Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Roads will be closed....

Only one week to go!

I just spent a few days up north on vacation. Unfortunately, I did not get to run while I was there. Every time I prepared to rain, and had the opportunity (such as waking up at 5:15am), it was pouring rain.

I did drive the route of the marathon (not intentionally as preparation, but because I had to use that road to get where I was going, so I got to see the route in advance. It looks pretty flat, and I am very optimistic.

On my way back from the Golan, as I was heading towards Tiberias (starting point of the marathon), I saw road signs that the regional police have already placed out announcing the road closure on the day of the marathon...

Almost there

The following is an email I just received from the coach of our running group. It is the final preparation for the marathon. It is a great article, and perhaps someone out there can benefit from it, so I am posting it here....

Dear Marathoners:

Below is a reprint of an article I wrote last year about marathon race day strategy. I hope you find it helpful

.All the diligent and consistent training that you have done over the past eighteen weeks has brought you to the starting line of the 31st Tiberias Marathon in fantastic shape. However, without an intelligent, well-thought out strategy for the race itself, you will not perform optimally. Because of its formidable distance, the marathon is a race that has to be run with your head as well as your heart and legs. Therefore, I suggest you read this article carefully to help you formulate your plan.

Warming Up: Although warming up is generally very important for most races, particularly those of shorter distances where you plan to run fast from the outset, it is far less important for the marathon. Warming up prepares your body to run at race pace by increasing your body temperature, your metabolic rate and the circulation of blood to your muscles. The problem with warming up for the marathon is that it also uses up valuable glycogen stores and one of the most critical elements of your race is to preserve your glycogen stores as much as possible so that you are not forced to burn fat earlier than necessary. Therefore, you need to do the minimum warm-up necessary to prepare your body to handle race pace as soon as the starter's gun is fired so that you save as much of your precious carbohydrate reserves as possible for the 42.2 km ahead. A 4-5 minute warm-up should do the trick since your marathon pace should be a pace that feels relatively easy. Begin your warmup by jogging slowly and picking up the pace slightly every 30 seconds until you are at race pace for the final 30 seconds. Then stretch gently including loosening up your shoulders and neck. That's it. Find your way to a good spot on the starting line and make sure that you meet up with whomever you are planning to run with.

Pacing strategy: There are huge debates among running experts about virtually every aspect of the Marathon. But there is one thing that absolutely EVERYBODY agrees with. You cannot bank time in the first half for an inevitable slowdown in the second half. In other words, if you think that you should run faster than your goal pace during the first half while you are still feeling strong because it will give you some breathing room in the second half, think again. You will pay very dearly for making this mistake. If your goal is 3:30, don't run a 1:38 first half on the theory that you can run 1:52 in the second half and still reach your goal. Chances are that if you do this, you will crash in the second half and be reduced to a shuffle or worse. The reason for this is that your optimal marathon race pace is just below your lactate threshold pace. If you run faster than that (as in the above example), lactate accumulates in your muscles and blood which deactivates the enzymes for energy production and forces you to slow down big time. You also use more glycogen which means you will have your joyful encounter with "The Wall" earlier than necessary. Therefore, the best strategy is to run relatively even pacing. The Tiberias course is conducive to this as the course is relatively flat throughout. Start out by running the first kilometer (or first 2 kilometers if you want to play it conservatively) at 10 seconds slower than goal pace. Ignore the many fools who tear off like bats out of hell. Believe me, you will catch them later. Drop your pace by 5 seconds in kilometer 2 or 3 and by kilometer 4, you should be running at goal race pace. Maintain this until the halfway mark. At the halfway mark, do a body check. Ask yourself how you are feeling? If you are feeling good, you can quicken your pace by a few seconds per kilometer but nothing drastic. At kilometer 32, if you are still feeling strong, pick up the pace by a few more seconds per kilometer but still run in control until kilometer 39. At that point, there is no reason to hold back. Give it whatever you have left. That doesn't mean you should start sprinting. It means you can begin running at tempo pace. Your sprint should begin when you see the 42 kilometer sign just ahead. Use that last 300 meters to show yourself that you have mastered the marathon and finish strong with arms upright in victory like the champion that you are. The huge advantage of running a negative or even split is that you will be passing many runners in the late stages of the race who did not run as intelligently as you did and that is a fantastic feeling.

General Race Observations: I cannot overstate the value of running the marathon with a group of runners of similar ability. The marathon is a long grind and it will be immeasurably more difficult if you have to go it alone. If your goal pace is close to that of one of the pacers, stick to that group for as long as you can. Aside from the
significant motivational aspects of running with a group, you will be able to take turns drafting and thereby conserve energy. This is a major factor on a windy day as is usually the case in Tiberias. If you are running near someone who strikes you as unfriendly, don't take it personally. Don't try to race against him when he moves ahead of you. Run with your head, not your ego. Your only race today is against the clock.

The first half is the time to cruise mentally. Try to save your mental and emotional energy for the second half. Just get the first half out of the way at the correct pace without using any more mental energy than necessary.

From the halfway mark to 32 km is the no-man's land of the marathon. You are already a bit tired and there is a long way to go. If you feel strong, follow the pacing strategy outlined above and pick up the pace a bit. Otherwise, try and hang with a group as long as possible. You have to expect moments of crisis (a.k.a. "rough patches") during the marathon. When it happens (and it will), don't panic. Often, these patches last a few kilometers and then mysteriously disappear. The important thing is not to allow yourself to think negatively. Have the confidence to know that you can tough it out and overcome this challenge. It is precisely this kind of challenge which makes the marathon such a rewarding experience. Ask yourself how badly you want it.

From 32 km to the finish is the character part of the marathon. This is what we have prepared for in our long runs. Here's where all that hard work will really pay off. It's the stretch that poorly prepared marathoners fear and well-prepared marathoners such as yourselves relish.

Drinking and Eating: The secret to a successful marathon (aside from proper pacing) is staying properly hydrated and avoiding glycogen depletion. You should aim to consume at least 600 carbohydrate calories during the first 36 kilometers of the race. Gels have 90 calories each and three of them will therefore supply 270 calories. Sports Drink and iced tea each have about 28 calories per 100 ml. Thus if you drink 1.5 liters (and this should be an absolute minimum), that will supply an additional 420 calories. The question is when and how to consume these all-important commodities? The answer is a lot earlier than you think. Personally, I plan to take the gels at 10 kilometer intervals (10, 20 and 30 km marks). I also plan to place (the night before) 1/2 liter bottles of iced tea at these points to help me wash them down. However, this is not all. I will also have an additional 1/2 liter of iced tea at kilometer 36. This is the latest time in the race that you can take in carbohydrate and still have it be absorbed in your system in time to be useful. They do distribute Sports Drink at some of the aid stations in Tiberias but it did not have a Hechsher in previous years and the late stages of the marathon are an especially inopportune time to antagonize the Almighty. Don't wait until 10k to drink though. At every water station, drink something (at least a few gulps) but make sure that you are getting a substantial amount of liquid (300-500 ml) on at least four separate occasions. I strongly recommend walking through those four stations to make sure that you get the liquid down. The few seconds you will lose will pay huge dividends as you stay properly hydrated through the late stages of the race. An additional benefit is that the few seconds of walking will relieve some of the eccentric stress on your running muscles and this can also make a difference near the end when your quads are begging for mercy.

Expectations and Results: Don't ruin your marathon experience by making success dependent on a goal set in stone. It's a long race and anything can happen and it often does, even to the professional runners who do nothing but prepare for two marathons per year. It is important to have a goal but it is ludicrous to judge yourself a failure if, on a particular day, you were not at the top of your game and ran a few minutes slower. You are running a marathon, a supreme physical challenge at an age when the vast majority of your contemporaries are sedentary couch-potatoes. Furthermore, this is the only full marathon in the Land of Israel. If every four cubits (Arbah Amot) traveled by foot in Eretz Yisroel is a Mitzva, by my calculation, you will earn roughly 20,000 of them on that fine Thursday morning. Don't lose sight of the big picture. You have accomplished the incredible regardless of your finishing time.

And finally, as arbitrary as it sounds, your expectations will sometimes have to be modified by the weather. If it pours or is hot or very windy, you are unlikely to reach a goal which assumes optimal conditions. Be flexible enough to adjust if necessary. Above all, savor every moment of this amazing experience. That's it, my friends. Now go and conquer.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New shoes for recovery

I ran the Recovery Run this morning. 10km at an average pace of 6:10 /km.

What was interesting about today's run is that I tried out a new pair of shoes. A relative who heard I am training for a marathon sent me a pair of Spira shoes and said I have to try them.

The Spira shoe is unique in the technology they developed - there are springs, literally, in the heels and soles of the shoes. They are supposed to return energy to the runner during the run, and allow the runner to run faster. This is the shoe the Kenyan marathon runners generally wear, and they are the fastest guys running.

The Spira shoe has a unique look, with the bright yellow shoe and black trim contrast.When I took them out of the box the other day after I received them, my five year old daughter said "Now you are a bumblebee!"

So, I decided to try running in them today. Test them out and see if they are comfortable for using in the marathon. While they are confortable, they are not stability protection shoes. That means my pronation is more pronounced, and I was able to feel it in my knees. Over a long run, it would probably mean a lot of knee pain.

Also, being that I am not a fast runner, I probably would gain nothing by the extra speed the shoes supposedly give. The benefit is really for runners running near the front. Someone running at those speeds, the extra few seconds could make a big difference to him.

Maybe I will try to use them at the next race, if I run it, which is the Jerusalem Half-Marathon. But I will not use these shoes in the Tiberias Marathon. I will use the shoes I have been training in until now. I know how my feet and knees react in long runs to these shoes, and I think it is safer to stick with the known.

The definitely look real cool though.

Friday, December 26, 2008

24km after nothing

We are in the final stretch of training with less than 2 weeks to the marathon. This week we began tapering our training. We are meant to be running as little as possible with keeping out level of fitness.

