Saturday, November 19, 2005

Marathon 2005 conclusion

It's been 2 weeks since the marathon. Last sunday I ran about 3 miles to just loosen up. And in a few hours my son will run his second race ever. Its the classic, I hope my son is more successful than me - in everything. Because if he is happy with his life and in his physical skill and academia and education and relationships - I ultimately will be happy. So I will just put my faith in him as my father put in me and his father in him and so on and so on. I am thinking my post-marathon depression will end soon. Probably this week or probably when we head up to the Berkshires for Thanksgiving. The cool air and hopefully snow on the ground and in the trees will make me smile. But until then I should get some rest, after all - tomorrow is another race :-)

The finish (I am finished)

So I am in Central Park, in pain and hoping that whatever I do, I MUST finish before the 5 hour mark. I do not achieve this goal. Severe depression sets in. I am upset. I am in pain, I feel like I just ran the worst marathon in my life. Oh wait - I just did. I know I know that just completing the marathon itself is an accomplishment that many people strive to do. I know I know that I have raised thousands of dollars to cancer research. I know I know that I am still in great shape. But I know that I finish over 5 hours and that makes me sad and angry and now I have to run MORE marathons to do better than this one...

Bronx and back into Central Park

As I head north on 1st avenue I am definitely hurting. So much so that I can't run any more. I great pick me up was when my friends Alan and Jonathan (the brothers Gersch) passed me by. It gave me the strength to try to run through my leg cramps and catch up to them and run with them. Problem was that I was in so much pain that after I caught up to them and wished them well I had to stop and stretch. (They ended up finishing 20 minutes ahead of me).

That's pretty much how I felt going through the Bronx and then back into Central Park. I saw some more familiar faces (Michelle T - my former roommates sister was in the Bronx) and then some more friends down 5th avenue and in Central Park. But by that time, most people go home since their friends have already passed.

I then did what I always do at the end of the marathon. While I am in pain, I coach others to run ahead. They have the strength - just not the mind power to realize that they can still run. (Whereas I 100% completely have the will power - I just lack the physical strength.) So what I do is pick up other Fred's team members that are having a difficult time and I tell them to run 1 block with me. When they see that they can do it, I tell them to go on without me...and sure enough they do. I definitely feel responsible for anumber of people's faster times. If it wasn't for me they would continue walking....

1st avenue family and friends

Manhattan and 1st Avenue

Getting off the bridge is always a pleasure because most friends are waiting for you on 1st ave. I know that its only mile 16 but my friends and family are waiting for me at the 18 mile mark only 2 miles up the avenue. But there are 2 other stops along the route I want to see. First is an acquaintance from KOE - the Synagogue that I have been with for a number of years. Stanley said that he would be at 62 or 65th but I really couldn't remember whether he said east side or west side. My mistake, I missed him completely. Thanks anyway Stanley. I really do appreciate you coming out and cheering us on.

Then was the MSKCC/ Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The hospital is on 1st avenue and 69th? Street and they have ballons galore as well as so many people cheering. It really is a great feeling to run past and give everyone a high five. They took some good pictures I would love to see sometime. Hopefully they will post them or send them out to the team. Another big high was seeing Aubrey Barr who is one of the core people on the team. She herself is a cancer survivor and a runner.

Then I knew I needed to get back to the West side of the street cause only another mile my family and friends would be waiting. Sure enough there they were. I was happy to see everyone and even happier to see some friends that I wasn't expecting. A special shout out to Danielle, Isaac, Liat, Mom, Danielle's mom, Danielle's dad, andrew, greta, noah, joe, stacey, matt and deb....hmmm - did I leave anyone out??? I hope not. If I did - let me know and I can always edit this thing.

The best best best part about seeing everyone and getting a burst of enthusiasm though was when Isaac wanted to run with me. So I took him by the hand and we ran at least 2 blocks up 1st avenue. Seeing the look on his face and seeing the look on the faces of the people that were cheering him on made this marathon worth it. This was definitely the highlight for me. A public thank you to Joe for taking him back to the crowd.

Queens and the 59th Street Bridge

At this point I am really having a difficult time. My breathing wasn't so great because I had had a headcold and then I just starrted cramping up early. My strategy this year was not to stop and stretch because in past years I lost a lot of time. When I ran my staten Island half back in sept-october, I ran the half with only stopping once and it paid off. I was hoping the marathon would be the same but it wasn't. I ended up literally walking up the whole entire 59th street bridge and only started running again when it started to slope down. Then of course you say good bye to Queens and hello Manhattan...

Miles 2 - 13 Brooklyn

As the beastie boys sing - NO. SLEEP. TILL BROOKLYN!!!! Brooklyn is my favorite borough to run through. It is early in the race, I feel good. The people are really fun. There is a rock and roll band every other block, and in between there are church choirs, djs, singers, people clapping, cheering, whistling, just in general and overall having a great time. People aren't exhausted yet and it shows. People are friendlier in brooklyn and everyone wants to give you a high-five.

