And So I Peaked

Last week I tried to be all profound and was like, “Hey everyone, I learned some lessons this week and this is all my knowledge. I don’t think I’m meant for semi-high mileage running.”

Oh really, Ali?


Is that why, after a weekday high of 37 miles, I managed to have one of my best long runs ever on Saturday?

Yes, friends, Mom, Tyler, Internet strangers: I take it back.

I love high (for me, blah blah blah) mileage running and it’s the funnest. I don’t think it was the running miles wearing me down last week. It’s far more likely I was beat up on account of the mass traveling, late nights and early mornings. And also the running on top of that. But mostly the travel. And the jet lag. And the dehydration. And the work. So much work.

On set with my fancy camera. I use the term “my” very loosely.

So last week was marathon training Peak Week, and peaking is what I did. I ran 65 miles — 10 in Las Vegas, 17 in L.A. and the remainder in NYC — which is the most I’ve ever run in a single week.

And today I feel mighty fine. Look at that.

My running last week wasn’t perfect. I did mile repeats on the treadmill instead of outside, which is fine, but I tend to have an easier time doing speedwork on the treadmill versus in the great outdoors. Hopefully they’re equally beneficial. Feel free to let me know.

I struggled a bit during my “easy run” Wednesday in L.A. with Margot (don’t be afraid of meeting strangers from the Internet in a dark parking lot in a strange city — I do it all the time and I’m totally fine).

Running in L.A. is so pretty. I would like to do this more often. Margot, I can move in with you, yes? I think I remember you throwing out that offer at one point during the run. No? That isn’t what you said? You told me my still-wet gym clothes smelled bad? Sorry. Got confused. Nevermind. <3

We ran six miles together and chatted most of the time, but I was feeling slightly sleepier than I would have liked. I think that was more because of lack of sleep than anything running-related. After Margot and I parted ways, I continued along the Santa Monica beach path for four additional miles, and stupidly ended my run with a hike up these bitches:

I’ve heard about the “Santa Monica stairs” but I wasn’t aware they were so hate-worthy. Now I know. Good butt workout, though.

I got back to NYC on Thursday, which we’ve already discussed, and I had a particularly tough time “sprinting” through eight hill repeats. It was a solid challenge, though, and one I look forward to repeating — with better sprints — in the future.

Friday’s rest day was the best thing ever. I needed it badly, and after a long day at the office I spent the night partying pretty hard.

The city sky was pink Friday night. I liked it.

First, I bought new sneakers. The same Brooks Adrenalines, but these are now the ones I’ll race the New York City Marathon in. That’s exciting stuff, right?

Then, I made macaroni. Not some fancy dish and certainly nothing Sexy Giada would approve of, but I had two big bowls of pasta with some butter, salt and pepper, and it was delightful.

Next, I Skyped with my best friend.

You look innocent, Tyler, but you’re NOT. You’re a maniac with no attention span. YOU’RE CHANGING RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES/COMPUTER SCREEN.

Honestly, Skype-time with Tyler is a bit frustrating these days. He used to sit there and smile and laugh and he was a really good listener. He’d let me go on about my mile splits and he never minded when I had to briefly leave the room to get more chocolate chips to dip in the almond butter jar.

But nowadays?

Tyler doesn’t want to listen.

Tyler doesn’t care.

Tyler is training to become a Baby Yoga Instructor, and all he wants to do is wiggle around and roll over and show off his poses.

This pose is Happy Baby. It’s great for stretching out your hips.
This pose is Baby Cobra. You’ll notice all of Tyler’s favorite poses are the “Baby” ones. Unsurprising. TRY SOMETHING HARDER, TYLER.

He’s still cute, he just doesn’t really care about my life anymore, which is a little rude.

So we were discussing running, right? Kind of.

I was excited to tackle 22 miles on Saturday morning because I’d never done a 22-mile training run. So this would be the longest I’d ever run except for that one time I ran a marathon. Cool stuff, I know.

Guess who didn’t care about every detail of my 22 miler?

This is the part during our conversation where I was explaining the elevation profile of my run. Tyler is demonstrating it for you: It was very flat. Also, his chaturanga needs some work. Clearly.

Yeah. Thanks, friend. Thanks for your interest.

But now that I have a captive audience, I can go into great detail.

Except that really, I don’t have a ton of “great detail” to share because this run went by really quickly (in my brain, not according to the actual amount of time it took).

I ran 22 miles and I smiled most of the time. I ran alone, though I saw tons of familiar faces along the way. I didn’t pre-plan my route and I didn’t do much to “mock race day conditions.” I ran into Central Park for a bit, and ran through where the NYCM finish line will be. I ran up the west side of the park, and eventually crossed over to the West Side Highway. I ran all the way down to the bottom of Manhattan and into Battery Park City, and eventually made my way back north.

I took one Hammer Gel (chocolate) around mile 8.5, which was fine, and then tried a Honey Stinger gel (also chocolate) around mile 15. I like Hammer Gels because of the thicker, more frosting-like consistency, and I hated the Honey Stinger (sad, I love their chomps, though!) because it was too watery.

Now I know.

