18 Miles

Before I started training for the Hamptons Marathon, my seasoned runner friends warned me: “Marathon training takes over your life.”

That warning never scared me.

And now, with fewer than two months left until marathon day (September 24!), I can happily and confidently say I am in love with marathon training.

I’m finding training to be incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and satisfying. Yeah, it’s really challenging, but I never want it to end.

I may feel differently when I wake up tomorrow and can’t move my legs, but for now I’m riding high, so won’t you ride along with me?

I ran 18 miles this morning: my longest run yet!

If you told me a year ago — or even six months ago — that I’d wake up at 5 am one Saturday morning in July and spent almost three hours running in Central Park, I would have laughed and then gone shopping and bought something I couldn’t afford.

I still buy things I can’t afford.

But I also run 18 miles. Ka-boom.

(I was feeling kind of cool after this morning’s run, but now I feel incredibly uncool for using the phrase ka-boom…but I won’t take it back.)

Last night I fueled appropriately: pad thai (probably won’t be doing that before a run again — I didn’t feel so hot this morning) and, come on, 16 Handles of course.

My alarm went off at 5 am and I was super tired. I let myself lay in bed for a while and then dragged myself out of it: I had 18 miles on the agenda!

My mentality going into this run was basically “it’s another long run.” No big pressure, no major expectations, nothing I can’t handle. This month I’ve enjoyed a very exciting 15.5-miler and a super sweaty 16-miler. Why not add 18 to the mix?

So I got dressed, packed up my Gu Chomps (watermelon flavor = fail. I did not enjoy them.) and was on the road by 6:15 am.

There was a ton of activity in Central Park this morning!

Like a bike race…

I like cyclists. I think they’re hot. Maybe that’s just because I know one, and he happens to be attractive…

Where was I?

Right. Running. 18 miles worth.

I happened to make a gentleman friend during the first FIVE miles. Yup, that’s right. And not necessarily a friend I wanted to make.

Mr. “I’m 50 and know everything about running and you absolutely must take my advice if you want to run a marathon” wore out his side-by-side running welcome super fast. Nice? Sure. But really?

I didn’t want to be chatting. I wanted to listen to the Book of Mormon soundtrack with my trusty headphones.

Oh well.

Speaking of those “trusty headphones” — RIP, headphones. The park was so packed that runners and bikers were kind of all over the place, and right around mile 9 a dude got way too close to me, managed to wrap his arm around my headphone wire, causing the headphones to snap in half, the wire to slice me across the neck and my phone to go flying.

It was all very dramatic.

Kind of.

Mostly it was just annoying, because now I need to go buy new headphones.

I ran 8 miles on my own before joining up with my lovely running buddy, the speedy Ms. Kelly. Even though I was starting to feel a little sleepy in the legs by this point, I was so happy to have her with me. We talked the whole time we were together and she obliged when I asked to stop at every. single. water. fountain.

Thanks, Kelly! You’re the best.

Truthfully, I’m amazed that Kelly keeps agreeing to run with me. I make her stop all the time, I cause a scene when my headphones go flying and I always make her pose for post-run photos with me:

After we parted ways, I seemed to run into everyone I know who runs in Central Park. (Hi, Shannon! You’re pretty. Hi, Celia! You looked great out there! Hi, Handsome Friend. I like you. Thanks for the Ali Cake. Hi, ex-boyfriend. That was weird.)

Good times.

I only ate two Gu Chomps because I thought they were gross, but I still felt OK the whole time. There was a point when I was running on the Bridle Path — up that nasty hill on the west side — with Kelly and we both commented that we felt sort of slow. We were holding onto a 9:25 pace at the time, and it just felt hard.

That’s what she said?

I may have also texted a certain nice-looking friend who was in the park at the same time and begged him to stop and hug me around mile 17. Also, I knew he’d share his water. Mwahaha.

I was so pumped when my watch beeped signaling the 18-mile mark.

I’m happy with my splits, too. My average pace was 8:58.

I started out a bit fast because I was trying to leave Mr. Chatty in my dust (didn’t work — dang dude kept up just fine) and I started to hurt on the hills that plagued me during mile 15. But overall, solid pace! I’ll take it!

By the time I got back to my apartment, I was shot.

So I didn’t shower right away.

Instead I turned on the TV, zoned out while watching Mamma Mia! and video chatted with my friend Dana.

I’m new to video chatting and I think it’s hilarious. You may think my hair is wet because I just showered, but nope. It’s just sweat. So much sweat.

Now I’m off to spend the rest of the weekend at the Dance Teacher Summit. It’s my job.

And in case you were wondering: Yeah I survived the tap class yesterday. And I sucked at it.

It wasn’t my first tap class — far from it. I started tap dancing when I was 5 years old and performed a spectacular routine to “Doe A Deer” at my first recital.

One of my 2010 (and, uh, 2011) New Year’s Resolutions was to take a tap class. I didn’t get to it last year (I chickened out!), so this year I slapped on my shoes and took a class at the Summit with Gregg Russell (who I have a ridiculous crush on).

