Tag Archives: colitis

ZERO Week (almost over)

The final week before a marathon (or any goal event really) is both an awesome time and stressful time. You’re excited and you’re fit (hopefully), but by resting more than usual you feel not-so-fit. You’re excited to run the marathon, but on the other hand it’s a marathon, it’s so LONG and it gets so darn difficult…and so on and so forth. There are more opportunities for ambivalence than a political convention. For many people yesterday was the peak of these mixed-feelings as it was the 3rd anniversary of 4-15-2013, and the deaths of 3 people (later, 4), with 260 people sustaining injuries, and also the day when many are flooding into Boston to kick-off 4 days of indulgence in running lore.


2014: Synchro-Myofacial-Release

One of the things that draws many to marathon running is its duality. It is an individual sporting competition but also a thing that hints at the very definition of community and teamwork. This duality will be the exact driving force behind my own performance this Marathon Monday. I’m going to be running with Meredith. We’ve never actually done a race side by side before. She’s one of the best friends (and humans, period) I’ve ever known. And yes, we’ve logged many hours running side by side, we’ve composed the Great American Novel’s worth of text messages about running, we’ve coached and counseled each other in running and in life, and we’ve run the same races plenty of times. But never 100% together.


2013: Shakeout run, SoCal Style

After the rough fall season I had with my health, and then totally bonking at the LA Marathon also due to illness, I decided not to go to the Catalina Marathon after all (discussed here). And then, I sort of tanked emotionally and physically (again). Instead of increasing my stress by trying to stick to my training plan for Boston I switched up to a more intuitive style for a couple weeks, and that coincided with racing season kicking off. I love races. Not because I’m particularly competitive really, I just love the feel of races…people are so friendly at them, and I love that while you’re participating in a race from 1 mile to an ultra-marathon that’s all that exists for that period of time: running. It’s good medicine.

Top: "yaaay we're going to run on trails!" Middle: "Yay, we ran on trails" Bottom: muddy happy trail running Bootleggers.

2016: Paleozoic Trail Races Silurian Spring 25k: Top: “yaaay we’re going to run on trails!”
Middle: “Yay, we ran on trails”
Bottom: muddy happy trail running Bootleggers.



Basically my strategy became: run when I wanted to and do whatever type of run I felt would bring me a psychological boost (while maintaining a minimum of marathon readiness), and I would race for the fun of it. This way, even though I’m feeling heavy, slow, and tired (all the time, more or less), I wouldn’t lose sight of how much I love running, and how much it makes the rest of life manageable.

The Good Life Race 5k: Start coral happy place with Lauren. The last 50 meters, and the start of the women's race. (I'm in the front!)

The Good Life Race 5k:
Start coral happy place with Lauren. The last 50 meters, and the start of the women’s race. (I’m in the front!)

Even once I decided to switch to this love-based running strategy I was consumed with kind of wanting to bow out of Boston this year. Which, well, is a bit out of character for me. What really was going on was that I have gained weight and haven’t been getting enough rest – all related to overall stress I think, and that was being channelled into a complete lack of confidence. 0dcae5b0347e3156b1a13392aa9c3825I spent a lot of  time thinking about all the reasons why it would be better NOT to run Boston this year, and although all of these things are true, it’s embarrassing to admit I nearly committed to a DNS because of them: I don’t have the money to spend on the trip, I’ve gained too much weight to feel good when I run, I have no chance for a PR and it’s been so long that another slow marathon will leave me too frustrated to handle, my gut issues (celiac, colitis, diverticulosis – for those who don’t already know everything about my plumbing) have been unpredictable lately and I don’t want to eat out for 4 days, I have too much work to catch up on….and so on…you see how ridiculous this all was at this point.

Whenever I was talking with people about their running during this time, and especially when talking with Meredith or other close friends, I noticed that all those excuses weren’t present in my mind. So I asked Meredith what she thought about running together. Like, TOGETHER – together. Like, you know, teamwork. But we’re focused on her goals and the purpose of my race is to make her race better (hopefully). She was in! Phew! The magic in that is this will make my race better. It will make my race, period. Ever since making that decision, I’ve been enjoying (almost) every run, and have been so excited for marathon weekend.


2016: Post Shamrock Shuffle 8k with some BRC essentials.

That’s the beautiful thing, not just within running, but in life. If you put your focus on others, and strive to lift them up. You end up getting lifted up too. In fact, you ‘re really the one getting the better deal.



Kelly, always saving the world and stuff.

P.S. I’d be inexcusably remiss if I didn’t note also that for the second year in a row I’m staying with my wonderfully generous and thoughtful friends Kelly and Tish, who live in Boston.  Kelly is running the LONDON MARATHON next weekend! Kelly is also fundraising for VICTA a charity providing support for children with visual impairments. As a personal favor to me, please head to her fundraising page and drop a British Pound or two!


Weaknesses, Ambivalence, & a Great 10k

I’m at a week (and a half) in recovery mode: Last week I tried to get a bit more sleep (success), not work a ton of extra hours (moderate success), and ran only 23 total miles. I was feeling a lot more optimistic about the rest of Winter training and going into the Spring racing season. Especially after running the Back On My Feet Mardi Gras 10k on Saturday without falling apart (although it wasn’t without cramping).

The course was .20 short. Whoopsy. Mile 5 was slow because we ran into the 5k..bod and weave isn't in my repertoire.

The course was .20 short. Whoopsy. Mile 5 was slow because we ran into the 5k..bob and weave isn’t in my repertoire.

With honesty I’ve concluded that some of the discomfort and bonkyness I experienced at the LA Marathon wasn’t from having a cold (although that was the biggest contributor and certainly exacerbated things), but also was an illustration of several weak spots in my training and other habits that all reacted at once to the stress of 26.2 miles, on a hilly course, while fighting a lack of rest, a high level of stress, and illness over the past few months while also running at a (for me) high volume.


Screen shot from thumbnail…used without permission…is marathonfoto really never going to decide to charge a reasonable prices for downloading images?

Also, side note, I’m on my second “rest day” in a row (because of logistics and weather), so it’s plausible I’ve entered a reality distortion based panic where I can’t stop eating, feel 20lbs heavier, and am certain I’m out of shape. You know, the usual.

What are these training weaknesses? In no particular order here are the things I’ve pin-pointed, which if given some attention, it’s realistic to expect I would run (and generally feel) much better:

  1. DIET: True, I maintain a diet that more-or-less keeps me  more-or-less feeling good, and out of the hospital. Having faulty guts  means that I eat much “better” than the average person. But there are several areas where my vices rule me: lots of sugar, lots of coffee, lots of wine. If I just halved my consumption of those three things , I might wake up looking like Shalane… or at least, I’d reliably be able to button my slacks instead of trying to make leggings work-suitable. us-olympic-marathon-trials-results-team-amy-cragg-shalane-flanagan
  2. STRENGTH: I’m as total weak-ass. Figuratively and quite literally. I have very little strength and gave up my weight lifting habit once my weekly mileage went over 40. So, that was like 4 years ago, and now I have all kinds of hip, back, and core issues when I run… because those areas are so damn weak! And, as suggested, I think my ass is pretty wimpy too.
  3. SLEEP: Poor Jorge can share hundreds of anecdotes illustrating how much I struggle in the morning. I’ve been like this my entire life. Doesn’t matter how early I get to bed, my brain, mood, and body take FOREVER to wake up in the morning. If I sleep less than 8 hours (and who has time for THAT?!) it’s worse, and for me sleep debt seems to accumulate very fast and I almost always develop a fever, or catch whatever virus/bacteria is going around – this is what happened in Jan/Feb first the flu then the cold. I was logging only 5-6hrs of sleep per night from Thanksgiving until I got back from LA and said….NOooooooo I can’t take this anymore!
  4. STRESS: Productivity and stress have such a weird relationship. High productivity increases overall stress, but also decreases it… but then if overall stress gets too high then productivity slows down – creating more stress! GAAAAH! This is my life.

    This counts as a whole week's worth of ancillary work, right?

    This counts as a whole week’s worth of ancillary work, right? (and to be clear: this is me NOT Shalane.

  5. CLARITY OF GOALS: For the first time, outside of wanting to break 3:10 in the marathon this year, I don’t really know what I want from running in 2016 … which makes it hard to focus, do the supplemental work, drink less wine,  plan training, and choose races. Which brings me to my next point.

I’m still waffling like crazy over how to proceed in terms of racing and training. More specifically, I can’t decide whether I should go run the Catalina Marathon on March 19th, or stay home and run the Cary March Madness Half Marathon on the 20th (already registered). I registered for Cary on New Years Eve (it sells out within minutes most years), and then last month, very impulsively I entered a giveaway for an entry into the Catalina Marathon. I was really excited when I won! As it says in my entry post, I ran the Eco Marathon in 2013, and LOVED it. I also managed to finish as the first female, and 7th overall… which was an awesome experience. I wrote about it here.FullSizeRenderWhat I failed to consider in my impulsivity, was that this race is 5 weeks after LA and 4 weeks before Boston, and although it’s a comped race entry, I still need to FLY TO CALIFORNIA, which ain’t free. If the weather and sea conditions cooperate I don’t need accommodations because my bother, SIL, nephew and I will go out to the island on their boat. I usually take 36 or so hours to not be sea-sick, but I mean, who sleeps before a marathon anyway? Not me! The bigger concern is running with “sea legs”, basically then you feel sea-sick, but while you’re on land, running a race that is 26 miles with like 4,000ft of elevation gain. Awesome?

