Savoring the cold and the aches of 26.2 miles


Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

Whether I am racing a 5K, 10K half or whole marathon, my mind reaches out to various places to gain strength to cross the finish line. Some races are easier than others. There are times when I am well-trained physically and my mind is not. I have also experienced the opposite when my mental state has carried my ill-prepared legs to the finish.

On Dec. 3, I ran the CIM (California International Marathon) in Sacramento. It was the 30th anniversary of this well-supported race. This year the weather was the second worst in all those years. There was pouring rain and winds of 38 mph. Did I mention they were head winds? At some point I felt the winds hitting the side of my face and eyes. You can only run in a garbage bag for so long, so I found acceptance as I stepped off the bus into a great big sloppy puddle!

The fan support along the course route was remarkable. But what really carried me through the 26.2 miles were images of some of the residents with whom I spend time. I thought about several who are confined to a wheelchair or who are thrilled if they can walk ten steps with the help of a walker and Physical Therapist. All too often I take a run for granted, or I complain that my calves are sore. Not on Dec. 3. I cherished every ache and was grateful for this opportunity.

When I crossed mile 26 I thought of an image a young resident shared with me. He has never walked but is fascinated with long-distance running. He told me the final 2/10 of the race was God running with me. I cannot wait to tell this resident that God and I picked up the pace for the final millage and crossed the finish line with strength.