Sanctified time

Have you thought of the fact that God may have intended for there to be different kinds of time? The longer I am blessed to live, the more I believe this is the case. I believe God in His deep wisdom knew that we would need different kinds of times, so He blessed us with “Set apart times” – “Appointed times”. These are the Holy Days that He gave us through Moshe on Har Sinai, and each week there is Shabbat.

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Just like God sanctified certain people and certain places in special ways, I believe He sanctified certain times.

And I think it is a blessing for us to take advantage of these blessed, set apart and sanctified times! On the last two Shabbats I have noticed that the conversations in our home have gone to a depth that almost surprised me. But then again, – it is only natural for these deep conversations to take place during such special hours of the week. The connection between us human beings and with God above comes more easily during this set apart time, I think.

Then again, – you cannot really plan for this type of connection to happen, you just have to be ready and open for it.

We have quite traditional Shabbats. Everything is prepared ahead of time, the house is clean, the clothes are ready, the food is cooked, the guests are invited. And then we just enjoy the blessing that Shabbat is, for all the 25 hours that it lasts. The deep prayers at the synagogue, the beautiful songs, the meals, the blessings, the time together, the wonderful restfulness of it all.

More and more I love being at the synagogue on Shabbat morning and joining in the singing of these familiar prayers in these beautiful familiar melodies. It really feels like you get a bit of a taste of the heavenly Jerusalem. I feel a strong connection with God above, and it is a reminder of who we are and what we are here for.

For the Shabbat a week ago, both of our children had sleep-over-guests who of course stayed for the entire Shabbat. There were lively meals and lots of games. And then on Shabbat afternoon, when we just sat around on the couches, all of a sudden our son and his friend came with all these deep questions and thoughts that they were dealing with at this early teenage stage of their lives. Nobody planned for it, it was just there, – this depth, this connection. A similar thing happened on the afternoon of this last Shabbat. It must be that we are all calmed down and peaceful enough to deal with the real issues in life at that time!

Oh, I cannot express in words how thankful I am for Shabbat! This foretaste of Gan Eden! No wonder it is the highlight of my week, – and then again of my life, I guess! Because as we know, – The way we live our days, is the way we live our lives!

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Day

It is hard to even begin to describe Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. As someone who has joint on to the Jewish people myself, I do not have the same family history with this tragedy, but I feel that whoever I spoke with the last few days, all had a story connected to the holocaust; – Yes, both my parents were holocaust survivors. My mother was in Auschwitz and my father escaped and was able to get false identification papers. Or, – my grandmother was in Auschwitz. Or, – my father was the only survivor of his family. Or, – I was named after my father’s mother, who was killed in the holocaust. There are SO many stories! This gets SO real here! And of course, it WAS way too real for way too many people.

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At the children’s school, each of the children were given the name of a person murdered in the holocaust. They searched and found out some information about the person, and then on Holocaust Memorial Day they lit a candle in memory of this person. Each candle had the name of a person written on it. This was done at very many schools in Israel this year. Sadly there are plenty of names to go around, – 6000000 of them…

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One of the candles at the school had the name our daughter’s friend’s father. We know him and everything, and it was kind of strange to see his name on a memorial candle. The explanation is that he is named after his uncle whom he never met. His father survived alone, after losing his father, mother and brother in the holocaust. He himself came very close to dying, but survived and made it to Israel, where he married and had three children whom he named after his brother, father and mother. What a way to keep on living, to choose life!

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The horrors we are remembering on a day like today are so awful, there are no words to fully describe them. Being at the ceremony at the school this morning, I looked out at the crowd of children, and felt my heart aching that they have to learn about this reality already. Our children are big, 10 and 12 years old, and I still feel bad for them, but here were first graders, – six year olds! It wasn’t like people were telling all the worst stories, but even in the traditional “remembering-prayer” there are enough horrific details to make me sick (maybe especially the “being buried alive”-part…).

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Our 12 year old son is a very sensitive boy, and he takes days like these very heavily. Couple the sensitivity with curiosity, and you have someone who is looking up details of the holocaust, and afterwards loosing his appetite and just feeling deeply sad that something like that ever happened for real.

