Untitled (and really long)

I have thought long and hard about whether or not I would actually write this post. Then I hemmed and hawed about how much detail I would get into if I did decide to write it. In short, I have spent way too much time thinking about one blog post over the past two months.

Well, I’ve decided to share the part of my own journey that I feel is pertinent to this blog. It is, in fact, called Run Stronger Every Day and I am starting from Square One on the way to running again at all. Here goes: this is my journey from surgery to marathon.

Marathon #9…when will marathon #10 happen?

One month ago, I had a planned surgical event that was medically necessary and landed me in the hospital for five days (= FOR-EV-ER). I have never had a serious surgery or any other type of major medical event in my entire life. I’ve had my wisdom teeth pulled, which produced very adorable chipmunk cheeks and my very first case of hives, and I broke my pinky toe right before I left to be a camp counselor for the summer back in college. But that’s it.

The longest I’ve been away from running is one month back in 2009 because of my stupid left gluteus medius. But I could still bike and lift and swim and, you know, WALK. This surgery was major. No, really. It’s classified as “major surgery”. Walking would be a challenge, I was told. Weird.

I like spinning, I do. But running is my 1st love.

Funny aside: I knew I was ok with my decision to go ahead with the surgery when, after my Physics final three days prior, I only felt relief as I headed into the weekend. No anxiety about the surgery. No stress about the what-ifs. Just relief that Physics was finally over. Priorities, I suppose.

Drinks. There were a lot of drinks when I found out I passed Physics.

The morning of my surgery, I tried making jokes as the nurses and doctors hooked me up and stabbed me with needles of all sizes. My Mom, angel that she is, flew in to be with me and JB during my hospitalization. I was nervous, but not as scared as I thought I’d be. Probably because when I asked about a possible complication I’d read about my surgeon responded, ” That doesn’t happen in my hands.” Exactly what I want to hear!

Off I went to the operating room (which was a lot smaller than I expected) where I met my surgical team and briefly reminded my surgeon that I am a vain woman and small, neat scars would be greatly appreciated. He assured me he’d do his best and out I went.

I “woke” up to JB and Mrs. Obi-wan by my side once again in recovery, in the most immense pain I have ever felt in my life. Thankfully, now that I was awake, they could give me the good drugs. I definitely didn’t do any recovering in the “recovery room”. I kept hearing rumors the my room was “almost ready” but, not having any concept of time due to the wonderful narcotics, I was seriously perturbed that everything seemed to be taking so long.

The view from my room. Rainy New York days were just fine by me.

Shortly after I got to my room, my nurse told I was going to walk soon. I told her she was dreaming. I was in a tremendous amount of pain. Turns out, my pain treatment had briefly gone awry and OHMYGODWHYDOESTHISHURTSOMUCH?!?!?!!!! was basically what I said to her.  She fixed the problem, God bless her, and made sure I got several boosters so I could sleep.

These bruises were the result of my least favorite daily interruption: shots. Ouch. Maybe next time we choose a different place to torture? They lasted for nearly 3 weeks!

Early Tuesday morning, she woke me and said we were going for sure taking a walk before her shift ended. Still, the idea of heaving myself out of bed and walking was akin to climbing Everest. Me, a 9-time marathoner, often 2-a-day workout girl, thought that getting out of bed and walking seemed impossible. I was attached to an IV and several drainage apparatus but with the aid of the most wonderful nurse in the entire world, I walked. It was approximately 30 yards, round-trip.

They were the hardest steps I have ever taken in my entire life.

You know how you feel exhausted after a marathon? That’s how I felt. I hadn’t had food in three days, my surgery was four hours long, I was on serious pain management drugs and was terrified I wouldn’t make it.

I did. I made it. I made it to Day 2 and was getting a handle on my new body, new gear, and new surroundings.

The morning after surgery. See, Dad? I’m ok!

Day 2 was crazy. Between flower deliveries (my favorite!), emptying my various drains, an endless stream of checking my vitals, my surgical team making the rounds, figuring out how everything worked, social workers (yes, social workers…don’t know why), and the very awesome Dr. Boz and PAK stopping by to check up on me (how awesome are they?!), it was a whirlwind of activity in my room. I dozed on and off but woke up whenever I got a flower delivery 🙂

Pretty view from my room. The flowers everyone sent brightened every moment of my stay in the hospital.

