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Sholom Rothman
Never Stop Growing

We Run and We Run

The rain was coming down in buckets, the cold was intense, and the wind was biting. And there I stood under a small overhang, huddled with some 10 other would-be runners, waiting for the Jerusalem Half- Marathon to start. Most of the runners had rain gear, but I, who had never even trained in the rain (always looking for a good excuse to be lazy), was there (foolishly) shivering in my normal running attire of a cap, two light tee-shirts, light running pants, and sneakers.
I was having second doubts about running the race. I thought out loud “Is it possible that they will cancel the race?” No one answered, and I knew that after all the preparations, the city would not cancel the event, no matter how hard the rain. I started thinking that there was no way that I would be able to run in these conditions. I was ready to return to my car as soon as the race started. But I also had concerns of letting down all those who had donated in my honor to The Michael Levin Base, without my even having solicited them personally. I didn’t want to disappoint them.
But as I was was still mulling over in my mind what to do, and the clock inched towards starting time, the rain stopped about two minutes before starting time. Soon Mayor Leon was counting down “10,9,8,…3,2,1”, a loud horn sounded, and I was off with the runners. My first concern in the race was swerving to miss big puddles, and wondering when I would feel my hands and a number of my toes again.
But about 10 minutes into the race, as we turned down Rechov Yafo, the sun came out, and the runners cheered as we raced on. My appendages started to feel normal again, and I was anticipating having a nice run. But the respite was not for long, as the clouds reappeared shortly afterwards, and as we exited the Old City, the rains returned. Thankfully, it wasn’t torrential, but it was a steady hard rain that continued throughout the rest of the race.
We slogged up the first major hill, from the Old City on Derech Chevron. Soon we climbed the second major hill, on Rechov Jabotinsky, not far from the Rechavia section of the city. As we neared my home, I called my wife to let her know I was on the way. I reached Rechov Yanovsky, about the 10 mile (16 kilometer) mark some 20 minutes later. There was my wife, Iris, and two devoted friends, Richard and Jean Corman, under umbrellas, in heavy raincoats (which I found out later didn’t keep them from getting wet), standing in the pouring rain, cheering me on. I asked my wife afterwards how I looked as I passed them, and she said I looked like I felt I was going to die. 🙂
Their support gave me extra energy to keep chugging on the final 3.1 miles (5.1 kilometers) to the finish line. But first I had to experience the third and final major hill on the race, Rechov Kovshei Katamon (which means the street of those who conquered the Katamon neighborhood). I wasn’t able to run up the hill in my last race, and was hoping to do better this time. But with my energy near depleted, and my back killing me from running bent over into the rain and wind, I had to instead walk as quickly as I could up the hill, while taking a few stops to stretch out my back. By this point, my glasses were full of water and were getting fogged up, and I walked straight through many deep puddles, as I couldn’t see them as I approached.
I finally came to the final turn towards the finish line. I ran there as fast as I could, and was very grateful to be able to sit down for a few minutes of rest. I also thankfully didn’t need medical attention this time (I had been hydrated via IV at the end of my previous run). I made it to the area where medallions were distributed, grabbed an apple they had nearby, and walked 10 minutes to where my car was parked.
I drove home, and had to park a few blocks away, as full marathon runners were still active on Rechov Yanovsky. The walk from where I parked to my home was no fun and games, as I got rained on very heavily then also. But soon I was home, eating a nice bowl of soup, taking a long hot shower, and getting dressed to drive to my Yeshiva. I didn’t want to miss the enlightening shiur (lesson) that my Rebbe, Rabbi Klein, gives every week dealing with a Mitzva (commandment) in that week’s Torah reading.
When we make a Siyum (a celebration on completion of a major section of Torah learning), we say a number of prayers. One of them is headlined by the phrase “We Run and They Run”. To paraphrase, “We (Torah learners) run in pursuit of heavenly goals, while they run in worldly pursuits.”
But while I sat listening to my Rebbe’s discourse, I thought “Today we run, AND we run”.
About the Author
I studied in Jerusalem for a year when I was 19 years old, and developed a love for Israel and especially Jerusalem. It took me over 40 years to finally fulfill my life's dream and make Aliyah to Jerusalem. I had been a computer programmer for 37 years, but now, after retirement, study full time in yeshiva, and was granted Semicha two years ago.
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