Yesterday I completed my fourth half marathon. It was exhilarating to say the least! It was ideal weather, in the 50s, overcast, and breezy. I ran with my cousin and we had a blast. We stayed on pace together and I set a PR (personal record).
I told Nan and Andrea before I went that it is almost impossible to feel sad or defeated when you're running a half marathon. You can't help but feel accomplished! My friend Eric informed me that only 1% of the population completes a half marathon (I'm wondering how many of those are crazy enough to do it again!!), and that only .1% completes a marathon (well add him to that .01%, as he did it Sunday)!
Through struggling with infertility and two miscarriages I've felt the opposite of 'in control'. I've felt defeated, broken, and useless. I'm sure some people think that is a little much, but if you've never felt it, you could never understand. We feel that our bodies were made to make babies. Isn't that what women do? And when you can't do the one thing that you are physiologically made to do, you feel worthless, broken, helpless, and out of control. To give you just an idea, my sweet friend who had a miscarriage and then attended a baby shower said that she cried the whole way there, made it through as much as she could, jetted to the car and cried again. She said she told her husband "I understand if you want to divorce me and find someone who isn't broken!". Again, this may sound ridiculous to anyone who hasn't felt these feelings, but her words resonated with me soooo strongly. We feel defective.
When you run, you are the master of everything. You feel like you are in control (though any runner can tell you that there are so many uncontrollable factors)! I started running before my first miscarriage, just to see what it was like, just because I never thought that I could but wanted to prove to myself that it was possible. I never dreamed I'd run a half marathon. As a matter of fact I remember laughing at some of my runner friends before I ever started and saying that they were nuts for doing something like that (who's nuts now?!?!)!
Well, after my sister, Rene', and I started running some 5Ks, we decided to tackle a 10K with Julie. I ended up not training for that with them, because I was pregnant. It was the most defeating feeling for them to accomplish that and for me not to and to no longer have a baby in my belly. (As a side note: I did that 10K this year, for Layla!!) So, when those two crazies called me and said they were doing the mardi gras half marathon in New Orleans in February I wasn't going to be left out!
I started that process knowing that I couldn't control my fertility, that I couldn't control the loss of my baby, and I couldn't make myself pregnant again, but I could run. I could train, and I could keep myself from giving up! That proved true and in fact, I over-trained and after my first half I had a stress fracture and had to take off 6 weeks. This is devastating for a runner (not to mention for my next half that was 10 weeks away!!). It seems crazy to people who don't love running, but it's horrible for those of us who do! And it was doubly painful for me, as I had lost control of something else. I remember my husband telling me not to worry about it, I would be fine, blah, blah, blah (not a runner!!), and I finally lost it with him. I yelled, tears streaming down my face, "It's not just about the running! I am not in control of anything else, I can't control where you get a job, I can't control that my baby is gone, I can't control that I am not pregnant, but running, I could control that!!!". I think that he somewhat understood after that.(If you want to read more on my first half marathon, check out my coaching blog www.coachdeni.wordpress.com)
I've seen it not only in myself, but in many people who start to run following tragedy. I'm not sure they all realize exactly what they're doing (and I didn't until my injury), but they are exerting control where they can. Doing TNT (Team in Training) I've seen it, as people are running for the memory of those they can't bring back, or in honor of those they wish they could personally save, or in tribute to something they hope to keep from themselves and their families.
Running makes you feel in control, you control your pace, your endurance, your training, your schedule, and when you accomplish your goal it leaves you feeling victorious! It requires determination, it requires you to put your feelings (aches, pains, discomfort, fatigue) to the side and use your will to propel you forward. Ford shared a quote with us that said...
"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed." --Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champion
I think that you have to remember the same idea when you are struggling to have a baby. Obviously my body does not want me to do this, but I must put that aside to move forward, to realize my goal, and to come out victorious! I have to keep my pain in check, and use my WILL to succeed.
I run to feel in control. I run to find my own success. I run to be in the cool morning (and you thought I was going to say cool club!) and clear my head. I run to make my children proud. I run to prove to myself that I can prevail. I run because I know that God will move my feet and fill my lungs and keep me safe.
In reading my devotional last night this quote stuck out to me and is applicable to running, infertility, or any other struggle...
"Write todays worries in sand. Chisel yesterday's victories in stone."--Max Lucado (or a race medal, if you will!!). And also by Max, "Good memories make heroes, bad memories make wimps!" I'm writing my worries about babies in the sand, but my victory of making it through each day without them, that goes in stone!!
I couldn't end this entry without giving a huge round of applause to my runner friends, Ford, Susie, and Eric who all completed the Whiterock MARATHON yesterday (I'm not laughing at you anymore!!). The joy that I felt watching them accomplish that inspired me, not only to continue toward my baby dreams, but also to know that I too, could cross that finish after 26.2 miles! Here's to February 28th 2010...
Also, to my cousin, Becky, who ran every step of the way with me and continued to inspire me as she and Amy (her sister) have done for my entire life!
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