My 2014 Game Changers

For the past two years, I wasn’t really into the “year end recap” thing. I cringed looking back on the two previous years, and wanted pretty desperately to just move forward. As I said time and time again, 2012 and 2013 were “just not my years.”

But 2014 was a year that changed the game for me. Although it got off to a sick and somewhat rocky start — I was heavy in a Crohn’s flare for January, February, and March — 2014 was my year. Throughout the course of the year, everything got better. I got healthier. My relationships grew stronger. My general outlook and mindset shifted dramatically. It was just good.

I am 100% confident that I hugged more people this year than ever before.
I am 100% confident that I hugged more people this year than ever before.

So yes of course now I want to do a little recap of 2014 highlights, because it’s important to remember all the good stuff. (And it’s easy, thanks to keeping little notes in my paper calendar — yes I still use a paper calendar — about the good things that happened every day.)

The best part of 2014? The people.

THE PEOPLE. Can you find me? I'm holding a prop.
THE PEOPLE. Can you find me? I’m holding a prop.

My god did I get lucky this year. I call these people my game changers, because they came into my life and, well, changed everything. They brought me back to life. Namely my yoga people and my November Project people, but so many people rallied behind me this year as I started to regain my health and take back my life. I know I know I know how cheesy and cliche I sound, but I am so eternally grateful for and indebted to the wonderful humans in my life.

My people <3 But Anne is missing. And Rachel Stein. And Courtney. And Jenny From China. And Annie Wang. Do you know them? You should.
My people

But also the events! And the fun things! Which is what I came here to discuss, despite having just written an entire essay before getting to the point. In journalism, we call that “burying the lede.” I do it a lot.

So without further crap and rambling, here are my favorite moments from 2014…

1. My series of firsts early in the year: My first class back at Lyons Den, my first walk to Central Park to visit Bernie’s Bench, and, eventually, my first little run. I was so sick for so long, and it crushed my soul. These little victories meant the world to me and completely reinvigorated the spirit I thought was gone forever. Aw.

2. The surprise party Brian threw for me after my last day at Dance Spirit. Deciding to quit my job after seven years was a very scary move for me.

Juliet Doherty is my favorite dancer. Keep an eye on this one, kids.
Juliet Doherty is my favorite dancer. Keep an eye on this one, kids.

After my last day, I “met Brian for dinner,” which turned out to be a surprise party with my favorite people at one of my favorite places. (He rented out Luke’s Lobster!) I had never had someone throw me a surprise party! I felt really special and much more confident taking my next step knowing I had some awesome allies who had my back.

3. My first race back from being sick! Brian and I teamed up for the Spring Duathlon at Smolak Farms and, with my family there to cheer us on, we won the relay division! I ran two legs and he biked one, and I’m not dumb enough to think I actually contributed to the win. He hammered that bike leg and I just had to not lose the race for us. It was my first and probably only time on a podium, and it felt extra victorious being up there together. Precious times.

SUCH GOOD FORM, ALI, SO BEAUTIFUL.
SUCH GOOD FORM, ALI, SO BEAUTIFUL.

4. Running the Bridgehampton Half Marathon and not having to make any bathroom stops. I ran for fun, didn’t wear a watch, and enjoyed every step of this no-pressure race. I could not believe I didn’t have to use the bathroom. This was the first time I really, truly believed I was getting better and may not be sick forever.

At one of my favorite places during one of my favorite weekends.
At one of my favorite places during one of my favorite weekends.

5. Running 15 miles on a Saturday “because I could,” and meeting my journalism idol, Katie Couric, at the end of my run. We chatted for a while. I love her. And I loved that run. It was another victory. I felt so much like my “old self” that day. Especially when I came home and napped for three hours.

6. Doing yoga as part of Solstice in Times Square. Bethany Lyons, who was perhaps my ultimate driving force on my little road to getting better this year, taught class in the middle of the city and I wanted to write about it afterward but I never could quite put it all into words. Shocking for me, really. I went to class alone, but was there with hundreds of yogis of all abilities and ages, and Bethany and I locked eyes before class started. It was such a special moment, and the energy that day was beyond. I was worried about being in Times Square without any bathrooms — naturally — but I was fine. And I cried for like, an hour straight after class. I was so moved. I was finally learning to live in the present instead of worrying so much about the future or harping on the past.

Yoga in Times Square. It's pretty much the only reason I would go to Times Square. Or to see shows. Or if my mom is in town and wants to go to the M&M store. She really likes it.
Yoga in Times Square. It’s pretty much the only reason I would go to Times Square. Or to see shows. Or if my mom is in town and wants to go to the M&M store. She really likes it.

7. Receiving the Positivity Award at November Project.

THIS WAS TERRIFYING I DO NOT LIKE CATCHING THINGS ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF LARGE AUDIENCES.
THIS WAS TERRIFYING I DO NOT LIKE CATCHING THINGS ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF LARGE AUDIENCES.

This was monumental for so many reasons. Joining November Project was huge for me this year. Those people are good. They are genuinely good people. It meant so much getting the award handed to me from my dear friend Emily, who was the person who encouraged me to start coming to the NP workouts.

This is cute Emily. We were on TV together.
This is cute Emily. We were on TV together.

Plus, the timing couldn’t have been better. I hadn’t been feeling super positive, but that mindset was slowly shifting thanks in large part to NP. When I got the award, I realized that other people were seeing me the way I used to see myself — as a happy, perky, positive person. That girl was back!

We ran to Queens! It was awesome. But then I was like three hours late to work. My bad.
We ran to Queens! It was awesome. But then I was like three hours late to work. My bad.

8. The birth of miss Abigail Riley Feller! My heart grew about a billion sizes the day Abby was born, and then a billion more sizes the day I got to meet her and hold her and put headbands on her.

OH MY HEART, IT IS MELTING. THERE IT GOES.
OH MY HEART, IT IS MELTING. THERE IT GOES.
That little face! She's a lot bigger now. She chunked up nicely.
That little face! She’s a lot bigger now. She chunked up nicely.

9. Running my first relay — Ragnar Relay Adirondacks — with my JackRabbit coworkers and having some of the best runs of my life. I laughed more that weekend than any other weekend this year, I’m almost sure of it. My first two runs were surprisingly speedy and gave me a mid-marathon training boost of confidence.

Pre-show dance warmup. Something like that.
Pre-show dance warmup. Something like that.

Then, coming off no sleep and three consecutive runs, I showed up at the start line of the Bronx 10-Mile and busted out a delirious PR. It felt so satisfactory and wonderfully exhausting.

Is sleep running a thing? Because I think I did it that day. And then I slept for 12 hours straight.
Is sleep running a thing? Because I think I did it that day. And then I slept for 18 hours straight.

10. Joining an incredible group of bloggers for the Runner’s World Half-Marathon & Festival. We were VIPs that weekend, and I met so many influential people.

WATCH OUT, QUADS AND THIGHS COMING THROUGH.
WATCH OUT, QUADS AND THIGHS COMING THROUGH.

I spent a lot of time that weekend wondering how I got to be there and feeling very very lucky. I also ran three races I was super proud of just one week after my first fall marathon (Steamtown, which did not make the list of highlights here…womp womp).

SO HAPPY SO MUCH JOY. And my parents were there.
SO HAPPY SO MUCH JOY. And my parents were there.

11. Running the New York City Marathon. It’s the most magical day of the year.

YOU'RE LOOKING THE WRONG WAY, ALISON.
YOU’RE LOOKING THE WRONG WAY, ALISON.

12. Going to Hawaii. (Part I, Part II.) I took 10 days off and my phone was on airplane mode for most of the trip. I went on my computer twice the whole time, and got to see a whole new world. It was perfect. The trip, as I’ve mentioned, oh, 38 times, was supposed to happen in 2013, but I was too sick to go and we had to postpone. It was so well worth the wait.

IT'S OK THAT YOU'RE NOT KISSING ME BACK IN THIS PICTURE, BRIAN. STILL LOVE YOU. WILL STILL MARRY YOU.
IT’S OK THAT YOU’RE NOT KISSING ME BACK IN THIS PICTURE, BRIAN. STILL LOVE YOU. WILL STILL MARRY YOU.

13. Getting engaged. 6 AM. Top of a mountain. Sunrise. Workout clothes. Brian nailed it. This was such a special day and I’m still basking in it.

GoPro for the win.
GoPro for the win.

Being sick is really hard on a relationship. There were times where I was so worried about Brian and me and whether or not we were going to be OK; whether or not we were both strong enough to get through all that crap. And he kept sticking around through it all, and people kept telling me “he’s a keeper.” I got a really really good one.

Fresh off the plane from Hawaii, out celebrating with some fabulous friends. My tan has already faded. Sad.
Fresh off the plane from Hawaii, out celebrating with some fabulous friends. My tan has already faded. Sad.

14. Leaving my job at JackRabbit! I’m onto the next great thing and I’m so excited. More to come. Stick around. 2015 is going to be a good one.

Thank you for being a part of my year. I really do love you.

Rooftop sunset. Casual.
Rooftop sunset. Casual.

TOP HIGHLIGHT OF 2014: GO!

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Ali

Ali

39 Responses

  1. Not sure if I’ve ever commented before but I had to tell you how much your blog has done for me. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I am coming off of 2 bad years myself (colitis) and seem to have fallen into the “am I ever going to get better?” trap. New Years will do that I guess. Your story (well I guess you call that life) is so inspiring to me and sometimes is the one of the only things that can keep me going. You truly give me hope that I WILL get better and I WILL get back to my old self, and be able to put these bad times in the past and move on. I am so happy for you and to see the progress you have made this past year. I don’t really know anyone personally that has gone through similar things so being able to relate to your blog has really helped me know that I am not alone and has been comforting. You are AWESOME!

  2. I’m so glad things are looking much brighter than they were at the beginning of the year! Being sick sucks (I don’t know first hand, but taking care of sick people gives me a little insight), and it’s great to see you coming out on the other side with such positivity and amazing things happening!

  3. I love this post so much. After seeing you come off of a couple of tough years the excitement and happiness that you share here is contagious.

    Love it so much! So happy for you and Brian. When and if you guys decide to have kids they are going to be gor-geous!

    Can’t wait to hear about your new career move!

  4. This makes me so happy! So glad to see all the good things this year brought you, so deserved!! I’m kicking 2014 to the curb and only looking forward to 2015. Can’t wait for all the fun we have in store with your wedding!!!!! Love you!

  5. What a great year you had! I think the highlight of my year was seeing what amazing friends I have! They supported me through such a difficult year. And they even still love me

  6. Looking forward to reading more of your blog in 2015. I hope you continue to share, I always enjoy what you have to write!

  7. i was reading through your great year recap, and saw a picture of you in “my” park at Ragnar in Saratoga! I didn’t run, but I thought about going out to the stops in town to cheer people on. One of the exchanges was less than a mile from my house.

    I wish I had November Project around here. It looks like a blast.

    Anyway, happy new year and congratulations on your engagement!

  8. I can’t wait to read all about your decision to leave JackRabbit and find out where your journey is leading.

    2014 was a big emotional year for me. Getting used to being a full time student all over again has taken over my life, but I’m so grateful to be part of the select few entering the wonderful world of nursing. Even though my boyfriend hears me bitch about it constantly, I’m so proud to be on this path.

    Cheers to 2015!!

  9. Where will you be working now?? Runners’ World?

    Maybe a little pathetic to say, but my top highlight was getting engaged. Also, I am not a dress person or a shopping person, but wedding dress shopping was kind of awesome. I may have dragged it out a bit. I recommend you start this part right now. I can tell you the best places to go.

  10. SO happy that you had such a great year. You really deserved it. Top highlight for me was moving back to San Francisco. It was a game changer for me that I really needed!

  11. Wow! What a year. First and foremost i’m so happy to hear that your health has improved and I’m on board with your family and friends. That Brian is a keeper….in sickness and in health right?! Anyhoo…while i’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve got in store post JackRabbit I’m shocked that you left. It seemed like the perfect fit. You really made sure to show 2013 that it was just a blip….2014 was a surge of greatness. Can’t wait to follow your journey through 2015.

  12. My top highlight of 2014 was the NYC Marathon, obvi! I would love to try a Lyon’s Den yoga class with you sometime. And we still have to take that tap class! 🙂

  13. What an amazing year! I cant believe you left JackRabbit already! I cant wait to read all about you’re next step!

  14. Seriously Ali, you INSPIRE me!
    As someone who is a faithful reader it’s so great to see you so happy, positive and inspired…I admire you and really do think we could be the best of friends (I know, I know I say it all the time and I don’t even know you, but it’s true…)
    Keep on being ever so fabulous and loving and living life in NYC (majorly JEALOUS of that by the way!)
    Can’t wait to read about where 2015 is taking you!
    Hoping my 2015 and yours will be FANTABULOUS and filled with lots of cheese, jazz hands, singing, and loving life!

  15. You’ve left JackRabbit? Woah, this WAS a busy year for you. Actually, you had an awesome year and I am SO glad for you.

    The highlight of my year was my husband’s Ironman which was incredible from start to finish. And Canada. What a place!

    Happy New 2015, 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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