Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm A Marathon Maniac

By Ross Forman

I’ve flown El Al, the national airline of Israel, only once ever – and yet I completely understand how it annually ranks No. 1 worldwide for Best Airline Security.

I flew from the U.S. to Germany on Lufthansa about 15 years ago, and then was connecting on El Al into Tel Aviv. Sure enough, I was grabbed for extra security measures by El Al officials – and they don’t mess around.

They brought me into a private room, asked me about 101 questions, such as, where I was going, where I was staying, when was my return flight, etc., etc., etc. Then came my luggage search, and boy do they thoroughly search things. Not one or twice, but three or four times, by multiple agents, each looking at every shirt, sock and pair of underwear I had with me.

When I was finally cleared, they took me and my possessions from a private room and – to my amazement – I then had to go back through the standard airport metal detectors, even though they had oh-so-thoroughly searched me and my possessions for about an hour.

I remember asking the agent why he had me go back through the metal detector after their search, especially since the flight was already boarding. That’s standard procedure, he said.

I guess that’s why El Al is the best … I just hope things are a bit easier when I return to the skies with El Al. I am flying from New York City to Tel Aviv in mid-March, and then will be running the annual Jerusalem Marathon on Friday morning, March 16.

It will be my 15th marathon in about 4 ½ years – those are the stats that still shock me. I ran my first marathon in late-2007 in Florence, Italy, and, even on race-day, I wasn’t 100 percent sure I could complete the 26.2-miles.

Now I’m heading to the Middle East for a milestone marathon that certainly will be my most challenging. The course has plenty of hills and inclines, and highlights from last year’s event show the course travels along cobblestones at spots. That’s no fun, period.

What is fun, or perhaps it’s a peace offering of sorts, is the goodie-bag that arrived in late-February from – believe it or not – El Al. The airline’s domestic PR department sent me one of those trendy blue draw-string backpacks, filled with El Al-emblazed knickknacks. Let’s see, there’s a pen, the combo keychain-flashlight, the pad of paper, deck of cards, and even a foam airplane, among other goodies.

I have an aisle seat on both El Al flights, as requested. But the double-digit seat number is higher, much higher, than I have grown accustomed to on United Airlines.

I wonder what food will be served on-board, though I’ll have Beachbody protein bars, just in case. I’ll also have a book, some magazines, no doubt some newspapers and my iPad. Am leaning toward watching Money Ball on the way there, if I’m not sleeping. Any movie suggestions?

I feel good about this run. Physically and mentally, I’m ready. I know my standard Insanity workouts, with the regular plyometrics, will pay dividends along the course. I curse Shaun T today; I thank him on race day.

Am not sure yet what’s next on the marathon slate for the remainder of 2012, other than my fifth consecutive year running the Honolulu Marathon in December with Dell, and hopefully Nick again, and perhaps even Tyler and J.R., too. I’ll probably run another marathon in July, August and/or September. Heck, I’m now a Marathon Maniac, truly, so I might just run one in each of those months. Guess I better go look at my options. Marathon suggestions?

Hope everyone has a good, safe run … and flight!


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