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.
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.
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.
That happened. I saw them all a lot, and I loved the energy in the park.
I even had an NYC-style celebrity sighting: NYRR’s own Mary Wittenburg.
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!