My name is Alison, my friends call me Al or A , never Ali (please don’t call me Ali). I’m Baltimore born and raised. I’m a Physical Therapist Assistant. I’m a Runner. I’m Black. And I’m sensitive about all my shit.
I started running 7 years ago, at the age of 28. Funny, now that I’m 35, it doesn’t seem that long ago. Pre- 30s I was strictly an elliptical user. I had a coworker, turned sister friend that looooved running, and cycling, and swimming, and all the things I thought only white people did. I never saw black people, specifically black women, in endurance events. The only time I saw black people running were during sprint distances at the Olympics. When my job put together a charity team for the Baltimore Running Festival, my sister friend (we’ll call her the manipulator) encouraged me or I should say bullied me into signing up for the half marathon.
I did a few “training” runs. Brought a new pair of AirMax the day before the race, because “Air” “Max” = Maximum Air = Fast. Right? LOL. Needless to say it was a very painful race, finishing in an impressive time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. Earning that crab medal changed my life. Not because I was officially a half marathoner(whoop whoop), but because I proved to myself that I could do a hard thing, AND that there’s a space for everyone on the road and in this world, no matter gender, size, race, or physical capability.
I’m now a RRCA Run Coach, Charm City Run Coach, Run 4 All Women Ambassador, and co-leader of Riot Squad Running. I LOVE connecting dots, empowering people, building community and changing narratives. Most of my days are spent teaching runners about the importance of cross training, helping a patient navigate curbs in their wheelchair or working with other badass women runners on ways to support and uplift one another. Every day, I make people do hard things, and cheer them on while they do them. But as it turns out, the things hardest to change, are the things closest to your heart.
Recently, Runner’s World Magazine published an article entitled “Baltimore’s so Segregated Even Strava Shows It. These Runners Want to Change It.“ Reading it will make anyone cringe. The author, also a local runner, did an amazing job of diving into Baltimore’s deep rooted history in redlining and segregation. With the majority of references to Baltimore centering around The Wire, or the death of Freddie Gray, it’s no secret that there is work to do in our city. Every Sunday at 8am, and Wednesday at 6:30pm, my crew, Riot Squad, meets at Rusty Scupper and Penn Station respectively for 3-4 miles and camaraderie, but most importantly to change the narrative of what running in this City looks like. Running isn’t exclusive to a color, an income level, or a zip code. You can be any pace, wear any shoe, be anybody. You just have to be committed to becoming the best version of yourself.