I’m Not That Girl

Yesterday was National Running Day. Well, to me, yesterday was My Son’s First Birthday FIRST and National Running Day second.

Let me come back to this.

I am also, apparently, most likely to have my fictitious business plan become an actual reality.

I am Most Likely to Go On a Huge Tangent in My Writing. I am also, apparently, most likely to have my fictitious business plan become an actual reality.

Did you guys see Wicked? I read the book (great sci-fi/fantasy book!) and saw the show (eh) but I remember listening to Idina Menzel (aka Adel Dazeem) sing “I’m Not That Girl” and identifying with the lyrics in my own sort of way.

“Blithe smile, lithe limb
She who’s winsome, she wins him
Gold hair with a gentle curl
That’s the girl he chose
And Heaven knows
I’m not that girl”

I don’t think I’m some undeserving ugly duckling, but where blogging is concerned, mine is certainly not the belle of the ball. I don’t understand coding or web design, so you guys are stuck with my boring  pre-made WordPress format.

I don’t take pictures everywhere of everything. I once had dinner with 3 other bloggers and they all immediately whipped their fancy cameras out when the food came. I was elbows deep in my pulled pork sandwich as they were posting on Instagram. Oops.

I like food.

I like food. I don’t have many “before” pictures of delicious food.

I have no photography skills to speak of and I don’t know how to work the timer on my iPhone camera (also didn’t know this was a thing until recently). You get selfies and whatever pictures anyone else takes here.

Super-attractive post-run selfies.

Super-attractive post-run selfies.

So, I gather you aren’t here for the Pinterest-worthy pictures. Or updates on my life and daily activities. Or the life and times of my beautiful son.

One thing I’m very proud of is that I’ve been able to keep my private life private, in spite of the benefits I might receive by sharing more. Bloggers who are willing to share more of their family, their everyday life, and post 5-10 pictures taken with mad skills and beautiful cameras are rewarded with sponsorships and/or cash.

I’m not that girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not me.

AM here to help you run stronger every day. I’m very happy to share my running journey with you, my personal health and fitness struggles, and all the knowledge I can about the body and how to make it stronger.

I have a white coat. Ask me questions.

I have a white coat. Ask me questions.

For everything else, you’ll just have to switch over to one of my friend’s very fabulous blogs. They’re prettier and far more interesting than mine. And that’s ok.

So yeah, I ran on National Running Day. I ran home as fast as I could from work so I could spend 20 minutes with my son before he went to bed on his first birthday. I didn’t stop to take a picture and only later realized it was what everyone else was talking about on social media.

I’m not that girl. And I’m not sorry (that’s Madonna, not Wicked).

I’m so humbled to know that anyone reads my blog. I hope I can help make you a better runner. And I hope you had a very happy National Running Day! It was glorious here in NYC yesterday…and today, for that matter. Springtime in New York is not to be missed.

I love my ASICS DS Racers and no one paid me to say that. They COULD pay me to say that...I wouldn't mind!

I love my ASICS DS Racers and no one paid me to say that. They COULD pay me to say that…I wouldn’t mind!

Now go out and run.

You Might Be a New York City Runner If…

I moved to New York after having lived and run in the Denver and Chicago suburbs.

I mastered the head nod or itty bitty wave for the early morning trails on the Highline Canal, where I would invariably acknowledge every other human being I passed on my morning run.

I learned to run against traffic so there are two sets of eyes looking out for me, not one. I also waived to the drivers as they slowed down to pass me.

I dutifully passed on the left and hugged the right side of whatever sidewalk I chose to pound my cross country miles on that day.

New York City is a different animal, and entirely different beast all together. We have our own rules and our own quirks. Here are my Top 10 “You Might Be a New York City Runner If…”

1. You see the same person every time you run but neither of you ever acknowledge the other’s existence.

2. Your run includes multiple boroughs. Or states.

Where Brooklyn at?

Where Brooklyn at?

