March 4, 2013: Jerusalem Marathon: A Wonderful Break

It wasn’t my intention to write this post from the ER.

But that’s the situation. I hope by the time you read this we will be home safe and sound and today’s little adventure will be forgotten.

But let me back-up a few days.

On Friday I ran the Jerusalem Marathon. It was my third time running Jerusalem (which makes me three for three) and my eighth marathon overall. And it was my favorite.

These days, I can’t plan training seasons. I can’t commit to multi-month detailed plans that will culminate in a big race. I can’t do regular “speed workouts” with the club, and long runs are few and far between. I run and bike when I can. I spend a lot of time on the treadmill. And stress eat my way through loads of junk food.

Not exactly a recipe for successful marathon racing.

I decided to run Jerusalem on the last day of registration. And I still wasn’t sure until Friday morning that I would actually do it. I consulted with Stella at 4:30 in the morning (the Frankls are vampires. We do NOT sleep.) When she assured me that she was fine, I grabbed my stuff and took off way before the sun had risen.

After parking, I made my way down to the staging area and changed and found some friends. Standing at the start line in the morning, shaking off the dawn chill, I was surprised just how emotional it was for me. Until I was standing there, I hadn’t realized just how happy it made me that I would be able to participate.

It was a wonderful break, a Hafsaka. A real chance to relax.

It may seem strange if you have read stories — including ones that I have written — about how hard it is to complete a marathon. But after the last year and a half that we have had, running a marathon just doesn’t seem that crazy anymore. Want hard? 23 chemo treatments, surgeries, blood tests ad nauseum (and I DO mean ad-nuseaum) now that’s hard. (Not to mention a surprise trip to the ER.)

Running around with a few thousand of your friends for the day? Not even in the same class.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of this race. I enjoyed every step. I did not stop smiling from the countdown at the start until I crossed the finish line.

Why? Did I suddenly forget about our struggle with cancer? Was I all consumed with myself that I didn’t think of Stella?

Absolutely not. I thought of Stella as I wore my Stella’s army wrist bands throughout the whole forty-two kilometers. But for some reason that I can’t explain, I was filled up with a sense of optimism, of shining hope, of “Yehi B’Seder.” (It will be alright.)

I started and ran with friends for awhile. That had been my plan for the race. Just sit in and make it a social thing. And that’s what it was at the beginning. We ran though the center of town, past the HonestReporting office, then out to Mount Scopus.

Going up Mount Scopus I felt great and realized that I had gotten a little ahead of my friends. But that was o.k. I realized that much as I enjoyed the company of others, I also enjoyed running on my own and just having time to sort through my thoughts.

We ran through the Old City then through a bunch of Jerusalem neighborhoods. One reason I love this race is that Jerusalem is my city. I know the places we were running by. It may be nice to look at the Kinneret during the Tiveria marathon, but looking at a lake gets old real fast.

In Jerusalem, music and street performers and crowds of people cheered us on throughout the course. I found myself feeling euphoric as I ran. I don’t know why. I guess it was the fabled “runner’s high.” Who knows. But I felt better than I have felt in a long time while I was running. I felt a huge sense of confidence. I had a big smile on my face as I crossed the finish line and rather than collapsing, went over to watch my daughter Miriam finish the 10K. I even ran the last bit with her.

I have tried other ways to fight off the “situation.” On Purim, I “purimed” way too much. I think when friends saw that I appeared to be happy, they believed they could make me happier by helping me “purim” a bit more. Normally I probably look depressed or angry when they see me. So they really liked that I appeared to be happy and enjoying the day.

But at the end of the day, rather than feel better, I felt a lot worse. Much, much worse. (I don’t blame anyone who helped me “purim” by the way.)

But unlike Purim, the happy feeling I got from completing the marathon lasted for days afterwards. And that helped me keep Stella’s spirits up, which is my primary goal in life. And I think it was working.

Until this morning when Stella woke up not feeling too “comfortable.” After consulting with our doctor, we decided to go to the ER just to be on the safe side. And at this point, everything seems fine except for a little dehydration. So we are spending some more quality time together in a place that is now a second home to us. (A second home that we would prefer to never ever visit.)(You would think that by now I would have learned to avoid the tuna at all costs.)

When you worry that the sky is about to fall every time you wake up, you learn to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of the breaks you get.

For me, the break was to run in the sun through the beautiful and holy city of Jerusalem.

And as long as Stella is feeling alright, I plan to go to Tel Aviv next week and run that marathon too.

And we will keep running, and fighting, and living for all the special moments in life.


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