With the help of the very awesome Mrs. Obi-wan, I walked even more on Day 2. I think we went to the entryway of my wing and back twice. Mom kept chatting about this beautiful mural as you walk onto my floor that I never got to see since I was only semi-conscious when I was brought to my floor. On day 3, I finally got to see it.

The very cool “Chalk Mural” depicting the World’s Fair in Queens, NY on my floor. It wasn’t actually chalk, but we never could figure out what it was.

But in order to get that far, they had to let me EAT REAL FOOD!

French toast never tasted so good.

French toast, turkey sausage and orange juice. Food, I missed you. I was so happy that I took a picture and sent it to my family. Being allowed to eat real food is a big marker post-surgery. I blasted by the “soft foods” order that my resident prescribed in less than 24 hours and was onto “normal diet” so quickly the food delivery lady couldn’t keep up with his orders.

My recovery went about as well as you could expect. I walked more and more, further and further. And while it was never really “easy” to get out of bed, once I was up I was able to make multiple laps on my floor several times a day. I was out of the hospital by Friday afternoon and home sleeping on my couch Friday night.

My pillow fort.

In all the fuss over my surgery, I had forgotten that my birthday was just days later. By then, I was showering and getting dressed all by myself, walking the streets of New York (with a bodyguard), and eating delicious takeout.

My birthday this year was a very laid-back celebration of survival, the gift of life, modern medicine and Sprinkles Cupcakes. I have never been so happy to have a birthday come as I was this year. Not only did it mark the end of a reeeeeeally trying year for me, but it was the kickoff to a year of entirely new adventures, new body and better health.

Happy birthday!
Love,
Doggie Howser

I am still not running. I am walking lots and hoping to maybe jump on a bike sometime this week, but I’m in no rush. I am respecting the healing process and allowing my body time to recover. When I do get back to running, it will be entirely different than it was before–and that’s ok. Things will feel different. I might move differently. God knows I’ll be slow as molasses. But I’ll be back and I will learn what it is to Run Stronger Every Day as the new me.

So, here I go. Starting from Square One, I am working toward running the Marine Corps Marathon this fall in Washington, D.C. for Team Fisher House. That’s right, a marathon. Will I make it? Don’t care. I will at least show up and run a few miles at my favorite race. If I have to drop out at some point, I don’t care. I will be there. I will run (a little or a lot). I will celebrate my life and do what I love: run.

I will run…and then we will celebrate!

So far, my journey back has taught me two things.

  1. The body is the most perfect instrument every created.
  2. I can do anything if I set my mind to it.

It’s not always easy. I get frustrated sometimes and the fatigue is more annoying than anything else. The days are not always sunshine and butterflies, though there have been an awful lot of double rainbows in the city lately.

RAINBOWS!! (picture shamelessly stolen from Erica Sara, who makes really beautiful jewelry)

The thing is, it had to be done so there’s no use being all upset about it. I’m going to be healthier for it. I’m already able to do more than I could before. And one day soon, I will Run Stronger because of this surgery. And for that reason, it will always have been worth it.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Little Things

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I am not really a celebrator of Valentine’s Day, save for a card and a heart-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (favorite candy) for JB.

Mmmm…Reese’s.

For me, every day is about the Little Things we do for one another. A text message saying hello. Coming home to dinner already made (or in my case, ordered). Someone holding the door for you at Starbucks. The doorman guessing your age and thinking you are 10 years younger. A phone call from a friend. Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to be a four course meal and flowers that cost 20% more just because it’s Valentine’s Day (I mean, if that’s your thing then that’s your thing and I hope you have a great day!). It can be the Little Things.

I don’t need flowers and dinner and all that stuff, just a card. I love cards.

Clearly, my love of cards is keeping Papyrus in business.

I love that the first song on my iPod today as I started my strength training workout at the gym this morning was one of my favorites.

The Boss and the Big Man. Nothing better.

I love that Reno and Blondie know me well enough to send me the cutest video of my sweet baby niece wearing her little bear outfit that I bought her. I have watched it probably a dozen times and downloaded it to my phone so I can watch it whenever I need a good hearty laugh and a smile. She’s dancing and smiling and being the cutest baby EVER. I won’t share the video ‘cuz, you know, she needs a little anonymity, but I will share something equally cute. A duck.

It’s the Little Things, you know? Thoughtful. Personal. Everyday things matter so much more than a gigantic Valentine’s Day thing.

Do you notice the Little Things that people do for you? A runner who smiles or says “good morning”‘ to you as you pass each other on the road. A friendly smile at the grocery checkout. Did you thank the person who held the door while you were walking through at Starbucks or your office this morning? Do you say hello to the security guard who has the BEST attitude every time you see him?

Little Things are all around us. We are all capable of doing Little Things for others. Whether or not you choose to acknowledge others’ efforts or make them yourself is up to you.

I kinda feel that if you try a little of both you will just be a happier you. Just try. ‘Cuz those Little Things make today way Better Than the Alternative.

What are your favorite Little Things? Are you doing anything special for Valentine’s Day? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!

First Giveaway Day!

So, yesterday was an epic fail of a day thanks to Benadryl and my rumbly tummy. Not today! Today is productive and awesome.

Case in point: today is Run Stronger Every Day‘s first ever Giveaway Day!

If you don’t already know by now, I love running gear. And when I love something, I love to good gossip about it. I mean, my brother told me he was coming to NYC and I immediately made him an appointment with Dr. Shure for while he’s here. Just a little family bonding over some realignment. You know, normal stuff.

Sparkling first thing in the morning!

Anyway, something new that I love is Sparkly Soul headbands. I love them so much I bought one for Mrs. Obi-wan and we sported ours at the gym together while I was in Colorado over break. We looked fabulous, if I do say so myself, and they seriously don’t move. Today’s giveaway is in honor of Mrs. Obi-wan and how she brings Sparkle to my Soul.

So, this giveaway is actually a giveaway in that you are nominating someone else to win a Sparkly Soul headband. In order to nominate someone, you must do the following:

  1. Tell me about the person who brings Sparkle to your Soul in the comments section of this post. This is the person who will win the headband for being such a Sparkling inspiration to you (so if you want to be nominated, ask a friend to enter you).
  2. Either subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter and then email me at runstrongereveryday@gmail.com to tell me you’ve done so (if you already do both, retweet this link and mention my handle in the tweet).

Example, if I wanted to nominate my Mom to win the headband, I would write this:

My Mom: the Sparkle you bring to my Soul is unlike any other. Thank you for believing in me, for cheering me on, for pushing me and for teaching me to fight like hell for what I want, what I love and what I believe in. You are an inspiration to me.

The contest starts today and goes until next Thursday (2/9/12) at midnight EST. You MUST complete both #1 & #2 to be entered in the contest. The winner will win a Sparkly Soul headband (choice of color and style, of course) and will be announced on Friday, February 10th so be sure to check back to see who won!

So many colors! Which will you choose?

I can’t wait to read all about the people who inspire you and add Sparkle to your life! Don’t forget to tell them you’ve nominated them so they can read about how fabulous they are on the Internet 🙂

Now go out and run!

I ♥ Yoga, But…

Thank you for all of your kind comments and feedback on yesterday’s BTAT guest blog by Obi-wan.

“I know you come from good stock and you prove it every day when you choose to live and not just exist!”

“This was awesome.”

“Too good not to pass along.”

“This was a wonderful post from your dad–great advice that I will heed should the injury monkey climb on my back one of these days!”

“So sweet that your Dad did this for you! Love it and the message it conveys!”

“Thanks, Obi-wan, for your wise words”

“Fantastic post, Obi-wan!!!”

He’s pretty awesome and I’m glad so many of you enjoyed reading little bit about his inspiring story. Maybe, if we ask nicely, he’ll come back? And maybe, if we say pretty please, Mrs. Obi-wan will share her story with us, too? You never know…onto today’s post!

Yogis, don’t hate me. I’m on your side and I’m here to help!

So, I love yoga. I feel good when I go to class. I like trying new teachers. I think everyone can benefit from some type of yoga.

I love yoga. Outdoors yoga is the BEST!

That said, if done incorrectly, yoga can really hurt you.

As a student of anatomy and physiology, I spend my time studying how the body moves, what movements cause injury, and how to help people recover and prevent these injuries. My job as a personal trainer requires that I coaching people through a series of exercises safely and effectively. And I’m kind of a stickler for form.

This is where I get into trouble in yoga class.

Some classes are absolutely amazing. The teachers are clear about the placement of every single part of your body and when to breathe and where to put your focus. They walk around, adjusting everyone constantly and encouraging people to work within their limits, not above them.

These are the classes I love.

Ooooo-mmmmm

I attended the opposite type of class on Monday. I hated every single moment of that class and almost walked out just to make a point. Why the negativity? Because it was just offensively bad.

