Thursday, October 13, 2016

My 4th Annual Book Report


My latest book is my most non-niche and has the potential to become my best-selling. NaNoWriMo is imminent, and I figure now is a perfectly auspicious time for me to take stock of how I’m doing thus far with my publishing endeavors and to ask my friends which of my in-progress or in-my-head projects I should tackle exclusively for the month of November, which I do annually. The non-self-publishing industry has not yet taken notice of me, but it cannot do this forever, because I’m putting out at least a book a year until 2095. I don’t know what my numbers will be then, but these are my numbers to date, in order of copies sold, completion percentage, and development stage in my brain, respectively:

Published (5):

54 Runners, 54 Stories: The Tale of the 2012 200k JRunners Relay Race: 77 copies sold. I’m very proud of this one, my current bestseller. I targeted an entire very-niche market, and sold it to nearly all of them. A sequel will be written, but it likely requires a full relay to be deserving of that. It seems promising. http://tinyurl.com/JRunnersBook

The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity: 70 copies sold. The things that people moan and groan about concerning their fellow man, especially on Facebook, are all covered here. Every time I revisit the manuscript, it feels so current. Proud of this one too. http://tinyurl.com/BehaviorBook

Bush II, Book I: 64 copies sold. The world has found this book. It exists somewhere that’s getting attention. Kindle versions are constantly finding themselves into strangers’ hands. Every time 9/11 approaches, I get a spike in sales. http://tinyurl.com/BushIIBookI

A Conversation on The Way: 63 copies sold. Reviewed on 3 blogger sites, featured at the YU Seforim Sale, and nicely received. I especially enjoy the artwork by Dena Szpilzinger, the first hired professional of my writing career. I’m hoping to able to afford other services, like editing, though I am grateful to my volunteers. http://tinyurl.com/ConvoBook

Extracts From Noah’s Diary: 50 copies sold. Mark Twain wrote Extracts from Adam’s Diary, then followed up later with Eve’s Diary, then did not follow up any further, save for some parodies of Methuselah’s entries. This is where I came in; a sequel 100 years overdue. So big, it’s biblical. I’m just getting warmed up with this one, and was successful in having it reviewed by a small handful of book sites. I worked hard on the jokes, and strenuously on the research. It’s actually a giant d’var torah, and I feel my newest baby deserves a lot of attention. http://tinyurl.com/NoahsDiary

In progress (10):

Bush II, Book II: Manuscript 47% complete. I haven’t tackled this in a while, but it’s time to return. The attention the first book is getting warrants this. Also, I really didn’t think I wouldn’t get the sequel out before Obama’s tenure was complete.  Trump, Book I or Clinton II, Book I would be insane and hilarious projects to tackle.

The Year of Bad Behavior II: More Scalawags, Dirtbags, Bullyrags, and Lollygags: Manuscript 30% complete. I also must return to this as well. The format differs from its prequel – grievances are ordered by category, rather than written as diary entries – and I think I’ll have an interesting product when complete. NJTransit’s stupidities, on their own, warrant a complete spin-off.

A Conversation on the Conversation: Manuscript 20% complete. The first book is begging for a sequel, but it’s going to take lots of work. The quasi-fictional idea is that the original becomes a best-seller, and I’m invited to a talk show to discuss. This is the hard part. I and my interviewer pore over the original manuscript point for point, and I also will include rebuttals to my arguments that I received (in real life) from readers. It’s daunting, big big, but I’ll get it done somehow.

Forty Runners Less one: Stories and Glories From the 2013 200k JRunners 200k Relay Race: Manuscript: 10% complete. I collected the runner stories and also conducting interviews when needed. I also collected stories for the 2014 version of the race, and actually got 25% of the pack’s write-ups. Same for 2015, but with a drastically dwindled amount, and for 2016, with even smaller numbers. It looks like the runners are more eager to contribute, as mentioned above, when the relay is a full one. I think I have to pull that off before I pull a book sequel off, in which all past year’s entries that I have on file will be included. I’ll target the same niche group as the original, and hopefully attract more runners to the great race.

The Man Who Read 1,001 Books Before He Died. 4% complete. You know those popular 1,001 xxx to xxx Before You Die books? Specifically, the Books to Reads one? I thought it would be a neat trick to actually read those 1,001 books and write about the experience. This was what I NaNoWriMoed two years ago, and I’ve been fully immersed since. Whether you measure my status by the number of books I’m up to (44) or the pace at which I’ll read them (I’m scheduled to finish in November 2058. I should live so long!), the number is 4%. I’ve got a long way to go, but the progress will be steady. There is no question it’ll be the largest work I’ll ever put out. Not even two years in, it stands at 67,000 words/238 pages.

