Student Blogs

The Winter Soldiers

March 30th, 2014 apcook15


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!



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!


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



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!!!!









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