Note: not the actual boat.

Note: not the actual boat.

I honestly feel ambivalent, I can get on board with going and with not going. The biggest appeal is an extra visit with my family . I feel too awkward to ask to defer the entry, because, you know. Contest. But I also feel like a douche if i don’t use it. I need to make a decision so I can figure out how to train…

I can’t decide what to do. 

Thanks for hanging in here with me, now it’s time to CROWD-SOURCE this, yay!

What do you think? Catalina: yes or no?  (follow-up question, am I stuck being a jackass no matter how I handle this?)

Reduce training volume by 20% to make time/energy for supplemental work: yes or no?

Give up candy and wine: just kidding, don’t answer this one.


Which Results Are The Important Ones?

I ran the LA Marathon yesterday, and although what follows may seem to have a dreary tone, I’ve got about a hundred things that when I think about them they make me laugh, so overall I’m in a good place. There was a seemingly unending and hilarious series of small and large calamities leading up to this race, most of which I’ll leave out of this post in the name of talking about some other things. But before I get into it, I have to upfront thank my sister-in-law and mother for journeying to the finish line, Meredith for traveling from San Francisco to spend the weekend with me and my crazy clan, and Erica who was probably the sole reason I made it to the start…because I set my alarm for 4:30pm, not am. Which means if I’d been at my brother’s house, and not a hotel in downtown LA, well, there’s no way I’d have made it on time!

One of the things about running that drew me in and has kept me plugging away is the allure of predictable success. The premise that if you complete x, y, z actions (training details) then you can expect x, y, z results (faster races). The challenge with this concept is that  you have to maintain a sort of aerial view of your training and racing in order for this rule to be supported. There is a constant temptation look at single races and workouts and get sucked into flip-flopping between thinking you’re either the inevitable next member of the olympic team or you should give up running forever, because there’s obviously no hope for improvement.

Another challenge of the a+b=c theory of running is that how we define success, our rate of improvement, the ceiling of our abilities, and how much we can manipulate our daily life to support training is highly fluid. That is, all of these things vary across people, and within each of us across time.

Since my first marathon in 2010, if you’re looking from afar, I have slowly increased the volume and intensity of my training cycles (I’m not going to get into specifics in the name of, trying to be succinct -probably a futile effort). For the most part I’ve seen a positive relationship between these increases and increases in my performance across distances on race days. But, if you take a close up view, this journey is riddled with full-stops, breaks, bonks, DNS’s, and (one) DNF. Admittedly, I’m a little stuck in the myopic view right now, I’m feeling a bit desperate for a breakthrough or at least some unquestionable evidence (i.e. marathon PR) that overall my performance is still improving, or unquestionable evidence that I need to change the way I train.

My current marathon training plan of choice is the Pfitzinger 12 week 70 miles per week training plan. That is, you begin the first week running a total of 55 miles, and at the peak of the cycle you have 4 weeks at 70 miles.pfitz Like most plans out of a book (read: not individualized) this one has weekly elements that target improving lactate threshold (tempo runs), VO2 Max (intervals and goal pace runs), and your glycogen storage and fat utilization (total volume, long runs, medium-long runs). That is to say, each week you spend some time running hard, running at or near goal marathon race pace, running easy, running tired, and put in as many miles as you can without flirting with diminishing returns. Hopefully the outcome is that you end the training cycle with your training and racing paces faster than your previous training cycle, or the start of this one. 

I’ve now “completed” two cycles of this plan.  The quotations are required because in the first cycle, last fall, right as the first taper week began I got very sick with colitis and diverticulitis complications. Then, this cycle for the LA Marathon I had the flu, and had it bad, during the second peak week, then 5 days out from race day developed a cold which began moving from my sinuses to my chest about 36hrs out.

The weather report for racing in LA was not ideal. In Chicago “unseasonably warm” in February means 40 degrees, in SoCal is means 90. But with the early start (6:55am) and running toward the ocean I really never felt hot. In fact, coming down the last couple of miles into Santa Monica, there was a dense fog and I felt rather cold. That said, I also wasn’t running very hard, or fast…Ok…at that point I wasn’t really running at all.

