NEXT WEEK, at 12.01am on 16 June 2020, I’ll start, with my son, my/our first ultra-marathon. On that day, I turn 54 years old. We’re running 54km (33.75 miles) up and down 730m-long Herzl Street, Ra’anana. It’s part of a training programme geared towards a 100-mile (160km) run, all on Herzl Street (222 times up and down the street!), next December, to raise awareness of depression and associated mental illnesses and to raise money, minimum a million shekels, a ‘Mental Million’, for support organisations. One of the organisations we’ll be supporting is ICA, The Israel Centre on Addiction.

The furthest distances Ziv and I have run, to date, is 42.2km (26.2 miles), the distance of a full-marathon. I’ve run 2 official marathons and one in training. I think Ziv has run one official one and two in training.

In a way, next week’s run has already started, I’m already running it. I’m running it in my head and it is being fuelled by my soul. My soul, that is where the power comes from, that is my power source, that is where my motivation resides. I’m thinking about the run, waking up with it on my mind, going to beg with it on my mind, and I’m sure I’ll be dreaming about it once or twice over the course of the next few nights. Whatever I’m doing, working, reading, listening to music, running, watch tele, whatever, it’s there, it’s in my sights, everything else is on the periphery. When I start it physically, at 12.01 on the 16th, next Tuesday, I’ll launch myself at the challenge.

Now, however slow I run, and it will be slow as we’re running at the 100-mile run pace, around 7.5mins/km., however much attention I pay to my cadence, however careful I am about not banging my legs down with every step, however carefully I run, it’s going to hurt. The monotony alone, up and down Herzl, that will border on soul destroying (border on, just border on!). Yes, physically, it’ll hurt but the battle, the real battle, that is on the mental front – I’ll have to be mentally strong and resilient!

So why the excitement, despite the pain ahead?!

I’ll be running out of my comfort zone and that is where one grows. Comfort zones are cemeteries for the soul. I’m going to be putting myself in a personal growth zone and that is exciting! One can’t buy that, one has to DO IT! Successfully pushing through, persevering, getting to the finish line, I can already feel the sense of liberation, the release, the power that will come from crossing the line, the power that will be unleashed in me, the all-encompassing, all-consuming sense of “can do” that will devour me when I cross the line, cross the line after about 7 hours of running up and down 730m-long Herzl Street.

And then there’s my depression – THAT is incompatible with long-distance running. I often run with clenched teeth, with my hands in fists, I often run as if I am beating up, smashing, the depression, really taking the fight to the black dog, battling it, neutralising its slavering intent to maul me. When I’m running, when it’s long distance, when I’m having to dig deep, dig deep into my soul, that black dog hasn’t got a chance!

NOW, do you get it, do you understand?

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