Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Wrote a Book!

Just one minute ago, I finally completed the book I've been working on for the past 1.5 years. I'm immediately blogging this to capture my emotions at their purest.

I am so excited, I am going to jump out of my pants. It's 1:17 in the morning and I really want to wake up my family and do the dance of joy with all of them, but the news can wait till the morning.

I don't know if I'll successfully sell this book, nor do I know how successful I'll ever be, but I do know that I now feel I have begun to fulfill what I consider to be my destiny. I may not ever make a living as a writer, but I will publish books, many of them, I'll self-publish if I have to, and finally at the age of 34, I've done it, I've written a book, and this will hopefully be the first of many more.

If you're curious what the book is about, please e-mail me, and I'll send you the query letter I've been sending to literary agents.

And of course, if you know a literary agent, or know someone who knows a literary agent, or know someone who knows someone who knows someone who lives in the same state as a literary agent, you give me a holler.

Meantime, I'm going to celebrate by finally opening that Facebook account that I've been pushing off forever. This thing still popular?

Monday, November 02, 2009

My 14th Marathon Run

On November 1st, 2009 I ran my 14th marathon. It was my 10th straight NYC and 12th NYC overall. This is the story of this year’s run, from training to finish line. (If you’re only interested in my start-line to finish-line experience, skip ahead to the paragraph that starts with “showtime.”)

Training: My training this year had a fantastic beginning, horrendous middle and wonderful ending.

The horrendous middle began with a twisted ankle, which I accomplished by exiting a Chinese restaurant with takeout in a box that I cradled in my arms and didn’t notice the concrete step just outside the store.

However, I was proud to have it all taken care of within 36 hours by treating it properly with ice, compression, elevation and heat. I figured after that, there was no injury I couldn’t treat properly what with all my experience. I shouldn’t have felt so haughty. There was more to come.

A few weeks after that I developed a painful case of hip bursitis, which was brought on by sneakers that had become lopsided, which happened as a result of increased running, which occurred due to a brief period of unemployment, which is why my training had a fantastic beginning.

Many doctor visits, x-rays, anti-inflammatory meds, races in which I could only walk (I need a number of them to qualify for next year’s marathon) and too much rest from running later, I was finally on the mend and resumed my running, only to be slammed with another injury.

I suffered a massive allergy attack after an upstate (AKA “The Mountains,” AKA “The Catskills,” AKA “Der Countries,” AKA “Visiting Day”) visit, which triggered a chest infection, which devolved into a three-week sinusitis headache. The pain was so severe that I was scared I’d lose consciousness at random, which scared me off running.

After two weeks of this madness, I decided enough was enough, I was going for a run, and if I collapse, nu, somebody will scrape me off the pavement. Foolish, but you cannot imagine the stir-craziness. And a nice thing happened on that run. The motion of running shook the headache down from the sides of my head to my ears, which was still painful, but tolerable. On the run after that, I shook the congestion down from my ears to the bottom of my jaw. A few days after that, I was on the mend again and resumed my training.

There was one more injury to add, though it didn’t keep me from future runs. One cool evening I was running down a 15-degree slope when my foot caught a groove in the sidewalk and I went hurtling forward, my feet unable to stop me from falling. I landed on my palms and rolled, squishing my right arm under me and using my elbow and shoulder as brakes. My water bottle and phone went sailing, and I realized that if I would have broken my ankle, I would have had to crawl 10 feet to my phone and call for help.

I took inventory of my injuries and decided I was good enough to continue my run. It was the first case of “road rash” I had ever endured. Sure, I was bruised and hurt but my legs were okay, and that’s all that mattered.

Finally I put all these setbacks behind me and got into a training groove, steadily increasing mileage while doing lots of hill-running in the weeks preceding the marathon.

I also continued to maintain my generally healthy lifestyle, but with two major changes: I began having a lot more fish and fish oils and decreased my sugar intake by a significant amount.

6 weeks to showtime: I get involved with TeamOhel, an endeavor from the Ohel organization designed to garner support for the camps it offers its children to enjoy. I’m delighted to be a part of it and it gives me great encouragement. Finally I was running for a cause, instead of just myself. It’s not too late to give!: (

2 weeks to showtime: A friend from shul pledges $2 per marathon mile run, plus $1 for every minute I break my PR. Now that’s motivation, but I’m not sure it can be done this year, so I ask him for $1 per second. It takes two weeks of hondling, but I’m finally able to finagle a $5 per minute pledge.

I also put in my final long run, a 15.2 miler. When I’m done, I’m happy that I feel that I have at least 3 miles left in the tank. Considering I had just run over serious hills and was feeling pretty sharp, I’m in pretty good shape.

1 week to showtime: I run a 5-miler in Central Park, add 4 miles as a warmup, head to Cedarhurst with my wife and kids to join my TeamOhel members for an afternoon of fun with Ohel’s children, have pizza with my family, paint some ceramics and head on home. My training is done for the season, having put in 230 miles despite my injuries. 300 is more typical for me, but this year, 230 will do.

24 hours to showtime: I spend Shabbos in a muddled state of mind, distracted by my anticipation and my mental lists of things I need to take care of pre-race. During morning lunch, I say Friday night kiddush, and during havdalah, I say besamim and have a sip of grape juice. My mind is scattershot.

Erev showtime: While watching the 2009 World Champion Yankees (you better believe it!) deliver a beatdown to the Phillies and take a 2-1 series lead, I change all the clocks for DST, then prepare my clothing and supplies and lay them out like a scarecrow on a bed in our guest bedroom. I forget one minor little object. More on that later. I have a meal that consists of two slices of pizza, a hot pretzel, a waffle, an apple, nuts and my favorite pre-marathon dish, macaroni with crumbs, prepared with love by my wife. She inherited the task from my mom, who prepared it with love when I was “levado.” You can find it in “The Heimishe Kitchen” cookbook.

As I put the finishing touches on my meal, the Yankees beat the Phillies 8-5 and off I go to bed.

7 hours to showtime: I rise and shine at 3:20 AM, shower, wrap the blister on my left foot with a blister band-aid, large band-aid and stretchy gauze and don all my supplies: A Superman t-shirt with the logo in shape of a magen david, red shorts, blue gloves, yarmulke with three bobby-pins (I really don’t know what I’m going to do as I continue to lose my hair. I want to wear my yarmulke, but I need it to stick to something!), temporary tattoo of the NYC Marathon, my watch, two pace-bands (In case I slow down from one pace, I’ll fall back to the other), a LiveStrong bracelet, my race bib with a sticker, two bibs with my name for my front and back, one bib that says, “If I’m walking, pat my back, thanks!” (Oh boy, does this come in handy!), and a bib with a quote from Isaiah 40:31: “They shall run, and not be weary.” (“Yeirotzu v’lo yiga’ooh”). I’m all set, right? But I’m missing that one item. Can you guess what it is?

I check my e-mail, and find that my dad had posted beneath a story on the NYC Marathon some words of encouragement for me. How wonderful!

My breakfast consists of the same items I had for dinner, sans pizza and macaroni, and I find myself incredibly fidgety and anxious. As a way of centering myself, I try to do the day’s daf, but I’m so jittery, I get just the first blatt done. Good enough for today.

I finish loading up my goody-bag, consisting of a couple of fruits, a bagel and a granola bar, and there’s a knock at the door. It’s a running colleague from Chicago, in town and staying over at his brother, who’ll be hitching a ride with me today to buses waiting for us at the Meadowlands. We exit together and wait for our ride, which is on time. In the car is another running friend from the neighborhood. Our designated driver is another friend and veteran of the Comrades Marathon.

We arrive at the Meadowlands and get dropped off and as we all head towards the waiting bus, I feel there’s something wrong. Historically, signage here has been miserable, and these are the consequences: There’s only one bus here and hundreds of runners are waiting around and nobody’s boarding. I’m used to a wall of rumbling buses swallowing runner after runner and taking off. I walk over to the bus and ask the driver if he’s here for the Marathon. No, he replies, he’s resting from a trip from Canada and he doesn’t know why all these runners are gathered in front of him. Uh oh, plan B.

The three of us stop a car with two girls inside, and tell them our plight. They have just dropped off their friend in the right place, two miles away, and we ask if they wouldn’t mind doing the same for us just one more time. They get us there and I hurry over to a lady with a walkie-talkie and have the following conversation:

Me: “Good morning, hi, I gotta tell ya, you’ve got a lot of runners waiting in the wrong place and they need to be picked up.”
Walkie lady: “Oh, ok, should I send over a bus?”
Me: “Uh, no, you’re going to have to send over at least ten buses. There are now hundreds of people there!”
Walkie lady: “Oh my gosh.”

Having settled that, I head toward the bus with my group and notice the one item I’m missing. After having made all the careful preparations, I had forgotten my timing tag. This is needed to record my time and track me throughout the race. Uh oh, there’s no heading back home now. I spend the whole bus ride stressed out, hoping Road Runners has a contingency plan for me. I mean, they have to, right?

3 hours to showtime: We arrive at the start and go through security. I escort my friends to the marathon minyan and head out in search of a way to get me a new tag. After asking enough questions of enough people, I’m pointed to a single bus where problems like this are taken care of. They take care of me – Pshew! – but the bus is outside of the staging area, and I have to go through security one more time before settling all my angst.

I rejoin my friends, meet up with some TeamOhel members, serve as tour guide for others, daven with the minyan – which is so packed, that for the first time, they have two minyanim! – wish everyone G-dspeed and head off to my corral. I find an abandoned cabinet with cardboard lined in it and have a seat, where I close my eyes and relax, envisioning the experience ahead of me, my family along the way, my wife and kiddies, the finish line and meditate on mental pain management tactics. I am finally serene after all the hullabaloo.

Showtime: I run up to the start line – relaxed and not anxious - but I’m terribly excited. “G-d bless America” is sung and Sinatra sings “New York, New York” and I’m over the start line within one minute. Cool.

Suddenly, I have a headache and I’m a bit queasy in the stomach, and the Yetzer Horah on my left shoulder says to me, “What are you doing here? You’re not feeling well. Why are you doing this again? Quit and go home” and I flick him away. I breathe in and re-visualize my purpose and my goals and the headache and stomachache dissipate.

Mile 1: I clear it in 10:33. Whoa. This may be the fastest I’ve ever done the first mile. I text my wife that I’ve hit mile one, as I will do along the course at each mile. In turn, she will give me much-needed and much-appreciated chizuk and keep me apprised as to what the kiddies are up to (making me signs, asking where I am on TV, etc.). To my right I can see Sea Gate, where my sister lives. It’s about 4-5 miles away. Maybe I’ll have her send up a flare in the coming years so I can spot her. Overhead, two Chinook helicopters cross the Verrazano. Chinooks are cool.

Mile 2: I do it in 9:33. Way too fast, but it was because of the downhill, and my body has acclimated to downhill running, so I am not concerned. At the foot of the bridge, male runners are answering the call of nature – onto cars driving under the bridge below! Come on people, a little discretion!

Mile 3: We start encountering the Brooklyn denizens, and for this year I decide to take in more of the experience. I’d give more high fives and kibbitz with my fellow runners along the course instead of existing inside my own head. I let go of all the mental time calculations and begin to relax and enjoy. People start calling out my name and brand me interesting names as a result of my T-shirt. (Jewish Superman, SuperHebrew, SuperJew, SuperJewman, SuperIsrael, etc.).

Mile 3.4: I see a man on the sidelines cheering on the runners. He’s wearing speedos and has quads that could crush mountains. I holler that he should be down here with us. He says not today. More on this person later.

Mile 4: I’m feeling good and I’m flying and I’m enjoying Brooklyn. I do the last mile in 9:20 and I realize I have to slow down or I’m going to have a disaster. I dial it back a few clicks and relax again into a comfortable pace. I realize I’m so exhilarated that I’m running as fast as possible without pace, to my detriment. Guess I do have to concentrate on running a little bit.

Mile 4.7: My first family stop. My mom, Aba, three of my sisters, my niece, our family friends Laby and Charlie and several TeamOhel representatives (did I get everyone?) welcome me. There’s such a blur of people that I can’t properly focus. People are asking me questions I can’t hear. Somebody’s asking me about my website. Somebody thrusts a bag of jelly beans in my hands. Jelly beans? Somebody gives me a bag of food. I grab some nectarines, swallow down some Powerade and take a salt bagel with me for the road. I give out kisses, pose for photos and I’m on my way.

Mile 4.8. I feel the urge to spit. I do so with the proper runner’s protocol: directly in front of you and down. It’s red. I’m shocked to see I might be bleeding from my mouth, but I then realize, oh, it was red Powerade. The activity in the pit-stop was so busy, I didn’t register the color of the drink that was given to me. I swallow down the jelly beans. Yum!

Mile 5: I’m feeling better with every passing mile. That split-second of doubt on the bridge is long gone. I’ve settled into a 9:45-10:00 pace and I’m enjoying the crowd, with some incredibly funny signs too crass to mention here. E-mail me for the funniest of them if you’re not a prude.

Mile 5.5: I pass a man about whom I had just read an article in Runner’s World magazine. He is United States Marine Steve Zeier, and he’s running with a 50-pound rucksack in honor of his friends who have died in Iraq. I know that he has almost no nerves left in his left leg due to an IED, and he will probably have it amputated in the near future. The man is filled with guts. I clap him on the back and say, “Hoo-ha!” I get a “Hoo-ha!” back.

Mile 6: More euphoria. All systems are working. My blister is properly wrapped and is holding. My pace is steady and my hydration is proper. A man is holding up candy bars in the spot where I usually get some bananas. I see a Snickers bar and the big fat hechsher it didn’t have a few years ago (thank you, OU!). I say “Trick-or-treat!”, grab it and swallow it down.

Mile 7: More of the same as with mile 6. Nice and steady. Everything’s working. Everything’s intact.

Mile 7.9. I notice somebody that looks familiar. It’s the man with the quads. My pledge to engage the crowd has paid off in an interesting way. Several times along the course, I will spot people I’ve seen earlier in the course. I find it fascinating that amongst a crowd of two million people, I can recognize some I don’t even know and have “met” for less than a second.

Mile 8: It is here that construction around the Brooklyn Academy of music was supposed to force a course change. I was looking forward to the new intricacies. There is no construction, so there’s no course change. Ah well.

Mile 8.4: The high school band that plays “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky is doing their thing. I learned from reading A Run Like no Other, by Liz Robbins, that they play this over and over and over for hours on end. Sensational for runners passing by, but how can it not be grating for them and anyone listening in the vicinity? For hours!

Mile 9: A great downhill, shooting past an awesome gospel choir before the turn onto Bedford Avenue. Suddenly, I feel a blister sensation on the outside of my right foot. What is this? I never had any discomfort here all season. What gives? Oh no!

Mile 9.8: Williamsburg is dead today. Dead. The Chasidim are paying less attention to us than usual, if that is even possible. Children aren’t even handing out candies as they sometimes do. A runner next to me yells “Shalom!” to the sidelines. I tell her, “Nice try.”

Mile 10: I meet my dad, mum and two sisters, take photos, show my dad the quote on my back, thank him for his post this morning and get a promise that he’ll join me in the marathon next year, give out hugs and kisses, get a swig of Powerade, a bagel and off I go and my right-foot blister is bothering me.

Mile 10.6: I meet some chasidish cousins of mine (I have a lot of them, 60+ first cousins in all, but they’re the only ones that come out to say hi), exchange quick niceties and carry on.

Mile 10.8: The Twizzlers man is back! Woohoo! Great to see him after missing him last year! I thank him profusely and ask him to please remain a mainstay. It’s a delicious quick snack at this point in the race.

Mile 11: My blister is really troubling me, and I haven’t stopped into a medical tent because I’m in denial, not understanding how this could be and what the causes are. However, I did send last minute tips to my TeamOhel compatriots and among them was a caution to pull in to the very next medical tent should they encounter any blister trouble. The time spent patching it up would save hobbling time later on the course.

Mile 11.9: I head my advice and roll into a medical tent. A medic is standing there and asks “How can I help?” As I scoot past him, I say, “Got my own supplies!” and zoom into the tent. I fling off my right glove, sneaker and sock, yank a blister guard out of my utility pouch, cover the blister nicely, yank on my sock, sneaker and glove, and I’m on my way, happy to have listened to my own advice.

Mile 12: I’m stilling holding my 9:45-10:00 pace and besides for my blister, everything else is still good to go. I’m running a really good race.

Mile 13: I approach the Pulaski bridge in good condition, the ascent doesn’t bother my legs much. My muscles are working properly.

Mile 13.1. Halfway home! I check the clock. I’ve hit this point at 2:13:25, a PR at this distance for this year. Doubling that would be 4:26:50, which would be my 2nd fastest time ever, but this is unrealistic. For the average runner, convention is to double your half-marathon time and add 20 minutes. Realizing there was no PR this year, and that my injuries didn’t allow me to train properly, I am more than happy just to finish while running. So I relax and carry on, come what may.

Mile 13.7: The Chabad of Long Island Powerade stop is back! Last year they ran out of supplies too quickly and abandoned their post. This year they stocked up better. I pull in, thank them, swallow down some good gulps and off I go.

