Friday, December 31, 2010

Ready to Go

So here we are.  A week, no, six days before my first marathon, and I just finished my last 'long' run.  While the run wasn't long by the usual standard, only 13 km, it is the longest I will run until next thursday.  Then - I will run 42.2 km in Tiberia.

Most of us have Garmins, or some similar gps / pacing device, so it's easy to look back and see the progress one makes over the course of time.  However, I would hedge a bet that my own memory is better than my Garmin at measuring the progress I've made - especially over the past 19 weeks of training.  While I can't give exact paces and times for runs from memory, I do remember exactly how I felt at the start of this training.  I remember my first 15 km long run - and can recall with absolute clarity the difficulty both physically and mentally in finishing it.  Telling my husband that I don't think I can do this, I'm simply too old - and past my time, and maybe I will never be able to run a marathon.... 

And then, I remember the weeks that followed, 17 km, then 19 km, then 24 and 29.  Finally 32 km.  And I did that run four times!  Each week I felt a little bit stronger - and with that came the possibility that maybe I wasn't too old, and maybe I could do this after all.  And you know what, I think I can run a marathon.  Yes, my pace got faster and my stamina and endurance built, but more important than that, my confidence grew.  Now I knew I could do it - and that's what the garmin can't measure.

Running Bubby - The name really personifies my two most important identities.  Even while I was still raising my own children, I dreamt of the day that I would also be a Grandmother - a Bubby.  Motherhood has been so satifying to me - and I knew that if I had the drive and energy, Grandmotherhood could be equally, or perhaps, even more rewarding.  I was not wrong.  Five grandchildren later, I'm still prepared to welcome more!

At the same time - I have also dreamt of being a Runner.  I've pounded away many hours and just as many miles on my treadmill, dreaming about running races, and crossing the finishing line - looking for my families faces in the crowd as they cheer me on.   Sure, I've run for 18 years - but I only considered myself a jogger.  An exercise enthusiast.  But now, I feel like a runner.  I am a Runner.

I'm at a very happy place right now.  And I can say with all honesty that even if for some absolutely, bizarre, strange reason I can not run the Tiberius Marathon next week, I'll be satisfied.  I know I can do it. And I will.

Wish me luck,
Running Bubby

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reaching for the Stars

All the literature says that when training for a marathon, injuries are to be expected along the way.  The best injury (if I can say that) would be something minor that you can easily recover from if you catch it quick and treat it right away. 

So it goes that on my Sunday run - I had a tightening feeling in my hip flexor area around 17km, and very wisely decided to end the run there.  Believe me, it was hard to end the run 2km short.  (I'm not the nut out here, am I?)  Monday's run was again cut at 4km because of the same nagging pain in this area.  Sooo, with just 2 weeks before the marathon, I've decided to back off my runs, treat the ache with R.I.C.E. and take some AI drugs.  I'm proud of myself that I'm not pushing this - even though it's really hard (!!!) not to run my scheduled runs to finish my training, and especially with all this surplus adrenilin screaming through my body, demanding the release that only running brings. 

I will treat this little ache with TLC - and be back to finish my taper in a few more days.

What I would like to share is portions of an email sent to my running group by the Leader/Organizer of the group.  I find his words to be especially encouraging and supportive - and after reading and re-reading his mail, extremely proud of myself for all that I have achieved thus far.  Allow me to share:

"As you read this, we are a mere sixteen days from the 35th Tiberias Marathon and it is an appropriate time for a little reflection.  Yes, the marathon is an undeniably incredible experience.  For many, it is nothing short of a life altering event where one redefines the scope of the possible in arenas far beyond the athletic.  I always envy first-timers the incomparable sense of euphoria as they cross the finish line for the first time.  But whether January 6th is your first or your fifteenth marathon, you deserve to revel in what you have already accomplished.

The marathon is not merely a race that will last between three and six hours.  It is an odyssey that has demanded of you nearly superhuman dedication for more than a third of a year.  You have woken up at ungodly hours to run distances more appropriately traveled by freight trucks, gasped through lung searing interval sessions, dragged yourself out on the road in the heat and the cold while the rest of humanity slouched on the couch and accused you of being an obsessive lunatic.

