Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nike 10.10.10 10k

On Sunday night, I ran the October 10, 2010 (10/10/10) Nike 10k in Tel Aviv. It was awesome.
I have to start off by saying that I have run more than 30 races since I got into running. I have run races varying in size and length from the New York Marathon with something like 20,000-40,000 runners (I forget the real number, but lots) to the Columbia University Dance Marathon 5k, a race with about 15 people. The Nike 10k was definitely one of the coolest.
In order to register for the race, you had to go onto Facebook and “like” the event, which then allowed you to registers. Once registered, you were returned to Facebook to design your bib number – the piece of paper with your number on that you wear on your chest. Now in some races – the ING Miami Half/Full marathon comes to mind, you can put a name on your bib. This one went way further. You got to pick your name, number, background design and “I Run” tag line. Each bib had a line under the number that started “I Run” and could be ended with a few pre-set lines or could be customized. Unfortunately, I did not realize I could customize the “I Run” line, so I was Yoel-Tzadik 220385 (my birthday) and “I Run Tel Aviv”.
I ran the race with Rachel and Itay. They met me at my office, we changed and dropped our stuff at the office and headed to the race, a short distance away. When we arrived in Rabin Square, there was quite a scene. The streets were blocked off and Nike had turned them into a club. There was loud techno blaring and people dancing. There was an unusually strong pre-race energy in the crowd. A few minutes after we started a large adult dance group got on stage and led several hundred to a thousand of the waiting runners through a series of aerobics and stretches. I have never seen anything like it – hundreds of people stretching together following a bunch of Britney Spears backup dancer look alikes with a loud techno beat in the background.
After the warm up, we began lining up for the race. After playing “I’ve got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, they ramped up the techno and off we went. Most of the kilometer markers were indicated by techno DJs blaring their electronic mixes. The DJs added to the fun atmosphere. The course was very flat (thank G-d) and the weather was perfect. I finished somewhere in the 57 minute area (results here). Shamefully, this run was the longest run I have run since the March 23rd New York City half marathon. I ran that half marathon in 1:52, meaning that my last 10k in the half marathon was faster than my first and only 10k on last night’s run. I have fallen way out of shape from where I was. I am writing this here to hold myself accountable. I am starting to get back in shape and plan one running the Jerusalem (half) marathon in March. The half was in parenthesis, because I am considering gunning for the full marathon – in Yerushalayim, a full marathon will be grueling and extremely difficult. I ask that if you read this and remember, please ask me how my training is coming – it will keep me honest and now that I have put it out here, I have to follow through and complete the race since I hate talking about things and not getting them done. Here I go.
Me at the finish yay
After the race, I went back to about the 9.6k line and ran the last bit with my sister who finished strong like a trooper. I am super proud of her. The post-race celebration was like nothing I have ever seen at any race other than the New Years 4 mile runs in central park. The park where the race ended was set up with yet another techno DJ and a basketball court became a crazy dance floor. Sponsors were giving out popsicles, yogurts and granola bars. Everyone was wearing their medals and having a great time. Then it started to rain...
As I mentioned in a previous post, ware in Israel is taken very seriously, because there is not a lot of it. Rain here is a blessing – Luke Bryant may have been singing about Israel when he said “where I come from rain is a good thing”… I doubt it but maybe. Thankfully on Friday, Shabbat and yesterday we had some rain here. When it rains here no one complains. People often just walk through it because it doesn't rain for too long.
After the race it started to rain and the dancing just got crazier. As the lights flickered on and off and the techno blared the runners who had just completed the 6 mile course were jumping around and a fun energy reigned over the entire post-race festivities.
We decided it was time to head back and caught a cab back to my office to get our stuff and catch a bus to Yerushalayim. When we got to my office it was locked! The office has two locks – an electronic lock and an actual key lock. While I know the combination to the electronic lock, I don’t have a key.
There I was at 11 pm with no phone, wallet or keys to my apartment. We (Rachel, Itay and I) had about 140 shekel between us. We went down to security who informed us that they do not have the keys to individual offices. Usually one guy in the office works late all the time and it is assumed that he is here till midnight so when I was told the office would be open; it was banking on him staying late. He didn’t last night. Security had a number for the chairman of the company, so at 11 pm I called the chairman of the company asking if he had the key (this is of course absurd). He told me he was far away and to call Yuval, a partner who I have worked a bit with. I called Yuval and could hear a lot of noise in the background. I assumed he was at a party or a bar. He told me he did not have his keys with him and he could come to the office to give me money to take a 300 shekel (about $80) cab to Yerushalayim. This would still leave Itay, Rachel and my stuff locked in the office.
I told him not to worry about it, but he came none the less. When he arrived he was wearing the race shirt and race medal. He ran as well. He told me he lived only fifteen minutes from the office, so we took a cab to his place together and he gave me the office key. I got back to the office, unlocked it and took our stuff. It was now about 12 am and we were still a ways away from home. We were going to take the $80 plunge when my sister told me that buses run all night from Bnei Berak to Yerushalayim. Bnei Berak is one of the largest ultra-orthodox neighborhoods in the country. It is ironically very close to the ultra-secular Tel Aviv – that is the dynamic of Israel. She said that the ultra-orthodox never sleep. I was skeptical but went along with the plan. Itay calls Rachel “Rachel GPS” – she knows how to get from point A to point B really well. Rachel GPS worked wonders last night.
We took a mini-bus to the bus station and sure enough a few minutes later the 402 bus pulled up. It was absolutely crazy that at midnight the bus quickly filled with families – parents with four or five little kids boarded the bus. By the time it was finished going through the neighborhood picking everyone up, the bus was so filled that people had to stand in the isle. When we arrived to Yerushalayim, we immediately got in a cab and went home. By the time I got out of the shower and into bed I was nearly delirious. I can’t recall the last time I was that tired.
The next morning I woke up on time to go to work, I couldn't move. Anat convinced me to come in late and stay late – it was a good move. The Nike 10k was an awesome time. I definitely hope to run it again, only faster and with a smoother commute home.

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