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Time on my Hands

Aviva Lavi in action ... she loves bike riding.  Photos: Benny Sahar

Written by Aviva Lavi with help from Judy Shapiro. 

Over the past few years I have fallen in love with bike riding. It has become my passion. I love to climb the mountains of Jerusalem on my bike, joined by my fellow bike-rider companions, and especially when I am doing this for a cause. Biking has become a very important part of my life. Along the way I discovered that in addition to biking, I can run and swim. I believe it is in my genes; my dad played tennis until his last days, and my mother today is still in great shape and a wonderful inspiration to me.

I registered in November 2015 with my friends from the Pipman triathlon team to participate in the "Challenge – Denmark" to do a half-ironman (1.9 kilometer swim in a lake, 90 kilometers biking, and running a half marathon). Most of the training I did this past year was under a major motivational plan to be ready by June 12, 2016 for the event. My journey to the competition was filled with many ups and downs - a roller coaster ride of events.

Following a wonderful ride on behalf of the children of Alyn Hospital in 2015, an event in which I have been participating for the last six years, I began to focus on the swimming portion of the half-Ironman here in Israel, called the Israman.

The night before the Israman competition, I ran a high fever of 39 degrees and could not participate. Shortly afterwards I succeeded in running 10K in Marathon Tel Aviv and placed 3rd in my age category. After that I had a small setback when my muscles froze and I couldn't move the night before a swimming competition held by the Workers' League of Israel, nor could I participate in the Grand Fondu Bike Event (Italian for The Big Race) at the Dead Sea. This is a challenging, one-day cycling event taking place at the lowest point on earth in which I have participated in the past, being placed second in my category.

The entire spring was dedicated to swimming, biking and running. Swimming included some good racing with the El Al swim team as well as a weekly swim date with my daughter, Keren. Biking included a wonderful ride with the El Al bike team to Eilat on behalf of Alut & Aleh. 

Yoga has become part of Aviva’s regimen

I balanced my running with weekly yoga sessions which inspired me to become a yoga teacher. Yoga prevents injuries, and I have been trying to include yoga sessions as part of my regimen after every bike ride.

The trial run for "Challenge – Denmark" was the Israeli Women's Olympic Triathlon in Herzliya. I came in first place in my age category, and 18th out of the 100 women of all ages who participated. This gave me the confidence I needed to assure me that I was ready to participate in my first half- Ironman.

The Denmark Challenge: The 1.9 kilometer swim in the lake was joyful. The water was a pleasantly surprising 21 degrees; we had expected it to be colder. It was the first time I had ever swum in a race in a lake. It was a wonderful way to start a very demanding competition. I ran to change into my biking gear and decided at the last minute to wear a watch given to me by a friend. I had never run with a watch before and I thought it would help me run faster, if only to know how fast I was running. BIG MISTAKE.

The biking began at a good pace and I rode confidently and happily on my bike, loving every minute of it. The sun was shining; I was singing to myself and enjoying a delicious health bar, home-made by my good friend Rachel. The wind was strong, but I was strong as well, and after 68 kilometers of the required 90, riding at approximately 30k. an hour, I began to play with my watch and, as a result, slid to the side of the road, cracked my helmet and lost consciousness.

The next thing I remember was being moved from the ground into an ambulance that drove me to a local hospital where I waited for five and a half hours. It took almost that long for a doctor to see me and then to photograph my shoulder to check that nothing was broken.

My head hurt me and I sustained a slight tear in the tendon in my shoulder. I was in physical pain, but the emotional pain was a hundred times worse. I could not believe I was lying in a hospital bed and not running half a marathon and crossing the finish line with a big smile on my face. I was so sad, so disappointed. It was devastating at the time.

I had worked so hard to get there. I never dreamed that I would not make it; who thinks about not completing a task one has started? I did not know what to do with myself: I tried to be there for all of my friends, to congratulate each and every one of them for their participation. For each team member, just being there was a huge deal.

The best part of participating with a group is the team spirit. The members of my group would not let me feel bad. Upon the completion of the competition, a few of the gang invited me to join in the next half-Ironman in Israel in Gan Shmuel at the end of October and I promised to be there with them. How could I continue to feel sad when I had a future to which to look forward?

The week before we left for Denmark, my girlfriend, Rachel, had made a lunch in my honor together with Tami Shoham, the Pipman team manager who subsequently completed the half-Ironman. Rachel's words of wisdom stayed with us throughout the ordeal. She told us that we had already won because we did the training; we did the work. We were now here to celebrate and party. How could I now be a "party pooper"?

Since I have returned I have been to a shoulder specialist; we discovered some other issues that needed to be checked out. The good news is that with a lot of physical therapy and hydrotherapy I can slowly but surely get back to myself. God willing, I will do the half-Iron man I prepared for in a few months' time.

Today, I can put this experience in perspective. I am grateful for my good health. I am appreciative of my wonderful family and good friends who surround me with the love and support I need to continue to celebrate life. I am glad I have a job and a purpose. Life is good and I hope I can continue in the path I have chosen to take and get back on my bike. 



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Thursday, 23 May 2024

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