Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh the Talks You Can Talk! (My Sheva Brachos Speech for Sara and Daniel)

(Introductory remarks about the importance of communication and thank yous to relevant parties)

T.T.T.O. "Oh the Thinks You Can Think!" by Dr. Seuss.

You can talk about life.
That's what you can do.
You can talk about everything
you both have been through.

You can talk on the couch.
You can talk on a walk.
You can talk over dinner.
Oh, the talks you can talk!

Oh, the talks you can talk
if only you try!
If you try you can talk
till your mouths go so dry.

And you don’t have to stop.
You can talk about slop.
Nonsensical slop
with a cherry on top.

You can talk about me.
Or my wife Naomi.
Or even our Naava
Freddy or Nani.

You can talk about
All in which you take stock
About your life together
Over at The Rock.

Talk about children,
How many you want.
Talk about travels
from here to Vermont.

You can talk about talking,
Instead of to fight.
to make sure you always
sleep soundly at night.

You can talk about work,
and the kids in your care.
You guys are made
for that work, I swear.

Talk! Talk and babble.
Babble and talk.
Talk all you want.
May the words never balk.

You can babble aheen.
You can babble aherr.
You can babble so much.
Till you’re blue over there.

Talk of your wedding.
Man, what a scene
It happened despite
Some gal named Irene

There are so many talks
that you talkers can talk!
When you’re dining out
Or you’re out on a walk.

Talk about things
Both holy and prust.
At the end of the day
All the talking’s a must!

Oh, the talks you can talk!
It’ll take just a minute.
To think of your day
and tell all that was in it.

Talk of hopes, talk of dreams.
Talk of trivial things.
Talk of anything
that to you, happiness brings.

TALK! You can talk
Any talk that you wish.
From a writer you like
To your most favorite dish.

Talk of high, talk of low.
Talk of to, talk of fro.
Talk of stop, talk of go.
It’s about talking, you know.

TALK! Talk a streak.
Till you’re red in the cheeks.
Till you can’t even speak
‘cuz your jaws are so weak.

And life! Talk of life!
As new husband and wife.
So whistle and fife
To avoid any strife.

So listen, you two.
To the words I gave you.
And all will come through
In a gitten shoo.

Mazel tov!

Copyright © 2011 by Martin Bodek

Monday, August 29, 2011

The 2011 JRunners Relay Race Awards

The 2011 JRunners Relay Race Awards
Martin Bodek

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 2011 JRunners Relay Race Awards. I am your host, Martin Bodek. While I figure out what to properly call these trophies (The Runnies? the Racies?), I ask that you sit back, enjoy and extrapolate the tale of the 2011 relay edition via the citations given to the worthy recipients.

The We've Got The Runs Award for the Best Team Name - The team names were, in order of their arrival at the finish line: Team 5 AKA No U Turns, Team 8 AKA Silk's Ilk, Team 7 AKA John Elway Runners, Team 1 AKA Cool Running, Team 2 AKA The WEeBLes, Team 6 AKA Rapid Runners, Team 4 AKA Asphalt Assault, Team 3 AKA Runners Anonymous. This vote was put to the runners, organizers and volunteers, and by an overwhelming margin, The WEeBLes are proud to hoist this trophy.

The Steve Prefontaine Guts Award - Mordy Ovits, Team 2. Mordy signed up to do 18.1 grueling miles, and completed them all in speedy fashion. Then he started adding to the tally by running several segments alongside his group B temmates down the final stretch, in particular doing almost the entire leg 29 with his brother Yitz. Then he also put in the Mad Dash. In total, he ran 26 miles, only .2 short of a marathon! Holy smokes! Mordy also wins the Soul Asylum Runaway Train Award for fastest time recorded at any moment on a GPS. On one of the mountain downhills, he recorded a 4:37 clip!

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Fearless Leader Award - Steven Friedman, Team 4. Steven was admittedly in lesser shape than last year, but nevertheless signed up for more difficult and longer legs. Leg 22 threw him for literal loops, which seemed like flat terrain from the map, but those kinds of maps have painful blips. The heat beat him down and invited him to quit. He experienced cramps and pulled muscles in every single part of his body. Through the difficulty, he made up his mind that he was going to drop dead before he ever quit. He did not quit, and you must know by now, though he is difficult to reach, he did not drop dead. He lived through the hills and the pain and the obstacles and the fire-engine red adorable cheeks of his at very good overall paces with pride and guts. Way to go, Steven.

