I'm still not sure if this was a rave or a race or a dry land simulation of a triathlon swim, but it was definitely one of the coolest races I've ever done. Nike definitely put on a show! I traveled down to Tel Aviv with a friend and our jaws hit the floor when we entered Rabin Square.
Excitement had been building since we got off the train with hundreds of other runners, and only continued to build as we walked the mile to the race start. Because the race asked everyone to wear their official race shirts, we didn't even have to worry about getting lost on the way - you just followed the mass of people with "Game On, World" emblazoned on their backs. Coming around the corner to the entrance on the square we could feel the beat of the music, which got louder and louder until I felt like my eardrums might explode. There were lasers and lights and the energy of 20,000 people getting ready to run - it was pretty incredible.
I was excited to race and wanted to use this race to get a good gauge on how I was doing implementing Kevin's training on my own. I guess I hadn't fully thought out what it would be like to run with 20,000 people in the dark. In a word - crowded! I had planned to start with the 45 minute pace group and then pick it up at the 5k mark, but right from the start I had a problem. Despite pushing myself up as close to the front as I could get, I wound up smushed like a sardine up against the 50 minute pacer with no room to run.
|Before the start line got crazy!|
After a countdown of, "Five, Hamesh, Four, Arbah, Three, Shalosh, Two, Shtaim, One, Echad!" the air horn blew and we were off! ....Except we weren't going anywhere exactly....You couldn't take so much as a step forward without getting elbowed, kicked, tripped, etc. Have you see this Clif Bar commercial? Because this is exactly what the start of the race felt like (except more crowded and way more humid):
I kept the guy with the giant 45 on his back in sight, and gave myself until the 5k mark to catch him...except I got a little excited and wound up in his little pack within the first 1k. The first four kilometers flew by - I felt like I was just cruising along on this wave of energy coming from the party at the start line. Unfortunately I lost my little pace group at the first water stop when I realized the water was only on one side and it was not the side of the road I was running on. Let me tell you - trying to cut across the stream of runners is hard when it's light out, it's nearly impossible to do at night without tripping and falling on your face.
After I lost my pacer, I kind of fell apart a little. It was humid, I was tired, and I couldn't really pick up the pace without running into someone's back. I'm not proud of how I was thinking throughout this one, but I managed to get myself across the finish line in a PR worthy time of 47:19. Not quite the 10 or 20 minutes all my friends seemed to think I was capable of finishing in (I left my jetpack in NY!), but not too shabby either! I wound up 59th out of 5,208 women.
Overall it was an amazing experience - something I am going to remember for the rest of my life!