October 5, 2013
What was the last insane thing you did?
Running 31 kilometers in 24 hours. That would be mine. Here’s the story:
It all started months ago. Following the “Mountain to Valley” (M2V) relay race (a ~220km race from the North of Israel), a new relay race was announced: Tanach Tashach (not sure that’s the actual, official name but it’s what I called it because I was always too lazy to look it up and putting Tanach Tashach in google always brought up the right page).
Anyway, Tanach Tashach (TT for short) was another race due to take place in October – it would be a total of 208km but apparently the terrain is much tougher. Etgarim was planning to participate but after the M2V race, I wasn’t ready to do another one. However, it turned out that a friend was one of the organizers of TT and somehow I ended up on a team. Of 6. Which meant that I had to run 4 segments of the race, instead the usual 3 that I was used to.
Sure, no problem, I could do that. But I never actually trained for it. I’ve been in a weird place when it came to my running this summer and I don’t think I’ve done a 10km run during the last 3-4 months (in fact, I really can’t remember when my last 10k was – maybe this is why people blog about their runs?). And for several weeks on end, I didn’t do any running at all. However, I was/am biking to and from work every day, as well as hitting the gym 3x/week, with the occasional run thrown in there to make me think that I was still a runner.
And maybe I still am. Because in a period of 24 hours, I ran 31 kilometers. There was some walking thrown in there, and it most definitely wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever been, but I did it.
The race was pretty convenient as it was about 30 minutes from TA and was in a huge circle around the Latrun/Beit Shemesh area. We started at Latrun and I had never been there before so it was pretty interesting.
(Tanks in the background – lots of army ceremonies take place here).
This was the starting line of the race. Here’s our team, right before the day started. Missing team captain (I guess he was taking the picture!)
I was runner 3, which meant that I had to do legs 3, 9, 15 and 21. The first leg (3) was hard. We had to run up to Neve Shalom. Up a mountain. Not a hill. A mountain. It was brutal – middle of the day so it was hot. And it was such an incline that it was actually easier to “run” up than walk, although run is all relative. Anyway, I did it, but I was to learn that when the course description said uphill, it really meant “you’re going to be running up Israel’s equivalent of Mt. Everest.” Not exactly the terrain that exists in Tel Aviv.
However, the first section was done and I felt good – knees still bending without screaming at me – so far so good!
One of the things to understand about these relay races is basically you’re running or you’re waiting while someone else is running before running again. The big issues are trying to figure out how to rest and eat so that you can do your run, while still working within your teammates’ schedules of when they can run, eat and rest.
We split up into 2 cars – runners of legs 1, 5 & 6. I was with runners 2 & 4. Unfortunately, the guys who ran 5 & 6 were pretty speedy so my car never really had too much time to rest. But because of the logistics of this race (one big circle), nothing was really too far away so we were able to set up a camp in a kibbutz named Netiv Lamed Heh (or netivele, as we affectionately called it). After runner 4 in my group finished, we quickly all got into the car and headed back to camp, with about 3 hours to shower, eat, stretch, rest and enough time to drive to the next running station to meet runner 1 and take over the next 3 legs of the race.
My second leg was right before sunset – actually got lucky although I did wear my reflective vest because I wanted to make sure I would be seen. I think that this was the section I enjoyed the most, nice views and much cooler weatherwise, although still light out. All in all, I had a great time, even if it was one of the longer segments.
Bad picture taken with my crappy phone but gives you an idea of yet another climb. The arrow on the left hand side of the path was basically seen throughout the 208 km, marking our way.
This is me following that run, doing some stretches, just resting. Actually the camping was great – it never got too cold (which was a huge fear of mine – I hate sleeping outside when it’s cold), the public baths and showers were surprisingly clean (always!). Actually, to be honest I only showered once because I didn’t want to waste any time, when I could be sleeping and I didn’t want the shower to wake me up. I would just quickly change out of my wet clothes into my next set of running clothes and lay down to try and catch a few winks.
Rest-wise this actually worked out well for me, as I was able to sleep about an hour between run 2 & 3 and then yet another 2 hours between runs 3 & 4. What my teammates in the car thought of this, who knows!
My first and only night run was a fairly non-technical run through the fields of a kibbutz at about midnight – one of my teammates called in some of her friends to run her night section with her and luckily for me, one continued on to run with me. Here’s me and Shai following our run. We had a great time talking running plans the whole way and it made this one of the easiest runs of the race.
Me all lit up up in my reflective vest and head lamp!
My final run began just at sunrise, It started out at with a long (very long) climb on a road and then we we diverted onto some trails that once again went up and down. It was a bit more of a technical run since the paths were not at all smooth, with plenty of ruts, loose and jutting rocks, various slopes, etc. However the morning view was really beautiful.
This was about 6:30 in the morning. Lots of people passed me – the arrow and black line mark the upcoming climb, which, for some crazy reason, I decided that I would run the entire way. Road running is much easier so even though this climb was yet another killer, I was able to do it.
But it did take it’s toll and by the time I was halfway through this segment, I just walked every single hill I came against, even if it was only a gentle slope of a few meters. I was done! Taking into account my (lack of) training, I’m not at all surprised. In addition, I realized that I was really running on an empty tank. It was so hard to get the food right – after each run, I wasn’t really hungry so didn’t eat much besides a few handfuls of pretzels. When we got to camp, all I wanted to do was stretch, change and lie down. It was too much effort to start trying to deal with food. And then before each run, I couldn’t face much more than a dried date or two. Not smart at all, but the timing of a 6-person team is much more challenging than that of an 8 or even a 4 person team. There’s practically no time for anything! Looking back, if I did this again, I would keep a sandwich in the car for immediately after my run and just force myself to eat it.
However, having said that – I did it and we all made it across the finish line!
Here we are, all with our lovely shiny new medals!
I bailed right after this although we did have a beer toast. While the rest of my team enjoyed the spread from the race organizers, I wanted to get back to Tel Aviv as soon as possible. Friday morning and parking is not a good combination (see, it wouldn’t be a blog post if I didn’t get in a complaint about parking…). And I was in desperate need of a shower AND a proper bathroom (camping site aside, I had plenty of time to familiarize myself with the trees and bushes in the area since my stomach was sort of wonky and I had to make a pit stop during every single run.). Luckily, karma was with me and I found a parking spot on the first attempt, right around the corner from my apt.
Dragged up about a week’s worth or dirty, wet clothes (which makes sense considering I did a week’s worth of work-outs in 24 hours). Couldn’t get into the shower fast enough! Dragged myself afterwards to buy some food. Went to sleep relatively late, considering how tired I was but still felt fine.
And today? Well, this morning woke up around 7:30am and felt great. No pains at all (if you don’t count the toenail that I think is going to go black – I hate that!). I was starving so I ate and tackled mounds of disgusting wet, smelly clothes.
Now, I’m just relaxing and reliving my last 24 hours via this post. Looking back I’m amazed it was as easy as it was and I had a great time. I wish I was a little more prepared but I had a lot of fun so maybe it wasn’t such an insane thing to do after all?
Until the next adventure…!