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This is not about National Running Day–Thinking out Loud

Well, technically, it is a post about running. But stick with me, all you non-runners. This is a post for you, too.

A thank you to Ms. Amanda, our ever spoonful hostess.

A thank you to Ms. Amanda, our ever spoonful hostess.

I know, I know, Wednesday was National Running Day. And I know, I know, I should have said more than just a lame “Happy National Running Day.” But you know what? I am going to treat it like Valentine’s Day–every day should be considered National Running Day! And not just for us runners, but for everyone. Because “running” is the medium, but not the answer. The community, the exertion, the triumph, the sorrow, the fun, the gritty work, the vocabulary and slang, the exercises to try to improve. Running is just a metaphor, one way to express how we strive to find ourselves in the midst of the crowd–individuals as part of a whole.

A Walker, a Runner, and a Lifter. All brought together in support.

A Walker, a Runner, and a Lifter. All brought together in support.

I run to move beyond expectations, as I so often say. I run to believe in myself, that I am capable. Maybe not of anything, but of more than I thought at first. I run to help others to believe in me as well–when I was diagnosed, I had a doctor’s note to keep me FROM running in PE because we were worried that running would overstress my body (and I can’t disagree, to be truthful). Running has become, for me, a thermometer/barometer/measuring stick of choice for my disease: I use it to gauge how I am really doing. During my last flare, the year that I met Alex, by the end of that semester, I had lost 20 lbs and couldn’t run for more than 8 minutes before my insides would start to spasm, sending my body into overdrive and me to the bathroom for an unproductive 45 minutes and exhaustion following. I kept asking myself why I kept running, when I knew that this would happen (I was literally waiting for the collapse every time). And I got my answer when, during the last week before I gave up, I couldn’t make it to 10 minutes.

My first half marathon finish line. VA Wine Country Half Marathon 2012

My first half marathon finish line. VA Wine Country Half Marathon 2012

That experience, coupled with my injuries that I have dealt with in the past year, means that every mile, every minute, I am grateful. I am grateful for that step. For this step. For that step. Do I still get angry when I fall short of my goals, when my body doesn’t work the way I want it to? You bet. But I know that this little body is giving me everything that it has in it, like my horses have done for me, even when they were actually dying inside. Running is as close as I will get to flying–lifted up by some invisible force to cover ground. To head straight into the wind, and to defy it, but to respect its strength.  Running humbles me, but also congratulates me on a job well done. And so do my fellow runners. The support of a community, for the selfish action of an individual. Beneficial Strategic Selfishness

Joe and Angel--Team Challenge Georgia Endurance Managers past and present.

Joe and Angel–Team Challenge Georgia Endurance Managers past and present.

Running is the medium, not the focus. We all have something in our lives, something that makes us tick, that we throw ourselves into whole-heartedly. That, if we could, we would give every ounce of our strength to see through til the end. Before running, it was the horses. After running, I don’t know. Likely being a mother, but I am trying to speak more so in terms of an activity or interest, rather than a interpersonal relationship.

Running my second official half marathon--Women's Running Nashville Women's Half Marathon 2012

Running my second official half marathon–Women’s Running Nashville Women’s Half Marathon 2012. First TC finisher in the field.

This weekend, CCFA Team Challenge is coming to Chicago from all over the United States to raise awareness of and funds for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis research. Though I trained for my half marathons alone, I ran as part of this team. In the first race, I race for me, myself, and I. In the next 2 races that I ran with TC, I have vivid memories of being on the course and feeling like I wanted to give up, that I couldn’t keep the pace, that I was hitting the wall. And then I remembered: you are more than just yourself out here. You are running for every person out there that cannot. Bring it home for them, if not for yourself. Show them, and Crohn’s Disease itself, what a true Crohn’s Kid can do.

Allstate Chicago 13.1 2013. My current PR, fresh off the plane from my honeymoon.

Allstate Chicago 13.1 2013. My current PR, fresh off the plane from my honeymoon.

I run to believe in myself.

Because I will need all of the self-belief that I can muster when the floor falls out from underneath me.

It's her fault. All of it. And I should thank her for it everyday.

It’s her fault. All of it. And I should thank her for it everyday.

Whether you run or not, I urge you to celebrate National Running Day as a spiritual exercise where you look at what drives you, you indulge in it, and you are thankful for it. It doesn’t have to be active–maybe it is learning about the Renaissance, or knitting. What makes you, you.

Celebrate that fact, that you are you, every day.

May you live every day of your life.

mcm marathon boston strong

If not running, what is your “running”? What makes you feel individually fulfilled as well as connected to a greater whole?

