Andrew Cook '15

My Lord… where to begin? You know when you look forward to something for so long, you have no idea what to do once it’s over? Welcome to aftermath, population me! My legs are still cramped, my toes are too sensitive to even put bedsheets over at night, and just walking from class to class has become a HERCULEAN effort on Holy Cross’ stair-filled campus. But the 2014 Boston Marathon, the reason for all this discomfort, is in the rearview mirror now, and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had during my 20 years. Here’s how it happened.
As I shambled to my car last year, my legs in even more pain than they are now and with the ringing of two explosions still buzzing around my skull, I think I was already formulating my return to Boston. I could barely stand for a week, yet I knew that I didn’t really have a choice – I’d be running the Boston Marathon this year. As President Obama himself said, “BET ON IT.” 365 days of “Boston Strong” reminders later, I found myself back in Hopkinton yesterday morning – and 36,000 of my closest friends showed up with me.

The 2014 E-Streeter Boston Marathoners, pre-departure

The 2014 E-Streeter Boston Marathoners, pre-departure

Barry and Tommy Scanlon wearing matching t-shirts to honor their sister Sue, who inspired their running

Barry and Tommy Scanlon wearing matching t-shirts to honor their sister Susan, who inspired their running

The Athlete's Village in Hopkinton, the resting place for runners before the race. Notice the security on the high school rooftop

The Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, the resting place for runners before the race. Notice the security on the high school rooftop

Never was there a hardier, more battle-tested band of brothers (and sisters) ever assembled

Never was there a hardier, more battle-tested band of brothers (and sisters) ever assembled

He's fallen, and he can't get up. I'm just scratching my head

He’s fallen, and he can’t get up. I’m just scratching my head

Due to the increased amount of runners this year, the B.A.A. added ANOTHER starting wave onto the preexisting three. This meant that, by the time we even crossed the starting line at 11:25am, the elite leaders were already thundering past Boston College (at a guess). I’m not saying that’s why they beat some of us E-Streeters, I’m just saying I think it’s an unfair advantage on their part…

This was the line TO GET TO the starting line

This was the line TO GET TO the starting line

Dad and I before the starting line. We're both doing our star-spangled duty in Captain America gear

Dad and I before take-off. We’re both doing our star-spangled duty in Captain America gear

AND THEY'RE OFF

AND THEY’RE OFF

I can’t describe the rush you get crossing that starting mat – any injuries you’re nursing (and we all had them) simply fall away, and the surge of pure adrenaline you get feels like it just might carry you straight through to Boylston Street. A half-mile in, my hands were already sore from high fives!

Marathon11
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Dad with MCC and LPD buddy (and hardcore marathoner) Joe Patuto

Dad with MCC and LPD buddy (and hardcore marathoner) Joe Patuto

Runners are all about stats and numbers; what was that last mile split, what’s the weather gonna be like, how many people are in that line for the porta-potty, so on. Not a single guess could be reasonably made as to the number of spectators out along that 26.2 mile distance yesterday. Up into the millions, no question, without breaking a sweat. Not an ounce of ill-will to be found, just an entire state turning out in unadulterated support for this year’s marathoners. You’ll notice in most of these pictures I don’t have headphones in – I genuinely didn’t need them, the soundtrack of cheering from the crowds was so uplifting. You keep your running playlist on Pandora, give me a Patriots’ Day crowd in Framingham or Natick.

All the way from the North Pole, even Santa came to watch!!!

All the way from the North Pole, even Santa came to watch!!!

A superhero reception

A superhero reception

Dad stops for a second with his friend, Natick Police Chief James Hicks. Thinking about it, why do you know so many police, Dad??

Dad stops for a second with his friend, Natick Police Chief James Hicks. Thinking about it, why do you know so many police, Dad??

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As I was prepping myself for the Wellesley College scream tunnel, coincidence and luck found me right smack dab next to another Holy Cross Crusader, Class of ’06 alum Bryan DiMare. It was great seeing another member of ‘Sader Nation out there, Bryan (and wishing the rest of your race was successful)!!!

We're 'Sader Nation AND Boston Strong!!

We’re ‘Sader Nation AND Boston Strong!!

Next came what was UNDOUBTEDLY the highlight of my day. There’s a blog’s-worth of material on my Dad’s phone from my exploits over the next mile planting kisses on screaming Wellesley girls, but in the interests of time and a PG-rating for this post, we’ll just skim. The enthusiasm from the girls is always an enormous boost, but this year especially it was particularly *ahem* unforgettable. Special shout-out to my best friend growing up, Nicole Hatem, a Wellesley senior who closed out her scream tunnel days with an exclamation point!

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Marathon21

I'm told this is the favorite day of the year on the Wellesley campus. Bless them.

I’m told this is the favorite day of the year on the Wellesley campus. Bless them.

A glute injury blossomed into something pretty terrible from this point on, so the rest of the race went by in a bit of a haze. The crowds and their enthusiasm never let up, but I just put my head down and soldiered on as best I could. Apologies if I ran right past anybody reading this – I swear, I didn’t mean to offend you, I was just confronting all my inner demons at the moment and the outside world became kind of secondary.

A much-needed stop with Mom and Heather at mile 16.5. I wouldn't have finished the race without you two, and I mean that.

A much-needed stop with Mom and Heather at mile 16.5. I wouldn’t have finished the race without you two, and I mean that.

Dad with Holy Cross bud Karina O'Friel, Class of '14. Heartbreak Hill has NOTHING on Mount St. James.

Dad with Holy Cross bud Karina O’Friel, Class of ’14. Heartbreak Hill has NOTHING on Mount St. James.

I thankfully start remembering things (regained consciousness?) around Kenmore Square in Boston, and found that I was blessedly only about a mile from the finish. My Dad and I could actually HEAR Boylston Street before we ever even got to it. It was tough to judge while we were running past (the fact that we were 26 miles into our run may have had something to do with it, too), but I really don’t know how deep the crowds lining the home stretch were. A dozen deep maybe? Twenty? However many there were, they made one heck of a lot of noise! Running down to the finish line with telescope vision, it was hard not to imagine the plumes of smoke that had arisen there last year, and that added even more solemnity to an occasion that can already bring people to tears. But as we ran past block by block of happy, cheering faces, I had a realization. Last year, two cowardly scum had attempted to mar this sporting event with their evil, had tried to crush the spirit of a city and make a damning statement about human nature. Blessed as I was with a view from the trenches, I’m here to announce to the world, once and for all, definitively… BOSTON WON. Boston won, its people won, the people who come from around the world to run its streets won. Boston has expanded beyond a geographical location or a collection of stone buildings into an idea known around the world. Boston now means strength, means toughness, means tenacity, and my GOD it was on display yesterday. You can try to scar us, but you’ll never scare us. Not by a long shot. We’ll just keep on running.

