Monday, April 27, 2015

Before You Take That First Step....

I know we're still a bit behind the times, but in terms of blogging updates, we've finally reached the point of the opening gun that gives the green light for the final 9,000 runners of this year's Boston Marathon to cross the starting mat.
And that includes our three favorite entries this year - Andrew Cook, Nicole Hatem, and Tom Beaupre!
But before they can get to the blue and gold START painted across the center of Hopkinton, there's a lot of pre-race rituals they have to partake in.
Including.....the group picture with marathoners past, present, and future (looking at you Ian!)
Andrew was photobombing so rapidly, he's a blur!
With great power comes great marathons.  That bodes well for Andrew.
This year's Terrific Trio
If only the nuns of St. Joseph's High School could see us now.  They'd never believe it.  Five Crusaders brandishing medals of Boston Marathons past.
Notice Tom didn't want to flirt with superstition so he wouldn't don his medal. Yet.
Six veterans of Marathons past.  Notice only one of them is wearing a number for this year's outing.  Iron Man.  Or Spider-Man.  Some super-hero.
No, they're not making bad fashion choices.
Anyone who's run Boston knows the legend of starting line disposable gear, especially on a day where the temperature barely creeps out of the 40s, and the rain is steadily falling.  Thankfully, race organizers collect all the discarded clothing and donate it to charitable organizations.  Here, both Tom and Andrew show off their donations to this year's collection. 
In Hopkinton, thanks to the ever-capable wheels of Elias Hatem who knows just about every road into and out of Hopkinton, our intrepid runners make it right to the bus transports.
But first, they need to have their fashion choices inspected.  For security reasons.
Fashion statements or question marks?
Then it's time to board them buses!
Nicole is just excited because she got a seat to herself on the special bus!
One of the greatest welcome sights a runner can see
Yes it does.
Don't make fun of the ponchos.  They're a life-saver during inclement weather, especially when you're just standing there waiting for your start!  No hypothermia, here!
Anchorman High Fives!  You better believe it!
And suddenly, in the race's earlier steps - there they were!  The father-daughter legend tandem of Phil and Alyssa Maia!  'Twas Coach Maia who helped Andrew develop his love of running at Lowell High School, and now here's Andrew doing his third consecutive Boston Marathon!
Tres aclamaciones para El Senor and La Senorita!
Carrying on a tradition set by his proud papa, Andrew made sure to catch Jolly Old Saint Nicholas on camera.
Back home in Lowell, Andrew's proud mama was letting the city of Lowell - and the world- know how super proud she is of her little runner!
So finally, we've made it to the start!  All that remains is the glory of the remaining 26.2 miles of this year's Marathon!  We'll close out this blogging series with award-winning shots next time around!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Expo-sing with Tom and the Beaupres

Because you can NEVER get enough chomps, granola bites, tortilla chips, jelly sandwiches, and Gu, it always make sense to hit the Boston Marathon expo a SECOND time, with a different runner in tow, experiencing the madness of the expo for the first time.

Bring on the Beaupres!

Tom, Laura, and their son Ian made the seven hour sojourn from Allentown, PA to arrive in time for Tom to pick up his inaugural number.

But before he could get that, he needed to pay homage to the granddaddy of the Boston Marathon himself, Johnny Kelley, whose statue waits for runners in Newton, around mile 18, just as they prepare to crest the hills that break hearts. So of course, we stopped to pay our respects and hope a little of Kelley's Marathon Magic would rub off on Tom. (Spoiler alert: it did!)
After Tom got his first glance at Heartbreak Hill, Boston College, Cleveland Circle, and the Beacon Street torture that would lay before him on the final five miles of Monday's run, we made it in to Boylston Street and Tom had his first up-close encounter with the most famous finish line in the annals of running.
He made sure to pay it the proper respect.  He was superstitious about visiting the site prior to his official arrival there on Monday, but the exuberant atmosphere that surrounds the finish line on Marathon weekend is intoxicating and helps enhance the overall experience, and is not to be missed.
Not a cloud in the sky, sunny dispositions all around.  This was a moment to remember.
And then it was off the number pick-off.  You may recall seeing a near-identical shot of Tom's running cohort Andrew picking his up in our last scintillating blog post.
Yep.  Only one Boston.  And plenty of reasons to smile.
The course looks pretty flat when it's laid out on a map.  Trust me, it isn't.
Inside the expo, at the Disney booth, I had a chance to salivate while admiring/fondling the Avengers Half Marathon medal that finishers of Disneyland's Avengers Assemble race collect at that race's end in California.
Alas, it's not a race I was able to make it to last fall.  Instead, I can just hold the gorgeous hardware in my sweaty palms.
Ian is ready for his dad's gorilla run on Monday.  This fella waits for people just as they prepare to climb the vaunted Heartbreak Hill.  Many runners probably think they're hallucinating when they see the hirsute simian out there cheering for them.  It's just one in a series of mind-altering visions that await you during the run.
The most welcome sign Tom found at the Expo.
Ian, proudly sporting his Red Sox gear, can tell his schoolmates he met Sam Adams during his trip to historic Boston, so it was an educational trip as well!
And his parents can tell THEIR friends they sampled the 26.2 Sam Adams ale made especially for the Boston Marathon! 
Ian edged out last year's Marathon winner, Meb Keflezighi, and he didn't even break a sweat
The obligatory father/son Boston 2024 celebration, complete with laurels, flags, and medals.  Start training Ian, our money's on you!
He's right, There's Only One First Boston.  And it's unforgettable.
Finally, Ian was doing his best Mr. Crabs imitation, though it was actually a lobster.  And those lobster sneakers and socks we scored on Friday during our first pass?  Completely sold out by Sunday.
The swagging's done.  Bring on Race Day!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Expo-sing with Andrew and the Hatems

First in a series of blogs spotlighting this year's 119th running of the Boston Marathon, so if you're weary of running stories, or the majesty and glory that is Boston, you're gonna wanna sit out the next few days worth of posts.  I just can't let the historic event pass without some documentation of all the laughs, achievements, and milestones that mark this weekend every April.  This year was a special outing, coming on the heels of the most historic winter we've ever experienced, along with the debut of some first-time Boston runners.  (More on them later.)

But anyone who's been a regular reader of this blog over the years knows that it all begins with a pilgrimage to the expo that packs them in by the thousands at the Hynes Convention Center.  You know, some years, I truly think Andrew has more fun at the Expo than he does at the actual marathon itself.  He certainly eats more there.

Before we could spend a small fortune on memorabilia at the expo, though, there was a pit stop on Boylston Street to pay tribute to the four victims whose lives were lost when a pair of cowardly terrorists attacked the finish line two years ago.

It was nice to see the acknowledgement at the site of where the first bomb exploded.  Never forget them.
A new addition this year were the hundreds of daffodils scattered around storefronts on Boylston Street and Newbury Street, sporting the blue and gold colors that have come to embody the spirit of the 2013 Marathon. 
At the Expo, after producing the necessary paperwork to confirm he was the crazy fool who had committed to running the 26. miles, Andrew was handed his badge of honor. 
Because anyone who's ever run even one step of the course knows, there's only One Boston. 
Oh yeah, and there's only one of these, too 
Andrew and I got there early on Friday so we were able to stake a claim to primo real estate on the autograph banner.  So natch, we left our mark for the 2015 edition.  By the time I returned on Sunday, there were thousands upon thousands of other sigs surrounding ours.  But there was only one E Streeters. 
And then it happened!  Andrew connected with his lifelong bud and first-time Bostoner, Nicole Hatem, who was doing her doggonest to support the Boston running economy.  Nicole gets props for logging her first marathon after taking on most of her longest runs on some of the coldest days of the 2015 season! 
Yup, Andrew was ready to meet the challenge. 
Tell us: what's been YOUR Greatest Run Ever? 
Anyone who's trekked the final mile of Boston knows these two street signs intimately.  Say it with me: Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  And then straight on to victory. 
Mugging it up for a Runner's World Magazine Cover 
Wheedling our way through the aisles, we came upon Dick Hoyt - an icon known far and wide across the nation for his inspirational achievements, pushing his son Rick in his wheelchair.  Dick stepped back this year to let another member of Team Hoyt pick up the mantel and run Boston (no, not John Piekos) but it was still an honor to shake hands and thank Dick for all of the lives he's touched with a father's love over these past two decades. 
Scoring a pair of lobster socks (don't ask), Andrew took to the Brooks treadmill, hoping he'd look this good come Mile 17 on the real course. (He did).
But no matter what, he'd never look as good as THIS guy - a critical member of our Marathon team and clearly, the best dressed runner on the fabled streets.  Take a bow, Elias! 
Yeah, there's only one E Street.  Shuffle on over there. 
And finally, a sign of the times to come, perhaps? Hamming it up in the Boston 2024 Olympics pavilion to throw our support behind Boston's bid to bring the world showcase to Beantown come 2024.  I doubt I'll be a medal contender at that point, but Andrew?  Don't count him out! 
That's a wrap on Expo Day One!  We're not done yet......