Finally, after three long years, it will be “Next year in Jerusalem!” for Jerusalem Marathon 2023! I’m exciting to join Run for Zion to run the Jerusalem Marathon Half Marathon in honor of my late grandma. Grandma loved great food, singing “I love coffee I love tea”, and hearing about Israel. Back in May 2019, I had a chance to make homemade chicken corn wontons for her (and she liked them!), share about my first running trip to Israel, and give her my finisher's medal. A month later in what would be my last in-person visit with grandma this side of heaven, I found the finisher’s medal draped over her reading lamp, where she had her beloved devotionals, Chinese food menus, and magazines.
I had planned to run Jerusalem Marathon in 2020 (see foxnews.com/faith-values/israel-christian-run-jesus-jerusalem-marathon-2020) and even wrote a piece about lifting the travel ban that emerged in February 2020 (see jpost.com/opinion/lift-tel-aviv-marathon-ban-and-promote-spirit-of-courage-618947). I never imaged that COVID would not only change those plans, but also change the world for the next few years. Since that time, however, I have come to cherish how each moment with loved ones is a gift, and to make the most out of those moments.
This upcoming year will be super special to run in grandma’s memory. Will you consider partnering with me this coming year for running the Jerusalem Marathon with Run for Zion (RFZ)?
As background, the RFZ ministry partners with various Israeli nonprofits to feed the hungry, assist Holocaust survivors, comfort terror victims, and more. During the COVID years, RFZ continued to sustain many of these ongoing projects and launched new projects to build bridges between Jews and Christians, such as (but not limited to) producing the Inspiration from Zion webinar series and podcast, helping families and churches impacted by last year’s devastating tornados in Kentucky, and providing urgent humanitarian relief to Christians facing unprecedented crisis following flooding and disease in Pakistan.
I need to raise $4,000 (for land package) by November 30, 2022, and I plan to personally match 1:1 the first $2,000 donated by that timeframe. See the donate functionality on this page to donate. All donations are tax-deductible. This page will also have the latest and greatest blog updates on the journey to Jerusalem running journey.
Thanks so much for your time, consideration and prayers,
12-26-22 - So thankful to have raised the initial benchmark! If I raise an aggregate of $6,500 (so $1,700 as of this writing), I'll be able to get airfare subsidy as well!
2-13-23 - Flights are set, super excited Jerusalem is only a month away!!
More of the post-race thoughts!
What a journey, 600+ miles training for this and four years or so in the making!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon Week #23 with Run For Zion - Finish Line: Since kicking off training after a trail 1/2 marathon in Flagstaff, I have had the joy and privilege to write about the hills and valleys of training for Jerusalem Marathon 1/2 marathon - a dream that has taken four long years to unfold. I hope you have enjoyed joining in the journey - the hills and valleys, the laughter and tears, and all the unexpected turns along the way. Grandma was not a runner and indeed never had a chance to go to Israel, but I could hear her laughter and sense her joy accompanying me along the way. Thank you everyone who helped pray for and support me along the way, from those who donated to those who helped with food prep and words of encouragement. Running a race is a team effort, and I am thankful you have been part of the team to accompany me along the journey.
New sounds with Justin on the tongue drum and Ang on the whistle. So much fun!
Soaking up some sun while it's not taking my breath away. Spring Training!
Xiao Qi, the neighbor's dog, likes to people watch. Had a chance to say hello!
Shabbat, shabbat, shabbat, shabbat shalom!!! + I'm again a doggie auntie (new doggie on the couch)
Triplex has awesome trainers!
Nothing like the cards workout, and of course, there were burpees!!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #22 - Here at last!: Final day before embarking to Israel!!! It's surreal. After four long years and CV and injuring and wanting to give up and not giving up and..., etc., go-time is finally here! The last week had an interesting start, with lethargy still keenly felt from that epic drive to and from CA. During Wednesday's speed workout - lovely 3mi repeats - I started seeing white and had to cut the workout short. I love running and it takes my breath away, but trying to not have it take too much breath away to faint again like pre-marathon several weeks back. Coming into the weekend long run, was feeling better but still had to cut it 2 mi short because just not quite feeling 100%. Thankfully, today's run was awesome and it's just one easy shakeout run in Israel prior to race day. The hay is about in the barn! Looking forward to sharing some footage from Israel and maybe even from the race! On the cross training front, I had my last weights workout, and it was quite fun! Triplex Training Chandler had a delightful game of cards - workout style - with the ever so lovely burpees, but a wonderful 70-80s inspired music jam + supportive workout community made the time fly! On the weekend, I was able to host Shabbat for friends and share about going to Israel and running it in honor of grandma. The food and fellowship were quite fun as well as the dancing and music and games. Had even a chance to create new music on the fly! A few days later, had a chance to say hi to Xiao Qi, the neighbor's doggie, and to cheer the home team (here that would be the AZ Diamondbacks). Thank you so much for all those who have partnered with me and prayed and cheered and helped encourage me through the hills and valleys - all 600+ miles of them - in this training season to get to the start line. Looking forward to bringing the next update en route or in Israel!! Shalom shalom!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #21 - In remembrance, there is life: It's hard to believe it's been 5+ months or so since starting the journey for training for Jerusalem Marathon - 1/2 marathon! There is a famous saying that in remembrance, there is life. This past week, while trying to recover from the epic drive to CA and back and pounding the pavement, I've had some time to reflect out in nature amongst the wistful green palo verde trees, prickly cacti, and the rare sight of snow-laden mountains surrounding the Phoenix valley. There are certainly times where one does not want to put in the long runs - like when it's the storm of the past several decades and running in the rain like the week prior or like in this past week of running in the wind on trail hills and just wanting to throw in the towel and sleep in. Then, I think of the reason for running this training season - to remember grandma and her love for the L-rd and her love for Israel, and it helps me push through. I remembered how grandma really loved the chicken cilantro corn wontons I made her back in 2019. And I remembered the last chance I had to see her this side of heaven on 6/22/19. She had this glow, this peace, this joy that only the King of the Universe could give. I wonder what food and what songs she's singing in heaven now or even if she is tickled a bit reading the posts her from above. While grandma wasn't always known for her smile and joy, she embraced an amazing gift of forgiveness and the gift of being able to forgive others profoundly so the last 5 or so years of her life - so much so that in her eulogy, folks noted how much she told them that she loved them. In 11 days, I'll finally - after four long years - have a chance to run in Jerusalem in honor of grandma, and I hope she will be smiling and laughing from heaven, maybe even joking about how good the Chinese food is up there or how she can walk faster now than I can run. But most of all, I hope she has a gleam in her eye of how her life and how G-d used her prayers of forgiveness and asking for forgiveness to help change the world. I miss you grandma, and wished you had a chance to go to Israel. But maybe in writing these posts and running the race, you are there in spirit and it's not just me running there, but also your hopes and prayers accompanying me along the way.
