The Weekend I Stopped Hating Racing: The Bronx 10-Miler Recap

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?

WHAT'S THAT?! A bib?! A medal?! WHAT HAPPENED?

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.

Exciting! Maybe only for me...and my mom. But exciting!

Friday was also a fun day at the office thanks to a visit from a few of the tiny dancers from “Dance Moms.”

They are so small. Maddie told me she liked my outfit and it was "something she would wear." She "loves lace." Duh, we have everything in common.

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.

Christi and Melissa added to the group shot. Oh dance moms...

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.”

Looks like a blanket covering the sky, right?

Worth it? Worth the danger of blowing off the roof amidst the flying cows, Twister-style?

And then the downpour came. So I went inside. That's basically the whole story. Not very cool. This is a terrible "race recap" so far. Sorry.

Oh yes.

And then I Skyped with Tyler, who is getting so good at holding his head up.

So much strength! So much core activation!

Kind of.

Man down.

You’ll get there, Ty. More Baby Pilates. And maybe work on untangling your legs a bit.

He loves working on his planks. Probably his best skill.

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?

I'd basically forgotten how to even pin these things on. Because it's HARD.

Then I was like, “How do I do a race?”

Seriously.

A completely rational Saturday 9 PM G-Chat conversation with my sweatiest friend in D.C. She was helpful.

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 BEAUTIFUL. You can frame this if you want. Brian took it on the subway after the race, and I was like, "Is it good?" and he just smiled politely and didn't respond and then acted busy and started playing on his phone. I took that as him saying, "YES, OMG, YOU ARE PRETTIER THAN EVER RIGHT NOW." He just doesn't always use his words.

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…

All the essentials. You'll note the return of the nutritious Entenmann's "granola" bars, which I had abandoned for a long time because they weren't "nutritionally sound." Well, turns out, my stomach kind of enjoys them, so they're back in Race Day rotation.

…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.

DONDE ESTA ALL THE PEOPLE? Oh right, not arriving a full hour early like I did.

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!”

Have you ever seen anything so magical? Oh, you have? Whatever.

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.

Why so foggy, picture?

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.

Good job, feet. You might be small, but you are mighty.

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!”

Katie, it's not even fair how pretty you look after running (and kicking ass at) a 10-mile race. Go get uglier, and then we can take more pictures together.

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.

Ka-pow! 6:59 pace for .01 seconds. And arm hair that looks way too long...

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.

In case you needed proof that I did, in fact, slow down at the halfway point. My official NYRR finish time was 1:22:19, which is an 8:14 pace.

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.

Brian was sweatier than I was. He did not do the race.

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.

Don't worry, THIS RHINO ISN'T REAL.

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.

Not unlike Kristen Bell's encounter with the sloth.

They are tall and gorgeous.

Look at that beauty. Magical.

Longest “race recap” ever?

Yes.

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.

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Ali

Ali

90 Responses

  1. Hey!…i ran that race too…but i think i may be flaring so my pace was off ended up running a disappointing 10:05 mile when my pace for Brooklyn was 9:34 a few months prior…and it didn’t help that the previous night i went to the Madonna concert!…Any tips on how to keep up the speed when you are not feeling well?

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. Honestly, when I’m not feeling well I DON’T keep up my speed. By the time I ran the Bronx 10-Miler, I was feeling so much better than I had been two weeks prior. But during the worst of my flare-up, if I ran at all it was slowly and without pressure. When I’m sick, I know my body is already under a ton of stress, so I try not to add to that with speed work or anything too taxing. Let your body recover, and when you’re flare-free you can rock out and speed up. (I’m sure some people are able to maintain their speed during flare-ups, but I’m not one of those people.)

  2. Yay Mango Soap!

    I think I’m going to go buy a bottle of super awesome soap and reward myself with it. Sounds totally awesome.

    And congrats on the race and the pace and having a great race day!

  3. Congratulations! I know this is a big accomplishment with all the health difficulties that you’ve had lately. Hopefully this is a sign for good things happening.

  4. Ali,
    I have been following your health/running over the last year or so and am so very glad you got the weekend you so deserve. I am currently (and recently) on the DL due to some kind of knee injury. Like you I have been worried will I ever get to run a marathon again? Why did I take my running for granted? Your race recap has given me hope that I will return to the racing scene, my knee will get better and I will be better for it. Thank you for sharing everything! BTW, I’m a NH girl – I love it here; if I was to pick anywhere else to live – it would be NYC. You are pretty much my hero. LOL 🙂

  5. I AM SO JEALOUS!! Your job is amazing. I also grew up dancing and you have my dream job. Yes…I saw you on All the Right Moves.

