Monday, March 31, 2014

Wet, Wild, and Windy!

Taking a break from the Big Easy for this blog post to visit our annual ordeal, otherwise known as the Eastern States 20 in which we run down the New Hampshire coast, usually contending with some type of wind that makes the run unforgettable and sometimes unbearable.
This year?
A nor'easter.
That means crazy ass winds that blew in off the ocean, rain that hit us sideways for the start of the race and the first five miles, washed out roads that added brook-jumping detours, and chilly temps that never climbed out of the 30s.
Luckily, at some point, Boreas, the god of the North Wind, looked down on us with favor and shifted the wind to our backs to get us into Hampton Beach.
But first? A warning from race organizers about the dangers of this year's weather, conditions that caused them to abbreviate the half-marathon course and to drill home the very real danger of hypothermia over and over and over. Quite the sobering speech.  In fact, it scared the $#!+ out of these guys.  Can't you tell by the telling glances?
The Wild Pack, in happier times
Spider-Man joined us for the pillar of excellence 
Mary-Jo and Donna had the boo-boo lips out in full force because of the storm 
We're known for our trash talking.  This race, we took it to a new level with garbage time.  Don't mock us.  The trash bags were life-savers. 
Andrew:  Seriously?  I'm running with these clowns? 
Picture of the year.
Tommy's either letting us know who's number one, or he's getting ready for a new career in proctology.  All I know is that when he ran behind us, we ran faster. 
The Garbagemen of the Apocalypse, Running Against the Wind, a Seger song I just couldn't get out of my head for the first hour
Donna's got thumbs us for on the streets of Portsmouth 
Mary-Jo has no idea about the spectacle creeping up behind her 
One of many windswept bridges in New Castle that tried to blow us out to sea 
Nick Laganas, showing the sporty Glad look, 2014
The two front men, honoring the time-worn tradition of always knowing where your cameras are 
Team Holy Cross rocking the backstreets!  No hills like Mount St. James to be found here, though 
If Tommy hadn't shed the latex glove, this guy would have something to be worried about.  Tommy chased this shirt for miles.  Alas, none were to be found at the finish line.
It's not easy running green.
Afterwards at the finish line.  One is beaming.   The other, well I was just proud of Andrew's finish 
Yeah, we were frozen by this point, but who cares?  We were done 
Sadly, the elements sent us scurrying back to hot showers, so I wasn't there for Mary-Jo and Donna's later miles, but they were rock stars, nonetheless!  Shoutout as always too, to Ann, who leapfrogged the whole course and was a welcome oasis whenever we passed her, with a welcome wardrobe change, drink, Gu, or Advil.
And yes, in case you were worrying, there was food at the end.  Chicken soup and pasta all around.
Someday, I don't know when, can we get warm and sunny conditions for this 20 mile expedition?
Just once?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bourbon and Run

Another early bell in the Big Easy to get out and running before the conference starts, this time, with a wandering nine miler that started in the French Quarter and ended up over in the Garden District.
Donna and Mary-Jo, running straight down Bourbon Street, sans beads
The benefit of running so early in New Orleans is that they've just finished washing the streets down from the previous night's "revelry" and there's no cars on the streets yet
Of course, places like the Hustler Club aren't open for business at that time, either
Over to the scenic garden district where thousands of beads adorn the trees, and the Gothic homes are glorious
Also home to two Lafayette Cemeteries, and trust me, if you to to N'Awlins, checking out the above-ground cemeteries with their beautiful crypts is a must-see
Donna got lost
Mary-Jo and Donna were afraid to step on a crack in Lafayette Cemetery
Me, I'm just wandering
Any fans of the video game Left 4 Dead out there?  It's a staple for father/son or father/daughter video game playing round our parts, and there's more than a few dozen points in the Big Easy when you feel like you're smack dab in a level of the game.  Including the finale, set on the bridge behind me.
Because it's not every day you can take your picture with King Triton
Or his giant alligator
So yeah, my turn 
One of the cooler street names to be found down there.
Yeah, we had one of these on our runs
And finally, listen to the streetcar - come watch us run
Great start to the day, feeling invigorated and ready to rock the marketing scene

