The Long-Awaited Effortless Run

You know how people talk about those really awesome, high-inducing runs? The ones where the “miles fly by” and “everything feels so OMG awesome the whole time?” The ones where their brain and legs are totally in sync with each other, and they’re able to tune out the world and just run?

Yeah, who the heck are those people?

Well, on Saturday, I was one of those people.

I know.


I’ve had a few good runs sprinkled throughout 2012, but as you may recall from my whining, the majority of my little running exploits this year have ended in pain, frustration or the bathroom.

But not on Saturday.

On Saturday, I ran well.

Thank God. I think I needed it.

But obviously to share every detail of this magical run with you, I need to share every single detail of my entire life. Context, you know?

Friday started off with a spin class. It was fun. Then I tried to continue being healthy by having kale and stuff for breakfast.

"Hail to Kale." Turns out, it was delicious. And it kept me full for like, 8 whole minutes.

My healthy journey stopped there. My goal last week was to eat healthier, but somehow that completely backfired. In an effort to be more conscious about what I was eating, I ended up thinking about food constantly all day, every day. There’s still work to be done. I ate a lot of healthy stuff and tons of fruits and veggies, but I also ended up going for the usual crap by the end of the week, and in portions no human should be allowed to consume in one sitting.


Friday night I “treated myself” to a haircut. My last haircut was the day after Thanksgiving, so I think it was time.

I took a photo so you know this really happened:

I said I wouldn't post self-portraits anymore, but I guess I lied. My bad.

I told the guy I just wanted a trim, because “I need to be able to pull it back into a ponytail.” Translation: I am way too lazy to put any effort whatsoever into my hair, especially during the summer. He asked if I wanted a blow-dry, and I was all, “Um, sure. Whatever.” Dang NYC salons, charging extra for a blow-dry. But I didn’t have anywhere to be, so why not?

“You always wear it straight?” he asked me.

“Yeah, pretty much,” I kindly responded.

“Oh, please, you let me blow dry it big for you?! Let me do something fun for you! It’s Friday night, you go out, you go dancing, you have big hair!”

I mean, how could I say no to that kind of enthusiasm?

And so he blow dried.

This is about as big as my hair gets. And with two self-portraits in this post, we are now through. I apologize. Sort of.

And then, my big hair and I had a wild and crazy Friday night!

This is how I "read" at night.

I went to bed late with a 5 AM alarm set. I wanted to get my Saturday run done early so I could either head out of town or be in town and make it to a 9:30 breakfast on time.

I ate some cereal.

I went to the bathroom a bunch of times.

I charged up the ol’ Garmin.

And I headed for Central Park.

I knew I didn’t want to run more than 10 miles. I’m trying to up my mileage slowly leading up to marathon training, but I don’t want to jump it too much too soon because, you know, that’s how stuff breaks, and I’d really like to avoid that.

So I figured 10-ish miles, slower than marathon goal pace (8:45-ish), running whatever route my legs were feeling.

The first mile felt a little creaky, and I didn’t really have high hopes for the run. I didn’t have low ones, either. I really don’t think I thought too much about this one single run before it actually happened. It was humid and there was some excitement in the park as basically all of NYC’s lady runners warmed up for the Mini 10K race that was starting at 8:00.

I ran on the roads. I ran on the Bridle Path. I ran up on the Reservoir. I ran with music for the first time in a month, and I just ran. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t look at my watch. I ran and I smiled and I felt good.

And then I had run 10 miles.

It was over. And it was good.

I am very happy with these.

I wanted to keep going, but knew not to. There will be plenty of longer runs in my very near future.

I’m pretty psyched about my splits. I know that if my marathon goal pace is 8:45, then I should be doing my long runs at a slower pace, around 9:15s. But I’m not marathon training yet. I’m just running and, despite the fact that I can manage to write 1,000 words about a single, uneventful run, I am actually trying not to over-think my runs, at least in the midst of them.

