Mixed Emotions

Since leaving the hospital three weeks ago, life has been good. Really good.

Jazzy hands & hair in the face. All great things.

Work is total madness. I spent the past three days in L.A. attending the finale taping for “So You Think You Can Dance” and doing a photo shoot with the show’s two winners.

That's me in the middle, in case there was any confusion. The other two are America's Favorite Dancers, Eliana and Chehon. They are both very talented and they both ordered lobster grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I enjoyed that.
Apparently I like to sandwich myself between gorgeous dancer people. Here I am with two of my all-time favorites, tWitch and Allison Holker. They're in love.

It was a blast — but “a blast” basically translates to “I didn’t sleep enough, I ate crap and I had to log some miles on the treadmill instead of the beach. Also the quick trip/time change combination continues to confuse me and I can’t wake up.”

Worth it? Totally.

I really can't complain about my week. It may have been exhausting, but do you see this? This is awesome. I TOOK IT MYSELF.

So work is good. We’ve established that. And it’s about to get real crazy in the next few weeks. I have some big projects going on so I’ll be doing the whole “long hours at the office” thing.

Running? Also going pretty well.

My mileage is fine. I was actually telling my wicked cool friend Kristan last night that I never actually get around to adding up my weekly mileage — I’m more of a “daily mileage matters more” girl — but upon close analysis/some calculator math, it appears as though my last few weeks have been mileagely decent. I’m hitting around 40 miles per week, which seems on point.

I still got an OK number of miles in this week, though I wouldn’t call them “quality” ones. In fact, I think the term fancy people use is “junk miles.” While I was in L.A., I started each run on the treadmill, but then I got hot and bored, and so I took my run to the roads.

Too bad I was staying at an airport hotel and may as well have been running on the tarmac. The route was ugly and un-shaded and boring, but it was better than the mini gym and smelly people who were in town attending the Mediocrity Conference. Or something. I don’t know, I saw signs for it all over the hotel. I didn’t get a chance to pop in and learn stuff, though.

How mediocre of me.

So my runs were OK, but they were intentionally plan-less, since I didn’t know what the running conditions would be like. Yesterday morning I managed to knock out nine miles, six (I think) of which were at marathon goal pace. But I really just ran and looked around and hoped to see something cool and scenic in the mess of rental car locations.

No, this photo does not serve any purpose here because this is sadly not where I ran. But it's a lovely photo, and so dang it, YOU WILL LOOK AT IT. Thank you.

I’m planning to run 20 miles Saturday. It’ll be my longest run since the Hamptons Marathon, which was almost exactly one year ago. Best day ever of my whole life. Just in case you forgot.

I’ve also significantly lowered my running expectations, which has been helpful lately. I realize I’m not in the shape I was at this time last year, and that’s fine. Running for fun and pleasure — instead of running with pressure and goals and lofty ambitions — is more my style these days, and I’m digging it.

Let’s recap so far:

Work = good.

Running = pretty good.

Friends, family and a social life?

I haven’t had much time for social activities lately, but I do have a fun little girl’s trip coming up which will make up for that. Plus, I got to spend a killer weekend with my family and I’m still riding pretty high from that.

Fun times.

So we can assess that friends, family and social life = moderate to good.

Why the “mixed emotions” then?

Oh did you forget that’s what this post was called because I’ve been nonsense-ing for so long? Well it is called “Mixed Emotions,” and that’s because I have them.

I am so unabashedly happy to be feeling healthy again. When I run, I pass Porta Potties and restrooms and I’m positively giddy because I don’t have to stop and use them. I kind of can’t believe the total 180 my body made after leaving the hospital. I feel pretty much like a normal human again. I can go for a run, I can take the subway to work and I can function throughout the workday without tragically urgent “OMG cancel this meeting because I’m mad dashing for Stall #2” situations.

But I’m also terrified.

Whenever I think about how quickly I started to feel better, I think about how quickly this can all be reversed.

I think about how fast a flare-up can arrive, and how I can go from great to fetal-position-in-pain in just a few days.

I think about the New York City Marathon, which I refused to think about for a long time. It’s quickly approaching, and I finally feel like I can run it. For a long time I had abandoned hope, and while I never truly considered deferring, I did accept the possibility that I might be bathroom-stopping my way through the five boroughs.