The last time I saw grandma alive this side of heaven, 6/22/19.
The last wontons I was able to make for grandma
Even the iconic flatiron had some dusting of snow, the roads still showing evidence of the last rainstorm and dirt.
There are many cacti here
Time to reflect in the desert
Go team go!!!
The fruit tea was quite tasty!
Maiden voyage for the gift of grandma's dishes, very special and fitting to have the first meal talking about Israel!
Here are some of the partner medallions for the team.
RFZ Team Go for the Gold! Delia Athey will be running the 10K, Rhonda J Morrison will be running the marathon, and I'll be running the half marathon.
Hammocks are such a great way to relax!!
The road... on a good day... I can see where this could get dicey fast. The snowman on the sign looks quite cute.
"Do you want to build a snowman?"
The amazing Rabbi Jonathan Klein! Congrats on being formally installed as Rabbi for TBE! Sorry weather delays prevented me from coming to Shabbat service, but looking forward to seeing the service online.
So many memories here. Great job organizing Irvin Pike and so great to meet Mike Miller again.
Craaazzzzzyyyy, Santa Barbara hills with snow in the background!
By far the wettest run of the year. Got it done. Glad it was warm enough to run it, but wow, was pretty soaked after.
What one does while waiting for the blizzard of a couple decades to clear... listen to Midnights on the record player!
Such a special and unexpected time to hang out with my sister! I wasn't expecting to stay overnight in LA, but so glad I did!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #20 - Going the Distance!: So many awesome things happened this week, from celebrating hometown synagogue's 75th anniversary to surviving a blizzard to finally hanging up the hammock and organizing a RFZ Team Go for the Gold gathering. For the first time in 34 years, LA County mountains had a blizzard alert, which meant that usual 8 hour drive turned out to an overnight visit at my sister's (thank you Ellesse F. Wong!). We had a great time catching up with sushi and then the next day I got the mental game on to get in the long run in - by far the wettest long run of the year, but did say hi to the Pacific Ocean and thankfully it was only 45 or so degrees. Then, had to drive the long way around via the coast to get to the hometown, and even saw even the hills in Santa Barbara had snow, which isn't a sight one usually sees! Thankfully I made it in time to make it for Temple Beth El Bakersfield's 75th anniversary! Such a special event to honor the Jewish community! Years ago, after studying the Six Day War for a history day project, I was amazed how G-d did miracle after miracle in modern day and wanted to know all I could about it! That journey also coincided with my congregation doing a Night to Honor Israel, which then resulted in an almost three decade long friendship with the Jewish community, from celebrating High Holy days to shabbat services and everything in between. It was so awesome to see the from generation to generation blessings come forth in that community, and I am so excited to see how things will grow under the newly installed Rabbi Jonathan Klein, who brings such joy and energy at the helm! The journey back was quite interesting, filled with many views of snowmen, snow, wind, and clouds. So thankful for those who prayed for safe travel! By the time I got back to Arizona, I was definitely ready for a chill day. I finally set up the hammock to veg, so nice, I am not even sure why it took this long to set it up. Later this evening, I was able to host Delia Athey and Rhonda J Morrison, who are part of RFZ's Team Go for the Gold, and I am sooo glad we were finally able to meet up before going to Israel. We even had a chance to have dinner on the first maiden voyage of grandma's dishes, and how fitting since grandma really loved Israel, too. And speaking of, it's now only around 2 weeks ?!?!?!! until I leave for Israel, it is so surreal and almost finally here!
Back in the time of when I was able to eat a lot more without dietary constraints. 🙂 Nice lifting the 10000000 lb pen and paper and remembering grandma and grandpa, may their memories be a blessing.
Herb soup again for the win! I'm really liking these new organic dried yams, which are more substantial in size and taste!
Double honey/lemon/ginger tea! Tea + adding in more ingredients for the win!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #19 - People make plans, G-d laughs: Hard to believe it's 3.5 weeks or so until race day! When I kicked off training for Jerusalem coming off the heels of Flagstaff Marathon - 1/2 Marathon (trail race), it seems like a near but distance eternity for Jerusalem to come. But now it seems like the time has flown by so quickly and it's nailing in those final workouts before another taper and traveling across the world (first time in 4 years?!!!). But first, there is the famous saying that "People make plans, and G-d laughs". Meaning, one can make plans, but G-d tends to have a sense of humor, which may mean ending up changing those plans (at least for the short run). So I had planned to get in the final hike workout before transitioning back to roads, but then with the last storm that came in, it turned out that I caught the common cold (but thankfully tested negative to strep throat, flu, and CV) - the first cold in 3+ years - and had rest the last several days. So while I'm usually counting strides, I was counting sniffles that sounds more like Morse Code. But not to fear, local honey, lemons, ginger, and tea were near! I also made some of grandma's herb soup recipe and found some dried yams that actually were more substantial in size and reminiscent of the ones she used to buy (grandma was legendary in taking all day to go grocery shopping and making sure she got a great deal). While trying to get some ingredients at a local retailer (I had a mask on), I heard the words "Eema, eema!" (Mom, mom!), and turned to see a young woman and her child. I asked if they were speaking Hebrew, to which she noted "Yes!" So we ended up having a brief conversation in Hebrew while she endured my American Hebrew accent, but also noted it was cool I was going to go to Jerusalem to run there next month! Turns out she has some in-laws from Jerusalem, and it reminded me how, even in America, the world can seem amazingly small when connecting to folks in the Land. During recovery time, I also had a chance to lift the 1000000000 lb pen and notebook to finally start story writing again! I started with a writing prompt that one of my writing instructors (a child of Shoah/Holocaust survivors) gave me, which was "I got there early/on time/late..." and thought about how grandma and grandpa had different perceptions of time or the feeling of lack of time and how they navigated this during our dim sum adventures in Southern California years ago. It's interesting reminiscing those memories and I can imagine being in the child shoes again and reencountering the awe and excitement of it all, and of course the funny comments grandpa would say about grandma, such as "That's your grandma!" Grandma was a bit more impatient while grandpa was more laid back (but always so mentally sharp with the brilliant questions). Maybe they are both even tickled about reading this the other side of heaven. :) P.S.: I was able to get my training run in today and am on the mend! Thanks all who have been praying!
