Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm in Jewish Community News/Jewish Standard!

It's been a crazy month. First I got an article published in Jewcy.com, then I got interviewed by The Herald News' general and sports columnists, then I get an article in The Denver Post, then I get interviewed for my e-mail confusion by The Boston Globe, and finally to wrap up my media month, I'm featured in Jewish Standard, discussing my Marathon run from a religious perspective. Here's the link:


The print version has a few more paragraphs, so if you can get your hands on it, it's a better read.

Now I can get back to my normal life. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm in The Boston Globe!

Remember my "Sox/Rocks/Fox/Jocks" article? I got that published by carpet-bombing every major NYC/Boston/Colorado newspaper until I found a taker.

While searching for contact information on The Boston Globe, I came across a little "wanted" ad on the margins. A staff writer was looking for people with stories about e-mail identity confusion. I e-mailed her my story about getting confused via e-mail with a Martin Bodek who's a dentist in Brooklyn (I get his alumni e-mail and receipts), she called me back, and included some of my comments in the article, which appeared in this Sunday's Boston Globe:


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Simply Tsfatastic!

A few months ago, I came home from a wedding in Lakewood and raved to my wife about the band that was there. Simply Tsfat was their name and man did they liven up the joint!

I recognized the violinist on the spot.

Rewind a few months:

On our trip to Israel, our tour guide led us through Tsfat. My wife needed use of the facilities and I needed water (Israel's mineral water does not agree with me). Our guide said he had just the place and led us to the house of a friend of his, who had a ladies room for my wife and "reverse osmosis" water for me (the most delicious water I've ever tasted!). Turns out my wife used to babysit for his children!

So at the wedding, I went over to say hi and thank him again for saving a desert-wanderer with his water. He couldn't remember who I was, but he said he was glad I enjoyed the music.

Fast forward a few months:

So my wife hired a babysitter for Saturday night, told me not to make any plans, and we jumped into the car while I played twenty questions about where we were headed. It took me 4 questions to narrow it down.

Boy did I enjoy! They even played my request, Gesher Tzar Me'od. I absolutely love that song. We went over to him pre-show to say hi, and when my wife reminded him about our Israel meeting, it clicked with him, and he remembered me from the wedding.

What an interesting circle of events, or triangle, or heck, a complete rhombazoid. Doesn't matter, the music rocks.

So I'm thinking the song I like might be a good mantra to use over the Queensboro Bridge at the Marathon. I mean hey, at that point, my world really is a very narrow bridge, and the main thing is to have no fear!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

AnOTHER Interview!

Today, the Jewish Community News, affiliated with the Jewish Standard, got in touch with me and interviewed me about my marathon run. We specifically focused on the religious aspect of the entire enterprise. The interview will be published at the end of the month.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My 12th Marathon Run

On November 4th, 2007, I ran my 12th marathon. (I've run 10 NYCs and I've run the last 8 NYCs). This is the story in its entirety, which includes an inventory of my progressing physical agony, interesting things I took note of along the course, various people calling me "kid" and "kiddo", a truckload of invective, and of all things, covert and blatant racism (fast forward to those parts if you want, but you'll have to read through most of the report to find it).

Marathon Eve: My wife makes me my favorite pre-marathon macaroni dish (the only macaroni/pasta dish I can tolerate, not a fan), I accept several "good lucks" from family members and friends, I prepare my clothing, book a car service for tomorrow morning, change the relevant clocks for EST and hit the sack at 10:00 PM. I don't bother falling asleep, that's never happened. I just stare at the ceiling, the walls, my wife, the clock and repeat the process until I get out of bed at 3:30 AM.

Marathon morning: I shower, Vaseline strategic portions of my anatomy, clothe myself in the same outfit I've worn for 8 years now (Superman t-shirt, red shirts, blue gloves. On my chest, I've got "Martin" pinned above the Superman symbol and my race number with a TheKnish.com sticker. On my back, I've got my 4:30 pace bib, a cancer card from the Livestrong foundation with the name of a friend I'm running in memory of - David Yifrach ben Tuvia - and a sign that says, "If I'm walking, pat my back, thanks!"), make myself a scrambled egg sandwich, scarf down some waffles, and begin davening at 5:20, so I can hit Borchu at 5:38. I wrap up quickly after that point because I've schedule the car service for 5:45. (Yes, I can daven that fast, ask my father-in-law how much he enjoys my speedy seders).

