Friday, January 7, 2011

Running Hard, Setting A Record

Going into this marathon, my second, I had no goals other than to finish, but four sets of expectations.
  1. I had the remote possibility of running hard the whole way through finishing at a pace of anywhere from 3:35-3:45.
  2. the more realistic possibility of a good and even pace more in tune with my abilities and finishing in the 3:55 range, possibly pushing 4.
  3. crashing and running in the range of a 4:15 or so.
  4. bad weather and whatever happens happens.
I had no idea which of these possibilities would happen.

Victor and I have been running a lot together over the past couple of weeks. Even though he is normally faster than me, but I enjoyed the fact that he was coming off an injury and running slow (for him). Still, I have had to run very hard during the past few weeks to keep up with Victor even at his slow pace.

We had not spoken about running together at the marathon. I was not sure I could run with him, as running fast on a 12 or 16km run to keep up with him is different than doing it in a 42km run. I still decided to line up with Victor and go out together, using him as a pacer and he could use me as a pacer.

I have run a lot on my own. I have done almost all the long runs on my own (finishing in Rehovot with the group, but the whole run was alone), and even when I run with the group I am running alone because of my speed (funny to call it speed, when it is the slowest in the group). There is a tremendous difference between running alone and running with someone. Running with someone you are constantly motivated to keep running hard. When running alone, you start to get tired so you take it easy and slow down.

The weather was so beautiful it was amazing. The Kinneret on one side, the beautiful green mountains on the other. No wind. You could not ask for better marathon weather than this, and what more could a person want than to be able to fulfill Kum V'hithalech Ba'aretz in such a beautiful setting?

So I went out with Victor and we were running way too fast. A break-neck speed of about 5:15m/km. We knew we would eventually slow down, but we were both feeling good and just running. We were not even talking. Just running together. I dont know how much he was using me to push himself, but I was definitely using him. As we neared the halfway mark we realized were still keeping the same pace. I confirmed it when we hit the 21.1km mark at the exact same time I had finished the Beit She'an half marathon 3 weeks ago. At that point I thought to myself that if I can keep it up, I might even finish in the 3:40s. But I knew it was not likely.

At about the 28km mark, Jonny Klompas met us (he did not run the marathon but came out to run part of it) and ran the rest of the way back with us. We were still going strong, and Jonny joining us was a big boost. he was talking and we were not really listening or answering, but he gave us some fresh energy and some morale boost. he was really blabbering a lot. thanks Jonny.

We were still going strong, and then we hit some slight uphills. I kept it going for a bit, but then at the 33km mark there was another small uphill, and that was it for me. I could not keep the pace up any longer. I slowed down to go up the hill - it was looking like a mountain by then - and then could not get back to my pace. My legs just couldn't go any faster. Victor and Jonny were pulling further and further away and I knew I was on my own for the rest of the run.

My timing was still great, and I knew I would not be hitting the 3:35 mark by then, and just kept going. It was tough. The 33-37 were the toughest I think. I kept telling myself, this is just a run down to the satellites and back, this is just 10km - anyone can do that, this is just 3 more laps around Dolev, etc. I kept telling myself that I am going to walk soon, but not yet - one more kilometer and then I will walk a bit, 500 more meters and then I will walk. Two more laps around Dolev, no big deal. I dont know at what mark it was but I grabbed a piece of banana form someone and wolfed it down. Then I grabbed an orange but when I chewed it I could not swallow - I chewed out the juice and spit out the mush.

Suddenly I was at kilometer 39 and I knew I would make it the rest of the way. I got a sudden burst of energy and picked up my pace a tiny bit. I felt a little stronger as I started seeing more people cheering and as I got closer to the city. I passed 40, then 41. I had it in my grasp. 1 more kilometer to go. Chugging through the city. Finally the last 200km and I started to pick up my speed and build into a sprint. nothing like the sprinting of the Ethiopian runners mind you, but that final 150km is downhill, just over a ridge, and perfect from a strong finish. The finish line is in sight and I am blowing right by people. I even see that I was finishing in time this year to still see Chaim and Rich and some of the other guys waiting near the finish line before they go back to their rooms giving up on us slower guys. I hear my name called on the microphone as I approach the finish line and then it was all over, setting myself a personal record of 3:54:15.

I have to thank all the guys for their support, especially Chaim for all the work he puts into the group planning and encouraging and motivating, especially Victor running with me, pacing me, and making me run hard, and Jonny for joining us late in the game giving us a big boost. And to my wife who came along to cheer me on.

People thought I was crazy trying to run barefoot (in Vibram FiveFingers), but I am proud to say that I am the first Israeli marathoner to run it barefoot, setting a unique record, though I really have no idea if anyone else has done so previously. I just made it up on an assumption. Good enough for me.

When does training for Jerusalem begin?


dj said...

Well done!!

Mark said...

Mazal Tov. Completing a marathon is always awesome!

Shabbat Shalom all.

Ben Waxman said...