As soon as the gun sounded, I was picturing mass chaos of runners
all trying to go at the same time. The announcer kept telling everyone to
walk slowly to the starting line.
Instead it was very calm. No pushing. Everyone waited
patiently for their turn. I stepped on the starting mat and started my
watch. I quickly covered the watch with my sleeve.
I started off at a comfortable pace and I felt more like Ray Rice of the
Baltimore Ravens than a runner. I kept weaving in and out of traffic trying to
find an open lane. From reading others people’s race experiences, I
expected this to occur. I figured it would take the first 1-2 km to thin
out. Once we rounded the first turn, and passed the 1m marker, we
reached a tunnel. The 10k runners started to sound like kids, with
everyone screaming and yelling and making as much noise as they could.
Once we got out of the tunnel, we reached the first big hill. I knew the
hills would be a place when I would be passing lots of people. The city I live
in, is all hills, so I am used to running up and down. I kept my plan for
the race in my head. I took small steps to get up the hill. It worked. I
made it up the first hill without feeling like I was drained.
Next we passed the first water station. They handed out small water
bottles. You had to be careful, as the street started to get a little wet
and slippery. Next we turned down on King George Street, followed by a
right onto Jaffa Street. These are streets I have walked down numerous
times. It was neat to be running through town. We continued on Jaffa
until the Old City of Jerusalem appeared In front.
We almost had to make a U-turn to start the ascent to run through the Jaffa
Gate. This was very special, because it is the very same gate that
the Israel Defense Forces drove through during the 1967 Six Day War when they
brought the Old City of Jerusalem back into Jewish control for the first time
in 2000 years. We continued on the run through parts of the old
city. During this time, we passed the 5km mark. I looked down at my watch for
the first time and saw I was at 24:25. I said to myself, I have a chance
to break 50 minutes.
We continued out of the Old City through the Zion gate and continued on.
I could see the Sultans swimming pool and then I looked ahead and saw the
famous Montefiore Windmill. It was a beautiful sight. As we were nearing the
next water station, the road started a slight incline. All of sudden I
started hearing Eye of the Tiger. I was passing a guy who had music
playing out of his phone. Thanks! It gave me a little
boost. I passed one of my friends who was waiting to see his wife
go by. He gave me a nice high five and
called me a speed demon.
We started up another hill. This was one was called Bible Hill.
People next to me were in agony from it and screaming as they went up. I
slowed my steps and made it up without a struggle. As we were coming down
the next hill, I heard a veteran of the race tell a friend who was running his
first race, that there was one more hill. I was ready.
We passed the 9k mark and I saw on my watch, 44:34. I figured 50 minutes
is within reach. I started to run to make it. Once I saw the finish
line, I looked down again and saw 48:00. I kept running and finished
strong. My watch said 49:21 and the official time was 49:23. I was near
the top 5%. I was ecstatic.
When it was over, I walked to pick up a banana, clementine and a bottle of
water. I walked and then picked up my medal. I quickly changed and
started to walk to my bus. I wore my medal home with pride. The highlight
was when I made it home in time to pick my son up from school. He got to
see me with the medal around my neck. Of course in a typical five year old
fashion, all he wanted to do was wear it.
I highly recommend the Jerusalem race to anyone looking to run a destination