Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My 20th Marathon Run – and First Sub-4:00!

My 20th Marathon Run – and First Sub-4:00!
Martin Bodek

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again.

I started running at about the time this selfie-obsessed Millennial-generation began being born, and it took until my 20th attempt at the marathon distance to finally get under four hours.

I’ll admit that four hours was not my original goal – it was 4:20 – but the expectation that others had for me – knowing my potential and capabilities – was always sub-4:00 (and truth be told, the expectation has been raised in recent years, but I’m allowed to bask in this accomplishment at least for today).

Over the past few years, particularly since the inception of my beloved JRunners club, I have made drastic changes and improvements to my running lifestyle. These included broad edits in clothing, nutrition, mileage, fueling, rest, injury management, race involvement, pacing, and adherence to good advice.

It was the above last two puzzle pieces that finally fell into place for me this year, after all the criteria above had been settled with a high degree of satisfaction, certainty, and quasi-perfection. For example, concerning clothing, I am now as physically comfortable with my gear as I can possibly be, and it causes me no concerns whatsoever. As well, with injury management, I have had nothing chronic, debilitating, or long-term for at least four years, as I over-rest minor injuries before they can exacerbate.

With the pacing and good advice, however – as opposed to the other items in my list – I’m afraid I’ve been historically stubborn. My friends have been after me for a decade and a half with tips and helpfulness, but I didn’t listen, because I’m a human with an ego, and it was a failing of mine.

Into my life walked Paul K. and Steven R., who imparted the same wisdom to me this past year that others did before, but it was something about the way they delivered their messages that made me listen.

There is a famous Yiddish expression, “Ehr herdt, uber ehr hut nisht DERherdt.” The English translation doesn’t do it justice, but roughly it means, “He heard, but he didn’t DEEP(or INNERLY)hear.”

This year, I DERherdt, very carefully, very internally, and I was successful.

I owe my accomplishment to the legacy of friends and family who showed me the way with their love and sagacity, very much before, so much during, and a heaping much after my first sub-4:00.

This is how it happened for me.

As with my NYC Marathon writeup, I’ll begin with the leadup and progress with check-ins at various interesting points along the way.

Here we go:

T minus 2 weeks: Shortly after beating by PR at NYC by 3:55 when I finished with a 4:04:41, and during my 48-hour junk food binge, I pondered why it was that I didn’t get under 4 hours. The reasons were three: 1) I love my family, I need my family, I can’t do this without my family, but I spent too much time at each family stop. 2) Overshooting my wife and kids and doubling back wasted precious minutes. 3) Wind. 4) I did not hold my pace for as long as I wanted to.

I would address each point at Brooklyn as follows: 1) I would have only one contingent this time, which I could find every time I looped the park, and would budget my time intelligently. 2) If I overshoot them, no biggie, I’ll be back in 3.35 miles. 3) No wind expected, but possibly rain, and if it does rain, there’s more tree cover here than in NYC, so I’ll manage. 4) at NYC, I held my 9:00 minute per mile pace for 19 miles, instead of 20, losing valuable seconds. I was determined to hold it for 20, or more, this time.

Game plan in place, we fast forward.

T minus 14 hours: I set up my outfit and gear golem-style, as is the established custom. For some reason, I’m in a declaratory Shakespearean mood. I upload a pic to Facebook with the following quote from Henry V: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” I get about 4 billion likes.

T minus 13 hours: I attend a bar mitzvah with my wife and am very mindful of what I ingest. I also have a spritzy-Prell thingy because there is no way I am going to let others get me sick with half a day to go to my sub-4:00. I use it. The banter around my table gravitates towards my ambition, and everyone wishes me well, particularly the rebbetzin of my shul. Her well-wish has a huge “royshim” (effect) on me.

T minus 9 hours. SNL sucks. Off to bed.

T minus 5 hours. Up and at ‘em a 3:30 AM.

T minus 2.5 hours. I arrive at Prospect Park and get a text from Shia that says, “Let me guess…You’re already in Prospect Park.” My snappy answer: “Ha! No, because I’m circling for parking J” Then some more banter before he finishes with, “Sub 4 it today!” Expectation is high. Before I exit my warm car into the surprisingly warm morning, I post this from Julius Caesar: “Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” Many likes.

T minus 2 hours: First in the porta-potty. The only thing in life that’s better than being first in the mikvah (ritual bath). As I approach the start area, I’m still feeling quite Bard-ian. I post this from Antony and Cleopatra: “Upon your sword sit laurel victory! And smooth success be strew'd before your feet!” Lotsa likes.

T minus 1.75 hours: I’m the fifth runner on scene. Almost nothing is fully set up. People make fun of me for being this way, but if you need somebody to be somewhere for some reason, who you gonna call?

T minus 1.5 hours: I pick up my bib and a bib for a friend, then for another friend when he texts me that he’ll be late, then for another two friends who text me that they’ll be late. What did I just say one paragraph above? You make fun of me at your own peril. One of my pickupees e-mails the JRunners group later saying, “Also, it should be noted that Mordechi, who lives in Passaic, was nice enough to come early and pick up the bibs for the Brooklyn runners who live a mere 5 minutes away from the park.” Thanks, man! My bib, it should be noted, has my first name on it. This was an honor given to all runners who will have run the first three Brooklyn Marathons. There are 28 of us. 6 of those are part of my JRunners club. I feel so elite!

T minus .75 hours: JRunners class photo! I post it to Facebook with the following from Henry VI: “Sound trumpets! Let our bloody colours wave! And either victory, or else a grave.” 5 quadrillion likes.

T minus .15 hours: We all head into the corrals. Corrals? What am I talking about? This ain’t NYC. There are only 485 of us (398 would finish – that’s a weird spread), and we line up wherever we darn well please! Menachem spots a girl named Anna dressed up as a banana. He needs to take a picture with her. I serve as photographer. We spend the next 15 minutes coming up with all different sorts of related puns: “She’s peeling away”, “She’s gonna give us the slip”, “Hope she negative splits”, etc.

T minus .01 hours: This is definitely the first time in history that an operatic soprano, Lisette Oropesa, currently in engagement (Giuseppe Verdi's “I Masnadieri”) powerhouse sings the National Anthem before daintily jumping into a marathon mix and finishing in 4:32:18. I am there, and it is so cool.

HOOOOOONK!: And we’re off! It’s a nice pack that heads out together. David and I intend to travel together the rest of the way, Mark will hang with us for as long as he can, Yossi intends to pace us for 13-15 miles, and Menachem for a bit less.

Mile 0.3: The first water stop is here. A sign is taped up on the table that says, “Almost there.” You must be joking.

Mile 0.4: Heck, we’re in a jokey mood too. We ask some runners which lap this is. Honestly, it can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. The course is two loops around the lower half of the park, six loops around the whole park, and one loop around the lower half. Got that? (Before the race, I went over to the director to say hello and thanks. He mentioned that he intends for the race to bust out of the Park in 2015. Looking forward!)

Mile 1.0: We clear the first mile in 8:40. Too fast! Everyone slow down!

Mile 1.7: We pass the “Lakeside” spot where I took a tumble last year because I was an idiot. I will not make that mistake again.

Mile 1.8: Two streaks of lightning explode through a seam between us and disappear ahead of us just as quickly. It’s the race leaders! Man, they’re fast!

Mile 1.9: A gentleman brandishes a sign that declares that runners, are, shall we say, ummmm, worthy of human relations. His friend holds a sign that says “Creep” with an arrow pointing to the first sign gentleman. Heh. Funny.

Mile 2.1: A fellow in a vegan-related t-shirt juggling three oranges – not balls, oranges - passes us, an utter indignity. The pack debates the level of insanity of this fellow, on a scale of 1-10. 1 being that he is perfectly sane, and is doing this to hone his craft and concentration, because he clearly does this for a living. 10 being stone cold nuts. We give him a 7.

Mile 2.3: We pass a disabled man in a walker, surrounded by volunteers. #349. Grimacing, but moving. He has gone .3 miles from the start, but I know iron will when I see it.

Mile 2.4: We pass the “Almost there” water table again. Yeah, they’re still joking.

Mile 3.6: The two streaks of lightning rocket past us again, in the same formation. These guys are blazing! The group begins a debate on whether or not they could indeed have lapped us twice. Did they miss a turn? Can they really be that fast? Are we really that slow? Answers: No, yes, and hey, it’s called an even pace!

Mile 3.8: We approach the water stop. David asks if I need any. Nope. I always have my first swig 6 miles into a run, and I am not veering off the game plan one iota, neither to the left, nor to the right (Deuteronomy 5:32/Proverbs 4:27).

Mile 4.2: Mark needs the porta-potty. And then there were four.

Mile 4.4: We pass #349 again. Oh my, he’s struggling, but he does not look like a quitter.

Mile 4.7: Mark catches right back up to us! That was fast!

Mile 5.1: I feel a slight twinge in my left calf. I attack these very quickly mid-race with nutrition. I reach for my first gel in my “utility belt.” David asks if I’ve officially begun my Bodie Marathon Feeding Program. Yes, indeed!

Mile 5.5: One member of our group – I won’t mention who – lets out the most flatulatively flatulent flatulence I have ever heard. Good heavens, it measured .9 on the Richter Scale. Cause and effect: his pace picks up a little bit, and we follow along. No, I’m not kidding about that.

Mile 5.8: Mmm…water.

Mile 5.9: No more mid-park turns. We head up towards The Hill. Here we go.

Mile 6.1: I spot Luis Rios and holler “Lu! Is!” He says “Hey, alright.” Who is he? Just a living legend. Read on: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/after-a-jog-35-years-ago-hes-still-running-in-circles/?_r=0

Mile 6.4: We spot a man on a yoga mat. Now why would making mention of that be interesting? Because we’d see him there, in his lotus position, for the next four hours.

Mile 6.6: We get over The Hill nice and easy like, still maintaining our sub-9:00 pace. While climbing, I surveyed for the food and beer stops that are supposed to be there. I saw nothing. I ask the group if anyone saw anything. I get a unanimous “What? You didn’t see the table there with M&M’s, potato chips, and oranges?” Say what now? Oh, I’m gonna have me a meal the next time around!

Mile 7.9: We pass #349 again. Gosh, he’s advanced but less than a half mile since the start. Is he going the distance today? Is he aiming for a small loop back to start? Whatever it is, I send him my positive vibes.

Mile 8.8: Unconsciously, I follow after Yossi, who has moved ahead of the pack, and I leave David and Mark just a bit behind me. I begin to seriously begin to battle myself to slow down. I’m absolutely relaxed at this point. I am putting no strain on my body whatsoever, and my body wants to go faster. I stay in the huddle, though, but it isn’t easy. This is why I like pace groups, and succeed with them. It keeps me under my control.

Mile 9.4: Okay, one more time over The Hill. Here we go.

Mile 9.7: Food! I grab a handful of M&M’s and start popping them, when I suddenly realize they’re not M&M’s, they’re Skittles. What I don’t realize is that they’re not kosher. I had gotten so used to scarfing mounds of the recently-kosher version that it didn’t dawn on me that these weren’t. My conscience (AKA wife) was displeased when I reported this part of my run to her. She is correct. I should have been more mindful and diligent, and I leave this passage here as a way of doing teshuva (repentance). I regret my unmindfulness and resolve never to find myself in this state again. Al chait shechatanu lifaneicha bifrikas ol (for the sin we have committed against You by casting off responsibility). Al chait shechatanu lifaneicha b’machel u’vmishteh (for the sin we have committed against You with food & drink).

Mile 10.0: We went over the hill at sub-9:00 again. Very, very nice. We’re actually doing around 8:50 per mile. Also very nice. We’re all relaxed, though I am still tailing Yossi, while the rest of the pack is a little behind. I don’t see Menachem at all. I have no idea when we lost him (turns out he dropped out of the group at mile four and went on to do 15 miles).

Mile 11.2: Water stop, but no stopping. The water stops at the Brooklyn Marathon feel better-spaced today because of the weather. It’s warm, but water every mile is a bit too much. Because the park is a 3.35 loop, and because the water stops are at opposite sides of the center of the park, it means we have water stop every 1.7 miles. That’s working for me today.  At this point, I find myself a bit isolated. Yossi has moved ahead, the rest of the pack is a bit behind. I take inventory of my performance today. My body feels great and is working smoothly, and I break down the race for myself into three parts. I want to finish the first half miles in under 1:57, the first 20 in under 3:00, and the last 10k can last me an hour, to reach my sub-4 goal. So far, on target.

Mile 11.7: #349. Still moving forward.

Mile 12.7: Another round over The Hill. Here we go.

Mile 13.0: I grab some oranges from the food table. Oh yum!

Mile 13.1: I hit the halfway point at 1:55. 2 minutes ahead of schedule. Awesome.

Mile 13.2: Rain. Uh oh. It doesn’t come down in buckets, more like sheets, and it’s not soaking me terribly, and is refreshing, but if it lasts any longer, it will cease to be any fun. It’s good for now, and breaks the heat a bit, and I can bear it for about a half mile. Let’s see what happens. I can’t let rain stop me from going sub-4. I’ve got three pieces of electronics on me (GPS watch, iPhone, iPhone battery pack), but I’m going to not think about them. I have to race.

Mile 13.3: Over The Hill yet again at 8:45. Slow down, Bodie.

Mile 13.8: Yossi takes leaves of me, bolting away to use the facilities. This is what he signed up for. His day is over, and we’re grateful for his pacing assistance. I look behind me, I don’t see the rest of my crew, but they’re somewhere close by, and I hope they’re still on pace.