The Gunnery Sergeant Hartman Troop Rallier Award - Elie Lowinger, Team 4. Elie coached several of his teammates as he ran alongside them for support and motivation, hollering positive energy into his sun-beaten and hill-clobbered buddies. His group cited his efforts as crucial to their brave performances.

The Evanescense Bring Me Back to Life Award - The one lady, three EMTS, nine teammates and little girl who respectively watered and iced me down, oxygenated me, fed me and kept me company when I collapsed after the finish line. I gave it my best, and they gave me their best. Thank you all so very much.

The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Best Decorated Van Award - Team 3. They deserve this award simply for trying so hard. Every inch of their car was covered with slogans and messages and streamers and t-shirts and arts-and-crafts and names of the runners and sneakers that looked like they belonged to Shaquille O'Neal. And oh yes, lovely foot-hats (ergo default winners of the Captain Jack Sparrow Best Costume Award) made by Mrs. Pupko, wife of captain Yisroel Pupko.

The Billy Mills Comeback Award - Aron Rosenfeld, Team 7. Three times, count 'em 3!, Aron overtook team 2 to take the 3rd place position, finally making it stick on his last attempt. On leg 10's torturous Hills of Wesley, he overtook Martin Bodek in the final 25 feet, coming on like a steamroller. On leg 20, he overtook Yitz Ovits with a quarter mile left, and finally, on leg 29, he overtook Yitz Ovits again and made it count. He hit the ground after exchanging, but made sure no one needed to worry about him by immediately doing a series of pushups. I don't know where he gets his fire. Maybe it's the homemade flying Nike tzitzis.

The Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Award - Ariel Kohane, Team 3. First his left sole got punctured while out on his first leg and a stone got wedged inside that he couldn't remove. Then he got chased off the course twice by dogs, nearly necessitating a jump on a JRunners support vehicle before their owners called them back. Then on the last leg he outran the teammates pacing him for support. Then we presume he was finally happy to be finished with his crazy day.

The Winston Churchill Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Give Up Award - Team 1. Moishe Gamss and Team 1 were languishing in 8th place after leg 15 but never gave up hope and never stopped running with extreme determination. Their efforts paid off with a quarter-mile to go, when Moishe blasted past a hurting team 4 runner (okay, fine, that was me) to secure 4th place for his team. Amazing job.

The Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five Award - Team 5. Also known as the Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction Award, team 5 laid down the law and absolutely mashed the field to a fine pulp. Establishing a lead from the 3rd leg, they kept the throttle down and never let go, not on the hills, not in the mountains, not through any personal struggles of any of their runners. They accomplished it through strength of unity and phenomenal teamwork. They prepared by running with each other before the race. The Brooklyn contingent ran together in Prospect Park, and the Passaic contingent did so in the Passaic Park Environs. Many of them clobbered their previous best showings.

The Mike Marshall Bullpen Horse Award - Chaim Silber, Team 8. Chaim was an 11th hour replacement who had 24 hours to prepare for the race (not much training you can do for a trial by fire like this over 24 hours). However, Chaim is a proud member of the Israeli Army, and that means he's tough as nails and completely unaware of the concept of quitting. He completed all his legs and then some, tearing into the hills with a vengeance. Am Yisroel chai.

The Cake Going the Distance Award - Moshe Kaufman, Team 8. Moshe signed up for the longest total distance going into the race. Including the mad dash, he committed to 19 miles going in and despite several hills on all of his legs, he finished 'em all. That's what we call committment and dependability.

The Edmund Hilary Alpine Award - Yosef Landau, Team 2; Shia Itzkowitz, Team 8; Ron Goldofsky, Team 5; Shaul Mayerfeld, Team 7; Abraham Lebovits, Team 1; Mark Izhak, Team 4; David Colman, Team 3 and Jacob Deckelbaum, Team 6. What do these fine gentlemen have in common? They each ran leg 17. What's so significant about that? Well, leg 17 would make ordinary folk cry for their mommies and beg for their daddies. But these eight men are not ordinary folk, they're a special breed of athlete called JRunners. They powered up the hill as it mashed them to a pulp. Through cramps and exhaustion and profuse water refills, they made it. Yes, Leg 26 was a very close second in degree of difficulty, but the difference is, those who ran leg 17 came back for more!

