Sunday, November 30, 2014

Running for Rachel

For regular readers of this blog, you probably have glommed onto the fact by now that we E Streeters are a hardy bunch of runners.  We run all year long, through all conditions, all kinds of distances, and all kinds of locales.  And as often as possible, to help support worthy causes when we can.
This weekend, we took part in unquestionably one of the worthiest of those causes ever - Rachel's Run, in memory of Rachel Anne Morrison.
Rachel was an avid runner whose dream to run the Boston Marathon with her father John was tragically cut short just a month before this year's Marathon, when she was struck and killed by a drunken driver in California, just days after her 27th birthday.
Every year, Rachel used to organize a post-Thanksgiving run on the cross-country trails behind Notre Dame Academy in Tyngsboro.  All participants were asked to bring food donations for local food pantries.
This year, in her memory, her family pulled off their first 5K on the course, Rachel's Run, drawing in nearly 150 runners to traverse the icy terrain behind the Tyngsboro school.
Needless to say, the E Streeters were there in full force.
Special thanks to running photog extraordinaire Jim Rhoades who was snapping pics feverishly out on the course itself, many of which you'll see below.
Some runners, like Barry and Tommy Scanlon, came prepared, wearing spikes.  It helps when you put them on the right way, though.  You figure out which one would have been better suited to run the course backwards.
An E Streeters group pic, sans Scott Graham, who was out getting his striped pants groomed for the run.
Case in point.  Two Great Scotts
Barry tried to glean some racing tips from veteran runner Scott Spence.
Then realized none of them would help and tried to get a head start before race officials reeled him back in.
And they're off!
Scott represented the E Streeters well.
With Kara Haas dogging his trail.  Needless to say, Kara took first place in the women's division.
A striped tiger, running through the jungle
Seriously, if you've dabbled in running and haven't tried trail running yet, you're missing out on a world of fun.  Not to mention treacherous footing, slippery slopes, and extra-hard workouts!
Andrew's got the edge on his old man at this point
John just makes it look like he's struggling.  He's not.  Really, he's not.  Okay, maybe just a little
Keep on trekking, Lauren!

Miles to go before he sleeps, Andrew has the trail all to himself
Tommy takes the hill.
Coming down the other side of said hill, the pack is all bunched up again
John's got a message for both Scotts - Spence and Graham.  Either he's getting cocky, or he just figures they're going to be passing him soon on their second lap
Getting ready for a patented Scott Rocket
Proudly representing the Greater Lowell Road Runners, Graham takes the second hill
Andrew makes his point
Tommy can run this course with his eyes closed
Steve Vachon just laughs to himself.  He knows what he's doing to do this pack of misfits on the second lap
John broke the cardinal rule of always knowing where the camera is.  Clearly, I did not.
Dan Bradley does his Tyngsboro clan proud
With his old man Tim right on his heels
Finally, it's finish line time - in no particular order:
Vachon cackling to himself after his second lap strategy paid off in spades 
Even without Carlos there, it was still a group run for the ages.  Not to mention a group finish
Andrew clearly wants to make sure everyone crosses the line together
Except his old man, who got boxed out of the group photo
Fortunately, we had Ann Scanlon there to document the thrilling Group Run finish
Way to go, Dan
Valerie is a blur, she's running so fast
And somehow, Tim still musters a smile.
In closing, so that no one forgets the reason we all ventured out on the trails in the first place, we'll let the woman in whose memory the race is run have the last word, in a special poem she wrote that was handed out to all the participants, called

I am not shy
I am thoughtful
I am not plain
I am beautiful inside
I am not nosy
I am curious
I am not inconsistent
I am spontaneous
I am not loud
I am expressive
I am not unusual
I am unique
I am not a rebel
I am opinionated
I am not wild
 I am free.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks4Giving 2014 - It's All About the Race

Another Thanksgiving tradition clocks another notch in 2014, bringing together the ever-extending E Streeters family for a wet, sloppy and cold 5K road race in Lowell to benefit Alternative House for battered women.
Scott is grimacing even by the THOUGHT of being seen running with us
An Andrew-Carlos group run
It's a great annual tradition, bringing so many of us together for a ton of laughs to support a worthy cause, some exercise, and of course, apple pie.
St. Margaret's School (and church) was well represented for this outing
Thanks to Kimberley McMahon for start and finish support, not to mention some award-winning pics
The extended Spence family, including a Left Coast transplant BEFORE (we'll be back with the after a bit later)
Somehow, John always manages to know where all the cameras are.  It's a skill he's spent decades honing.
A packed house for the start
And they're off!  At varying rates of speed, of course

The father-son duo of Jack and Killian Minch represented well.  Have to check the official results, but I think the old man beat the kid.
Nothing like getting words of inspiration from the champion coach of Lowell High School Cross Country, Scott Ouellette - "Your son's kicking your ass!"  Being younger by almost 30 years can give a kid an advantage, I suppose.  But this blog has no room for excuses, so moving on.
Which brings us to.....finish line photos!
Finn is kicking dad's butt heading to the tape
Killian's looking solid
Rebecca Newell is holding her own!  (She then went on to plank for 30 minutes at the finish line)
Courtney, running in her first-ever 5K, makes the break from her aunt.  But who actually crossed the finish line first?  (The answer might make for a chilly Thanksgiving dinner at the Spence house)
Nicole Hatem, because it's all about the face
Mom and daughter tandem of another Left Coaster, Alex, and Victoria Hatem.  One was so busy posing, the other one surged to a foot-race victory.
Team Cassidy heading into the finish.  There was NO WAY Brennan was going to let DJ or Jesse beat him in the chute.  Now that's focus!
Elias Hatem is always all smiles
Team Cassidy continues its finish, with Joni joining her brother Mike to represent
And then, of course, there's the pies.
The AFTER Spence family picture we promised earlier.  Amazingly, they're still all smiles!
Three buds
Someone clearly has a pie problem.  And Carlos does not seem amused.
Andrew's appetite is legendary, but this is ridiculous!
And finally, the obligatory Thanks4Giving Pie Shot, another holiday tradition!
Once again, using this opportunity to give thanks that we're all still around and healthy enough to celebrate another Thanksgiving run together.  People think we're a bit obsessed with running, but days like today reinforce why.  There's a ton of laughs, and a great opportunity for the extended E Streeters family to gather and just appreciate the fact that after all these years, we're not only still talking to one another, but having a great time creating memories as we do it!
Personal thanks to my three faves, son Andrew, daughter Heather, and the love of me life, Jackie, for being there all year round and supporting me through all the crazy miles and adventures.
Give thanks everyone, and say a prayer that Andrew doesn't need his stomach pumped after overeating all of today's culinary offerings.