Ready or Not

I can’t wait to get back to blogging regularly. I have had SO many adventures these past few weeks, some I can share and some I cannot, but all really great stories that I can’t wait to write about.

In the mean time, I’m trying to rest for the big race tomorrow. Apparently, my body is ok with that since I fell asleep everywhere I sat down yesterday.

Airplane ride...zzzzzzzzzzz.

Airplane ride…zzzzzzzzzzz.

But this weekend is all about something you guys have been reading about forever. Tomorrow is my first half marathon with Team Challenge. This race isn’t about me.

This race is about everyone who has been touched by Crohn’s or Colitis.

Taking Steps with friends for all of you!

Taking Steps with friends for all of you!

This race is about all of you who reached out and shared your stories with me about you or your family member or a friend with IBD.

So many cupcakes, so little time. And all for a great cause!

So many cupcakes, so little time. And all for a great cause!

This is about my friends who can’t participate in their lives because they’re too sick.

This is about the runners who trained for this race but who are sidelined because one of the major side effects of IBD drugs is that it makes you susceptible to every other virus in the world and OF COURSE you came down with pneumonia this week while on Remicade.

Wish you were here in Chicago with me!

Wish you were here in Chicago with me!

This race, for me, is a love song to my family, to my friends, to my doctors and surgeons and nurses and PAs and RDs who fought like Hell alongside me. And this race is about all of YOU.

You who ran the Virtual 5K and donated to my fundraising page and helped me become the ONLY VIP fundraiser from the Greater New York team.

Party! Party!

Party! Party!

So, THANK YOU! I look forward to running my heart out tomorrow with all of you on my mind as I push for another PR in Sweet Home Chicago.

And by the by, you can donate through TONIGHT to still be entered in the amazing raffle I’m having. $20 = 1 raffle entry. Donate here immediately  You do not want to miss out villa for 10 in Acapulco. And who knows? I may just hit $8000 by the time I toe the line at 7am Central Time tomorrow.

You never know.

You never know.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Forward

This year hasn’t flown for me where school is concerned. The opposite, in fact. It has CRAWLED.

Whatever is slower than a snail, that's what this year has been like.

Whatever is slower than a snail, that’s what this year has been like.

But when I look back at exactly one year ago today, it seems like it was only a few months ago and not twelve. One year ago today, I spent most of the day under anesthesia, in the OR and recovery room, having my colon removed to cure my Ulcerative Colitis.

Sent this the day after so Obi-wan didn't worry so much. See Dad? I'm smiling = I'm ok!

Sent this the day after so Obi-wan didn’t worry so much. See Dad? I’m smiling = I’m ok!

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, I couldn’t run 2 minutes on the treadmill before I had to jump off and race for the bathroom. Last week, I ran a PR in the half marathon. 1:40, thankyouverymuch. Oh, and I’m gonna kick ass in Chicago running for Team Challenge in three weeks!

Jersey, baby!

Jersey, baby!

Last year, I was so sick I was getting chemo pumped into my veins, iron IVs, and hydration solution every week. As of right now, I’m only on one drug, soon to be DRUG-FREE!(This probably means very little to anyone but Mrs. Obi-wan. Look, ma! No drugs!)

No more blogging with one hand and getting Remicade in the other!

No more blogging with one hand and getting Remicade in the other!

Last year, I missed just about every single running/walking/sporting event with my friends. This Thursday, I’m walking in lower Manhattan with my lululemon family and friends in the Taking Steps walk to spread IBD awareness. (Join me!)

Go ahead, ASK ME!

Go ahead, ASK ME!

Last year, I was terrified I wouldn’t make it through my first year of DPT school because of the two surgeries, the colostomy bag, or some other unforeseen disaster. Not only did I conquer my first year of school, this Friday I will be exactly halfway through my first rotation. And I’m feeling great about it!

Abby Bales, Student Physical Therapist and wheelchair driver extraordinaire.

Abby Bales, Student Physical Therapist and wheelchair driver extraordinaire.

What a difference a year makes. I cannot thank my friends, family, classmates, running community, lululemon family, and all of you enough for all of your support and encouragement over this past year.

I guess today’s post embodies all of what Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays are really all about: forward motion in the hopes of a better tomorrow.

