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Tel Aviv Marathon training recap and race goals

For my entire base building and 16 of the 18 weeks of my training cycle, I was 100% on board and mostly focused on my goal to PR in the 2020 Tokyo Marathon.

That obviously isn’t going to happen. I decided to divide this training recap into pre and post-Tokyo Marathon cancellation, since there are obviously two vastly different mindsets at play.

Marathon Training–Weeks 1-16

I am extremely proud of my training. I hit all of my speed workouts, and completed all of my long runs, minus the last tempo run. The tempo runs were a mixed bag in general, but I always at least completed the distances. I didn’t let inclement weather get in the way of smashing my goals. Most importantly, I remained injury and pain-free (minus some occasional twinges that quickly went away)! This is amazing. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to PR, but I was confident that I would have a positive marathon experience.

Tokyo Marathon Cancellation and Tel Aviv Marathon

My morale tanked spectacularly after I found out about the race cancellation. It was only bouyed by progress I was making in my job search. Therefore, every small victory made everything okay, and every rejection threw me into turmoil. It didn’t help that Lior stacked our first two weeks back with endless meetings that kept him at work until late (or…for him, normal) hours, since we were supposed to be on vacation and for once he wouldn’t be tethered to his phone and computer, addressing the crisis du jour. On one hand, this was unbearable, on the other, he was being extremely compassionate and supportive. (Or, just being himself. Hey, I need at least ONE part of my life to be wonderful! I deserve this!)

In short, after four months where I had a general feeling of melancholy for long periods of time, where the light at the end of the tunnel was the Tokyo Marathon, and after that job hunting…well, it’s been tough. To be fair, I entered the job hunt with the assumption that it will take a few/several months to find a job. I know I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’m more than ready to become an employed person again, and if it could happen yesterday, that would be great!

The only positive as far as marathon training goes is that I can run the Tel Aviv Marathon, which is the exact same weekend as the Tokyo Marathon, meaning that my training isn’t wasted. I still get to run 26.2 miles and I still get a medal at the end. However, the Tel Aviv Marathon course is more difficult. While it’s not necessarily hilly, there’s more elevation change than in Tokyo…and more elevation change than I trained for. Plus, there’s the weather. It will be warmer, it will be sunnier…and if not, there will be moments of pouring rain.

Plus, there will be fewer port o potties, and you all know how I feel about that…I will be spending over four hours on the course, so the fact that the race doesn’t seem to take this into consideration (or simply doesn’t care) is discouraging.

While I was in the middle of my pit of despair, I heard a rumor that the Tel Aviv Marathon would be cancelled due to the coronavirus. I was then even more despondent. I still picked up my race packet, because I was being optimistic. The marathon organizers then announced that the marathon would only be for Israeli nationals, and international runners would be barred. I was sad to hear this, but selfishly grateful that I would still be able to run. To be honest, the fact that I could get not one, but two marathons taken from me in the span of a little over a week was infuriating, and coupled with my job search and a general feeling of lack of progress in life…well, it was a lot. So once I knew for sure that I would get to run the marathon, I was just grateful. How’s THAT for a change in perspective?!

What Now?

My dream goal is still to run a 4:15 marathon. My secondary goal is to run a PR (sub 4:31:16). However, since the Tel Aviv marathon has more elevation change than Tokyo and will be much warmer, I just don’t know if this is realistic.

After training so hard, it kind of sucks to say that at this point my goal is to finish (ideally faster than my first marathon, which was 4:52). But that’s where I am right now! And honestly, I’ll take it.

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