And it leaves me feeling sad that he has to already be marred by this tragic part of our history. Yet again, – it is part of who we are. People had to live through it (or die through it…), the least we can do is learn about it and remember them and what they had to go through.

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All of the holocaust ceremonies end in the same way. We stand and sing the “Tikvah”. And how fitting it is! We have hope! We are living that hope! Hope of being a free people in the Land of Zion and in Jerusalem!

 

 

 

Enjoying the ride of the marathon

As I started running my 8th marathon, the third one in Jerusalem, I felt in my whole body how much I LOVE marathons! I love the sounds and the sights and the feeling of it! The music, the crowds and the celebration of long distance running! And this year we were also blessed with absolutely ideal weather conditions for the Jerusalem marathon. It was not too hot, not too cold, no rain and hardly any wind.

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About a minute before the start of the race. Me excited, he somewhat worried. And of course, he always does WAY better than me in the actual race!

During the first kilometers I talked with many interesting people. One runner was from New York, another one from Sweden, both of them visiting Israel for the first time to run the Jerusalem marathon. I warned them of the hills coming up, at the same time as I encouraged them to take in all the beautiful views and enjoy running through the streets of Jerusalem. I also talked with different Israelis having come up to Jerusalem to run here as part of their training for an ultra marathon (a longer distance race than a marathon), and I think that says something about the challenging level of this particular marathon.

Running down Jabotinsky, we met the half marathoners who were climbing that same hill nearing their finish line. I encouraged them to the best of my abilities, and told them to keep going strong till the end, – to think of the medal that is waiting for them! At the bottom of the hill, I noticed a journalist friend with her team, and we said a quick hi to each other.

I totally loved the first hour of running, and the second hour went well too. Running down Jaffa road is a joy! Seeing all the runners ahead of you, being part of that river running through the streets of our beloved city, hearing our feet pound the pavement. I was enjoying it with all of my senses!

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(Photo from Facebook.)

We climbed the hills to Mt. Scopus, and met the elite runners on their way down. We all encouraged them, and I kept on yelling encouragement to all the runners we met. They really were doing great, so it was not hard to do so with enthusiasm, and it helps keep my mind off my own efforts climbing the hill. As I started the last hill before the Hebrew University, I met my sporty husband on his way back down. We yelled some encouraging words to each other and threw kisses through the air. I was happy to note that he seemed to be ahead of where he had been at that time in earlier years, so he was probably going to get a better time. The truth is that several times during this marathon, I thought of his finishing time and of the finishing time of our son who was really hoping for a PR in his 10K race. They are more concerned about their actual finishing time, while I am mostly focused on having a good time WHILE running the marathon. And I was enjoying myself, so, – so far, so good!🙂

The marathon route goes around and behind the Hebrew University, just to include some more heavy hills, and some more stunning views! The view of Jerusalem below us was amazing, as the sun was giving it a golden shine. Several runners stopped to take pictures, but I knew from experience that I am not able to capture its real beauty that way, so I kept my phone in my fueling belt and kept running. In a heavy climb behind the University, the Swede that I had met early on in the race, asked me if this was the hardest part of the marathon. I answered that yes, this was a rough part, but there are several smaller hills waiting for us downtown too.

There was a lot of security along the whole route, and especially at remote places like this one behind the University. I made a point to thank the border police who were out there keeping us safe. I also thanked the crowds of spectators along the course, who were out cheering for us. They really do take a very big part in making this such a special event.

I had planned on utilizing the downhill from Mt. Scopus to the Old City in a good way, but unfortunately I struggled with an old fashioned side cramp at that time, so I didn’t push myself. After all, – I am out there enjoying myself, remember?! In the middle of that downhill, there is one uphill (you may not notice it normally, but believe me, when you are running, you notice it!), and right now that uphill came in useful, as it took away my side cramp!🙂

The next challenge was running through an almost kilometer long tunnel, at about the half way mark, just before getting to the Old City. The tunnel was added to the route last year, and I really did not like it then. But this year, I was prepared for it, and was able to handle it better, even if the smell of sweaty runners was pretty bad in there…

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I ran with these guys for part of the race. (Photo from Facebook.)

