Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Recap

Alternate title for this post: “The Time I Talked A Big Game & Told Vegas To Be Afraid Of Me & Then Blew It On The Race Course.” But that seemed a little long, don’t you think?

Hi, and welcome to my pity party!

No, not really. That party was yesterday. You missed it. I’m sorry.

So by now you’ve probably figured it out: I did not PR at the Las Vegas Half Marathon liked I had hoped. In fact, I didn’t even come close.

1:52 finish time. Respectable? OK. But when the goal was 1:43? Not so much.

I’ll take you back to the beginning, because that is where all stories should start.

I woke up around 7 am on race day. I would have liked to sleep a little later, but I was like, “Hey! It’s Race Day! Time to rise and try to shine!” I had a granola bar — the Entenmann’s chocolate chip kind with no real granola in it — like I always do and hung around the room for a while. Eventually Brian and I made our way to get an actual meal.

Everywhere in the Mandalay Bay area was packed with hungry runners. We ended up at The Luxor buffet, where we waited a lovely 45 minutes to be seated.

This was the line at the buffet. I'm pretty sure it's longer than the line to ride Space Mountain.

Sadly, we had just missed breakfast and they were turning the buffet over to the lunch menu. It was weird. We had some eggs and some pasta and then decided we had eaten enough. It was a very mediocre meal.

Brian and I spent the rest of the day walking around the casinos and losing more money at the slot machines. I may have a slight gambling addiction at this point. I hear the Wheel of Fortune music in my head at night…I dream about hitting the Double Diamond…

We took a nap, which was a great idea, and woke up to get ready for the race around 2:30.

Fun fact: I never pin my bibs on straight. It's a skill, really.

I followed the usual routine: shower, abs, bib pinning, listen to pump-up music, work on jazz hands.

These are my jazz hands.

But the thing is, I never really felt pumped up. I tried to get psyched. I was happy to put on my leg warmers, of course, and I was excited that Brian was about to run his first half marathon. But to be completely honest I never really felt that this was going to be my race. I tried to ignore that feeling and assumed I was just nervous, but I just never got as excited as I wanted to be.

It's go time.

At 4:00 we worked our way down to the Mandalay Bay lobby where we met up with all the NYC Team Challengers.

Go Team Challenge!

Everyone was so excited, which was cool, and tons of people asked me what my goal time was. And I told them all, just like I told all of you for so long, that I was, “Shooting for 1:43.” Though really, if Brian and I had stuck to our pace plan, we would have come in at 1:41, but saying that out loud seemed crazy to me.


The running coaches wished us all luck, and then it was off to the start line.

This was madness. There were no signs telling us where to go and Mandalay Bay was so crowded that it took forever to get anywhere.

Another thing: I used the bathroom a bunch of times, but was never really satisfied with what was happening in there. That is all.

Brian and I made our way to the start, making a quick stop at bag check (easy and efficient).

It's OK to ask strangers to take your photo. They won't mind.

Next stop: The VIP Porta Potties. These were awesome, once I found them. There was a guy standing at the entrance to the trailers with Gu Chomps on a silver platter, which was kind of hilarious, and the bathrooms were real toilets! That flushed! And were clean! I did, in fact, feel very VIP.

It took us forever to work our way into our corral. We were seeded in the third corral, which was great because we managed to avoid all the crazy crowds people seem to be ranting about.

We stood together while the National Anthem happened, and then high fived and kissed a bunch of times — and then we were off.

The plan was to stay between a 7:45 and 7:50 pace. We knew not to go out too fast, and we didn’t want to waste time or energy weaving.

The crowds thinned out immediately and I never felt like we were too close to other runners. The first mile was a blur, and I was excited during the second mile because I knew I’d see my Sparkly Friends screaming on the sidelines.

I felt great when we saw Emily and Sarah. Brian had to tell me to slow down several times to stay on pace — thanks, Brian! — and I remember at one point asking him what our pace was. “7:45,” he told me, and I smiled at him and screamed, “Easy!”

I felt good. I felt comfortable.

And a few minutes later, I got a sweet ass slap from Page, who cruised by like she was on wheels.

We cruised down the Strip and I’d love to say I took in all the sights, but I really didn’t. I’ve done this race before. I’ve seen the Strip. I was there to run. I focused on keeping my arms relaxed and my head up.

I started to hurt a bit around mile four. Yes, mile freakin’ four. Seriously, Ali?

My legs began to feel heavy and my stomach was not thrilled at all.

We left the Strip and ran through some side streets for a while. By mile six I had fallen off pace a bit. I was trying to keep up with Brian but my legs just wouldn’t speed up. People say that flat courses are great, but I would have killed for a nice rolling hill to help me out.

Bitch bitch bitch, whine whine whine.

I know. It’s pathetic. Trust me, I’d rather be sitting here telling you about how gloriously fast and effortless this race was for me.

At this point, all I could think about was the fact that if I continued to slow down, a PR was going to be completely out of reach. I didn’t have much wiggle room, so I either needed to speed the heck up or accept that I’d PR another day.

I kept running, and Brian was great, constantly motivating me and telling me, “You can do this. You’ve got this.” I just remember thinking he was insane, but I appreciated his efforts.

At mile eight, I saw Porta Potties. I told Brian that I wanted to stop, but that I didn’t necessarily have to. My stomach was miserable but I wanted to push through. He told me that if I stopped and made it quick, and then picked the pace back up, we could still hit our goal.

I darted into the bathroom, took care of business and was back out in less than a minute. Mentally I felt relieved. I didn’t need to worry about my stomach anymore. I could focus on running and trying to run fast again.

Within half a mile, I got knocked with a killer side stitch cramp, and I had major marathon flashbacks. This is when I knew this race was over for me.

I gave up.

I told myself, “It’s fine. You’ll PR another day. Today isn’t your day. Enjoy this run. Do it for Brian.”

I slowed down big time. I tried to breathe through the cramp and I got water, but it wasn’t going away. I kept telling Brian he could go ahead because he looked so strong and I hated the idea of my bad race ruining his first one. I know he could’ve hit 1:43 — and probably even 1:39 — no problem. But he refused to go ahead. Silly stubborn boy.

I seriously struggled through those last miles. Our pace continued to drop. I was fighting the cramp in my side and my legs just would not go. Brian asked a few times if I thought I could pick it back up, and I tried. But it was like my legs were being held back by someone behind me and they refused to move forward. It was an awful feeling.

As we ran back down the Strip, Mandalay Bay seemed so far away. We were no longer hitting 7:50s, or even 8:50s — our pace was in the 9:00/mile range. That was never the plan. I am the Queen of Positive Splitting. It’s not a title I’m proud of.

Around mile 10, I asked Brian if there was still any chance we could PR. He just sort of looked at the watch, looked at me and shook his head. It wasn’t going to happen.

Instead of feeling sad, I felt overcome with relief. It was like this huge weight was lifted. I remember thinking to myself, “Now I can relax and enjoy the rest of this race.”

I didn’t really enjoy it because that damn cramp stuck with me until I crossed the finish line, but I do think it’s interesting that as soon as that time goal was gone, I felt happier. The pressure was gone. I wasn’t happy about not hitting my goal — or even coming close to it — but I felt relieved that I didn’t have to think about it so much anymore. And as I type that, I hate myself a little bit, because it sounds so weak and so pathetic.

Finally, after struggling through a handful of miserable miles, the finish line was close. Brian and I rounded a corner into the Mandalay Bay starting area and Brian grabbed my hand. I was shot at this point. I just wanted to be done. I wasn’t enjoying myself.

We cruised toward the finish together and I forced a smile. I kissed Brian and told him I was so proud of him — his first half marathon!

Brian, you're a half marathoner!

But we were both bummed. I know it must have been frustrating for him to continually try and motivate me and get nothing in return. He also ripped his knee to shreds and he is currently walking like a very tipsy, lopsided human.

And on my end? I’m pissed. I’m disappointed. I’m embarrassed.

I talked this big game. “Watch out Vegas! I’m going to crush you! PR here I come!” And then I had a little stomachache, I got a cramp, and I gave up.

After we finished, Brian and I wove through the finisher’s area. I drank a ton of water and a slice of an orange, but I couldn’t get anything else down. My body temperature immediately went into Crazy Mode — this happened the last time I ran in Vegas, too! — and suddenly I was sweating and shivering and needed to get back to the room as fast as possible.