The Luke Skywalker The Force is Strong with this One Award - Yaakov Bressler and Matt Bohensky, teams 6 and 5. Both are teenagers in possession of serious physical strength and speed. They have no idea how envious runners twice their age are of them, mostly because it's icky to admit an athlete's crush on one half your age. I think they have an idea how much potential they both have, and that comforts me, but what is more important is their toughness. Yaakov had stomach cramps but fought hard with it while running an extra leg due to an injured teammate, shouting, "I do those mountains for breakfast!" all the way and completing a total of 23 miles. Matt actually ran with a bad knee, having bashed it accidentally into a dinner table just three weeks before the race. The bruise was still visible at start time. Alternatively, this is also known as the Peter Parker With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility Award.

The Hocus Pocus by Focus Award - Yoni Lazerous, Team 4. Yoni signed up just days before the race and took the daunting hills in stride. Then his teammates got a bit lost while he was on leg 2 and couldn't get him water support for the entire 7.7 miles, but he was cool about it. Then he got to the exchange eight minutes before his teammates arrived, but he didn't panic. Then he put in 22 miles including pacing of his teammates and remained cool as a cucumber throughout. Some of us could have used some of the ice water in his veins.

The Bear Grylls Man vs. Wild Award - Jonathan Pittinsky, Team 2. Many of us encountered much in the way of wildlife as we were out there on the road. There were deer and horses and cows and birds and bullfrogs and dogs (Adam Orlow, Team 2, got bitten by one!) and a rattlesnake and five billion crickets, but the most alarming encounter of all was the one unseen, and therefore the most threatening. A motorist passing by lowered her window to holler at Jonathan to be careful, as she saw a bear nearby. A bear! Holy cow! Imagine running while fretting about a bear in your way??? Yikes!

The Rod Stewart Hot Legs Award - Tzvi Hass, Team 4. Tzvi was happily running along when the rain started, then wasn't happily running along anymore when a lightning bolt struck the ground about 100 feet from where he was. Frightened as any of us would be, he ran off the road seeking shelter when his van happened by. He jumped in for safety until the storm dissipated. Yours truly has been thrown by a lightning strike before. I know the fear and what happens to your heartrate. It's a good thing Tzvi's last name means "rabbit." Run, rabbit, run!

The USMC Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body Award - Yossi Sharf, Team 3. Yossi's FIRST step resulted in sudden cramping of both his calves, his next steps hurt him even more, when he started picking up the pace in an attempt to outrun the pain. When he closed in on his first exchange, he donated the contents of his stomach to the West Side Highway. Then he had problems catching his breath, then he thinks he started hallucinating. Then on his second leg, his legs started cramping. But he fought through it all with the help of his teammates and hydrating bikers. What didn't kill Yossi, made him stronger and he promised to train more and harder for next year's edition. Great show, Yossi.

The Pam Reed Extra Mile Award - Levi Gutwein, Team 5. Due to a logistics issue, in the lead-up to the race, Leg 29 was officially shortened by almost a mile, but team 5 had established such a lead by the time they got there, that the exchange was not yet moved to its new proper position by the time Levi came along. He ran that leg that near-mile longer than any of his leg 29 competitors, and he felt it. Levi said his legs were cement and that the last mile was, "the most physically and psychologically demanding mile I have ever run!"

The Queen The Show Must Go On Award - Rabbi Daniel Coren, Team 4. Rabbi Coren gives a daf yomi shiur, and would not let his participation in the race keep him from his preparation. Between legs, he sat down and commenced his studies to dispatch his spiritual responsbilities. Because of his commitment, he was fully up to date at the end of the journey. conversely, I am now a full week behind because of the two days over which the race elapsed and all the furious post-race writing that takes up much of my time. Maybe having Rabbi Coren as a teammate would keep me up to date.

The John Travolta Lookalike Contest Award - Abe Wulliger, Team 5. Because he looks exactly like John Travolta!

And there you have it folks! Congratulations to all the winners!

Martin Bodek is the beat reporter for Buy his books though (, because this gig pays him squat.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Report from My (and the) 2nd Annual JRunners Relay Race

Report from My (and the) 2nd Annual JRunners Relay Race


Martin Bodek

It was the best of times, it was the worst at times, it was the day of glory, it was the day of agony, it was the race of invigoration, it was the race of exhaustion, it was the relay of solitude, it was the relay of camaraderie, it was the Run for Hope amid legs of despair, we had everything in us, we had nothing in us, we were all pounding for Ohr Meir, we were all pining for the finish line - in short, the 2011 JRunners Relay Race had literal and figurative ups and downs, for individuals, for teams, for the volunteers, and for the organizers themselves. Overall however, the elevation - again, literally and figuratively, was a net uphill, and nobody could ask for anything more.

