Thursday, November 19, 2015

My 24th Marathon Run

My 24th Marathon Run
Martin Bodek

It never gets old, any of it. Not the crowds, not the experience, not the roaring of the city, not the feeling of accomplishment, not the sheer fun of it all, not the long training season, not the run itself.

It happened just once – I believe it was four years ago – that I seemed to have woken up on the wrong side of bed on race day, and was all grumbly about the overcrowding and hypercorporatization.

Never before then, and none since. For the umpteenth time – okay fine, 16 out of 17 - I had the time of my life at the New York City Marathon (as a matter of fact, I won an award for it!:

There are three main reasons the race gets more enjoyable, and a fourth reason it was going to be special on race day:

1)      My family is always there for me.
2)      The race continues to become more and more of a social experience – and as is obvious, I’m a social kinda guy.
3)      I’m getting better at this: hurting less, recovering faster, anticipating contingencies better.
4)      When I would reach mile 6, it would break my PR for annual miles.

The excitement, as I recorded last year, always begins for me once my routine changes because of the event: particularly, this happens at the NYC Marathon expo, which is the beginning of several schedule-altering routines that ratchet up the excitement level until I’m standing at the start line.

This year, the excitement began at the expo, where I ran into a whole gaggle of friends, fetched all my usual wares in my perfected orderly routine, and struck up a conversation with the director of the Jerusalem Marathon. I asked if he would send me a medal if I would run his race virtually, back home, on the same time and date. He said he’d consider it if a group of people was interested. I’m already in touch with him about that, discussing possibilities.

As you can see, the #2 and #3 options of what I find enjoyable were quite satisfied.

Then the energy/excitement level was ratcheted thus:

1)      Shabbos: I got a shoutout from the lectern from the synagogue president, followed by friends wishing me luck on my race the next day.
2)      Motzei Shabbos:
a.       My wife cooked me my favorite pre-marathon dish.
b.      I built my “golem,” posted the pic, and broke Facebook with all my likes (my outfit is my usual uniform. If you don’t know what it is, look me up on Facebook, or on Strava, or on Google, but definitely not on LinkedIn, because that would be nutty. My one amendment: a sign on my back that’s a quote from Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”)
c.       Could not fall asleep
3)      Race morning:
a.       Prep.
b.      Picture-perfect pickup by the Schofield family.
c.       Delivery to the Meadowlands (I can’t call it “Metlife Stadium” or “Xanadu Complex.” “Meadowlands” is grandfathered in for me. Much like I’ll be damned if I ever refer to the BBT as the Hugh L. Whoever Tunnel)
d.      The bus ride.
e.       The glittering view of the Verrazano in the morning light
f.       Dropoff.
g.      Go time.

We now begin narration in the present tense.

I’m finally in it, but not so fast, because security doesn’t like my see-through Ziploc bag, because, you see, per regulation, they have to empty my Ziploc bag into another transparent bag, and toss my Ziploc bag in too, because that makes sense, right? Also, the two red plastic bags I was going to use as booties to stave off the cold (I wear Vibrams) are verboten, because they aren’t see-through. Whatevs.

I get wanded, and the guy asks me if I’m dressed up like a doctor. No, I’m wearing a Sheddable Shell, moron. I swear, they hired the same TSA agents who can’t identify tefillin.

By the time all these delays are completed, I remain the lone runner walking through a gauntlet of hundreds of counterterrorism cops, eyeballing me to death. Don’t’ tase me, bro! I’m glad when it’s over.

After finally entering Fort Wadsworth, I encounter the scene of the crime: the porta-potty bank.

As you might recall, I had a bit of a misadventure last year when I accidentally (because intentionally would be kind of insane) dropped my phone into the toilet, and I had to retrieve it because it had pictures of my kids (everything else, truly, is expendable, unless you’re a lawyer and your lifetime collection of contacts are your lifeblood).

I survey the scene, and, figuring I’d be in and out of the porta-potty a few times this morning, I need to practice not dropping my phone into the brink.


Including my debacle last year, I now only have a 50% chance of dropping my phone in, and my odds get better over the morning, which basically consists of schmoozing, davening, and selfie-ing with my friends, continually not dropping my phone into a porta-potty.

I should also mention that while all this is going on, we are all not shivering to death, when that is usually the norm. I’ve run this race since late last millennium, and I’m telling you, if this isn’t going to be the warmest race day ever, then it’s certainly, without a doubt, the warmest start I’ve ever experienced.

