Thursday, December 24, 2009

J'lm Marathon Training #10

Thursday, 23 December 2009


I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. Here's the story:

Delay after delay, I was unable to leave the house until 10pm, an hour after my scheduled start. This could not possibly be good. But despite that, I began well, getting into the rhythm, finding a good breathing pattern, and running at a good pace.

After exactly 11 minutes I reached the daunting incline of HaYarden Street. I sucked it in and pushed my way upwards. Reaching the top, I was surprised to realize that I was in very good shape - no stitch, no ache, plenty of energy. I decided that for the rest of the course I would go for it - If I tried, I was in a good position to smash my time and reach my medium-term goal of "10km in 55 minutes" sooner than expected.

Reaching just over the half-way mark, the clock rolled its digits to 29 minutes. I was going to have to put the pedal to the metal on this one. But I felt good. I was going to make it.

My body knew that the 1.22km HaYarkon Street was coming up and fought to reserve its strength, but I strode out and gained speed. A stitch began to creep up the side of my torso and I altered my breathing - short inhales and forceful exhales.

35 minutes into the run the stitch shrunk to near insignificance and I looked up. Before me lay a long upward challenge. I felt great and decided that since I had come this far, I may as well take it to the limit. 55 minutes was a real possibility.

Halfway up HaYarkon I began to slow down. My body said no but the stopwatch said yes. I fought harder. I stretched out longer. The muscles strained. And it was good.

Reaching the top of the 1.22km road I looked down at the watch. I had done HaYarkon in under five minutes. A brilliant effort after already running about 6km. And then, disaster.

My left knee sang out - like a broken-voiced teenager scraping his fingernails on a blackboard. Assessment: the coming 2.5+ km were mostly flat, with two short uphills. I could ride out the pain. In fact, on the flat parts, I hardly felt a thing, but up Refaim, the knee ached so much I began to limp. If only the pain would wait until after the 10km, I could break the 55, I knew I could. Alas, the Refaim hill caused pain that was too powerful and I slowed to a painful, agonizing, gimpish pace.

As soon as I hit a flat piece of road, I was on my way again, telling myself that I could still beat 55. Yet, even the slightest uphill was torturous. I was done for.

I thought back to one of my first blogs after I started training, where I wrote: Discipline also means knowing when to stop. Maybe I should heed my own advice? Balderdash! I'm less than 2km from the finish line and I refuse to give in! I shall not give up!

Dolev came none too soon. It's ever-so-slight downhill was refreshing and I picked up some pace, especially towards the end as the increasing severity of the downhill encouraged me to a more respectable speed. The knee refused. It argued. Loudly. But the watch said 52 minutes, better than my previous time. I had to finish strong.

Ignoring the searing pain, my left leg reluctantly followed my right at a more vigorous gait. Turning into Sorek, the slight uphill jabbed needles into my knee. I protected myself with a protracted wince, as if baring my teeth to the oncoming wind could extinguish the burning fire in my leg.

The finish line appeared surprisingly soon and as I watched its rapid approach with the detachment of a disinterested bureaucrat, my body lunged itself forward, breaking the imaginary tape at 56:05 - besting my previous time of 56:43.

I hobbled the 300m home, smiling inwardly at my manly disregard for pain, while outwardly cursing myself for my stupidity.

No more running until, at least, next Monday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Channukah 2009: Karp-Style

Jl'm Marathon Training #9

This post includes 3 entries - the latest appears last.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

During the course of the day I neglected to psych myself up for running, like I usually do. In fact, I almost forgot that I was to go for a jog in the evening. I didn't prepare by drinking water during the day, although I did keep to a light lunch and no snacking in the afternoon - but that's become the norm, rather than the exception.

At about 7pm I remembered that I was supposed to train that evening. I had that niggling feeling in the pit of my stomach that it really isn't a good idea. I should put it off. But I forced myself to go. Discipline must prevail.