It was nice to finally have a run that felt easy. Since taking a little time off and getting back into things, I’ve found running to be particularly challenging. For weeks I was out of breath at the top of every teeny tiny hill (or, you know, speed bump) and my “normal” paces required far more effort than they used to. I love that this run came so naturally to me. Things just fell into place.

Bonus: Other than three (ugh) bathroom stops, I didn’t stop at all during this run. Lately I’ve been going pretty easy on myself and allowing little “breaks” at the tops of hills when I feel particularly tired. (Yes, I know this does not bode well for “training.” Leave me alone.) But not this time! I just kept on running.

So while this run wasn’t my longest or my fastest, it was the best, most encouraging one I’ve had in a while.

I rode my little runner’s high straight through the weekend.

I went to a post-run breakfast at Nicole’s apartment, where she and her boyfriend, Gian (who qualified for the Olympic trials, no big deal, he’s friends with Meb), made lots of pancakes.

Brian was out of town this weekend, so I enjoyed some quality Ali time. Ali time means a lot of walking around the city, a little sale shopping and pantsless afternoon couch naps.

On Saturday night I went to a wine and cheese fiesta at Sofia’s apartment.

Wine and cheese, but also vegetables and meat.

Do you know what’s stressful? Going to a party with a bunch of sophisticated food people and having to bring something. I made salsa (pico de gallo, I was told later), which was a great idea since I cook nothing and Sofia won a salsa-making competition last year.

If it's colorful, it must taste good, right? The recipe is "some tomato, some onion, some mango, some garlic, some cilantro, some lime juice, some salt and also some pepper. Chop. Mix. Eat." I know that it's complicated, but you can probably do it. Ali On The Food Blog.


It tasted good enough. People ate it. Sofia was cool about it.

This is Gian. He's like, "Ali, I'm going to eat your pico de salsa because it will fuel my 4:50 miles. Also, Ali, Meb called, and he wants to hang out. We are besties, and you can run with us anytime. Just kidding. HAHA. Your salsa sucks."

Sunday kicked off with a few leisurely “shakeout miles,” which was again encouraging. After running 10 miles and drinking the same number of wines the day before, I was happy I still felt alive. My legs weren’t dead. I was happy.

So happy, in fact, that I went grocery shopping and cooked myself a fancy little breakfast.

Little known fact: Until yesterday, I had never made scrambled eggs.

Turns out, my scrambling skills could use some work. The eggs were all broken up and choppy. I told Brian about this, and he says I was probably a little aggressive when it came to “moving the eggs around in the pan.” I welcome constructive criticism in this area.

But my breakfast was awesome: a sprouted wheat English muffin with some scrambled egg, tomato and spinach. And salt and pepper. Always salt and pepper.

Oh that is a masterpiece. That is beautiful. So elegant. Someone get me a Michelin Star.

In other words, over the weekend I became a food blogger. I know how excited you are about my masterful recipes, and you are welcome for sharing them.

I then spent three hours walking around the city. I love it here. I’m so happy I’m feeling better and I’m able to run and life is good.

To me, NYC, you are lovely.

My weekend wrapped up with Brian returning to our humble apartment — were you worried he might not come back? I was, a little bit. I was sort of cranky last week, so you never know. Sometimes people run away.

But he came back and we had what he will call a “having a few people over for dinner” and what I will call “A Sparkly Tony Awards Jazz Hands Party.” Agree to disagree.

Brian made giant tuna steaks for dinner. They were awesome. Maybe I'll let him write a guest post on my new food blog.

I went to bed last night with a wicked full stomach and many happy thoughts.

And a Stick.

And compression socks.

My feet are so slender, I know! Do these socks give me cankles? Crap.

It was a crowded bed, I guess.

To everyone who said “running will come back eventually,” thank you for your encouragement. I didn’t believe you for a little while, but you were right! Good job! I hope the “easy” runs continue and I keep feeling good.

