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NYC Marathon Training – Week Two

13 Aug

Another week of marathon training complete! This week was a little tricky to coordinate as I was on vacation for the majority of it.

Week Two

Monday – 8 miles easy, 8:37 pace

Tuesday – 4 mile warm up, 4 x 1 mile repeats: 7:00, 7:08, 6:53, 6:48. 2 mile cooldown
Great run overall, but tripped and fell in a pothole during the first mile. I have got to work on my coordination…OUCH.

Wednesday – 3.5 miles easy, 10:00 pace. Ran in San Francisco on the Embarcadero. Stunning views!

Thursday – Off (wine tasting in Napa!)

Friday – 6 miles easy, ~ 9:20 pace. Another Embarcadero run in S.F. Took break in between miles to do squats, lunges and other cross training exercises.

Saturday – 8 miles easy, 1 mile jog/walk ~ 9:20 pace. Ran with my BFF Nicole. We saw many amazing San Francisco views along the run.

Sunday – 4 miles easy, 9:00 pace. Very tough run following my vacation. Had to run as soon as I landed in KC to fit in the rest of the miles needed for the week.

Total miles for week: 40.5 Miles

NYC Marathon Training – Week One

6 Aug

Last Monday, I officially kicked off my NYC Marathon Training.

My Dad is my official “Coach”, which is scary…but I know he will take care of me and help me run my goal of a sub 3:30 marathon.

Each Sunday, he hands me a training schedule. I then review it, have a minor panic attack, and figure out how it will get done.

Week One

Week one of training looked like this:

Monday – 5 miles easy, 8:40 pace

Tuesday – 1.5 mile warm up (Garmin malfunction), 4 miles tempo – 7:45, 7:14, 7:05, 7:13, .5 mile cooldown. 7:49 overall pace.

Wednesday – TRX, 3 mile run following TRX, 9:16 pace

Thursday – VERY HOT run!! Thunderstorms in the AM meant a 100 degree run in the PM. 4 miles, 8:20 pace.

Friday – Off

Saturday – First long run of NYC Training, 12.25 miles at the trail, 8:58 pace.

Sunday – Was supposed to be 6 miles, but I slacked off due to a Saturday night Bachelorette Party. Not sure my “Coach” understood…

Total miles for week: 30 Miles

Each Sunday/Monday, I plan to post my previous week training. All tips and tricks for marathon training are welcome!

xoxo,

Ali

P.S. Follow #AliRunsNYC on Twitter to see all my updates! (Yes, I am trying to create my own hashtag!)

Running in Tutus

13 Jun

Last weekend, my best friend Nicole got married. Nicole lives in California now, and was coming in town a week before her wedding. We decided that the best way to kick off her wedding week was to run a half marathon, with the goal of a PR for Nicole.

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When I race, I am all about the outfits (umm, duh). For this race, I decided that we HAD to run in tutus. Nicole’s would be white, and mine would be purple (her bridesmaid dress colors). I made the tutus, then hand crafted some shirts, and TA DA!

Due to Nicole’s late night flight and a gala I attended on Friday evening, we did not get to bed until 1:30am. We knew the next morning would be rough, but we were ready to conquer the Hospital Hill half marathon!

Race Time

5:15 came WAY too early. Holy moly, we were exhausted. We slowly got dressed, and staggered out the door to make the trek downtown.

Once we arrived and assembled our ensembles, we walked to towards the start. Right off the bat, people were yelling at us, honking at us, and cheering at us. It was so funny!

We snapped a quick pic with an old friend, found our place in line, and began our half marathon journey side by side.

The weather was PERFECT. This race is always has a reputation of being super hot, and we got such a break this year. I will say one thing though – it was freaking hilly!!! I guess I didn’t really take the name of the race seriously. Who knew that Hospital Hill would be full of hills??

Of course she was wearing a veil.

The future Mrs. Valentine running through Valentine Rd.

It was so much fun running in these outfits because everyone was cheering for us. Seriously, everyone was. It was as if they had never seen runners in costume.

The top things we heard were:

“Oh my goodness, look at the bride! And the maid of honor too!!”
“Look at the ballerinas”
“When’s the wedding?!”
“You’re a nice maid of honor to run a half marathon with her”
“What is with the tutus?”

Nicole and I made it through the hills, and were able to finish strong and very happy.

I love this picture.

Final time: 1:50:25

So….did we get Nicole a PR? The answer is YES!!!! By 20 seconds!

So proud with our medals!

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So what did we do the rest of the week? Well…..

We rehearsed.

We relaxed.

We partied.

We watched our girl get married.

And we celebrated.

It was the perfect week, with the perfect people.

XO,

Ali

Chicagoland Marathon Race Recap

24 May

This post is very difficult to write, and one that I am not excited to be writing. It will most likely be lengthy and filled with emotions. So saddle up, readers…hope you’re ready for this bumpy ride!

Saturday

Saturday morning I was up at 4am, and out the door by 4:45 headed to the airport for my 6:30am flight. I had planned to be in Chicago at 8am, and hang out and wait until Diana and her husband Lee arrived at 10am.

Well, those plans changed. Following a very delayed flight, and changing flights 3 times, I finally made it to Chicago at 4pm in the afternoon (Diana and her husband were there at 10am, in case you were wondering). I arrived at the hotel in Schaumburg, IL just in time to leave for dinner. I was raging, and ready to punch someone (preferably an American Airlines worker). But I made it.

7am at the airport. I am doing a great job of hiding my anger!

Diana, Lee and I had a lovely dinner (they are so sweet to let me play 3rd wheel all weekend), and got plenty of carbs stored up in our body. We visualized the race together, and spoke about how amazing it was going to be when we crossed the finish line under 3:45, and earned Diana a BQ.

Stuffed and happy!

Loving our new shirts!!

We were all so positive, and so upbeat about the race. We KNEW things were going to work out. It wasn’t an option for them not to.

Following dinner we headed back to the hotel and got everything ready for the race. We pinned our numbers on our shirts, planned our GU stops, marked down where Lee would be spectating us, and had one last pep talk.

Ready to run!

Foot is all taped!

I got back to my room, and got in bed. I was happy and excited. I had really good feelings about our race, and the 26.2 miles we faced in the morning. I wasn’t worried about the weather, and the fact that it was supposed to be unseasonably warm. It was all good…and it would all work out. Because as I said earlier – it had to.

Sunday – Pre-Race

I shot out of bed at 5:45am on Sunday. I was ready to run. After getting myself prepared and compiling my gear, I walked down to Diana’s room. Diana was nervous, but excited as well.

The weather was on TV in her room. I saw that it was already 70 degrees at 6:15am. I slightly panicked, and then shut off the TV. I told them there was NO reason to watch. We could not control the weather, but we could control our bodies (so we thought…).

Our next stop was the starting line. We headed outside and got in the car. I sarcastically yelled, “OMG it is so chilly out here!!! Why didn’t I bring my sweater???”. Truth was, it was very warm. But we refused to acknowledge it.

Following a photo shoot, we got to the start. We were so excited and nervous, but we were ready. This race was going to be our race today. No doubt about it.

Staying in the shade for as long as possible.

Heading to the start.

Can you spy Di and I?!? And the bitchy lady in the background that kept making fun of us for our “overly matching outfits”?

Sunday – Race Time

We crossed the starting line, and hit our watches. Mile 1 was a warm up mile to get our bodies ready. We would let people pass us, but we would see them again soon once we were in the groove. The temperature at the start: 76 degrees.

The course was two loops, with multiple out and back sections.

The first few miles went by pretty fast. But one thing was clear: it was HOT. I had sweat dripping down my face 2 miles in. I am not a big sweater (and besides…girls glow), so I knew this wasn’t a good sign for the 24.2 miles to go. But I ignored it.

I kept Diana and I on pace according to our pace bands. We were hitting our miles, and we were on track to run a 3:42.

Staying positive!

oh hey!

Then, it got really hot.

Around mile 10 Diana said to me, “Ali, I am so hot. Why is it so hot today?” I replied, “Di, I know it is hot, but we have to deal with it. We have to fight through. We can beat it”.

Then we saw Lee, who handed us ice cold bandanas to wrap around our necks. These felt amazing and were finally a relief from the warm weather. We continued to take water at every water stop, and tried our hardest to get fluids in our bodies. We were doing everything right. But the heat was quickly getting to us. And there was very little relief from the sun beating down on us.

That bandana around my neck and sports bra was ahhh mazing!

The halfway point in this race was brutal. We had to run next to to the 13.1 finish line, and keep going to do it all over again (A few weeks before the race, the course was changed. Due to the course change, we would be running a two loop marathon. I am going to throw it out there now that two loop marathons should be illegal).

Diana was becoming very overheated, and dizzy. I grabbed us two bottles of water and opened one for her. We stopped, and I ordered her to drink. Between the two of us we drank two bottles of water in about 2 minutes. We started running again, and I was able to grab another bottle of water from Lee. I kept forcing Diana to drink more while we were running, as well as myself. I was worried about her. In all of training runs and hard workouts, I had never seen her in this state.

By mile 15, we faced the realization that a Boston Qualifying time would not be happening today. Realizing this was heartbreaking. And having to admit it out loud was even worse. We had worked so hard, and Diana deserved that BQ so much. It just wasn’t fair.

On another note – this course totally sucked. We had to share this tiny little path with bikers and recreational runners/walker/children. It was ridiculous!!!

We stopped and regrouped (while chugging more water). Then we decided there was a new goal today: finishing.

I never imagined that I would make it a goal of mine to finish a race. I was stupid to think it would never be something I had to solely work towards. I may have a gift and natural ability, but that doesn’t mean a marathon finish will always come easy (and boy did I realize this during the race). No one is entitled to always have a finish. And I will never forget that.

We had no idea that our tall friend wanted to hug!

Around mile 17, Diana was feeling 100 times better, and I was feeling 100 times worse. My legs were cramping with the worst leg cramps I had ever experienced. I was so hot, my asthma was terrible and I felt like my body wouldn’t work anymore. I kept making Diana stop so I could stretch out my calves. I urged her to go on without me, but like a true friend – she stayed by my side.

When my watch beeped mile 18, Diana asked which mile we had completed. I replied with 18, and she responded with, “Shit…the race hasn’t even started yet!!!!”. Every marathoner has it drilled into their head that the race starts at mile 20. And we had nothing to do but laugh when we thought about that phrase. Our race started at mile 1. No doubt about that!!!

Trucking along at mile 19, and kind of hating life.

Mile 23 came, and I started to have a complete meltdown. I made us stop once again, and I started crying. Running is my “thing”. It’s my constant in life. Running is always there for me. Running I can always do. Life might throw me curve balls (and I have received way too many lately), and I deal with it by running. But during this race, running threw me a curve ball too. And I wasn’t handling it well.

Trying with all of my strength to stay positive.

Diana was so supportive, and got me through me through my cry fest. I couldn’t have kept going if it wasn’t for her.

Finally we saw the finish, and it was the most excited I had ever been to see a finish line. We pumped our legs as hard as we could, and got our bodies across. We smiled through the heartbreak of our missed goal, and managed to take a pretty darn good picture to cap off the race.

YAY! And please notice that apparently it was too hot for spectators to come out.

Accountability partners until the end!!! And I also look like a giant in this photo. I am only 5’4…I swear.

Official time: 4:13:43

Sunday – Post Race

Although we were happy to be done with the race, we were very upset. We hobbled over to a curb and sat down. We drank more water (I swear I drank at least two gallons of water in a 4 hour period), and took a moment to just sit and reflect.

Couldn’t have finished without you!

I got out my phone and was floored by all of the sweet messages from friends and family. Everyone is so thoughtful, and I am beyond thankful. I then checked the weather. It was 88 degrees. 88 degrees is hot if you are walking outside. We were running a MARATHON. No wonder we were dying.

It turns out that only 102 women and 154 men finished the marathon. This was significantly lower than the number that signed up. Many runners opted for the half marathon due to the heat.

The biggest surprise of the day was that I somehow managed to get 3rd place in my age group!

Double medals!

The best way to describe the way I was feeling is mad. I was so mad that the weather sucked. I was mad that I watched Diana put months of training into this race and it didn’t work out. I was mad that we lost control of our race due to the heat. And I was mad that I totally blew up the second half and felt like I held Diana back from running faster (Di, I know you are reading this yelling at me right now!).

