My Tel Aviv marathon experience

During a marathon one has so many thoughts and impressions, and if one does not write them down relatively immediately, they tend to fade away. So maybe I am writing this mainly for me to have for later, but if any of you are interested, it might be entertaining for you too (it gets more so towards the end, I think).

Spontaneously my dear husband and I on our way to the marathon decided to run this marathon together from start to finish. We have ran in three marathons together in the past, but always with quite different finishing times. He is way faster than me. But today we decided to take in the sights of Tel Aviv together and to try to enjoy the whole experience.

The weather forecast said it we would have a big increase in temperatures, so they made the starting time earlier than planned, and the full marathon started at 05.45, meaning we got up in Jerusalem at 4 a.m! When I threw out an imagined finishing time I said 4 hours and 19 minutes, two minutes faster than my last marathon in Tiberias in January (where it was freezing cold! What is it with marathons and extreme weather?!). So my plan was to start running with the 4.15 pace group, and see how long I could keep it up, leaving myself some flexibility to slack off a bit whenever needed. And now my husband joined my plan, – I could not very well join his…

We ran the first little bit with the 4.15-ers, but did not stay with them for very long, because it became very crowded and hard to run like that. We actually ended up going a bit ahead of them. I kept on thinking “This fast, but not faster”. We had a great time, and I knew it was a good sign when I was wondering if we had passed the 8 km mark, when all of a sudden I spotted the 9 km mark. Things were going well!

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One of the conveniences of running with my husband, was that he would bring me drinks from the drink stations and I would try to stay away from the chaos that easily ends up around those stations, when so many people are running and receiving open water bottles at the same time. Then at the water station by the 10 km mark, the ones giving out the water spread themselves all the way across the road, so there was no way to really avoid them, and sure enough someone dropped a bottle that splashed right on my foot… I was trying to ignore this, but it became increasingly challenging as a blister was developing because of the wetness.

At around the 13th km we hit upon the Tel Aviv Port, a central place in my last marathon experience in Tel Aviv, which was not entirely a positive experience. I felt the negative thoughts influencing my current experience even after leaving the port, and was busy fighting this when all of a sudden I noticed that we were running with the 4 hour pace group. Now, – that was encouraging!! We kept on running with them, but I did feel that the pace was slightly too fast for me, and decided to stick with them until the halfway point, and at that time decide what to do after that.

We ran along the side of the Mediterranean and the view was just stunning. The waves pouring in in the morning light. I loved it.

We made it to the 21.1 half marathon mark in just under two hours, which is a fast half marathon time for me. Nice! But I really felt it, I did not like that I was that exhausted when I still had a half marathon distance to go! So, I decided to devote the next chunk of kilometers to regaining my strength, and then as I hit the 32 km mark to see if I had enough left in the tank to speed up a bit. It worked for a while, as the pace slowed, I felt my puls calming down and enjoyed running through the streets of Tel Aviv. My husband pointed out buildings of interest and such, trying to help take my mind a bit off of the actual running.

Around km 30 the blister which had developed on one of my wet toes, burst. Not fun. We hit the 32 km mark, the average pace considerately slowed down, but I did not feel I could really speed up either, so I just kept going like I had.

During km 33 I started thinking about the ice aroma I was going to enjoy after finishing this thing.
By the 36th km I considered getting two ice aromas. As I was thinking about this, I saw a poor woman take a really bad fall, and gained some perspective. Thought I should get her some ice aromas too.
I did not notice the sign of passing km 37, and was happy and relieved when the mark for 38 came into sight! At this time I was trying to encourage myself with thoughts of the medal being given me as I would finish the race.
Around km 39 the focus became more and more on the fact that I hoped Aroma had a good bathroom…
By km 40 I considered finding a bush to use as a temporary bathroom. Oh, don’t men have it simple! They were practically lining the sides taking care of business as easy as that!

I looked for a long time for km mark 41, and was secretly hoping that we had passed it and that i had just missed it. (Remember this is a secret, so don’t tell anyone!)
Then I was disappointed to see that the next km mark was in fact 41.