In a class of about 50 or so people, I would say that at least 30 of them looked as though they had never been to a yoga class before. Not because of their bodies or anything superficial like that, but because of the confused looks on their faces, the constant turning around to see what others were doing, and the terrifyingly bad form they exhibited in the “simplest” of yoga poses.

It was unsafe, distracting, and inexcusable.

I felt bad for the students because it was the instructors’ fault they had bad form. He did not touch or adjust a single person. I was shocked.

William J. Broad wrote an article that was published in the New York Times last week (you saw it in Friday’s Fitness News) that people in the fitness world are fighting about all over the blogs and in yoga studios everywhere. It’s titled, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.” In it, Broad interviews Glenn Black, a popular yoga instructor who is incredibly verbal about the physical dangers of yoga.

I must say that I completely agree with every single one of the dangers highlighted in the article and there are many, many more. I train yoga instructors and devotees and I help them to re-learn how to move through their asanas in a safe way. Several people I know have seriously injured themselves in class and spent years in physical therapy.

Form is everything. Yoga, like every other sport/fitness activity in the world, can cause you injury when done incorrectly. Yoga is good, when done safely and I encourage you to consider learning more about it, BUT if you are new to yoga do yourself a favor and do a few private lessons or very, very small beginner group classes before jumping into it, ok? Don’t push. Be safe.

Rule of thumb: If it hurts, don’t do it. Seriously. Listen to your body.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Family

First off, welcome to all of you who are clicking over from Runner’s World via Twitter. Stick around, stay awhile. Today is Better Than the Alternative Tuesday and yes, I know it’s Wednesday. I am a day behind. I was busy enjoying my last day in Colorado with my Family and my sweet baby niece.

I miss her already!

For those of you who are new to my blog, Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays were inspired by my Dad, Obi-Wan (not his real name, duh) who, against countless odds and obstacles, has managed–along with my Mom, Mrs. Obi-wan, to remind me and my four siblings that no matter how much life sucks, it beats the alternative.

And that’s how Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays were born. It’s a weekly reminder for me and all of you that you’re still here and that’s a victory in and of itself.

This week’s BTAT is Family.

My Family is huge. I have 23 (I think) aunts and uncles, 40 first cousins, several dozen second and second cousins-once-removed whom I actually know and love.

Our wedding was one hell of a party. Our Family knows how to get down!

I also have two sisters and two brothers. Two of them are also married to seriously awesome people whom I love as my own siblings. We got really lucky with outlaws and non-married significant others.

You’d think it would be easy to get lost in such a humongous Family. It’s not.

No matter how far away we are from each other, my sisters and brothers always seem to find a way to support each other and keep in touch. It’s kind of a miracle, really.

We take turns being the last one to know about someone else’s news and feigning exasperation at whomever failed to inform us about said news. We call each other at insanely early hours of the morning because that’s the only time we can get each other. We celebrate each other’s victories and huddle together for strength when there’s a life crisis among us.

We run/walk for each other. That's just how we roll.

This past holiday season, I was able to spend a lot of time with my Family. Some more than others, but it reminded me of how lucky I am that I have such a loving, caring, fiercely protective Family. Not everyone does. And for some of us, we choose who become our Family as life goes on and our friends become our Family.

They are the people who are always there.

I mean, it’s 6am and I’m sad because my boyfriend is in Iraq and I need someone to talk to and they pick up the phone. I have to get picked up from my yearly colonoscopy because I’m not allowed to leave the hospital by myself on account of I’m hopped up on drugs and just came out of anesthesia and they make time in their day to make sure I don’t end up on the side of the road somewhere in the Bronx.

I am not this awake post-colonoscopy, but I am this cheerful. Apparently, I am "drunk Abby" while coming out of anesthesia.

They’re easy to be around and welcome my gorgeous husband into the fold with open arms. They are the ones who save cookies for me at Christmas because we are the last ones to arrive and who surprise me for my 30th birthday.

Surprise! Happy birthday to me!

They are also probably the single reason why anyone outside of my Family reads my blog. I generally figure that about half of my readership is made up of my Family, and I’m ok with that. Thanks, guys! Love you all.

More than anything, Family is always there. For better or for worse, I will never shake these people. Mrs. Obi-wan likes to remind us that our relationships with our siblings are the the longest relationships we’ll have in our lives (hopefully) and we should treasure and nurture them.

I get it now.

I cherish my Family. Near and far. Related and adopted. They really are the ones I can count on and who make being here way better than being there.”TRAMPS like us, baby we were Born to Run!”

Who makes here better than there for you? Family? Friends? How do they support you? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!