The car arrives exactly on time (That's a plug for you, Clifton Taxi!) and drives me over to the Meadowlands where buses are waiting to deliver us to the Staten Island start.

We arrive, I stake out the bathrooms to compute which would be the most strategic if I need one just before the race (blue corral wins every year), and I head over to the Marathon Minyan, celebrating its 25th year, a fact covered in last week's Forward. I meet up with old friends, new friends, and we part ways after the minyan to line up in our respective corrals.

The race starts and I'm still stuck in one place with my 4:30 pace team for 2, 4, 6 minutes and I just don't have the patience anymore. I drop my team and cut through the crowd to make it to the start. I get over the start line 10 minutes into the race. I missed hearing Sinatra's "New York" and instead I get Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", (I don't like his music, but that's a separate conversation) and so my race begins.

Mile .2: I look around at the t-shirts people are wearing as I get my legs warmed up. One noteworthy one is this one: "Pardon please, my slow walk...I have the bladders to feets."

'Scuse me? What is that supposed to mean? Does he...have gout? That one is just wacky.

I spot a guy with "19th straight NYC Marathon" on his back. I sidle over and tell him I hope to catch him one day. He says, "Hey, good goin' kid!" Kid? Do I look that young? Mayhap I do. I'll take it as a compliment.

Mile 1: Feeling good, weather's great, I just have to repeat the distance I just ran 26 times.

Mile 2: Foot of the Verrazano bridge. I notice something. Men are answering the call of nature as they usually would, but the women are not. In year's past, they've answered the call of nature, abandoning discreetness, at the same frequency as the men, but this year, they seem to have better bladder control. Maybe they're all on oxybutynin, or perhaps they didn't have coffee before the race (coffee is a diuretic).

Mile 3: The first wave of screaming cheers from Brooklyn and the first inappropriate sign I see. A man is holding one up that says, "The finish line is the only #$%^ing option." Whoa, easy there. I mean, I know this is Brooklyn, but there are impressionable kiddies all around you (I'm sure some of them like to be the first ones to cheer the marathoners).

Feeling good, no problems, this is a walk in the (Sunset) park so far.

Mile 4: I'm going too fast, pacing at 9:15-9:30, I should be at 10:00, but if I go any slower, I'm going backwards, so I maintain the pace.

Mile 4.7: I meet up with my mom, two of my sisters, my niece, my ex-mailman and a semi-retired marathoning friend and his kids. We take pictures, I stop and chat because I am way ahead of schedule, and I need to slow down anyway.

My mom hands me an orange, peeled and wedged, and a sesame bagel with salt on it. She had asked the bagel shop if they had salt bagels. They didn't. So she asked them to pluck a sesame one from the batch about to go into the oven and dump some salt on it. They oblige. Is that a yiddishe mama or what?

Mile 5-7: Smooth like buttah, everything feeling good, the weather is holding up, no pain whatsoever. I am running a bit fast, but again, I can't run slower when all systems are working perfectly. I can run slower when I'm in pain, but not at regular full-health stride.

Mile 7.3: A lineup of people about 25 feet long is waving bananas at the runners. I grab one, yum.

Mile 8-9: Status quo, feeling good, running well, pacing nicely. I also notice something interesting. Absolutely every American runner is named Mike or Dan, and every Norwegian is named Buow, which I can't even pronounce. The "b" and "w" are probably silent for all I know.

Mile 10: I meet up with my dad, stepmom and my twin sisters. I get a bagel and stay to chat because I'm still ahead of schedule. My dad tells me that the writer who interviewed me for the Herald News was hanging out but left just a few minutes ago. Would've been nice to say hello, but ah well.

Mile 10.1: I spot the parents of a friend's brother-in-law, whom I met at the minyan earlier today. I yell "Hey [insert family name] family!" Mr. [insert family name] says to his wife, "Who the hell was that?" (I really think he said that, which is why I'm protecting his anonymity)

Mile 10.8: We're past the Chasidish section of Williamsburg and we're on to the artists section. It's here that a Jewish fellow hands out twizzlers with a big sign that says "Kosher" in Hebrew. Handy-dandy. I grab one, say thanks, and wolf it down. Yum.

Mile 11-12: All systems perfect. Legs, nutrition, hydration, pace and weather are operating perfectly.

Mile 13: I hit the halfway at 2:14, still on pace to break my PR (4:24:49, set last year), but in the distance, I can see the Queensboro Bridge, my enemy, my nemesis, my foe, my whatever-other-synonym-I-can-place-here-to-describe-it. I hate that bridge, I hate it, because whatever happens there will dictate what happens for the rest of the race, not the fantastic pace I'm running right now.

