YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW BRIAN THEN! He was my mysterious "Handsome Friend" because our dating was all scandalous and stuff. Except it wasn' all. Turns out, no one cared. Oh well.

Returning To My Happy Place

Date: September 26, 2012 at 7:58 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 41

If you are someone who has a calendar, or if you are simply the type of person who is generally aware of the date, you know that Monday was September 24.

Ah, September 24.

Last year, I spent months — and many miles — eagerly, anxiously and OMG-excitingly anticipating September 24.

On September 24, 2011, I ran my first marathon. After a seemingly flawless training cycle wherein I met some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known…

Coach Cane! Remember him?!

YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW BRIAN THEN! He was my mysterious "Handsome Friend" because our dating was all scandalous and stuff. Except it wasn't…at all. Turns out, no one cared. Oh well.

…I arrived in the Hamptons, ready to conquer 26.2 miles.

And from the start…

There I am in the purple, just chillin'. No, J/K. That's not me. This is like Where's Waldo. Good luck. I'm so hidden and inconspicuous.

…to the finish…

My "sprint" was so sad at the end. I thought I was motoring. Reality: I was not. Also, I will post as many marathon photos as I'd like today. LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT…again…and again.

I enjoyed every single mile, every single step, and certainly every cheer I received along the way from my kickass fan club.

I couldn't even keep up with them. See? I needed a Gu.

It was a perfect day.

September 24 crept up on me this year. I didn’t have a marathon to run on Monday. Instead, I was swimming in a mess of piles and deadlines at work. In fact, I didn’t even run on Monday.

But I did wake up that morning fully aware of the date on my giant desk calendar. And yes, I still use a massive desk calendar because I find that it is more reliable than anything electronic…at least until I inevitably spill my water on it every single month. Also, I can make it pretty with markers and stuff.

So yes, I knew that Monday was September 24: my marathoniversary.

I didn’t have any profound “What My Marathon Meant To Me” thoughts, and I didn’t feel a nagging desire to run a million miles in honor of a year’s worth of memories.

Instead, I just smiled like a fool remembering that too-good-to-be-true-but-it-actually-was-real-life day last September.

MICHAELA WAS WITH-TYLER AT THE TIME AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT. So awesome. Tyler, you were totally there cheering me on. You're such a good friend.

And somehow, as I reminisced, I found myself perusing the Hamptons Marathon website.

And then I was on the group’s Facebook page.

And then I was on the phone with Brian at the ripe hour of 7 AM.


That’s how our conversation started. I was all shaky-excited and I think maybe he was still sleeping a little bit.

“So what would you think about me running the Hamptons Half Marathon this weekend? Not racing it. Just running it. For fun. If I can get in.”

Orange is my current favorite color. IT'S A SIGN.

“Do it,” Brian replied. He’s a man of so many talents and such a massive vocabulary.

Next thing I knew, I was writing an email to the amazing women — Diane and Amanda — who run the Hamptons Marathon and Hamptons Half Marathon (same day, same time, slightly different distance). I was ultra-gushy and I told them about how the Hamptons Marathon was the best day of my life. I said I was fully aware that the race was full, and that I missed my chance to register.

“But is there any chance you have room for one more?”

I said I’d pay the full registration fee and I didn’t need a goody bag or a T-shirt. I said that aside from the porta potties at the start and the water stops along the way, I wouldn’t even use up any of the race’s resources. I just wanted a bib.

And that nice lady Diane wrote back immediately and said I was in.

And they gave me all the goodies, even though I swear I tried to resist. Diane was like, "What size shirt?" and I was like, "No no, no thank you," and she was like, "You paid the registration fee, take the shirt," and then I was like, "You have amazing arms. How did you get so toned? I'd rather have your secrets than the shirt and the JetBlue sweatband," and she said, "Lots of push-ups," and then I said, "OK, I'd rather have the shirt than do push-ups. Thank you so much!"

So that happened.

It may not be exactly one perfect year later, but this Saturday, I’ll be returning to Amagansett, NY, to the Springs School, where I toed the line for my first (and, um, only so far) marathon.

I’m not planning to race this half marathon. I was planning a cutback week in my marathon training anyway, so 13.1 miles seems just right for Saturday.

Sure, it would be nice to feel great and do well. But I’m not running this weekend for a PR, for a medal or for the “OMG read about how awesome I am!” recap to come afterward.

I’m running the Hamptons Half Marathon because I could use a little distraction from training right now. Since getting healthy again, I’ve jumped right into full-out running and marathon training, and while some of my runs have been great (8.5 “easy” miles this morning turned into a progression-ish run with the final mile at an 8:02 pace, WTF?), others have been less-than-stellar, like yesterday’s failed attempt at mile repeats.

I’m in the mood to run for the love and fun of it, and I know I’ll be able to do that out of Central Park, back in my happy place in the Hamptons.

I am truly, deeply grateful that I was able to get last-minute entry to this race, and I’m looking forward to running solo, this time without my way-cool fan club (though you guys are welcome to make the trip if you’d like — bring Tyler!).

So much paparazzi. I loved it until mile 22.5 when I wanted to kill them all and run into the woods and hide.

This time, I don’t need or want any fanfare. I don’t need or want a pace plan and I don’t need or want any racing pressure. I’m just excited to get back to the place that is filled with my best memories.

So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Skipping along for 13.1 miles, and crossing the finish line with a smile on my face, no matter what happens.

LET’S TALK ABOUT STUFF: Where’s your happy place? Your bed? Your childhood home? The grocery store, specifically the ice cream aisle? Gould Hill Apple Orchard in Hopkinton, NH?

Comments (41)
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