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!

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Don’t Sweat It

Stowe is pretty.

Oh, hey there, Mt. Mansfield. You’re big.

And the air is clean and the sky is blue and there are stars at night. It’s a nice place to visit, FYI my fellow New Yorkers.

But it is COLD.

Don’t let that 34 degrees fool you, it was at least 20!

Weddings ALWAYS throw off my eating, running, life plan, especially when I’m part of the hosting family. Which I have been for four weddings now. And counting…

It’s tough to stay on track when you’re out of town, let alone attending approximately three parties in three days. I am not the girl who freaks out about this. Call me crazy.

We hit up the gym when it was convenient and decided that between chasing our niece around, cleaning up around the house, dancing the night away, and walking in heels (me, not JB) for two days, exercise was had throughout the day.

Big day past the 5-mile mark in Vermont!

So, yeah. I worked out. I also ate my weight in brownies and meatballs. There are no calories in food when it’s on a wedding weekend, so I assume I lost weight on this trip, right?

One weekend out of 52 in a year (or 40-something) is not going to make or break my training or my fitness. I don’t know why people go bananas about missing one workout or a two days to a family vacation. It happens.

I guess I’ve experienced being out a whole lot longer with some…other problems. Perspective.

Walking = victory.

So relax. Have fun. Don’t get crazy about that one run you missed so you could sleep in and be beautiful for the wedding. I mean, “it’s better to look good than to feel good” (famous Obi-wan quote). I see my family once a year, if that. Family > running.

And if running > family time then do it and don’t feel bad.

Make your choices and live with it. Don’t complain to everyone in the world that you can’t do EVERYTHING. I mean, you’re a grown-up. Be a grown-up.

I’m SO grown up.

Next time you have to choose, choose the one that’s most important TO YOU and then get over missing the other.

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 grazia.daily.co.uk)

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.

Duh.

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?

Good.

Now go out and run.

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

Life is crazy.

It’s cliche to say it, but I never NOT IN A MILLION YEARS would have predicted the events of this past year. That’s right. I started this blog exactly one year ago today. And today is the day that I start my first day of my doctoral program at NYU.

Nah, we don’t wear scrubs every day. These are for lab. But they look cool. You’re gettin that whole “Doctor” vibe from me now, right?

My first blog was kind of a mess. It took me a while to get the hang of this whole blogging thing and find my voice. There are so many bloggers out there who write 2-3 times a day, photograph their food and dog and husband and family, report their workouts and generally share their days with their readers. I am amazed by their commitment.

I am not that blogger. I am far too lazy to blog more than once a day. I prefer to use that hour to sleep, honestly.

I am a championship sleeper. You didn’t know this about me, did you?

I wanted to write about running, training, and my journey. I didn’t see many blogs out there that were written to help the average runner. I wanted a place where people could find new workouts, get inspired to run and maybe find a community where they could belong. That’s where my Life With UC page came from. Having Ulcerative Colitis has changed my world. Strike that. It’s turned my world upside down and sideways. Who knew?

Blogging at Dr. Boz’s office became a weekly event.

This year I:

Yaaaaay! I finished! And had some of the bestest cheerleaders along the way 🙂

Ambassador Buddies forever!

  • Led my very first BRick workout (Next stop: a triathlon!)

Such a badass group of BRick-ers.

  • And became an aunt for the very first time

   

It’s been a great year with all of you. Apparently, you all are most interested in having stronger hips, weight loss/gain during marathon training and reading words of wisdom from Obi-wan.  Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting. I have loved getting to know all of you and even meeting some of you!

I’m really looking forward to the next year and all of the adventures it holds for me. I hope you are, too, and that you have taken something of value from our time together. Hope to see you next year for my 2nd Blogiversary!

Another 1st for me this weekend: 1st ride on the Roosevelt Island Tram!

Now go out and run!

PS. For one night only this summer, I will be coaching the lululemon Run Club THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT in Central Park. We leave from the E. 66th St. store at 6:45pm and meet on the 72nd St. Transverse at 7pm. We’re doing a Cat Hill workout. Hope to see you there!

My little rock star (I couldn’t help myself)

Obi-wan’s 2nd Guest Blog: Kaizen

Recently while reading the cover article in the May 8, 2012 edition of Bloomberg Business Week, “We’re From Private Equity, And We’re Here To Help – My week as an Efficiency Expert” by Brendan Greeley (pg 54) I got to thinking about the concepts of Toyota Production Methods particularly Kaizen and how they relate to sports. My mind started to wander and, as you all know from your own personal experience, when that starts to happen there is no control over where it will end up. Mine went from the thoughts in the article about productivity and efficiency to my own experiences in corporate America to coaching our son’s 8th grade basketball team and from there to Abby’s running blog. To quote the Grateful Dead from Truckin, “What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been”!

Image courtesy of Grateful Dead.com

In the article there is a great amount of discussion about productivity and efficiency and the methods developed and refined by the Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota, specifically the concept of Kaizen. Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the better” and in practice focuses on continuous improvement of processes of manufacturing, engineering, development and business management. By improving standardized activities and processes Kaizen aims to eliminate waste in manufacturing and production. (Translate to runners: train smarter, more efficiently = better results)

Image courtesy of Kaizentek.com

Many years ago while acting as a volunteer coach for our oldest son’s 8th grade basketball team I had the opportunity to see if a group of grade school boys could understand the concept of Kaizen that was gaining a great amount of acceptance in the business world at the time and apply it to their athletic endeavors to improve performance as a team and also as individuals. One week during our “chalk talk” prior to practice when we discussed the last game we played, how we did as a team and how we did as individuals within the team, we discussed the concept of continuous improvement and goal setting. We talked about applying Kaizen principals to specific goals of the team and of the individuals on the team and committed to a post game weekly review of those goals and performance against them.  To my great pleasure most of the boys embraced the concept and participated actively in the weekly reviews of goals and performance.

Kids who grew up in the 90s will get this.

I’m not going to try to say that the team developed into a great team as a result of using advanced business concepts with an 8th grade group of boys. That would be misleading and untrue. The team played up to it’s potential and, at times above it, and the individuals on the team did the same. We had a lot of fun and grew as a team and as individuals. However, the thing that was striking was how they at that young age they could understand and execute business concepts that in some cases adults working in a team environment could not.

Since then when thinking about how to improve my own physical fitness I have tried to embrace the principals of Kaizen, or continuous improvement rather than trying to make huge leaps forward. In my own personal training and conditioning activities, I have had the opportunity to deal with multiple surgeries and various infirmities that have either compromised my exercise activities for periods of time or forced me to totally abandon them temporarily. Each time when I restarted my exercise regimes it was with a focus on restarting with a program that included realistic goals and to measure my progress against those goals with the concept of continuous improvement as the measuring stick. In doing so I tried not to push myself too fast or build Rome overnight but to make continuous improvement daily, weekly and monthly against where I had been previously.

Now I don’t know if anyone is still reading or if all of Abby’s regular readers have clicked off now thoroughly bored with the musings of an old guest blogger but if anyone is still reading thanks for staying with me to the end and please remember it’s not always about winning but the personal journey that you experience in getting to the finish line.

This post hits especially close to to home for me since I watched my Dad do this in real time and am currently starting from Square One myself, fitness-wise. I take to heart the idea of continuous improvement, day by day, and putting emphasis on making the smart choice for myself today that will get me to tomorrow where I might challenge myself yet again to try to walk a little further, stand up a little longer and try a little harder. My thanks to Obi-wan for his words of wisdom for us all. May the Force be with you.

 Now go out and run!