Having come more than half way through the marathon, I felt quite happy. I was enjoying myself, and remember thinking that two and a half more hours of this, would be just fine, – I love marathons!

Climbing the short hill to Jaffa Gate, I remembered the photographer that normally gets good pictures at that location, so I smiled and lifted my arms (which I did to all the photographers I noticed along the course). Running through the Old City was really beautiful. This experience never gets old. Lifting my feet and moving forward on these old stones, thinking of the history and the dreams that are part of this place, seeing these old and special walls next to me! I had lots of beautiful Jerusalem songs going through my heart and head! Love!

Coming out of Zion gate, more beautiful views meet us as we run down a hill before starting the climb to Mt.Zion hotel. I saw a friend there, which is always fun, and part of the blessing of running in the city you live in. At the top of this hill, we make a turn, and I met my sporty husband again there! He looked like he was doing great! We then come around and climb another little hill by the Bell Garden before heading towards our climb of Jabotinsky. All along this area, there were lots of spectators, which I found really encouraging. Little kids were out there giving you high fives, whole families had come out to join in the festivities, – it was a true celebration to run through it all!

One of my challenges in all of my marathons, is that I always manage to run way further than 42.2 kilometers. In other words, I am horrible at cutting corners, or taking the turns the right way, – and it is not like I am not trying! Not long after seeing the 23rd kilometer mark, I heard this message through my headphones: “Distance: 24 kilomers”. And at the same time as I saw the 27th kilometer mark, I heard: “Distance: 28 kilometers”… Ok, I thought, I will make one PR today, – the longest distance I have ever ran…

In the midst of this, I decided it was time to turn on the playlist I had prepared specifically for this race. And wow, – it was epic, – having this great running music in my ears and running down Emek Refaim which was filled with encouraging spectators! I felt myself choking on tears, that’s how moving this whole experience was! I almost felt like lifting my arms even though no camera was in sight!! Ha!

This elevating experience, however, made me pick up my speed a little too much, and my side cramp came back. Not good. Coming up the familiar bike path that is part of most of my training runs, I enjoyed my great music, but still struggled with the side cramp. This was still the case as I ran Hebron road, and I promised to let myself walk up the next hill, to try to get rid of the side cramp.

A nice song with this text came up on my playlist: “If it’s fast or slow, all I really know, is I’m gonna enjoy the ride.”, and I felt that being the theme of my marathon this time. I was out there enjoying the ride, feeling happy and privileged to take part in it.

At the bottom of the hill at around the 31st kilometer mark, I met a friend who was out there with an encouraging sign with my name on it! How fun!! She walked the hill with me, and it was a nice and welcome break.

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Next up was running by the Jerusalem promenade with another stunning view of our beautiful city. Afterwards we even ran into our neighborhood a bit, and there, as I passed the 34th kilometer sign, I heard this message in my ears: “Distance: 34 kilometers”. What?! I started wondering whether I was cheating or hallucinating… Where did my extra kilometer go?! But really, I had followed the route, and turned at the right places… I concluded that it must have been the ones placing the marks that had done so with somewhat uneven intervals. Confusing when you are out there quite focused on these markings. But, of course, it is nice to realize that you don’t have to run an extra kilometer at this point.

I saw some more friends and people I know in this area, and my friend with the sign showed up two more times. Really nice! I also saw someone who I know has ran several marathons in the past, who encouraged me, and encouragement coming from that type of person, is taken to heart in a special way. She knows what she is talking about!

I really appreciated all the encouragement in this part of the marathon, because, even if the side cramps had gone away, they had been replaced with another challenge. I was feeling really, really nauseous. So much so, that I ended up having to take many walk breaks, which is something I have had limited understanding for when I have seen others do in this part of the marathon in the past.

So, while I had had so many happy thoughts of loving marathons earlier on, this last hour of the marathon, was a reminder of that this is the actual marathon. A marathon is not like running four 10Ks and then a little more at the end. I love 10K training runs, but four of those do not make up a marathon, because you do not do them straight after each other… The way you cope with keeping on running after having already ran for more than 3 hours, that is the real marathon-experience. And let me tell you, – it is challenging.

