This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘running’

Mountain-to-Valley (Har Le-Emek) 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 31, 2016

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Har Le-Emek is a 215-kilometer relay race that I ran on May 18-19 with the Cisco Cloud Runners, an 8-man team (yes, that’s correct; you have to have 2 women and 6 men to be considered a “mixed” team). I ran 25 kilometers total in three segments. The route began in Tel Hai and ended in Timrat. We ran around the clock, for nearly 24 hours. In the photo above, I’m smiling because I’m nearly at the end of my final segment! I tend to feel a bit fed up at the end of a relay race because it’s tough to run all day and night with almost no sleep and hardly any food. I’ve got my GPS watch (Garmin Forerunner 220) on my left wrist and the magnetic chip on my right. I was finishing close to Gevat.

Here’s the finish line at Timrat:

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My first segment, from Netura, was bloody hot! I started around 12:30 p.m., there was no shade, and the sun was bouncing off the dusty roads (below). I had a water backpack but I still suffered from the heat and had to walk a little bit.

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The scenery is beautiful up north. That’s the main reason I do these runs, to see parts of the country I’ve never seen before, running through fields and forests.

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Here are my two team-mates who work in the Netanya office–Golan on the left in the red and Eyal on the right. Although we’ve been on the same team for a year, this was the first time I met them. We were in a car of four for the run. They were great company! I always tell people that we’ve never met before because by the time I cross the finish line, they’re already home and sitting down to lunch. 🙂  Golan is a strong and fast runner. Eyal is good with long distances (he runs ~50 km a week).

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Here’s a video of last year’s race. I ran last year but I’m not in the video (hey, there were some 8,000 runners!) It gives you an idea of the scenery and terrain.

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Running with Cranes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 30, 2015

Agur Race, 2015

This isn’t the best photo of me but it’s probably the most recent and it’s my fastest 10K race. I’m the one in blue, on the left. Last Friday I ran the Agur (“crane”, as in the bird) Race at the Hula Valley nature reserve up north. The race coincides with the annual crane migration, and we saw lots of cranes flying overhead.

We drove up the night before and stayed at the Tel Dan Youth Hostel (I highly recommend it–clean, quiet, free wifi, kettle and fridge in the room, for 262 NIS/night). Unfortunately, I hardly slept that night. I have a terrible time falling asleep whenever I have an event the next day, but I’ve learned that I can run while half asleep.

My final time for the 10K was 01:01:11 (lots of ones), which is my fastest time yet. In my category, I The course is nice and flat, which makes it popular for people trying to run a personal best.

Here’s a video of last year’s Agur race. You can see me for a split second wearing a black skirt, bright orange shirt,  a little to the left of center, at 1:25 (if you really want to see me, you’ll have to slow the video down to .25 speed and pause it). It was really foggy that day, so the photography isn’t great.

Here’s a video of the Agur race in 2013. The photography is a lot better–lots of cranes!

I haven’t done photography for ages, partly because I was taking a break and now because I had laser surgery on Nov. 9 to correct my vision. Since the operation was PRK, not LASIK, recovery takes a lot longer, with more ups and downs. I can see well enough to run and I can manage to read but my distance vision is still quite blurry. It’s strange to think that now I’ll need glasses to do all the needlework I used to do. I can read if a font is not too small but I will probably need reading glasses at some point. At least I’m not in any discomfort, although I did have a miserable few days before the bandage contact lenses were taken out. The surgeon discovered an eyelash in my right eye. No wonder my eye was constantly tearing and so sensitive to light! As soon as the lenses and eyelash were out, I felt much better. But it will be a while before I can see well enough to take photos.

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Mountain-to-Valley Relay Race

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 4, 2015

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Last week, on April 29-30, I participated in the Mountain-to-Valley relay race as part of an 8-person team. (Note: we were categorized as 8-man team because you need to have at least two women in order to be classified as “mixed”; the other woman who had signed up couldn’t run in the end.) Our group covered 215 kilometers, running day and night, from Tel Hai to Timrat, in 22 hours. I didn’t take any photos at night because it was dark and the stations themselves aren’t very interesting.

