On Lacking Marathon Confidence


It’s been a while, huh?

In the past five days, I’ve been on two planes, I’ve set up shop in three different hotels and I’ve slept for what feels like zero hours.

On Thursday, I flew to Las Vegas for my friend Lauren’s bachelorette party.

Thanks, friendly airport sign. It’s good to be here.

We stayed in a suite at the Bellagio, which was fancy and wonderful…

I felt like I was in The Hangover and I kept secretly wishing that when I went into a bathroom in the morning, I’d find a tiger. No such luck. Though we also never found a stray baby in the closet, which I guess is a good thing. Also, in general, no one went missing for too long.

…and had five bathrooms. It was a Crohn’s diseaser’s dream!

I’m normally all anti-bachelorette parties, but this one convinced me otherwise. Lauren had fun, so I had fun.

Posing in the dark with the bride-to-be. Sweet photo. Great lighting.
The whole crew with devil eyes. I guess I should learn to edit my photos or something, but I just don’t care enough. Sorry.
Everyone bought fun, sparkly Vegas-style dresses. I wore black cotton. Shocking. Can someone please host a workout-clothes-themed bachelorette fiesta so I can fit in?

The bachelorette party continued through Sunday, and by Sunday night I was the lone party girl still in Vegas. I moved into a new room at the Venetian…

Who needs Italy? I imagine it’s the EXACT SAME as what I saw in my hotel this week.

…before finally leaving Las Vegas (I believe that’s a Sheryl Crow song) mid-day Monday.

Now I’m in L.A. where I’ll stay for the next few days on official Dance Spirit business.

First order of business upon arrival? Finally going to The Grove and the Farmers Market.

Aw, the fountain at The Grove tried so hard, but just couldn’t compare to the Bellagio fountains in Vegas. Sorry, little Grove water spouts.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So I eat three apples every day.

I spent Monday night running errands with my coworker and then doing work back at our luxury hotel room near the airport. [Sarcastic emphasis on “luxury hotel room near the airport.” You figured that out, though.]

Tomorrow is photo shoot day. It’s a big deal. We’re shooting important people and we’re hoping to pull off an outdoor shoot (the studio rooftop overlooks the Hollywood sign — I’m psyched), which terrifies me even though L.A. “doesn’t get rain.” I’m still stressed about it. You never know. I saw the movie Armageddon and also the movie Independence Day, so I know that sometimes, no matter how much you plan, shit can happen and there are meteors and aliens.

And Will Smith and Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis.

They’re all invited to the shoot.

WTF was I writing about?

Oh yes.

So basically since I got out of the hospital weeks ago, I’ve eaten terribly, I haven’t gotten enough sleep and I am giving into work stress more than I know I should. I also inhaled so much secondhand smoke in Vegas that I’m fairly certain my lungs have stopped even trying to function.

It’s fine.

Except that tonight, I had a mini panic attack that what if it’s not actually fine?

I’m supposed to be doing this thing called “running a marathon” in something like 25 days and I feel completely, utterly, wildly unprepared.

Yes, I realize the last time we spoke I went on and on about how I was taking a chill approach to the New York City Marathon, and I was willing to accept that my initial time goals were perhaps no longer feasible or realistic. I know.

Shut up.

The marathon still matters to me. I’d still like to know that I can “trust my training” come race day, and I know that’s not something I’ll be able to do.

Honestly, none of my runs have been up to par. I may have had a good one here and there — including a really fun 18-miler Thursday morning before work, when I finally ran over the Queensboro Bridge for the first time — but overall, I’m feeling slow and out-of-shape.

A great day, yes, but one fun run doesn’t exactly make for “exceptional training.”

Mileagely speaking (yes, it’s a word — don’t look it up though, just trust me), I’m doing well. Last week marked my highest mileage week of all-time, clocking in at 54 miles. Not bad considering I was in Las Vegas for a bachelorette party during several of those days.

Look! I’m back home! TRICKED YOU. That’s not the real Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a REPLICA at New York, New York. Mwahaha gotcha.

I still ran in the mornings in Vegas, but the runs were just fun runs, not “time to push the pace” runs. Those are the runs I love the most lately.