I felt that I really had to work on balancing my stomach… It was annoying, because when I had 5Ks left, I understood that I could actually beat my own time from my last marathon in Tiberias. But I was not going to throw up, as that is not part of “enjoying the race” as I see it…

I walked up the steepest part of Kovshei Katamon, a cruel hill around the 39th kilometer mark, but somehow handling my stomach was harder than handling the hill this time around.

This time, I was the runner who walked across the marking on the road that said 41,5 kilometers. Whenever I have seen others doing that in the past, I have been thinking to myself: “What is with you?! You have less than ten minutes left, -just keep on running till the end!” Now I all of a sudden gained an understanding of why some people are walking this part. This time I was one of those taking quite frequent walk breaks, while doing my best to just make it to the end. The song on my playlist was quite fitting with this text: “Wake me up when it is over…”. Yes, please.

I had been running for a bit when I saw the 42K mark, and tried to pick up my speed a little bit. There was the finishing gate within sight, my eyes fill with happy tears as I raise my arms in joy and hear my name of the loudspeaker, – and I am DONE! I made it! Oh, joy and relief,- I don’t have to keep on running any more! My finishing time was 4:34:59 and the total distance I ran was 42,4 km. By far not my fastest, but also not my slowest marathon.

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Done! Made it! Oh, joy and relief, – I don’t have to keep on running any more!

I got my golden cape and my medal, and I found my husband and son there, – who had both gotten great new personal records on the course that day, by the way! So happy for them and proud of them! We got our pictures taken in various cool spots in Sacher Park which was all one big celebration. It had been another good marathon experience, which I feel privileged to have the health and strength and ability to take part in.

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And, isn’t it funny, after crossing that finish line, it is not the last hard hour that is fresh in your memory, but the whole wonderful experience of the celebration of long distance running! It is the feeling of completing a challenge, being able to push your own limits, and the joy of having made it past the finish line!

 

Moments of connection

I really like to feel connected. Connected to God, to the people around me, to nature, to my loved ones. I love when you all of a sudden can just feel a moment of real connection. You don’t know that it is coming, and you cannot plan for it, – all of a sudden it is just there!

It can happen when you read the Bible. Not every time, but all of a sudden, you can just feel how you are moved with excitement over a truth that so stands out to you, or something you had never quite understood before that now becomes very clear, – and you feel so connected to it, and to God who is behind it all!

I remember moments of dancing at the Kotel, singing together with people I don’t even know, looking up at the Wall which really is a connection point both with God and with generations past, – and all of a sudden just feel so connected to the Jewish people, those who are here now, and those who have gone before, and possibly also to those who are coming after us. Those moments also feel like connection points between heaven and earth. They are real highlights in my life.

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The same thing can happen at Shabbat and the holidays. After major preparations, you find yourself around the holiday table, looking at the faces of loved ones, family and friends, in the light of the candles, saying traditional blessings. And all of a sudden you feel the connection with them and others around similar tables at that very time, and with those who have done so in ages past. It is a wonderful thing, experiencing this connection.

Growing up on an island, loving boat life, I can get this feeling when I am out on the water too. Smelling the fresh saltiness of the sea, hearing the wonderful sound of the waves, feeling the wind in my face, seeing the sun’s diamond-like reflection on the water. Oh, the connection with nature, and with generations past who have also travelled those same waters, between those same islands.

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Also, when preparing food in traditional ways, I can get a feeling of connection with those who have done this in ages past. Small and big moments, but I still find it exciting to feel part of something greater, part of a chain, so to speak.

The last couple of days I have noticed moments of sweet connection with my children. People talk about quality time versus quantity time. I like the idea that you spend quantity time with your children, and all of a sudden, you notice that it turns into quality time, – without even planning for it! Like the other day, when my son and I stood by the kitchen counter preparing coffee together. He was grinding the flavored decaf coffee beans, and I was getting the milk ready for frothing. I could feel how happy he was at that moment, and in spite of the simple everyday-life-ness of the whole thing, I felt the deep connection that I knew was part of strengthening our relationship.

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Another sweet coffee moment with this one

Yesterday my daughter and I were rearranging her room. And again, all of a sudden, it was there, – we were just cleaning off dust from some doll beds we had brought in from the treehouse, – but we shared the same satisfaction in the moment and I felt the connection that builds and strengthens the bond between us.

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I believe the feeling of connectedness has a lot to do with being present in the moment. Be where you are right now. Live now. I remember as a teenager loving the saying: – The one who never lives now, never lives.  So, I guess, when I get into these trains of thoughts, I feel a connection with myself too, the younger version of myself, who I guess is still who I am to some extent.

May you LIVE every day of your life! And may you be blessed with moments of connection!

Holding on to the moments

In a conversation with my son in the car yesterday, he expressed how impressed he was with my driving-abilities. (Oh, well, let’s enjoy it while we can! ;-)) Then, very fitting to his usual thought pattern, he started calculating how long it will be before he himself will start learning to drive. – In five years, I will be learning to drive a car, and in three and a half years I will learn to drive a small motorcycle… Then the conversation moved on to prices of motorbikes, and the insurance, and having an own bank-account and so on.

These types of conversations leave me with a thought of really wanting to hold on to the days we are living right now. We still have children who love hanging out with their parents, who really want to talk with us and share everything that is on their hearts. While I can go around hoping it will stay this way forever, I have to be realistic and realize that there are different periods and stages in life. And I totally love the stage we are in right now.

We have a ten year old daughter and a son who is just turning twelve. They are becoming more and more independent every day. Hey, – he cooked us Shabbat dinner last week! And this week he is actually not even home for five days, as he is gone on a trip with his grandparents! And as I was listening to her talking about rearranging her room this morning, I realized she is turning into a little me, in her own sweet way!

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While I love that they are becoming more independent, I also totally love that they still want us to be a very central part of their lives. They want to process their thoughts with us, bringing up their big questions about life and everything. They love playing games together with us, and just hanging out. I love those moments, the days we are living right now, and I want to really hold on to them. I have a feeling there will come a day when I will miss them. So right now, – I want to make the most of the opportunities that these days give, – to invest, to enjoy and to make memories.

 

Jerusalem, my home! How amazing!

The other day I was on a work-related trip to Tel Aviv. Driving home from there, following the roadsigns to Jerusalem, I almost had to pinch myself to believe that this is really the life I am living. Even now, – having lived in Jerusalem for almost two decades, I am still that excited about it. Just imagine, – I get to call Jerusalem my home! I get to follow the roadsigns to Jerusalem when I am heading home!!

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Living in Jerusalem has many different aspects to it. Right now the challenging aspects of life in Israel are showing themselves. Daily we get news updates of the horrible terror that is coming against our people, – our women, our mothers, our children. It is hard to describe with words, and it is a reality nobody should have to deal with.

Yet at the same time, somehow, this strengthens us, it strengthens our identity of who we are, as very different from the ones who are coming against us like this, worse than animals. It makes it very clear who we have to turn to, to cling to and to trust in, – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, – the God of Israel!

And somehow, in spite of this difficult reality, the people of Israel manage to have a joy of life that I find admirable! It may be what comes from gaining perspective, building something, sacrificing, – it may be the fruit of living for something bigger than yourself.

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In the mornings I like to take time to read the Bible, and so often I come across such amazing, beautiful promises to Israel, and not the least to Jerusalem! And then to think, I get to be here, to live here, to have a part in these promises, in this wonderful hope!

Just look at these promises from Zechariah 8:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:

‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; 

With great fervor I am zealous for her.’

‘I will return to Zion,

And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,

The mountain of the LORD of hosts,

The Holy Mountain.’

‘Old men and women shall again sit 

In the streets of Jerusalem,

Each one with his staff in his hand

Because of his great age

The streets of the city

Shall be full of boys and girls,

Playing in the streets.’

‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east

And from the land of the west;

I WILL BRING THEM BACK,

AND THEY SHALL DWELL IN THE MIDST OF JERUSALEM.

THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE

AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,

IN TRUTH AND RIGHTOUSNESS.’

What promises! What hope! And let me tell you, – it is happening already! Now and in our days! The process has begun, and it is truly an amazing thing to be a part of!

Swimming through the Tiberias Marathon

Thursday was a really beautiful day. We picked up our Marathon Packs in Tiberias that evening, and the temperature in the city was 17 degrees. Just perfect. But we knew the forecast for the next morning, was 100 % chance of rain, – and boy, were they right! During the night we woke up several times from the loud sounds of thunder, then there was lightning and lots and lots of rain. And Friday it practically poured the whole time, sometimes really bad and sometimes even worse. It was as though the heavens had just opened and sent tons and tons of huge drops down on us. They are blessings, I know, and as I looked up at the hills of Galilee, I was surprised they weren’t greener, – they sure will be after this rainfall!

My thought as we looked out at the pouring rain while my husband and I were waiting for as long as possible in the car this morning, was: – I am so glad I am not going for a PR at this race! This was my seventh marathon, I had not trained perfectly for it, but knew I had it in me to finish it, just not very fast.

IMG_5553.JPGMy plan was to start running with the 4:30 pacers, and finish either a bit before or a bit after them. Seeing the weather conditions of this marathon, it was not surprising that it ended up being a couple of minutes after.

Anyway, – for the first two kilometers I ran with this pacing group. As we stood and waited for the marathon to start, people were talking about that they kind of wished the marathon would be cancelled. I did not agree. The first marathon I trained for, was cancelled, and it was VERY disappointing.

The puddles in the beginning of this marathon were just ridiculous! The starting gate was one big muddy puddle, so there was no way you were not going to get wet! You start your 42.2 kilkometer run by stepping into a deep puddle, – how fun…or not. During the first two kilometers, there were many more puddles like that, and even though we were already wet, we kept trying to avoid stepping into this muddy river in the street, so we would do little de-tours to get around them. People were making references to crossing the Jordan river…

But these de-tours were getting kind of crazy, as we ended up having to really wait in line for people to make it down from a mudbank we had climbed to get away from the water and stuff. So, – I decided I would move ahead from this pacing group already, and go with a crowd that were not as big on de-tours.

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Look at the puddles we had to run through! I am glad someone else got a good picture of them!

I found a nice small group of runners who wore jackets saying they belonged to an army running group. It seemed we ran a similar pace, so I hung on to them until about kilometer 10.

About 15 minutes after we started, there was another race started, for the people running 10 K. Our son was in that group, so I was thinking of him. What surprised me was the fact that the elite runners from this group caught up with us! They were really, really fast as they sprinted past us!

I was surprised of the amount of cheerers who had come out to this marathon-arrangement, in spite of the heavy rain. I would thank them all for coming out as I ran past them! If there were children, I would run over and high-five them. Good times!

The marathon staff though, were pointing us in the right direction and stuff, but not cheering, and a couple of times as I thanked them for being there, I would with a smile say they should encourage the runners who came after me. I mean, we could all use all the encouragement that we could get. It was just pouring rain all the time, and we had to just keep on running through puddle after puddle.

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At around the 10K point, one of the women in the little group I was running with, started to complain to another woman in the group about the fact that her body felt as though it had ran 20K already… O-oh, I though, and decided to move on ahead from this group too. I always liked when I could find a small group or a couple of runners that I could just hang on to, and I kept on finding different people like that, and it was working well for me.

I had had this plan that I was going to wear a garbage bag while waiting for the marathon to start. I went to the super market and bought the biggest garbage bags they had, and as I gave one to my son to wear, I explained that you only wear it while waiting, – after running through the starting gate, you just get rid of it. However, when I started my race and the rain was pouring so heavily, I was not at all tempted to get rid of my garbage bag / rain coat. So I kept it on. A little before the 11th kilometer mark I thought that maybe the rain had moved to somewhat more of a drizzle, and was considering throwing away my bag. But before I had quite made up my mind, it started raining really heavily again, and I was so glad I still had my garbage bag. I felt it protected my phone too, which I had in the pocket of my fueling-belt

As the rain strengthened at around the 11th kilometer mark, I heard people behind me starting to sing a well known Yom Kippur song – Chatanu lefanecha, rachem aleinu… We have sinned before you, HAVE MERCY ON US! – Only in Israel, I thought, and smiled in the midst of the heavy rain.

