My Boston Marathon Diary
Amit David is a Wexner Israel Fellow, Class 22. Today is Amit’s commencement day at Harvard. He will receive a master’s degree in public administration. Upon receiving his degree, Amit will to return to Israel where he will continue his lifelong service in the Israeli Defense Force. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is a journal account of Amit’s trek to the 2011 Boston Marathon. July 12, 2010 – Last run with my wife Adi before our flight to Boston, on the Herzelia beach.
July 15, 2010 – First run in Boston. We found our way to the Charles River but got lost on our way back, added some miles but found home!
August/September – The academic year started – how can I squeeze running into my schedule?
September 17 – Dinner with the family at Rick and Erica’s home. When my mother-in-law, Dvora Goren, was a Wexner Israel Fellow 17 years ago, Rick and Erica were her host family and they kept the relationship going all these years. We talk about running and I find out that Rick is a runner (and more – he is an Ironman!) Rick promises to try to help me and Adi get into the CJP team this year! We are very excited, it seems that we might be able to run one of the most prestigious marathons in the US and in the world! WOW!
September 28 – I’m invited to a dinner at Jeff Swartz’s home where I meet Barry Shrage, CJP’s President. I mention that I might run the marathon for CJP, but it looks far away and uncertain.
October 3, 2010 – In the last few weeks I’m feeling pain growing in my right knee. I reduce my mileage and pace but my plans for a half-marathon (13.1 miles) in a few weeks keep me running. Today, while running a 13 miler along the Charles River, the pain is unbearable. When I come back home I tell Adi that I think I left part of my leg in the park… I must seek professional medical help.
Oct 14 – I have an appointment at the Harvard Health Services – The doc sends me to an orthopedist. Oct 20 – I meet with Dr. Borland. He suspects a tear in my meniscus and sends me to have an MRI.
Oct 25 – I’m going to have an MRI. I can’t believe how fast things are going. In Israel it would take me weeks to get an MRI. Dr Borland checks the MRI results and confirms the meniscus tear. He recommends that I will meet a surgeon – Dr. Richardson.
November 2 – I meet Dr. Richardson. He recommends I have knee surgery. He performs hundreds of these a year and thinks that it will fix my pain. He talks about a fast recovery. The Boston Jewish Community is recruited when I seek a second opinion. I get 3 more doctors to look at my MRI. All recommend a surgery. I have to decide
November 17 – Knee surgery – unbelievable treatment. I return home in the evening, walking.
Nov 23 – My first physical therapy with Tom, the PT, who talks about a few weeks in PT and then slowly going back to the gym, running in about 3 months. The marathon looks hopeless.
December 20 – Tom says he can no longer help me, that I’ve improved much faster than he expected and that I should keep working by myself. I contact Ran Shilon, a long time running coach in Israel and he pairs me up with Meny Koren, an expert on sports rehabilitation injuries. I’m going to have a training schedule starting early January!
Things start to look more optimistic but I’m not sure that the marathon is a realistic goal.
January 2011 – during the winter break at Harvard I take a course on persuasion. I decide to use the exercises to prepare for the marathon fundraising. I’m completely surprised when some of my fellow students actually give money to my campaign – it’s actually working!
Jan 7 – I meet Stacy from CJP and sign all the forms. We are in! This is for real!
Jan 30 – My first run outside the gym for weeks. It reminds me of how much I love running and how much I missed it. I run with Adi on the marathon course and feel like I’m running in the sky, great feeling. My knee is doing fine, I do feel some pain but not much and I can handle it.
Feb/March – The mileage is building up, I enjoy working out early before going to school, I enjoy the runs that are getting longer and longer in the freezing New England weather. The knee is doing OK but as the mileage builds up I start to question whether I’m doing the right thing. I keep getting more gifts for CJP. Rick helps me get in touch with a supporter who gives a very generous gift.
April 2 – My last long run before the marathon (21 miles). I’m optimistic. Now it is taper time – to reduce mileage, to rest, to prepare mentally for the race.
April – The Jewish Advocate writes a story about how difficult it is for Jewish runners that the race is on the same day of the Passover Seder. I surprise them when I tell the reporter that after the race we are going to host 35 friends for the Seder.
Apri 18 – Race day!
We get up early and at 6:30am are on the subway (the “T”) to the Boston Commons., From there we travel by yellow school buses, with thousands of other runners, to Hopkinton, where the race is about to start. We are impressed with the organization – almost 30,000 runners in a small place, everyone is excited but quiet, people are friendly and all are talking about running. I can feel the special atmosphere of the last minutes before a race. The weather is perfect – not too cold or too warm, clouds, and a tail wind.
We start running.
I can’t believe it’s really happening.
So many people are cheering.
The miles fly by one after the other.
Wellesley girls at mile 13, Heartbreak Hill at mile 20.
The children and the CJP young leadership team are waiting in Washington Square in Brookline (mile 23) with signs and balloons.
Our children run with us for a short time – it’s such an encouragement! Allison is waiting for us a mile later. Left on Hereford, right on Boylston. The finish line.
Done. 35 people are waiting for us at our home for the Seder, a perfect ending to the long and exciting day.
It was not my first marathon – I ran many long races, but this one was special – it was part of the incredible year at Boston and Harvard, it was with my wife Adi, it was so short after a serious injury and after a knee surgery. But what really made it so special is the human process that was involved and the support we got from individuals in the Jewish community in the Boston area, from Harvard students and professors, and from the extended Wexner family that surrounds us – Thank you all.