Mile 14.1: My family! Oh! They’re here a half hour early! I spot them before they spot me, so I have a moment to calculate whether or not I put my sub-4 ambitions at risk by running over to them. I decide that I would. I have to stick with the plan, even if I see my aba (joined by my sister and niece) standing with an umbrella and a box of pizza. Mmm…pizza. That pizza nearly breaks my will, but my family sees me and I yell, “I’ll come back around! See you in a half hour! Sorry you’re getting wet!” They say okeydokey, and I keep moving.

Mile 14.2: The rain stops, kinda.

Mile 14.3: A lady runner, with an accent I can’t pin but is certainly an English-or-its-offshoot one says, “Love the quote.” I’m wearing Churchill’s famous “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”on back of my Superjew t-shirt. I tell her the Brits love it. She says she’s not a Brit, but enjoys it just as much. Sweet.

Mile 14.5: Yossi spots me from the sidelines and tells me I’m looking good. I take his word for it.

Mile 14.7: The rain starts, not kinda.

Mile 15.0: #349, getting bashed by the rain. Oy.

Mile 15.3: I spot Anna banana, who is – literally – peeling. She’s not lookin’ so good. She’s frazzled, probably stifled by the outfit, and grimacing. I fight the urge to toss my puns at her. That’s not what she needs right now.

Mile 15.5: I spot Moshe, who has arrived, with David’s family in tow, to pace me and David, for the last 10 miles, to our goals. He asks me where David is. I say he’s behind me. He asks if he should start pacing me or go back for David. I say David, because I’m slightly ahead of schedule, and David might not be, or might be, behind. Roger that.

Mile 16.4: Mmm…oranges.

Mile 16.6: I am soaked, but on target.

Mile 17.9: Pizza time! I run up to my family, rip off the crust from slice #1, thank them for coming, and ask my sister to please call my wife with the following message: “I’m doing great, I can’t get to my phone because of the rain, but please text me chizuk (encouragement) anyway.” Crust in hand, plus a half of a salt bagel – which I squish into my utility belt - and I’m on my way.

Mile 18.5: Steven W.! With Powerade and other goodies! Aw, thank you man! His brother Michael is on the course, whom I will encounter shortly.

Mile 19.5: I run into Moshe again, who apparently hasn’t hooked up with David yet. He asks me the same question, and I give him the same answer. I’m on target, David might not be. Go back for him and begin drill instruction.

Mile 19.7: The irony is fascinating. I lost focus on the Skittles but maintained focus on the potato chips. I had no time to ask the people manning the table if it was kosher or not, but this time around, they’re pouring more chips into the container, and I spot the hechsher! Bango! I grab some chips and some more oranges and I continue on the way.

Mile 19.8: The yoga guy is still here, yoga-ing away.

Mile 20.0: I’m running a perfect race up this point. I hit the mark at 2:57, 3 minutes ahead of schedule. I’ve built in a lot of slack time, and I still haven’t stopped running or putting in my sub-9:00s.

Mile 20.1: Mordechai passes me! He’s wearing a wind-breaker (because he has no subcutaneous fat) and is looking strong. He says, “Bodie? Still on target for sub-4?” I say, “Yes, hayadoin’?” He says, “I’m in pain. I’m running a marathon y’idiot.” He’s lucky he appends the statement with a smiley face. Otherwise I woulda tracked him down and done unkind things, like remove his windbreaker.

Mile 21.0: My running streak stops here. Something funky happens to my balance. I’m not sure what it is. My left foot isn’t landing right, and as a result, my right hip feels kinda wonky. I’m off center. I have lots of energy in the tank, but something ain’t right. I’ve gone sub-9 for 1 extra mile than I intended. I have to hold on now for the finish.

Mile 21.1: Family stop! Much quicker this time. I grab the crust from slice #2, and some iced tea my sister is holding (I’m not even sure she intended for me to have it, I just grabbed it!), give thanks and praise, and I carry on the way.

Mile 21.7: Something happens to my thighs. They suddenly feel like they got shredded in half. Oh no, I have to manage this. I’ve been munching the salt bagel on and off, been devouring gels, enjoying my pizza, having enough water, but if it’s salt I’m missing, then it’s salt I’ll have. I don’t stop moving forward and I swallow the salt packet whole.

Mile 21.8: Steven W. with his Powerade! Perfect timing! I need that! Yum! Moving forward, moving forward, as is #349. Good God, how he must be suffering. He has traveled 1 mile from the start.

Mile 22.6: I hit the beginning of the last loop of the race, and I have in mind to thank, and I do, everyone who’s provided a repeated service for me along the course. The cowbell girls, the food table people, the yoga dude, the countless families who’ve remained rooted, and continued hollering (I’ve never received so many “Superjews” and “SuperMartins” in my life. I love this bib!), for hours. If I go sub-4, they’re a big part of the reason.

Mile 22.9: Michael passes me, and asks if I’m still on target. I am, he says let’s get going. I do, but I’m still wonky. My foot’s bothering me. What’s wrong with my foot? Do I have a blister? It’s difficult to feel what’s happening with your feet when they’re ensconced in Vibrams, and it’s possible I have a blister that isn’t letting me plant my foot right. I remain wonky until…

Mile 23.0: …beer! Oh, MAN! Beer! Some dude is holding it up, inside of a cup. I upend the contents into my mouth and over my chin, and I swear nothing has ever tasted so good in my life. I’m so refreshed, and despite what’s happening with my balance, I’m running once more.

Mile 24.3: My family’s still here, but I can’t stop now. I’m too close. I’m soaked, and my foot and hips are bothering me, but I’m still on target, and I have to remain so. It’s going to be close, and I can’t veer off course now. I holler, “Gotta go sub-4! Can’t stop! Thank you for everything!” My family says okeydokey, and I keep on keepin’ on.

Mile 24.7: Random dad: “Go Superman! Oh, wait, Superjew!” Son: “Why?”

Mile 25.0: I lose a lot of my steam, and I try to gather myself and recover my strength, but my foot is bothering me so much (let me not keep you in suspense, and let me mention it here so I finish my recap on a positive note: when I removed my footwear later, what I found wasn’t so pretty: a blood blister between my big and second toes that had actually spread to the webbing. The webbing ground [grinded?] against the Vibram webbing. The area turned black and is still black as of this writing, 9 days later. At least my imbalance had a good reason! Apparently, the rainwater breached a teeny-tiny seam and festered havoc). I recall all the backing I’ve received from my friends and family. I can’t stop now. I’ve come so far. I began running marathons in 1996, and this is the day, man, this is the day. The chizuk from the Rebbetzin of my shul (synagogue) is what finally gets me going again. Of all the people I’d disappoint if I don’t clear my hurdle, she’d be the person I’d be most embarrassed to confront if I failed. I can’t fail, I start the engine up again, like turning over a car. I’m moving.

Mile 25.5: The engine stalls, but precisely at that moment, I hear a voice behind me. It yells, “Bodie! Sub-4! Get moving! Come on!” I can’t look back. I feel I’ll fall if I do. I think I know who it is, though. It must be Moshe, and he must have David with him. This must mean we’re both on target. Ooh yeah. I’m running again.

Mile 25.7: Stall, “Come on Bodie! Sub-4! You got this!”, vroom.

Mile 25.8: Stall, “Bodie! Sub-4! Bodie!”, vroom. Clink, clank, vroom, clank, vroom.

Mile 25.9: Moshe passes me and says, “Move your derrière if you plan on going sub-4!” (he’s British by birth, hence he’s allowed to use the word and did so properly), I respond with “I got this, I got this,” and I go chasing after him. He’s now pulling me and David along. David passes me. He looks solid (though he may deny that). Moshe keeps yelling at me.

Mile 26.0: We enter the trench of the Death Star. The final run. That’s exactly what it feels like to me. As I approach the thermal exhaust port that is the finish line, several of my friends (including Mordechai, Aaron, Matt, and others) and a ton of shouting supporters scream at me to break 4. I can’t sort out who said what, but this is what it felt like in the stretch run:

“Come on Bodie! Sub-4! You got this!” (Mordechai?)

Stay on target.

“Bodie! Sub-4! Sub-4!” (Aaron?)

Stay on target.

“Ahhhhhh! Bodie! You’re gonna do it!” (Matt?)

Stay on target.

“Martin is about to break 4 hours!” (the announcer!)

Stabilize rear deflectors.

“Bodie! Come on!” (Moshe?)

I’m coming in! 3 marks at 5-8!

When I looked up and saw the “3” in front of whatever the rest of the time was, I was in complete disbelief. All I wanted to do was make sure that number wouldn’t turn to a “4”. I made sure of it, alright, and to punctuate the moment, I had the presence of mind to put four fingers on each hand, for posterity. It would work. That’s the picture I purchased from the race, though a better picture exists of David crossing the finish line (5 seconds ahead of me), with Moshe right behind him. Moshe is looking back, towing me in.

When I crossed the finish line (3:58:45!), all of the energy in my body suddenly drained out. All of it. I fell onto Moshe, babbling my thanks to him. I saw David on his back on the ground. Suddenly I was offloaded onto Chanan. “Oh hey, Chanan,” I wanted to say, but couldn’t, because I had no energy to speak. I wanted to lay down. He wouldn’t let me. He let me lean on him and he walked me while all the goodies were dumped on me: water, a nice hat, a heat blanket, and a medal that seemed to be about the size of my face.

We walked slowly until I was walking upright, then turned around when I recovered my power of speech. We slowly made our way towards the finish line, where we met Yisroel, Michael and Big Willie, who, like Moshe, also provided pacing services for the day.

Chanan bragged about my accomplishment to the race director, then he was concerned for my ability to drive home. I said by the time I amble back to the car – a half mile away – I’ll have poured enough nutrients into my system to ensure I won’t cramp while driving.

Chanan and I parted ways after I thanked him profusely. I picked up my bag. I removed my phone from my hip and found it in working order (pshew!), found all the chizuk my wife had texted me, and responded that she was now married to a sub-4 marathoner. I then posted the following to Facebook:

“Sub! 4:00! Ahahahaa! Woohoo! "What win I, if I gain the thing I seek? A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.” – Shakespeare"

Four drillion likes.

News traveled quickly about my accomplishment, and I spent the rest of the day texting and e-mailing thanks and love to every single individual I could think of in my life who had any part in making me meet my goal.

The sweetest comment was from my 8-year-old daughter: “Daddy! You broke your high score!”

Yes I did, sweetiepie, thank you. And thank you to everyone for your part in making this happen for me.

How perfect it was that three days later was National Hug a Runner day.

I wanna hug #349. I wonder how he did and is doing.

I also wonder how I’ll be doing a year from now, when I go for sub-3:45. You might think that’s a bold expectation I’ve set for myself, but I can’t take credit it for it. My friends are already telling me it’s the expectation they’ve set for me.

I’ll do my best not to disappoint them.

Besides, upsetting the rebbetzin would not be a very good idea.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My 19th Marathon Run - and New PR!

My 19th Marathon Run – and New PR!
Martin Bodek

First, the numbers: it was my 15th NYC (guaranteed entry for life!), my 19th marathon (#20 coming up in Brooklyn!), my 180th footrace overall (I’m not even 40 yet!), my fastest marathon ever by 3:55 (but not sub-4. Hear that, Brooklyn?), and I swear, it may have been the most fun I’ve ever had at a race in my life.

Firstly, I was in a big, fat social mood, and the race fed that jones considerably. I have a reputation for being a social creature, but that trait was amplified on race day.

Secondly, I was surrounded by friends everywhere: at the expo, at the race minyan, all the way along the course, and after.

Thirdly, I was feeling the Facebook love. I busted my own “like” records for several posts, including the winner: my outfit getup (which I call my “golem”) with all its accoutrements prepared the night before the race. Every subsequent post and check-in got tons of attention as well.

Fourthly, I was prepared, healthy, and fit. I had a plan, and I had no concerns over its execution.

Fifthly, I was going to see several branches of my family on the course. I love them, and I love seeing them.

Sixthly, it was really good to be back after that wench Sandy brought her havoc and misery, and among her impacts was the cancellation of last year’s race.

Seventhly, as this was going to be my 15th NYC, it would mean, as mentioned, that I now had guaranteed entry for life. I had worked long and hard towards this goal. First, I subjected myself to the lottery, which didn’t work out every time. Then I ran 6 of their races annually for guaranteed entry, then I had to 9, then I had to 9 plus one day of volunteering. Now I need to do nothing but show up. Good thing too, because I wouldn’t be able to tolerate them moving the goalposts again.

For those with short attention spans, here is the basic summary: crowds great, family wonderful, friends everywhere, temperature excellent, wind bad, road surface horrible. Had time of my life.

But you know I have more to say about that, don’t you? I’m more than happy to oblige. We’ll begin with the lead-up to the race, then, to change things up a bit, I won’t report from every mile checkpoint, but rather, from interesting happenstances along the way. I mean, the running itself was kind of monotonous, as I ran a very evenly paced race. It’s the rest that will probably prove interesting, and I’ll probably have more than 26.2 check-ins in the narrative.

T minus 71 hours: I attend the expo, and meet my running idol, Dean Karnazes, and engage with him in a meaningful manner. He allows himself chocolate covered espresso beans as part of an otherwise strict diet, and I had prepared but forgotten them at home, intending to give some to him as a gift. My opener is an apology for leaving the kosher version on my kitchen counter. I have his attention. He asks if I could bring them tomorrow. He is amazed that this would be my 15th, we take some great photos, and I get his John Hancock.

