Running the Jerusalem Marathon

Today was the Jerusalem Marathon – 20,000 runners strong!

I ran the half marathon, and on Wednesday night, Noah and I went to the race expo at the Jerusalem Convention Center to pick up my race packet:

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Picking up my race packet was a breeze…

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…and then we explored the rest of the expo! There was a nice collection of running and health vendors set up:

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We had a good time walking around and looking at all the merchandise/race excitement:

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Of course, no running event is fully complete without some beer (Alexander Beer had a stand here):

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It was also fun to see the particular quirks of a Jerusalem marathon, such as this technical running tee with built-in tzitzit being sold at the event shop:

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And since we were in the neighborhood, how could we resist a trip to Cinema City?!?! (the Convention Center is next door to the Cinema City). We saw the movie Selma which was FABULOUS and I highly recommend it to everyone. Also, Cinema City has a new indoor ice rink…pretty cool, huh?

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Today, the morning started bright and early as I headed to the start line at Gan Sacher at about 6:05am (the start time for the half marathon was 6:45):

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ton of roads around the city were closed for the marathon, making transportation a nightmare (Noah and I stayed at a friend’s house because it would have been hard to get to the race start from our southern neighborhood). The closed roads did, however, make walking to the race start traffic-free:

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Pre-race photo with my running buddy, Dan:

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Waiting at the start line:

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After a few brief safety announcements, we were off! The course was amazing: through the Old City, by the Sultan’s Pool, along Yafo Street, Emek Refaim, the rekevet, the tayelet, and more (full race course map here). Noah, my number one race fan, saw me at four points along the route and then met me at the finish line! (thanks, Noah!!!)

While the course was beautiful and – as is the race’s tagline – through 3,000 years of history, the downside was the hills. Oh, the hills! Jerusalem is a hilly city, and this race course definitely made that fact well known. As a result of the hills, this was a tough race, and I seriously struggled at times. The worst was a steep uphill towards the very end of the race throughout almost all of kilometers 18 and 19 (the total race distance is 21.1 kilometers). Nonetheless, I MADE IT!

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The finish area in Gan Sacher was buzzing with people and various race service tents (such as this synagogue tent – oh, Jerusalem!):

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There was also a fitness area with a group fitness instruction and various types of equipment:

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After about 30 minutes milling around the finish area, we managed to find a taxi home without too much trouble. I quickly took a shower and then it was time for a delicious recovery brunch at Kalo:

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Yes, please. 🙂

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Where to run in Jerusalem

Alright folks, tomorrow is…

THE JERUSALEM MARATHON!

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I’m only running the half (13.1 miles or as these Israelis like to say, 21.1 kilometers), but I am pretty excited! I’ve been training for the last 12 weeks, and during that time I’ve gotten very familiar with the running options around Jerusalem. So, for anyone figuring out where to run in this beautiful metropolis, here are my top suggestions:

1. The rekevet

This was my original running grounds. Before starting to train for a half marathon, I wasn’t running much longer 3-5 mile runs, and the main rekevet route is perfect for this distance. The ‘rekevet’ refers to a tracks-to-trails path (ie, former train track, now a pedestrian and bike path). The north end of the rekevet starts near the Tahana Rishona where Emek Refaim and Derech Beit Lechem meet.

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From the Tahana, you have about a 1/2 mile of pathway until you get to an intersection with Derech Beit Lechem. From there, the rekevet path continues for another 1/2 mile until it reaches an intersection with Pierre Koenig.

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You can cross Pierre Koenig (a fairly large intersection) and have another mile or so of uninterrupted pathway. After about a mile, the path will deposit you onto A-Safa Street within an Arab neighborhood. You can run briefly across the road about 1-minute and then pick the rekevet pathway up AGAIN for another 2 miles or so:

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This part of the path will take you near Teddy Stadium, Malcha Mall, and the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. If you’re into trail running, you can even keep going onto the dirt path at the end of the paved trail. In my opinion, this rekevet pathway is definitely the best running resource in Jerusalem, and if you have a chance I highly suggest going for a jog on it!

