All summer long (um, all year long?) I wanted to have a Super Awesome Weekend. You know, those weekends that are so fantastically stellar from start to finish, and on Sunday night you can’t even be depressed about the week starting up again because you’re still riding high from all the funness that went down since Friday?
Well, instead of Super Awesome Weekends, I mostly settled for Stuck In The Bathroom Weekends.
Different kind of fun. Not fun at all fun.
But this weekend?
This weekend was great. It was way fun — dare I say it was even Super Awesome?
I ran a race.
But that’s not all.
A quick rundown of things that contributed to the Weekend Of Ali’s Dreams:
On Friday, we got the October issue of Dance Spirit at work. It’s the first one with my editor’s letter at the beginning, and I’m pretty pumped about it.
Friday was also a fun day at the office thanks to a visit from a few of the tiny dancers from “Dance Moms.”
Maddie and Chloe have a new jewelry line called Glitzy Girl and they hooked me up with a sweet bangle and some charms.
Yes, the moms came, too.
No, Abby Lee Miller was not present.
And on Friday night I ate pasta.
And on Saturday I spent the day with my old roommate, walking around and shopping and loving New York City.
And then the weather people started being like, “A tornado is headed for New York! Take cover! Be smart! Tape your windows! Hide your kids! Hide your wives! Stock up on Oreos!”
Which to me really meant, “Go up on your roof to get a better view of the storm! Be stupid! Be reckless! Live on the edge…of your roof.”
Worth it? Worth the danger of blowing off the roof amidst the flying cows, Twister-style?
And then I Skyped with Tyler, who is getting so good at holding his head up.
You’ll get there, Ty. More Baby Pilates. And maybe work on untangling your legs a bit.
And then it was Saturday night.
And I was like, “So about that race I’m registered for tomorrow…”
I registered for the Bronx 10-Miler a long, long time ago. When I registered, my plan was to race the thing. I was going to be halfway into my New York City Marathon training. I was going to have eight weeks of speedwork behind me, and I was going to aim for an ambitious 7:45/mile pace.
I know, it’s so hilarious.
Laugh it up.
As you may recall, those “eight weeks of training” turned into “not really training and being sick instead.”
Until Saturday night, I was up in the air about doing this race. I could have taken it or left it — I really didn’t care either way. But since getting doped up on Remicade and starting my new round of medication, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I knew I’d be out running some distance this weekend anyway, so why not make it the 10 miles in the Bronx I’d already paid for?
Then I was like, “How do I do a race?”
I haven’t raced all year. I burned myself out on racing last year (stupid 9+1 requirements for the marathon), and this year I’ve been too sick to toe a start line that doesn’t lead to a bathroom.
I also told myself “I hate racing.”
I take it back. At least for now.
Because yesterday I ran the Bronx 10-Miler, and I loved every step, every mile and every bead of sweat that dripped into my eyes and created an odd burning sensation.
So Saturday night I decided I would do the race, but I’d be smart about it. I obviously hadn’t trained to throw down the 7:45s I’d initially hoped for, and going all-out in my first real long run back from Crohnsing probably wouldn’t be the best plan.
The new plan was to do a warm-up before the race to get any last-minute diseasey things out of my system. From there, I’d run the race comfortably. I wanted to make sure I could finish. That was my main goal. Sub-9:00 miles would be nice, but certainly not expected or mandatory. If I finished with a positive, happy outlook, it would be a success.
Life Coach Brian says my brain is the biggest thing holding me back when it comes to running. That’s a post for another day. We had a very long, life-changing talk Saturday night in which Brian said it was “time for some tough love” and I only cried a little bit and don’t worry, we are still best friends and in love and stuff.
I picked out my race outfit, because that’s important…
…and I had racing nightmares all night long. It’s good to be back at it!
I woke up early, blah blah blah, shower, bathroom, abs, subway.
I got to the start line in the Bronx with plenty of time for a warm-up, which was basically just me slow-jogging up and down the corral area, back and forth, back and forth.