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35 Comments

  • Reply Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime

    Dang girl, nice writing 🙂

    I don’t mean to be so vague but, I feel like I am passionate about so many things and thats what really makes me – me. Growing up, and even in college, I struggled to pick a career because I wanted to do so many things! Math, reading, art, health and fitness, I love it all. I love how it makes me feel like I can connect to everyone on some level or another. As far as health related things go, I would say weightlifting and circuit training are my “thing”. I also love food. Cooking, reading recipes, trying new recipes. Its therapeutic.
    Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #7: Room Raiders EditionMy Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 6:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I know exactly what you mean–about feeling pulled in to many directions to feel like you can really make a choice. That is how I felt until I discovered architectural history and design–it taps into all of the pieces of my brain puzzle–art, math, social history, writing, and the laws of the physical world. But it was hell trying to figure out where to go with it. I have taken to running because I like the fact that you HAVE to cross train (or at least, I do!), so I have the excuse and motivation to do allthethings! I love to cook as well, and I love to throw things together and see if I can make them work. I like plans, but I like to be able to improvise, should I so desire 🙂

      June 5, 2014 at 8:27 am
  • Reply Sarah @pickyrunner

    Your thought provoking posts are kind of my favorite. I think it’s pretty incredible what running can bring to us beyond the act of running itself. That’s probably my favorite part. I feel so connected through the sport which I never imagined happening- I’m part of a community of all kinds of athletes, not just marathon runners. No matter whether it’s crossfit, triathlons, or marathons, we’re all participating in something bigger than ourselves. And that’s pretty cool. Your story is pretty inspiring, and I always enjoy reading about your experiences, even the tough ones because it shows us how you turned into one tough cookie 🙂
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…Thinking Out LoudMy Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 6:46 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are kind of my favorite, and I know that you so relate to what I am talking about. I think that it is so funny that such an independent sport actually makes us more of a team player and connected to the larger group.
      And to quote a fantastic movie, “over the Hedge,”: But I like-a cookie!

      June 5, 2014 at 8:28 am
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    Great post! Running is about so much more than running. For me it is also about believing in myself and find a way to push myself beyond a limit I thought I had. That can apply to anyone for any sport they are in. We all need goals to help us move forward and take pride in our accomplishments.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Putting Bondi Bands through the Multi-sport testMy Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 6:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you! These activities that we engage in are so important to our character–we learn to believe but also to respect the fail, because it teaches us and helps us to value the win even more.

      June 5, 2014 at 8:30 am
  • Reply Michael Anderson

    I definitely think that finding and sticking with what you are passionate about – whatever it is – is important to developing our identity, and maintaining our happiness. I have seen so many people in relationships lose themselves as they immerse in the couple-stuff. You must still remain you!

    I love to run, and really don’t care that I will never be very fast. That isn’t a goal for me – it is the pure joy of running and all of the ways it makes me a better me. Same for music – when I got my music studio fully reconfigured and jumped into some of my old compositions … the feelings that swept over me are impossible to describe.

    It doesn’t matter WHAT it is … just that it is YOU.
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Thought for Thursday – Compromise and ‘Seven Wants’My Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 8:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Perfectly said.

      June 6, 2014 at 8:12 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ ihadabiglunch

    I wasn’t going to run yesterday because I’d run the two previous days and my body doesn’t generally do well with that many days of consecutive running (how many times can I say running in one sentence?) But knowing yesterday was National Running Day I just hopped on a treadmill after my workout and ran a mile just in gratitude that I CAN. I love what you said in this post about how “Running is as close as I will get to flying” – that’s a BEAUTIFUL way of looking at it!
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…The 500 (workout)My Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 9:08 am
  • Reply Shawna

    this is so great — i really love your passion and your conviction, and they carry through so strongly in your words. it’s inspiring to see you continually push past obstacles and an illness that you won’t let drag you down. i am with you on running being “my running” — it keeps me grounded and gives me a new reason to get out of bed every morning and to believe in myself; it pushes me to embrace new challenges, both mentally and physically, that i never thought possible. i’m so thankful, too, for every step this body can take, and pray i remain healthy enough to carry on this passion throughout the rest of my life.
    Shawna recently posted…WILW {6.4.14}My Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 9:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Here is to many, many more miles. They may not always be pretty, but they are ours. And we share that triumph with everyone.

      June 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm
  • Reply Jenni @ Fitzala

    Love this! I’m not a runner, but understand the passion you have for it and enjoyed reading this post. I don’t know what to say, it was deep! I think my new and upcoming passion is going to be remodeling the home we just bought. It’s ugly right now and I can’t wait to make it pretty!

