Thankful Things Thursday: On Good Runs, Grippy Hangers & Gold Medals

I am not thankful for steroid face. Dang it. I’m feeling slightly chipmunky these days. I thought I could get through this round of ‘roids without getting the inevitable “moon face,” but alas, photos taken yesterday reveal a slight, chipmunky change in face shape.

That's me, Chipmunk Ali, on the left, and in my hand is an Olympic gold medal. We'll get to that. Also, a guy — Ricky Berens — who happens to not be SUPER ugly I guess, if you're into the whole tall, dark, handsome, Olympic Gold Medalist thing.

But chipmunks are happy creatures, I assume, and I, too, am a happy creature. The only difference is that chipmunks have to spend all their time singing songs and cleaning up and making dresses and tying bows for that bossy bitch Cinderella, while I get to spend my valuable moments making lists of things I’m thankful for.

Shall we?

I’m thankful I can wake up and run. Remember that Crohn’s flare-up? That was super annoying, and I wasted a lot of time in the bathroom every day. It has been so nice being able to wake up and hit the road lately. I get out the door so much faster when my stomach is calm! It is MAGIC.

Can I talk more about running?

I’ve had some good runs this week. No speedwork, no hardcore hill training — just solid, fun, happy runs.

On Tuesday I quite literally ran into Kelly in Central Park. I was planning to run casually and comfortably, and that’s how I started.

Here are the splits from Tuesday’s run:

8 miles on a Tuesday morning = not a bad way to kick off a day.

Can you guess at which mile I ran into my fast friend Kelly?

If you guessed mile 1 you are wrong.

If you guessed mile 8 you are also wrong.

You suck at this game.

The correct answer is mile 4, roughly. We agreed to “keep it slow,” but then an 8:18 pace happened and I noticed Kelly was talking way more than I was, so we slowed it down a bit and I contributed more than just coughing and smiling and nodding to the conversation.

I took yesterday off from running — see, again, how I’m trying to be smart and doing that whole “listen to your body” thing people preach? — and opted for an easy (translation: worst ever) spin class. It was boring, I loathed the instructor, the music was unmemorable and I was unimpressed.

But then today I got to run again!

My Coach of the Hour — because yes, my current “coach” is whoever responds to my GChats, emails or friendly subway conversations the fastest — suggested I do my planned 10 Thursday Morning Miles (capitalized, because that’s a formal title now…look it up) as a progression run.

“Get faster as you go,” the wise one encouraged.

I started out with a warm-up-ish mile and no real plan. I figured I’d just scoot around Central Park and every two miles I’d try to go “a little faster.” Emily said this workout would be “gratifying.” But two miles in, I was feeling more sluggish than psyched, and I started to talk myself out of the plan.

“I’ll just keep it to marathon goal pace-ish,” the voices in my head said.

“But that wasn’t the plan,” the other, run-loving voices chimed in.

Seriously, my head is a very scary place to be at 5:30 AM. And, frankly, at all other times, too.

As I neared the third mile of the run, I decided to go with the happy runner voices. Faster. Go.

My route around the park was slightly spastic.

That tiny circle in the middle is a loop around the Great Lawn. I think that was my favorite part. SO MANY DOGS.

I was all over the place, and by “all over the place” I mean I was “everywhere but up in the Harlem Hills and on the west side hills.” Smart, don’t you think?

By mile six I was loving this run. I felt loosened up and I wanted to go faster. So I did. Because that was the plan.

By mile nine I was sufficiently spent, and then I got to cool down. I always end with a cool-down mile and it is always fun. Except not really, because it’s on my way home and I have to stop at a bunch of traffic lights.

So was the workout “gratifying,” like Coach Sweaty promised?

You bet it was.

10 miles, each one faster than the one before. Except, you know, the last one there...

I felt really strong on this run and it felt good to work hard and push toward a goal. I feel like I’ve been coasting on my runs lately, which is fine, because why not? But every now and then it’s fun to throw in a workout like this and end it on that little runner’s high.

My left shin is a bit achy now, so I’ll be icing throughout the day and definitely not running again tomorrow. Smart Chipmunk Ali is what you should probably start calling me.

I’m thankful for my new apartment and lovely water views. You knew that already, but I couldn’t not include it.

This will never get old. Well, it probably will for you, but not for me.

There’s still a lot to be done, but this apartment felt like home right away and I’m very happy there. It’s clean.

Work in progress. I spy a piggy bank.

I’m thankful for those grippy felt hangers. I always used plastic tubey hangers because they came in really bright colors at The Container Store. I’m a sucker for all things lime green. But it turns out, those things take up a ton of space, and they’re not super handy because clothes just fall right off them.