This week was a very lazy week for me, and due to my laziness, being a bit burned out I think as well, some bad weather, and some bad scheduling, I did not run at all. Since last Friday's disaster of a run. Until today.

Today was a 24km run. We ran from HaShoshan up and down to Road 10, right across to the 375, out to Tzomet Ha'Ela, back across via the killer Zachariya hill on the Highway 38 to Bet Shemesh Darom, up and back to HaShoshan. 24km.

We ran this one later than we generally have run throughout the training. We started a bit after 8am for the purpose of getting our bodies used to running at the same time of day as the marathon will be.

The run was a good one, and I felt good. It was meant to be an easy paced run, with an 8-10km tempo at marathon pace in the middle. I took it easy and averaged 6:06/km for the whole 24km. My tempo pace was an average of about 5:30/km, which is pretty close to what I expect to run in the marathon. Even by the tempo I did not run as fast as I could have - I was more worried about the wet roads from the recent rains, and also concerned about pulling a muscle or twisting an ankle or something so close to the marathon after not having run for a full week. So I took it nice and easy.

Also, I used this run to breakke in a new pair of sneakers for the marathon. The old pair are officially "used up". I logged about 600km in them, and that is the limit for real running. You want to have shoes that still have the padding and cushioning, and all the technology in the heels and soles still fresh when running the marathon. 500-700 km is about the limit for that. So I got new shoes for the marathon, and broke them in today to make sure there would be no problems with them.

It is funny we call them "used up". They are really still in good shape. I can use them for running in general, I think, but for the marathon they are considered dead.

This coming week is our final full training week (still in taper mode). We conclude it with the traditional Long Run to Dir Rafat on Friday morning, concluding with a breakfast in the coach's house.

Friday, December 19, 2008

gotta know when to fold 'em

Today was horrible. We had a 17km medium-long run scheduled. I couldn't do it.

I slept horribly last night, a late dinner left the food heavy in my stomach, I was still sore in my joints and some muscles from the Wednesday long run (38km), my ankle was tender, and it was a recipe for disaster.

I was going to just not go, but my supportive wife kicked me out of bed and reminded me that Coach had said this run is very important. It is the conclusion of an intense week of running, the final one really as we begin tapering, and I should not skip it. So I went.

I had zero energy. We were running the beautiful Yishi trails. I could not move my legs. They were like bricks. I knew I would not make it to 17km like that. I flipped the switch in my head and decided I would make it an 11km recovery run instead, and that is what I did. I ran 11.3km at an average pace of 6:27 /km

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last of the Long Runs

Today was the last of our [really] long runs. We ran to Rehovot, with no stops. We simulated the actual marathon by not having stops, but by having small water bottles placed in certain points. As you get there, you pick up a bottle, continue running, drink as much as you want, and toss the bottle aside.

Today I decided to test a run using Granola bars and Hammer Gels for energy boosts during the run. I was told it is important and highly recommended to use the gels during the marathon, so i figured I would test it on todays run. They taste repulsive. Actually the taste is not bad (I brought along raspberry and chocolate gels today), but the texture is repulsive.

They might very well have helped though. I had a good strong run, with no real depletion of energy, even though I drank much less water than usual (I did not bring my fuel belt). The water put out was hard to find in some of its locations, and we skipped them in some spots because we could not find them. Either they had been taken, as sometimes happens, or they were just too well hidden.

It was so cold when we first went out to run this morning, that we could not feel our hands after a few minutes. It took some time, but eventually warmed up.

I ran 38km at an average pace of 5:56/km. I have been declared "marathon ready".

From here on out we go into "taper mode". Our long runs will only be at distances in the high teens to mid 20s. I dont know why, but for the last 3 weeks of training we do this, and only run what is considred the minimum to keep our fitness level...

Monday, December 15, 2008

fartlek workout

Tonight was a "fartlek" workout in RBS.

We ran a 2km warmup run, and then started our fartlek, or speedplay, workout.

the fartlek is a 48 minute run, broken into 4 segments of 12 minutes. Each of the 12 minutes is broken int 3 segments of 4 minutes. Each of the 4 minutes is run at alternating speeds, starting with 4 minutes of a slow pace at 20 seconds slower than marathon pace, then 4 minutes of medium speed, at about marathon pace or 5 seconds slower, then 4 minutes of a fast pace at 10-15 seconds fast than marathon pace.

That is repeated for each of the 12 minute segments.

I ran pretty evenly, with the slow 4 minutes more or less at about 5:50/km, the medium at about 5:20/km and the fast at about 5/km.

Overall the 48 minute workout I averaged at a 5:20/km pace.

I keep having trouble with my watch on these workouts. I can't seem to get the settings right. Last time I messed it up with not setting it properly to alert at 4 minutes. This time I figured that out, but it did nto count my laps - it counted 1 long lap of 9.13 km, so I cannot see the breakdown of each set of 4 minutes.

This weeks long run is going to be on Wednesday instead of Friday, due to a scheduling conflict for many for the advanced guys. This is goign to be the final very long run of the season, and it is going to be my longest at 38km. It is sort of going to be a simulation of the marathon, as we ar eplanning no stops and the water will be out along the route similar to the way it is in the marathon, rather than stopping at gas stations. I don't think it is such a big deal, as my last three Rehovot runs anyway I did not stop at the gas stations anyway. But this is the big one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I won!

Here I am as I cross the finish line, winning my first ever half-marathon...


Friday, December 12, 2008

No rest for the weary

After running the half-marathon yesterday, I thought we would get the day off today. Not because of over-running, as we have run more than 21km many times.
but I thought we would have the day off as kind of a reward for running the race, along with the fact that we pretty much never run 2 days in a row (officially) anyway.

Last night Coach sent us an email that half marathoners have the day off (I guess they have the rest of the season off, as they completed their goal and any running now is purely for fun/health), full marathoners have to run today.

The run was scheduled for 15km, but in the end we did 12km. That was the trail - 6 out and 6 back.

I was sore and tired after a long day yesterday, and I ran slow, but I ran.

The trail was beautiful. Coach found this trail that had all the benefits of a trail - running through beautiful views through the fields, but it was not a dirt trail. It was a paved asphalt trail. So it was also better on the joints.

I don't even know where it was. We drove about 4km north of Park Brittania, and then we turned off the road to the left on some little trail. We parked and ran the trail. The views were amazing. The air was great. And it is just a great time of day to run (6:30am). This time of year, earlier than that is a little too cold, but at 6:30 it is already starting to warm up enough...

So I ran 12km at an average pace of 5:35 /km.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A cornucopia of inspiration

Another thing that I forgot to write in my previous post about the half-marathon is the first impression.

You walk into the grounds, to go sign in and it is like a festival, with sponsors booths, drinks, snacks, people milling about, people stretching, warmign up, etc.

But you see people there in all sizes and shapes. Men, women, old, young, very old, skinny, fat, athletic builds, non-athletic builds, pretty much everything. You see all that and it is very motivating. I can do this. If that guy in the 70-99 age group category can be running 21km, I can as well. If that guy who looks like he is in much worse shape than me can do this, so can I.

Seeing the cornucopia of people who do this, despite the odds stacked against them, is very inspiring.

Rabbi ran a half marathon

What an experience. The atmosphere was electric. The excitement was almost tangible.

Today we ran our Bet She'an half-marathon. 21km. Our group was something like 30 runners from Bet Shemesh.

We got there and signed in, getting our pre-run packages including our numbers with tracking chips.

We got ready and then went out for a warm-up run. There were tons of people. I think they said 1300 had registered for this, but the results website (so far) only shows 1083.

I started near the front, because I did not want to be stuck in the back.

They give some instructions, letting us know where the water stands will be and some more details, and then he shoots the gun to start the race!

There was one section by the start where we turn left and run for a kilometer or so and then turn around and run the other direction. That is really the only opportunity to see the really fast runners, as they run by on the other side of the road.

The people in the front of the pack were a group of 5 or 6 Kenyans (or Nigerians - I really don't know), and they were already pretty decently ahead of everyone else... Those Kenyans ended up winning by a nice gap over the first "white guy"...

The race was pretty good. The track was pretty flat except for one section of uphill in the middle going through Bet She'an. The flat track was good because it meant you could really get a good rhythm going.

The weather was beautiful. That was good for us runners, but bad for Israel because we need rain. It was even a bit hot. There was one long open stretch where the wind was a bit strong and everyone was complaining afterwords that that had slowed them down.

About every 4 kilometers there were tables on the side with people handing out bottles of water. Runners would drink a few "shloogs" from the bottle and toss the rest of it into the grass on the side of the road. The grass and trees got watered pretty nicely I guess, but it seemed like a waste of a lot of water. Maybe they should have used smaller bottles (but maybe some people need that much water...).

There were people along the course cheering on their friends and relatives, and some just cheering in general for all the runners. Also, some school teachers took out their little kids to cheer on the runners.

All that, along with running with so many people, really give the runner a boost of motivation and help keep you going.

I finished the race at 1:51:07 at an average pace of 5:15/km. According to the marathon website, I placed #687.
People asked me before the race what goal time I was shooting for. I responded I am shooting to finish, and not for any specific time. I am expecting however to finish at between 1:50 and 1:55 based on my training and previous runs. So it turned otu I was right on the mark, as I finished at 1:51:07.

It was a great experience, and now I have to finish getting ready for the full marathon in another month.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Last Rehovot run of the season

Rehovot. The mother of all runs.

This Friday we ran Rehovot again. The great thing about Rehovot is that you can start from different places, depending on the distance you want to run.

Though my initial assessment of the Rehovot run was incomplete, as I now have the fuller picture after having run it 4 times now. Initially I said how much I liked the Rehovot run because it is such a flat run, so you can really get into a good rhythm, with only a couple of hilly sections.