The LA Marathon course is NOT an easy one. People kept telling me it was mostly rolling hills. Those people clearly don’t know what “rolling hills” means. The course alternates between intermittently shoving you off cliffs, and long never-ending moderate inclines. But this could just be my bitterness and resentment talking. Even if you’re feeling at the peak of your game, I suspect it would be challenging to run an even effort or even pace on this course.

Unfortunately, for this race my strategy moved from “target a 3:10 finish and run smart” to “don’t die and/or quit running forever” within the span of a week. The highlight reel of my performance yesterday is as follows (with mile splits for your amusement):

  1. Struggled to slow down for first few miles because options included either blowing out your quads barreling down the hills, or blowing out your knees and hamstrings trying to slow down (do I have that backwards?) — oh and the constant certainty that someone was going to fall.  (7:17, 7:10, 7:18)
  2. Spent 10 miles feeling responsible for some mans BQ because he wasn’t wearing watch and the course clocks SUCKED, and he kept asking me about my pace (note: he was totally nice about it and non annoying). TRANSLATION: my modified race plan to run 7:30-7:45’s and prevent bonking due to chest cold? fail)  (7:19, 7:35, 7:30, 7:15, 7:22, 7:26, 7:15, 7:16, 7:13) *he later took up with the 3:15 pace group as they passed us -phew.
  3. Halfway. Coughing a lot. Shirt full of snot.(7:31, 7:29, 7:08, 7:24)
  4. Mile 17. Chest discomfort. First walk breaks. (7:41, 7:44, 7:37)
  5. Mile 20. Longer walk breaks, chest discomfort spreading. Made friends with a very hungover 2:30-something marathoner. (8:09)
  6. Mile 21 – stopped for a beer with new friend (9:18)
  7. Soon after – abandoned by new friend because he had to pee/saw something shiny – decided to start jogging
  8. Mile 22-25 my diaphragm didn’t seem to be working properly, lots of abdominal muscle spasms and cramps. Lots of stopping to feebly try and stretch them out.(8:53, 8:31, 9:27, 7:57)
  9. Mile 25+ stop to see Meredith, Mom, and Teresa (my SIL) (9:15)
  10. Mile 25.5 to finish – maybe 10 full stops, hard to stay upright for the abdominal cramping. (FOREVER)
  11. Stupid cold. Lame immune system. Running is hard.

For once I perfectly expressed all my emotions: “meh”.

I’ve got two marathons coming up in the next 9 weeks. First, Catalina Island, which isn’t (perhaps obviously) a race at which I’m going to be looking to PR at, I love Catalina and I’m lucky to have a brother who goes there often with his trawler, so to the degree that it’s not insane to do so, I’ll be training around that one. Then, Boston, where I do want to go out looking for a PR. But I’m stuck.

Which data do I look at to decide if my current goal of running 3:10 pace is reasonable and/or if I’m training properly? Do I look at those workouts where I hit the training targets reliably, or do I look at the fact that 3 times now I’ve gone out at 3:10 pace in a marathon and 3 times I’ve bonked. (Boston – hypothermia/med tent/3:19, Bayshore – DNF at mile 20, LA – well…the above).

While it’s true that in each of these cases there were variables that affected performance: wet/cold weather, proximity to the previous ordeal, and moderate illness (in that order), I also don’t feel that I’ve had a very strong half marathon performance in the past two years where I feel like I can confidently say I’m ready for a big jump up in marathon performance.

What say you internet running (experts) friends?


No Frills Eve in Minocqua

Tomorrow, this will the the 22 mile mark of the No Frills Marathon!

Tomorrow, this will be the 22 mile mark of the No Frills Marathon!

Yesterday, run-buddy Meredith and I drove from Chicago to Minocqua, Wisconsin. Not getting lost was a hugely good omen for tomorrow’s race. We’re fairly certain that the same trip last year took us twice as long.

The scenery was OK. Just, ok.

The scenery was OK. Just, ok.

We arrived at about 4pm and spent a while catching up with Meredith’s folks, then hit some golf balls (they live on a golf course, which tomorrow’s marathon course runs through). We had a great time, and have already started to strategize how we can incorporate golf, or the Diversey driving range into our lakefront training runs. I think my chiropractor and yoga instructor will both approve, as they agree I have serious deficits when it comes to spinal mobility (hopefully they also won’t mind my liberal simplification of the issue).

