused not on snow or score;
The Pats are ready for their visitors, knocking on the AFC door
Standing in the way of Super Bowl victory Number Four.
"Slow down," says Coach Bill. "Only this game. Nothing more."

Ah, distinctly, I remember, it was back in bleak November
When the pundits labeled the Pats as ghosts of Pats teams yore.
Yet to the Jets' and Broncos' dismay, valiantly they reached the game today
Another battle in the quest for Super Bowl victory Number Four.
But before those victory marches take place 'neath the Gillette arches,
Lie one more challenge, that of Baltimore.

And here in Lowell, 'neath a fresh blanket of snow,
Is a link to poet Edgar Allan Poe.
It's a tavern, to some a haven, that played host to Poe, post-Raven,
In the shadow of City Hall's spire, across the street from Goodyear Tire,
Lies the Worthen, its flags a-wavin', 'neath a sign sporting Poe's Raven,
Not Baltimore's.

Once a House quite uncanny, it's where Poe, it's said, met Annie,
And would frequent several times in days of yore.
Trips to Westford and to Lowell, all to meet with his good "friend,"
And by-the-by, where did the vaunted Raven's author meet his end?
Why, Baltimore!

And so tomorrow, the other Ravens, we will pity, watching here in the Mill City
As the Ravens' vaunted players, just the latest Brady nay-sayers,
Watch the Patriots march down the field and score.
Yes, Tom Brady, king of Uggs, will make short work of Terrell Suggs,
As darkness falls once more on Baltimore.

Have the Ravens, by perchance, heard about our guy named Branch?
But before their team is collared, watch for Raven hits from Marcus Pollard,
And Ray Lewis, well he'll still be a boor.
And of course the Pats will heed the braggard boasts of Edward Reed,
You know the Pats collect the quotes of Baltimore.

If the waiting makes you sick, keep the faith in Belichick.
He's withstood all of the crying, from the jealous like Rex Ryan,
He's the mastermind, you know, who found a way to stop Tebow.
He's focused on ONE GAME, nothing more.
Bill's got tons of playbook manuals, and don't forget there's Josh McDaniels.
Belichick's got his sights fixed firm on the Ravens of Baltimore.

So tailgate with your dips and tacos, Bill's ready for QB Joe Flacco.
At press conferences, they'll all play nice, but trust me, there's a plan for Ray Rice.
And to no one but themselves they're beholdin', but they're ready for Anquan Boldin.
On Monday morning, they'll be sore.
And Welker, Wilfork, Light and Gronk? Their horns on Monday we'll be proud to honk.
Just keep perspective Pats: First beat Baltimore.

And so the Ravens, never flitting, will be sitting, will be sitting,
Surrounded today by the mighty Gillette roars;
Their eyes will have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming
Watching as the Pats rack up the score.
And our souls from winter's shadow shall rise soaring, higher more
And our spirits will be lifted as our Pats seek Super Bowl victory Number Four!

Check it out on-line at the Sun's website here:

Course, my favorite version of this poem remains:And if you're worried about the game, don't be: our Brady's ready:Needless to say, go Pats!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Frost Giants

"Neither snow nor rain not heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Or runs." - the E Streeters creed.

"Turn on your f'n lights!" - Another E Streeters creed.

Snow? Snow problem. That won't stop the E Streeters from hitting not only the mean streets of Westford, but the treacherous trails too! Great 10 miler this a.m. with the crew, though visibility was tough, not to mention the footing!

Joining us for today's run, special guest celebrity Andy Rooney! As Barry noted, this picture was taken of these two Klingons on the ice planetMike's still all smiles, though, and raring to do more mileage!As Ryan quickly discovered, facial hair is not always a bonus in driving snow.At the halfway mark, ready for round two!The trails were all ours today, no one else in sight!John won't be missed running in the woods with his hunter's yellow jacket.Afterwards, the group shot, taken by another group of idiots heading out to run. Can you believe those morons running in these conditions?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bucking Broncos

First, to be clear, the blog title says BUCKING.
So, the E Streeters set out this morning on a meandering 11-mile voyage through the wonderful trails of Carlisle's Great Brook forest, for what will go down in history as an unforgettable outing. For reasons that will soon become apparent.
We should have taken this as a sign.This morning's outing featured the largest group run yet to date, Ocean's Eleven, if you will. Jonathan volunteered to take the picture for the momentous occasion.Right out of the gate, we were faced with some interesting challenges, as the snow and rainfall of the past couple of days combined to make for some icy conditions, especially at some stream crossings. Here, Tommy does his best balancing act to show us how it's done. Sean, however, seeking to blaze new trails of E Streeter glory today took a leap of faith across an icy stretch that landed him on a wooden bridge. That promptly began sinking.Quickly, the E Streeter pioneering team quickly set to grabbing nearby fallen trees and logs to create a safe path back for our intrepid leader. Or at least some of them did.After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, which included a dousing for Sean in the frigid waters (marked in blue on Sean's trail map, according to Scott), he was able to teeter across one of the fallen logs into the waiting arms of the Brothers Scanlon, which is a scary thing to write, let alone experience. Those who weren't taking pictures of the event were undoubtedly frantically trying to help their stranded friend.With the life-saving rescue behind us, we were off for the second, less treacherous leg!Jonathan and Andrew just know they're heading for the blog when they see the camera go up mid-run.Were there any town-lines on the course? Why yes, there were! And who took it? Well, photos don't lie.....The lonely life of the long-distance winter runner.