Mordechai’s Pamphlet: 3% complete. My paternal grandfather’s memoirs. The man for whom I am named recorded his thoughts about losing his wife and three children in WWII, surfacing from the ashes with his faith intact, marrying my grandmother, rebuilding a home with six children, then suffering for years from lung cancer until his death at age 47. He called the collection Kuntres Mordechai, and it is entirely written in Hebrew. I started the translation last NaNoWriMo, but admittedly fell of the wagon when my I found a new job, plus I jumped into other writing projects. I have to re-shift priorities and jump back on the wagon again. I’ll revisit after the coming NaNoWriMo, and hope to produce this before the end of next year.

My First 30 Marathons: The Running Story of a Midpack Runner: Putting all my marathon running reports together. Hoping I can find them all. I wonder if I’ll be successful. If I can actually find them, collating should be a snap. Everything’s already been written! This would include the next three marathons I’m running over the next half year, and would exclude the Makeshift Marathon I ran when Sandy canceled NYC in 2012, and also the seven ultras I’ve run. Or maybe they shouldn’t be excluded at all. I’ll think about it.

Zaidy's War: My maternal grandfather's memoirs, which I recorded in notebooks and on VHSes. Must find time for this project. Zaidy passed away almost three years ago, and it’s important for his story to see the light of day.

Children's Book #1 with Classified Title: I'm trying to write a parody of a famous children's book. First draft did not pass muster with my Editor-in-Chief. Will submit new drafts shortly.

The Knish’s Best 192 Articles of the First 192 it’s Published: I launched the first issue 13 years ago, and just released issue #32, which was very satisfying. The time may have arrived – as with my Marathon project above – to house them all in a single compendium, as a way of celebrating the site’s Bar Mitzvah. Everything’s written, I just need to write an intro and a timeline and do a pile of formatting. Shouldn’t be a big deal. Problem, though, would be how to share revenue with all the writers. What would be a fair system?

In my head (13):

How the Countries Got Their Shapes: I read a wonderful book entitled How the States Got Their Shapes, by Mark Stein. It’s exactly what you think it is. I did the best research I could, and could find not a single book that covers the concept on a global scale. I could be the man who could fill that gap. I would enjoy the research very much. I wonder if I’d have to ask the author of the inspiration for permission before proceeding.

The Israel/Gaza War: The 102nd Bloodiest Conflict in the World in 2014: Amid the swaths of the myriad piles of articles I read on the topic, one little factoid stood out to me out of all others: that little statistic that I think would be an alarming book title. Because Israel has so many challenges coming from all directions, it also – as a silver lining of sorts – creates opportunities for people concerned for her to battle on her behalf. Perhaps I could contribute in this way, by helping to focus attention away from Israel and towards at least 101 other places on earth that deserve more international concern and intervention. I would have to come face to face with a lot of evil, though, plus the research would be difficult, and the data murky. This might be a calling I might have to answer, though.

Territorial Disputes: A Primer on the 600 Other International Land Quarrels No One Knows or Cares About, But Should: Along the same lines as above: a very long story, very short: somehow a miracle happened that the president of a publishing company invited me to present to his committee - that publishes books in a “Things You Need To Know” motif - my thoughts around how only Israel – and perhaps Cyprus/Turkey and India/Pakistan – gets vilified over its land issues with its neighbors. My project was declined, but it’s being kept on the burner. If they won’t go with it, perhaps I’ll strike out on my own (something I’m familiar with). As above, this might be an opportunity to shine the spotlight on an area more deserving, and away from where it is currently. Which project would be worthier? Hmmm…

Children's Book #2 with Classified Title: I was inspired by a series of photographs that I took of my children. My Editor-in-Chief has some great ideas about spinning it into a bedtime story. I’m pondering the text, and will need an illustrator to convert the pictures we have into artwork for the book.

Parenting Book with Classified Title: There are many parenting books out there. Most of them are garbage. I have an idea for one with a healthy dose of humor and a large general twist. My everyday parenting keeps inspiring ideas for the project. I think I’m to begin putting pen-to-paper on this shortly.

The Inevitables: A Gladwellian idea I have about people who spend their entire lives in pursuit of a specific career, switch to something else on a dime, and become wildly successful despite a complete lack of practice or the 10,000 hours Gladwell himself talks about.