Brian and I didn’t talk much after the race. I was upset. I wasn’t ready to talk about the fact that I felt like a quitter.

Fellers don’t quit. Except when I was younger and I quit gymnastics because I fell off the high bar too many times and was deathly afraid of the balance beam. That was legitimate though. I could have died on those bars!

So we got back to the room, and I don’t really remember what happened immediately afterward. I know I showered. OK, I kind of showered. I stood under the water for about 20 minutes and then had to sit down in the shower because I thought I was going to pass out. Not so fun.

And then I remember napping for about two hours. I was drained, but I also hoped that if I fell asleep, the race wouldn’t have been real. Maybe I could re-wake up and get a redo.

Sadly that wasn’t the case.

Eventually, even though I had no appetite, Brian and I went to dinner around 11:30 pm. I ordered French Onion soup and some crab cakes. I took about one bite of each. I got two glasses of wine, downed them, and felt nothing. I would have liked a nice buzz, but that didn’t happen.

I know this all comes off as tragic and whiny, but that’s how I feel. I’ve cried a lot since the race. I’m sure that seems a little ridiculous — trust me, I know it’s just a race and not something serious, like the fact that Celine isn’t playing her show while I happen to be in Las Vegas — but I am really disappointed in myself.

I wish I had pushed harder. I should have pushed through the pain. I should have been more hardcore.

I wish I had felt better.

I wish I had made people proud.

Pre-race kisses make the sadness go away. Right?

Going into this race, everyone was so sure I was going to PR. I got all these nice comments and Tweets and messages saying, “You’ll crush it in Vegas.”

I never believed it though.

Mentally, I don’t think I ever felt confident that this was going to be my A-race.

Brian keeps telling me that I get too “in my head” about all this stuff. I spent a lot of time yesterday crying. I woke up and then I had the greatest pity party of all time. I’m really sorry you all couldn’t make it.

I know I didn’t run an impressive race. I know that I put too much pressure on myself. I’ve always been a go-getter and the idea of failing isn’t really something I’m OK with. I thought I was in the midst of my great post-Crohn’s comeback, and while a 1:52 finish time is by no means a bad time, it isn’t my personal best.

I kept telling Brian yesterday that I felt like I let everyone down. I know that my race time is so irrelevant to so many people, but I still felt an incredible amount of pressure to race well. And then, just when I thought I could move on, I got the email I had been dreading.

Coach Cane.

Naturally he looked up my splits. And he saw that I ran the first 10K at sub-8:00 miles and the second half of the race at 9-minute miles. He wanted to know if I slowed down to wait for Brian or if Brian had to slow down for me.

I responded as succinctly as I could: “Brian slowed down for me. I hate racing. I’m done.”

Nice, right? I’m such a gem. So positive. So pleasant.

I sobbed my way through Coach Cane’s response like a sad little puppy: “I don’t think you suck at racing. I think you do a bit of a number on yourself, but I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell yourself you suck and you will suck. If you ever want to discuss it some more, I am happy to give you my $.02, which is guaranteed to be worth every nickel. If you really just don’t want to race, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and I won’t try to dissuade you, but if you don’t want to race because you think you suck, then I think you should reconsider. Regardless, please enjoy the rest of your trip.”

Yesterday morning Brian and I met up with Emily, Sarah, Page and Aron for breakfast.

Question: When are you all moving to NYC? Soon? Wonderful.

Thank you, wonderful friends, for making me feel so much better. I was still pretty upset when we all met up, and I had to choke back tears as everyone consoled me. But as each of these badass runner chicks shared their own stories about missed PRs, I started to feel so much better.

Sarah, thank you for telling me about that time you printed “Sub 4 or Die” on your race bib and then didn’t, in fact, hit a sub-4 hour marathon.

Emily, thank you for sharing your story about the time you wanted to go 3:20 in the marathon and finished in 3:52. You’re right. Those times are basically the same.

Emily thinks I should keep racing. She says I go out too fast. I have a lot to learn.

But it was Aron’s story about her quest to Boston Qualify that really helped me go from sad and sulky to less sad and less sulky. Aron wanted a BQ. She devoted months of her life to that one goal, and it didn’t happen — three times in a row. But eventually it did. And I think she kicks ass.

It seems every runner has a story about a missed PR and a disappointing race. I guess this is mine. Won’t it be fun when I have a story about actually nailing a PR? That’ll be a great post to write.

I was in a crap-ass mood yesterday morning and I was hating racing and hating life. I still kind of hate racing, at least for now, because I need to learn how to race without putting so much pressure on myself. Surrounding myself with runner friends helps. They get it.

After breakfast, Brian and I decided we were done being little bitches. We suited up, hit the Strip and spent the rest of the day eating (a lot), drinking (too much, according to how I feel this morning) and riding roller coasters. It ended up being a pretty perfect day.

Also, Brian won $532 on a slot machine.

Winner winner, buy me a chicken dinner! Or sushi, preferably.

I lost $100.

I put off writing this recap for a while because I knew it was going to read like a lame tragic novel. But now that it’s all out there, I actually feel a lot better.

It was just one race. It wasn’t my day. I’m not a professional runner. My race times do not define who I am. My life isn’t over.

I’ll PR in the half marathon someday. And it will be glorious.

Congratulations to all of the racers this weekend. You inspire me.



127 Responses

  1. Way to push through a race when you didn’t feel your best. Same thing happened to me during the NYC marathon, I went out waaaaay to fast and it came back and humbled me as I smacked into the most horrific wall. I ended up walking and finishing about 47 min of my goal pace. I wasn’t mad or upset. I was quite impressed with myself for finishing. Two weeks later I came back and ran the Brooklyn Marathon and hit my pace and goal. Some days you have it, some you don’t. It is about finishing, not setting a PR, I learned this the hard way. Congrats to you!

  2. It’s like when you’re having a bad day and you think everything sucks. Everything does not suck, it’s just a bad day. It wasn’t your best race, but there will be others – and when you PR, try to remember it for awhile. It sucks that the bad experiences make us forget the good ones!

  3. I’m sure everyone has said what I’m going to say, but it was only one race. We’ve all had bad races, and you’re coming off of a nasty flare up which certainly didn’t help your training at all. Some days we train perfectly and race day doesn’t work out. Even when I hit race goals it’s not always on the best executed plan (hello, going out too fast!).

    It’s the journey of running that makes it so great….I followed Aron’s BQ attempts and I’ve never been more excited for someone to run Boston because I know how hard she worked for that. If every race was a PR, they’d be less special.

    We need to run together soooooon!

  4. Ali – We would love to have you experience Indianapolis. Registration is still open for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon; the nation’s largest half marathon with 35,000 runners/walker. May 5, 2012. Guaranteed to be your best half marathon experience. You get tech shirt, tech hat, medal, plenty of food, 17 water/Gatorade stations and over 100 entertainment groups; PLUS, you do a lap on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Event sells out in December – so don’t wait.

  5. Isn’t it the lost PRs that makes us keep running?? The lost PRs are as big a motivator as the PRs. I guess you’ll just have to keep running ; )

  6. I’m a relatively new reader and I feel like such a nerd saying that I was looking forward to your recap because I wanted to say I’m pretty sure I saw you during the race! I think it was in the second or third mile, I heard all those crazy Team Challenge cheerleaders and saw a girl in pink leg warmers up ahead and thought “That must be her!”

    Moving on — oh I feel ya, I was shooting for a 1:45 PR and came in just under 1:54; first 4 miles or so felt great and then it all went to hell. By the end, it was easily the most painful race I’ve EVER run. I could barely walk back to the hotel afterward and never did make it back out for drinks and dinner. It’s definitely a huge blow to your confidence (I’m now sort of dreading my next half marathon in February) and I’ve just been not thinking about it for the past couple days. In fact, during the race, I just sort of shut down emotionally, which makes me mad now because I feel like I didn’t fully enjoy or take in all the sights of the strip.

    I feel really weird saying this because who am I to give you advice? But for what it’s worth (this comes mainly from 4 years of high school cross country, and one race in particular after which I locked myself in my car crying for 20 minutes), maybe try to forget racing for awhile. Not forever, just put it on the back burner. Forget a training plan and just go out for runs or whatever workouts you want when you feel like it. If anything, sign up for a shorter distance (10K or other fun run) or a relay or something. I have no doubt that you’re capable of hitting that PR one day, but you don’t have to do it at the expense of enjoying your runs.

