Those Two Monumental Moments

There are always two exciting, monumental, OMG-so-encouraging milestones that happen as I’m coming back from a Crohn’s flare-up. When these things eventually occur, I’m all, “Oh Hell yeah, I’m back, I’m awesome, life is sweet, you can’t stop the beat.”

The first big great milestone occurred two or three weeks ago. This one is probably more graphic than you’d like, but it’s important. I know I’m moving toward recovery when I go to the bathroom and there are no signs of blood.

Sorry, I know. Too much? Too far? Did I lose you forever?

But it’s a big deal.

During a flare-up, each time I have to bolt for the bathroom, it’s scary-gross, so when things finally, uh, clear up, I take it as a huge positive sign.

Here I am with a few of my friends. We're super close. <3 <3 <3

If you’re going to stop reading now because you can’t handle my beauty, it’s OK. I understand. I’ve enjoyed having you.

The second time I feel huge positive reinforcement is when I’m able to go for a run, whether it’s one mile or 10, and I don’t have to stop and use the bathroom.

That holy-shit-so-awesome run came along today.

IT WAS SO EXCITING I HAD TO TWEET IT. And write in all caps. I love all caps.

I wasn’t expecting it, which is cool.

I did my usual get-ready-to-run routine, and left the apartment planning to stick to the Reservoir and Bridle Path, where I know I’m never far from an open bathroom. Lately I’ve also had to make a pit stop at the Starbucks a mere .3 miles from my apartment.

But not today.

Today I started to run.

And then I ran right past the Starbucks.

Then I ran into Central Park, and turned left, away from the Bridle Path and the tennis court bathrooms, instead of turning right.

I kept going, and I never made it up to the Bridle Path.

I ran on the main road, past the unopened Boathouse bathrooms — fine, didn’t need ’em — and past the also unopened bathrooms at the Delacorte Theatre.

OK so this picture is from Sunday, not this morning, but it's in the spot I'm describing, so it's relevant. And I loved these dudes. Music music music. Music of the night.

I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I kept waiting for my stomach to get worked up, but it never did.

If you look at my splits, you’ll see the run was nothing special. It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t painfully slow, either. My route wasn’t fancy and my outfit wasn’t cool. I ran without music for the first half, and then rocked out to some Newsies tunes for a little while. I ran 8.5 unremarkable-looking-to-you miles.

Except that they were remarkable to me.

Wait, what’s this connection we’re making here?

Is it that when I’m chill, my stomach is chill?

Why yes. Yes, I think that’s the case here.

Since getting sick this most recent time and being forced to do a major mental check-in, I’ve been so much better about not being excitingly busy all the time. I’m not over-scheduling myself, I’m sticking to things I want to be doing, and I’m generally in a better mental place. As a result, naturally, I’m in a better physical place. I have a more relaxed approach when it comes to work, play and running — and it’s serving me well.

BRB, going to pat myself on the back.

I really don’t think I can convey how excited I am to be feeling better. I’m a little embarrassed it took me so long — um, 20 years — to realize it’s not steroids I need, it’s a healthy dose of chill-the-F-out.

I came back from my run all giddy and ready for a dance party. I barged into the apartment, ready to invite Brian to said dance party. I was even going to let him pick the songs we could dance to, though I think it’s implied that we’d both go for some sort of Celine Dion “I Drove All Night” remix, or perhaps something of the Usher variety.

Imagine my surprise when instead of wanting to dance, Brian wanted to die.


He said to me, “Ali, I want to die. Will you kill me?”

Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s a little dramatic when the stomach isn’t being friendly.

Brian, bless his well-intentioned heart, has food poisoning.

This picture is old, but it gives you an idea of what Brian was like this morning. Only it was this, on the bathroom floor. I don't think he wanted me to take his photo there, but I actually didn't ask. You know, boundaries and stuff.

Last night he was all, “Ali, have some of this cole slaw, it’s sooooo good, I swear.” And I was all, “OMG ew, heck no, mayonnaise is disgusting, I’m going to eat a leftover tuna steak.”

So that happened. Brian ate the cole slaw. I did not.

Brian woke up at 4 AM to do some vomiting.

I did not.

My stomach got better.

His most definitely did not.

So I’m running a bit behind today because I am still going for Girlfriend of the Year, and as soon as Brian informed me of the puking I ran out to Duane Reade to stock up on Ginger Ale for the sad guy.

Why am I telling you all these details about Barfing Brian?

Well, because Brian stopped throwing up for two seconds, showered and then said he was going to work. He has been working from 7 AM until 10 PM almost every day for the past month, including on the weekends, and he’s more go-go-go than ever. He also has a big bike race coming up this weekend (108 miles, no big deal), and I don’t think “tapering” should include 4 hours of sleep each night and zero energy. No, tapering should include DoubleStuf Oreos. Duh.

I almost called him an idiot for insisting he had to go to work because he “has a bunch of meetings today,” but I didn’t want to be rude. Remember, Girlfriend of the Year. So I said nothing.

It took me those 20 years to learn it, but when we are sick, sometimes it’s food poisoning and sometimes it’s Crohn’s disease, but sometimes we also just need a break. A mental break, a physical break, a mere 20-minute nap, whatever. I never realized just how much stress and mental health are related to physical health. And I’m a doctor, in case you didn’t know, so be sure to write down everything I say. It’s all been proven by science and my brain.

What’s my point?

I don’t know.

Do I ever really have a point?

OK, here’s one: Go easier on yourself. Start today, and keep it going. Oh, you did some binge eating during the office birthday party fiesta? Bummer. Your run was slower than you would have liked? That sucks. Your apartment is a filthy mess and your dirty dishes have overflowed from the sink over to the stove and onto the floor? Dishes are gross. I’m sorry for you.

These things are annoying and frustrating, sure.

But in most cases, they’re not the end of the world.

They’re not worth making yourself sick over.

For basically ever, I would get so stressed when I analyzed my ever-growing To Do list, and it would weigh down on me. I beat myself up over every little thing. How can I really be surprised that I got majorly sick four times in less than a year?

It took a while, but I have finally come to terms with the fact that I need to control my crazy, or I’ll never really get fully healthy. I’m no expert on this yet, but I’m working on it. I’m trying really hard.

And Brian just texted me to let me know he threw up four times on the street.

Take a break, people. Go easier on yourself. Keep the barfing and Crohnsing to a minimum, OK?

High five for relaxing.

AND BECAUSE WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM EACH OTHER: What’s your best “I have to relax right this second” tip? Don’t say go for a run. Everyone always says that. Give me something else, something really good and original. Maybe like, “I go for a walk around my block and on the way I stop for a chocolate-dipped macaroon.” Or maybe, “I take a bath and read the latest issue of US Weekly. I mean The New Yorker.”



60 Responses

  1. LOVE your blog! I am a physiotherapist with Ulcerative colitis! And my biggest problem is saying no! I learnt to say no recently and it has soooo helped my running 🙂 I have to work a half day and I have to have at least 2 hours to recover from my run, but I am proud to finally have reached 7km. It takes me an hour, but I did it! I love your blog beacause I don’t go anywhere without plotting where all the toilets are on a route! So well done with your 8 miles! That’s great! Well done! And thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in the tummy fight:)

  2. Holy crap, that was a good post. I don’t even know where to start. 1) Love your honesty. 2) Poor Brian 3) “High Five for relaxing” – instant classic 4) serious props for replying to so many of your reader’s comments 5) I’m a neurotic stress-ball so I’m not the best to answer this one, but when I need to take a breath, I go stare at chickens. Yeah, you heard me. We just moved from the city of Seattle to a little island just off the city, and our new house came with chickens. They’re relaxing, what can I say?

  3. Best way to chill out? Meditation. By far the most important skill I’ve learned in the last few years. A calming breath, a way to clear the mind and everything is all right.

  4. A friend just told me about your blog and this entry was a great first read!!! Why?! My boyfriend has crohns and is a huge water (ocean) person and I’m sure you can figure out why!! 🙂 I on the other hand run. He did his first marathon in January and let me tell you every run he does comes with a report, “# of poops”, “poop free” etc!! I love it and can’t wait to share your blog with him!!

    Congrats on your running accomplishments and those poop free runs!! 🙂

  5. One of my do-this-to-destress-immediately tricks has the word “run” in it, but has nothing to do with running….it’s watching Beyonce’s “Run the World” music video. Incredibly random, I know, but that song ALWAYS pumps me up & the music video is pretty badass!

  6. Ali! I am so glad you are feeling better! But poor Brian. He is just having sympathy tummy troubles. Now you get to be there for him 🙂 It’s probably your turn.

    So excited for your return to running!!!

    And And And!! I saw someone at a 10K on Sunday in Seattle wearing your I heart Sweat shirt…For some reason shyness took over and I couldn’t bring myself to go say hi… How would that chat go?