Universals: The Differences and Similarities Between Global Cultures: I’m fascinated by this. There are things that are the same 99% of everywhere (basic utensils, green is go, cash for service, elemental human needs), and things that are different 99% of everywhere (voting systems, traffic handling, cordiality, attire, interpretation of freedom, hand gestures, justice). I’d like to explore.

Speakers of the Torah: My first actual sefer-esque idea. While researching my Noah book, it struck me how little dialogue God has with his direct primordial creations. Noah never speaks to God. Adam speaks two utterances to his Creator. Eve speaks to Him more than her husband does. There is also limited dialogue between man and man. I read a discourse by the famous Nechama Leibowitz on the dialogues of the biblical Joseph. She made fascinating conclusions, and it left me intrigued. I think this idea is worth exploring in full, and I wonder where the research will take me. I’ll start writing notes on this, and see where it leads.

Things that Drive Me Crazy About the Talmud: My second actual even more sefer-esque idea. My shadchan self-published a sefer recently, borne out of notes he kept while learning through TaNaCH over a 15-year period. They were truly original thoughts that he compressed into a single, impressive volume. I realized while reading that our thought-lines were quite similar, especially in regards to the myriad unanswered questions – and potentially original ones – that I had about the gemorah, in which I’m currently immersed in my second cycle of learning. I have begun to keep notes, and here too, I will look back after a time and see if I have anything worthy of being recorded in a single large volume. Apologies, I don’t have a more polite title at this time.

Obama, Book I: Must Finish Bush II, Book II first.

Obama, Book II: I never thought there’d be a sequel. Honestly, but here we are, and the sequel’s almost done!

Clinton II, Book I: OMG no.

Trump, Book I: OMG hell no.

When you let me know which project I should tackle for November, also please let me know what my grade is on my report.

Oh, and feel free to avail yourself to a book of mine or two (Just a few more sales and I will have sold 350 books; nice little milestone) at 50%-75% off. I'll have several more items on my bookshelf for you very soon, but for now, truly, the lineup is quite colorful, and pleasing to the eye – at least to mine: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom, http://tinyurl.com/BodekKindleBooks

Man, I also gotta put out another issue of TheKnish.com and release some more of my surname articles…


My 4th Annual Book Report

My latest book is my most non-niche and has the potential to become my best-selling. NaNoWriMo is imminent, and I figure now is a perfectly auspicious time for me to take stock of how I’m doing thus far with my publishing endeavors and to ask my friends which of my in-progress or in-my-head projects I should tackle exclusively for the month of November, which I do annually. The non-self-publishing industry has not yet taken notice of me, but it cannot do this forever, because I’m putting out at least a book a year until 2095. I don’t know what my numbers will be then, but these are my numbers to date, in order of copies sold, completion percentage, and development stage in my brain, respectively:

Published (5):

54 Runners, 54 Stories: The Tale of the 2012 200k JRunners Relay Race: 77 copies sold. I’m very proud of this one, my current bestseller. I targeted an entire very-niche market, and sold it to nearly all of them. A sequel will be written, but it likely requires a full relay to be deserving of that. It seems promising. http://tinyurl.com/JRunnersBook

The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity: 70 copies sold. The things that people moan and groan about concerning their fellow man, especially on Facebook, are all covered here. Every time I revisit the manuscript, it feels so current. Proud of this one too. http://tinyurl.com/BehaviorBook

Bush II, Book I: 64 copies sold. The world has found this book. It exists somewhere that’s getting attention. Kindle versions are constantly finding themselves into strangers’ hands. Every time 9/11 approaches, I get a spike in sales. http://tinyurl.com/BushIIBookI

A Conversation on The Way: 63 copies sold. Reviewed on 3 blogger sites, featured at the YU Seforim Sale, and nicely received. I especially enjoy the artwork by Dena Szpilzinger, the first hired professional of my writing career. I’m hoping to able to afford other services, like editing, though I am grateful to my volunteers. http://tinyurl.com/ConvoBook

Extracts From Noah’s Diary: 50 copies sold. Mark Twain wrote Extracts from Adam’s Diary, then followed up later with Eve’s Diary, then did not follow up any further, save for some parodies of Methuselah’s entries. This is where I came in; a sequel 100 years overdue. So big, it’s biblical. I’m just getting warmed up with this one, and was successful in having it reviewed by a small handful of book sites. I worked hard on the jokes, and strenuously on the research. It’s actually a giant d’var torah, and I feel my newest baby deserves a lot of attention. http://tinyurl.com/NoahsDiary

In progress (10):

Bush II, Book II: Manuscript 47% complete. I haven’t tackled this in a while, but it’s time to return. The attention the first book is getting warrants this. Also, I really didn’t think I wouldn’t get the sequel out before Obama’s tenure was complete.  Trump, Book I or Clinton II, Book I would be insane and hilarious projects to tackle.