  7. You’re in good company. On Saturday I ran a marathon that was supposed to be my “redemption” for a lackluster finish in the New York City Marathon. Instead I set a new personal worst. I’m demoralized and frustrated but I know that I WILL eventually run the strong, fast race that has eluded me. You will too.

  8. For the record I didn’t actually die after failing Sub4orDie. I might have left out that part of the story.

    But in all honesty, I hope Brian buys you something really nice with his winnings. (the eventual PR is obvious and not necessary in mentioning.)

  9. Ali, I think you are really brave for putting all of this out there and admitting how you feel about your race. While it never feels good to write a “woe is me” post, it is not only therapeutic for yourself but it gives your readers some insight into how running is so emotional and hard mentally.
    If I could make you feel a little bit better by sharing my own failure story, I can tell you that not many people can say they have a permanent reminder of not reaching their goal time. I have one in the form of an incomplete tattoo on my ass. I think you’ve inspired me to write a post about it, I rarely talk about it since to this day it’s still a hit to my ego (and it’s actually a poorly done tattoo to boot, it puffs out when I get too hot which means it was inked too deep).
    I was on the same team as Lizzy in college, we had a tough coach and some blazing fast competition. I also quit, but was coaxed into returning to the team, I’ve cried more times over running than I can honestly remember (my coach jokes that I have the record amount of tears cried in his office).
    I think that’s why I’m tough on runners like me. Runners who get too heady, too hard on themselves and who check the watch obsessively. It took me three years to recover mentally from the anguish of running competitively, and now I’m just starting to get fast again. Don’t go down my path. Take deep breaths when you start thinking about what you should have done differently, when you recognize a negative thought regarding running, immediately turn it to a positive one, and forgive yourself for being hard on yourself. That last one can be a doozy. Deep breaths really do help the most. You are still amazing. You are still very very lucky. Keep that Brian guy around, he seems like a wonderfully positive influence and a running partner for a partner in life is so incredibly valuable. Take some time to shake this one off and then go at the next one with a clear head and an open heart.

  10. I am a runner who doesn’t sugarcoat things and I absolutely agree with coach cane. I loved reading your report except just one line which actually made me sad.

    You said, “And on my end? I’m pissed. I’m disappointed. I’m embarrassed.”

    You can be pissed, really pissed and can be super disappointed in your race but you should NEVER be embarrassed about it. NEVER. That’s my philosophy at least.
    You tried something and you didn’t achieve your goal this time. Big deal. Why short changes yourself for 1:43. Keep training and may be 1:33 would be within reach. You are a fairly new runner and it takes time to master the art of racing. Hell, no one has figured it out completely. People just have theories and theirs are as good as yours.

    Good luck for your future racing.


  11. I know you are disappointed in yourself, but you need to pick yourself up and see all that you’ve accomplished! A lot of people don’t have the ability to even finish a half marathon, so just think how lucky you are to be healthy enough to cross the finish line! 10 years from now, that time won’t matter- so enjoy that fact that you finished another race!

  12. Even though you may not belive this, you are an inspiration and I was so excited that I ran into you on the way into the pasta dinner on Saturday night. It made me even more excited to run, be proud of the money I raised for CCFA and made it even more real how I am not alone living with Crohn’s disease. Thanks again for taking the time to chat and I truly appreciate how honest and rel you keep your blog. Crohn’s sucks!

  13. So happy to have met you this weekend 🙂 You did great even if you didn’t PR! Sometimes things happen when you least expect it! Take some time to enjoy racing and don’t be too hard on yourself. You have been through a lot and you have come a long way this year! Enjoy the little moments and stop dreading the other ones!!

  14. I just have to say, over the past couple of weeks I’ve gone back and read your entire blog, beginning to end. I’m a beginning runner, and everything you write about is so inspiring. Even the times you mess up, or miss a goal, or are disappointed in yourself, it makes me feel like I don’t have to strive for perfection, if even a great runner like you has off days.

    Maybe look for other ways to measure success, such as the people you’ve inspired, the friends you’ve made, improved health and fitness, and even just finishing. I’m sure not PRing is frustrating, but you’re doing so much else! You still have so much to be proud of. 🙂

  15. I was like “Wait! What?” when you said the race started in the afternoon. That’s kind of weird.

    On the “I didn’t PR part”: You are not a loser, you ran a half marathon. That is really something and not everyone can say that. So you were 10 min slower than you wanted to be, that’s ok, it wasn’t quite your day.
    Yes, maybe you think about it too much and put too much pressure on yourself. (I have a friend who is like that and she always comes around and nails it.) Next time you’ll run this half marathon you’ll do it. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
    Besides, from what I read here your illness is not something a runner would like to have. You still go out and run, at like 5am in the morning. That is such an accomplishment and you can be so proud of yourself.
    Think positive, let your friends (real and online) cheer you up and hit it big next time. You can do it because you already done so much more than the average person. Be proud of what you have done and what you have accomplish…and forget the PR. Don’t think about it and you’ll do it.

  16. 1. Thank you for writing so honestly. It’s refreshing.
    2. That being said, I couldn’t agree with Coach Cane any more strongly. I see this a lot with my students: if you feel like you suck, and you tell yourself you suck, you will suck. The more you beat yourself up, the worse you will perform. Don’t quit racing because you think you suck—because you don’t. You’re strong, determined, and passionate about your running. These are awesome, desirable, and admirable traits.
    3. Does Brian want to donate that money? To me? I’d love him forever and ever!

  17. I’m sorry for you. I love how you end your post, though. Sometimes it feels like things that are important to us, like PRs, do define us. THEY DO NOT, and I’m happy you can see that. I often have clients go out to a window, look outside, and ask themselves “did the world just end.” Sometimes we can act, and start to think, that the world just ended when it, in fact, did not. It sounds like you were able to come to this realization. It’s so hard to not meet the goals that we want, or watch our dreams slip away from us. Remember how much you love to run, and get out there and keep training! Once you move away from this moment, I’m guessing your love for racing will come back. Even though you aren’t happy that you PRd, you still have a really fantastic time!

  18. I read often and comment well, never 🙂 Not hitting your goal time is a huge bummer, but each time you don’t hit your PR will only make hitting your PR that much more awesome! Chin up and enjoy!

  19. NI felt the same way after my first full marathon. My goal was to finish, but the perfectionist in me had a secret goal for my mind only. My friend Denise felt great but stayed with me the entire race. I felt guilty, I got a stomach cramp at mile 12 and it never went away. I puked at mile 18 and felt better for about 30 seconds but struggled through the next 8.2 miles. My legs felt strong, I did not. As soon as I crossed the finish line, my fiance could tell I wasn’t satisfied. I had told him that it was a one and done situation, but he knew. When he asked me if I was satisfied I didn’t even need to respond. Soon enough, I will do another. Eventually I realized beating myself up was doing more harm than good, that I needed to look forward and be proud! Soon you will too! Keep your head up!

  20. I hope you feel better soon! Not hitting your goal totally sucks, especially when you’ve put in the training for it. But the fun thing about this sport is that there is always next time – and the even more fun thing about half marathons is they have far less recovery time than a full marathon, so you can try again even sooner! You’ll crush it soon

  21. WHY IS RUNNING SO MENTAL?? I relate. I felt the same way before NYCM this year – not as excited as I thought I should be. But seriously, you had a great time in Vegas, ran a half marathon with Brian and life goes on, you know? There are lots more halfs in 2012 and I’m sure at least one will be a PR race for you. T minus less than one week and I hope we’re running together again!

  22. Running is fun for me, and I know you love it too. But its so not fun when we put so much pressure on ourselves. I think your next goal should be to focus on enjoying your running. I did this after my XC season it its so relieving and just feels great. But overall really congratulations on the half marathon!!! Only 1% of the U.S. will finish a half marathon so just be proud of yourself for running 13.1 miles!! You go girl!