In so doing, you have transformed yourself into a hero and I am not truly waxing hyperbolic when I say this.  Any time someone transcends mediocrity by the sweat of his (or her) brow, that person has done something genuinely heroic.  Most of us are simply programmed to do what our peers are doing.  You, on the other hand, through sheer determination and tenacity, have become a testament to what a human being can accomplish should he choose to do so.  You are now capable of running 42.195 meters, a staggering distance by any measure.  And frankly, it does not matter one whit whether you cross that finish line in Tiberias in 2:57 or 5:57, you will have transcended your physical limitations in a way that an infinitesimal portion of the human race will ever do in their lifetime.  And while personal records and milestones are worthy goals that should be savored, it would be a serious, perhaps even tragic error to assume that they are more significant than what you have already accomplished over the past eighteen weeks. 

On marathon day, naturally, we will all shoot for the stars.  We will obsess about pacing, gels, isotonic drinks, negative splits and a plethora of other details that make the marathon as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.  But if, by some unhappy stroke of bad luck, the weather turns against us, or you come down with a bit of a cold or you simply don't have your best stuff on that particular morning, know this, truly know it and do not merely console yourself with it:  You have already reached the stars."

I hope to maintain this pride until I cross the finish line.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Final Run Long

Today I completed my last long run - 32 km before my marathon next month.  It was difficult - mentally and physically.  My time was exactly the same as the last long run 3:21:13.  Does this mean that this pace of 6:17 is what I could/should run the marathon in?  Although I felt so proud of myself for getting through this run, I did feel a little worried that maybe I should slow my pace a bit more for the marathon.  Having to add another 10 km onto a run like today's will be extremely hard.  I just don't know - I've never done this before.

The hardest part of these long runs is staying strong mentally.  It really is easier when you have someone to help motivate you to keep going, as opposed to having to always be mentally prepared to fight and win every argument with yourself about stopping, or slowing, or whatever.  I must be the world's best motivator, or else just really stubborn - because as much as I wanted to stop, or slow down, or whatever, I just didn't.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this next three weeks and the gradual taper.  Next week still has me at 67 km - and 45 km for the week after. 

Ouch, and my toe?  Still not better.  I almost feel like it's broken - but that can't be possible.  Just a terrible blister that won't heal, cause I can't move it away from the toe next to it that it keeps touching.  I am taking the next two days off from running, and I'm going to jimmy a splint that hopefully will allow my poor little toe to start healing.  Who would have thought a little toe could cause so much havoc!

Enjoy the weekend running.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

New PR - Bet Shean 1/2 Marathon

On Friday we made the long trip up north to Bet Shean to run the Bet Shean 1/2 Marathon.  We left very early, 6:30 am and arrived 2 hours later to a beautiful, clear, sunny and quite hot day.  The marathon starts from Gan HaShalosha, which is a water park with three beautiful mayonot (springs), and continues through the area under some beautiful low mountains and commercial fish ponds!  The course was pretty flat, until about 14.5 km where there is a steady climb through the local small town.  Interesting note on the course is that the highway was permanently marked with the distance, which makes me think that this is probably a route run often by local runners and/or bikers.  There was over 2,500 participants, and is the premiere 1/2 marathon in Israel. 

One of the three beautiful natural springs in the park

My blister had me very worried, but by race time, the adrenilin in me had me all but forgetting about it.  I planned to run a 6:00 pace and hoped to take a good amount of time off my last HM, considering this was a flat course and I had that much more training under my belt. 

The starter pistol was probably real!

I'm in this crowd somewhere.  I felt absolutely dwarfed by all this big guys!

Blue & White!

I went out a little fast, but don't feel like I over did it at all.  Much of the first 14 km I ran anywhere from 5:32 to 5:55.  I felt like I hit a stride that I was very comfortable with.  However, there was not much shade and the heat of the day started to set in.  I think 9:30 is a bit late to start and by the half way mark, I was feeling the effects of the heat.  At 14.5 km the climb through the local town started, and even though I had a good time through the climb (5:40, 5:55, 5:58) it seemed to sap the life out of me.  By 18 km I was already having to convince myself that I was not going to walk - just keep it going and stay focused.  By this time my last 3 km were (6:04, 6:13, 6:12) but no way was I slowing down.

My official time was 2:04:54 but the clock was only reading the last digits...

