My First Non-Training Saturday

Last night, Brian and I went out for pasta.

It’s become a Friday night ritual. Every Friday since our first date (the term “date” is a loose one — the first night we hung out I was wearing compression socks and fell asleep on the couch watching “The Office,” and then got busted snoring) Brian and I have selected our Friday night meals based on where we can get maximum carbs. Saturdays for me always meant long training runs, and for him they meant long bike rides.

Restaurants with a bread basket are a must. Places near 16 Handles are a bonus.

So last night, like we’ve always done, we picked a quaint Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. I carbed up with some bread and a spectacular homemade pasta dish with bolognese sauce. We chased our meal with frozen yogurt and were asleep around 11 pm.

But then this morning, I woke up without a plan.

I didn’t have instructions from Coach Cane.

I didn’t have a number of miles in my head that I needed to cover and I had no pace goals in mind.

I fueled fantastically for a run that didn’t exist.

And I sort of lost my mind.

I’m not a person who does well without a plan. I’m that type of brutally uptight person who makes To Do lists for the weekend. It’s satisfying to me.

Brian has certainly helped me lighten up, but today was the first day in as long as I can remember that I woke up without the intention of doing something that would ultimately help me run strong during the Hamptons Marathon.

I hated it.

Brian is I’m quickly learning that non-training Ali is even crazier that pre-marathon Ali.

I just want to run. I want to run, and I want to take jazz hand jumping photos. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

This morning, as I logged onto Twitter and saw that many of my friends were getting ready to run Grete’s Gallop — a half marathon in Central Park — as part of their 20-mile long runs, I felt worthless. I felt like a running loser without a training plan.

I may have shed a tear…or two.

I ended up slipping into my Brooks and heading toward Central Park. My legs took a while to loosen up, but as soon as I got to the park I was shocked to see a few 8:45s and 8:20s show up on my watch (they didn’t last long).

I ran in the opposite direction as the race, and eventually I started to loosen up — mentally and physically.

Central Park on a perfect fall morning. Happy October!

Around the same time my legs started to ease into the run, my crazy thoughts from the morning started to fade away.

I decided I would run 10 miles. But my pace was irrelevant. I wanted to see my racing friends as many times as I could so I could scream my face off for them.

This guy is my best friend. I usually pace him and stuff, but I took the day off today. You know, I wanted to see what he could do on his own. So he won the race. These are all facts.

That happened. I saw them all a lot, and I loved the energy in the park.

"GO RUNNERS! YAY SWEAT!" That was my standard chant.

I even had an NYC-style celebrity sighting: NYRR’s own Mary Wittenburg.

Oh hey buddy.

I ended up running those 10 miles with a smile on my face almost the entire time. I love training for races and I love having goals. But I also just love running. And today was one more day that I got to run.

(Extra credit if you can name the movie I’m subtly referencing in that last line. It may or may not be a dance movie whose soundtrack includes Jamiroquai.)

Congratulations to all the runners out there today. I loved seeing all of you NYC friends in your Sweat shirts! Sorry if my cheering and jazz hands were too over the top. I can’t control my excitement. Call me Jessie Spano.

Now I’m unplugging until Sunday night. I’m off to a weekend getaway that will involve a massage, a hot tub and an appearance by Drunk Ali. Getting drunk and registering for my next marathon: Great plan or awful idea? We just may find out.

Have a great weekend, everyone!



0 Responses

  1. Now it’s time to make a new plan! It doesn’t necessarily have to be running or fitness related if you want to take a break for a bit.

    Registering for another marathon will definitely fulfill your need for goals and organization!

  2. thank you for cheering yesterday! so nice to see your smiling face in CP 🙂 and i think what you’re feeling is normal – completing a big training cycle and race can make you feel a little “lost” when it’s all over, but it sounds like you’re already planning out the next steps. can’t wait to hear about them!

  3. Thanks for cheering yesterday Ali! Sorry if I creeped you out when I shouted back to you! (that was me in the I <3 Sweat shirt that really excitedly shouted to you around mile 10 or so)!

  4. I love your blog, first. You look so happy with life!
    Second… your posts have inspired me to become a runner too… I plan to run my first 5-K in Nov or Dec. It’s kind of hard to run where I live since its still 105 every afternoon but we’re getting a cold front later this week and it’ll be 70 degrees. Yay!
    Thanks again Ali, and have fun running!

  5. I can’t thank you enough for your jazz hands. Seeing you once along the course was cool, seeing you twice was awesome, seeing you a third time when you yelled “Hey Christy…muffle muffle muffle” (I couldn’t exactly hear you) was the EXACT push I needed to get me past what I thought may have been the wall at Mile 11…so thanks for being awesome and having sweet jazz hands =)

  6. thanks for being such a great cheerer! It was so awesome to see you out there so many times! And, obvi that is a Center Stage reference. And that guy next to Mary in the photo is Grete Waitz’s husband! Running in her honor.

  7. I can’t wait to see what marathon you register for. I may or may not have registered for my first marathon while drunk and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Have fun!!

  8. I just want to say that I have loved your blog since I started reading a couple months ago. You are absolutely hilarious and I kind of wish you were my friend. Congrats on your marathon…I loved all your recaps!! I admire you for having Crohn’s and being the runner you are. Having pretty severe GI problems myself, I know how hard and frustrating it can be. Anyway, thanks for being awesome and having an awesome blog 🙂

  9. Your jazz hands MADE my run!!! FYI: I am training for a marathon but I was not a rock star like those other people running 20 miles – I just did the half. And I may or may not have eaten as many baked goods as someone who ran 20 miles. Like I think I just ate a half dozen of something. And a cupcake. And a partridge in a pear tree.

    There are some leftovers and I’m baking again tomorrow to take to work — in case, you know, you want to to take some off my hands 🙂

  10. I am totally a blog lurker, but I just wanted to check and see if it was really you I saw today! It absolutely felt like a celebrity spotting. I respect your training ethic a lot, since I also struggle with health issues AND with refusing to run at ‘easy pace.’

    (That seems to have paid off, though; I got second in my age group today, 1:30:56 finish. Your cheering was great motivation).

    Anyway, hi, and congrats on your marathon, again! I love the recap posts and so admire anyone who can run for such a distance.

      1. Yep, that was definitely you, then! Wow, and I got a comment reply, too. *awestruck face* Maybe someday I’ll actually see you around and awkwardly introduce myself; I live like four blocks from the park.

        Thanks for the congratulations. 🙂

  11. I have loved having a plan and will be signing up for something (anything!) after the NY Marathon because I cannot imagine not having something to run for. How will I know whether to do speed work or some slow and easy miles???

    I saw you today running and frantically scanning the crowd!

  12. Yes, you should register while drunk. If I ran a mile for every race I registered for while I was drunk…um…hm. I forget.

    On second thought, maybe I’m a bad example. 😀

  13. Center Stage!!! duh! me & my best friend would watch this movie almost every weekend freshmen year of high school.

  14. I’m just so happy for you that you are already recovered. Seriously your training plan must have been so smartly planned out (obviously…duh), but I remember not being able to run for 4 or 5 weeks and having to go to PT to get electronic stim to freaking heal my butt! Sooo once again you are amazing. And I cried EVERY single day of those 5 weeks. And may or may not have HATED every single person I saw running outside….. I’m such a nice person!

  15. I’m visiting NYC for the first time next weekend (from Seattle) and plan to run 10 in Central Park on Saturday morning! I’d love to run with you. I’ll be on week 11 of training for my first marathon, and reading about your marathon is getting me super excited! Let me know if you want to meet up!

    1. Fun! You’ll love running in Central Park! Fall Saturday mornings in the park are the best thing in the world. I won’t be here this weekend — I’m running the Army 10-Miler in DC — but have a fantastic time!

  16. Well I do agree you are pretty special Ali (I mean that more than one way and out of love!) 🙂 it seems normalish to me that you being someone who likes structure and a plan would feel the now what sense. My vote is to take a couple weeks and just run to run, then find some aspect of your running that you’d like to improve and work on that until it’s time to start training for the next race. I hope Drunk Ali doesn’t get hit by Hungover Ali in the morning! Enjoy the night!!

  17. I’m looking forward to hearing what your next marathon is going to be! My husband and I are going to be in the same predicament when we finish our half marathon on October 23rd, since we started running in April we have always had a plan that we followed. Technically after our half marathon we don’t need one, we only have two races (a 15K and a 5K) after the half. We are going to continue to use a half marathon training program, though, because we both feel like we need the structure. Plus, we are going to add speed work in there to help us get faster!

  18. You really are nuts. I can’t wait to rest after my marathon. It was SO GREAT seeing you today, twice! You gave me a very much needed boost both times. Also, I think it is funny you are jealous of people still training because I am SO jealous of you being done!

  19. I think that it’s perfectly normal that you miss the routine of long runs on Saturdays because it was your life until 1 week ago. It was the pace of your week, and you never missed it. But it will only take some more time to make another routine that you’re as much excited about as the Hamptons one.
    But never quit extra carbs and 16 Handles on Friday night. No matter how many miles, no matter if you’re even running (probably yes, knowing I love sweat Ali).
    Have a perfect weekend!

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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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