For the last four months or so, our family has been training for running in a marathon. My husband and I are both signed up for full marathons… Our nine year old son is signed up for a 10 K, and our daughter, well, she is cheering from the side… and whenever she wants to join in the fun, she is welcome to, but meanwhile she is more comfortable on the side.
The third Jerusalem International Marathon is taking place this Friday. The signs and flags can be seen all over our city, as can the runners getting ready for the big race. We have picked up our shirts and numbers already, and are as ready as can be. My husband is going to do the 42.2 K (26 miles) here in Jerusalem, I will do the 10 K with our son, and then in two weeks I will do my 42.2 in Tel Aviv.
For those of you who are not familiar with Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, let me tell you, – there are some MAJOR differences between those two cities. They may be only an hour drive from each other, but when it comes to running a marathon, it might as well have been another planet (when it comes to many other things too, actually…).
The Jerusalem Marathon has gotten the name “A breath-taking marathon”, and rightly so. Not only is it so beautiful, it will take your breath away, – the hills that hit you everywhere will no doubt take your breath away! Our city is built on many, many hills, and the marathon-route does not want you to miss this fact… Last year I ran the half marathon here in Jerusalem, and let me tell you, those hills….. especially the one at around the 19th kilometer… which when doing the full, would be around the 40th, I guess… PUH!!!
Tel Aviv on the other hand, – is flat as a beach. It is actually a city built on the beach, while Jerusalem is built 800 meters above sea level (about 2600 feet). But don’t get me wrong, – I am sure that running 42.2 kilometers, is challenging, even in Tel Aviv!! (*I must have an advantage though, having trained in Jerusalem? Don’t you think?!?)
The training has for the most part been very enjoyable. I really like the shorter training runs during the week. They somehow give me an energy-boost for the day ahead. I have been on a plan that has had me running only three times a week, and I have been doing strength training twice a week (well, most of the weeks anyway…). The longer training runs were great up until around the half marathon distance. 21.1 K now feels like a piece of cake. But once I hit 28, 29 and around there, I have to really work on my mental strength, as there does not seem to be much more physical strength to be found. Hopefully the adrenaline on race day will help with this, plus the fact that the hills that have been draining my energy here in Jerusalem will be non-existant in Tel Aviv. The longest I have ever run is 31 K, so the last 11 K of the marathon will be new territory, but that day I will be able to give it all, – nothing to save strength for, – this is it!!!
I am very thankful that although I run on asphalt, my knees and back have not been complaining at all. The thing I have had to work on is for my stomach to be able to handle the ongoing hard pounding. I have found that for me it is definitely most helpful to run on an empty stomach. I eat one banana as I go out the door, and on long runs I fuel along the way with GU fueling products. And then I enjoy a nice big meal afterwards.
Another challenge I found, was that my toes started looking like they had gone through a torture-machine… Some toe-nails are blue and black, others are missing. (I’ll spare you the pictures…) Blisters are found all around. It got so bad at one point, that some of my training-runs were replaced with foot-soaks… But after that I found that during the actual runs, it didn’t hurt all that bad. It was worse in between somehow. (And the fact that my children felt like they shared my personal space, and regularly stepped on my toes, was NOT helpful. We have pretty much gotten rid of that habit now…) Anyway, my toes have roughened up, and I don’t think it will a problem on race-day. (The upcoming sandal-season is a different story…. I have invested in some dark shade nail polish…!)
But really, for the most part, I have come to LOVE running. (Who would have believed, old friends and family??) I feel privileged who gets to take the time to run, and it is a very positive part of my week, which spreads optimism and energy and joy to other parts of my life as well.
- Jerusalem Marathon One Month Away But Already Breaking Records (israelnationalnews.com)