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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.


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