T minus 46 hours: I return the next day as promised and gift Dean with a few versions of the beans. He is delighted. I also give him my JRunners Relay Race book, sign it for him, and invite him to run our relay solo. He asks me a million questions and seemed genuinely interested. I depart in as buoyant a mood as I’ve ever been running into a celebrity I admire.

T minus 14 hours: The golem is setup. 44 likes.

T minus 12 hours: My wife makes me my favorite carb dish. I eat nearly all of it, take a break, and then eat the rest.

3:30 AM: Wakey wakey!

4:47 AM: Outta here. I head out with an accented bunch: a South African lady, a South African gentleman, and a Russian gentleman, with the South African lady’s son serving as driver. I’m telling you, my Brooklyn accent might have been the most pronounced of the troupe.

T minus 5 hours: We arrive at the Meadowlands, where, for the umpteenth year in a row, there is no signage on the highway showing you where the buses are, and but a single sign inside the complex pointing you in the right direction. I’ll have to send another e-mail to NYRR. However, I sit next to Mrs. South Africa and chat at length. It seems she and her family are passionately involved in noble causes, to a man – and woman. Bless them all! It was a pleasure to converse with her

T minus 3 hours: We arrive at Ford Wadsworth. Yes, it took us two hours to get there. We hit the first layer of the new security. Two police cars open like sliding doors to allow our bus entry. When I disembark, I get wanded, because of my Road ID dog tags. After that interlude, I head straight to the marathon minyan, which my JRunners club now stages in partnership with the founder, Peter Berkowsky, US Army Chaplain, ret. This is the minyan’s 30th year. It’s Rosh Chodesh, and we have three minyanim, plus our own dedicated security, and bagels, and coffee, and a porta-potty bank 20 feet away. What more could we ask for? I have no reason to wander anywhere else. Here’s good. I’m staying. Aharon Karov is in attendance. He survived horrors during Operation Cast Lead and has returned five years later to run for Team One Family. I want to give him a hug, but I’m even too awed to approach, feeling insecure about fumbling with my corrosive Hebrew. Standing in his presence is good enough, basking in his positive energy and light.

T minus 2 hours: We take our class photo, and I spend the next two hours schmoozing with my buddies, visiting the porta-potty, gobbling bagels, and relaxing, to the best degree possible. We all then escape to our respective corrals. I’m at mine on time, they admit us a bit late, we all do the slow walk into our positions, and then, on the dot, at:

10:05 AM: P’toom! And we’re off!

Mile -.02: It takes 2:56 to get to the start. My game plan: run down the middle of the course, at a 9:00 minute per mile pace, look forward and down, ignore the urge to survey the creative signs, forget running on the sidelines. All of this is to keep me focused on the task at hand, and to keep to the designated pace.

Mile 0.2: The choppers are behaving differently this year. Usually they’re overhead, but this year they’re on the sides of the bridge, at the same level as the runners. This is both fascinating and unsettling at the same time. I can’t tell if the winds we’re experiencing are of the natural or chopper-driven variety. I spot a man with a t-shirt that says “25 NYC marathons in a row.” I hope to get there one day, even if I have some catching up to do. There are lots of t-shirts concerning cancer; many are Boston Strong; many are running in memory of someone. Did I mention the wind? It’s windy.

Mile 1.0: I complete it in 8:36, and I have to chide myself to go slower! I am not here to run fast, I am here to run steady. I am here to run 9:00s until the end.

Mile 1.2: The sign on my back is starting to get a lot of attention. I have a quote from Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I find it inspiring. For years I wore a sign that said, “If I’m walking, pat my back. Thanks.” But that was a way for others to motivate me in case I was flagging, but I was infinitely more fit this year, and there would be no such thing. This time, I wanted to motivate others, so I found this quote apropos.

Mile 2.0: Ah yes, the pee-ers. Many warnings were issued for people on the lower deck to beware the stream from above. You’d think people would pee a little further down, no?

Mile 3.7: David, my man! I ask how he’s doing. He’s doing great. He asks how I’m doing. I say I’m completely unstressed at this point, and I intend to be this way until the finish. We’re both after our first sub-4:00s.

Mile 3.8: My right hammy gives me a slight twinge. What’s that about? My muscles are fine and my hammy gave me no problems all year! I immediately unwrap a Balance Bar just in case I’m missing a nutrient whose trace absence may have caused that.

Mile 4.2: For some reason, I can’t stomach the whole bar. It is not wise to disagree with one’s tummy on race day, so I toss the remainder over the sidewalk crowd directly into a garbage can, with a perfect “plink-clunk” for effect. A runner behind me says, “Nice shot!” I give her a thumbs up.

Mile 4.7: It’s my very own cheering zone! My mom, aba, sister, niece, and fellow runner Yossi show up for a quick photo op (18 seconds), swig of Powerade (1 second), and half a salt bagel (1 second, grab and go). Thanks, everyone!

Mile 5.2: I spot a cool t-shirt on a girl’s back: “I run because I am awesome.” That’s a pretty neat response to the age-old question.

Mile 6.0: I finally take water, because that’s exactly how I train. Mile 6 is usually my first swig in average-heat conditions. I’m running a perfect race so far, and am actually already two minutes ahead of schedule.

Mile 6.1: At this point, because I have nothing to report for the next two miles, I should mention the signs I’m seeing, though I’m only gazing to the sidelines fleetingly to maintain focus. All of them are either poop jokes, the superfluity of toenails, and commentary about how aspects of the race are better than, um, human relations,. Uninspired nonsense. Back to focusing on the road and the run.

Mile 8.2: We head into the fun, rousing big-band-booming, church-choir gospeling section of Clinton Hill. Earth’s loudest boom box is pumping out “Gangnam Style” at decibel levels that can shatter your eye contacts. People try to do the dance while running. It doesn’t work. I’m one of those people. I have a gel.

Mile 9.7: In Williamsburg, a staff member of mine has positioned himself on the sidewalk with his adorable little daughter parked on a stool. I can spot my guy squinting over me while looking for me. I am actually already shaking his hand furiously when he realizes what’s going on. Too funny. I get a Gatorade swig and ask the little Ms. If she’s a “voile maidele.” Aw, she’s so shy. Cute. As I peel away, my man Eli zips past me. He’s running a carefully paced race as well, and we run together for a bit.

Mile 10.3: At Rutledge and Bedford, I stop to scan for my father, who said he’d be here. After wasting a considerable amount of time not finding him, I remember that he’d be at the Central Park location with my wife and kids. Oops. The bit with Eli lasts till here, because he’s not hanging with me for this unnecessary interlude.

