“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” - Arthur Blank
This week’s Parsha Vayeishev in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org - Jaccob settles in Hebron with his twelve sons. His favorite is seventeen-year-old Joseph, whose brothers are jealous of the preferential treatment he receives from his father, such as a precious many-colored coat that Jacob makes for Joseph. Joseph relates to his brothers two of his dreams which foretell that he is destined to rule over them, increasing their envy and hatred towards him.
Simeon and Levi plot to kill him, but Reuben suggests that they throw him into a pit instead, intending to come back later and save him. While Joseph is in the pit, Judah has him sold to a band of passing Ishmaelites. The brothers dip Joseph’s special coat in the blood of a goat and show it to their father, leading him to believe that his most beloved son was devoured by a wild beast.
Judah marries and has three children. The eldest, Er, dies young and childless, and his wife, Tamar, is given in levirate marriage to the second son, Onan. Onan sins by spilling his seed, and he too meets an early death. Judah is reluctant to have his third son marry her. Determined to have a child from Judah’s family, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and seduces Judah himself. Judah hears that his daughter-in-law has become pregnant and orders her executed for harlotry, but when Tamar produces some personal effects he left with her as a pledge for payment, he publicly admits that he is the father. Tamar gives birth to twin sons, Peretz (an ancestor of King David) and Zerach.
Joseph is taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, the minister in charge of Pharaoh’s slaughterhouses. G‑d blesses everything he does, and soon he is made overseer of all his master’s property. Potiphar’s wife desires the handsome and charismatic lad; when Joseph rejects her advances, she tells her husband that the Hebrew slave tried to force himself on her, and has him thrown into prison. Joseph gains the trust and admiration of his jailers, who appoint him to a position of authority in the prison administration.
In prison, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker, both incarcerated for offending their royal master. Both have disturbing dreams, which Joseph interprets; in three days, he tells them, the butler will be released and the baker hanged. Joseph asks the butler to intercede on his behalf with Pharaoh. Joseph’s predictions are fulfilled, but the butler forgets all about Joseph and does nothing for him.
I was not planning to do a Blog this week, but after learning a few things on this week’s Parsha I decided to do a Race Report of the Shepperton Ironman 70.3 Triathlon I did last weekend and some lessons I learnt from the event.
This year I was lucky to do Shep with a group of buddies which was really so much better than going on my own as I did last year. We were all staying in the same hotel.
The event really starts in the few days prior when you need to start tapering and changing your eating. In the past I have carbo loaded, but there is now thoughts that as your training is decreasing, there is no need to carbo load and anyway you feel so crap from the carbo loading and eating foods with very little fibre. I focused on eating mostly my normal healthy diet and for carbs I ate muesli, fruit, dried dates, rye roll, brown rice and sweet potatoes. On Saturday I followed what Triathlete Pete Jacobs did at Kona and ate Brown Rice, Tuna and some olive oil (with some capers). I cut out the white bread, lollies etc.
On Friday night, Saturday lunch and for Suedah Shlishit (the 3rd Shabbat Meal/ Dinner) we all ate together. For most of Shabbos I just relaxed and went for a walk with Aubrey Levy to a Gay and Lesbian Festival in Shepparton at a park close to the hotel.
After Shabbat the tension all starts with packing bags and making sure you have all your equipment and nutrition and then trying to sleep. I did not sleep much. Before 4am I heard alarms go off in other hotel rooms as most of the occupants were doing the event.
On the morning I did eat some white bread with jam as I did not want to change what I have done in the past.
After setting up transition we headed down to the start for race briefing. There are mixed emotions – Both excitement and nervousness. Aubrey said he was just nervous.
The event starts with a swim. The water in the lake is so muddy that you cannot see 1m ahead (but at least it tastes ok. I had a pretty good swim. My T1 transition was pretty slow and Larry Cohen has indicated he is going to take me under his wings to try help me speed up in transition.
Before the start of the race I had in my mind to try break 5 hours. My previous best was ~5:11. I set out on my cycle. With ~30km of the 90km to go I realized that if I stick to my pace, I would need to run ~1:45 for the half-marathon run to get 5 hours, so just stuck to this pace. The ride is pretty flat through the Shepparton country side. Even the cows were watching us on route.
With about 8km to go I got pulled over by the Triathlon Australia (TA) officials and told I had a 5min penalty which I would have to serve at the end of the ride for drafting. I was not drafting! I was disappointed by this decision, but more upset on achieving my 5hour goal. I had too options – to give up and cruise the rest or chase down my goal. I decided on the latter. I put my foot down and raced to the end of the cycle and very politely accepted my penalty, unlike other who argued with the TA officials.
My T2 transition was a bit better. Coming out of transition I calculated I needed to run a 1:42. I had never done a 1:42 for a half-ironman run, but said to myself I have to go for it. That is my goal! “Teaching runners that they can push harder than they think is possible creates big PRs. Learning to hurt is a skill.” – Amy Yoder Begley
I started doing 4:06/km and realised I will kill myself so slowed down. The 1st 7km I did in just under 33min and said If I can do 2 more laps at that pace I would do it. I stuck to the pace and reached my goal. My next 2 laps were virtually the same splits. I ran a 1:37 (which I still cannot believe) and finished
Anton Dembo was the star on the day, Larry Cohen finished just before me, Alex Mihalovich finished in just over 5 hours and Aubrey who had not done much training and who hated every minute of the swimming and cycling training finished. We were all so excited for Aubrey.
So how do I link this with this week’s Parsha and Chanukah which starts next week?
There are 3 lessons I learnt and the links to the Parsha and Chanukah:
- 1. You need to put disappointments behind you and “soldier”;
Based on a Drosha on www.chabad.org – It is one of the ironies of life that in order to swing to the greatest height, it is necessary to plunge to the lowest point. It seems to be almost a law of nature that there is often a “descent” in order to “rise”—a negative situation before the positive. In the Torah this principle is illustrated by the chain of events which begin in this week’s Torah reading: the descent of Joseph into Egypt and his subsequent rise to greatness.
The Chanukah festival, which is always read in proximity of this week’s Torah reading, also expresses this pattern. The Jewish people had reached the depths of assimilation to Greek culture and idolatry. This process began as something voluntary among wealthy Jews, and then became enforced by government decree on everyone. The sacred Temple was defiled, and Jewish study and observance were banned.
It was the lowest point. Then, in a miraculous way, the Maccabees gathered together, defeated the Syrian-Greek troops, and restored the Temple. When they lit the golden menorah, although they had only one day’s supply of oil, miraculously it stayed alight for eight days, heralding a nationwide return to Judaism. Thus again the swing soared upwards.
In the life of an individual or of a community, there can be comparable jarring events which threaten to shake the person from his or her seat. Gradually, one comes to terms with the new situation, and makes a step forward. The challenge is to keep sitting firmly on the swing, holding on tight as it goes through what seems like the lowest point, with faith in G‑d that soon it will reach the exalted heights.
Whatever happens, hold on tight!
2. You need to have some type of goal and you need to do the work to achieve the goal; and
Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler….”
When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.” So Joseph answered and said, “This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.”
Why did the butler survive and not the baker? I heard an explanation from my Chavrusah – Rabbi Menachem Chenan – The Butler survived because he had a goal and he worked to achieve it. The Butler “…took the grapes and pressed them…”, while the baker just “put the basket on his head” and let the birds eat. The Baker did not set about working to earn back his position!
It is a lesson to us all. We can’t just have goals – we need to “get to work” as the No Meat Athlete says in his Blog – 5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality
3. You need to be friendly to fellow competitors on the course (my mates all tease me that I speak to much, but for me that is part of the fun – greeting, chatting and most of all encouraging!).
In this week’s Parsha it is asked – How did Joseph’s salvation begin? It began with the imprisoned Joseph noticing that the butler and baker were looking somewhat depressed. “And Joseph came to them in the morning and he saw them, and behold, they were troubled. He asked Pharaoh’s officials . . . ‘Why do you look so bad today?’” (Genesis 40:6–7). They tell him about their disturbing dreams, he interprets the dreams correctly, and the rest is history.
But why did Joseph have to ask them anything at all? I read a Drosha from Rabbi Yossi Goldman where he brings the answer down from Lubavitcher Rebbe – The answer is that Joseph was exhibiting a higher sense of care and concern for his fellow human beings. It’s a lesson to all of us to be a little friendlier. To greet people, perhaps even to smile more often.
“Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter.” -Dan Reeves