Monday, April 30, 2012

Christos Anesti! (A few weeks later)

This weekend, we got to enjoy Greek easter with our favoritest Greek (and Irish) friends - delayed a couple of weeks by a pesky head cold for our chief extraordinaire Abby, as well as a Boston Marathon weekend that didn't allow for carbo-loading with feta cheese and pita.
Tremendous Greek delicacies abounded as the Vergados clan rolled out the red and white carpet for a mouth-watering feast that allowed us to happily get our Greek on for an Easter Feaster!
Here I am with my two favorite Greek For A Day Goddesses
The King himself, seated comfortably in his throne, Josh was the lord of all he surveyed.  He regaled us with songs much like those celebrated in the Greek feasts of yesterday - Bob the Builder, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and Snoopy Come Home.
Abby didn't cast any Dark Shadows over this incredible feast, which featured an award-winning platter of pastisio, not to mention pita, salad, lamb, stifado, potatoes, and braided koulourakia!
Collinswood itself never saw such a spread!
Being an Irish dog, Brogan didn't know what to make of the whole soiree.  Luckily, he had Heather there to explain it to him.
Great times with great friends!  Sadly, Andrew was unable to join us this time around, but that would have meant at least another platterful of lamb for the menu.
And lest we forget, this Friday sees the release of a movie us comic book fans have been waiting our entire lives to see.  Yea, verily, Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor! So let's leave you with The Mighty Josh uttering the immortal words heralding the arrival of the biggest movie of 2012.  Let the call go forth!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trailrunning 'till it Hoyts

Today's run sponsored by a machine who once again kicked some of our butts in this year's Boston Marathon.  Inspiration Squared - Dick and Rick Hoyt!
Back to the outstanding trails and adjacent roads around the Lowell-Dracut State Forest, with E Streeter Mike Cassidy returning to the fold.  We were running in Lowell, so obviously, no Scott and John today.  Here's Mike conquering the hills heading back into the woods.  Tyngsboro Police Officer Carlos wasn't in the picture because he was too busy casing some of the neighborhood homes and watching out for rogue mail carriers.
Sadly, when you've been running together for so long, you start dressing alike. Apparently we should have called one another ahead of time to avoid this social faux pas.  Either that, or three of us just want to let everyone know we were stupid enough to run the Derry 16 miler, an extremely flat course in the frozen tundra every January.  This picture gets me singing the old Sesame Street song, "One of these things doesn't belong here....."
Mike was lost at this point, just following trailblazer Tommy and keeping an eye out for errant wild animals indigenous to that pond.
Back at the Elks, an invigorating run behind them, some of the E Streeters are apparently confused, ready to pay their parking fees.  Silly boys, that's only at East Boston Camps!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A tough run for John

With the marathon behind us, nobody's afraid of running trails and twisting an ankle anymore, so we were thrilled to get back to the fabulous network of trails at Carlisle's Great Brook Farm today!  
Not everyone, though, had a great run.  Poor John.  It was a tough day for this stalwart E Streeter.
Was it because he took a Hall of Fame tumble early in the run?  No, because he recovered so deftly with a barrel roll for the ages, I wasn't able to get it on film.
Was it because he was haunted by recurring tales of a 1995 five-miler when he was bested at the finish line
by a fitter, stronger, more talented runner?  No, not that either.
So what was the problem today?
It was the realization that parking at Great Brook during peak season brings with it a nominal parking fee.  Anyone who knows John knows this development would not yield a smiley face emoticon on John's Facebook page or twitter account.
Here's where he found out the news that the parking today came with a cost
Miles into the run, and John was still ranting to Scott about the fee
For our part, we couldn't help but laugh at John's plight
Susan  Scott tried desperately to distance himself from John's incessant gripes, sometimes running alone just for some peace and quiet
The rest of us just tried to run away as fast as we could, to enjoy the peaceful serenity of the trails, free of the daily grind of everyday life
Finally, we had to stop to let John join us, with a promise of no more tales of trails throughout the East Coast that don't come with parking fees.
But at the end of the day, there was no avoiding the reality:  it was time to cough up.  But, in typical John fashion, as he took out his First Communion money from his wallet and made the payment, he was rewarded with an errant quarter he found in the dispenser!  The day wasn't a total loss!  And there's no truth to the rumor that John turned around and sold his parking pass to an incoming parker for double what he paid for it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Back on the Horse

The Saturday after the Boston Marathon, it's time to hit the trails again, and see how the legs and feet are feeling, so what better way to test it than an E Streeters trail run at East Boston Camps in Westford?

Joined today, by special guest star Jill Kenny, training for her upcoming Vermont half-marathon.  Someone finally brought some running creds to the Kenny name.

L.L. Bean, Eastern Mountain Sports, take note: it may be hard to see, but that twig tucked in securely over Scott's ear is the new-found, sure-fire way to keep ticks off you during a trail run.  Scott, patent it now.
Right around here, Tommy broke open yet another of the blisters he earned as a badge of honor finishing Boston in that ridiculous temperature on Monday.  The next picture would have shown the pain on his face.
The family that runs together, has fun together.  Mysteriously, Sean and Jill were always taking a different path through the woods.  Nobody could figure out what they were up to.
Finally, back at East Boston Camps, none the worse for the wear, we're ready for muffins.  Thankfully, no residual effects post-Boston, so it's full-steam ahead, back in the groove, and any other cliches we can think of to say that we're ready to run again!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Anatomy of a Marathon Meltdown - Literally!

