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!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Sunrise

Happy Better Than the Alternative Tuesday, friends! I barely make it through Mondays this semester. 10+ hours of sitting in class feels like a death march. My brain hurts, my body hurts, and by the the end of the day, I don’t even want dinner.

I know. Shocking. I don’t want food? Something is deeply, deeply wrong with Mondays.

Pizza lasts exactly one day in my apartment.

Pizza lasts exactly one day in my apartment.

Not even pizza sounds good, just sleep.

And then I woke up this morning and went for a run. It wasn’t a good run, I felt like crap. I was hungry (duh), tired, and even though I was trucking along at 8:15s most of the 7 miles, I felt like I was running through mud.

But I saw this on my run. This Sunrise over The Lake and Bow Bridge.

Good morning, my beautiful Park.

Good morning, my beautiful Park.

It didn’t change my pace or give me the energy to run faster, but just seeing this beautiful Sunrise was reward enough for getting up early.

When I was chained to the bed recovering in the hospital, I was on the 14th floor overlooking the East River. When the sun rose the day after surgery, I couldn’t help but to breath deep (as deep as my stitches would allow) and appreciate seeing that Sunrise.

It wasn't a sunny morning and the view wasn't even that great, but it was a sunrise I worried I wouldn't see.

It wasn’t a sunny morning and the view wasn’t even that great, but it was a sunrise I worried I wouldn’t see. And there was pudding.

Anyone who goes into surgery and tells you they aren’t scared is…not me. I was scared both times. Terrified, actually.

That Sunrise meant I made it through the operation. That Sunrise meant I got through a horrific night of pain. That Sunrise meant that Mrs. Obi-wan and JB would soon be by my side, keeping me from freaking out.

It wasn’t pretty, it didn’t have to be, it was just a new day and a new life starting.

My 2nd surgery sunrise was far more spectacular. Same floor, same hospital, same staff (oy), different facing bed. Different perspective.

My 2nd surgery Sunrise was far more spectacular. Same floor, same hospital, same staff (oy), different facing bed. Different perspective.

That’s what I like about running at Sunrise. It’s the ultimate symbol of a new day starting.

Just because today’s run was crap doesn’t mean tomorrow’s will be. Just because I’m dragging ass this morning doesn’t mean I will tomorrow. Just because my J-pouch hated me yesterday doesn’t mean it won’t love on me today.

Sunrise is my favorite symbol of starting over and the opportunity to do something different. I know it’s obvious and trite and cheesy, but it’s true.

Sunrise on the Brooklyn Bridge. (Image courtesy of MK Photography)

Sunrise on the Brooklyn Bridge. (Image courtesy of MK Photography)


When I woke up from surgery, I was a new me and it was a new day. Those Sunrises were a new start to me. And they certainly made it better to be here, to wake up, to keep going, than not to. And I love that about those Sunrises and every Sunrise I get to see.

Happy BTAT, guys. What does Sunrise mean to you? Does it get you going or is it something you rarely see? Are you more of a sunset kind of person? Tell me all about it!

Now go out and run!

(I mean, it’s 40 degrees out there, NYers! Heat wave!)


My Thanks

Disclaimer: This post is sappy and not at all about running. You’ve been warned.

Gratitude is something I have plenty of this year. And I don’t know how to put into words just how grateful I am for every single gift and opportunity I have been given.

And there is no way to express my thanks to my friends and family.

They held me together.

Me. In pieces.

They always say that you know who your true friends are in times of crisis. It’s true. My friends visited me, brought flowers, sent cards. They fed me…well, mostly JB, which is a feat in and of itself.

But mostly, my friends comforted me. When I couldn’t go out, they came to me. They never complained about having to accommodate me at every turn, never made me feel guilty for being out of commission and a big, whiny baby for the past two and a half years.

Friends take you running, colostomy bag and all.

My dearest friends, thank you.

Flying with friends.

My friends weren’t the only ones who hung by me, gross surgeries, colostomy bags and all. I have the best brothers and sisters out there. And, lucky me, I have A LOT of them.

I sincerely hope this picture is old enough and shadow-y enough to protect the identity of my siblings. Would anyone guess that’s me front and center, picking up my sunglasses? You guys look awesome, by the way.

Mr. & Mrs. Jones, Reno & Blondie, Red & the Irishman, The Golden Child & Ginger, Chi-Chi, and sweetest Peanut…I seriously have the BEST family in the world. Also, they have excellent taste in flowers and were always the first ones to arrive at the hospital room post-op.

What’d I tell you? Gorgeous.

When I was literally in pieces, they called from cities near and far to make sure I was ok. To make sure JB was ok. They asked about every step, were/are shoulders for me to lean on. Some are very broad shoulders to lean on.

