Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Onward, Christian Hill Soldiers!

Tuesday night, that means it's time for the Middlesex Community College running club to take to the streets of Lowell, this time with a twist.
Prior to the run, I just had one question to ask everyone: 
We gathered at the college, all smiles.  The smiles wouldn't last. 
Starting out early, it's a scenic postcard run across the Cox Bridge on Bridge Street.
But everyone who knows Lowell knows where that bridge leads - Centralville.  And to the right side of Centralville lurks Christian Hill, arguably the largest hill in the city of Lowell.
So let's run up it, shall we?
Atop Third Street, we had the roads all to ourselves.  Nobody had any kind words for me at the top of this climb.  Happy to have uber runner Gina Spaziani among our number tonight.  She eats hills for breakfast.  Or does something similarly menacing.
But hey, the apex provides a hell of a view of Pawtucketville off in the distance! 
Leave it to Donna to find the energy to still give a fist-pump after the arduous climb.  But Christian Hill is a piece of cake for this outdoorswoman who climbs Mount Chocorua and Tuckerman's Ravine just for a fun afternoon out
Heading down Christian Street toward 10th Street, the MCC runners provide an inspirational profile in the bucolic neighborhood 
And finally, at the bottom of Christian Street.  Remember everyone, what goes up, must come down.
A grounds-eye view doesn't do justice to this hill.  Let's just say it was a good thing we were running DOWN this one, and not up! 
Another terrific outing by the raucous runners.  Where will we end up next week?  (For my sake, it better be a lot flatter.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Higher Ed

So, some of you have, by now, likely heard the story out of Boston - that the city's top cop, Police Commissioner Edward Davis, III is moving on.
Regular readers of this blog know that Ed and I are friends going way back.  I first met him when I started as a cub reporter for the Lowell Sun newspaper, and he was a sergeant, working early night vice, trying to crack down on the prostitution problem on lower Middlesex Street.
Over the course of the next decade, I covered his rise through the ranks, and then, after he was appointed permanent superintendent of the LPD, I joined his team as his Communications Director.
We've kept in touch over the years, even as our career have taken us down different paths.
Earlier this year, I was honored when he asked MCC President Carole Cowan if I could lend the Boston PD a hand in the days immediately after the Boston Marathon bombings.
President Cowan said yes.  Let me tell you, it was an honor to contribute in any capacity during an historic time in our nation's history.
Last week, Davis made a return to the Mill City, coming to Middlesex Community College to recognize Constitution Day and chat with more than 100 students and staff about the Marathon bombings, and specifically, how the U.S. Constitution came into play during that week in April.
He was questioned by an audience member about what's next for his resume, but deftly sidestepped the question regarding his being considered for a position heading up the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Thanks to photog extraordinaire Alyce O'Connell of www.alyceoconnell.com we got some great shots out of the event, so I figured with this morning's presser out of Boston, it'd be a good time to share some shots of the Commish and some of his peeps during his Lowell visit.
Anyone who knows him, knows Davis has always had a great relationship with the press.  Here he is with some of the Lowell Sun's heavy hitters, Dave Brow and Chris Scott
Two of the finer folks I've had the honor of working with during my career, past and present
Judy Burke from MCC grew up on the same Centralville street as Ed.  Every time they reconnect, we learn some new story about their shared Centralville roots.  Not all of the stories can be published.
Two of Judy's peeps from Community and Corporate Ed, Marci Barnes and Lisa Tuzzolo 
Ed took a minute to congratulate MCC's Joe Patuto, who ran in this year's Boston Marathon but got halted along with thousands of others at mile 25 in Kenmore Square when the marathon was shut down.  Joe will be back in the running next April.  He's already signed up for another Boston Marathon.
Davis recounted many of the details of those five days in April, and somberly told pieces of the story that had some audience members in tears.
At six feet, six inches, he makes even the enormous smart station look small 
After his presentation, along with MCC Criminal Justice student Dawn Thompson of Lowell, who opened the program.
With Rebecca Newell, Sheri Denk, and Melissa Welch, the folks from MCC's Center for Student Engagement who put on the Constitution Day gig
With MCC's Cherie Comeau, who will likely be among the thousands to run in the Boston Marathon in the not-too-distant future
Photog Alyce doesn't always get to be in the pics herself because she's too busy snapping shots, but she stood still long enough to be dwarfed by Davis
With members of my MCC team, Alisa Chapman and Mary-Jo Griffin.  Clearly, Ed's getting a kick out of how tall he feels in these pics

And finally, with members of his LPD team, Capt. Kelly Richardson, Deputy Superintendent Arthur Ryan Jr., Chuck Ouellette and Jackie Cook, the brains of the outfit. 
From your Mill City cohorts, Ed, best of luck in your next gig. We're sure you'll do well, and you won't forget where you came from.  Thanks for stepping up as a leader in the wake of the Marathon bombings.  Don't forget to visit this neck of the woods every once in a while for a trip to the Owl, the Athenian Corner or the Hong and Kong!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Riverwalk Runners