    I used to ride as well showing Western Pleasure. My horse is still at my parents house so it’s nice to visit him now and again 🙂
    Jenni @ Fitzala recently posted…Plyometric Workouts: why they rock plus three workoutsMy Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 10:12 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I don’t think I knew that you rode! Then you so get this, the feeling of flying, of finding that moment of peace and connection with something beyond. That’s great that you still have your horse-my old friend is still causing trouble in GA, and I get to see him periodically. But he always whinnies to me and trots over to me. Never fails to make my day.
      My husband isn’t a runner but is a lifter. There are times when I shake my head , but I respect his passion, and I love seeing him and his friends supporting each other and pushing each other and spotting each other, but only when it is necessary. So cool.

      June 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm
  • Reply Mama Salt

    Hey YOU. YOU ARE AMAZING. This post pretty much moved me to tears. You put so much heart into everything that you do and it’s just so inspirational to me and I know a lot of other people as well. I’m proud to know ya, Suz. <3

    Also off topic but before I read this post, I stared at the ice cream in your header for a solid 5 minutes.

    June 5, 2014 at 11:03 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      <<<<<3333333 (those are mega big lips for mega big kisses) we get each other-like your tat. It is the essense of us building who we are, what we want our world to be.
      We will have our ice cream date, don't you worry. And it will be magical.

      June 6, 2014 at 8:00 pm
  • Reply Courtney @RunningforCupcakes

    I love how you said that running is closest we will ever get to flying. I have never thought of it that way, but it is so true and amazing to think about. Us runners do something crazy things for our sport, but in the end it’s all worth it and you will always have an amazing community to back you up.
    Courtney @RunningforCupcakes recently posted…Thinking Out Loud # 17My Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 11:22 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Next time you go run, put those arms out and say JACK, IM FLYING! but don’t go down with the ship 😉

      June 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    You’re right it should be celebrated every day! But I loved reading about the purpose behind your running, and yesterday was a great chance for runners to share their stories about their love for the sport and connect with others. You really put into words the passion that so many of us feel for running. I hope that everyone can feel that sort of drive for something!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #5My Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well thank you. I do agree that NRDis important because it, like Valentines or mothers day, highlights something that is an integral part of our lives but taken for granted by many or unknown to others. And I also loved hearing everyone’s responses as well–including yours!

      June 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm
  • Reply Brianna @ I run He tris

    I could feel the emotions coming through in this post!! Running races does it for me. It used to be triathlons, and it will be again but for now it’s running. I love the running/triathlon community and how they often put emphasis on others instead of an it’s all about me attitude.
    Brianna @ I run He tris recently posted…Thoughtless Thursday- South Africa: The Garden RouteMy Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I completely agree. When I competed with the horses, it really was an “it’s about me” culture. It was about WINNING. And often, lets be honest, people bought their way in with the nicest horses or strategy. With running, sure, we want to win, but I think that the anyone can run attitude helps to level the playing field. I’ve never Deen anything like the end of a race, when some one is struggling, and people stop their race to help. It’s magical.

      June 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm
  • Reply Laura @ the gluten- free treadmill

    I love your theme of gratefulness – and it’s one I so agree with! And I celebrate nat’l running day every day. Whether I ran or not!
    Laura @ the gluten- free treadmill recently posted…A sustainable approach to bloggingMy Profile

    June 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Preach it girl! I agree with Mike that declaring a particular day as a “national” day hallmark-ifies it, but at least it gets us talking about it. Cheers to a very happy un-national running day!

      June 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm
  • Reply Renee @ Bendiful Blog

    Running should always be a celebration of gratefulness! Great post!

    June 6, 2014 at 6:47 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much! I think another reason that running is so concerned with gratefulness is that those for whom it comes easily it it a gift, for those who have worked for it, it is an earned privilege.

      June 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm
  • Reply Susie's mommy, Clare

    …….and this is why I do half marathons…….YOU are the reason.
    I’m not a runner, never have been, never will be……but I’ve found I think of myself as a runner…..I just “run” a whole lot slower than most runners do..
    After I made my unscheduled launch from our horse, almost 6 years ago, I had a forced departure from my daily workouts, driving, teaching, etc. for four months.
    Once the orthro and the head doctors released me, I needed an active rehab plan so, I decided that I’d sign up to do a half-marathon with CCFA TeamChallenge because TC is for the Crohns and Colitis foundation of America, You had (and have) Crohns and it was something tangible I could do for you.
    No one, absolutely NO ONE thought I could do a half marathon–that’s 13.1 miles, for heavens sake.

    You and I both lost 20 pounds that winter, and neither loss was planned……yours was due to a horrid Crohns flare and mine was do to serious back, head and pelvic injuries. As I got better over those months, you got worse.