The Year of Bad Behavior II: More Scalawags, Dirtbags, Bullyrags, and Lollygags: Manuscript 30% complete. I also must return to this as well. The format differs from its prequel – grievances are ordered by category, rather than written as diary entries – and I think I’ll have an interesting product when complete. NJTransit’s stupidities, on their own, warrant a complete spin-off.

A Conversation on the Conversation: Manuscript 20% complete. The first book is begging for a sequel, but it’s going to take lots of work. The quasi-fictional idea is that the original becomes a best-seller, and I’m invited to a talk show to discuss. This is the hard part. I and my interviewer pore over the original manuscript point for point, and I also will include rebuttals to my arguments that I received (in real life) from readers. It’s daunting, big big, but I’ll get it done somehow.

Forty Runners Less one: Stories and Glories From the 2013 200k JRunners 200k Relay Race: Manuscript: 10% complete. I collected the runner stories and also conducting interviews when needed. I also collected stories for the 2014 version of the race, and actually got 25% of the pack’s write-ups. Same for 2015, but with a drastically dwindled amount, and for 2016, with even smaller numbers. It looks like the runners are more eager to contribute, as mentioned above, when the relay is a full one. I think I have to pull that off before I pull a book sequel off, in which all past year’s entries that I have on file will be included. I’ll target the same niche group as the original, and hopefully attract more runners to the great race.

The Man Who Read 1,001 Books Before He Died. 4% complete. You know those popular 1,001 xxx to xxx Before You Die books? Specifically, the Books to Reads one? I thought it would be a neat trick to actually read those 1,001 books and write about the experience. This was what I NaNoWriMoed two years ago, and I’ve been fully immersed since. Whether you measure my status by the number of books I’m up to (44) or the pace at which I’ll read them (I’m scheduled to finish in November 2058. I should live so long!), the number is 4%. I’ve got a long way to go, but the progress will be steady. There is no question it’ll be the largest work I’ll ever put out. Not even two years in, it stands at 67,000 words/238 pages.

Mordechai’s Pamphlet: 3% complete. My paternal grandfather’s memoirs. The man for whom I am named recorded his thoughts about losing his wife and three children in WWII, surfacing from the ashes with his faith intact, marrying my grandmother, rebuilding a home with six children, then suffering for years from lung cancer until his death at age 47. He called the collection Kuntres Mordechai, and it is entirely written in Hebrew. I started the translation last NaNoWriMo, but admittedly fell of the wagon when my I found a new job, plus I jumped into other writing projects. I have to re-shift priorities and jump back on the wagon again. I’ll revisit after the coming NaNoWriMo, and hope to produce this before the end of next year.

My First 30 Marathons: The Running Story of a Midpack Runner: Putting all my marathon running reports together. Hoping I can find them all. I wonder if I’ll be successful. If I can actually find them, collating should be a snap. Everything’s already been written! This would include the next three marathons I’m running over the next half year, and would exclude the Makeshift Marathon I ran when Sandy canceled NYC in 2012, and also the seven ultras I’ve run. Or maybe they shouldn’t be excluded at all. I’ll think about it.

Zaidy's War: My maternal grandfather's memoirs, which I recorded in notebooks and on VHSes. Must find time for this project. Zaidy passed away almost three years ago, and it’s important for his story to see the light of day.

Children's Book #1 with Classified Title: I'm trying to write a parody of a famous children's book. First draft did not pass muster with my Editor-in-Chief. Will submit new drafts shortly.

The Knish’s Best 192 Articles of the First 192 it’s Published: I launched the first issue 13 years ago, and just released issue #32, which was very satisfying. The time may have arrived – as with my Marathon project above – to house them all in a single compendium, as a way of celebrating the site’s Bar Mitzvah. Everything’s written, I just need to write an intro and a timeline and do a pile of formatting. Shouldn’t be a big deal. Problem, though, would be how to share revenue with all the writers. What would be a fair system?

In my head (13):

How the Countries Got Their Shapes: I read a wonderful book entitled How the States Got Their Shapes, by Mark Stein. It’s exactly what you think it is. I did the best research I could, and could find not a single book that covers the concept on a global scale. I could be the man who could fill that gap. I would enjoy the research very much. I wonder if I’d have to ask the author of the inspiration for permission before proceeding.

The Israel/Gaza War: The 102nd Bloodiest Conflict in the World in 2014: Amid the swaths of the myriad piles of articles I read on the topic, one little factoid stood out to me out of all others: that little statistic that I think would be an alarming book title. Because Israel has so many challenges coming from all directions, it also – as a silver lining of sorts – creates opportunities for people concerned for her to battle on her behalf. Perhaps I could contribute in this way, by helping to focus attention away from Israel and towards at least 101 other places on earth that deserve more international concern and intervention. I would have to come face to face with a lot of evil, though, plus the research would be difficult, and the data murky. This might be a calling I might have to answer, though.

Territorial Disputes: A Primer on the 600 Other International Land Quarrels No One Knows or Cares About, But Should: Along the same lines as above: a very long story, very short: somehow a miracle happened that the president of a publishing company invited me to present to his committee - that publishes books in a “Things You Need To Know” motif - my thoughts around how only Israel – and perhaps Cyprus/Turkey and India/Pakistan – gets vilified over its land issues with its neighbors. My project was declined, but it’s being kept on the burner. If they won’t go with it, perhaps I’ll strike out on my own (something I’m familiar with). As above, this might be an opportunity to shine the spotlight on an area more deserving, and away from where it is currently. Which project would be worthier? Hmmm…

Children's Book #2 with Classified Title: I was inspired by a series of photographs that I took of my children. My Editor-in-Chief has some great ideas about spinning it into a bedtime story. I’m pondering the text, and will need an illustrator to convert the pictures we have into artwork for the book.

Parenting Book with Classified Title: There are many parenting books out there. Most of them are garbage. I have an idea for one with a healthy dose of humor and a large general twist. My everyday parenting keeps inspiring ideas for the project. I think I’m to begin putting pen-to-paper on this shortly.

The Inevitables: A Gladwellian idea I have about people who spend their entire lives in pursuit of a specific career, switch to something else on a dime, and become wildly successful despite a complete lack of practice or the 10,000 hours Gladwell himself talks about.

Universals: The Differences and Similarities Between Global Cultures: I’m fascinated by this. There are things that are the same 99% of everywhere (basic utensils, green is go, cash for service, elemental human needs), and things that are different 99% of everywhere (voting systems, traffic handling, cordiality, attire, interpretation of freedom, hand gestures, justice). I’d like to explore.

Speakers of the Torah: My first actual sefer-esque idea. While researching my Noah book, it struck me how little dialogue God has with his direct primordial creations. Noah never speaks to God. Adam speaks two utterances to his Creator. Eve speaks to Him more than her husband does. There is also limited dialogue between man and man. I read a discourse by the famous Nechama Leibowitz on the dialogues of the biblical Joseph. She made fascinating conclusions, and it left me intrigued. I think this idea is worth exploring in full, and I wonder where the research will take me. I’ll start writing notes on this, and see where it leads.

Things that Drive Me Crazy About the Talmud: My second actual even more sefer-esque idea. My shadchan self-published a sefer recently, borne out of notes he kept while learning through TaNaCH over a 15-year period. They were truly original thoughts that he compressed into a single, impressive volume. I realized while reading that our thought-lines were quite similar, especially in regards to the myriad unanswered questions – and potentially original ones – that I had about the gemorah, in which I’m currently immersed in my second cycle of learning. I have begun to keep notes, and here too, I will look back after a time and see if I have anything worthy of being recorded in a single large volume. Apologies, I don’t have a more polite title at this time.

Obama, Book I: Must Finish Bush II, Book II first.

Obama, Book II: I never thought there’d be a sequel. Honestly, but here we are, and the sequel’s almost done!

Clinton II, Book I: OMG no.

Trump, Book I: OMG hell no.

When you let me know which project I should tackle for November, also please let me know what my grade is on my report.

