Dear Race On The Strip,
Hello. I just wanted to shoot you a quick note to let you know how much I’m looking forward to seeing you on December 4. It’s coming up quickly! In just six weeks I’ll be tearing up your asphalt, which isn’t as dirty as it sounds — but we can talk more about that another time.
I know that for the past few weeks you’ve been thinking that I’m nothing for you to worry about. Perhaps you’ve thought, “Ali is still recovering from her marathon. She’s not going to be ready to race a half in December.”
Or, Las Vegas Half, maybe you got cocky thinking that I was going to let this Crohn’s disease flare-up bring me down. Last night, after a stressful day to wrap up a stressful three-week period at work, I just wanted to run. I didn’t want to run fast and I didn’t want to run far. I got my nice boyfriend to join me for a jaunt along the East River. I thought I’d be able to power through 3–4 miles.
The night was perfect. Cool, breezy and beautiful.
But sadly, yet again, my stomach was just not having it. My brain said go, my stomach said no, and we got into a big battle along the river. It wasn’t a pretty scene. I slogged through 3.65 miles, taking more walking breaks than running ones.
You’ve seen me getting frustrated, Las Vegas. You’ve seen me getting weaker, slower and more Steroid-faced.
Sure, I get it. You don’t want me coming out there and crushing you this winter. That’s fine.
But I’m sorry.
I simply cannot oblige.
Because this morning, I woke up and I ran. I ran 11 miles and they weren’t perfect, but they were damn good. The weather was cool, crisp and perfect. The bleachers have been put up in Central Park where, in two weeks, fans will swarm to cheer on the finishers of the New York City Marathon.
The park was packed with runners. Some tapering for their fall marathons — Marine Corps and New York City — and others getting in some final major mileage before later races, like Philadelphia. Everyone was working hard. Everyone was flying by. And I was one of those people.
Yes, I had to make a few bathroom stops. In fact, I found a lovely new bathroom by the Great Lawn that appeared just as I needed it.
I felt amazing for the first five miles. My stomach wasn’t totally calm, but it was cooperating. I forgot how much easier running feels when it’s not 90 degrees and humid. Everything today just felt right.
Everything felt especially right during mile five, when I started to see my watch light up with numbers I hadn’t seen in a long time: sub 8-minute miles. I held on for dear life.
I felt untouchable.
As I wrapped up my sixth mile, I was giddy. “I’m back!” I practically shouted in my head.
Just then, I saw a familiar face running toward me over on the Bridle Path.
Brian is planning to crush you in December, too, Las Vegas. Today was his first long training run for what will be his first half marathon, and I know he’s pumped.
We were both excited to see each other, and we decided to wrap up our respective runs together — me shooting for 10 miles, Brian looking to cover eight.
We hit up the Reservoir for two laps. We kept the pace comfortably fast. We didn’t talk much. We both had our headphones in. We just ran. We passed people and let very few people pass us.
As we returned to our starting spot, we were both sweaty, exhausted and happy.
So like I said, Las Vegas: I’m sorry. I’m sorry I am not planning to go easy on you this December. My plan is to come out there and crush you. I’m going to run hard, I’m going to run fast, and I’m going to tell you and your little friend Crohn’s disease (I do assume the two of you are working together in an attempt to beat me) to suck it.
I ended up running 11 miles today. I ran them at a pace I’m happy with. A pace I will further crush when I arrive in Nevada in December.
(Don’t get too excited about mile 11, Vegas. That was the cool down. There were puppy stops involved during mile 11.)
My confidence has been boosted. The Steroids may not be working at rapid speed, but they’ll kick in eventually. And then I’ll continue getting faster.
I will see you soon, Las Vegas. I hope you’re looking forward to it. I know I am.