Which is not good.

After all the schmoozing, davening, selfie-ing (I got a picture with Iron Man!), non-phone dropping (I’m up to 87% non-drop now!), and anti-shivering, we get the call to post.

We do the usual shuffle, layer-tossing, pumped-up walk through the buses and music, and get in our blocks.

Then I’m witness to an interesting exchange between two runners. An NYFD fella – all 6’1”, 260 lbs of him - is in front of me. A Swedish fella brushes past him to find a comfortable position. The NYFD guy does not take kindly to the brush, and expresses his displeasure in thus fashion (though Mr. Swede brushed past me too, and I didn’t give a rip):

            NYFD:            Was I in your way?
            Swedish Chef: Boorgen voorgen furshtin gooba?
            NYFD:            I said, was I in your way, pal?
            Swedish Chef: A forgen morgen udin boodin glimpin.
            NYFD:            Uh, never mind.
            Swedish Chef: Farvegnoogen?
            NYFD:            I said never mind.
            Swedish Chef:                                      Ikea. 

I think Swedish Chef is a master conflict quasher, if you ask me.

I am sweating to death. I need to remove every layer of clothing on my body. The race hasn’t even begun!

But begin we must, because the cannon has fired, and Frank Sinatra is making it here, so he can make it anywhere, and we are off, because it’s showtime.

10 feet: I usually take stock of what’s happening after I complete a mile, but not today. Uh uh, because today, just 10 feet into the race, it is obvious that I’m sweating to death. I run hot naturally, and 65 degrees for the day is just too much, especially with these armsleeves and gloves. I have to lose them. I decide I’ll clear the bridge first before making wardrobe decisions.

100 feet: It is pretty clear, pretty quickly, how crowded this race is. That just makes things even hotter. Somebody didn’t do some basic math. The innermost lane on each side of the middle of the Verrazano is under construction. This means that 2/3rds of the 50,000 runners (the other third running on the lower level) are being shunted into 2/3rds of the available lanes (4 out of the 6) on the bridge. This would call for more start waves, but no, NYRR decided to stick with the same number of corrals and waves. The start is a big, congested mess as a result. Do I have to do all the thinking around here?

Mile 2.0: I survive the bridge, and actually get through it pretty quickly despite the crowding. Here’s what you need to know about the bridge: it’s a giant urinal. The foot of the bridge is just a congested urinal. Those yellow sand/water holding traffic barrel drum things? Extra splashy urinals. Hilariously, a giant dump truck has a number of urinators doing their business on the tires, and I watch a construction worker hop in to the cabin and fire up the engine. Hilarity ensues. I think he did it on purpose for kicks. I would have.

Mile 2.1: Right at the foot of the bridge is where I usually find a little boy or girl with a hand out, and I do my best to give them five and holler “You’re the first fan on the route!” They love that! Today? Middle-aged dude pointing his smartphone at us. Meh.

Mile 2.2: The Bergenfield Trio scoots past me: Rivky, Eva, and Glenn. They’re looking strong as ever, and will go on to put up 3:40s and 3:50s. Me? I’m hot. It’s so hot. I need to lose several layers of clothing, and I might need an epidermectomy. The spectator crowd, let me tell you, is bonkers thick, and nutball loud. Wow.

Let’s fast forward a bit.

Mile 4.7: I arrive at my first family stop. My mom, aba, sister, and future brother-in-law (mazel tov, you guys!) are waiting for me with smiles, cameras, and goodies. Also with them is my buddy Ishmael (not his real name. I asked him what I should call him for my report. He said, “Call me Ishmael.” Done.). He’s come to escort me the rest of the way. My mom hands me a bag of homemade pita chips and some orange wedges. We snap some pics, and away we go!

Mile 5.2: Stop #2. My dad and my mum. Absolutely ebullient today. Hugs, pics, kisses, and suddenly Ishmael is tugging at me. We’ve got a race to run, and he’s my pacer and timekeeper, even though he says pacing and timekeeping is up to me. There’s a logic in there somewhere, but whatever, I’m delighted with the affixed company. The only other time I’ve ever run a marathon wire to wire (okay, this one is 4.7 miles short) with someone else was when my dad and I walked the distance together one year when both of us had knee injuries that precluded us from running.

