Sunday, March 3, 2013

The good, the bad, the Jerusalem Marathon!


I have, for now, given up running full marathons. I did not particularly enjoy my most recent marathon or the training leading up to it. Without enjoying it, the time commitment is just too great to continue running them. But it is really much more than the time commitment that made me "quit".

Running a marathon is a great challenge. it takes a lot of training to build up the stamina and endurance. And it is highly addictive. At a certain point I stopped seeing it as a challenge. After all, I have already run 6 marathons - I know I can do it. There is no longer a challenge in it. And I don't want to be addicted to it. As soon as I finished my last marathon, in January, I was already looking toward the next marathon I could register for - and that was immediately after I decided I didn't want to run any more. I don't want to be addicted - I want to run because I enjoy it, not because I am addicted to it.

For now I have decided I will run half-marathons. 21.1km is a good distance. It is a challenge, it is difficult and it is not what I consider to be overkill (aka abusive) for the body.

I participated in the Jerusalem Marathon this past Friday by running in the half-marathon event. The Jerusalem Marathon is a wonderful event - it is a city marathon, with local residents lining the streets and cheering. Music is playing around the city. It is a beloved city to me, it is the holy city. And running around it in beautiful weather with about 20,000 other people is just a wonderful experience.

The weather was beautiful, the city was beautiful the people were beautiful. I saw the city, I saw friends, I saw fellow runners, and I saw lots of people, both runners and pedestrians, out celebrating life.

The one disappointing part was in a section I had never before seen - the beautiful Derekh HaRakevet - the Railroad Road - in the Railroad neighborhood, a.k.a Bakaa. We ran through a park that used to be old railroad tracks. This was a beautiful section, and the old tracks have been redone as a walkway designed to look like railroad tracks.

The downer in this section was that a bunch of local residents were out protesting the marathon. They were chanting and held up signs that said things like "you celebrate and we pay the price", signed by the restricted residents of the Railroad neighborhood. They were upset that large sections of the city, including their neighborhood, had been shut down for much of the day. Understandable, but very short-sighted. The marathon brought 20,000 people to various parts of the city. Those people spent lots of money in Jerusalem  be it in hotels, shopping, and other tourism dollars.

A couple days before the marathon I heard Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat on the radio talking about it. One of the things he said that I found very interesting was that every running should run with a fellow runner from Jerusalem. Barkat explained that the city has so much history that each runner should run with someone who knows the city and can explain it to them as they run through it.

That is a phenomenal idea. I knew the history of some parts, but not of other parts. I think it would be a lovely thing for the next Jerusalem Marathon. Perhaps a project can be included in the marathon registration in which runners would be partnered-  those who want to "guide" and those who want to be "guided". It might be an overwhelming task, but I think it is a wonderful idea. As I was running, I was passed by a group, I think it was a group of army runners, who were doing just that - the leader of the group was explaining the different areas as they passed through them.


approaching the finish line. photo courtesy of Sharon of Real Jerusalem Streets

some friends who are fellow runners, post Jerusalem Marathon
in Jerusalem even the marathons have synagogues!

for the 1st time I did some pre-race warm-ups after spotting the trampolines...
the added risk of twisting an ankle right before the race made it to enticing to pass up!


What a  wonderful experience. I hope to do it again next year!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Running Two Weeks Straight

It has been a long time since I wrote here. The truth is that after the Tiberias Marathon in January I got into a rut and hardly ran for a while. i just felt like my body needed a break. At the same time I could literally feel myself getting more and more lethargic by the day, and gaining more and more weight by the day.

I did not plan to run the Jerusalem or Tel Aviv marathons, and I did not run them. Interestingly, as the dates for these marathons approached I began to feel bad that I was not running in them, and that urged me to decide it was time to get myself back into running. Sure enough, starting off slow and with short distances, i went into an intensive running streak for nearly three weeks. The first week I ran just a couple of times, but then I went two weeks running every single day. There were days in which I could feel my legs were tired, and on those days I kept it short - 5 or 6km, and slow, but most days were in the 8-9km range, and some days were in the 12-13km range.

By the end of the 2 weeks, I was feeling strong again. I am looking forward to a strong summer of off-season running, and then getting back to the marathon training.

