Are you Ready for ME, Rebel Alliance?

Round up the Rebel Alliance, Wookiees, and Imperial Fleet, pullout your light sabers, ear bun your hair here I come! I’m on my way to the Disneyland expo to pick-up my bib and enter the Galactic Empire know as runDisney’s Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend!

Star Wars Guide

QOTD: May the course be with you and I wish you the best of luck! Which race distances will you participating in?

Twist and Shout Out Crohn’s Disease Take the Cha

Life is far from a carousel ride in the park and is probably more equated to a roller coaster especially if you are living life with a chronic illness such as Crohn’s Disease. While yes you might be angry or mad at yourself for getting on board, strapping yourself in the roller coaster. Sometimes the drops are terrifying and frightening not knowing what is coming around the corner, but you somehow make it through to the other end and all of a sudden are looking forward to what is next.

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The same can be said for living life with Crohn’s disease, there are times when you are beyond scared, angry, mad, feeling like your body has betrayed you, feeling like your body is the enemy. These drops and rapid turns are like a flare you never know when they are coming. Then there are other times where the living is easy and you are smiling ear to ear and BAM another drop! While this could imaginably be hard on anyone, especially if you are young, vibrant, and at a time where you should be living life to the fullest. What makes it even harder is this an invisible disease and while one might look healthy on the outside your insides are all twisted and shouting out in pain. While the advancements have been amazing there is still not a cure and each more and more people are being diagnosed.

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My New Year and birthday advice to myself was that life is all about the little bumps and bruises and the hidden curves along the way. To embark on a new outlook towards life. With intensions to be bold and follow my dreams, not settling. Listening to my inner voice. Taking chances. Dance it out in my pajamas. Understanding that yes, sometimes taking a chance gives us a second chance. Here I go with my third year fundraising and raising awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

And while you can’t alway’s choose what is thrown your way, what matters is how we handle these curve balls that comes our way. I like to think that I handle it with a little bit of grace, whole lot of strength, and whole lot of dancing it out! While I can’t hop on a float in the middle of Chicago with Ferris Bueller to spread Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness I can invite you to this virtual dance floor. Join me and let’s twist and shout out Crohn’s Disease!

Will you twist and shout out Crohn’s and Colitis with me on this virtual dance floor? I dare you! I challenge you to dance it out in your pj’s and if you don’t please be sure to click on the link to donate! Every penny counts!!

To donate to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, please follow click this link! Remember every penny counts!

***Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both major categories of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). IBD affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans. These chronic diseases tend to run in families and they affect males and females equally. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition limited to the colon, otherwise known as the large intestine.

Through the Looking Glass…runDisney Dumbo Double Dare Race Weekend Expo Recap

Within the past year I have learned that in terms of racing my favourite and newest distance is the 10k, well actually 19.3 miles is the preferred race distance. To accomplish 19.3 miles however you need to run both a 10k and a half marathon and you can’t have one without the other so I am honestly loving the 10k! This distance is the newest race craze created by the amazing team at runDisney a little over a year for Disneyland’s Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare. They have now added on this race challenge distance to several other race weekends. I was getting very comfortable with running 13.1 miles and they could not have introduced this distance at a better time. In true runDisney fashion to sweeten the deal for running both races and participating in the challenge you earn three medals! YES friends THREE medals!! That is a whole lot of runDisney bling. For this diehard, obsessed runDisney running gal it is all the more reason to sign-up! Back to back days of having the opportunity to run through the happiest place on earth and three medals I simply could not ask for more!

I LOVE RUNDISNEY

I participated in the 2013 Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare, you can read about my journey here and here, and had fallen head over running shoes in love with the challenge that I have been looking forward to the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare ever since.

Seriously in love, heart stopping, LOVE!

I clearly remember at the close of the weekend last year that I was already looking forward to 2014. It is a fun filled weekend what’s not to look forward to and besides when things got beyond difficult during the year I had this as a bench mark, something to look forward to, my silver lining. This past year went by in a blink of an eye and yes I went through WAY TOO many hurdles to get to the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, but I MADE IT!  I MADE IT!!

I knew that the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare Challenge was going to be extra special, even though they are all special in my heart, this was the race weekend where I would be earning my 20th runDisney medal. Since 2009 I have run a total of 188.9 miles between Walt Disney World and Disneyland. In Disneyland alone I ran 136.5 miles and Walt Disney World I ran 52.4 miles. That is A LOT of running!! While running the 2013 Goofy Race and a Half Challenge during the marathon portion of the challenge I saw this sign.WDW Miles

While I did not run 7 full marathons in Walt Disney World I did achieve and surpass that distance of 167 lane-miles of paved Walt Disney World roads! I wonder the total mileage of lane roads in Disneyland.