Mile 10.8: Some Hasidic cousins of mine have promised to be here. Ya know, the ones who offered me seltzer and kokosh cake a few years back, God love ‘em? I don’t see them, but that’s because one of ‘em is a girl, who is dolled up today for the occasion, and at the RPM at which I’m currently functioning; I simply cannot recognize her in her unfamiliar state. Her husband is next to her, and if people have trouble divining a specific Hasid in a police-lineup, then how am I supposed to do that while running a marathon? He, in turn, is obscuring my cousin, who I’d recognize no matter what, but my view of her is blocked off. Unfortunate, but interesting. As proof that my cousin was where she was supposed to be, she sent me a twitter pic of her that someone had taken from an apartment across the street. That’s how I have all the information above.

Mile 11.2: As I march through young, loud, BAC. 08 hipster Williamsburg, I begin looking for the Twizzlers guy. Sometimes I find him, sometimes I don’t. As I’m scanning, I bump into another buddy! Aaron! And his merry band of Lubabuddies! I don’t even, at first, exchange pleasantries. I launch right into “Where’s the Twizzlers guy?” before I come to my social senses. We hang for a bit before we hit the water stop at McCarren Park. I’m not stopping this year at water stops. I’m doing the cup-crunch thing. I must maintain the pace, which I’m still doing at this point, three full minutes ahead of schedule.

Mile 13.1: I hit the halfway point on the Pulaski Bridge at 1:54, still three minutes ahead of schedule. I notice a very funny, albeit quite chauvinistic sign: “Hurry home, I’m hungry.” Certainly different!

Mile 14.2: I pass the spot where Chabad of Long Island City usually has a Powerade stop. They don’t this year; instead, they’re fronting a band. That’s nice, but I need my fix. Ah well. I’ll continue having the kosher-this-year-but-watered-down-to-bleh Gatorade on the course.

Mile 14.7: On the approach to the Queensboro Bridge, I spot the drill sergeant who shows up at all NYRR races in Central Park, who runs counter to the runners to cheer them on. I pat him on the shoulder and holler, “Semper Fi!” He yells back, “Awright! Do or die!” That’s exactly what I’m about to do.

Mile 14.8: We turn left, and hit the ramp onto the Queensboro Bridge. We head upwards into the gaping, enveloping, merciless maw of hell. I maintain the same pace; at least I think I’m maintaining the same pace. My GPS watch says otherwise. It says I’m crawling. I don’t want to accelerate because I don’t want to blow up. I don’t want to slow down, because I’ll give away the time I’ve banked. I have no choice but to endure the mile at a snail’s pace. I spot Eli again, muscling and grimacing up the incline, but holding steady. When I finally reach the apex of the bridge, I’ve given back nearly all the time I’ve banked. All because of that damn bridge. I hate this bridge. Even when I run it well, I run it slowly. Feh. It saps my positive energy. When I reach the apex, I want to get off it as fast as possible, but I must maintain pace, must. It’s my mission today. I’m forced to spend another mile going downhill, applying the brakes that I don’t want to. Uch, I hate this bridge. Have I said that?

Mile 16.2: We’re off the bridge. Yay.

Mile 16.3: I thought 1st Avenue was freshly repaved. I was informed incorrectly. It is the gravel-pit it’s always been, and my Vibram Flows are taking more kindly to it than the KSOs that are disastrous on this terrain, but I keep the pace, gingerly. I should mention that this version is also working out at the water stops. My feet are dry even though I’m forced to slosh through reams of discarded cups, rivers of water, and rivulets of Gatorade.

Mile 16.5: I swallow a salt packet, pretty much whole. Yum.

Mile 17.0: I’m slowing down. The bridge did a number on me. It sucked out my life force during the first mile, and then forced me to put on the brakes for a whole mile. I’m not in any pain, but I don’t have the energy I did. Okay, refueling time. A whole cup of Gatorade, another gel, and…

Mile 17.7: …some Powerade and a half bagel from my brother-in-law and cute nephew. My BIL tells me I’m looking good. I might be, I tell him, but I’ve begun slowing down and keeping the pace is a bit harder. I’m still ever-so-slightly ahead of schedule, but I have no room for error, at this point. I then bid them both adieu and I’m on my way.

Mile 17.9: David again! Hayadoin’ again! Same as me! Looks like we’re having the same exact experience. He did excellently until the bridge, and then faltered. Gee, sounds familiar. He pushes ahead; I falter, but enjoy some music from my favorite-named-band on the course: Squirrels from Hell.

Mile 19.0: David again! Same deal again. We’re holding the pace towards our exact-same goal and begin a stretch of hanging with each other to keep ourselves motivated. He mentions all the uphills, which I didn’t notice until this year. It’s true, I realize. When you run an even pace, you get a fuller view of the course, and yes, the uphills are many. Urmf.

Mile 19.4: I spot the “I run because I am awesome” girl. She still is because she still is.

Mile 19.6: We’re on the Willis Avenue Bridge, and four bagpipers, of all people, cross hurriedly in front of us. Of all the Frogger players along the course (there are many today, more than usual), I didn’t expect them.

Mile 20.0: After running nearly a full mile with David, he pulls ahead. I don’t have the energy to keep up. I won’t see him again until the finish, but it was nice running with him at various points.

Mile 20.2: Banana handouts! Yum! This is the spot where I actually slipped on one three years ago and fell. No such mistakes this year. I run gingerly and actually slide a bit on one, but recover quickly. Something needs to be done here. Bananas end up wall-to-wall for a considerable stretch. You can’t escape them. Unmindful runners can end up like I once did, chewing on a faceful of asphalt.

Mile 20.5: An Aussie pats me on the back and says, “Great quote, mate!” Didn’t I say no pats this year? Hm?

Mile 21.2: After the Madison Avenue Bridge takes us into Manhattan, I begin looking for the beer man that has come through for me in the past. I don’t find him where he’s supposed to be, but a fellow runner, Chaim, in possession of the World’s Most Accurate Beer-dar (he can smell a drop of beer in a million drops of water), would find him at mile 23. Ah, shucks.

Mile 21.3: Funny sign: “Take candy! (from a stranger).”

Mile 21.9: I experience my first actual pain of the race, a minor muscle pull across my right thigh. I know its provenance is the forced braking on the Queensboro Bridge, which led to me slowing down, which led to overcompensating, which led me to being off balance, which led me to this. I hate that bridge. It’s all its fault. All of it. No fair. Next year I’m swimming the Hudson under the bridge, and I’ll make NYRR accept my time.

Mile 22.6: Why 22.6? Why not 22.5 as usual for my family stop? Well, you see, I overshoot them completely, and I have to double back. I whip out my phone when I realize my error and call my wife. Spectators don’t like this. They feel you’re ignoring them, so I mumble, “Where’s my family? Where’s my family?” so they’d know what’s going on and not be so peeved at me. A cop standing there says, “Look at this guy.” when I walk past. I also annoy several runners as I walk up the sideline, interfering with their high-fives to the crowd. I find my family though, and am just overjoyed to see them. My wife, three wonderful kids, and my dad are there. Hugs and kisses are distributed with abandon. A professional photographer takes a beautiful, enduring pic of us (I just made it my profile pic on Facebook), and an amateur photographer hits close, instead of the snap button, on my wife’s iPhone. I get a Powerade swig, and another half bagel, and I’m back on the course, energized, and back to my starting pace, which I now hold firmly, to my great pleasure. That’s what my family does for me.

Mile 22.8: Funny sign: “Smile if you peed a little.” It makes me smile. Um, not because I peed a little, but because it’s better than all the poop jokes. The signs are much funnier and more original here than in Brooklyn.

Mile 23.0: Uphill again, and fighting to maintain pace (succeeding!), and never stopping. Even at the water stops. Full steam ahead.

Mile 23.7: Into the park! Reflexively I look for the statue of Fred Lebow. Oh yeah, he’s at the finish line (where they move him annually, then put him back in his spot for the other 364 days of the year).

Mile 25.4: Central Park South. Oh, glory be, the yelling and the screaming is just amazing.

Mile 25.5: Sign: “The end is near.” Ha!

Mile 25.6: Sign: “Go SuperGirl!” I run over and ask if I still qualify for a high five. Yes, I do!

Mile 25.7: Someone screams, “You only have a mile left!” No, doofusbrain, a half mile. Either get the measurement right or walk a half mile down the course to where you can scream the same thing and be right.

Mile 25.8: Into the park again, enervated and energized. Oh gosh, the crowd is awesome here.They must either pay people to scream this way, or the yellingest people in the city make it their business to be here. I hear about 12,000 “Go SuperJew”s (I traditionally wear a magen-davided Superman t-shirt, as if you didn’t know that about me by now) down this small home-stretch. And I. Am. Run-nin’!

Mile 25.9: Go SuperRabbi? Ha! Yeah, I’ve heard that before.

Mile 26.0: Hands up! Woohoo!

Mile 26.1: Smile for the cameras! Woohoo!

Mile 26.2: Finished! PR! I text my wife the news, and boom, there’s my man Elik’s text telling me my official time. 4:04:41, my third straight year of PRing the marathon distance. I actually ran a total of 26.47 miles due to the run-up to the start and overshooting, and doubling back, to my family. No regrets. I’ve gotten better, and when I toe the line at the Brooklyn Marathon, I’ll have had a marathon as a training run two weeks prior. I’m in perfect position.

Mile 26.21: I get a tap on my shoulder. It’s David! I’m shocked to see him! How did I get past him? He’s not perfectly coherent, and he’s in pain. I can see that. He officially finished about a minute behind me. Later, we’d make up to pace each other in Brooklyn, and have friends join us for the last stretch. We’re hoping for sub-4:00 success.

Mile 26.23: I get my medal from the 800-year old lady volunteer I see at all races. I give her the big hug I wanted to give Aharon Karov.

Mile 26.28: People are dropping everywhere like flies. I’m stiff and wobbly, but some people are in mortal agony. Yowtch!

Mile 37.63: They finally let me out of the park. Some “Early Exit” this is! I find my family, distribute further hugs and kisses, escape the city, and I eat a veritable mountain of food until I’m bursting. What a great day, no matter how badly the Queensboro Bridge tried to derail it. #15, #19, #180, PR, in the books. Do or die? Do. Semper do.