  23. Our thoughts very much impact our feelings and behaviors. That’s why running is a mental game, right? I do think you are a little too hard on yourself. You may not have been able to PR, but you did run a great race. You run much faster then I probably ever will, or most people will, and that is something to be PROUD of! Now you have something else to train for and push yourself towards, which is also exciting (since you love competition and all!). I’m sorry the race was so tough for you…

  24. Not trying to make excuses (I hate when people do that for me!), or to say you couldn’t have done it anyway, but PRing in a 5pm race when you are a morning runner sounds like a bitch. Also, not to be too sappy, but if they are like me, I am sure your readers/friends are inspired by your drive & your work towards your PR-goal, not necessarily by the speed it takes to get that PR (though I always find it motivating). & of course, I am all for you taking a break from racing, but for purely selfish reasons, I was kind of excited when you mentioned that spring marathon.

  25. Gah, I can’t remember what setting I set-up in the past that caused my name to show up as ‘tealsocks’ in my comment! I wrote ‘Cynthia’!! :-b

  26. Apologies in advance for the length of this comment! 😉

    Plenty of the bloggers on my google reader were off in Vegas this weekend for the half, but your weekend-recap posts were some of the prime ones I was looking forward to reading. And honestly, whether or not you PRed hadn’t crossed my mind. I hoped you had met your goals, but mostly I was looking forward to hearing that you had an awesome weekend in Vegas with friends, sparkles, and fun! Oh, and Brian. Because you two are ridiculously adorable together.

    Of course, it’s much easier for me to comment on the situation as an outsider and say “cheer up, you did fab!” when it is such a personal, internal battle of emotions versus logic, and often emotions win out. Or at least that’s how I find it…this past October I did my second marathon, and while I PRed, it still took me ages to feel worthy of celebrating anything, because I didn’t PR to the extent I wanted/training pointed to (even though my training occurred on a much flatter area than the course, and logically I knew that would affect me but still…damn it, I wanted the PR I dreamed of!). I went from a 5:47:30 to a 5:29:44, and I was ready to cry (scratch that, I did cry)? Ridiculous, but it’s how I felt!

    I hope you do keep racing, even if just to prove to yourself you can do what you set out to do. That’s the reason I run–to prove to myself I can do something I used to be unable to do. And the bling, of course. (I can’t quite get myself to fully love running for running alone…in fact, the other night on the phone when my mom told me to go for a run, I cried out “I HATE running!!” Perhaps a bit melodramatic…especially as my next marathon is in March!).

  27. Aw girl, I know you don’t need any more happy thoughts but I’mma send them anyway. A)I’d kill for that to be my bad race. Any time you need company for a pity party you let me know. B) Your body has been through a lot these last couple months. You’re still recovering from running a marathon AND a flare up of your CHRONIC DISEASE. Go easy on yourself, kid. You DID kick that race’s ass.

  28. OH GIRL…I am so sorry about your race. I totally know that feeling. Brian is such a sweetie to stay with you the whole time! I am glad you were able to move on and enjoy the rest of your trip. You can do everything right in your training to get that pr but race day always has a surprise and you had a crazy cramp! YOU WILL GET THAT PR…I KNOW IT!

  29. I think you did an amazing job in what was a very tough race! It was so nice running into you at the Sugar Factory… Even if my husband is now giving me a hard time about being an Internet stalker 🙂 You will totally get that PR!

  30. Yes. What they said. You are totally allowed to have a pity party if you want and break up with running as long as you want. But if you read back through all of your “I love Running” posts, you will make-up with running (and racing) and soon your broken heart over Vegas will heal! And I guarantee not one single reader, friend, family member or fellow blogger is disappointed in you. Not a single one! You inspire all of us with your determination and your words and we will all be here to support you the next time you go after that PR!

  31. You should consider having a back up goal if the day doesn’t go as planned… blazing hot, freezing cold, stomach issues, cramps, whatever. Yes it feels like a failure now but you still did awesome. Running is a tough mental sport and some days are going to be better than others.

  32. I don’t care if you “whined” in the post. You were disappointed and you were completely entitled to do so. What I DO care about is that you finished the race, even when you knew you weren’t going to reach your goal. That speaks VOLUMES, and I am so proud of you for doing that!

    You will PR in another race when you are least expecting it. I have always said that the way to PR (besides training hard) is to do lots of races – because you never know how you are going to feel that day or what other external conditions may crop up. You can do it!

  33. Aw I’m sorry to hear that you’re disappointed. But, I hope you realize..YOU DIDN’T QUIT! You weren’t feeling so hot, so you slowed down the pace a bit, and that is all that happened. No sense in even putting yourself in the same category as a quitter.

    A couple years ago, during the NYC Half, I was getting over being very sick…Sadly, no one ever really figured out what was wrong. I just felt incredibly tired for a month straight (after having worked way too hard for 2 months straight at my job). I’d try to run but I could never do it very fast or for very long. It was so frustrating to feel so tired and not know why. Nevertheless, I planned on powering through the NYC Half Marathon…Guess what happened? I literally had to quit halfway through – I was so exhausted. One year later I ran in the National Marathon on the exact same day and finished in a great time. I guess all I’m trying to tell you with this long-winded story is that a) you didn’t ACTUALLY quit (I did! haha) and b) comebacks are really fun anyway. I say you do race again and when you get your PR it will be an awesome comeback story 🙂

  34. You did crush it in Vegas, Ali.
    Not because you didn’t PR.
    But because you went out in the first place.
    Don’t let your time beat you…
    I can’t even run 1/2 a mile without falling to the ground.
    You can run 26!!
    Don’t be so ungrateful of your time, please.
    You did great!

  35. I think we (you and I and like 85% of the commenters here) share a brain. Racing = pressure, for me. And I *am* a new, immature runner, and I know that’s a huge part of it. I hate not making my goals now, but I think I just need to keep setting them and keep racing them and understand that every second that falls off my average pace does not, in fact, deserve a mental breakdown. It’s going to be a loooooong road to get there, but (cheesy alert!) I’m really glad I have such lovely internet runners to travel it with me! It’s going to be fun to watch you crush a race when that time comes, because it will, and then you’ll have awesome tips to share about how to keep your head on straight during a race, and I cannot wait to read them.

  36. I’m really, really sorry that this wasn’t your race. I can’t imagine your disapointment , but at the same time, I honestly think you’re being WAY too hard on yourself. This whole “I wish I made people proud of me” “I let everyone down” thing has got to stop. I get it – you put it all out there, you wanted it, and you wanted to come back and show everyone that you did what you set out to do and then some, and now you don’t have the story to tell that you imagined. I feel ya (i didn’t tell anyone about my first race because I was afriad I wouldn’t finish and would have to tell people….), but noone is dissapointed IN you – we’re dissapointed FOR you. Because YOU wanted it. Not because we’re going to stop reading your blog because you didn’t PR! You run every day, rain or shine all while battling a medical condition out of your control – this is more than most people in the world will every be able to say. I know that online it can be easy to think that these things are the norm or expected, but on a greater scale you’re still WAY ahead of the game. I know that probably isn’t much consolation because it doesn’t matter that most people don’t run, you do and you want to do it well, but you are. Deep breathes. 8th grade me (heyy yearbook quote)/Beverly Sills would tell you “You may be dissapointed if you fail, but you’re doomed if you don’t try. ” Your PR will come (pretty sure a certain half marathon registration opened yesterday…), and it will be awesome. AWESOME. [rant over]

    1. ^– or I should have just read Amy’s comment before I posted mine. THIS: “we’re dissapointed FOR you. Because YOU wanted it. Not because we’re going to stop reading your blog because you didn’t PR!” Exactly.

        1. Haha. I love you guys. And yes, it was a dramatic line. Perhaps I could be a soap opera writer?

          I know that no one is losing sleep over whether or not I PR in some half marathon. Trust me, I get that. The “wanting to make people proud” thing is totally internal. And silly.

  37. Ali, I’ve been reading through the comments on this post to learn some things for the future and realized that you are incredibly respected, appreciated, and loved. A lot of the comments make a lot of sense and while they won’t fix a crappy race, I hope that you’ll use them to get pumped for the next one. You ARE a runner – don’t let one race let you determine yourself anything otherwise. Shrug it off and kill the next one. You can do it!

    P.S. To put things in perspective, there’s a runner in my home state of NC who has tried several times to make it to the marathon Olympic trials…she’s missed the cutoff time more than once, last time by only eight seconds. Eight seconds!