The first 10 miles flew by. I felt great and kept repeating to myself, “rest days are magical!!!”

I never thought about my stomach, but I did frequently remind myself that I was lucky to be running. I do that a lot these days.

The weather was chilly, but I stuck with my usual shorts and tank top. I also ran in compression socks, which left me with a nice heel blister on my left foot.

Again, now I know.

I had fun new music, great weather (albeit windy along the water) and happy thoughts.

I am the cheesiest runner.

I love cheese.

From start to finish, I just kept running. I stopped at a few water fountains and a few stop lights, but my total running time and total time time were just two minutes apart. I’m pretty psyched about that.

My pace came naturally — it was right where it should have been and my miles were oddly consistent — and I was never breathing heavily. My legs felt good until around mile 18, at which point I started to feel fatigued. When my watch beeped signaling 22 completed miles, I was pumped. I was in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side and I desperately looked around for anyone who might be interested in hearing about my splits.

Sadly, I found no one.

And as soon as I stopped running, everything hurt. My quads tightened, my knees started to ache, my body got cold and I pathetically hobbled my way up the little hill toward West End Avenue and into a warm cab.

But I couldn’t stop smiling.

For the rest of the entire day, I kept on smiling like a fool.

I wimped out on an ice bath (couldn’t even get into the chilly water — I suck), got brunch with friends and treated myself to a much-needed haircut.

After my coworker showed me this photo she took in L.A., I knew I needed to trim my nasty hair. Yikes.

I took myself to the movies to see Pitch Perfect (hilarious) and then dance partied my way home listening to the soundtrack.

Brian and I got dinner at Flex Mussels and I fought the urge to slap his hand every time he so much as came near the bread basket. My bread!

And then I recovered a little bit.

Halloween socks and ice packs. This is how you rage on a Saturday night during marathon training.

I woke up Sunday feeling sore. My quads were so tight (I should probably learn to stretch and foam roll…), but I had stupidly committed to a spin class with my Hot Friend Sara.

I joined her in Union Square for a little SoulCycling, and I shot her death stares during the entire first 10 minutes of class.

But then, magically, things started to feel good.

I never went high on the resistance, and I was in no way “keeping up” with the instructor, but moving my legs around was great, and by the end of class I felt so much better.

So I celebrated that little victory, too.

Food is how I celebrate any and all major or minor accomplishments. I recommend it.

All in all, a very sweaty weekend.

I had to do a lot of laundry last night.

Now I’m supposed to taper, which doesn’t sound as fun as running 65 miles. But I’ll do it. Because everyone says it’s good for me.

SHARE YOUR NUMBERS: As you’ve just read, the numbers in my head, clearly, are 22 and 65. What digits are clogging your brain? A fresh PR time from the weekend? Peak Week numbers? Five, which is an absolutely acceptable number of times to hit snooze on a Monday morning in lieu of “cross training?” Tell me now.



56 Responses

  1. I’m about 7 weeks away from my half and I ran 7 freaking miles yesterday (my highest one day run so far!) and I was really excited about it. It also gave me a good indication of how long the half marathon will take me – I’m going to be running for a LONG time! Oh well, it’ll be great because I’ll have raised money for CCFA and will be finishing my very first half marathon. YIPPEE!!!

    1. 7 miles! Jen!!! You’re so going to rock this half and I’m wicked excited for you. Keep up the great work!

  2. 22 miles in insane and awesome. My number is 13.1 since I ran my first half marathon this weekend … but that’s pales in comparison to 22 miles! I also have 2 in my head since I wanted to finish in under 2 hours … and I did 🙂

    1. SO HAPPY FOR YOU. I loved seeing your Tweets this weekend. So exciting. Congratulations again! (You should still be celebrating, FYI. Soak it up.)

  3. Happy for ya Ali! Am currently in a bit of the dumps because I’m having one of those sucky-runs weeks. Hoping some of your magic rubs off on me. Pretty please.

  4. My number is 12. Because I ran 12 on Saturday 9 weeks after I had major abdominal surgery and couldn’t do ANY exercise at all for 5.5 weeks. And my other number is 18. Because I realized I’ll have 18 on the books when I head home for Thanksgiving…should be fun for my family to experience that magic.

  5. Very important question: where did you get that hot chocolate. It looks so good. I must have one.

    Way to go with the long run. 3 more weeks and we get to run NYC. 🙂

  6. New to your blog! Love it! Awesome on your 22 miler!!! And Tyler is SO cute!

    Numbers in my head are 1:35:48… set a half marathon PR this weekend and I’m excited!

  7. You weekend sounds awesome, so chilled yet exciting with the 22 miles. Great to read such a happy upbeat post off you- fingers crossed your chrohnsing free period continues!!!
    Well done!!

  8. Congrats on such a perfect and easy 22 miler!
    I prefer speed work on the treadmill as well. …because I can not trick myself thinking I am keeping up the speed when I am not.
    And Tyler is the cutest, sorry Ali, he beat you. But I must say, the headlines of your pictures are the best!

