Today is the day we, as a group, were going to be doing "the long run". There were two routes scheduled - one for the real pros which would be a 21km run. The route for the rest of us was about a 12km run on the off-road trail from Tzomet Ha'Eilah until the Moshav of Aderet.
We met at the parking lot by Tzomet Ha'Eilah and ran a warm-up run until the beginning of the trail. Personally I see no difference, at this point, between the warm-up runs and the real runs.
Anyway, we then ran on the trail to Aderet. It went well for a while but then I started huffing and puffing. 3 or 4 times I had to slow to a walking pace to catch my breath. I have to learn how to pace myself better. The route to Aderet was about 6.5km or so, and then back to the road. It was unclear how far it actually was, so I stopped at about 5.5 km and turned around. I later heard from the others that it was only slightly farther, at a little over 6km, so I probably could have made it. I did not feel bad.
The run was a slight gradient uphill, at some points a bit steeper, and was very tough (for me). Everybody was complaining how hard it is to run in this heat and humidity. One guy even met us and then decided to go home and run on the treadmill because of the humidity. So far this is the only weather I have been running in, so I am hopeful that it gets easier as it cools off some more.
So we turned around and ran back. As I always say, the way home is always easier and faster, and that proved to be the case now as well. The way back was a slight downhill, and I did not have to stop at all to walk, though I ran at a slightly slower pace.
We got to a point where there were fig trees on the side of the path and everyone stopped to eat figs. I have never eaten figs before. I always thought the inside looked too disgusting, kind of like worms, and always refused them. But while running, this was a sight for sore eyes and my body really craved it at that moment. So, I opened a couple up and after looking for bugs that I have no idea how to see, I ate them. They were sweet and delicious, and I understood a bit better how the fig is one of the 7 species of fruit with which the Land of Israel is blessed.
We finished the run and did some stretches.
I ran about 11km, which is a new high for me, along with half the run being uphill. So I had a good day. Even better is that afterwards I was not wiped out. After taking care of some stuff, I went to play my regular Friday basketball game, and I survived!
Everyone told me that the hardest part of marathon training is staying healthy and injury free, so that is one of my goals. I want to increase my distance on each run, and my endurance, and my time as well, but I need to stay injury free.