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My friends at the Florida Jewish Journal (Randall Lieberman and team) always do such a great job covering the local Jewish scene, and the Maccabiah Games of course.
They did it again by recapping the 20th World Maccabiah Games with a story on me and Rylee Pustilnik, a junior track and field athlete and also a star member of the Spanish River Cross Country and Track teams.
Read the full article below, which highlights both of our experiences in Israel and the bigger meaning of the whole games!
Rylee Pustilnik and Melissa Perlman are at very different stages of their running careers.
However, the two Delray Beach women share in common winning bronze medals at the 20th Maccabiah Games (Jewish Olympics) in Jerusalem this past July.
The Maccabiah Games is the third-largest sporting event in the world (after the Olympics and Pan-American Games) — with nearly 10,000 Jewish athletes representing about 80 countries competing in 45 sports in four distinct divisions: Juniors, Open, Masters and Disabled.
Pustilnik, 15, won three bronze medals in the Junior Girls Track-and-Field competition in her first trip to Israel for the Maccabiah Games — placing third in the 800-meter run, the 1500-meter run and the 3000-meter run.
Meanwhile, Perlman, 35, won one bronze medal in the Open Women’s Half-Marathon in her fourth trip to the Maccabiah Games as an athlete.
Life is busy. Between work, home, responsibilities, family, exercising and “other,” it’s amazing that any of us getting any sleep or even find time to “enjoy.” Often finishing in last place on the long list of “to do” items is your relationship with your spouse or significant other.
For many of us, scheduling a “date night” becomes critical. If not, time together will fall through the cracks. For most of us, a date night of dinner and a movie, dancing, etc. is sufficient. For other’s it is not.
For my boyfriend and I, we take OTF classes together, we go on long walks with the dog, or bike rides alone. We start runs together. We cook together, eat together and watch specific shows together. We try to keep our time together focused and enjoyable.
For this NYC couple, they made their “date night” all about exercising. And it works for them – as it has gotten them back in shape and brought back the passion.
I returned from Israel just a couple of days ago and I am just coming up for air! The jet lag combined with time spent catching up on work, sleep, family/friends and my puppy has kept me pretty busy…and honestly SLEEP has dominated everything else (sorry!).
So I truly apologize for the lack of posting here on the site. I planned to post throughout the games as I travelled through Israel with Team USA but the schedule (between travel and training) was rough!
The best I can do is catch you up here on the last three weeks! And then I’ll gradually share snippets in the coming weeks and months! So read on…and let me know if there are specifics that you want me to follow-up on! I learned a lot, I saw a lot and I’ve definitely got a lot to share!
I went in with hopes and plans to run sub 1:29 for the half marathon. I trained for that and was confident I could do it. That was until we arrived in Jerusalem and I saw the Jerusalem terrain and specifically the Half Marathon course. It was HILLY – and when I say HILLY I mean MOUNTAINOUS. (So hilly, in fact, that I ran on the treadmill the week leading up the race in an effort to keep my confidence up and avoid as many hills outside the hotel we were staying in that I could!)
Coming from Florida, anything with hills is probably a little outside my comfort zone. But I try to be pretty relaxed when it comes to racing these days and figured ‘hey, all competitors will be facing the same course’ and moved on.
The race started at just before 9:00pm Israel time and I went in with the following strategy: Go out conservative, stay relaxed, stay aerobic (per Doug) and don’t let those hills kill your legs too early on. From walking the Jerusalem hills the week prior, I knew what they could do to my legs pretty quickly…and I promised myself I would take it easy and not allow the lactic acid to build up too early on. (I wanted this to be an enjoyable race…and not unnecessarily painful.)
Mile one was just over 7 minutes (7:03 to be exact). The first 800 meters was up hill and I took it easy. I’d say 70% of the field probably passed me at this point…but I kept reminding myself: ‘this is a 13.1 mile race’ and I’ll catch them later. Same for mile two (7:07). I think it was mile three that I started to feel my rhythm, get comfortable and develop my race plan .
Stay relaxed on the hills and get up them with small rapid steps. Allow the body to lean in and move up easily. Do not let the body go anaerobic or let the lactic acid build up in the legs.
Attack the down hills (which I personally love) and let the body go, the stride expand and the arms / upper body relax. Boy did I love those down hills (except where it got super windy).
And on the few areas of flat ground (honestly – probably adding up to two miles total), pick up the speed!
The race was two loops that repeated so the constant up hill, down hill, flat, up hill, down hill, flat course became the norm and made the race go by super fast. I was spending so much time looking forward to the down hill and flat areas, that before I knew it we were at 10miles in.
I pretty much ran alone or just behind a few Israeli guys – who chatted with me every so often (where was I from, what was my race goal, etc.). While I tried to keep the chatter to a minimum, one of those guys ended up being a life saver later on – giving me the heads up in the last 3.1 miles on upcoming hills, sharp turns, and more. (Thanks David! David had run this course many times prior.)
