Here It Is!

You see the exclamation point.

You know what that means.

It’s happy post time!

Exclamation point!

I’ve had an active couple days — “active” by my sad, low new standards — but active and happy and certainly worth celebrating.

A bit of pre-excitement clarification: My stomach isn’t better. I’m still up a lot at night, I’m still in the bathroom all morning and I’m still dealing with the never-fun urgency that defines this disease. Digestively (apparently not a word), things haven’t much improved. But thanks to the iron and albumin IV infusions I’ve been getting weekly — at least that’s where I think credit is due — I’ve been able to get my saggy booty off the couch to actually leave the apartment.

This is an exciting photo.
This is an exciting photo.

Let me take you back to Wednesday. Magical, wonderful Wednesday.

It actually started out as a terrible, no good, very bad, whatever that book was called-type of day. I was angry, pissed off and all kinds of worked up, and I was desperate to get outside.

I put on a non-supportive sports bra, some crappy cotton socks and an old pair of Brooks. I popped a few Imodium, cued up my new customized SoulCycle playlist and ventured outside.

I walked to Central Park.

No stops needed.

As I began walking around the Reservoir with my music playing way too loud (no such thing), I found myself getting exponentially worked up with each step. Like I said, I’d had a frustrating morning. I started to walk a little faster and then I realized, “I feel good right now.”

I'm quitting marathon running and am thinking about taking up recreational walking instead.
I’m quitting marathon running and am thinking about taking up recreational walking instead.

I finished my Reservoir loop but I wasn’t ready to head home, so I detoured south and walked toward the Great Lawn.

The loop around the Great Lawn is a half-mile long. I approached it — and then I decided I was going to run around it. I would run one loop. If I couldn’t make it the whole way, that was fine. And if I could, I would stop and celebrate at the end. But regardless of my positioning, I knew I’d never be more than a quarter-mile away from the closest bathroom.

So I stepped into the crowded loop and my walk turned into a shuffle-jog of sorts. Everything immediately felt weird. My ankles hurt right away and I wasn’t sure if they would loosen up or get worse (they did neither — the dull ache just stayed put).

I kept “running” past the Shakespeare in the Park bathrooms, not needing to stop, and nearly seven minutes or so later, I had run half a mile.

I had run half a mile!!!

Look! I wasn't even dressed appropriately! Those are not my running shoes and those are thick cotton socks! Wild!
Look! I wasn’t even dressed appropriately! Those are not my running shoes and those are thick cotton socks! Wild!

I half expected there to be a makeshift finish line for me to run through or a stranger waiting with a medal to drape victoriously around my neck. But instead it was just me, beaming and grinning and then, unsurprisingly, weeping. I cried happy tears as I walked back toward Engineers’ Gate and then back home.

Happy tears.

Not sad ones. Not frustrated ones. Tears of sheer joy.

Then, when I got back to my apartment building, guess what was standing outside the entrance?

A three-legged dog.

When I was training for my first marathon, three-legged dogs were my little inspiration. When I was at mile 22 of the marathon, Brian yelled to me, “You’re the three-legged pug!” So this seemed symbolic.

Of course, I woke up Thursday and my ankles were killing me, but I didn’t care. I had gone for a run and I had loved every slow step of it.

Isn't this the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? YES. It is. Any other answers are wrong.
Isn’t this the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? YES. It is. Any other answers are wrong.

I couldn’t let the fun stop there. I didn’t want to run again because I know my joints need some more healing before they can take more pavement pounding.

But on Saturday, I returned to another one of my happy places: Matt P.’s spin class at Crunch. And it was every bit as incredible as I remembered.

I couldn’t even sleep Friday night because I was so excited to give this class a shot.

I took the subway downtown — my first trip back on the subway! — and when I arrived at Crunch everything was the same. The same guy was at the front desk, the same “regulars” were on their usual machines and all the groupies were there for Matt’s class.

Gym selfie! I'm BACK! Really I took this to send to my mom to show her where I was. See how I'm jazz hand waving? HI, MOM!
Gym selfie! I’m BACK! Really I took this to send to my mom to show her where I was. See how I’m jazz hand waving? HI, MOM!

As my life came to a complete halt these past few months, everyone else’s kept going as normal. It’s a humbling realization.

Before class, I attempted to lift some weights.

Not my weights. Just some ones that were on the floor. And that I took a picture of.
Not my weights. Just some ones that were on the floor. And that I took a picture of.