One thing I really enjoyed about the running these past few weeks is at no time did I put on my GPS watch. i ran a very natural pace, completely based on how I felt. It is really a joy running without looking at the watch constantly to make sure you are not running too fast or too slow.. I am considering that next marathon season I will run with no watch and run the marathon naturally paced and not watch or expectation paced, and see what happens.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sh*t Barefoot Runners Say (video)

Sh*t Barefoot Runners Say

This is pretty funny..

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Tiberias Marathon 2012: Running On A Pulled Hamstring Can be Enjoyable

I did not set any personal records at this years Tiberias Marathon, but I think I enjoyed this one the most of any of the marathons I have run to date. Running on a pulled hamstring can do that to you.

While I can honestly say I never before pressured myself to run with any specific time goal in mind, I always did have certain expectations based on my training. There were runs where I did better than those expectations, and runs where I did not perform as well as I had expected. Either way, going into a run with either goals or expectations leaves one spending way too much time and energy in the marathon focused on the watch, paying attention to pace, trying to meet a goal.

Running with no expectations, on the other hand, lets one just enjoy the run.

I ran this Tiberias Marathon without any real expectations, let alone goals. I did not train efficiently or seriously. Most weeks in training I ran only two runs, and only a couple times did I run 3 times in a week. I only ran 3 times 30km+, and only 3 times in the mid-20s. I fell far short of the training schedule output expected by our running club.

As well,, the past 3 weeks or so I have been nursing a sore hamstring. I do not know when I hurt it, but it has been hurting me. I even considered dropping out of the marathon, considering it would be stupid to injure myself even worse. I decided not to considering that I had recently run the Eilat half-marathon on the pulled hamstring, and was mostly fine. I knew that if i could limit myself and only run as fast as the hamstring would allow me to, and not try to push it too much, I would be ok. Slow, but ok.

So, I went to Tiberias planning to run just fast enough that I would feel my hamstring would not allow me to run any harder than that. And when I would need to slow down more, I would do that. And hopefully I would not need to turn back after 4 or 5 km.

Running with no expectations meant I was not concentrating on my pace. I made a last minute decision to wear my GPS watch, but I don't think i looked at my pace even once during the entire race. I mostly used it to track my distance, and the time of day.

I was running a slow but steady run, with my hamstring letting me know how I was doing. At a certain point, somewhere at about 13km or so, a friend caught up with me and we ran together, as we were running a similar pace. We chatted, something I never really did in previous marathons, not wanting to waste energy, and I chatted with other runners as well.

The most interesting thing was proudly wearing my Bet Shemesh Running Club t-shirt prompted numerous quips and comments from other runners and bystanders, considering Bet Shemesh being prominent in the news the past few weeks for negative reasons.

So, I ran together with Meir. We came up to the halfway mark, and I saw that if i could keep it up I might even break the 4 hour mark for the finish. It was something I had not expected - I had been assuming I would finish closer to 4:30. I knew it still was not realistic, as the end is where I slow down a bit, and in Tiberias especially the last 7km is much more difficult than the previous 35 - and not just because it is the final 7km, but also because it goes through some ups and downs and there can be a strong wind off the lake. But seeing the time at 21km, made me wonder, curiously, if I could possibly still beat 4 - not make a PR mind you, but beat 4.

I also went into this marathon with a different gel strategy than used in previous marathons. Previously I was not a fan of the energy gels - they are difficult to consume, and I was skeptical how much they really help. In my first marathon I think I used two gels. The next marathon i used no gels and set a PR. After that I used 2 gels in Jerusalem marathon and no gels in the Tel Aviv marathon. I decided that i would max out on gels this time. I figured because of my hamstring and low-level training I would need the energy boost. Over the course of the marathon I took 5 gels. Did it help? I have no idea.

I continued running with Meir until 27km. At that point I badly needed a short bathroom break. Meir kept going, and I took a brief break in a porti-can. Continuing on my own, I kept wondering if I could catch up to Meir. he really wanted to break 4, and I did not think I would be able to. But I kept thinking he could not be too far ahead, as my break was very short.

Coming up to 29, 30 and 31 km markers I saw I was still on pace to break 4. The hard part of the marathon was still ahead. At 33km there is a short but steep uphill, and from there the course goes through ups and downs. That is also where it begins to dog you down, where the voices in your head need to be fought off.