Now, I know this won’t be the A-Race I had hoped for in 2012. I may not go sub-4:00, and that’s perfectly OK. The last thing I need right now is the added pressure of trying to nail a time goal. My body has been through a hell of a lot this year. But I’m still planning to take that early ferry out to Staten Island, and I’m planning to run the race on November 4, just doing my best and trying to smile.

UNRELATED PHOTO OF TYLER. But it works, because I talked about smiling, and in this photo he is smiling. He has no teeth.

I’m afraid of the possibility that won’t happen though.

I’m afraid of getting sick again.

In fact, I’m terrified I’m going to get sick again. I’m scared I won’t know when it will happen, or why it will happen. I’m afraid the medicine I’m taking won’t keep working, and I’m afraid my next Remicade infusion — scheduled for the week before NYCM — may not do the trick.

I’m scared I’m going to put in this work, and I’m going to try really hard to take good care of myself and do all the run days and the rest days, only to find myself in flare-up mode days before Race Day.

So as happy as I am about my current state of health, there’s this looming terror hanging over it like a sad, dark, bitchy, unpredictable cloud.

See what I did there? I talked about a dark cloud and then used a photo of one. IT LITERALLY ILLUSTRATES MY POINT. Blogging is so fun.

And then, on top of those feelings, there’s the uncertainty and the feeling that I have no control.

I can do my best to take care of myself. I can try to get more sleep. I can try to avoid certain foods (die corn, die, and stay so far away from me, please). I can run when I feel good and I can back off when I know I need rest.

I can seemingly do “all the right things.”

But part of having this chronic disease means rolling with the punches. The painful, crampy gut punches.

I’m slowly learning to realize that, as much as I’d like to, I can’t control everything in my life. I’m learning it’s OK to be ambitious and to set lofty personal goals — but only if I can accept ahead of time that other factors may come into play, and those goals may need slight adjustments.

Here is a basket of puppies:

So we're at the photo shoot and the guy who owns the studio we're renting comes down from his loft CARRYING A BASKET OF PUPPIES. I'm not even joking. I screamed and the shoot came to a halt and everyone freaked out about these little three-week-old pups.

I know, right?

LOOK AT THAT FACE. This one's name is Laser. Laser is pretty much the size of a hampster. Or a bagel.

Now you know what’s been on my mind, and you have seen puppies. Carry on with your day. Make it a great one!



42 Responses

  1. I’ve been reading your site all afternoon… I had no plans to comment and reveal my blog stalking but Allison is my sister-in-law so I figured it’s a sign. What are the odds your SIL shows up on a running blog you are reading? Anyway, I signed up for my first two half marathons this year and I’ve been reading blogs for tips and training tricks. I’m super excited but also really nervous. In college I ran a marathon (well, ran until mile 23 when my IT band nearly exploded… talk about fun times) and am just getting back into running now. It’s a lot harder to get back into shape after having 2 kids!

  2. Take it one day, one moment at a time. Don’t live in the past or future. Live life as of now Ali and things will happen whether we want them to or not.

  3. I love SYTYCD! How cool is it that you met all of them! Twitch and Alison are two of my all time favorites! Are you getting excited about NYC Marathon? I am for sure! You’ll be fine! If you have to stop a few times, it’s ok! Keep your head up and don’t get discouraged 🙂

  4. A quote from the cinematic masterpiece, “High School Musical,” seems appropriate right now. As little Troy, Gabrielle, Sharpay, and Sharpay’s brother (name forgotten) sang, “We’re all in this together.” Me, you, Dr. Shah, Jan, Mary Whittenberg, and puppies. I think you’ve got the right attitude going into NYC and fingers crossed all goes well the next 7 weeks. See you in Staten Island!

  5. You’ve had the carpet pulled out from under you in a big way, so it’s completely natural to be apprehensive, fearful, irritated that you might, to some extent, be trying to accept a new normal. I’ve been there, it sucks. Stay strong, keep running and get a puppy. He will love you even when your tummy doesn’t.

  6. No matter how many bathroom stops you make or how slow you run, you are getting out there! I can’t wait to read your race recap on Nov 4,5,6 or however many days it takes you to write it! You Rock!

  7. Hi Ali – glad to hear you’re feeling better! I feel the same way. I always think recovery and feeling better again is always a really tough transition. Half of me doesn’t really know how to react to feeling better and the other half is fear of it all happening all over again since of course, Getting Sick is the absolute worst. I know you always appreciate what you have and I think that is the best thing you can do. Know you’re not alone in feeling how you do- I finally feel pretty okay (that’s the best for me right now, “pretty okay” 🙂 and was just obsessing about getting sick again this very afternoon!

  8. Don’t let the fear get to you, Ali. Just do what you can and try not to think about a future that hasn’t even happened yet. Hope you continue to feel great!

  9. your skirt is beyond AMAZING!
    and as far being scared goes… I know this is a total fortune cookie cliche, but a friend told me recently that no matter what you have to just “jump in with both feet.” Things will never EVER be in their ideal situation, and it’s always so easy to dwell on what *could* happen. But as long as you give it your all and love what you’re doing, you’ll have no regrets!

  10. WHOAAAAAAAAA!!! That skirt! Want! Need! NOW!!! Also, awesome that you are feeling great! Keep focusing on the positive, and if nothing else, close your eyes and think of those puppies!! 🙂

  11. 1. SO so so jealous you got to meet Eliana and Chehon.

    2. Your green skirt a A–dorable. Want.

    3. *steels puppy and runs*

    4. What?? We can’t control everything? But, but….. sigh**

    5. Feeling awesome or not, you WILL make it through the NYCM and we WILL all be cheering for you!

  12. Here is what I have to say: Fuck and run! You are doing great and if one day you aren’t you will deal with it. Now, I might not make it past your spam/personal editing filter with the above language but it is needed. You just keep going and be inspirational to those with and without these issues.

    And really, you don’t need to hear that from me…just run and work and play with puppies in a basket. Deal with the rest as it comes.

  13. Hi Ali!!! I look forward to your blog update a lot!!! Great post!!
    I must say, although you don’t feel like you’re i shape, from your splits, I seriously think you have a very good chance of getting your sub4 goal, especially when you go in without the pressure!! Good luck!!

  14. I want those puppies!!!

    As someone with another chronic illness (also GI related, so much fun), I can relate to that fear so, so, so much. I’ve been sick since May and every time I start thinking that maybe, finally, at last I’m getting better because I’ve had a few better days, I seem to end up getting worse instead. I really want to think positively but it seems like every time I do, I end up in the hospital or developing new and frightening symptoms. Every time I get a new medicine that I think is helping, I end up having an allergic reaction or horrible side effects. I so, so, so don’t have the answer, but I just wanted to say I’m here and your fears resonated with me. Here’s hoping they prove unnecessary. =)

  15. I can totally relate to your sentiments in non running ways. The annoying thing about life is that we can do all the right things, but our best still may not be good enough, or won’t matter given other outside factors. But, being worried about these possibilities will likely not do any good. (Plus, in your case, I remember reading previous posts that anxiety/stress tends to only make things worse….) Obviously though, this is SO much easier said than done, especially when the goal at hand is something that matters so very much. Basically, the moral of this rambling is chin up! Revel in the comeback you’ve already made and spend the energy usually used for worrying on the fun things you have coming up. Good luck with the 20 miler on sat! you’ll crush it.

  16. Ali, I can’t believe you hit the streets and ran around Century Blvd and all those rental car places and junk back behind the airport. And you made it home to blog about it. LOL! AND you were sitting about oh, 10 minutes from me! The strand (the beach path) wasn’t too far from you!

  17. When things are good, it is hard for me to live in the moment and not worry about things being toooo good and it all ending. This is something I have yet to figure out. How to take the good and not worry about the possibility of the bad. My mom calls this my major personality flaw. Thanks mommy : ) Love the puppies and the skirt. Shoulda put one of the puppies IN the skirt and smuggled it out.

  18. A kind act that you inspired:
    My boyfriend was having a crappy day at work, to make him feel better I sent him pictures of puppies, bloodhounds to be specific – and it totally made his day. Thanks for the inspiration and puppy pictures!

  19. Ali, you are my favorite blogger. I wait for your blogs and follow your advice. But I feel like you are becoming jaded and full of yourself. When you talk about ppl on the treadmill you kind of sound like a jerk, they are just trying to be fit and I wish you would stop looking down on people. You are awesome, we have a mutual friend and I hope to meet you someday!

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way. I have no problem with treadmill runners — though if you had been in this hotel gym you may have agreed with me about it being kind of rank! It has nothing to do with being full of myself or judgmental, honestly. It was just really smelly in there because it was a small room and we were packed in like stinky, sweaty sardines (and let’s be honest, I’m sure I was contributing to the stink). Power to people who can run on treadmills. I can’t bring myself to do it because I’m too spastic and can’t seem to zone out and run. I prefer to great outdoors, scenic or not. I certainly don’t look down on people who choose to run indoors versus outdoors. Why would I?

      1. Just wanted to say again you’re awesome, I sounded harsh saying that and I feel bad, but you’re great! Good luck training for the marathon!

  20. Hey! Glad to hear you’re doing better and all I gots to say: happy thoughts. Yes, easier said than done, but that’s all I got. Sorry. Can’t wait to read about your marathon recap cause I know you’re gonna rock it!

  21. Oh my gosh you met twitch! I’m so jealous. I’ve loved him ever since I was hopelessly devoted to his season. Amazing. And I’m so happy that you’re doing so well and are going to take on 20 miles this weekend. It’s so wonderful to hear. But I’m sure it must be so difficult to think how quickly it can change. I can imagine it would be something in the back of your mind the whole time. I wish I knew what to say, but I don’t. I wish you all the best in continuing to run potty-free, and I’m so glad that the reality of a bathroom stop free NYC marathon is becoming a reality. I can’t wait to hear about it, and I’ll continue sending positive thoughts your way as you continue in your training! So glad to see your blog post today! And I think I would have smuggled a puppy away (like Megan at the bridal shower in Bridesmaids…).

  22. Hi Ali! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and love how well you mix in humor with tough-to-talk-about subjects.

    I have cystic fibrosis, and while our chronic illnesses are different, this post felt like you were in my head. I was hospitalized earlier this year and came out feeling GREAT, better than I’d felt in a very long time. But, like you, I’m petrified that the healthy feelings could end at any moment. That no matter how many medications I take or how many breathing treatments I do, that there are still things out of my control that can put me back in my “feeling crappy” place.

    So I totally feel where you’re coming from and it sucks. But it seems like you really have the right attitude. Accepting that some things are out of your control, whether you have a disease or not, and to just live each day to its fullest.

    Thank you for being so honest and open – it’s nice to know there’s someone else out there with the same fears 🙂

  23. First of all, I love your face when you’re holding the puppy. Secondly, you’ll be great at the NYCM! Despite the number of bathroom stops or mile splits that may end up happening, I know you’ll have a smile on the entire time running through the streets of a city that you adore.

  24. I totally hang out with the most incredible dancers in the world and play with baskets of puppies for work too! NOT. I sit at a desk all day and sometimes I get to talk to people face to face. You’re job is amaaaazing!!!

    I really hope that your health keeps getting better and it’s easy for me to say this, but I hope you can really focus and enjoy everything in your life right now! 🙂

  25. “If you get caught up in [thinking about] the worst case scenario and it doesn’t happen, then you’ve wasted your time. If you get caught up in the worst case scenario and it does happen, you’ve lived it twice.”

    Had to find the quote because it is so powerful!

  26. Those puppies are absolutely adorable! You could’ve definitely fit one or all of them in your purse:) I’m glad things are going well for you right now, and I hope it continues to do so!

  27. Glad to hear LA was a success.

    I was watching Ellen the other day and Michael J Fox was on it and he said something like this: “stop thinking about the worst case scenario because even if it does happen it is like you lived it twice.” seems pertinent

    Happy weekend!

  28. I reckon it’s pretty normal to be so nervous – you know it can happen. And so all you can do is your best and see what happens on the day. And then you know you did everything you could, and you have to leave the rest to fate.

    I’m SO excited you’re planning to run though – that is very good news though!!

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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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