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!