Thank you. All of you.

I can’t really describe how amazing my parents are. Those of you who know them know why I use the word “amazing” without hesitation. At every turn, they were there. Every time I felt overwhelmed, they helped shoulder my burden.

They supported me from beginning to end, wiped my tears, and reminded me that it would be ok. I would never have made it through the darkness had it not been for them.

Mom & Dad got our backs, always.

For my gorgeous husband, there are no words. With every squeeze of my hand, every protective arm around my shoulder, every night I had control of the remote, every disgusting bodily function endured, every gentle kiss he said, “I love you”. I will always do my best to show him my gratitude for enduring this year with me, alongside me, often leading me in a direction I was too scared to go alone.

I love this man.

My love, my heart.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. I’m eternally grateful for the support of my extended family and all of you.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Well, it’s Tuesday and since I’m finding my way back from surgery, let’s continue getting back to “normal” with Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

First off, welcome! welcome! welcome! to those of you scooting over from my friend Tina’s blog, Carrots ‘n Cake, who is hosting a 4-Week Plank Challenge and so kindly included me in her post this morning. I hope lots of you are planking as you read (Twitter time = workout time)! Tina is awesome and I seriously love finding #IBDSisters.

Tina is popular, so this is what happens to my normal blog numbers when she gives me a shout-out 🙂

BTAT is all about why no matter how crappy life is today, it’s way better than the alternative. Today: Respect.

Respect /riˈspekt/: A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

The New York City Marathon is next week. The Marine Corps Marathon is this week. We are deep into marathon taper season and, according to my Twitter feed, many of you are struggling to Respect the taper.

Complaining about a taper is like a celebrity complaining about getting their hair and makeup professionally done while their stylist outfits them with a one-of-a-kind designer dress for the Oscars.

Hey Gwynnie, life is tough, I know. Wah, wah, wah. (Image courtesy of

YOU MADE IT TO THE TAPER!!!!! Enjoy it. Relax. Meditate in the healing and recovering that you are doing before your big day.

Respect the taper. It’s there for a reason. And if you don’t Respect the taper, at least Respect your coach.


Guys, I am reminded daily (by JB, Mrs. Obi-wan, Obi-wan, The Golden Child, Boz, PAK, and just about everyone else I speak with) that I have to Respect the recovery period.

It’s not that I am putting on my running shoes and trying to sneak out the door for a 15-miler. I am not THAT pig-headed. Mostly, I’m impatient to feel better. To feel like myself. To be able to eat stuff. To get through just one day without being reminded of my recent surgeries/hospitalizations/ER visits/bummer diagnosis.

JB to me: “No, you are not coming to the 4-hour Tough Mudder run OR the outdoor soccer game two weeks after surgery. You are staying home to study and REST.” Husband knows best. Feet up!

I made it through surgery. I don’t have an infection or anything weird like that. If I want to get back to being me, I have to Respect the healing process or I will only hurt myself.

And if you have made it to the taper or made it to the healing process post-op, isn’t that Better Than the Alternative? And don’t you owe it to yourself to Respect this time so you can rock your race or get better?

Nod your head yes with me.

Stretching is good for both tapering and recovery. You should do it. I do it on random streets on the Upper East Side, all clad in matchy-matchy lululemon.

Ok, good. We’ll do it together. I will go to bed early tonight and you will not run anything at race pace this week. Deal?


Now go out and run.

Friday Fitness Links: Eugene

Guys, the Olympics are almost here. Our teams are nearly complete. Have you been watching what’s been going on in Eugene? And, oh my goodness, I had almost forgotten how hot Ryan Lochte is. I love watching swimming and diving but he makes it that much more of a must. I’m married, not dead.

Anyway, these P & G commercials dedicated to Moms everywhere are killing me. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for my Mom (& Dad). Mrs. Obi-wan is fierce, much like Kerri Walsh-Jennings’ mom, and I hope to be half the mom she is someday. I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Well, we went from Olympics to babies in 2.4 seconds. Let’s get back to the Olympics. Are you caught up?
  • Lochte isn’t just a pretty face, either. He beat Phelps in the 400IM.
  • Galen Rupp broke Pre’s 40 year-old record in Eugene. He’ll compete in the 5,000 & 10,000 meter races in London.
  • The dead heat for third place in the Women’s 100 meters and how the tie is going to be broken.

11.068 seconds (Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of Runner’s World)

What else? What’s going on this weekend in the racing world? Anyone doing the Firecracker 10K on Roosevelt Island on Wednesday? Do you have a Fourth of July run in your town? Send me pictures!

Have a great weekend everyone. I’m off to school!

Now go out and run.