Thursday, March 27, 2014

All That Conference Jazz

Day One of the NCMPR Conference, and Team MCC had a busy day, with staff presenting workshops on a number of marketing fronts and attending a keynote speech delivered by political analyst James Carville.
Carville, a New Orleans native, has worked the television talk show circuit for nearly two decades after rising to prominence during the Clinton presidential administration.
He was on hand at NCMPR to speak with the community college marketing folks about getting their message out, and keeping it simple, and to the point.  Not every press release or speech needs to run on and on.  Sometimes brevity is better.
To prove his point, he told the fascinating tale of Ed Everett.  Don't recognize his name?  He's the guy who delivered a more than two-hour speech at Gettysburg on the same day another famous orator delivered an address that lasted only 10 sentences and yet is emblazoned in the annals of history.
Here's a gathering of some of the most strategic political analysts of our generation.
My colleague Jennifer Aradhya and I delivered three workshops to our peers from community colleges across the country on social media and crisis communications.  With last April's Boston Marathon as well as Hurricane Sandy serving as our Massachusetts backdrop, we had engaged and lively roundtable discussions with dozens of communicators, some of whom lived - and worked - through disasters in their states.
Sadly - and shockingly - virtually no one at the table could answer our trivia question about the number of World Series won by the Boston Red Sox this century
Later, in another room, our colleague Beth Noel had a packed house for her presentation on project management.
Conference goers, clearly, were jazzed by our efforts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Running Down the Bayou

Had a chance recently to travel with some colleagues for the annual National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) annual conference on behalf of Middlesex Community College.  Our college's Public Affairs and Marketing departments were up for a number of awards for our marketing, television, and social media offerings.  We cleaned up last year at the awards, held in the Windy City, Chicago.  This year, we travelled south to the Big Easy for some terrific memories.
And of course, one of the cardinal rules of travelling:  run the roads.
Which is what we did every morning before the conference started.  And as a result, we logged 27 miles on the back roads, seeing parts of N'Awlins that we wouldn't have seen otherwise.
So bear with me for the next few blog posts, they're going to be a travelogue of the trip.
Made friends with our bellhops, who helped us chart every day's run (you'll meet them in a later post)

The beads in New Orleans are legendary, and can be found, well, everywhere
Running along the Mississippi 
Running beneath I-10, where beautiful murals adorn the columns 
The lonely life of the Louisiana Runner 
Yeah, a pair of Hippie Gypsies
Catching their breath
Jesters are big in the French Quarter 
As proof of that, check out these clowns!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hilly, But There Was Chili

Back to the wilds of Littleton, Acton and Harvard for another Boston Marathon training run, this time 18 miles of Hiding on the Backstreets.  If anyone is wondering what the hilliest town in our running area is, we can answer that question for you.  With authority.
We always look so cheerful at the outset of these things
Sean, going with the Michael Jackson one-glove schtick, much to Tommy's delight. 
We started out dressed a lot heavier than needed, as the temps crept up into the 50s before we finished, leading to a lot of clothes-shedding along the way.   We kept it G-rated.
Possibly the only nanosecond during the run that I was actually in front of Carlos and Nick (which is why we captured it on film) 
Not an apple in sight 
 So here's a question for all you runners - when you come to a fork in the road, and left takes you along a flat road, and right takes you up the steepest hill that the town of Harvard has to offer, which way do you go?
(That was a rhetorical question)
One of four town line battles along the course.  Tommy took the first, and always-important one.  Sean scorched to victory on the second.  The other two are up for debate. 
Because we didn't have enough hills on the first 17.8, it only makes sense to finish up the second biggest hill of the course, to end at my sister's house.  Here, Andrew declares he's number one.  Only he used the wrong finger to declare it.  I think.
First to the town line, Tommy gets first dibs at the chili waiting for us afterwards, courtesy of my sister Kathleen.
Avengers indeed Assembled today
Because as any reader of this blog knows, it's all about the feedbag waiting at run's end, and as is often the case with us, Mexican was on the menu today!
Here's Andrew making sure the Founder of the Feast isn't taking the last bowl
The Spoils of War
36 days to go to the Starting Line in Hopkinton!