At 33km I slowed down considerably. What had turned into an absolutely beautiful day for running, despite early storms, was starting to get cold and windy. I was starting to feel tired, and my hamstring area was cramping up at times forcing me to adjust. Somehow I found it in me to continue running. I did not stop for any breaks - not even those times where you do not really need to urinate but use it as an excuse to stop for a few moments - and pushed myself to trudge on. I kept going, reveling in the encouraging cheers of the onlookers. At about 39km I saw Meir a bit ahead of me struggling himself. I set him as my goal - I would catch up to Meir. I felt bad for him, as Meir really wanted to break 4. By this point it was clear 4 was not going to happen. After I passed Meir, and tried to encourage him a bit, I kept going. At some point I started to feel light-headed. i started telling myself that since I did not break 4 I might as well just walk the last 2 or 1 kilometers. That's when the crowds of onlookers starts to get larger, and I just kept pushing myself to continue. The old thoughts came back to me - only one run out to the satellites and back, 3 circuits around Dolev, 1 around Dolev, etc. I kept finding ways to tell myself that this was doable.

And then I passed the 42 km marker. At that point there is a slight rise in the course, and the finish line is on a slight decline, allowing for a nice string finish. I do not think I worked up the energy for a strong finish - I just trudged right through the finish line.

I must say that besides for a couple difficult points and the voices in my head late in the race, i really enjoyed this run. I chatted with people, I slapped and gave 5 to kids on the side cheering us on, and I really enjoyed the experience of running this race.

Running the marathon is always overcoming a challenge. Each person has their own challenges, and overcoming them in such a magnificent way is a life-changing experience, letting you know, reminding you, that you are inc trol, that you do not have to be limited.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tiberias Marathon

One more week to the Israel Marathon in Tiberias!

Ready or not, here I come!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eilat Desert Half Marathon

It has been a long time since I wrote anything here about my running experiences and thoughts. I assure you that in the interim I have been running a lot. At the same time I have not been running nearly enough. It seems I have been running close to the minimum necessary to make it through the marathon sort of respectably. My running has been at an average of about twice a week - including usually a medium run of about 12-14km and a long run. The past couple of weeks, as we finished the bulk of the training regimen and began to move into taper mode, I actually ramped it up a bit to 3 times a week.

In the interim I also ran the Bet Shean half marathon. I came in with better results than I expected at 1:52. I was 11 seconds off my half marathon record. I give credit to an army trainer who I discovered in the middle of a marathon leading a running group form the army. I tagged along with them at the same pace and pushed hard. At about 19km they lost me and pulled ahead. i think I finished about 1 minute behind them, but it was this trainers solid running and encouragement to those in hsi group that kept me running at a hard enough pace to finish that well.

Most of the running has been pretty boring. While I enjoy the running, I get the feeling of "been there done that" for a lot of the training. I was out looking for some new experiences. I found one in the First International Eilat Desert Half Marathon. I signed up for it with another friend and made plans to go down.

The trip would be daunting - a drive down to Eilat in the middle of the night, running a half marathon on nearly no sleep, running a half marathon on a trail with a difficult course, in my Vibrams (trails are always more difficult in Vibrams) and then getting back home in time for the Shabbat. Now this was definitely going to be a challenge!

So, here is what happened. We left at 1 AM, giving ourselves ample time in case we would meet unexpected problems on the road, if we would need to look for the meeting point, and this would allow us to possibly catch a few winks before the race.

Josh drove us down and did a great job of getting us there in one piece in exactly the amount of time the GPS had said it would take and that we had planned on in the best scenario. After settling down upon arrival, we stretched out for a short nap. After we got up at about 6 we got our race kits and davened. The forecast had been for warm and sunny weather, but at this point it was still pretty cold. We warmed up and stretched and got ready to run.

The race began at 7 am. We began at the edge of Eilat in the parking lot of the BIG shopping center. From there we ran out, crossing the street and entering the trails through the canyons. The trail led us mostly uphill, though not steep, through the first 9 kilometers of the race. For some reason I kept thinking to myself that these seemed like the longest kilometers I had ever run.

The race was fun, but difficult. the trails were an unusual surface - very soft rock mixed with some sort of sandy surface. A lot of the trails were very soft and good for my feet. The bigger problem was that often the soft sand was deep and gave little resistance. sinking in to that made the running slower. As well, there were some rockier sections, though none were so big or long that they were too difficult to deal with.

The canyons were amazingly beautiful to run through, and it was definitely a change of pace and scenery from the regular running and training.

