June 21 2016
When planning her honeymoon, Elizabeth Heidal was able to get one step further to her goal of racing in every state.
This week’s Women’s Running magazine Blogger On The Run found herself at mile 13 of her eighth marathon suffering from the worst Ulcerative Colitis flare-up she’d ever experienced. Though not easy, she managed to fight through the attack and finish that marathon with a new outlook on life and her disease. Meet Abby from Run Stronger Every Day. She’s a fierce runner and personal trainer who doesn’t let anything stop her from crossing the finish line. Read her story and find out who are Abby’s dream running partners. . .
Women’s Running: How would you describe yourself?
Abby: I’m a family-oriented girl from the Midwest living and loving life in the Big Apple. Trained in Musical Theater, Pre-Medicine, and certified as a personal trainer for 10 years, I’m now a doctoral candidate in Physical Therapy at NYU. I’m a nine-time marathoner and a gigantic fan of exercising as much as possible while also spending every free moment with my gorgeous husband, wandering the streets of our little island. I’m an enthusiastic health activist and fundraiser for causes close to my heart, none of which is more important to me than the disease I fight every day, Ulcerative Colitis.
WR: How did you begin running?
A: When I was in sixth grade, a good friend called me the night before volleyball tryouts to ask me if I wanted to join the Cross Country team instead. I said ok and showed up to practice the next day. Turns out, I was the best female runner on the (small) team. I placed in the top 10 every race throughout my middle school years and ran varsity as a freshman in high school. I wasn’t a stellar runner, but I liked it and it stayed with me.
WR: What keeps you running and training?
A: Vanity, for one. It keeps me fit and I like to do it. I feel better when I run than any other form of exercise. There’s just something about how my body feels while I’m running, and even after a really hard run, that’s satisfying. I’m a finish line person and I enjoy setting out to achieve a distance or time goal and spending several months working toward that goal. It’s pretty amazing what the human body can do with the right training.
WR: What type of run is your favorite?
A: I have a love-hate relationship with track workouts. I hate getting my butt out there on the East River, but they really do fly by, especially when I have a friend with me. It’s sometimes fun to see just how fast I can go.
WR: What’s your favorite race memory?
A: In 2011, I set out to run a personal best at the New Jersey Marathon. A year earlier I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the colon, and had just started the worst flare-up I’d had to date. I was exactly on pace through the first half but started having terrible diarrhea from miles 13-20. I couldn’t run. Everything was blurry. I was worried I’d have to get picked up by the medics and I wouldn’t finish my eighth marathon. I was terrified that my disease would take over every aspect of my life. At mile 20, something happened and I could run again. I stayed hydrated and fueled and started running as fast as I could for the last six miles. I ended up finishing in 4:18, the last six miles being 8:30 minute/miles. It is my favorite race memory because it was the moment when I knew I would never let my disease hold me back from living my life.
WR: What do you hope your readers will get from reading your blog?
A: I aim to provide workouts, relevant scientific information, and inspiration for runners of all levels and abilities.
WR: If you could run with any celebrity, who would you choose and why?
A: Michelle and Barack Obama because I want to be a part of the Let’s Move! campaign, work on changing the healthcare system in our country, and discuss ways to improve the lives of our military veterans.
WR: How do you reward yourself for accomplishing your training/running goals?
A: Rewards are generally small because bragging rights go a long way for me when reaching a goal. A facial or a massage at my favorite spa, nothing too big. I like training, meeting a goal is the cherry on top of the journey sundae.
WR: Best running advice you’ve received or given?
A: The best running advice I have ever given myself and others is: If you just keep going, you will eventually get to the finish line. It’s true in life and in running.
We love our Women’s Running magazine Blogger On The Run so much that we want to inspire you to check her out! Simply leave a comment below telling us what you think about Abby’s story and you’ll be entered to win a one-year subscription to Women’s Running magazine.
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