Learning From My Mistakes: My 2013 Running Plans

If 2012 was the year of “making all the mistakes,” then 2013 is the year in which I learn from all of them.

With almost 1/12th of the year in the bag, I’m feeling really good about 2013. I know I’ve said that before, and I know I’m putting way too much stake in the whole “365 days of importance” thing, but I feel very strongly that my overall state of mind and well-being is far more solid than it ever was in the previous year.

This was the sunrise last Friday. When are we all having a sunrise sleepover? I just feel like my camera sucks and you should see this happen in person. Brian is already prepping the pancake batter. Just let me know when you can make it.

So yes, I made some errors in judgment in 2012. No regrets, blah blah blah, but I can look back on some of the things I said and did and I can vastly improve upon them.

Starting with my running plans.

Or rather, my lack thereof.

Last year I tried to do it all when it came to running, PRing and, specifically, marathoning. I ditched all the shorter distances in favor of trying to PR a spring marathon. The Eugene Marathon, specifically.

And if you recall, I never made my way out to Hayward Field.

Before committing to that marathon, I knew I had a busy season ahead. I had weddings — including being a maid of honor for one of them — bachelorette parties, an apartment move, west coast business trips, a baby shower and an eventual debut of a niece or nephew (not sure if you know, but it turned out to be a nephew, his name is Tyler, and he is perfect).

Our Skype chats are a bit more complicated these days because Tyler doesn’t want to sit and stare anymore. He wants to type and break shit.
He crawls at about an 8:45 pace. I’m trying to get him to PR in “crawling from the tunnel to the laptop.” I predict a strong finish at the 2036 Olympics. By then he will have moved onto the high dive or, if Ryan gets his way, golf. But power crawling is where we will start.

The heavy schedule seemed daunting, sure, but I convinced myself I could train for a marathon on top of all that. I was energized, albeit overwhelmed.

That didn’t last long, though.

Eventually I got a stomach flu, followed immediately by an injury and then, upon recovery, a Crohn’s flare-up.

The Eugene Marathon and I never met in 2012. And I blame myself.

I tried to do too much.

It’s great to be ambitious. It’s dangerous to be overly zealous. Detrimental, even. As I proved.

So this year, I’m playing it cool.

I will not be running a spring marathon. Or a spring half-marathon. Or probably even a spring 10K.

I toyed with the idea of a big spring race for a while. I thought about getting revenge, if you can call it that, out in Eugene. I spent hours poring over the course details for the Salt Lake City Marathon, the Poconos Marathon and the L.A. Marathon. They all seemed cool enough — each with its own set of drawbacks and flaws among the high points — but none of them got me feeling giddy the way I felt about Eugene last year.

For a while, throughout December and January, my plan was to just do whatever. Run when I felt like it, rest when I wanted, spin when I was into feeling dark and loud. And when I did run, it didn’t matter how far or fast I went. My “no plan” plan was going great. I took eight days off running at one point and never even missed it. My body felt healthy and my mind felt re-energized.

But once I started running again and I started to feel that tiny twinge of Race Registration Anticipation, it still wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the old “OMG I GET TO RUN TODAY!!!!” feeling I used to feel every morning.

Yesterday in Central Park. “I just felt like running…” And so I did. Slowly, and without enough hydration.

Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s all those miles from the past two years catching up with me. Whatever the reason, I’ve been enjoying these past two months so much that I’m simply not ready for them to end. I’m not ready to run because I have to. I’m not ready to tackle mile repeats, hill repeats or kill-me-please tempo runs. The long runs I’m into, and I’ll do them if I feel like it on the weekends. Overall though, I’m not ready to get back on a training plan.

I have an “excitingly busy” spring coming up and I don’t want to do too much.

So I won’t.

But come fall?

I think by fall I’ll be super ready.

Like, Justin Timberlake ready.

I tried…Justin pulls it off slightly better I guess.

I already have my fall running plans more or less figured out. No logistics of course. I don’t have a training plan in mind and while I doubt I’ll want to do a full 16-week training plan, I do know I’ll want to enter my training cycle with some solid base miles logged.

This fall, I will be running two marathons.

The first marathon will be my goal marathon. So I guess that means I need to figure out a goal. I’m sure I’ll want to PR and best my 3:51:20 from the Manchester City Marathon, but I don’t know by how much. Sub-3:50? Sure. Maybe shoot for a 3:45? I don’t know. We’ll see how the year goes and how ambitious I’m feeling by the end of summer.

A marathon photo?! How did that get in there?!

I have two “A Goal” fall marathons in mind: The Wineglass Marathon and the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. Both are in October, both appear to have beautiful courses and neither require a plane ride. I could pull either of them off on a relatively cheap budget, which is important right now. I like that they’re both smaller-scale marathons with some rolling hills (I prefer rollers to flat ground) and I just get good vibes from both of them.

I’ll probably make a decision between Wineglass and Mohawk Hudson sometime in the next month or so to guarantee my spot and get myself registered. And then make sure none of my friends plan to get married, showered, bacheloretted or babied that weekend.

The timing for those two races works out perfectly, because they both give me enough time to recover before…

The 2013 New York City Marathon.

Yeah yeah. I’ll be running it.

Not the most centered screen shot…please don’t steal my registration number. Or my identity. Actually, go ahead and take my identity. That means you also assume responsibility for any pending payments or bank overdraft fees, right? ENJOY BEING ALI FELLER!!!

When we got notice that we had all those choices about what to do after the 2012 race was canceled — get a refund, run the NYC Half Marathon in March or defer to 2013, 2014 or 2015 — I never spent more than a minute considering my options. As nice as the refund would be, and as much as it hurts my bank account to re-pay the entry fee, I will be running this race in 2013.



My sad little NYCM magnet, hanging “proudly” on the refrigerator.

I spent so long doing the 9+1 program to get guaranteed entry to this race. I hated at least six of those races I “had” to run. Plus, I invested a lot of money in making this happen. I want to run my hometown marathon, and I’m going to do it this year. It won’t be a goal race. It will be a little parade through my city. Instead of being face-down-on-the-Garmin, I’ll be running eyes up, taking in the sights and spectators. I will cross a finish line that’s been three years in the making.

But until then, you can find me spinning, sleeping, scouring all my friends’ wedding registries or continuing to attempt that dang New York Times crossword puzzle.

And when the leaves start to change in the city, you bet I’ll be back out on the Reservoir, more than ready for those mile repeats.



55 Responses

  1. Well, I did it! I ran my 4th marathon on Sunday, October 9 in Schenectady/Albany, NY. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was pretty nervous about this race because I was admittedly under-trained. I had run about 240 miles in training and my longest run was 16 miles. I had good reason to be nervous.

  2. I agree with a lot of what I’ve read. I would definitely run the Mohawk Hudson Valley race. I ran it and it definitely is a really nice course (for the most part). I’ve never run the Wineglass Marathon, but have heard from many friends that have, that it can be very long and boring (sorry – really not trying to offend anyone) at certain parts!

  3. Can I offer a West Coast marathon? I know it’s not glamorous, but flat, fast and great swag at the Fresno Marathon next November.

    Oh second thought, do whatever the hell your heart tells you to!

  4. I believe the Wineglass Marathon will be my first marathon!!! Its near where I grew up, in a really beautiful part of upstate NY. When it gets closer, we should discuss maybe going up together! 🙂

  5. I recommend the Mohawk Hudson race! It used to be my hometown and it’s a great race. I completed it for my second one and dropped an hour off of my previous time. It’s a great place to PR. It does sell out quickly though!! The first half is a bike path and my uncle road next to me the whole time so it would be easy for Brian to do that too if you wanted.

  6. Several of my husband’s family members have done the Mohawk Hudson half and/or full and it’s flat! Downhill, even. Apparently it’s a big race people use to BQ…..Enjoy it!

  7. I love your attitude!! I vote for the Hudson Mohawk Marathon, but I’m biased because it’s in my hometown… It is an extremely flat course though, no rolling hills and I heard it at some points feels down hill- you will definitely PR, but if you’re looking for hills maybe the other one will be better! I just started my 9+1 program to get into the 2014 NYCM and I already hate the idea of these 9 races just hanging over my head for an entire year!!

  8. Ali, whatever you do, whichever race you decide to run, always have fun! I had a fabulous weekend – ran the inaugural Yangon Marathon without any expecations, time goals (coming back from an injury) and had a wonderful time taking in the city and especially the people. The crowd support (all the town people and villagers came out!) was top notch. The country may be poor but the people still came out to support and cheer and provided snacks along the way; it was such a humbling experience. The atmosphere at the race was electrifying!

  9. I was also having the same problem between these two races this fall. I live about half way between both of them. This is going to be my first marathon and I wanted a race that would be flat. I have heard great things about both races and know people who ran both. However, the first marathon I ever watched was the mohawk hudson and ever since I have wanted to run a marathon. So after a long time of going back and I will be running the mohawk hudosn this fall. Good luck whichever race you choose.

  10. I signed up to do the Wineglass and was injured so I watched Emily do it. But I did the Hudson Mohawk and it was gorgeous – also my best marathon time ever. I was planning my Boston Qualifying party when the last pesky few miles happened and there was no BQ. But I did win a prize in my age group. (out of a very small group but hey I won it)

  11. Excited you have a plan – even if that means no plan, for a little while. 🙂

    Wineglass is sorta on my adopted-home turf (Rochester, NY) – nice race, locals like it, killer if it’s cold & rainy (a few yrs back), but basically the flat out opposite of NYC.: mostly trees for company/scenery, and not much spectator support. People who hate crowded marathons seem to love it, but people who need/want/expect screaming fans at every corner are disappointed. Don’t know much about Hudson.

    You may also consider checking out the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton. Slightly bigger than Wineglass, very good logistics, extremely friendly, hilarious race director, net downhill, lots of places for supporters to see you/cheer – my husband and I trained to run it a few years ago (I busted my ankle right before and had to back out, but he ran a PR), and still outside of NYC prices. Just a thought. 🙂

  12. I can relate. 2012 was a tough year, that I will not repeat. The entire year seemed out-of-whack, but as we have learned. We can always start anew whether it be on Jan 1 or July 1.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Have a FAB-O 2013!

  13. I did the Wineglass marathon the last 2 years and really like it. It’s flat and super well organized. I like small marathons and the glass medal is pretty cool too 🙂

  14. Hudson Mohawk is a great race. I broke 4 hours at it last year and hope to do even better this year. Like some of the other mentioned, it sells out super fast so if you decide to do it sign up as soon as it opens. A friend also ran Wineglass and said it was a beautiful course and a great race but hillier than Hudson Mohawk.

  15. Wineglass is my hometown marathon! I LOVE it. It was my first and my 3rd marathon! I have my PR there! I am running the 1/2 there this year! The course is great!

  16. SO FUN!!! Awesome running plans. I’ll be running the NYCM too! It’ll be my first full marathon and I’m scared/excited/terrified/throwing up about it! I did the 9+1 this past year, so I’m definitely in. If you ever want a running friend on your long runs let me know! I’ll be the one asking a million questions. hehe

  17. My first half marathon was at the Wineglass, and it was fantastic! Beautifully scenic, even though it was a cold rainy day. Volunteers were AWESOME, Corning is a sweet little town; and the wine theme is way cool! The run is mostly flat, but you’re surrounded by rolling hills for sure.

    I had to get a deferral last year for my hip injury, but definitely looking forward to it this year! Come join us! 😉

  18. Ali…I don’t have a race recommendation, but based on name alone I’d go with Wineglass. All that aside, I just wanted to say (& this obviously is outside looking in) you seem to be in a really good place & really happy. I love your outlook on 2013. YOU GO!

  19. I did Wineglass this year, and while it didn’t go well for me it is a great course. You would love it! My mother-in-law has run the Mohawk Hudson before and I’ve heard it’s a good course, I just haven’t run it before.

    Good luck deciding!

  20. I did the same thing last year. I pushed myself too hard and had a dnf in Eugene then ran Portland and finished but didn’t have the time I wanted. This year I’ve decided to just run halves build up strength and wait till next year for a full

  21. YAY! I will be running NYCM too! I started the lotto process before they did away with the guaranteed entry on the 4th year, so I was grandfathered in to that sweet deal. YEAR 4 IS MY YEAR. Hope that sunrise sleepover invite is still available in November.

    1. THE INVITATION WILL STILL BE OPEN. What pancake toppings do you like? Chocolate chip? Blueberry? Banana? Dawson? Pacey?

  22. You should do Mohawk Hudson because I am thinking of doing it. I have heard good things and it also has the option of a half if I don’t feel like doing a fall marathon. I used my magnet to make an “inspirational time magnet.” 🙂 Hopefully one day I see it on an actual clock!

  23. I’ve run Mohawk Hudson twice and Wineglass once. MH is too flat for me and the downhills are really long which caused me to lose THREE toenails this past year. Wineglass has gentle hills and is where my PR is from! Plus you get champagne and a flute in your race packet!

  24. I absolutely love your attitude about running. We all need a break sometimes. Also, I’m going to plug the Wineglass Marathon. I know people who have run it, and the Finger Lakes is a gorgeous area. Plus, wine. It’s on my list of races to do someday.

  25. I promised myself after the fall marathon fiasco I would not get back out there until I really wanted to. I waited until I was ready and it felt great. Forcing it never has good results. I am running the Pocono Marathon! It made sense to me, small race, not a far drive and the promise of friends to pace me 🙂

  26. Ali, I’ve been looking at Mohawk, as well, but because everyone (including the website) says fast and flat. Do you have a different source?

    1. Yeah, a few people above noted that, too. WTF was I reading that I had “rolling hills” in my head? BRB, GOING TO RE-EXAMINE LIFE PLANS. (I was reading forums from what I recall and as always people are like THE COURSE DESCRIPTION IS MISLEADING. But what do I know? Absolutely nothing.) Thanks for the tip!

  27. This is fantastic! I actually just went through a whole messy thought process last week/night over whether to bail on the spring half-marathon I’m registered for. I agree, I’m not feeling the “Yay! I get to run today!” feeling that I think I need to start a training cycle… but obviously I haven’t decided anything yet because I’m way too indecisive for that. Glad to know I’m not the only person out there who isn’t jonesing for a training cycle these days!

  28. Be careful with the back-to-back marathons!! I ran Boston 2012 a few months after a PR marathon and I was injured for about 9 months. Take your recovery really seriously and be smart about things, good luck!!

    1. Oh I will be coached through that for sure! It scares me a little, but having NYCM as a “no pressure” race alleviates a bit of my concern. Thanks for the heads up (and hope you’re fully healed now!!).

  29. The Wineglass may very well be my very first 1/2 marathon! It’s in my neck of the woods, and well, anything with the word ‘wine’ involved can’t be all bad. 🙂 Plus, running through the Finger Lakes in the fall is absolutely beautiful.

  30. I love taking time off from racing and training; I always come back faster and more excited about it. I’m trying to be smarter this year too and keeping my focus on one goal at a time. From now until June, my goal is Refine. Starting in July my goal will be marathon training. When I try to do it all I suck at it all.

  31. the mohawk hudson marathon is my hometown marathon! 🙂 its VERY flat and beautiful course. Great for PRs. I’m considering it, but I’m running a spring marathon this year (VT city) so I might just stick to the half instead. good luck!

    1. FYI, MHM sells out REALLY fast, so if you decide to run that one, register right away. i think registration opens march 1st. just a tip. 😉 hope to see you here in the fall!

  32. Ok, I’ll plug it….. You pick, but the Mohawk Hudson Full Marathon is a great race. It is largely downhill and absolutely beautiful course. I will say that there are many sections where spectators are sparse, but run with a friend it’s fantastico. It’s right here where I live and it was my first marathon. I totally have it on my list to do again. For now I’ve been doing the half every year since. Great, great, great race. I’m sure you’ll do awesome, which ever race you pick.

    1. Thank you for the info! I like when people who have done the races chime in! I feel like personal experiences are always better than promotional websites that only say the great stuff.

  33. Learning from our mistakes is the best part of being a runner. We are all going to make them but those who succeed are the ones who keep moving forward and correcting their past mistakes. Good luck this year Ali.

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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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