I didn’t run this morning — I went for my first solo bike ride, which was great because I got to go really slow and didn’t have to try and keep up with Brian on his “recovery day!” — and I’m already excited to get back out running, probably tomorrow.

Good times.

SHARE YOUR GOOD TIMES: It’s been a while since we caught up. Share your weekend highlights! A great race with a PR? A fun getaway? A party with “foodies” where you brought something mediocre that everyone swore was “really good” just to be nice? Tell me all about it. Let’s be best friends.



38 Responses

  1. Hi Ali!

    Just wanted to tell you that I think you are SUCH a great writer and the fact that you have me laughing out loud while reading is truly a gift! It’s one thing to be funny in person, but Im sure you manage to do both just fine!

  2. we were hair salon twinkies last Friday! I had an appointment after work, and he insisted on blow-drying even though I told him not to because I was riding my bike home. anyway! sounds like you had an amazing weekend, cheers to that. I’ve been reading your blog consistently since I saw you at the Fitness Magazine event last month…but I recently started and new job and I primarily read blogs on my iPhone in bed…therefore no comments. BUT I always have comments I want to leave you in my head. so there’s that. 🙂

  3. hey ali! i’ve been meaning to comment for some time, but i love your blog and was inspired by yours and a few others to start my own and track my training for the nyc marathon this fall.

    but more importantly, i needed to comment because i ran the mini 10k on saturday, and during the race who did i see on the sidelines? the infamous coach cane and simon! i was struggling through the race (due to lack of training) but i recognized their familiar faces and made me laugh a little.

    glad you are on the upswing and feeling better!

  4. I ran my furthest distance ever! 10.6 miles! I am training for the Disneyland half marathon in September. I’m STILL on a high about the distance ;D

  5. Your stylist did right with you! The hair do looks gorgeous! Glad you enjoyed the run and there’ll be plenty more to come. Had an awesome weekend running in Phuket. So everything is all and well for everyone!

  6. I had an 8 hour rehearsal on Saturday for my amateur theatre group’s upcoming production of “Sweet Charity,” and it went SO FREAKING WELL. I was fully expecting Rhythm of Life to be a car-crash, and instead it was a showstopper. And I only wanted to kill myself once, when 6 people all yelled “Noooo!” at me when I was explaining a move on the mic plot.

  7. I know you rarely take anyone else’s advice, but you should probably focus your *long* runs when you start training for the marathon at around 9:15-10:15 /mile (for a goal of 8:45 miles on race day). The point of long runs is supposed to get you ready for the massive amount of time you will be on your feet. Check out this pace calculator for some estimates on each targeted workout:

    1. I welcome advice from people all the time — and I actually wrote in this post that I know my long runs during training should be slower than marathon goal pace. So I’m very aware of that, but thank you.

      1. Cool, but there is a big difference between “9:15s” and 9:15-10:15s. Just trying to help – knowing what pace I should hit during certain workouts really helped my training (went from a 4:22 marathon to a 3:37) and most runners get discouraged when they see certain numbers when the slow times actually help.

  8. Love your sandals, Aldo right? (I have the same ones!)
    I’m happy you had a good run, it was about time!!
    And I like your hair like that, although I’m like you; pony tail on a bad hair day

  9. Yay! We’re BFF! No takebacks, you know.

    My weekend was…relaxing. I got a couple good runs in although when my Garmin died .4 miles in to what was meant to be a 12 mile run I could have been bummed. But – I just ran to where I know a mile was, ran back to be ~2, came inside and got on the treadmill for another 2 and moved the long run to today (which was WONDERFUL). It was pretty nice actually to get back on the treadmill because I wasn’t going as crazy with boredom on it as I usually do. Other than that, laid out by the pool 2x but did not actually go swimming. Very relaxing and warm.