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Powering down the home stretch

Powering down the home stretch

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People wonder why we do marathons. They ask (reasonably), “why do you submit yourself to that strain, voluntarily?” My answer: for the feeling I get crossing the finish line. It’s achievement, it’s success, it’s completion in its most un-distilled form. I threw my hands up and SCREAMED a victory shout, and I could feel all the muscles that hadn’t been burned away bulge. It was a pretty cool feeling, man. I turned, then, and just hugged my Dad.
Anyone who knows him will understand this perfectly, but he’s just the most rock-solid, inspiring, AMAZING guy I’ve ever known. He POWERED through the Marathon course Monday, there’s no other way to describe it. The man ran another marathon just three months ago, down in Disney, and he’s had a really bad calf injury ever since, but I swear to God he ran like a man possessed. I’m not even sure he felt the injury at all, he just took his resolve and determination to such a higher level. It’s no different than any other day of my 20 years, Dad, but when we crossed that finish line side-by-side I was just reminded how privileged I am to be your son. You made the whole thing possible in the first place, and I mean it when I say you carried me through to that feeling of victory.

Marathon Men

Marathon Men

A heavenly reunion

A heavenly reunion

Christmas card? We'll photoshop out the sweat lines and grimaces

Christmas card? We’ll photoshop out the sweat lines and grimaces

We trudged from the finish area to pick our capes and medals and over to the family car parked a few blocks away. We both sunk right into our seats, and I gotta say, I never knew Ford chairs were that comfortable before.

I'm modeling the silver cape look 14. "Real heroes wear silver capes."

I’m modeling the silver cape look 14. “Real heroes wear silver capes.”

The first and only selfie I've ever taken. I did it for the bling

The first and only selfie I’ve ever taken. I did it for the bling

So… that about covers it. Hopefully you’ve gotten a sense of my Marathon experience this year; truthfully, I’m not even sure if I have it nailed down myself yet. It’ll take me some time to work it all out, and sitting here now I’ve actually just realized that this is the first time in over two years when I don’t have a training goal marked on my calendar. It’s a brave new world for me! But I want to thank, DEEPLY, the E-Streeters who ran with me to get here – Mary-Jo Griffin, Donna Corbin, Sean Kenny, Nick Laganas, & the Scanlon Brothers – and my amazing family – Mom and Heather – for all your support. MVP, though, obviously is saved for Big Man. It was an unforgettable time we had together, and it’s something I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Boston Strong? You’re looking at it.

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Expo14

Good morning everyone! Here’s the first of what will probably be several posts over the next few days, chronicling my own humble part in the historic 118th running of the Boston Marathon! A little secret – I may or may not only do the Marathon so I can go to the expo that takes place the weekend beforehand. It’s fairly Runners’ Mecca: a gathering of every imaginable sporting brand, from official sponsor Adidas to Saucony to Under Armour, and everybody in-between. They all show up with incredible gear unique to this weekend (plus all kinds of free giveaways) and a year’s worth of bank account savings is usually blown by the end of the day.

Expo1To start off the day, a truly amazing program that I want to give the attention it deserves. Since the attacks last April, Boston’s Old South Church has been knitting thousands of hand-made scarves for marathon runners. They’ve accepted donations from all over the world, and people from far and wide have been sending in every imaginable pattern of blue and yellow for the church to give away. With the qualification that you “Be swift, be safe” when you wear it, the Church’s volunteers wrapped people in both scarves and hugs over the course of the day, and I’m sure many a tear of emotion was shed.

Our Hogwarts House colors are blue and gold!

Our Hogwarts House colors are blue and gold!

Expo1.1

Expo3With the expo starting at noon, my dad and I, along with my dad’s co-workers and first time marathoners Mary-Jo Griffin and Donna Corbin, headed into BeanTown at 12:30, thinking the opening crowds would at least have dissipated a little. Yeah right. I’ve been coming to the expo for a few years now, and I’ve NEVER seen it as busy as it was yesterday. There was a thousands-long line just to get in the door and get our numbers!

Expo2.1

Expo4The magic number this year’s 31360, and for anyone who wants text updates from the B.A.A. as to my progress can just type that into their runner tracker program (which you can find at this link:  http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/att-athlete-alert.aspx ). Dad’s number is 31359, so follow him too!

GO-TIME

GO-TIME

Sader Nation meets Boston Strong

‘Sader Nation meets Boston Strong

Ladies, eat your hearts out

Ladies, eat your hearts out

From there, it was into the John Hancock Expo Center, where all those aforementioned treasures were waiting for us. It was so packed inside it was difficult to simply try on merchandise, there was that little room to move. We still managed to pick up some incredible swag though! Superstition prevents me from wearing any of it until I’ve actually crossed the finish line, but it just serves as a little extra motivation, that’s for sure.

This year's race colors, orange and blue! I'm still waiting for Purple and White... maybe next year's

This year’s race colors, orange and blue! I’m still waiting for Purple and White… maybe next year’s

 

Self-explanatory. At Holy Cross, it's a fact of life

Self-explanatory. At Holy Cross, it’s a fact of life

So that’s it – I’ve put in the training, I’ve got the number, I’ve got the jacket… as my high school track coach used to say, “the hay’s in the barn.” After a whole year of build-up, the Boston Marathon is finally here again! Thank you to everyone who’s supported me and my extended running family as we’ve prepped for this year’s running, in 48 hours it’ll be done and you won’t have to hear us go on about it anymore. Especial thanks, as always, to my mom Jackie and sister Heather, the best cheering section in the world! Can’t wait to see you guys out in Newton on Monday! That’s it for now folks, see you on the other side! WISH ME LUCK!!!!!!

I can't wait to be represent some Purple Pride!!!

I can’t wait to be represent some Purple Pride!!!

And P.S. – Happy Easter to everyone!

 

 

AmazingRaceLogo

On your mark – get set – GO! I usually don’t go in for reality TV (there’s always a noticeable lack of zombies), with one giant exception. Even though the show’s been going for over 20 seasons, I’ve never yet tired of CBS’ the Amazing Race; whether because of the fantastic exotic locales we follow the contestants to, or the crazy challenges they’re required to do once they get there, the Amazing Race has always remained fun for me.
Imagine, then, my excitement when I learned of one being held right here on campus! Put on by CAB (the Campus Activities Board), this year marked the 2nd Holy Cross Amazing Race, and I had the crazy idea of, “Hey, know what, let’s do it!” So I rang up my cousin Benjamin Nicholson, Class of ’17, in his room in Wheeler Dorm, he said “YES,” and the rest was history! As cousins, you see, we both possess the same insanity genes, so we jump at stuff like this. And, both of us being Marvel geeks fresh off a midnight premiere of Captain America, there was only one team name for us to choose – so Sunday afternoon, the Uncanny Pecs-Men were at the starting line, ready and rearin’ to go!!