Now that I have run this run a few times, I know that statement was wrong, if not just incomplete. There are plenty of hills. It just depends where you start from. My first two Rehovot runs, I started the runs after the main hills, with only a couple of small ones in my route. This Friday I did the full run, and now I know my initial assessment was wrong.

Friday I ran to Rehovot, startiong from the beginning of the full route, totalling 34km. The schedule really called for 36km. The group was starting at Aviv, with a loop around Narkiss for 2km, making the run 36km. My high until now was 31km, so I was worried 36 minght be too much. Being that I did not want to take the chance of collapsing in the middle of Rehovot and not being able to continue, I decided to start from Aviv without the extra loop. I figured if I was feeling good at the end of the run, I could add some extra kilometrage in Rehovot at the end of the run.

The only problem with that is once you get to the end, you never want to keep going. It is a mental thing. By the end I felt like I could probably do a couple more km, I just had no motivation to. By then 34 was enough.

The run started off tough. It was extremely windy on Highway 38, which was the first 6 km. For some reason, the wind always seems to be against the runner rather than to his back! Then was 2km of uphill from Tzomet Shimshon to the top of President's Forest. After that the run got smoother. But because we started the run later than the previous times, we ended up doing much of the run in the sun and heat.
It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day. That made it very dry. One runner even slightly dehydrated (he is ok and was able to complete the run). That made the run very tough.
We were told not to run full out, but to take it slow, and run 10-15 seconds slower than the last time we ran Rehovot. Just because this week is the half-marathon, and the full is only less than 5 weeks away.

So I ran slow, but because of th eheat I don't think we needed those instructions anyway. By the time I got to Mazkeret Batya, I was feeling like a sun-dried tomato. I wore my fuel belt, despite last time saying I would not. i decided to give it another try. I still don't like it, but it gives me the ability to run without stopping for liquids. So I am torn. Anyways, it was so hot and dry, I probably did not drink enough. I was feeling parched and dried out.

I kept going and the Rehovot part was tougher this time than last time. Because it was later, there were more cars on the road (in Rehovot), and more people on the streets out doing their Friday shopping.

I finished 34km and collapsed on the front lawn of the Weizzman Institute, enjoying the grass to stretch out my legs. Final numbers were 34km at an average pace of 6:01/km. That was only 3 seconds slower (per km) than the last time, but 3km farther.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

dried out 13km

I just got back from a13km run. Somehow my calculations were off, because I planned it to be a 14-16km run...

My running partner came late, and I thought something had come up and he was not going to show, so after waiting a bit for him, I started the run on my own. He drove up and found me, then parked and we met at a certain point.

We ran down the Road 10 towards RBS B, then turned around and ran back. It was a good run, but at a certain point I felt like I had not hydrated myself enough pre-run, and I felt like I had dried up.

Being that we have a 36km run on Friday, I felt like the run tonight was already long enough.

So I pulled in at 13.18km at an average pace of 6:18/km. The wind was very strong tonight against us, along with the slight uphill of Road 10 back to RBS, making half the run pretty slow...

Monday, December 1, 2008

pre-half-marathon tempo

It is getting serious. The marathon is getting closer, and my first competition is just 10 days away, in the form of the half-marathon in Bet She'an..

Tonight was deemed a practice run for the half-marathon, and a warm-up for the marathon. It was a tempo run at 10km (plus a 2km warm-up run). We had to calculate our expected pace for the half-marathon, and run the same pace for the tempo.

I calculated my run to be at a pace of 5:30/km, considering it realistic for me to run the half-marathon in ~1:50/1:55. When I asked Chaim, he recalculated for me to run at about 5:15.

So, I ran the 2km warm-up run at 5:39/km and then the tempo was a good run of 10km at 5:12/km. My average pace for each km was pretty even, fluctuating, on average, by only a couple of seconds per km.. So the pace was good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

lazy

I have officially skipped the Recovery Run. I was not in the mood - feeling kind of lazy and worn out, and we have a big running week ahead, with lots of kilometers scheduled.

I gave myself a "bye week", and am counting the unusual amounts of walking, pushing strollers, and carrying kids that I did on shabbos as having been my recovery run...

Friday, November 28, 2008

20km in wet weather

Today's run was back to Dir Rafat. We are cutting down the mileage somewhat, and we were meant to be running 24km today...

The problem is the Dir Rafat run is only something like 18km, so we added a couple of loops around Narkis, to jack up the mileage.

I started off the Narkis loops, and then ran out to the 38 through Victory. Up to Dir Rafat and back. It was a pretty good run, despite all the uphill sections...

I ended up only getting 20km. Not sure why. Maybe I needed to also add another 2 Narkiss loops at the end. I did not do it, because I needed to rush back to go to shul for shacharis.

20km at an average pace of 5:43/km, which is pretty good for me, considering a large percentage of the run was uphill.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If you thought that run was crazy...

If you thought my last nighttime medium run was crazy, you should have seen last nights! It definitely topped it and was even crazier. The only thing safer about it was the fact that I ran with a running partner, and also he carried a cellphone.

We meet up to run, and I though we were goign to do 10-12km around RB with the extending roads (Road 10, maybe Tzeelim..). when we met up, he told me he has run this route before and likes it, so I said ok. We went down to the Road 10, across to the 375. Then we turned left. That's right, left.

Turning left means running towards Gush Etziyon and Yerushalayim. By defintion that means we are running uphill. And it is gradual, with a lot of steep sections, but completely uphill.

The 375 in that direction is even darker than the other way. Perhaps it is because it is surrounded by mountains, while the other way has open fields. Also, there is a very small shoulder on the side of the road, and the road has a lot of twists and turns, which makes the oncoming cars both blinding and much closer to the runner.

But we did it. It was a great run. The run was slow because of the steepness of the hill, but it was a strong run, and I was not huffing and puffing, stopping to rest, no foot or knee pain, and all the other problems that come with serious uphills.

On the 375 we ran 4 kilometers out, until we got to the sign announcing Churvat Hanot. That was basically the top of the hill, as after that it flattens out and even declines a bit down to Tzur Hadassah, Matte and Beitar.

At that point we turned, and ran back. Back was obviously downhill, but not a slight downhill that can be run fast, but a downhill that was fairly steep, in some places very steep.. Also because of the darkness, the small shoulder, and a bumpy shoulder in many parts, we had to run cautiously.

We made it back safe and sound, and I closed off the run at 14.55km at an average pace of 6:46/km.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The fartlek - what a difference!

Tonight was the run that sounds like a disease. A fartlek.

the fartlek is a workout that means speedplay. Basically it is a workout that builds speed and stabilizes pace.

We were meant to run a 2km warm-up run, which I ran at an average pace of 5:52/km.

After that, we were to run 48 minutes of fartlek, broken into 4 segments of 12 minutes. Each of the 12 minutes was to be broken up with 4 minutes of a slow pace, running at about 45 seconds slower than half marathon pace, 4 minutes at 15 seconds slower than half marathon pace, and 4 minutes at 5-10 seconds faster than half marathon pace. The redo the same pace cycles each of the next 12 segments.

We did the run in RBS on Dolev, which is probably the flattest course in Bet Shemesh, so it is good for pace training.

Last time we did the fartlek, I had no idea what I was doing, and I just ran as much as I could, as fast as I could.

Tonight the fartlek was a great run, and I kept a great and even pace with my running partner. We ran an expected half marathon pace of about 5:20 or so (though I thought 5:30 was more realistic), so our cycles were planned for about 6:15, 5:45 and 5:10.

Overall the 9km over the whole 48 minutes of running was at an average pace of 5:24/km, which is pretty good. The breakdown was pretty close to what we had planned, though just slightly quicker.
We basically ran the slow pace in the 5:50/5:55 range, the medium pace in the 5:18/5:20 range, and the fast pace in the 5:05 range, with the last fast circle of 4 minutes at a pace of 4:50!

So it was a good workout.

Half marathon is in two weeks!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's the little things

I did not have a chance to do my recovery run last night, due to some scheduling issues, so I just did it now.

10km at an average pace of 6:19/km.

It was a good run. I feel that I am getting stronger (even though the last few runs have been at slower paces than previously). I notice that I am paying attention more now to the little things that make the runs better - stance, posture, step, breathing, etc. All the little things I was not paying attention to before - I was just running and building myself up, now I am paying more attention to the little things, and I feel like my runs are getting stronger.

Also, tonight was the first time I ran with my new orthotics. I did not even notice them until near the end of the run. I am not sure I can use them yet in a long run though. Of course, according to the podiatrist I should not even be using them in short runs until next week...

Friday, November 21, 2008

It can't hurt to try something once, right?

Post-run recovery today was an experience. We had the usual relaxation in Rehovot, hobbling around, having drinks at Aroma, and shooting the breeze on the way back.

But when I got home, I decided to follow some advice the podiatrist had given me recently. I recently had orthotics made. When I was chatting with him, he told me that for the recovery after a long run I should get 2 or 3 bags of ice, and take an ice bath after the run. Sit in the ice for about 10 minutes or so, and then take the shower.

He said that would get rid of any swelling, any ankle or knee soreness, and in general make the recovery quicker, as the ice gets the blood flowing and helps the muscles recover quicker.

I decided I would try it. It can't hurt to try something once, and maybe it would even work!

Let me tell you, it hurts. Sinking into that pile of ice in the bathtub is extrenely painful. My feet froze over very quickly and hurt a lot. I thought I would lose a couple of toes to frostbite!

Eventually I adjusted, and instead of giving up I kind of got used to it, a bit, and it became only slightly beyond bearable.

But I must say - I sat in the ice for 10 minutes, and I was just as sore coming out as I was when I went in. Maybe the overall recovery is quicker, but it was definitely not immediate!

I don't know if I will be trying that again!

Broke 30km!

Today's run was tough, and I knew it would be in advance. It was another Rehovot run, and I scheduled to do 31-32km.
I had a rough week with my knees - a lot of soreness, so I decided that I would run it slower than normal. Even the 8km from President's Forest to Tzomet Nachshon (not including the hill up to Harel) where you can effortlessly fly without realizing, I would take it slow. I did not want to strain or pull anything, and I needed the reserves for the late kilometers...

So I started my run from the Paz gas station at the entrance to Bet Shemesh. I ran to Tzomet Shimshon. The whole way there my fuel belt kept slipping, and I decided I would not wear it next time. I have no hips or tush anymore to hold it up. At Tzomet Shimshon I adjusted everything a bit and it got better. I had it over my shirt and it was slipping, but when I put it under my shirt it seemed to stay in place.

I was in a good rhythm, and ran the whole way without stopping. I overran Weizzman Institute, because I hit it at only a bit over 30km, and I wanted to hit at least 31, if not 32. I overran it and ran back, and in the end hit 31.1.

It was agood run, and I broke through the 30km barrier. I felt wiped out in the Tzomet Bilu area, but the Herzl Street 4km stretch in Rehovot to Weizzman was better than in previous runs. I ran most of it this time in the street, and maybe that was the difference...

I was sore after the run, but not too bad. It felt good hitting 31km.

Numbers for this run were 31.1km at an average pace of 5:54/km.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

running blind

Tonight was a good run. The Medium-Long runs are getting long - tonight was 18km.

not really wanting to just run around the neighborhood 4 times, I decided to repeat last Friday's run, with the difference of starting and ending in RBS instead of Aviv. It was really a stupid idea, because running down the 375 to Tzomet ha'Ela and then up the 38 in the pitch black night is really stupid. Even if nothing happened.

Last week was not a good run, but tonight was good. Maybe because it was black out side and I could not see too far in front of me, so even on the big Zachariya hill I ran it with no problem. Maybe not being able to see is beneficial...

I ran the route of exactly 18km at an average pace of 6:07/km. I ran it a little slower than my average pace, because there was no speed tempo in the middle and it was pitch black out, so I had to be cautious.

Friday is a big Rehovot 32km run. I hope it does not get rained out...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No longer a novice!

Tonight was a recovery run from Friday's Long Run. Blah blah blah. Nothing exciting there. Recovery runs are boring already.

So I have two milestones to announce - (drumroll please)...
  1. This week we are finishing the Lactate Threshold and Endurance phase of our training. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like a milestone. Lactate sounds like Lactose, which I know has to do with milk, but I doubt there is any such connection, as I have not been drinking any unusual quantities of milk recently... But whatever it means, it sounds like a milestone, as we are getting cloaser and closer to being ready fro the marathon
  2. This one is a bit more exciting... This past week Chaim, a.k.a. Coach, sent out an email with details of the weeks running schedule. In it, he made a very significant change... instead of the usual variety - a schedule for advanced runners, a schedule for novice runners, and a schedule for half-marathoners, he sent a schedule for marathoners and for half-marathoners, and said there are no more novice runners and advanced runners. We are now all marathoners. I emailed him and mentioned that I am not yet even close to being able to follow the advanced runners schedule, and he responded that I am no longer a novice runner (I fall somewhere in between novice and advanced right now), so I should follow the advanced schedule but cut it down some (and we decide each time how to cut it down appropriately..).
So, by doing nothing more than just running (i.e. I did not take any tests or anything like that), I have graduated from novice status!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The run I should not have run

The past few days I had caught a touch of some stomach bug. It gave me "the runs", and I even had to skip the Wednesday Medium-Long run because of it. I thought it had pretty much passed, so I decided to do the 25km run today, despite my having considered skipping it.

Bad idea.

I never got into a good rhythm, and I felt it.

The run was a repeat of one we did a couple weeks ago. 25km from the top of Aviv to Road 10, to Road 375, to Tzomet Ha'Ela, to Bet Shemesh Darom, and back to Aviv.

The last time we did it, we had an 8km speed tempo in the middle. This time we had two 5km speed runs (not tempos, but more slightly faster than marathon pace runs) in the middle.

I ran ok until the 375, though not with any good rhythm. The stretch with the speed run was pretty good. I got into a decent rhythm and ran it at a good speed. Until the end. I then needed to take my first bathroom break.

After that, the next section is "murder hill" passing Zechariya on the 38. I took it slow, and then got a cramp in the middle and started to feel it in my knees. On the way down after the climb, my knees felt better, but I needed another bathroom break.

I ran the rest of the way ok, but without any good rhythm, needing one more bathroom break not far from Bet Shemesh Darom.

I stopped at 23km, as it was very uphill in Bet Shemesh and my knees were starting to feel it again.

I should have just stayed home. Though my numbers were not really so bad. I ran 23km at an average pace of 5:48/km.

But I should have just stayed home.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cruise Intervals

Tonight we ran a workout called "Cruise Interval Workout".

The cruise interval workout is, after a 2km warm-up run, we run 2km laps at about 10 seconds faster than [expected] marathon pace, with 4 minute recovery runs in between each of the 2km laps.

The goal is to get the body into its pace and rhythm for the marathon. Gotta find the right speed.

I don't know what my expected marathon pace is going to be. Right now I am basing it on my last run, but there is still a long way to go (less than two months!), and by then I should be running faster than I am now. My Friday 28km was at 5:35/km, so that is what I used for setting my speed for tonight.

After the 2km warm-up run, I ran my 2km laps at average paces of 4:50, 5:10, 5:30 and 5:35 consecutively, with 4 minute recovery runs in between each.

It was a good run. The schedule is changing a bit. Our mid-week medium long runs are getting longer now, and our Friday long runs are getting shorter... Wednesday we have 18km scheduled and Friday we have only 24km scheduled...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

runnng to recover

Tonight was the Recovery Run from Friday's Long Run. The Recovery Run is generally a short run, run at a slower pace. It is meant to help the muscles and blood cells recover, as it facilitates blood flow and blah blah blah.

I ran the recovery run of 9km at an average pace of 6:55/km.

I always tend to run local RBS runs slower than the bigger runs. I think because it is local, and because I am not running to somewhere - just running.

I ran the perimeter run of RBS, but in the opposite direction I usually run. Also I added, instead of Tzeelim down to the 38 and back, a run down to the 10 and then across to the 375 and back. That made my full run an exact 9km.

I always find these recovery runs to be a difficult concept. I would think to recover from a long run, you should sit back in a La-Z-Boy with a nice cold drink. A few good hours of that would be really good. To consider the idea that in order to recover you should get out and run some more, is mind boggling. Though I did grow up believing that an injury in sports is best healed when continuing to play, such as playing football with a twisted ankle, and the like, but that was really just a macho kind of thing. To learn that there is really something to it, is strange...

all the difference

I purchased two items this past week that made a big difference in my run. New shoes and a fuel belt.

This Friday's long run was to be a 28km run to Rehovot (for us novice runners). We were meant to start at Tzomet Shimshon, but I found that to be problematic. Starting at Tzomet Shimshon means you are starting to run with a serious uphill. Instead I againstarted at Presidents Forest, which makes the run only 26km. I added 2km in the middle of the route.

From presidents Forest, the run is a slight downhill for the first 8km, with a couple moderate uphills. This allows you to run effortlessly at faster speeds. For the first 8km or so until Tzomet Nachshon, I was averaging a pace of something like 4:55/km.

The run is beautiful and smooth.

I went to pro-Sport during the week and got my feet analyzed for shoes. I bought a pair of Stability running shoes made by Asics. These shoes correct part of my instep which had been causing me a lot of pain on the long runs and causing me to slow down a lot and also limited my ability to go further.. At a certain point I could no longer run.

I ran with my new shoes on Friday and I had no pain, and I pulled in to Weizzman Institute at 28km and felt like I could have gone further. I also ran it at a fast speed than I ran the same run 2 weeks ago that was only 26km.

Another difference was the fuel belt. I did not have to make any stops at all for water breaks because I was carrying the water with me. I have personally found stopping to be difficult for the run. I know it is necessary to stay hydrated, and you need water at certain distances, but I have found that when I stop, my muscles tighten up and it is harder to run after a stop. So not needing to stop made a big difference.

Also, because my gait was [partially] adjusted, my shoulder pain did not happen this week. Though one problem that arose was a bit of chafing in places I did not have prior..

Anyways, the run was great. I have taken a liking to the Rehovot run. My final numbers were 28km at an average pace of 5:35/km.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

back to running

I am way off schedule. The holidays started messing the schedule up, lessening my runs from 4 times a week to 3 times a week. Now, I have missed a couple of runs, some for decent reasons, some not. It is time to get back to a serious running schedule.

I missed the recovery run on Saturday night due to foot pain and political meetings about upcoming elections. I missed Monday nights run because I was in Jerusalem.

So I ran tonight to make up for Monday, and for the Wednesday mid-distance run.

The temperature was perfect outside, but it was too windy. It was blowing like a serious storm is coming in. And no matter which direction I was running, it seemed to almost always be blowing against me, rather than at my back...

I ran down to the 38 and back up, then around RBS. When I got to Dolev-Dolev, I went up to Dolev and ran one loop around. Then I ran back down and completed the perimeter run around RBS. At the end I ran further down Kishon and back, to push my run up to 14km. I ran it at an easy pace, and my numbers were 6:15/km...

I registered for the marathon this morning. This evening I got measured for orthotics. This Friday we have another Rehovot run. And it is time to buckle down and push harder...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is official!

If I was not committed enough up until this point, I am now! I just registered for the Tiberias Marathon that will be run on January 8, 2009.

I am the 179th person to register...

Friday, October 31, 2008

only 22 today

I really need to get orthotics. I think that will solve my problem.

The last could of long runs were 25 and 26km each. At about 18km or so, my feet got very sore. I happened to be by a podiatrist this past week and asked him about that and he looked at my feet and said "you need orthotics". he told me some calculation about how many steps per kilometer and explained that when your foot is stepping crooked for that many steps, it makes things hurt.

