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A Tough Year
As each year passes, I find myself making a grand declaration that “This was the best year ever!”
In 2005, I studied abroad in Australia.
In 2007, I made sure to go all-out during my senior year of college (that mostly means “drink all the boxed wine”). I lived in a house off-campus with four of my best friends, I was captain of my kickline team and we won first place at our final competition.
I kicked off 2008 having just moved to New York City to pursue my dream job. I was feeling truly independent for the first time in my life and I loved it.
For each year that followed, there were low points, of course, but each year still managed to wrap up as “the best.”
In 2009 I ran my first half-marathon.
In 2010, I had been promoted at work and I felt like I had finally mastered that elusive work-life balance. (I would later learn to fail at this over and over, but that’s OK.)
2010 was also the year I started Ali On The Run. I created the tagline “Living, running & kicking Crohn’s disease in the butt in NYC,” which is admittedly far too long and not very catchy. I remember including the Crohn’s disease part because it was something that made me a little different in a swarm of running blogs. But I didn’t think about it too much, because despite having the disease, it was hardly a crucial part of my life at the time. I never anticipated that Crohn’s disease would actually play much of a role in my life or on my blog.
Then came 2011 — arguably the best best year ever for me.
I PR’d the heck out of a half-marathon, crushing my goal time by more than 15 minutes.
I moved into my own apartment, the sweetest little studio I’ve ever seen (minus the green toilet that had flushing problems, and the shower drain that never quite functioned), and truly enjoyed being on my own for a while.
I got selected to participate in the Run For The Rabbit competition, where I got to train for my first marathon, raise a buttload of money for charity and — bonus! — meet Brian.
2011 was so great.
Surely I thought 2012 would be “even better.”
The truth: 2012 has been the worst.
I know that’s a surprisingly un-Ali statement of negativity. But it’s been a really challenging year for me and today more than ever I’m feeling frustrated, I’m feeling sick as ever and I’m feeling incredibly defeated.
I’m not really feeling like myself at all.
I had hugely high hopes for 2012. A marathon PR in Eugene, to be followed by more relaxed training leading up to the New York City Marathon! Vacations! Spending tons of time with my friends and family! So much success!
Instead, my year began with running burnout. There was a stomach flu, which passed quickly enough, but that kicked off a chain reaction in the “my body is failing me” saga. My hip began to hurt each time I ran. Then my knee hurt, and finally there was the constant, throbbing shin pain that forced me to take weeks off from running at all.
In between the injuries, there were Crohn’s flares. First in March, starting the day I so badly just wanted to stand outside with my cowbell, cheering for the New York City Half Marathon runners.
The second flare-up came in May, just in time for my best friend’s wedding. That was super.
Since May, I’ve never felt completely better.
In July I had another definite flare, and it just hasn’t stopped.
This weekend, Brian and I went up to the Catskills. He was doing a bike race up there, and I was just hoping for a relaxing getaway.
At times, it was relaxing. Turns out, there’s not a whole lot of excitement in the Catskills during the summer. But the weekend was also frustrating.
I was supposed to run 14 miles as part of my marathon training plan, and I failed miserably. I was also supposed to do a long bike ride in preparation for my bike race at the end of the month, but the longest I rode was 12 miles to get to Brian’s finish line, and even that required far more energy than I had in me.
I was hardly the “spectator extraordinaire” I wanted to be for Brian. Though I can tell you where every public restroom is in the entire Windham/Hunter Mountain area. Impressive? Duh.
As you probably know, being negative isn’t really my thing. I can pretty much always put a positive spin on any situation.
But that’s getting harder every time I wake up in pain, either in my stomach or my joints, or every time I have to bail on social plans because I can’t fathom leaving my apartment. I’ve probably missed more work days in the past two months than I’ve actually attended, and I haven’t completed a bathroom stop-free run since marathon training began.
It’s defeating and it’s embarrassing, and I’m tired of writing about it. (Don’t worry, I realize that you’re probably tired of reading about it as well. I get it. It’s cool.) I’m tired of living it and I’m tired of feeling like I don’t have a whole lot of control over my own life.
I’m wildly excited to meet with this new doctor tomorrow afternoon. I’ve researched him extensively, and I’m feeling optimistic that together we’ll find a treatment plan that can kick these flare-ups away for a while.
Until that happens, though, I’m feeling pretty crushed. And I hate feeling that way. I promise I’ve tried to see the positive in all this.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“It could be so much worse.”
“Many people have it far tougher than you do.”
“Your runs may require 400 bathroom stops, but at least you have legs and you can run.”
Trust me, I’ve tried. Those little sayings aren’t doing the trick anymore.
I realize how much I’m whining, and I realize how trivial my problems seem. I recognize that at the end of the day, I still have a great job, a roof over my head and clean Brita water chilling in my fridge. I have an incredible family and wonderful friends, and I’m surrounded by good people who understand (or at least sympathize with) what I’m going through when I get sick.
I also know that, in spite of its difficulties, 2012 hasn’t been all bad.
This year is challenging me and teaching me a lot. Being sick forces me to re-examine my priorities, and it makes me look at things a little differently. I’m learning to go easier on myself (um, and others…) and I’m learning what’s worthy of my stress (work, money, making family a priority) and what’s not (everything else).
2012 has also brought some great stuff, so now that I’ve whined my little heart out, let’s remember the good things…
So that’s what’s been on my mind. I always said I’d keep my blog happy and positive — but I also said I wouldn’t lie to you. As much as I want to be like “I’m still sick, but it’s OK because I know I’ll get better!” right now I’m stuck in a state of frustration.
I’m sure I’ll snap out of it soon enough, and then I’ll get to re-read this and wonder why I was such a pissy brat. For now, though, I’m declaring 2012 as a rough one.
My hopes are high for the rest of the year, though.
It’s going to get better.
I hope so. Because I really hate complaining.