We headed back to the hotel and got showered and packed up. Then we checked out and went to lunch. Chicago pizza hit the spot, and the huge beer was even tastier. Although we were feeling blue, we were keeping our heads up. Diana was staying so positive, even though she was sad.

Lee was the best cheerleader EVER!!!

We finished off the weekend with more awful traveling. After two cancelled flights, we checked ourselves into a Holiday Inn at 2am, and got about 5 hours of sleep before we had to go back to the airport and try it all again (American Airlines, I HATE YOU!!!!!). By the way, when you are sad, tired and physically feel awful, the airport is the last place you want to spend 8 hours of your life. By Sunday night I was snapping at anyone who looked at me the wrong way.

Post Race Thoughts

After I finally made it home on Monday afternoon, I was still upset, and Diana was too. It made us sick that the Chicago weather on Monday morning was 50’s with overcast skies – near perfect weather for a marathon. In all of our efforts to find good out of the weekend, we simply couldn’t. There was no positive spin to put on the race. Everything about it sucked.

Although I should be celebrating my 2nd marathon finish, I continue to be saddened by the thought of a missed goal. And mostly, I am sad for Diana. She deserves that BQ. She worked so damn hard. It just isn’t fair.

My body is quickly recovering, but my mind and soul are not. After my first marathon, I was on a high for days. Since this one ended, I have been at quite a low.

Each day gets easier, but I still don’t understand why things worked out the way they did. Why did the weather have to be so outrageous? Why did they have to change the course? And why did months of training have to go to waste like that?? If you know the answers to any of these things, please let me know.

I earned you.

This marathon might have sucked, but that doesn’t mean my determination is gone. And I’d be lying if I said plans for our next big race weren’t already in the works 😉

xo,

Ali

It’s in the Bag! (Literally)

19 May

First of all, I would like everyone to know that I should be in Chicago right now, relaxing in my hotel. But I’m not. I am sitting in the airport in Kansas City waiting for my flight, after my first flight was 8 hours delayed. I might have had a tiny meltdown (ok, like 6 huge meltdowns) already and threatened multiple ticketing agents. They don’t think running a marathon is as big of a deal as I do. How dare them.

6:30am, at MCI airport –

Ali: “You don’t understand. I need to be in Chicago TODAY. THIS MORNING. I have to do stride outs and hydrate and prepare for my MARATHON.”
American Airlines Worker: “Mam (ummm, how dare she “Mam” me), we will do what we can. But right now we don’t have any other options”.
Ali: “I don’t care if you have me ride in the CARGO bin of a sold out flight. I don’t care if I have to sit in the bathroom for 1 hour, GET ME TO CHICAGO ASAP THIS MORNING!!!!!!”
Worker: “Ok, how about a 1:58pm flight?”
Ali: “Fine”.

Ok…now onto the point of this blog post….

Have you ever seen those articles in US Weekly, where they go through a celebrities bag? Well, I thought it would be fun to show you what is in my bag when I travel for a race! Here we go!

Medical Essentials

I hate that I have to run with an inhaler strapped to me, but such is life for a person with asthma.
KT Tape is a lifesaver.
I take 4 ibuprofen before the race starts.

Energy Essentials

I love strawberry lemonade NUUN.
GU is my go-to safe gel.
Gatorade pre-game is so yummy.

Food Essentials

Zone Bars for pre-race.
Chex Mix is my crack.
Arbonne Detox Tea.

Storage Essentials.

Spi Belts to store our GU, will remove after first two GU’s are gone.

Clothing Essentials

Workout clothes galore. I didn’t even pack a pair of jeans!

And the rest!

Laptop to blog.
Cross body bag – a must for traveling!
Make up, hair tools.
And everything else.

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In 12 short hours, I will be on my way to a two time marathon title. And I can’t freaking wait.

xoxoxoxo,

Ali

 

A Marathon Pre-Party

17 May

Last night, Stacy held a little marathon pre-party for Diana and I.

The party was to include dinner, dessert and some motivational speeches. The attendees were Stacy, Diana and my Mom.

My contribution was super yummy cupcakes!!

When Diana walked through the door, I about died.

hilarious!!!

See that hanging out of her backpack? Yep, it is a pacer stick for me. She actually used a bamboo stick and constructed this lovely thing. Only problem was that the stick says 3:43…apparently she missed the memo that our goal time is actually a 3:42!!

Following an awesome dinner, it was time for gifts. Obviously the best part of the evening.

I gave Stacy and Diana gift cards to beauty brands for post-race pedis. And Diana gave Coach Stacy (she has coached us basically the past year) new sandals, which will look awesome with her pedicure!

Then it was Stacy’s turn…

After reading the sweetest letter to Diana and I (the tears were flowing), she brought out some gifts.

In the gift was a copy of the super sweet letter, which included some pretty awesome quotes,

a pace band for our race,

Get yours at races2remember.com

some seriously kick ass socks that I have been wishing for,

These totally have a double meaning.

and most excitingly, custom made Miles with Style shirts!!!!!!!

“We put the RUN in Runway”
“No Limits, No Regrets, That’s my STYLE”

These shirts are freaking amazing. I was in shock!!! I had NO idea that Stacy, my Mom, and my Aunt Holly had been working on these things. They are exactly what I would have had made, should I had been making myself.

After putting on the shirt and modeling for the group, I got another surprise…..

It was better than Christmas!!!

See all of those shirts?? In total, 35 shirts were made. The shirts have a specific point, which was explained to me. And I love it so much. There will be much more to come with what the plan is for these beauties. So please stay tuned. Perhaps you will receive one someday very soon 🙂

All in all, it was the perfect evening. And just what we needed to lift up our spirits and give us a little boost.

Supporting us through everything we do!

Can you spy my new Lululemon skirt?!? I LOVE IT!

I am so fortunate to have these people in my life. Everyday isn’t easy, but with the help of my family and friends I make it through. Thank you to everyone who loves me, supports me and encourages me. It means more than you even know.

XOXO,

Ali

 

Holy Moly, It’s Marathon Week

14 May

Wow. I cannot believe it is here so soon.

It is officially marathon week. And as of Sunday, before 12 noon (hopefully), I will be a marathoner x 2!

Chicagoland, May 20th

If you have been neglecting my recent blog posts (shame on you), you are unaware that I will be running the Chicagoland Marathon in Schaumburg, IL. The purpose of running this marathon is to get my running buddy Diana a BQ. I will run beside her for 26.2 miles to keep her spirits high, and keep her pace right where it should be. And to be a part of the celebrations after it happens.

Diana needs to run a 3:45 marathon to get her the highly coveted ‘Boston Qualifier’ title. I have NO doubts that she can do this. She has been training like a rock star, and has been nothing but dedicated to this goal over the last few months.

By your side, all the way!!!

Preparations

My pre-marathon preparations are nothing crazy. Basically I try to get as much sleep as possible, eat well, consume no alcohol, and drink tons of water.

I also plan to spend a fair amount of time obsessing over my outfit, as well as the day-of race weather.

Currently status on those two items:

New Lululemon running skirt is in the mail. Top is TBD based on temperature (long tank vs. sports bra).

Hope I love it, seeing that I won’t really get to try it out first…..

Weather looks pretty darn hot.

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How do you prepare for big events (marathons for example)? Any tips for me, and most importantly my dear friend Diana??

Wishing you a great week ahead.

Xoxo,

Ali

Adventures in Pacing

24 Apr

This past Sunday, I crossed something exciting off of my “To Do List” – I ran a half marathon as a pacer. The race was the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, KS, and was expected to have an awesome turnout this year.

The pace group that I was responsible for leading was the 1:55 group. Stacy ran beside me as my co-pacer (she is a seasoned veteran at pacing) and together we had the energy and pacing skills needed to lead our group to their goal!

Smart Pacing

The pacers for this race follow a Smart Pacing strategy. This strategy helps you to run a smart race, and ensures that you don’t start out too fast. It also gives you some cushion on the hills.

I have used the Smart Pace Strategy in all of my recent races, and let me tell you – it works! If you visit the Smart Pacing website, you can learn more about the strategy, and how it can benefit you. There is also a link to Races2Remember, which uses the Smart Pacing strategy to create Pace Bands.

The Pace Bands are genius. They include a number of different races (13.1/26.2) and customize your pace band to that race. These people are SMART. And they know what they are doing. They will create a band just for you, and do it for you cheap. Please, give ’em a try for your next big race. You won’t regret it!

The pace band for my race is shown below.

And it fits to comfortably on your wrist!

Now look at the elevation chart for the race. See how this band compensates for the hills? And gives you warm up time, as well as the inevitable slow down time at the end of the race? Like I said, it is genius. And it will help you to run the way you should run.

The Race

Ok, now I will transition off of the Smart Pacing soapbox, and talk about the race.

Stacy and I lined up at the start, and met our group. We had such a fun assortment of people with us, and all were trying to achieve a goal of breaking 1:55. I love being around people who love running as much as I do, and they were certainly present in our pace group.

The stick is actually quite easy to carry!

The course was hilly, and had some questionable areas (i.e. running at least 5 miles on a sidewalk…..) but it was great overall. And most importantly we were able to keep our group together.

Around mile 11 Stacy encouraged everyone who was really feeling it to take off and finish out the race as hard as they could. We had one guy that wasn’t so sure about this, but after our encouragement he trusted that he could do it, and he ended up setting a BIG PR!

By the end of the race, Stacy and I were crossing the finish line alone. Our group had spread their wings, and flown to the finish. It was amazing to see.

Our official race time was 1:55:11. Best case, we would have finished in 1:54:59, but we stopped right at the end to cheer on some people that needed that extra encouragement (good for them, not so good for our final time).

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Pacing was a blast. And was everything I had hoped it would be! Nothing is more rewarding than MULTIPLE people coming up to you after the race, thanking you for helping them reach their goal. Everyone was so gracious, and so kind. They made the experience so enjoyable, and well worth the time I put towards it.

I hope in the future I am able to pace again (if that additional 11 seconds on my time doesn’t black ball me). I also urge everyone who has the opportunity to pace a race to snatch it right up! You will not regret it.

Have you ever ran with a pacer? Or as a pacer?

xoxo,

Ali

If only I smiled like Zeddie.

19 Apr

WARNING: This is a low self esteem post…

I wish I was as photogenic in my race photos as Zeddie Little is in his.

Oh Zeddie........

Zeddie looks happy, and effortless.

And then there is me……

I'm pretty sure those people in the background are judging me.

I look tired, and miserable. Also equipped with freaky legs.

As a note to myself – always look for photographers in races. And have a freakin’ smile on your face!!!

That is all for now.

-Ali

Running for Others

17 Apr

I have always been a supporter of running your own race, and not letting other people get in your way. When I run races to race, I get in my ‘Me’ zone, and only focus on myself. This might sound selfish, but it is what allows me to be the best I can be, and I always tell people to follow this mantra.

The next 6 weeks however, I will be completely changing my mindset on running for myself. And I will only be running for others.

It all begins this weekend when I run the Kansas Half Marathon as a pacer for the 1:55 group. Being a pacer means so much to me, and has been a goal of mine for the last few years. I get to wear a special shirt, hold a stick for 13.1 miles, and lead a group of runners to their goal pace alongside Stacy. What could be better than that?

The next race I run will be the Chicagoland Marathon on May 20th. I am running this marathon with my dear friend, running buddy, and accountability partner, Diana.

The purpose of this race will be to get Diana into the 2013 Boston Marathon. I have NO doubts that she can do it. And I cannot wait to run next to her when we cross that finish line under a 3:45. Diana and I have had the BEST coach (ahem Stacy Scalfaro), and we will reach that goal come race day.

Diana and Stacy supporting me through my first marathon!

The last race on the list that I plan to run for someone else is the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I will be running this race with my BFF, Nicole.

Nicole will be getting married one week after the race, and we plan to kickoff the wedding festivities with a half marathon. Nicole’s goal will be a PR, and I will be there to help her achieve this. After all, I am the Maid of Honor, it is my duty to keep the bride happy and make sure everything is perfect (and what could be more perfect than PR’ing right before you get married?!?!).

We climbed a mountain together, a PR should be a piece of cake!

Although none of these races will be ran to achieve a time goal of mine, I couldn’t be more excited to run them. Over the next 6 weeks I have the opportunity to help others achieve some major goals. I also get to be there right next to them and see that accomplishment on their faces when they do.

Running for ME is fun, but I think running for others will be an even better experience.

More details to come on all of these races….

XO,

Ali

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