The last three miles was where I really wanted to pick up the pace and be aggressive with catching up to some of the leaders ahead of me. I felt great at this point…but I also had a tough 3.1 miles ahead of me. Lots of up hills, lots of tight turns and a 1k through the Old City (on slippery cobblestone, etc.). My total time for that last 5k was just under 22 minutes, which was solid, but not enough to catch me up.
With under 1k left in the race, as we ran down the final Old City hill and onto the Mamilla straightaway, I remember looking to my left over the city of Jerusalem – and thinking this is truly beautiful, and this experience has been amazing. I then finished up my last 800 or so meters wishing the end was closer (as always), and focusing on my form so I could finish strong.
My final finish: 1:33 and change and a third place in Maccabiah Open competition (fourth place overall – including a Master’s woman). But most importantly, I ran proud, strong, and happy. Another Maccabiah, another amazing experience.
Thank you to my teammates who were out there with me; Doug and Coach Rothman for the advice; Leah for the training plan; my family for cheering me on on the course – I LOVE having you out there just like my high school days; Lauren for the extra support and goo/water on hand; and Mark for the “strong” statements and goo at halfway mark!
Love this concept!!! Running & therapy! I could totally go for this!
There are so many times that I personally use running and listening to music as my own personal therapy and mental release…but there are just as many times that I go running with a friend just to talk, listen and once again…get that mental release.
The idea of meeting my therapist for a run (or walk) seems so simple…yet brilliant. What do you think?
“Run Walk Talk”: Running with the therapist while discussing life’s problems
By Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — The psychotherapist was in running gear: black tank top, black leggings and black shoes. Her hair was pulled back. She carried only her phone.
Leaving her office in Redondo Beach, Sepideh Saremi crossed a couple of streets, walked down a sloping path to the beach, then began to run north, toward the pier.
Had I been her patient, that’s when our session would have begun.
As we ran along the edge of the ocean, Saremi periodically asked me if I was OK, if the pace was good, if I was comfortable. I had a feeling that she was also reminding me that we were not pals, which struck me as entirely appropriate.
My running partner, Lauren, and I have had some pretty tough training runs over the past few weeks…so under the advisement of her boyfriend Zach, Lauren stepped into an ice bath for her very first time! As she told me today on our run…it was the absolute worst experience ever! I had to giggle as I know the pain all too well! Few can handle the ice bath, but those who do benefit!
(Photos of me in my own ice bath today; as well as Lauren eating pizza to make the time go by faster in hers!)
The general theory behind this cold therapy is that the exposure to cold helps to combat the microtrauma (small tears) in muscle fibers and resultant soreness caused by intense or repetitive exercise.
After a workout, your body needs to “repair” itself to prepare for the next training session.
It does so with the help of blood vessels that bring oxygen to your muscle tissue while removing waste products of exercise — the most common being lactic acid.
Too much lactic acid build-up can cause your muscles to function poorly and will often lead to fatigue.
An ice bath will immediately reduce swelling while flushing lactic acid out of your body.
When you sit in an ice bath — or when you rub a cup of ice on the muscles you just trained — the cold causes your blood vessels to tighten.
This helps drain the lactic acid out of your tired muscles.
When you get out of the bath, your muscle tissue warms back up, causing a return of oxygenated blood to help your muscles recover.
So next time you are need of some relief for your sore muscles, try out your very own ice bath. Directs as follows:
Pick up at least two or three 20lb ice bags
Fill bath up with cold water about 50%
Dump in ice baths
Jump in yourself and force yourself to stay in there for 10 minutes
Tips: Go in fast…the slower you do it, the longer it takes for your legs to go numb. Wear a sweatshirt or towel on your upper body to keep you warm / bite when you need to scream!
I talk a lot about acupuncture on this blog…mainly because I am a fan! It has worked numerous times throughout my running career – when I thought all bets were off on an injury.
It has come to the point, as of late, that I get acupuncture treatments on the regular to keep all aches and pains at bay. If you are wondering if acupuncture is for you, here is more information on the treatment (courtesy of my acupuncturist Carlos Restrepo):
“Acupuncture improves balance and removes energy (Qi) blockages. When applied to an specific area increases the blood flow in the tissues promoting the body’s self healing process.”
Maccabi USA will bring a team of 1,100+ athletes who will be part of the 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries, participating in 43 different sports at the 20th World Maccabiah Games, which will take place July 4-18, 2017 in Israel.
So it’s pretty impressive when seven of those US Team members come from Spanish River High School in Boca Raton – and are part of the school’s legendary Cross Country and Track program.
The Palm Beach Post noticed and stopped by a team practice yesterday to photograph the athletes and coaches. Here they are:
Rick Rothman: Current assistant cross country/track coach at FAU and former Spanish River High head coach of cross country/track; will be the coach of the Open Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Team at 2017 Games
Doug Horn: Current Spanish River High head coach of cross country/track; will be co-coach of the Open Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Team at 2017 Games.
