Getting Schooled Race Recaps

This racing season has been so fun! I have a shiny new half marathon PR and got reminded of how to properly race–cuz I seem to have forgotten in the past 2 years how to actually RACE.

Silly Abby.

So what happened in Jersey?

It was good. But I got schooled.

  • I was not at the race early enough. I took the special race train but they had LOST MY BIB so I had to track down someone to get my a freaking bib before the race started so I missed my usual 1-2 mile warm-up.
  • The weather was perfect for racing hard…until the end (or for those poor marathoners who got the sunshine). Overcast and cool.
  • I went out too fast (7:15 min/miles) and I felt great but didn’t have the miles under my belt to maintain that pace. Good news is, I can totally do that this Fall.
Up and over the only "hill" on the course. I'll be back for you, Jersey.

Up and over the only “hill” on the course. I’ll be back for you, Jersey.

  • I slowed down to my normal pace (7:40) but was exhausted by mile 9. Stupid mile 9. My nemesis. By mile 10.5, I had no gas left in the tank.
  • I maintained that pace until the last mile and a half when we turned into a headwind straightaway along the beaches along the Shore. Brutal. Ended with an 8:05 min/mile and was DONE. Like, dry-heaving done.

Lesson learned: Get to race earlier to warm-up and NEVER, EVER go out faster than your training miles.

You’d think I would have remembered this but I was just so excited to be out there racing that I didn’t want to hold back. Still, I managed to PR by 2 minutes!

PR City!

PR City!

Chicago was a completely different beast.

In the 6 weeks I spent at the hospital, my training times didn’t suffer but my legs felt tired ALL THE TIME. Day and night, short or long run, track or tempo, I felt tired every single moment of every single day.

When I got to Chicago, I knew my race was going to be slower than Jersey.

  1. It was hot.
  2. My legs were toast.
  3. I couldn’t figure out my watch.
Feeling great at mile 9 (woohoo!) but totally crapped out at mile 11.

Feeling great at mile 9 (woohoo!) but totally crapped out at mile 11.

Thank goodness JB, Ginger, and Hillary were out there to cheer me on. I’m pretty sure I would have just grabbed a cab and headed back to my hotel at mile 6.5 if they weren’t meeting me at the finish.

My splits were even (7:42-ish) and going negative until mile 11 when I was done with a capital “D”. But my legs felt like they were torn apart at mile 7. SEVEN!!! So I knew early on it would be a battle.

Good thing was, I had someone else to run for that day.

Yo, buddy. #SweatingForAli

Yo, buddy. #SweatingForAli

Those last 2 miles just beat me down. I was SO hot and my legs were SO tired and I was SO cranky. Good news is, I didn’t slow down all that much and still finished with a respectable time.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 4.37.35 PM

Hooray for finishing!

Lesson learned: Going from sitting on my butt in class all day to standing and walking all day every day does not make for speedier times.

On the bright side, I was the 2nd female finisher for Team Challenge in Chicago!

Janella was the 1st. We became buddies at the starting line in the B Corral. Such a lovely lady!

Janella was the 1st. We became buddies at the starting line in the B Corral. Such a lovely lady!

I’m glad I ran both of these races. The PR in Jersey felt like the welcome back to running I needed after all the surgeries and illness and drugs. I had a ball with my friends and family in Chicago and wouldn’t trade getting to run as a member of Team Challenge for anything in the world.

Team Challenge New York City!

Team Challenge New York City!

If you ever get the chance to run with Team Challenge, I highly recommend you do it. There wasn’t a mile on the course that didn’t have a TC coach, mentor, or fan cheering for me and all the other TC runners.

The best part about the course was that it was an out-and-back loop and I could give a thumbs up to my teammates as we went by each other on the course. It was a sea of orange along the lake.

For Boston. For Ali. For me.

For Boston. For Ali. For me.

All in all, a successful return to running. I’m so happy. I know it’s hot and sweaty and gross out there right now and I’m complaining about it just as much as the next runner. But I’m so happy to be running again.

I’m back.

How is your racing going? Are you struggling with tired legs like I was or are you rocking it hard on the racing circuit? I know some of you are Age Group placing/winning these days. Tell me all about it!

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!

Train Fast to Race Fast

I’m really pumped that y’all have helped me raise over $3500 for Team Challenge already. And we still have a week to register for my Virtual 5K benefitting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and win fabulous raffle prizes.

Do you like prizes? Yes? Then sign up for the 5K!

Do you like prizes? Yes? Then sign up for the 5K!

There’s also a chance a new prize will be added sometime this week. You definitely won’t want to miss a chance at this one!

You guys have all been so awesome at donating, I’m kinda feelin the pressure to PR so I don’t embarrass myself. Confession: I don’t link my timing chip to either my Facebook or Twitter account because I’m afraid I will jinx myself and have a totally terrible race and then everyone will know.

I’m such a chicken.

But I’ve been training smart and training hard. Long runs? Yeah, they happen. But “long” running for a half is nothing like long running for a full. Two hour runs are waaaaaaaaay easier than three and a half hour runs.