Mile 5.21-7.8: Along this stretch, Ishmael decides he’s going to try to high-five cops. They’re not playing along. He keeps trying. They’re still not playing. He’s going to get tased, which would seriously hamper his ability to keep me company. He also decides he’s not my pacer, but my Sherpa, because he’s carrying the pita chips bag and other food items we’re collecting along the way. I say he’s my Tenzig Norgay. He knows exactly who I’m talking about and we get into a conversation about how Norgay got screwed. This is why I love Ishmael. At one point, he points to a flag someone on the sidelines is waving. I say “Mexico!,” and this begins a day-long program where he’d point to a flag, I’d identify it, and he’d holler “Go ,” and we’d get a lot of love. You see, identifying flags is one of my SuperJew superpowers: vexillology. I appreciate flags and flag design. Ishmael appreciates that I appreciate it. This is also why I love Ishmael. His sister happens to have the same superpower! The countries I correctly identify along the way are:

1)      Argentina (trick to remember: sun in the middle; Uruguay’s sun is in top left).
2)      Australia (trick: UK + Southern Cross).
3)      Belgium (Black Yellow Red columns; Germany: Black Red Yellow stacked).
4)      Belize (Big coin smack in the middle; a nono of design: no wordy emblems!).
5)      Brazil (no trick needed; completely unique).
6)      Canada (best, most succinct, self-explanatory world flag on earth; we ran behind a flag-becaped Canuck named Saloojee for a large chunk of the race).
7)      Chile (similar to the Texas flag, and easily confused. Think: Lone Star Country).
8)      Cuba (“Red” star field, as opposed to Puerto Rico with the blue star field).
9)      Czech Republic (Red, white, and blue triangle and trapezoids. Easily confused with the Philippines which has the same motif).
10)  Denmark (no trick; just gotta memorize all these European cross combinations).
11)  Dominican Republic (think: pristine oasis at the nexus of the Americas).
12)  Finland (gotta memorize those crosses).
13)  France (Red, white, and blue columns).
14)  Germany (see above).
15)  Greece (cross in corner).
16)  India (Ireland colors, but stacked, with a wheel of karma in the middle, or whatever that’s for).
17)  Ireland (India colors, but columned, with no wheel).
18)  Israel (woowoo!).
19)  Italy (like France, but switch blue for green).
20)  Japan (second most awesome flag: the rising sun).
21)  Kenya (shield and spears; kind of spectacular).
22)  South Korea (Yin Yang, with the commie North Korean “red” on top, with Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes’ arm tattoos – at least, that’s how I’ve always seen it. Ironic, because the South Korean flag also looks to me like the G.I. Joe stickers I used to place on the vehicles myself. Also ironic, because Ishmael joked that he didn’t see any North Korean flags).
23)  Mexico (the first one we spotted, and probably the most plentiful; it’s Italy, with an eagle in the middle).
24)  Netherlands (red, white, and blue, stacked).
25)  Norway (another cross; Grete Waitz lives!).
26)  Peru (Canada, without the leaf; people were waving the old one though. The new one has an emblem in middle).
27)  Philippines (same shapes and colors as Czech Republic, but with yellow designs in the triangle).
28)  Poland (oops, the one I misidentified as Latvia. The holders gave us love anyway. It’s one of three flags that are a block of red and white).
29)  Portugal (green stripe, red block, emblem on border).
30)  Slovakia (one of four flags with red, white, blue, and an overlaying emblem; I even noticed that the flag was being held backwards).
31)  South Africa (super-distinct, and gorgeous; one look and it’s memorized).
32)  Spain (emblem on left in yellow stripe surrounded by red stripes).
33)  Sweden (more crosses).
34)  Switzerland (yet another cross, but this one is centered on a square flag).
35)  UK (the Union Jack).
36)  US (hmmm, can’t think of any clever tricks).
37)  Venezuela (Columbia, but with an arch of yellow stars in middle).

And some non-countries!:

1)      Aruba (red star over blue ocean and sand).
2)      Puerto Rico (see Cuba).
3)      Scotland (one quarter of the Union Jack; almost a country!).
4)      Wales (dragon!).

Bottom line:

1)      Big time on the Americas.
2)      Overload on Europe.
3)      Nordic countries in abundance.
4)      No soviet countries.
5)      Few Asian countries.
6)      Light on Africa.
7)      Zero Arab countries.

Draw your own conclusions.