  38. Well your situation could not have been any worse than mine, I got sick and couldn’t run my half marathon this weekend!!! So you can +1 me to your pity party. There will ALWAYS be other races, there will always be other memories and you will PR, that just wasn’t the race for it. Stay positive and try not to get so worked up over it. I am like you and tend to overthink things as well but then I just try to remind myself why I started this journey of running in the first place. Just know you are an inspiration to many whether you PR or not. It goes back to what one of my mentors told me when I first started running…”your ability to generate power is directly related to your ability to relax”. Just relax, and enjoy your running, and it will happen for you. I truly believe that for you. I am looking forward to seeing what you will do next, just stay strong and do not doubt yourself. You have it in you.

  39. Remember when I so desperately wanted to hit sub-2, and I ran 3 halfs (halves?? This word still slays me.) three weekends in a row and STILL didn’t do it? Honestly, after missing it the first time, I didn’t believe the second two times I could do it. In the third half of that Tour de Halfs, I realized at mile 6ish (I think?) that I wouldn’t make it, ripped off my pace bracelet and just tried to enjoy it.

    I agree w/Samantha: only when you absolutely know you can crush this race, will you crush it. And then you will be so fucking happy.

  40. YOU SUCK. Instead of Dwelling on the negatives, look at the positives. You DID NOT QUIT. You finished the race even though you were miserable and in pain. Look at where you finished in comparision to your age, gender and overall finish. I am more impressed with that. The cramps were caused by your Head Up Your Ass disease. Of all things to Quit on it should be your constant over thinking and over analyzing everthing. I did not PR either after 6 beers and running to the bathroom. That was a mess. Enjoy running for how it makes you feel and do not treat it as a job. You will enjoy it more. Your Family Doctor

  41. Ali, thanks for being so honest about how you feel! It’s hard to admit defeat and believe me I definitely cried a lot when I was a swimmer and didn’t get a best time. I’m pretty sure my parents were quite sick of me when I was still doing it as a senior in high school!

    You will PR in a half marathon someday! It will probably happen when you least expect it to, isn’t that how it always goes?

    I’m glad that you were able to enjoy some of the remainder of your trip!

  42. Someone in my office must be chopping onions or something. There’s just this weird tearing up thing that’s happening right now.

    I totally get your feelings. And I love that you’re able to look beyond this and understand that a craptastic race is literally just that. There are more adventures to come!

  43. we all have war stories of bad, fall apart races but they make you tougher and they can teach you something too. i distinctly remember the first time i absolutely fell apart mentally in a race, will never forget it. i hated it and vowed to never let it happen again. guess what? it did the next marathon too!
    but you learn and overcome and im sure you will too!

  44. Oh Ali, I’m so sorry that you’re feeling that way. It shouldn’t feel so sucky to have run a half-marathon in the time you did! Bad runs are part of it all and I have no doubts you’ll crush your current PR in another half-marathon. Seriously. And just so you know, you’re a real inspiration. So none of that race quitting talk, please. Thanks.

  45. Hey Ali its ok. When training for Long Beach half which I DNS’d due to injury and illness that killed most of my training cycle I had the same pressure on myself. To run fast, to hit goals, and I was freaking out during training runs towards the end trying to piece together some form of a training plan.

    Then Ken said something to me that i’ll never forget. “Why are you stressing out about this, this is supposed to be fun right?”

    It put everything into a different perspective for me. Instead of trying to beat every mile, I just had fun and I enjoyed myself a lot more. I think there is a lot to be proud of in your last half marathon, you didn’t have the most stellar training cycle but you still raced and finished. Plus you’re in Vegas! with a ton of other really amazing runners!

    1. YES! I thought about how it’s just supposed to be fun during the second half of the race. I’m not going to the Olympics. I’m no Elite. (Clearly.) I was running down the Vegas Strip — it should have been the time of my life! Silly Ali.

  46. First, you inspire so many people in so many ways. You are an inspiration too, even this post inspires those of us who are also pushing our limits to reach goals. Its hard, and challenging and not every goal will be met the first time. Seeing you work hard for your goal makes me want to work hard too! Second, You Will PR one day because of your hard work and dedication … And it will be so so sweet.

  47. Oh gosh Ali, let’s not even talk about the two marathons I ran trying to qualify for Boston when I needed a 3:40 and I came in at 3:43 and then 3:44. SOUL CRUSHING!!!! I moped for days and then realized I needed to get over it. You see, I was talking the talk, telling everyone I thought I could qualify, but I don’t think I ever really *believed* I could.
    You are awesome and you’ve got SO many people who are proud of you for running this race, regardless of your time. I hope you can enjoy the rest of your trip and hopefully love racing again soon!
    Congrats to Brian on his first half-marathon 🙂

  48. Seriously? Crying, actual crying as much as you write that you did over a non existent PR?

    Love you and your blog but this alone makes me realize the immaturity as a runner.

    Crying over children in impoverished places, animal cruelty, homelessness etc, yes. Not getting a PR? No.

    1. I’m a crier — I can’t help it. I also cry at sappy commercials and “The OC” Season 1 finale. (It breaks my heart when Ryan Atwood leaves the Cohens.)

      I agree that I am definitely an immature runner. I’m still very new to racing and clearly I haven’t even come close to mastering any race courses I’ve been on!

      But I’m done crying now — yay! — and I’m moving on. It was a tough race for me, and I’m learning that that will happen if I choose to race regularly. Onto the next!

      1. I still tear up a bit over NYC 26.2, esp when I see where the finish line would be. I also cry at those Sarah Mclachlan animal commercials. I think a good cry is ok, it means you care…or so people tell me.

  49. Ali – I flew all the way to China for a PR and a hopeful golden ticket to the Big Island (i.e. Ironman World Championships). I felt stronger than I have ever felt going into that race and wouldn’t you know 36hrs before race start I received the most disgusting, horrific flu bug of my life. Long story short I tried to race, made it through the swim then hopped on my bike where I spent 2+ hours longer than I have ever spent on a IM bike course. In transition to the run I passed out earning myself a trip to the med tent in China and a big fat DNF. Who wants to spend nearly $5,000 to earn yourself a DNF? And I thought I was going to KILL this race. Instead the race KILLED me. That race has been haunting me for nearly two years now. You are not alone in feeling pathetic, not even close! Pick your head up and find another race 🙂 You’ll get your PR and it will be SO sweet!!

  50. I think learning about yourself and becoming mentally a better runner is so much more important than any PR! You are an inspiration to me, and not because of any records or race times, but because of your dedication and heart. I don’t think you gave up. It didn’t happen and it freaking sucks, but I don’t think you’re a quitter. It just means when it does happen it’s going to feel even more awesome!!

  51. Like I said yesterday, when the day does happen, it is SO worth it, trust me. The missed PRs, the bad races, it’s all a part of our little personal running stories and in the long run you will look back on this with new eyes. You did great out there girl, hold your head high, enjoy the rest of your trip and get back out there and keep trying <3

  52. Lots of great comments here. I really feel for you; your disappointment is palpable!! However, so many opportunities for learning. It really seems like you have gotten yourself into a rut psychologically with pre-race proclamations and pressure. This is such a great opportunity to learn;not just about running/ racing but also about yourself–and, as luck would have it more running is one of the best ways to learn about yourself. Perhaps consider reflecting on some of the strategic decisions made during this race but also more broadly on how your approach things and see what you come up with. You are very inspiring! and young! Thank you for risking being vulnerable on your blog not just today but everyday. Have a great day!

  53. Hi Ali!

    Twenty-six year old from the big city of Halifax, Nova Scotia here.

    I am so glad I found your blog. I’ve been running for years and years but never thought I had big distances in me.

    Well I must say you’ve single-handedly inspired me to register for the Halifax Hypo-Half marathon on February 5th. I ran a distance PR of 9miles on Sunday and loved it!

    I am inspired by your actual goals and the process you go through to try and achieve them, rather then your specific race times (although they are interesting).

    Thank you for teaching me about splits, and making me want to visit NYC even more!


  54. I don’t think you’re being whiny at all. You spent hours training and hell, you spent hours traveling just to run this race. I think its natural to be upset (and to take a few days to wallow in it). And not like this is an excuse, but this race was a weird one. Night time racing?! I mean, how can you prepare for that? (Well other than run all your long runs on Sunday nights leading up to the race, which would suck.) I still, to this day, beat myself up over dropping out of the Chicago Marathon in 2010. I cried for days about that race. Maybe even WEEKS (yeah, I’m a baby). But there is a fine line of being too hard on yourself and not caring enough and I’d rather be to hard on myself than not care at all – because that means you know you have the potential to do better! You finished, which is in and of itself a legitimate accomplishment! Keep your head up!

