Listen to the Ali on the Run Show!
- July 2, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 258: Feel-Good Friday with Claudia Thompson, President of Claudia Connects
- July 1, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 257: Nutrition Q&A with Starla Garcia, Registered Dietitian
- June 29, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 256: On the Job with Vikki Spruill, President & CEO of New England Aquarium
- June 25, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 255: Ramblings on the Run with Ali & Matt
- June 24, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 254: Samia Akbar, Fastest U.S.-Born Black Female Marathoner
Ali Back On The Run
Hi! It’s been a while. My bad.
What’s new? Well. I got a wedding dress! So that’s exciting. For me. Probably not for you. It was the fourth one I tried on, but I didn’t go back to make the purchase until the next day, and then I spent the following 48 hours with severe anxiety wondering if I had picked the wrong one. I’m over it now. The dress is awesome. And I am Bridezilla, I guess.
I wasn’t super excited to go dress shopping, mostly because I was afraid of how sickeningly expensive everything would be (yup) and because I am not very much in love with my body right now, and the idea of spending an entire day being zipped into things and standing in front of people and a mirror was not so appealing. But I was armed with my mom and two of my best friends, and it was a pretty great day. Go figure. I was wrong about everything. We went to four bridal shops, and we successfully negotiated the price of “the dress” significantly, so go us. Feel free to hire me to join you next time you need to buy a new car.
So we now have a date, a location, a photographer (two actually), a videographer (two actually, plus a PA because come on, this is what Brian does for a living), and bridesmaids (they all said yes! because I threatened them).
We don’t have “hotel blocks,” because that’s a boring thing to do, and I only want to do the fun things like daily cake tastings.
Speaking of wedding things (sorry to the one person who commented about “no offense no one cares about your wedding” — you should skip this part, and we’ll talk about running in just a bit), Brian and I decided to have “date night” on Saturday. Not so much because we’re romantic, but because we’ve been hermits lately who stay inside and order Seamless for all three meals plus snacks.
So there we were, sipping champagne (me) and martinis (ew gross, him), and he goes, “OK, but seriously, we need a theme for our wedding.” I stared at him waiting for the punchline, but there wasn’t one. “I’m serious. We need to brand it because right now we’re all over the place with gold glitter tablecloths (YUP) and giraffe cake toppers (YUP), and why don’t you want us to incorporate running and cycling? That’s basically how we met, and it’s what people think of when they think of us.”
So I guess now we are having a running- and cycling-“themed” wedding. Or something. I will save my vetoes for larger discussions. Like whose job it is to arrange those damn hotel blocks.
I think part of the reason I didn’t want to put an emphasis on “me as a runner” is because Brian is always out there training and racing and generally being a legitimate cyclist, while I’ve sort of just been poking along for a while now.
I know I know, I’m the first to preach that “If you run, you’re a runner,” but there’s no doubt lately I haven’t felt like the die-hard runner I used to be.
After running two fall marathons — one of which went well, and one of which most definitely did not — I was still somehow amped on running. It was fall, the weather was spectacular, and then I went to Hawaii where I didn’t run a whole lot, but when I did it was gorgeous and special and there were actual rainbows, so everything was precious.
Then, I have this little tradition I try to uphold where I “run the year” or something. So on December 31, I set out to run 14 miles in honor of the end of 2014, which was a good year for me.
It did not go well.
I took a ton of walk breaks. Bathroom breaks (less because of Crohn’s, more because the bathroom was there so why not go sit down for a little while where it’s warm?). Phone call breaks. I was miserable. I hated that run. It did not feel victorious nor celebratory.
And sure, bad runs are inevitable in this little hobby, but it was sort of the beginning of a downward run spiral.
Soon, even with ample rest days and time off, every run felt horrible. I was struggling to keep my pace under 10-minute miles, and what started with an innocent “I’ll just walk up Cat Hill today, only today,” quickly turned into walking up every hill, incline, or slight upward curve in the road. I had excuses for everything — “I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m lazy, I’m stressed” — but they were all pretty lame. I had no motivation and a million reasons not to run.
And while plenty of people will preach to “push through” or something along the lines of “I’m so glad I didn’t run today, said no one ever” crap, I knew exactly what this was. All those marathon miles had piled up and I was feeling significantly burnt out physically and mentally. I didn’t need to “power through” this or try to prove some kind of mock badassery. I needed a break!
So I decided to take some time completely off running in January. I spent two weeks doing very little. I took a handful of yoga classes and went to SoulCycle once or twice, but I generally gave my body some much-needed and very appreciated rest.
I didn’t plan to take two weeks off — I just said I would start running again when I felt like it. And that happened to be two weeks.
The first few runs back were uneventful — it was only two weeks, after all, not a truly significant amount of time — but still slow and sluggish and lazy-feeling. I still walked up some hills and took breaks to check Instagram on my phone on the side of the street because maybe something important was happening there like a really funny picture of a golden retriever puppy holding a stick! I wanted to be out running, but I didn’t feel that push or that drive to try and increase my speed or get stronger.
Frankly, I expected Cat Hill or Harlem Hill to just feel easier one day, even though I wasn’t even trying to run up them. I wanted it to be easy! My logic rarely makes sense.
It wasn’t until this weekend that I finally had “the run.”
The run that felt comfortably hard and challenging, but really really good and satisfying.
The run that reminded me why I love doing this, and that I am a runner.
I joined my November Project friends for a loop of Central Park. The turnout was incredible, and spirits were flying really high. It was 8 AM on a Saturday and there was no place any of us would rather have been. The air was cool and crisp but not too windy, and the roads were clear and packed with fellow happy runners.
We started running and I quickly fell into pace with fellow NP-er (and blogger!) Kaitlin. I know she’s a lot faster than me, but I wanted to try and hang on, so my goal was just to keep her in my sights.
And I did.
She stayed in my sights up Harlem Hill, throughout the West Side rolling hills, down around the south end of the park, and back up Cat Hill. I never lost Kaitlin. I never checked my watch to see what our pace was. And, best of all, I never took any walk breaks or stop breaks and I never knew what was happening on Instagram.
When we reconvened at Engineers’ Gate, I wanted to pounce on Kaitlin. I was so happy and grateful to have had her as my little rabbit, and I had had the best time chasing her around the park. I apologized for possibly following too close behind her, but she assured me it wasn’t a problem. She’s a nice girl.
I did a few cool-down miles, got a free Juice Press juice (that’s why people hashtag #willrunforjuice, because you actually get free stuff from it), and then spent the rest of the day happily horizontal, basking in the return of that runner’s high (AKA dehydration and a BLAT food coma).
So to Kaitlin, thank you for leading me through a really great run. Sorry if I was breathing loudly on the hills. And to my November Project friends, thanks for getting me out there. You really do always show up.
Oh and to you, thanks for sticking around. I know Ali On The Run hasn’t so much lived up to the “On The Run” part lately, but I’m feeling it now and I’m in the groove.
I guess I’m OK with this “theme.”
All of me loves all of you.