Ben's got his game face on. I'm his partner, and I was terrified

Ben’s got his game face on. I’m his partner, and I was terrified

We met with the other teams on the Hogan 2nd floor couches, and took off at a pre-arranged time from the starting line. I told Ben, who’s never seen an episode of the CBS show, that the key rule to winning this thing is to RUN. EVERYWHERE. When our first clue pointed us straight up the hill to the Hart Center pool, that rule didn’t sound so good anymore. Ben was a trooper though, and we picked them up and put them down!
From a decryption code involving the Hart Pool record board, down to a scavenger hunt among cars in the parking garage, we were led onto an empty Fitton Field. We got our best parkour skills on, and many fences and walls were scaled and/or vaulted to give us the straightest line to our destination.

A high school football superbowl champion, Ben's right at home on a football field

A high school football superbowl champion, Ben’s right at home on a football field

People have been telling us to get a clue for years now, so we finally took their advice

People have been telling us to get a clue for years now, so we finally took their advice

From here, some more parkour skills may or may not have been utilized to get us to the Loyola Ballroom, where Ben showed off his truly impressive mini-golf putting skills. Ben’s brother Joshua played golf a few years ago, and I’d wager some things rubbed off from one to the other. At the next challenge in Campion House, I discovered firsthand how many shortbread cookies I’m able to fit in my mouth simultaneously. And then another discovery: shortbread cookies get really dry when you’ve got three of them packed into one cheek. After a generously-provided glass of water unclogged my alimentary canal, we ran up to Figge Dorm for some trash-talking (and sorting) before heading into Smith Hall for a video message from headmaster Fr. Boroughs.

2nd place gets a thumbs-up from Ben

2nd place gets a thumbs-up from Ben

"I'm Benjamin Nicholson, and I endorse this race"

“I’m Benjamin Nicholson, and I endorse this race”

An unscrambled message on the ROTC quad led us into Dinand Library, and here I have to stop and make an apology. To the perplexed librarian – to the poor students in the reading room trying to just get their work done on a sunny Sunday afternoon – Ben and I are so, so sorry. We really didn’t mean to come sprinting into the library, literally dripping sweat and gasping for air. People walking past as we hunted for the book that held our next clue must have thought to themselves, “Wow. Those two are really passionate about learning.”
Years of playing ladderball at Nicholson 4th of July gatherings got us through our next challenge with ease, before we were led to one final maddening challenge that matched up CAB leaders with their respective events. To watchers of the show, it was perhaps the single worst case of “the bad taxi driver” phenomenon that I’ve ever seen, not helped by the fact that Ben and I were the victims of it. It was a dead sprint from there to the finish in Williams, where volunteers, applause, and most importantly PIZZA awaited us!!

The Dynamic Duo!!

The Dynamic Duo!!

The two of us had an absolute blast over the course of the afternoon, and we’re already looking ahead and planning for next year! A big shoutout to CAB for organizing this event, and staffing it so excellently. The clues and challenges were both complicated and fun, and we pretty much never stopped laughing the entire afternoon. Ben, thanks for doing this with me bud – you thought you were gonna have a hard time keeping up with a marathon runner, but I assure you, you kicked some serious butt!
Just another one of the excellent events put on by Holy Cross and its organizations, and one that we’re already anticipating again in the future! Thanks also to all the other racers, I hope the rest of you had as much fun as we did. Amazing!!!

AmazingRace7

CaptainAmerica

Welcome back everyone! Great to see you all again, March was a CRAZY month that began to tease both the end of Junior year and the beginning of Senior year next August. Madness, I say, madness! Also, transitioning now from March into April, I find myself flying at what seems like 100mph towards this year’s Boston Marathon; it’s exactly three weeks away, and for the life of me I can’t tell you where all that time went. In the days and weeks heading up to it, there are a LOT of thank-yous I want to make, so I figured I’d just start them early and lay them all out here! To do it, I’ve drawn inspiration from one of the other things I’m most looking forward to in the month of April: the release of the new, upcoming Captain America movie! Yes, we all know I’m a comic geek, that’s old news. Hold off on judgment though, till you see what I’m doing with it. See, just like the majority of these Marvel Studio one-shots, the general public considers running to be an individual sport. Just like Cap, though, individual runners become a thousand times better when they’re assembled into part of a larger team. Here, then, are just a few of the running “Avengers” I’ve had the absolute privilege to run alongside during the last 365 days!
Before proceeding, I want to warn: I can already tell this’ll be on the longer side, but they all need to be said, so bear with me. And there’s even pictures to break it up!

To give some context, first, this has been agreed upon by runners and meteorologists alike as an absolutely hellish winter to train in. Even for New England, we’ve seen more subzero temps and blinding blizzards than normal, and it was challenging to get out the door even for a quick 3-mile jaunt, let alone some of the longer distance runs necessary for marathon training.

Thankfully, we're all a bunch of certifiable psychopaths!

Thankfully, we’re all a bunch of certifiable psychopaths!

The lonely life of a winter runner.

The lonely life of a winter runner.

My frozen eyebrows can attest to how tough the conditions were. It's taken until about now for them to thaw.

My frozen eyebrows can attest to how tough the conditions were. It’s taken until about now for them to thaw.

Luckily, though, it’s much easier to get out and pound the pavement when you’ve got a person (or people) to share the time with. Like they say – “misery loves company!” I want to start out first with some of the people who are crazy enough to run around the slopes of Mt. St. James with me on a daily basis. I’m talking about good ol’ purple-loving Crusaders, and it’s been an absolute joy logging miles with each and every one of them.
First off, the roommates: they’re all star members of the Men’s XC/Track team, and they could each of them run circles around me.

Sam McGrath '14 - school record holder in the 1000m run (and fellow Springsteen fanatic)

Sam McGrath ’14 – school record holder in the 1000m run (and fellow Springsteen fanatic)

Tom Santa-Maria '14

Tom Santa-Maria ’14

Alex Cicchitti '15 - next year's XC captain

Alex Cicchitti ’15 – next year’s XC captain

They’re not roommates, but they’re all incredible guys AND fast runners to boot. Ladies, they’re the full package…

Joe Seebode '15

Joe Seebode ’15

Trevor Dutton '15

Trevor Dutton ’15

Chris "Feast" Conley '16

Chris “Feast” Conley ’16

Over the last few months, I’ve had the special privilege to lead these guys on loops around the Greater Worcester Area; take a good look at the best looking club sport on campus, the Holy Cross Running Club! It’s the first year the club has ever really had this kind of strength, and it all boils down to the enthusiasm these guys bring to practice every week. Running as part of a team with you all has been one of my greatest pleasures while at HC!
Here are just a few of them, from left to right, top to bottom: Derek Keough ’16, Evan Farrell ’16, Anthony John ’16, Donny Conn ’16, Shannon Kay ’16, Lauren Tilmont ’16, Lauren Reidy ’16, Adam Millham ’17, Jack Peterson ’16, Brian Hannon ’17, Bryan Dextradeur ’17, Michael Held ’16, Grace Chmiel ’15, Emily Sama ’16, Meaghan McGeary ’16, Sinead O’Connor ’17, Nadia Hassan ’17, & Ashley Fairbanks ’17. Not pictured, but who I’d be remiss not to mention, are Michaela Carroll ’16, Brian Patrick Hayward ’17, Brian Toner ’17, Nick Parsons ’15, Abbey DeNorscia ’17, & Nina Batt ’15. HolyCrossRunningClub