3. You bring cab fare or a Metro card with you when you long run.

4. You know the run routes through boroughs that you don’t know how to get to by train or car.

5. You are more paranoid of being hit by a bicyclist than a car.

6. Your runs regularly include going over at least one bridge.



7. You run through neighborhoods you would never consider walking through.

8. On any given day in Central Park, you might see nuns on roller skates, a guy juggling while running, and Meb Keflezighi all on the same run.

9. You accidentally crash the JP Morgan Chase Challenge and audibly groan when you realize what you’ve done.

10. People say “The Park” and you know they mean Central Park.

What are your “You Might Be a New York City Runner If…” moments? Or maybe your city has its own little quirks. Tell me about it in the comments and I’ll feature my favorites on Friday!

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!

Don’t Freak Out

One of my not-so-favorite parts about this time of year is all the diet talk. It’s EVERYWHERE.

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, magazines, discount websites, and in every single conversation I overhear at the nail salon.

Image courtesy of Harper's Bazaar

Image courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar

A “Nine Day Wonder Diet”?!?! Do you know what you could do in 9 days that would do wonders? Get some sleep, drink some water, run some miles, and smile more often.

But NOOOOOOOOOOO. Harper’s Bazaar and every other magazine out there wants you to think they have a “Wonder Diet” that will miraculously make you look like Heidi Klum. Seriously, Heidi. Your body is sick. I know you work for it, so I don’t begrudge you, but my GOD you look fantastic!

Heidi runs on the river! Me, too! See you out there, girlfriend. (Image courtesy of Zimbio.com)

Heidi runs on the river! Me, too! See you out there, girlfriend.           (Image courtesy of Zimbio.com)

Here’s the thing. Holidays are festive. There are parties, finals, parties after finals, big dinners, late-night festivities, and COOKIES GALORE!!!! this time of year. It’s ok to enjoy the merriment of the season.

It is NOT, however, ok to…

  1. Stuff yourself and then complain you’re fat.
  2. Eat nothing and passive aggressively criticize everyone else who is.
  3. Get wasted every night, miss your morning run, and then whine about your slower 10K time.
  4. Run 100 miles this week because you had some delicious white chocolate fudge.
  5. Stress eat, abandon your workouts, pull all-nighters, and then starve yourself for a week.

Get a grip.

C is for Cookie and that's good enough for me. A life mantra, if you will.

C is for Cookie and that’s good enough for me. A life mantra, if you will.

This is not a healthy eating blog because, well, no one should model their eating off of me and my J-pouch diet (I’m still in need of a clever name for my pouch, by the way…). But runners are no less susceptible to the holiday food backlash than anyone else. We’re human after all.

Except Oscar. He is superhuman. (Image courtesy of the Washington Post)

Except Oscar. He is superhuman.                             (Image courtesy of the Washington Post)

So, keep running. Keep training. Have a merry, happy, wonderful holiday season. Enjoy your family and friends and that weird co-worker whose much more fun that you originally thought. Don’t go bananas but don’t also be that Judgemental Judy in the corner with your carrot sticks, scowling at everyone eating a cupcake off the dessert tray. No one likes that party guest.

Ignore the magazines and do what you do. Just don’t overdo.

Maybe get involved with the Runner’s World Streak (albeit a few weeks late) or try the Refine Method Challenge or check out Cooking Light‘s delicious holiday cookies. I’m a raspberry stripper fan, myself.

Mmmmm...can't get enough of these! Good thing they're kind of a pain in the butt to make.

Mmmmm…can’t get enough of these! Good thing they’re kind of a pain in the butt to make.

And if eggnog is what gets you through dinner with your family, then so be it. My personal preference is prosecco or sauvignon blanc, but desperate times call for desperate measures and if there’s alcohol in it, I’m drinking it. Enjoy the holidays, friends.

And don’t forget to go out and run!

P.S. Today is the last day of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week. I want to thank you all for your kind words and for spreading awareness about Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. In case you ever want to know where you can learn more or donate to the cause, there is a great non-profit called The Great Bowel Movement whose founders are some very lovely ladies I have the pleasure to know.