  10. So pleased for you that you had a nice run! So encouraging! I made it out for my first “long” run of training and it was pretty tough (it was like 500 degrees at 6:30am)… BUT I FINISHED! I rewarded myself with a new tank from lulu… but I should have rewarded myself with like 10 hours of foam rolling. whatever.. 😉 I will be channeling your “effortless” run during my runs this week! Yay for us feeling healthy!

  11. Big weekend over here in Emilyland. Graduated from grad school, had the family in town, packed up my car and said goodbye to Seattle. Plus, I also ran 10 miles that were dang good!

  12. Yaaaaaay for your run! Absolutely cannot imagine 10 miles feeling comfy and good but I *did* run 4 miles (the first “long run” of my half marathon training) and it felt great!

    Then I had a lamb burger with my best friend.
    Then I laid in the backyard sun for many hours.

  13. That salsa/pico-de-mango was TASTY and fueled every mile of my 17 miler on Sunday!

    Also, I need to thank you for a few more things: 1. NOT posting the most flattering picture of myself eating your salsa/pico-de-onion (oh wait…). 2. NOT posting about me blocking cabs with my bare hands. 3. NOT posting about the double chocolate chip cookie with walnuts that we did NOT get from Panera and you did NOT have in your bag.

    PS- I hope you’re a fan of Shape-ups because Meb wants to do a Sketchers giveaway on YOUR blog…

  14. I LOVE scrambled eggs!! They’re one of my favorite dinners! And I LOVE the big hair – it’s one of the things I most love about America!! I wish I knew how to do it.

    Had a FAB weekend with a good long run on Saturday, lots of sunshine, lots of napping and a trip to the beach!!!

  15. Glad to hear you had a great run! Thank goodness my hairdresser doesn’t charge extra for a blow-dry…I would definitely be the person with wet hair leaving the salon.

  16. First, congrats on your comeback run. But more importantly, the hair! I’m a fan of the big hair, but not so much on the charging extra for the blow dry. WTF NYC?!

    Welcome back!

  17. hollaaaaa- that makes me so happy! I’m stoked you had an awesome run, i know the feeling and can definitely relate. this coming weekend i’m hoping to get a solid 10 under my belt – as i haven’t started training for NY yet, but feel i should probably attempt to maintain some kind of base…
    thanks for the motivation and encouraging post!

  18. YAY for happy fun effortless(ish) running. Take ’em where you can get ’em, those buggers are hard to come by!

    PS. will Brian make me those tuna steaks? I’m drooling!!

  19. I LOL’ed so many times during this post. I also passed out without brushing my teeth Saturday night and woke up to a VERY attractive, perfume-y onion breath. Gian loved it. Also, your hair looked amazing in that picture – I wouldn’t have washed it for days.

  20. love the gian shot. i also loved the cab interception. well, more like felt bad about it, but also loved it.

    i give you two more wine and cheese get-togethers until you’re a serious food person. and professional food photographer. just you wait.

  21. So happy for you and your great 10 miler! I had a good run, too! FINALLY! Was it “fast”? no. Was it “easy”? not really. But, it was easier than others, I didn’t want to die, I covered more distance than I have since March, and I finished thinking “I’m back.” Then, because I love broadway, need more creative outlets in my life, and am pretty predictable, I hosted a Tony party with all food and beverages correlating to a nominated show. Have a great week!

  22. So happy you had such a great run! Also, I can’t believe you never made scrambled eggs. I am not a person who really cooks, but that is the one thing I have been cooking my entire life since it is so easy and delicious. Yours looked great. Sounds like you had a nice relaxing weekend.

    I ran the Mini 10K and missed my PR but one minute and one second, but that is OK. I didn’t “train” and I just had my first week of outdoor Refine RegGroup and I ran as hard as I could, so I am happy. And my standards for myself have changed so much since my 10K PR two months ago that I know I should be insanely happy that I got the time I even did — and I am! 54:56 would be unheard of for me last year!

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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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