We went for a late dinner:

martys north

At dinner, I had an experience that has been played out so many times I don’t understand why people don’t talk about it more. I’ve been more symptomatic over the past couple of months and am planning to commit to really getting the last questionable elements out of my diet when I get home from this trip, to see if I feel better.

Anyway, the restaurant last night had several items on the menu marked as “Gluten Free”. But really all they did was replace wheat pasta with gluten free pasta, the sauces and other elements still had gluten or in the case where I asked, the chef was using wheat flour…so, the meals marked as “gluten free” were absolutely not free of gluten! Had I eaten them, even with the pasta substitution, I would have gotten very sick.

Because I know you’re curious: I had broiled haddock and a baked potato. It was delicious!

In other food news, Meredith’s mother is an absolute angel! I had a big bowl of cereal for dessert when we got back to the house. Before the Boston Marathon this year, I had a terrible time getting enough carbohydrates in the 72hrs before the race, and ended up eating a whole box of gluten free cereal, in a panic I should add, the night before. So I laughed (with joy) when, without any suggestion, she had this waiting for me when we arrived.

So good!

So good!

Back to the marathon!

I’m having a hard time accepting that tomorrow kicks off my 3 marathons in 3 months project! Meredith and I are psychologically prepping ourselves for a really hard race; it’s going to be very humid tomorrow, potentially stormy, and warmer than we’d like. BUT, 20 miles of the race are on a beautiful trail that runs through a pine forest…so my complaints are at a minimum.

6:50am Fog over the 7th hole. 24hrs (and 10 minutes) until the start of No Frill 2013!

6:50am Fog over the 7th hole. 24hrs (and 10 minutes) until the start of No Frills 2013!

When we start running tomorrow I will only have run 23 miles since last Friday. My training plan had called for closer to 55 in that time. But my body needed a lot of recovery time after I fell last Friday. And although I know that I made the right adjustments, and my fitness shouldn’t be at all affected, the drastic change in my routine, and my plan, has really shaken my confidence.

What’s counter-balancing this hiccup however, is that my fundraising effort is off to an amazing start! Check it out here.



I am so incredibly inspired by how many people have stepped up to support Garden Center Services, and I’m comically (as in: Poor Meredith is forced to listen to me talk and talk and talk about it) excited to continue this through to November 9th when I’ll climb those massive hills on Catalina Island for marathon number 3!


Things are piling up.

I meant to post this the other day, and forgot because I put it on Facebook.

2013 bib

At Boston your BIB number and Wave/Corral assignments are based on your entry time. So it translates basically into a seeded position, with the faster runners up front. A part of my mostly arbitrary definition of mastery when it comes to running, and marathons specifically, is to be placed in the first corral at Boston. So I guess 2013 won’t be my last year to line up in Hopkinton. But hopefully it will be my last year without a red bib.

This year I'll try not to look like such a nerd. And I won't wear my "nun uniform" as my run-buddies call it.

This year I’ll try not to look like such a nerd. And I won’t wear my “nun uniform” as my run-buddies call it.

What I consider “mastery” of the sport of running (age-grouper style of course), seems to be picking up new criteria every few months. So the thought  I had in 2010 that “I’ll just qualify for Boston, run Boston, then be ‘over’ marathons” has now become a novel of if-then scenarios.

Until last night I hadn’t  been for a run since Monday night, when I did my tempo run on a treadmill next to my running buddy Erin. If it hadn’t been for her I would have skipped that run too because my insides are in revolt (again) and it was windy, wet, and miserable on the lakefront.

If you sit and think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that means I only went 2 days without running. Which is probably, for most people (specifically those not training for a marathon, or a goal race of any distance for that matter), nothing more than evidence that I am neurotic and maybe even just looking for things to sit and fret over.

I assure you that isn’t the case. But as a goal race gets closer, every run altered, targeted missed or  even achieved, each dietary misstep, or those mundane chores of life that become harder to fit it when you’re spending so much time and energy training, all start to pick up extra meaning.

I missed two days of running because firstly, I’ve been using those free hours when I’d usually jump to get my workout in to sleep. Secondly, my unique concoction of inflammatory bowel diseases decided to throw some new symptoms at me, which made me A) freak the hell out, and B) made running very painful.

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but the gluten-free diet isn’t yet shaping up to be the magic-bullet for my Colitis and Celiac symptoms that everyone seems to tout. But I was prepared for it to perhaps take 6 months. Some symptoms really have cleared up to near zero levels, but others haven’t.

I honestly don't know the source for this. A coworker  posted it on Facebook weeks ago and I thought it was hysterical.

I honestly don’t know the source for this. A coworker posted it on Facebook weeks ago and I thought it was hysterical.

In one of those acts of mystical timing that friends sometimes have, I got an email from a friend who trained with the Boston Bound group last year but has since moved to the left coast (Hi Andy!), that totally gave me an attitude adjustment. Andy (whom I still hold responsible for my 10k PR and first ever win) sent me a message on Monday asking how training was going and his responses to my response motivated me to step back from the edge when I got home from work yesterday. I was very seriously considering taking the whole week off of running, eating a few bags of Cadbury Mini-eggs and dealing with the consequences by cracking open a Wine Cube and a sixer of Whiskider. 

Anyway, never fear, I’ll stick to my training plan, the Gluten-Free diet, and the weight loss effort. Just because something doesn’t get you to the goal immediately, doesn’t mean it isn’t working.

Now if only I could get a grip on the other stressors that seem to be piling up:

runner laundry


A Porta-Potty Miracle and “Like” Challenge #3

Reader Advisory: I am going to mention poop. If that bothers you, turn back now. Here’s a story of my candy-love, my guts, and last night’s run/”like” challenge.

Background:  In 2009 I was diagnosed with an uncommon form of Colitis and also Celiac Disease,  at first I followed a prescribed diet, then I didn’t. Now, after nearly two years of masking symptoms with medication (over the counter and prescriptions) and accepting chronic discomfort, I’ve taken the responsible route and gone gluten-and-mostly-trigger-free in 2013.  In nut-shell, often when I eat stuff, my immune system wages war on my digestive tract, and I have a pity party.

Introduction: I love these

This delicious candy is only available for the short window of February and March each year, so last year I consumed probably  a dozen bags of them. I even saved two bags and packed them to have after running Boston last April. True story, ask my mother, she shared them with me while I nursed a hangover the day after the marathon. Yes, I was more focused on the hangover than any running related issues.

Anyway, I saw they were stocked at Target and the grocery store on Tuesday, and couldn’t stop thinking about them! So yesterday morning I did about 15 minutes of internet research which rendered the following results (which may or may not be accurate):

  • In the UK Cadbury mini-eggs are bonafide gluten free
  • In the US Cadbury is operated by Hersey and they use leftover ingredients from bigger candies to make anything mini- which means that the ingredients list is a guesstimate…
  • Hersey maintains that the mini-eggs candies are 20ppm Gluten (I’m not totally confident I am saying that right) which is technically “gluten free” by the US labeling standards.
  • Blogs and other GF resource sites offer totally mixed information regarding the “gluten risk” of Cadbury mini-eggs.

So I came to the only rational decision possible. I bought a bag while driving between meetings.

The rising action: In an impressive show of self-restraint I ate EXACTLY 14 mini-eggs (a serving size is 12) over the course of 90 minutes. 1:30-3pm

I felt a little stirring in my stomach, but it was the sort of sensation that can A) be ignored, and B) be many different things. Foreshadow: my body does not consider 20ppm to be gluten free.

So I went on my run as planned at about 5:30pm. As soon as I started running repeats at 5k-ish pace, my abdomen started to cramp.

Obviously this was a totally awesome development.

I was able to breathe through it and nail (woohoo!) the repeats, the recovery intervals, however, were a little stressful as it became clear that I would need to locate a bathroom. And soon.

Once I was into my cool-down (3 miles from home), the relaxed running pace was making my abdomen cramp more, and my entire GI tract was now very active. I changed my course so that my cooldown would be cut short by about a mile, and I’d come across a few places where I knew there were bathrooms within a mile (Starbucks, Walgreens etc).

Turns out, I didn’t have a mile.

The Climax: I was probably less than a half mile from public restroom paradise when I had to totally stop moving. My colon was going to cleanse itself regardless of my feelings, plans, or geographical location.

My next thought was actually something like “auw, maaan, now I am going to have to retract all those snarky “pooper” comments I made following Boston last year…” (Seriously, that event had to have set a record for people evacuating their bowels in their running shorts.)

I then realized I had a very rapid decision to make, I could:

1.) let things go behind some nearby trees that weren’t anything like a “grove”, and risk complete and utter public humiliation, and/or being ticketed for indecent exposure or something worse…let’s be frank, I’d deserve a worse charge for what was about to happen.

2) attempt to make it to a toilet, which would inevitably mean destroying a perfectly lovely pair of Lululemon tights. (and further public shaming as I had nearly 2 miles of city streets to cover before I got home)

It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve been so rapidly and severely struck with an episode of tooth chattering diarrhea, and at this point I wasn’t sure but I might actually start vomiting before I made decision.