The following is my personal experience in the race, leg for leg. Liberties were taken when - due to the mad whirlwind of activity and my personal spent energy - certain events could not be remembered in their proper order.

Leg 0: Pre-race was filled with my captainly duties: wrangling beverages, arranging radio installs for the cars, co-coordinating logistics, and selling out the copies of my new book ( that I brought with me. I should have brought more!

Leg 1: We were off, for our team ("The WEeBLes" - acronym revealed only to those who ask) it was Adam Orlow whose boots were on the ground first. At about 5 miles into Leg 1, a Glatt Mart Cheering Zone was set up. We hurried over and welcomed in the runners amid a frenzied and joyous crowd. Adam was in 2nd place at that point by about the length of a random hair on my head (for those of you that know me and the degree of my challenged follicles, you'll know how close it was). I met members of my family there. It was delightful to see them. We took pics, regrouped and we were on our way to the Fort Lee exchange while group A toughed it out through Brooklyn, Manhattan and up the 9W.

Leg 2: As we headed up to Fort Lee, we learned that we were still in 2nd place, by 10 feet. Adam Goller was holding it down for us, and holding it down strong.

Leg 3: We (group B) made it Fort Lee, and tried to get some sleep. First I tried to sleep in the driver's seat, then the back seat, then the middle seat, then slumped against a tree, then lying down in the grass. Nothing worked. I resigned myself to the impossibility of actual slumber, but over the course of the day, I'd continue trying, but to no avail whatsoever. Meanwhile, group A was holding the position, but the lead team (Team 5, or the Slaughterhouse Five, as I'll call them) had opened a curiously large lead on 2nd place. Jonathan Pittinsky took this leg for our team and ran strong.

Leg 4: Pacing, lots of pacing, and bathroom trips, lots of bathroom trips, and nervousness and excitement. Lots of those too. Chezky Rand took this for our team and ran it well despite some nausea, and interpreted some dicey directions (through a tunnel and up some steps, tricky!) successfully.

Leg 5: Team 5 came in first, then team 8. Finally our man Avi Hornstein (hill-climber extraordinaire and veteran of the Tiberias and Jerusalem marathons) zoomed in and handed off to Yosef Landau, our plucky last minute replacement due to an injury to brother runner Steven Perel.

Leg 6: Yosef had a great finishing kick and handed off to Mordy Ovits, who had 7.7 miles ahead of him. The first half downhill, the last half way uphill. Throughout the race, we kept driving ahead of our runner, pulling off to a safe spot, jumping out to offer supplies and hollering encouragement. SOP for everyone else, I hope. At one point, Yosef realized he was missing his cell phone, so I called his phone, drove back to the last place we pulled over, prayed I didn't drive over the phone and as we approached, there it was, glowing in the dark because of my call. Wow. We then zipped back to Mordy for further support.

Leg 7: Mordy finished his leg like a champion and handed off to Joseph Levine, who had the opposite leg of Mordy: 4.8 miles, the first half up, the last half down. He maintained power all throughout though. Tough guy. While this was all going on, we were receiving updates from group A as to race position. We were in 3rd. First place was increasing their crazy lead.

Leg 8: Levine finished strong and handed off to Yitz Ovits - Mordy's baby brother - who had a nice, flat route perfectly designed for his abilities.

Leg 9: While Yitz was out there and being yelled at (in a good way) by his proud older brother, we continued receiving updates. Same ol' same ol'. We were in 3rd, with a good lead on 4th, and 1st place was way, way, way out in front.

Leg 10: Showtime for yours truly at daybreak. I was running for my breakfast. Yitz handed off to me and off I went in Wesley Hills. In short order, I would learn with terrible intimacy why "Hills" is appended to the town's name. I smoked the first mile at sub-8 and suddenly came upon a hill that looked literally like the ramp on the highway to heaven. I fished out the map in my pocket and noticed a little blip on the elevation chart. Well, that blip was a 150 foot rise on a tenth of a mile. Cars cried when they tried going up. I could hear them weeping for themselves and for me as they passed me. But I had good energy and passed a strong runner (Aron Rosenfeld, Team 7) on the way down. I had another sub-8 mile and then, oh my gosh, another crazy ramp! I fought and struggled and powered my way over it until I came to level ground. I spotted an old lady out for a jog, and I had to pass her, so I did. Maybe I'll send her flowers as my wake turbulence must have rattled her. Soon after I passed her, Rosenfeld suddenly thundered past me with great energy, powering his legs high and swinging his arms efficiently. We both dashed towards the exchange. He had more than I did and beat me by a picometer. Interestingly, I finished my entire leg in a faster time than he did. I handed off to Adam Orlow, headed for a mostly flat leg to take advantage of his incredible speed.