This year was much more crowded than previous years. I found it very difficult to speed up and pass people. My body is going to be exhausted and all cramped up at mile 20 so I might as well run as fast as possible before I get there. I was pretty disappointed that my half marathon was so slow. My fastest half marathon this year was a 1:46 and if I could've repeated that performance, I might have taken off a half hour over my total time. but I just couldn't get in front of people. Oh well -

Mile 1 - Verrazano Bridge

Spongebob Squarepants

Me and Spongebob Squarepants before the start...

Fort Wadsworth - Before the start

I arrive VIP style thanks to my contributions to Fred's Team. When I get to the warm up area, I immediately phone my friends Oren and Alan and Mike to see where they are. They are at the minyan tent. As my orthodox friends do every marathon, davening at the start is an experience. You get to check out who else is davening before the race and get to participate in a once a year event. I prefer to daven (pray) at home and not worry about bringing my tefillin with me. I also don't want to be constrained by time in terms of if they start at a certain time and my bus only arrives at a certain hour, then I might in fact miss it. So this year I prayed for a no-pain marathon...I didn't get it. Maybe next year I will try a different religion prayer tent...just kidding ha ha ha.

There are a number of things to do before the marthon begins:
1) stretch
2) put on vaseline (all over)
3) if sunny - sun tan lotion
4) eat and drink
5) put your bag on a UPS truck so that your belongings are waiting for you at the end.

Due to my VIP treatment, this also is a bonus as I don't have to put it with the rest of the 40,000 people. I put my bag on a special truck designated for VIPs that is right there at the end instead of me searching for it and walking all the way to the "S" truck. I remember the 1st years of running marathons, this was not pleasant. After you run 26.2 miles you have to walk another half mile to get to your truck...not fun.

So I put away my bag, drink some more and then try to meet up with my friends but I lose them and end up starting with some strangers.

Starting the marathon with friends is great because you can motivate eachother and hang out with familiar faces. Usually you are in a waiting pattern and forced to run slowly because of all of the thousands of people. I was actually an "orange" start. AKA slow runners. But I wiggled up to as far to the front as possible since I really wanted to break 4 hours. The trick is the closer you are to the front, the better your official time will be. Though I ran a 5:01, my official time and the clock overhead says 5:05. Makes me curious the year I ran my best in 1998 - did I run even faster? (Nah - it doesn't say. I just checked)

My 2006 NYC Marathon Experience

So the thing I love about blogging is that it really gives me the opportunity to create some revisionist history. Like I can say that I wasn't feeling well the day of the marathon and no one but I will know the truth. But in the end, as everyone says, just "finishing" a marathon is something to be proud of. Well, I for one certainly can not claim at all to be a perfectionist but I still can be disappointed with my time. And I blame it all on my body. My hamstrings really have gotten worse over the years even though I get better and stronger. This year I trained the hardest and the most consistent but it still din't pay off. Well - better luck next year but I am not in it for luck. I am in it for skill. If I had my 27 year old body back, I would absolutely positively have my best time ever. I am not proud to report that it took me over 5 hours this year (2005).

Here are my official stats from
Place - 25800
GenderPlace - 18476
AgePlace - 6629
Pace - 11:29
FinishTime - 5:05:35
Net Time - 5:01:08
10K Split - 1:02:34
Half Split - 2:09:48
20M Split - 3:47:37

So that shows you that if I didn't cramp up, according to my Half Split of 2:09:48, I technically could have finished under a 4:20. MUCH better than a 5:01 but no where near it. All I can say for myself is that now I have to figure out if I can do something to prevent my hamstrings from bothering me for the rest of my life. My friend and colleague who is a massage therapist suggested 2 things. "Chi" running ( and Pilates. And I am the guy to try it out. So thanks Rebecca - but in the meantime, here is my account of this past November 6 NYC Marathon.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thanks Danielle. I couldn't have done it without you (I mean, have a marriage, kids and the life we have now) Well, you know what I mean. And thanks for the book. (Danielle gave me the newest book about Fred Lebow by Ron Rubin called "Anything for a T-Shirt."

Post marathon (post ice bath and hot shower) celebration at the metro diner on 100th street and broadway. Mom, Harry, Shoshana, Isaac, Sapir, Liat, Danielle, Mom (in-law) and dad (in-law). Thanks for coming out everyone. There were actually lots of you at mile 18 and throughout the race. I will give you all kudos when I write it up as opposed to this photo blogging...

Run 26.2 miles and get a dry kosher bagel...uh...ok, I'll do it! (They also gave out water, gatorade, a macintosh apple, a tangerine, powerbar and a medal.)

Self portrait with foil cape and finishers in the background. Still in central park, walking out to meet the family. Its great to have VIP status with Fred's Team.

A 2005 NYC Marathon volunteer and his Long Sleeve cotton shirt. "Ask me what I did on November 6, 2005"

2005 NYC Marathon Finishers with foil blankets.

Raphi and the famous Coach Jeff from Fred's team. Jeff is a great trainer and motivator. He put together a great program for us and helped us through pain, rain and hot weather. Thanks Jeff. Hope to see you soon. Either at RiverBank Park in Riverside Park or in Central Park on Cat Hill.