And if you ever want to raise money for the CCFA, Team Challenge is national and they do seriously fun half-marathons in places like Napa and Vegas. Helllllllloooo, Vegas 2013 anyone?

Thank you again for your continuing support of my super-sexy journey with this disease. Now go out and run!

BOOM! Ask me!!

BOOM! Ask me!!

Meet My Friends: Karen, The Ultra marathoner

Ultramarathons are technically anything over and above the 26.2 of a marathon. I once ran an unofficial ultramarathon. I ran a marathon and then ran back and ran the last mile again with Red. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I am definitely not signing up for any ultras in the future, but I wouldn’t count them out completely.

Now, meet my friend Karen. She and I met in high school (with Speedy, too!) and now she runs ultramarathons in the mountains and heat of North Carolina. Awesome, right? She’s pretty rad. You should get to know her. Ultramarathoners are cool.



Name: Karen Murphy

Age: 33

Occupation: Lecturer at Duke University, Business Analyst (whatever that means) American Journal Experts

Blog: cotrailrunnernc.blogspot.com

How many years you’ve been running:~20

How you got into running: I got too tall for gymnastics, was rebelling against the wishes of my parents that I go into soccer, and do not have the reflexes necessary to actually hit an object using another object. Also, I had always had good endurance when attempting to play those sports where you hit things with other things or throw things, so distance running seemed like a good fit.

What is your most favorite race you’ve run?

This is a crazy tough question. There are two races I run every year and love with all my heart: the Bolder Boulder (16 of the last 17 years), and the Uwharrie Mountain run (each of the last 9 years), so I guess those are my favorites because I keep coming back.

What is your proudest running moment?

That’s really hard to say – I’m kind of proud of everything and nothing with regard to running, but probably my most lasting proudest moment was the first time I got to run varsity cross-country in high school. I had worked so hard and it took two people being out of town, but I finally made it!

How do you build up to running ultras?

Make friends who run long races… they will take care of the rest 😛 Okay, really it’s just a matter of increasing the length of your long run. I think I started with a half marathon, then built up to a 20-mile trail race, then a marathon. As long as you build up incrementally, you don’t really notice a huge difference ( I promise you can run 5 more miles than a marathon… just walk the hills!) …and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to run a million miles a week. I’ve run lots of ultras running 3-4 days/week, with 50+% of my mileage coming on the weekend. It’s whatever works for you.

Who/what inspires you to run?

I don’t know that there’s any one person/thing that inspires me. Mostly, I just really enjoy running. It’s nice to be outside, in the forest, with just me and my shoes (and my water bottle and maybe some friends) to see where the day takes me.

What training plan have you followed and had success with?

I have to admit here that I don’t really do a very good job with training plans. When I’m getting ready for a race, I definitely make sure to get the long runs in, but otherwise, I have a pretty established set of weekly runs that I do with various people/groups, and for reasons that are more social than anything else, I pretty well stick with those regardless of what I’m training for.

What is the one thing you’ve done that has made the most difference in your running?

Running with people who are faster than me. Makes a huge difference.

What is your favorite non-running way to sweat?

Yoga – it’s a nice yin to my running yang (you see what I did there?)

What is the toughest hurdle you have to overcome in your running life?

NC summers. I joke and complain a lot, but I am honestly terrible in heat and humidity, and we have both in spades here from about June through Mid-September. It is a real fortitude check every year, but man does it make those first few crisp days in the fall seem amazing!

Do you run in the morning or at night?

Mostly in the morning – I think I would naturally be more of an evening runner, but it just works better in my schedule to run in the morning. …and running in the evening is pretty unbearable here in the summer 😦

What keeps you going when you’re having a crappy run?

Hm. Not sure. I guess mostly having a plan before heading out the door. On days where I suspect I won’t be feeling good for some reason, I’m pretty good about saying I can run as slow as I need to as long as I’m out there, so I’ll just plod along and get through it. Bad runs have also been known to turn into lovely hikes at times – that’s the great part about trail running!

