What the Hell, Crohn’s?

People, we have a problem.

It’s called Crohn’s disease and it won’t go away.

Let me apologize in advance for the nasty turn this post may take. I’m semi-angry.

In the weeks leading up to the marathon, I felt great. I was stressed out about fundraising and, you know, the plan to run 26.2 miles, but overall life was so freakin’ good. (It still is. Life is a good time. I’m just super pissed at the moment, so please bear with me.)

Look at me!!! I'm so happyyyyy!!! Wheeeee!!!

The Hamptons Marathon happened, and I had the best weekend of my life, without a doubt. I was surrounded by my friends and family and I really did feel like I was dreaming that whole weekend.

As the marathon excitement wore off (it still hasn’t totally worn off), I realized just how much I had put off when I made training and fundraising my priorities (which I do not regret at all). My To Do list was growing rapidly, and for every email I got around to sending, six more came in, all, naturally, needing immediate attention. Work has been more stressful over the past two weeks than at any other point in my career, and I have felt completely overwhelmed.

So when my stomach started to hurt — badly — a little more than a week ago, I didn’t think much of it. “I’m stressed, whatever, these are not life-or-death situations and I’ll get everything done as best I can.”

In an effort to de-stress, Brian and I took a weekend getaway to a nice little (actually, huge) hotel in New Jersey. I unplugged, got away from everything, and was more relaxed than ever.

Then I came back to the city, and all the stupid stresses came right back. And then some.

Last Thursday is when I knew something could actually be wrong. The stomach pain hadn’t subsided, and during my way-too-dramatic run with Coach Cane, during which I had to sprint for two bathrooms, I finally gave in to the fact that this might not just be a kind of long stomachache. It might be another F-ing Crohn’s flare-up.

I didn’t have the race of my dreams during Sunday’s Army 10-Miler.


I had to stop to use the bathroom, and I shouldn’t have had to do that during a 10-mile race.

I took a rest day yesterday. I didn’t grocery shop. I barely left the couch. I definitely didn’t work out. And when I freaked out about having “too much to do,” Brian gave me a swift kick in the butt and talked some sense into me.

“If you spend your life constantly making lists and trying to please everyone, you’re going to fail.”

Ouch. But probably true. We talked about how lists are never-ending. I like making them, but I never actually get through them. Something gets crossed off, multiple things get added. Brian told me I should try prioritizing the items on my To Do list, and for each thing on the list I should focus on the reason I want or need to get that thing done.


I had a hard time choking down dinner last night, and this morning I was hoping that my new appreciation for prioritizing would mean my stomach would instantly chill out and I’d be able to make my grand return to running!


Did I run this morning?

Yes. I ran 5.25 miles to be exact.

Was it fun?

Nope. Not even a little bit.

It took me a full hour to get out the door. I set my alarm early because I knew this might happen, but I spent the majority of my pre-run time in the bathroom. Lovely. Then, once I started running, I knew I needed to take a bathroom-centric route.

I ended up making two bathroom stops over the course of my run. I felt dehydrated and empty — which makes complete sense, since that’s pretty much exactly what I am right now.

During the second one, I gave myself a serious pep talk. It went something like this: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Alison. You have Crohn’s disease, wah wah wah. You’re still out running, even if it’s not under the ideal circumstances. You have two legs. You have nine toenails. You ran a marathon. You have a job. Quit. Your. Bitching.”

Before I left the bathroom, I forced myself to smile.

I have proof:

See? Happy Ali, reporting for duty! Doody. Ew. That joke was terrible.

My pace while I was running was actually OK — I stuck with an 8:40ish pace. Fine by me. I’m not back into heavy training yet.

As much as I pumped myself up in that delightful Central Park restroom, I struggled with maintaining that attitude during my commute to work.

When I don’t feel well, I’m especially sensitive to smells and personal space. So when I was crushed in the middle of the downtown 4 train, in between too-much-cologne guy and lady-who-may-have-slept-with-trash, I started to freak out.

Aaaaand then everything went black. Just for a second. I grabbed onto the subway pole and through my sudden sweat, I begged for the nice 17-year-old-looking boy all cozied up in his seat to let me sit down.

He wasn’t having it. He just kind of stared at me and then stared back down at his feet. Excellent.

I got a seat when the subway eventually stopped, and I was that weird girl with her head down between her legs.

I’d say today is off to a really good start.

All jokes aside, I’m pretty sure what I’m experiencing right now is, in fact, a flare-up. All of my flare-ups have been stress-induced lately, so this actually makes total sense, and as much as I’d like to say, “This disease just sucks and doctors don’t have answers,” the truth is that my doctors have told me that high stress levels will get the disease all excited, and yet I haven’t done much to avoid that.

My flare-ups have come at very convenient times, like when I studied abroad in Australia and had to be hospitalized…

This is me on a camel in Australia. Two weeks later, I was in the hospital.

…and then during the first month of my job. I like to make a strong first impression.

I’m hoping to get in with the doctor this afternoon to get some bloodwork done. And I will ask to be put on delicious Steroids. The ‘roids battle with the Crohn’s, and usually the drugs come out on top.

Now that I have complained all morning, here are five things that are great:

  1. I’m going away this weekend. The goal: relax. I’m spending a long weekend in Cape Cod with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and Brian.
  2. There is a show that exists on Animal Planet called “Too Cute!” The premise? Adorable puppies, hopping around and being cute. It’s probably my new favorite show.
  3. The latest batch of Sweat shirts have finally arrived. Tonight I’ll be making a little home for myself on the floor of JackRabbit’s Upper East Side store. I’ll be addressing and stuffing envelopes and then shipping all the shirts out. Yay!
  4. I was nominated as one of SHAPE magazine’s Top 20 Sports Blogs. I know. Sports blogs? What? Considering I’ve been “afraid of the ball” since I was born and I don’t consider myself any sort of sports enthusiast, I, too, was confused by the nomination in this particular category. But, it’d still be cool to win, right? So if you’d be so inclined to log on daily and cast your vote for Ali On The Run, that would be nice.
  5. I’m going to get better. This flare-up will not last forever, and I still think I’m much stronger than some stupid disease. Just wait. I’m going to get healthy again, and I’m going to get back to serious running and training, and then I’ll post about non-bathroom things, and I’ll start PRing and all that jazz. [Jazz hands go here.]

And with that, may you all have a wonderful day!



0 Responses

  1. Arrggghhhh, that sucks! I’m sorry! Going to Cape Cod is a great idea and I’m sure will help you to relax. Sending you tons of “feel better thoughts”

  2. Oh, Ali, so sorry to hear you’re not well! Take it easy and rest up – you have achieved an amazing amount over the last few months! Hope you get better soon.

    PS – which beach are you at in Australia? (I’m an Aussie!)

  3. I voted! Get well soon! I was in NYC this past weekend and got a great 8 mile run in around Central Park and the Reservoir. Thanks for the suggestion – I loved it! I also tried to get to Jack Rabbit Sports but I didn’t make it. I’ll just have to come back! ~Love from NC!

  4. I’m so sorry you’re sick!!! If I had been on the subway I would have given you my seat without you asking (I sense these things, you know, like a teacher should). My apologies on behalf of ALL New York subway riders who are imbeciles! FEEL BETTER! Watch Homeward Bound! I offer you my puppy for play time if you need some 😉

  5. I hope you feel much better soon! Stress does crazy things to my stomach and I don’t have Crohn’s. I give you so much credit for being so open and honest about Crohn’s and that you are still out there more than most people running your heart out! 🙂 You have no idea how motivating you are.

  6. Ali I know I always say this, but you have an amazing attitude when it comes to Chron’s and how it affects your life. As soon as you find yourself in the self-pity trap, you pull yourself right out of it and have some great insight about what’s going on. You do so much outside of your “regular” job, especially around the marathon, so I definitely agree with Brian that you need to cut yourself some slack! You always try to do everything and be great at it, which is an awesome quality but also one that can be tough if you don’t know when to say no or quit for the day. You do lots of wonderful things for so many people – focus on what you are able to accomplish rather than the things that are still left on the to-do list at the end of the day.
    I hope you have a super relaxing weekend on the Cape — you deserve it!

  7. More sweat shirts? YAY!!!
    So sorry about your flare up 🙁 how dare that little boy not give up his seat!

    keep on resting and hopefully it’ll get better. I had to rest from running for two weeks, and now that I was give the OK, I felt amazing on my first run today. rest is key (+ shows about puppies!)

  8. Hope you’re feeling a bit better this afternoon!

    I don’t have a chronic illness, but when I’m burning the candle at both ends, I always get sick. Remember that your body uses energy to keep you healthy – and yours maybe requires just a little bit more energy to keep the Crohn’s at bay. I’d try to keep that in mind, maybe? Also, someone once told me that all of my energy comes from the same well – I only have so much and so many ways I can divide. The more I divide my energy up, the less I have for each portion. That helps me when I’m trying to divide up my energy and figure out what is most important to me to devote my energy to.

    Sorry for the unsolicited possibly poorly written advice! FEEL BETTER!

  9. Oh Ali.. I may not know you, but I totally understand. I don’t have Crohn’s but I’ve battled another issue basically since birth, and sometimes our bodies can totally be a biatch but we have to roll with the punches (which you seem to do marvelously!). You have a pretty wise b/f I’d say.. sounds like mine haha. As for those lists, keep in mind that no matter how important any of those items look, literally nothing is more important that your personal health and happiness.

    Hang in there, and you already know this, but take some more time off running if your stomach is still freaking out.

  10. Feel better and take a deep breath!

    My marathon was 2 weeks before yours and I, too, put off so much due to training. Then I backed off running for a few weeks to catch up on life and NOW I’m freaking out about losing fitness?!?! Is there every a happy medium?

  11. I really hope you start feeling better soon … this weekend might just be the cure for you! I’m crossing my fingers, anyway.

    And also! I think my shirt is in that batch of I Heart Sweat shirts! Hooray! Finally! 😉 AND to top it off … we definitely have a few more weeks of t-shirt worthy weather ahead of us.

    Sending lots of good thoughts your way.

  12. I’m so sorry about your tummy, friend! I hope you get some ‘roids very soon so they can start working and you can get back to normal. But like always, your attitude is awesome and I so admite you. Now get better – you have some training and PRing to do. And some running with me soon, I hope!

  13. Definitely post if you do another order of Sweat shirts! I somehow missed the announcement. (was it on Twitter? I’m afraid of Twitter. Maybe I should get with the times.)

    Feel better soon, Ali!

  14. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Alison. You have Crohn’s disease, wah wah wah. You’re still out running, even if it’s not under the ideal circumstances. You have two legs.”

    Love this! I have cystic fibrosis, and often get down on myself for not being able to keep up with others, so I can definitely sympathize. This mantra is PERFECT – you’re still out there, you’re kicking butt, and you aren’t making excuses. That’s all you can ask of yourself and it seems you know that already 🙂 Thank you for the extra inspiration I needed – I’m currently trying out the Couch 2 5k program as a way of getting myself into running, and sometimes it’s harder than I’d like to admit. Next time I’m feeling down I’ll use this pep talk 🙂

  15. Delurk alert: I’ve been following along for awhile now but just decided to comment today. Hope you feel better soon!

    Crohn’s sucks – I’m right there with you! My doctors told me years ago that my flare-ups are also the result of too much stress. Running, for me, is a way out of that stress, or to at least keep it at bay! Additionally, whenever I have flare-ups I wind up cutting out a lot of dairy from my diet. That seems to help me a bit.

    Also, how can we order the Sweat shirts? I’d love to purchase a grey one the next time you have a shipment come in! (I’m assuming that this latest batch has already been sold/claimed)

  16. How cute was too cute! It was our alternate to Monday Night Football last night, my boyfriend and I were wondering if anyone else had that combo going on with their TV. Did you also see that there’s going to be a show cute puppy videos vs. cute baby videos? Sorry to all my friends out there but the puppies are going to win every time…

  17. I told my running buddies about your blog right after I found it, your marathon post, and they are keeping up with you as well! You are an inspiration, I don’t know how you do everything you do and manage to keep your blog updated with all the great stories!
    Several things:
    1. I saw the new show on Animal Planet last night… Too Cute!!! love puppies and kittens!
    2. I voted for your blog!
    3. Sell those shirts!!! I would LOVE To have one so if/when you order more let me know.
    Maybe you can organize (or get someone to do it on your behalf since you are so incredibly busy with eveything else) your own race “I love Sweat” all of your followers can wear the shirts!!
    Enjoy your break this weekend!

  18. Ali, it’s okay to vent every now and then…and hopefully it made you feel better to just get it all out! Venting can always sometime reduce stress…which will maybe help your flare up go away! I am sorry that you have to deal with it, and even though you are strong and inspiration, I’m sure it still feels sucky sometimes! Keep your chin up!!!

  19. You ARE much stronger than the stupid disease and I will personally offer my weak body strength to come up to NYC and help you kick its ass. Not that I don’t think you can handle it yourself, because you can, but I’m here for you (as is Celine.)

  20. I’m a new reader – but I just have to say: you rock! You have a great attitude, and even with this illness you inspire other (like myself) to keep looking at the bright side. I’m glad you’re getting a little vacay!

  21. I hope you get through this flare-up fast, Ali!! I’m sorry but I LOVE that pic of you and Dee on the camel. Everytime I see it it makes me smile. I hope the weekend gets here soon (FOR ME) and YOU so you can relax in the cape!!!!

  22. Feel better soon! I hope the doctor gives you exactly what you need!

    I voted for you today 🙂 I’m excited that my sweat shirt is possibly in the newest batch that came in, I’m hoping to wear it for my first-ever half marathon!

  23. Sorry about the flare-up – sounds horrible!! When you are used to feeding off stress it’s hard to learn how to chill out consistently. Glad you have a wonderful bf and family to help you relax. 🙂 Get some rest and feel better!!

  24. Hey Ali. I am running my first marathon this week. I am doing the Baltimore running festival. Reading your blog about your first definitely inspired me. While I know I am probably not your target audience. It is still amazing how many comments you received. Obviously you are doing something right. Keep up the good work!


  25. Oh Ali! I almost passed out in whole food on Saturday and I was that girl, that was sitting on the floor in line at whole foods. Never a fun experience. I hope you get some answers and can calm down the stomach soon. Thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way.

  26. Congrats on being nominated for a top sports blog. All balls aside.. running is a sport. So go you!

    Sending lots of positive bvibes your way. I can’t tell you I know how you feel. .and things will get better.. because I don’t know how you will feell.. and can only hope they will get better as soon as possible.

    I am stoked that Brian is givingyou all these helpful bits of advice. Hopefully things will fall into place soon!!

  27. Well, at least it wasn’t flaring up before your marathon, right? Though still sucky that it is happening. I love that you still tick off thankful things…Shape? awesome!!

  28. I think you have some good people in your life giving you support and great advice! Lucky girl! Get better soon!
    P.S. Keep reminding us every day to vote for you! I am sure all of us want to see you win!!!

  29. Sending you five bajillion hugs right now. SO sad that you’re experiencing a flare-up 🙁 BUT, thank GOD it didn’t happen until after the marathon! Silver lining, teeny tiny one??

    1. Thanks Jess! And YES, that is a huge silver lining, and I keep reminding myself that as frustrating as this is, at least it didn’t happen the week before — or of — the race. I’m lucky.

  30. You are an inspiration – every time I’m not feeling like running and try to come up with some excuse to avoid it, you have a new post that reminds me why I should absolutely get out there and do it. Take care of yourself and feel better soon! You are awesome!

  31. Sending good healing vibes your way. Flippin’ Chrons, what an a-hole:-(
    Keep up with that positive attitude and try and keep the stress at bay. Enjoy that weekend way!

  32. That’s amazing that you went out for a run even if you felt awful. You are so dedicated! Enjoy your lovely weekend and recharge yourself. (I am ready for another jazz hands photo from you).

  33. I hope you’re feeling better soon. I know this is cheesy but you are really inspiring, so just know that 🙂
    My mom has RA and is often on and off the roids. Hopefully you won’t have to be on them too long and you can kick Chron’s in the shins. 🙂

  34. Glad to hear there are good times ahead & you are getting away this weekend! Enjoy Cape Cod! I am looking fwd to getting my berry-colored Sweat shirt. I have been dreaming about it. Maybe I’ll wear it to my next marathon! 🙂

  35. I hope you feel better soon! Just keep thinking positively and definitely try to take some time each day to relax and breath. Go to yoga! Also, remember that in less than a month I will be up to visit, wohoo! I miss you, feel better! xo

  36. You have a smart boyfriend! Us type A girls sometimes need that swift kick in the butt. I feel you on the to-do lists. I am an insane list maker! Right now I have three-one for work, one for life, one for moving and one for wedding planner. I think I need to slow my roll!

  37. Ali – You just trained for a ran a marathon. You participated in the Rabbit campaign, raised a boat-load of money, worked full-time and still managed to chronicle it all via blog. You are at a great time in your life. And sometimes, as much as it seems wrong, you need to relax. You will have so much time in the future to stress and do too much. If you wake up and don’t feel like running, sometimes it’s okay to roll over.
    I hope this doesn’t sound condescending because it is not meant to be. It comes from a kind place in my heart. I am 36 and the mother of two. I work full-time and commute 2-3 hours a day. I have learned the hard way that we are all human and sometimes it’s okay to not do something. 😉

    1. I have to agree. It’s surprising to me how many people are finding it so wonderful that you still ran this morning even though you didn’t feel well. This, too, comes from a kind place in my heart … I think it’s important to listen to your body right now, not your mind. Just because you take a few days off doesn’t mean you AREN’T a dedicated runner, which is what it seems everyone is (maybe without intention) implying. Taking time off means you’re simply being smart and safe!

      1. I know, and you are both right. Running this morning wasn’t about doing a particular distance or speed workout. It was me grasping and hoping that I’d be able to get through the run, which would have been a really positive sign. As we now know, that wasn’t the case! I promise to try and tone down the crazy, and tone down the workouts. Really. I promise. (And thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate them very much.)

  38. Hope you get to feeling better! After all that, you still manage to end on a positive note – impressive! Congrats on the nomination you definitely deserve it. Sending get well wishes your way today.

  39. Ya for more Sweat shirts!! I wish I hadnt missed the ordering bandwagon!!

    Fact: Boyfriend is smart. Like Coach Cane smart, just not about running

    1. We actually don’t have any shirts for sale at all right now — online or in stores. We’re just mailing out the ones that were already ordered. I’m hoping to sell more eventually though, so stay tuned!

  40. Maybe you can try scheduling even 10 minutes to step away from everything and chill. Mini dance party, bubble bath (prob more than 10 min on that one), read a random book, just step away. Don’t stress about the scheduling of it though (that is me…I don’t recommend it…) Just do it. In the grand scheme of things you have 10-30 min and maybe a little breather would help the stress? I have no experience whatsoever in crohns related stress, etc but general “I’m going nuts my to do list is longer than SANTAS” stress, I do. Just a thought. Feel better!!!

    Oh, and I hope you’re wearing that medal to the doctor!

  41. i too know the feeling ali. i constantly freak out on the bus/train when im feeling all colitisy and feel terribly if i have to ask someone for their seat. then again, do they want me to pass out on them? i love your 5 top things that are great…way to put a positive spin on a seemingly poopy situation 🙁

  42. Hilarious line: “You have two legs. You have nine toenails.”

    HA. Love it. I am envious of all your weekend getaways! Too Cute sounds AMAZING and I must watch this show immediately. And please call that lady doctor whose info I sent you? She was personally recommended to me and this is her specialty. Feel better.. keep resting.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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