Also fun: That this is my job, and that I got to spend yesterday “working” by taking a tap class and then going to the office wearing yoga pants.

As I waited for class to start I was kind of anxious. I wanted to do well and I wanted to be able to keep up.

I couldn’t keep up with the trends, because I was kindly informed that my tan tap shoes are no longer cool. I believe the exact quote was, “Aww! Look at your old tap shoes! That’s cute!”


So my main problem was that my feet and my brain and the music were not in sync at all. (*N Sync, I love you. Bye, bye, bye…)

I’ve been out of class for so long now — both dance classes and academic classes — that my brain definitely isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I just needed more time to be able to pick up the way-too-fast-for-a-former-dancer-turned-runner combinations.

I got through the hour. I loved all the easy stuff that I was able to pick up on right away. I hated all the “now let’s add a heel and a double toe and let’s do it triple time with a pullback at the end” stuff.

But I checked another item off my Do This In 2011 list! So yay!

Now I’m off to drag my sad little stumpy legs to work. This may be rough.

Congratulations to all the runners of the Queens Half Marathon this morning! And all the runners everywhere. Woo!



0 Responses

  1. Great job on the 18 miles!!! I’m green with envy! I would have been seriously irked if my headphones were broken during a LDR….might have had to strangle the stranger who helped make that happen.

  2. Marathon training does take over your life! Or at least your weekend mornings. 16H question, do you often feel tempted to get a “I Handled It” shirt? Or is that just me?

  3. The question is: did you get more Ali cake? I’m jealous you get to dance for work, although not sure how that felt after 18 miles – ha!

    Your long runs are impressive. I don’t even time mine (ie look at my splits) because I don’t want to know how slow my long run pace is. You should def make your marathon goal 3:35 if your long runs are that fast!

  4. You rock girl!! Congrats on the awesome run! Ps I am loving all the suspense with your handsome friend, but feel free to add more details 😉 hehe

  5. MAJOR congrats on 18 miles!!! That is a HUGE milestone! When I was training for my marathon last year getting to 18 miles was very rewarding!

  6. I haven’t ran all week because I putting in OT at work and I was just so tired even if I had the intentions to get up at 6am and run. At least I made the gym 4x this week! …IDK I might have time for a quick run this evening. I certainly want to and your posts always inspire me to work on my own goals!

    Congrats on clocking in the 18 – AMAAAAAAAZING PACE!

    – Vanessa
    Project Zen

  7. awesome job this morning! Loved running with you, always! And I never mind a water stop or sweat-tastic photo 🙂 I feel the same way about marathon training – I heart (mostly) every second of it, and it teaches me something new about myself all the time.

    That is 16 Handles perfection in a cup. Imma’ get me some of that soon. Hope you’re surviving work today!

  8. I totally relate to the sitting in the bathrobe post run…sometimes I am too tired to jump into the shower, and then figure out what to wear for the day. Decompressing is essential, then I can deal with the shower/dressing thing. My bathrobe time involves coffee, and reading blogs…sometimes yours:)

    You keep inspiring me to think I can deal with the distances ahead in my training!

  9. Congratulations on running 18 miles! I ran the Queens Half today and I was tired afterwards. I’m a much slower runner than you are, but your ability to knock down these long distances is very encouraging for my marathon training.
    I could never stand to not shower for another hour after getting home from a long run, but if it works for you…. 🙂

  10. “If you told me a year ago — or even six months ago — that I’d wake up at 5 am one Saturday morning in July and spent almost three hours running in Central Park, I would have laughed and then gone shopping and bought something I couldn’t afford.” – hahaha love this quote. so something i would have said when i trained for my first…

    congrats and great job out there! awesome seeing you 🙂

    also after the demise of your headphones if you want to try something new i love the yurbud headphones. they even have them at jackrabbit!

  11. Congratulations Ali!! 18 is huge and you rocked it!! Marathon training definitely suits you 🙂

    I’m sorry about your headphones though. That’s really annoying! If you’re undecided about what type to get next I can tell you – I use Yurbuds and really like them.

    Hope your legs are feeling okay!!

  12. Awesome job with the 18, Ali! You are getting very close to 20!! So glad you have found marathon training to be so fun and rewarding. That’s what its all about. Also I am incredibly jealous that all you NYCers run into each other on your runs! Very fun 🙂

  13. such a fan post! Tap dancing is ridiculously fun even if you can’t follow the choreographer! It still rules

  14. Ha! I took a tap class here in NYC after about 3 non-tapping years and felt like a COMPLETE goober the entire time. I think I may have actually walked out. *sigh* Out of practice, I suppose…yay for long runs! I luv marathon training season 🙂

  15. Congrats on the 18 miles!!! I’m reading your post still unshowered from my 10 miler this morning…awesome sweatiness 🙂 I went to 16 handles on the UWS for the 1st time the other night. I’m a convert, it’s delicious

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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