Do you have a pre-race/pre-run ritual?

Nope – I used to always eat oatmeal before a long run or race, but I kind of got tired of oatmeal, so now I go with whatever sounds good and will keep me going.

Why ultras vs. marathons?

I always tell people the food is better and the people are nicer. Both of these things are true (in general, of course). I actually think the real difference is trails vs. roads, but I’ve had world record holders take the time to tell me ‘good job’ after trail ultras. You just don’t see that kind of thing at a road race. Also, I’m not that fast, but I’m pretty stubborn, so ultras are a natural fit 😛

Why should someone start running?

It’s a great way to get outside and see more than you would on a hike. It’s also a great way to meet people. Probably 80% of my friends here were met running.

What is the best piece of advice you ever got about running and who gave it to you?

I don’t know if it’s the best piece, but it’s certainly the most memorable: “If you start in the front…and stay there…you’ll win.” -Morris Vogel *note – I have yet to successfully apply that advice, but maybe some day…

Rapid Fire Questions

-Run alone or with others: there is an important place for both in my world – lots of good thinking gets done on solo runs and lots of good socializing on the group runs!

-Favorite piece of running gear: an older version of this:http://www.ultimatedirection.com/p-540-fastdraw-extreme.aspx?category=hand-helds&colorname=fern – the neoprene makes it so your hand doesn’t sweat all over the bottle and get annoyingly slippery.

-Run with or without music: without – always without

-Treadmill, love it or hate it: ohmygosh – hate. I start counting the steps for every .1 mile. I’ve discovered I can tolerate the elliptical, though, if I watch TV while doing it and race through the commercials (as a side note, A&E has really long commercial breaks)

-Race fuel: I have recently discovered the wonders of Vespa – it’s made of Japanese Wasp magic. Other than that, a rotating variety of Gu-like products, salty boiled potatoes at aid stations, Coke, Nuun, cup o’ noodles is the most amazing thing during a cold ultra (though I disapprove of the styrofoam container, so I’m a bit conflicted here), whatever else the nice aid station people have out that looks good

-Gatorade or water: My first choice is Nuun, preferably berry, but I’m pretty flexible.

-Dream PR: All PRs are good PRs – with trail races, you almost have to have a PR for every course because they’re so different.

-Runner’s World or Running Times: Running Times, but really Ultrarunning because they have pictures of people I know every so often and their race write-ups are awesome.

-Favorite speed workout: I have two that I like in that “thank you sir, may I have another” type way. The first is 800m repeats alternating between 5k and marathon pace (no rest between) for 4-6 miles. It doesn’t sound that hard, but it’s surprisingly insidious after a couple miles. The second I discovered last fall thanks to our fearless Bull City Track Club leader: You do 5×100 at say stride pace (run 100 turn around, run back, turn around, etc.) then walk back to the starting line – do that say 8 times. It’s really really hard, but it’s over quickly. and you feel that awesome sense of having pushed yourself right to the edge of total muscle exhaustion for the rest of the day.

-Favorite running gear store: Bull City Running!! ❤ If you’re ever in or near Durham, NC, you need to stop in – everyone there is awesome and they know everything about everything about shoes.

-Favorite place to run: This is another tough one – nostalgia says the Highline Canal trail in S. Denver, but my local running home is Umstead Park in Raleigh.

-NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon: I did drink the kool-aid and ran Boston last year. It was kind of neat – the Wellesley corridor really is as amazing as everyone says, and some guy was offering fig newtons around mile 14, which was awesome. I’ll be honest, though, by about mile 17 all I wanted in the world was to turn. That’s a very long, straight race. New York would also probably be interesting, but my body has made it abundantly clear that it is not interested in any more pavement marathons, so I’m listening for now.

Sooooo…maybe I’m a little bit more swayed toward the ultramarathon route. Not this year, but Karen’s done a good job of making it seem more than possible. Walk, run, enjoy the scenery, eat food along the way–sounds like a picnic to me!

Now go out and run!