Truth be told, I’ve been running hard and {relatively} short distances. Cuz I wanna race fast.

There’s a weird rumor in the running community that if you just run a lot of miles you’ll get fast. That’s kinda only half true. Maybe one quarter true.

Sometimes you gotta talk yourself into doing what you don't wanna do.

Sometimes you gotta talk yourself into doing what you don’t wanna do.

If you’re working on your overall aerobic fitness or ability to hang in there for long miles or trying to amp up your mileage, then adding on longer, slower miles will help. However, if your goal is to run faster, long runs are not specifically your jam.

You need speed.

You need hard.

You need workouts that are well below your race pace that challenge your body in order to make that race pace feel like a cake walk.

Me? I’m gonna hit up some 400s and 200s on the track this week. Doesn’t mean I don’t get the mileage in because I’m going to warm up for two miles and then let the beast out and race like an animal.

Only the cool kids talk in meters and kilometers.

Only the cool kids talk in meters and kilometers.

It’s the simplest thing in the world and one of the primary principles of exercise: SPECIFICITY in training. You gotta run and you gotta run FAST. It’s that simple and there’s no way round it.

Grab a fast friend and try to keep up. Then watch the minutes melt away from your PR.

Now go out and run.

No One Likes Runner I.K.E.

My gorgeous husband has introduced me to many things throughout the eight years (!!!!!) we’ve been together. For example, one cupcake is NEVER enough. 2 people = 4 cupcakes.

Yankee-themed cupcakes. Is there anything better?      (Answer: No)

Another, some men DO clean bathrooms. And my personal favorite, all of his acronyms and colloquialisms. I had never heard of some of these and they always make me laugh right out loud.

One of my favorites? I.K.E. = I Know Everything. Guess where that came from?

Marines have lots of fun acronyms. Most are not appropriate for this blog.

Runners, like Marines, are a special kind of people. Marines get the job done. Runners do the same.

I love this quote.

By and large, runners are a supportive group of people. What really gets to me are the Runner I.K.E.s. Not the runners who are health professionals or coaches. I’m talking about the runners whose profession is neither running nor related to the physiology of the human body.

One of my friends was berated by Runner I.K.E. and told that she is “out of shape because she’s sore after a half marathon that she didn’t PR in.”


Oh, thems is fightin’ words.

I am not a fan of runners judging other runners.

  1. Are you a fitness/medical professional?
  2. Are you his/her coach?
  3. Did they ask for your opinion?

If the answer to even one of these is “NO” then keep your thoughts to yourself! Who, after someone tells you they ran a half-marathon yesterday, says ANYTHING except “That’s awesome!”? Ummm…no one.

Let me lay a little science on you. Soreness happens because of a variety of physiological reasons. Diet, training, course, lactic threshold, speed, exertion levels during the race, recovery practices, and a whole host of other factors feed into why someone is sore after a race, PR or not.

You know what soreness tells me? That runner worked hard.

Who feels me on this one? Ouch!

So next time you feel the urge to critique another runner’s performance, DON’T. Tell them they are Wonder Woman/Superman and give ’em a high five.

My money is on Wonder Woman. Hell hath no fury like a woman in a bustier.

Be nice. Don’t be Runner I.K.E.

Now go out and run!


You’re fat.

You’re not a “real runner”.

You’re ugly.

You’ll never be as skinny/built as her/him.

You’re a loser.

You’re stupid.

You’re not fast enough to qualify for Boston.

You suck.

Now replace every “you” with “I” and tell me how many of these statements you made out loud or to yourself today. Go on, admit it. You’ve made at least one of these statements in the past 24 hours, haven’t you?


Would you ever, EVER let someone say those things about a friend of yours? Then why say them about yourself? It doesn’t make it ok just because it’s you saying it about you, in fact it’s worse!

Abby: The Awkward Years Where I Was My Own Biggest Bully

Words are powerful. Words turn into beliefs and beliefs are not something you part with easily. The words that people say to us can hurt, yes, but the words that we say to ourselves are more important than anything.

I don’t want to turn all of you into vapid narcissists (I happen to know one of those and let me tell you, it’s a fascinating/frustrating personality disorder) but do yourself a favor and start boosting yourself up instead of beating yourself down.

I am awesome, even when I'm a sweaty beast with no PR!

You’ve heard it said before and I’ll say it again just for good measure, running is mental. If you keep telling yourself you’re going to bonk at mile 5/10/22, chances are you will, regardless of how you trained. However, if you stay positive, don’t panic and remain calm, you give yourself a much better chance at grabbing that PR at the finish line.

If you go through life saying, “Oh, it’s just my unlucky lot in life that XXX will happen to me” then I promise, XXX will probably happen to you. STOP. NOW. Stop beating yourself up. Stop putting yourself down. Stop being the biggest bully in your own life.


Start by loving who you are, being proud of what you’ve accomplished, and looking forward to where you are going.

Now go out and run!