Mile 13.2: I notice something. Most of the stores that have clocks on the outside had not been reset for EST. That could be quite confusing for some of the inattentive runners, or for family members who were scheduling to meet them along the course.

Mile 14: Approaching the dreaded bridge, I spot several people holding up signs cheering for someone named the B-word. We're not in Brooklyn anymore, and they care just as little in Queens about the impressionable kiddies.

The bridge looms and I need something to inspire me over the bridge, I try to gather strength from the crowd or from a t-shirt or a mantra. Anything will do.

Just before the bridge, a band is playing Baba O'riley, and the bridge comes up just as the awesome solo begins and carries me up. I spot a t-shirt that says, "Pride lasts longer than pain." Yes it does. Here goes nothin'.

Mile 15: I start the climb, Baba O'riley is still soloing behind me, and I start muttering, "stupid bridge, I will smash you, I will break you." Inspired by Brooklyn and Queens, I start cursing too. My head is down, watching my feet go. I can't look up, it's depressing, it's dark, it's a mile incline. I just keep muttering at the bridge and then it breaks me.

Both my quadriceps suddenly explode. The same thing happened last year, but it gradually happened over the course of several miles. This time it's 5 miles of built-up pain in the space of 1 second. It hurts, as they say, like the Rebbe, and the Rebbe is now hurting like his Rebbe.

As I stumble because of the agony, I slow a bit and I get my first pat on my back (remember the sign I mentioned above?). It's not just a pat though, it's a full-on wallop, and it hurts. I turn around to the slapper and say, "Easy there, a little gentle!" and the guy, as he passes me, looks at me funny, and says "Greeeee-tings...from Gerrrrrmany!"

Huh? Did I just get assaulted by a neo-Nazi? I don't know what to make of it. It's too weird. But I have no time to tussle with someone mid-Marathon, so I let him pass and try to shake what just happened. Still though, it was quite jarring, and it's upsetting me again as I write this. His slap, his look and his comment were truly bizarre and not unsubtle.

I gather my composure and keep running despite the pain.

Mile 16: Thinking my muscles are cramping instead of tearing, I reach into my little holster tied to my waistband and have several helpings of salt, which coincide with the end of the incline and the beginning of the downturn into Manhattan. The pain eases and I run on through into the wall of sound.

Mile 17: 1st Ave. in New York is exciting, it helps mask all different sorts of agony. People on the sidelines seem desperate to find names on runners' t-shirts so they can yell them until a vein bursts. I get plenty of "Go Superman"s and "Go Martin"s and they keep me going.

Mile 17.5; The sponge-station. Ooooooh, does this feel good. Volunteers hand you sponges soaked in water. I squish 'em against my neck and face and just feel the water spread down my back and chest. They should have this at least twice more during the race. It's heaven. There's a difference between having water dumped or sprayed on you and having it squished out gently on to you. The former can feel like waterboarding, the latter is wonderful.

Mile 17.7: I meet my brother-in-law and his little boy. I get a bagel and some Powerade and stay to chat for a minute, not because I'm still on pace (I'm not anymore) but because I'm hurting and I need a break.

Mile 18: From this point until the finish, I walk/run/walk/run depending on my ability to manage the pain, and the pats on my back increase. What's interesting is that I have no joint pain, just the pain in my quadriceps. I pushed against the bridge and the bridge pushed back. Ultimately, I did conquer it, but I paid the price.

Mile 18.9: I run into a co-worker who's cheering for the runners. She tells me I'm "Looking good!" No I'm not, I can't be. Incidentally, she's the first co-worker I've ever met along the course that I didn't plan beforehand to meet. Interesting.

Mile 19.7: I'm feeling heavy, I must be waterlogged. It's just in time though, as I'm closing in on the latrine of sorts that I've claimed for myself in past years in the same manner that other mammals claim territory for themselves. When I'm done, I'm a bit lighter, and it's over the Willis Ave. bridge and into the Bronx, where we're greeted by the same guy every year who hollers, "Aw yeah, welcome to da Souf Bronx, home o' da New Yawk YANKees, yo! Yeah yeah!"

Mile 20.1: I'm still heavy, I think I need a fuller bathroom facility. I'm not sure, because who knows what's going on physiologically at this point. There are port-a-potties here and one is available. I jump in and realize that disrobing is too much aggravation, what with getting my holster, cellphone and tzitzis back in order, so I exit almost immediately after I enter and continue my journey.

Mile 21-22: My thighs are still burning, BURNING, and still no joint pain, none whatsoever. I'm thinking my diet may be responsible for that. I've had no beverage except for water for a full month (except for Grape Juice on Shabbos) and when I have a whole wheat option, I take it. No junk food whatsoever. I think the combination is holding my joints up, and I think stomping on the Queensboro Bridge ripped my legs up.

Mile 22.5: The moment I've been waiting for. My wife and my kids waiting at the NE corner of Central Park for me. My little daughter (2 1/2) is bewildered at my appearance, my little boy (7 months) gives me a smile, and my wife gives me Powerade and a bagel. A bystander snaps photos of us, I swig the powerade, "knip" my daughter on the bakeleh (cheek) as a thank you for feeding me the Powerade, I promise her I'll be back shortly and off I go. Behind me, my daughter says, "Where my Daddy go?"

Mile 23-25: I accept countless pats on the back, including one runner who practically played bongos on me in an effort to get me going. I'm like a whac-a-mole. The sign is a good idea. I like getting patted because it gets me going, but it can get irritating, which I don't like so much, but the only way to squirm out of it is to run. The sign achieves its intended purpose.

Mile 25.4: Racism experience # 2: As I hit the corner of Central Park West and head up to the finish, three kids yell "Go Superman!" and a beat later the middle one says, "Hey! He's a #$%^ing Jew!"

Whatever, I got a race to finish, and blatant racism is easier for me to deal with than the creepy, subtle, suspect racism I experienced earlier.

Mile 25.7: A sign overhead says "1/2 Mile to Go" and suddenly I'm running again, and there is no pain. I am euphoric. There must be all different sorts of happy drugs naturally pumping themselves into my system.

Mile 26: I am high, sailing, and the signs fall away behind me: 400 yards, 300 yards, 200 yards 100 yards. The "Go Superman!" chants are faint, all I can see is the finish line, huge and getting closer.

Mile 26.2: I hit the finish line with gusto at 4:40:09. I've done it for the 12th time and I hope to do it many more times. Interestingly, my first thought is that I hope my children want to enjoy the same experience. I want to see them again - I promised I'd be back - but they've got us on this walk of doom and they won't let us out of the park. We have to file past the baggage trucks (I didn't bring baggage with me to the start, just food, TP and Aquaphor) before we get let out. I think the point is to catch the collapsers inside the park so medics can get to them, instead of letting them out of the park, having them collapse and not be able to reach them.

Post-Marathon: I do get out eventually, and meet up with my family. We go to KD, where I buy a meal of two burger delights, onion rings, fries and a Snapple. It's my unhealthiest meal in...a year!

Back home: I take an epsom salt bath and have another fast food meal from a local restaurant. I can't be satisfied.

Morning After: I step on the scale and I'm the same exact weight I was pre-marathon. That's wacky. I must have burned thousands of calories during the run, and I ate like a pig during and after, and I end up with an even balance. Fascinating.

So now I hang up the sneakers for 2 months, and begin earnest training next April. I've already got my guaranteed entry to next year's Marathon (by running 9 of the NYRRC's scored races), and I hope my dad can join me. I won't pound the Queensboro Bridge so hard, and maybe it won't pound me back.

And Here's The Interview!


And here's the Vos Iz Neias discussion of the article (Yes, I noticed that they attributed it to the wrong paper):


And here's the quickie interview I had post-race with their sportswriter (misquoted, my goal was, and always has been, 4:20):


Friday, November 02, 2007

I Got Interviewed by The Herald News!

So I'm at the NYC Marathon Expo last night to pick up my race number. My wife calls me to tell me that a reporter from The Herald News wants to interview me about my race this Sunday. I'm slightly bewildered, so I ask her to repeat herself. (Okay fine, it was noisy, so I asked her to say it again. Ruin the drama, why don't you).

I called the reporter back and we chatted for about half an hour. A photographer will be at my house today to snap some pics for the article, which will appear in this Sunday's Herald News! How 'bout that!?

How did she find me, you might ask? Well, she scoured the Entrant Database on the Marathon website and found 48 applicants from Passaic County. Of those 48, 40 or so were not accepted. Of the remainder, half had canceled or were in the process of canceling. This left a small gaggle of runners, which included...me!