I was scared to go forward with surgery but I did it and I don’t regret it one little bit.

I was scared to go forward with school, not knowing if my body would hold up, but I did and I made it through (with a little LOT of help from Birdie).

I was scared to come forward about my disease and surgery and all that but I did and managed to not only make new friends, but reach out into the IBD community to help other people struggling with the same decisions I had to make.

And no matter what happens, it is always better to be here than not to be here. I know that now more than ever.

Happy colon-free-iversary to me! I am totally colon-free and kicking ass!

Now go out and run!

Blogger On the Run, Indeed

Welcome to all of you clicking over from Women’s Running Magazine! And thank you so much to Kara and WR for the featuring me as their Blogger On the Run. It’s an honor.

womens-running

If you haven’t seen it, you can click here. I thought long and hard about how graphic I would get while describing my experience at the Jersey Marathon. In the end, I decided to go for it and flat out say “diarrhea” because, hell, that’s what it was. Not “tummy trouble” or “bathroom stuff” dammit. It was diarrhea and it’s what people with IBD deal with every single day.

TMI? Maybe. Deal with it.

Finishing in Jersey. Feeling a whole lot better than I was at mile 15, obviously.

Finishing in Jersey. Feeling a whole lot better than I was at mile 15, obviously.

If you comment on the post over at Women’s Running, you will be automatically entered to win a 12-month subscription for the magazine. So go comment!

As a running blogger, I sometimes feel pressure to share my every workout, every run, everyday stuff the way that other bloggers do. But when I first started this blog, Obi-wan (my Dad) counseled me to focus on what I wanted to say and who I wanted to reach.

"Use the Force. Stretch out your feelings". Obi-wan's always so smart.

“Use the Force. Stretch out your feelings”. Obi-wan’s always so smart.

I didn’t want to be like the other bloggers. I wanted to share information, science-y stuff, and help runners run stronger and get smarter. Obviously, some stuff changed as I got sick. Like, I didn’t run as much and for a long time.

I didn't run so much as I laid around and shuffled up and down my block.

I didn’t run so much as I laid around and shuffled up and down my block.

But no matter the fact that I don’t blog 3 times a day or break down every mile of every run or didn’t run for weeks at a time or have tons and tons of giveaways or get invited to special events, I’m still a Blogger On the Run! Just a different kind of Blogger On the Run.

And I want to thank Women’s Running Magazine for recognizing that and inviting me to be a part of their feature.

And for those of you who haven’t heard yet, now that I’m all healed up and running again, I’m running for a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis! RUN WITH ME! Or cycle. Or swim. Or elliptical (is that a verb?). Or walk. Or hop.

Kick some ass with me, won't you?

Kick some ass with me, won’t you?

Here’s the gist:

  • Donate $15 to my fundraising page and you get one entry into the raffle.
  • For every $10 over the initial $15 that you donate, you get one more entry into the awesome raffle.
  • Email me the amount you donated: runstrongereveryday@gmail.com so I know how many raffle entries to mark down for you
  • Wear the bib I send you on April 9th (don’t forget to water proof it!) and take a picture
  • Rock your 5K and share your photos with me!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Now go out and run.

Pushing Limits

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!! to all of you who have already signed up for the Kick Ass Virtual 5K on Tuesday, April 9th. I reached over $1500 in donations as of today and am SUPER excited to share all the raffle prizes that have been rolling in.

Sneak peak and hoping to add more!!!

Sneak peak and hoping to add more!!!

If you or someone you know would like to donate a raffle item, contact me!!!! (runstrongereveryday@gmail.com) And don’t forget to sign up for the Kick Ass 5K! Or you can just donate to my page :)

This whole $20,000 goal is so far outside of my comfort zone, I can’t even tell you. I don’t really think I’m going to hit it. I know I should “believe” I will but I don’t. It’s a goal. It’s a very public goal. I’ll probably fail. It’s scary to fail so publicly to reach my goal.

On the track, in the gym, on the road, I’m pushing hard so that when I toe the half marathon line, I know I did my best to get there. Training is the easy part.

Running til I feel like this. I call it "Panting dog".

Running til I feel like this. I call it “Panting dog”.

It’s easy for me to push my body. It’s much more difficult for me to push my personal life goals. When my body gives out, there’s a reason I can trace back to fix and it’s not usually my fault. I like to push my body to the limit.

When I fail at a life goal, I feel like a total and complete FAILURE.

So I don’t push those limits. Well, I didn’t until the past few years. Putting together this Virtual 5K for (essentially) me makes me uncomfortable. I’d much rather just give them all of my money and not risk the failure.

I'd much rather run a 5K for something/someone else than for myself buuuuut, there are a lot of IBD-ers out there so I'll run for them!

I’d much rather run a 5K for something/someone else than for myself buuuuut, there are a lot of IBD-ers out there so I’ll run for them!

But there are kids with IBD. There are kids who will never know life as anything other than being the “sick”. There are people out there who live every day with pain and drugs and just the worst of the worst of it and I won’t be too chicken to set a $20,000 goal because I’m afraid I won’t meet it.

So here I am. Me and $18,500 more to raise. Watch me push that limit all the way til June 8th when I push my body in Chicago.

Gauntlet thrown.

Now go out and run!

In Pieces

THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF MEDICAL SITUATIONS.

VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

ME!

ME!

This is a special Saturday post in honor of today being the start of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. Congress made December 1-7 of every year a week to bring awareness to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (sexy, right?) and the people who live with these diseases.

If you’d like to participate in this week’s events, please reach out to your local Congressperson to invite them to become part of the Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus. Tell them my story. I won’t mind. 

This is my (abbreviated) story from the past two and a half years. 

________________________________________________________________________________

It’s weird to think about things in terms of “a year ago, I was…”

So much has happened in the past six months, I still can’t even get my mind around it all. The enormity of it overwhelms me sometimes so I just put my head down and plod forward.

Like a mule.

I got baggage.

I feel like I’ve lost little pieces of myself along the way, literally and figuratively. Maybe they were pieces I didn’t need because I don’t feel as bogged down as I did a year ago, but it hasn’t been an easy road.

Ulcerative colitis took my health and my running for almost two years.

Poison in my body for a year.

One year spent almost entirely on a treadmill because I was so sick.

Married to the treadmill.

And then came the big one. My colectomy. My colostomy bag. The end of being a whole person (in body, not in spirit). No turning back.

Little, innocuous purple spot.

Post-op surgery #1. That purple spot seems A WHOLE LOT bigger now.

4 drains coming out of my body. A stoma I couldn’t look at for days. Barely able to walk. My life changed forever.

Mom took me for a walk every day until I could walk far enough to see the beautiful mural on my floor.

I felt like a freak. I didn’t want anyone to see me, see my stoma. But then my loved ones asked and I suddenly didn’t seem to mind. They marveled at my new “gear” and how fast I was recovering and I started to find my strength again, without my colon and with my new bag.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was Rosebud. She gave me my life back.

I ran outside again. I started my doctorate program. I got back to the business of living. The love of my life gave me the confidence and support I so desperately needed to push forward.

10 mile race? Piece of cake!

And I finally showed the world what colon-free and kicking ass looks like!

Catch me (& Rosebud) if you can.

I felt brave and strong. Until I was in the ER. Until they didn’t know why. Until I was faced with surgery #2 before I was ready.

The ER is not the place to be with a stoma, I promise you.

And then I was back on 14 North. And my Mom was here again, holding my hand, brushing my hair, protecting me. It was like a nightmare.

And she walked me again. And she and my Dad and JB talked me down from the ledge day after day. No matter what anyone said or did, I felt broken.

In pieces.

Back to the drugs.

Here I am. Two months post-op from my second surgery. Five weeks from my last procedure. Feeling like myself again.

No bag. Just scars. Getting healthier every day.

No bag. Just scars. Getting healthier every day.

I feel like I’ve been to Hell and back. Back for all the world to see. To tell other patients that there’s life after surgery. That this disease DOESN’T have to hold you back. That only YOU hold you back.

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I would have never gotten through it alone. I tell everyone about my disease, my surgery, my journey because I refuse to hide.

I will NOTbe silenced. I will NOT be ashamed of my disease. I will NOT be the reason someone else suffers.

I have colitis. I had a colostomy bag. I have a J-pouch now. And I have am a BADASS.

Thank you, Run Stronger community, for your unwavering support. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for sharing mine with others. Keep up the good work.

Now go out and run!