The Weekend That Taught Me How To Prioritize


This weekend was everything I needed. I didn’t blog. I didn’t Tweet. If you posted something cool on Facebook, I know nothing about it. I never once checked my To Do list, or even thought about it, and I didn’t set an alarm all weekend.

And in the most shocking news, I also didn’t run. Not on Saturday. Not on Sunday.

Big deal, right? Most people in the world don’t feel the need to wake up at 6 am on Saturdays — and Sundays — to run for hours.

But that’s what I like to do. So when that doesn’t happen, for whatever reason, I pretty much always freak out and go nuts and feel guilty. It’s one of my worst habits.

There’s this whole Crohn’s/colitis thing going on with my body right now, though, so taking a mere two days off running wasn’t just good for me — it was absolutely necessary.

Rather than bore you with a whole rundown of my weekend, I’ll try to make it quick and bullet-pointed.

Pretty Cape Cod views. No stress here.

Thursday highlights:

  • I went to work. I did not like being there. I felt awful all day.
  • I attempted a spinning class after work. Every time the teacher guided us into a standing climb position, I thought my stomach was going to shrivel up or explode or do something very terrible. I survived the class, but I don’t think it did me much good. When will I ever learn to rest?
  • I made a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Ambitious, I know. I burnt it and set off my apartment’s smoke detector for a solid five minutes. You’re welcome for the excitement, neighbors.

Friday highlights:

  • Vacation day! I took the day off so Brian and I could drive out to Cape Cod to spend the weekend with my parents, my brother (Ryan) and my sister-in-law (Michaela). They planned this whole trip as a celebration back while I was training for my marathon: we were celebrating my 26.2 miles of fun, my mom an dad’s 30th wedding anniversary and Ryan’s 28th birthday (today!).
  • I went for a run in Central Park before we left. It was not lovely. Nor was it fun. I ran 5 miles, slowly, and due to sheer exhaustion and total lack of nutrients I had to take a few discouraging walking breaks. I also made many bathroom stops.
  • I finally gave in and started taking the Prednisone (steroids) my doctor prescribed me. Within a few hours, I swear, I could feel the positive effects. Healing time!
  • I successfully learned all (meh, most of) the words to Beyoncé’s “Countdown” song over the course of the long drive. Brian does not seem to agree that I have the voice of an angel.
  • We gambled. During the drive, this magical thing appeared:
Slots. Not sluts. Either way, we decided to stop.
  • Why yes, we will stop outside Newport, RI, to hang out with some sluts. Slots. And we won big. Big = $12.
Winner winner, chicken dinner!
  • We were the first to arrive at our little Cape Cod villa: a 3-bedroom (and, yay, 3-bathroom) house at Ocean’s Edge Resort in Brewster, MA.
  • Brian and I didn’t want to sit around waiting for my family, so we ate. And drank. And, miraculously, the wine didn’t kill my stomach. OK, it did a little bit. But it was good.
Wine flight? OK.
  • My parents, Ryan and Michaela finally arrived and we all did some more drinking. I had a dance party.

Saturday highlights:

  • Bike riding.
All aboard! And none of us wore helmets. Don't follow my lead, folks. I live on the edge.
  • Tennis. Fun fact: My entire family sucks at tennis. But we still played. Many times.
I couldn't find my hair elastics, so I had to play with my hair down, and I'm convinced that was the reason I was so terrible.
They, too, sucked at tennis. Serving, returning, we were all messes.
  • The boys golfed. The girls got massages. And I went in the hot tub. We also explored the resort’s pretty sights and the nearby beach.
This is "The Mansion" which is fancy.
Michaela and me at the beach. We did not go near the water. Too cold.
Nice fall day. Not bad at all.
Try to find Michaela and Ali. It's a really tough game. We're like Where's Waldo?
  • We ate and drank all night. And played games. Girls are better than boys at Catchphrase. Just saying.
  • We sang Happy Birthday to Ryan, even though his birthday cake had no candles.
He was not impressed when we told him to "Make a wish and blow out the imaginary candles."

Sunday highlights:

  • I woke up feeling like death. This should come as no surprise to me, considering the mass quantities of unhealthy/delicious things I gorged on all day Saturday.
  • We did some more bike riding and tennis playing.
  • We did some more exploring.
Cuddly matching time.
  • We all eventually said goodbye and I got sad. I flat out told Brian I didn’t want to  come back to the city. All my stress seems to live in NYC. Yes, I love it here and I know I’m lucky to live in this very cool place. But getting away and being around my family was perfect. I didn’t want the weekend to end.

So this is where I started getting crazy. And remember, crazy by Ali standards is very, very mild by all other peoples’ standards.

Normally after a weekend away, I want to get right in the car and drive back, without stopping, so I can return to…what?

But Brian and I were all, “Let’s not end the weekend right away. Let’s do something fun.”

So we drove through Newport, and it was the perfect way to wind down from the weekend.

Old-school windmill!

We drove along Ocean Drive and I put imaginary deposits down on all the mansions. We also took a tour of the Breakers Mansion. I didn’t put down a deposit there, but I mean, I’d live there if I had to.

And you can all come visit me.
This is an OK backyard. I wouldn't want to mow it though.

Before we hit the road again, we decided to really wrap up the weekend with a seafood dinner on the water…during sunset.

The view from our table. I liked it.

Life is good.

We went all-out at dinner, which to me means starting with a cup of whipped cream with some hot chocolate in it, and then eating a 2-pound lobster.

So sweet. So chocolaty. So obviously healthy.
I'm sorry you had to die, Mr. Lobster, but you are so delicious when dipped in melted butter.

I didn’t get home until 10 last night. Normally that would stress me out. But this weekend I realized that I need to refocus a bit, and really stick to my priorities.

I will never get my email inbox down to zero. I will never have time to do everything I want to do. There will always be errands to run, lists to make and people to please. There will be many, many more days in the future when I get to go for a long run on a Saturday morning.

But I won’t always get the chance to spend a weekend with my family, away from everything else. And that, to me, is the most important thing right now.

And I did return to running — this morning I covered 6 miles in Central Park. They weren’t my fastest miles and my stomach still isn’t close to being back to normal, as again evidenced by the multiple urgent bathroom stops. But I’m getting there.

This weekend I learned that it’s really not a big deal if I don’t run every day. I love running. But when I don’t feel well? I shouldn’t push it. And when there are better ways to spend my time, running can take a back burner. I’ll always have running, I hope. I need to learn to relax and I need to learn to chill out. I’m pretty sure my health will thank me.

Lastly, to my big brother, Ryan, here’s wishing you a very Happy Birthday! Thank you for being the best big brother I know. Thank you for beating up CJ Phelps that time he pushed me on the playground in fifth grade, and thank you for sharing my deathly fear of eye drops.

No worries, bro. They're scary to me, too.

I hope your day is perfect!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!



0 Responses

  1. Hi Ali,

    My name is Jocelyn and I am with Dwellable. I am looking for fun and authentic blogs about Ocean Edge Resort and yours happened to catch my eye. If you’re open to it, shoot me an e-mail at jocelyn(at)dwellable(dot)com.

    Hope to hear from you soon!
    – Jocelyn

  2. LOVE your post!!! My personal life is perfect but I have a really difficult time to stop thinking about work when I come home. This is going on for a while now and it totally bothers me. I’m trying to figure out how to stop worrying about things I can’t control or who don’t even matter in the big picture. I start reading more about mindfulness (living in the moment) and I’m hoping I can “learn” to live like that, but it’s tough. Let’s just take it a day at a time 🙂

  3. I recognize that casino! In case you were wondering, that is the bus pickup point to take you to the start line of the Breakers Marathon. (In two years, though, I have still not gone in to play, either before or after the race) 🙂

  4. I am always up for tennis, even though I am absolutely awful. I spend more time laughing than actually playing.

    Getting away for the weekend with your family sounded lovely. It’s nice to hear that your stomach is behaving a little better. And yes, it’s impossible to catch up on everything!

  5. Wow- this sounds like an absolutely fantastic weekend! Congrats on your big winnings at the Slots too:) I ran my first official race this weekend, and shaved 4 minutes off my fastest 5k time. Adrenaline really does wonders.

  6. Sounds like this weekend was exactly what you needed–after all, when are massages & hot chocolate NOT good??

    Sometimes taking time off from the usual things (no matter how much you feel like you need to do them) has unbelievable rewards. It’s a chance to just zoom out, as I like to think of it, and reset!

  7. Awww, I was supposed to be on the Cape this weekend but had to fly out of town. I was supposed to stay at my friends house who lives a mile from Oceans Edge! Crazy coincidence. PS- I went to a wedding at Oceans Edge in May and blogged about it! Its beautiful : )

  8. When I get overwhelmed by the too many things on my to-do list, I think of a quote I heard on Oprah, because Oprah knows everything! “When you die, your to-do list won’t be empty.” Do what you can and don’t stress about what you can’t!

  9. “Rather than bore you with a whole rundown of my weekend, I’ll try to make it quick and bullet-pointed.” I see that! lol
    great post! (I am NOT being sarcastic)

  10. Sounds like a great weekend!! I live just outside of the Cape and love to venture down there with my kiddies.

    I completed my first Marathon yesterday in Newport, did you see any runner’s out there?

  11. I had a similar revelation this weekend too! I went upstate to visit a friend and really didn’t feel like coming back. We went hiking and ate ice cream and laid on the couch. It was bliss. I didn’t write. I didn’t tweet. I didn’t Facebook. It was perfect. I pulled it out until the last minute and took the train back to work at 7 am this morning. Felt so good to get away.

    Glad you had a great weekend 🙂

  12. Sounds like a blast Ali! Good for you, it’s so important to just relax (in your mind as much as your bod).

    I have done 2 rounds of Prednisone, over the last few years, both times as a last resort and for about a month each go-round. I hated the stuff, it made me irritable and puffy, it did however, totally work, and once I was off it each time I could manage my symptoms with diet and the occasional horse-sized dose of immodium.

    Hope your on the up and up!

  13. It sounds like this week was perfect and just what you needed. It also sounds like you learned some pretty fabulous things. Now the real question- can you take what you’ve learned and realized and apply it to normal life and be OK with it? 🙂 That’s where it gets tough!

  14. I’m glad you had a relaxing weekend. You needed it. I hope you continue to feel better and stay relaxed.

    Those mansions are really beautiful.

    BTW, wore my new purple I <3 Sweat shirt on my long run this Saturday and tons of people complimented me on my shirt and I saw someone running in the opposite direction with one of the "Sweat" shirts on — we gave each other a big ol' smile. 🙂 You have united runners throughout NYC and beyond….

  15. I also took a tour of Newport this weekend… but on Saturday. I wish our paths had crossed. I swear reading your blog everyday sends some type of positive energy my way…. because the more I keep reading, the better and better my life starts to become and turns around in such a magical way.

    Maybe your jazz hands send off positive vibes?

    I’m so glad you had an amazing weekend! And I hope you start to feel better 🙂

  16. hahah can I just say– I had two 4+ hour car rides, so I too pretty much memorized the lyrics to “countdown”… I love love love that song! Glad you got such a nice fun relaxing weekend! Rest & relax till you feel back to your old self!

  17. What an fab weekend! Glad you are feeling a bit better, too.
    Wanted to let you know that I wore my Sweat shirt during my half-marathon yesterday and got so many cheers/shouts/great comments! It is now my favorite shirt to race in!

  18. I love the Cape! Looks like a wonderful, relaxing weekend complete with some great, wise realizations! Now do better than me when I have great realizations and actually remember those things in a few days! 😉 Glad you are feeling better!

  19. It sounds like you had a great fall weekend. Sometimes it takes some time away to realize where we need to re prioritize to get back on track. Its definitely not something anyone can accomplish overnight, but it sounds like you are on the right path.

  20. I’m glad you had such a wonderful RELAXING weekend. Cape Cod + family sounds like a winning combination. And I’m proud of you for not running. 🙂 Sounds like it was just what you needed.

    Hope as the week goes on you keep feeling better!


    Oh Ali. We all need to relax. I wound up in the ER on Thursday and the doctors are pretty sure I have an ulcer. Let’s play some games and not think about our to-do lists. And stay stress-free.

    Hm. Even as I type that, I feel like it’s ridiculously hard to do. Poop.

  22. Amazing weekend! I’ve been to the Breakers and some of the other Newport mansions, it’s crazy how big they are!

    I am realizing the same thing about running, sometimes there are more important things than doing everything on your training plan (like bringing your dog to the dog park!) Hopefully we will always be able to return to running after we take one or more necessary days off.

  23. Yay for cape cod–love that place. If only it wasn’t so cold in the winter. Glad you are starting to feel better and relax. I am beyond embarrassingly bad at tennis, unfortunately, the rest of my family is really good and refuse to play with my disaster of a game.

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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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