My first run (8 km, around 1:30 a.m.) was from Notera to Pkak Bridge. The route had a switchback, where you run along a stream, over a bridge, and then back in the opposite direction. I was very impressed that, in addition to signs with green lights, there were a couple volunteers holding arrows to make sure you didn’t miss the turn. Along the route I saw people in cars, parked or driving slowly on a parallel road, keeping an eye on things. It made me feel a lot safer than I felt in Yam2Yam.

At one point I thought I was alone, but when I looked behind me, I saw the hill covered with points of light from other runners. A sight like that makes you feel like you’re part of a much bigger endeavour than the usual race. Actually, it WAS a big endeavour! There were 960 teams, and approximately 8,000 runners (not running simultaneously; there was a night race and a day race, and the starting times were staggered). These relay races have become very popular lately and the registration for this race is full within a day and a half of opening.

Runners exchange a rubber bracelet at each station. The guy below is just starting out from Elabun station and putting on his bracelet. We were required to carry smartphones with the M2V app. It was very useful because it tracked start/stop times of individual runners, showed the position of the current runner, and could be used to find your way back to the course if you got lost. There was also an emergency button.

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Our team-mate Sharon coming up the hill. He had some difficult routes over really big hills. (No, they don’t block traffic for this race.)

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Dawn at Karei Deshe, a camping ground on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). That was a lot better than sleeping in the back seat of a car at a 24-hour gas station! I slept outside in a sleeping bag. The white tents in the center are covering a seating area where the organizers had hot and cold drinks available around the clock. There were showers and electricity. I didn’t sleep at all, but I rested for a few hours, listening to the wind blowing through the palm trees.

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A few people managed to go for a quick swim. I think Teverya is in the background, on the other side of the lake. Looks a lot better in this light than it does close up.

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Although the race is supposed to show you the country, most of it looks like this–lots of fields. You spend a lot of time running through wheat fields or (if you tackle one of the difficult routes) over big hills like the ones in the background (elevation often over 200 meters). My second run (around 8:30 a.m.) was 9 km from Al Betuf to Hoshaya, definitely not one of my faster runs! Al Betuf is an Arab village. My route went past a garbage dump with rotting sheep carcasses–you can imagine how they smelled after the extremely hot weather we’d had all week! I encountered two flocks of sheep guarded by unpleasant dogs. I was carrying pepper spray but didn’t use it because the shepherds were around. Instead, I slowed down, did my “tough walk,” and asked the shepherds to call off their dogs. I also had to stop a couple times to rearrange the tube of my water backpack (got a kink in it and wasn’t drawing). So my overall time for that segment was a lot slower than it should have been.

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The third run (around 3:30 p.m.) was 10 km from Hazorea to Kishon. Barry Leff, who had led our Yam2Yam team, joined us for two consecutive runs, including mine. I was really grateful for the company. By the third run, I’m tired and get discouraged easily. It was good to have someone to chat with. There were two water crossings. I misjudged the distance at the second crossing and stepped with both feet into water and mud. The final two kilometers were very difficult because my shoes, heavy to begin with, were soaked, my toes were chafing, and the weight of the mud, plus the dust picked up from running on a dirt road, was like trying to run with bricks tied to my feet. I looked like a slow-motion cartoon and my feet were really hurting by the time I got to the station. Thank heavens for extra shoes and socks!

Finish line at Timrat.

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Lounge area. You can’t see the snack buffet and the bar serving coffee and beer. They cleared a huge wheat field for the parking lot. I was very impressed with the organization of this race. Each stop had food (never eaten so many enormous majool dates in my life–they were the really big ones that cost around 40 NIS/kilo), sometimes coffee, isotonic drink, ice cream, a bag with snacks. One of the stops was at Runway, a fancy running store; that was a lot of fun, checking out the clothing, shoes, and running gear. Almost all the stations had toilets or portable toilets and–you’ll never believe this–there were cases of toilet paper beside the toilets! (Most of the Yam2Yam stations did not have toilets; I saw enough gas station toilets for a lifetime.)

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Got lucky with this shot of a crop-duster flying past while I was trying to photograph the clouds just after sunset.

