This is one of the toughest races. And, as I am participating in a four race competition, with a triathlon less than 60 hours later, I knew I had to run this race smart.
I knew this race would be hot and humid -- at race start it was about 76 degrees and at least 80% humidity. And there were some hills. And it started at 9:30 pm , an unusual race time.
The start was absolute chaos. Not only were there 70 of us doing the maccabi man and woman competition, but there were another 1,300 Israelis in he general public who were running. The running corral was crowded and people were shoving to get to the front. I really feared I would be trampled. Those of us with Maccabi were supposed to start at the front with the general public following in 5 minutes behind. Instead, everyone started at once. As I was at the front and not with the abilities to run with the lead pack, this means a lot of people blew past me. I guess I am lucky I didn't get knocked over.
With all the fast runners around me, it took quite a bit of restraint to hold back. And I knew that holding back would be important. If I went too hard I would risk sacrificing my triathlon on Friday. I held my heart rate to zones 3 and perhaps a bit of zone 4.
Aid stations had plastic bottles of water, a little different from what I am accustomed to at races in the USA. We were also told that there would be "isotonic" fluids at two aid stations, in other words, an electrolyte solution. I wasn't sure how far out I would have to wait on the course for that, or what "isotonic" fluids in Israel consisted of, so I actually ran with a bottle of my own usual fluid, Ultima Replenisher. It's a good thing, because the isotonic solution was not available until 10k and was warm and not very palatable.
So, I had my own fluids to drink. To combat the humidity, I used the water bottles to dump over my head and keep my core temperature cool.
What I loved about the course was the crowds. They yelled "hol ha kavod" which I guess is the equivalent of "great job!" There were lots of little kids along the way and I high-fived a bunch of them. Around mile 6 I was done with the high fives and focused on my race.
My initial strategy was to run 9:00 per mile. But given the humidity, I knew I would need to adjust my strategy. I kept my heart rate in my appropriate zones, and whatever my pace was so be it.
I finished in 2:04 . That's about 9:25 per mile. The important lesson - be ready to adjust your goal for unexpected conditions. I ran consistently, the second half about the same pace as the first. This was a successful day and I think I have enough energy to do well on Friday.