2. Gan Sacher

The next best place I’ve found to run is Gan Sacher. Gan Sacher is Jerusalem’s largest park, and there are lots of interweaving running trails throughout the area:

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The park is located in the western city center – near to the Israel Museum and Knesset building. There are also several workout stations and large fields in Gan Sacher, making it a great place for other types of exercise besides running if that’s not your thing. 🙂

3. The Tayelet

The Jerusalem Tayelet (Promenade) is a gorgeous pathway that you can get to by following Yehuda Street east past Derech Hebron. The Tayelet itself isn’t the greatest in terms of a running pathway because it’s fairly cobblestoned:

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But the views looking out on Jerusalem and the Old City compensate for any less-than-ideal surface conditions:

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The Tayelet pathway looking out over Jerusalem only lasts about a half mile, but it then continues on a paved pathway through a park and snaking around a UN building. That pathway goes another half mile or so (perhaps a bit further) and deposits at a lookout observation point. It’s a bit short on distance to compromise an entire run, but it could be combined with some running on the rekevet for a slightly longer run (they are relatively close to one another). The Tayelet alone would also be an ideal spot for a nice walk (Shabbos walk, anyone??).

And there you have it…my main running suggestions in Jerusalem. Of course, there is also some decent running to be had on the sidewalks along main roads and residential neighborhoods. That said, lights here aren’t the greatest for running and Jerusalem drivers are notoriously nutty, so it can be a bit smoother and more relaxing to run on the aforementioned pathways.

See you on the pavement tomorrow? 😉

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How to ____ in the winter

Minnesota winters are often among the coldest in the country. This year’s winter, however, has really outdone itself. This is my seventh winter in Minnesota and by far the worst. Schools have been cancelled five times (often on government order) due to extreme temperatures, and there were 36 consecutive days where Minneapolites woke up to sub-zero temps. I’ve managed to still keep biking on some days when it’s above zero, but those days have been few and far between. What’s worse, we’re now into March and spring seems far from around the corner.

Having such a prolonged and extremely frigid winter has been a challenge to several typically-enjoyed activities. How can we Minnesotans keep up when it looks like this outside?!

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How to exercise in the winter

I have run less this winter since any time since I started running (about six years ago). Normally, I continue to run outside a few days a week during the winter and head inside to the gym for the occasional treadmill run on an especially cold day. This winter, however, I have only run outside once since December! I’ve been logging a few miles on the treadmill, but it’s also started to feel a little too much like the dreadmill…

The solution? Find new activities! Fortunately, introductory free weeks to fitness facilities abound, and I recently tried out an awesome gym called The Shed Fitness in Uptown (I know, it just sounds hardcore, right?!). The Shed offers a variety of classes including spin, circuit training, body pump, TRX, and yoga sculpt. I tried five classes during my intro week, and I definitely hope to go back for more!

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How to stay busy inside in the winter

Normally, if I’m not at work or another scheduled activity, I like to spend a lot of time outside – walking, exploring, biking, visiting friends, etc. The severity of this winter has meant a lot more time cooped up indoors in my apartment, needing to fill long periods of time. The best solution I’ve found is to do more cooking! Plus, the extra time means I can put more effort into elaborate recipes and dishes that require extra prep time. Some favorites from the last couple weeks include:

homemade ice cream

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roasted kabocha squash

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chickpea and red pepper soup with quinoa (recipe from Women’s Day magazine)

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and chilean squash (from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook)

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How to smile big in the winter

It’s no secret that weather is a large determinant of mood for many people. I’ve never considered myself to be highly impacted in this regard, but there have definitely been a few times where I feel a bit down or blue and think sunshine sure would help! In this long winter abyss, it’s been nice to take special notice of ‘the little things’ and to make an effort to do something fun/goofy every day.

feeling positive after finding this note stuck to a bathroom mirror

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enjoying an impromtu photo shoot

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Marathon Volunteering and Yum

Last weekend was the Twin Cities Marathon. The TC Marathon is hosted by Medtronic and is the self-proclaimed most beautiful urban marathon in America. As far as large city marathons go, TC is moderately sized (about 12,000 runners compared to 27,000 at Boston). The past couple years I’ve volunteered on race day in the elite athlete tent, and I decided to shake it up a bit this year by volunteering for set up. We set up on Friday for the Sunday race, and it was interesting to see the whole finish line and expo area in the process of coming together:

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I was stationed at the finish line, helping to attach sponsor signs to street barricades:

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SO MANY SIGNS TO ATTACH:

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By the end, I never wanted to see another zip tie:

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In other news, this past week on Monday and Tuesday I had a conference for work. We all went out for lunch together on Tuesday to a restaurant in St. Louis Park called Yum.

