This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

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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Concert and Candles in Zedekiah’s Cave – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 6, 2017

Where else could you see a piano concert at the bottom of a 2000-year-old cave? “Interactive Shadows” (Studio Insight, Guy Romem, Israel) refers to the cameras set along the path to the bottom of the cave. The cameras project images of the viewers on the walls, with different effects (line drawings, coloured silhouettes, etc.).

The musicians are listed as Yoel Shemesh and Achiya Asher Cohen Alloro. I have no idea who was playing that evening. At one point there was a loud cracking sound. The pianist, without missing a beat, looked over his shoulder at a bench that had collapsed in the middle from the weight of the children.

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Selfies….

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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Peacock and Greek Folk Music – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 4, 2017

It’s that time of year again! I love photographing the annual Festival of Light in the Old City. This is the festival’s ninth year. I think I’ve missed only one.

The Peacock (Tim Scofield Studios, USA), was one of my favourite installations. It’s located on Chabad Street, close to Zion Gate. Comprising more than 14,400 individually addressable LED lights, it measure more than 12 m. wide and 6.5 m. high.

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I think I was playing with longer exposures when I took this photo.

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Here’s a video of the Peacock:

Two Israeli musicians playing Greek instruments. The bowed instrument is a lyra creta and the other is an outi.

Greek Folk Music, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

In this video I shot, the guy on the right has bells attached to his bow. It’s very cool how he’s able to shake his hand to make them ring in time to the music.

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M2V 2016: More Photos

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 31, 2016

These photos were taken at Kefar Nahum, on of the Mountain-to-Valley Relay Race exchange stations. In the New Testament, Kefar Nahum is called Capernaum, and is a popular pilgrimage spot for Christian tourists. This is the walkway that leads to the docks for the boats that take tourists around the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

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Franciscan monastery:

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Greek Orthodox monastery:

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The relay exchange station:

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Sun rising over fields near Kishon, the starting point of my last run.

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All the way to Kansas! Photos during runs were taken with my LG G3. Other photos were with the DSLR. Since I was traveling by car, I didn’t need to worry about the weight of hauling a heavy camera on top of the gear, clothes, shoes, etc.

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Children’s Folk Dance Group, Yom Atzmaut 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 17, 2016

This was a more traditional folk dance performance. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of this group but they danced beautifully. The girls are so light on their feet that they move like gazelles. Very few boys seem to participate in the younger groups (I have a son–folk dance doesn’t have quite the same cachet for young boys as soccer and karate….). This group had two male dancers.

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Hassidic Theme Dance, Yom Atzmaut 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 17, 2016

This performance was cute. A troupe of girls dressed as Hassidic boys dance to a medley of Hassidic tunes. Around the midpoint of the video, the “rebbe” (the only boy in the group) joins in with a Torah scroll.

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Yerushalayim shel Zahav Dance Group, Yom Atzmaut 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 16, 2016

Recorded at the Israel Museum, May 12, 2016. This dance troupe of senior citizens performed several dances in different costumes (must have been hot!). In the commentary, the first segment is described as a “very old dance” and the second was performed to music from the 70s and 80s. I doubt that the first dance is a true folk dance; it is very complex with little repetition and must have taken quite a while to learn. Still, it’s fun to watch.

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Folk Dancing at the Israel Museum (Yom Atzmaut 2016)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 15, 2016

I have a confession to make. Although I’ve lived in Israel since 1989, I’ve never seen a folk dance performance except maybe on TV. Since we had no plans on Yom Atzmaut, we decided to go to the Israel Museum to watch the folk dancing there and I shot this video of some of the dances with non-performers (I’ll post the videos of performances later). In the first segment, there’s a guy holding a plastic sword aloft. He’s from the Yerushalayim shel Zahav dance troupe, a group of senior citizens who performed several times. At 3:38 I added a notation to point out a young guy in a blue shirt and beige baseball cap who really got into the dancing. I started following him with the camera because he was fun to watch.

These videos were shot in the middle of a hot day, between 11 and 1:30. You can see from the shadows that the sun is directly overhead and there’s no shade. It didn’t seem to deter anyone. They all seem to be having a lot of fun.

I was struck by how diverse the folk dance fans are–they cover a wide range of ages and religious observance. I almost wished I had gone to the weekly folk dance classes that were held at the Hebrew U., but honestly, I had two left feet in those days. Being a musician does not translate into being able to dance. I could do it now but I have too many hobbies at the moment. 🙂

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Independence Day 2016: Fireworks

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 15, 2016

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I was experimenting with the focus-pull technique when I photographed the annual Independence Day fireworks in Maale Adumim. Unfortunately, I’d left my big tripod at work, so I tried to balance a table tripod on a round railing. That’s why some of the results are a bit wonky. Oh, well, I did find a really good place to shoot, so next year I’ll make a note to bring my tripod home and to go to the same spot with a wide-angle lens (these were taken with 18-135 mm lens). Full set of photos is on Flickr. These photos were taken at f/4 with a neutral density filter (x8). Shutter mode was bulb, so the shutter speed tended to be between 1 and 2 seconds.

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Hassidic Busker with Autoharp

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 3, 2016

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I photographed and gave a few coins to this busker at the Mahaneh Yehuda light rail station because it’s unusual to see someone with an amplified autoharp.  Taken with LG G3 phone.

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