The Thoughts In My Head

For a long time, September 24 was a date marked boldly in my calendar.

But over the past 20 weeks, September 24 never seemed like it was rapidly approaching. I enjoyed every minute of my summer and despite my dedicated training, it didn’t occur to me that September 24 was, in fact, right around the corner.

On April 22, JackRabbit Sports held a press conference at the New York Running Show and announced its six finalists in the Run For The Rabbit competition.

Happy Rabbits, ready to start working hard.

At the time, I had fantasies about fundraising, going “public” with the campaign and training for my first marathon.

Now, Race Week is here.

The Hamptons Marathon is on Saturday.

Time flies when you’re running all the time.

As I attempt to embrace my final week of tapering, my mind is flooded with thoughts — some rational, some completely irrational and some that are in haiku form.

Everything I think

Is related to the race

I want to run now

Care to take a journey inside my head for a moment or two? Here’s what’s happening there…

What is going on with my stomach? Why is it freaking out?

Where has my appetite gone? Since when is it so hard to choke down a meal?

The “Biggest Loser” winners want “I Heart Sweat” shirts. That’s cool.

How in the world am I going to get all my work done by Thursday? I feel like Jessie Spano. There’s never any time. At least I don’t have to study for a geometry test on top of all this.

I wasn’t particularly moved by Spirit of the Marathon. Is there something wrong with me? Everyone said I would cry. I have no idea which part was supposed to make me cry. Do I not have the heart of a runner?

Self doubt, self doubt, self doubt.

What if I don’t see my family on the race course? What if I’m too slow and they think they missed me so they move locations and I never see them?

Don’t forget the Body Glide. Pack that first. Then the sneakers.

How do people survive without making lists?

This will be the week I get my foot run over by a cab. I would like to live in a bubble this week to avoid harm, injury and germs.

I should get a haircut after the race. It’s been about a year. I’d rather spend that money on a new Dry Fit something.

What if I didn’t train hard enough?

What if I trained too hard?

What if I hit the wall during the marathon? It’s never happened during my long runs, which means it’s bound to happen during the race, right?

What if I slow down, positive split and disappoint Coach Cane?

What if Levain Bakery is closed after the race?

What if my hands are too sweaty and I can’t get my Gu open?

Who will our next president be?

Why aren’t you supposed to wear white after Labor Day?

Why hasn’t the taper made me crazy like everyone said it would?

I take that last one back.

How is it possible that I am a writer and I can bang out a handful of dance-related articles a day — yet I can’t seem to compose one simple, important email?

What if my stomach doesn’t cooperate on Race Day? I can think of nothing worse.

What if that hill at Mile 19 had a growth spurt since I saw it last?

What is a parabola good for? How did I manage to forget everything I learned in high school?

What will the race medal look like?

I wonder if I’ll ever win a race. I should travel to a very small town to find out.

Do people pee their pants during marathons? If I have to go, I’m not stopping…

If I do pee a little during the race, should I tell people? Or keep it a secret? I don’t think my boyfriend will understand. I probably won’t get as many post-race hugs if I confess.

How will I feel the day after the marathon? Will I be able to walk?

What if my family gets stuck in traffic and I don’t get to see them before the race starts?

What would I do if I lost my job?

I wish I had a puppy.

I miss my morning running friends.

Why does Facebook look different every day?

Will I want to run a second marathon?

Aren’t barefoot runners afraid of stepping on a rock? Or a dead animal?

What if it rains on Race Day?

What if I can’t sleep all week?

I’m going to run a freakin’ marathon. Most people don’t do that.

FEEL FREE TO EASE MY MIND: Share the crazy thoughts going on in your head this week!



0 Responses

  1. I need Jessie Spano pills! For realz.

    You will do amazing at the marathon this weekend! You have worked and trained so hard to get to this point, you are ready! 🙂

  2. Hey new to this blog my name is Ali too. I love visualization for everything, I’ve always been great at it – IF I can sit still long enough to do it. Yoga helps. lol I love all your pictures and your brother sounds like he’s a really good one! Nice to visit you I’ll be back 😀

  3. THis post made me laugh… good thing I’m working from home : ) I have thoughts like these too… I am so glad no one has invented some kind of mind recorder because I think people would just be exhausted by the random freakouts that occur in my brain. I let enough of them slip out to make people wonder!!! We need to meet sometime! Too bad I live in Seattle

  4. I love this. And I really, really hope Levain Bakery isn’t closed after the race. I also wish I had a puppy and miss you. Yesterday morning during my run I wondered why on earth we train for months and months for ONE DAY, ONE RACE. But the simple answer is: because it’s that awesome. 🙂

  5. don’t worry, i didn’t cry during spirit of the marathon either… the lady who cried in the middle of the marathon freaked me out actually. i kept thinking ‘bah! what if i do that!? i don’t want to do that!’

    you will do awesome, i promise. even if you hit a wall/get positive splits/pee your spandex you will still CROSS THE FINISH LINE. and that feels amazing.

    ps: i’m starting my second round of marathon training TODAY 🙂 you will want to do another, trust me. running is waaay too addictive.


  6. I’m tempted to call Levain Bakery right now to make sure they’re open next Saturday afternoon. Because that would be at the top of my Worry List as well. It’s really important that you get to recover with all of their baked goods.

  7. My first marathon is on October 15th. You pretty much just summed up my head as well 🙂

    Good luck – you’ll be great!

  8. you’re not supposed to wear white after labor day because it gets muddy outside. duh!!
    Have fun at the marathon, don’t stress about it too much 🙂

  9. OMG slow down those thoughts and relax 🙂 (easier said than done) It will be ok! Even if you pee your pants. My friend peed her pants while running the NYC marathon bc she was exerting herself so much. It is now kinda a funny story 🙂 No matter what happens you will be awesome and a marathoner!

  10. Thank you for giving me a good solid laugh on this oh so stressful day! I particularly love the though about going to a small town to see if you can win a race. Any races in Tooky??

    You will do fantastic on Saturday! You’ve done everything right and it’s all going to pay off! I wish I could be there to cheer you on and give you a big hug after! I would even hug you will pee soaked shorts! Haha love you!

  11. haha, oh Ali. Race week is kind of awful, huh? But the good news is – you’re completely normal! No matter how many marathons I do, I ALWAYS get a million crazy thoughts swirling through my head during the week leading up to the race. Deep breath. It will all be okay.

    You are so ready for this. And if I were any more excited for you, I’d puke. Seriously – I’m getting butterflies in my stomach just thinking about the Hamptons Marathon!

    And congrats on the Biggest Loser winners wanting one of your shirts – I guess this means you’re big time now! 😉

  12. Peeing while running is REALLY difficult to do. Most likely won’t happen. Crapping in your pants not so difficult, but it’s only acceptable if you win the race. Focus on smiling but don’t waste energy high-fiving. Enjoy yourself. Mrs. Coach Cane.

    1. Ha, I guess I sort of “forgot” about it and didn’t think about it until after the fact, but I didn’t have to pee at all during last year’s marathon. I did, however, drink lots of water and Gatorade beforehand and thus peed a million times before getting in my corral!

  13. You are going to rock this marathon. No doubt at all. But I completely get the random worries and thoughts. My own random ones last night? Dreaming about my trip to Sonoma on Wednesday and I had a dream that I had my period and no tampons. Um gross. And TMI, probably, but that was my worry dream that I had ALL NIGHT LONG! hope it made ya laugh!

  14. I loveee seeing your random stream of conscious thoughts. I think many of these things normally, even when I’m NOT training for a marathon. Congrats on the Biggest Losers thing. That is so cool!

    And I know this doesn’t help, but I’m absolutely sure that everything will just come together perfect for you on race day. Things have a way of working out like that, when it comes to marathons, especially when you’ve prepared properly, which you have 🙂

    As for liking the marathon movie, that’s kind of how I felt when I saw Chariots of Fire. Just didn’t do it for me. Cool Runnings does every time though…there’s running in that anyway!

    Can’t wait to hear all about the marathon, Ali!

  15. I’m excited for you! I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to rock this marathon for 2 very important reasons: (1) You are a strong runner, both mentally AND physically (2) Coach Cane gave you a kicka$$ program and direction. You’re gonna be so awesome!
    Maybe in order to ease your mind you can tell yourself this is only your first marathon, of many. I kind of have a feeling you’re going to get addicted, much like yours truly. You can only improve from here! So take the pressure off of this one– you’re going to do great and in your next one, you’ll do even better, etc!

  16. you can only control the controllable – dont worry about anything else. you’ve deposited the miles into your marathon piggybank, and on the 24th, you can cash it all in. you are going to kick butt ali!

  17. “Why was my second 20-miler so tough and ‘slow’? What if all of my remaining long runs go that way?”

    “Why do I hate strength training so much? Would it really make or break a race performance if I were more dedicated?”

    “What if I get so used to flat terrain that the Harlem hills come out to kill me on Nov. 6?”

    “Will I ever get the hang of the accounting stuff at work? God, I hate numbers.”

    “Is anyone able to actually run through the water stops in the NYC marathon? I really don’t want to actually stop this time around.”

    “I will most likely be carrying three Gus on Race Day. Where the F am I going to put them?

    You will rock the race this weekend!!! 🙂

  18. If it helps, I totally peed my pants after my first half marathon (hello dehydration, no control over the body!) and I lived to tell about it. 😉 But seriously, even though you have a zillion thoughts running around in your head, you are SO ready for this. And you’re going to do great, I have all the faith in the world in you. And for the record – you’re a major reason I’m even CONSIDERING 26.2 in the next year. You inspire me.


    Couldn’t have said that any better!

    Also I think you are so funny. A lot of those things went on in my head as well during my taper / first marathon. You are so ready to dominate this race. I can’t wait to read your recap!

    GOOD LUCK! I am looking fwd to getting my shirt in the mail. 😉

  20. I am getting married on Saturday!!!!!!

    I have insane thoughts as well.
    It will not rain on my wedding day. It will not rain on my wedding day. It will not rain on my wedding day.
    I hope I have money for my honeymoon.
    I can’t wait for my life to be back to normal.
    Holy crap, I’m getting married!
    What if I don’t fit into my wedding dress?
    It will not rain on my wedding day.

    I’m going just as psycho if not more than you are this week.

    Good luck at the race, I know you will kick it’s ass!

  21. This post is hilarious. You’ve totally captured the thoughts of most of us who have been through the pre-race week crazies! Trust your training… you’ve put in the work.

    And you for sure have a heart of a runner. I didn’t watch that movie until AFTER I had run the Chicago Marathon, so the movie brought up all the emotions I had felt during the course of running those 26.2 miles!

    Oh and you can def win a small town race!!!! Hell, I placed 3rd in my age group at a small 5K this summer and I ran like 8:45 min miles… clearly not very fast and still got a medal.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!

  22. It’s crazy that the marathon is so close — you are totally going to rock it!!!!

    I think all your thoughts are valid hhaha

    If you pee, just means your hard-core, I’d totally do it. Shoot, you’re running 26 miles, you can do whatever you want!

  23. I’m rooting for you, Ali…. and I LOVE this post…. I was like wow someone else’s head works like mine………….. REALLY!? After not having run on a constant and consistent basis over the last couple of months due to some tragic life events… I KILLED a half marathon yesterday and have no problem admitting that what happened to me over the last couple months was the motivating factor in passing male after male and literally having to hold in from screaming “you just got chicked” every time… Oops.

  24. My thoughts as I read this:
    You are are HILARIOUS!
    People don’t just pee in their pants while racing…what people will do for a PR!
    You didn’t cry during the movie, but you might after you cross the finish line! (I wanted to after I was done, but realized there was a massive amount of people around me so I held it back)
    It’s your first marathon—have FUN and I hope your stomach is top notch the day of the race!

  25. Breathe! This is completely normal, trust me! You will be nervous at the start, especially standing there waiting for the gun to go off. BUT, once you get the first 5 miles under your belt and get into a groove, your mind will calm down, your nerves will relax, and you will feel confident and strong. Remember though, hold back for as long as possible. Bottle up all that energy and unleash it during the last 6.2 miles!!!!

    You are going to do great!

  26. Oh man, this was really funny but also, I know exactly how you are feeling!

    Honestly, I think even professionals like Paula Radcliffe get like this before their marathons. I mean how can you not? You’ve trained for it for months, and spent so much time thinking about it.

    This week, so far, my crazy thoughts have to do with the fact that II’m stressing out majorly about the fact that I have gained a few pounds and my jeans are tight.

    Also, I watched Secretariat this weekend, and it has that go-for-your-dreams-even-though-everyone-says-its-impossible vibe. Also, this is not running related but Bill Cunningham New York is really cute if you ever look at his stuff in the Times.

  27. I just ran my first half yesterday in Philadelphia! Best advice I got was: trust your training, no matter what SMILE, enjoy the moment, your supporters WILL find you (thats their job, you just run).

    I will admit, I forgot how the heck to open my Guu (honey stinger chocolate AMAZING)…almost freaked out then remembered.

  28. Ali! Rest assured your NOT going to disappoint ANYONE. Everyone just wants to see you be happy and healthy. If that means a positive split, if that means peeing yourself, if that means driving 80 miles to find a NEW bakery it will happen! You will finish, you will rock, don’t let the stress ruin the moments! Its good to get out the fear, sometimes, saying it, makes it less scary. This is YOUR week, when its over, you’ll be a MARATHONER!

  29. Ali, Calm down! You are prepared for this. Coach Cane and all your training has you ready to take this marathon on with a good finish. Don’t worry so much about everything. Try to enjoy the experience. You’ve enjoyed the training, you’ll enjoy the race, just calm down. go get some 16 Handles tonight, that should help your appetite.

    Pretty cool that the Biggest Loser winners want “sweat” shirts – probably in purple — they were the purple team.