    Me: Hi! Do you know Ali?
    Girl: Yes! She’s my BFF. How do you know her?
    Me: I don’t. I just read her blog…

    AWKWARD…but I just wanted you to know that your shirts have made it to the west coast 🙂

  7. Best no-stress activity?I like to download tv shows that are absolute garbage and then curl up in bed and watch them with the lights off. I’m cool and you know it. I also sometimes go get a manicure and pedicure and turn off my cell phone, ready trashy magazines and talk to no one…just sit there, enjoying that foot massage.

  8. You rock.. Glad to hear your stomach is cooperating!!! I love this post, I couldn’t agree more really. Yesterday at work I randomly splurged and ate some pancakes and tater tots at the breakfast buffet they surprised us with. I was sad because I had a goal for the week to eat clean… and after a discussion with my boyfriend last night, I realized how pointless it is to stress over something so tiny. Sometimes its easier to just let go and live 🙂

  9. Give me a beach or a pool, sublime-esque music, and unlimited margaritas and I’ll lay there for hours without a care in the world. Except for skin cancer and liver disease, but those seem so far away 🙂

  10. Best way to relax…getting a massage and then spending time with my boo!

    Hope Brian feels better! Glad you are back and spunky and running now 🙂

  11. I get stressed when I’m afraid I wont make the deadline. It happens all the time because I’m a procrastinator and push back everything as much as possible. So when I get stressed about the deadline, theres not much I can do! I don’t have a minute to spare!
    If I do have a bit of spare time, I stop and push the work back.

    Read: I cause my own stress and haven’t been able to stop doing stuff last minute since elementary school… YAY

  12. I LOVE this post! I am such a planner/controller/over-scheduler and this month I have tried to just relax and not plan every second and what a difference it can make on your happiness and health.

    My “I have to relax right this second tip” is to go home, sit my couch, turn on the tv or grab a book and that’s it. No trying to cook dinner and clean everything while watching. No painting my nails or picking out outfits. Just SIT and watch SYTYCD (or pretend you’re one of them and prance around while watching…)

  13. Mint Oreos, dunked in milk! Dunking oreos in milk is good because it makes you eat slower (giving the oreo time to soak up the milk) and it makes oreo consumption that much healthier.

  14. Yay for such a good run!! I miss Central Park and my old apartment on 71st and Third more than words can say. I have to drive half an hour to get to a running trail in TX now! But seriously, I’m thrilled for you.

    When I was in NY and needed to relax, I would go to the women’s bathroom and take a deep breath, then check my running bag. I would look at my gear, check mY playlist, and daydream about having a good run, one like e run you had, after work. Leaving my office meant waiting 15 minutes for an elevator and walking another ten and waiting again for coffee, so leaving my floor would stress me out more than anything outside the building could relax me, so this little escape routine would get me throu the day. Now that I look at these words I suppose it sounds a little sad, but daydreams totally relax me and put a smile on my face!

  15. I meditate, 2, 5, 10 minutes whatever I make time for. I look up meditation music on youtube and just BREATHE!

  16. This is definitely a hard lesson to learn…I’ve realized that even when I plan a actual day off I always end up on my bike, or mowing the lawn in crazy heat and I usually have to stop and force myself to just sit on the couch and watch some movies and RELAX. I always try to remember that chilling out is necessary for my overall wellbeing, it’s not just me being lazy 24/7.

    1. I actually thought of you this morning! I was like “Dori would NOT approve of Brian doing anything but resting right now!” You’re always on my mind. Especially on sick days. Hehe.

  17. Hooray for a run without potty stops! I know what a big deal that is. 🙂 And 8.5 miles, too!

    I have many “chill out right now” tricks, but lately I am loving a bath with a bath bomb from Lush. I am obsessed and I don’t use them very often because they are a little pricey, so they feel like a treat. 🙂

  18. Oh hey there. My name is Alida and I have been reading your blog for a couple weeks now, which is enough posts for me to tell you honestly that I think you are RAD. To illustrate here are some other new things in my life:

    -Ice cream bars from Whidbey Island that are ridiculously good.
    -The show Supernatural.
    -The book Born to Run
    -My discovery that I can create novelty jock strap/condom ads on the fly.

    These are all really exciting things. I like them as much as I love the song Call Me Maybe (which is WAY TOO MUCH for someone my age).


    The only thing that I like more than your blog right now is running because I started running in February and on Sunday I ran 5.6 miles without stopping at all and it’s the longest and farthest I’ve run ever in the History of Me. So I liked that a LOT. But you, lady? You are a close second.

    So there’s that. I’m glad you are feeling better. I’m sorry for Brian but you tried to warn him because coleslaw should be made with vinegar and not mayonnaise and he has to fall if he’s going to learn to fly, you know?

    1. OMG this comment was hysterical. “He has to fall if he’s going to learn to fly.” I will surely pass that message along. You’re hilarious. Thanks for the compliments, and thanks for reading!

  19. I love that you run to, and rock out to, Newsies. Now I want to go do the same thing.
    Best way to relax? A glass of wine and horrible terrible no good trashy TV or catching up on hollywood gossip. I know it sounds terrible and useless but that’s exactly what I need when to relax.
    Congrats on the run!!

  20. Did you rock to “King of New York” as part of the Newsies? Movie version or musical version? Did you sing part of it under your breath as you were so full of joy? These are important questions!

    Poor Brian. I hope he turned around at the second puke on the street instance and was puking on his way back home. The people at work care more about his health than about any meetings, I’m sure. And if they don’t? Well, time to find a job where they do.

    1. “King of New York” is classic, but I’ve been digging “Seize the Day” all week, musical version. And sing it under my breath? Heck no. I SING IT OUT LOUD FOR THE WORLD TO HEAR. Seriously.

  21. This is a top-notch lesson to learn. When I need to relax immediately, I usually watch trashy TV. The Real Housewives of Anywhere usually suffices!

  22. Congrats on a bathroom free run, and chilling-the-F-out! This inspires me to do the same. And tell Brian to take a rest day so he can puke in private, without the judgement of bitchy commuters.

  23. Taking a long, hot shower always helps me recharge and de-stress. I switched from a morning showerer to a night showerer so I could just take my time and totally relax. It’s awesome!

    1. Oh nighttime showers are the best. I love getting really warm in the shower and going to bed with wet hair. And also going to bed feeling clean. That’s kind of nice.

  24. My best I have to relax right now feeling is calling my parents. Especially if my next visit isn’t scheduled for a while, just chatting with them calms me down, and puts life in perspective.
    Great job on your run! I finally had a good run myself today 🙂

  25. So you are getting over being excitingly busy all the time and Brian is all stressed out and puking all the time. It sounds like the plot of one of those switcheroo movies like Big or Freaky Friday.
    Seriously though, I am glad to read that you are learning to chill out and feeling better for it!

    1. Haha seriously. The day I FINALLY feel better, he’s doubled over with the pukes. Better than being sick at the same time and fighting over the bathroom, though!

  26. Sometimes I’ll block out an evening, an afternoon, or an entire day to just lie on my couch, watch TV, and order pizza. And, most importantly, I’ll to open my laptop and leave my cell phone on silent in the other room. I don’t think I’m capable of actually relaxing when there’s a screen in front of me I have to check every two seconds and buttons to push (or tap, whatever). Glad you are feeling better!

  27. You will be SHOCKED to learn that I blast some broadway (but since I caught at least 2 Broadway song references in this post, I figure you’ll at least appreciate the sentiment ) Sometimes I sing along. Unless I’m in the office. Then I bite my tongue. On Broadway they sing out all emotions they feel, but I find sticking to the peppy songs is a better coping mechanism. Just channel Annie – The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. (Did you barf from corniness yet? Pretty sure you only have 1 bathroom – don’t want to cause an issue with you and Brian right now – sorry!)

  28. Good job learning to stay chill. I feel like living in NY makes me feel like I need to be going 99 MPH all the time, and if I’m not that I’m not taking advantage of living in the city.

    When I get stressed at work, I take a walk and get coffee or candy, or I take a ten min break at the computer and read blogs.

  29. Has Brian come home yet?!?!?! He can’t do meetings from the bathroom in his office!!!

    Love that you are chilling out on the to-do and you are seeing the benefit. I didn’t want you to have to give up fro-yo.

    PS. Mayonnaise is disgusting

  30. Currently waiting at the Doctor’s office to find out I likely have strep again, which always seems to show up when I’m super stressed…. Awesome. So I totally get where you’re coming from. Gonna chill, stress-free, on the couch today with ice cream and Gilmore Girls. Cures everything. Glad you’re feeling better!

    1. Uh, strep is the worst! Take good care of yourself, de-stress and feel better! Also, ice cream! Won’t hurt the throat 😉

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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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