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Jerusalem-to-Sea Relay Race (Yam2Yam)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 22, 2015

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Last week, on April 16, 2015, I ran an overnight 144 km relay race, Yam-le-Yam (Jerusalem to sea). I was part of a 6-member team, along with Barry Leff, our team captain, Jacob Ner-David (Barry’s friend), Israel Friedman (Cisco), Sharon Yakobovich (Cisco), and Ouriel Gottlieb (Cisco).  I hadn’t planned to do this race. In fact, I hadn’t trained at all; I agreed to fill in at the last minute for Barry’s daughter, who had shin splints.

We ran the 144 km in 17 hours, starting at 7 pm. I ran a total of 25 km, in three segments, with about 2 hours’ sleep in the back seat of a car at a 24-hour gas station, around 1:30 a.m. I took a DSLR along but honestly I was too tired most of the time to take photos and when you’ve seen one station, you’ve seen them all–bright lights, a couple tables with food, a couple volunteers recording team numbers as runners come in and go out. The photo above was taken at Sataf, a park with some gorgeous hiking paths. This man was making shakshouka (eggs poached in tomato sauce) on a portable gas stove for his team. The ground was still wet and soft from severe thunderstorms, rain, and hail the night before.

My first section (#5 of 16) was 8 km, from Ramat Raziel to Eshtaol. It was a downhill run in a dark forest for the first 7 km or so. I wore a headlamp and had an easy road to follow (dirt road in very thick forest), but multi-focal glasses are not ideal, so the road was slightly out of focus where it was lit up. Oh, well, old age is no picnic…. I was nervous at first but I could see a couple runners about 30 m. ahead of me. As long as I could see their lights, I knew I wasn’t lost. At one point the dirt road changed to pavement. I saw something glowing by the side of the road and thought, “Did someone drop a headlamp”? Then I tripped and nearly fell head-over-heels over a speed bump. My light had been reflecting off one of the square metal bumps that marks a speed bump. After that experience I kept my eyes open for those little metal squares.

The road leveled off at a construction site, where I ran into mud for the first time. Literally ran into mud. I stepped in a bulldozer rut filled with water. At the traffic lights, about six of us crossed together because the lights changed so infrequently. We trotted, in a bunch, through another road construction site, then fanned out into single file when the road turned into a hiking trail, up and down, up and down. At one point I noticed a lot of crunching, looked down, and saw lots of broken glass, plastic plates, and garbage. Ewww. Here I am, running up out of the forest to the station at Eshtaol (photo taken by Shvoong photographer).
Me running in the Y2Y relay race

After a couple hours of sleep, my next segment (#12 of 16) was at dawn, from Elad to Park Afek (photo below taken with my LG G2 smartphone).

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Dawn runs are tough because it’s fairly dark and cold when you begin, but the weather can turn hot within 20 minutes. Of course, I hadn’t bothered with sunglasses or water! It was 8.7 km to Park Afek, running along a gravel road (tough surface, slippery), with absolutely no shade. Everything looked the same–lots of peach trees, lots of tomato plant. I’m really glad I ordered a Garmin GPS watch for future runs, because it’s hard to pull out a smartphone when you’re running to check the distance and it’s difficult to judge distance when running in unfamiliar areas. You would think a run through agricultural areas would be quiet and peaceful, but I passed a large army base with two firing ranges, both in use. There were a few puddles and muddy areas but they’re much easier to avoid in the day time. I started the run around 6:30 and had to really push myself. It’s not easy doing two runs close together. When I reached the station, the sun was quite hot and young, muscular guys with perfect bodies were stripping down to low-slung running tights (no, no, I’m not complaining….).

The last section (#16 of 16) was from the Reading power station, down the boardwalk along the beach, to the old Jaffa port. That was a lot of fun (or at least it would have been if I hadn’t been so tired!). I managed to run the whole way, albeit, at a slower speed than usual. (Finish line photo taken with my smartphone.)

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It felt surreal to be wearing a racing number and water bottle belt, running through crowds of strollers, shoppers, leisurely joggers, people drinking coffee at cafes. I really enjoyed all the Kol hakavods (= kudos) I received from strangers, along with a few comments like, “Good to see women doing this!” I’ve seen the Tel Aviv coast many times, but never from this perspective. A cool breeze (had to hold on to my sun hat) was blowing in from the sea at the new Tel Aviv port. I counted the hotels as I ran past the Carlton, Hilton, David, then the office buildings. It wasn’t easy running on slippery pebble-paved pedestrian paths, so sometimes I ran on the paved bike path and jumped out of the way when cyclists came along. After the office buildings, I was in the much less populated area leading to the Jaffa port. Barry, who had only done 2 segments, joined me half-way so I would have company. Israel and Ouriel joined us about half a kilometer before the finish line (Sharon and Jacob had to leave early) and we crossed the finish line around noon.

