On a Friday morning exactly one year ago, I woke up with tiny little butterflies in my stomach.
Not real ones, because that would be weird. But I had that nervous-anxious-excited energy going on.
I remember going for a 3-mile run along the East River, and I remember seeing a particularly fantastic sunrise.
I returned to my apartment, showered, and put on my very carefully selected outfit: jeans, a brown belt and a white button-down shirt. No headband. Definitely no headband. I spent hours deciding whether or not to wear a headband. My friend Teddy told me not to, and she works in TV, so I took her advice very seriously.
I went to my office where I took a photo of myself in the bathroom.
I used to do that a lot. Bathroom photo shoots were my thing. Eventually I grew out of that habit.
I sat at my desk waiting for 1:30 pm. I couldn’t focus on work. I was way too spastic.
Finally, the afternoon rolled around, and I got on the Downtown 1 train to 14th Street.
I walked East until I arrived at JackRabbit Sports. I told the woman at the front desk, “I’m here for the screen tests…”
She directed me to the back of the shop, where I was greeted by Luke. He had crazy, curly blond hair. He asked me to sign in, alerted me that “we’re running a bit behind,” handed me a $10 JackRabbit gift card and told me to have a seat.
And then I waited.
I talked to Luke a bit — turns out he’s a fairly new but holyshitsofast runner — and I waited.
More people trickled in.
I remember meeting Shannon, who was also there for a screen test. We talked, and I asked her about her running background. She told me about her swimming experience, and her triathlon goals, and I thought, “Shoot, I’m never going to get this. All I do is run…kind of.”
2:30 pm — my appointment time — passed. Then 3:00 passed…and 3:30. I emailed my office from my phone, letting them know I was running late. I bought a Clif Bar with my gift card and snacked on it while I waited.
Finally, a young man came upstairs and called my name. “Alison Feller? We’re ready for you.”
It was like that exciting moment when, after watching various nurses walk by 36 times, they finally call your name at the doctor’s office.
I walked down the metal staircase to the JackRabbit basement, and I saw the area set up for screen tests. There was a big, black curtain, and behind it I could hear the runner before me still talking. I stood at the foot of the stairs and checked out the JackRabbit inventory. I saw a rack of sports bras and happened to glance to see if they had my always-obscure size.
Then everyone came out of the screen test area, thanked the runner, and he headed upstairs. A man, who I would later learn was the director, Jarett, told me they were going to take a short break.
“Excellent,” I thought to myself. “I’ve been waiting for two and a half hours, I finally get called, and it’s staff lunchtime. Stellar.”
But I smiled politely, and continued to wait. I was getting really good at waiting.
A man standing next to me asked, “Do you want some fruit?”
I didn’t take the “caterer” up on his fruit offer. In fact, I wondered why the caterer was wearing a blazer, and why he was just kind of hanging out, but I didn’t think much of it.
Finally, everyone reconvened in the little room-behind-the-curtain, and they started giving me directions.
“You’re going to walk in, sit on the stool and look into the camera. Then we’ll start asking you questions.”
I remember worrying about whether I should introduce myself as Alison or Ali. I debated for a while. Eventually I settled on Ali. You know, like Ali On The Run.
Some nice boy slipped a microphone up my shirt, and I was introduced to Jarett and Jill, who was working on the PR for the campaign.
And then I started talking.
I talked about where I grew up.
I talked about my life as a dancer.
I didn’t talk about my life in college. They didn’t specifically ask about my passion for boxed wine.
I talked about my life after college.
I talked about my first run: It was four blocks long.
I talked about my second run: It was six blocks long.
And then I talked about my first race, and then my first half marathon.
I talked about life with Crohn’s Disease and I talked about how badly I want to find a cure for the damn thing.
Eventually I stopped talking.
They thanked me for coming in and said I would hear from them in two weeks. I left feeling like it went well, but also knowing that I was one of 350 people who wanted to get picked for Run For The Rabbit.
I don’t remember saying goodbye to the caterer.
I remember going back to work and sharing all the details with my coworkers.
I went to bed that night not knowing what would happen. Two days later, my (now ex) boyfriend and I broke up.
Two weeks after that, I got an email from Jill about being part of Run For The Rabbit.
One year ago, I wasn’t in a very good place. I was stressed all the time, I was over-exercising to the point where my knees buckled every time I stood up, and I was convinced I was in a much happier relationship than I actually was.
So I did something about it. I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I applied for Run For The Rabbit. I stopped waiting for things to get better, and I made them better.
Somehow, I got picked for the campaign. Jarett and Jill saw something in my screen test that resonated with them, and they selected me as a finalist in the competition.
And now, a full year later, everything is better because I decided to fill out that little application at work one day.
One year ago, everything changed. And sure, I’m being sappy about it now, because that’s the mood I’m in.
But I challenge you — I dare you, I beg of you — to become your dream. Or at least give it a shot. If you’re not happy, do something about it. Don’t complain. Don’t whine. Sure that helps sometimes, but pinpoint the one thing in your life that you want to improve or change, and start making moves.
Oh, and the “caterer” was Brian. But you figured that out already.
Have a great weekend, everyone!