One of the people who I’ve infected most with this darned running bug is actually pretty far away right now, but she was one of my very biggest supporters around the time of last year’s marathon, and she got so caught up in the fever that she laced up the old running shoes and trained all the way up to running her first 1/2 marathon last summer. She’s in the land of the ORIGINAL marathon right now, travelling the world as part of the Classics Department’s Athens program, but Shea Maunsell ’15 – I’ve been thinking of you this entire time! Also, while I’m overseas, I just want to give a quick shoutout to Harry Crimi ’15 (who volunteered at last year’s Athens Marathon) and Martin Florimon ’15 as well. They may both be chowing down on their respective native cuisines at the moment, but they both couldn’t have been any more excited as I took to the streets of Boston last April, and I miss both of them pretty much every day. All three of you guys need to hurry up and get back to the States, pronto!

Shea's demonstrating lesson one at Andrew's school of running: always know where the camera is!

Shea’s demonstrating lesson one at Andrew’s school of running: always know where the camera is!

Show off that hardware!

Show off that hardware!

Also, this year, while toiling away through pages of Shakespeare last semester and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes this one, I’ve gotten to know one of Holy Cross’ only other extreme long-distance runners very well, and we talk and compare notes on a regular basis. I’m talking about Karina O’Friel ’14, who ran her first marathon last Fall over in Cape Cod! She’s been logging up crazy miles just for the fun of it, and just yesterday the two of us completed a 20-mile trek down the Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts coastlines in a gale straight from a 300 movie. We’ll have lots to talk about in Prof. Sweeney’s class this week, Karina!

Spartans!

Spartans!

This HAD seemed like a good idea back when we brought it up.

This HAD seemed like a good idea back when we brought it up.

There are plenty of other Crusaders who I’ll probably remember as soon as I finish writing (and I apologize to any of them), but I’m gonna move now into the people who have stupidly bravely been plugging along in the marathon trenches with me. Same as last year, I’ve had the experience again of running with the E-Streeters, the informal group of friends my Dad’s had since college and who’ve led some pretty illustrious running careers over the past few decades. They’re a familiar sight on main streets and backroads far and wide through the Greater Lowell Area, and (in their minds anyways) they’re running royalty! I don’t know exactly what kind of royalty, but I digress…
Here they are assembled in full-force, and never such a motley crew was seen.

We do it only for the meals after the runs, if we're honest

We do it only for the meals after the runs, if we’re honest

They're a colorful group, at least

They’re a colorful group, at least

Returning to take Boston again by force, the tag-team duo of the Scanlon brothers, Barry & Tommy. They CRUSHED the race last year, and indications so far point to them coming back for seconds. See you out there, gentlemen!

Scanlons

Also making a return journey, speed demon Nick Laganas. He served his country overseas, he keeps the city of Lowell safe as a police officer, and during the tumultuous events of last year’s marathon bombings he was one of the first to go and help the wounded – after already finishing the 26.2 mile distance, I might add. Yeah, go ahead… be as impressed as I am. He was also there for yesterday’s 20 miler down the coast, and I hope our performance together is a precursor of what’s to come in 3 weeks time.

Nick showing his true colors as a superhero

Nick showing his true colors as a superhero

As I said before - know where the camera is

As I said before – ALWAYS know where the camera is

If it looks like we've seen 20 miles of bad road, the answer's self-explanatory

If it looks like we’ve seen 20 miles of bad road, the answer’s self-explanatory

New to the marathon game this year, but no less spectacular at it, we have Mary-Jo Griffin and Donna Corbin, co-workers with my dad Patrick at Middlesex Community College. Neither of them had ever really run a step before, but they’ve been so dedicated about it that they’ll be among the 40,000 in Hopkinton on the morning of the 21st. See you out there ladies!

They're already practicing their victory pose

They’re already practicing their victory pose

Speaking of my dad, by the way… Of course, I’ve saved the best for last. He’s a coach, he’s a mentor (not exclusive to running), and he’s the scheming mastermind behind most of this insanity. He already ran the Disney Marathon this January, and in a few weeks time he’ll have finished his TENTH running of Boston. I only hope I’m still in as good a shape at his age. He’s been battling an otherwise-crippling calf injury this entire training season, but sheer grit has kept him in the game, and he’s further proof of that old thing about mind over matter: if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter! DANG proud of you, Dad, keep up the good work.

It's DC, not Marvel, I understand, but you get the point

It’s DC, not Marvel, I understand, but you get the point

Show-off

Show-off

He’s also, coincidentally, THE comic nerd of the family, which brings us back around full circle. This post may have been long, and heck, some might even see it as being too pre-emptive, but it was all stuff I wanted to say – and really, what’s the point of a blog if I don’t use it for purposes like this? So to all of you: man and woman, young and old(er), fast and faster, my biggest thanks. Marathons are not an easy business, and there are plenty of days when you’re struggling through a blizzard when you can lose sight of the end goal. All it takes to get you through, though, is some hope and inspiration. Like I’ve said, I run with superheroes, and they certainly get the job done. Talk to you all in a few weeks, and if I’m not back before then, wish me luck!!!

Avengers ASSEMBLE!!!!

Avengers ASSEMBLE!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve had the opportunity to work in some pretty amazing positions during my time at Holy Cross, but I have to say, giving weekly tours through the Admissions Department has become somewhat of a favorite activity of mine since I started last semester. We’re heading into some peak tour season now, with seniors bringing their application/decision process to a close and juniors just starting their own ordeal journey. I wish you all the best of luck, and I’m here to answer any questions you might have! Over the months, I’ve noticed one question in particular that comes up pretty regularly from touring families: what really sets Holy Cross apart? Email me and I’ll give you the full answer in its Game Of Thrones-length novel form. But for now, I thought I’d just focus in on an area that many people seem to overlook: the city it’s located in! Worcester (that’s WOO-ster, to all you out-of-towners) is the 2nd biggest city in New England, only behind Boston in size, and that means it offers all the great things you’d expect from such a big city.  Even Worcester itself, with all its museums and theaters and such, is too big a topic to cover in a single blog, so I’ll instead concentrate on answering yet another question I’m frequently asked at the end of tours, by the people I’ve tired out climbing the campus’ hills: what’s there to eat in Worcester? You can’t get any better than Kimball Dining for on-campus food, but where can you go if you’re looking for some off-campus cuisine?

