It was amazing – a lifetime experience! Dr. Adam Zeitlin, a well-known physician in Kew Gardens Hills, ran the New York City Marathon’s 26.2-mile course this past Sunday, November 6, and finished number 29,256 out of 47,745 runners. “It was phenomenal!” He shared. You traverse through all five boroughs and cross five bridges, and there are thousands of people cheering.

This writer interviewed Dr. Zeitlin the day after the event. I asked him about his background in terms of running. He said he wasn’t always a runner. He did jog and exercise. He always tried to stay in shape, but during COVID time, he started doing more active running to relieve the stress. He enjoyed the challenges of the 5K runs in the summer, and he recently ran 5Ks in the summer and a half-marathon, which is 13 miles, in March and in November. “I enjoyed the challenge. It was inspiring to others and to me.”

He followed a strict training regime, which began 20 weeks before the New York City Marathon. It includes running three-to-four times a week and strength training once or twice a week. One day of the week you do a long run, where you gradually increase your mileage. Before the marathon, you slow down and taper off to rest up for it. At that point, you do one day of speed and pace, and then another day of recovery running. Recovery runs are easy runs that you do at a very light, controlled effort.

Dr. Zeitlin followed a three-day-a-week program of running. He shared that he enjoys running in Queens. He starts running at Park Drive East and runs to Union Turnpike, and then he runs to Bell Boulevard, and then he runs to the Long Island Expressway, and then back into Flushing Meadow Park.

He practiced his speed runs in Flushing Meadow Park, and his recovery run was from Kew Gardens Hills to Cunningham Park where he ran a couple of lengths. He noted that he got a tour of all of Queens.

He kept up this schedule even in inclement weather. If the weather was really bad, he ran on his treadmill. It takes dedication and you have to wake up early to run or run late at night. Most of the time during his training, he was able to run outside. He shared his personal schedule, which was speed running on Sundays and recovery running on Tuesdays and long run of four or five hours on Thursdays.

He also followed a disciplined diet, which consisted of a well-balanced intake, and he became stricter as the time for the marathon drew closer. It included lean protein and carbohydrates. He avoided soda and juice, and the main drink was water. Sometimes he drank drinks with electrolytes like Gatorade. Breakfast was usually whole grain cereal with soy milk and yogurt with fruit. Snacks were a granola bar and banana. Lunch is a sandwich, and supper is fish or chicken and vegetables with potatoes or rice. The more intense the training, the more important the nutritional aspects are. “You need a lot of hydration,” he explained.

He shared that there were ebbs and tides in the race itself. The higher temperature this year was a big factor. It caused some runners to have heat exhaustion or to pass out. There are medical staff present throughout the course to help with heat exhaustion, slips and falls, etc. It seemed there were medical problems on every bridge.

The heat forced Dr. Zeitlin to regroup with a more controlled running plan. It is a challenge in this type of heat for the body to absorb fluid. After the run, you feel the need to hydrate and you have to do it steadily. He asked Rav Peretz Steinberg (Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Queens Valley) if he should wear tzitzis because of the heat, and Rav Steinberg said definitely, that it would help him win the race. There are water stations at almost every mile, but there are bottlenecks when runners are stopping to take water, and you have to plan ahead in terms of taking a cup and moving on.

I asked about security, and he shared that it felt very secure. You take a ferry to Staten Island, and you have to arrive at six a.m. for the 6:30 departure. There are guards and police at the entrance to the race and you can only bring a plastic bag. The exit also has strong security. Along the 26.2-mile course, some areas had better security than others.

His advice to people who want to run in the marathon is the following: “I think you will gain a lot not just from running but the discipline that helps you in other parts of your life. It improves your life overall. You should start slow and build up. Start with shorter distances like 5K and build up to longer ones.”

I asked about his future running plans, im yirtzeh Hashem. He is signed up for the New York City Half Marathon in March, and he hopes to run in the New York City Marathon again next year.

He shared that after the race there is a recovery period, and you need to do stretches and slowly start short jogs. You have to stay hydrated and keep up with good nutrition. It was definitely a big inspiration to his patients. They are inspired to exercise and eat more healthfully.

 “I feel proud that I did it.” He related, “A race is a celebration of the training and all the work that goes into it. I have tremendous gratitude to my wife Sarah, my family, and my friends for their support during the entire training journey. I’m grateful to Hashem that I am healthy and able to do such a fantastic thing!”