A Little Bit of Wisdom on This Wednesday

What is up followers!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families and friends, and I hope that everyone is enjoying the fun that is the month of December and the holiday season. I feel like during these months, you get to see almost everybody you love most in life, which is why it’s always the most dope.

It’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” and it actually is (ok, so there’s a few other most wonderful times of the year for me, but it’s definitely one of them right now)! Don’t get too caught up in the craziness if you can help it, and make an effort to really live in the moment and enjoy every waking second of the season. I’m trying that method out, and, let me tell you, it’s quite refreshing and makes everything matter so much more. Doesn’t it also seem like the end of 2017 is whizzing by? Holy smokes, as a friend of mine on the Manitowoc Minute would say!

Anyways, I’m posting tonight because I have plenty of exciting life updates for you! First and foremost, after a few months interning in corporate communications at Rodale, I’m excited to announce that the company kept me on and I now officially have a position at Runner’s World magazine!!! You’re reading a post right now from the new Digital Editorial Assistant at Runner’s World, and it’s a perfect position for me to start in. 🙂 You guys know that it’s always been my dream to work here, and it’s so amazing to actually be living out what I’ve always wanted to do.

Most people say to me, “I can’t believe you’re actually living your dream!” You know what, though? As always, I’m going to be honest with you guys. I can believe it. It took me years and YEARS of hard work to get where I am today. It took lots of trial and error, rejection after rejection, and getting shot down and growing thicker skin. It took years of undergrad and grad school, hours spent in solidarity writing my thesis, internships on internships, and countless odd jobs to make it here.

I didn’t have connections in New York City. I MADE connections. I spent my entire summer living at my parents’ house making phone calls and emailing from my dining room table until all hours of the night. It took people doubting me to make me even stronger, people that didn’t think I’d even make it to NYC, let alone Runner’s World someday. I had a goal in mind, and I simply executed the path I needed to take to get there. I’ve always believed in living my life that way–– in my career, in running, and in anything else I want to accomplish. It has yet to fail me, and I’m almost positive that it never will.

Not going to lie, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of hard work paying off. I’m here to tell you that whatever you want in life, the hard work you put in is totally worth it. Go after your wildest dreams, do what you want in life, and, ultimately, don’t listen to anyone but yourself. The mind is such a powerful tool, and you can actually train yourself to do whatever you set your mind to, as long as you REALLY set your mind to it and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.

I’m by no means an expert, I just felt like sharing a little piece of wisdom I have obtained on my life journey so far, in case I could inspire someone, anyone at all out there reading this post who just needs a little extra push. Besides, once you accomplish your goal, a new journey has really just begun. Now that I’m at Runner’s World, I’m going to prove that I deserve to be here and do the best work they’ve ever seen on each and every assignment I’m given. Of course, I want to work my way up the journalistic ladder, and, of course, I have to start at the bottom. I just have to make the bottom look like the best damn bottom that they’ve ever seen. 🙂

I’m in my second week at the new position, and everyone has been incredibly amazing and welcoming! I love that no one on the staff, no matter how important of a position they hold and how cool they really are, is too busy to teach me the ins and outs of how the tight digital operation they run functions. I love that everyone genuinely cares about each other and that we work hard but also play hard. I also especially love that everyone equally nerds out about all things running as I do (some people even MORE than I do, if it’s possible!). I’m enjoying learning a whole new world every day from the best of the best, getting my feet wet at my first real journalism job, and seizing the opportunity to grow as a writer and an editor every day.

Speaking of which, I have a few articles published out there on the Runner’s World site already that I want to share with you guys! With the first piece I did, I got to continue to follow my love for badass old folks (did you guys forget about my Wise Old Women thesis already? HAHA!) and write about an amazing runner who just turned 100 years old. Oh, did I mention he owns almost all of the world records at all distances on the track for his age group? Dude is a fast 100-year-old.

The second article is about runs held around the world on the winter solstice, which is actually one of my favorite days of the year, despite it being the darkest. Did I happen to mention the solstice is on the 21st? Well it is, and the 21st is my lucky number. Naturally, it’s the luckiest day of the month. Plus, my Alaskan friends have dubbed the 21st of each month Alaska Day, so it’s also Alaska Day on that day. BAM.

There you have my career updates, so let’s move on to a subject I’m finally ready to talk about: the New York City Marathon. Remember how I was training for that lil race guys? Yeah, so…

There are a few major takeaways I got from the TCS New York City Marathon 2017:

  1. I can accomplish big things in the marathon, bigger than I ever quite thought before. I understand what it takes to be the best at the marathon, and everything I’m doing with training right now is working. Hard work is paying off, and I’m on the right track. I just need to stay there.

