Infertility has been known to change people’s lives forever, regardless of how each person/couple’s journey ends. I’m no different (as you can probably tell already). In a lot of ways, I’ve lost what I was and I’m not sure if I will ever get it all back. But in the last few weeks, I’ve gotten a part of myself back. I’ve gotten something back that I never thought was ever going to be physically possible………….my ability to run distance and races like I did when I was in high school.
Though I hated High School mainly from a social standpoint, the one thing I loved was running distance. I ran Cross Country during the Fall Season and Track (1,600-3,200) during the Spring Season. I wasn’t a great runner but I did pretty well and ran on what were the best Cross Country Team’s to run at my high school. From my Sophomore through Senior Years in High School we won three straight league, county group and state sectional group championships. My Senior Year we came within a few points of winning the overall county title.
My running is what got me into my college, though a Division III school it was what put me over the top. While training in the summer of 1998 before my Freshman Year of College I developed lower back issues. An MRI revealed a bulging disc in my lower back. I tried to come back from it but was unable to do so. I missed the entire Cross Country season and never ran a race in College. There were times I tried to come back and run but beyond running 2-3 miles very slowly, I was never able to do what I did in High School which was go for a 5 mile run on an easy day. I had accepted the fact that I would never be able to run distance or run a race again.
One of the goals I had when I set out to lose weight at the beginning of this year was to see if I could lose enough weight where my back was no longer an issue to see if I could handle some light running. It was something I wanted to try to do. I never thought I would be able to but felt I’d give it a shot. My focus was to cut down on the snacking that I have trouble controlling at times as well as stick to exercising that didn’t put pressure on my back such as biking/spin class and the elliptical machine.
When the weather warmed up in late April I started running 2-3 miles once or twice a week. By that time I had already dropped 20 lbs and thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. I did struggle and was only able to run half way through it before walking a bit and then finish off running. Then in June when I really started to pick up the distance on my bike rides, I was then able to run the 3 miles without stopping. Though I started to experience tightness in my calves (which I was able to control with a compression sleeve). But I was able to do it and by mid June was starting to finish my runs strong starting to feel that last burst to the finish line I remember having.
In late June for whatever some unknown reason I receive an email about a race on the 4th of July that was 10 minutes from my house. They had a 1 mile fun run, a 5K and a 10K. The 5K I was confident I could probably do but wondered whether I could do a 10K. For a few days I thought about it and decided to do a test run to see if I could push up my mileage to do a 4.5 mile run the Sunday before the 4th of July. In the early part of that run I was struggling a bit but as I went along I got stronger. Four miles into that run I felt really good and decided to keep going to see if I could do the 6.2 miles that the 10K would be. I ended up doing 6.3 miles that run without stopping in about 54 minutes. It was the first time in almost 17 years (half my life) that I had done a run for that long without stopping. It felt great and I knew that I could do that 10K later that week. I signed up later that day.
Race day came and even though I knew I could finish I was still nervous. I paced around and had pre race anxiety (as I did as a kid). The gun went off at 8:30 without warning and I was off. It wasn’t the type of weather I like running in which is cooler weather not the humid muggy morning that it was. I paced myself and mentally was feeling good throughout the race. Though I did have an infertility triggering moment when some guy was beating me while pushing a double stroller. Still I didn’t let that keep me down. I got stronger as the race went along. The last mile I kicked it up a notch to finish strong as I had always done in High School. I ended up finishing with a time of 51:30 and there waiting for me at the finish line (even though I didn’t see her until after I was through the shoot) was K. This was the picture that she took of me at the finish line.
I can’t begin to express how great I felt after that race. I had lost something due to my body not being able to physically perform. I never thought I would ever get it back. As an 18 year old my body wasn’t able to do something that my now 34 year old body was able to do. It is an amazing feeling that I don’t want to go away. Which is why I am now planning to run another 10K on Labor Day. I’m not stopping after that, I am going to see how far I can push this. Depending upon how I feel in the upcoming weeks and in running that 10K, I may try to train for a half marathon in November. It all seems crazy and like a dream. It seems like one of those dreams where you flash back to some part of your past that you thought was gone forever such as dreaming about a relative that passed.
This is no dream, I’ve got a piece of myself back that I never thought I’d ever get back. Just as I have done all my life prior to infertility when I focussed and worked hard I overcame adversity to succeed. It’s helped me believe in myself again, something that infertility had taken away from me. I’m not sure what this means for our infertility journey. But I’m confident that I can challenge my body to do things that my heart thinks are possible.