Tag Archives: marathon

Arizona Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Race Recap

22 Jan

A few months ago, Stacy and I got this crazy idea. We decided it would be a fun idea to sign up for another marathon just six weeks after we were to run St. Jude.

Coincidentally we both had our minds on the Arizona Rock ‘n Roll marathon. It was fate. We both signed up, and convinced Nicole and Diana to sign up too. It would be a fun and relaxed girls weekend, where we could also check another marathon off the list.

When I told people I was running this race, I pretty much got the same reaction – “you’re crazy”. I brushed off the comments and then stopped telling people my crazy plan. Which is why it was never mentioned here or on my other social media obsessions.

I didn’t realize how crazy of an idea this actually was, until I finished the St. Jude Marathon and could barely walk….I began to really question the decision and wonder if it was even possible for me to run another marathon. My body hurt, my feet still hurt, and my heart was not there.

It took until a week before the race to start getting excited for the race and to accomplish marathon #8. Stacy and I decided that we would run the race together and just have FUN. Diana, Nicole and Diana’s husband Lee were running the half marathon and had also had a plan to start the race together.

As soon as we landed in Phoenix on Friday night, I was beyond excited for the weekend and to run another marathon. I knew the weather would be gorgeous, there was no pressure, my body felt back to normal, and I was with some of my favorite people!

We were greeted at the airport by Diana, Lee and Nicole. It was great to see their smiling faces. I am sure the wine consumed prior to our arrival had nothing to do with their extreme excitement 😉

We went back to the hotel, had girl talk time in our room, then fell fast asleep.

Saturday morning we woke up rested and refreshed. Without the pressure of trying to PR a marathon, I slept like a rock. It was awesome.

After we got dressed, Nic, Stacy and I hit the Phoenix roads for a 2 mile shake out. I couldn’t get over the gorgeous weather and the SUN! We had not felt the sun like that in a very long time. KC has been a bit brutal lately!

After the shakeout, we grabbed coffee and breakfast then went to the expo (which was a really good expo btw). The whole morning was great. In Memphis I was a nervous wreck the day before the race. So nervous that I didn’t have as much fun as I should have. In Phoenix, I was so relaxed and able to enjoy every moment.

IMG_6693 IMG_6698

Following the expo, we went to the pool for lunch and relaxation. I made sure the group stayed in the shade so we did not use up any extra energy. I also made sure we were all drinking plenty of water…even though fruity pool drinks sounded SO much better.

Saturday night we went to dinner at 1130 The Restaurant. It was a great place and perfect for a pre-race meal. After dinner, we drove down to Tempe to check out the Half starting line and the finish line for the race. It all made me so excited!

FullSizeRender IMG_6705 IMG_6707 IMG_6708

After we got back to the hotel, the pre-race ritual began. Numbers were pinned, tags were added to shoes, and race strategy was discussed. We were all ready to run 🙂

Sunday morning, Nicole got up first to get ready for the half and meet Lee and Di. The half started in Tempe by the finish line of the marathon and half marathon. Therefore they had to drive down there and get situated much earlier than we had to be at the start of the full.

Pre race mirror selfie.

Pre race mirror selfie.

Stacy and I got ready and were out the door by 7:05am. We walked a few blocks from our hotel to the start and prepared for our 26.2 mile journey ahead.

Our pre-race nerves started, but overall we were still very excited for the adventure ahead.

And now begins our 26.2 mile journey…….

As soon as we crossed the finish line, our strategy began. Stacy and I decided we would warm up the first few miles, then get into a groove of 8:15-8:20 miles.

The first few miles flew by, and before we knew it, we were at the halfway mark! Our pace was steady at an 8:20 and we were having fun and enjoying each others company.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.43 PM

Miles 13 – 20 were a weird out and back. I am not a fan of the out and back races because you get to see what is ahead for you. If you run down a hill, you know you have to run right back up the thing when you turn around. But it was nice to see other faces while we were running and do some people watching. That is certainly a benefit of the out and back.

Side bar I am still in SHOCK over the number of people running in long sleeves and pants. How did they not suffocate!!! I even saw someone in GLOVES at mile 20.

When we hit mile 20, the race started to get hard…as it always seems to! Someday I want to run a 20 mile race and see how much better it feels than the full 26.2 does 😉

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.24 PM

Stacy and I continued to run mid-8’s and tried to maintain pace. By this time of the race, there was no avoiding the sun. I forgot my running sunglasses at home, so I ended up running in my huge bug-eyed Tom Ford glasses. While I might have looked a bit ridiculous, I am so glad I decided to wear them! Had I not, I would have been miserable from the squinting and likely added 5 years of aging to my face.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.09 PM

It was also getting warmer. I don’t think the heat really had an affect on my race, but I could definitely feel it. It was so weird, because while I knew it was warm (mid 60s) I never sweat. Apparently in the dry heat, your sweat evaporates as soon as it leaves your pores, which is why I didn’t sweat yet had salt all over me.

At mile 22, Stacy told me she needed a little pep talk. I proceeded to give her the worst pep talk ever and gave her my “shut up and run” line. Sorry Stac. I was finally able to pull together a semi-inspirational message for her and that got us through the next few hard miles. My body was hurting too, and I probably used up all the good pep talks on myself in my own head!

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.56 PM

I tried to distract us from the race as much as possible and get us to the finish. We reminisced on our runs together, and the fact that this was our 4th marathon we had done together. And our first marathon we did just the two of us the whole time.

Stacy is the reason why I started running marathons, and it was so much fun to run this one with her. If you want to have a real bonding experience with someone, run a marathon with them!

