The Rehovot run is one of my favorite, if not my actual favorite. I am not sure because how can anyone love such a run of 34 kilometers (or more, depending on the starting point), but as long runs go, this is one of the best that we do during marathon training season.
The course is beautiful, and after some hills in the beginning, the rest of the way is mostly flat (still the occasional hill, but mostly).
The weather was perfect for a long run. Cool, slightly overcast with a subtle breeze. I left very early, because I am slower than everyone else and I wanted to arrive in rehovot at around the same time. I started my run at about 4:15 in the morning, and it was pitch black out on the highway. I dont know if I will do that again - I will have to weigh it against the other options, and it will depend a lot on the timing of the scheduled taxi home and other things. It felt dangerous but there were just a few cars out on the highway at that time of day/night.
I started off at a good pace. If it was lighter out I might have tried to run a little faster, but I didnt want to trip over anything i could not see, so I took it a bit easy. The first hill was ok, as it is just a short, albeit steep, hill, but the hill up to presidents Forest is the most intimidating hill on this run. That was coming up and I would hit it at about 11km or so, as I started my run in RBS.
By the time I got to Tzomet Shimshon leading up to the Presidents Forest hill it was already getting light. I was feeling strong and running at a great pace, a pace I did not expect to be able to keep up for very long, and I attacked the hill. I ran up the hill slower, obviously, but still a great hill pace for me. This is a long and steep hill and is very difficult.
At the top was a water break, and after about a minute or so I continued on my way. From there it is mostly downhill and flat until Tzomet Nachshon, except for one more hill, and a serious one but nothing like Presidents Forest, by the Kibbutz Harel.
At the top of the Harel Hill the first other runner passed me. I was a bit surprised as I had scheduled my run to expect runners passing me only much later, and I was also running a better pace than expected. Then I was reassured because he had also left earlier than the rest of the group, so his passing me did not portend anything about the groups location.
After a momentary water stop at Tzomet Nachshon, I continued on my way to Tzomet Chulda and then across the 411 highway to Rehovot. There is one hill right at the beginning of the 411 and then another, more serious one but not long, shortly after. After that it is flat the rest of the way. I was still running at a better pace than planned and still feeling strong. I was averaging on the flats a pace of about 5:25 per km, and on the hills about 6:30 per km, both much better paces that what I am used to running.
Eventually I hit Mazkeret Batya, still feeling great. The break there that i took was a couple of minutes, and I already started to stiffen. Starting again after Mazkeret Batya was a little more difficult but a few steps in I settled down and got back into a rythm. My pace slowed a tiny bit at that point. The next two sections fo the run, the last two, are the least pleasant of the whole run - from Mazkeret Batya until Tzomet Brenner (or even until the entrance to Rehovot - Tzomet Bilu), is a few kilometers directly out in the sun and heat, and it is a concrete jungle over there with shopping centers, cars and large asphalt highway rather than fields and trees.
As mentioned, I was nearing the end already because I started at RBS so Mazkeret Batya was already 30km for me. I started to run a little slower at that point, and I concluded my run at the entrance to Rehovot, registering 34km.
That was a bit of a bad move, as I had to then walk nearly 4km in Rehovot. The Rehovot section of the run is the worst part of the whole thing. There is uphill through the main road of downtown Rehovot, you are dodging people and cars out starting their early Friday shopping and it is just an unpleasant strip of 4km. Walking it is horrible as I was stiffening up and starting to feel the soreness settle in. Even worse is that I was wearing my Vibrams and walking on all that cobblestone was very unpleasant, especially already starting to feel sore form the run. But I had time to kill so I took it easy and took my time. The runners started to pass me as I started walking in through Rehovot.
My final average pace which I checked at this point was 5:45 per km, which is a great pace for me on a long run.