Well fear not, faithful reader – in terms of the food it offers, Worcester is second to none (a fact for which I am constantly giving thanks). I’ve done some extensive research on the matter, and here are just a few of my findings that I can offer up in the way of recommendations. The real question isn’t so much, “what is there to eat?” as it is, “what am I hungry for?” I’m leaving out all the generic fast food places; come on, those are boring. No no, this is all uniquely Worcester fare, and hopefully you’ll be drooling over it by the end. Dieters, turn yourself away; some of this is strictly Atkins and South Beach unapproved. But man, is it tasty.

We’ll start with a good old American classic: hot dogs! Fortunately, there are not one, but TWO can’t-miss hot dog joints in the near-Holy Cross vicinity. I’m in no position to prefer one over the other, so the only advice I can give is… try them both!!!
The first restaurant, literally about a four minute drive down the road from the college’s front gates, is Coney Island Hot Dogs. FANTASTIC franks here, and I especially recommend the chili dog with onions, washed down with the restaurant’s chocolate milk. One of the great things about this place? It’s probably the most “poor college student”-friendly budget I can think of. It’s a date night for two with all the fixings for well under $15. I can’t comment on the authenticity of its name (I’ll leave that to those of a New York State of Mind), but boy, the real Coney Island itself can only be missing out if its dogs aren’t like these.

Coney Island Hot Dogs
For our second helping of everyone’s favorite ballpark food, we have Hot Dog Annie’s in the nearby town of Leicester. This one’s a bit more of a Sunday afternoon drive away, but the trip takes you through the awesome small town of Paxton (I’ll bet my tuition this is the first time you’ve even heard of it) and past some of Paxton’s beautiful forested reservoirs along the way. The go-to entree here is the special BBQ dog with a side of root beer. I was in Paxton every weekend growing up visiting my grandparents, and had many a meal provided by Hot Dog Annie’s grills. Between this and Coney Island, it’s the Sophie’s Choice of frankfurts!! Hot Dog Annie's

Moving on now to other fare; we have Water Street in Worcester! This is an area perhaps better-known to college kids for its night-life scene, but it’s a crime that most people don’t take advantage of Water Street’s phenomenal restaurants. Truly, there are few better lunch locations in the entire city than Weintraub’s Jewish Deli. Some places will give out bread or maybe chips in the way of an appetizer before the main-course, but Weintraub’s goes one better and serves out sliced-up kosher pickles! The personal pick here is the corned-beef sandwich on a bulkie roll, with a dollop (or two, or three) of mustard on top. Delicious!

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After lunch, head straight across the street to Widoff’s Bakery for some dessert, and make sure you bring back some of its fresh-that-day bulkie rolls for the “roommates.” My guess is they’d also probably want you to bring back some of Widoff’s cannolis or shortbread cookies, but hey – you know them better than I do.

Widoff'sBakery

And now we come to perhaps the most distinctly-Worcester stop on our culinary expedition: the diner! A fun fact about diners; they, along with the rocket, the yellow smiley face, and many, many other incredible things, were invented in Worcester! This being the case, diners in Worcester are as easy to find as a Starbucks in Seattle (and a lot less pretentious). Arterial health be darned, I maintain there’s no better place to eat for breakfast than at a diner with bacon grease as the preferred cooking oil of choice, and Worcester has such fine establishments to offer in spades. Two in particular I’d like to single out, Miss Worcester on Southbridge Street and The Boulevard on Shrewsbury Street, would both merit top marks from any self-respecting diner connoisseur with a set of taste buds. You can’t really graduate from Holy Cross without first patroning a genuine Worcester diner. In terms of a meal at any of these diners - you can’t go wrong!

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And to end, I’d be remiss without at least MENTIONING Worcester’s golden mile of food that is Shrewsbury Street. This is most likely the recommendation you’ll hear from a Holy Cross student; it’s not even a specific place, we’ll just point you in the general direction and allow you to pick from the frankly embarrassing wealth of choices there. Want sushi? 7 Nana’s got you covered. Mexican? Head over to Mez-cal, or stop by its brand new location in downtown Worcester. Italian? You’re on your own here. If you can’t be satisfied by any of the incredible Italian restaurants situated on every other block,  there’s probably no hope for you. Two personal favorites over the years have become Leo’s Ristorante and Dino’s Ristorante (a Crusader hangout of yesteryear). With this kind of selection, the slopes of Mt. St. James certainly have their work cut out in preventing the freshman 15, although, in fairness, they still seem to get the job done anyhow.

So – did I miss any? I’m always looking to further my “research”, so if anyone’s got recommendations or additions to make I’m all ears. I’ve been familiar with the Worcester area my entire life, so I can tell you the food scene is constantly changing and expanding for the better. This, among an immeasurable amount of other things, is just another reason to love Holy Cross! Happy winter break to all the high school students, and I’ll see you on campus for tours. Come hungry!

Hey all! All moved back in here, and fantastic impressions for the three classes I’ve had so far – the fourth one meets for the first time tomorrow. This is, without a shred of doubt, the single greatest schedule I’ve ever assembled for a semester. I’ll refrain from exact details to prevent too much jealousy, but suffice it to say, it’s a good one. Another “fun” post today, before I settle down into the real nitty-gritty coursework, and it was brought on as I sat thinking in my first detective fiction class today. As these blog posts have made clear, I’m obviously a *big* Disney person, I’m a frequent flyer to Middle Earth, Boston sports are a religion and I’m a certifiable running nut. What a lot of people DON’T know about me, though, is that I’m also probably the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan you could talk to! I can’t get enough of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s landmark mystery stories or their derivative works, and don’t get sick of the ones I’ve already been through. In true Holmesian fashion, then, I’m here to report a heinous CRIME to you all, and leave it to you my humble readers to fix it. Just like a client at Baker Street then (if you think I’ve got my Holmes nerd on now, you ain’t seen nothing yet), let me begin my story…

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Since their first appearance in the November 1887 edition of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, Sherlock Holmes and his chronicler-partner Doctor Watson have become the most portrayed characters ever to appear on-screens around the world. More than any character in the body of Shakespeare’s work, more than 19th century London counterpart Ebenezer Scrooge, more than the entirety of the Universal Horror pantheon COMBINED, the residents of 221B Baker St. have never really been absent from public consciousness; some estimations place the adaptation count at around 250, while others score it at over 1100 (!). Bottom line, it’s a lot, and it utterly crushes the number two contender. The wealth of choices to select from allows everyone their own individual preference, but the version most purists agree upon as being the one to watch came in the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce films released from 1939 to 1946. While undeniably good, many modern Holmes enthusiasts (myself, perhaps, among them) can find the series a little stuffy, with an overdose of tweed and generally more simplistic plot lines than their literary inspirations.