So, as most followers of this blog know by now, the E Streeters took to the 26.2 mile course of the Boston Marathon yesterday during frigid temperatures. Right.
By now, you've all probably heard from each of us about the horrors of running a damn marathon in temperatures north of 90 degrees. It was an eye opener for all of us, and by the end, a learning experience. I'm just happy that all of us made it out in one piece, pretty much no worse for the wear. So let's take a quick peek at the scenes before and during the race. Mercifully for some of us, we don't have any post-race photos to share here.
Here we are in Hopkinton joined by Larissa, who ran for the Matty Eapen Foundation this year, and ran in memory of her dad, who passed last year. Ignore the bucolic lake scene behind us. We did.

We got to the start early and staked a claim to some shade, one of the smarter moves we made all day, as we waited nearly two hours before we could actually step over the starting lineSo what did we do during those two hours? Basically, pose for beefcake calendars on the grass. Take a look:Almost makes you want to make a calendar, huh?

Here, Tommy and Ryan give us a preview of how they expect to finish the race. They were somewhat prophetic.Waiting at the start, with temperatures ALREADY approaching 85 degrees, I look a lot more relaxed than I really amFather-and-son MONSTERSOnce the race was underway, there weren't many pictures taken unlike past years, because it was too damn hot to go through the work! Don't try to adjust your computer resolution, Tommy and Barry are hazy because that's the steam coming off everyone's bodiesYes, you're seeing this correctly - this is us passing Tedy Bruschi around Mile 3. Don't worry, he eventually passed us again.Finally, we come to the highlight of yesterday's torture, the defeaning cacophany of Wellesley College. Here, I approach ready to hug my two favorite Wellesley WarriorsAnd of course, no stop at Wellesley would be complete without kisses from the girls. Here, Nicole gets ready to plant one on me.They made it all worthwhile - huge thanks to Nicole and Alex for making it an unforgettable 2-3 minutes of sheer hysteria (captured nicely on video by Andrew, now running alongside me)The father-son tandem prepares its final assault, bravado at its bestAnother shot for the calendar. Poster boys for the reason to join a fitness clubI wish you could have heard the noise emanating from these women. I think they store it up all year long, waiting for Marathon MondayAlas, the unrelenting sun would prove a merciless monster this Monday. Here's Andrew taking in one of the godsent misting stations outside the fire station in Newton. Trust me, we hit every misting station and water hose we could find, not to mention the water and Gatorade stops. And even those beverage breaks were heartbreakers, because the drinks got too warm from being out boiling in the sun. Unfortunately, we weren't able to secure one of our favorite treats on Heartbreak Hill, the delicious freeze pops.True story: as we began the ascent on Heartbreak Hill, the song my ipod chose to shuffle for me? Don't go breaking your heart, by Elton John.

Thanks to the always reliable Jim Rhoades from http://www.jimrhoadescom/ on Heartbreak Hill, Andrew and I were able to pose for one more shot before the final melt. Andrew proudly represented Holy Cross and 'Sader Nation for the second half of his run, getting tons of shoutouts from Holy Cross alums on the course.Sadly, getting to the finish in Boston wasn't meant to be in this year's record temps, at least not for a couple of us. But huge kudos to Tommy and Ryan for somehow creeping across the finish line on Boylston Street. To put things in perspective, I lost eight pounds during the trek. Somewhere around Framingham, I believe.

For Andrew's take on things, check out his truly creative Holy Cross blog post here:

Once again, none of us could have done any of this - the months of training with long runs, the injuries, and the experience of a nuclear Marathon heat - without the support of our friends and families. 26.2 miles of thanks for all of the family members who braved the heat themselves, suffered their own sunburns, and supported us once again.

Time to take a couple of days off and soak the feet. We'll all be back hitting the roads again this weekend. Hopefully, the temperature won't be in the 90s.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Marathon Weekend

For all of you faithful followers of a Wicked Good Blog, here's a special treat - a pictorial essay of what the elite Kenyan runners do on the weekend before the Boston Marathon! Sit back and enjoy this behind the scenes look at the typical activities runners undertake leading into the big race. (Assuming, of course, that you've already seen the previous entries on the Marathon Expo and Petey's Race, of course.)

For starters, go to your daughter's lacrosse game and watch her score four goals and be named game MVPMove on to a birthday party for a two-year-old princessComplete with her own castleWhile the princess' sister watches over all, nestled in the arms of PapaTake a few minutes to check out the golf swings of some of the area's finest golfersIncluding a new arrival on the LPGA circuit, my personal all-time favoriteThe elite golfers aren't confined to the driving range either. They can be found wandering some of the toughest miniature golf holes outside of St. Andrew's in ScotlandAnd of course, what would a marathon primer be without the obligatory pasta dinner, complete with chicken parmagiana, or as Ryan would call it, chickenSo let's hoist a glass of water for this year's marathoners. Trust me, one glass won't be anywhere enough to get us properly hydrated for Monday's 90 degree onslaught
See you on the other side of 26.2 miles!