By Gregg Schwartz
After reading David Linn’s “The Monster”, I felt as though I also had a story and lessons to share. Many of you might remember me from the beyondbt.com shabbaton as the guy who was going to be running the New York marathon. Whenever I would tell a person that I’m training for a marathon, the question that inevitably follows is “how long have you been running for?”, to which I say, “about 5 weeks”, to which they just think I’m joking. But in truth, I went from running to catch the Q65A (Queens bus-about a block’s distance from my house) to 10 miles in about a month.
Last November, I had a few personal issues that had really gotten me down, and in turn, my yetzer ha’ra really got the best of me. Any food that I wanted to eat, I ate, kosher or not. I literally gained close to 20 lbs, and reversed all the growth I had built up yiddishkiet wise over the past six years. If I needed an escape, I would go out with my friends on a Friday night (not to shul). I was in a sad place and decided that I needed a way out, and a goal which would get me out of my muck. I was reading the paper and saw a section that said that you could enter the lottery for the NYC marathon. I decided that I would try it. I’ve never been known for my physical ability and decided that would be how I would get myself back on track. If G-d wanted ME to run this race, he would let my random number be picked in the lottery. Sure enough, I got in. At first, let me say, I wasn’t happy. Training for the marathon requires dedication and hard work. You have to run miles and miles almost each day, and change you diet.
I found out early in the summer that I had gotten in, and there began my training. Week 1, I was able to walk/jog up to 3 miles, Week 2 run/jog 3 mile……. Not only was I able to dedicate myself to the training, but I was able to get other areas of my life back in order, now that I was getting myself back on track. I no longer ate whatever I wanted, I ate healthy, and cut out the junk/fried food. I stopped eating out and, in the process, got back to eating kosher. I was fitting into pants that I had given up on! Additionally, I was getting into a schedule. Running Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, which included going to shul regularly on Friday and Saturday- something that I hadn’t done in close to a year.
To take the story back to the beyondbt.com shabbaton, I was gearing up for the half-marathon, 13 miles. Come Sunday, I woke up at 8AM, and ran the 13 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Wow, what a feat! I went from nothing to 13 miles in 5 weeks. I was on top of the world. The nextmorning, I woke up and got out of bed…OUCH, my left foot (not the movie) was KILLING ME. After not being able to walk on it for two days, I went to the doctor. Turns out I had injured my foot. Even though my mind was ready for the 13 miles, my body wasn’t. I didn’t condition it properly to run such long distances. It turned out that, due to my injury, I was not able to run the marathon and had to postpone the race until next year. (don’t be sad, the lesson is about to follow)
In life, it’s not always about the end result, but the process that gets you there. While I wasn’t able to run the marathon this year, I have accomplished much in the process, by taking back control of MY life. I’m in great shape, feeling spiritual, and overall am feeling much better about myself. I also learned that growth isn’t something you can jump into, it’s a process. You can’t go from zero – 500 miles per hour (unless you’re a plane, but that doesn’t count). Growth must be taken on gradually, even though your mind may think it’s capable of going much faster. I wanted to run the marathon, but my body wasn’t ready for it. Having to wait another year to run the marathon offers a new oppoetunity. An opportunity to spend this coming year growing at a normal rate rather than exponentially.
Thanks for reading.