Well, I have returned from Israel after three weeks…and spent the last day catching up on rest, unpacking, doing laundry, and reminscing on my time overseas. I have to say that the experience was unlike anything else. I had the absolute BEST time in Israel as a member of Team USA in the 19th Maccabiah Games. I had high expectations of everything – yet somehow the experience was better than anything imagined. I’ll keep this short but wanted to share some of the highlights:
Team USA: The most amazing group of people and athletes ever. To have the opportunity to be back on a Track team was an experience in itself. It felt like college running again, but with the maturity that only comes with age. The mindset of a competitive runner is so unique and to be part of that addictive and passionate atmosphere again was really cool and inspiring. (So much so, I have a few new goals and plans for myself and my running/racing this Fall and onward.) The Half Marathon team specifically was my famiy while there. I cannot begin to describe how much fun I had with my group. I truly feel so lucky that our group was hand picked and put together….and I know we will be friends for a lifetime to come. First reunion is already planned for October!
Israel: Wow! It may have been my third time in the country, but the tours, the views, the places never get old. I love that place. And to have the opportunity to see it with a new perspective on life – was a privilege. I cannot wait to go back again (4 years!)!
Family: It was a brief visit…but I had the opportunity to see my family while there for a day. My dad’s brother moved to Israel when he was in his 20s, joined the Israeli army, got married, raised a family and lives there today with the family. I got to see my uncle, aunt, three of my cousins as well as one of their wifes and kids. It was an amazing lunch and I am so thankful I had the time to make it happen!
Competition: Ah the competition. I said coming in that my goal was to medal and finish under 1:30 in the half marathon. But you say a lot when you have goals…and hopes. To finish the race in a 1:29:31 and to win a bronze individual medal and team gold medal was beyond my greatest expectations. The race was hard (hilly and humid); my body barely held up (still can’t put on sneakers to this day…because of how damaged my feet got – blood blisters and cuts on my heels); but my mind kept me in it…and my legs listened. I will tell you that the last 4K (a half marathon is equal to 13.1 miles or 21K) was rough and I had to do a lot of talking to get myself through it. On a personal note, I have to thank my mom (in heaven) for getting me through a lot of it. Most of my talking was to her…and apparently she listened. 🙂
Special thanks to all those who supported my trip and experience monetarily with donations! And special thanks to my family for their support, my Spanish River team that sent me texts and facebook messages before and after the race, my high school coach Rick Rothman who was on-site and gave me the best pep talk ever, Jordana Kimelman – who despite having to race the next day and being sick – was there in full force to take pictures of Team USA and to help me post-race, my Team USA girls who were there for me throughout the race as running partners and water passers, Rob Fellman and Coach Smolka for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Maccabiah Games, and so many more!!!!