I was running it pretty slow, probably for a variety of reasons. The trails are always slower for me because of the Vibrams, the lack of sleep, the amount of uphill in this course, and more. During the run I felt my hamstring start to hurt a bit and I took it easy because of that as well.

As we were coming close to the finish, I started to speed up. I ran the last kilometer pretty fast, spotting targets along the way - runners ahead of me - and deciding I was going to pass him or her. As I passed, i would eye the next runner as my target. I was really zipping along, and my hamstring was starting to hurt more. I had to keep remembering to shorten my strides, each time I would feel the sharp flare of my hamstring.

I kept passing runners on my way to the finish lines, and in the last 300 meters I really poured it on, going full speed ahead, and ignored the hamstring. i passed everyone along the way and powered through the finish line. the final time was my worst half marathon ever, finishing at 2:29, but I was there just looking for a different experience, not really trying to run a specific time, so it was a great experience.



And then Josh drove us back, after we rested up a bit, cooled down, and had a bite to eat, and we made great time getting home for Shabbos!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jerusalem Marathon 2012 (video)

Jerusalem Marathon 2012

I know I owe you a lot of writing. I have been negligent in this regard. For now, to hold you over, here is a new video showing the route for the Jerusalem Marathon 2012. If you are familiar with the route form the 2011 marathon, you might notice that it seems like they have made some changes..

As they say:
The second Jerusalem Marathon which will take place on March 16, 2012, holds a unique and picturesque roads, leading you through museums, national institutes, parks and gardens, for a great experience of sports and good time.


Sit back and watch our course map, take notes, enjoy the view and visit the official Marathon website for tips, running stories, training programs and much more.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Intriguing Personalities at Merutz Yekavim

On Friday I ran in the 3rd annual 18km Merutz yekavim - the winepress race. The Merutz Yekavim is an 18km race (they also have shorter races such as 3km and 5km) that starts at Kibbutz Nachshon in the Ayalon Valley and run through the trails in the fields and vineyards of the area.
Many of the Bet Shemesh runners at Merutz Yekavim

With the rainy weather, the race was looking to be a challenge. Even if it would not rain during the run, the trails would be muddy and difficult to run.

I got to meet two intriguing personalities during the event, making the race all the more memorable. I met Benny Halevi and Professor Shaul Ladany.

A friend told me Benny Halevi was there, and when he saw I didn't even know who Halevi was he explained that Benny Halevi is the barefoot running "guru" in Israel. He runs barefoot running groups and events and is the main guy promoting it in the country. Sure enough, as I was walking around, I spotted him - he was the guy barefoot. Actually, he was wearing his haurache sandals that he runs in when he can't run barefoot because of the terrain. I introduced myself and we chatted for a bit.

Professor Shaul Ladany
The second personality, Professor Shaul Ladany, I also had not heard of before, but was immediately awed by his courage and his perseverance. I heard a few words about his accomplishments there, and have since done some Internet searching for more information. Professor Ladany is pushing 76 years old, and is a world-champion race-walker. He is an Olympian, he has race-walked 300 mile races, and holds a world championship in a 100km race-walk. At 70 years old he became the first person to walk 100 miles in less than 24 hours.

Ladany  is a Holocaust survivor, having spent time in Bergen Belsen, but his troubles didn't end there. he has fought off repeated bouts of skin cancer and lymphoma, he has survived much legal trouble, and an emergency landing of a plane that lost one of its engines in flight. Ladany is an Israeli Olympic athlete who survived the Munich Massacre. His accomplishments include patents, scientific papers and books, along with his accomplishments in sports.

It was humbling to meet Ladany and see all that he has accomplished in his life, all that he has overcome in his life, and see him still going strong at the age of 76.

Back to the race, the run proved to be as challenging as expected. the trails were wonderful for barefoot running, being soft on the feet, but the muddiness of the trails made it difficult and slowed everyone down. Running for fun, that didn't really matter, and I just enjoyed the beautiful terrain, the vineyards we ran through along with the fields and orchards. The terrain was rolling hills, with a couple steep climbs. At the top of the most serious hill we had a view of the entire valley and it was breathtaking.

I finished the run at 1:49:10. I am still running slower than last year, being out of shape and not yet at optimum training fitness, and the mud made me even a bit slower. It was a fun run, and unfortunately I could not taste the wine they were giving samples of as the bottles had neither a hechsher nor any indication that the wine was mevushal.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What The Rehovot Run Showed Me

I have not written here in a while, and the truth is that the holidays really messed up my running schedule and discipline. I ran on occasion, but I couldn't get myself onto a regular running schedule. I am trying to now, largely because of my run this past Friday.

Friday was a scheduled 34km run. To Rehovot. My absolute favorite run of the training season, and the most difficult. the most difficult because of the distance, the terrain and the water breaks. My favorite because of the terrain, the difficulty, the camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment.

The Rehovot run was scheduled to be 34km. I was not physically ready to run 34 km, as my long runs have mostly been in the 19-21km range, with only a couple reaching the 24-25km range until now. I debated with myself whether to join the group on the run or not, and decided to do it just because I didn't want to miss the first Rehovot run of the season. I knew it would be tough, but I figured I could make it. And I figured if I could eke out a 34km in my condition, I could start from my house and eke it out to 38km, and if not I could stop anywhere in Rehovot and walk or take a taxi the rest of the way, after having passed 34km..

Setting out at 5 AM, earlier than the group because of my slower running speed, I embraced the challenge. My run started in the dark, but fairly quickly the light increased. The challenging hills, the beautiful terrain, the cool air, all made the run worthwhile. Until Mazkeret Batya.

Mazkeret Batya is the last water stop before Rehovot, and that is where the running really gets tough. From there it is about 4km to Rehovot's entrance, and then about another 4km in Rehovot to the finish line near Weizzman Institute. That 4km after Mazkeret Batya is difficult - after stopping for a few minutes at that point the legs are starting to tighten up, the stretch of run there is exposed and sunny. The temperature is already getting to be fairly warm. And the next 4km in rehovot is spent dodging cars and people, some congestion, and bustle.

The 4km from Mazkeret Batya was very difficult for me, but I was very determined to at least make it to Rehovot. I trudged along at decreased pace, my legs were like heavy slabs of meat by that point, and I was cursing my decision to run, now knowing how unprepared I really was. Somehow I made it to Rehovot and even ran in a bit. Then I just came to a stop. After a few moments I said I cannot continue, but I had already run nearly 35km, more than the scheduled distance, and I had made it into Rehovot. I had nothing left to prove. I started walking, but everything was already starting to tighten and cramp up, and even walking was becoming difficult. I flagged a taxi and went to the meeting point, for an ice shoko and the sharing of war stories with the other runners.

That run showed me how unprepared I am, and let me know that if I really plan to run the marathon, I really have to start training better.

Remaining sore and tight through Monday morning, I did not run again until last night. I have not run the Monday night workout runs with the group in a long time, but I did last night. We went to Nofei Aviv and ran fartleks. I gave up after 2.5 cycles, and finished my distance at 10km. Still sore from Rehovot, this was a combined workout and recovery run, and I was happy to reign it in at 10km.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Journey To The 2011 NYC Marathon (video)

My Journey To The 2011 NYC Marathon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marathon Runner Gives Birth Shortly After Completing Marathon

After this, can anyone have an excuse for not running (or doing whatever your preferred form of exercise is)?

From the Chicago Suntimes:
Amber Miller slowed her usual pace for Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, taking 6 hours and 25 minutes to complete the grueling 26.2 mile race, but she had a great reason for finishing three hours off her personal best time.


Miller was almost 39 weeks pregnant when she hit the starting line and finished despite running through contractions — then delivered a daughter Sunday night about 7 1/2 hours after completing the race.


Still, she said, the marathon was the easiest part of her day.


“The race was definitely easier than labor,” Miller said Monday as she cradled her new daughter, June Audra.


Miller, 27, a veteran marathon runner, decided to take part after getting the OK from her doctor — and because she and her husband had already signed up for the race.


She’s also been running regularly through her pregnancy without any problems.


“I know what I can handle. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time,” said Miller, who has completed eight marathons.


In fact, Sunday’s race wasn’t even her daughter’s first marathon — Miller was 17 weeks pregnant when she ran in the Wisconsin Marathon earlier this year.


The Westchester resident competed in another marathon when she was about 17 weeks pregnant with her son, Caleb, now 19 months old.


She set an easy pace, running two miles, then walking the next two, Miller said. Her husband, Joe, ran with her to keep a close eye on her.


She said some other racers did double takes when they noticed the visibly pregnant runner in the white T-shirt jogging along.


And some medical workers and race volunteers seemed startled to see her on the course.


“They kept looking at me,” she said.


While she experienced some contractions during the race, she’s not sure she actually was in labor because she typically feels some contractions when she runs while pregnant.


“I don’t know if I actually was in labor during the race,” said Miller.


She figures her labor really started about 3 p.m. just after she finished the race, but she still felt well enough to grab a late lunch before heading to the hospital.


“I thought I should probably get some food first,” she said.


She and her husband drove to Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, where their 7-pound, 13-ounce daughter was born later that night.


The little girl, who slept through a Monday press conference, is in “excellent” shape, said Dr. Jeffrey Loughead, a neo-natalogist at the hospital.


The biggest risk Miller faced in running was dehydration, which could have sent her into labor, said Loughead, a doctor for 21 years.


But he said it was clear she was in good physical shape when she ran — and her pregnancy was already full term, though Loughead said he can’t recall any other patient running a marathon before giving birth.


“This is a first for my career,” he said.


Miller, for her part, said she felt good and was looking forward to going home on Tuesday.


“I don’t feel tired,” she said, smiling as she held her daughter.


But the race and delivery really took a toll on her 32-year-old husband. He said he didn’t train as hard for the marathon because he really thought his wife wouldn’t run because he expected their daughter to be born first.


“I was completely exhausted. I was placing my bet on June being here already,” said Joe Miller.
Hats off to you, Amber Miller.

To paraphrase a talmudic expression, Hillel obligated the poor people, Joseph the handsome people, and Amber Miller all the pregnant women (l'havdil)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Run Through The Roglit Vineyards

I have not written here in a while, but I have been running. Today was a great early morning run. I ran 21+km through the Roglit Vineyards.

The group was running 30km, and I would have liked to run about 24-26km. Due to my schedule I was overly tired and that was just too much, so I cut it short at 21. I planned to meet my running partner at the entrance to Aviezer - he was driving and I was running there, as he wasn't looking to run more than 18km.

So, I get up at 4 AM to get ready and headed out at about 4:30. We met at Aviezer at just after 5. We ran up to Roglit and then found the gate to the path through the vineyards locked. We climbed over the fence and ran. The air was cool and the early morning was beautiful.

The path through the fields and vineyards starts with a long climb up to the back of Aderet. It is a tough climb, but the view behind us was stunning, which we saw when we got to the top. This picture is not even close to giving due credit to the amazing view.

As we crossed over the peak and ran down through the vineyards, the air turned much cooler. The vineyards were a strong green and the terrain was beautiful We turned around at about 8km through, and ran back. The run back was tougher, as it was a longer, albeit not as steep, uphill run. At some point we crossed through a flock of goats. This was very timely and made us consider the "sa'ir la'azazel" we are going to read about in the coming days on Yom Kippur. We would have taken a couple, but the shepherds would not have liked that idea, so on we ran.

On the way back out, the gate was still locked. Those moshavniks must have been sleeping late, as it was already 6:45 am. We climbed back over and ran down to the car.

Great run through the Roglit Vineyards.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And Thus Concludes Week 2 Of Marathon Training...

Week 2 of Marathon Training was not great, but it finished well. The week started off poorly, with me under the weather. Saturday night and Sunday I could not run because I was under the weather, while Monday morning I got a light run in. The rest of the week I did not run because of a busy schedule, late nights, and an under the weather running partner.

Friday, long run day, was looking particularly daunting. After a low-intensity week, we had 24km scheduled for Friday. The route, a nice, albeit difficult, route, would be along Highway 383. Going out is a nice run, with a largely downhill trend. the way back would prove more difficult - with a largely uphill run, and a fairly strong headwind, the final 12km would prove to be difficult.

I started out the run thinking I might cut it a bit short. I did not feel I needed to run 24km so soon into the season, and it would depend on how the run was going. I would have been happy with a 21-22km run as well, with an absolute minimum of 18-19km.

We started out as a group of 4, until the main running group would pass us. At about 7.5km 2 guys peeled off, as they were looking to run only 15km. We continued on, and shortly after the main group passed us by. The run out was great, as I felt strong and confident. The run was smooth, and I ran it at a fairly fast pace.