  55. You’re still awesome. You’re stronger than so many people even if you may not feel like your race wasn’t your best – don’t lose sight of that!

  56. Ali, I so want to give you a big hug right now because I understand your frustrations with every word that you wrote. And I love how you wrote this post. You verbally beat yourself up, but then you accepted what happened and you moved on by the end. You will have another race where you will conquer all your goals. Trust me. Not every race can be your goal race. Racing is hard, it tests you mentally and physically. But those challenges make you a better runner. And as much as you might think you want to give up racing, I know as well as you do that the next time you hit your goal you’re going to be so happy you didn’t give up.

    One quick tangent story… I’ll never forget the day I quit track in college. I literally GAVE up during my race. (And my race was only 800 meters..) I just didn’t have anything left. No motivation. No nothing. I felt that racing track didn’t complete me anymore so I finished the race and later that day quit the sport.

    Looking back now, I regret quitting. I regret that I didn’t just take some time off and reflect on it. Track and running was so much a part of my adolescent life and quitting it so abruptly makes me sad. Because I can’t race the 800 anymore. Or the 400. I’ll never get those days back.

    I guess the moral is you will bounce back from this and you will become a better runner. I think putting less pressure on yourself is the way to go. Think about it, when you ran DC, you were just trying to break 2 hours right? Make running fun again. Maybe throw out that Garmin for awhile.

    I hope in future years we can race together and both reach our goals. You know I’m here for you! xoxo!!

  57. I know the feeling. I PR’d in my first half marathon and it took seven more attempts to beat that time again! Seven! Glad you are feeling better about it now and had some fun in Vegas.

  58. Can I please give you a hug? I totally agree with Coach Cane on this one – you ARE too hard on yourself and you DO get really “in your head” when it comes to racing (I think we all do it, to a certain extend, racing and running is SO mental!) that it starts to become that self-fulfilling prophecy that Coach Cane referenced but it also breeds self-doubt. Self-doubt kills physical strength – this much I’ve learned. The second you can let your mind go (like you did as soon as you realized a PR was out of sight), the instant your body will respond and will just go. You’ve got to trust that body, Crohns or no Crohns, that body is STRONG and worthy of being trusted. So trust it a little bit more, maybe? xoxo

    1. I knowwwww, I know I’m too hard on myself, and I know it’s silly. Like I wrote in the post, I know my race times are irrelevant to most people — as they should be! I just get all crazy on race day. Not a good skill! I promise to work on it.

  59. Surrounding myself with runner friends helps. They get it.

    They do get it, but I think they may also unintentionally contribute to some if this INSANE pressure you put on yourself.

    I ran my first marathon in November in 4:56, and I was THRILLED! But I’m barely a blogger, and I *don’t* have a bunch of runner friends. I have normal friends who were absolutely incredulous I could run 26.2 miles.

    Like others have said, you’re an awesome runner and inspire so many people. I went out for a run the other day and figured I’d see what 7:30 miles feel like, just for kicks, and I felt like I was sprinting. I did about 1/4 of a mile of that before I’d had enough. So mark me down as yet another person totally inspired by you.

    Plus, if you plug your marathon time in McMillan’s pace calculator it predicts a 1/2 time of 2:00:15. I know your PR is quite a bit faster than that, but I think you were right that marathon training does slow you down a little. It’s been less than 3 months from your marathon, and I know it took me a good 3 weeks before I was feeling totally normal after my first, so that’s only 2 months. 2 months, during a Crohn’s flare-up, to get back into half marathon mode and run the race of your lifetime? I say this lovingly, but you are insane 🙂

    Sorry, I know the length of this has gotten out of control, but for some reason I can’t explain I NEED you to stop feeling like you’ve let anyone down. I think the first step to PRing for you will be to run for yourself — not for your blog followers, not for Coach Cane, not for Brian — just YOU! And running for yourself means recognizing that you work incredibly hard and tough it out through way more than the majority of people are willing to put up with. You ran a great race, Ali! Be proud.

  60. The fact that you held on until it was stomach issues that did you in tells me you could have PRed in different circumstances. I also think pre-race attitude has a TON to do with it. If it’s not the day for it, it’s not the day for it, and the second half of a HM is such a mind game because it’s just going to hurt either way. Perhaps next time you could plan to begin even more slowly and really just go for negative splits the whole way through. That strategy can be confidence-bolstering. [In my last 5k I ran the first mile at half-marathon pace on a bet, and lo and behold, I managed to speed up throughout the second 2 miles, got a PR, and didn’t feel crushed at the end).

    And to share my own sad PR-failure… this Halloween I went out to a 5k nearby. Told some new people I met that I was going for 18:xx. They were all impressed and I got to thinking wow, I could get 1st women, blah blah blah. Yeaaah. I wound up going out WAY too fast (5:50 first mile) and knew I was done by mile 2, when I had an asthma attack. Miles 2 and 3 were literally a minute slower than mile 1, not the way to pace a 5k. And man, did I feel stupid in front of the guys I had bragged to when they passed me in the second two miles. I even got a couple of disdainful looks. Anyhow, I finished in 20:16 and cried. And then I felt doubly stupid for crying. At least you didn’t do that.

    I can also think of at least two running buddies who left their MARATHON goals in a portapotty, so you’re not alone there…

    Finally: You have been racing a lot and just set a 5k PR, correct? Cut yourself some slack, everyone gets racing burnout.

  61. Ali – I love how honest you are in your posts. I understand how disappointed you are and it definitely sucks to feel that way.

    From what I’ve read on your blog, you started running a few years ago. And you’ve become such a great runner so far! Give yourself some time to reach that PR. You are getting better and better with every run. I am such an impatient person so I know that it’s hard to “give yourself time”… but I 100% believe in you!

    From what it sounds like, you didn’t just get a “little stomachache” and give up. You fought through it but obviously it was just too much on that day. You are absolutely an inspiration regardless. (Plus, you had VIP porta-potty access which means you are big time, obviously!)

    Hang in there and have a safe trip home.

    P.S. I love how Brian grabbed your hand at the end! So sweet.

  62. So much to say to you (expect an email at some point soon, mmkay?) but here are a few bullet points to tie you over:

    1.) Sometimes running sucks. And sometimes racing sucks even harder. It’s a fact of life. Incredibly frustrating, yes, but something all runners face at some point. And it is one of the things that makes running so tough yet so addicting.

    2.) It’s okay to be sad, sulk, have a pity party, etc, but at some point you need to accept #1 and move on. If you really hate racing, then that’s one thing. And like Coach Cane said, it’s OKAY not to race (really it is!!). But if you’re just mad at racing right now (which I expect is the case) please don’t let it get you down. Use it to FUEL your comeback.

    3.) You didn’t quit. Yeah, maybe mentally you didn’t stay tough and push through the way you wanted to. And maybe you gave up on the goal of PR’ing. But you ran through pain and finished the race. That is not quitting.

    4.) I promise the mental battle you went through this time will make you stronger. It is BECAUSE I have mentally thrown in the towel during past races that I have been able to push through and run PR times.

    5.) Don’t ever worry about your friends/readers not being proud of you. You inspire people every single day. I know you may not believe it, but you do. I read your comments and I see that you are fighting a chronic disease, yet out there training harder than most people. I see how far you have come in the past year and how much you love running. That is pretty freakin’ inspiring Ali.

    6.) Not to make excuses for you, but you’ve had a rough fall. You raced your first marathon, felt that it took you a month to recover, and then as your legs were recovering, your Crohn’s flared up. That most definitely affected your training. It sucks and I feel awful you had to deal with all of that during training. But unfortunately it sounds like that affected your race.

    7.) Finally – if you don’t give up on racing, I know someone who really REALLY wants to help you go sub-4 in the marathon. She’s standing by waiting your decision, and will be incredibly excited if her dreams of running with you come true.

    Okay, so those weren’t really bullet points. But what can I say, I’m wordy…? I know you don’t need me to tell you this, but I think you’re awesome. One race does not define you. I’m really sorry things didn’t go well in Vegas but there will be other races and certainly other PRs.

    Finally – a big congratulations to Brian! Both for his first half marathon (woohoo!) and for becoming a little richer. 😉

  63. I completely agree with Coach Cane. If you don’t like what you put yourself with racing, then stop racing and just run. I think from reading your blog you like having goals and crushing them. In that case take the other piece of his advice. Running is incredibly mental.

    My half pr I ran a couple minutes faster than I ever thought I’d be able to because the girl in front of me looked slow to me and so I just kept telling myself I could run with her, she shouldn’t beat me. Clearly looks are deceiving, I later found out she ran division 1 in college..

    My last marathon, however, I reached the half and basically told myself you started too fast, now you are going to pay for it. At one point I told another runner good job, he said it wasn’t his day and I replied not mine either and that’s the point that my pace really slowed.

    What’s the real difference in those performances for me? Attitude. I believed I should be able to run with the fast girl and ignored the pain I felt in the half and I completely gave up in the full,

    Don’t beat yourself up too much, you have plenty of valid excuses to use. Night race, flare up, cramp, ect. Everyone has bad races, some people have lots of bad races, but the breakthrough races are amazing. Remember how you felt after your current half pr.

  64. Getting in your own head and self-fulfilling prophecy? Yeah, I know all about that! I definitely did that in the half that I too talked up like whoa, and then felt like I failed at, but after feeling the feelings and getting them out, you move on and refocus and re-set your mind to the next goal or thing you want to accomplish. I know you will do that and you will crush it even more, when we all least expect it, and when you least expect it too. Congrats on an awesome time (from my perspective, that time is freaking awesome!) to you and Brian. And a good man for sticking by you the entire time.

  65. Oh Ali! I’m so sorry you didn’t have a good race. Coach Cane and Brian are right. You get so into your head about these things. You’ll PR another day, that’s all. Maybe you and Brian should register for the Manhattan Half while there are still spots open — lots of rolling hills to keep your mind busy and away from slowing you down. Plus, it’s your home turf — Central Park.
    Congratulations to Brian for finishing his first half marathon and winning at the slots — that’s always nice.
    Don’t be down on yourself, Ali. Chalk it up to a learning experience.
    BTW, I love your new sparkly headbands. Chin up, kiddo!

  66. Not every race is going to be a PR. It is a part of competition and sports. And if you think about it really, life. That is the harsh reality. I (same as all runners) have gone through my share of disappointing races. I had the worst running year in 2010. I was injured. I couldn’t run. When I finally could it was so hard to get back to. Even this year which has been such an improvement has had its share of downs. Gosh I even had a crappy race just weeks ago in Philly. I still mentally psych myself out. I perform much better in practice than in races. I have had thoughts in the past about not racing, but deep down that is what I love about running so much. If it doesn’t make you happy, maybe you shouldn’t do it. However, Coach Cane gives sound advice when he says that if you don’t think you should race because you think you suck you should reconsider. I’d definitely take him up on his offer to talk to you. He gives GOOD ADVICE. Don’t fear, if you want it and work for it, many many PRs are definitely in your future!! You are a great runner and inspire so many people!

  67. Don’t be down on yourself for this! It’s happened to me – in fact, I get the WORST side stitches in the world when I try so hard to run a certain pace and feel pressured to run that time. I never even enjoy the race when that happens. This has happened to me during the two biggest races I’ve done, which were the ones that should have been the most fun – Hawaii’s XTERRA trail race and the NYC marathon. I stopped wearing my Garmin in races and started focusing on how I feel, and things changed for the better. Smile, you’ll PR another day!

  68. Hi Ali, It’s ok – I didn’t PR either and that was my goal. I had a very similar experience (except I bobbed and weaved through thousands of people for the first 8 miles), felt good in the beginning but didn’t really feel it was my race. I followed a pacer and lost her around 9 when I really began to feel like *ss. I also said I would never race again but since I have calmed down a bit I know I will. My friend who also ran, and according to her garmin PR’d but according to RNR times did not, decided that if we come back for this race we will wear silly costumes and consume alcohol and cheer for the runners. There was not nearly enough cheering among the spectators. Maybe they were just too tired for the slower runners but it was a bummer 🙁 I’ll never run a race of this size again. Sad.

    You are right, your times do not define you and there will be a PR. This just wasn’t the race and that’s ok. It was pretty cool to see the bellagio fountain water show as I was cursing life and wanted to walk on my way back in.

  69. oh dude, please don’t quit – you are an awesome runner and you will get your PR and it will be amazing.
    Because I’ve been missing your updates while you’ve been in Vegas, I actually went back to your pre-National Half posts (before I started reading/became addicted to your blog) and reading about how you just wanted to beat 2 hours and you absolutely smashed it because you didn’t really put *that* much pressure on yourself. Marathon training steals your fast, but it will come back. And so so soon you’ll run a half and it will all just click for you, you’ve just got to believe it. WE ALL BELIEVE IN YOU!

  70. Hey there Ali! Not sure if I have ever commented on your blog but I follow you on twitter now and have been reading your blog recently. I can SO relate to this post. I think every runner has been there at some point…. After months of training and hard work it’s so frustrating to not PR or have the best race experience possible. 5 weeks ago I ran a horrible half marathon. I started too fast and felt done at mile 5. By mile 8 I was mad at the entire sport and spent the last several miles sulking and mad at myself for ever claiming to be a runner. On the drive home I decided to register for another half which was exactly one week later. (Very last minute and not like me. I usually register MONTHS in advance.) Anyway, I ran 2 minutes faster the very next week and had a much better experience. Then, just this past Saturday I ran in the St. Judes Half Marathon, PR’d big time and one of the best race experiences of my life. It was pretty much the polar opposite race experience from the awful Half Marathon of 5 weeks ago. My advice to you is to keep racing! Don’t give up and don’t let this be your last half for a while. Put yourself back out there- soon! Try another racing strategy. I have found that I race MUCH better when I negative split. When I positive split it is SO easy to get down and discouraged. Take Em’s advice and go out slower. You will LOVE the feeling of having energy and a strong kick at the end.

  71. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I always hated that saying but it’s true! Use this race as fuel for your next one!

    p.s. if your still feeling sad I’d suggest “All By Myself” be Celine – great crying song.

  72. I’m not a runner, so I have no idea if it’s actually possible to consistently PR, but I was just thinking that if every race you run you plan to PR, then a PR doesn’t really mean anything conceptually right? I mean, if every race is a PR, then it’s not really – it’s just every time you run a race you run it faster than the last time. So a PR would basically just be a place holder until the next time you ran a half which would be faster. (Pardon me, I’m studying for finals right now so I’m feeling a little crazy and this may make no sense.) I guess the point is, of course every race won’t be a PR (unless that’s a typical running thing where everyone just PR’s all the time – I have no idea). I’m not meaning to say that you want every race to be a PR or something (although it kinda seems that way a little bit), but if every race were a PR, then a PR wouldn’t mean anything other than every time I run a race I run it faster than the last time.

    Sorry, I realize that probably makes no sense. It’s just what I was thinking after reading your post. I hope you feel better. I think you and your boyfriend are adorable!

  73. coach cane is 100% correct.
    not every race will be a PR but you learn something from each race. sometimes what you learn is better than any PR.
    i qualified for boston with my 9th marathon. yes, 9th marathon. it took me that long. would i have liked to BQ on my 2nd or 3rd marathon? of course! but during “the journey” i learned so much about myself as a runner.
    keep your chin up! be proud! you ran an incredible marathon this year…think of that!

  74. it’s ok to be disappointed but I think having this race be your “A” race probably wasn’t a good day, the travel/time change and the crazy late start time probably through you off more than you might think. you will get your PR another day, we all fight our battles when it comes to racing and sometimes we end up on the losing side but there are 100 more races for you to run and you will get there. (I just missed my PR by 43 seconds but the race was long…13.36 miles so can I count that as getting my PR?!? sadly, I am not going to, but it’s always in the back of my mind…someday i’ll get there again)

  75. I was waiting for this post, even after I saw your twitter. I’m glad to see you were able to finish the weekend off by having a little fun. Coach Cane gives solid advice about how much your thoughts can affect your behavior…Hope the week gives you something to smile about!

  76. a 1:52 night race after a day at the slots is the equivalent of a 1:41 at a nyc early-a.m. half marathon. duh!
    you did awesomeeeeeeee and im sooo jealous of that 1:52!
    AND you have a bf who is $500 richer and can buy you lots of consoling gifts!

  77. We’ve all been there with the bad race and missed goals. It happens to the best of us and I don’t know about you but there are so many factors that can go into a good run. It’s like all the stars have to align. And you had to run at night which you never do. I think that fact alone would throw off my mojo completely.

    Lucky for you, there are lots more races out there for you to take on your PR. Also, you just got two PR’s recently in a 5K and 4 miler which is more than a lot of us can say.

  78. I’ve been in races where I just don’t feel right, which makes me not want to be out there and it sucks. 13 miles is a long time to be feeling pretty miserable. You’ll get it next time.

  79. Girl, you are a rockstar, just like Celine, so don’t ever think you are not. You obviously can’t PR everytime, because eventually you would be faster than a cheetah, which is probably not possible. Or faster than a rocket. Or whatever the fastest thing ever is.

    But anyway, it is a bummer that you didn’t reach your goal YET, but it is nothing that a little Wine and Whine can’t fix.

  80. I can say with almost 100% certainity that I know exactly how you feel. I talked a big game on my blog about how I would run a sub 1:50 @ the Women’s Half Marathon on 11/21..and then.. I didn’t. I also ran a stupid 1:52, which as you said is a respectable time..but not when you are shooting for lower. I also had a cramp for about 4 miles, but it was at the beginning of the race. I was embarrassed, and mad at myself for talking so much crap and then…what? I failed. bleh. I wrote a recap and it was pretty whiney & bitchy, and all WOE IS MEEEEEEEEE.. and then i never posted it because I felt like a tool. I did post a short recap of just pictures with some’s mostly just me making angry faces because i was SO PISSED. We all have these races.

    and then. i registered for a half-marathon under the radar, i told a few friends – pretty much like Sarah (OUAL) did when she ran her sub 4 marathon. .. I ran that half on Sunday (12/4), and I ran my damn sub 1:50. I let the pressure & stress of my own expectations, and whate I thought everyone elses expectations were totally get in my head.

    It’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to be sad. I’m sorry you didn’t have the race that you wanted. Sorry you had a stupid cramp, and an icky stomach. What a PITA! Next time you have it though. You’ll get your PR!

    1. YES. I just nodded along this whole time. I know I was pathetic for crying about a missed goal, but hey, that’s how I reacted. I also cry at those damn Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials. “We all have these races” — hearing stuff like that made me feel instantly better. Onto the next!

  81. Seriously, I totally understand the feeling BUT a 1:52 is a time I could only dream about and look at where you placed above the other runners. You kicked serious ass. And just think, if you PR on every race- eventually you’ll hit your full potential and wont PR anymore. So look at it as having something more to look forward to for next race 🙂 Congrats on a job well done and congrats to Brian!

    On another note, are you running NYC 1/2 Jan 21st? It’ll be my first!

  82. Ali, I’m here to give you what I think might be a much-needed dose of reality.

    You. are. totally. awesome.

    I don’t think you realize just how inspiring you are. It’s so funny that you’ve written in the past about not feeling like a “real” runner – I started running just last year and have often felt that way, and ironically, your blog is a large part of what made me realize that hell yeah, I am a real runner. In fact, I’ve thought of your blog often and been like, “Ali CRUSHES races. Her goal pace is pretty much my sprint. She rocks.” So if you don’t think you’re a real runner, know that there are readers who look up to you in the same way that you look up to Emily, Sarah, Paige and Aron (who kick ass, too, by the way – but you already know that).

    Although everyone’s goals and pace are relative to their own strength and your disappointment is natural if you don’t hit a time that you’re gunning for – after all, you’re obviously a pusher and that spirit is key to accomplishing your goals – I think it’s absolutely incredible that you could even shoot for 1:52 and have a reasonable chance of grabbing it. I dream of the day that I can even ATTEMPT to get CLOSE to that kind of time.

    I recently completed my first half in 2:18 and first marathon in 5:57, with time goals of 2:00 and 4:30, respectively, before I totally wrecked my knee. In the weeks leading up to both races, I injured it and then reinjured it again, and struggled with the decision to even race at all as I readjusted my goal for the marathon from 4:00, to 4:30, to finishing at all without my legs falling off. I was pissed that I didn’t meet either of my goals, but after an initial period of disappointment, was happy that I was just able to finish.

    I don’t comment on blogs often, but felt compelled to give you a pick me up, and hopefully this helps a little. The point of this long, rambling post is that you are a super cool chick with a talent for running and an insanely admirable work ethic and competitive fire. So just know that even if you don’t smash your goal in every single race, it’s still another one to add to the list of rewarding accomplishments, and that you’re an inspiration to beginning runners everywhere (who also have a love affair with 16 Handles and jazz hands).

    1. Thank you, Courtney! And for what it’s worth, there’s no reason you can’t run a 1:52 half. My first half marathon was a 2:14 — give it time and training. You’ll do it!

  83. Hi Ali! Well I just wanted to tell you that I read your blog all the time and absolutely love it. I usually feel weird about posting comments but I wanted to write something here that one of my professors ended our semester with last week. It really resonated with me during my stressful time of finals right now and hopefully it will do the same for you. He said that when people die nobody has their GPA on their tombstone, and no one has the amount of money they made in life on it either, grades and money matter, but to what end? The same can be said for your race time. Don’t let this one race define you- you have it in you to PR and accomplish everything you want to! I hope this is able to cheer you up a bit. You are a great runner and I have no doubt that you will get your PR!

  84. Bravo, Ali. I applaud you for writing this, and sharing – besides, how else can you move on and look forward to your next course of action. You still crushed it because you’ve got perseverance.

  85. I know missing a goal is a super bummer – but you didn’t quit. You finished the race even when you felt like crap. That is inspiring! Also think of how much you’ve overcome, and the fact that you’ve never let your health get in the way of running. So many people come up with a million reasons (excuses) why NOT to do something (like exercise). The awesome thing about runners is we come up with ways to work around those reasons so we can still do what we love. You do that every time you run. Even with stomach issues, you run. You don’t think about how much easier it would be to be at home, close to your bathroom, you go out and run and deal with whatever your body throws your way! It’s amazing! And you will set a new half P.R., it’s just a matter of when. It will happen! And it will be awesome!

  86. It’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to throw yourself a *small* pity party. Dude, it’s a BUMMER. But you’re right, your life isn’t over. You WILL PR some day. What you do with this experience is more important than the race itself, right? Hey, I ran a 3:46 marathon and then turned around and ran (mostly walked 8 miles of it) a 4:11 my next one when I was supposed to hit a 3:40 BQ. S*#t happens (sometimes literally). Be proud of your FINISH!

  87. Hey Ali, i’ve read your blog for a few weeks, and have to say that you’re an inspiration to me, getting up at the crack of dawn and running even with CD (my mum has CD so i know how tough it can be sometimes). try not to be so hard on yourself, 1.52 is an amazing time and sometimes we have to have tough races to really enjoy the good ones, cliche I know but true 🙂 anyway just thought i’d leave a comment and say that!! i really like ur blog btw, helps motivate me to put my trainers (or sneakers should i say) on 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m sorry to hear your mom has Crohn’s and I hope her case is under control. And you’re right — I’ll look back on this race when I DO PR and it’ll just be a distant memory.

  88. I can’t imagine that your friends aren’t proud of you. They all know that racing and running are about trying, failing, succeeding, sweating, trying, etc.

  89. Of course you will PR in a half. And there are so many all year round, in the morning like you are used to. I am 100% sure you will PR in 2012. That said, seriously, stop it. You didn’t PR but you ran a really, really fast time. You ran through pain. Pain that you can’t control because you never know what will happen on race day (as I know too well!). That’s the thing — bathroom stops happen, cramps happen, legs don’t cooperate. Nothing you can do about that. No amount of training can prevent that. It has nothing to do with you as a runner and I KNOW you know that. The way you feel sounds very similar to how I felt after I DNFd the NYC Marathon, but this is different because you DID finish this! You aren’t a quitter, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Disappointed, sure, but you’ll PR soon and redeem this.

  90. My comment is short but sweet–if you don’t believe you’ll get that killer half PR, you wont. It took me nearly 6 half marathons before I got my PR at Staten Island. And only when I believed I could crush it, I did. Hopefully you can reset and refocus.

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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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