    But anyway… Great job on your run. I hope you keep feeling better and better!!!

  6. Well…you rock!!! After being in the hospital, you came out a week later to compete in a running race. Then you kicked some ass out there. I was out there too and I know you kicked mine.
    Great run – great weekend – so happy you are back on track! CONGRATS!!! Your writing is an inspiration.

  7. I saw you at the finish line and was too shy to say hi! I’ll say it here though, I really enjoy your blog and it was strange but cool seeing a blogger I regularly read in *real* life. Glad you actually exist haha.

    Congrats on the awesome run! And I agree on the fun, rolling not-hills. Good stuff.

  8. Congratulations Ali. Sorry if I accidentally teared up while I was reading this. It’s so wonderful to hear this great news for you. I had some pretty serious surgery August 7th and have been waiting to get back at the running thing (or actually any working out at all) and am hoping to get the all clear Thursday. I just went ahead and signed up for the Disney marathon because why the heck wouldn’t I. So to see that you were able to run this 10 miler at such a great pace after everything you’ve been through lately gives me such inspiration and hope for what I’m looking at. I read all of your posts and rarely comment, but I just had to on this one. Thanks for never giving up. 🙂

  9. Hey Ali! I was the total creeper soulcycle employee that introduced myself to you saturday afternoon. so great to meet you; come back soon, i promise to not be as creepy (no promises actually).

    and congrats on your race!!!!

  10. Congratulations, Ali and hooray for a good run! Your post made my day — I must have been standing right in front of you in the corral at the start (that’s half of me to the left of the guy in green :))

    Wish I would have turned around to say hi! Maybe the next one!

  11. I’m so glad you’re back to running and RACING! Yay!!!!!! If I knew you were running, I would have looked out for you — I would have looked out for you as you were coming back and I was going out. I don’t recall many landmarks or anything. I used to really take the scenery in, but I’ve stopped doing that with my last few races. I don’t know why. I kind of liked seeing different things. I didn’t even realized I missed anything until I looked at the NYRR photos and realized there was actually stuff along the course.

    Nice giraffe photo. Now, if there was a giraffe long the course, I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed it. 🙂

  12. I’m super happy to see that you posted a zillion pictures with smiles that could stop a train. I’m excited that you got to race and that you enjoyed it. Mostly I’m just super excited that you are feeling better!! 🙂 WHOO HOO!!!

  13. Congrats! I was excited for you when I saw on twitter that you got to use the soap! Was really looking forward to this post today! yay!

    Side note: What brand headphones do you have? I can’t wear those ones that you just stick in your ears so I bought a pair that look exactly like the ones pictured above, but I ran a really humid race with them and they stopped working and I had just gotten them!

    1. My sweet old-school-style headphones are made by Sony. They break ALL THE TIME. I seriously go through like 10 pair in a season of marathon training. My mom sometimes buys me a bunch at a time from Target because she’s such a nice lady (and because they’re only about $8/pair). But yeah, they’re cheap and crappy but they’re the only ones that fit into my freakishly small ear holes.

  14. Whoosh! Great race! Yay for the mango soap. Yay for giraffes and that amazing picture. And yay x 2000 for Dance Moms, OMG. My mom is pretty sure I met Abby Lee Miller once when my dance studio competed against hers (…and won everything all the time; that part of the show is def real) but I don’t remember it at all, sad. I remember meeting her mom, though.

  15. Totally framing that picture. Just cause you asked. But seriously, your photo captions are hilarious. Can you write a book already? I’ll buy 12.

    Congrats on your PR—you just got out of the hospital and you’re running faster than you have before. That’s worth celebrating.

  16. So….I know I might have said you were a little crazy when I found out you were signed up for this race (in slightly nicer words) BUT I am so happy that it went well!! Yay for great runs! (And welcome back to racing!).

    Also – you need to give yourself a LOT more credit. Considering what you’ve been through over the past 2 weeks, I think your pace is pretty amazing! Actually – it’s amazing period. No disclaimer. You ran a PR…that is worth being excited about! Congratulations! I hope this is the start of many more great weeks of running.

  17. YOU KILLED THAT RACE!! Congrats! That is amazing!!!! I ran the Chicago Half Marathon after a looong break from organized races because I don’t have the dolla-dolla-billz right now. And it was quite awesome!

  18. Congrats on your mango soap moment! I hope you had a long, supersudsy celebration. 🙂 Seriously, this is AWESOME… doesn’t happiness just ROCK?!!!

