Tha alarm clock goes off at 4 in the morning. I climb up the stairs to my daughter’s bedroom.
Maya’s already up, still bundled in a bathrobe. This morning, this sixteen year-old is all business. Her running gear is spread out neatly on the bed: the 2015 Tel Aviv Marathon jersey, running shoes, socks, tights, running bra, hair bands, her assigned official chest number, safety pins. Her twin sister Romy in the next room, who’d written for most of the night on her laptop, comes down to offer support. Pnina makes sandwiches, I fill water bottles.
Minutes later, we all pile into the car to Binyamina, a train depot an hour away. We meet up with Maya’s running buddy, Rotem. Dozens of runners of all ages and sizes are on the platform awaiting the train. There’s a buzz in the air despite the early hour. In anticipation of Purim, some of the men runners flaunt red Superman capes; women swirl in ballerina tutus. The train conductors help people onto the approaching train. Thirty minutes later, we’re disgorged into a mass of runners in Tel Aviv. And from there, we’re swept up by the crowds leading to the fairgrounds. Roads are sealed off. Security is at full force. In the meantime, Maya continues to load up on carbohydrates, empties a water bottle, chews on fresh dates.
It’s almost time. Pnina, Romy and I stand on a bridge overlooking the start-line. Thousands of runners are antsy to get on with it. Maya’s one of them. For months she’s been training like a pro; she’s been watching what she eats. For months she ran at night around our village; she trained on stationary bikes at the gym. For months she came in through the house door, checked her vitals on her phone app, promised she’d do better next time.
If you think you know what you’re capable of, you don’t. Five years ago, in 2010, Maya dreaded going to Track & Field meets in Los Angeles. She struggled with the 100 and 200 meter dash. But there was someone who believed in her: Diana Nyad. Diana is the first woman ever to swim from Cuba to Florida. At the Los Angeles running track she offered words of encouragement to Maya and to those that fell short, always there to push them to do their best — with kindness wrapped with purpose.
We all need a pick up now and then.
So it’s no small wonder that Maya who was born prematurely at 3 1/2 pounds, who wheezed and coughed as a toddler, could raise her game and set out what she wanted to do.
Two hours and twenty minutes later, Maya completed the half-marathon – 21 kilometers. We met her at the finish line. She breezed through streets of Tel Aviv, and came back happy, joyous, giddy.
Romy hugged her sister. She’s no marathoner. But don’t ask her to arm-wrestle you. She’ll press your arm down before you knew what hit you.
On the way back, we dined at a sushi and noodles restaurant to stock up on lost calories.
At home, in bed, I stocked up on memories for years to come.
Way to go, kid.
Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.
He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com
or at BN.com