To kick-off the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare a proper visit to the expo is in order. I feel that a race experience is not complete without an outstanding expo. Disneyland Half Marathon lives up to the hype and the expo they host will never disappoint. I think that each seasoned runner has a method to going to the expo. The method to madness is no different. I always pick-up my bib as I feel that will always be there as official race merchandise might not be.

This year was no exception I headed directly to the official race merchandise booth as soon as I arrived at the expo and started shopping! A few of my favourite booths aside from runDisney’s was SkirtSport’s where I purchased the most adorable compression stockings, KT Tape is a must stop for as I like to be professionally taped, being a running who has chronic joint pain due to Crohn’s disease KT Tape always saves the day, and Sweaty Bands which I always love stopping and seeing the latest hair accessories.What runDisney is all about

Once I feel that I have explored enough of the expo I had down and pick-up my race package. Since runDisney discourages attending the expo in my preferred order I need to revisit the expo area to pick-up my official race day tees.  Kudo’s to runDisney as this was the first year that they have a women’s cut race day tee in addition to the standard unisex tee that they typically provide to all runners. When I signed up for the race last January I selected women’s cut and since then I was eager to try out the new women’s cut. They did a fabulous job and I am loving the fit!Shirts

Living in Southern California and being uber close to Disneyland I rarely stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels unless it is a special occasion or race weekend. Being that it was both Labor Day Weekend and the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend that meant one thing; that I will be staying at Disneyland’s Grand California Resort and Spa! I always enjoying staying at the Disneyland Resort for an extended weekend, it is not only a car free weekend, but I am able to really take my time and enjoy everything that the Disneyland Resort has to offer.

***Stay tuned for the second half of my Through the Looking Glass…runDisney Dumbo Double Dare Race Weekend Recap! Next up the 10K***

Are you Ready for ME, Dumbo? Four Day’s till #Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

In less than fours days I will be at the Disney Half Marathon 2014 Expo picking up my bib for the Second Dumbo Double Dare!! Could Thursday get here any sooner?

Picking up my bib at the Expo!

Picking up my bib at the Expo!

Here is my top 5 Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare Wish List…

  1. Have an amazing time celebrating crossing the finish line and completing 19.3 miles and earning 3 MEDALS!! I’m on my way to being PERFECTLY DUMBO!
  2. DumboNot have any GI issues during the race. This is a constant wish and theme for majority of my races!
  3. Cross the finish line not only with a smile on my face, but under the 3 hour mark for the half marathon and 1:25 minutes for the 10k.

    Celebrating with my three medals. I DID IT!

    Celebrating with my three medals. I DID IT!

  4. I am optimistic that the more elusive characters will be along the course. I would love to see Constance Hatchaway and Lillian Gracey aka The Tightrope Walker both from The Haunted Mansion. They were both along the course at the Inaugural Tinker Bell 10k while the line was long they were worth the wait!My favorite ladies!
  5. Celebrate this amazing weekend with a gluten-free & dairy-free cake made by Chef Chris at Storytellers. Since there are not too many desserts that are both gluten and dairy free in Disneyland I rarely have dessert unless it is my birthday. This wish is on Disneyland! A dream is a wish and a girl can dream right?Birthday Cake 

QOTD: If you’re running Disneyland next weekend, what are your goals?

Zero to Running…Getting my Groove Back

Doubting your abilities and feeling as if your training is way off is very common among runners, especially those coming back from injury and or illness. I would like to believe that it is even common amongst those who have not been sidelined due to health issues. Being a runner who always wants to improve their pace and stamina it makes it even more difficult to come back, both physically and mentally. Personally speaking for me, I am filled with doubt and lacking of believing in my abilities. I worry about missing my runs, losing my fitness stamina, and the most outlandish of all is that I simply will not be able to run again.

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While these doubts are unwarranted they are real, which is where establishing a new game plan comes into play.

Yesterday I completed my first run in a while with my friends from Team Challenge and needless to say I am absolutely encouraged and motivated to lace up on Tuesday to go for my second run. Lesson learned, it is not the end of the world take a few days or even weeks off from running and YES it is just like riding a bicycle you never forget how to put one foot in front of the other. Be sure to follow me along my journey and I will be sure to keep you updated on my progress! I have quite a few races this fall and I want to be ready!!