Leg 11: While Orlow was running his brains out and receiving support from group A, I and group B scarfed down our breakfasts, did our morning prayers, recharged our cell phones, talked trash (Mordy Ovits and Moishe Gamss - great competitors) with another team on Nachum Segal's radio show, failed at further attempts at sleep, and worried about the impending rain - which doesn't bother me unless conditions are extreme, but certainly affects others adversely and makes the organizers nervous from a safety perspective.

Leg 12: It was wheels up for our group to make it to exchange 15. Before we left though, Mordy whispered in Nachum Segal's ear what our team name stood for. The look on his face was priceless as he slapped his heel into this forehead and laughed his durn fool head off. Meanwhile Avi Hornstein was conquering with aplomb a truly painful 3.4 mile leg with 718 feet of elevation. He mastered it though, because man, his legs are as amazing as his hair.

Leg 13: Adam Goller was out there for us, running through Harriman State Park and experiencing everything a leg could throw at him: a massive drop, long flat and massive elevation towards the end. Meantime, we passed the entire field with our car, getting a sense of how everyone was laid out. It seemed there were two clusters: four teams in a relatively tight group in the front, then a wide gap, then four teams in the back. However, team 5 was off the charts, with a lead of approximately two miles. Yikes. That was - literally - fast!

Leg 14: Chesky Rand's turn. He was granted a leg with a straight-down 600 foot drop off a hill. Before you think this is easy, go ahead and ask his quads what this felt like. Go ahead, I'll wait for you here while you speak with them.

Leg 15: Not so easy, huh? Jonathan Pittinsky now. What goes down, must go up. Jonathan had to go 300 feet into the air over 2.9 miles, but he did very well, and was very strong, and oh yes, Jonathan must have gotten the scare of his life when a motorist passing by lowered her window to holler at Jonathan to be careful, as she saw a bear nearby. A bear! Holy cow! Imagine running while fretting about a bear in your way??? Yikes!

Leg 16: Jonathan handed off to group B (after successfully not getting mauled by a bear) in the visage of Mordy Ovits, who was in for some serious torture. I mean, the leg map actually has a pointer blurb to "top of mountain." This top of mountain was 500 feet higher than the beginning of the leg, spread out over two miles. Following this was a 700 foot leg-shredding downhill. I can't imagine the pain. Mordy can.

Leg 17: Yosef Landau - remember, our last minute replacement - had the honor of tackling the longest sustained climb of the course: 551 feet of elevation in 2.1 miles with a single 13 foot dip over a tenth of a mile at mile 1. And that's it. The rest is up, straight up. He toughed it out despite severe physical agony. He was sweating profusely, so we were hydrating him well, but my gosh, when he was done, he was very happy to be done. He was very, very proud of himself for that gutty performance. We were proud of him too!

Leg 18: A 700 foot drop off a cliff over 5 miles for Joseph Levine. Again, this hurts, but Joseph aced it. Checking back at the field, we're still in third, and first place is now in the lead by about a light year. Yours truly waiting for the baton in the blocks. Pacing pacing pacing, sipping sipping sipping. Here comes Joseph.

Leg 19: And I'm off. 3.6 miles ahead of me on mostly flats with some rises. I tore into it like I was made for it. I ripped into the first mile at a 7:02 clip, then encountered some hills over the next two miles and was distracted by wildlife (cows, horses, gorgeous yellow-and-black birds) but kept both sub-8 (7:51, 7:54). Then for the final 10k I was unleashed and ran it in 6:16, handing off to Yitz Ovits smoothly and fully re-energized from my run. MAN, that felt good!

Leg 20: Yitz enjoyed a mostly flat leg, albeit with a 130 foot headache over three-tenths of a mile midway through the run that left him cramping, and ran it very well despite the "bump." Big brother Mordy continued to take pride and joy in his pride and joy. At the approach to exchange, Aron Rosenfeld (there's that man again!) overtook us and dropped us to 4th. Yitz then handed off to Jonathan Pittinsky, as group B handed off to group A. Lead team now in the lead by the distance of approximately three galaxies.

Leg 21: While Jonathan was on the road, another of our troupe lost his cell phone, so group B drove alllllll the way back to exchange 18, where we couldn't see it on the ground. We called the phone, heard a faint buzzing somewhere in the vehicle, and after much investigation, voila, it was in the glove compartment. It remains a mystery to this day how it got there. At this point, we remained in 4th place by a few minutes, but kept the 3rd place team (7) in our sights.

