One month down

February Candy hearts valentine's stephanie hughes stolen colon ostomy crohn's blogIt’s amazing how quickly time goes by. I have often been told by those older than I am that it just gets faster every year, and that definitely is the truth.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting here mapping out my goals for the next year, and suddenly one month is already done and over with. But I am very excited about the great start this year has gotten off to.

  • It has been the best month so far for The Stolen Colon. It makes me really look forward to the year ahead in blogging!
  • I got a new design on the blog and have more ideas in store.
  • I submitted my application to NCSU’s grad school.
  • I have made my bed 32 out of 32 days.
  • I am working on eating better, fresher foods. I’ve been enjoying some green smoothies in the morning 🙂
  • Jarrod and I have a new budget in place that I’m really excited about. It’s pretty strict, but still gives us room to have fun, while getting our current debts paid off. And we actually did a great job at sticking to it for the first month!
  • I’ve been getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier for a morning workout. (Not every day, by any means, but I’m working on it.)

So now, on to February. It’s only day 1, but the month is quickly filling up! But with lots of good things: there are so many birthdays of my wonderful friends and family; I have several networking opportunities set up; the Super Bowl is this weekend.

Not to mention that Valentine’s day is in a couple of weeks. My husband and I don’t usually go all out for Valentine’s, but we do usually mark the occasion in some way. I suppose we should since Jarrod proposed to me on February 13th! And I do like the reminder to celebrate the love that you share in your life.

And finally, training for the Team Challenge half-marathon officially starts this month! We’ll have a kick-off party and the 16th and then the training begins on the 23rd. I am looking forward to going through the entire 16 week training this season, since last year I joined a little late in the season. It’s going to be a great season and I am really looking forward to getting to meet everyone who is involved!

I have pretty much touched on my goals for this month.

  • My main goal is to be prepared for the start of Team Challenge season and to work hard to bring in some other runners in the area.
  • Continue the “early to bed, early to rise” routine and morning workouts.
  • I also start therapy on my wrist, so I am hoping for a strong recovery and being able to get back to all of the activities I’ve been missing out on.
  • Beyond that, I am going to continue honing the budget and being good at sticking to it.
  • And I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and celebrating the various events throughout the month.

A humbling proposal

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It’s Team Challenge Tuesday again and if I am going to be completely honest, this was not my week for training. I had a hard time getting out of bed each morning and sticking to a decent length workout. I have a goal to workout 5 times a week for 45 minutes. I started at 35 minutes and have been raising it by 5 minutes each week.

Now that I have my cast off, I was able to go for an actual outdoor run this week. I also realized how much harder it is to run outdoors than it is to run indoors! Holy moly, I didn’t even make it for a half an hour! I was so exhausted and out of breath by that point. On top of that, my calf muscles have been really tight this week and I have no idea why. I didn’t do anything differently, but they’ve been very sore and have been making running a bit more difficult. I stopped early and spent some time stretching. They’re feeling better, but still sore.

Back to my point, now. For any of you who are training for a race: Get Outside! There is such a difference in your endurance and that’s where you really learn how to breathe through your workout. For me, breathing has been such an essential part of the whole equation. Once I figured out how to breathe correctly, I moved very quickly from having to stop every mile or so to making it through the full 13 miles.

Working out in the gym definitely has it’s place and perhaps the bulk of your workouts may still take place there, but try to get outside once a week. That’s probably more plausible at this point since it’s so cold and you can do the outside workout on the weekend.

On a different note, I received a very humbling request this week. Every year, each Team Challenge chapter has a team honoree whose life has been directly impacted by Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Many people who get involved with Team Challenge may not have a direct connection to IBD. The basic role of the honoree is to be someone that the participants can connect with and to share their story for those who don’t have or don’t know someone who has IBD.

Well this year, I am very honored to have been asked to be the team honoree. I am excited to have the opportunity to share my story with those who will be training with us and raising money for Crohn’s and colitis research. I am looking forward to meeting everyone who will be involved and I am working on putting together a short video that can be shared at any group meetings that I won’t be able to attend. (Perhaps I’ll even post it on here once it’s done.) I am very proud to be a representative of the IBD community for this group. The hardest part is trying to fit my story into a 3 minute segment!

Team Challenge Tuesday

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I have decided to use Tuesdays for the next few months to provide updates on how things are going with my half-marathon training and fundraising for CCFA’s Team Challenge.

We are now just under 19 weeks from race day. Training hasn’t officially started and won’t until the end of next month. So for now, everything I am doing is just to get myself ready for the start of training. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been using the elliptical and stationary bike at the gym. Overall, that has been going well. If nothing else, I am working on my endurance and getting my muscles ready for some actual running soon. I have been trying to do around 4 or so miles at the moment. I’m hoping to start the running back up as soon as I get this cast off (and can actually wear my cold-weather running gear again!).

I haven’t officially begun fundraising yet, but my Fundraising Page is active already! This season I’m working to raise $2500 for Crohn’s and colitis research. I am currently trying to figure out how I can secure some sponsorships for the funds rather than collecting private donations. If you know of any businesses who may be interested in sponsoring a great cause, please let me know! I’d be glad to speak with them about it.