QOTD: How do you get your groove back?

3 Life lessons learned from living with Crohn’s disease

***As featured on Girls Gone Sporty

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ADVOCATING FOR HEALTH & HAPPINESS

As a thirty-one year old woman who has lived almost two thirds of my life with Crohn’s disease (remember when I came out of the bathroom?), I think it’s fair to say I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t cognizant of food choices, aware of bathroom locations, and steered clear of bathroom conversations. Having a disease that’s invisible to others has not always been an easy road, and it’s far from being paved – many aren’t unaware of the trials. Living a life with eyes wide open I have gained a unique perspective on life which has allowed me to learn valuable life lessons.

Hope

I can imagine the day when I will say to someone, “I used to have Crohn’s disease.” Or even better, “Should we count the number of children and lives we saved and enriched since a cure was found five years ago?” For these dreams I have hope. I have hope that one day I won’t wake up with a stomachache, or that my joints won’t ache as much at a marathon or half marathon. I have hope that I won’t have to go up to a race volunteer to tie my shoes, or stop to go to the bathroom during a race for thirty plus minutes. For this hope I keep going, I persevere.

Perseverance

Always having the mindset that I have Crohn’s, but Crohn’s does not have me, has enabled me to soar. I’ve never allowed my illness to sideline me from the game of life. I’ve never viewed GI distress as an excuse not to lace up and hit the pavement. While I might take it slow, begrudgingly listening to my body, I continue to push forward, reaching my goals, and setting the bar higher and higher. Crohn’s disease has pushed me further and farther – I’ve run one full marathon, 23 half marathons, two 10ks, and several challenges, including 13 Going on Crazy, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, and The Dumbo Double Dare. I run for those who feel they are not well enough to run. I will keep on running until a cure is found.

A life unexpected

Like most little girls, I had dreams, goals, and aspirations about what my life would be when I grew up. Some of these disappeared with the fading naivety of youth, while others are slowly coming to fruition.

One goal that’s stuck with me, though it’s changed over time, is that I always knew I would become an activist – giving my voice to a cause. I never imagined that my cause would include discussing uncomfortable topics, such as bowel movements and gastrointestinal distress, but I’m proud to stand up and raise awareness for this illness. I believe that the more this topic is discussed, the less uncomfortable and embarrassing it will be. I’m proud to be a part of the “Pooper Trooper Movement,” and proud to be a health activist. Regardless of the cause, it’s vital to health and happiness to advocate yourself and encourage others to advocate for themselves as well.

This is me. Living an authentic and real life.

WDW Inaugural 10K & Half Marathon…In Training

This past year I completed the both the runDisney Goofy Race and a Half Challenge and the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare. When registration came for WDW Marathon weekend I knew that I wanted participate in another inaugural race, this being the Minnie 10k. Wanting more of a challenge and something not as intense as the Dopey or Goofy I decided to create my own challenge, The Max! I immediately signed up for both the 10k and the half marathon, which is the exact challenge that I did this past Labor Day. While I will not be earning a special third medal for completing both, I am still very excited about both upcoming races. For all of my running friends who will also be completing The Max, I have modified the original runDisney training schedule that Jeff Galloway created for the Dumbo Double Dare, tweaked the dates, and voilà, a new training plan!

The Max

Click here for the training plan! WDW The Max 10k & Half

Without further ado…Please place your left hand and raise your right foot on this training schedule and repeat after me, “I swear to follow this training schedule to the best of my ability and swear to have a great time while doing it!”

QOTD: Will you be participating in “The Max”? Do you like back to back racing?

I’m Still Here…

First let me apologize for going AWOL these past few weeks. The past few weeks I have been going through something much too deep and it’s incredibly painful. It’s beyond hard to put into words and I’m not even sure that I want to really rehash all the ups and downs that I have been experiencing.

The little blog and running hiatus of mine has opened my eyes and I’ve decided to blow the whistle on myself! All of a sudden, it’s obvious that I’m not performing as well as I should be. It is time to put the legendary Capricorn self-discipline to work. I need to change my work methods, budget my money more carefully, and diversify my activities. All sorts of solutions are available to me, I have the whole world at my fingertips!

