About 4 months ago my wife suggested that I join her in this year’s Jerusalem Marathon and that together we run the 10K portion as part of Team HASC. While Faygie is a daily runner\walker and has completed the 10K several times already, this would be a first for me. In fact, this would be the first real form of exercise I have done in quite some time. Given that we both have a long history with HASC and continue to go back (my wife as a feeding specialist and myself as a visitor) I accepted the challenge.
At first I was disciplined about the training. I looked into several training apps and for some reason the one with the name “From Couch to 5K” sounded about right, if not slightly advanced for me. I carefully crafted just the right running playlist which was an interesting mix of artists – starting off every run with Eitan Katz Lemancha as a warm up and then moving into some faster paced tunes from the likes of Survivor (Rocky Montage of course), Katty Perry, One Direction (Please, don’t tell my kids), Bryan Adams, and the Moshav Band. I got to know every song and knew exactly where I was in my workout based on what song I was up to. I kept to the every other day runs even when travelling – for the most part and by the time the run came around I as running a solid, well, 4K. No problem I thought to myself. I will just do my routine 2.5 times, how hard can that be.
As we gathered at the Team HASC tent this morning for shacharit it was great to see everyone and I was sure that the run would be no problem. Having been a counselor in HASC for 2 summers I knew how the comradery and enthusiasm of those around you can have magical effects when you think you can’t pull through. You see-anyone who has had the opportunity to be part of HASC knows that Team HASC isn’t about the Marathon- it’s an all year long team that starts in the summer program and once you’re a member – you’re in it for life.
I have heard tales from other runners of “hitting the wall” but at only 2.5K into the race and completing the first serious uphill I was pretty sure I shouldn’t be anywhere near it. And yet, I could feel my legs starting to get tired and I can just make out my wife’s “Are you OK” as she looked over toward me. “I am great” I told her as the Eye of Tiger played loudly in my ears but I started to question if I would make it to the end.
As we came out of the Old City and turned up Derech Chvron we passed the 6K mark. I looked up Derech Chevron hill (which looks so much less steep by car) and motioned to Faygie to continue ahead without me. I slowed my pace (OK, I walked) and turned up the music as Bon Jovi started yelling “We are half way there Take my hand and well make it.” An obvious sign from above, I accepted the offer, picked up the pace and made it to the top.
It was smooth sailing again until about 7.5K in when the ascent up Jabotinsky began. Really, was this necessary- aren’t there downhills we can take? I again slowed my pace (I may have actually been going in reverse at one point) and decided try and focus on the cause and feed off some of that comradery and enthusiasm I was banking on before we began.
I started thinking about the HASC Olympics (in HASC they are not “Special Olymipcs” – everyone is special so they are just Olympics) and the efforts the campers and counselors put in to make it an amazing event. Each camper and counselor in their own way (like every single day of camp) gives it their all. For some it’s harder than others but each overcomes his challenges, does his best and in the spirit of camp HASC – at the end of the day “Everyone’s a winner”. This gave me the energy and push I needed to make it another few “K”.
Azza street was a great shady downhill which brought us into he 9K mark. At the intersection before the final turn onto Ben Zvi – there was a large crowd gathered cheering runners on. I pumped my fist and again as if a sign from above the next song up was Imagine Dragons – “On Top of the World”. Nothing can stop me now – well nothing except another unexpected uphill! I trudged on and then the music stopped. What song would take me over the finish line? Would it be Eye of the Tiger again? Roar? Maybe a nostalgic “Summer of 69”? All I needed was a good fast paced song to get me to the finish line.
As Eitan Katz began once again singing Lemancha- I nodded – not what I was expecting but I couldn’t think of another song more appropriate for the occasion. All around me were runners from various organizations, people who gave up their time, trained, and dedicated themselves to push themselves in order to raise money for worthy causes. What a Kiddush Hashem.
If my experience in HASC has taught me one thing it’s that we are each individuals, we each have our strengths and we each have our weaknesses; we each face our own challenges and we each learn to overcome them – usually with the help of others. So while the official scoreboard shows me as having finished 3124 overall, I know that as a member of Team HASC that number is meaningless- I finished first in my category! Looking forward to seeing everyone in 2015!