One Year Ago

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.

My outfit of choice, one year ago.

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.

Lots and lots of hopeful, passionate runners.

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.

They didn’t.

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.”

Ali, take 1.

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.

All I ever want to do is talk about running.

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.

I happened to walk by this sign this morning. I thought it was particularly fitting.

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.

Happy Ali, in a much better place.

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!



61 Responses

  1. You quote “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.” Completely resonated with me!

  2. Girl, I am SO GLAD you got picked for that campaign and not me. Jack Rabbit got it right. I’m so happy my first marathon will be this year’s NYCM, and I guarantee you I was not ready to run the Hamptons Marathon this year. but you absolutely were and I LOVED reading about your journey.

    It was so great meeting you during that stressful waiting period, and I hope we get the opportunity to hang out more. You are too effing speedy for me though! This year (for me) is all about distance – both triathlon AND marathon! 🙂

  3. Hey Ali-LOVE this post- I’ve been reading your blog for a while, you are awesome and an inspiration. What a fantastic year for you- lots more great things coming your way!

  4. Love this story and you are right. If you don’t like something change it, but it’s not always possible. I wish I could find another job but due to visa issues I can’t and it’s killing me to be stuck. I’m so happy that the last year brought you so much happiness!

  5. awww, Ali. I am a little teary reading this. What an awesome year you’ve had. And you deserve all the wonderful things that have come your way and more 🙂

  6. This is a lovely post. I really love your story and I think I’ve mentioned it before, but its really inspirational. You seem so happy now and you turned it all around. Its great 🙂
    Also the post is a little kick in the butt too- that always helps 😉

  7. It’s so crazy sometimes how things work out. You think things are as bad as they can get and you question why this is happening to you, and then a year later you look back and are HAPPY it happened. Or you are happy you made the decision you did – because even if it felt wrong at the time – it was the right one. Congrats on making things happen!

  8. Love stories like this. Chills. I’m so glad you took a leap of faith and tried out for Run for the Rabbit. Amazing how one seemingly small decision can change your life. <3

  9. OMG this gave me chills reading…you were completely meant to walk through those doors and see the destiny ahead of you! AND meet Brian. Wow. You have such an amazing story Ali!!!

  10. Great post, Ali! It makes me happy and wonder were you, me, and everyone else will be in a year. I hope that we all will be even happier than we are today!

  11. Thanks Ali. 🙂 With all of the changes going on in my life right now (unfortunately), I appreciated your words this morning. You’re pretty awesome. Let’s hang out soon.

  12. I LOVE this post! It is so neat to be able to reflect back on a day that changed your life! Congrats in how far you have come! I sure have enjoyed reading about it all 🙂

  13. Oh my gosh. I loved this post. It actually gave me goosebumps. You’re so right about the complaining…it doesn’t help, but getting out there and doing something about it does! Thanks, Ali, for this little pick-me-up; I’ve really grown to enjoy your blog 🙂

  14. This post was perfect for me today! Thank you for always keeping things very upfront and honest. I look forward to your blog everyday and it was great meeting you and Brian (very briefly) right before the CCFA pasta dinner in Vegas. Crohns won’t get us. 🙂

    Thanks again!

  15. Really great post, Ali! I totally believe that no matter how bad things get, you just have to keep trying and if you do, it will eventually all work out just how its supposed to. It’s amazing what a difference a year can make!

  16. Dreams make life worth living. In Nov and Dec, I was pretty depressed. Remember that Xmas brunch? Yeah, I was there, but I wasn’t all there. A lot of anxiety and sadness. Then, I don’t know how, but things turned around. But, I think it was because I started to dream again and of doing things that scared me.

    Now, the boyfriend/husband thing…pretty sure that’s never going to work out for me…where can I meet my caterer? 🙂

    But, I refuse to become a cat lady, mostly because I don’t like cats.

    But, maybe! I always like looking back and thinking where I was a year ago and where I am now. Its fun. Great post. Thanks, Ali!

  17. I love this post! It’s amazing the impact that one (seemingly) small decision can have on the rest of your life.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking of a really deep, introspective response to write to your wonderful post but my words can’t do it justice. So I’ll just say: I heart this post, I heart you….and I heart sweat. Oh, and Brian too. I think you should keep him 🙂

  18. I don’t usually comment, but your message in this post really resonated with me. Thank you! I’m so glad your life has changed for the better in the past year!

  19. I am the same way on anniversaries of events. I’m also obsessed with how one decision can change everything, how time moves, how when something bad happens it leads to something good that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. So, I loved this post.

  20. This comes at a perfect time for me. This week alone I’ve signed up for a program with my local Running Room, applied for two jobs (one in my company that I really want, and one outside of the company in case I go nowhere in the company) and I signed up for online dating. Time to get back out there and start living again!

  21. What a great post, Ali! And such a good message. I agree 100%: If you’re not happy, do something about it! It was so fun reading your journey with Run for the Rabbit to your first marathon. Hope you have a great weekend!

  22. You are my favorite blogger. I made my change in Nov of this year. I am overweight.( it sucks) I joined a gym. changed the way I eat ( mostly) stopped drinking soda. I never thought I would be the person who says they love going to the gym. but so far I do. I know all of this is still new to me but I want to lose weight. Not to be skinny but to finally be healthy.

    Your blog is part of my motivation. I want to be at the point where running x number of miles is no big deal!

    So thank you!

  23. As I was reading I thought the caterer was Brian, then you didn`t say anything and I thought for a second that I was going to comment, that the caterer was Brian. Well… he was, I guess. I see. 😉
    Ali, I really liked this post, you are very inspirational. You make me want to follow my dream and “become my dream”. That`s what I am going to do. Just wanted to leave this. Thank you, really!

  24. I love this! I’m glad that you are in a much better place, I think we have to go through the hard times to get to the good times. I’m also glad that Brian was the “caterer” because he pushes you to follow your dreams and makes you happy.

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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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