FITNESS Mind, Body & Spirit Games Recap

Three years ago I toed the start line at my very first running race: the FITNESS Mind, Body & Spirit Games 4-miler in Central Park.

I had just started running and hardly considered myself “a runner.” I was super nervous, had no idea what my “goal time” should be and ran in a cotton tank top that didn’t do me any favors when it came to both sweating and chafing.

I cruised through the first two miles, and then got crushed during the rolling hills that come out to get you during the third mile.

I remember finishing and feeling on top of the world. I had just run a race!

After spending the first 20-something years of my life cooped up in a dance studio, I was so proud of myself for getting into running and crossing both a start and finish line.

Needless to say I got hooked on that finish line feeling.

Today, I toed the line at that very same race, but the experience was totally different — and, honestly, even better than the first time.

With my marathon just one week away (insert freak-out comment here), Coach Cane had a very specific plan for today’s run: “8 miles, marathon goal pace +:30. As God is my witness, if you go faster I will tackle you.”

Sometimes I don’t do what he tells me to do because, like Ricky Bobby, I like to go fast. Apparently that angers Coach Cane.

So rather than racing for a PR today, I got to do something equally as fun: I ran alongside my friend and coworker as she ran her first race!

Like me, Michael (yes her name is Michael and yes she is a girl — it’s actually Michael Anne but that’s too formal for me) grew up dancing. She still goes to class (I don’t) but she also came to my JackRabbit event a few weeks ago and purchased her first pair of running shoes.

And today she ran one heck of a first race, coming in at a sub-9:50 pace! I hope she’s hooked now, too.

So let me take you back in time a bit, if I may…

After a very filling dinner last night, I woke up this morning feeling like total crap. My stomach was not happy.

Naturally I convinced myself that Crohn’s was on the attack and I am deathly ill and my marathon dreams are crushed.

Eventually, however, it passed.

This morning’s race didn’t start until 10 am, which meant I had plenty of time to lounge around in my pajamas and watch “The OC.”

Cozy mornings in the fall are the best.

I eventually got into my race morning routine: abs, granola bar, shower, Body Glide everywhere. It’s all very sexy.

My plan was to run 4 miles before the race and 4 miles during it, giving me the 8 miles Coach Cane so politely asked for.

The weather today was perfect. I really hope next Saturday’s conditions are the same. It was cool and breezy with plenty of sunshine coming through. That made my outfit choice easy: Sweat shirt, short shorts and leg warmers.

I love leg warmer season.

Also, big shout out to the fantastic Erica Sara, who snapped this ultra-flattering photos of me today. Really special shots. Buy her jewelry.

The first four miles of my run were pretty uneventful. The men’s portion of the race kicked off and I chose to be the A-hole who ran the opposite way cheering for them.

The dude runners were fun and fast. The field seemed much smaller than the women’s, and lots of gentlemen yelled “I love sweat, too!” as they ran past me.

I would also take a moment to say, WOW, Sweat shirts were out in full force today! Way to represent, ladies!

(Again, all photos by Erica Sara, photographer extraordinaire.)

So after wrapping up four miles on my own, staying right at the pace my darling coach wanted, I very easily found Michael near the start line.

She is very adorable. Former dancers run with their hair in buns…because we are the coolest!

We made our way to the corrals with plenty of time to spare.

So at this point, as excited as I was to be racing alongside Michael, I started to feel a twinge of jealousy toward all the racers up ahead in that red corral.

I had a red bib. I wanted to be up there.

As soon as the horn went off, I was part pumped for the fantastic first-timer I was with and part sad that I didn’t get to sprint for the next four miles.

That feeling of confusion lasted roughly 10 seconds.

Michael smiled throughout the entire race, and that made me smile the whole time.

The first mile went by quickly, as it always does, and Michael breezed up Cat Hill like it was no big deal. The second mile — nice and flat — had lots of crowd support and happy people cheering.

During the third mile, those rolling whorish hills came into play. At this point I could tell Michael was getting a bit fatigued. She had stuck with a 9:15ish pace for the first two miles and I knew that the hills weren’t going to be kind to her.

We talked a bit — or I talked, rather. I’m not sure if she appreciated my “words of wisdom” (“shake out your arms — sometimes it feels good to do that…for me at least…or something…”) or if she wanted to kill me. But she kept smiling, so good times.

Once that mile was out of the way, I knew Michael was good to go. She was still smiling and working hard, so I let her know when the finish line was nearing.

I ran ahead to try and let her husband know that she was approaching…

…and then when I turned around to try and catch her, I somehow managed to miss her big finish!

Ali Fail.

But she did finish! And I felt like a proud parent.

Plus, we had a stellar group at the finish line for us, including a coworker and her boyfriend, and a former coworker who recently moved to Boston and we miss her and it’s sad. But yeah. They were there. Happy times.

My Handsome (Boy)Friend was there, too, but I am not showing you a picture of him because I’m sneaky.

We lingered around for a while after the race and I kept secretly wanting to pressure Michael to come with me to the nearest computer so we could sign her up for her next race.

Anyway, I’ve gushed enough, right?

So I didn’t PR today. But that wasn’t my goal or my plan. I did, however, have a great freakin’ time. Clearly. You saw my photos.

One last point: At this time next week, I will be a marathoner.


Congratulations to all the racers and long-runners out there today!



0 Responses

  1. So I spotted you somewhere between miles 2-3 on Saturday and didn’t say Hi because I am a crazy person! But seeing all of the I <3 Sweat tshirts was amazing and I can't wait for mine to arrive 🙂

  2. there are my favorite race photos EVER. I think you know what you need to do now (hint: it rhymes with shmow boo most)

    If you need me, I’ll be busy printing off these pictures, framing them and hanging them by my bedside.

  3. I am so psyched for you, Ali!! You’ve had some really awesome buildup to this marathon, including fund raising for a cause you truly care about and some awesome events (plus the i <3 sweat shirts!) that will make this race that much more meaningful for you.
    As for your last post about pressure…I know it's hard, especially when you blog, to not let the time questions get to you. I promise if you stay in your own head and remember why you are doing this (not to run a sub-4 marathon), you will take some of that pressure away and be reminded of what's important for you to get out of this race…finish and have fun!

  4. Hi Ali! I feel famous. Thanks for posting my photo 🙂 I love my shirt. I enjoy reading your blog and staying up-to-date on your marathon training adventures. Can’t wait to hear all about next weekend!

  5. Yay, loving all your enthusiastic photos. And congrats to your coworker! I love new running converts…my coworker just signed up for the Miami Half Marathon in January and I’ve started giving her training tips and recommendations on GPS watches. Sharing the running love is so much fun.

    I also can’t believe you are SO close to the marathon. Ahhhhh! Run sometime this week so I can wish you good luck? Also, I have 2 extra Mint Chocolate Chip Gus I can give you 😉

  6. Congrats to Michael!! I love hearing about new runners/racers. Also, you look amazing in your I heart sweat shirt and leg warmers. Nice work following coach Cane’s plan! A week from now, you’ll be a marathoner 🙂

  7. Today i saw you after the start I call (screen)you I said Aliiiiii ! But you don’t hear me 🙁 anyway has been a pleasure see you from “live” bye

  8. I ran the opposite way in the park today in hopes of catching some eye candy during the men’s race. Sadly, it was much more limited than I had hoped for.

    Sometimes OTHER people’s races can just be so exciting! Especially for first time racers…it brings you back to that first time you ran a race and how awesome and fun and new it is. Congrats to Michael, and yay for one week until the marathon!

  9. Hey Ali! I think your journey and fund raising is amazing! I really wanted to buy a ‘sweat shirt’ but was wondering about the sizing. There are only XS for women. Is it super small or is it a pretty average size? I’m tall but really small on the top so it may fit- hope so 🙂

  10. It was a great race today. Saw you and very many I Heart Sweat shirts out today! Good luck next week – I’m certain you will have an amazing race! Thanks for the continued good training cheer.

  11. Haha oh jeez! I wish I had known I was going to have my picture taken, I would’ve smiled or danced or leaped or something! Oh well, I guess I’ll call this my “determined to make a PR today” face…mission accomplished!

  12. ali ! i need one of these i love sweat shirts. what is the sizing on then ? i am waivering between a small and a medium, based on length. are they kind of lengthy, or should i size up for them to be longer?
    also, congrats to your friend ! and good luck next week during the marathon! you are going to do amazing ! ! ! i am cheering for you from chicago !

  13. Yay! Congrats to Michael! So glad I got to run into you ladies today!

    And….guess what arrived in the mail today?!!? Probably OK that it missed today’s race though- I would not have been nearly smiley enough to be sporting it with the respect it deserves

  14. I can’t believe you are so close to the marathon! You are going to kill it- you’ve been training so hard.

    Also, yay Michael! Sounds like she did great and had an awesome first race. 🙂

  15. I can’t help it – I love the image of Coach Cane tackling you.

    Yay for racing! It’s fun to be a participant! Hopefully the first is not the last for Michael – racing is addictive. (Is this where I admit I have my medals from my Disney half in my purse, two weeks post-race?)

  16. Congrats, Michael! The first race is always special! And you have the same shoes as I do (yay Brooks Glycerin 9!), which clearly means you’re awesome.

    And Ali, one more week, wahoo! I’m wondering what Coach Cane has in store for you?

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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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