Now is the part where you ask how I remember all this stuff. Well, in keeping with the current theme, I have stopped staying The Force is strong with me, and instead I’ve started saying that it’s just one of my superpowers.

I should also mention that along this stretch, I’m getting a lot of love for my Churchill sign.

Mile 7.9: We pass the ugliest piece of architecture in the universe that isn’t the Times Square Westin Hotel (it clashes with itself! Ugh!): The Barclay’s Center. Opinions to the contrary will be rejected.

Mile 8.0-9.1: Clinton Hill, loud. Also the world capital of poop and fart signs, which are overplayed and unfunny. Ishmael’s friend Dana is supposed to be here, with beer. We don’t spot her (but Chaim and David do! Lucky um, persons born of unmarried parents). We spot Forrest Gump, in full running outfit, standing in front of a brownstone. More on him later.

Mile 9.2: Left onto Bedford Avenue into Williamsburg. The noise level goes from the 11 of the bands, church choirs, and loud citizenry of Clinton Hill to the negative 11 of the denizens here.

Mile 10.6: Bedford Playground. My best kept secret bathroom. Runners don’t realize it’s there, and when I’ve been in need, I’ve taken quick advantage, getting in an out in a flash. Both Ishmael and I need to make use of it, and in we go, where the grossest thing in the world occurs: I run into the lone stall, which is on the left. Ishmael runs to the lone urinal, which is the middle. Suddenly I hear weird grunts and sounds and aches and pains coming from the other side of the stall wall. I emerge, and we have the following dialogue:

Me: “Everything okay? What’s with all those sounds?
Ish: “It was the guy next to me.”
Me: “Who next to you? There’s nothing there!”
Ish: “There’s a sink.”
Me: “A sink? What do you m - ohhhh!...GROSS!!! I just washed in there! I’m gonna be sick!”

The bridge is not the only urinal in the race. The whole damn course is a urinal! Down to the almost-literal kitchen sink!

Mile 10.7: My Hasidic cousins wait for me here annually. Sometimes I see them, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they give me loaves of cake and seltzer, sometimes they don’t. This year’s permutation is seeing me, with nothing in hand. Good enough. I stop for some pics with them before Ishmael pulls me out again. Gotta go!

Mile 10.8: Yuppie Williamsburg is drunk, happy, and loud. There’s a guy holding a sign that says “Free kisses.” He’s not very good looking, so he’ll get nothing from me – not that there’s anything wrong that. My Twizzlers guy is missing for the manyeth year in a row. Where have you gone, Twizzlers Guy?

Mile 12.3: Somewhere around this ahem, Green-point, Ishmael has managed to make trick-or-treat chocolates and Twizzlers appear in his hand, and begins meting them out to me. Over the course of the race, he’ll keep resupplying and feeding me. We’re also constantly dipping into my mom’s delicious pita chips. I’ve got the best Sherpa ever!

Mile 13.1: We hit the midpoint of the race on the Pulaski Bridge ascent and I check my watch: 2:04. Seven minutes behind schedule. It’s been hot and getting hotter. It’s been crowded and getting crowdier. I resolve to forgo PR ambitions – though I knew at the start that this would be out of the picture – and enjoy the day a bit more, loosen up a bit, allow myself some breaks.

Mile 14.3: There are a lot of amazing “streaker” bibs on the course today (those who have earned the “___ Finishes and Counting” bib from NYRR). I am among them with my 16. I’ve seen 15, and 23, but I come up behind a man who’s sporting 37 on his back. Whoa. He is - according to this chart: (I’m on there!) - either David Laurance or Richard Shaver. He is a god. I don’t remember what I or Ishmael said to him. I was too busy genuflecting.

Mile 14.5: Okay, here we go, just a short stretch to the make-me-or-break-me (usually break-me) Queensboro Bridge. There’s usually a loudspeaker here with some hard driving music, Aerosmith or AC/DC or Metallica or some other good stuff that feels designed to vault the runners up the bridgeramp with maximum power. Last year, it was Ariana Grande with her man problems. Oh boo hoo. This year it’s disco. Disco’s great and all, but for this point on the course, I like that old time rock n’ roll. That kind of music just soothes the soul. But I can’t be choosy. We’ll boogie up the ramp if we have to.

Mile 14.6-16.0: Okay, up the ramp we all go, us Jonahs into the Yawing Maw of the Great Whale (the Ed Koch 59th Street Queensboro Bridge already has three names; might as well add another). Three things happen that happen every year:

1)      The entire pack slows allllll the way down.
2)      The runners are instantly converted into walkers and forget to move to the sidelines.
3)      Runner down.

Ishmael, however, won’t let me partake in any of these. I’m not PRing, but he has me focused on moving forward. He won’t let me slow down, walk, or check out the downed runner (he was getting the help he seemed to be needing). When I start to slow down, he won’t have it. He digs his elbow into my back and shoves me forward. He’s bony. It hurts. I’m annoyed, but it’s necessary. He’s an even better Sherpa than I thought. He’s also chatting with anyone and everyone. In our relationship, I allow him to do about 95% of the talking. That’s fair, as I like to do 95% of the listening. I like his smarts. Ironic: his elbow smarts. We also spot some Israel-minded runners, with “Am Yisrael Chai” scrawled on their shirts. We also come across a Jewish gal named Chantelle. Not your typical Israelite name. More on her later.

Mile 16.1: Nearing the foot of the bridge, Ishmael urges me to barrel downhill. I want to, but I can’t. I suck at it. Ishmael knows this. I’ve been a runner for a long time, but my downhill running is a work in progress.

Mile 16.2-17.6: 1st Avenue in New York City is alive. If Clinton Hill was dialed up to 11, then this stretch is dialed way up to 22. Seriously, what a crazy explosion of human sound and energy. Ishmael has more spontaneous conversations with anyone whose flags and colors I correctly identify. Erin go bragh!

Mile 17.7: We pass through the Poland Spring Hydration Zone, where they hand out soaked sponges. I usually don’t grab one, because it’s usually cold, and I’d turn into a popsicle, but it is hot, and I grab one, and I squish that thing onto my neck and head and it feels sooooooooooooo good!

Mile 17.9: My brother-in-law! With pizza! I have the best brother-in-law ever (no offense, other brother-in-laws of mine)! I grab a large part of the crust. Ishmael happily takes the rest. BIL tells me I look good. I’m spent, is what I am, and I’m overheating. I check the clock. I ask BIL to text my wife that I’m eleven minutes behind schedule. With enough rest, and gratitudes given for the perfect snack, we head back onto the course. Ishmael repeatedly makes it clear that enjoying pizza in middle of a race is just a deliriously fascinating experience – or something like that. He was effusive.

Mile 18.0-19.6: Along this stretch, I experience the same that I do most years, and I apply the same metaphor, because it is most apt: I keep turning my engine over to get me going. I stall, I start, I stall, I melt from the heat, and Ishmael keeps digging his elbow into my back. He won’t give up on me. Boy, I’ve needed motivation like this on so many occasions. I’m glad to have it today.

Mile 19.7: I charge up the Willis Avenue Bridge as best as I can, but I get distracted: David Willey, editor of Runner’s World, is standing on a newscar/sidecar thing. I veer over to say hi. Ishmael says no, I have to stay on the course. Yes, sir! At the foot of the bridge I begin walking again, and Ishmael isn’t happy about it. I point to my Vibrams and the banana minefield that’s always here, and he understands, but once clear, we’re running again. In order to mitigate risk, I eat a couple of bananas, rather than add them to the slick on the ground.

Mile 20.9: Just one last bridge, The Madison Avenue Bridge, which I correctly misidentify as the Fifth Avenue Bridge when Ishmael asks me. I’m not perfect, but I always google stuff later to check. Somebody finally is holding up the first creative sign of the day. It’s been a cavalcade of repeated memes (how many “Touch for Power” signs can you have already; also “Worst parade ever” was only funny the first time.), scatological nonsense, and a bit of inventiveness with Donald Trump-related stuff. This one says, “Finally! You’re 21! Now the adult signs can begin!” or something like that. I wish I could remember the exact wording, which was followed by other signs with naughty stuff. That’s what I’m talking about…

…what did I just say about googling? I found the sign! And boy was I off! The exact wording was: “21+ means adult words are now okay! F*ck yeah!” Ha! Love it! It also says “November Project” on the sign, and on the holder’s fleece. So, lady, you and your project get a free plug from me.