Bitter melon with mushrooms in garlic sauce. Will have to add in beef next time and try to figure out a workaround for the black bean sauce.
Customizing the team experience
A nice paved road and dirt trail to near the top of the mountain! This mountain road is great for hill repeats, but not for this weekend in recovery mode.
Reminiscent of the Hopper Hands at Fort Point in SF, except one has climb a hill to get to these!
The mountains are calling!
Nice view toward the east. One can even see Four Peaks in the distance!
Super excited to now have a local running team that is going to Israel!!! We will also get to have shabbat dinner together with the others!
Had to make shift a light since not used to riding in the dark! It was nice to cross train on a bike again!
Thank you Rhonda J Morrison for remembering about the hat and also for your mom repairing the velcro in back! (Note: I wore the hat so much the original velcro couldn't keep up!)
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #18 - Team Go for the Gold!: Super excited that Rhonda J Morrison and Delia Athey said "yes" to joining Team Go of the Gold for our Jerusalem Marathon journey! Back in 2020, we were supposed to go to Israel or run the race virtually; however, CV had other plans. But that did not derail our hopes of trying again, and timing and favor worked to reassemble the team again! Rhonda will be jogging/walking the marathon distance, Delia will be doing the 10K, and I'll be doing the 1/2 marathon! Really excited that we are all in the Phoenix area, so we will be meeting up in a couple weeks before we head off to Israel! This past week also marked recovery week from the past race - meaning cross training and biking. Gave the bike a spin and got in the first hike in awhile. Made it in time to see a glorious sunrise and some hints of yellow wildflowers. Was getting homesick for grandma's cooking, so I "attempted" making bitter melon with mushrooms (grandma would have used black bean sauce and beef, but I haven't found a workaround for black bean sauce yet). It tasted not bad, but still not like cozy, Chinese food I remember growing up. So will have to try again!
Barely got sub 4:00:00!!!!! Thanks everyone who cheered on!!
Just 16,500 strides to go, the finish line is just around the corner!!!!
Piles of smiles, now onward to Jerusalem Marathon - 1/2 marathon!
Done at last, done at last, thank G-d almighty, I'm done at last!!! 3:58:23!
Trying to muster a smile, wanting to go at least 9:09, but muscles kept cramping and locking up around 10:00+ pace (which is my easy warm up pace!)
Running form this year, but before all the leg cramps. Doing a relaxed 8:30 ish pace.
What my running form used to look like back in the day, 11 years ago.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #17 - Finally made sub-4 hours after 11 years!!!: I almost gave up running several years back. After running Surf City Marathon in 2012 (my prior last PR), life took over, then moved from CA to AZ, then was wondering if I could ever get back into shape without getting re-injured from shin splints, etc, with recovery taking longer since I was getting older. Then, while contemplating running Mesa Marathon in 2019, a modern Orthodox Jewish friend Jonathan Feldstein contacted me about this new non-profit he was starting and how it was centered around going to Israel to run/walk the Jerusalem Marathon! Little did he probably know that that adventure helped me also get back into running again. Fast forward to last weekend - the pre-marathon start had quite an interesting start. During the warm up, I jogged a few minutes before taking a gel and trying to get water... Then I saw white, leaned over on a table, and next thing I new I was on the ground, thinking I was sleeping and dreaming, with two runners helping me up, checking my pupils and wondering if I was okay enough to run the race. After a few minutes - still getting balance back - walked over to Coach Caleb with Triplex Training Chandler to get a game plan (I didn't have a phone otherwise), and definitely so thankful for his words of wisdom that everything should be okay, just wait until 5 min after start of race to get the next gel and it was a sugar timing problem. At the race start, which was a bit warmer than in past years, things actually started to click more, and was even able to get in a great rhythm the first 1/2 of the marathon, counting thousands of strides, thinking of Israeli dance music, thinking about engaging the core and glutes, and reading funny cheer signs about running (e.g., that's a lot of work for free bananas, etc.). Around mi 14, it started to get a bit warm, though I knew my friend Scott would be cheering at around mi 16.5 mi (might be the first time a friend has cheered at "the wall" for marathon distance), so somehow I was actually able to maintain a nice clip. Then, after mi 17-18ish, something felt pretty off, like muscles started to cramp unlike anything I've ever experienced. My cardio wanted to go, go, go, but my calf muscles were like no, no, no, even to the point I literally almost cried out at mi 21 asking G-d to help me through each stride (every stride felt like on the edge of muscle lockup). Miraculously, I would later find out, my friend Linda felt led to pray all the way in TX for endurance and strength. Near the end, when I usually can accelerate for a kick to the end, almost fell over, but saw folks cheering which bolstered my spirits to muster on through and make it to the finish line -- and under 4 hours!!! While I wasn't able to maintain the 3:50 pace, I'm sooooo thrilled to finally - after ~11 years (technically 4,017 days) - best my former PR time by over 15 min!!! In marathons - and in life - no one ever does it alone, and I'm so thankful for those who have encouraged me along the way! Working to regroup and recover now to get the legs ready for the many hills of Jerusalem Marathon next month!! It seems surreal that finally, after 4 long years, I'll be back there again, and I can imagine grandma smiling from above and maybe even reminding me that if I had her herb soup pre-race it would have helped with the cramps
Scenic views near the weekend long run.
