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Reflections and resolutions

New year 2015 celebration resolutions goals The Stolen Colon ostomy ileostomy urostomy colostomy Crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd colon stephanie hughes blog

This is the time of year where we always look back at the preceding 365 days to think about all that we accomplished (or perhaps didn’t) and look ahead at all of the potential there is for the next 365 days. I probably say this every year, but I love New Year’s! I love any opportunity that I am given to start over, refresh, reinvent myself. I am a big believer in new beginnings and second chances.

I also tend to be fairly quiet around this time of year, as I come off the high of holiday craziness and spend some time thinking about what this past year held, the accomplishments and the disappointments, and about where I want to go next.

I took a look back at my goals for this past year that I set out on January 1, 2014. My 5 main goals included: Implement changes for The Stolen Colon, Get organized/save money/stay on budget, Stay focused on another semester of grad school, Run my third half-marathon, and Plan an amazing vacation. I am very pleased to say that I accomplished every one of these goals in the past year. Maybe not as fully as I would have liked at times, but I’m glad to be able to read through this and know that I did follow through on some things. What I’m disappointed about is that I really didn’t stay focused on these things. Some of them were things that just naturally happened, but I really wish that I had continued to remind myself of these goals and not just hoped that they would happen at one point or another.
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Two days later and I’m still walking funny

Oh yes, my legs are still sore. But I don’t mind so much. That pain is simply the dull throb of accomplishment. I just ran my third half-marathon this past Sunday. It was the first of its kind to take place in my hometown of Raleigh, NC, so I was excited to be a part of the inaugural race. And somehow I was able to convince my husband to run with me for the first time! (First and last, I’m sure.)

race half-marathon rock'n'roll running jarrod hughes stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd blogI have been looking forward to this race for a long time. It’s the best training I’ve ever been able to put into one of my half-marathons. My previous two races I competed with Team Challenge to raise money for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. (You can find lots of posts on here about those races and my training for them.) My first race in Vegas I signed up for a little late and I was already training for a triathlon at the time, so I was behind from the beginning in my training. For my second half, in Virginia, I struggled a lot throughout the training. I had broken my wrist a few months before, so I had stopped running altogether prior to training for that race. Plus,  I was having a lot of joint and muscle pain, to the point that up to a couple of days before the race, I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it. But some hot yoga, a deep tissue massage and a lot of praying later, I was able to make it the whole 13.1 miles and was only a few minutes off of my previous time.

But for this race, I wanted to put my best effort out there. I trained hard these past few months and I realized how un-fun it is to train in the winter. And while I did not totally keep to my training schedule, I feel very happy with the runs that I put in and the work that I did.

So this race for me was a chance to show what that hard work could do and to push past the times I had previously set.  And it was a little chaotic the morning we arrived at the race site. There were people everywhere! It was pretty evident that all 12,500 runners who had signed up for the race were there. But we made our way to the start line, waited in like 3 different bathroom lines and finally set off around 7:15 in the morning.

The beginning of the run felt good. We stayed together for the most part and set a really strong pace for the first few miles. But I see now that we may have come out a little strong in the beginning because we both hit a wall around mile 8 and ended up getting separated. But we pushed on.

It was a beautiful day for a race. About 75-degrees outside by the end of our time on the course, which is a bit warmer than anyone would prefer, but was still a nice day. The bigger problems were (1.) there was not a cloud in the sky, so the sun was just beating on your constantly and there was very little shade, and (2.) the course was so hilly! Now I spent most of my training at a local park that is a fairly hilly course, so I felt I was prepared for most any terrain, but man, there were way more hills than I expected. And it wasn’t all uphill, there was a lot of downhill, too, but in my opinion, that’s not much better. All I wanted the whole race was just some flat piece of road!

medal race half-marathon rock'n'roll running jarrod hughes stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd blog

I still felt good enough to keep up a slow run for the last mile and to crank out a sprint once the finish line was in site. It was so great to cross that line and to see my parents and my husband’s parents cheering me on as I crossed the finish line. And I was able to catch up with Jarrod a few minutes later.

My mom caught this picture of me as I was making my way over to them and I fills me with so much joy. It reminds me of why I do this. What I wrote about just a few weeks ago: I run because I CAN.

My ostomy behaved great all day and I did not have to make any pit stops in the middle of the run. I finished with a time of 02:21:05. That’s a full 10 minutes off my previous PR! 