I could taste metal.

And, I ‘m not proud of this, but I started to cry. Which then brought a memory of the summer of 2009 (pre-diagnosis). I’d had chronic stomach pain, fevers, and diarrhea for about 6 weeks and after 3 doctors was convinced I must be having a mental break, or I was dying. I got extremely sick in the bathroom in the grocery store, and the toilet clogged. As I was walking to find maintainance, a women came running after me and (I swear she was) yelling “Jesus, go back and flush the toilet!”. I left my grocery cart and ran home, bawling. I was 27 years old, and had never felt so humiliated.

All of these thoughts probably happened over 2 minutes or less. But if felt like ages. I standing in between the path and the parking lot near Diversey Harbor.

In one last desperate hope for a sanitary and not devastating solution I turned 360 degrees and actually laughed with glee.

There, near the empty harbor, not 400 feet away were 2 porta-potties. I shuffled and gagged (ayup) my way over to them. They were positioned under a light and even had a fresh roll of toilet paper! It was a runner/IBD fantasy come to life!

Sometimes, an outhouse is as welcome as a winning lottery ticket.

My stomach hurt the rest of the way home, but I knew they were empty threats. (after such violent displays of warfare, I usually get at least 40 minutes of respite)

Epilogue: “Like” Challenge #3

After all of this drama I was home and ready to face this week’s “Like” challenge:

Please forgive me the typos.

Please forgive me the typos.

It appears, based on only the 3 weeks of doing this, that people are more likely to react to the more painful of exercise movements. So I added up blog entry “likes”, the Facebook original posting, and the shared posting and totaled 43.

sit up

43 seemed conservative enough, and it was. Except that the last 5 push-ups were really difficult, and Jorge, in a not so kind show of support, dropped and performed 40 chest-to-the-ground push-ups in the time it took me to do that last 5. Jerk.

push up low

I realize these pictures don’t exactly prove that I did all of these. But, well. Oh well. I did.

push up high

People have offered some pretty good, and painful sounding, suggestions for upcoming “Like” Challenges. Share more! I’ll Post the next one on Monday.

In the meantime, stay injury free and safe in this stormy weather!


WIAW: supplements that don’t scare me.

Dear gut, dear taper madness, dear puffy marshmallowy feeling body, dear marathon performance anxiety….


A salad for breakfast is GOOD. A juiced one is BETTER.

A whole bag of baby spinach, a couple of carrots, a handful+ of grape tomatoes, and 3 apples.

LESSON: when using your juicer before work at 7am…wash immediately. Do not wait until you get home from work at 8pm…that is not nice.


Want to join the “What I Ate Wednesday” party? Check out this blog.

My Mom is smart. Colitis is stupid.

Disclaimer: this post has toilet talk, and I am not going to apologize.

Maybe it was the Twizzlers. Maybe I contracted some weird virus while reading Bart Yasso’s book last night (he travels in it you know). Maybe my personal version of colitis is cyclical. Maybe it’s a reaction to stress. Maybe. Maybe, Maybe.

Bart Yasso has no idea who I am. But he is going to sign my training log one day.

I slept very poorly last night. I am not even confident that I was actually sleeping for any more than about 3 hours. My stomach didn’t really hurt, I just felt queezy. I blamed the Twizzlers, and the dogs, who were up and down and up and… (yah, we’re like that, the dogs sleep on the bed).

I got up this morning and headed out to run. It was uneventful until mile 4. Then I felt like someone kicked me in the gut. Just like that, no ramp up, just the punch. I had 2 miles to go before I would be back home, but I had to “go”. Immediately. I seriously considered squatting in a bush, but even at 6am that is totally unacceptable when you live in a major city. It made me really, really miss New Hampshire, where it’s actually acceptable under several sets of circumstances to shit in the woods (which just happens to be right next to the road).

I shortened my stride and picked up the pace, this effectively reduced impact and subsequent bouncing, but after another mile I was just in pain. I kept stopping and taking deep breaths and trying to make it look like I was stretching but really I was, you know, holding it, trying to get the courage to continue trudging home.

About a quarter-mile from home there is a grocery store. Now I wasn’t so much running anymore as I was sprinting, then sitting on bus stop benches, front stoops, and curbs. And repeat. I headed toward the grocery store to use their bathroom. But I had a lucid memory:

A little over two years ago when I was really sick but doctors were telling me that it was IBS, anxiety, and that I was depressed and not to worry about it (always be your own advocate!!!), I was shopping at the aforementioned grocery store when my stomach cramped up and I had to run to the bathroom. I was in there a while, so long in fact, that I had to flush I think 4 times. The last one didn’t work. I was embarrassed, and shaky, but left the bathroom to go inform customer service that I had indeed clogged up their toilet. I was only about 20 feet away when a woman came tearing out of the bathroom after me and yelled (I am not kidding, she was LOUD) “hey, go back and flush the toilet”.  I stopped dead in my tracks, I was so humiliated I couldn’t even blink, let alone think of a response. I turned and ran out the entrance doors. I ran all the way home (which was further at the time), and sobbed until my boyfriend got home about two hours later and said lots of horrible things about that random woman and lots of nice things about me. Which usually helps.

So, I turned, and made it home. I started to gag (strangely, I often get nauseous when symptomatic) whilst trying to get the front door unlocked. I made it to the bathroom, but was nearly 30 minutes late for my car-pool. The rest of my day didn’t go much better, and I again skipped my evening session (I might not do any weight lifting this week.) What I keep thinking about is that if this began at mile 3, I would have been right next to a public restroom. Figures.

I checked my email, waiting for my coffee to brew, and there was one from my Mom. All is said was “listen to your body”.

That email was sent at 6:27 am, right about when I felt that kick to my colon.

I love my momma. I hate colitis.

Momma and me


27 weeks out training recap plus cravings and colitis.

It seems like a load of horseshit to me when people say, “If you’re craving something, it must mean your body needs it.” Because if that is the case, my body was designed to operate off  birthday cake, apple pie, lasagna, and coke-cola.

Strangely, my cravings for junk food increase greatly whenever my digestive system is acting up.  I have tried for the last couple of years to suss out whether these cravings are caused by emotions or biology. I think both. Naturally, if you are in the bathroom a dozen times a day, you’ll have a natural drive to replace all those unused and lost calories, but also, it’s exhausting, and sometimes it’s hard not to feel like a victim. What better for a spell of the boo-hoo-buckets than cake, pie, and pop!? I also get stricken each bout with the attitude of “no matter what I eat it makes my stomach hurt anyway, so who cares”, I am working on that, and making progress. I promise.

I have been craving 2 things for the last two weeks, and my stomach has been crappy (it’s impossible to avoid puns with this disease so just accept it now) for about half of that time.

Apple pie and Fudgsicles. That’s what I’ve been pull-your-hair-out craving. Which is weird because I don’t think I’d had a fudgesicle in about 15yrs (until yesterday!)

yum...40 calories each (which only matters if you DO NOT eat the whole box at once)

There, craving number one under control. I find if keep ignoring a junky craving, I eventually cave into a shopping trip of confectionary delights the size of which could rival my body weight.

I have been devouring Macintosh apples this week. They remind me of home (New England), and good Mac apples have been hard to find in Chicago. Mac apples make the best pie…so craving number two actually does follow some logic. My birthday is in three weeks, my mother will be visiting then and I have already placed an order for her made-from-scratch apple pie when I hit the big 3-oh. But the craving persisted.

Then, this morning, at my spin class, one of my dear, sweet, super-fit, regular class participants brought me, wait for it….

a slice of homemade apple pie! ( I ate it in the car (with my fingers), it was mouth watering delicious).

And now I am craving free and back to being happy with some fruits and other whole foods 🙂 Amazing thing.

On to the business of training: 27 weeks out re-cap

Monday: 6 mi. (am), 9hrs sleep, still feeling pretty sluggish and phlegmy.

Tuesday: 3 mi. (am) 7hr sleep, chest/back/core strength session (pm)

Wednesday: 3mi (pm)-treadmill, arms/legs strength session(pm), 6hrs sleep

Thursday: 6mi (pm)-treadmill, 8hrs sleep, still coughing, run was a little tough 9mostly boredom)

Friday: Rest day! good timing too, I was very sleepy at work and feeling really anxious as a side effect (not so good when you work on a crisis team).

Saturday: Trinity-Triumph 5k! I had fun running: 21:35 (?), I wanted to enjoy myself so I didn’t push real hard. My dogs got tons of attention! 6.5hrs sleep.

Sunday: Waaay slept in, 9hrs. Taugh my usual Spin and Body Blast classes, then I did a abdominal circuit.

Total mileage: 21

I am really happy with this week and looking forward to the next!

Total Momma's girls. Post race, watching everyone finish. There were even two shih-tzu's who walked the entire course!

How was your week?

Where do you stand on the theory of cravings?