And with that, another trail run is in the books. Still doing trails in January in New England for as long as we can! From now on, though, we'll avoid those floating bridges.

On to tonight's showdown between the Patriots and the Broncos!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No Bananas Love

You'd think it was Valentine's Day, with all the love in abundance at today's No Bananas 5K race on the Freeman Trail in Chelmsford. As far as the eye could see, husbands and wives abounded, in the first No Bananas of the New Year. Apparently the race has become the latest rage in bringing husbands and wives closer together! And while Top Banana Ruth Whalen, seen here at left, couldn't run today, she was able to convince her husband Jonathan Crockett to stick to his New Year's resolution to stop making excuses for missing the No Bananas series and drag his butt out to run the event!Huge numbers, the highest yet, turned out for today's outing!Pre-race, some of the E Streeters prepare for a race for the agesBananas are scarce in the winter, and not allowed at this race, so series frontman Michael Gilmore proudly scraped together another victory todayExchanging knowing glances, Barry and I know our rolling roadblock tactic will immediately handicap the competitionAlong the way and in keeping the with the romance of the day, some of the E Streeters stop to share a hug with their sweetiesWith the love of their wives buoying their spirits, three of the E Streeters are ready to head to the finishJohn even took a detour to go visit the scene of the historic Pomeranian attack. (Google the reference if you've never heard of it, it's legendary.) Luckily, there were none to be found today.Post-race, the E Streeter men are all smiles as they await their better halves finishingRapid-fire, here's a flurry of finish-line shots:But wait! As the final times were entered into the log, what's this? Tommy fell a second off-pace from his fellow E Streeters! Apparently, without Carlos there to challenge him, the days of 21:07 are a thing of the past.His fellow runners are just aghast at the finish. Sean just looks disgusted with him.Could it have been the sneakers, purchased just yesterday?Maybe it was the running app on his iphoneLuckily, since this was the love-is-in-the-air version of No Bananas, he had a symphathetic ear to plead his case to. The rest of us? We don't want to hear it.Weather permitting, we'll see everyone in February for some frozen bananas!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Souper Two-Fer New Year's Run -

Another New Years Day, so naturally, another Soup Run from John's house for the E Streeters, continuing what has become an enduring tradition that spans generations. Today's crew, flanking Souperwoman Karen, who plans months ahead for this event.This year's features included a Tuscan minestrone and a garlic chicken noodle, seen here. Barry, commence with the salivating.Sean, scoping out the three route options that John mapped out and posted on the fridge for First Run consideration, dejectedly realizes his quest for the first town line of 2012 will not be an easy one.The Souperstar of the day, Karen, who, for the record, took the first official E Streeter running town lines of 2012.

Pre-run, Andrew volunteered to stand guard over the soup to protect it from overzealous Barrys.

Just 46 seconds into the run, Barry broke one New Year's resolution by running headlong into a branch. In his defense, he insist his brother Tom hit him with it, though as evidenced by this photo, Tom is well out of the picture at the point of impact. Exactly half a second later, Barry broke a second New Year's resolution by firing off the first official curse of 2012. Scott, in turn, promptly broke his resolution by laughing at a running mate in pain.

John apparently didn't go out to blaze the trail behind his own house, as he was immediately surprised by a fallen tree across our path. Tsk.

But once we orienteered our way around the impasse, all was back to normal.You've heard of rolling roadblocks? The E Streeter version shut down traffic on Westford roads, albeit there was no one actually awake or driving on said roads.

Think Chariots of Fire, and you can visualize our Offensive Line here:Sporting swag from three different Boston Marathons, it's an imposing sight.

Blinded by the light, we persevere, charting our way into the neighborhood where Scott and Joey once lived together, even though they never saw one another.

50 degree temperatures dealt us a surprise start to this year's running weather!

The rainbow collection

Heading into the final stretch toward Illusion Bridge, there's one thing on everyone's minds

He wasn't the first runner in, but Barry takes the gold medal when it comes to a soup line, claiming first broth. This is the first of his soup trilogy.

Finally, the spoils of war await.

For yet another year, great to have everyone still out there running with us. Glad everyone is still healthy enough to be running, and thanks to our extended E Streeter families, who are there for us all year long, supporting us throughout all of the ups and downs of running year-round in New England. Here's to a healthy and happy 21:07 - oops, sorry, 2012 to all!