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Entries in Boston Marathon (7)

Tuesday
Apr222014

The Marathon Means Family

The 2014 Boston Marathon meant many things to many people.  It was the first year after the bombing and this year fell on Easter Monday.  To me, the Marathon means family.

When growing up on the North Coast of Cleveland, Ohio, we didn’t have a marathon.  The Cleveland Marathon is 37 years old, and so we were on the verge of moving to New England when it was just starting. 

When first moving to the area, living in Natick and working in Framingham, I didn’t know what to expect when a co-worker said we should “walk over” to the Marathon and greet the runners.  What I saw was a large party, with runners slapping hands with spectators, and little children handing out water and orange slices to the grateful runners.  This was cool…a sporting event where you can literally interact with the athletes.

As the years went by, the Marathon seemed to grow in size as did our family.  We made our own party, setting up at the Natick-Wellesley line, having cookouts and handing out water & oranges to the runners.  A friend also got us handing out petroleum jelly, something some runners are particularly appreciative for when they are in need.

As time went by, the kids went to college and the Marathon became something watched on the news.  Then my daughter started running marathons, and this brought the family back to the course supporting my daughter.

Marathon Monday was a beautiful day.  The “badness” of 2013 was pushed out of everyone’s mind.  Where we used to “camp” at one location, the challenge now is meeting the runner along the way.  After dropping her in Southborough (one of the new security measures – she was then bussed to Hopkinton and went through multiple security screenings), we meet up in Framingham, Wellesley, Newton and then at the finish….five stops overall.

Three generations of family came out to support Erin, and her fiancé joined our gang.  We would park as close as possible, and then walk over to the course.  We tracked location via her phone this year with an app “Find Friends”…which had us running to meet her in Newton after traffic delays.  Innumerable people support via text & social media.  Erin ran as a charity runner for the Mass General Hospital Home Base Program (the funds help veterans and their families heal from the invisible wounds of war) extending the number of people touched by the marathon.  Every donation, message or “like” on a post fed her legs.  In addition to the family on the course, hundreds of people sought updates on her progress and sent supportive messages.

Isn’t this community family?  It sure seemed it on Monday.

Speaking of family, 2014 is the last year for Dick and Rick Hoyt to run the Marathon.  They’ve been running for 37 years…as long as Cleveland has had a marathon.  The father pushes his son 26.2 miles, bringing tears to me every time I see them pursuing the goal together.

Some people describe long distance running as a solitary event.  The days and months leading up to the event are often spent in silent practice.  The Marathon is about running, and about family.

What does your family do on “Marathon Monday?”

Sunday
Apr132014

Yes, She’s Running Boston Again

My daughter Erin Kelley is running her 4th Boston Marathon this year.  Feel free to track her at Bib 31977.

As I write this the Sunday a week before, the realization she’s really running it again is hitting me.  Last year, she ran and her parents, family and fiancé were near the finish line.

The pre-Marathon buzz is hitting its own stride, with the coverage feeling about 25% looking forward and 75% looking backward.  I don’t want to look back, and only want to look forward.

Friends have asked how I feel about her running.  In a word, “apprehensive.”  Like her family, she fortunately got through last year without a scratch, although there is definitely scaring.  So as a family we are making some changes.

  • Last year my son and his wife participated, this year they are staying away from the finish with our grandbaby.
  • Erin needs to answer her phone this year.  My sense is we should have a designated caller if there is an issue; so many people want to call and reach out.  So she needs to know if it is “April” calling she should answer.
  • We are also looking at improved tracking.  The Marathon sends out updates and we find they are very delayed.  We need to know where she is.
  • We also need to know where we should meet up if we get separated.  Last year we did get separated, and it was hours to be reunited.  And the meeting place can’t be close to the Marathon route.  I wore a brightly colored hat last year, mostly because I like the hat.  This year I will be wearing bright for visibility.

Erin ran the New York Marathon last fall.  Security was tight, and her fiancé and I were still able to track her and meet up with her along the course.

So ask how I feel about meeting her along the path.  I have a gnawing in my (expansive) gut.  Who knows if a nutjob will try a copycat move?  At the same time I will not live my life in fear, and while I will be looking out for and avoiding any pressure cookers on the course, parents support their children no matter what.

Erin will run.  We will run after her.  Any obstacle will be overcome.

Boston Strong.

Saturday
Feb222014

There are Times I Miss my Kids

My kids, their spouses and fiancés and I share pictures, bad jokes and general updates on a group messaging list.  One “text” message goes to the whole group.  It’s handy when reaching everyone is important.

A recent message touched my heart.  My son sent out a text regarding his newborn….

I miss Lea :(

He had just gone back to work after living in the bubble of experiencing her birth and bringing the little one home.