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Yum is a bakery and cafe that is pretty much adorable in every way. The menu is a combination of standard comfort food (mac and cheese, egg salad, fish and chips) as well as some untraditional options (ahi tuna burger and amablu crusted filet!).

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The bakery section shines with a tempting display of cupcakes and the signature chocolate cake with buttercream frosting called the Patti Cake (the owner’s name is Patti):

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In addition to food, Yum also sells a variety of knick knacks for all your random gifting needs:

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I ordered the salad sampler which came with one scoop each of egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad, but I asked for two tuna and one egg:

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Several people at the table ordered fish and chips:

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Everything was delicious! Yum also sells an assortment of breads for purchase, including a nice looking challah!

 

 

Friday Smiles

Given that it’s the end of the week, I want to look back and recognize some of the things that I really enjoyed this week. Sure there was some stress and rocky moments, but when it comes down to it, this was a great week and I am a very lucky person. Here are my top Friday smiles:

1. Morning Runs

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The weather hasn’t been consistently nice yet this spring, and it was nice to have some relaxing (albeit chilly) morning runs.

2. Seeing Michael Pollan Speak

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I – along with 1500 other people – listened to Michael Pollan speak about the significance of cooking for health, democracy, ethics, and development. Meals, according to Pollan, are a shared experience that help to create bonds and love between the individuals who enjoy them together. Speaking of….

3. Taco Dinner with Friends

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Potluck taco dinner with beloved friends = big happiness

4. Art Class

This week I worked on a mushroom value and perspective drawing. Here is the original picture:

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And here is my version:

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5. The Love Fern

Yes, this is ridiculously hilarious creepy girlfriend-ish wonderful…but I have created a love fern to help me survive my anguish while Noah is away in Italy (did I mention I am going to visit in 7 days?!?!?!).

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Bonus: it’s blooming!

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And there you have it, my Friday smiles. 🙂

What are your Friday smiles?

Race Day!

Today was the big day of the half marathon! If you missed it, check out my earlier post about packet pick-up, and you can learn more about the Get in Gear race there. The race’s start time was 9:00am, so I set my alarm for 7:10, planning to leave the house between 8:00-8:10.

As soon as I woke up, I laid out the essentials:

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iPod arm band + headphones, garmin GPS watch, face sunscreen, and my beloved body glide. I also got out my ugly Christmas sweater:

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My former (and fabulous) roommate actually gave this to me second-hand to wear prior to running my first only marathon last June (I ran Grandma’s in Duluth). I wore it pre-race before checking my bag at Grandma’s, and it took on a sentimental value for me. It only seemed appropriate to wear it again today. 🙂

What to eat for breakfast was a little bit of a dilemma. I wasn’t that hungry when I first woke up, so I didn’t want anything too heavy. I decided to have the fig bars from the March Bestowed package along with some walnut butter and a banana:

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Another tough decision was what to wear for the run. The weather looked promising:

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So I settled on shorts and a t-shirt. Specifically, my Grandma’s finisher tee:

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I figured if I did a full, then I could do a half. That’s how it works, right?!

When I got to Minnehaha Park just after 8:30am, it was gorgeous weather and runners were streaming in from all directions:

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The area near the expo tents and bag check was crowded…

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…but not as crowded as the porta-potties!