RathboneHolmesBasil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson

Luckily, to fix this, fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work now have not one but THREE mainstream adaptations to choose from. The first, and perhaps the most well-known to American audiences, comes in the form of the Guy Ritchie films featuring Robert Downey Jr. as the super sleuth and Jude Law as a man’s man Watson. The movies retain the authentic period setting of the original Holmes’ stories in 1890s London, but are known for their “Hollywoodized” interpretation of Sherlock as the world’s most perceptive bare-knuckle boxer and the transformation of the original stories into essentially Victorian buddy-cop films. They’re great popcorn flicks, but offer Holmesian deduction by way of John McClane/Jackie Chan, no doubt about it. The second option is CBS’ Elementary, a modernized telling which transplants Holmes from his traditional English setting across the Atlantic into New York City and gives Watson a gender change (from John to Joan). Although I’ve never personally watched it, it’s generally praised as an above-average-intelligence viewing option for primetime channel surfers. Purists, however, scoff at it as being much too liberal with its source material, eschewing the canon of the original works to fulfill more mainstream tastes.

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Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson

 What to do then? Where can audiences find an exciting take on the grandfather of forensic science that simultaneously remains faithful to Conan Doyle’s works? That’s where option three comes in. Hailed unanimously by critics and audiences the world around as possibly the best remake of anything ever done, we have the BBC/PBS show Sherlock. It too brings Holmes and Watson into the present day, expanding their crime solving tool kit from a simple magnifying class to include text alerts and GPS; Watson (U.K. The Office and The Hobbit star Martin Freeman) is an Afghanistan veteran who writes an online blog of the duo’s case files now, and Sherlock himself (Star Trek Into Darkness and Fifth Estate star and quite possibly the first actor to have a name actually stranger than “Sherlock Holmes”, Benedict Cumberbatch) is a high functioning sociopath bordering on Asperger’s, who coldly spews out flawless deductions and verbal insults at a breakneck speed.

SherlockposterBenedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson

While no longer in the foggy times of Conan Doyle’s original periodicals, Sherlock episodes fly down seedy London back alleys and through abandoned warehouses during adventures brimming to burst with references and allusions to Holmes canon, cleverly snuck in by co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, and this reverence to the true essence of the Great Detective is what really sets the show apart. Everything from story titles to the trademark deerstalker hat is snuck in some way or another, yet it all somehow manages to flow seamlessly. As someone who’s read most of the original Strand Magazine mysteries, I can’t stress enough how thorough Gatiss and Moffat have been with their homework. There’s love in this recipe, and by God it shows. With text flashing across the screen and virtual street maps of London springing out of Holmes’ consciousness, it’s also razor-sharp and crystal-clear in its modernity; there’s not a tweed jacket to be seen here, just Sherlock’s now-signature greatcoat.
All the trappings more traditional audiences expect from a Holmes yarn are there too; co-creator Gatiss doubles as Sherlock’s condescending older brother, Mycroft; the exasperated detective force at Scotland Yard still remains under the competent command of Inspector Lestrade, who’s in awe of Holmes’ reasoning capacity; there’s still only one woman in Sherlock’s life, Irene Adler – the woman;  most importantly, every Holmes needs his Moriarty, and this show proves no exception. While different actors (even actresses) have traditionally played the arch-criminal as menacingly calculating, with a businesslike shrewdness, Sherlock’s Napoleon of Crime has the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” as his ring-tone and literally skips in circles around Cumberbatch’s detective with an anarchistic glee on par with Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s a totally brilliant but at the same time downright creepy type of evil.

Andrew Scott as 'Jim' Moriarty and Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes
Andrew Scott as ‘Jim’ Moriarty and Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes

In fact, the only thing more evil? The show’s notoriously stingy release schedule – fans can expect three 90 minute episodes once about every two years. Downright criminal, I know. The conclusion of last season’s episode, “The Reichenbach Fall,” practically brought down the internet during its airing in January 2012, as fans were bewildered and perplexed by the revelation that Sherlock had inexplicably survived a suicidal leap off a rooftop without a scratch. Watson and the rest of the detective’s friends were left to believe he had died, and fans of the series were left with a two year hiatus before discovering how he ‘dunnit. Entire internet sites and mind-bogglingly complex conspiracy theories claiming they had found the answer sprang up in the interlude, and the public outcry matched, even exceeded, the clamor of 1895 London when Conan Doyle killed off his protagonist in similar circumstances.
American audiences finally have their relief, though, as Sherlock’s third season has FINALLY begun airing on PBS (it aired in the U.K. a few weeks ago), so we can finally get some answers. With Watson getting married, a brand new book-inspired baddie, and more fan adoration than even Holmes himself could process, the show looks to be on even stronger footing than ever, with a fourth series allegedly underway and a fifth series already commissioned. But why am I telling you all this? Mostly, I think the show is tragically ignored by American audiences, and that’s a problem that needs fixing. Critics, social media, even most celebrities have caught on to the show’s sheer brilliance, but it’s still a rarity finding someone on the street in the U.S. who watches it, unfortunately. I know the post is coming a little late for the Netflix binge-watchers during winter break, yes, but I’m telling you, start now before classes really start to pick up! I can’t recommend a show any more whole-heartedly, and by the end of the very first episode you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. As evidenced by the 250 (1100?) incarnations of him, this is CLEARLY a character that resonates with audiences, and I’m saying here and now that Sherlock is the definitive Holmes of our times to be proud of. What are you sitting reading for?? Go! The game is on!

 

PREVIOUSLY, ON ANDREW’S DISNEY BLOG: We left our hero in the clutches of sunny Florida, surrounded on all sides by warm temperatures and cheerful Disney characters. What will happen next?? Here are the further adventures of the Cooks in Disney World!

I’m back, just as promised! LOTS of pictures on this one, and obviously lots more love for Uncle Walt and his real estate around Lake Buena Vista; for those who don’t go for that kind of thing, this is your warning. I mentioned before that the technical reason for the family trip to Florida was so that I could run the 1/2 marathon and my dad Pat could run the full one (more on that in a little while). But it raised a serious question: how were we to occupy our time when not running? After some careful thought, we came up with a solution, and I think you’ll find it was a pretty good one.

photo14Not the pearly gates, but not far from them.

photo1The fantastic lobby to our hotel, wallpapered with production sketches from Disney or Pixar blockbusters

photo17The couch in the room wasn’t bad either. I just can’t wait to be king.

photo18 Christmas card photo with Disney’s mistress of all evil (sadly, she wasn’t Angelina Jolie).

photoEPCOT’s my own personal favorite of the four theme parks. Best food.

photo10 Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast.

photo21Ay, pobre Yorick! Yo le conocí, Horacio.

photo22 All together now – MikeMikeMikeMikeMike, guess what day it is!!!

photo23Because we’re all aware fezzes, like bowties, are VERY cool. Those who know will understand.

photo8The Happiest Place on Earth. Indeed.

(And just so you can all excuse me, EVERYONE wore their race medals around the day after running. I’m nowhere near that conceited! I’ll leave that instead to…)

photo28Turns out no-one really is slick as Gaston.

photo7He may be taking the credit for my race medal, but even I have to admit Gaston’s muscles deserve some hardware. Those five dozen eggs a day really do pay off.

photo13The head honcho, the big cheese himself. “Let us not forget: it all started with a mouse.”

