The Plan

Date: October 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 31

My alarm went off at 5 AM today, as planned.

This was not this morning. This was a morning when I actually did get up and go run. Spoiler alert or whatever. Sorry.

This was not this morning. This was a morning when I actually did get up and go run. Spoiler alert or whatever. Sorry.

And, as planned, I refused to snooze.

I followed my usual “I’m up, but I’m moving slowly” in-bed routine: check email, scroll through Facebook, roll eyes at everything on Facebook, scroll through Twitter, feel bored with Twitter and then, new to the routine, check Instagram, because I finally joined. I like it so far. Everything on Instagram is filtered just enough to be beautiful.

Fall seemed like the perfect time to give in to the Instagram Nation. Instanation? Doesn't really work. Instafabulous. Instafoliage. I could do this all day. WAIT! Please don't leave.

Fall seemed like the perfect time to give in to the Instagram Nation. Instanation? Doesn’t really work. Instafabulous. Instafoliage. I could do this all day. WAIT! Please don’t leave.

As I wrapped things up on Instagram, things began moving, uhhhh, faster.

To the bathroom!

I spent the better part of the next hour going back and forth between the bedroom and the bathroom.

Eventually, determined to stick with the plan, I put on my running clothes.

Then back to the bathroom.

Then the running clothes came off. First the sneakers. Then I traded my spandex for my cozy bathrobe. It was 6 AM by this point, so I knew I wasn’t going to fall back asleep. But I also knew not to bother with running.

If I tried, I knew exactly how that run would go.

This is some fog rising up from the Great Lawn one time. Maybe a week ago. Maybe two weeks ago. I don't know. I took this photo as I emerged from Bathroom Stop #96.

This is some fog rising up from the Great Lawn one time. Maybe a week ago. Maybe two weeks ago. I don’t know. I took this photo as I emerged from Bathroom Stop #96.

I’d have to stop at the Starbucks halfway up the hill to Central Park (a whopping two blocks from my apartment).

Then, I’d have to stop at the next Starbucks, only two blocks from there (the barista there knows me, which is horrifying because I’ve never once purchased a beverage or snack from that particular establishment; instead, I’m the “morning runner bathroom girl,” which just thrills me).

And once I hit the park, my “run” would just be a series of jolts to the next public restroom.

I don't have pictures of the bathrooms. I do have pictures of the trees. Let me know which you would prefer and I'll Insta-accordingly.

I don’t have pictures of the bathrooms. I do have pictures of the trees. Let me know which you would prefer and I’ll Insta-accordingly.

Finally, frustrated, I’d head home, far later than planned, and I’d have to rush to get myself down to the office.

Maybe I’d get in six miles. And along the way, I’d be forced to make at least 10 bathroom stops.

So that’s where we are right now.

We’re 10 days out from the New York City Marathon…

The city is ready...why aren't I?

The city is ready…why aren’t I?

…and while I can’t claim to have “trained,” I did put in at least some of the miles and some of the effort. I never did speedwork, I avoided even the slightest inclines and even though I was back up and running for a while, I never managed an entirely bathroom-stop-free run.

It never mattered, though. I was running! And surely things would follow suit and, just like last year, I’d get perfectly healthy in time for Marathon Day.

The road to the finish line. That's not a metaphor. This is the actual road to the NYCM finish line in Central Park.

The road to the finish line. That’s not a metaphor. This is the actual road to the NYCM finish line in Central Park.

That was the plan.

You see where this is going, yeah?

I am 10 days away from running a marathon that has been three years in the making for me: one year to qualify through the 9+1 program, one year to train for the 2012 race which was eventually canceled and, finally, this year. A year that has brought the greatest stupid struggles of my life, and a year I can’t seem to just get behind me.

I cannot believe my body continues to not cooperate. (There had to have been a more eloquent way to write that sentence, but grammar is lost on me right now.)

A lot can happen in 10 days. I could wake up November 3 feeling incredible. But I could also wake up on November 1 feeling worse, and on November 2 feeling worse than that, and on November 3 I could find myself keeled over in the bathroom in pain and, you know…other things.

The unpredictability of this disease is driving me mad.

I was getting better. I finally thought, around late August, that I was getting better. And now this. Again.

Yeahhhh I didn't miss doing this every four days. Bloodwork and fluids, so much fun! Do you want me to talk about the other samples they want from me? I'll do it.

Yeahhhh I didn’t miss doing this every four days. Bloodwork and fluids, so much fun! Do you want me to talk about the other samples they want from me? I’ll do it.

If I felt like this a year ago, I would be complaining that I’m “in the middle of the worst flare-up ever.” Now, after having endured this past year, I’m hardly that dramatic.

Yes, I appear to be flaring. Yes, it’s a pain in my ass. And a pain in my stomach.

No, it’s not the worst flare-up of my life. Not even close.

But it’s enough to possibly keep me from that starting line, and my heart is breaking a little for that.

So for the next 10 days, there’s no plan.

If I wake up and I can run, I’ll run. If I can’t, fine.

The photographic theme of this post is "shades of orange in NYC, via sunrises, sunsets and foliage." Such an artist. Speaking of artist, can someone explain Banksy to me? I am filled with confusion.

The photographic theme of this post is “shades of orange in NYC, via sunrises, sunsets and foliage.” Such an artist. Speaking of artist, can someone explain Banksy to me? I am filled with confusion.

I saw my doctor yesterday, and we brainstormed some “quick fix” solutions. We talked about short-term, “non-solution” treatments that will get me running for five to six hours, and after that I’ll come see him again and we’ll talk about changing up the long-term plan. I’m just not bothering to think about the long-term right now.

I’ve got some prescriptions I’m going to test out in the next few days, and I’m back on the steroids. I’d love to say I’m feeling optimistic, but instead I just feel kind of calm and realistic, knowing this race just may not happen for me, and I’m going to have to be OK with that.

I am learning, very slowly, that accepting life with Crohn’s disease means accepting a life without plans. Or at least learning to be flexible enough to not go insane when plans go wildly awry.

Meanwhile, my doctor isn’t ready to give up on my New York City Marathon dreams. He wants me running. And on my way out his office door last night, he reassured me with five little words: “You’re gonna run this marathon.”

If Doc says it's gonna happen... I think I'll at least try to believe him.

If Doc says it’s gonna happen… I think I’ll at least try to believe him.

Now I guess we’ll see.

That’s the only plan.

31 Responses to "The Plan"

I love your doctor. Power of positive thinking. I’m pulling for you and hoping you get to toe that line.

Tug McGraw said…”You Gotta Believe”…..I believe you will run this marathon – fingers and toes crossed for you xo

Gosh Ali I am so sorry. Whether you run this marathon or not, I think you are amazing. In the midst of pain you are still seeking hope and joy. You make us all laugh at your jokes, and we are all in your corner cheering you on.

Your doctor is awesome. I will see you at Mile 22, no matter how many bathroom stops it takes you to get there!

I don’t get Banksy either. Apparently there’s a Banksy piece right around the corner from my apartment. Maybe I should go check it out?

As a type 1 diabetic I know all about plans being foiled by an uncooperative body, but I’m also really proud of you for not giving up on something you love and are passionate about. A lot of other people would have given up a long time ago but you are persevering and that is amazing and admirable. I’m rooting for you! 🙂

I don’t Insta-anything, really – but for your sake, I’m hoping for Insta-relief. Or at least, Insta-relief that lasts 5 hours, in about 10 days.

I don’t want to offer a bunch of Insta-cliches, but hang in there. See what the next week brings. As someone blessed with a relatively healthy GI system, if I could take your troubles for the day on Nov. 3 so you could run an awesome race, then I would. But as that’s not really possible, you’ll just have to settle for lots of people rooting for you (and your stomach, is that weird?), and I’ll certainly have my fingers crossed.

I LOVE your doctor! mine is more tentative…i’m doing the half in Vegas….and i’m just praying i feel good for it. no matter what happens, know you inspire me!

Living with chronic illness and chronic pain is seriously the pits. The PITS. I know this all too well. Learning to take the highs and remember them as we wallow and stew and suffer through the lows is so fucking hard. Some days I think it’s impossible. I haven’t run since February…at all. I get it. All 5 races I had entered? Not a one of them attended. I know what it’s like to not be able to make plans and have faith that they can be kept. My heart goes out to you, Ali. I don’t have Crohn’s…I have other “stuff” but I get it. I’m hoping that whatever happens on NYCM day brings you smiles and joy…whatever happens. Thinking of you with deep understanding.

You’re gonna run this marathon.
You’re gonna run this marathon.
You’re gonna run this marathon.
You’re gonna run this marathon.
You’re gonna run this marathon.

I am pulling for you! Hopefully that toe heals up fast so you can get on with your run!

Positive thinking, you’ll run if you can, or you’ll run next year.
I’ve stopped registering for any races unless they have a walk option because I’ve had to either skip them or drop down to the 5k where I knew I could walk most of it. Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC, Middlebury Half marathon, Providence Rock in Roll, and I’m heading to DC today to now spectate and eat cupcakes instead of running the MCM10k.
Lungs you suck!

PAN! You are totally going to run this marathon! Do you want me to cook you a carbo-loading meal the night before? It can include that pizza. And pasta. AND Parker. HA. Alliteration.

I guess Brian and Ted can come too.

you’re keeping the right perspective – sending positive thoughts your way my friend. I had to officially withdraw from the Marine Corps Marathon yesterday (it’s on Sunday) due to stress fracture/hamstring crap going on…. second fall marathon in a row I’ve had to scratch. the good news is, running will always be there.

Now see I am a very cynical person and I usually mock all happy people and positive thoughts, but I’ve decided I will make an exception for your doctor. He sounds smart. LET’S DO THIS, ALI.

I’m sorry you’re still going through this but I rather like the sound of your doctor! He sounds like he can get you round, so start planning what you’re going to wear! 🙂

You’ve got an amazing doctor! I really hope you are able to run NYCM (and finish!) My best bit of advice for you would be to walk when you need to. There’s no shame in walking up a hill if you need.

Well you’re doctor rocks for leaving you with those words! I really hope you can at least lace up and run the NYCM. You deserve it. Positive thoughts and prayers coming your way 🙂

Awww, my heart goes out to you. I really hope you can run the marathon! High five to your doc though, that’s great that he’s so encouraging.

I’m not a person who goes around beating people up (I know, surprising right?) but if Crohn’s Disease was a person, I would kick the crap out of him. UGH. Sending lots of love to you!

You’re SO READY for this mentally. I know that if there’s even a 25% chance of it going off well, you’ll be you there giving it everything and loving every minute of it (except maybe for a few around mile 24). Will keep hoping for you!

I’m so sorry! I can’t even imagine your frustration.
I agree with the others -good doc.

Although I’m sure this isn’t what you want to hear, you are so so lucky to have a good doctor who supports you with the marathon. My college roommate had colitis (eventually having colon removed) and she struggled so much with getting her doctors to understand her goals/desires etc. I would be thinking of you in the next few days!

I can’t wait to read your race re-cap post of NYCM because you will run…and kick ass!

Oh, I’m rooting for you in Minneapolis! I really hope you wake up on race morning feeling AMAZEBALLS, and I don’t say amazeballs, but I stil hope you feel great 🙂

This is completely hippy sounding, but I wouldn’t discount the potential for race day magic. The body can do some pretty ridiculous things if there’s enough will to make it happen, and you my friend have no shortage of an iron will. I have a lot of faith.

My fingers & toe are crossed. Sending healing vibes your way.

Good luck Ali, I’m so glad your doctor seems to have a soul, oftentimes a rare find with GI’s. This is also the one time where steroids (I read people call them “the devil’s tic tacs”) may be helpful for something good (energy) .
You take the steroids so easily, never any complaining …already a champion in my book!

I’m with the Doc. You’re going to run this marathon. I’m rooting for you.

we just have to ask mary wittenberg if she can just get 26 extra port a potties so there is one at every mile that has your name on it in big letters and is locked and only you have the key and it’s got a soft cushy toilet seat and a huge stash of TP. Really, with all that goes into the preparation of this marathon i’m sure it can happen =) I’m praying that you get to that start line and make it to the finish.

I’ll be running NYCM, and rooting for you running too, in the best way I know how that doesn’t involve a cowbell – wearing my I Heart Sweat shirt!

cheering for you.