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One thing I thought was pretty neat was a special area where people could lock up their bikes if they rode to the park:

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The race started promptly at 9am, and the 10k and half-marathon runners started together and ran the first 5 or so miles together. After that, the 10k runners split off to go back to the finish (which was also the start) while the half-marathoners continued. The run was primarily along West River Parkway next to the Mississippi River. One of my favorite parts of the race was when we crossed the river from Minneapolis to St Paul and got to look out on the Mississippi:

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Pretty much everything about the race went better than I expected. There were three main victories for me:

Victory 1) My goal was to finish within 2 hours. I ended well under!
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My official race time was 1:52:38! The timer above was about a minute over since I didn’t stop it until I got my medal and walked off the course. My average pace was 8:36, and I placed 14th in my age group (F20-24).

Victory 2) The second victory was a negative split! Negative splits are a hallmark of smart and successful races, but I can never seem to pull them off in anything besides short training runs (maybe I just get overly optimistic and run too hard at the start…). Anyway, this race marked my first significant negative split! I ran the first half of the race in about 57 minutes and the second half in about 55 – woohoo!

Victory 3) I’ve only run two official half-marathons. I’ve run that distance several times more as either just a long run or part of my marathon training plan, but this is only my second half-marathon race. The first time I ran a half-marathon was about 4 years ago, and it was at a time when my eating disorder was at a low point. I weighed about 20 pounds less than I do now, and I was running about 60-90 minutes every day. Since I was over-exercising so much, I didn’t even need to train for the half marathon and actually registered on a complete whim the day before. The memory of that half marathon is extremely tied up with symptomatic memories – binging the night before, not eating anything prior to the race, not fueling properly afterwards, binging the night afterwards, etc.

Despite knowing that I wasn’t fueling or running (or living!) in a healthy way at the time of my first half marathon, part of me was a little terrified that I would run a time a lot slower today. I felt that if I did run slower today than four years ago, then some negative thoughts would creep in, telling me that the slower time was due to weighing more. Lower weight equating faster speed is a common thought pattern in runners, and there’s an interesting Runner’s World article called ‘Running On Empty‘ precisely about how easy/common it is for runners to develop disordered eating habits in an effort to lose weight and run faster.

Which brings me to my third victory; I ran not one, not two, but THREE minutes faster in today’s half marathon than I did 4 years ago. I may have weighed 20 pounds less then, but today I am stronger and happier and healthier than I was, and seeing those facts reflect positively in my time was definitely the day’s greatest victory of all. 🙂

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Packet Pick Up

Spring is here! It is officially warm(ish) and beautiful outside. Now that everyone can feel good about the weather….

I’ve been on an egg spree for breakfast this week (see here and here and here). Today I returned to the yogurt+cereal morning fuel. What can I say? It sounded good! In the mix, plain non-fat yogurt, fiber one cereal, mixed nuts, dried apricots, and dried cherries:

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After work, I needed to pick up my bib number and chip for the Get in Gear. The Get in Gear is an annual spring race in Minneapolis. They offer several distances: 2k, 5k, 10k, and half-marathon. I’m running the half marathon and I’m very excited! Packet pick-up was at Minnehaha Park – the same location where the start/finish will be during the race.

As I got to the park, I realized that this is the location of Sea Salt.

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Sea Salt is a sea food restaurant – open only during the warmer months – that I’ve heard raves about since I moved here. There’s a similar fair-weather restaurant, the Tin Fish, by Lake Calhoun that I’ve also heard highly recommended. Even though this is the first real warm day, Sea Salt’s kitchen was fast and furious:

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The outside deck was completely packed, and I checked out the chalk-written menu behind the counter:

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Check out all of these sauces:

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I guess people really like sauce with their fish! The restaurant definitely piqued by interest, and I think it would be fun to come back here during the summer and get some fish tacos or something. Plus, I appreciate their sense of humor:

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Back to the packet pick-up…the Get in Gear is a HUGE race! It’s the largest 10k in Minnesota, and it’s one of the top 15 in the country. To get their number with their timing chip, runners had to find their bib number by looking up their name on these sheets:

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There were about a million sheets, but it was organized alphabetically and I went when there weren’t too many other runners, so I didn’t have trouble locating my name. I picked up my bib:

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BIG BONUS: my name was on the bib! I love having my name on things. 🙂 I also picked up my technical tee that all registered runners get:

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The tents for the expo were already set up although there wasn’t much action:

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I’m looking forward to an exciting race – check back soon for a post about the race itself!