Oh, and feel free to avail yourself to a book of mine or two (Just a few more sales and I will have sold 350 books; nice little milestone) at 50%-75% off. I'll have several more items on my bookshelf for you very soon, but for now, truly, the lineup is quite colorful, and pleasing to the eye – at least to mine: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom, http://tinyurl.com/BodekKindleBooks

Man, I also gotta put out another issue of TheKnish.com and release some more of my surname articles…


Thursday, September 22, 2016

My First (Official) Ultramarathon

My First (Official) Ultramarathon
By
Martin Bodek

Tell people you’re running the NYC Marathon, and you’ll get oohs and aahs, and maybe you’ll even get people to donate to the charity you might be running for.

Tell people you’re running the Brooklyn Marathon two weeks later, and they’ll kind of look at you funny (then they’ll say, “There’s a Brooklyn Marathon?”).

Tell people you’re running a 12-hour race in between, and they send for the people in white coats.

So it was that I finally found myself participating in the first official ultra I’ve ever participated in (I’ve now ended two sentences with prepositions, but who’s counting?).

Now sure, I’d participated in many ultras of my own construction before, being careful to have them recognized formally (criteria: a) available to the public, b) 5 starters/3 finishers c) posted results, d) a director in charge, and e) known course), but I’d been bursting to take part in one where I could show up, run, and leave, without the other responsibilities.

Why had it taken me half a decade to finally find one? My criteria are too numerous:


  • Not on family time – I already impinge on that enough, thank you very much.
  • Not on work time – I’m not taking a day off to run. That time is for family. See line above.
  • Early starting – so it won’t impact family or work time. See two lines above.
  • During a high-mileage part of my running season – else I’d bonk.
  • Cool temps – ‘cuz me and heat? We don’t get along, my Badwater ambitions be damned.
  • Local – I’m not hopping on a plane for a long race, unless my family comes with, which they won’t. They have better things to do.
  • Need friends along – in case I get hurt, I want to be in the care of people I know. Also, I like my friends and want to hang out with them.
  • No trails – I hate trails. Trails are for people who wear “sneakers.” I don’t wear those things. I wear Vibrams.
  • Not on Saturday – I am Sabbath observant.


After first putting these demands into the grinder five years ago, the only things the ultra-machine spit out were races of my own design, at a time of my choosing. I put the list into the robot again, and suddenly it came back with quite a find! It’s called the NJ Trail Series One Day. It takes place in November, on the Sussex County Fairgrounds in New Jersey, and stages various races (24-hour, 12-hour, 6-hour, 50k, and marathon) over a 24-hour period. The 12-hour run starts at 9 PM on Saturday night.

Bingo. Notice how the paragraph above satisfies the needs of my criteria list just above that? I found my race. Some friends accepted my invite, and all my needs were met.

Now I can’t really file my usual mile-by-mile report, because that’s impossible. I have enough problems remembering details of the Brooklyn Marathon and reporting them (it’s run on Prospect Park’s 3.35-mile loops) in the exact order they happened, but on a 1-mile course over 12 hours of looping? Are you kidding me? Fuhgedaboudit!

I also can’t even give you an hourly report, much less a half-hourly report or 10-minutely report. What am I, crazy? Nobody’s memory is that good.

So what can I report to you? Let’s try something a little different: I’ll first give you a description of the race grounds, and its elements. Then I’ll give you an overview on how my friends did. Finally, I’ll save a little bit over in the end for how things went for me. We’ll get you home quickly.

The Course

As mentioned above, this took place on the Sussex County Fairgrounds, which is a 165-acre complex that hosts all kinds of interesting stuff. The website says, “This sought-after event venue has attracted many groups seeking powerful ways to integrate their brands with a fully engaged consumer,” but I don’t know what that means. It sounds like a slide from a business meeting. Simply put, they host horsey races, flower shows, craft fairs, farmer’s markets, the New Jersey State Fair, and our little race – with a 3-day version of the same in May.

The course itself is a mostly-flat 1-mile loop that cuts through and skirts around the majority of the complex. Actually, if you can picture it, it’s shaped a lot like a flintlock pistol, facing right. The rounded grip is the long, lonely stretch out in the fields, the trigger and trigger-guard house all the amenities (start/finish line, timing mat, kitchen, bathrooms), and the tip of the barrel represents the “out and back” portion of the course. Or, if you will – and if you are pre-Millennial – it looks a lot like the 1st Pole Position board, minus the tommy gun barrel-grip part.

The runners and their families all set up their tents and conveniences around the gun barrel part of the course, and near the trigger-guard. The rest (an exaggeration, “the rest” is just the .6 miles of the rest of the loop) was just encountering the same runners several dozen times.