  9. Hey Ali, I love seeing evidence of real life people with Crohn’s living active, healthy lives. You’re stunning, in shape and one would never know you’re managing a health condition. I’m striving for this same vitality (again). Remission rocks! My goal this week is to ease back to exercise with some pilates and/or a core strengthening DVD and continue building my calorie base so I can get back to cardio. Thanks for embodying HOPE. – Melissa 🙂

  10. Awesome running this week. I don’t even have a plan for training for the marathon anymore (sort of stressing me out, sort of not). My “peak week” will be this week! I accidentally only ran 23 miles last week! 13.1 of them included a 1:45 half marathon which was a 4 minute PR. I like those numbers 🙂 Happy tapering!

  11. Congrats on 22 awesome miles!

    The number in my head right now is 1:59:34… I broke 2 hours for the first time at my half this weekend and I’m pretty pumped about it!

  12. CONGRATS!!! This is awesome! How… validating!

    22 miles and not even breathing hard? I take back what I said when I teased you about the expectation that a marathon be “easier.” 🙂

    Numbers in my head… 2 and 5. I’ve been in PT forever, and am now up to running 2 whole miles, with the goal of running a 5k on 12/8. Strength training, PT, XT, and foam roller willing, I’ll then be back on my way to all the running I’ve missed. 🙂

  13. Great long run! And nice peak week! I am so so so excited that it is taper time. Buttt (and this sounds crazy) also a little sad…because the build up is kind of fun. But I will just have to channel all this nervous energy to race day… which is in only 20 days. Eeek. That’s the number going through my head right now. 🙂

  14. Congrats on a great weekend and long run! Sounds like you rocked it. I’m so excited for everyone running NYC!

    16.5 – longest run ever yesterday! ran Grete’s Gallop Half and then a few extra to help my friend reach her mileage for her 22!
    Officially signed up for the ING Miami Marathon in January and SO excited!!!

  15. The numbers in my head: 30 (the amount of minutes I spent rolling out my calves instead of doing the strength portion of CrossFit on Saturday morning); 27 (the day of October I’ll be running the Pumpkin Push! My first race since the Portland Rock N Roll); and 1 (the chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie I will be having this morning).

    Congrats again on your peak and for the haircut…not sure which is the bigger accomplishment, but either way, go you!

  16. Congrats on your awesome 22-miler!

    Numbers in my head: 55:48 (my new 10K PR time, and it was the first time I ever ran a race at less than a 9-minute mile) and 1 (the number of people in my yoga class at Athleta yesterday because I was the only one who showed up for free yoga on a Sunday morning, so the instructor tailored the class to my sore running muscles!)

  17. Great great run, Ali!!! And lovely dress from the photo shoot.

    Thank you for asking about numbers today 😉 I didn’t do my 1.59 half marathon. Nope I did 1.55.34 and am honestly beside myself with happiness!!! A shiny new PR beyond my wildest dreams. Considering the Olympic trials next 🙂

  18. Yay for 22! The number in my head right now is 40%… which is the discount I will get off winter marathon training if i sign up in the next 2 weeks. The ONLY reason I’m considering training w a group this winter is because they hire people to set up tables of Gatorade and water along the running path bc the fountains are turned off.. Running without water fountains = terrible. Running with handheld water bottle or annoying fuel belt = even worse.

  19. Congrats on an awesome peak week and what sounds like the best 22 miler ever.

    The numbers in my head are 1.96 (the number of miles I need to run per day for the rest of the year in order to hit my annual mileage goal); 0 (the number of miles I ran this morning after deciding to make apple crisp instead of working out); and 13.1 (the number of miles I’ll run this weekend with my mom during her first ever half marathon!). Enjoy the taper!

  20. Congrats on a really fantastic training run! It sounds like you had a great weekend overall, and enjoyed some great rest and fun! So needed after your last week.

  21. The numbers in my head are 20 and 19. 20 miles that I loved this weekend and 19 days until NYC! I would also beg to differ that you did a lot to mock marathon day :wore your outfit, tested fuel, kept moving, etc.

    Please share your new tunes!

    1. New tunes!

      “Die Young” by Ke$ha (oh yes, I used the dollar sign)
      “Finally Found You” by my sexy manfriend Enrique Iglesias
      “Your Body” by Christina Aguilera
      “I Cry” by Flo Rida
      “Bellas Finals” from “Pitch Perfect”
      “Americano/Dance Again” from “Glee”

    1. “Die Young” by Ke$ha (oh yes, I used the dollar sign)
      “Finally Found You” by my sexy manfriend Enrique Iglesias
      “Your Body” by Christina Aguilera
      “I Cry” by Flo Rida
      “Bellas Finals” from “Pitch Perfect”
      “Americano/Dance Again” from “Glee”

  22. 1) It was great to meet you!!!
    2) Yes of course you can move in, I thought we agreed on that.
    3) Yeah what is up with the honey stinger gel? I agree…their chews are SO GOOD but the gels are a disappointment. Fingers crossed they get it together :).

  23. Congrats on such an easy 22 miler! You’re such a strong runner, even without your ideal training you can be so awesome. I should also stretch and foam roll – I am perpetually tight and always hurting but too lazy to actually do anything about it. And Tyler is ADORABLE!!!

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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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