Finally, I’ve begun working to recruit runners. I have called some previous participants and talking to them about joining us again. I’m hoping to recruit some others in this area, too. Since the main NC location is in Charlotte, that’s where everything has been based in the past, so I’m hoping to bring in some participants from the Triangle. I would really love to have a great group of people right here to run with every week and work together to bring in the funds. (Again, if you’d like to run a half-marathon for a great cause, send me a message!!!)

I think this is going to be a great season. I’m looking forward to working with the other mentors and meeting all of the participants. I love the feeling of continually working towards a goal that will not only benefit me by exercising, but will help those living every day with IBD.

A new challenge

Getting involved in the fight to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have every made. I realized that living with this disease would mean nothing, other than pain and frustration, if I didn’t use my experiences to help others.

I started small, by volunteering for a couple of local events and taking part in a support group, but I soon saw the enormous benefit of surrounding myself with people who can relate and who are dedicated the same cause. The most profound moment came while in Las Vegas for the Team Challenge half-marathon and sitting in a room surrounded by hundreds of people whose lives have been impacted by IBD. It was there that I truly understood the importance of being involved in something bigger than yourself. And I wanted to continue to be a part of it.

This year, I will be taking part in my second half-marathon with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, this time as a mentor. The role of the mentor is be involved with the participants in the race, encouraging them in both their training and fundraising. The mentors help bring in new runners and coordinate fundraising events.

Team Challenge is more than just signing up for a race. It’s a 16-week training program that includes the support and community of the whole group. There are two big events this season: half-marathons in Virginia wine country and Chicago.

I would be so honored to have some of you on my team. I’d love to get out and run and work together to raise the money to bring more research and awareness to these diseases. Plus, what a better time to check that exercising or race goal off your list? I cannot tell you what a great feeling it was to cross that finish line at the end of the race.

Please let me know if you’re interested in learning more. I guarantee, you will not regret it.

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Rockin’ and rollin’

I can’t believe that I can actually say that I finished a half-marathon. This time last year I was in and out of the hospital every other week and hardly able to keep up with day-to-day activities. But just one year later, I can proudly call myself a half-marathon runner.

Stephanie Hughes rock'n'roll las vegas half marathon race team challenge ccfa crohns blog ostomy stolen colon

Right before the race start.

The Rock’n’roll Las Vegas race was an amazing experience. According to the finishers results, there were 20,088  runners just in the half-marathon. We were corralled according to our projected run time and I ended up in the 16th corral with a couple of the guys who were also part of the CCFA Carolina’s Team Challenge. During that time, the wind was going crazy. The palm trees looked like a hurricane was coming through and the sky was really dark. I got a little worried that it was going to rain again on race day, but thankfully, not a drop fell.

It was dark by the time we started which was around 4:50 p.m. The strip was lit up and thousands of runners hit the street. I started with a good group. I didn’t feel like I was getting trampled and I also didn’t feel like I was getting stuck behind a bunch of people moving slower than me. I quickly got separated from the guys I started with and kept going on my own.

Of those 22,000 people, about 1500 were involved in Team Challenge. I loved seeing those orange singlets along the way. We would cheer each other along as we passed and had lots of fans yelling for us along the route. There were also bands set up every mile or so to keep the energy up.

I kept a pretty good pace. I had hoped from the beginning to finish around the 2:30 mark, which means consistently being between an 11 and 12 minute mile. I ran the first 5k in just under an 11 minute mile. I stayed at that pace for about 6 miles when I caught up with our coach Carly. She ran with me for a little while and I’m thinking that the competitive girl inside of me kicked it up a notch when she came around. She left to find some of the others in our group around the 9 mile mark and that’s when I started feeling it. Heavy feet, sore thighs, hot hands. It’s that point that you have to tell yourself to “just keep moving,” because if you stop, you’re not getting started again. Those final 4 miles were pretty brutal.

I fell into a good pace with another Team Challenge runner and we kept up with each other for the final few miles. We were getting close when someone along the side said that we just had to make it past Treasure Island hotel. So we found that last bit of energy and hit a final sprint to make it to the end. Well, we made it past Treasure Island and it was definitely not the end. But by then, we’d used up all of our stored up energy. I also ran out of water by this point. I could see the finish line, but could not pull out that extra burst. But I made it across the line with a solid jog and may have flashed a little ostomy bag as I crossed the line.

The after part was possibly more difficult than the race. Everyone came to a stop which is difficult when you’ve been running for 13.1 miles. I finally found some water and chocolate milk and probably chugged them a little too fast. I got to the end of the post-race paraphernalia and made it to the Team Challenge tent to celebrate with my teammates.

As I said, my mom signed up for the race results texts and sent me a message telling me stephanie hughes rock'n'roll las vegas half marathon 13.1 finishers medal stolen colon ostomy blog crohns ccfa team challengehow proud she was and that I had finished the half in 02:31:06. I’m not going to lie, I had a split second of “darn it, if only I’d run a minute faster I could’ve broke the 2:30 mark. But then I had a reality check that I had just run a half-marathon less than 7 months after having a major organ removed from my body and I realized how proud I was of what I had accomplished. That finisher’s medal is what it’s all about.

Now, even two days later, I’m still walking pretty funning and having a hard time sitting down because of how sore my legs are. But with every wince and groan I remember how far I’ve come and I know that Crohn’s disease will never hold me back again.

Stephanie Hughes Rock'n'roll half marathon las vegas stolen colon ostomy crohns blog ccfa team challenge