I put off writing this blog post because I was debating moving my blog from Wordpress to Wix, for a very exciting reason--I have a new job! I'm now a content writer at Wix, and although I've only been here for a month absolutely love my job. Since I now work for a company that provides a platform for building websites, it made sense to move my blog here. :)
And now...well, now there's the ongoing military operation between Israel and Gaza. It's an extremely stressful, uncertain time and frankly I don't feel like writing about my experience at this time. I will say that as this is my first military operation in Israel that I do feel more Israeli now, though of course I wish it was for happier reasons. Lior and I are safe in Tel Aviv (we have a bomb shelter on our floor), and I have no intentions of leaving Israel. I hope the operation will end soon and that the situation will improve for both Israelis and Palestinians--minus Hamas.
On to happier things--At long last, in-person races have returned to Israel!
As soon as in-person races returned to Israel, I began looking for ways to fill my racing calendar. The Herzliya race appealed to me because it's close by, easily accessible by car, and they offered a 5K option, which is perfect for my current running fitness level. I returned to running in mid-April, right after I started working at Wix. Ironically, now that I have less free time, I have more motivation to be active! I've been doing a mix of interval runs (5 min run/1 min walk) and slower, steady runs. The week leading up to the race I ran a 5K and two 5.5-6km interval runs with no knee pain, so I was confident that I could run the 5K without walking. Based on the course elevation (pancake flat) and the fact that it wasn't supposed to be too hot or humid, I set my goal to run a sub-30 minute 5K. Read on to see how I did!
Cost: 100 shekels/$30.50, which is a standard race fee here. Considering the race was run almost entirely on streets, therefore necessitating road closures, this seemed fair.
Website: The website was all in Hebrew, but had all of the information I needed.
Social media: The race has a Facebook page and an event page, so I got updates leading up to the event, as well as emails from the race organizer. Someone on the mailing lists for Israel races would have access to all of the race info. A, good communication
Updates/tracking: No tracking for the event, which is standard for small races in Israel. I received an email leading up to the event with additional information, including a link to upload my proof of covid-19 vaccination. Anybody who did not submit proof of vaccination or a negative covid test would not be allowed to participate in the race, though I saw no enforcement of this on race day. I also received a text message with my race number, which I needed in order to collect my bib.
Time: 6:30am--I did NOT miss the early morning races! But since it can already be swelteringly hot this time of year (and to minimize road closures, I assume), this is a very common start time for Israeli races in spring/summer/fall/potentially hot weather.
Transportation to race: For the first time, I drove to a race! I chose to drive for a few reasons:
Lior shamed me into doing it.
I originally wanted to take a taxi so I wouldn't have to deal with finding parking when I returned. Lior said I'd be able to find parking, and...he was right.
The race was held on Shabbat, when there is virtually no public transportation
The race site said there was plenty of free parking nearby. I checked the race course and road closures and saw that I would have no issues getting to the parking lot
I set my alarm for 5:00am and was out the door by 5:15am. I arrived to the race site around 5:45am and not only did I have a very pleasant drive on almost empty roads, but parking was plentiful and I got a great spot at the end of a row. This is important because--to quote my parents, "This way, only one asshole could park next to me."
Packet pick-up: Due to fences erected along the course, I made the mistake of taking the long way to pick up my race packet. Since I arrived 45 minutes before the race started, I had plenty of time and wasn't rushed. I told the volunteers my race number and immediately received my race packet, which included my number, the race shirt (in neon yellow, a color that I unironically love and feel is underutilized in running gear), and a few coupons that I immediately recycled. I eventually figured out how to get from the packet pick-up area back to my car, where I was able to dump my jacket and the race shirt (nothing new on race day!), before entering the start corral.
Race shirt: When registering for the race I was under the impression that we'd receive Saucony running shirts. This was exciting because my favorite shirts I've received from races in Israel are from Saucony. Sadly this wasn't the case, but at least they chose a fun color! This shirt will enter my rotation, especially for night runs when I want higher visibility. B...fit is okay, color is great!
Start/finish area: The start area was relatively small, but this was also a small race (capped at 1,000 participants for both the 5K and 10K combined), so this was not an issue. Near the finish area was a small race expo, with representatives from various running brands. I did a quick lap through the expo but didn't see anything I wanted to purchase.
Bag drop: Not sure if this was offered, but since I drove, I didn't need this.
Weather: Sunny but not too hot, thanks to the 6:30am start time!
What I wore: Compression shorts (like always), a tank top, and sunglasses. I made sure my Aftershokz headphones were charged, and I was good to go!
Course: The race course was super flat, with a few out and back portions. In general I enjoy out and backs because it gives me a mental marker to look for in the race. Most of the race took place on roads that were well-maintained. I don't think there was a lot of shade coverage on the course, but it wasn't too hot or humid, so this wasn't an issue. This was a looped course, meaning that 5K runners ran one loop (see below) and 10K runners ran two loops. By the time I entered Herzliya Park towards the end of the race I was happy that I only had to run one loop, as the course wasn't super exciting and there were virtually no spectators. For the first few kilometers the markers were .05km short on the course, but by the time I finished the course was correct and my watch hit 5km a few seconds before I crossed the finish line, so the course was accurately measured.
As you can see above, I smashed my goal of a sub-30min 5K! I started off conservatively for the first kilometer, weaving through other runners for the first few minutes, before finding an open pocket of space. Afterwards, I sped up a bit and then maintained a pretty consistent pace for the rest of the race. While I definitely felt myself working hard, I was never in pain, though I did feel a bit sore later in the day. Overall, I'm very happy with my performance!
Water stations: I think there was a water station on the course, but since the race was a relatively short distance, I didn't partake.
Bathrooms: As usual there were no porta potties on the course. There was an indoor bathroom by packet pickup and unless I'm hallucinating I think there was another public toilet along the course once we entered the north part of the park. This felt reasonable--Am I adjusting to Israeli races? Have I lowered my standards? Am I simply happy I get to race again? Am I indifferent to the lack of bathrooms because I didn't need to use them? All of the above!
Pictures: There were photographers on the course but I never received an email about race photos, so I have no idea if they were offered to runners.
Medal: Pretty basic, but it's unique to this year and has the date of the event--and since there were no cancellations or postponements, the info was accurate!
As an added bonus--when I returned to Tel Aviv I found parking pretty quickly, and successfully parallel parked by myself! For those of you who haven't visited Tel Aviv, in most places parallel parking is the only option. Before moving to Tel Aviv I never had to parallel park on a regular basis, so for me this is a big deal. :)
The Herzliya 5K was a well-organized race and I had a great time! The event has been on my radar since 2019 but this was the first year I was able to participate. I hope it won't be my last!