Ah yes - the medical staff. Uh, excuse me, I can't move. Can you please help me remove some cramps from my legs. Thank you. Really. The medical staff is awesome. Free massages and stretching techniques all for the cost of 1 marathon...

Raphi and Oren - training partners 2005

Raphi and Alan - training partners back in 2003 (and maybe some of 2004).

A bunch of us KOE Upper West Side, New Yorkers (except for Alan who is temporarily down in DC) posing next to the Minyan tent.

Time to get off the bus with my fellow Fred's Team bus mates. Funny thing is that I was still in the bathroom when everyone got off so the driver starts to move and I am thinking maybe he doesn't know I am in here...Luckily i got out and we had only moved about 100 feet...

And if you think RUNNING a marathon is difficult, how about a wheelchair or a handcycle. These people really are SUPER people.

One of the starting lines. I guess this one is Green. There are over 40,000 people lining up so they have different color starts for different paces. I was in the 41,000 Orange start...

Though it looks like Woodstock, its really just the staging and prep area for the marathon in Staten Island at Fort Wadsworth. In this picture you can actually see how foggy it is. Deceivingly cool, the sun burns it away and in no time it jumps from 50 degrees to 60.

The view from the bridge. We are headed into Staten Island on the Verrazano Bridge. There are about 10-20 buses in front of us. And the clock is ticking. About 1.5 hours to the marathon start or about 8:30AM. Time to go to the bathroom again (yes us VIPs get bathrooms on our buses.) And time to start getting changed and fueling up and whatever else needs to be done. (Vaseline, nipple tape, deodorant to prevent chafing...)

The buses were parked on 44th street and were headed West. When we were all set to go, the drivers took the route to 8th avenue, up1 block and then took a right on 45th street. One guy on the team was running late but no worries. You can't see it from this angle but underneath the Marriot sign is actually a driveway and you can walk through the building. It was kind of funny to see all of the Fred's Team people running through the hotel escorting this one guy onto the bus. In the end there was no rush. We sat in that spot for about 10 minutes and then sat in more traffic on the way to Staten Island.

Fred's Team, Times Square, New York City. Orange and purple. Those are our team colors. I have been running with Fred's team since 2001. Each year we get to take a picture and each year I am late. But not in 2005. I finally made it and have the pictures to prove it! This was taken about 6:45AM right after the picture on our way to our VIP buses outside of the Marriot Marque Hotel. I had woken up at 5AM on the Upper West Side where I live thinking that there was no way I was going to be late and miss the picture this year. I even got there with a few minutes to spare...

The marathon expo is usually held at the Jacob Javits Center. It is the largest venue for conferences in NYC. This banner is HUGE and hangs from the ceiling. I am usually there for trade shows and conferences but I am happy to go there to pick up my number for the NYC marathon. You really get to meet people from all over the world with the same thing on their mind. Running running and running.

Marathon expo. I don't know who the marketing genius is but I absolutely have incredible respect for them... Who would've thought that SpongeBob Squarepants would have anything to do with the NYC Marathon. And yet, for a couple of years now, we have been proudly wearing our bright yellow marathon hats and laughing all the way. And Nickelodeon even has a booth and their very own sponge station at mile 19. I tried to run with one for my son who loves spongebob but it was too much of a hassle. I was hoping that my wife would've walked up to mile 19 to get one but in thinking about it, is a spongebob spnge really all that important? Well, yes. However, in everyone's defense, the sponges were actually soft on one side and course on the other which makes it good for scrubbing pans...not children in the bath. Maybe next year Nick...think about the audience.

At the marathon expo. Fred's Team booth. While Eileen is busy working, Aubrey is telling yet another person that "no, the shirts are not free give-aways." And we laugh because they really do cost a minimum of $2,500. If you are not familiar with Fred's Team, please check out my link on the right.

I was not born in Kenya, but I did complete the NYC Marathon in 2005

I have a lot on my mind right now but mainly my kids are asleep in the stroller and I wanted to put up some of my thoughts.

I am sick. I have a cold. I have laryngitis. My legs are sore. My back is sore. And I am happy. I am happy to know that even though it was my slowest marathon ever, I still completed it. Yeah yeah. I know I should just be happy and that there are people out there who can't run at all. People who can't walk, people with cancer, people with physical problems, people with emotional problems, issues, challenges. But I am talking about me now.

The marathon is a tremendously selfish experience. I run it to feel good about myself. Yeah yeah, I raise thousands of dollars for charity and my team (Fred's Team) overall raises millions of dollars for cancer research, but the bottom line is that we are all selfish athletes that want to accomplish a selfish goal. I mean, what are we saying to the 2 million spectators that come out to watch us. "Look at us. We can run a marathon. We don't care if you can or not...we can!" And then we have the chutzpah to ask people, friends, family, colleagues to come out and watch us.

The kids just woke up. More later...

Please consider donating to my MSKCC/NYC Marathon for Cancer Research effort: