Imagine this: It’s a perfect fall evening. You work all day then at 6:45 pm you lace up your Brooks Adrenalines and head for Central Park, where you join your running coach and one of his badass, race-winning triathletes for a jaunt. The air is crisp, your legs finally feel loose again after your marathon, your stomach isn’t giving you any trouble and the world is a happy, shiny place. You cover 8 or so miles, feeling on top of the world, and then you return home, take a hot shower and eat a delicious dinner.
Sounds good, right?
Take the opposite of all that.
And now you have my Thursday night.
I’m going to give you more detail, and it’s going to involve some (translation: a ton of) bathroom talk. Happy Friday, right?
I’ve been feeling really good lately. Tired and stressed, of course, but in the weeks leading up to the marathon, and especially during the race, everything has been top notch. Crohn’s disease, you little whore, you have nothing on me.
Over the past week things have started to rumble a bit. Every morning I woke up with nasty stomach pains, but I chalked it up to “whatever” and didn’t think much of it.
Yesterday, I hit up the Whole Foods hot bar for lunch. I do this all the time, because it’s delicious, albeit wildly expensive. I picked out all the usual suspects for my lunchtime concoction: sweet potato something, steamed vegetables and some macaroni and cheese (I really can’t resist). I also threw in some couscous, because I wanted to try it, and a little piece of basil chicken, which is odd because I hate chicken. I don’t know what came over me.
I ate my lunch and halfway in I found myself bolting for the bathroom. It was a really lovely and pleasant experience. You’re welcome, coworkers.
Something didn’t feel right, and my stomach never quite settled all afternoon.
But I had plans last night — big, ambitious plans. Coach Cane invited me to join his Thursday night running group, and I was finally feeling up for the challenge. These people are speedy and over the next few months leading up to the Las Vegas Half Marathon, I want to run with faster people so that I, too, will become a faster person.
I left the office around 6:30 to meet the group at JackRabbit’s Upper West Side store. I used the bathroom one last time before heading out, and my stomach felt OK. Not great, but OK enough to power through a few miles.
The group wasn’t much of a group last night, since all the runners are off dominating the Chicago and Steamtown marathons this weekend. It was just Coach Cane, one of his runner girls and me. Said “runner girl’s” name is Bridget, and when I asked her if she was “just” a runner or also a triathlete, she said she was a runner. Then Coach Cane politely interjected to let me know she recently did the NYC Sprint Triathlon, you know, “for fun,” and she came in second place.
The plan, since I’m still technically recovering and I’m racing the Army 10-Miler on Sunday, was to just run together keeping a casual pace. Perfect.
We got one mile in and I knew things weren’t going to go well for me.
My stomach was like, “Um, Ali, hey, it’s me, your stomach. I’m here to attack you now. I know you want me to be chill, but I’m rude and I’m going to ignore your quests.”
As we approached Engineer’s Gate, I interrupted Coach Cane in the middle of a story he was telling (I’m sure it was a great story, Coach, so I’m sorry) and yelled, “I need a bathroom now! Where is the closest one?!”
Yes, I run in the park every day. Yes, I think I know where all the bathrooms are. But secretly I hoped they would know about some hidden gem right around the corner.
So I picked up my pace big time (at least in my mind I did) and headed toward my beloved Bridle Path/tennis court bathrooms. These bathrooms never fail me. They are open at 5 am and they’re always empty.
Last night they were empty, too.
Because they were locked.
I tried to open the door and I’m pretty sure I turned around at Coach Cane and Bridget with a look of panic on my face. “Now what?”
We crossed over to the West Side — I had to walk at this point — and I found a nice doorman standing outside a very fancy apartment building on Central Park West.
“Sir, I’m so sorry, can you please let me use your bathroom? Please?” [Insert innocent/desperate smile here.]
He clearly felt bad for me and gave me a key to the basement bathroom. Good man.
So I get down there and I can’t get the key to work. I see a man approaching (first thought: he’s a murderer, naturally) and ask him for help. “I’ll help you, but I need to use the bathroom first,” he said. I assured him that, no, I was going in, and then he asked, “Do you even live here?” At which point I thanked him for his help and locked the door behind me.
And then he stood right outside the door and knocked no fewer than twice.
Dude, if you live there, can’t you use your own bathroom?
(I just realized that I’m writing a lot about my bathroom experiences on the Internet. I can’t decide if I’m embarrassed or not, so I’ll just keep going.)
I left the apartment building, profusely thanked the doorman, and re-joined Coach Cane and Bridget, who were super understanding. They even advocated “going in the woods” and reassured me that they had each “been there.”
Runners are the coolest. They get it, Crohn’s or no Crohn’s.
But as soon as we started running again, I knew I had to call it a night. I ran down the west side with them, sweating way more than I should have been because I was in panic-mode. Finally returning to the store, where I had left my bag and where there is a fantastically clean bathroom, gave me a huge sigh of relief.
I ended up running just under 5 miles last night. I was miserable for four of them.
This was not the “grand return” I had hoped to show my coach. Even though Coach Cane and Bridget were really cool about it and refused to leave me and run ahead, I was still pretty horrified and embarrassed. So much so that I kind of broke down on the way back to my apartment.
I got home and as I walked in the building I saw my apartment super.
Now you may remember that I haven’t had consistently hot water since before the marathon. It has not been fun.
“Is the hot water back on?” I asked him.
“Yes. Yes. Is on,” he told me confidently.
Fact: He lied straight to my face.
Or we have different definitions of the word “hot.”
I dragged my sorry self into the shower, which got fantastically hot at first. I stood there for about two minutes, putting off actually doing anything like, you know, using soap or shampoo. And then, just as I was starting to get productive, boom, the water goes from lovely to frigid.
There was no lukewarm. No in between. Just sudden cold.
This did not help my mood.
I got out, put on my huge robe and called the super immediately. He came by and said, “Water is on,” and I said, “OK, well my shower was cold,” and then he left. It was really effective.
At this point I was frustrated by both the cold shower and the stomach bitchiness, so I bundled up in many layers and went to bed. I couldn’t stomach anything for dinner. That never happens. I didn’t even have Oreos.
This morning I got up early and tested the water — still not hot.
So I packed my crap and went to the gym for a spinning class. I’d say I gave 75% effort during the class. My stomach felt crappy (that’s not funny) still this morning, and I know you’re all going to say “You need rest,” but I assure you working out is not what’s making me sick. And I’m resting tomorrow.
And the water at the gym is always hot.
Now you know all about my bathroom experiences over the past 24 hours or so. You can go on with your day now. You’re welcome for the details.
Seriously though, I’m a little worried something is actually going on with my stomach. Stomachaches are normal for me, but this just feels a little off. I’m going to see how it holds up over the weekend and hope this is merely a result of poisoned basil chicken. (Dumb move, Ali, what were you thinking? Chicken? You hate chicken!)
I feel like we all just got a little closer. I also hope my nice friend Brian chose not to read this post today.