Pretty standard “I’m a running tourist” shot right here. Some guy insisted on taking it for me. “You cannot take picture of sign and not be in it!” He was adorable. This run sucked. Note to self/all of you: Don’t start running in Las Vegas after 8 AM. Too hot.

Now I’m into my last week of real training for the marathon, and I’ve hardly stepped outside my comfort zone. Oops.

I thought I had so much time, and as much as I said I was OK with “just doing my best,” I’m slightly shocked to realize my time is now up to really train and kick it into high gear.

It’s Peak Week, as I’ve learned to call it, and I can’t say it’s going to be the best, unfortunately.

I’ll be forced onto the treadmill for one speed session, which scares me because I’m awful at treadmill running, and I’m on a late late late night flight back to NYC on Wednesday. I fully anticipate some jet lag kicking in on Thursday, but hopefully I can run through that and get in a quality rest day Friday to let myself catch up and recover.

On Saturday, I’ll give 20 miles my best effort.

And then I’ll taper.

I don’t like going into the taper period without confidence. Even if this week goes as planned, I know I’ll be lacking the “I rocked my training all summer and I’m going to kick this marathon’s butt” enthusiasm that all my running friends seem to be spreading right now.

Forget about the sub-4 goal I had: Right now I’m worried about just getting up the hill of the Verrazano Bridge during the first mile!

I will continue working on my physical game in the days leading up to November 4. But most importantly right now, I need to keep reminding myself that I’ve given it my best effort considering the circumstances.

I was sick.

I was in the hospital.

I got promoted and work took over my life.

I tried my best.

And on November 4, I’ll try my best yet again.

I may not have the “best long run ever” logged in recent memory, and I haven’t gone out and “totally nailed my tempo.” My marathon goal pace changed from “8:45s” to “don’t die,” and I’m not sure how to record that on my Garmin.

I remind myself that I’ve done this before — I’ve completed 26.2 miles — but this time around feels totally different. Last time I did nail my training. I had so much confidence in myself. Now, not much more than one year later, I feel like a different runner. I feel out-of-shape and I feel slow. I love going out and running, but the planned workouts kick my butt every single time.

Everything doesn’t feel all that fine right now.

But that’s OK.

I’ll keep reminding myself of that until I believe it.

I can do this. Right?



46 Responses

  1. I can totally echo your feelings. I’m running my first long race (1/2 marathon) since my 1st marathon 2 years ago, and I feel exactly the same way you do. I’ve done my best to keep up with the training schedule, but life happened. My 10 miler last weekend kicked my butt (so I can echo the slow and out of shape!). Here’s to doing our best on our races in a couple weeks, no matter the times!

  2. I just did a 50 miler a month ago with zero runs over 15 miles… And didn’t even do back to back ones and had a 20 minute PR sometimes you just have to trust your base and have some fun and miracles happen! Never Never Land look how happy Peter Pan was in a life of denial 😉 That photoshoot sounds like such a cool location! Good luck with the marathon you will KILL it I know it you even have the added benefit of familiar land so you can plan every mile if you need to to feel better!

  3. you can definitely do this. Some things in this training cycle, and some are worse. You’ve actually got a lot of miles on your legs – 54 last week is awesome – so relax. Plus, a marathon is never easy, so don’t beat yourself up when it’s hard.

  4. Hi Ali, I am new to your blog & have enjoyed everything I have read about you so far! Regarding the NYC 26.2, YOU GOT THIS GIRL! Just do yourself a favor & cut yourself a little slack. Most peeps would have given the **heck** up on running a LONG time ago if they suffered even a BIT of the Crohn’s issues you have! My hats off to you girl! Big hugs & a BIG ole high 5 from Indiana!

  5. Remember your words that helped me. You run because you can! Think of how you felt when you were sick compared to now. You totally rock!!!

  6. You can do it, and I can do it too! I missed most of this training cycle with a rolled ankle (why yes, I did think to myself “Dude, I’m starting this training period off so solidly!” minutes before my foot landed on that damn rock), so I’m having to train my thoughts into the “stop staring at your watch and stop competing with yourself for a PR.” I know it won’t be easy to switch my mindset, but I’m trying, and I’ll still be trying come 4 November. My second marathon had me at my best preparation, and I was disappointed (of sorts) with a 18 minute PR (yeah, I know, pathetic). My third had much worse training, but I ignored my watch and ran according to how I felt and boom–32 minute PR and broke the 5 hour barrier. So I’m trying to remind myself that running according to how I feel can be good.

    And I’m also hoping that what I don’t know about the bridges is for the best (I have no idea which bridge is which!).

  7. I have the utmost confidence you can do this marathon!

    In other news – if you’re interested in grabbing lunch or early dinner on Wednesday while you’re in LA hit me up 🙂 I know that sounds weird since I am a reader but I’m in LA too so if you’ve got time to kill before your flight just lemme know! 🙂 Hope the photoshoot is going well

  8. Just have to first say, I am so impressed how well you have done at staying the course for this marathon– a crazy work schedule, travel, and major health set backs, and you are still ahead of most the friends I have who are running it! I remember when I ran my marathon, I thought it was a good idea to do a two week, 19 state road trip that ended the week before my race. Missed runs, fast food… none of it ended up mattering. It’s 90% mental and you clearly have the mental strength, so you will rock it!

    On another note, reading your posts are putting me on the edge of impulsively signing up for another marathon… so I may be less happy with you come March!

  9. Ali, I TOTALLY know you are going to kill the marathon even if you are not feeling so confident. Your recent race times, Hamptons Half & Bronx 10 Mile, were amazing! If you plug those times into the McMillan running calculator, he has you running anywhere between a 3:46-3:51 marathon. He is so spot on, it’s scary! I just bet you are going to surprise yourself come November 4th! 🙂

  10. I love the commenter who said ‘You won’t die and you’ve got this’. I think I might write it on my hand for Sunday’s Half when I try to PR!!!

    You have got this. You may not get the time you want secretly, but you’ve got it and you’ll have the medal, the photos and the glory. And the fro-yo afterwards 🙂

    Make sure you talk to us about running in LA…I’m there in a few weeks’ time and need some hints about where to run.

    1. GOOD LUCK ON SUNDAY! Thank you, as always, for the kind and thoughtful words. Now it’s your turn to go kick some ass (and report back, of course). As for running in L.A., hit up Santa Monica and Venice Beach. There’s an awesomely gorgeous beach path and you’ll love running on it (tons of water fountains along the way, too!).

  11. Your sustained pace over 18-20 miles is still faster than I can run 1 mile – you are not slow! I know you don’t feel super confident, but this is just a mental thing. As you acknowledged, you had a ton on your plate for the past few months, and you should focus on enjoying the NYC marathon! Think of it like the Hamptons half – it’s awesome! super fun! great to be able to run this far!

    Good luck with your run this weekend!

  12. Long time listener, first time caller here.. Really quite a fan!
    My spin on your situation is that given all your uncertainty you have that many more opportunities to pleasantly surprise yourself on race day! Going in unsure of your training means you can celebrate every mile you complete, every hill you win against, every whatever gets you going (Puppy spectatorship? I ran a canine heavy race recently – it was the best)..
    So, whatever, I guess I’m just trying to say relish the experience! You’re going to do great!

  13. You will be fine during your marathon! 54 miles is a good number of base miles, so I think, even if you don’t hit your time goal (although you probably will!) you won’t feel like death the last 6-10 miles. 🙂 I just ran a marathon on Sunday and I missed my time goal, but it was OKAY! I had such a great attitude the whole race, even when my wheels were popping off that it didn’t matter.
    Have a great 20 this weekend!! And then, WOOHOO for taper!

  14. Because I’ve commented twice and three times seems, I dunno, fitting…. You’ve GOT this.

    I have clearance to run 2 miles tomorrow. That’s not a typo… it’s a “2.” My hip injury this summer wiped me out, and I’ve been doing run/walk intervals for weeks. I’m not telling you this as a way of saying “count your blessings.” I’m saying… know your real goal, smile anyway, and run hard! Maybe your goal pace will elude you, but is the pace really your goal? Or is it your goal is to run NYC, lay it all down, and kick butt? You’ve GOT this.

  15. It helps me to break it up into chunks (tricking myself into running 10 miles, and then focusing on the next 10, etc. even though i’m well aware of the total amount I’ll be running).