But - woohoo!  I set a new PR!  2:04:54 with an average pace of 5:53.  Faster than the 6:00 pace I thought I'd run.  Everyone that finished with me seemed drained by the heat - and when I came through the gate I was so exhausted.  (I think I drank a litre of water within the first 15 minutes!)  I was so looking forward to my frozen Gatorade, but darn it if it wasn't still frozen solid! 

All in all, a great time and a thrill to run amoungst so many!

This coming week I have my last long run (32 km) and then the week after starts my taper.  I am getting so excited about the upcoming Marathon - I think my cup runnith over with adrenilin already!

Have a good one,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Humble Yet Powerful Baby Toe

Yes, that tiny wee digit at the outside edge of your foot, commonly refered to as the baby toe. Baby toe... baby.

Right. Not anymore.

That baby toe has put an end to my running for a few days because of a baby toe blister. One that I arrogantly ignored because, well you know, it's just my baby toe, and a bandaid should work.

Running in the rain did not help - and my baby toe is now a BIG presence in my life.

Nothing is working to take the pain away. Blister bandages, taping all the other toe digits together, padding between the toe. Nope, nothing. And I have a half marathon race on Friday.

I now have a new respect for this little - ahem, important toe and will give it lots of respect and loving care so that it will heal in time for friday.

This is the first training session that I am missing in preparation for my marathon in January, and while I'm sure everything will be fine, it just leaves me a little frustrated. Sounds silly to a non-runner, but I'm sure you all understand.

Just call me Hop-a-Long.


Monday, December 6, 2010


WooHoo! It rained! Yesterday it finally rained!

Living here in the Middle East definately has its pluses. No snow, no snow, and of course, no snow. Now to a born and bred ex-pat Canadian, that adds up. When I left Toronto at the sage old age of 40, I new that I'd lived my fill of cold, slushy, bone chilling cold. (Oh, and don't forget that the sun goes bye bye from November to April!). Israel's promise, amoungst many, is that there will be lots of sun, heat and only the occassional, flukey, rare, brief snow fall that will last minutes. What Israel also promises often, is little rain.

Here winter lasts from December to mid-March. Where I live the average daytime temps drop to about 23c - 24c (75f) and in the evenings 10c (50f). No bad - and believe me it can feel pretty cold after you lived here for a while. However, the thing we miss, and need, and pray for, literally during the winter season, is rain.

Yesterday I had an easy run of 16km and since I wanted to run it easy, I went with two friends who are just getting back into running. One is super competitive the other pretty laid back. One of them I love to run with, ach, the other I could leave behind. You figure it out. We all commented on how the weather looked pretty stormy, but since there was no forcast of rain for at least another week, we were pretty sure it wouldn't rain.

Never say never. Suddenly the skies turned black, the winds picked up and a deluge was dropped. WooHoo! It was so amazing! Three crazy women running on the side of a desert highway in the pouring rain. Oy, is my Garmin waterproof? was my only worried thought. We seemed to be running into the rain clouds which prolonged the rain shower. My competitive friend said, "If it continues to rain I'm stopping and turning around." I said, "If it continues to rain, I'm just going to continue!" Now that's the right attitude, and to run in the rain over here, a blessing!

While I don't hope to run in rain too often, I do hope that the rainy winter season is finally here, and we receive the rain that we need to sustain us for the remaining 9 months of the year.

Anyone else have great rain stories?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Hannukah

WooHoo! I did it again!
Today was my third 32km long run, and I rocked it out with by best time yet of 3:21:13. 5 minutes off the last run, and a full 12 minutes of my first 32 km run! I have one more to go in two weeks, but I don't plan to run too much faster than this. It's so obvious that training really works, especially all those mid-long runs where we learn to build mileage.
We are now celebrating Hannukah. Hannukah is probably one of the best know Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and assimilated Jews) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the customs of elaborate gift giving and decoration. It is ironic because Hannukah has it's roots in a revolution against assimilation and the oppression of the Jewish religion, and yet it has become the most assimilated and secular holiday in the Jewish calendar.
In our home, we take a less than fancy stance on custom, and celebrate the holiday on a much simpiler level. We light candles, have one small Hannukah party, and give small gifts to our grandchildren. The joy is in being free to celebrate our religion we way we choose, and of course, to be doing it in Israel.
Happy Hannukah - and watch out for those donuts!