Where I used to use 15-pound weights, I dropped down to 8-pounders. And then, when I stretched, I couldn’t touch my toes or get my legs into a straddle stretch. My attempts at butt lifts nearly killed me and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at my attempts. I still can’t do core work, which kills me because it’s my favorite, but I’ll get there.

Another gym selfie! This one is to show the sadness of my stretching. Yes, I used to be a dancer.
Another gym selfie! This one is to show the sadness of my stretching. Yes, I used to be a dancer.

When it was time to set up my bike in class, I couldn’t remember what any of my settings were.

Then Matt walked in and he was so excited to see me and I was so excited to see him and things just felt almost right again.

I took the class super easy. Low-to-no resistance, easy easy easy. But I worked up a sweat, I didn’t have to run out to use the bathroom and, when Matt yelled “That’s my girl, Ali. You’re so tough!” I burst into tears on my bike. Again, not surprising. I think I’m too emotionally unstable to exercise. I also cried during the stretch — both because I couldn’t get my leg up onto the bar and because Matt played my Crohn’s power anthem (“Carry On” by Fun., because it just makes sense) — and I cried again saying bye to Matt.

I almost cried trying to walk up the subway stairs getting home, but instead I just stood to the side for a while hoping someone would carry me. Which no one did. New Yorkers are so f-ing rude.

I spent the rest of the day horizontal. It’s amazing how I used to be able to run 20 miles and then function, and on this day I did one spin class and was down for the count.

But that only encouraged me to keep trying.

So on Sunday, I spun again.

I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night, not because I was excited but because my arms were so dang sore from those six bicep curls I did at the gym. Yowza.

Supermoon! It doesn't look so super in this photo, but it was. It was super awesome.
Supermoon! It doesn’t look so super in this photo, but it was. It was super awesome.

On Sunday, I made my way to SoulCycle to take class with my beloved Bethany. I was on a back row bike near the door, just in case, but I never needed to make a panicked exit. I took it easy again, but I survived.

And when Bethany screamed “This is a victory for you, Ali!” during the final sprint, I cried.

All I do is cry.

But I’ll gladly cry a million happy tears.

After a shower and some rest, I wrapped up my Sunday with a trip to Central Park. I brought magazines and a towel, set up camp under my favorite tree and alternated between napping, reading, getting pooped on by bugs and listening to the jazz band that was playing right next to my spot.

Those are my legs juxtaposed in front of Central Park. I hope I used the word "juxtaposed" correctly.
Those are my legs juxtaposed in front of Central Park. I hope I used the word “juxtaposed” correctly.

At one point, a sunbather next to me looked over and said, “Isn’t this awesome?”

I looked around, listened to the music and thought about the fact that, for the first time since February, I’d had an active weekend.

I flashed her the biggest smile of all-time and just said, “Yeah. It really is.”

It’s awesome.



135 Responses

  1. Glad to hear that life is getting back on track for you. Slowly, but it is coming. Every little victory is worth celebrating.

  2. ALI! I am so excited that this post has finally arrived. Your blog is what gave me the confidence to start running earlier this year and in May I ran my very first 5k! I’m now signed up for two more 5k’s in the fall; one is Color Me Rad (because bright colours are awesome!) and the other goes through the Zoo in Toronto (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)!

    I wrote you this little song to commemorate this moment…

    Guess who’s back? Back again. Ali’s back, tell a friend!

    …Okay, maybe I didn’t write it but it’s the thought right?

    Welcome back, Ali! Here’s hoping that things keep getting better for you.

  3. Reading your blog is like watching my favorite TV show that I wish I was behind in so I could watch them all at once and find out what happens. And this post is like the satisfying season finale when some kind of resolution comes and it’s so good, but you still know a million things could happen next season. No matter what’s next, congrats on an awesome week!

    And PS, your sad straddle stretch is way more impressive than my awesome best-ever straddle stretch, so don’t complain too hard there.

  4. yay ali! this post makes me so happy. today, when i was sweating to a slow death in yoga, i focused my attention on you when our instructor asked us to think about someone or something that could use our positive energy. i hope you continue to get out and do things!

  5. Ali, this brought tears to my eyes. When I trained for my first marathon in 2010, I started reading your blog for inspiration. Three years later, I’m signed up to run my second marathon in New York, and I’m completely out of shape, unmotivated, and wondering why I thought I could do this again. But I’m healthy. And since I’ve followed your blog consistently even when I haven’t been running, every time I don’t want to get up and train, I think, “Ali on the Run wants to do this so bad, and she’s struggling, and you don’t even appreciate it!” Then I put on my I Heart Sweat shirt and get my ass out there, and each day it gets a bit easier as my muscles adjust. I’m sure you would much rather be healthy and running yourself than be some stranger’s motivation, but I just wanted to say that you have helped me find strength, and I am so glad that three legged dog helped you find strength, too. Because I, along with so many others who read this blog, am rooting for you every day to get better, and I’m so happy you’re finally on your way! Every small step IS a victory.

  6. I shed tears reading this! So glad for you Ali. I know that feeling after an illness when you’re back in the gym and feel so excited. And the illnesses I’m referring to are flu and viruses and general stuff, not the kick your ass kind of stuff you’ve been suffering from. I can imagine how amazing it feels for you. So happy for you. Hoping for continued success and wellness!

  7. Yay!!!!!!!! Wahoo!!!! I am beyond words excited and so happy for you! Amazing!

    And you know what’s funny? 3 legged dogs are always my favorite to see in hard times too. I don’t know what it is, but they bring me so much joy and inspiration!

    So glad you had a GOOD weekend!

  8. I had the same crying problem and then Prozac happened and I thought maybe I couldn’t cry anymore and then I read this post. Thank you for reminding me I am human! Congratulations on the baby steps… It seems like we are actually babies, doesn’t it? All we do is cry, poop, celebrate when we smile/walk/eat solid food, then cry & poop some more. Also I can’t tell if I’m crying for you or crying because none of my instructors give me shout outs when I go to their classes?! STAY STRONG! SO HAPPY FOR YOU!

  9. Way to go on your active weekend! It’s so nice to hear that something went right for you! I hope you have many more happy days soon!

  10. so relieved!! i wanted to cry reading this too. will keep fingers crossed the trend continues 🙂 good luck and so happy for you! see, you were being strong all that time after all 😉 proof is in the pudding.
    (the vegan, naturally sweetened pudding, mmm…)

  11. I agree with all of the above, and I’d like to add that I was so glad to see I’m not the only one who wishes “digestively” were a word. It would be SO USEFUL! Every time someone asks me how I’m feeling, what I want to say is “emotionally or digestively?” I’m so glad you had some good days, emotionally speaking. Here’s hoping the body follows suit.

  12. Bloody brilliant! SO happy to read this post. So so happy for you, Ali. Onward and upward girl! xxx

  13. OMG!!! YAY!!!!!!! This is an amazing post! Look at you, gf!! So, so happy for the great weekend. I passed that band on my way into the park on Sunday so I must have walked right by you! It’s funny, as I walked by them I was thinking about how perfect the day was. So glad you were able to enjoy it! xx

  14. YAY! I am so very happy for you Ali. Baby steps are all that matters, and taking it slow and being kind to yourself is the best thing you can do. I’m sure these good feelings are just what you needed and will carry you for a long time 🙂

  15. Hey! So happy for you. I know you haven’t been feeling the best but you look amazing in your photos:)

  16. I cried a million happy tears reading this. Hope that’s not weird, since I’ve never met you. Just SO HAPPY for you. Keep on the upward trend!!

  17. Ali!!! This is so inspirational to hear!!! I think the best way to feel at least a little better with struggle is to go for things that motivate you…which is exactly what you did! I´m so happy for you…I¨ve been following you for a while now…and I truly feel like a know you…congrats!!

  18. From one Crohnie to another! I am so happy for you! Congratulations! You remain an inspiration for all of us! I hope you continue to improve!!

  19. I’m so happy for you Ali!!! This is such great news. I had minor surgery 6 weeks ago and haven’t been able to run since.. although it is not AT ALL the same as what you’ve been going through, I am already going stir crazy, so I can only begin to imagine what this has been like for you. I’m so excited for you!!

  20. Ok…I was so excited for a happy post from you. Like so so happy for you. I cried…literally….several times reading this. Every time I ‘felt’ a victory for you I started to cry and then would read you say you cried and I cried more. Wishing you continued healing and more active, happy weekends (and weekdays for that matter).

  21. I had a shitty day at work but coming home and reading this made my day. So glad you’re feeling better, stupidly happy for you, even though we’ve never met. Hope the next post is another really happy one!

  22. Yay iron/albumin cocktail of champions! I’m so happy for your burst of energy and renewed spirit! Hope things just keep getting better and better!

  23. I am so ridiculously happy for you. I’ve never even met you, but I’ve been reading your blog and been sad for you, and now I’m all, “A STRANGER ON THE INTERNET HAD AN AWESOME WEEKEND AND I AM SO PROUD OF HER.” Best news all day.

  24. Best. Posting. Ever. New Hampshire is happy you are on the mend….and DAMN those New Yorkers for not carrying you.

  25. This made me so happy to read! I am so glad that you had such a wonderful weekend and hope there are many, many more to come.

  26. I can’t believe how many people you HAVEN’T met who are emotionally involved in this journey with you.

    Carry on Sweet Ali. You are a rockstar and we will be here to be happy with you.

  27. I know this is super articulate, but all I can come up with is:


    I hope this is only the start of some very big, exciting, HEALTHY progress!

  28. I just cried happy tears for you…this blog is no longer suitable for work! You go girl. And fun. for the win!

  29. This is my first time responding on your blog, though I have been a reader for a few months now. I am so incredibly happy for you and in honor of your good news, I just downloaded “Carry On” on my iphone. Hang in there. Brighter days are ahead!

  30. wooooo!!!!!!!!!! (also – you’re making my weekend look even lazier… but ill give it to you this time)

  31. Ali so happy to hear you were able to be out and about! I will continue to pray that you feel better and stronger every day!

  32. YAY!!! I’ve been following your journey for quite
    awhile now, through health and sickness & it makes me so happy to hear that you’re finally doing better! hang on to those happy moments, you deserve every one of them 🙂

  33. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Hooray! A walk, a run, weights, stretching, and 2 spin classes?!?! Awesome sauce! So happy for an awesome few days. Pretty soon we’ll be using way too many explanation points to describe weeks and months, too! Whoo hoo! Still keeping you and your digestive system in my prayers:)

  34. So beyond happy for you, I am crying. I’ve been there and it’s so hard and humbling but amazing at the same time. Here’s to many, many more days like these for you – you deserve this!

    1. Ooh, I just love this! I cried reading it…so happy you were able to get out and have an awesome weekend.

  35. Oh my gosh, Ali. Congratulations!!! I am a stranger, and my eyes are welling up reading this post. Truly amazing!! Wishing you all the best! x

  36. Ali, I’ve been a long time reader, but haven’t commented on your blog in ages… but I HAD to comment today to tell you how HAPPY I am for you. Seriously, tears are forming in my eyes, I can only imagine how thrilled you must be and I am really hoping that this is the sign of some more good things coming your way!

  37. I just began reading your blog a couple days ago, but was already invested and hoping you got better. I am so thrilled to read this! I’m pretty sure you can call yourself inspirational now, and you definitely are fighting. I’ll keep praying for you and I can’t wait to see more good news!

  38. I’m so happy for you, Ali! I hope this is the beginning of a great, great thing. Meaning you’ll just be better forever and you’ll kick butt and be awesome like always. 🙂

  39. Yahoooooooooooooooooooooooo!
    Ali I am so happy for you! I know you will be sweatin’ all over New York soon.
    So happy you had an active weekend!


    My 5-miler last week was after reading your exclamation-point-less post, and a lot of my inspiration was running and appreciating my body and what it can do. and it was seriously so.motivating. so thanks for the reminder of how awesome it is to run.

    its crazy crazy crazy how much being active can do for your spirit.

  41. OMG! This is fantastic! Congrats! 😀

    (Side note: it’s funny how happy I am for someone I’ve never met. But seriously, I’m so excited for you!)

  42. Yay! This post makes me happy for so many different reasons. We all have to start (and restart somewhere). And I just made an appointment this morning to get my dog’s rear left leg amputated. It is super scary but I hope she can be an inspiring 3-legged dog!

  43. Ali! I’m so happy for you! I’ve been reading your blog since just before you got sick in February! As the posts got to be less and less often, I’ve kept you in my thoughts more and more!

    I’m so impressed by you and proud that as a fellow runner/fitness lover I can say that we are of a similar breed. You’ve had a very tough time the past few months and you’ve earned every one of those happy tears you’ve been able to shed.

    Congratulations! I hope you get stronger and healthier each day!

    Ps. I love that first thing you chose to do as you’ve begun to feel better is run and spin!

  44. Hooray!! I’m so happy to hear you had such an active, and enjoyable weekend. I hope this is the start of many more happy weekends for you.

  45. Congratulations! This was such a great post to read. I’m glad you got to enjoy some of your favorite things AND have a perfect Central Park day! Now go play the lotto.

  46. So, so happy to read this 🙂 Two spin classes in two days AND some running? You go, Ali!! I hope this is just the beginning of things continuing to improve for you. So many good thoughts sent your way!!!

  47. Awesome doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it. I couldn’t stop smiling while reading about your fitness-filled weekend. So excited to hear you made it to Matt’s class again! YAYYYYY <3

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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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