Today we are exactly six months into the year, and I’m not going to lie: I’ve spent the past couple of weeks feeling kind of down about where I am with my running, life and fitness lately. This has not been the year that I would have wished and expected it be. In a lot of ways, it feels like I am drowning on dry land. Not a great feeling I must admit and definitely not a productive and positive way to view life. I need to stop directing all of my negative energy on why I am at this standstill in my life and instead I need to start prioritizing my life, regrouping, and most importantly remembering all the reasons why I love running. The sun on my face, the wind in my hair, discovering new routes, to name a few. Running has taught me so many valuable lessons that I need be applying towards my daily life.

 So True

(Source)

All of this negative energy does is bring me down, rob me of my energy, and make me feel like it’s not even worth trying anymore. Besides it’s blatantly not true. No, I haven’t done as much training for my upcoming Dumbo Double Dare as I would have liked, but I have exactly two months to get my act in gear and start training. I have enough time to train, right?! After all this is not my first rodeo! I look forward to this fun-filled Labor Day weekend every year and I am not going to allow the road blocks of life to slow me down!

No, I may not be even remotely close where I want to be in my life, which brings me back to the title of this post; I’m still here. I will need to accept and be proud of my  where I am in my life and fight like hell to make a better life for myself. As the expression goes, if you don’t like what you see in the mirror, change it. And that is exactly what I am going to do. Besides, if I keep consistent and diligent with all of endeavors including with my workouts, everything will fall into place and I will begin to not only be the person that I want to be, but also be the runner that I envision myself to be.

While we might be half through the year, I fully intended to make the rest of 2013 count. I am going to wake up every morning with optimism that today is a new day. I am going to take full advantage of the promise that each new day holds. I’m eager to get out and hit the pavement again. Am I going to run a new personal record? Unlikely. Can I run a good, solid 13.1 miles to the best of my race-day ability? Absolutely! Who knows, I might even surprise myself a little with the results, if I put the work in.

QOTD: I’m not too sure who is out there reading this, but I would love to hear from you. Please comment below and share why you love to run and the hurdles that you have faced in your own running routines and how you over came them.

It’s My Coming out of the Bathroom Anniversary

I am writing to you as a friend to ask for your help. To give you a quick back story, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1996, I was 12 years old, embarrassed, ashamed, and confused. I would not share my diagnosis with anyone and it took me another 17 years to finally be open and honest about my illness. I have experienced the trials and tribulations that we have all felt. To be perfectly honest, I thought my life was over and subsequently lost hope as a result of this illness. After years of suffering mentally and physically, I somehow found the strength to not let my crohn’s disease dictate the rest of my life. I found that running was a key to reducing my stress, keeping me happy, even though I was far from your prototypical athlete. At times, I wanted to give up, but then I trained for my first half marathon and it gave me a new outlook on life. Of course, I had a great deal of setbacks and more flare-ups then I could imagine. Last year I finally started sharing my story and finally Came Out of the Bathroom. Recently I decided to join Team Challenge and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to raise awareness and hopefully to find a cure.

canning

In my efforts to raise money I am currently participating in two very exciting ways to donate…

I am hosting The Spring Fling 5k/10k Virtual Race to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. It’s only $25 to participate, $20 of which will go to CCFA. To participate please send your payment to me via Paypal. My email address is mjengel@me.com. Please send this under personal and gift, that way neither of us are charged fees!

I am also selling Disney Vacation Raffle Tickets to support CCFA TEAM CHALLENGE yet? You don’t want to miss out before its too late! $1500 Vacation to your destination of choice: Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Aulani Resort in Hawaii, or a Disney Cruise!

Purchase your tickets ASAP! $10 for 1 raffle ticket or $25 for 3 raffle tickets!

Click Here to Purchase Raffle Tickets!!
http://ccfadisneyraffle-eorg.eventbrite.com/

When entering your info, please make sure to put MELISSA ENGEL as the Team Challenge Member you are supporting!

If you would like to simply donate without racing or purchasing raffle tickets please visit page my fundraising page to check out my fundraising progress. http://www.active.com/donate/chicagoGLA13/Melissa

To read about my journey with Crohn’s Disease please visit my blog 13 Going on Crazy, http://www.active.com/donate/chicagoGLA13/Melissa

Please, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, make a donation. Donations help provide support, educational materials, life saving medication, raising awareness, and research. Thank you for your love and generosity throughout my campaign.

Runners Spotlight…From the Bathroom to Kona

I am so excited to introduce 13 Going on Crazy’s very first Runner’s Spotlight! Grant is a fellow athlete with IBD and like me does not allow anything to get in the way of his dreams and goals. He recently entered the Kona Inspired contest to race at the Ironman World Championships in October. I am definitely cheering and voting for him as I hope that he is selected. I must agree with Grant, “it is nice to know that someone with IBD is just as crazy as me too!!!” Without further ado, I am so happy to allow Grant to take over 13 Going on Crazy today and share his story!