What a great coffee cup!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #16 - Coffee, Nosh, Happier Hamstring: While there are not too many pictures this week, one of the main breakthroughs was a happier hamstring confirmation from the doc (very thankful!!!). Turns out the hamstring was getting agitated from some upstream issues, so glad those are getting addressed! Was able to get a nice long run near the scenic Superstition Mountains on a road (not pictured here), and do some camping with friends. Running in such scenic environments gives a nice mental break from the hundreds of miles on the roads. The coffee and nosh around the campfire was also a nice way to cap off the week before going into Mesa Marathon, the final race I will do before Jerusalem Marathon Half, and it will be my first marathon in almost four years. Definitely excited, a bit scared of how my body will respond to running over 20 miles, but so thankful for the journey thus far - the hills, the valleys, the times running was easy, the times I just wanted to turn off the 5am alarms... Thankful for the words of encouragement from so many, and praying I can run this race well, and maybe even while counting thousands of strides, remember a positive saying an upbeat song or even grandma's funny laugh to push me through. Then it will be a short 5 weeks to Jerusalem Marathon - 1/2 marathon and transitioning from running flat pavement to running Sedona-style hills, oh my!!!!
Fish and bok choy with rice noodles, chicken and wok choy with rice noodles. Not sure what the soup bowl dish was as that was a friend's dish.
Bitter melon with beef in garlic sauce.
Grandma's chicken herb soup recipe. She still has the prize for cleaning chicken squeaky clean.
Still debating if I'll wear the arm warmers for the next race. Starting a race at low to mid 30s though is a bit chilly!!
Hello Papago Park! What running looks like when carrying the arm warmers and gloves.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #15 - Trail run + Chinese New Year!: Thankful to have long runs that are now less than 2 hours! Taper is definitely feeling great, and was nice to run the long run on a 5K wide trail loop. The hamstring earlier in the week was definitely not happy, and I wasn't even sure how the long run would go, but go it did - much faster for an aerobic threshold run than I thought. Aerobic threshold (AeT) is the steady state one can run for seemingly hours without having a big spike of lactic acid, that fun stuff that makes the muscles feel tired. Beyond the AeT point, the body starts to accumulate lactic acid. After the run, the the sun was so gloriously brilliant that I asked some walkers to take some pics while I ran on the pavement, with the croissant-looking buttes/rocks in the background. For Chinese New Year, I had a chance to make and share grandma's chicken herb soup with friends. Some friends also invited me to a Chinese restaurant where they knew the cook, who could cook amazing dishes that met both their and my many dietary constraints. The cook even cooked the foods in a separate cooking pan so my friends and I wouldn't have any adverse food reactions! It was so special to actually be able to eat in a Chinese food restaurant again!!! It's been such a long time, and I am really thankful for the experience -- and I know where to go next time, too!!
With views like these, I def miss trail running. Looking forward to finishing road running season well and transitioning to the trails and the mountains!!
Hiked a short bit, but didn't push it too much as to keep the hamstring happy.
The lakefront view for weekend camping gave much reprieve from the many running miles earlier in the week.
Quite a sunrise greeted the weekend long run. This was the before the rain came.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #14 - Finally, taper!: This week, was able to get some words of encouragement from several running buddies, who also noted that marathon training can be hard in the final weeks leading up to taper. In training, mileage generally increases until about 2-3 weeks pre-race, then decreases. While I'm training for Jerusalem Marathon - 1/2 marathon (almost a loop course with ~1,073 ft of elevation gain and net loss of ~6ft), which is super hilly like Sedona, I'm also training for Mesa Marathon (point to point, with ~200-300 ft of elevation gain and ent loss of ~1,000 ft), which generally flat and a net downhills. Usually, two different race types aren't stacked so closely because it's a different combo of muscles for hills vs. flats, so hopefully I'll survive this better this year with better strategy and training. At track this week, was able to nail the times, which is always awesome as is the supportive running community there! I decided to change up the pre-long run nutrition with something that has worked in the past, but to also have a break from the regular brown rice pasta fare, which I've had for several months now pre-long run. Turns out that the simple carbs from brown rice pasta fares better than doing more complex carbs from chili. Good to know for pre-race day! The planned long run needed up being 4 miles shorter due to a tight right hamstring. Decided not to push it since injury recovery is definitely harder getting older than life back in the 20s. 🙂 Fortunately, was able to get an hour or so of speed work it and have an overall 16.5+ miles in. Had a chance to also go camping nearby and see a state park, though it rained. Definitely miss trail running and hiking the trails, but just even being out there provided much mental break from the roads. Was also able to call Israel and strategize on how the trip will be coming along. Super excited on sharing more in the weeks to come and also getting through (hopefully injury free, praying!) Mesa Marathon, then it's a couple weeks off, then prepping for the hills in Jerusalem!
It's just one more mile...
had runner brain (i.e., not 100% brain) when picking up my bib that morning. I obviously did not check if the bib was pinned level, lol. And what was on my teeth?!!?! Running - the agony and the ecstasy of it all.
Hallelujah, done and didn't fall or trip on the bumpy pavement!
We had enough energy to jump for joy!! Here with the 2nd and 3rd place winners in the 40-44 age group.
