Monday morning, to get out of the rain while I was waiting to meet a friend, I wandered into the Tel Aviv Marathon expo tent. An hour later I wandered back out, carrying a screaming Eitan who was having a major hunger meltdown. I had also missed the coffee date with my friend. However, I had two Tel Aviv Marathon 10k registrations in hand and the pink t-shirts to prove we were to be race participants.
Now, about the training leading up to the race… oh yeah, there wasn’t any. I’d only intended to sign Ariel up, because he’s been running regularly, but when he suggested I join him, I didn’t give it a second thought. As I reflected on my hasty decision afterward, I figured running 10k couldn’t be much more difficult than my daily miles of pushing/pulling/carrying two kids around here. So this week I did a little race prep. I cut my toenails, I drank plenty of water, I mentally prepared myself for the possibility that I might not be able to finish and I debated whether or not I should go for a short training run. I decided I might as well see how it felt to run without pushing a stroller so I did 2 km on Wednesday morning and felt great.
This morning Ariel’s dad showed up early to watch the kids and of course Eitan chose this one morning to not wake up at his usual sunrise time slot. I actually had to wake him to feed him before we took off in search of some green bikes to ride to the race. I was startled to be directed toward bike parking by a soldier with a machine gun; then a metal detector wand was waved across my body as I entered the race area. I never feel unsafe here but was reassured by the extra safety precautions in a crowd of 40,000.
We were together in the second heat of 10k runners and as we slowly got moving, Ariel commented on how, when you run a race you only see people’s butts, not faces. And a few bald heads. True but not at all troubling to me unless those butts and bald heads are moving slower than I want to move. I actually said to Ariel at one point “these people seem to be pacing as if they’re running a much longer race”. Then I realized that I didn’t even have a pace. And I felt mildly bad about making snarky comments when I hadn’t even trained.
Races are notoriously not environmentally friendly, although many are trying to be better. I was dismayed to see at the first water stop volunteers handing out small bottles of water, caps already removed. People took a sip then tossed the entire bottle to the side of the road. I attempted to keep mine because I couldn’t bear sipping and tossing but I just ended up splashing water everywhere. Giving up and tossing my bottle, I vowed to find one with a cap at the next stop so I wouldn’t throw away more water & more plastic. I saw Gatorade 3 km later and dove for a cup but was waved away with the explanation that water was on the other side. Apparently the Gatorade was only for the people running longer races. I scrambled to find a bottle with a lid and got lucky.
For the past four years here I’ve seen the marathoners run by our apartment and every year I’ve wished to be one of them. Today by kilometer 6, I was very pleased to have only 4 more kilometers to go, not 36! My foot and everything else on me had begun to ache and I’d developed a stitch in my side. I made the decision to push forward and started breathing out with more force to get rid of the side pain. (turns out that’s not really what you’re supposed to do, but it worked for me.) As we hit the 8 km mark, I was feeling pretty confident I’d make it to the end so I encouraged Ariel to go ahead and pick up his pace. I also attempted to push through to the finish line and managed to pass a few people but I was thoroughly exhausted & simply happy to be done.
I teared up as I neared the finish – a mixture of relief that my body had held up, pure joy to be running again and satisfaction to have finally participated in this race. Ariel was waiting for me and we snapped the mandatory selfie-in-front-of-finish-line before grabbing snacks and retrieving our green bikes for the return trip home.
I sleepily pedaled my way home to grab a swim suit then we met the kids at the beach to give our muscles an ice bath. Twelve hours later, I’m still tired but not extremely sore. I feel fabulous about running today’s race and I’ve got the pink shirt to prove it!
10 km ride, to & from race
10 km run, negative splits, 1:02