    YOU were my inspiration, my reason to get off of the sofa and go do something I’d never have thought possible. I signed up to do those 13.1 miles…..as a walker.
    I trained hard for that race and when I crossed that finish line, I knew I had made a statement…. I can do this…….I just had to do it at my speed.
    I think my body can tolerate one TC half-marathon a year. I KNOW that I will have to train hard and then just do the best I can……on a wing and a prayer.
    You said “running is as close as I will get to flying–lifted up by some invisible force to cover ground.”
    That is what I feel when I complete one of these TC 13.1 mile journeys. I don’t get as high off of the ground, or as fast, but that isn’t the point of the “gift.”
    Its taking the impossible……. and doing it anyway.
    Mom

    June 6, 2014 at 10:19 am
  • Reply Cassie

    AWESOME POST. Running to believe in yourself is such a great way to put it – and is how new runners should think of it, too. There’s nothing like crossing the finish line – no matter if it’s an actual race or your daily run – because you did it ALL ON YOUR OWN.
    Cassie recently posted…The Best Homemade Granola BarsMy Profile

    June 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you and PRECISELY

      June 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm
  • Reply Lean Green Island Girl | My Never Say Never Inspiration: Nikie

    […] of Nikie and she inspires me to be keep pushing myself and never say never. As the awesome Suz from Suzlyfe.com said “I run to believe in myself, that I am capable. Maybe not of anything, but of more than […]

    June 9, 2014 at 9:57 pm
  • Reply Susie's mommy, Clare

    The great truth of “we are supposed to listen to what our bodies tell us” got in the way of my TeamChallenge race last Saturday in Chicago.
    My body was telling me things I DID NOT want to hear………!
    When I woke up Saturday morning, I knew that all of my best intentions had flown out the window. (That happens sometimes when you leave all the doors and windows open—-things come in and occasionally things fly out!)
    About a quarter mile into the first mile of the race, I knew I’d be lucky to make it to the one mile marker where you were cheering on the runners. So, I made it to that first mile marker and then stopped to be part of the TC cheering squad. After 3 plus hours of cheering others on, you and I walked me back in.
    Two miles does not equal 13.1
    As disappointed as I might/or should have been, I realized that I was proud of the fact that I listened to what my body was yelling at me….and I did the best I could.
    Sometimes we have a race that doesn’t work out as we’d hoped. I crossed the starting line and the finish line. It wasn’t the half marathon I’d hoped for…..it was the BEST I could do THAT day and I have to let that be good enough.

    There will be another starting line, somewhere down the road, and I’ll cross that one when I’m ready

    June 11, 2014 at 10:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I won’t be marathoning forever. I know you were disappointed, but you have to remember this: you kept, time and again, hoping that Penny would come back until you/me/us finally accepted that she was dunnnn. I don’t think that you are retired, ready to go out to pasture, but I think that you need to accept that you are entering another phase. I will be entering another phase, one that I am going to have to force myself to accept this fall after this marathon. Ultimately, we only have one body, and we have to take care of it. Otherwise, we will spend more days missing out on EVERYTHING rather than just missing out on a few things.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:57 am
  • Reply Fulfillment , Philanthropy, and Summer Running Survival #treatyourself | Suzlyfe

    […] One of the greatest treats I gave myself this weekend was as much a treat for me as it was for the recipient of the gift. You all know how much I adore Laura of The Gluten Free Treadmill. Well, Laura is gathering herself to embark on an incredible journey where she will run across the country to raise funds and awareness for Sexual Violence Awareness, Rape Prevention, and Victim Support. I am so proud of her decision to do this, and I am also proud to say that my very own SwirlGear has come on as one of her first official sponsors. I know very personally what it is like to run for a cause, and to have others run to benefit a cause that happens to affect you very personally (see my thoughts about Team Challenge here). […]

    July 1, 2014 at 10:12 am
  • Reply Marathon Mindset: What The Marathon Means for Me - Suzlyfe

    […] written about my running history some in the past, most notably, this post that I penned for National Running Day, about Why I Run. I often mention my little tag line of “moving beyond expectation,” and combined with the […]

    September 30, 2014 at 5:15 am
  • Reply Intuition and Big Freaking News #MIMM - Suzlyfe

    […] or even getting to run the Michelob Ultra Half here in Chicago–my PR race last year, and a big Team Challenge event. But I was more thankful that I would get to spend so much time with my mom (who had signed up […]

    October 27, 2014 at 3:18 pm
  • Reply Signs November is Upon Us (Thinking Out Loud) - Suzlyfe

    […] I’m in! I hope that you might consider joining me in making a little extra room for dessert. And though I may have posted yesterday about alternative baking staples and tips on how to use them, the purpose of this run, and Team Challenge’s other efforts, is to make is so that no one HAS to make these substitutions. The goal is to find a cure so that everyone only makes substitutions if they WANT to. We should all be able to enjoy this holiday of love and family without any extra anxiety and stress, right? Read here to learn more about what Team Challenge means to me. […]

    November 6, 2014 at 7:02 am
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