Okay, enough firearms metaphors. You get the picture, I’m sure. I mean, shoot.

Okay, okay, done.

The Amenities

The kitchen: Oh my gawd was there food pouring out all over the place. ‘Twas a conveyor belt of goodies being produced through the night. There was fare even cooked up for vegans. Most of the cost of the race must have gone here. Now mind you, I and my friends all keep kosher, so we couldn’t enjoy everything – but there was plenty we could, and I ate, a lot, every time I passed by, every mile. Ahhhhh numnumnumnumnum. Hunger was not a factor at all.

The bathroom: the course had indoor bathrooms. Indoor. Bathrooms. Can you believe it? Of all the amenities ever provided on any of the 200+ races I’ve run, nothing has been as wonderful, beautiful, and kind as this one. It was clean, it was well-stocked, it was warm, it had actual soap (hand sanitizer is not a proper substitute. Look up the difference in your local library - oh, wait, the internet was invented a short time ago. Go ahead and google that).

The timing: every runner was given a house-arrest anklet (I’m guessing it’s not officially called that) to wear. Every time we hit the start mat, we triggered updated information displayed on a large board housed in the little hut/kiosk/gazebo/belvedere structure thingie that served as headquarters. Lap, pace, ranking, and the like. All the good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff:

My Friends

I was so happy to have some good friends along for the ride. I wouldn’t have participated without this crucial criterion in place. I put out a casting call, and these fine people answered. I’ll list them in order of how many miles they covered (what? How else should I list them? By how much I like them? That’s just rude).

Michael: He looked strong for most of the race (he has an impressive and commanding power stroke – like, the opposite of Paula Radcliffe), but after about the 20 mile mark, I encountered him walking during some of my loops, then I saw him seated, then I saw him seated in such a fashion as to suggest he wasn’t getting up anymore. When I noticed that, I stopped looping for a minute to ask him if he was done. He said he was. He had a leg issue he was battling. I looked at his watch: 26.1 miles! I told him to get his butt out there and finish up what he needed to complete a marathon. He did exactly that. Okay, I wasn’t the motivator. He had to walk that distance to pick up his trophy (a license plate! Personalized by the race director! Neat!).

Yisroel: Jolly St. Sruly drove Michael in, went round and round (for a small chunk with me; more on that later), went a mile longer than he ever had (he’s the veteran of multiple 50Ks), then had to call it a night so he could support Michael. That’s what friends are for.

Rebecca: The MVP of the night. I’ll put it simply: Old 12-hour female course record: 63 laps. New record: 68 laps. That’s an 8% increase; the equivalent of a 60-game hitting streak, or 79 home runs in a season, or 108 points scored in a game. Okay, enough sports analogies. She killed it. She destroyed it. She was dy-no-mite!

Ari: No slouch himself, Ari came this close to emerging as champion of the male race. He cleared 71 laps. The winner? 72. The equivalent of missing out due to an ill-timed pit-stop. Oh my, though he is no less deserving of a round of applause.

Me

As for Yours Truly, I had the time of my life. Now this wasn’t in a rah-rah sign-waving roaring-crowd sense, but rather in a dreamlike, trancelike, easy-does-it like sense. That’s the difference between a big city marathon like the one I ran the week prior, and this one, on horsey grounds, surrounded by woods, with only runners and their crewmembers present (and, for part of the evening the wedding party on a secluded area of the grounds in a giant barn-y thing with poor soundproofing).

I arrived, with Rebecca in shotgun, to the most quiet quietness and misty mistiness I’d ever seen on a racecourse. Temps were in the high 40s; they would drop to high 30s during the night.

Uninitiated, I parked in the first spot I saw – at the end of the gun barrel, as I mentioned above – and saw runners looping around a sawhorse at the end. I realized this cohort was closing in on the midpoint of their 24-hour race, while anybody else showing up was doing a “mere” 12.

We scouted the course, reviewed the amenities, picked up our bibs and swag, welcomed Ari and Yisroel and Michael when they rolled in, set up our respective gear (AKA “food”) along the lip of the course and on a little table Yisroel provided, and rested until go-time.

My plan was thus: run four miles, walk one, repeat. Do that for as long as I can, then shuffle along at whatever speed available to me after that.

My nutrition plan: partake of all the tummy-approved foods that I brought with me, plus all the kosher fare that the race offered, plus enjoy some of the newly-tested instant soups that I brought along. I scheduled that for every four hours of the run.