Monday, November 11, 2013

JRunners Have a Blast at the 2013 NYC Marathon

JRunners Have a Blast at the 2013 NYC Marathon
Martin Bodek

The New York Road Runners Club may have been proud of its 50,000 runners at the 43rd staging of the NYC Marathon, but JRunners must have been prouder of its 30 official runners at the 30th staging of the International Marathon Minyan.
The sweeping energy of the race began there before the runners hit the course and were swept along by the wind.
They came from places as far west as Passaic, NJ and from as far east as Brooklyn, NY. Oh, just kidding, they also were from out-there places like Clifton and Queens.
A crowd of 150, or more, attended the three minyamin that JRunners fielded in partnership with retired army chaplain Peter Berkowsky, the founder of the minyan. Bagels and coffee and camaraderie were served in generous heapings.
Among the crowd was Aharon Karov, whose story is well known, as an Israeli soldier who survived horrors and catastrophe during Operation Cast Lead, and had come to the U.S. 5 years later to run the marathon and raise money for Team One Family.
After the class photo, the runners fanned out to their respective corrals and destinies into the swirling winds, beaten-to-smithereens roads, and jubilant crowds. When the dust settled, the number one comment on everyone’s lips was not “That was awesome,” or “I broke my PR!,” or “That was rough, but fun,” or “Ouch.” No, it was, “What award do I get?”
You get these:
The Geoffrey Mutai First Place Award: Steven Lacob. It cannot be a coincidence that the winner of the NYC Marathon and the winner among the JRunners are both physically similar at 3’2”, 76 lbs. The wind tried to have its way with them, but they wouldn’t have it. Steven’s goal was to average 6:50 for as long as he could before blowing up. That’s exactly what he did, averaging 6:50 until mile 19 before going into maintenance for the last 7 miles.
The Tsegaye Kebede Second Place Award: Steven Weber. Steven W. lasted a bit longer than Steven L. before blowing up, running a nice pace – with a frustrating streetfight with the Queensboro Bridge as an interlude – until mile 22 before tailing off to a time any of us would sell our Keflezighis to attain.
The Lusapho April Third Place Award: Matt Katz. AKA the Patrick Swayze He’s Like the Wind Award. Matt took third, and deserves this award, but we haven’t heard from him at press time. Hence, he’s like the wind, in addition to having run like it. Apropos, wethinks.
The Priscah Jeptoo First Lady Award: Judith Sambol. Judith may have run the steadiest race of them all. She completed the first 5k of the race at an 8:21 clip, and completed the race at an 8:32 clip. The significant contributory dip? You guessed it, The Queensboro Bridge. We don’t like that bridge.
The Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award:  Solomon Babani. Of the large JRunner pack, Solomon put in the best time for a first-time marathoner ever! This despite a 30-second TMI stop on the Verrazzano Bridge and a 90-second photo shoot with friends. May you go from PR to PR and from strength to strength!
The Barack Obama Teachable Moment Award: Moishie Gamss. About 34 seconds after the completion of his race, Moishie posted the following on Facebook, which I include in its entirety, unedited, so he gets his full props for being so funny:
“Things I learnt from this year's NYC Marathon:
1. How to say "Don't urinate off of the bridge" in 21 languages
2. Running 2 marathons in 3 weeks is not easy (depending who you are), but IS doable.
3. 1st Avenue is one of the best places on Earth.
4. If you cramp up and grimace as you enter Central Park, photographers will catch you.
5. It's better to run through a cramp than to walk through it (physically, not inspirationally)
6. It's not always a smart move attempting a backflip at the finish line of a race.
7. #6 did not apply today (not a great flip but didn't kill myself)
8. Mitchum deoderant is unbelievable.
Final time: 3:46:54 (not as fast as I was @ Steamtown [certainly not a PR] but can't complain given the lack of training and proximity to the last marathon)
I'm a Marathon Maniac!!! (2 marathon in 4 weeks or less)”
The Jon Bon Jovi Halfway There…We’ll Make It I Swear Award: Yitzy Sontag. Yitzy reached the halfway point of his Gold Level Marathon Maniac status (4 marathons in 37 days) ambitions. He completed the Marine Corps Marathon two weeks ago, set a PR at New York, and is tackling Harrisburg next week and Philadelphia the week after. He can do it. He’s young, single, and has great abs.
The Psalm 98 Joy to the World Award: Adam Orlow. It’s hard to tell if Adam was in an awesome mood because he ran so well or if he ran so well because he was in an awesome mood. It doesn’t matter, he was beaming all day, and the pictures proved it. He ran a great race all the way to the end, never hitting the wall. He actually improved his time from the first 5k (8:59) to the end (8:54). That’s right, he negative split.
The Allen Funt Candid Camera Award: Yisroel Pupko. Yisroel took fun pics and vids all over the course. At one point, he ran right into Mark Izhak, smack dab in middle of taking pics and vids himself! Ask him to send ‘em to you. They’re fun.
The The Whispers Rock Steady All Day Long Award: Eli Friedman. Eli had a just-below-4 PR of 3:59:19, which he wanted to crack, but didn’t know if he had enough training miles in him. No matter, he ran a very steady race, starting off at 8:50 per mile, and finishing at 9:04, getting him the new PR (by 1:50) he was gunning for.
The First of the Dynasty Ba’al HaTanya Award: Aaron Popack. There was quite a large Lubavitch contingent represented, including several who ran in clusters, perhaps drafting off each other’s beards. Aaron came in first from all of them, but he wasn’t the first South African – that would be Steven Lacob.
The Black Eyed Peas Time of my Life Award: Martin Bodek. Martin had so much fun from pre-beginning to post-end of the race. He met his idol, Dean Karnazes, at the expo and engaged with him meaningfully, he enjoyed running into friends all over the course, he busted his PR by 3:55, then he ate junk food for two days. Why the Black Eyed Peas version as opposed to the song from Dirty Dancing? Because the video and the beat are awesomer.
The Insane Clown Posse Welcome to the Show Award: Isaac Galena. Isaac, of bangitout.com fame, decided to sign up as a JRunner. We couldn’t be happier that he’s officially joined our fold. Welcome aboard Isaac! You’re gonna love it here! Note: we call each other “bro” whether we’re male or female. Get used to it.
The Peter Frampton Show Me the Way Award: Paul Kentor. Paul signed up with Achilles to guide a young gentleman towards the finish line. He signed up to do the same thing for the same person earlier this year in Boston, but due to the unfortunate circumstances, they could not finish the race. They used New York to do just that. Bravo Paul! Thanks for showing us the way as well!
The Ansel Adams Prolific Photography Award: Mark Izhak. Mark took more photos and videos than MarathonFoto, the official photo/videographer of the NYC Marathon. He then crashed Facebook’s servers when he uploaded them all. The next day, he endured humiliation from the soldiers he bootcamps every morning. A sore, limping drill sergeant. We’d like to see that in a movie.
The Evanescence Bring Me Back to Life Award: Shia Itzkowitz. Shia ran 24 miles in good spirits, then got wrecked and took a half hour to compete the rest of the race. When he crossed the finish line, he spotted Yitzy Sontag – who started the race in a completely different corral – and collapsed onto him. Yitzy dragged him along until Shia’s legs recovered from their spasming. Yitzy, as mentioned, ran Marine Corps last week, and exemplified Semper Fi.
The Homer Simpson Beer-dar Award: Chaim Backman. We don’t know how he does it. The rest of us scan the crowds for beer stops, finding none. He runs marathons and seemingly finds every single one. We hear he’s putting up his homing device on eBay for use at the Brooklyn Marathon.
Our proud finishers, of whom we’re collectively proud, are as follows:
First Name    Last Name    Time    Pace
STEVEN    LACOB    3:10:43    7:17
STEVEN    WEBER    3:23:41    7:47
MATT    KATZ    3:32:17    8:07
JOEL    MANDEL    3:32:20    8:07
JUDITH    SAMBOL    3:43:20    8:32
MARC    GAMSS    3:46:54    8:40
YITZY    SONTAG    3:48:16    8:43
SOLOMON    BABANI    3:49:20    8:46
ADAM    ORLOW    3:52:59    8:54
YISROEL    PUPKO    3:53:36    8:55
HOWARD    TEPLER    3:54:05    8:57
MICHAEL    WEBER    3:56:46    9:03
ELI    FRIEDMAN    3:57:29    9:04
AARON    POPACK    3:59:23    9:09
MARTIN    BODEK    4:04:41    9:21
DAVID    COLMAN    4:05:49    9:23
DENA    NIERENBERG    4:08:31    9:30
ISAAC    GALENA    4:12:58    9:40
MARK    SANDERS    4:17:38    9:50
JACOB    VORCHHEIMER    4:20:52    9:58
PAUL    KENTOR    4:23:52    10:03
JOSEPH    HERMAN    4:29:42    10:18
MARK    IZHAK    4:31:34    10:22
JOSHUA    ITZKOWITZ    4:37:19    10:36
DAVID    TESSLER    4:48:42    11:02
MENDEL    LAKEIN    5:06:54    11:43
CHANAN    FELDMAN    5:08:50    11:48
CHAIM    BACKMAN    5:08:54    11:48
ARIEL    KOHANE    5:12:42    11:57
JACOB    GRANEK    5:33:09    12:43
Congratulations everyone!
After the finish line, JRunners scored another coup: The Shearith Israel Synagogue AKA the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue AKA The Oldest Jewish Congregation in New York City was used as the dropoff stop for everyone’s tefillin and for non-stop round-robin Mincha Minyanim.
What a great, fun, inspiring day for our club. Join us every Wednesday for our group run! Join us on 12/1 for our next 5k!: https://www.jrunnersclub.org/health-awareness-5k/
Martin Bodek is JRunners' Beat Reporter, whose book about the JRunners Relay Race was just offered in a giveaway on goodreads.com. 468 entered the contest. See what they found so compelling: http://www.lulu.com/shop/martin-bodek/54-runners-54-stories-the-tale-of-the-2012-200k-jrunners-relay-race/paperback/product-21097323.html