Melissa Perlman: Assistant cross country/track coach at Spanish River High; former Spanish River High track athlete; is captain of the Open Women’s Half Marathon team at 2017 Games.
Jordana Kimelman: Former Spanish River High runner and current student at Florida State University; will be competing in Women’s Open Half Marathon at 2017 Games.
Jake Noonan: 2017 graduate of Spanish River High who will be entering Indiana University in the fall; was captain of cross country and track teams; will be competing on the Junior Track and Field Team at 2017 Games.
Alex Kline: 2017 graduate of Spanish River High who will be entering the University of Florida in the fall; was four-year member and captain of cross country and track teams; will be running on the Junior Track and Field Team at 2017 Games.
Rylee Pustilnik: Just completed her freshman year and is a state-ranked current member of the Spanish River High cross country and track teams; will be running on the Junior Track and Field Team at 2017 Games.
2017 marks 20 years since my first Maccabiah experience. I went to the 1997 World Maccabiah Games as a young, naive 15 year old looking to run fast and win in the Junior Track & Field competition…Now 20 years later, I am going as an experienced 35 year old competing in the Open Half Marathon field.
A lot has happened in 20 years (and I mean a lot) but one thing is the same: Running still makes my heart skip a beat…always!
Thank you Joanie Cox Henry and the Sun-Sentinel!!!!! (Full article here.)
Delray woman headed to World Maccabiah Games
When Delray Beach resident Melissa Perlman is not running BlueIvy Communications, she’s running half marathons. The Spanish River High School track coach and former student will be the captain of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Half Marathon Team at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel. The Jewish multisport event features over 10,000 athletes competing on behalf of more than 80 countries.
Perlman will travel from New York to Israel on June 27 and be in Israel through July 19. It’s the 35-year-old athlete’s third time competing in the World Maccabiah games, and fourth time when including the European version.
“I first heard about the games when my dad participated in the World Maccabiah Games in 1973,” she said. “After my freshman year of high school, I qualified for the junior Track & Field team for the 1997 World Maccabiah Games. It was my first time in Israel and I came back with four bronze medals.”
Perlman competed with athletes from Mexico, Israel, England and all over the world.
“I stopped running after college for a number of years. After a few major life changes, I decided I wanted to get back into it seriously,” she said. “I was working at Office Depot’s headquarters and decided in order to have more balance in my life, I needed to make the time. I left the company in 2011, started BlueIvy Communications, began coaching with my former high school Rick Rothman at Spanish River, and, in turn, started training again.”
By 2013, Perlman was competing in the World Maccabiah Games in Israel again as a member of the Women’s Half Marathon Team. She came home with an individual bronze medal and team gold.
With 83 countries participating this year, Perlman has been training as intensely as she did during her high school and college careers with a goal to bring home gold.
“As an athlete, many of us grow up dreaming of going to the Olympics,” she said. “This is my best chance of fulfilling anything close to that. The games are pretty amazing, and the Maccabiah staff and organizers really treat you like you’re an Olympian.”
Besides running, Perlman has been spending her spare time lifting during OrangeTheory Fitness classes, getting weekly acupuncture treatments and massages, and adding hot yoga into her rotation.
“I feel ready and prepared for the whole experience. It’s so worth all the work that goes into it,” she said. “This will likely be my last year competing in this so hopefully I’ll once again meet friends from around the world, see the beauty of Israel and win gold.”
The games open July 4 and the half marathon is July 10 in Jerusalem. This time, Perlman will have her father, boyfriend, brother and sister cheering her on.
“I’m so lucky to have my family joining me for the experience. I couldn’t imagine anything more special. Also, my sister and boyfriend have never been to Israel so I’m very excited to share it all with them,” she said.
Yep…You heard me right! And your reaction was probably similar to mine…but the needle was actually going in my leg, as was the fireball! Let me explain…
Acupuncturist Carlos Restrepo has been treating me since 2012 when he hired my PR agency (BlueIvy Communications) to market and bring media attention to his new acupuncture practice in Boca Raton. As a good professional, I tried out his services – acupuncture for stress, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and much more!
The results were immediate. Lingering injuries that I thought would never go away as well as new aches that were effecting my training were finally fixed. Now I’m definitely not a “magic” believer…but these needles seemed to be working! Was it the increased blood flow, the movement of the Qi, or something else?
Fast forward five years to this summer. I’ve been dealing with a sore and downright painful left achilles tendon since July of last year. It started hurting while training in Colorado and hasn’t let up since. Carlos started working on my achilles with acupuncture needles in May and the pain eased up. While I could feel the tenderness in my foot…I was able to train and complete runs. That was a win for me in itself.
Carlos, however, wanted more improvement. That was when he broke out the “fire balls” or Moxibustion as the professionals call it.
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.
And it worked…after one treatment, my achilles was 50% better and after two treatments, the pain GONE. Now to be fair, every once in a while I feel the tightness in my calf and ankle area (usually after a deep stretch or hard workout) but all-in-all I run pain free. This magical Moxibustion sure did move my Qi!