Since the move, I have spent entirely too much money on new hangers at Bed Bath & Beyond — thank goodness for those 20% off coupons my mom and her friends send me — and they are amazing.

"You have so many clothes, how come you always say you have nothing to wear?" SOMEONE said that to me the other day as I was organizing my closet. He shall remain nameless. IT WAS BRIAN.

I have more space in my closet and my clothes aren’t constantly falling onto the floor. It’s genius. I wasn’t paid to write all this (dang it). Bed Bath & Beyond should probably sponsor me for something though. I could run races while carrying hangers and handing out coupons. I don’t know. It’s just an idea…that I’m going to pitch ASAP.

I’m thankful for my tax refund. I think taxes are dumb. I don’t like paying them. But I do like getting a little bit back each year and that makes me temporarily forget about the part of my paycheck I never actually get to see.

I’m thankful it’s that time of year when you can sleep with the windows wide open and get that perfect breeze in lieu of air conditioning or a fan.

I’m thankful I got to hold a gold medal. So yesterday marked 100 days until the London Olympics, which is very exciting. I love the Olympics. Times Square was packed with Olympians just roaming around, wearing their medals like it was no big deal. I happened to be passing through and I touched a medal. And the man wearing it.

We were talking about important things, like swimming, which I know a TON about. He did NOT win the gold doing the doggy paddle.

This OK-looking man is Ricky Berens, and he is a swimmer. He was just standing there, so we chatted. He was like, “Where are you from?” and I was like, “I live here,” and he was like, “I live in California,” and then I was like, “NO I CAN’T DATE YOU, I LIVE WITH BRIAN AND WE’RE IN LOVE.”

We agreed to just be friends, and then I asked him some really deep questions. I wanted to know if he had his gold medal insured, and he said, “No, I should probably get on that!” Dude, you won it in 2008. Yeah, you should get on it, before I steal it and run away with it.

I also asked him where he keeps the medal, and he said he wraps it up in a bunch of socks.

I would wear it all the time. I cannot think of a single outfit I own that wouldn’t go well with a giant heap of gold.

So that was cool. The Olympics are exciting. And Ricky Berens is a nice man. (Truthfully I was embarrassed I didn’t know more about him or swimming so we could talk about actual relevant things, but we made do with small talk.)

I’m thankful for the abundance of benches in Central Park. I just really like them. I like sitting on them and people watching and I like using them to do tricep dips…while people watching.

I’m thankful for that delicious, recognizable, unmistakable smell of a Subway sandwich shop. Is that the scent of freshly-baked bread tickling my nostrils? You bet it is. I rarely actually eat at Subway, but I do really enjoy the smell of that place when I walk by.

I’m thankful for BodyGlide. Sorry, but true. It’s getting hot out, people. This stuff is great.

I’m thankful I have a kitchen that makes me actually want to cook. The other night I made fish and brussels sprouts.

Something weird is happening with my hair...and I think the shadow on my arm is giving me a freaky bicep look. Thanks, shadow!

I even cleaned up afterward. Best roommate ever? Yes. Actually no, because I take all the closets and despise taking out the trash. But other than that, I do my best to be Super Roommate. It’s a welcomed change having space to move around and a sink that can actually hold more than one dirty dish at a time.

I’m thankful I packed my lunch today. I’ve been very diligent about not wasting my money buying fancy Panera sandwiches and, instead, packing my own sandwiches with Tzatziki sauce. Delicious, filling and cheap.

I think that’s a good thankful list for today, right? I’m feeling pretty psyched about life.

ARE YOU? Tell me what you’re feeling grateful for on this very lovely Thursday!



49 Responses

  1. I love that you can say that you were “just passing through” Times Square. I WISH I COULD SAY THAT! It all sounds so exciting though. One of the best things from my thankful list this week is getting to go to NYC for the first time this past weekend. I loved it:)

  2. I’m thankful for My Drunk Kitchen videos on YouTube. Please tell me you’ve watched these. I’ve had some pretty shit days these last two weeks, and watching MDK inevitably makes me giggle uncontrollably. Check it out!

  3. wait, who is that fine looking man in the picture? rarrwwwrrr. hehe. anyways. I looked for you this morning! And you would have smoked me, my fast friend Ali 🙂

    I am thankful my hamstring feels good this week and the sun is shining. And for leggings, because that is all I wear lately.

  4. I’m thankful for Central Park, libraries, police officers, and sunshine, all of which are payed for with taxes. Well, maybe not sunshine, but you get the point. 🙂 Taxes aren’t so bad after all!

    1. Haha! That’s so funny! Happy to have made an appearance in your dreams, and happy you’re spreading the thankful thoughts today!