Over the course of the few days we spent there, the fam and I went to some truly amazing restaurants, and because Disney’s constantly expanding and creating, most of the ones we went to were first time fare, even for us hardened Disney veterans. One night was the Via Napoli pizzeria in EPCOT’s Italy pavilion, where – you heard it here folks, and I do not throw this out lightly - I was treated to the single greatest pizza I’ve ever eaten in my 20 years. Seriously, I’ve eaten many a time in Boston’s North End, tasted Brooklyn’s signature style crust IN Brooklyn, and even had lunch in the birthplace and capitol of the pizza world at Naples, Italy, but this one somehow managed to top them all. Simply phenomenal. The following night was at the still-has-the-pricetags-new Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, where they’ve reconstructed the Beast’s castle from Beauty and the Beast in exact detail, down to the last enchanted rose petal. The meal we ate beneath the iconic ballroom chandelier won’t soon be forgotten.

photo38 For dessert, they even had the grey stuff of, “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious! Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes” fame. And know what? It really was delicious.

photo9And afterwards, a picture with our host for the evening in his study.

The following morning, I switched hats from being a participant in a race to being a spectator of one, and joined my mom Jackie and sister Heather in cheering on my dad Patrick to the finish of his tenth – TENTH! – marathon. The past nine have all been Bostons, so for a change he and his running buddies Barry and Tommy Scanlon decided to go with something a little less Heart-Breaking and have some fun with it instead (not that the Boston Marathon isn’t fun itself). They’ve been logging crazy miles in crazier conditions, but it paid off in spades last Sunday when all three of them powered effortlessly through the course. I’m not speaking a word of a lie when I say that they all went back to their hotel rooms after finishing the 26.2 mile distance, showered, changed, and then walked out the door for a full day of walking around Disney. Some sensitive toes aside, they all came through unscathed and with a smile on their faces, and I can’t stress enough how impressed I am. And to boot, I’ll see them all in around 90 days in Hopkinton for the start of this year’s Boston Marathon! Old dogs? Yeah right.

marathonmenBrothers Barry and Tommy Scanlon, and the Big Man himself.

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From there, it was one last day in the parks, this time at Hollywood Studios. Seeing as how I had just run the previous day dressed as a certain cartoon cowboy, I made the obligatory pilgrimage to the Pixar mecca within the park, and was surprised to find that they seemed to have been expecting me. At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of as to why they’d scattered my name all over the area.

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So that about covers it folks! It was a maddeningly short trip, made all the more so because of the fantastic time we’d all had. All good things must come to their close, however, which brings us also the end of this blog’s temporary transformation into a Disney travel page – and, incidentally, to the end of winter break. I’m back to campus the day after next, and classes start right up the day after that. You can all count on hearing from me in the near future about how it’s all going, you can be sure of that! To end, I’ll borrow from everyone’s favorite mouse: “See ya real soon!”

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GotheDistance
Ask me what two of my greatest passions in life are, and high atop the list you’d find all things running and all things Disney. The chance to combine the two together, to run in the Disney 1/2 marathon? C’mon. It’s been on the bucket list for a few years now, but over this past weekend I was finally able to cross it off, and boy, it did not disappoint. To include everything from the weekend into a single blog post would make for a small novel, so to spare you all from that I’ve decided to split it into two. This first one will focus on the main event of the weekend, and there’ll be another one immediately following that’ll cover the remainder of the time (the remainder here meaning a few days in Disney. Could be worse).

As some context, I ushered in the new year in the northern clutches of the Polar Vortex, and so was preparing for my tropical race in subzero temperatures. It’s the training regime suggested by all the elite runners, I’m sure.
snowday1The fam and I hopped on a plane for the sunny south last Thursday and were thrilled by the map indications that Florida’s state line seemed impermeable to the country’s deep freeze; while we were there, the Sunshine State’s temps reached 3x, 4x, even 5x those we had left behind. I’m a big fan of New England and its wintry climes, but a change of scenery is always welcome.
photo31Disney actually holds a series of races over this weekend, with 5k and 10k races the days before my own 1/2 marathon, with THAT race coming the day before the full marathon. Runners head to a weekend-long expo to pick up their number bibs and t-shirts, and while there I actually caught sign of some Holy Cross love. It’s already a well-known fact about Crusaders, but we really are everywhere!!
The Disney Expo!
photo2The race course runs through Disney’s theme parks, and because they want them to operate at normal capacity on race day, start time for runners is 5:30am. That means a 4am shuttle bus from the hotel, and that means a 3am wakeup call. Eesh. These races are also (obviously) run by Disney enthusiasts, many of whom like to show their enthusiasm by running in costume. I’m never one to argue with the masses, and so took it upon myself to show my affiliation. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, yes? It was a tough choice narrowing down which character to run as; I had sadly neither the dread-locks nor loin cloth to pull off the Tarzan look, it’d probably be more than a little inconvenient running 13.1 miles in a Hercules toga, and the Incredibles‘ Dash would have just been showing off. What to do then? In the end, the decision was an easy one, and I went back to square one. The very first movie I ever saw in theaters was Toy Story (I was so small at the time that my mom and aunt had to hold down the folding seat throughout the duration of the movie to prevent losing me into the upholstery), and it’s remained a favorite over the years. In a bit of role reversal, then, Andy dressed up as Woody, and the result was one of the most fun, enjoyable runs I’ve ever done.

Mickey, Donald, and Goofy were on hand at the start to send the 20,000 runners on their way, and from there it was along access roads into the Magic Kingdom, through Cinderella’s castle, and then to the finish line beneath EPCOT’s landmark geodesic sphere, with Disney characters lining the whole course to cheer and pose for pictures.

 

   DisneyHalfStart

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My phenomenal chEAR squad was waiting for me on Main Street in front of the castle. Love is waking up at 4:30am to watch a family member run!

photo39We go waaaaay back together.

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Sarge was on hand to give me a mission report

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I grant, I look straight out of an insane asylum, but darn, it was fun

In the day’s funniest moment - conclusive PROOF that truer words were never spoken than those in the refrain of Magic Kingdom’s It’s A Small World attraction - I crossed the finish line right alongside a fellow Crusader, senior XC/Track runner Kerry Dunne. She’s a 5-year veteran of this race, and to boot, she ran it on her birthday. You sure know how to celebrate Kerry!

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You might think that one would want to sleep the rest of the day away after such a long race, but this is DISNEY WORLD we’re talking about – sleep is for the dead. It was ice packs and advil for the sore legs, then, and soldiering on for the rest of the day!

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After a while though, sleep deprivation did finally take its toll, and we all headed back to the hotel for some r&r. But tired as we were, there are worse things than having to spend a few hours by the poolside in Florida. Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

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This is why I don’t trust family members with cameras. No respect for the dead sleeping.

