Starting My Day With Speed

Greetings from the west coast!

This is me on the plane. No, I didn't feel ridiculous smiling at my computer like this. Everyone does it...

I’m in sunny-but-not-super-warm Los Angeles until Friday for some work things, and even though the weather here is comparable to the crap you’re dealing with back in New York, I refuse to complain, because these next few days are going to be killer/awesome.

Why yes, that was a run-on sentence. Sorry that I seemed to have flunked third grade, Mrs. Helm. At least I always got an A+ in “handwriting” and “cursive” and “recess.” Other things I failed in third grade? “Sharing” and “not fouling out in basketball games” and “letting others contribute to group projects.”

So I’m in California. That is exciting.

FLYING! This isn't even a relevant photo taken from today's flight. It's from last year's trip to L.A. Or maybe Utah. I don't even know. The point is, today I was on a plane.

I go to L.A. once a year for photo shoots. Last year I got to go for a long run on the beach in Santa Monica after my work was done.

Evidence from last year's beach run. It was magnificent and also, it was warm. Like 80 degrees.

The shoots require tons of planning and careful execution — plus far too many publicists, agents, managers and, this time, a film crew — but it’s always a fun, rewarding trip, and it makes me be like “my job is sweet.”

But you know I didn’t just wake up today and stroll on board my JetBlue plane with a handful of snacks. I ran first, of course.

Now that my hip is feeling thank-God-so-much-better, I’m back on a regimented training plan from Coach Cane. He sends me my weekly plan in a fancy little online log, and then after I do the workout I’m supposed to write about it for him so he knows how well I did or how poorly I read his instructions.

Just like in the olden days of Hamptons training, Tuesdays are now speed/tempo days. I’m not sure which one of those today would classify as, but you can go ahead and let me know in the comments. Share your knowledge. Share your gift.

I should preface this by saying that I perhaps shouldn’t have gone to that Chisel class at the gym last night. But before Lauren yells at me (again), let me defend myself by saying that I wanted to go for the arm stuff, and the butt moves. I did not ask for all those squats and lunges.

Ever since Coach Cane told me that my “injury” could be a result of “weak glutes,” I can’t help but picture my rear as this flabby, lazy thing I have to drag around with me. So I went to one Chisel class — my first in a few weeks — in hopes that the instructor, Angel, would whip my booty right back into shape.

Sadly, I don’t think my butt is any perkier today, but we’ll get there. And we’ll do Chisel on days that don’t immediately precede speedwork. Do you approve, Coach LB?

Now let me tell you about today’s workout:

  • 1+ mile warm-up including a few brisk pickups
  • Beginning at Engineers’ Gate (I love Coach Cane because he always puts apostrophes in the correct places) on the Reservoir, do 1 mile at ambitious (but not crazy) half marathon pace
  • Recovery back to Engineers’ Gate at marathon goal pace
  • Finish with a full lap of the Reservoir at half marathon pace
  • 1+ mile cool-down

So I read this workout incorrectly at 5 am and now I’m a little pissed. I didn’t read that the recovery between the two pickups was supposed to be at marathon goal pace. Fail, Ali, fail! I ran the in-between part at a much slower recovery pace.

Sorry, Coach. Please don’t abandon me because I have no idea how to read very clear, specific instructions.

OK so aside from that little error I just realized, the workout was good. I hadn’t done anything involving speed or requiring diligence in about three weeks, so today was a nice kick in the short-shorts.

I ended up doing a 2-mile warm-up because after just one mile my legs weren’t feeling as loosened-up as I had hoped they would.

I based the pickups on a “realistically ambitious” half marathon goal pace of 7:45–7:50.

I started the first pickup way too fast, because when I looked at my watch about a quarter-mile in, it flashed a happy little 7:07 pace at me. Too fast, crazy girl, slow it down. As excited as I was to be throwing down a 7:07, I knew I’d fail miserably on the second pickup if I maintained it and also, Coach Cane said ambitious but not crazy. I listened.

I felt awesome as I finished the first mile of the workout, which was encouraging. I didn’t think I had speed left in me, and I’m looking forward to really pushing it and getting stronger in the weeks leading up to the Eugene Marathon. I want to go fast!

So then I recovered at a slower-than-Coach-Cane-wanted pace, because I’m an idiot (I ran that portion at a 9:09 pace when it should have been an 8:45 pace — not too far off, but more of a discrepancy than I would have liked) and readied myself for the second, slightly longer, pickup.

This one came easily as well. My stomach started to seriously ache toward the end, forcing me to slow from my 7:35-ish average to a 7:50, but my splits still look decent, especially since I’ve learned how to toy with that little pace button on my ever-frustrating, signal-losing watch.

I did a few cool-down miles and wrapped up the workout clocking 8 glorious pre-flight miles.

The lap function: so handy.

And then I threw crap in a suitcase, neglected to blow-dry, or even brush, my hair and sped off to JFK, coworker in tow, for a painfully long (6+ hours), screaming-child-filled flight.