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A bit after the 14th kilometer mark, we met the elite runners on their way back after having turned around at the half way point. I very much like the fact that this marathon is an out-and-back marathon. I find it really entertaining to meet the ones ahead of me when they come back, and also to see the ones behind me after I have turned around. This is also an excellent opportunity to encourage the other runners. Just about everyone is encouraging the first ones to come back, but I like to encourage everyone. And I really meant it, when I told people they were amazing, – I think we all were quite amazing out there running and running hour after hour sopping wet!

At around kilometer 18 1/2, I met my husband on his way back. That was a highlight of course! We high-fived each other and shared some encouraging words as we ran past each other. I was happy to see that he seemed to be right on pace for his time goal, finishing about an hour ahead of me.

When I think of the marathon now, I think the best part of it for me, probably was kilometers 14 – 21.1. Having finished 14, I knew I had done a third of the race, and I still felt really good. It was lots of fun meeting all the runners who were coming back, and the kilometers flew by as I was encouraging the runners ahead of me. At this stretch I was also passing quite a few people, providing me with a feeling of success, I guess.

However, turning around at 21.1 was a brutal meeting with a tougher reality. The wind against us was so strong, it felt like quite the wall in the beginning. – Wow! I said out loud, and someone who passed me right then said that – Yes, this is the hard part…

All of a sudden it felt like the rain that hit my face mixed with hail as the winds were so strong. Puh!

I was really glad I still had my garbage bag on, as another layer of protection agains the wind. When I looked at people around me without bags, I felt bad for them, and thought I had an advantage being dry and warm inside my bag.

As I was yelling out words of encouragement to the people who had not yet  come to the turning point, I considered if I should warn them of this wind that they would all of a sudden feel at that point. But I decided against it, why discourage them?

At around kilometer 24-25, the traffic in the other direction ended, and I felt the need for a new focus. Time to turn on some music on my phone. However, I did not really want to take my phone out in that heavy rain, so I decided to make a quick stop at the next bus-stop, and there, under cover, I would I dig out my phone so as not to destroy it in the rain.

Hmmm… Where were the bus-stops?

My feet were already starting to feel really, really heavy. This feeling came earlier than it has in my other marathons, probably because my shoes were just super heavy from the get-go, being filled with water and all!

Are there no buses on this side of the Sea of Galilee?

I mentioned that between kilometers 14 to 21 I had been passing people. Well, after the turning point I was struggling to keep up with the people around me. Around the 24th kilometer mark I picked a woman I was going to try to hang on to, and I ran behind her for a few kilometers. She was running with her husband or someone, and I thought she was doing really well. At least it was very helpful for me to have her to hang on to. However, just before kilometer 27, she got tired, and they decided to do some walking. As I passed her, I told her what a help she had been to me, and did my best to encourage her.

Just then the 4:30 pacing group caught up with me, and I thought of how helpful it would be to try to run with them. But it was not to be, because I had promised myself a little break at the next bus-stop, remember?

At the 27th kilometer mark, there was a bus-stop, by Kibbutz Ha-On. Of course, there hadn’t been any before that, because nobody lived there! Duh!! Anyway, I finally got to make my bus-stop break, and was surprised to find my phone far from dry, but fortunately still functioning really well. After turning on music, I also took the opportunity to find my paper towel in the pocket of my fleece jacket, to blow my nose. It was sopping wet, so the feeling of being dry must be an illusion… The third thing I did during my bus-stop-visit, was getting out a date-and-walnut-treat from a zip lock bag on my fueling-belt, and then I was on my way again.

The music was very helpful, and the wind against us had gotten a bit less strong as we got closer to the southern end of the lake. The view was pretty much blocked by the rain, but I could still get a glimpse of the lake on my right side and the banana fields on my left. And as I looked ahead I could see the tall eucalyptus trees lining the wet road filled with wet runners.

During this section I was also praying for many people I pray for regularly. Sick people in need of healing, family members and friends.

As I made the turn at the 30th kilometer, there was a very encouraging staff-person telling me I looked really good, and I was trying to remember if he was one of those that I had encouraged to start cheering when I passed him last time.

Even if I have gained a little bit of experience with running marathons now, I have not mastered the right way to cut the corners, because I always end up running way more than 42.2 kilometers. So when Strava gave me audio updates at every kilometer, the gap grew bigger and bigger to the actual kilometer markings on the course. I especially remember hearing the update that I had now ran 32 kilometers quite a while before the 32nd kilometer marking actually showed up. But just then a song I like very much was played on a loudspeaker right there:  – Matanot katanot, Small gifts, and I danced to the music and was encouraged again.🙂

People say that the actual marathon starts at kilometer 32. Up until that point you are just warming up… Well, I was comforting myself with the fact that I was feeling fine. Not any worse than at kilometer 25. Still heavy feet, but no worse. And really, this was better than running in the heat, way better. Also, I was not really feeling cold. Wet yes, but not cold. I kept going over lists of things to be thankful for. Thankful for health and the ability to run. Those things should not be taken for granted.

It was time for the only hill in the Tiberias marathon. It is nothing compared to the Jerusalem hills, but it is still a hill, and my pace was slowing down. But you know, what goes up must go down, and after the uphill, came a nice downhill. I was telling myself to maximize the  downhill, and try to speed up a bit, thinking of how nice it would be to notice this when I later on in the warmth of the car would go over all the wonderful data that Strava would provide me with regarding the pace of each kilometer of the race.

And what was that? Had it stopped raining for a moment?!

No, not the case, the drops were just somewhat smaller for a moment.

At the bottom of the hill, was a nice fruit-stand where they were giving out orange- and banana-pieces, and I spontaneously decided to make a stop there to have something to eat. (Totally destroying the data of any increase in speed from the downhill of course!) The people manning the booth, were very encouraging, telling me it looked like the running came easily for me, and I looked great. Instead of saying thank you, I started to cry… I guess it was a result of exhaustion and just emotional overload. Time to go on running!

At kilometer 36 there was another loudspeaker, and this one was playing “Golden boy”, the Israeli Eurovison song from this year. My kids love that song, and hearing it made me smile, and I danced to it too.

The woman I had ran with for a few kilometers on the other side of the lake had now passed me, but she was doing some walk intervals, so later I passed her again. We would always encourage each other as we passed each other, and when I passed her at kilometer 37, we made a plan to take a photo together at the finishing gate.

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Towards the end we hit some huge river-puddles again, and I had to smile as I heard another runner comment “Careful not to get wet, guys!”, as though we were not as wet as we could possibly be already!

As I approached the 40th kilometer marking I heard myself moan. I was alright, but just feeling really exhausted, I guess. The same thing happened as I passed the 41st kilometer marking. They say exhaustion is closely linked to the fact that you know that you are close to your finishing point. I guess I can testify to this being true for me at least.

However, I was trying to speed up a bit during the last couple of kilometers. I am always quite amazed at how many people are walking this part. Yes, that is what we all feel like doing, but hey, we are almost done. Let’s get there! Let’s give it all we have!

Several times during the race I thought of an old man we had met during one of our training runs in Jerusalem. He had stood by and watched us pass by, cheered us on and said “Just keep on lifting your legs!” So that was what I was doing, – just keeping on lifting my legs.

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HAHA! Would you look at the desperation in those eyes?!

42 kilometers! Only 200 more meters to go! And there I could see the finishing gate!! Yes!!! Already feeling the relief, I was lifting my arms in the air and getting through that gate as fast as I could! And I was done! Yeay!!!

On the other side of the finishing gate, my dear husband was waiting for me. The poor guy was really freezing of course, having stood there cold and wet for a whole hour!

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After having some refreshments and gotten our picture taken together, we left the area and went looking for a good falafel for him. I do not feel I can really eat a meal so soon after finishing that long of a run, but we stopped for coffee for me later, and that was yummy!

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The rest of the weekend we spend with good friends in Kfar Tavor not so far from Tiberias. Really good times for all, young and old.

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