It made me think of all the times I missed my kids…

  • When I went to work – and also when I had to stay late, or got a call during an event.  The kids were always “safe,” so it was just me missing them (and sometimes feeling guilt.)
  • When they went to school (first day) – Kindergarten was bad enough, but the tears dropping them off at college were poignant.  I never had any real concerns in the local school system.  We always felt the teachers and administrators had our childrens’ best interests at heart.

    College was some of the longest times apart and certainly offered the kids their greatest growth opportunities.  We looked forward to their return and seeing how they developed.  And I was generally unaware of the things they did in college.  This was nature’s way of keeping me calm.  After all, I know what I did. 
  • When someone was away on a trip – I missed them when I travelled, and certainly missed them when they went away.  Generally speaking I travelled for work, and they did summer camp trips from time to time.  In our case they were always close enough to rescue (such as when a religious camp made a bit of a left turn, or when a youngster was a bit too young for an overnight football camp.)
  • When they moved out – my kids moved in and out a bit after college before settling on “out.”  My daughter had been home three months when she announced, “Dad, our town is DULL.”   Of course, I immediately knew where the conversation was going, and replied, “I know, isn’t it just wonderful?”  And yes, I helped move her.  The house is quiet now, and while there were times when the noise of competing entertainment outlets drove me nutty, I can honestly say I miss seeing them regularly.
  • The first time they drove on their own out of the yard – I’m a big believer in getting kids behind the wheel and comfortable.  Accidents for new drivers are commonplace, allowing me to expand my horizons and be on a first name basis with the auto body shop.  Even with all the training and supervised driving, the first solo trip put my heart in my throat and had me on edge until they returned.

They were also missed during catrosophes….at least until we could hold them:

On a normal basis, I recognize my kids are doing what they are supposed to do, as am I, and we’ll be together again soon.  It is the “normal.”

Your kids are also missed when you write a blog post about missing them….so allow me to wrap this and call my kids.

Once last question: when do you miss your kids?

Friday
Apr262013

Restaurant Review - Fogo de Chão

Fogo de Chão

200 Dartmouth St.
Boston, MA 02116

(617) 585.6300

I hadn’t planned on doing a review of this restaurant.  Frankly, it promised to be a gluttonous experience….not in the vein of “healthy options dining out.”  My mind changed while speaking to the bartender of the restaurant, who was at work the day of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  She shared her story with some tears, and I did the same.  The building was surrounded by news crews….and so business was off.

The first challenge was parking.  The restaurant is in the same complex as the Westin Hotel.  While there is parking there, I’ve found it is always full.  So I parked over at the Marriott, and walked down the Dartmouth Street. 

News crews were still on the corner covering the events of the day.  It was hard to get into the restaurant without remembering.

The bar was at the top of the entry stairs off Dartmouth.  Sitting at the bar, a member of the news crew came in and commented how they were tired of eating meat all week at Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse. How can you ever tire of eating meat?

The truth is, a client requested to dine at this restaurant.  The client loves being a carnivore, and Fogo didn’t disappoint.  He warned us not to eat anything during the day, good advice before the “all you can eat” experience.

The web site sets out an expectation:

Dining Experience

Step 1: Sit down, relax, and enjoy a drink while we explain the Fogo® dining experience.

Step 2: Visit our gourmet salad and sides bar. Enjoy over 30 items including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes.

Step 3: Turn your card green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service.

Step 4: Choose from the 15 cuts of delectable fire roasted meats that are brought to your table, sliced, and served by our gaucho chefs.

Step 5: When you are satisfied, flip the disc to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.

Step 6: If you wish, end the meal with one of our delicious desserts.

The dining room has a large salad bar in the middle, with rooms off the side.  Dinners are fixed price, $48.50, (Salad Bar Only - $24.50).

Once seated, we immediately were ushered to the salad bar.  “Don’t waste your time with the cheap filler,” warned our client.  The truth is the salad bar had a little of everything, and had I not wanted to have some meat it would have been a fine dinner in its own right.  When you go to a meat place, salad goes along with it…and is not the main course.

As we were finishing our salads, the gaucho chefs brought skewers of
meat cut at your table. Options included picanha, filet mignon, beef ancho, alcatra, fralsinha, costela, cordeiro, frango, costela de porco, lombo and linguica.  Suffice to say the beef, chicken, lamb, pork and sausages were all served hot and sizzling, with diners needing to “help” hold slices as the gaucho wields the big knife.

Our client mentioned he wore an older shirt as it is quite possible to get some meat juice on your clothes.  I didn’t get anything on my shirt, although the tablecloth was fairly covered.

Passing on the dessert course was my concession, although the others had chocolate molten cake, papaya cream, and turtle cheesecake.

I also flipped my disc to red before the others, so while I sampled everything didn’t leave feeling bloated.  All and all we must make sacrifices! 

