July 16, 2024
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July 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The 2021 NYC Marathon: Part 1

I love running the NYC Marathon.

(You kinda walk it more than you run it.)

Not this year…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The NYC Marathon is 30,000 runners.

(I thought it was 55,000?)

Due to COVID-19, they limited the field. Anyway…

Five boroughs, 26.2 miles.

(How many porta johns?)


(How did this little adventure begin?)

4:30 a.m. wake up.

(What time does the race start?)

I had the 11:20 start.

(Why don’t you sleep later?)

Read on and see.

4:30 a.m. wake up. Get dressed. Drink coffee. Cook an egg and cheese and “challah roll” that protein.

5:00 a.m. Get picked up by Michael Dodes, who was kind enough to play Uber driver.

5:10 a.m. Pick up Martin “Bodie” Bodek.

“Bodie, meet Dodes.”

“Are you…?”

“Running, no. Just driving.”

5:35 a.m. Dodes gets us to the transport bus, which was parked just outside Giant Stadium in the Meadowlands parking lot. I’m masked, so is almost everyone else on the bus.

6:45 a.m. We arrive in Staten Island. Bodie and I make our way to the International Minyan tent. I pointed out to Peter Berkowsky, the minyan founder, that there’s a prayer—Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi’s personal prayer—”Grant us today and everyday grace…” which I interpret as, “Please Lord point out things in front of me so that I may see and not trip.”

“Kinda important on a day like today,” I said. We both laughed.

7:45 a.m. praying is done for us, but there are 8 and 9 a.m. services too.

(Now what? You have three+ hours until the race start.)

This is a get together of the biggest little family of friends.

Marathon runners are a rare breed of…


…athletes. Even smaller when you talk observant Jews.

Three hours go quickly when you are catching up with old friends and eating your egg and cheese on challah roll.

(I thought that was your breakfast.)

No, this was my lunch. I had a bagel, lox and cream cheese shmear for breakfast.

(Shouldn’t you be dining on Gatorade and energy gels?)

When I ran this marathon last in 2019, I had a post-race chat with my coaching mentor, Justin Trolle.

(Your what?)

Coaching mentor.

(What is that?)

Shrinks have shrinks, coaches have coaches.

(You need a shrink.)

Not the first time I’ve heard that…We are so far off topic right now…

In 2019, I bonked at mile 14…

(You what?)

Bonked. Hit the wall. Ran out of gas…had to walk.

Solution: More carbs and more interval training.


Run workouts when you run fast, run slow, then run faster.

(Sounds painful.)

It is.

(Why would you do that?)

It teaches the body to run longer.

10:30 a.m. last chance to use a porta john.

(They have those on the racecourse, right?)

Yes, but I’d rather not use them. There’s always a line of people waiting.

11:00 a.m. I make my way over to my gate.


My bib was marked 4C, so that’s where I was to be funneled through to the start line for my group.

(They don’t just line everyone up at all at once?)

No. It’s a staggered start.

The professionals start first. Then the physically challenged athletes. Then the elite amateurs…then the rest of us. If they were to line up 30,000 runners at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge, it would not start well.

11:18 a.m. start. I’m running over the Verrazano Bridge. It’s both surreal and real.

The incline goes for a mile but feels like it will never end. If you have ever run on a treadmill, you know what I am talking about.

Mile 2: I exit the bridge and a group of New York’s Strongest are standing on a section of the ramp that us mere mortals cannot access.

They called out to me, “Ironman! Hey, Tony Stark!”

(Harbinger of things to come?)


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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