Leg 22: While Pittinsky was handing off to Adam Goller, group B passed by the entire running field to get a sense of what was going on. We encountered our Fearless Leader Steven Friedman struggling up the hills, a rictus of pain etched on his face, his cute usually-pinkish cheeks fire-engine red. But we also saw determination. Steven Friedman is no quitter.

Leg 23: Group B continued making tracks to exchange 25 for our lunch, and we passed our man Avi Hornstein, our mountaineer, on a serious uphill charge, calves bursting. He totally had it. Avi's money, baby. We continued closing the gap for that silver medal slot.

Leg 24: While Avi handed off to Chesky Rand for a tough, tough uphill 2.7 run, group B made it to exchange 25, had some lunch, bought some ice, showered and made ablutions, GUed, recharged our batteries, got comfortable in changes of clothing and prepared for the final stretch. We were still in 4th, closing in on team 7, but also holding off a fast-closing two other teams, nipping at our heels, both within a mile of us.

Leg 25: Adam Orlow on the prowl, who shot past team 7's runner and gained a 3-minute lead over 4th place. Mordy got into the blocks when we saw Adam in the distance. We could see Adam was hurting, bad. The look on his face was scary. Marked on it was the quad-trashing he endured on the 700 foot drop. But he was okay, and he handed off cleanly, and Mordy was away, and it was group B now for the stretch run.

Leg 26: Mordy absorbed a monster. A 600 foot climb over 6 miles with terribly steep ascents in spots. He muscled through it with confidence though, refusing water as he focused on charging through his leg. At the end of it, he had completed the most miles for our team. 18.1 in total (he would add 8 more via runs alongside his teammates plus the mad dash for a total of 26). While he was out there, group B had pulled into the next exchange, so group A went to check on him. As they approached, they noticed a rattlesnake on the road, right in Mordy's path. Mordy had enough to worry about! So Avi shooed the snake away with his car (I too would be scared of an Escalade bearing down on me) and he slithered out of Mordy's path.

Leg 27: Mordy handed off to Joseph Levine who absorbed similar difficulty with a 400 foot rise over 4 miles. He kept refusing water, asking for a sponge instead to wipe the sweat off himself, then finally accepting water as the hills grew steeper. He remained a trooper and handed off to Landau.

Leg 28: Yosef had a nice, smooth and swift run on a leg that was mostly flat for five miles. That doesn't mean he didn't need our help though. Any runner on his last leg needs as much help as can be given. We started passing bungalow colonies where kids would run out to the fences and cheer us on. That was rather neat. At one point, we parked awkwardly (Okay fine, I did, as I was driver for 90% of our journey) and when we (okay fine, me) pulled out, we knocked askew a mailbox in the front of someone's bungalow. We started getting out of our vehicles to apologize and see what we could do, but the owner - standing right there - said, "Don't worry, just run." Now isn't that nice?

Leg 29: Yitz Ovits now, on an up and down, twisty-turny, very unforgiving leg. Mordy accompanied his brother nearly all the way. During one of our support stops, team 1 rolled in and we talked some smack again with Moishe Gamss. I realized suddenly that my toe felt funny, and whaddya know? The small hole that had eroded into my Vibrams had now grown so much that my toe was hitting asphalt every time it stepped down. Nothing I could do about that now. I'd have to grin and bear it. Further on, at another support stop, Team 7's Aron Rosenfeld (again!!!) came storming through again like rolling thunder and overtook our runner. I got out of the vehicle, bumped first with Aron and said, "Respect, brother." He said, "Thank you, brother." We were now in 4th place. From there, I drove to the next exchange to await Yitz and Mordy for the final assault. Aron came rumbling in, yelling like a banshee, handing off with fury to Moshe Sanders (an impressively fast man 10 years my senior), and collapsing to the ground, breathing heavily. I was two seconds way from calling Command for medical assistance, when he started doing pushups.Ohhhhkay! He was gonna be alright, I estimated. While I waited for the Ovitses to appear, I paced, I GUed, I jogged in place, I went weewee multiple times, and then, in the distance, here came the Ovits brothers, powering up the hill towards me. Here we go, here we go, showtime, I gotta catch Moshe Sanders. Gimme that bracelet, gimme that.

Leg 30: Okay, it's all on me now. I tore out of the exchange with Sanders many minutes ahead of me and Gamss on my tail. My best hope was to cut the tangents (safely) and hope Sanders wasn't doing the same. Despite the crazy hills, I was doing very well. My mile splits were 7:44, 7:58, 8:17. I had to have been making ground on Sanders. I had to. As I was running, I kept repeating, "Gotta catch Sanders, Gotta catch Sanders."

And then.

The lights went out. The energy meter went down to zero. I was snuffed out like a candle in the wind. Cognitive function ceased. I started babbling. My teammates Joseph and Mordy took turns running alongside me to motivate me. I tried communicating with them, but my vocabulary was reduced to "Meh," "Veh," and "Fleh." I remember trying to ask for ice, but all I could muster was "Mm, mm." I also remember attempting to ask, "Where's Sanders?," but all that would come out of my mouth was "Wuh, Zzz." Mordy would later share with our team that anyone who knows me, knows I'm a loquacious fellow (certainly on paper!) and to see me lose my power of speech was scary. Twice I felt like I was going to simply tip over and kiss the pavement, but Mordy and Joseph stayed with me and kept me going, giving me instructions, promising me the end was just over that hill, just over that hill, just around that bend. I couldn't hear them, I was too busy hallucinating. For fleeting moments, corrupting thoughts entered my head, like, "Gee, if I tip over and road rash my face, that might actually be more physically pleasant than what I'm experiencing at the moment." and "That is such a pretty ditch: gravel, bees, animal droppings and everything. I want to lie down there, it looks so serene and heavenly." But I could never give in to thoughts like that. I really think I would rather die than quit. Death is better than giving up. If I would have stopped running at any point, I would never, ever be able to live with myself. Death before dishonor. I could never quit on people counting on me. My last drop of life force that exited my body was when I crossed the street and started up the Loch Sheldrake golf course hill. My soul left me from that point until I was revived. My thoughts weren't normal. I'm not kidding about that ditch though. I also looked up at the sun and thought, "Burn me up now, I've always been curious what spontaneous combustion actually looked like. Kaboom. That's gotta be cool." Seriously, that's how my brain was going. I know I had an out of body experience because from above I could see Moishe Gamss passing me by, and Mordy in bewilderment, saying, "You're a runner?" And then I realized, no, this is not an out of body experience, that was actually Gamss zipping right past me. It hurt so bad when he passed, but I kept on my feet, my teammates relying on me for 5th and no less, no less, oh please, no less. So I charged up the hill with Mordy's support, and my teammates joined me and we got our lights-and-sirens hullabaloo escort and we crossed the finish line, 5th of 8. We all ran our guts out. Now there may have been celebrating and whooping and family reunioning, but I wasn't up for that right now. I needed to lie down somewhere. At first, the concrete seemed real inviting and I leaned over, hoping the pavement wouldn't hurt so much when I hit it, but I spotted a patch of grass just fifteen feet away, and I dove right into it and lay down and begged whoever was listening for ice. I was on fire, burning up, my whole body was aflame, my privates were a cauldron of insane bristling heat. And people heard my whimpers, and somebody put me in the seated position, and a lady began pouring cold water on me, and somebody handed me a bag of ice, and I stuffed it between my legs, and three EMTs surrounded me, and I remember saying, after being offered oxygen, that "I don't want to look like a nebach." But he insisted, and I took the oxygen, and a teammate circumvented the payment scheme for the finish line food to fill me up. And I cooled down, and I was oxygenated, and I was hydrated and nourished, and brought back to life. I gave everything I had. Every ounce. All of it. We fought hard and placed 5th, and I'm proud of me and my teammates. All guts, all glory.

Martin Bodek is the author of the recently released The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity (, which is ironic, because he encountered nothing but goodness and kindness during the entire race experience.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guess Who's ITIL v3 Foundation Certified?

That’s right, me! I earn this lovely pin…

…another professional credential and a handsome addition to my resume.

May all of us continue to strive and accomplish and attain along our career paths.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Race of Their Own: The First Ever Ladies Only JRunners 5K

A Race of Their Own: The First Ever Ladies Only JRunners 5K
Martin Bodek

Yes, the flyer said rain or shine, but rain was absolutely nothing to worry about. The first ever JRunners women’s 5k was run in positively pristine conditions on a beautiful sun-dappled race course with nary a cloud in the sky.
55 women turned out for the race in Loch Sheldrake – exactly the same amount as there were finishers in the first ever NYC Marathon in 1970. They came from far (Houston, TX!) and near (Monticello, NY). They were young (9!) and sage (77!). They were fast and faster.
At 10:30 AM they were off, and at 10:53:02.5, Judith Sambol crossed the finish line with the fastest time ever recorded by a female in a JRunners event.
Devorah Levin followed shortly thereafter with her silver medal performance and offered that “It was a great race, and it felt great being a part of a group of fit Jewish women.”
In 3rd place was a “PR”ing Rivky Tepler, who was effusive in her praise for the event, saying, “It's always fun to see everyone come together and give it their all. It’s always enjoyable to see my running friends and to meet more women with the same interests/obsessions that I have.”
The top three finishers beamed with their glass trophies in hand. As each runner streamed in, the smiles grew wider as they earned their finisher’s medals and showed them off to their cheering supporters.
Steve Holmbraker, director extraordinaire of each and every one of the JRunners races, was pleased with how the event turned out.
“The race was great,” he said. “The weather was perfect. The runners were happy and appreciative. It was all good.”
Shana Friedman took great pride in her performance. Having sustained a worrisome injury earlier in the week, she was unsure up until race time if she could actually partake. Partake she did, and placed 2nd in the 20-29 age group.
Even more pleased was the youngest participant of the day, Mimi Gornish, all of nine years old.
“I can't believe I did it!” said Mimi. “Even though I was the youngest, there were still some ladies behind me when I finished. I definitely had fun and want to do this again!”
Rivky Orlow and Tzipora Hornstein offered a joint summary of the race that encapsulated many of the sentiments offered by all the runners nearly to a man, or in this case, to a woman.
It said, “The race was lots of fun! Last year at this location, it was exciting to watch our husbands finish their JRunners race and come in first place! So when we heard JRunners was organizing a women’s race we were excited to participate. The mapped route was great without too many hills. It was so nice to feel the camaraderie of a diverse group of women who are all serious about the sport, and there to enjoy the race. We enjoyed the competition and of course it doesn’t hurt that this was both of our best 5K times yet! We look forward to more JRunners events.”
Competitive spirit was on display in the forms of Masters division racers Baila Miller and Miriam Wielgus. Both ladies have been trying to outdo each other in every JRunners event they’ve run so far. In the first JRunners 5k winter race, Miriam beat Baila by a hair. In the 5k race in April, Baila outran Miriam. This time, Baila emerged the victor again. Advantage Baila, and the Masters crown.
Miriam was nevertheless buoyant after bowing gracefully to her victorious competitor. Said Miriam, “The race was a blast! Looking forward to the next JRunners event.”
That would be the JRunners crown jewel relay race on August 17-18. Eight ten-man teams will run 30 legs totaling 143 miles in support of the Ohr Meir foundation.
Onward and upward it is for the non-profit JRunners organization and their message of promoting health and fitness. Their de facto slogan, Vive Currere, Curre Vivere (“live to run, run to live”), seems to have taken hold in the Jewish community.

Martin Bodek is co-founder of, beat reporter for, surname columnist for, and author of "Bush II, Book I" and the recently released, "The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity," both available on

Originally published in The 5 Towns Jewish Times on August 3, 2011.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

My New Book is Out!

At long last, after seventeen months and three weeks of writing and editing and shvitzing (My first book - Bush II, Book I - took me eighteen months to complete, so as you can see, I've streamlined the process), my new book is available. Here's my new baby:


What's it about? Well, I spent a year encountering the nose-pickers, nail-clippers, cellphone-yappers, lane cut-offers, people who stand akimbo, child slappers, personal space invaders, stores that have cashiers who can't decipher coupons, customer service idiots, the rude, the people who need BlackBerry helmets, line cutters, escalator mudsticks, teenagers discussing what liquids induce abortion, and I wrote about it.

I ask at a bare minimum that you "like" the book, at a bare medium that you have a look at the preview (I customized it to be the first fifteen pages of the book, to allow you a full and proper feel for its substance, flow and feel), and at a bare maximum, that you actually purchase the book. Give me that chance, I won't disappoint you.

I've now published a book two years in a row. Like Woody Allen, I think I'll put out a full product once a year indefinitely. That's my ambition. I want a pile of my own books that are taller than me (Christopher Hitchens keeps a pile of his 22 books next to his desk for inspiration - that is SO cool!)

So please help me along this writing path of mine. Buy the book, enjoy it, and I promise to do my best to sign it for you. I signed approximately 80% of the Bush books that I sold and I just love doing that, LOVE it! Like Mary Roach (great writer!) has said, I'm a signing fool.

Thank you in advance for your interest.