    You can totally do this! You have a lot in you and you’re pretty awesome, Ali.

  16. All I can say is I can relate. I can’t believe it’s almost taper time. The past 9 weeks have flown by and I’m scurred. What if my little baby hill in my park hasn’t been enough practice to prevent falling flat on my face on the QB??
    Also nervous about this weekend’s final 20-22 miler…we’re in this together! 🙂

    1. You’re going to get right back on that QB and crush it like you did every day for months. I’m so excited for you!

  17. YOU CAN DO IT!!!!! If I can finish Chicago, you can finish NYC! I kept telling myself the whole run “this is not a marathon, this just your standard Sunday long run… with millions of screaming fans”! I struggled through like 80% of my long runs this summer (when I even ran them), but race day is just so magical! (And I’m still riding my high from finishing, so I’m full of happy thoughts, like marathons, rainbows and unicorns!)

  18. I love that you have a photo of the room in VEGAS! So much fun. I love you. Thanks for coming. Thanks for running early so we could drink by the pool.

  19. You can totally do this! My first marathon (last year’s Philly), my training went down the tubes due to personal issues. I survived, finished, and am doing this year’s Philly as well. This time, I’ve trained properly but I’m still terrified. No matter how well your training goes, you’re always going to be a little scared. You can do it!

  20. I think having confidence is half the battle when running a marathon. Don’t doubt yourself you CAN do this – leave it all out on the table Nov 4th!

    Looks like you had a blast in Vegas! I’m amazed by everything you fit into a weekend

  21. You look great Alli! Hope you had fun in Las Vegas! Random Story: The other day I was all running down the West Side HIghway reppin my I heart Sweat Shirt and a random girl running the other way yells I know Alli! True Story!

  22. Looks like you had a fun time in Vegas. Did you just run up the strip? As for the marathon, I know you don’t feel prepared, but sometimes it’s a good thing. Your legs will be more rested and if you’re feeling awesome on race day, that will take you through it.. I’m excited for you!

  23. Yes, your training wasn’t the one you expected. But it is still amazing that you managed to train as you did given the circumstances. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t have done it and just give up. I don’t know you but it seems to me that you are strong mentally… even if it seems you lack confidence on that.
    Also, you are not out of shape. You just ran an half marathon in 1:48. It’s not, for the majority of people, an easy pace to maintain (or I have to stop training in the hope of running one in 1:50 !).

    Anyways, don’t forget one thing : you will run the NEW.YORK.CITY.MARATHON (I’m trying to do emphasis here… sorry I’m not as good as you are at that). I know you’ll do your best.
    The important part is to enjoy the experience. And if you don’t break a record on this one. I am confident you’ll do it on another one 🙂

  24. Agree with Robin above – if you ran 18 miles, you’re in some sort of shape! I do know what you mean though about not feeling in shape like when you are training hard, doing workouts/speedwork, etc.

    This might make you feel better – you ran 20 more miles than me last week and I didn’t go to Las Vegas! And I’m running that marathon.

    Sounds like you have a good attitude about it. Just focus on the poncho!

    1. That’s partially true. Obviously I’m not COMPLETELY out of shape, but to me there’s a difference between running 20 miles and feeling great about it (like I was able to do a year ago) and struggling through 20 miles. So yes, I can do it, but I’d like for it to come with slightly more ease and comfort.

      1. You’d like a marathon to be done with ease and comfort?? Heeheehee. 🙂

        You won’t die, and you’ve GOT this. And yeah, all things considered, it might be hard. But remember why you’re doing it, and finish smilin’!

        You won’t die, and you’ve GOT this… 🙂

    2. I just started following your blog (I’m a new blogger!) and I have to say you’ve inspired me to start training for my first marathon! I hope to so the marine corps run next year!

      ALSO fun fact- I’m a current QUINNIPIAC SENIOR! When I saw your kick line picture I fell over! Small world!

  25. You totally got this, Btw I’m totally jealous that you stayed at the Venetian. It’s probably one of my favorite hotels in Vegas.

  26. I suck at writing down advice, even worse when I don’t know the person IRL, but don’t worry, you’ll do just fine! You will cross that finish line with a smile on your face.

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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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