2. Before I execute takeaway #1, I have a lot to learn about the beast of a race that is the marathon. Just because I was a Division I collegiate runner and have been racing for quite a few years now doesn’t mean I’m instantly a marathon expert. I had a great marathon debut last year, which was wonderful, but I got lucky that I didn’t make the errors I made in NYC. I could’ve easily made them in my debut at Chicago. The marathon is a whole new game, and, in the world of marathons, I’m a n00b. You’ve got to make mistakes and learn from them.

What exactly happened to me? Everyone who was tracking me was like, “Wait, why did the tracker stop working? Where in the world did Ally Spiroff go after mile 22?”

Well, I’ll tell you. I’m not proud of it. I dealt with three letters I’ve never had to deal with before: D,N,F. (“did not finish” for all you running n00bs out there). It absolutely crushed every particle in my heart and soul to drop out at mile 22. I’ve never, EVER, dropped out of a race before in my ENTIRE running career. Even when I got the wind knocked out of me by a competitor in a college steeplechase race out in Los Angeles, I finished the race. I take great pride in finishing a race, and, on NYC Marathon Sunday 2017, I definitely lost my pride.

You might be wondering, then, “Why the hell did you drop out, Ally Spiroff?”

It can be summed up in two little words that one of my best friends said to me after the race: SHIT. HAPPENS.

Quite literally, in my case, shit did happen. I can laugh about it now, at least sort of. It still stings worse than ever that I had to drop out, but, wow, did I leave all I had that day out on the course, once again, literally. Do you get my drift? If not, let me break it down for you. 🙂

In the first half of the marathon, I’d never felt so comfortable in a race in my life. I was clipping away at a fast pace, yet I’ve never felt more in control of my body. I went through the half just under three hour pace, and I felt like it was really chill. In a marathon, I know from my experience so far that at the half you can kind of gauge how you’ll finish based on how you are feeling. There’s no telling what could happen if you hit a wall, but, if you feel really relaxed and you keep playing your cards right, you know you can turn it on in the second half. I felt exactly that way. I knew I was running well and on pace to go decently under three hours, which was my goal in marathon #2.

Around mile 15, I started having extreme stomach issues. I tried to block it out, telling myself that it was all in my head and the stomach cramps would go away. At mile 16, just as I reached the midway point on the Queensboro Bridge, I had to relieve myself. Once again, quite literally, I had to shit on the bridge immediately. TWICE. TWICE.

Embarrassed as I was, I knew that I could surge for a few miles and still be well on my sub-three pace, so I did. Coming down into Manhattan into mile 17, the crowd powered me through and I threw in two miles faster than the pace I was running before (like 6:40’s). The stomach cramps were back, though, and stronger than ever.

I continued to dart off the course to use whatever port-a-potty or empty plot of land I could find, pushing barricades and NYPD out of the way to do so (sorry NYC, I love you baby), from miles 17 to 22. At mile 22, I knew I’d be approaching Central Park soon. I knew my team, Central Park Track Club New Balance, would be waiting for me at mile 23 to cheer me on. I knew I’d have to push thousands of fans out of the way to dart off the course to continue to shit. AGAIN. FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME. I would’ve completely embarrassed myself all the way to the finish. I was also now darting off so much that, even with surges faster than race pace, I was going to be off my goal after using so much energy to enter and exit the course. I made a call I didn’t want to ever have to make.

A nice couple on the sidelines in Harlem who were both runners understood my situation, and they were nice enough to give me cab money to get back to my family and friends. One nice runner spectating that day even offered to drive me (aren’t runners the best, though?). I didn’t really want company, although I was very grateful to this woman. I hopped in the cab and cried my way back to Midtown, heartbroken that I watched everything I had trained so hard for months for all slip away. I’ve never had my body work against me in that way ever before.

What was especially crushing about the race was that I needed to break three hours to qualify for the Berlin Marathon in the fall of 2018. The cutoff to apply for Berlin 2018 was just a few days after the NYC Marathon. Knowing that if I hadn’t had major GI issues and had been able to finish out the race I would’ve accomplished that goal and been able to race at Berlin made it sting even more.

It also sucks because immediately after I dropped out, I knew exactly what my mistakes were. I continuously counted out how important proper fueling was for the marathon, and it bit this marathon n00b right in the butt this time around. Here is a recap of all the fueling mistakes I made during and prior to the gun going off:

  1. Mid-race hydration: I started drinking water much earlier than I did during my first marathon. People around me kept saying to drink water because it was muggy and humid that day, and I knew that I hadn’t drank water that early at Chicago but let the other runners get in my head anyway. I should’ve trusted my gut.

2. Mid-race fuel: I decided to change up Gu’s for the marathon, going with a different brand and flavor than I normally do.

3. Pre-race meal: I’d been eating a hefty protein bar and maybe a scoop of nut butter before all of my long training runs on Sundays. On marathon morning, however, I decided that for some reason today would be a great day to switch up what I normally eat before a long run. I made overnight oats, a breakfast I usually only make after a morning run or if I’m running much later in the day, with lots of yogurt, cinnamon, almond milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, and bananas. Not to mention, I ate this breakfast on the ground in the starting villages, after the oats had been sitting out for three hours on the Staten Island Ferry. Wait: it gets even smarter (lol jk)! I decided that it’d also be ok to eat said oats LESS THAN AN HOUR BEFORE THE GUN WENT OFF. WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING?! HAVE I EVEER LEARNING ANYTHING FROM RUNNING RACES EVER?!

4. The nights before: I ate lots of garlic bread, a food I never eat. I had warm milk before I went to bed, something I don’t typically do. I think I was actually over-hydrated. My family and friends were here to watch me race (and some TO race, shoutout to ANDREW FENSKE FOR A BOMB MARATHON DEBUT and to HANNAH MAGNUSON FOR TOUGHING IT OUT WHEN THE RACE LOOKED BLEEK – WE’LL BE BACK SISTER), so we’d been eating out in the nights leading up to the marathon. It was mostly strange food that I typically don’t have all at once on a regular basis, like, normally, I don’t ever have over five different kinds of seafood in my paella.

I guess you’ve really got to stay true to yourself and stick to your usual routines in the days leading up to the marathon. Boy, though, did I learn my lesson the hard way. After a week off of running and a week of serious moping, I started to get some clarity out of the race and not just see everything that went wrong. In that race, I saw my fitness tested, and I saw my body respond. I know that I’m in solid shape and that if I keep doing what I’m doing that the results will come. I love my new training group, and I think it’s really helped me take marathoning to the next level. I cannot wait to continue and see where it takes me!

It seems strange, but coming off a DNF in my second marathon ever, I’ve actually never felt more confident (when you take away the embarrassing part of my situation that occurred). I know that I’m capable of going well under three hours now if I put my mind to it, especially because I know NYC Marathon is one of if not the toughest World Major Marathon course. My coach was impressed with my race, even though I didn’t finish. He thinks that I can go for the Olympic Trials in 2020, and, more importantly, so do I. I cannot wait to implement my same work method that never fails me in all aspects of life: have a goal, work hard and do whatever it takes to reach the goal, and be humble on the way up. I cannot wait to keeping gunning for it, day in and day out. I love running. I love the running grind.

I’ve also learned that DNFs are more common in marathons than any other race distance. Even the pros drop out due to stomach issues from time-to-time. I don’t feel alone on this one anymore.

My coach also offered me a guaranteed entry into Berlin 2018, but, you know what? I didn’t take it. I’m a person who has never gotten anything the easy way, and I don’t ever want to be. I want to work for what I have. I want to qualify for Berlin before I run it. I know I can, now, it’s just a matter of working hard and execution.

Here’s my upcoming race plan:

  1. Boston 2018 (April) –– break three, baby, and qualify for Berlin 2019

2. Chicago 2018 (October) –– pack it up with fellow former Loyola University Chicago Rambler Cross Country & Track teammates and dip even farther under that three hour barrier

3. Berlin 2019 (September) –– gun for that Olympic Trials B standard, that 2:45, do or die. Let the vibes of the course Shalane Flanagan ran her fastest marathon on be with me!

Now that I’ve mourned my first DNF and refocused my energy, I’ve been slowly and steadily getting back at training. I’m taking my time before I really ramp it up again and get into serious workouts and mileage, thanking God for my health and that I’m able to get out there for a run every day. I don’t take it for granted. I’m also getting my ego back, in the best way. 😉

Are you guys still there? Sick of me yet? To be honest, I’m sick of me, so I’m going to peace out of this #WisdomWednesday blog post. It’s hopefully given you a little bit of wisdom, and it’s definitely given you a lot of Ally Spiroff updates, probably more than you care to handle. While I won’t be posting each and every time I write an article, because now I’ll be writing articles in much higher volume, I’ll try to archive them all in my blog posts, whenever I post on this site.

Of course, you can follow me on Twitter @allyspiroff, because I’ll always tweet out the links whenever a new story of mine is published. You can usually get pretty real live updates on whatever blasphemous stunts I’m up to at that very moment on Twitter too, if this blog post didn’t scare you away from me by now. 🙂

Lots of peace, lots of love, &, as always, lots of running fast, this holiday season, to you & yours,

Ally Spiroff


Published by Ally Spiroff

I am Ally Spiroff, and what seems like seven short years ago I created a Twitter account, @runningforlife2. I tweeted how I felt and what I was doing. I tweeted about my greatest passion in life, running. I also tweeted about my other passions, food, music, movies, books, pop culture, writing, traveling, and life. Before I knew it, people (mostly those people in the running community but others too) began to latch onto my life. Then, I realized, “hey, this Twitter thing is pretty cool.” I get to write about what I love. I get to tell my story. The world around me, all of my people, get to ride along with me as I take on the world, one day at a time. People can watch me grow. I can watch other people grow. The Twitter handle has evolved into @allyspiroff over time. With it, the content has also evolved, but the same crazy woman is behind the content. :) So what exactly is my story? Who exactly is Ally Spiroff? I graduated with a Master's in Communication from Loyola University Chicago in May 2017. I was a Division I collegiate athlete there for five years, all four of my undergraduate and one of my graduate years. I graduated with honors in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s in English. In the winter/spring 2015-2016 due to a redshirt season of indoor and outdoor track, I returned to run a fifth year. Since I have always thought that it is more fun to jump over water and other obstacles than just run normal laps around the track and I like a good challenge, I am a steeplechaser by nature. I got to chase fast steeple times for one more season at Loyola, as well as run the 3k, 5k, and even the mile/1500 with my teammates that double as my best friends, sisters, inspirations, and the greatest people you will ever meet. Now, you might ask, how did I still run at Loyola if I graduated in the spring of 2015? I started the cutting-edge graduate program Digital Media & Storytelling in the fall of 2016 at Loyola. It was a two-year program, so I was blessed with another year at the wonderful Jesuit institution to finish up my Master's degree. After obtaining both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I have become an experienced writer and researcher. Through graduate work, I have become well versed in Adobe Creative Commons software programs, specifically Photoshop and shooting and editing video in Premiere Pro, and in Google Analytics, along with other search engine optimization tools. Through an abundance of internship experience, I became extremely proficient in news editing software programs. I have lots of experience in the newsroom and writing for news producers as well as out in the field on assignment and in working with a variety of people. My experience as an undergraduate and a graduate student while simultaneously being a Division I collegiate athlete on Loyola’s cross country and track teams as well as in a variety of jobs/internships and volunteer work has helped develop my confidence, drive, responsibility, time management, sense of teamwork, people skills, communication, troubleshooting skills, attention to detail, critical thinking skills, leadership, planning skills, and even a sense of humor. I also have extensive experience with all outlets of social media. As I mentioned before, I am an avid tweeter and Instagram user, with 1,450+ followers on Twitter. I have lots of experience with creating and building content for websites. I also run the website I created for my graduate school capstone project, titled "Wise Old Women." I am on Pinterest, Foursquare/Swarm, and Facebook as well. I wrote in the arts and entertainment section of my university’s award-winning newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. You can find my running profile on the Loyola Ramblers website. You can find all about my collegiate running career on TFRRS. Of course, you can also catch me on LinkedIn. I am lucky because I get to tell people’s stories for a living online, through digital media and other means. Currently, I live in New York City and I'm the Digital Editorial Assistant at Runner's World magazine, and I'm a freelance writer for VICE's health vertical, Tonic. I really love life. I have big dreams. I do not know where my dreams will take me, but I am confident that they will take me far. I am an open book. I like sharing myself with anybody who wants to listen. I am enjoying the opportunity to further my education every day and perfect my craft. I love learning something new every single day about myself, others, and the world around me. Besides being a multimedia journalist and a city dweller, I am a literature (Hemingway and Plath are my favorites) and grammar nerd, a hippie, a music fanatic, a foodie, a concert-goer, a traveler, a huge sports fan, a fashionista, an art lover, and an urban explorer who likes natural adventures (like hiking up mountains in Alaska) as well. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I conquer it. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, though, and no matter where I go, I never forget my roots. Milwaukee will always be my city and where my heart truly lies. I have quite the eye for unique knick-knacks. My spirit animals are the grasshopper and the gazelle. When I take the Essential Enneagram Test, I am #3. I am a hard worker with relentless energy. I am everyone’s sister. I am nutty but in a way that I like it. I think that God is so good and we are blessed to get to walk this earth every day. I believe that every person has the right to be exactly who they are. I am dreaming big, with my head in the clouds, but there is still some common sense in there somewhere. ;) Turning over a new leaf in my life, at the start of grad school, I wanted to create a comprehensive website where I could connect you to all of my social media outlets. I will continue to share my running experiences and life journey through this awesome outlet we now have called the World Wide Web, and I hope that everyone continues to enjoy all things Ally Spiroff. Peace, love, and running (fast), Ally Spiroff

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