    I was gettin’ happy this weekend too, but on a much smaller scale. After 2 months in physical therapy, my PT clearned me to start adding (“gradually, patiently, slowly” ) intervals to what has been a long walkin’ summer. It felt so good when I get to fly for each of those 60-second “laps”! 🙂

    Keep the glow goin’ on,
    K:)

  19. Couple of things: Your race results are freaking awesome. AWESOME. What a great confidence builder – so happy for you! I was hoping that’s how my half would go on Sunday and I’d be in love with running again. I pretty much had the opposite happen. Womp womp. I said I was not running the Chi Marathon, but now I’m 95% sure I’m not. Why can’t it just be easy to quit?! And also, I got into Dance Moms when i was stuck on my couch when I had pneumonia. That show is legit.

  20. Wow! Fantastic pace! You are speedy!! So happy you found your race mojo again! You must be so happy and so glad you are feeling better.

  21. That’s awesome you came out of major illness with a pr!! Kinda sets the bar high for the rest of us, huh! So you basically just crushed the first half (yeah give or take) of the marathon, are you feeling good about doing it? I’m just getting more and more nervous and not trusting training at all. Aaaah!

  22. Yay! I’m running a 10K next weekend as my first “real” race post-injury (I did a 5K right at the beginning of marathon training, when I still felt out of shape and it was brutally hot. Not counting that one.). I don’t know what to expect at this one…a PR would be sub-50:00 and I know I’m not quite back to that point yet. If I can maintain marathon goal pace, I’ll be happy.

    1. You’ll be great! It sounds like since you started running again post-injury your runs have gone pretty well. I’m sure it’ll be a solid day!

      In other news, I introduced myself to Twin Carla after the race and was like “I saw you in Runner’s World!” and I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a total creep. I was like “EMILIA AND I WORKED IN THE SAME BUILDING!” Further proof of Creep Status. My bad.

  23. Don’t say it wasn’t your fastest run of all time, it WAS your fastest 10mile race!!!
    Looks like you’re getting back into cheerful running Ali, yay!

  24. You need to put going to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs on your bucket list. You can watch the giraffe herd come out in the morning AND you get to feed them. And there are usually cute baby giraffes running around.

  25. HEY NICE RUN! You look pretty. Is that a belt? I have a whole positivity thing/goal going on this fall. I’m all wooha be positive you’re wasting too much time on bitching and moaning. It’s maybe 60% working but I bet you can get it up to 70% if you work super hard.

    1. Hahaha. It’s a “Spibelt.” It held my phone in the back. Pretty handy. It’s basically a fanny pack. You can borrow it. It’s great for stashing snacks.

  26. Remember when I was all like “Ali, I’m gonna put this race in my calendar, wake up really early, and pace you for this race!” and then you were like, “It’s ok, I don’t even know if I’ll show up, you should stay out drinking until 2am and wake up at 11am instead?” Yeah, thanks for letting me slide on that commitment 🙂

    1. I waited and waited at the start line. I was like WHERE IS MY HOT PACER IN HER NEW DANCE SPIRIT JUMPSUIT? But you never showed up, so I had to run it alone. Next time I’m wearing the Caccia Olympic Trials bib, FYI. I KNOW WHERE IT IS.

  27. a few things:
    1) I am still so hyped up about you meeting Chloe, Maddie, Christi and Melissa. Although I’m slightly bummed that Kelly wasn’t there because I would have loved to know if she actually IS always drunk and crazy.
    2) CONGRATS on the race/pr/feeling better-ness/awesome comeback weekend of fun!!!

  28. Yay for the mango soap!
    Also, a sign that I have been reading your blog for a long long time – looking at your layout of race clothes and (before reading the caption) thinking to myself “Ali is eating the Entenmann’s “granola” bars again!”

  29. Yayyyyy congrats on a great race! I’ve been having a VERY hard time with running lately too and I’m worried about a couple of upcoming races and you actually made me feel a little more positive about them. Glad you felt awesome the entire time!

  30. Your captions on photos are my favorite part of your blog. I giggle a little bit on the inside every time.

    Glad you got out there and ran! And even more glad it went so well!

  31. I just about died when you uploaded the pic of Maddie and Chloe to FB. Did you figure out how much of the show is actually ‘real’? Are the moms nice?!?! Please write an entire blog post on that……….

    Awesome job on the race! And you look so adorable when you spotted the giraffes!!!!!

      1. Haha. Yes, everyone was very nice. Maddie and Chloe were so stinkin’ cute. They’re just normal little girls, very sweet!

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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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