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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Running for Cancer, not From it

my dad & me

On Friday, I participated in the 4th annual Yakavim Winery Race. My dad originally came up with the idea to run in the half marathon himself. I'm definitely not in physical shape to run 21 kilometers right now but I when I heard there was a 5K I started planning.... and the results were better than I ever could have expected!

I decided to sign up and run to raise money for an organization that is very close and dear to my heart, Zichron Menachem. Over the past couple of weeks donations have poured in via links on this blog and checks brought or mailed directly to me. I don't know the final tally however the estimate is in the thousands. On Friday, I received phone calls from Chaim and Miriam, the founders of Zichron Menachem, and was very emotional and happy to hear their kind words and blessings.

We left home at around 6:15 am on Friday morning to drive to Kibbutz Nachshon, the location of the race. It was looking cloudy and overcast and friends were texting me with reports of rain. We arrived at the starting line along with hundreds of other runners from all over Israel. It was especially exciting to see my parents and 3 of my brothers and their wives... all in green Z.M. shirts and hats!!! My dear friend, Gila, arrived to run with me and two of my closest friends, Loren and Elana, came to cheer us on... all wearing their green Z.M. shirts! My dad and close family friend, Michael, ran in the 21kilometer half marathon while my mom and brothers, Eli, Matt, Levi, and I did the 5K. At the last minute, we signed up my eldest daughter, 11 year old, A., for the 3.5K kid run and not only did she complete it, she won a trophy for placing first in her age category!
Dad at the finish line

The night before, I was nervous... worried I wouldn't wake up on time. When the day finally arrived, it was everything I had hoped for and beyond. What a perfect day and setting for a run; cool temperatures on trails through beautiful grape vineyards and pomegranate tree groves. There were approximately 600 runners participating and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. It was fun to see so many other runners from my city,  people I know from my community, and a few of my friends' children. Many of the participants came over after recognizing me from the article that Shvoong did about my dad and me and our run for Zichron Menachem. I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about the organization and also to represent as someone going through chemotherapy and experiencing running as a normal and wonderful part of living through a scary and serious illness and treatment.

My twin brothers, Matt and Levi, and my friend, Gila, paced themselves with me the entire 5K. It felt AMAZING! It's difficult to describe the feelings I experienced. Most of the other runners leapt ahead yet I know what my limitations are and I physically cannot push myself too hard now. I focused on an even steady pace and by the first kilometer we were running a steady 6 minute kilometer. The whole route was off-road through dirt and rocky trails and included one steep decline and what felt like a killer incline right before the finish line. We kept shouting out, "Woo hoo Zamzam!", for Zichron Menachem. By the end of the race, we ran an average of about 7:25 per kilometer which, is slow. I'm not fast but I'm here to last is my new motto! My brothers kept me smiling and laughing the whole time and Gila encouraged me and stuck by my side.

At the finish line, my SILs, Briana and Hadar, and my friends, Elana and Loren, and my husband, David and our five kids applauded and cried out and hugged us. It was such a glorious finish for me - I might have well taken first place in the half marathon. That's how wonderful it felt.

My husband started running recently and quite a few friends are starting to join in or talk about trying it. I'm excited! I'm in planning stages for the next race and it's the Jerusalem Marathon. I'm hoping to be fit enough for the 10K and run alongside as many friends and family as possible! I'll be raising money for an organization called, Tishkofet, aka Life's Door.

my daughter, me, my mom
At the race ceremony, I was called up and acknowledged for raising money for Zichron Menachem. It was an empowering feeling to get up on the platform and receive an honorary trophy... I yelled, "Take that Cancer!" into the crowd and everyone applauded. Just being surrounded by all the pumped up energy, adrenaline, love and support made me feel like a superstar... so many people became aware of Z.M. and donated money and learned about two cancer survivors (my dad and me) who run to live. We're not fast but we're in it to last... as long as you can run, you're alive.  My dad summed it up when he said we're running for cancer, not from it.


  1. Erika, you are simply beautiful! Thanks for the great photos and great writing to share the energy with those of us who couldn't be there :)

  2. You are just amazing Erika - my heart goes out to you - hope you will now rest up a bit - continually thinking of you.

  3. That was amazing. Brought tears to my eyes! You are incredible.