Mile 21.7: I need medical. I’m overheating, like boiling point. This is too much. I stripped off my gloves and armsleeves way back in Brooklyn, and I wish I could peel off more, but I don’t have enough room in my waistband to store everything. I need ice. I run into the medical tent. I’m immediately asked how I can be helped. I simply say, “Ice.” The medic says, “Ice? Okay. Here.” She points me to a cooler. I flip the lid. Inside I find bags and bags of ice. Yummy. I grab one, pop it open, pour ice down the front of my shirt, then more down the back of my shirt, then a big handful into my cap and sling it back onto my head. While I’m doing this, another medic is scanning my bib. I’m a statistic! The medic who helped me is beyond amused, as is her partner. I suppose they’re standing back because they see I’m in control and don’t need anything else. I thank them profusely, and I rejoin Ishmael on the course, chilled to the bone. Ahhhhhhhh.

Mile 21.9: I need the bathroom, like, suddenly it’s become the world’s most urgent emergency. I apologize to Ishmael for abandoning the course again and jump into a porta-potty, where I bring the rate of not dropping my phone in to 90%. I then, kinda realize why I suddenly needed the bathroom. My uh, ahem and ahem ahems are bathed in ice, which fell all the way through, and, uh, stopped. The sudden temp drop put a little shock into my pardon mes and excuse mes and vaulted me to the bathroom. While in there, I have the most hilarious text exchange with my wife:

Me: “Slight delay: seated in porta potty at 116th. Once out, see you in 5.
Mrs.: “K, put away phone!!!!!!


Mile 22.5: My family! Woohoo! I have all the time in the world to give them my undivided attention. My kids have lovely signs, which I take the time to read. We also have plenty of time for pics quality enough to update my Facebook profile with, and kisses and hugs and food and what have you. I always only leave when my wife gives me some kind of head-nod or smile or body language signal that it’s cool to head back out and finish. Received! And we’re moving! Almost done!

Mile 22.6-23.9: Uphill up 1st. It gets crowded again, but it’s very energetic. I spot a man who I think is Rene Auberjonois (LMGTFY), but I’m mistaken when I ask him. I then correctly identify Seth, with his wife and new baby. I say hi. His twin brother Isaac is somewhere behind me (2:15 behind me, to be precise!). Clinton Hill Forrest Gump passes us! Ha! Ishmael makes many more friends, and I’m getting my energy back, feeding off my family visit and the crowd.

Mile 24.0: Into the park! Home stretch!

Mile 24.5: The spectators in Central Park have always been much more creative with their signage. One gal’s holding up two of ‘em: “Finishing is your only $%^&ing option” and “It’s ok to cry.” Heh. November Project Girl on the bridge was right.

Mile 24.7: I need the bathroom again! I jump into the one at Loeb Boathouse. This does not make Ishmael happy. We’re so close, and there’s no need for it, but what he doesn’t know, you see, as that I did not remove the pooled ice. I left them exactly where they were. Yeah, I know, TMI. Once I’m out though, there’s no stopping until the finish line. Here we go.

Mile 25.2: We exit the park and hit Central Park South, where we spot a “Go Chantelle!” sign, with an obvious Israelite family holding it up and hollering. It’s for the girl from the bridge! Ha! Cool!

Mile 25.7: Oh baby, I’m getting excited. Tough day, but I’m going to finish again. Half mile to go!

Mile 25.9: Into the park! Let’s git ‘er done!

Mile 26.15: Okay, time to jockey for position with a billion other runners so I can get a good finish line pic.

Mile 26.17: Oof, big guy’s in my way.

Mile 26.19: Ooh man, gotta lose this girl.

Mile 26.2: Enough of all that because yeah!!! Woohoo! 4:35:37. My 24th marathon finish and 17th NYC. In the books. It was rough, but I had my family on the course, and Ishmael at my side. Thanks guys!

Mile 26.20001: I hug Ishmael awkwardly and thank him for all his help.

Mile 26.229: Ah, a medal around my neck.

Mile 38.9: Ishmael walks on ahead and will take the train home to Brooklyn. I finally waddle out of the park past several vomiters. No, this isn’t TMI. This is real life.

Mile 41.8: I get my no-baggage poncho, squeeze through a crack in the streets-long fence separating no-baggage people from the rest of reality, pit-stop in the bathroom of Patsy’s Pizzeria (thank you, Patsy’s), and a few minutes later, I’m reunited with my family. My wife conducts yet another picture-perfect pickup.

Later, I eat a big, giant, gargantuoso all-junk fast food meal, and the morning after I invade Krispy Kreme and take them for all they’re worth.

And it was evening, and it was morning. A good day.

Martin writes books. His latest is a doozy. Give it a look: