In the days leading up to last year’s New York City Marathon [that wasn’t], I spent a lot of time thinking about each mile of the race.
While I don’t know every step of the 26.2 mile route by heart, I have lived in New York City for six years now, and I’ve studied the NYCM course for three of those years.
So, when I was planning to run the 2012 NYCM, I was ready to embark on a celebration. A celebration of my city — my grown-up-life hometown.
A celebration of the year I’d just overcome — a year that was marked by injury and repeated illness, an eventual hospital stay and a remarkable comeback. Most of all, it would be a celebration of the friends and family who stuck by me during my darkest times.
I decided to dedicate each mile of that race I never ran to someone — or something — important in my life.
Mile 1 was dedicated to the year 2012. I was ready to say goodbye to it.
Mile 2 was for New York City. Long before Hurricane Sandy came to town, I knew the second mile of the marathon — the mile that takes you into Brooklyn and envelops you with screaming fans — would be for my hometown.
Mile 5 was for my Sweat Squad: Lindsay, Susan, Meggie, Kelly and Megan. These girls got me through so many early morning weekday runs, plus many hours on the Bridle Path. They helped me train for my very first marathon and they were the girls who helped me identify myself as a runner.
Mile 6 was for Page and Aron. These two snapped me back to reality the first time we met in person. The day after I bonked hard at the Las Vegas Half Marathon, Page and Aron gave me the pep talk of a lifetime. They completely changed my perspective toward running and racing that morning at Starbucks, and I have been a much more level-headed runner since that day. They changed my life. Aw.
Mile 11 was dedicated to three-legged dogs everywhere. When things get tough, I think of three-legged dogs. They are my ultimate inspiration. At mile 22.5 of my first marathon, Brian yelled to me, “You’re a three-legged pug!” Those words carried me to the finish line.
Mile 14 was for Deanna. She’s a beast of a runner and she’s unbelievably humble. Deanna offered me so many kind, reassuring words throughout the year, and I always knew that if she had faith in me and believed in me, I needed to have faith and believe in myself.
Mile 17, which runs up 1st Avenue in Manhattan, was for Lauren. Lauren has supported my running endeavors tirelessly — she even came to the Hamptons Marathon to cheer for me in 2011. We both lived in apartments on East 89th Street, separated only by the 1st Avenue marathon route.
Mile 18 was for Conroy. She was my first roommate when I moved to NYC. We met on Craigslist and since she wasn’t a murderer, it worked out great. She taught me about running, took me for my first run in Central Park and ran my first half-marathon with me. Conroy became one of my best friends: She can always make me laugh and she is the only person in this world who knows exactly what I’m saying when I’m brushing my teeth but really need to make an important point at the same time. (Brian, I really wish you would learn this skill.) This mile would pass by the first apartment we lived in together, in Spanish Harlem, right on the East River.
Mile 19 was for not-yet-pregnant Lauren. Another tough-love-giver and that friend every girl needs to bring her back down to reality.
Mile 20 was all Emily’s. Emily ran my first-ever 20-mile run with me when I was training for the Hamptons Marathon. To this day, whenever I set out for a 20-mile run, I think of Emily. (And, as you may recall, she was my running buddy at last year’s Manchester City Marathon. She ran by my side and paced me from mile 0 though the finish line.)
Mile 22 was for my brother and sister-in-law.
Mile 23, up that tough Fifth Avenue climb when things would undoubtedly hurt, was for my mom. I knew that when things felt difficult and I didn’t want to keep going, thinking about my mom would give me some power and a gentle kick in the butt.
Mile 24, which would take me by my favorite spot in the entire city, was for Brian. My favorite spot is just south of Engineers’ Gate in Central Park, where I filmed my first commercial for the Run For The Rabbit campaign. That’s how I met Brian. That’s how my life changed in so many ways, all for the better.
Mile 25, so close to the finish line, was for my dad. The strongest, toughest person I know. The person who always believes in me, supports me and tells me he loves me, even if he’s just made me cry because of my debt and unpaid medical bills and lack of financial responsibility.
Mile 26 was for my very best friend Tyler.
And I dedicated that final .2 to myself.
Last year, many marathon-related plans went awry. I still got to run my marathon, but it wasn’t in New York City, and my mile markers were forgotten. Still, I PR’d, I ran sub-4:00 and I had the second-best day of my life (Hamptons Marathon Day is still the best day).
So this year, I’m again attempting to run the New York City Marathon. And this year, each mile gets a dedication again.
Call it lame.
Call it narcissistic.
Call it cheesy.
(Please don’t call it any of those things. Be nice to me.)
This year, every step along that 26.2 mile route is for me.
I love the people who have stood by me this year, which was about a billion times tougher than the last. And they all know how much I love them, cherish them and need them in my life.
This race isn’t about them, though. Not this time.
This is my race.
I’m not running tomorrow to prove anything, either to myself or to anyone else. When I cross that finish line, no matter how long it may take me to get there, I’ll still have Crohn’s disease. I’ll still feel sicker than I’d like. A medal isn’t going to change that.
This race has been three years in the making for me (and my bank account): I qualified through the 9+1 program in 2011, didn’t run last year, of course, and am now finally getting myself onto that Staten Island Ferry. I’m running this race because I really want to have some fun for a few hours. I realize it may not be a pretty race, but I’m not going for a personal best and I’m not planning on even wearing a watch.
I’m running because being “a part of it,” as Frank Sinatra will tell you, is so much better than being on the sidelines.
See you at the finish line!
Damn skippy. You deserve every step of this marathon. I’d say Good Luck, but since I’m so behind, I’ll say Congratulations instead.
hold on hold on… 3:58?!?!? are you kidding me?!?!?
lady I am never going to take your “woe is me, I am not ready, I didn’t train” comments seriously again. you are FIERCE!! I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am by you.
you are an athlete and a tremendous runner and don’t ever think otherwise about yourself.
Congrats! So happy to hear you did it.
Looking forward to reading all about it, Ali. XOXO
Hope you had an amazing race, can’t wait for the recap!
WE WANT A RECAP 🙂
This was an emotional read for a lunch break! Hope the marathon went well 🙂 x
You are awesome.
And I’m absolutely nicking that idea of dedicating miles (in my case kilometres) to important people. Although I only need 10.
I heard you finished! Yay! I didn’t care if anyone else did it but so GLAD you did! You truly rock under hard circumstances! I admire you and your dedication.
You go girl!
You are such an inspiration! Congrats Ali! I’m so proud of you!
Rockstar!!! Look at you with a second sub-4!!! I hope you had an awesome day – can’t wait to read the mile-by-mile. You deserved every bit of goodness you got today.
It’s all YOU today! YOU are truly an inspiration…can’t wait to read all about how it went. BE PROUD because you’re one tough cookie!
Hope you had a great race today!!
You DID IT!!! Congrats!! Woooooooo!! You’re amazing!!
This made me a little teary. Hope you had a fabulous race!
I’m tracking your progress from far, far away (Germany) and you’re so fast 🙂 keep running strong, THIS ONE IS YOURS! You deserve this so much.
I wish I could be there to give you a high five at the finish line. All the best!
You are awesome Ali!! Enjoy every single mile :)) congratulations!!!
Wishing you a most magical, memorable experience!
Good luck, good luck, Ali! You totally deserve this race. Have fun (’cause that’s what it’s all about, really).
Good luck Ali! Can’t wait to hear all about it. Enjoy your victory. :). NH has your back! 🙂
Keep on keeping on…. thank you for being you.
Go get it girl! You’re a three-legged pug! ( Loved that!)
Rock on Runner Ali!
As long as you cross the start line, you’re a winner! (Is that totally a cheesy “mom-like” thing to say?)
OWN this race, Allie!
Good luck tomorrow!!!
Good luck tomorrow Ali! You deserve every single one of those miles!
Good luck Ali!!! We are all with you!
Enjoy every step Ali – you have earned this, it’s all for you. I hope it is a memorable “race like no other”….sending you sweaty thoughts from Las Vegas (here on business) where I will be running 10 miles tomorrow in my I <3 Sweat shirt.
I am going to watch for you, so if you see a random girl all excited jumping up and down screaming your name it’s me 🙂 Wishing you all the best, have fun!!
Good luck tomorrow, I have many friends and a cousin who will be there. I will be thinking of you and hoping the running Gods will be with you on this journey.
Way to get waterworks outta me! Sheesh!
Yep 26.2 are ALL YOURS….and may that finish in YOUR park be the moment of moments where you realize you are the epitome of strength, resilience and endurance. Then go get your medal and find a port a potty 😉 Seriously! Run your miles and enjoy.
This is just AMAZING Ali. After all the illness you’ve had this year, now you are running the NYC Marathon. I am so thrilled for you and beieve every one of those miles are OWED to you. OWN it. XOXO
GO GO GO Ali!!! I hope that the hours of the marathon provide fun and excitement for you in the midst of a tough year. ENJOY the crowds and screaming fans 🙂
Awww, thanks for the shout out! We need to get back to some morning miles, I miss those!
This race has been so long in the making for you…enjoy it! NYC isn’t a race to race anyway, it’s just a fun time! (And I think they have bathrooms every mile, so that would be helpful…)
HAHA oh man I started writing my similar post yesterday but finished/posted it after you – looks like we’re both thinking along the same lines! SO MUCH GOOD LUCK to you tomorrow 🙂
Goid Luck & enjoy your run!! I hope to someday run “in your backyard”…
Enjoy all 26.2 miles for you!
I LOVE everything about this, Ali. And I don’t think it’s silly at all that you dedicate every mile! I do that on shorter races and it really makes each step have meaning. You are such an inspiration for so many of us and I can’t wait to cheer you along tomorrow. 🙂
Have an amazing time!!!! I just finished my 9+1 today and can’t wait for next year.
I’ll be with the Oiselle Team girls on the left side of the Mile 22 water stop tomorrow, in a bright orange knit cap. I’ll try to cheer you as you sprint past!
You saved all those shoes??! I also wish my hair was shiny again. GOOD LUCK TOMORROW! No matter what, you will have an amazing time!
ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY IT!! My only advice is credited to my former choir/show director: take mental snapshots and soak it all in. Wishing I could be there to cheer! (So consider this my e-version of holding signs and screaming and jumping up and down along first avenue and in the park) Please send all 26.2 miles of that beautiful city my love!
This made me tear up. I am SO excited for you tomorrow. You go and rock it!
you have earned every mile of this 26.2 mile victory lap around NYC. Can’t wait to read all about it next week.
Go Ali!! I’ve been (silently, stalkingly … sorry) following your journey, and this brings tears to my eyes. I hope you do have so much fun running through that amazing city tomorrow. GOOD LUCK!
YAY! I’m so excited for you! Good luck tomorrow!!!!
GOOD LUCK tomorrow!
I am SO incredibly excited for you!! I love reading your blog and will be excited for the race recap! Will be thinking of you – have a freakin’ AWESOME time!!
Go Ali!!!! Have fun with this race! I mean it! 🙂
Good Luck tomorrow! Have a wonderful time.
GO ALI!!! Have a blast!!!