My takeaway from today’s workout? It felt challenging, and I’m obviously peeved that I misread part of the instructions, but I don’t think that’s too big of a deal. Could I have done the in-between recovery at marathon goal pace? Yes, I could have. Next time I’ll just actually have to do it.

The speed is still in me — I know it is — and I’m so excited and motivated to work hard over the next few weeks. Kick my ass, Coach Cane. I dare you.

Tomorrow’s run plan is five slow miles, and Thursday I’ve got some mile repeaty type things that I may be forced to attempt on a treadmill, since I’m pretty sure I’m staying at a totally-swanky airport at the LAX airport, and I’m not sure if mission control center is cool with me doing speedwork/tempo running on the tarmac. I’ll attempt it and report back.

In final news, the photo shoot I’m working tomorrow is being filmed by the Oxygen Network for a docuseries premiering in the spring. It’s not about me. That would be ridiculous. There are already plenty of shows in existence about wannabe-runner girls with Crohn’s disease who write blogs about skipping through Central Park every morning. Super over-saturated market right there. But yeah, the series is about the dancers we’re shooting. Coordinating everything with a big ol’ film crew hasn’t been stressful at all, in case you were up at night losing sleep and wondering about that.

I haven’t decided if my plan is to try to be on camera as little as possible, or if I should find and bedazzle a microphone and proceed to wow the crew with my karaoke abilities and diva-like prowess. Again, I’ll report back.

Have a wonderful, speedy-running day!



25 Responses

  1. Do you think that they would pick up the blond-runner-girls-with-crohns-in-central-park show if there were 2 of them? Because I also fit that description, just saying…. I could be the half-marathoner from the west side, you could be the full-marathoner from the east side. We could meet in the middle and solve the problems of the world….
    And get ice cream after.
    Just saying….

  2. There is absolutely no shame in taking pictures on an airplane. And I’m glad you’re not beating yourself up too badly on the little reading mistake…. you’re a kickass runner no matter what your recovery speed.

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  3. Apologies for being all “hey, I’m new here, answer all my questions!”, but I have questions.

    First, how did you fix your hip ailment? Can’t be sure it’s the same thing I have, but I would LOVE a magic cure. For my sad, weak butt. I still think it’s a cute butt. Anyway. My next questions is — photo shoot?! every year? Is it always for Oxygen, or what?

  4. Nice workout! I also did a workout on the res last night and oh man, pretty sure I screwed it up. My coach had us stopping and starting at all different points and since it was dark I could barely see the mile markers. However, I figure some workout is better than no workout,right?? Enjoy California!! I vote you try to make an on-camera appearance 🙂

  5. Hi Ali, I discovered your blog a while back and have been happily reading ever since! Just wanted to let you know that you blew by me yesterday on the reservoir and I was super impressed by your speed – I recognized you from the leg warmers!

  6. Geez you’re a slow learner!! But I will save the lecture for another day, seeing as you are already teetering on the edge of collapse into full on rage. 😉 And despite everything, that was a very solid workout Feller!

    Now please find an apartment complex out in CA for us all to move into. I’m ready to pick up everything and relocate to the west coast.

  7. very speedy, even with a little mistake on instruction-reading! Your hip must be feeling good (hooray!). I have no doubt you have lots of speed in you. Hope you have some good runs in LA – loved running there when I visited in June. And, I guess looking for you on the bridle this morning was a little pointless…haha. come back soon!

  8. Is your Chisel instructor Angel Alicea? He has great abs. If he is your instructor — no wonder you go to that class. :b

    I think it would great if you had a TV show. You should pitch it to Oxygen.

  9. welcome to the west coast! i live in long beach (technically still la county) but grew up in the south bay (lax area) and i can recommend some routes if you’re super anti-treadmill like i am. i don’t know what your transportation situation is, but you can head over to “plaza el segundo” about 2 miles south of lax. they have a few soccer fields you can jaunt around. there’s also an outdoor track about 5 miles south at aviation park in redondo beach. OR you can do the simple thing and take PCH to lincoln to westchester parkway to the OCEAN! that route’s about 4 miles. anyway, it’s fun to read about your runs in ny, which i know nothing about, but it’s more fun to feel like maybe i’m being helpful from la, which i know a lot about. happy running! 🙂

  10. Glad your hip is feeling better! Don’t worry – when the RC writes a workout, I always see “400 m recovery” as “optional stand there for about 2 min instead.” I haven’t told her that though.

    IS IT THE DANCE MOM GIRLS?!? Love that show.

  11. So happy you are experiencing the West Coast! I’m from Seattle and although Seattle isn’t similar to LA, we’re pretty similar to Eugene, OR folks. Enjoy and I like reading your blog!

  12. I love love love your blog, Ali! You are so inspiring & so happy & fun & I get excited to read your blog every day! Thank you for that! Have fun in Cali! :))

  13. Just really started following your blog and I love it!!! You are too funny. Keep on running hard, I am excited for your upcoming marathon. I had the crappiest 16 miler the other day but just kept thinking about your 14 mile run post and it helped get me through. Thanks Ali!

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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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