For the last few kilometers I reminded myself that giving birth is even harder than this. But there is a difference, – when you are giving birth, there is no option of quitting! You simply have to carry through with it! Not so with marathoning. There were plenty of people who started to walk, some even took their shoes off and walked barefoot. In one way it looked very tempting, in another way I felt sorry for them. I wanted to keep running till the end. Just getting it done and over with was much more important to me than what would be my finishing time.
I had seen a t-shirt a few days ago with the text “I can. I will.”, and it inspired me, so I thought I would take it with me as a mantra for the marathon. Towards the end it was what I was telling myself. I can keep running. I will keep running. But I was not entirely sure that I would in fact be able to keep it up until almost 43 km.
For the last km or so, there were encouragers positioned along the route to I guess, put a smile on our faces. One was dressed as an angel. Just before I reached his spot, he must have noticed a runner next to me who needed special attention, so he stepped into the path to get to him, but in the process blocking the way for me. – Don’t block my way!! I said rather irritated. At about 4 hours and 10 minutes of running I did not have any extra energy to spare to go around him, – even if he was dressed like an angel!
Finally the km mark of 42 came into sight, – of course my runkeeper-app had already measured more than 42.5 by that time, and it was such a relief to pass through the finishing gate! We were done!!! The time official time from my chip was 4:13:34, and even though I ran the second half way slower than the first half, I am very happy with my time, – it is six minutes faster than what I imagined, eight minutes faster than my last marathon.

And anyway, for me the main thing is not the finishing time, but having a good time running, and most of the time I had a good time, just maybe not for the last eight kilometers…

It was absolutely lovely to be done, and I don’t think I could have done it any faster in the shape I am in now. (Last year I ran the Tiberias marathon in 4 hours and 10 minutes, but I had followed a more focused training plan then.) There were plenty of food and drinks for us to enjoy after finishing. I particularly liked the yogurts and the potato chips, and of course I did get my Ice Aroma too! Yum!

In the car on the way home I caught myself thinking “My feet are so exhausted, I want to sit down…”, only to realize that of course I was sitting down already. 😉

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Living my dream

Do you remember what you imagined your adult life would be like when you were a child? Call it dreams, thoughts, imaginations, – I think we all had some sort of thoughts or expectations.

For me, if I were to think about it in a black and white type of way, I guess I would have to say that a lot turned out very different than I expected. But then again, – today there were so many moments when I just had to stop myself and think about it, – I am living my dream! What a blessing!

flowers and candles

Like so often, – I am reminded that it is the small things that matter. They make up life, really. Today was a beautiful day. Spring weather with sun from a clear Jerusalem sky. In the morning I got efficient work done for several of the different jobs I have, and still had time for a nice walk (and talk!) with a dear friend.

And it was especially in the afternoon that I was reminded of how this matches my childhood dreams for my adult life. The children both had friends over. The door was open, and they were playing inside and outside, everyone was getting along and there was plenty of creativity and positive energy going around. Two neighbor girls noticed all the fun going on in our yard, and it was decided that they would come and join as well. Meanwhile I was having tea and cookies with one of the moms.

It was one of those days. The kids ate well at the meals. No one got into a fight. Everyone played well and cooperated well. (I guess the fact that I notice these things, tells you that it is not always like that, but that is also part of life, right?)

And so it hit me, that even if the setting (country, language, culture etc.) is not the same as I imagined as a child, the content is still the same. I dreamed of being a mom, my children having friends over, me hearing them playing outside, opening the window to call them in for home cooked meals… Life. My dream came true!!

Even if not every day is like a dream, it is all part of life, and we will take what we get served. Enjoy the good days and grow on the more challenging ones.

And even the parts of my life that are different than I dreamed, – really, I could not possibly have dreamed of the turn my life was to take! It was too much, too good to be imagined!

I feel very blessed, and have so much to be thankful for.