The Reason I’m Running The Las Vegas Half

I leave for Las Vegas in four days.

Four days? Should I start packing? No. I'll do that Thursday night.

I’ve been excited about this trip for a long time. Not only will I be running the Las Vegas Half Marathon on Sunday evening (attempting to PR — have I mentioned that?), I’ll also be out there with my nice friend Brian — it’s his half marathon debut — and we’ll be celebrating his birthday. Lots to be psyched about!

But last night, after a very blah Chisel class at the gym, I was reminded of the real reason I’m going out to Las Vegas to run this race.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is the charity sponsor for the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, and I’m honored to be running as part of CCFA’s Team Challenge program.

Look for me in bright orange!

Through Run For The Rabbit — and with your help — I raised more than $20,000 for CCFA. I’m still pretty blown away by that number and I’m so humbled by all of the support I received throughout the fundraising and marathon training process.

Now I get to join thousands of other runners while we crush the Vegas Strip.

Last night I attended the Team Challenge NYC travel party at the CCFA offices. It was my first time meeting all the Team NYC runners and Daphnie, the team coach. Everyone was nice and everyone was so excited. The race on Sunday is most peoples’ first half marathon — and for many of them it’s their first race ever. The energy in the room was totally contagious and I left the meeting feeling all kinds of giddy about this race.

When the meeting started, we went around the room introducing ourselves and saying why we’re running this race or who we’re running it for. I awkwardly let everyone know that, “I’m Ali and I’m running this race for…myself I guess…because I have Crohn’s…or colitis…but I’m also running it for my brother, who has Crohn’s, too, and for all the great people I’ve met through this program.”

And then I did a little involuntary giggle and my throat made a weird noise. Nice to meet you, everyone.

As each team member shared his or her reasons for running, I actually teared up a little, which was weird. I wasn’t expecting to get emotional, but all the stories really touched me. Of course it warmed my heart hearing from the people who were training for the race through flare-ups (power to you all!), but I especially loved hearing from the people who were running in honor of their loved ones. It’s pretty cool that people are willing to train for a 13.1 mile race to raise money for something that will help people they care about. I like that.

It’s been two years since I ran a race with Team Challenge and I forgot just how great this program is.

GO TEAM NYC! I wrote that.

I also found out last night that Team NYC is the top fundraising team in the country. I was the second highest fundraiser on Team NYC, and the sixth highest fundraiser in the country! Apparently, by being in the Top 10, I get to use special porta potties at the start line. That may be the new highlight of my life. I am psyched. Special toilets! Just for doing a good deed!

I went to sleep last night feeling very happy and grateful.

Then I woke up this morning feeling sleepy.

My alarm was all, “Ali! Wake up! Time to run! Do what Coach Cane told you to do! Gooooo!”

Yeah I know, Coach Cane isn’t technically my coach anymore. But he still helps me out when I send him emails saying, “I’m going to try to PR on Sunday. What should I do this week?”

He graciously responded within minutes with some sage advice:

Go crack some heads in Vegas. You don’t need to go crazy with the taper — just don’t do anything hard after tomorrow. Unlike some other runners, you don’t seem to respond well to a big taper, and it’s not really necessary for a half marathon. I’d do some long intervals at goal pace tomorrow — maybe 3 x 1 mile at HM pace with 1/4 mile recovery jogs — and then cruise with some easy runs the rest of the week. Do an easy jog when you land, and throw in a few striders so you can feel some speed, but keep them short so you’re not tired.

Isn’t he the best? Here’s a picture of his new son Simon, in case you forgot what he looks like:

Brian and Simon are great friends.

The plan for this morning was a one-mile warm-up, three miles at my half marathon goal pace and a one-mile cool-down.

The warm-up mile was lovely, the first goal-pace mile was lovely, the second goal-pace mile started to feel like work and the third goal-pace mile was a real bitch. And the cool-down was delightful.

This is what this morning's run looked like by the numbers. Check out that killer cool-down mile. I loved it.

Brian was in charge of wearing the watch and setting the pace, which is the plan for Race Day. My plan is to just try to stay with him.

We were both hurting a bit this morning by the end of the run. My legs are definitely ready to chill now as Race Day approaches.

My shirt makes me want to run fast. It's so demanding.

Also, I ran in a tank top and shorts…on November 29. I love it.

So now I have my Team Challenge singlet, I have my playlist ready to go and I have my last speed workout completed. I’m good to go, right?



I’m honestly a little freaked out at the thought of trying to maintain a 7:45 pace for 13.1 miles. I’m trying not to think about it too much, but it scares me. I know that if I dwell on the number on the watch — which thankfully I won’t even be wearing, but still — I’ll get all mental and crazy.

So to summarize:

  • I’m really really excited to be running with Team Challenge.
  • I might have access to private porta potties.
  • My hamstrings are sleepy.
  • My plan for Race Day is to start running fast when I cross the start line and not let up until I cross the finish.

Have a great Tuesday, friends!



0 Responses

  1. The goal of the pacer is to run even splits or about the same pace each mile. You can ask your pacer about their race plan. You are encouraged to run/walk your own race strategy and use the pace team leader as a guide and resource on the course. However, many competitors find it helpful to stay in a pack, which tends to create a motivating bond on the course and forward momentum. You don’t have to remain with the pace team the entire race. You can always slow down or speed up to the next pace group depending on the type of day you are having. Be realistic with the time you set for yourself.

  2. Dear Ali,

    I’ve been a fan of your blog ever since it was freshly pressed. And I really love coming here to see whats happening in your life. Especially love your “thankful things thursdays” feature. It fills me with a lot of energy and optimism for my own life!
    Good luck for the Las Vegas half! I don’t do any running, but I’m preparing for this huge exam that’s falling on Dec 4th as well. 🙂 [I’m still in college- study at NUS, Singapore.]
    I have a small blog of my own too ( where I occasionally post stuff about my life. I would like to use your thankful things thursday feature on my blog as well! Do let me know if you are ok with that?


  3. Am I the only one who spots the irony behind having special port-o-potties for the top fundraisers for the Crohn’s team? Well, I mean, I’m sure lots of charities get it too, but just saying…

    You’re going to KILL Vegas!! Go lady go!

  4. YAY! You’re gonna kick butt in Vegas. I am so jealous. You get to run in NY all the time, and now run a race in Vegas! My dream come true pretty much, even without a PR! Lookin forward to seeing your playlist. Thank you for being so awesome *and* inspiring.

  5. I’m SO incredibly excited to hear all about the race! It’s so neat that you have an opportunity to go as a VIP guest- what a great little treat after working so hard to train, raise money, and run the marathon! Congrats!

  6. I am so, so amused by how the prize for being a top fundraiser for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is special porta potties. Very appropriate 🙂

  7. You will rock Vegas! And as a fellow Crohnie- thank you for raising so much money for such a great cause! You will have to share your fundraising secrets so I can do a CCFA Team Challenge race next year!

  8. Dude, 6th highest in the country? I can’t believe I’m friends with such a rockstar. Mama F must be so proud. I’m pretty sure being a badass fundraiser guarantees PR success. Can’t wait to be there to witness it in my finest sparkles.

  9. “I’m honestly a little freaked out at the thought of trying to maintain a 7:45 pace for 13.1 miles. I’m trying not to think about it too much, but it scares me. I know that if I dwell on the number on the watch — which thankfully I won’t even be wearing, but still — I’ll get all mental and crazy.”

    <– THIS. Replace 7:45 with 8:45 and that's exactly how I'm feeling right now (except I don't have a handsome friend wearing my watch, since he'll will be up ahead somewhere crushing a goal of his own). I race a week after you, so when you discover the trick to not mentally breaking the F down, please come back here and write about it immediately, because I need it! Now go crush that PR.

  10. Team Challenge sounds like such a great organization! I just started reading, but saw you were a top fundraiser – over 20,000? WOW, that’s SO awesome!
    Looking at your race recaps and seeing how much faster you’ve gotten over the last few years gives me hope that I’ll get faster too 🙂 Those splits amaze me, you’ll crush your PR in Las Vegas!!

  11. It’s amazing how easy it is to get choked up at events like your dinner. I think I’ve cried at every charity dinner or Marine Corps Birthday Ball I’ve attended.

    Good luck in Vegas! Say hi to Kate Gosselin for me!

  12. Special porta-potties sound amazing!! When I did the Vegas Marathon there wasn’t enough time for the porta-potties so I went into the McDonalds. Turns out the line was too long there too. So I may or may not have used the parking lot. Classy.

  13. I love that you are doing this with Team Challenge, and I can’t believe you were the 6th top fundraiser in the country! You are amazing! I think access to special porta-potties is a pretty great prize for all that hard work. 🙂

    I know 7:45s seem intimidating now, but stop thinking about it. Seriously. Just stop. The adrenaline (and Brian) will take over on race day, and you’ve just got to run hard (simple, right??). Just be confident. I know you have the speed in you and I can’t wait to hear how you do!

    Also I love that shirt. A lot.

  14. OK, how is it still that warm there? I’m jealous. I’ve been sporting my long down coat the past few days here in the great city of Chicago. I even had to wear my hood on my walk home from the gym. Sad.

    I can’t believe the R&R LV is here already!

  15. Wow, you are really inspiring Ali!

    Quick question for you – when you run with your Garmin do you run with the average pace or the instant pace? I’m trying to figure out which is best.

  16. Such an awesome way to be running a race.. for a CAUSE! I love how warm it has been off.. but a tiny part of me wants a snow day. Can you blame me? It is part of the reason I am teacher.. so I can have snow days 🙂

    I love your shirt. A lot. And how sweaty you are (in a non-obtrusive way).

  17. I AM SO EXCITED! Vegas is THIS WEEK. Our pre-race party is tomorrow night, and I know it will make me all kinds of emotional. Tonight I plan on getting my arm warmers all covered in people’s names and that will make me emotional too. Really, this has been a much more emotional experience for me than I expected. (How many times can I use the word emotional in one comment? I’m so good at word choice this morning.)

    I can’t wait to see you. And celebrate our PRs. And run for a freaking awesome cause. WOOHOO!

  18. You are going to be great in Vegas!!! Just don’t curse as you cross the finish line, like I did. I was super unprepared but still finished, and you know how lazy I am. You’re going to be great, and do will Boots!!!! Take photos for me!!!

  19. I LOVE how much you really do for crohn’s and colitis, it is something more people probably have than some of us realize, and it’s just such a frustrating disease. knowing someone that went through it and still gets flare ups now and again, and I really appreciate what you do! And I LOVED running in this weather today! I wore my I heart sweat t shirt too, channeled you…or tried to, but my miles probably look more like your cool down mile. But that’s ok 🙂

  20. I feel like as a VIP you should also get special security escorts with dark sunglasses or something. Just because. I’d inquire if I were you.

    Also- post the playlist, please?

  21. Special porta potties for top fundraisers?? That is one of the coolest things I have ever heard. I’m jealous you went for a run in this warm weather. Love the shirt! Also, I still really want to take you to my Kayleigh’s yoga so let me know when you might be able to join. I need to start learning fancy things like “3 x 1 mile with 1/4 mile recovery jog” and then do them. I want to PR!

  22. I might cry with you. Run fast! Do it now! We’ll all be cheering you from NY 🙂 Also, Team Challenge’s singlets are much prettier than I remember them being. Cheers to that! Take pictures of the Elvi and, hey, thanks for raising all that money ‘cuz Crohns & Colitis sucks.

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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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