Next week I have a much bigger relay, M2V–Mountain-to-Valley (Har le-Emez). Eight of us, all from Cisco, will run 255 km from Tel Hai to Kfar haHoresh!

 

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10km Race with the Blind

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 13, 2014

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Mon. Oct. 13. We got a bright and early start (well, not too bright–I was waiting for my ride in the dark at 5:45 a.m.). We ran Ro’im Rahok, a 10-kilometer race in which blind runners with escorts compete against sighted runners. It’s held at Beit Oved near Tel Aviv, at the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind (see article about last year’s race for more info; if you read Hebrew and you want to participate next year, the race is sponsored by Sportweb). I took these photos with my iPod. I don’t have any photos of the race itself, because I’m not good at photographing and racing at the same time, but it was a great event. They closed one side of route 42 for the race.

We had to drive through the starting line to get to the parking lot around 7 a.m.

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The running race starts at the same time as the tandem cycling race for the blind, with sighted volunteers.

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After the race we spent some time in the kennels with the dogs. The Guide Dog Center is open for visitors and offers tours. If you haven’t been there, it’s a nice activity for kids. There are small picnic and park areas, dog areas, a fish pond, puppies, and, of course, lots and lots of golden retrievers.

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Obstacle course. These dogs must undergo an incredible amount of training!

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Metal maze for dogs.

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Drum circle after the awards ceremony.

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Two of my teammates (Cisco League) in the kennel.

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I’m still around…

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 26, 2014

Selfie at Binyamin 10k race

My blog has been on hold because life got a bit busy. I ran in the Binyamin 10K race last month, during a heat wave, at Maale Michmash–no shade, lots of hills. I didn’t run as well as I’d hoped because I didn’t drink enough, but I got a 2nd place trophy. I actually placed third out of four in my category, but the first place winner was one of the overall women’s winners, so the rest of us got bumped up by one position; it’s too bad that the 4th place runner didn’t hang around. She would have gotten a 3rd place trophy by default! I took this selfie with my iPod.

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing

I finished the first row of the endless “Lady and Unicorn: Sense of Hearing” cross-stitch piece. Only a few thousand more stitches to go! 🙂

A couple days ago we returned from our annual vacation, which we spent in Wales and London. Photos to follow. Before too long, I promise…..

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Jerusalem Marathon 2014

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 24, 2014

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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Hevron 10K Race

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 16, 2014

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How to get a trophy on your first race…. First, sign up for a race with hardly any participants. 🙂 The Hevron 10K is a tough run and had only about 60 competitors. I think every woman in the race won a trophy. There were only 4 or 5 and we were spread out over different age groups. There was another woman registered in my group, but she didn’t run, so I was the only winner in my category. Looks like a woman on top of a Dalek.

Here I am at the starting point, with the Tomb of the patriarchs in the background.

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And we’re off…. Of course I’m at the back of the pack. I’m not a very fast runner and it didn’t help that I took a wrong turn in Kiryat Arba–there was n0 sign after the unattended water stand at the 8th kilometer (that was also really annoying; when you’re running, you shouldn’t have to stop, fish a cup out of a plastic bag, and fill it yourself). I wasn’t in any danger. But I tried to guess which way to go and guessed wrong. When I turned around, I saw that the two women who were behind me had gone straight, instead of turning, so I followed them, losing about half a kilometer.

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Beautiful scenery! Lots of terraces and vineyards. The hills of the first two kilometers were really difficult, from the Machpela up to the industrial area of Kiryat Arba. I don’t think we have such steep hills in Maale Adumim, unless you try to run straight up the hill from a wadi.

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I have another 10 km race this Friday, the “Kalaniot” (Anemones). About twice as many people are registered, so I’ll have some real competition! At least it will be a lot flatter.

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