Ari, Rebecca, and Michael bolted out of the gates like they had business on the course to attend to. Yisroel hung out with me for a while.

As was my plan, I ran for four miles with Yisroel alongside me, then began walking. Yisroel wished me well and bounded off.

Doing this repeatedly meant I saw my friends a lot more often than I would had I stuck to a consistent running program. Head-nods and polite waves aplomb, but after a while, I couldn’t get Rebecca’s attention. She was focused and deathly serious about her undertaking. Good!

I kept up my 4/1 program for three rounds. In the middle of fourth attempt, it very quickly turned into a 3/2, and still in the middle of it all, a 1/4. That’s just as well. No regrets about that. This was an entirely new and different experience for me. I reached about twenty miles after around four hours, and it was time for my soup at approximately 1 AM.

Now, I swear, I think I fell asleep for the next four hours, lost in my dreamlike daze, because the next thing I remember after thinking, “Damn, that was some good soup,” was, “Ooh, I think it’s time for another soup!”

The time in between?  I spent it doing these:


  • ·         Shuffling along happily – I was just happy to be there, taking in this fascinating, new experience. I day-, er, nightdreamed a lot. I just kept moving forward. Because it’s such a short loop, people notice each other’s progress. I didn’t get pats on the back until I started shuffling following a long series of walking. In this scenario it’s easy to notice when a fellow runner is gutting things out. Also interesting was the one portion of the course that was sand and pebbles. During the night, these were easy to negotiate – what with my wearing my Vibrams – because of the shadows the large pebbles cast. Once day broke, and the sun moved overhead, the shadows disappeared, and it was more ow-ooh-ow for that stretch for the last few hours. Wasn’t so fun.
  • ·         Watching the sky – I’m a star-gazer by nature, and I don’t think I ever realized how dramatic the movements of constellations are over the course of night. They practically tumbled. For long stretches, I’d just stare up, impeded by nothing except for the curve of the road.  At one point, four superbright stars were stacked up one atop another. Ari passed me, patted my shoulder, and – knowing I’m an amateur astrologer – asked me if I knew what was up with the arrangement (it was that noticeable even to the uninitiated). I did know. They were not stars. They were the moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all neatly queued up. Gorgeous.
  • ·         Making bathroom stops – an indoor bathroom  is such a wonderful favor that I found myself in it even if I didn’t necessarily need need to go. Needing to go sufficed. It was also just a great way to rest my legs every few hours. At one point, I was in a stall between two other runners. The runner to my left said, “Hey, anyone know what time it is?” The runner to my right said, “Yeah, it’s 17:30. Um, I mean 2:30. Wait, holy $#!+, I’ve been running for seventeen and a half hours?” Ha!
  • ·         Watching the leaderboard  - that leaderboard was fascinating to watch, and it was fun to parse out the statistics quickly every time I passed by. Quite often during the night, I’d be in the company of a runner whose status on the course I was curious about. I’d either keep pace, or race after them to see the numbers. Sometimes it got a bit hectic. If I allowed too many runners in between me and the runner in front of me, I wouldn’t get the numbers, so I found myself sprinting on occasion. It was fun chasing after Rebecca every time she passed. She was killing it. It was also funny when I’d chase the leader (who would end up running 135 miles!) but before he’d get to the leaderboard area, he’d pull off to the side to his crew. Doh! All that running for nothing!
As I approached the start area shortly after 8 AM, I decided that would be enough for me. I’d already gone further than I ever had before (previous record: 40 miles, on my 40th birthday), and I still had to drive home. It was imperative that I rest before doing so. So at 8:16 AM, after 11:16:43 of running, I pulled in and called it a day, er, night, having cleared 41.5 miles. The director signed my license plate, and I headed to the car to rest.

I plopped myself down at the foot of the little hill, and inverted myself with my legs in the air. I must’ve looked funny, because some runners started taking selfies with me.

For those who didn’t, presuming they were focused on finishing their races with squeezing out as much distance as possible, I yelled “One more!” People really responded to that.

I also managed to grab a few winks.

A half hour after the race was over, I was still lying there, well rested, when Rebecca came shuffling in, having clobbered the female race record, but now, suddenly, unable to walk straight.

We both managed to clamber into the car, and got home safely.

Then, I began my day.


My name is Martin Bodek, and I’m a biblioholic. It’s so bad, I write them while I wait for my favorite authors to come out with their next books. Help me. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is when you enjoy my output: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom, http://tinyurl.com/BodekKindleBooks.