    I didn’t enjoy Spirit of the Marathon either. II really like the movie On A Clear Day. It’s not about the marathon, which actually may be a good thing for you at this point. It’s about a man who attempts to swim the English channel – overcoming a lot of emotional obstacles along the way. This movie will definitely make you cry.
    As for marathon related entertainment, Matt Long’s book (I think it’s The Long Run) is pretty amazing and inspiring. I listened to the audiobook during the Brooklyn Half Marathon. It’s about his recovery from being hit by a bus during the MTA transit strike. Running the NYC marathon is the backdrop for the book.

  30. Deep breathes. In the end Jessie Spano is OK- this means you will be, too. Just lay off the caffeine pills (doing so will help with the sleep fear.) Throw yourself a few extra dance parties (with gym shoes- keep those feet protected!) and dance away the worry.

    If levain is closed we will get you a cookie from their location here. If you can’t walk (you will be able to, but I’m humoring your fear) I’ll deliver it.

    Also, pretty sure Hannah and Olivia have a blog (they were talking about it sat when I was chatting with them)-maybe they’ll post your link on it?!

    To make you feel better, welcome to some crazy thoughts in my head:
    -what if even though I’m feeling better I can never really run again? What about my goals?! (Who am I?!)
    -what will happen if I have people over for a dinner party and I don’t time everything perfectly?! What if I try a new recipe and its not as wonderful as I had hoped?
    -what meal option do I pick for my friends wedding? (Why do I care so much?)

  31. I’m tired from just reading all the thoughts in your head. whoa!

    You’ve rocked all your training runs, you are going to rock the marathon as well. Your stomach si probably a mess because you are stressing out. You have to cut that list of things you are thinking about way down.

    You are going to do great, you are going to do great, you are going to do great. just keep repeating.

  32. You will be sooooo fine. More than fine…. you will do awesome! You are more than prepared, physically and mentally, which is the most important thing. I was NOT ready, and I paid the price yesterday. I actually thought to myself, “I wish I had a Coach Cane who got me ready for this!” haha.

    Try aloe vera juice for your stomach. Or extra digestive enzymes. The old BRATT diet may help (bananas, applesauce, rice, tea, and toast.) Also hot water with lemon first thing in the morning helps too.

  33. Ali, you are going to do great! Like Chrissy said just enjoy it, you have put in all the hard work. You are going to rock it! I cause myself unnecessary stress all the time (just ask my husband and friends) and in the end everything works out as it should. I don’t think anyone, especially Coach Cane, would be disappointed in anything that you do.

    Your list of what is going on in your head made me laugh because I have been there! I’m confident that you will overcome all of those feelings and have a great first marathon.

  34. I. Feel. Your. Pain. I am doing my “big race” this weekend too! 70.3. First one. And I am freaking out. What if I drop my water bottles? What if my wetsuit chaffes me? What if I get dehydrated? What if I ride too fast/slow and my husband thinks he missed me in transition? What if I am dead tired after the bike? What if I am late? What if I get a flat? What if I accidentally draft? What if I get blisters? It is endless and is making me CRAZY. The only thing I do to feel better and stay sane is to keep looking back at my training log. I have swam, biked and run a ton of miles and hours over the last 4 months. You have run a TON of miles over the last several months. You will do it and have a BLAST. And so will I 🙂 GOOD LUCK!!!

  35. Ali!! We’ve all been where you are now and it’s a terrifying feeling but you will be GREAT on race day! I like to compare running a marathon with baking…To bake, you follow a recipe and throw it in the oven. The oven is the easy part where you can sit back and ENJOY! To run a marathon, you follow a recipe or a training plan. You’ve have an incredible one from Coach Cane and the hard part is done! The marathon is where you sit back (ok… RUN) and ENJOY!! If you follow the recipe, you’re guaranteed to suceed in baking. From reading your blog, I can see that you have followed the training plan to a ‘T’ and therefore, you’re guaranteed to suceed on Marathon Day. I wish you all the best on Saurday!

  36. “Why hasn’t the taper made me crazy like everyone said it would?

    I take that last one back.”

    Love that! I share many of your fears, but you know there is nothing you can do about most of these so please try to stop stressing! The questions and doubt will make your stomach worse! Please try to accept that you will do your best to coordinate and run and whatever happens happens. Easier said than done, I am the same as you in this way… but try!

    Amazing that the marathon is this weekend. The time went so quickly! I’ve said it before, you will do amazing. I am 100% sure of it.

    Also, I tried to pee myself during my first half and my body refused to cooperate. Many people do stop to use the bathroom during the marathon, but I bet you can get by without having to, don’t worry.

    And yes, you absolutely can win a race if you run a small town race. Go find yourself one!

  37. Olivia and Hannah from the Biggest Loser want sweat shirts? That is awesome! You’ve started a monster! (I really can’t wait for mine to come in the mail so I can wear it around Boston.)

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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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