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.

An unforgettable experience from start to finish, and one that I’m positively sure I’ll revisit over and over again in years to come. Thousands of runners that day really did go the distance, and I’m fortunate beyond words to say that I was one of them!! *Cues Hercules trumpets in background*

Stay tuned for Part II, shortly!

A Happy New Years’ to you all!! Triskaidekaphobics among you may finally relax – and your first homework assignment of 2014 is to look up just  what exactly that means. 2013 certainly had its fair shares of ups and downs (many of which were documented here) but I want to thank each and every one of you for making it the unforgettable year it was.  I realize I’m not the spry, youthful freshman I was way back at the start of this blog, but you keep returning anyways. I really do appreciate it and thank you all from the bottom of my heart! I promise, as long as there’s something to write about – and there always is - I’ll keep writing about it!

Optimist that I am, I’m always looking forward, so here without further ado is a list of things I’m most excited about for 2014!

  1. The Disney World 1/2 Marathon in sunny, beautiful, warm Orlando next weekend (I sit here now writing this to you in the dregs of 2014′s first blizzard. That took long…). As anyone who knows me is aware of, I’ve been a Disney nut since my childhood in the 90s, so I’ll take any excuse I can to head down there. The fact that I get to use running as my reason is just a bonus!
  2. The Spring Semester class schedule! Detective fiction, creative writing, Greek mythology – after some RIGOROUS classes this last fall, I’m looking forward to taking some pleasure classes this time around. Notice I don’t use the word easy; that’s not in the vocabulary of a Holy Cross student. Still, I’m more looking forward to these classes than to any I have been in a long time!
  3. The Boston Marathon in April! As anyone who reads this blog will know, 2013′s Marathon and the tumultuous circumstances in the aftermath were among the most  pivotal and life-changing moments I’ve ever experienced, so I’m honored and completely stoked that I get the opportunity to make a return journey this spring. The Boston Herald just predicted that this year’s upcoming running will rank, ”among the biggest events in Boston sports history.” And ladies and gents, I’ve got my golden ticket!
  4. The return of my friends from studying abroad. From the facebook posts and tweets I’ve been seeing over the past few months, everyone who’s gone abroad each has a book’s worth of stories to tell, and I personally can’t wait to hear each and every one of them. Anyone looking for some cliff notes versions can check out any one of the excellent study abroad blogs on this site! A personal favorite of mine is my good friend Harry Crimi’s, who’s done an excellent job so far chronicling his time in and around Athens this last semester; I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what he does this spring in Rome, and if the Eternal City is up to the daunting challenge of hosting him…
  5. The start of senior year. This one’s actually a mix of excitement and dread, since it mean’s I’m that much closer to walking across the graduation stage into the real world. It’ll mean head honcho-status on campus, first crack at registration for all the best classes, and a senior apartment that’d top most real world living spaces, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t trade it all for another four years as a Crusader.

 

These are all just the obvious things I can think of off the top of my head. Funnily enough, I’ve found most of the best things that happen are those that pop up unexpectedly, and the smart thing to do is always leave room for that spontaneity. As always, I’ll keep coming back here to talk about all the best things, so until then, I wish you all a very happy New Year and congratulate you for making it through the unlucky ’13!!!

Season’s Greetings, readers! Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus… whichever is your celebrated holiday of choice, I wish you the happiest! I feel the need to apologize for my lack of posting in a while. The time since my last blog on the Sox championship has been in turns too slow and too hectic for writing anything on the site here, but I sit here now in the first few days of Winter Break after finals season and the excuses have run out. Speaking of finals: this title’s reference is neither to Bob Dylan’s eleven minute folk epic nor to Peter Jackson’s stunning, fire-breathing dragon with the voice of a consulting detective. No no, the desolation in question here belongs exclusively to Holy Cross’ finals season, and those are just what I’m here to tell you about.

I realize before getting into finals, I’ve passed over commemorating quite possibly my favorite day of the year – Thanksgiving! This year’s customary turkey and potato gorging were as excellent as ever and not too much happened worth mentioning out of the ordinary, with two exceptions. First, my cousin Benjamin, a freshman at the Cross this year and the firstborn of two alums, brought his friend Will Peters from Wheeler Dorm. to family dinner, since Will couldn’t make the cross-country flight to his hometown in California and was looking for some home cooking. Will’s an upcoming student blogger himself, and you can check out some of his excellent posts here: http://wrpete17.me.holycross.edu/. Second, beyond my usual gratitude for my family, friends, school, and life in general that Thanksgiving seems to bring out, everyone at the dinner table was especially thankful to have my aunt Anne Blake (nee Nicholson) be in attendance after conquering her second bought with leukemia this past year. She’s another alum of the Cross and a pretty special lady all around who’s kicked cancer’s [family blog] twice now, and we’re super thankful that she can continue to inspire us all with her strength.

Current or alum, short or tall, Members of Sader Nation, all!

Current or alum, short or tall,
Members of Sader Nation, all!

My one complaint about any Thanksgiving break is this, however: it’s a brutal tease. After an extended weekend at home relaxing and eating more food than I have the decency to admit, it was a rude return back to the mountain of work awaiting me on campus. I don’t mean to alarm any prospective students reading this – and even though the same will almost definitely hold true at whichever college you end up calling home – but finals season is nothing but torture. There was one particular 48-hour period where I existed on one meal and a combined five hours of sleep, with almost no human interaction to speak of, but at the end of the day I had 20+ pages written. I pride myself on thriving at the eleventh hour, but seriously, to all my readership… for the sake of your sanity and well-being…  eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute heroics are really not something I’d suggest trying. They stress you (and your concerned/exasperated mother) out more than is called for and make for some down-to-the-wire scenarios that’d make even MacGyver shake his head “No.”
At the end of the day, however, even such 24 hour stands can have their benefits. Stretching my legs and clearing my head after an all-nighter in Dinand Library and before heading into my Shakespeare final, I took a walk up behind the Hart Center to catch my first-ever sunrise.  As anyone who knows me is aware of, I’m more than a little fond of my shut-eye, and many’s the day where the sun’s come up and has already started coming back down again before I first see it. Last week though, over practice fields freshly covered with a layer of snow, the sun came up to a dumbstruck audience of one. I’ll admit my disappointment over the lack of “Lion King” chanting to usher in the new day, but the views more than fairly compensated for it.

sunrise1

sunrise2

sunrise3                                                                                                    No words necessary.

No words
So that’s about it for now! Finals are done, I’ll be spending the next few days sleeping them off (hey, I’ve seen my sunrise, ok?) and enjoying life at home. There’ll be a Christmas post coming before the day itself, and another one or two after that about the 1/2 marathon I’ll be running in Disney World (!!!) in the New Year, but until then, a restful, peaceful Winter Break to you all, and a very Merry Christmas!!!