Piles of smiles to be finally done! 1:52:11! 1st place in the F 40-44 age group! And 3rd place overall for women!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #13 - Give all you've got!: This week was a grueling training week - mile time trial at track (plus 2 mi more of speed work), followed by Buckeye Marathon - 1/2 Marathon this weekend for a marathon tempo. Mile time trials are important because they are a measure of what training paces for 200/400/600/800m etc should be. In running, and much like in life, if you keep in your comfort zone, you'll often remain in your comfort zone. If you want to get faster and better, however, you have to have moments where you "stretch", where you reach for the stars that are attainable when you put in the 110% percent. But the funny part of it is that most of the miles - maybe even 80-85% are in the base mi comfort zone, but oh but that 15% - that 15% where you just feel like you won't make it without people cheering you on and believing in you when you are trying to believe in yourself. This week was the first time trial post ankle sprain over 1.5 years ago, and wow, I got a 6:59 mi?!?!! So thankful for the wondering cameraderie of the Triplex Training Chandler community and that I may have running buddies pre-track workout that I can keep up with for warmups on those bright and early 4:45am times! This week also marked the practice race for a marathon race I'm running right before Jerusalem. Buckeye - the drive alone was almost 1/2 way to California, and the bucolic fields reminiscent of the verdant coastal towns and valleys my family and I explored in my youth. The course was definitely a bit more hilly and windy than I expected, and glad I started slower. I managed to get negative splits, which means you start slower, then get faster as you go toward the end of the race. I wasn't exactly feeling 100%, with a queasy stomach, but by several prayers and encouragement of friends and family, woohoo I survived and didn't throw in the towel. When I got to the finish line, it turned out I got first place for my age group! And actually 3rd place for women overall?!!?!! Thankful and grateful to not only survive this grueling week, but also to be able to have many memorable moments that reminded me that all the hills and valleys - the injuries and the times where I almost gave up running altogether - have been worth it. Now, only a little over two months, then will be in Israel?!??!! Hard to believe it is almost here! P.S.: Todah raba / thanks dad for helping touch up the photos!
Mobility tools to help keep injury free and keep the muscles engaged. The gels really help with keeping the stomach happy too (and not needing water at the same time).
Added in the Meyer lemons freshly picked today.
Yummy goodness in a bowl!!
Prepping ingredients for grandma's chicken herb soup recipe.
It was a bit warm this weekend, but was able to run strong and get the miles in!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #12 - piles of miles, Grandma's herb soup, and mobility hacks - Running is definitely mental - what may seem like effortless strides reverberate like a perfectly tuned instrument takes a lot of work to hone. Some of the mental game may sounds like this: 0-20% in - "Hey, this isn't bad, I'm at a nice groove" 20-25% - "I'm getting hungry, why did I not eat enough the night prior?" 25-30% - It's getting a bit harder to keep a relaxed pace. Time to go 5-6 RPE (rate of perceived effort). Maybe I should just count strides... 1....2... 100.... 200... 30-50% - "That's a cute doggie! And wow, those folks were nice to say hi and way to go! Wow, I'm running several seconds faster, how did that happen?" 50-75% - "If I have to take another gel... How am I supposed to hold this pace on race day if only doing XX miles in speed work? Are we there yet? Why did I sign up for this??? Hm.. I have a blister and my abs are getting tired." 75-90% - "Wow, ended stronger than I thought, those words of encouragement really helped! Almost there, end strong!" 90-100% - "Yay, done! I want to do this again! Where's the dairy free ice cream???" You get the idea, and sometimes in "running brain", the 6s looks like 8s and 9s. This past weekend's long run was a bit warm, but glad to end strong! Runner brain was def there, but seemed to get in a nice grove. On the comfort food side, I had a chance to make grandma's herb soup recipe, and wow, such amazing memories with that soup! I look forward to sharing this soup with friends for Chinese New Year in a couple weeks. Lastly, mobility - such a short word for something super important in running and actually in life. I have found the Aletha hip hook as been huge in releasing tension in the hip/ab muscles (common runner challenges). The Aletha knuckle has been huge to releasing the neck and upper back tension (it actually helps with violin too, who knew?!). Bands help remind my abs and glutes they aren't along for a free ride - need them engaged. Squirrels Nut Butter - def have helped reduce blisters and chaffing to a minimal level - def recommended. And finally muscle scrapers and foam rolling - don't go home without it. And yes, have to go through this routine every week, but it's def worth it!
A few songs on violin to cap off the week.
Pastor Wendel, who leads the congregation which has such an amazing heart for Israel and the nations. So thankful for all those Nights to Honor Israel and learning the Jewish roots of the faith.
Thankful for the almost three decades of friendship at the local synagogue, where I first learned how to read the Hebrew prayers. It all started with a school project on the Six Day War and reading of the amazing modern-day miracles.
A bit cold for a morning run at 36 degrees. Tested out the arm warmers and the gloves, which worked out well. 97% humidity, oh my!
Decorative dreidel with violin
Was a slow and cold start at track. After the first 4-400ms, definitely felt tired. Thank you Megan for your words of encouragement, which helped me power through the next 1000m and 4-400m.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #11 - Chanukah, Christmas, and Grandma's Dishes: Some of the many things I'll miss about grandma are 1) her cooking, 2) the way her face would gleam when talking about Israel and telling folks how much she loved them, and 3) her reaction when I surprised her with afternoon tea on her special china (which she rarely used). This week, while I was grinding out the miles at track (thank you Megan for your words of encouragement to help me survive the workout) and on the beautiful Kern River Parkway trail (first time running it! And it was a "balmy" 36 degrees with 97% humidity!!!!). It's that point in training where it's just mentally exhausting. It's amazing how even a few words at the right time make such a difference - like a candle lighting a room. Speaking of candles, what a fun Chanukah season. I had a chance to visit the synagogue in my hometown (they celebrate 75th year next year!!) - where I first learned biblical Hebrew and the Hebrew prayers almost 30 years ago (it all started with studying the Six Day War for a History Day project and seeing how miracles read in the bible happen in modern day... def another story). So good to meet friends there, light my Chanukiah (that's the special lamp for Chanukah), and see how light > darkness - literally! I also had a chance to play violin the congregation I grew up in, which has a legacy of a heart for Israel and the Jewish people (there were many Nights to Honor Israel there in my formative years). Can't believe it's been so long since I last played there, and it was cool to meet Pastor there and catch up. Lastly, and a post 3+ years in the making, I finally was able to bring myself to the place to accept grandma's gift of her dishes. Grandma was far from perfect, but it was a miracle how G-d transformed her sometimes harsh demeanor to effusive joy and radiance. I just wasn't ready to fully let her go by accepting her amazing dishes... that is until now. There is a phrase in Hebrew - Lehitra'ot - it's not a goodbye, but until we meet again. Dishes in Chinese also is related to food, and it is awesome how food brings people together. This journey of running in Jerusalem is helping me remember and honor my grandma in a way pure processing and silence cannot, and I hope she is smiling the other side of heaven knowing there will be many amazing afternoon teas and convos of Israel on her amazing dishes.