Certain that I was not going to do well, I set off at about 9pm. I started off just fine, but a stitch had me in its evil clutches for approximately 4km. It was tough, but I kept working at altering my breathing patterns and doing the other breathing tricks I learned about on the wise Internet. The stitch eventually faded, but it had worn me out and I struggled to find rhythm.

Luckily for me, I self-motivate and I pushed myself at the end, increasing my speed until I built myself up to the pace of an energetic geriatric with a walking frame. Sprinting to the finish line was painful, but I still managed a personal best of 57:04 over 10km (not 10.3km)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

This time I was ready for the 10km. I did all of the mental and physical preparation I could during the day. I worked myself up to a state where I wouldn't be able to rest until I had completed the course.

Then I made a mistake.

During my warm-up stretches I parted from my normal routine and did some lunges, thinking they would stretch my thigh muscles. Being enthusiastic, I did quite a few, reasoning that the more I do, the better I'll feel schlepping myself up the hills. The only result I could see was that my thighs hurt from before I set out until the day after. I won't be doing lunges anymore before a run.

The self-inflicted handicap did not help as I really felt awful during the entire 10km. I fought off a stitch that came, went, extended up my arm, duplicated itself on the other side and then went around again for seconds. But once I had the finish line in my sights, I dug deep for the last reserves of strength hiding in the folds of my leg muscles. Sprinting home, I managed a personal best time of 56:43 over 10km. A great result considering it was an ugly run.

A Momentous Occasion

I did it. I signed up and paid my registration fee. I am now an official entrant in the Jerusalem Marathon 10km event. I was the fifth person to register. I have now put my money where my substantially sized mouth is. And I get a free T-Shirt (that I paid for with the fee.)

Now that there is real money on the table, this is serious.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jl'm Marathon Training #8

I have been dieting really hard, sticking to my no-sweets, no-beer, no-junk food diet with the fervor of a religious fanatic who, very (very) occasionally sneaks a peanut butter sandwich.

I have not been training as hard as I should. On average, I do my 10.3km run twice a week, instead of my planned three-times a week. But I am improving. In fact, I completely slashed my time tonight, as you will read in the remainder of this post, which I call:

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Monday, 14 December 2009

The Good

I completed my 10.3km run in a record 58:34. This puts me right on track to complete the Jerusalem marathon 10km event before the organizers finish packing up.

I felt absolutely fantastic the whole way (save for a stitch or two, which I worked through and overcame). I ran solidly, and I took on the tough uphills with gusto and determination (I would have taken on the uphills with zeal, as well, but he was too busy flirting with passion and spirit.)

How did I manage to finish the 10.3km in only 58:34?
  • I discovered that registration for the Jerusalem half-marathon and 10km even has opened, and the details of the event are posted on the Internet:
  • I used an actual stopwatch, courtesy of my son, Zvi, who patiently showed me how to use the thing. The only problem is that I don't wear my glasses when I run, and so I can't see the time on the watch. I only know my result when I finish and have no idea of how I'm doing during the run.
  • I worked really hard on not eating donuts, latkes and other oily foods (only 1 donut and 2 latkes, despite the heavy temptation) - "carrot sticks are yum, carrot sticks are yum"
  • I have been drinking plenty of water (mixed with coffee, milk and sugar, but sometimes just by itself)
  • I am a self-motivated, goal-oriented, success-driven, fanatical-fitness-freak (it helps)
Now I have a new record to beat. Bring it on, baby!

The Bad
My MP3 player stopped working. How is that possible? It's almost brand new. But it might not be so bad.

Perhaps the music was holding me back. Maybe the earphones were slowing me down? Could the beat of the songs have limited my stride?

The bad might not be so bad after all, although I still have no MP3 player.

The Ugly
My Brooks Adrenaline GT9s - comfy as heck, but as ugly as an inside-out monkey.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Blood

Here is my latest short story. I entered it into a competition where the requirements were:

- No more than 1,500 words
- Any topic
- Must be bold, brilliant and brief

Here it is: