Or Not

Having not posted in two weeks indicates a multitude of things:

  1. I’m busy. I just haven’t had time to sit down and write anything.
  2. I have too much to say. It’s hard to pick back up with something after you’ve dropped it for a while. You go one day without blogging, and then two days, and then two weeks. Where do you pick up from there? I’ve had a hard time figuring that out, I guess.
  3. I’ve been feeling oddly more private lately. In addition to the reasons above, I’ve also just sort of felt like keeping quiet, which is really weird for me, right? I normally like to share every detail of my run splits, my fro-yo toppings and my Crohnsing, but I haven’t felt that urge to share for a while.

But here I am today, ready to ramble!

And I’ve got two main things on my mind:

[Another list…]

  1. My stomach.
  2. The New York City Marathon.

As far as the stomach goes, for a while I was psyched to be feeling better. I never actually got better, but I saw dramatic improvement over a period of time. First I could get off the couch, then I could leave the apartment. Eventually I could try a spin class, and not too long after that I could actually stay on the beat for at least part of that spin class. Finally, I began running again, which was so hard in every sense of the word. It hurt, it felt awkward and it was more of an effort than I ever knew.

Summertime in Central Park...feels like a lifetime ago.
Summertime in Central Park…feels like a lifetime ago.

But eventually that got easier, too.

I started with a half-mile “run.” I built up to a 1.57-mile loop of the Reservoir, and worked my way up to a 20-miler two and a half weeks ago.

This just never gets old. To me at least. I realize you're probably sick of the same Reservoir Sunshine photos over and over. Sorry.
This just never gets old. To me at least. I realize you’re probably sick of the same Reservoir Sunshine photos over and over. Sorry.

Running never felt easy, per say, but it felt good, in every sense of THAT word. Emotionally, being back in Central Park did wonders for me. And physically, I started feeling stronger and I wasn’t heaving at the onset of every tiny incline.

All the while, my stomach was never amazing. I still had to stop during every run, at least once. Usually way more than once. But I didn’t ever care, because I was still out, which was more than I could say for the previous seven months. So the stops at Starbucks, then another Starbucks, then back to that same Starbucks, then at the Great Lawn, then at the Great Lawn again, and then at the tennis courts, never seemed too daunting.

Running toward the bathroom = accidental speedwork.
Running toward the bathroom = accidental speedwork.

Plus, my paces were apparently pretty impressive (for me), all things considered. I was consistently running sub-9:00 miles, even averaging around 8:45s for that 20-miler.

Yeah…or not.

I’ve been running using my MapMyRun app on my phone. I always assumed it probably wasn’t as accurate as running with a Garmin, but I banished that watch in a corner back in January and had no desire to whip it back out. When I run with a watch, I stare at it and obsess over it, and coming back from a very loooong hiatus didn’t seem like the time to willingly induce mental torture.

So the app.

It seemed to work well enough. There were times during my first mile when it would signal early — I know Central Park and those mile markers far too well — or it would tell me I was running a pace that seemed downright unreasonable. (Kicking off a 5 AM run at an 8-minute pace? Probably not.)

Yeah I'm gonna have to call bullshit on these paces.
Yeah I’m gonna have to call bullshit on these paces.

But overall, I didn’t question it much.

Then, last Friday, I had an 18-mile run to do (before work, which I’m not sure I advise…) and I decided to find my Garmin, charge it up and see if the results were comparable.

Turns out…

They weren’t.

Slowest 18-miler I've ever run. Ah well.
Remember Garmin watch shots?! Everyone loves these, I KNOW.

My “low 8:00s” and “long run average of 8:45s” were now much closer 9:30s.

And that’s fine. It’s not that different — only around :45 per mile. But the difference between seeing 8:xx and 9:xx is noticeable to me.

Except that for a month or more, I’ve been thinking I was right back at my old paces, and I thought maybe that would mean I’d be able to run the New York City Marathon without making it a personal worst, and rainbows.

This is the best photo I have ever taken. This is real life. This is the best reason to wake up in the morning.
This is the best photo I have ever taken. This is real life. This is the best reason to wake up in the morning.

If I had known I was running a slower pace all along, it would be fine. But I was tricked! So then I felt sad.

I can see you shaking your head.

I can hear you saying, “Ali, stop being crazy. Stop being hard on yourself. You just started running again.”

YES, I’m thrilled, seriously thrilled, to be running again. I’m happy to be out of the house, off the couch and in the park. I assure you I am beyond grateful every single time I get to run. This weekend, especially, I was hyper-psyched to be putting one foot in front of the other.

I found a TRAIL in my own hometown in New Hampshire!!!
I found a TRAIL in my own hometown in New Hampshire!!!

I’m just surprised. In a not-awesome way.

So there’s that. And I’ll be sticking with the Garmin now. (I ran with it over the weekend, too, just to see what it would tell me, and the paces stayed consistent. At no point was I running what I thought I was running with the MapMyRun app. Ah well.)

I always thought I hated running in little Contoocook, but I DON'T! I DON'T!
I always thought I hated running in little Contoocook, but I DON’T! I DON’T!

And my stomach? That’s been getting better, right?!

That’s another “or not” situation.

Three skips forward, two runs back?

I had gone on the steroids (Budesonide) and they seemed to do the trick. And then I most likely came off them too soon, and now I’m traveling backward. So I will probably be going back on the steroids, which isn’t thrilling but if it’ll help, I don’t care. Bring on the face puff and whatever other side effects come my way.

Puffy face from steroids? Or puffy face from just way too much food lately? It's a toss-up. Actually, it's from the food. Budesonide doesn't even have puffy-faced side effects.
Puffy face from steroids? Or puffy face from just way too much food lately? It’s a toss-up. Actually, it’s from the food. Budesonide doesn’t even have puffy-faced side effects.

So maybe I just haven’t been writing because I knew I’d sound a little too in-my-head, which tends to happen.

I’m coming to terms with my “new and just slightly adjusted” run pace. I’m not coming to terms with the fact that I still seem to be in a flare-up, even if it’s nothing compared to what I went through in the early half of the year.

This is apparently the last week of “training”—if you can call mine that—for NYCM. After that, I’ll do some sort of taper. Having not had much of a plan all along, it’s impossible to know what race day will bring if I make it to that start line.

This is the last Reservoir photo in this post, I swear.
This is the last Reservoir photo in this post, I swear.

All I’m hoping for at this point is to make it to Staten Island, to smile through all five boroughs and to get a fantastically hot meal and shower (perhaps at the same time) when I finally make it back to my apartment…however many hours later that may be.

AND JUST SO I KNOW WHO I’M LOOKING FOR OUT THERE: Who else is running the New York City Marathon?



69 Responses

  1. I am sorry you got tricked by the mapmyrun. I have been there!!! Ha! Not funny, mapmyrun, not funny at all.
    My brother actually just called me to tell (brag) me he did a 18 miler at an 8:30 pace. He used mapmyrun. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. . .that it might or might not be true!!
    I am so excited for you and the NYCM. I am not running it but my friend is flying out from UT to run it. It is her first marathon and we are doing a long run together tomorrow. She is so sweet, her name is Anna. I know you won’t see her but she will have instructions to be thiking about you! Have a great race!

  2. I typed up a great comment this weekend, and then your website ate it or crashed or something, and now my witty comment is no more.
    The much less funny (or not at all) and shorter version is I’m glad you’re back, and I’m glad you’re still running even with the ‘or nots.’

  3. Ohhh MapMyRun is the devil! I used it for the first time in AGES last week since I left my Garmin at home…and the splits it gave me just seemed wrong for the way I felt…and now I do not doubt it!

    AND see you at NYCM!!! Running Hartford this weekend but cannot wait for it!!!

  4. I’m not running…but I have a client who is. He’s a New Zealander living in the NYC area these days, so if you see a Kiwi (uhh…not the fruit or bird) at about 9:30 pace, it’s him. Tell him I say, “Relax your shoulders, and keep your cadence high!”

    And YOU – have fun. Enjoy every minute. That’s an order! 🙂

  5. Don’t believe the fancy technologies!

    I’m glad you’re going to run NYC and maybe you’ll be surprised in an awesome way — even if the running is slow, it could be fun and good and all those other things.

  6. Delurking to say I’m excited to come to NYC from Seattle in about three weeks to run my first marathon. It’s inspiring and amazing that you’re running after what you’ve been through this year – and you’ll probably finish faster than me! Hope you have a great race.

  7. I know that perception is reality, but I never see this puffy face you speak of! You’re still my running inspiration!

  8. Me!! Me!!! And like you at a pace different than I’d like, but who knows as I tend to run better in races! Bottom line I’m just excited for a visit to NYC!!! 🙂

  9. I’m running NYC! Doing my 20 miler tomorrow and then also starting to taper. I’m not in as good of shape as I’d like to be, but I’m still so excited to run it again. There’s so much love from the crowd that it’s an incredible experience, regardless of your time. If you need a friend in the slow lane, I’ll be here for you (in pink tempo shorts and a teal shirt)!

  10. You continue to impress me every day. I know the feeling of the watch saying 8 v. 9 and it is so hard. I struggle a lot with this. I still think I am as fast as I used to be and it sucks. I wish I had better words of encouragement except to say I get that part of it and I still watch you in awe!

  11. I hate when I think I am Speedy Gonzalez during a run just to sync up and realize I was barely crawling. Such a mind trip. BUT your paces are nothing but awesome and you should be (and I sure you are) proud of every step! Good luck iwth the rest of training 🙂

  12. Jealous you get to run NYCM! I had to cancel my entry because of an injury 🙁 Totally understand the frustration with your pace, but if you can go from 0 to 20 miles in a month, you can run an awesome race!

  13. I’ve taken a few rounds of steroids in the past to deal with back trouble, and the negative side effects aren’t great (hello, weight gain).

    There was a positive side effect, though, in addition to the whole “wow, I can actually walk again” principal effect of the steroids. I got a kind of “gee, I feel a bit like Superwoman” mood lift when I took them. That can be a little dangerous but it was also kind of fun. Maybe your meds give you that boost, too? Hey, enjoy the happy.

  14. That would be upsetting to feel like you knew what pace you were at and then find out it was different! I use the RunKeeper app on my phone, and any time I’m training for something I also run with a garmin. They are almost never more than .05-.1 of a mile off, which I appreciate.

  15. I am so proud of you for getting back out there because it’s definitely tough to come back to running after a hiatus, especially if you’re still not feeling well. I hope your stomach gets better soon! I obviously don’t know what your Garmin says, but when I saw you running Friday am you were booking it and looked so strong! And maybe not putting pressure on yourself will help you run a great NYCM! I’m running too! Can’t wait to see you there! Xoxo

  16. I can definitely relate to being disappointed when I find out my pace isn’t what I thought it was… even if I’m happy just to be out running. There’s something about runners liking numbers. Glad you’re feeling better!!

  17. You are suh a fighter! I know it’s not easy and it’s been a long tough road, but keep fighting. You should be so proud of yourself and all that you have accomplished.

  18. I’ve never used apps for tracking my runs and have only used my Garmin, but I would have also felt duped and frustrated! So i don’t think you’re being crazy at all.

    Keep reminding yourself that you’ve come so far in such a short period of time. PW or not, enjoy NYCM!

  19. ME, ME! I’ll be running the marathon this year too–my first full! Crazy business. I know how frustrating different paces can be…and it’s not crazy, the same thoughts go through my mind. I think running it with a smile on your face through all 5 boroughs is definitely a good plan–I’ll make it mine too! 🙂

    1. Ahhhhhhh so exciting!!! The first marathon is the best marathon. GOOD LUCK and enjoy every step of every mile! If it starts to hurt, that means you’re doing it right 😉

  20. I’m running the NYCM too! I’m the gal who accosted you in the Crunch locker room after spin class many months ago. Maybe I’ll accost you in the starting village at the marathon, too. =)

  21. Enjoy the crunching of the leaves under your feet and try to keep a smile on your face – it’s so great that you are out there, can’t believe you got up to a 20 miler so quickly!!! Don’t worry about your pacing, you will do great in the race and at the end of the day it’s about being able to get out there and do it instead of looking out the window and wishing you could be outside…

  22. I’m running Chicago this weekend and will be at NYCM as a medical volunteer. Hopefully, I DON’T see you there. Good luck!!

  23. 1. You’re awesome. That definitely is frustrating…but don’t let technology ruin running for you!
    2. NYC Marathon day is magic. You’re going to do amazingly well. I know it. I’m so inspired by your resilience and determination.
    3. I’m running it too!
    4. I’ll never get sick of Reservoir photos.

  24. Run on Runner!
    It is exciting you’re running again. I understand the pacing disappointment, though I do think you’ll make it to those quicker paces eventually – even if you don’t – huzzah for running at all!

  25. Those phone apps are not accurate! I used one for a year before I caved and got a Garmin. But I always managed to still do well in races when training with a phone app so my paces were not too far off. I am cheering for you this year, but please don’t do anything dumb and push yourself too much, K? Run NYC for the sake of running, not PR-ing and be happy with your ability to run! That finish line will be a happy place for you!

  26. I used to utilize an app too… then i realized it wasn’t accurate. Soul crushing! I’ve got my second/last 20 miler this weekend. My first attempt at 20 (2 weeks ago) was a disaster, so I’m hoping to redeem myself, otherwise I’m going to be REALLY freaked out about NYCM. I just don’t want to die and/or have my IT Bands snap on the course. I really want to finish bc I really want that orange NYRR cape thing (im not checking my bags). I just really love capes, you know?

  27. I’m so happy you’re doing better, but thanks for ruining my day.

    MapMyRun is inaccurate? So the first 4 mile run I ever did (without stopping — I do more with walk breaks) was not actually a negative split at less than 9 minute miles? I seriously feel like my world is upside-down.

    1. I also should say that my comment was (mostly) sarcastic. You didn’t ruin my day…just maybe like my 5 minutes. And it was evened out that I’m happy for you even being out there and running that far!
      The end.

      1. SORRY I RUINED YOUR DAY, ANGIE. But thank you for making me laugh. And please, I read sarcasm quite well. I picked up on that little tone right away 😉

  28. Fik-shun and Amy were my favorites this season. She was perfection and he was just so much fun to watch. Anyways, I really hope you make it to the start line. And the finish line. Will be rooting for you next month!

  29. YAY! A new post! I think I’m gonna have to say hands down, your blog is my favorite. Maybe it’s because I anticipate each post in the weeks in between. But I really love your titles and how the post completes it. I will be running NYC! LOVE your “best photo”! Funny story about the mapmyrun, I had a guy friend who thought he was running sub 9 too. Next thing you know he runs with me (and my garmin) and he can barely keep up with me. I was running 10s! LOL! He was embarrased. I just read somewhere today that effort is so much more important than pace.

  30. Yes, definitely take MapMyRun paces with a grain of salt! I like the app just as a free way to track mileage, but I knew it was off when it told me I was running sub-9 pace. I’m a 10-minute miler. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s misleading for sure.

    Another complaint about the app: sometimes I set more more embarrassing runs/walks to “private” and I recently found out it’s still logging them as public for all to see. Awesome! I hope everyone enjoys my half-hour 2-miler.


    1. I LOVE IT WHEN YOU COMMENT. You make me laugh. Even when you’re not trying to be funny. I think you’re great. I want to know you in real life. Keep crushing it on those walk-runs, home girl.

  31. As annoying as electronic devices may be, remember that long run paces are not good indicators of marathon finishing times. 9:30 is not a bad long run pace, and it sounds like you’ll be able to have a good race regardless! Just don’t over think it! Get out there, have fun, and enjoy the run 🙂

  32. This gal is. How about that fact that next year it will be TCS NYC Marathon? Very odd. (I see you in CP some mornings so I figured I’d finally comment instead of just creep.)

    I’m with you on the pace front… trying not to spend too much time obsessing over paces (good or bad). It doesn’t always determine how you will feel on race day. Plus, we don’t train on fresh legs in 5 different boroughs with thousands of screaming fans. Anything can happen.

    Good luck!

  33. So glad you’re running NYCM, Ali! And I really do think the crowds and the energy will push you faster than you think you can go. It will be electrifying!

    AND I will be volunteering at the Mile 22 water station with Oiselle Team so I’ll be sure to cheer loudly for you as you zoom past!

  34. I’m running Hartford, NYCM and Disney. And no offense to the NYCM runners, but I am looking forward to after New York when I get my park back. The reservoir waws CROWDED this morning.

  35. You’ve overcome so much this year, Ali. Don’t let a stupid electronic device bring you down. Whatever pace you run, YOU’RE RUNNING! Remember how badly Ali, who was stuck on the awful couch, wanted to get out there and run. You’re doing it, and you’re going to run NYCM! Celebrate that! I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon this year – my first – and I’m so pumped. You’re such an inspiration!

  36. Running too and equally as unprepared. I’ve battled ITBS and a glute issue for the last 6 weeks and the amount of activity I’ve been doing hardly constitutes “training”. But I’m not giving up. We can be there crawling to the finish together in however many hours it takes. Good luck!

    1. Yay! Sub-10-hour marathon or bust! (But seriously, take good care of yourself these next few weeks and hopefully I’ll see you out there…which in a sea of 50,000 runners seems like a totally reasonable request, right?) GOOD LUCK!!!

  37. I know it is tough but YAY you are running again! I hope you can be happy for that and for the fact that I know you’ll enjoy NYCM (even if it is your personal worst, who cares — you can RUN and you can work on a faster marathon for the next one). HUGS.

  38. This made me think of when I first started running! I used the Nike app with the chip in my shoe which most of my friends swore by. I was like ‘yeah! I’m such a natural runner! this is great!’ Turns out, it was the least accurate device in the world. During my first ever 10K, it said I ran over 8 miles at about a sub-10 minute pace, which should have actually been a barely sub-12 minute pace. Now that was SO NOT COOL.

    Anyway, you’ve still come such a long way! You’ll do great in the NYCM! (And frankly, I’m excited for you to run it since I feel like I’ve been waiting for you to run it for over a year now… In a completely non-creepy way.)

  39. It’s blowing my mind that you’re going from 0 to marathon after this crazy year. I’d be bummed about that app (those liars!), too, but I’m glad you’re aware that you’re being hard on yourself. I’ll be running NYCM (my first marathon!), too. I’ll look for you!

  40. When I started running I used map my run. Very disappointing when you find out it has been lying to you. You’re a great runner though. I can’t believe you are going to tackle the NYCM. You rock 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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