Grant Running

Why did I start running?  It’s an easy answer.  And I have no qualms with being honest and telling the truth, so here goes: I STARTED RUNNING BECAUSE I HATED IT!!!  I know, probably not the answer you were expecting!  Well, I have nothing to hide.  And if I am putting everything on the table, I might as well say that one of the other main reasons for why I started running was because I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis!

 Strange, huh?  For twenty-three years, I was healthy and my life was finally about to start after I finished my undergraduate studies.  Then one month after graduation, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis – an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the large intestine and rectum!  I thought my life was over!  Why after finishing a grueling five years of undergraduate work was I diagnosed with a disease that was not only extremely painful at times, but very uncomfortable to speak about with others?  Why did this happen to me is a question that plagued me for the next two years.

 I met with every type of medical professional and often found myself very isolated especially at my GI’s office.  I would look around his waiting room and there was no one within thirty years of my age.  It was sad.  And I took pity on myself.  I would sit and pretend to listen to what he said, but it would just go in one ear and out the other.  I proceeded to live the way I had planned – as if I was not suffering from a chronic illness.  I paid, dearly!  Three hospital stays and a dissipating mind and spirit coupled with numerous doses of prednisone (steroids) left me wondering if my life was going to be like this forever.

 My older brother was born with Cystic Fibrosis – a chronic illness where mucus builds in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body.  He was never supposed to make it out of the hospital and each year my parents were given a different life expectancy.  He struggled.  My parents struggled.  And I unfortunately was too young to realize how lucky I was to see my brother’s smiling face every morning at home.  I took his quality of life for granted.  But he never did!  He will be turning thirty-eight years old in August and he has married to the woman of his dreams and together they have two beautiful children.

 The reason why I mention my brother, even though it is very difficult for me to write about him, is because he was and WILL ALWAYS be my inspiration!  After two years of watching my ulcerative colitis get progressively worse, I remember speaking with him about how similar we were even though there was an eight-year age gap.  I always thought we were so different in all facets of our lives.  But we both had chronic illnesses that made us different.  He made me understand that life goes on and it was up to me which road I decided to take.  I could either sit back and let this illness dictate my life or fight with all the strength that I had to prove that ulcerative colitis was merely a bump (and a rather large one) in the long road to recovery.

 I made a promise to him and myself that I would take the challenge and run that bump over time and time again!  And I have for the past few years since that conversation, as flare-ups have continually set me back but my mind has not let me stopped.  My body has quit on me and I have found myself in the bathroom several times a day.  I have changed my diet and given up a lot of the things that I used to enjoy!  But for whatever reason, I took up running and have not looked back.  Even though I tend to go to the extreme and whenever I tell my parents about my next athletic endeavor, I can hear them cringe, I keep pushing along!  However, they know that in the past two years that I have decided that running would not only benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCFA) but make me healthier – they have been nothing but supportive.Grant With Medal

I have completed a half-marathon, three marathons, and a half-Ironman competition since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.  I wear a fanny pack when I run with my medications and anti-inflammatories placed inside and always carry two water bottles even for short-distance runs.  You see, running long-distances takes a toll on anyone – healthy or not!  I have to be extra careful and I could care less about how ridiculous I may look!  I love wearing my Team Challenge (the CCFA endurance program) apparel when I run knowing that I am not letting this disease dictate my life.  I chose to run on that road with the bumps that sometimes come to surface for no rhyme or reason, but I am never deterred.

 Recently, I entered myself into the Kona Inspired program to represent the CCFA and Team Challenge at the Kona Ironman World Championships in October of this year.  I created a video and openly discussed my illness to raise hope.  I am not sure what will happen from my entry (as I need as many votes as possible to receive one of the seven coveted spots), but one thing is for certain – I have succeeded in creating awareness for those who suffer from Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and IBD!

 It’s difficult to imagine myself standing at the starting line next to the greatest athletes at the most prestigious endurance event in the world.  But just two years ago, it was also hard to imagine myself getting out of bed early in the morning to run three miles! Running, which I used to hate more than anything, has saved me from a physical and mental standpoint.  I hope everyone who reads this realizes that if I can accomplish what I deemed impossible, why can’t you?

Please take the time, click this link, and vote for my friend Grant!

 

QOTD: Do you have a friend that inspires or motivates you to push harder for your goals?