Usually after my races, all I want to think about is doing nothing. (Actually after my last race I went ahead and had surgery two days later, so I literally did nothing for a while.) For the first time, this race left me with a feeling of “what’s next?” And while I don’t have an answer for that quite yet, I’m working on it…

It’s “GO” time

Today is exactly 14 weeks until my next half-marathon. It’s actually perfect timing since there is just enough time to get in a full training schedule with starting right at the new year.

I have been doing my best to get back into my training routine in recent weeks, but it’s definitely a little difficult to do that over the holidays and when it is freezing outside every morning. So the official training started New Year’s Day. But 14 weeks is a little bit of a short training period. I think I have done 16 week plans in the past, but I also was starting from basically nothing rather than comfortable with a 5K like I am right now. So this just means that we have to literally hit the ground running!

stephanie hughes stolen colon running cold freezing training half marathon exercise chilly early crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog


I have gotten in a little over 5 miles in the past few days, with a short “long run” of 2 miles to start off so I can build from there. (The “long run” will be the one that continues to increase by about a mile every week and the in-between runs will focus more on pace and speed than distance.) I am still trying to figure out what the best schedule will be for cross-training and the shorter runs, but I am hoping that I have put together a good plan. The biggest challenge is going to be waking up earlier in the morning. Like, really early. Especially when it’s only 25-degrees outside… or lower.

So far I have been feeling good about this race. I am starting off feeling good and mentally ready. Like I said, the winter runs are not a lot of fun, but perhaps this means that those final long runs will be a little easier as we thaw out during that time. I know that I need to continue to be good about stretching and taking care of my muscles, because for both of my half-marathons, I have wound up with some difficult hip and leg pain during training.

It feels good to be running again. But we’ll have to see how good 5 a.m. feels…

2014: I’m coming for you!

Happy New Year!

Here we are once again… at the beginning a new year. This seems to happen all too often these days. But I do enjoy the opportunity to get myself focused and move past the haze of the holidays and prepare to start off another year. There’s something about the beginning of a year that makes you stop and take stock of where you are in your life and where you want to go from here. I have been doing a lot of that over the past few weeks.

I’m not a big fan of resolutions. I feel like they are just about making some big change that we often haven’t really thought out and considered what all needs to go into that. I would much rather set goals for myself that are focused on moving forward and achieving something.

I do have a tendency to set rather vague goals that aren’t necessarily measurable or within a specific time range, so I am trying to be more focused and specific this year. I am also trying to not do too much or put too much pressure on myself, so I have narrowed it down to my 5 Big Goals for this year:

  1. Implement changes for The Stolen Colon: I actually have some more specific ideas here, but I don’t want to divulge the details of them just yet!
  2. Get organized/save money/stay on budget: Somewhat vague, but I have some actual steps to take like putting together a meal plan every week, saving a certain percentage of every paycheck and I have created a budget sheet to track our expenses.
  3. Stay focused on another semester of grad school: I am taking it one semester at a time and plan to spend one hour every evening studying and reading so I’m not have to cram it in at the last minute.
  4. Run my third half-marathon (this time with Jarrod): Our race is April 13 and I’ve got my training all mapped out. And I already got my first 5K in today!
  5. Plan an amazing vacation: Jarrod and I are planning a trip to Europe this Spring! We’ve been saving and are trying to get all of the details in place. We have already met with a travel agent and hope to get everything nailed down very soon. So excited!

Those are the specific things I plan to focus on in the coming months and throughout the year. However, some of those things will be over with in the first part of the year, so I did some thinking about what I want this year to look like as a whole. We have this thing we do at work where we discuss the previous weeks and work out things that have gone right and things that have gone wrong. Then we put a graph together of things that we want to start doing or stop doing or that we should keep doing or do more of or less of:

pie graph circle start stop do more less of keep doing goal setting resolutions stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog

Some of these are a bit on the vague side, but these are more of ideas and principles that I want to guide me through the year.


  • stressing and worrying so much
  • taking on too many things

Do Less of

  • sleeping in too late
  • leaving the house a mess
  • procrastinating on school work

Keep Doing

  • making the bed every day
  • putting together a bunch of freezer meals to eat during the week

Do More of

  • meditation
  • date nights with Jarrod
  • healthy eating
  • exercise


  • reading for pleasure again
  • going back to the gym
  • tracking my budget every day

I have often felt in my past that I was always waiting for something to make everything… right. There was always a big “IF.” If I could find the job that I want… If I wasn’t feeling so bad… If I didn’t have to worry about this… or deal with that… THEN I would be happy. It always left me wanting something and never satisfied with all of the amazing things I have in my life. And honestly, I finally don’t have any “IF”s. I am happy and fulfilled and excited about everything that the future holds. This is going to be a great year. Because I choose to make it a great year.