That fast pace was probably a mistake, as I was a bit winded and unprepared for the 2nd half of the run. Turning around meant long uphill climbs, though not steep climbs. I have always been poor with hill running, and I dropped back from my running partner, and slowly but surely lost a lot of ground. Eventually I thought maybe I should stop running and let him come pick me up with the car when he finishes, but I kept trudging on telling myself just a little bit more. i felt ok, just tired from the hills.

Eventually I made it back to the end, concluding a 24km run after being totally unprepared for it.

And thus concludes Week 2 of Marathon Training

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Benefit Of Running With A Partner

After a late night and big meal last night, I was not sure I would get up in time for an early run this morning. Running this morning would also be a test of my calf and the muscle pain I experienced on Friday. The pain was almost completely gone, but there is still a lingering touch of pain, at a very dull level. I also expected my running partner to sleep in, or I was at least hoping he would, but when I sent him a text message in the morning he quickly replied, so running was remaining on the morning agenda.

That is actually a very good example of the primary benefit of running with a running partner over running alone. Had I planned to run alone, I would definitely have stayed in bed. Knowing I had someone else out there expecting me to show up, even though he would have understood, knowing that I would have looked a bit lazy to him, that encouraged me to dress up and go running. On a day like today, at 5:45 am after a long and tiring night, that is the only thing that got me out on the road.

We ran 6km down to the Junction of Roads 10 and 375 and then back. The air was slightly warmer and more humid than it has been normally at that time in the morning. I felt the pain slightly, but it did not really hurt and was not at all disabling. Even after the run and after having rested and cooled down, at the point when the pain normally gets worse, it remained only a slight dull discomfort. Hopefully that means I am really past it.

It was a good run. I would still have liked to run tonight with the group, but that is not going to happen due to a conflict. I am still under-mileage for the marathon training, though it is still very early in the season. Our coach gets into high gear very quickly, but as long as I stick with it even in lower gear I should be able to pick up the pace a bit later.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Long Run Of The Marathon Season Ends Not Well

This past Friday was the first long run of the marathon season. The run was scheduled to be 22km, but since I have not run more than 15km all off-season, and even that only a few times, I decided to alter the route slightly. My altered route would total 19km, and depending on how I was feeling at the end I would possibly extend it a bit. I call it a long run, because it is my longest since my last marathon. However, my coach does not call it a long run - he says long runs are only called long runs if they are of a distance of more than a half-marathon (21.1km). Anything less is only a medium-long run at best.

I met with a couple other guys who were going to run part of it and then turn around, as they were not going to be running more than 14km. We were running the Lamed Hey route from RBS, being starting in RBS across Road 10 to the 375. Up 375 to Elah Junction. Across 38 to Bet Shemesh, and up to RBS. The run includes two major hills, one being the hill of Zechariya and the second being the Tzeelim hill up to RBS.

After my running partners broke off a bit after Tzomet Aderet, I continued the rest of the way on my own. We were getting a good run. I have not run with a watch in a long time, but now that marathon season is back I decided it was time to start monitoring my speed and distance more accurately again. A few quick glances at my watch let me know that were were running at a pretty fast pace. It is not unusual as that stretch of road is at a slight downhill angle and it is easy to not pay attention and run much faster than normal without realizing.

After they broke off and I continued on towards Elah Junction, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left calf. It felt almost like a small bruise, but I am pretty sure it was a slight muscle pull. Nothing specific caused it - I didn't misstep suddenly or trip or anything that i noticed. The pain just suddenly appeared. I stopped and stretched it out a bit, and then kept going. it still hurt, but I had to get home, so my only option was to keep going.

The only thing I could think of that caused it was perhaps running too fast, It is a classic mistake at the beginning of the season. Thankfully, it was not bad. I was able to continue on, slowing down a bit. i made it up the entire Zechariya hill respectably.

Only when climbing the Tzeelim hill did I have to stop and walk a bit as the pain increased with the hill. I got to the top and finished the run at 19km and did not extend it. Obviously the pain increased over the day, but then over Shabbos it began decreasing. i still feel it slightly, but it mostly gone. I expect by tomorrow I should be running again.

Besides for the pain, the timing worked out after I turned at the Elah Junction that I saw a beautiful view of the mountains just after sunrise with the sun over the Elah valley and the mountainous backdrop. It was stunning and the air was beautiful and cool. The run was beautiful, albeit slightly marred by the slight muscle pain. If everything goes well, it looks like it should be a great season.