As I warmed up, I paid attention to how I felt.
And I felt really, really good.
My legs felt fine, my head was happy and my intestines weren’t freaking out. I knew then that this could be a good run for me. After months of hell, it was a pretty remarkable feeling. I almost cried happy tears before the race even started. I was all, “Life is so beautiful, blue sky, happy day, raaaaciiiiing!”
I did the Porta Potty thing and wiggled into my corral, basically just grinning like a fool.
The National Anthem happened.
The “On your marks…” happened.
And then I was running.
I took my first few strides, checked in with the watch and saw a sub-8:00 mile. Take it down a notch, Feller. I didn’t get caught up in the excitement, I kept myself in check, and I just ran.
That was basically my “strategy,” if you can call it that.
I kept my focus forward — I cannot tell you a single landmark or “cool thing” we passed on this course because I wasn’t paying attention at all — and I just happy ran.
The first three miles flew by. I was loving life. For three miles, I didn’t even think about my stomach. I didn’t have to — it felt fine.
The course was an out-and-back with a few detours to mix things up, and I really enjoyed the course. Coach Cane had told me it “wasn’t flat” but that it also “wasn’t hilly.” I thought that was silly and not at all helpful, but turns out, it was a totally accurate description of the course.
There were basically little rolling hills the entire time. Nothing you could call “climbing,” though the downhills were fast and fun. There wasn’t much shade, and eventually the hot sun began to take its toll on me, making me wish I were more adept at the whole grab-a-cup-of-water-and-don’t-spill-it-up-your-nose thing, but I will work on that. I suck at water stops.
Around mile four, I saw my friend Katie. She was all, “OMG, I didn’t know you were back to racing!” and I just sort of smiled at her and was all, “Surpriiiiiiiiise!”
It wasn’t until mile six or so that I started to feel a little tired. I never felt like I was really racing, but I was cruising along faster than my marathon goal pace.
When I started to feel tired, I remembered all the stuff Brian had talked to me about the night before. All that stuff about how I can’t give up on myself. About how my body is capable of more than my brain thinks when I’m racing. About how I’m the funniest, most talented girl he’s ever met.
Maybe not so much that last part. It’s hard to remember the entire conversation.
I wanted to finish strong and I wanted to be proud of myself at the end of the race.
I did, as always, positive split this race. I’d beat myself up and say I “went out too fast” and I “should have started slower,” but I just can’t bring myself to care.
I stuck with it, I loved this race, and I managed to kick it ever-so-slightly at the very end.
I thought I’d exhausted myself by mile 9.5, but when I saw the finish line up ahead — and saw a guy on my left eyeballing me, clearly wanting to race it out to the end — I got a little extra jolt. I “sprinted” (by my standards) and finished strong.
I survived my first race back from whatever. Back from a hiatus? Back from an injury? Back from an intestinal and total body attack?
I didn’t care about my pace. I don’t care that I didn’t negative split.
I don’t care that the shorts I wore made it kind of obvious when I started sweating. I don’t care about anyone else who ran this race, and I don’t care about whether they finished ahead of me or behind me. This was my race and for the first time in way too long I ran it for me and I felt physically and mentally strong the entire time.
I also PR’d by four minutes, so that’s cool.
To wrap up The Weekend That Was Awesome, Brian and I went to the Bronx Zoo. If you brought your race bib, you got a discount.
So I brought my bib and wore the race T-shirt. You can call me a nerd, but I think I’m just more of an overachiever.
Also, giraffes. I friggin’ love giraffes, more than I can explain, and they have giraffes at the Bronx Zoo, and Brian caught my reaction when we rounded the corner and I spotted them.
They are tall and gorgeous.
Longest “race recap” ever?
Good job if you made it through.
To summarize: I ran a race. It was in the Bronx. It wasn’t my fastest run of all time, but it just may have been my happiest.
And yes: I finally used the mango soap.