At mile 24, we finally saw the half marathoners and hit our first real hill! This race was INSANELY flat. I still cannot get over how flat it was. Once we peaked the bridge, we could tell we were getting really close. I loved this race because we stayed separate from the half marathoners the entire time. We could see them, but we didn’t have to share a road with them. This is a MAJOR bonus when the race is bigger like this one.

The last mile of this race was one of my favorite finishes I’ve had (behind Boston and NYC of course).

We got to run across a bridge over water, and looked down to the finish line. We could also see the finish line village and Beer tent which was extremely motivating. As we left the bridge and were almost to the finish, we saw our cheering squad!! It gave us both the biggest smiles to hear Di, Nic and Lee cheer for us. It also gave us our boost to get to the finish.

Seeing our friends and SO excited to finish!

Seeing our friends and SO excited to finish!

Stacy and I crossed the finish line just as we had in Boston 2013. Hand in hand.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.16.16 PM

We were done (finish time 3:41:10)! Marathon #8 for me and #15 for her was complete and it felt GOOD.

We immediately went to the reunion area and saw our friends. Then we got a beer and headed back to the hotel.

Pre-race glow!

Pre-race glow!

Thanks for being such a trooper, Lee!

Thanks for being such a trooper, Lee!

Di and Stacy

Di and Stacy

Nicole and Di ran together almost the entire race!

Nicole and Di ran together almost the entire race!

Such a fun weekend with my BFF!

Such a fun weekend with my BFF!

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Much deserved beer.

 

Looking back on this race and weekend as a whole, I have to smile. We had a great weekend together and the race was perfect. It was so great to run this entire race with Stacy and spend this time with her. She is such a great friend and I am beyond thankful and blessed to have her in my life.

As for the Arizona Rock n Roll marathon, I thought it was a great race and I would highly recommend it.

Thank you for all of the support for the St. Jude Marathon, and for this one as well.

xo!

Ali

I didn't even notice the climb the first half! This is from my Garmin.

I didn’t even notice the climb the first half! This is from my Garmin.

Splits aren't totally accurate because I had an auto pause incident during mile 17..

Splits aren’t totally accurate because I had an auto pause incident during mile 17..

 

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St. Jude Marathon Race Recap

12 Jan

I am officially a marathoner x 7!

Last month, I ran the St. Jude Marathon. I started writing this post 4 weeks ago, and I am finally forcing myself to wrap it up and post.

Here we go…

The weeks before St. Jude I kind of fell off the radar with my blog training updates. Part of the reason was because I was busy with life. The other part was that I wasn’t feeling well and just didn’t have anything positive to say. Halfway through my training I started having Plantar Faciitis pain in my left foot. Then it hit my right foot too. Somedays were better than others, but most days it hurt – and it hurt pretty bad. As I was approaching the race I was very uncomfortable and discouraged. I had multiple therapy sessions (I did lots of Graston therapy), bought myself a foot spa, and got many foot rubs. Leading into the race, my legs felt good, but the feet felt bad. And that had me all sorts of grumpy and stressed. I was so worried that my months of training would go down the drain because of my dumb feet.

When we arrived in Memphis on Thursday, I started to get more positive about the race and told myself I wouldn’t let my feet put a damper on all of training. I was with my Mom and two friends, so I knew it would be an entertaining and fun girls weekend.

Friday morning we went on a little shake out run, then hit the expo. After the expo I went back to the hotel room and just relaxed. It was a really nice afternoon and exactly what I needed.

These ladies raised over $8,000 for Team Ryan!

These ladies raised over $8,000 for Team Ryan!

After relaxing for quite awhile, we hit the town for dinner. Memphis is a fun city and everyone there is SO nice. I could not get over the positive attitudes and charm. There was no way to be in a bad mood there when everyone around you was smiling and happy as can be. We had a great dinner and walking around the city was the perfect way to decompress and RELAX.

It rained ALL day on Friday.

It rained ALL day on Friday.

When we got back to the hotel room, I started all of my pre-race rituals. My clothes were laid out, my feet were taped up and everything was ready for the next morning. I crawled into bed and attempted sleep. It certainly wasn’t the best nights sleep, but it was far from the worst. I will take it.

Saturday morning I sprang out of bed and was the most nervous I have ever been before a race. I force fed myself some breakfast, then got dressed and ready to go.

Gotta take a snap chat.

Gotta take a snap chat.

St. Jude Heros!

St. Jude Heros!

When we got to the start I immediately felt better. I got to see my friend DeEtta, and also had a little moment with Stacy and Diana. Those girls always put me at ease and make me feel better. I am so thankful to have them in my life.

KC girls ready!

KC girls ready!

My Mom told me good bye and good luck and I got in line at the start.

The singing of the National Anthem was incredibly emotional. A former St. Jude patient sang, and she did such a good job. I couldn’t help but cry. I remembered that I only had a 26.2 mile journey ahead of me, while the children at St. Jude had one much longer and harder ahead. Seeing that sweet little girl put everything in perspective for me. I was there to run and support them. The day was not about me, it was about them.

Waving to my Mom.

Waving to my Mom.

When the race started I tried to get into my groove. I stuck pretty close to the 3:15 pacer and decided I would hang onto him as long as it felt comfortable. The first few miles felt pretty good. I was hitting a solid pace, but did have a doubt in my mind if I could actually hang on to that pace for 26 miles. And a doubt at mile 2 is never a good thing.

At mile 3, I saw my Mom! That was the best treat. I love seeing her during races. No one can give me that extra umph quite like my parents. They are the BEST. The next best moment was running through the St. Jude campus at mile 5. There were so many people out cheering, including some of the patients. Another reminder as to why I was running this race. I was doing it for them.

When I hit the first 10k, I still wasn’t totally sure how I felt. People say you know if you’re going to have a good race the first few miles. For me, I don’t feel like I know until I cross that finish line. That is what is so scary about 26.2 – there is so much time for things to awry.

At least I looked happy!

At least I looked happy!

Around mile 9 I decided I needed to slow down a bit. I was still running with the 3:15 pacer, but knew his splits were too fast (not sure what pace band he was looking at…) I didn’t want to blow my race because I was trying to stick to this guy that I knew wasn’t running on pace.

Looking back, this was the best decision. Had I continued to hang on to this guy, I know I would’ve fallen apart at mile 18.

At mile 13 I finally felt in a groove. I was running completely alone and I was ok with that. I had my ipod and it kept me company. Miles 13 – 18 were the best of the race. I felt invincible and knew that I was going to PR. I continued to tell myself that it would be a great day.

Passing the Half.

Passing the Half.

When mile 20 hit, I started to feel a little rough. My legs were burning too much, and my feet were throbbing. The high from the past few miles was gone…and the new tactic was to just hang on and survive.

I gave myself the biggest pep talk of all time and decided once again to shut up and run. I knew that the second I crumbled mentally my race was over. If I admitted to myself just how bad I felt, it would start to show. I decided at this point not to look at my watch. If I was getting slower, I didn’t want to see it. If I saw my times slowing, I would’ve lost it mentally.

I knew that once I got to mile 24, I would feel better. At mile 24 we ran back through the St Jude campus and received some much needed encouragement. I knew I had slowed down, but I felt good and continued to pass other runners.

Mile 25 was hands down the hardest thing I have done in my entire life (physically that is). I felt like I was barely moving. Every step hurt more than I have ever hurt before. Looking back I don’t know how I kept going, it hurt that bad.

When I saw mile 26, I finally looked at my watch. With some quick math, I figured out that I could still break 3:17 if I picked up the pace and ran my ass off. So I did just that.

I ran harder than ever before. It was truly an out of body experience.

Hardest experience EVER.

Hardest experience EVER.

As we turned into the stadium (the race finished on a minor league baseball field) I kept my mind on the finish and continued to pump my arms as fast as I could.

Then I crossed the finish line (and maybe fell down on the ground in the most dramatic way, but I am not admitting to anything).

3:16:53!

Working harder than I ever have.

Working harder than I ever have.

I did it. I broke my original goal of 3:20 and PR’ed. I couldn’t believe it. With how hard the last few miles felt I had no clue what I was in for with my time. I was shocked, happy and relieved that it was OVER.

After the race I waited for Stacy and Diana to finish. I was extremely proud of both of them and was very excited to see them at the finish and share our race experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly).

Looking back on this race, I know I gave it everything I had. And I should be extremely proud.

But I won’t lie…I was a little upset and I am still a tiny bit upset about the finish. I had trained to run a 3:15 and knew going into this race that my body could do it. So when I didn’t see that time on the clock when I finished, I was let down and bummed.

Proud of this medal.

Proud of this medal.

And even prouder of these girls!

And even prouder of these girls!

I don’t know why my body wouldn’t give me a 3:15 at this race. I trained for it, and worked my butt off for it. It was not one of those races where everything feels great and the last 6 miles make you feel like you are top of the world. At the KC half and NYC marathon, that is how I felt. At this race, I felt like I was hanging on for dear life almost the entire race.

It is hard to explain, but there is nothing better than the feeling of crossing the finish line with a big PR and feeling amazing on top of it.

I’m sure I sound like a cry baby, and that is certainly not my intention. I just wish that I would’ve felt better. Had I felt great AND ran a 3:16:53, I would have a different outlook on this race. The fact that I didn’t feel well forces me to do the “what if” game and think about how much better I could’ve done had it been a day where my body felt great.

Back to the positive 🙂

I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone looking for a marathon. The course was great. Not too flat and not too hilly. I think it was just the right amount of hills and flat. Our weather on race day was perfect, other than some pretty fierce wind. And as I said earlier, Memphis is a great city.

Now that this race is over, I get to go back to running for fun when I feel like it, not because I have to. I am looking forward to a break from marathons (well, after I run another one this weekend…) and enjoying half marathons.

As always, thanks for all the love.

Post race beer with my best cheerleader. This tasted SOOOOO good!!!

Post race beer with my best cheerleader. This tasted SOOOOO good!!!

More KC runners in Memphis. Great to see these guys!

More KC runners in Memphis. Great to see these guys!

At dinner with our Team Ryan group. So honored that we got to run for their daughter.

At dinner with our Team Ryan group. So honored that we got to run for their daughter.

8pm and barely staying awake. But that didn't stop Stacy from doing some karaoke.

8pm and barely staying awake. But that didn’t stop Stacy from doing some karaoke.

Splits:

  1. 7:28
  2. 7:17
  3. 7:25
  4. 7:26
  5. 7:15
  6. 7:29
  7. 7:14
  8. 7:17
  9. 7:24
  10. 7:24
  11. 7:16
  12. 7:19
  13. 7:19
  14. 7:17
  15. 7:24
  16. 7:27
  17. 7:27
  18. 7:20
  19. 7:33
  20. 7:35
  21. 7:32
  22. 7:38
  23. 7:29
  24. 7:44
  25. 7:34
  26. 7:51 + 3:17

3:16:53

Total Miles on the Garmin: 26.44
Average overall pace: 7:27
Overall Woman: 6th
Age Group: 1st

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xo,

Ali

St. Jude’s Marathon Training – Week 11 and 12

14 Oct

Hellllooo!!!

First off – Go Royals! As I am sitting here writing this, the Royals are playing Game 3 in the ALCS. This team has our city on a high and I hope we keep it going!

Now to running…

Since I was a slacker last week with my training update, I will add two weeks to this one.

Week of September 29 – October 4

Overall this week decent. I had 2 quality runs then a couple iffy ones. But at this point of my training I expect to feel tired.

Monday: 11.68 miles at 8:04 pace. This run was not so great. In fact, it earned itself a dedicated blog post….I will spare you from having to hear about it again.

But here is the same selfie for ya.

But here is the same selfie for ya.

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: 8 miles at 7:38 pace. This had to be on the treadmill due to storms. I am a safety girl and just won’t risk running in bad weather. Workout was 5 x 1000 at 5k pace. I think I messed up my math and I am not sure of my specific splits. I know I did 3 at 6:22 pace and 2 at 6:18 pace. Legs felt much better for this workout!

TV night.

TV night.

Thursday: 7.1 miles at 8:15 pace.

Friday: 6.03 miles at 8:38 pace.

Saturday: 16.5 at 7:48 pace. 4 mile warm up, 8 miles goal pace (a little faster) 7:26,7:23, 7:25, 7:19, 7:08, 7:21, 7:06, 7:14. 4 mile cool down. This was an interesting run. It didn’t necessarily feel that great, but my watch looked great as the splits popped up. I was very happy when it was over and look forward to doing this run again and feeling great the entire time!

Post run snuggles.

Post run snuggles.

Boozy movie Saturday night. I LOVE the theater we went to!! We can get doubles of wine, and recline! And Gone Girl was a pretty awesome movie.

Boozy movie Saturday night. I LOVE the theater we went to!! We can get doubles of wine, and recline! And Gone Girl was a pretty awesome movie.

Sunday: 6 miles at 9:00 pace. WOW this run felt HORRIBLE!!! We waited to run until the afternoon and it just plain hurt.

Total Mileage: 55.33

Week of October 5 – 12

This week was a planned recovery/mini taper week. As I prep to run the KC Half Marathon this weekend, I wanted to make sure I felt semi fresh. I was also dealing with some MAJOR foot pain in my left foot that I was not loving. And to top that off, I felt like I was coming down with a cold. Because of these reasons I took the rest and recovery more serious than I had planned. I will say I am very proud of myself for listening to my body and taking a break.

Monday: Off day for running, but did some Jillian Michaels Yoga. I love her.

Tuesday: 6.64 miles at 8:12 pace. Foot hurt this entire run. It really freaked me out.

Wednesday: Unscheduled off day to let my foot rest and to shake off the sickness I felt.

It was so much better to just lay in bed with Win. Don't tell Ramsey Winnie was in our bed...

It was so much better to just lay in bed with Win. Don’t tell Ramsey Winnie was in our bed…

Thursday: 7.3 miles at 8:21 pace. Added 6 stride outs the last mile.

Friday: 6 miles at 9 min pace. Ran the first 3 with a group of running friends for Krista’s birthday!

Saturday: 11.87 miles at 8:55 pace. I met Stacy and Diana for this run and I am so glad I did! I knew I would be running easy but the run felt shockingly hard. I think the week of mini taper just made my legs feel a little dead.

Sunday: 4 miles at 8:42 pace. Ran nice and relaxed on the treadmill while watching SATC. Sometimes I love the treadmill so I can watch TV. After the run I hit the steam room. I forgot how much I LOVE the steam room!! It is my favorite place to stretch and made my head feel a little less congested.

Total Mileage: 35.82

The 2014 Boston Marathon

29 Apr

When I signed up for Boston this year, I knew it would be an amazing day. And amazing it was.

From the walk to Boston Commons, to the ride to Hopkinton, and the 26.2 mile journey back to Boston, it was amazing. And there is no better way to describe my experiences from April 21, 2014.

I thought about April 15, 2013 every day for the last year because it was terrible. Now I can’t stop thinking about April 21, 2014 because it was so much FUN.

Before the Race
When I woke up on Monday morning, I was instantly excited. The nerves were there, but not too crazy. I knew the day would be fun, and I could not wait. As I got dressed in all my gear and layered on all my throwaway clothes, I got more and more antsy to be at the start.

Love these socks!

Love these socks!

Thanks for the ugly shirt, Mom!

Thanks for the ugly shirt, Mom!

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

After saying ‘Bye’ to Ramsey, I flew out the door and started my walk to Boston Commons. Along the way, I started chatting with a few other runners that were as anxious and excited as I was. Once we got the Commons, we parted our ways. Last year when I got there, I had to wait in line FOREVER to board the bus. This year I sat outside gate and hopped right on a bus when they called my wave. It was pretty awesome not to waste an hour of energy standing in a line like we did last year.

On the bus I sat next to the awesome guy named Mark. I told him he was a good sign, as my Dad’s name is Mark. Then he informed me he had a sister named Ali! After that, we knew we were going to have a good day. The bus ride was long, made longer by the fact that we were all 100% certain that our bus driver was falling asleep on the drive. Not even kidding. It was terrifying. We had to keep whistling at him to keep him awake. That scare took some of the anxiety away from the 26 miles ahead…..

When we arrived to the start village, Mark and I parted ways. Then I immediately got in line for a potty and settled myself down on the ground. It was great that the weather wasn’t freezing so we were’t miserable before we started. I was able to see my friend Kerri in the village and sit with her for quite awhile before the race. That was nice to chat and catch up.

My friend Mark was fast...like, really really fast.

My friend Mark was fast…like, really really fast.

We were all best friends in there.

We were all best friends in there.

So many potties but still not enough.

So many potties but still not enough.

Hanging with Kerri.

Hanging with Kerri.

Start village.

Start village.

Trying to chill out.

Trying to chill out.

Then I saw Kathleen!!! Another running friend from KC.

Then I saw Kathleen!!! Another running friend from KC. Her throwaway clothes were much cuter than mine.

The process for getting to the starting line this year was much different than last, and felt very rushed. I liked that last year I could hang out at the start and watch the first wave go by. This year we were not allowed down there until they called our wave. When they finally called us down, I felt like I was in a HUGE rush to get myself in line and ready. Luckily – I made it in my spot with a minute to spare. I also got to see a couple more friends on the the way down – Jeff and Crystal!

It’s Go Time
When the gun went off, the enthusiasm of the runners and crowd was something I had not ever experienced. Everyone was celebrating, smiling and happy. We all wanted to have a great day, and the fans wanted us to as well.

Here we go!

Here we go!

I decided to run with my GoPro camera so I could capture moments and remember exactly how it was. Ramsey will be helping me make a video, but for this post I just added some of the photos.

My goal for this race was to have fun. My second goal for this race was to run under a 3:40. I had no idea what my body would be able to do, seeing that my training was a little different (ahem…slacking) than usual. I had some really good runs, but I also took two weeks off in the middle of training. I felt that 3:40 would be doable for me on that day.

Ashland - GoPro got a little sweaty.

Ashland – GoPro got a little sweaty.

I knew starting too fast was going to be an issue. I was corralled with people that ran 3:20 marathons….so I was not surprised when my first mile clocked in under 7:40. But I did say to myself, “you are running too fast….slow down”.

The first few miles blew by. I even got to run with Summer Sanders for awhile!!! That was pretty awesome and she seemed like a really nice girl. She even laughed at me when I made a joke (insert crazy happy face).

Summer is in the pink. And I am a creep for taking this photo.

Summer is in the pink. And I am a creep for taking this photo.

The towns promised that this year would be a Boston like none other, and they did not disappoint. Running by the Framingham train station was indescribable. The fans were screaming for strangers and thanking us for being there. Thinking about it now gets me all choked up, it was that incredible.

Framingham

Framingham. Can you see the “Run on Boston Strong” sign?

I continued a consistent pace of 7:50-8. I also continued to tell myself, “You are going too fast….” but I just couldn’t slow down. The crowd had me all jacked  (in the words of Greg Hall) and there was no slowing down while my legs felt good. I decided my new tactic would be to keep it going for as long as possible. Then I started thinking….”is a 3:30 in my future today?!?!!?!” (spoiler: it was not)

I was straight up giddy when we arrived in Wellesley. I heard the screaming before we saw the girls. Wellesley is the best part of this race, hands down. And this year, it went one FOREVER. I ran along the fence and high fived every girl I could. I watched the men getting kisses and some women too, and just laughed. It was insane and SO MUCH FUN!!!!

The best part!

The best part!

Please read these signs

please read these signs.

and these.

she’s a ginger.

and these

hippie girls.

Pure joy!!!

Pure joy!!!

When I hit Newton I knew the hills were coming. This would be my moment of truth and tell me just how long I could continue to run my 8 minute pace.

Newton Hills are upon us...

Newton Hills are upon us…

Then at mile 18 I made the huge mistake of stopping to walk through a water station and take my GU. I knew my legs were getting tired, but had no idea how tired they were until I started running again. Ouch ouch ouch. I remember thinking, “my legs didn’t feel like this at mile 18 in NYC….”

From that point on, I knew the rest of the race would be pure survival. My legs were burning bad, my asthma was horrible (I had to take my inhaler multiple times), and I was getting hot. We had super cold training runs all winter in KC, so running in 60 degrees and sun was not ideal.

I knew I was slowing down a lot on the hills, so I decided to stop looking at the Garmin. I didn’t want this race to go south mentally. The day was not about my time, it was about the experience. I made a rule that it didn’t matter how slow I was running, I could not walk. Walking is bad and only makes you want to walk more.

As I started heartbreak hill, I braced for what was to come. Then I saw a sign – “MEB WON!!!” As the runners went past this sign, we all cheered and celebrated. At that moment, it felt like WE WON this race. We were so proud and excited (I am crying right now writing this…that is how emotional it was). That sign was encouragement enough to get up that hill.

Heartbreak Hill!

Heartbreak Hill!

From that point on, I had my eye on the prize – finishing. I continued to soak it all in and enjoy every moment. I also continued to ignore the Garmin on my wrist because I did not want to ruin my moment.

With every hill I hit, I received cheers and encouragement. Wearing your name on your shirt is amazing in this race. A group of college guys started chanting “ALI ALI ALI ALI” around mile 23 and all I could do was laugh. That is why I was there. To have fun.

Every step was hurting. But every step was closer to the finish. In no time, I would be there.

Back in Boston

Back in Boston

I pocket face-timed Ramsey! See my yellow skirt?

I pocket face-timed Ramsey! See my yellow skirt?

Mile 25 I saw my amazing husband, as well as some of my blogger friends (Leticia and Michele!). This was one of the first times I looked down at my watch to calculate my pace. I realized if I kept going at the same pace, I would meet my goal of 3:40!!!!

This is what 25 miles of running looks like. I had to rub vaseline all over my shoulder, my inhaler is shoved in my bra and I am trying not to fall over.

This is what 25 miles of running looks like. I had to rub vaseline all over my shoulder because it was chafing, my inhaler is shoved in my bra and I am trying not to fall over. At this point of the GoPro video I am saying “This is the ugly”

GET ME TO 26!!!

GET ME TO 26!!!

See the Citgo sign???

See the Citgo sign???

As I turned right onto Hereford, I grabbed the GoPro to capture the moment. It was nothing I have ever experienced and something I never want to forget. So many people, all cheering for ME. And even better – yelling my name. I had nothing left in the tank, but this crowd got me through. (crying again right now!!).

So glad I got this photo. Ahhhhmazing.

So glad I got this photo. Ahhhhmazing.

Almost to the finish.

Almost to the finish.

And then I was on Boylston running to the finish.

Wow.

So much enthusiasm and encouragement there to support the runners, the victims, and the city of Boston.

26

26

As I ran by each bomb site, I blew a kiss to the victims and their families. Those victims were there on April 15, 2013 to cheer for the runners. And I could not pass by those sites without acknowledging them with some love.

When I crossed the finish I was flooded with so many feelings. The main one being happiness. I was sore, I was tired, I was struggling to breath, but it was still one of the happiest moments of my life.

Finishing the race. And healing at the same time.

Finishing the race. And healing at the same time.

Nothing like this finish.

Nothing like this finish.

And I crossed just fast enough to reach my goal – 3:39:14

Even in those painful miles at the end, the race went by so fast. I wanted the pain to end, but I never wanted the experience to end. I wish I could re-live that joy every single day.

Post Race
After crossing the finish line, I hobbled along for what felt like an eternity. I got to see Natalie Morales being interviewed by Extra and I thought, “damn that would suck to have to do an interview like that right after crossing the finish”. I also talked to a few other runners and we celebrated our races together.

Smiling right after I crossed the finish.

Smiling right after I crossed the finish.

When I saw Ramsey at the family meeting area, I couldn’t help but start to cry. So many emotions from the day all flooding out of me. I was so happy, and so thankful it had gone so perfectly. Even through the pain, the day could not have been any better.

We took photos and began the walk back to the hotel. I told him all about the race and how happy I was. I think he was expecting me to be disappointed, since he could see my splits significantly slowed down the last 8 miles, but I told him I had no feelings but joy. How could I complain or be unhappy about anything? I just completed my 6th marathon, which happened to be the best marathon in the world. And it was also my birthday – you can’t be mad on your birthday!

So happy!!!!

So happy!!!!

And so lucky!

And so lucky!

I still can’t stop thinking about this race and how awesome it was. I love the marathon, and I LOVE Boston. And I promise to be at that race as long as my legs will carry me there.

Thank you for the all the love, well wishes and support. I felt every last bit of them on this journey.

Wearing my Boston medal and jacket proud.

Wearing my Boston medal and jacket proud.

Splits:

  1. 7:37
  2. 7:50
  3. 7:59
  4. 7:39
  5. 8:08
  6. 7:41
  7. 7:52
  8. 8:01
  9. 7:55
  10. 7:47
  11. 8:04
  12. 7:45
  13. 8:04
  14. 7:54
  15. 8:02
  16. 7:44
  17. 8:26
  18. 8:33
  19. 8:39
  20. 8:40
  21. 9:31
  22. 8:47
  23. 8:51
  24. 9:04
  25. 9:19
  26. 9:30 + .45 @ 3:40

3:39:14

Xo,
Ali

Boston 2014: How I got in the race

3 Apr

After Boston last year, I wasn’t sure if I would want to run it again. I was scared, sad and anxiety ridden. And for awhile, I lost the desire to race.

When it was time to train for NYC, I didn’t want to start. I actually decided that I wasn’t going to do it at all. Then I realized what I was about to give up, and give in to, and I got over it. And I am SO glad I did, seeing that it was one of the best races of my life!

After NYC, I was beyond motivated for racing and knew I had to get myself back to Boston. NYC had qualified for me for the 2014 and 2015 race, however the 2014 race was no longer an option, as it was full. I was sad I didn’t get myself a new BQ before the 2014 race cut off, but I accepted that I would just have to wait for 2015.

Then this happened….

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.42.30 PM

I saw it around noon, and by 12:30pm, my essay was written and submitted. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest things I have ever written. The words just flowed. It was like I didn’t even think about what I was writing. All of my thoughts and feelings poured out on the keyboard, and in the end, I had my 250 word essay ready to submit.

A couple weeks after submitting my essay, I received my good news. I was ACCEPTED into the race.

After I read my email, I was in shock. I immediately called my Mom and told her. Naturally she tried to talk me out of it with everything that was going on in my life. New job, getting married, honeymoon, etc was a lot to handle during marathon training. But I never thought twice. I knew I had to run this race. And I wanted to run this race.

On April 21, I get my Boston Marathon experience. I get to remember the day for what it is supposed to be – a huge celebration. Not for what I have stuck in my mind – a terrible tragedy. It won’t be my fastest marathon, but I have a feeling it will be my best marathon EVER.

And in case you’re up for some light reading, here is my essay:

On April 15, 2013, my life was forever changed. My Boston Marathon celebration was cut short when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the race. While I did not see the terror of the bombs exploding, I heard it and felt it. So many emotions came rushing at once, most of which were fear and sadness. Boston changed me in many ways. Many months following the marathon, I lived with fear in my heart and mind. Fear that my fellow runners and I would go through this situation again. And mostly fear that our Nation would have to experience this horror again. While I have been able to overcome much of the anxiety, fear and panic the Boston Marathon bombings had on my life, some of it still remains. I think about Boston every single day. To this day when I hear a loud noise, my heart skips a beat and I have to fight off an anxiety attack. My Boston Marathon experience was stolen from me, just as it was for many other runners. And I want my chance at redemption on April 21, 2014! The possibility to have another shot at Boston would be amazing. I want my chance at happy memories from the race and the opportunity to conquer a fear that was not there when I crossed the starting line in 2013. I also want to celebrate my finish by drinking a Sam Adams with friends that were accepted into the 2014 race. And lastly, April 21 is my Birthday, and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than by crossing the most prestigious finish line in the world and finally having my closure!

Ready for redemption.

Ready for redemption.

 

Xoxo,

Ali

NYC Marathon Race Recap

5 Nov

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York

And that is how the 2013 NYC Marathon started – Frank Sinatra belting it out as thousands of runners stood on the Verrazano Bridge waiting to cross the start.

Freezing at the start.

Freezing at the start.

At 9:45am, I crossed the starting line and began my journey from Staten Island to Central Park. I knew the start would be an emotional experience, and let me tell you – it was. I fought back the tears then switched my focus to the 26.2 miles ahead.

The first couple miles were so cool (and quite windy too!). We were on the Verrazano bridge with one of the most incredible views of the city. Hovering next to the bridge were NYPD helicopters keeping us safe and waving to us as we ran by. We could feel the love of the city, and we felt safe.

Everyone told me that this race would be crazy crowded at the start and to expect a very slow first mile. While it was crowded, I don’t think it slowed me down too much. I think the main thing to slow me down was the incline. I ended up running an 8:07 first mile, which made me pretty happy.

Around mile 3, we hit Brooklyn. I could hear the music and the fans as soon as we got off the bridge. They were ready to welcome us to their borough!

My tactic for this race was to run a consistent pace for as long as I could. I didn’t really know what that pace would be, but I hoped it would be something under 8 minutes a mile (I really wanted to break 3:30). I knew that pace so well from all my training runs, and was hoping I could get into the under 8min groove and hang onto it the whole race.

The first half was all in Brooklyn. We saw a number of different neighborhoods and many different people and cultures. I tried to soak it all in and enjoy every minute. I wore my Garmin that doesn’t show overall pace, but just my overall time and mileage (to avoid over thinking and obsessing on pace). When I knew I was reaching a mile marker I would try to check and see what pace I was hitting. Pretty much everything I saw the first half was around 7:35-7:45.

Half of the race DONE!

Half of the race DONE!

I will say I did have a few moments of worry the first half of the race. From the minute I crossed the starting line, I had this annoying pain in my butt. I had been experiencing this nagging pain for quite awhile during training, and hoped my taper would force it to go away. Well, it didn’t. I kept hoping it would either go numb or go away (umm yeah it never did).

Another issue the first half of my race was my asthma. This was another thing that had been bothering me over the past few weeks and I was pretty worried it would affect my race. At mile 9, I had to take my inhaler. I NEVER have to take my inhaler that early in a race, so this was a reason to be worried. I told myself over and over again not to panic. I also told my asthma that I wouldn’t let it ruin my race. I would conquer the marathon even though my breathing wasn’t the best. Letting the asthma win was not an option.

Hitting 13.1 miles in this race was huge for me. The first half was over, and I could evaluate my pace and body.

I crossed the half point in 1:41:52, which was right on target for a big PR. And most importantly, I felt positive and knew my body could make it another 13.1 at a good pace.

The race tactic for the second half was to ‘keep on keepin’ on’ and continue exactly what I was doing.

When we hit the Queensboro Bridge around mile 14 I was a little intimidated. I had read a lot about this race and knew this was a hard part. You are all alone on that bridge and you face an uphill. This was one of the first miles when I felt like I had already run an insane amount of miles. I got myself up the hill and then made my way down. I knew that my family was waiting at the end of the bridge, and I wanted to keep going hard for them!

Exiting the bridge was very exciting, but I will say not as exciting as I had expected. While there were a TON of people down there, for some reason they weren’t screaming as loud as I had expected. It even took a couple runners pumping their arms to really get them going. After that, they got loud for us and welcomed us into Manhattan (anyone else that ran notice this?).

Turning onto 1st Avenue was awesome. The crowds were loud and you could see a sea of runners in front of you. This was also the first time I got to see my family – Ramsey and my soon to be sister Sarah! I LOVED seeing them and gave them a huge smile and huge thumbs up so they would know I was having a good day and felt great.

IMG_2234------

Yay!

Feeling good!

Feeling good!

Right after seeing my family, I had to do few more hits of my inhaler. Again, this did not make me happy but I refused to let it screw up my day. Thank God for my Lululemon Stuff your Bra tank. Because of that tank I could keep my inhaler right on my chest and not have to fish it out of my belt. While it certainly looked a little odd bulging out of my bra, it probably saved me a few seconds on the day.

My mile splits continued to be consistent and on track for my PR.

Mile 18.5ish was crazy exciting because I got to see some of my NYC blog friends!! They screamed so loud for me and it was awesome. It was so fun to be in a city away from home and have people supporting you. Seeing them gave me an extra boost and another reminder that I could do it – and I was going to do it!

Thank you Michele for the photo!!

Thank you Michele for the photo!!

Aside from the 13.1 mark of the race, mile 20 was another BIG milestone. I was actually excited for mile 20 of this race. I knew once 20 hit, I could start picking up my pace and hit it hard to the finish. And when I still felt good at 20, I knew I was going to have a great day. I actually said to myself multiple times – “F the wall!!”

The support in the Bronx was pretty great. Everyone was cheering and yelling and was there to get the runners to the finish line. There were also some pretty great spectator signs.

When we left the Bronx and hit 5th Avenue, I knew it was time to get serious and focus on the finish. Only 5 more miles and I was done.

Mile 23 is when shit got real. I was starting to really hurt. My ass was ON FIRE (remember the pain in my butt, yeah still there), I had to take my inhaler AGAIN and I just wanted to be done. This is when having my name on my tank was the best decision ever. Everyone in the crowds was yelling “Go Ali!” and supporting me.

When I turned into Central Park at mile 24, I knew the race was coming to an end. At this point I was thinking, “one foot in front of the other. keep on moving. you can do it”.

At mile 25, I saw Ramsey and Sarah again. I struggled to wave to them and couldn’t really say anything back. I was hurting so bad. But I knew I was still keeping a strong pace and on track for a huge PR.

“Keep on going, you are almost done”

ouch ouch ouch ouch

ouch ouch ouch ouch

I wore my 2012 bib on my back.

I wore my 2012 bib on my back.

GET ME TO THE FINISH.

GET ME TO THE FINISH.

Turning onto Central Park South was another huge moment. I knew I had one more turn and then the finish would be there. I saw my watch beep Mile 26 (my Garmin was off about .4 from the real mile markers due to all the weaving I had done) and couldn’t believe my split – 7:16. I was booking it, and even though I hurt I was still staying focused and very strong. It was great to see that I was going faster than I had thought.

Right after mile 26.

Right after mile 26, with my Boston Strong temp tattoo on my arm.

As we turned back into the park, I started giving it everything I had. I pumped my arms like I never have before and had quite the mean face determined face going on.

Get it!

Get it!

I saw that finish and had my eye on the prize. I ran harder than I could have imagined possible to get my body across the finish.

I think this was right before the finish line.

I think this was right before the finish line.

And then I was done, and promptly hit my watch.

Holy crap. 3:21.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I DID IT!!!!!!!

As soon as I could think straight, I got out my phone and texted Ramsey. This conversation makes giggle and also makes me emotional. I was so tired I couldn’t even text a sentence. But I wanted him to know I was happy, and I was alive. I think he figured it out. (and yes, he is the most supportive soon-to-be-husband ever).

This makes me smile and I realize it is so sappy.

This makes me smile and I realize it is so sappy.

Then I called my parents. As soon as my Mom picked up the phone, I started crying. I told her I did it and she said, “I know you did! We are so proud right now!!!” Then she told me that my Dad and her were shocked at how perfect and smart I ran the race. My Dad got on the phone and swooned over my negative splits. Negative splits are ALWAYS a reason to celebrate!
IMG_3755
As I hobbled through the park to the family meet up (longest walk EVER!!!) I called Stacy and Nicole to tell them I was ok and that I was so happy.

Seeing Ramsey and Sarah at the family meet up was amazing. They hugged me and helped me put on my warm clothes. Then we posed for a few pics before limping hopping onto the Subway.

As I reflect on this race I am still in total awe that it worked out so perfectly. I did not let my booty pain slow me down, and I didn’t let my asthma mess me up either. I knew I had a good training and was capable of running great on Sunday, but an 11 minute PR and a 3:21 were not expected. I really couldn’t be happier or more excited. This also means that I get to go back to Boston in 2015!!

The NYC marathon should be on everyone’s “bucket list” and I hope to go back and experience this race again. A huge thank you to all the supporters (near and far) for all the love. I felt it the whole time!

Official time: 3:21:19
Overall Pace: 7:40

Splits:

  1. 8:07
  2. 7:30
  3. 7:36
  4. 7:35
  5. 7:51
  6. 7:42
  7. 7:44
  8. 7:40
  9. 7:45
  10. 7:29
  11. 7:47
  12. 7:40
  13. 7:42
  14. 7:35
  15. 7:30
  16. 8:03
  17. 7:18
  18. 7:25
  19. 7:38
  20. 7:33
  21. 7:16
  22. 7:22
  23. 7:21
  24. 7:45
  25. 7:20
  26. 7:16
Damn I am proud of these splits!

Damn I am proud of these splits! (click on this to make it bigger)

A New York State of Mind

30 Oct

I am currently sitting on my couch all cozy listening to the rain with the song “New York State of Mind” on repeat. I might be getting a little teary too.

I am so excited for the NYCM to be here, and I am so excited to be in New York on Friday. The trip could not come soon enough.

Today, my blog friend Doug sent me a list of questions and asked me to answer them for a blog project he is working on. The questions were about NYCM and my thoughts, feelings and goals towards the race.

As I sat there reading those questions and thinking about my answers, I reflected on how thankful I am to be running this race. This race has been nearly 2 years in the making, since I first received my acceptance January 2012. I have dreamt about this race, visualized this race, and planned this race. And on Sunday, the race will finally be here.

New York is not the only thing I have been thinking about though. I have been thinking about Boston too. A lot.

Boston will forever be a part of me. The experiences in Boston will always stay with me, and the memories of what happened will always live in the back (and sometimes front) of my mind. Boston changed me, but it changed me for the better.

The experiences there showed me what is important in life. And it showed me how precious life is.

I am not just lucky that I got into the New York City Marathon, I am lucky because I am able to run the New York City Marathon. I have my health. I have my strength. And I have my support system.

To me, this race on Sunday will be a celebration of what our communities (running, cities, nation, etc) have overcome this last year. We have stood strong together through hurricanes. We have been brave for each other through horrible attacks on our nation. We have stuck together through it all, and we will continue to do so.

I am not scared anymore to run on Sunday. I am excited. And I am ready.

On Sunday, I will run for the victims of Sandy that are still recovering from the aftermath of the storm.

On Sunday, I will run for those in Boston that continue to be affected – mentally and physically. Especially those that cannot run anymore.

And on Sunday, I will run for me. I will run to prove to myself what my body is capable of. I will run to see the pay out of the hard training. And hopefully, I will run to a big fat PR on the clock.

xo,

Ali

At the 2012 NYCM finish line.

At the 2012 NYCM finish line.

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