Tuesday night runs, and it was a great opportunity to get our expanding Middlesex Community College running club exposed to some of the hidden jewels of footpaths that encircle historic downtown Lowell.  That means a route that runs the riverwalk on both sides of the Mighty Merrimack, and the first voyage onto the pathways for many of the members of our club!
MCC's Federal Building makes for a great backdrop as the 5K outing starts
The city building looks pretty impressive as a backdrop, too!
Not quite sure what happened to the lighting on the Hunts Falls bridge, with Lowell General and the Massachusetts Mills faded into the background
Heading toward the Ouellette Bridge, Pramod makes his move
Not many folks know of the northern walkway along the Merrimack, mostly because it's recessed from the road and not all that easy to see, but it provides a flat, straightaway that runs beneath three bridges, ending at Beaver Brook.  It also lends itself to some pretty pics
Coming off the other side of the Ouellette, we circle behind LeLacheur Park to head inbound on the riverwalk toward the Tsongas Center.  But not before throwing in a few random push-ups for some good old fashioned circuit training. (Rebecca's not throwing up, she stopped throughout the run for some extra aerobic activity)  Don't ask, just roll with it.
Behind the Boott makes for a terrific historic setting for a relaxing fitness run
And finally, the home stretch, coming up past the Lowell National Historical Park and the Boott Cotton Mills museum, alongside Boarding House Park.  The fabric mills - a good place to be if you're running with a stitch.
Take us home, Richard!
Seriously, if you haven't gotten out to explore the footpaths along the river, you don't know what you're missing.  Look at the dynamic, historic, and picturesque backdrops from just these running pics!  I'd wager that a good amount of the city's population, not to mention our neighbors, have never even stepped foot on these trails.  Well what are you waiting for?
Next Tuesday night,  MCC's Running Club heads out into the neighborhoods!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Walk Stars

I can't even find the right words to describe how proud I am of both my wife Jackie, and my daughter, Heather, who on Sunday morning, step-for-step, walked side-by-side for 13.1 miles along the Boston Marathon course to support the Jimmy Fund and help fight the insidious disease cancer.
This year, more than any of the previous years that Jackie made the voyage, was a special one, because she wasn't able to walk with her usual walking buddy, her sister, Annie, who's laid up at Brigham and Women's Hospital waging a very personal battle against leukemia.  She's kicking its ass, but was on the sidelines for this year's trek, so Heather stepped up to the plate.
Here's my two heroes - the leaders of Annie's Army, at the walk's start at Babson College in Wellesley, all smiles, as usual
Legends of the Boston Marathon course - my wife, daughter, and Johnny Kelly.
While the girls walked, Andrew and I headed to the finish, and then ran out to meet the wicked cool walkers along the course.  Here's Andrew on one of his least favorite and most painful stretches of the Boston Marathon course.  Looking much better on this outing.
And then, in Brooline, boom!  There they are, joined now by Jackie's cousins, Cheryl and Judy Cook (same last name, but no relation to the Cook side of this marriage)
Fueling stations along the course speak volumes not just about the walkers, but about the millions of men and women fighting the courageous fight against cancer.
Heather makes sure to get her checkpoint stickers.  Color coordinated, isn't she?
You can't miss their colors on the course
At every mile marker, there's an inspirational story of a cancer fighter.  Jackie makes sure to pay a personal tribute to each of them.
Stories like that of 5-year-old Brennan, who when he grows up, wants to be Superman.  You're already there, Brennan.
Cannot possibly say enough about the army of volunteers along the course.  Super friendly, super helpful and committed to the cause.  Hip, hip, hooray for the volunteers!
A picture worth a thousand words
And another sticker for my baby girl
Meanwhile out on the course, our good buddy Christine Cole is logging her own crazy trek!  Christine and her buddy Aimee walked the ENTIRE Boston Marathon course, starting the day in Hopkinton at 6 a.m.!  Yikers!  Here's a couple of courtesy pictures from her with her team!
As anybody who runs the Boston Marathon can attest, the Citgo sign means the end is near, right?  Wrong!  You stare at the damn thing for what seems like miles!
Don't ask
So proud of both the kids, who inspire me on a daily basis
The two buds, getting ready to wrap it up.  Right on Hereford, left on Boylston
Heading to the finish, Jackie can do this with her eyes closed!
Welcome to Boston - where some finish lines just mean more than others
The whole team at the finish line
The fantastic four Cook ladies wrap it up together
Cutest damhn walker on the course!
Yeah, not quite sure what I can say about a giant Adirondack chair at the finish, but hey, it made for a funky finish line photo.  Andrew wants to get one for his room at Holy Cross 
 And yes, because I know you're all wracked with worry, Andrew did get to eat at the finish
Again, huge praise for the Jimmy Fund and the work the organization does all year long for people who seriously need their help. We'll keep on doing this walk - and many others like it - every year that we can raise money to help fight this stinking disease.  Thanks also to everyone who takes part in ANY kind of fund-raiser during the course of a year to help fight this battle.
Anyone who still wants to make a donation can visit the Jimmy Fund Walk's page, type in Cook in the name field up top, and go to a member of Annie's Army link within:
And finally, a photo from last year's walk, the reason Annie's Army stays on the march - heal up, Annie, we're counting on you rejoining us out there next year!