The frame came out nicely for the RFZ inside out mezzuzah, which has the Shema prayer. The background is a small glimpse of the training shoes... .which now outnumber dress shoes.
Met up with fellow Run for Zion (RFZ) runner Delia, who will be running the 10K.
Trying to smile after a three hour training run. Oh the hips were a bit sore, but the core decided to engage a bit more during the run.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon with Run For Zion Week #10 - time to celebrate: It's hard to believe that in less than 3 months, I'll be in Israel! Kicked off the weekend with a to life run (18+ miles - 18 is the number for life in Hebrew because letters are numbers). It was a bit of a grind, but was able to meander down a new dirt road and see nice foliage. I walked the extra 1.25 mi back home after the long run (legs were a bit zapped and so were the hips), but got in a great training run. Later in the day, had a chance to see a fellow Run for Zion (RFZ) participant Delia Athey, who had many baked goods and also a plethora of polar bears on display. Before the weekend was done, had a chance to get my inside out mezuzah hung by the doorway - right in time for the first night of Chanukah! Glad this next week will be a bit of a down week to give the mental game a rest. The mental game is about as tough as the physical game of getting the mileage on feet down. To the good, when it's race day, there is momentum from the other runners and the crowd that helps with the mental game and positivity. Sometimes it's just counting strides and other times it's a positive saying or a song that repeats in one's mind for a few miles. The nutrition game has been a bit tougher this week as well, but looking for a few "cheat" days - like eating red meat with family this weekend or eating a few onion free latkes. 🙂 🙂 Less than 3 months before being in Israel, woohoo! And a couple prep races before that as well! Looking forward to all those hills, but before that, have to survive all the flat terrain here!
Made it back in time to play music with friends for a concert.
Someone made awesome grain free brownies.
Homemade chili :)
Camping in Sedona. Sedona is very hills like Jerusalem.
Latte art on the orange chocolate oat milk latte.
Lovely red and orange hues to greet the morning.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon Week #9 - training food, fellowship time, and music: Arizona is home to some amazing sunrises and sunsets. This past week, golden red and orange hues greeted the morning. I had a chance to try a new chocolate orange oat milk latte, the leafy artwork was quite notable! Also during the week, had some great fellowship time - whether catching up during the week, or making music with friends (sorry, no sound clips). The various foods helped power the long run this past weekend. While I made it through most of the run, I tripped on a lovely landscaping rock about 3/4". Glad it was just a few scrapes and bruises, but a great reminder to keep the brain engaged, even on the roads and to keep working on the bands to strengthen the muscles 🙂. I also had a chance to overnight camp in the Sedona area and enjoy a wonderful sunset and sunrise. Such great food for the soul! Had a chance to share my homemade chili. One person brought homemade grain free brownies, which were fantabulous. Next time, will have to have some guitar music or camping music.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon Week #8 - the season of miracles: How are we already on week 8 already?!?! Time has definitely flown and it is almost Chanukah! Chanukah is the feast of dedication that commemorates a miracle of oil that was supposed to last one day, but lasted eight days. There's a whole great story behind it, and I encourage you to Google it! For me, Chanukah is a great reminder that the G-d of the great miracles of then is the same G-d today. Miracles can happen today! This past week, I had a chance to decorate the home with some homemade decorations. A traditional phrase outside of Israel is "A great miracle happened there" as signified by four Hebrew letters. In Israel, the saying is similar, but it is "A great miracle happened here". While no huge miracles like that of Chanukah happened this past week, I had an opportunity to have a lovely music jam session with fellow musicians who could just go with the flow and also compose spontaneously, too! I also had a chance to doodle some (the pic below is inspiration from other great renditions online of happy birthday), and meet a lovely couple who just overflow with joy. It was so awesome to hear of their international travels, of G-d's faithfulness, and their cultural experiences. Some of those experiences helped me understand some of grandma and grandpa's stories and background a bit more. On the running front, was able to get a bit of a lower mileage week and squeeze in a trail run (sorry, no pics). The sunrise was so golden red and yellows, I just tried to soak it all in. Thank you all who have partnered with me my Jerusalem Marathon - 1/2 marathon run with Run For Zion! For those who would like to partner, see https://www.runforzion.com/elizabethcwong2022?tab=Dashboard For the remainder of 2022 (and retroactively), RFZ also will send an inside-out mezuzah for any donation of $100 and a coffee mug for any donation of $150 or more. You can see below what those may look like as well.
Example of the coffee mug, which will be a gift from RFZ for any donation of $150 or more given in 2022.
Example of the inside-out mezuzah, which will be a gift from RFZ for any donation of $100 or more given in 2022.
Breaking bread - or in this case chicken wings with an amazing couple. So glad to get to know them more and hear of the L-rd's miraculous hand on their lives.
Working on the creative side of the brain. :) Noodling through some happy birthday inspiration.
A great miracle happened there! Decorating for Chanukah!
When not playing violin... trying out the ukulele! Nice time with friends celebrating the love story of two amazing people!
What a glorious sunset on an amazingly peaceful beach with my sister.
The sliced prime rib was definitely worth the wait after the long run!
Dad's amazing meat carving skills
The shoe on the street is so random. Love this view of the foothills and the canyon. The mountains are calling!