Hours

Lunch
Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30


Dinner
Mon-Thur 5:00-10:00
Fri 5:00-10:30
Sat 4:30-10:30
Sun 3:30-9:00

Fogo de Chão gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy. 

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

 

Tuesday
Apr232013

Erin Runs the Boston Marathon, Again – 2013 Update

Regular readers know my daughter runs Marathons.  Her last scheduled Marathon was the New York Marathon, where she was a numbered runner.  Sadly, that Marathon got canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.

We have various traditions we follow.  We always carbo-load the night before, and this year was no difference.  Erin’s entire family and her running mate/boyfriend joined us.

The next day we have breakfast at Chet’s Diner.  The entire Chet’s “family” makes over Erin, and Erin brims with pride.

We drop her off at the Hopkinton State Park, where she rides a school bus to the start. 

While she prepares to start, her “support team” makes its way to designated stops.  These stops are selected based on our ability to get in and out of the area swiftly.  We met her in Framingham, Wellesley (twice), and then rush to greet her at the finish.

We were standing next to the Lenox Hotel waiting for Erin when the explosions occurred (see photo).  We were on the Boylston side closest to the second explosion.  The first one seemed almost celebratory…until the smoke.  Then the second one created panic as people just turned and ran.

From the New York Times

I sent out a tweet…more to let the world know badness was underway at the marathon.  Note the time…2:50PM.

 

 

 

Two of the family stayed together….and walked to Fenway Park.  Erin’s boyfriend and I stayed in the area, because we needed to find Erin (daughter/runner) who was still on the course.

 

 

We had parked under the Prudential Tower (Pru), and moved to that area to find Erin.  Calls and texts would not go through, we were communicating via Facebook and Twitter.  We quickly learned everyone was OK, and then needed to reunite.

 

 

We were forced to “shelter in place” in the Pru (at Saks – if ever there was a nice place to shelter in place it’s Saks)….and then were hurriedly tossed out on Huntington Ave (apparently concern for another device.)   My cell battery went dead.  We did find out Erin was off to connect with the others near Fenway Park.

Erin’s boyfriend and I walked from the Pru to Fenway Park, and then on to Brighton where my son could pick us up (cars were not being allowed into Boston.)  So…we walked from the Pru to Brighton….roughly 2.2 miles.

The blasts were very loud, and shook the area.  The smell was that of gunpowder.  Erin’s boyfriend, being taller, saw bloody things a young man shouldn’t see…and that’s very sad.

 

 

My car was retrieved from the Pru Tuesday night (free parking!).  First responders were amazing (swift, and overwhelming response)….   I had 7 phone calls, 17 text messages, and 26 Facebook messages when I got power to my phone around six Monday night.  And gave one interview myself to a press outlet following my twitter feed.

As a father, I am worried about the scar tissue this is having on my family.  To address, I orchestrated a family dinner Tuesday night (the next night)….gave them all a chance to talk about it from their perspective.  We also got together Saturday night. 

For all of us, it is about knowing there is a deeper connection and support network within our family.  We all know it, and at a time like this it is so necessary to reinforce.

Family will get us through this.

And Erin is already planning her return.

 

Friday
Jun222012

The Marathon Restaurant  

The Marathon Restaurant

25 Hayward Street (Off South Street)
Hopkinton, Massachusetts 01748

508-589-6400

EMC is without question a major employer in the area.  With a headquarters in Hopkinton, MA, they occupy a sprawling campus with “overflow” to local towns including Westborough and Franklin.

In the shadow of EMC is a restaurant location popular with the EMC crowd. For years, it was named O’Tooles, followed for a short period by Cafe Italiano, and for the last three years The Marathon Restaurant.

I’ve been pleased with every visit to The Marathon Restaurant, and this visit was no exception.

The restaurant is located at the corner of South Street and Hayward in Hopkinton, far from the starting line of the revered Boston Marathon. Parking is in the back of the building, accessible from South and Hayward.

Even though it was a beautiful summer day, the outside patio on asphalt didn’t beckon. Approaching the building, signage directs patrons to either the bar or the dining room. The bar seemed appropriate today, and ten flat panel high definition TVs were welcoming.

“Nicholas” quickly greeted, and an adult beverage was immediately presented. The Marathon’s menu was a large, heavy paper two sided affair, offering a great variety of American Bistro food, including burgers, lobster mac & cheese, and a handful of fish options. Nicholas politely pushed the hot soup (not exactly appealing on a hot day) and declared everything on the menu was good.

I have a basic distrust of the “everything on the menu is good” statement, so I had to look closer myself. There were a large number of intriguing options, including salads. “Nicholas, do I want the pan seared cod, the fish and chips, or the BBQ ribs.”  Uttering a low whistle, I could see Nicholas was struggling with the choice. “I’d go with the ribs…after all, we have our own smoker!”  He went on to recommend a half rack because it is already a nice size portion.