    1. Thank you! It’s Lululemon. I’m not sure the style of the bag, but they carry it almost all the time in different colors. Lots of pockets!

  5. I’m uber-thankful that I decided to take today as a sanity day from work.

    So far I have been to CrossFit, spent almost two hours doing accounting work for my CrossFit coach (it’s a sweet trade…I do excel spreadsheets and he makes me lift heavy stuff), reviewed some essays my husband wrote (MCAT prep) and then toodled around on Facebook.

    I also intend to take a real shower at some point today. I feel that it’s sad for showers to be such an achievement in my life when I have no tiny children (or un-tiny children…or children of any sort).


  6. I have an East-side question for you. I do most of my running in Central Park or on the West Side Highway but I’m getting a little sick of it and thought I would branch out. How far north/south does the path along the East River go? And what streets do I need to be on to get there? Thanks! Love the blog!

    1. I’m actually not sure which parts of the road it may break on, but the East Side path runs pretty continuously from 125th Street down to the Brooklyn Bridge and around the island. (If anyone sees this and can/wants to correct me, though, that would be great.) I think there’s a little break in the path somewhere around East 30th, but it’s manageable. There are several entrances to the path. On the Upper East Side, you can get up there on I believe East 80th Street or 82nd, as well as a bunch of entrances further north. Lots of access in the 80s! I hope that helps a bit!

  7. Funny story about those hangers – my mom is obsessed with HSN and QVC and she ordered those hangers for herself. I made fun of her until I actually saw her closet. Then I ordered them for myself. Shameful…

    Today I am thankful that I survived yesterday’s deadline intact and with 30 mins to spare. I am thankful that my husband’s internship interview went well. I am thankful that I have the cutest and cuddliest dogs in the world.

  8. The DOGS! SO many, its like a zoo got loose! I try to avoid the Great Lawn loop in the morning because of the no leash law. I am thankful I didn’t die during the Boston Marathon.

    1. I THOUGHT OF YOU THE WHOLE TIME, BAKER. I was like, “This is where Baker runs fast.” Also PUPPIES!!!! ALL CAPS EXCITED ABOUT PUPPIES!!!!!

      I, too, am thankful that you didn’t die during the Boston Marathon. You did, however, kick some serious Boston ass, and someone is walking the Freedom Trail right now in your socks I bet.

  9. So cool that you got to touch an Olympic gold medal!!! Today I’m grateful for a fantastic haircut (my third since moving to Sicily but the first one I absolutely love – and it’s short! eek!) and I’m grateful for a great run as well. Almost succeeded at doing negative splits. Almost.

  10. I’m thankful for:

    1) Having given up reading blogs for lent, I am back, up to date with Ali and that she and Brian moved in together.

    2) That for the first time since my Feb half marathon my Plantar Fasciitis has gone away and I can run pain-free!

    3) After a month in the UK, which was lovely, I am thankful to be back in the California sunshine with my cat again.

    Happy Thursday everyone.

  11. Do you think Ricky Berens is blogging about you RIGHT NOW? That’d be so coincidental. I just want to note that every time you post your Central Park running routes it makes me want to go straight there and create random routes myself. Office life is so confining. Glad you’re loving running again just for the hell of it.

  12. I’m a sucker for organization and those hangers look like such a good idea! Definitely going to try those out when my boyfriend and I move in together this summer.

    I’m also thankful that the Olympics are coming up – favorite thing ever!

  13. I have those grippy hangers too and they are the best thing ever!

    I’m thankful for my bagel this morning. That was delicious.

  14. Important question: did you give Ricky my phone number of my email address? If the answer is “both” I will continue to provide you with my expert coaching services free of charge.

  15. Thankful for the overnight/early morning rain…which meant cool weather and lower humidity…and I got my 8km done this morning!

  16. I LOVED RUNNING INTO YOU THIS MORNING!! Sorry I slowed you down. I have the same hangers, by the way, and they are amazing and now I won’t use any others. Also, Tzatziki sauce goes well with lamb, which I am pretty sure you should be cooking right now.

  17. I really like your hanger situation and I am very tempted to purchase all new hangers now. And are you sure that is not your bicep?? I can’t stand the smell of Subway, although the food itself tastes fine. My brother lived above one when he first moved to Seattle and the entire hallway smelled like that bread. But you got used to it.

    1. Dori, I have been using those hangers for a few years. When you replace everything in your closet with them, you are AMAZED at how much room you have!! Do it do it!!

      1. Yeah the food skeeves me out a bit — LOVE Panera though, and it’s sad you’re not here anymore for the one RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET — but I love something about the smell of the Subway bread. I just love warm carbohydrates I guess.

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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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