Family had turkey, etc.; was able to have an alternative due to food allergies and sensitivities.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon week #7 - Food adventures and time with family: I recently heard a blog on how food = fuel when training. What I haven't realized over the years is how the extra force of running (pressure up to to 5-7 time body weight) can really impact diet, in addition to the ever growing list of food sensitivities (but hallelujah - I can have nuts and sourdough bread again!!!). While the list of food allergies and sensitivities - whether from the food or from training - seem to be a moving target, it was so great seeing family for thanksgiving this past week! Dad has this gift of cutting meat, and it was awesome to have deli-style prime rib sandwiches (not pictured) and salad along with mom's special chicken - what a nice treat! My aunt also made her rendition of grandma's special herb soup, which was nice and hearty. (Grandma's herb soup is just a story on it's own. :)) During the weekend long run, I had a chance to hone in fueling strategy (finally found a gel that works and makes my stomach happy, yay!) and see the ever inviting foothills. It was soo tempting to run trails and hills, but that will have to come after marathon training. Before heading off back to AZ, my sister and I had a chance to have coconut cream sorbet and chai while soaking in the sunset on a peaceful, completive beach. Just priceless. Lastly, it was so great seeing a training buddy and friend get married! It was a nice break to have great fellowship and eat gluten free cake (always room for some sugar and chocolate :)) and see the L-rd orchestrate the love story of two amazing folks.
Volunteering at a run station for Ironman Arizona. Feet are still tired from the concrete, but awesome to cheer on the athletes and give some cheering support and lots of water!
Picked up my first 1st place age division medal! So unexpected but also really cool!
One of the few red meat days - homemade braised short ribs and dairy free polenta for friendsgiving!
Meeting up with gym and running buddy Karen! Her smile helps liven up the wee hours of the morning workouts!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon week #6 - A Lifestyle of Giving Back: Israel has two very famous large inland bodies of water - 1) the Sea of Galilee (aka the Kinneret because it is shaped like a harp; it also looks like a large lake more than a sea), and 2) the Dead Sea (aka Yam Hamelach - or the Salt Sea). As you may have guessed, the Sea of Galilee has fresh water - it is fed from a river and out of it flows a river. The Dead Sea, however, is super salty - so much so you can float on it and read a newspaper. You can't, however, easily drink the water. From an analogy of drinking water, the Sea of Galilee lives a life of giving back - it receives and gives water. The Dead Sea only receives water, and the water drinkable. Thanksgiving is the season of being thankful, and maybe we have a choice to be receivers or to be givers and receivers with a joyful heart. This past week, I had an opportunity to meet fellow gym buddy Karen Draeger, make friendsgiving food for friends (there are some days in training where there is a not eat so healthy day :)), pick up up my first place medal at the Runner's Den, and get my first experience helping pass water out at Ironman Arizona. In training, it's super important to have folks cheering you along and sometimes even the smallest gestures of encouragement make a difference. Karen is an Ironman athlete who definitely brings the piles of smiles in the wee hours of the morning to bring the energy in the room! At friendsgiving, it was so great to fellowship over great foods and just feel grateful at the gift to get together. At Ironman, I had a chance to give back saying water so many times that it sounded like "wader" and "waaaatteer" and "water water water". Even made up some songs and jams with the word water, which brought many smiles as the Ironman athletes ran by (they had to swim and bike prior and some were out on the course 12+ hours). There were so many thank yous and words of gratefulness expressed as well. Having been on the other side, I can definitely relate to the amazing feeling of someone handing water, snacks, etc. on a race. It almost felt even better though to give back and hand out the water, as if it was a small way of saying hey maybe I want my life to be a freshwater spring, not because of a checklist item, but because of a culture of thanksgiving and gratitude for giving back in the big and small things.
And speaking of the big and small things, so thankful and grateful for Veterans (and their families) who have served our country. I am reminded of a spur of the moment adventure my family had with grandpa, who was a WWII veteran (Pearl Harbor 1944-1946). As background, grandpa would love to say that "There's the right way, the wrong way, and grandma's way!" But he missed one.. there was also grandpa's way - his ever present legendary work ethic (he retired in his late 80s) + doing one's best AND the ever present kid at heart who years for adventure and to playfully tease grandma. One day, about seven years ago, I planted a seed of maybe it would be great to go to Yosemite! Grandpa of course decided not to tell grandma (until coming back from the trip), and my family and I did a whirlwind day trip there. We arrived at the iconic Glacier Point. My family and I helped grandpa with his walker. As he approached the vista, he walked even faster, encouraged along by the multiple rainbows, with the storm clouds temporarily held at bay. Grandpa gleefully proclaimed, "I haven't been here in over 50 years... since your mom and your uncles were kids!!!" I'm so glad grandpa agreed to join in the adventure and that he was able to do his best and make the journey.
Thankful and grateful to Veterans (and their families) who have served. One of the favorite memories with grandpa - the spur of the moment family day trip to Yosemite, which grandpa noted was his first trip to Yosemite in over 50 years!
It ended being an unofficial PR!