The young couples around me were occupied in quiet conversation with occasional glances at the College Baseball World Series on the TVs. Nicholas commented he was surprised the bar wasn’t more of a sports bar with all the TVs…and frankly I was happy to enjoy a quiet dinner without rabid fans around me.

My dinner was a generous sized portion of baby back ribs, served on a bed of shoestring French fries (a slight miss…the bed was more like parts and pieces than whole fries) and cole slaw.

The ribs were, in a word, fabulous. While they were “fall off the bone,” they tasted fresh and were not mushy (as often found when ribs are boiled in their preparation.)  There was a nice smoke ring in the ribs. The BBQ sauce served on the side tasted like KC Masterpiece, a blend of tomato, molasses and spices.

Ribs need to be accompanied by really tasty cole slaw, and The Marathon’s was very tasty.

I left the restaurant asking myself why I didn’t head there more often. Great service, great food, and decent prices…a winning trio.

Hours                          

Monday-Wednesday
Restaurant 11:30am-9pm
Bar 11:30am-10pm

Thursday
Restaurant 11:30am-9pm
Bar 11:30am-11pm

Friday 
Restaurant 11:30am-10pm
Bar 11:30am-12am

Saturday
Restaurant 12pm-10pm
Bar 12pm-12am

Sunday
CLOSED

The Marathon Restaurant gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

Monday
Apr162012

Erin Runs the Boston Marathon, Again

Sometimes I forget how the little things can make a big difference even today with my adult children.

When my kids were little, we enjoyed going to the Boston Marathon route.  We’d park strategically for aErin, standing, with Heather giving a runner water circa 1995 or 96 getaway, and would hand out orange slices and water to the runners.  While waiting for the runners to get to our location, we’d have a grill going making hot dogs, and would play with a Frisbee.  And I suspect this was also the first time my kids saw the awesome flattening a train does to a penny, as we always made it over to the train tracks.

Over time, we would bring different families with us.  After all, handing out water at the Marathon was “our thing.”

As time went on, jobs and school got in the way.  During the college years, the kids we not traveling home for the Marathon.  While I would make a point of either showing up or watching a little on television, it wasn’t the same.

Last year, my daughter and some college friends ran the Marathon course.  It was a big event, with a bunch of young women carbo loading the night before and then meeting at the house in the morning.  I was charged with dropping them off at Hopkinton State Park for the shuttle ride to Hopkinton.  I met them a couple times along the way, and we met at the end.  All made it, all did well.

My daughter swore she was “into running”, and was going to do the New York Marathon.  Alas, her life seemed to kick in, and while Dad dutifully got the information on how she could participate as part of a charity team.  Running the Marathon faded.

So I was surprised when two months ago she said she wanted to run it again at 25 years old.  In fact, I was very surprised.  A year before she was training hard…I knew she had done some short runs, but nothing serious.

She asked if I would help her prep.  Last year, than meant a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods, and then Carbo Loading.  This year, it was just a request to carbo load.

Then a week ago, I got a text message, suggesting I wasn’t being supportive.  Hmm.   How much more supportive could I be?  Heck, I even put up a Facebook post:

So I had to act quickly.  I arranged for the day off from work.  I would reprise my role as the carbo loading coach, drop her off, and meet her along the way.  I sent her a text, letting her know:

 

 

Wow.  I didn’t know this was so important to her. 

Then the worries started.  Why?  The meteorologists were predicting high heat, and the Boston Athletic Association started indicating “deferrals” might be good for the numbered runners.  Of course, she thought I was trying to scare her by mentioning.

 

 

The night before, we went to Hopkinton to see the starting line:

 

 

We had Breakfast this morning at Chet’s Diner. 

I dropped her off at the state park:

 

 

I saw her at the 7 mile mark:

 

 

(Of course, the ambulances at the 7 mile mark were concerning, they just kept coming:)

 

While waiting at the 20 mile mark, she sent this text:

 

 

I was there at the 20 mile mark along with her brother, who captured these steps as she boldly made it to “pits:”

 

 

 

And in the end, she did it.

 

 

She is tired, with a blister or two, and yet she “beat the heat.”  Am I proud of her?  Words can’t describe.

Erin had such support.  From the people she works (and worked) with), friends, family, the folks at Chet’s Diner (who thought her name should be on their sign,) my friends at the Westborough Patch….it is amazing.  We went out for dinner afterwards, and throngs of people came by to congratulate my Back of the Pack runner, who did “Beat the Heat.”

And if Erin does Boston again, or the New York as she’s threatening, I will be there.

I am hopeful if she wants to keep with it she joins a running club and participates with a community.  Having a bib would help to…if only so I have a place to sit: