This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘half marathon’

Lesson Learned: It’s a Good Idea to Train

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 10, 2017

Note to self: if you’re running a long race, it’s a good idea to train. I traveled a lot this summer, so my running fell by the wayside. Besides, I figured, the Arad to Masada half-marathon is mostly downhill, right? Er, almost. The beginning and end are downhill but in the middle, there are some tough hills. Also, 21 kilometers is a significant distance, not to be taken lightly unless you can run 15 kilometers without much effort. I was barely running 7 kilometers when I realised that the race date was only a week away. I got through it without hurting myself, only through experience and good form. The fact that they’d re-surfaced the old Arad road to the Roman ramp of Masada also helped.

Around the 10th kilometer I noticed that I was literally running in a guy’s shadow for several kilometers, so I got the courage to make a comment (in Hebrew) about the hills. Oleg, a big Russian guy, told me that he also hadn’t trained and was afraid he’d bitten off more than he could chew. We ran (sometimes walked) together for 12 kilometers, encouraging each other along the way. He told me that he’d run 8 full marathons. When I told him how much I wanted to do a marathon but didn’t think I ever would, he said, “Oh, it’s just like doing a half-marathon twice.” (It isn’t really, of course, but anything can make you laugh at 3:30 in the morning when you’re wondering when the hills are ever going to end.)

Here’s a shot of me and Oleg coming up to the last water station around the 18th kilometer. We look a bit wilted but are trying to put on a good show.

Me and Oleg at the last water station

We crossed the finish line together. Yes, that’s our time above the track (final time 2:36). Not brilliant but, hey, we finished! Oleg was high-fiving me and waving at me before the finish line, later at the finish party, inside the bus back to Arad, and even back at the Arad parking lot. I think I helped him as much as he helped me, because it was getting hard to keep my spirits up when I was so tired. The camaraderie of runners is one of the great things about running. Sometimes total strangers will team together and the sum is greater than the total of its parts.

Me and Oleg at the finish line

Exactly one week later, I ran as part of a 6-person (mixed) team in Tanach Tashach. We covered 200+ kilometers in 26 hours and I ran a total of 34.5 kilometers. Although I rested between the two events, I was not nearly up to speed and had to walk most of the hills.

Here I am coming in to Mesilat Zion. The first day was brutal. It was bloody hot (all around me, people were walking the hills; I wasn’t the only wimp) during the first leg, 8 kilometers. I was paired with someone who was a much stronger (and younger) runner, so she ran ahead of me on the legs where we ran together.

Me near Mesilat Zion

The second leg, a few hours later, was 13 kilometers in mid-afternoon. It got pushed later and later and we got caught running after dark without headlamps. I was alone, running along loose stones downhill, and eventually I turned on my phone flashlight app to light the path when it became too dangerous to continue in the dark. I can tell you that it’s not easy to run off-road with your phone for light. Your hand and arm start getting cramped from holding the light onto the path. During that first day, I ran the equivalent of a half marathon and was exhausted. I got a few hours of sleep (thank heavens we rented a zimmer with real beds and a shower!). I ran with Noa at 2 a.m. for the third leg. Fortunately, that was only 6.5 kilometers and Noa (of #forceofnoa fame) wasn’t a whole lot faster than me because she’d done chemo the previous Sunday.

We ran two teams, ForceOfNoa1 and 2. Noa, a former ultra-runner who is currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer, is the team’s mascot. She was the coach and leader of their team a couple years ago (the unusually wet and muddy Tanach Tashach of 2015, which was probably my most uncomfortable and dangerous run ever). We were a mix of old and young, strong and weak, injured and uninjured runners. We did a switch-around of runners on the third leg of my runs so that an injured runner could rest, so Noa ran with me. I know it sounds cliched but she really is an inspiration. Running with her in the dark, losing the trail (#16 wasn’t well marked in the middle, something that the organizers should have foreseen because everyone runs that leg in the dark), finding it again, jogging with the bracelets back to the zimmer because the next pair of runners hadn’t show up on time–nothing fazed her. (Well, OK, the last thing did faze her. At 2 a.m., all you want to do is shower and collapse, not hang around waiting for your team-mates to show up. We were pretty pissed off.)

The next day there was a brief rain that, instead of cooling us down, turned the forest into a tropical jungle. At least it wasn’t enough rain to cause serious mud, but the humidity was uncomfortable. We were worried that we would be disqualified because our times had slipped so much that we were in danger of the stations closing before our runners arrived. The station volunteers were very helpful. When it started raining again, they packed everything else first, leaving the sensor set up as late as possible. Our #3 runners managed to get to Kfar Uriah in time and the rest of the stations had generous closing times, so we finished without being disqualified. Actually, we weren’t the last in the 6-person teams, of which there were very few. I hadn’t realised that the vast majority of Tanach Tashach teams have 8 runners each. So yay for us!

#ForceOfNoa1 and 2

Me and Noa. I’m having a bad hair day from the awful humidity, but that’s small potatoes, as they say.

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Jerusalem Marathon 2014

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 24, 2014

Marathon1

I ran my first half marathon (21 km) in the Jerusalem Marathon 2014 last Friday. The photo above was taken on Jaffa Street, around 7:15 a.m. I looked a lot fresher at km 3 than I did at the end!

The photo below was taken on Hevron Road, near the Begin Center. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish because I didn’t sleep the night before (really!) and had a bad night’s sleep the night before that. I’ve always had a hard time sleeping if something exciting is happening the next day. But once the adrenalin kicked in I was fine.

Marathon2

My race time was 02:27:35, which is respectable for a first-timer on this route. The Jerusalem Marathon is widely regarded as one of the most difficult marathons in the world, because of the relentless hills. (Blogger Karla Bruning describes it as a road race with a trail profile.) My rank was 46/69 in age/gender category, 580/888 in gender category, and 3325/3948 overall.

I can’t begin to describe the experience. Normally, pedestrians have to dodge cars, buses, and trams in the city center. During the marathon, you own the streets. 🙂  There’s no one around at that hour except guards and waiters sitting in front of closed cafes and a few volunteers handing out water bottles. Jerusalem has a totally different character. The streets are quiet and empty, the air is fresh, and the sun casts long shadows behind you. Someone asked whether everything goes behind in a blur. I said that actually it seems to go by more slowly because you’re not in a bus and because you can see much more when the sidewalks aren’t covered with pedestrians and sales racks. We poured out of the Rabin Road tunnel and I ran with the human tidal wave up Bezalel Street with Joni Mitchell bouncing through “Chelsea Morning” on my iPod.

These photos were taken with the iPod, so they’re a little wonky and haven’t been edited. I considered taking a camera and then decided against it, in view of my fatigue and the length of the run. This is what the organization point in Gan Sacher looks like at 6:15 a.m. The sun isn’t up yet. Only the half and full marathon runners are around. The marathon was very well organized and the bathrooms were actually bearable and stocked with toilet paper (I hear it was quite different by the time the 10K racers showed up).

Jerusalem Marathon

People really do run in costumes! I’m not sure how far one can run dressed as a heart, but I did see a big guy in a granny dress and red puffy hat, a lot of Supermen, and a couple guys with paper bags on their heads.

Jerusalem Marathon

We headed to the starting line just as the sun was coming up.

Jerusalem Marathon

The half marathon began 15 minutes before the full marathon (7 a.m.). A group of African marathon runners blinded us with their dazzling gold Mylar capes. It was pretty cool to watch. I don’t know whether they ran with them or threw them off at the start of the race.

Jerusalem Marathon

At 7 a.m., there were far more runners than spectators and we passed a few drum ensembles playing on street corners. Later in the day, more people came out to watch. It was fun seeing runners being cheered by family members and neighbours while they ran through their neighbourhoods. At the corner of Yehuda and Emek Refaim, they were playing music through speakers and lots of people were cheering. It’s not Boston or New York, where you have thousands of spectators, but it makes you feel like a rock star!

Here’s a panorama I took with my iPod after I crossed the finish line. About 50 of us were on one side of the barrier, stretching, resting on the grass, and drinking water. On the other side were over 10,000 runners waiting to begin the 10 km run. I was quite content to stretch under a tree for a while (no phone!) and relax, before grabbing a medal and heading out to find my family.

Jerusalem Marathon

 

This video focuses mainly on the half marathon. The guy in the granny dress appears around 0:50. I appear very briefly at 1:10, behind the guy with the paper bag on his head. You have to look really hard because I’m in the shadows on the side opposite the camera. If you watch to the end, you get an idea of the carnival atmosphere.

Addendum: A couple people asked how long I trained. It took me about four months, with two short runs and one long run a week. I have been running (not very seriously) for about 12 years. Because I was able to run 7 km easily when I started, I chose the half marathon because the 10K did not seem sufficiently challenging.

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