Pre-race pic with Coach Caleb Guest and his wife Nicole.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon week #5: Doing Your Best in all Things, Great and Small: The past two years have been a journey of taking a bit longer to heal from running injuries and trying to be a bit wiser in staying injury free. After two years, I finally returned to road racing for a training race, and with only a couple weeks of track workouts in. Initial thoughts were "Maybe I can muster marathon race pace in a 10K (6.2 mi)". Even the pre-race warmups were uneventful. I said a quick prayer and asked loved ones to also pray that I could muster ~36 turns and stay injury free. At the start line, I noted to runners next to me if they planned to do the pace I intended, thinking that maybe my best today would just be marathon race pace (which is way slower than 10K race pace). Then the race started, and I had a sense in my spirit to just aim for race of perceived effort (RPE) and just have fun and do my best instead of stressing out over the watch times. Started on the first few turns through the parking lot and weaving through the usually traffic-laden roads of downtown Phoenix. Soon, the miles started to fly by, and as I approach the only big hill (overpass) in the race, Coach Caleb Guest with Triplex Training Chandler noted "Great job, Elizabeth!" I had no idea that I would I actually get even faster from those words of encouragement and also just that sense of perfect peace (shalom) running. By the time I passed the final miles and sprinted to the finish line, I was shocked at what I saw, something like 47:33 ish time (and to be fair the watch came up a tad shot at 5.93 mi on this non-USTAF certified course). But even with an adjusted 10K time of ~50 min, this would unofficially would be my fastest 10K time, breaking a 13 year prior time! I wasn't even training for a 10K PR and just humbled to get an awesome time and also unofficially (it takes up to a few days for times to finalize) get 1st in my gender/age group as well and to be injury free! I think it was G-d's reminder to me that nothing is wasted - even in the years of injury prior, those hills and valleys are all part of the journey for getting stronger.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon week #4 - thanksgiving: Sometimes, it can be easy to take things for granted - that health will be sustained, that loved ones will always be there to cheer you on, that there will always be a community to workout with and a track to work out on. This week marked my first back-to-back weeks of working out on a track in 18 months. When CV hit and changed the world, most tracks closed, so many runners made makeshift tracks using roads, with orange cones as mi markers. Shortly after tracks opened early last year, various injuries, including my first ankle sprain on Desert Classic trail (it was definitely a classic), derailed training for quite some time. In the down time, I learned how to speed walk and tried to make the most of it. But it would take until this year to start getting over the ankle anxiety of falling again (brain kept replaying falling on the trail). In the months of recovery, I can seeing folks walk effortlessly - and in flip flops - at Costco and Target and wishing I could as well. And when that day came to be able to walk without pain, it was like tears of joy and the feeling of not wanting to take walking for granted! During the recovery time, community really helped, from the amazing workout buddies and trainers (Meriem at Triplex Training, you are awesome!), to training buddies at the track, led by Caleb Guest, to the amazing small group times (had an stupendous girls night this week). Hills and valleys will come our way, but it's how we make the most out of each moment that counts. Time is a gift, and this thanksgiving, appreciating all those moments big and small. So thankful for the ability to run now pain free!
What a great night with this awesome group of ladies.
Trainer Meriem knows how the mix the music jams in the morning and bring the joy! She is pictured her with her super protein oats.
The gym owner Kyle decided to give bunny ears in the photo.
My first back-to-back weeks on a track in 18 months!
Low 30s for the start and by the time the sun came up and warmed up the land, it was in the 50s.
More of those awesome red rocks with a crystal clear blue sky.
Some of the many rolling hills in Sedona, the morning hues echoing the reverberations of nature's songs. Some hot air balloons (not pictured here) also joined in the reverie and the red rocks gloriously glistened.
Grandma loved history and afternoon tea. It was really a special time to serve her afternoon tea with homemade goodies on her special china from England.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon week #3 - the power of forgiveness to change the world: I had the opportunity to train in Sedona this past weekend and contemplatively meditate on the power for forgiveness while going up many rolling hills at altitude. In Hebrew, the word to excuse (like saying excuse me) - slicha (think "ch" as in Bach) - has the same root as the word to forgive - lisloach (pronounced lees-loh-ach). Forgiveness - such a short word for such a powerful gift, and though it may be said practically every day in Israel, its deeper meaning never gets old. One of my favorite memories with grandma was when I had a chance to help lead her in prayers to forgive the past of some challenging childhood memories and to forgive the present as well. While I started leading, grandma soon took the lead and I could see a miracle unfold before my eyes - some of the sadness and sorrows she carried since childhood melted away like butter to tears of joy and gladness. After praying, grandma said "I love yous" with such abandon like she was a child in a candy store filled with wonder and excitement! From that moment on, many would know grandma by how she would say she loved them - so much so it was shared in her eulogy. We all have those hills and valleys we have to work through, but when we forgive and also receive one's gift of forgiveness, it has the power to change the world one life at a time.
Road to Jerusalem Marathon week #2: Shout out to Nathaniel Chan and Kelly at the local running store Sole Sports (also voted one of America's top 50 running stores) for the great running tips and for several months back helping me find my new favorite road shoe! As background, I was in a different brand road shoe for years, and alas, the recent updates in the last few years weren't working out for my feet. So thus began the journey for finding a new favorite pair - no small feat! (no pun intended). It felt like matchmaking for shoes - right fit for the right foot! Nathaniel and Kelly helped me find that new favorite pair - the Brooks Hyperion tempos, which are durable enough for distance and light enough for tempo runs (i.e., faster runs)! And they could understand the journey because they are avid runners, too! So I picked up another pair this weekend! Excited for the next couple hundreds of miles! Also a big landmark - so I had on my wish list year to get to over 200 mi per pair of shoes for thanksgiving - and I finally did! In the past, would abnormally wear the shoes out prior, and it wasn't pretty nor cheap (though I would go to shoe repair to replace soles to try to have more shoe longevity). Finally, all the form work and drills are starting to pay off! Woohoo!
Nathaniel and Kelly with Sole Sports in Tempe, AZ! Great folks who understand runners because they are runners!
I walked 1.12 miles towards my goal!
I walked 9.84 miles towards my goal!
I ran 2.42 miles towards my goal!
Road to Jerusalem Marathon Week #1: Visited Lockett Meadow Sunday to kick off road marathon training. Legs were a bit tired from the trail 1/2 marathon the day prior, but the views were well worth it. Unlike in prior years, it was going the extra mile * 6 to just get to the trailhead due to forest road closure to vehicles. When I walked up to the meadow, it was clear to see the big impact the last huge fire and floods left. First time on that road to have such solace and not traffic. Beyond the meadow and on the way to the inner basin, most of the tree scenery was intact, but many trees leading up to the Aspen groves were pretty charred. Forest life is slowly re-emerging from the ashes.
Lockett Meadow right after the rain and snow the evening prior.
I finished my last trail marathon for the year and now am kicking off journey to Jerusalem 1/2 Marathon training! Decided to see one of the most scenic views in AZ - Lockett Meadow. Nice time in nature with a scenic view is good for the soul!