So I gotta get that taken care of..

This Friday's long run was in the Bet Shemesh area, scheduled for 25km. We met at the top of Nofei Aviv and ran down to Road 10. We turned right and ran towards the 375. We were supposed to have a water stop at the entrance from Road 10 to RBS. That was about 5.5km. After that break we were meant to have a fast tempo run for 8km in which we run at a faster pace - the pace expected for running a half-marathon, rather than an easy paced run. Unfortuantely the break did not happen, because the water one of the runners had placed there overnight had been taken by someone.

We started the fast paced run, and I was falling back a bit. I realized I could be running faster, and there was no reason I should not. So I took off, At the end of the 8km, which ended up in Tzomet Ha'Ela, I had averaged 4:50/km for that 8km, which is a very good pace for me. What was really good, was that I felt myself closing the gap between me and the group of runners running ahead of me. They had been running at a faster pace than me, but when I sped up I felt the gap closing. Eventually I passed the final runner at the back of the group, and felt great! I had closed the gap and run into the group that was running faster than me. I only stayed ahead of one of those runners, as the others had sped up also and were by now further ahead.

After a water break at Tzomet Ha'Ela, we ran the toughest part of the route. From Tzomet Ha'Ela to the entrance to RBS on the 38. That is tough because it is a seriously long and tough hill. By now my feet were very sore and I was running slower.

We had another water break at the RBS entrance, and then we continued on toward BS. We were supposed to enter Bet Shemesh Darom, run up the hill, and back up to Aviv. By the time I got to Park Ha'Plastic, my feet were so sore, I could not imagine taking the hill in Bet Shemesh, though my legs and body were fine. So I turned in by Park HaPlastic, ran the trail behind Aviv and cut the run short at a bit more than 22km.

The final numbers were 22.34km at an average pace of 5:39/km. That included the patch of 8km that I ran at 4:50/km.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Every run has its challenge

Every run has its challenges. And, as I said before, a large majority of those challenges are mental. Sometimes we overcome the challenges completely, sometimes only partially and sometimes not at all.

"Challenges" include telling yourself all sorts of excuses to dissuade yourself from running, or from running as much as you should.

Wednesday's run for novices (read: me) was scheduled to be 15km. After the Onday night run Chaim said on Wednesday we should do 18km on Wed. Could be he was referring to the advanced runners, as that is what they were scheduled to run, but he also told me, so i think he was changing it to 18 for everybody.

But 18km locally is hard to run. Where do you go? Run around the neighborhood a bunch of times? Seems very boring. At night and early morning, the highways are not lit up, so you cannot run there, so the only option is just to run around the neighborhood itself...

The only hours I can run during the week are at night or very early morning, and 18km needs a block of nearly 2.5 hours (about 1:50 for the run plus warm-up and cool down times, and time to get home and shower and all that). So a mid-week run for that distance is very difficult.

Also, Wednesday I could not run, for technical reasons. Instead I ran Thursday morning. Thursday morning has an additional challenge that on Friday we have a long run (25km) scheduled. So you don't want to run too much on Thursday, and be tired and worn out for Fridays run.

So I decided to get up early and run around Dolev a bunch of times, until I get sick of it, and then run around the perimeter until I have had enough. After running around the Dolev loop 6 times, I decided I had had enough. I could complete the run by running down Yarden to yarqon to Kishon and then back home, cutting the run short at around 10km.

In the end I ran 11.08 km at an average pace of 6:00/km.

Not only is it hard to find places to run locally to get enough distance, but also when you are just running aimlessly, with no real destination or goal, you also run slower. If you are running to get somewhere, such as Rehovot, for example, or even just some final destination, so you can pace yourself at a certain speed and just keep going. But when you have nowhere specific to go, you run slower...

Anyway, so I found enough excuses to shorten todays run. Objectively some of the excuses are good, so maybe it is justified and not really a failure, but subjectively they are still just excuses, and I ran less than the amount I should have run.

Monday, October 27, 2008

fartlek rained out

Tonight was supposed to be a fartlek in RBS. That means after a 2m warmup run around Dolev, we go into a "speedplay" mode, running at alternating speeds, according to a specific schedule.

Too bad it rained right before our run. The road was wet and slippery, and it was deemed too dangerous for the fartlek.

Not to worry! That did not mean we could call it a night early and simply go home.

The plan for the evening was changed to a run around RBS. We ran from Dolev- Dolev down to the corner of Yarqon-Yarden. Down to Road 10, made a right and ran to the end (the junction of Highway 375). Turned, ran back, up to RBS, down across Kishon, back up the killer hill to Dolev - Dolev to conclude the run. That made the run, including the warm-up, a run of 11km.

I did the whole 11km at an average pace of 5:38/km, but the first 2km was the warm-up run and that was run at a slower pace. Overall, not including the first 2km, I ran the subsequent 9km at a pace of around 5:25 or so...

We concluded with a series of stretching and exercises on the wet ground, and went home..

Sunday, October 26, 2008

sniffle

I skipped todays recovery run because I am not feeling well. Hopefully I will be ready for tomorrow night's group workout. I think we are scheduled for another fartlek.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Honey, need anything from Rehovot?

Today we ran to Rehovot.

I have found, about 20% of the difficulty of running is physical, and 80% of it is mental. The physical hurdles are the easy ones to overcome. it is the mental ones that are hard. Today's run was easy compared to last weeks, even though it was only slightly longer. The mental block of running over 20km had already been shattered last week, the mental block of running to another city had already been shattered last week, and physically the run was mostly flat with only a few uphills.

The Rehovot run was originally scheduled just for the advanced runners with the run planned for 34km. The novice runners would have a shorter run locally. I decided I wanted to run Rehovot, but 34km is still beyond my abilities.So I looked over the route and decided to start my run at President's Forest, which is just a bit after Tzomet Shimshon. That knocked about 8km off the run, and would make my run to Rehovot a 26km run.

I scheduled to start the run on my own, before the main group of runners would arrive at President's Forest. I figured they would overtake me pretty quickly, because they run much faster than I do. We were scheduled to make a pit stop at the gas station by Tzomet Nachshon, then by the gas station at Mazkeret Batya.

My wife dropped me off at president's Forest at 6:50am, and I started my run. I did not see anybody until Tzomet Nachshon, when I saw a fellow novice runner who had decided to start his run from there (which would make for an 18km run). I skipped the stop at Nachshon, and continued running.

The terrain was beautiful, as so far it has been on all runs. This run was completely on the road. The course was mostly flat, with a few uhills and downhills, but I flew (for me) ata very good pace all the way to the pit stop of Mazkeret Batya. That was 18km for me. Stopping is always difficult and running again after a stop is difficult. The muscles have tightened and the joints have downtime to get sore.

We got our drinks and pulled out. As we pulled out of Mazkeret Batya, we saw other runners for the first time pulling into Mazkeret Batya.

We ran from Mazkeret Batya through the major shopping center of Tzomet Bilu. At the entrance to Rehovot, other runners first started passing us. Running in Rehovot was tough. There are pedestrians in the way, lots of traffic, traffic lights at intersections that cause delays, and it suddenly got hot as we were running in the sun at that ppoint. So in Rehovot I slowed down. The last 2 or 3km got a bit difficult. As I got stuck at a traffic light, I was feeling very dry. I ran into a kiosk and bought a bottle of water. That helped and I sped up a bit after that.

I finished the run slowly, as we completed the course on the front lawn of the Weizzman Institute. After a short rest, we went down the block to Aroma for an Ice Shoko, and then got a taxi home.

Final numbers were 26km at an average pace of 5:48/km with total running time of 2:31hr (I really get a kick out of this GPS watch!).

I am not nearly as sore as after the Jerusalem run, and my knees don't hurt at all. My calves are sore and tight, but not nearly as bad as last time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

post holiday recovery pace

I missed the Saturday night and Monday runs due to the holiday, scheduling, remaining soreness from the Jerusalem run and random technical problems. That, along with a busy Simchas Torah holiday with a lot of candy in shul and food at home, made for an ideal "recovery pace" run tonight, even though the run was really scheduled to be a medium-long run at 14km.

I ran with David at recovery pace - we were going to shoot for about 10 or 12 kilometers at an easy pace. Unfortunately he had to cut out early - he was not feeling well. So we cut the distance short and turned around. When he cut out, I decided instead of running home and finishing early at about 7km, I decided to extend it a bit.

We had run down to Road 10 and turned left. So when we ran back, I turned right at Nehar Ha'Yarden and ran around RBS on my own. I saw some other runners running their post-holiday runs individually as well, and that is always nice. It makes you feel like you are not the only crazy person out there.

I ran an easy pace and completed the run at 9.31km with ana verage pace of 6:21/km. This was my first run since jerusalem, and I was feelign heavy and sluggish from the holiday, so that was agood pace. Hopefully it gets me back into it for this coming Fridays long run. It is a toned back long run scheduled at 16km for us novice runners.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

As the crow flies..

Friday morning. 4:45am. My alarm goes off and I nearly go back to sleep. It takes a moment to remember that I have to get up to run. Must have been the nerves.

I get up and get all my stuff together and head out. We were starting the run from the beginning of the Nahal Soreq trail just outside of Noham. That is behind the police station just otuside of Bet Shemesh. There were actually a couple of routes people could choose from,d epending on their abilities. There was a 16km route - to start there you had to meet up at a much further point. I dont think anybody chose that.
there was the 32km route starting from Aviv, running to Nahal Soreq. And the 24km route.

I think we were about 25 runners and another 8 bikers.

We met up with the 32km guys and the bikers at the beginning of Nahal Soreq. We started the run at 5:20 am (the 32km guys started at 4:30 I think), and began with Birkot Ha'Shachar.

We had cross over Nahal Soreq at a certain point near the beginning. Nahal Soreq is basically a river of sewage. We took off our shoes and walked through it, some of us with bags on our feet, some of us not. I tried the bags, but it did not help keeping my feet dry. After drying off and putting the shoes back on, we really got started.

I started the run trying to keep pace with the first group. We were supposed to be running slow and easy, but they at their slow pace were still much faster than me at my fast pace. I kept up pretty decently, but my goal was really to keep pace so when I would fall back, I would still be within range of the middle or last group, and not be all the way back on my own.

We ran pretty smoothly on a nice trail for about 6km. It was a beautiful mornign with frsh cool morning air. At about 6km the group stopped and waited a couple of minutes for everyone to catch up. That wa sone thing I was very impressed with, and very happy about. They were very good about stopping and waiting at the stopping points for everyone to get together.

It took a minute or so and then we continued our run. We ran until about the 12km marker, and then we had our first water stop. It is good that animals do not have thumbs and could not open our water bottles, and that is probably why our water was still there in the morning. We took a coupld minutes for a water break, and to eat some energy food - like raisins, granola, and dried fruit. We also took a moment for a group picture.

To this point, the trails were pretty flat, with a general slight uphill gradient. It was a nice run and I was feeling good.

we then continued the run. We were scheduled to make the next stp at the 18km marker. This was to be big for me, as 18 had been my longest run until now. The run until then got slightly more uphill, and don't forget - any downhills in this run meant the following uphills were just going to be harder and more uphill.

By the way, people think these stops are for sissies and make the run easier. While the need to drink make these stops necessary, and it was meant to be an easy run, not a race, the stops actually make it harder. When you stop running for a couple of minutes, your muscles settle and tighten up. To get started again after a stop is very difficult and even painful. You have to run a couple hundred meters before you get back into your pace and routine.

We stopped at the 18km marker for a water break, and a couple more pictures. The next stop was the 21km marker, just to gather together before the big hill. Or as somebody else dubbed it - the elevator shaft.

By now I was starting to feel the run in my feet and in my knees. I was already well past my longest distance, still feeling good overall - meaning not wiped out - but my legs were starting to feel like they had hit their limits.

There we are, looking up at the montain we are about to run. A few words of encouragement and avice and off we go. The goal, for me at least, was not to run at any specific speed, but just to make it up the hill. Really to make it up without stopping, but making it up would also have been pretty good.

And off we goo. I fell behind pretty quickly, as my legs were already worn out, and I am the slowest guy in this goup anyway. But I was not too far behind. The interesting things was that the bikers had it even harder. This uphill was murder on them. No matter how slow I was running, I was still passing bikers.

There were points on this mountain that were so steep that I could not put one foot in front of the other lifting it without hitting ground sooner than expected.

Anyway, I ran it pretty slowly. But I kept it going and eventually I made it to the top. The really hard part, except for the mountain and all the steep parts, was the last part of the mountain. It was already not overly steep and much easier, but by then you think it is over. You already see the end in front of you and say I just ran all that, I'll just walk the last 200 or 400 meters. But you keep going. That is really tough.

I made it to the end! Without stopping even once. By then my legs were pretty numb, and my knees were feeling it. I stop at the cars and take a drink of orange juice. Everyone was already washing off and getting ready to daven. I sat down and started rubbing my calves. Then I really felt it. Someone said to me if you think you are sore now, wait until tomorrow.

For the next 15 minutes or so, it only got worse. My calves got so sore, I said to somebody that I feel like I am going to cry, and not from emotion, but from soreness. I could hardly walk.

Eventually the pain started to ease off. My knees were sore all the way through Friday night, and then the bottoms of my feet felt the soreness. Now I am mostly better and ready for the next run.

And I have not even written about the exhilirating experience of running to Jerusalem! To think that the original mitzvah of aliyah la'regel was to do it by foot, and I just did it by foot....It really was an amazing experience, and the fact that I was able to complete it was totally mind-boggling. thank God for giving me the strength of wherewithal.

The pre-run

Ok. I have finally gotten around to it. I am going to break this post into two separate posts. The first will be about the pre-run, and the second will be abput the run itself.

The truth is it is difficult to find the words to describe the run to Jerusalem. The feeling of accomplishment, the idea of running to Jerusalem, etc. I will try to describe it the best I could, but mostly I think it will be the technical aspects of it, just because I don't know if it is possible to actually describe the emotions and spirit behind it.

The pre-run was nerve wracking. In the days leading up to the run I kept re-thinking whether I should be doing it or not. I planned on doing it, and therefore I skipped the Wednesday mornign run, which anyway was not really scheduled - it was added ad-hoc by request of a few guys. I also skipped the last motzei shabbos run. I went on the Monday morning run.

The idea was that I needed to rest my body for the long run, and I wanted to not overstrain my busted toe, or pull any muscled in my legs because of over compensating, in anticipation of the big run.

But leading up to the big run I was getting nervous. Am I really ready for it? Nobody else from my level of running was planning on doing the run. Only the more advanced runners were participating.

I also was nervous about the idea of running to Jerusalem. I told myself it is not really a big deal - I already have run 18km a couple of times, so 24 is a bit longer, but not such a big deal. I can do it. What made me nervous was the idea of running to another city. Until now we ran a route - a circle or an "out and back". This was running to another city. Even though in distanc eit was onyl going to be a bit longer, but it was running to another city!

Also, in addition to never having run more than 18km before, going to Jerusalem is uphill, no matter how you cut it. Yes, they told me the route is mostly flat with only some uphill, and the last 4km was the only serious uphill, but that is a serious uphill, and even if it is "mostly flat", I have learned that that means it is only a slight gradient of uphill, not really flat.

I got over my fears and stayed with the program.

The pre-run included a lot of preparation. We had to go as a group, in a convoy, the night before, to drop water bottles at certain spots for the run. Also, we needed to leave cars at the final destination so we would have rides back after the run. I went along in the convoy to give rides back to people leaving their cars in Jerusalem.

We dropped off the water, and continued on to Jerusalem. As I saw the last uphill climb, I started to reconsider. This was an uphill of major proportions. I knew I could do it, if it was at a point like 5km into the run, for example. But to do that hill at 21km? I thought it was beyond me. I really thought to myself that I am making a mistake and I should not be doing this. I am not ready for it yet.

We dropped off the cars and went home to make final preparations and get some sleep before the run.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Aliyah La'Regel, Ba'Regel

I just ran 25.4km. From Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem.

Nothing more to say for now. No patience to sit here and type. And too sore. More later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Derech Burma, or the Burma Road

The Burma Road was a makeshift road built in 1948 during the siege on Jerusalem to be used as an alternate route to get to Jerusalem, as the main road was blocked.

The Burma Road is a historic site, and we ran it today. At least, part of it.

We made up that we would run out and then turn back at about 35 minutes. The trail is a difficult run with a lot of uphills and downhills, very minimal flat areas, and some of the uphills are extremely steep.

I ran with my running buddy David, and Ezra who sometimes runs ran with us as well. A few other novice runners were running a bit behind us. The advanced guys were way ahead.

We ran out and at 35 minutes we hit 6km and turned around. The whole route was meant to be 7 or 7.5km which would have ended in a spectacular view, but we did not make it that far. The advanced guys did.

We ran back and finished the route. The uphills were tough. I enjoyed the run. My injured toe is still injured and wa sa bit of a hindrance, but I could already tell the difference between todays run and last Fridays run and it has clearly improved a lot, as I ran much better. I kind of felt the 12km was not enough, and I could have gone further, but the uphills made it a good workout, with a beautiful view and terrain. Hopefully I will be ready for Fridays big run...

Numbers for today were 12km at an average pace of 6:16km.

Friday, October 10, 2008

sore

Today was a tough run.
We ran a bit over 18km, but a number of factors made it very difficult:
  1. I injured my toe over Yom Kippur, and had it bandaged up. I had considered skipping the run because of it, but I decided to do it anyway. I was basically ok, but I seem to have subconsciously compensated by using my other leg more somehow because my other leg is sorer than usual.
  2. post-Yom Kippur (or any fast) runs I am told are always very difficult. Not hydrated enough. Not having eaten enough or the right foods prior to running. etc.
  3. possibly having run 16+km on Wednesday made mo more tired for todays run. I have never run two long runs consecutively, so I am assuming that that had some effect on my performance.
The run was great. At least the first half. We ran 9 km out from the bottom of Aviv out through the Yishi forest. It was really a beautiful run. Through the citrus orchards and right opposite the train tracks that I normally travel on to get to work.

We pulled in our 10km at 55 minutes, but the first half of the run was basically flat with some uphills and downhills, but more downhills. Also, as noticed later, during the first half we had the winds to our backs.

The way back was tough. It seemed like more of the hills were uphill, and the wind resistance was noticeable.

I slowed down and "suffered" the last 4.5 km, but I made it the whole way.

Final numbers were 18.13km at an average pace of 5:46/km. On my watch I separated the laps a bit so I could see the first 10+km I ran at an average pace of 5:28/km and the last 7.8km I ran at 6:09/km..

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Will we ever go back down?

Today's run was a knockout. It was a medium long run, weighing in at 16+km, and we ran it as a group.

Little did I know how hard it would be.

We started at the bottom of Nofei Aviv leaving on the trail out and we were running to Beit Natif. That is the mountains just beyond RBS A.

The way out was a long and gradual uphill. I kept thinking eventually we were going to get to the top and level out, but that did not happen. We just kept going up and up and higher up. There was no end. Somehow though I kept up decently and even had good speed, despite the constant uphill.

It turns out, we kept going uphill to the top of the mountains for a total of a bit over 8.5km! Straight! With some of those uphills not just being long and gradual, but also some parts that were extremely steep!

Somehow I made it all the way, with the expectation that on the second hald we would be gliding down in a relaxed pace on an equivalent downhill.

Boy, was I in for a surprise. The downhill was sudden and complete. We went the whole downhill in like 800meters, which leaves no ability for a relaxing run and catching breath. Such a sharp downhill is a lot of work.

Anyways, we completed the downhill and then it mostly flattened out with some ups and downs, but mostly flat. We ran on the trails back to Aviv, and on the way passed right by my house.

That is tough - being so tired and running right by the house is very tempting to just stop there and go home. But I kept going and finished the run back to Aviv.

Another hard part, I think the hardest part of the whole run, was the last 1.5km. You know you are on the last leg of the run and my legs just turned to jelly at that point. Knowing it was just about over really killed me.

By the end I looked at my average pace and could not believe I had run, with all that uphill, at such a good pace. My numbers were 16.31 km at an average pace of 5:38/km. Again I hit 10km at 57 minutes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Speed Workout - noticeable improvement

Tonight was a speed workout. That means we basically ran a 5km race route. The first 2.5km was a very serious uphill, and then back. This was sandwiched between 3.5km runs to warm up, and at the end to cool down. The overall total was 12km.

The speed workout was the main part of the run. We started the 5km from across from the fire station in BS. We ran down to the traffic circle of Ben Zeev, made a left and ran up the whole Ben Zeev until the end (past the Kiryah Haredit), turned on Levi Eshkol to finish another 250m, turned around and ran back down.

We were told that it is a speed workout and we are meant to be pushing ourselves, and "we should be "suffering" as we run up Ben Zeev.

So off we were. It was encouraging because we were about 30 or so runners, so that always gives the run a bit of an extra boost.

So here is what happened. I ran the 2.5km uphill at an average pace of 5:27/km, which for me is an amazing pace. I actually did not realize how far it was going to be. I thought it was the traffic circle by Rashi, for some reason, that we were running to. When I got there and saw we had to go further, I deflated a bit.. Anyway, I felt good.

I think I have an extra benefit of doing a lot of my personal runs in RBS. Running in RBS means you are running some serious hills, no matter where or which way you run. So I by now have a lot of uphill experience. This uphill was not as steep as some of the uphills in RBS that I run, but it was longer. So I ran it pretty strong. I was even passing people. I am still not even close to the fast group, but I was not too far behind them on this run.

the way down was at an average pace of 5 /km.

Overall the whole 12km run was at an average pace of 5:28 /km.

I feel myself improving on each run. We have some interesting and exciting runs coming up, so look forward to some good posts!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

taking it easy

First of all I have to apologize. In my post about Friday's long run, I neglected to describe how beautiful the area was. It has already faded by now, so I will not try, but it was really a stunning view, and even running right by the cow sheds and the chicken coops did not mess up the beauty of the countryside. I simply forgot to write about it because of the milestone I had hit.

Now, on to tonight's run. The Saturday night runs seem to be the toughest. I am generally still sore from Friday's long run. As well, my knee and ankle are generally still sore. So it is a good thing that Saturday nights run is dubbed a recovery pace run, meaning we run slower. So I took it easy tonight and ran slower..

Tonight was recovery pace with some bursts of speed at various points.

Running Saturday night is also interesting because you see people around, and the neighborhood is not dead like during the 4:30am runs... Tonight there were groups of guys out at various places hanging around hocking. There were couples out walking.

Anyway, I ran tonight 10.11km at an average pace of 6.38/km

Friday, October 3, 2008

milestones

This morning's run was an 18km run fro the bottom of the Nofei Aviv neighborhood of BS out to Dir Rafat, the monastery behind Kibbutz Tzora.

Most of the way was pretty flat, with a serious incline for about 1.5km or so up to Dir Rafat.

The past three or so runs I have been trying to improve my pace, running the first few km, increasing it slightly each time, of each run at a faster pace, and then slowing down to my normal pace. For some reason, today I had a very strong run and ran at a faster pace the whole way, including the steep uphill. I still finished last (not including the group who did nto run the whole route), but I improved my pace.

I was going to run just the first 5 or so km at an accelerated pace, but I was feeling good and felt like I could keep going. Eventually I slowed down, but at a certain point I glanced down at my watch and saw that despite my having slowed down I was still running at a pace that was much better than what my average pace has been. I pretty much kept up that pace the rest of the way, slowing down a bit more on the uphill.

We made it up to Dir Rafat, stopped for a quick drink from the water faucet, turned around and ran back.

On the way back I noticed, by chance, that I was hitting a milestone. For the first time ever, I hit the 10km mark in less than an hour (and that even included the whole uphill!)!!! It was actually 57 minutes and change. That was very exciting. Eventually I glanced down at my watch and saw that I was on the 59 minute marker and only a few hundred meters from the 11km marker. I sped up to see if I could hit 11 in an hour, but I missed it by a bit.

The way back was also a good run. Near the end I had to slow down a bit because it was hard to figure out which trail was the right trail back at certain points where the trails split up.

My final numbers for todays run were: 18.01km at an average pace of 5:51/km over a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes. The first 5km and change I ran at an average pace of 5:26/km. I ran the 1.52km uphill to Dir Rafat at an average pace of 6:31/km.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

the break is over

4 days. Since I began my pre-training training in the second week of August, this is the longest I have gone without running. 4 days. I must be crazy.

I actually planned to go Monday morning, erev Rosh Hashana, but two things stopped me:
  1. Erev Rosh Hashana. I just could not imagine having the time available (though that was not really a good reason)
  2. my knee and ankle were sore, and I felt like taking advantage of Rosh Hashana and giving them an extra day of rest.
By the second day of Rosh Hashana, I was feeling very restless and I was missing the run. That along with the fact that I was going two days of eating big meals with no exercise meant I was losing more than just the not running...

So tonight right after the holiday was over I went out to run. I went to Bet Shemesh to run with the group. We were planning a 12km run in Bet Shemesh, starting with two loops around Narkiss. They were going to be starting out slow, becuase of the holiday slugishness, and then speeding up.

I made the mistake of running fast to keep up with them while they were running slow. SO by the time I was finishing my secon loop, I had already lost them as they had already sped up and I was starting to slow down.

I had no idea where they were or where they went, and I had made the mistake of not asking where they would be going. So I ran myself and made up my own route.

I finished the two loops, ran up Shoshan, up the main road, up Maapilei Egoz, up Rashi, across Migdal Hamayim, and then back. And then I finished up with another loop around Narkiss just to complete the 12km.

The hard part of it was the whole run up to moigdal Hamayim was uphill. The good part is the way back was downhill.

Final numbers for tonight's run: 12.14km at an everage pace of 6:28/km.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Slow Gonzales

Tonight was a 9km run at recovery pace. That means about half a mionute per km slower than your normal training pace.

I was (and am) still sore from Friday's long run, so I figured I would take it easy. I ran even slower than that. I ran anywhere from half a minute per km slower, to 1.5 minutes per km slower than my average. I guess running slower is better than not running at all!

I normally prefer to run Sunday morning rather than motzei shabbos, but with the week shortened because of Rosh Hashana, it made sense to run tonight, and possibly be able to squeeze a Monday morning run in as well. Whereas if I would run Sunday morning, I would have no chance of running Monday morning.

So I ran up Yarqon, down to Road 10. Turned right and ran to the 375 and turned right. I ran on the 375 until the end of the lights (which is not far), then I ran back. I ran back up Road 10, up to RBS, turned right on Yarden and ran up and down to Kishon, turned left and ran back home. That totals 9.39km at an average pace of 7:34/km.

Friday, September 26, 2008

K'Kros Ha'Gever

This morning's group Long Distance run was scheduled to be 17.2km. Yes, that is what I ran last week, but that was a mistake because we got lost. We were meant to run 15km last week. Today's route was the same trail as last weeks trail, just with the end point 2.5km further down the road.

We ran the trails behind the various Moshavim of Tzafririn, Roglit, Neveh Michael, Adulam and Aderet. The trail itself is called Churvat Midrasim - the Midrasim Ruins, and we pass on the trail something called Churvat Itri - the Itri Ruins.

The run was very good. Because we already were familiar with the route I paid much more attention to the area around. It is really a beautiful area, with the fields and vineyards. The temperature was a bit warmer today, but the sky was cloudy so the sunrise was less spectacular.

As we began our run past a moshav, we could hear the roosters start the cackling. As the gemara talks about daybreak being k'kros ha'gever - when the rooster begins calling. You generally don't hear that anymore, now that we generally live in cities instead of in an agronomical society. But running behind the moshavim provides that opportunity to hear the calls of nature.

We were a small group today - only 6 of us showed up for the novice run. The advanced runners group had a larger crowd (we passed each other in the middle). So we kind of split up into two groups - the faster group and the slower group. I felt like I could run a bit faster much of the way, but I did not want to separate too much from our group.

This time we did not get lost. We made the turn in the right place. It was very interesting running past the sattelite dishes from the backside rather than from the highway side, as I am used to passing them.

We came out of the trails at the entrance to Aderet, and ran the last 3 or so km on the highway back to where the cars were parked.

One more thing - I carried a small bottle of water, but I really wanted to see if I could do the 17km without needing it. I do not like running while carrying the bottle, but I did it hoping that I would realize next week I do not need it. I ended up carrying it the whole way and not drinking from it at all.

The final numbers were 17.68km at an average pace of 6.27/km.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

stretching and soreness

I don't know why I am so sore today. I stretched after my run last night. Usually I only feel like this if I do not stretch...

Speedy Gonzales

Today was a medium/long 12km run for us novice runners. The morning did not work out for me. I woke up early, but was way too tired to run after yesterdays softball game. So I ran tonight, late, after learning.

12km. I ran up Yarqon, down towards the Kvish 10. Turned left, and figured I would run until I hit 6km and then turn around and run back.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention we were also supposed to run 3km of the 12 at half marathon pace. I do not know what that is, but it is faster than just regular running.

So I turned left on 10, and sped up. I ran 3km from there at 1 minutes per km faster than my average. I ran that 3.15km at an average pace of 5:15/km. I did not think I would be able to keep it up for the whole 3km. I thought I would make it 1.5km or 2 at the faster pace, but I just kept going.

Anyway, at about the entrance to RBS B is when I hit 6km and turned around.

The way back was much harder. Part of Kvish 10 is flat, but most of it is a long, slow, gradual uphill, with the end of it being steeper. You might not feel it much in a car, but running you feel it.

So I ran back the 6km at a decent pace. Much of the way at my average pace, and where it was steeper I slowed down a bit and ran a bit slower than my average. Anyways I was still sore from softball, so I figured it is ok to slow down a bit...

Sorry nothing special to say about the run, but I have some things on my mind (from my other blog), and was thinking about those things, and less about the run itself...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hill Repeats

Tonight I learned what the Gemara means when it discusses a yerida l'tzorech aliyah.

Our group training session tonight was called "Hill Repeats".

That means we ran up a hill (mountain really) a lot of times. We ran down Yarqon as a warmup run, all the way down Tze'elim to a bit past the traffic circle down towards the 38 highway. After that began the repeats.

From there we ran up the hill, back down the hill, and repeated it 3 times. That hill is a killer hill, even though I have run it a number of times on my personal runs. The truth is that you cannot run anywhere in the BS area with running a serious hill. But this was a serious hill we ran 3 times.

We were breaking it up by experienced runners and novice/beginners. Experienced runners would run up the whole hill 3 times, while novice would run just until the steep part.

Even though I am a novice (someone told em tonight I am no longer a beginner!), I felt like running all the way up. So I did, the first and third time (the third time everyone had to anyway in order to run abck to the meeting point). The second time I ran to the steep point. I am not sure I would have made it at a reasonable time (if at all) the third time had I run the whole thing the second time as well.

This was a yerida l'tzorech aliyah. We only ran down so that we could run right back up.

Another thing is we were supposed to run it at a good pace, not at a crawl (the way I normally take uphills).

So at the end of the day, I ran 11km (including the run home after we finished the group run), most of it being uphill, at a faster pace than my average has been. My average pace tonight was 6:09/km.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

couple of interesting observations

On our Friday "long run" I noticed a couple things, nothing so significant, but I thought they were interesting and wanted to point them out.

  1. the run was in the back trails behind a number of moshavim, such as Aderet, Roglit, Neveh Michael, Massua and some others. One other is called Tzafririn. Along the path there were signs directing people to a wedding of two people. The bride's name on the signs was "Tzafrira". She was likely named after the moshav tzafririn (where she probably lives).
  2. Along the path there was, at a certain point, a tree with a large sign hanging from it "Tachanat Ri'anun" - or a refreshing point. We would call it nowadays a rest stop or a trcuk stop, though there was no gas station, no kiosk, no Mc Donalds, or anything like that. The only thing it did offer was shade. But the sign made me think of the passuk "Tachat Kol Etz Ra'anan". It seems it was common to make rest stops under trees along the paths. I do not know who is travelling on this path who needs a rest stop - maybe it was for some event or something.

Seeing stars

Week 4 (out of 18) of marathon training has officially begun!

Today was a recovery run. We were meant to run 30 seconds slower than our half marathon pace, in order to recover from Friday's long run. I don't know my half marathon pace, but I did run on average about 30 seconds slower than what I have been averaging up until now. I ran 10km at an average pace of 6:43/km.

I decided I needed a change of scenery, so I figured I would run a different route and when I hit about 5km I would turn around and run back. So I ran up Yarqon, down towards Route 10. Made a right to the Highway 375, ran to almost the satellites (actually went to the junction of the 367 right before the satellites), turned around and ran back.

Simple run.

Amazing that I can now look at a 10km run and say there was nothing special about it.

I do not know if I will do this route again. At least not alone at 4:30 in the morning. I have gotten used to running around RBS at these hours. The roads here are lit up, at all hours generally. When I got down to the highway, it was pitch black and it seemed kind of dangerous, with cars and trucks speeding by. This is a run I have done with the group, but it is different in the dark running alone.

I must say though, that by chance I happened to look up and saw dozens and dozens of stars and constellations. Things that I normally do not see because of the city lights. I think I even spotted the Little Dipper.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lost

I don't even know where to start. We were scheduled to run 15km this morning. I and a few others ended up running 17km. Because we got lost.

We were running the trails today. The trails behind Moshavs Aderet, Roglit, Massua, etc. Until now we have run a route back and forth, ending where we started. Today we took half the cars to the end point of the run and then half the cars loaded up with everybody to the beginning of the route. When we would get to the end, we would take those parked at the beginning back there and then leave.

Man plans and God laughs.

We made plans that whenever there is a turn in the route off a trail onto a different one, someone from a fast group would hang back to show the next group which way to go. After about 11km or so, we lost track of the people ahead of us. They had waved from afar to show us which way to go, and we saw them. Then we made a turn, but could no longer see them. And then the path ended and became a field. I thought we should still go that way, because that is the general direcytion they had been going, and there would probably be a path up a head. Someone else insisted it must be the way of the path.

So we went the way of the path, which ended up curving in the other direction. So, instead o ending up behind Moshav Roglit, we ended up behind Moshav Neveh Michael. After unning along the fence for a bit, we got to the highway and ran back to Tzomet Aderet where the cars were parked. Because of our detour, our run ended up being 17km instead of 15km. After that we still had to go looking for some people who had been behind us and also gotten lost in different places.

The run itself was great. beautiful scenery. We ran through fields and vineyards, with the sun rising ahead of us.

I noticed something in todays run though, and I think, by me at least, it has been that way in other runs as well. These numbers will be estimates:

0-1.5/2km running is great and strong. Very motivated.

2-4km is fine. technicals. Getting into pace.

4-9km(give or take) was very difficult. Parts got boring. Motivation goes down. Working hard to run.

Suddenly at around 9km or so, the run gets easier and more fun. I feel stronger at that point -kind of like getting a second wind. We stopped at 17km because that was the end, but I could have even run more.

I think things in general work that way. In life you start a program, something long term. You start off motivated and it is easy to stick to. Then the excitement dies down and you have to work hard to keep going so that you accomplish your goal. Then, if you have kept going long and worked through the low times, suddenly you look up and you see you are not too far from your goal. So you get this burst of motivation and energy again and you fly right through to the end.People who do not succeed in accomplishing their goals, it is often because they give up after the first period of excitement. As soon as it gets hard, they don't put the effort into working through it.

I remember it was like that when I learned daf yomi. 7.5 years is a long time to commit to a program. I had tried a number of times before and dropped out after a bit. Many people drop out after a couple months. The last time though, I stuck it out, despite there being times where I did not feel like going, and all that. In the end, it was easier because I knew I was almost done, and the acheivement was right before me.

The same is with the run. On the specific run, I start off excited and motivated. It is easy. After a bit it gets tough. If you work through it long enough to see towards the end, you get that motivation back. The trick is to somehow find the way to push yourself through the tough part.

And it is true with the general marathon training program as well. At the beginning I was highly motivated and excited. It was easy, and I wanted to do it. I think now I am heading into the tough period. Times where I think I am too tired and what I am doing this for anyway. I tell myself I have already proven I can do it. In 7 weeks I have built myself up to running 17km straight without stopping, so I know I can succeed, so why bother. Things like that. Overall motivation goes down, and it gets tough to follow through. If you work through it, and don't let the thoughts get you down, the acheivement will really be right before you. It is not just training yourself to be able to run a lot and once you see you can do that, no need to continue. You have to train yourself to follow through and finish to acheive your goals. And when you get that far, you (I) will get that additional burst of energy knowing the accomplishment is right there.

17km!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

who are you competing against?

I do not know if it is an important question or not, but I have been asked a number of times who I am competing with? Do I really think I can win the marathon, especially when so many others have been running for so much longer than me? And if not, why am I bothering?

My answer to that is that a marathon (as if I know so much about them) is not a race between you and the other people running in it. It is a race between you and you. It is a battle of wills.

I am not even so sure the actual race is the real battle and competition. I think it might even be the training itself where the competition is either won or lost. But either way, I do not care how I place compared to the other guys running it, and I know I will not finish number 1 or even close to it.

The race is against myself. Can I push myself to do something that is against my nature, that takes a lot of work to accomplish, that is very difficult. It is a battle of wills, and if I can train, if I can run the marathon, I have won. No matter what place I come in.

I told that to somebody and he told me he has a different answer. He believes the competition is between you and the pavement. Will you keep "slapping" the pavement and conquer it, or will the pavement do you in and take you down - either in an injury (God forbid) or just in wearing you down until you give up. That is the competition.

I thought about it and there is a profundity in that as well, but I still like my answer better. I still think it is me against me.

Like last night when I did not want to run. It was a small battle, in the scheme of things, but I won it. I willed myself to do it. I am sure there will be plenty of such situations over the next few months of training, especially as it gets cold and wintry and the runs get uncomfortable like that.

A marathon, and life, is one big battle that is made up of a lot of little battles. If you can will yourself to win the little battles and stay in the long term race, you have won the big battle.

For example, I had another battle tonight as well. Not just the should I run or should I stay home and watch the exit polls of the Kadima primaries on the Internet. While I was running. I was doing a very serious uphill. A real killer of a hill. And I was tired and worn out and unmotivated. I thought to myself maybe I should stop for a bit. Maybe I should walk a bit. What's the difference? Nobody will see, nobody will know that I stopped to catch my breath. I will still run the 11km.

Then I thought to myself, who cares of nobody sees. If I stop just beause nobody sees, I am nto fooling anybody else. Nobody else cares. I am only fooling myself thinking I can run the 11km when I really could not.

Lots of little battles. The marathon is a race between me and me. The question is which me is going to win.