Mile 14: I glimpse the Queensboro Bridge in the distance, but it does not intimidate me any more like it used to. I have managed to conquer it with hill-training, a slow-steady pace on the approach, and any mantra that works. I’m up to the challenge.

Mile 14.6: I hit the foot of the bridge and begin the ascent into the blackness, head down, putting one foot in front of the other nice and easy. I’m gonna make it over again, yes I am, but the blister that I’ve wrapped pre-race and the one I wrapped mid-race are bothering me now.

Mile 15: The blister pain flares up no me, and I’m shocked out of proper stride, and I tweak both hips in the process. Not enough to hurt me now, but enough to hurt me later.

Mile 15.2: This is the distance of the longest run I’ve managed to do this year, and is a proper time to take inventory of my physiology. As I’m about to do that, I spot two TeamOhel members ahead of me and run up to greet them. I give them my inventory, which is two blisters causing hip pain. Everything else is solid. They’ve got good strides and it motivates me to pass them, but as the blister pain kicks in, they pass me.

Mile 15.8: I reach into my pouch and have my first salt-packet. This is to prevent a condition known as hyponaetremia, which is a low sodium level in the body. It’s water intoxication. Meaning, you can drown while running if you take too much water and not enough salt. I have no intention of allowing that to happen to me.

Mile 16: As I’m coming off the Queensboro Bridge, I get shoved rudely by a German runner. How do I know he’s German? Because it says “Deutschland” on his t-shirt, that’s how. I realize that I’m surrounded by a pod of German runners with the same t-shirt, and I get shoved out of the way because I’m ruining their photo-op. As you may recall, I’ve had problems with Germans before, and as with last time, I have no time to spoil for a fight. Bygones, but one more time this happens and there’s going to be trouble. It’s like when a star baseball player gets hit by too many pitches in too short a span of time. The first two may be accidents and may be forgiveable, but again? Come on already. Enough is enough.

Mile 16.2: Bathroom break. There’s more porta-potties along the course this year and hundreds more were at the staging area. This is a great improvement over year’s past. It’s nice to keep my dignity intact in this way.

Mile 16.5: I pass Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I have had friends who have emerged from there to rejoin the living and I have had others who have not. I say a kapitel tehillim for those on the inside and carry on.

Mile 17: I’m trying to meditate away my blister pain. This works for muscle pain, in my experience, but doesn’t work so well for blisters. This is so annoying. When I’ve got a proper stride going, my hips don’t hurt, but these blisters are constantly aggravating me. No fair, everything else is working!

Mile 17.7: I meet my brother-in-law and my nephew, stay for a minute to schmooze, have some Powerade, grab a bagel, tussle my nephew’s hat and away I go.

Mile 18: I have somehow managed to bring my blister pain under control. I use a trick I’ve used for a long time, the Buddhist mantra of “Body here, pain elsewhere.” It works, at least it does for me. I visualize the pain moving away from me to the sides and away, leaving my body free of the agony. So long as I hold this image and repeat the mantra, it can work, and it’s working now.

Mile 19: I am having continued success with my pain management, and I pick up a bit of speed down 1st avenue. I am able to ascend the ramp of the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx with relative ease. Before I exit the bridge, I meet up with another TeamOhel member, and we chit-chat for a bit before I have to excuse myself once again to use the facilities.

Mile 20: I’m feeling a bit heavy in the legs and gravity starts to have more of an effect on me. The blister pain starts flaring up again, and my hips start in again. I’m out of stride because of this heavy feeling, which is why my hips are now barking.

Mile 21: I glance to my right and see the home of the 2009 World Champion Yankees (You know it, dawg!) and land in Manhattan. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to see my wife and kiddies. Visions of them dance in my head until I meet them.

Mile 21.2: My left calf gives me a tug. Gravity has been pulling me down and now it gives my calf a gentle yank (if there is such a thing). Quickly, I envision a small tear and I visualize the proteins I’ve eaten via my fish consumption rushing in to knit the damaged area. I have no idea if these visual techniques work for others, and I have no idea if they sound hokey and campy at all, but it works for me, and that’s all that concerns me.

Mile 21.7: Gravity attacks my left quad. As with my calf pain-management, I do the same for this case. It works, the pain subsides, but the blister-pain does not. The blister-pain is all-consuming and I cannot will it away.

Mile 22: It’s taking me longer to run out of the water stops. I’m so heavy. I feel like I’m carrying a backpack filled with stones. I see a little kid dressed in a Flash costume. I ask him if we’re gonna save the world today. He says, “Yeah, Superman!”, and that catapults me towards my family.

Mile 22.5: My wife and kiddies! Woohoo! My son is wearing a t-shirt that says “My daddy is faster than yours” and he’s delighted to see me. My daughter has suddenly become shy. My wife is beaming. TeamOhel is there and snaps photos and thrusts more jelly beans into my hand. I swallow some Powerade, grab a bagel-bite, give hugs and kisses all around, and continue on my journey, energized.

Mile 23: I am now five million pounds and I can’t get run out of the water stops anymore. I walk out and try to get myself running, but it doesn’t work, I can’t pick up my legs. I get a pat on the back, and aha! Motivation! So I pick up my legs and step over step, step over step (two points if you get that reference), I manage to get back to running

Mile 24: I am now experiencing the gravity of Jupiter. However, I am not stopping in between water stops. The running continues. I only stop to take water and then I’m unable to pick my legs up and into a running stride unless I get encouragement. At this water stop, the first clap on my back doesn’t budge me an inch, but a man comes up from behind on the right and says, “I wore that exact quote for the first two marathons I’ve run. Heckuva pick-me-up!” My legs start working, and I get another clap on the left, and I’m off and running again and my blisters are howling.

Mile 24.7: There’s a female runner ahead of me and on her back she has a sign that says, “I said to cancer, you, cancer. I beat the out of you cancer, you .” I run up to her and say, “Best. Bib. Ever.” She smiles and says, “Oh, thank you so much, thank you so much.”

Mile 24.9: A man passes me who’s juggling three baseballs. I repeat, a man passes me who’s juggling three baseballs.

Mile 25: The gravitational pull of the earth is now so fierce, I fear I’m about to collapse into a black hole. I can’t move out of the water stop. I get one, two, three claps on my back and I can’t pick up my legs. I grimace in pain, walk close to the sidelines and several people start getting in my face, yelling at me to get going again. They’re actually angry with me! One guy gets in my face, and says “Moooooooooooove!” Yes sir! That’s my motivation!

Mile 25.7. I look up, there’s a sign that says, “1/2 mile to go.” Ohmigosh, am I almost there? Am I about to do it again? Yes I am! Yes I am, indeed! I enter Central Park where the signs start coming up saying 400 yards to go, 200 yards to go. I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it.

Mile 26: I can see the finish line from here. Just like that, the gravity of the earth lets go of me and stops pulling me down and the gravity of the finish line grabs hold of me and pulls me forward. I am hydroplaning over the asphalt of Central Park. Pain is removed from me. I am enveloped in a cocoon of serenity. I close my eyes and let the feeling wash over me. I give thanks and praise the L-rd and I feel alright. I open my eyes and see the finish line beckoning me, and I can hear Phil Rizzutto’s lyrics from “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”: “Here he comes…it’s gonna be close. Here’s the throw, here’s the play at the plate. Holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!”

Mile 26.2: 4:53:45! I did it. I had endured debilitating injuries, but I changed my diet for the positive, joined a great cause, ran a good tactical race and had run wire-to-wire. I was content and very, very happy. I’ll be back here, November 7, 2010, because hey, this is what I do the first Sunday of every November, and hopefully, I’ll have my dad with me.

Post-race: A finisher asks me if I can still get a pat on the back, because I deserve it. A volunteer asks me how managed to keep my Yarmulka on. I get my medal, my heat blanket, my after photo, my food bag and I begin a mile shuffle out of Central Park. They do this to catch the teeterers and totterers inside the park rather than outside, and the healthy runners are forced to slowly walk past the dazed, the confused, the vomiters and collapsers. It’s a bit disheartening, but it can’t diminish the joy of the accomplishment.

I exit the park and am joined by a fellow TeamOhel member. We walk together to a spot where each of us meets up with our respective families. I hop into the car where my kids bombard me with a million questions, chief of which is why I’m wearing this silver foil.

We head to KD where we pick up my annual junk-food meal (two burger delights, onion rings, French fries, chicken nuggets, a pastry and Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple).

Back home, I take an Epsom-salt bath and lay down on the couch to watch the 2009 World Champion Yankees (Ooh yeah!) clobber the Phillies and take a 3-1 lead in the series. I sleep through most of the game. I’m tired, glad to be home now.

-Martin (Mordechi) Bodek