|Jon Feinberg's Running Profile Page reply
Year Born: 1963
||42:55 (Ashkelon 2006)
||1:35 (Jerusalem 2010)
||3:18: (Tiberias 2012)
Posted January 20, 2008
For several years I've been a semi-serious recreational runner. I've run a few half marathons (all in Jerusalem), which I always enjoy, and that was enough for me. Whenever the idea of training for a full marathon was suggested, I was quick to reject it. "26 miles? 42.2 KM? You've gotta be kidding – I'm not crazy!"
As more of the "chevra" started running marathons, I started to find myself more and more interested – not in a competitive or "peer pressure" way, but because I saw their excitement and energy. I decided to join the Hol Hamoed Succot run to Jerusalem for the first time this year. I was nervous going into the run – partly because of the long distance, but more because of the uphill run. Well, it was a blast! 20 runners and 20 bikers, in it together, having fun while meeting the challenge. Sure, the run is tough, but I found that it wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected, and the satisfaction of just completing it was terrific.
Once I'd done that, the marathon training quickly became my obvious next challenge. With Haim's training schedule and coaching skills, and an amazing group to train with, how could we miss? The long training runs were certainly challenging, but the fact that we were building up for them properly both physically and mentally, and doing it as a group, made them not only "bearable", but at many times even fun (particularly once the run was over). Getting up at 5:00 on Wednesday mornings for a 16-18K run in the cold and dark (Yes, Yitz, I know I didn't make them all, but I made many of them) was not a thrill. But once the run was over it was a great way to start the day.
The evening before the race, at the Golden Tulip hotel, we were removed from the everyday issues of home and office. It was all about the last preparations for the race – eating lots of pasta, discussing pacing strategies, getting our energy drinks hidden at kilometers 21 and 32, and trying to get some sleep in spite of the nerves.
The morning of the marathon was a high-energy time, with lots of excitement in the air. We were done with davening and breakfast by 7-ish, allowing us plenty of time to get ready. At 9:00 AM the gun was fired and off ran 1,100 marathoners. The weather was perfect (cool and partly cloudy) except for the winds on the Ein Gev side. Because of recent rain the hills around the Kineret were green and beautiful. Definitely a cool way to be experiencing Eretz Yisrael. Running most of the way as part of a pack of 8 guys from the Beit Shemesh club was great. We were a team, helping each other to push ourselves, to maintain the right pace, and avoiding the loneliness and monotony of running on our own for 3 1/2 hours. Yitz, Ari, Dovid, Offir, Len, Jonny, Asher – it was great running with you.
Since I had never run more than 38 KM in my life, I didn't know how my body would react to the full 42. When we passed the 38 KM mark, I yelled out to Yitz and Ari – "Now I'm in uncharted territory". The last few kilometers were tough and my body was feeling the strain. But I never felt that I couldn't go on. The main thing for me, at that point, was to keep thinking of the relatively short distance to the finishing line, and not to push myself too hard so as not to hit the proverbial wall. In the last 4 KM I found myself comparing the distance remaining to the number of loops around Rehov Hanarkis, showing myself that what was left was child's play. Once I saw the finishing line, I knew I could sprint through it, and even remembered to raise my hands and put a victorious smile on my face for the all-important finishing line photo.
As a first-time marathoner, just finishing is a significant achievement. But I am also very pleased with my time of 3:32. I can't overstate the satisfaction with having set a challenging goal, preparing properly for the event, and achieving that goal – all while having fun with friends.
At the risk of sounding like a bar-mitzva speech, I want to thank Haim and Rich for always inspiring me, Haim for the great coaching and all the time and energy he put into training us, my main marathon training partners Yitz, Ari, Dovid and Offir, and finally my wife Leslie for all the great support.