I’ve finished two marathons.
It still feels weird to say that out loud. That, twice, I’ve trained, run 26.2 miles, and crossed the finish line. A feat I once related only to “crazy people” (well, that’s still appropriate) and people who run way too much (oddly now also appropriate).
When I started this blog, it began as a week by week training log for my second marathon, as I was preparing to do it mostly alone. A journey to the finish line. It also began as a place to log my fertility journey, as I was starting to feel more and more alone. Another journey to the finish line.
Infertility is a marathon.
At the start of the race, the excitement is palpable. We have all trained for this. We got up at the chirp of the alarm (and in my case, after several smacks of the snooze button) and regardless of the weather, regardless of mood, regardless of (most) illness, we ran. We ran 12, 16, 20 miles on a Saturday for no reason other than this day, this opportunity to run this race, cross this finish line, accept this medal, and feel this incredible accomplishment. We skipped movies and drinks and went to bed early. Months of runs, hundreds of miles. We are ready.
Adrenaline begins pumping right from the beginning, the first few miles a breeze. A thousand or more people in your exact situation are running with you, some a bit faster, some a bit slower, but it doesn’t matter. You’re all in this together. Even if you lose the people you started with, there are still plenty around to match pace with, plenty of energy left to get yourself there.
Discomfort begins to set in as the miles add up. The number of people begin to thin. You begin to realize just how far 26 miles is. You start to wonder what you got yourself into, and start the ipod search for your most motivating songs on your playlist. If you didn’t know you could run 20+ miles already, you might consider dropping out. But ultimately the vision of the finish line, the medal, the feeling of victory keep you going. Somehow, something pops up at just the right time that keeps you from declaring defeat – a random cheer from a stranger, a particular song, knowing who is waiting for you at the finish line.
Pain sets in around mile 20. The end feels so close yet so far away. Your body starts to scream at you. The group of a thousand you started with has dwindled down to 3 or 4. The slight envy you once felt for the faster runners has turned into full out jealousy. You know you’ve trained harder than most of them. Seriously? How are you all finishing before me? You begin to feel every step, every pound of the pavement. Any change in terrain is physically difficult to recover from. Curse words are becoming more regular. None of the three hundred Ipod songs are gonna do it, and even taking in half a Gu (an energy gel for distance runners) every mile doesn’t seem to be doing a darn thing. You hurt, you’re tired. You’ve gotta be the only one hurting this much. The finish line, though only a few miles away, feels like it’s never going to appear. The warnings that the true test is after mile 20 suddenly make sense.
Somehow, though, through combination of a force of will, stubbornness, training, and the few out of the group that stuck with you, you cross mile 26. And suddenly, though there are only a few runners left in the immediate vicinity, the crowd gets larger. You suddenly forget how sore you are because you can SEE the finish line. Somehow, you muster the energy to finish strong, because suddenly you hear your cheering section, the crowd clapping, the announcer calling your name. Somehow, you finished, and you feel incredible.
Also, you still hurt. But despite it, you kept running.
When I first stepped foot onto the pavement my first run, (which was like, halfway around the block before I couldn’t breathe anymore) – I never imagined myself running a marathon. In fact, even after my first half marathon several years later I thought to myself “who wants to essentially do this twice? No thank you!”
When I first imagined myself with a family, in my house with my white picket fence (though I’d really prefer a privacy fence at this point in my life), I never imagined it would be a problem. I didn’t even know what infertility was.
I’m still waiting to cross the finish line.
In retrospect, I survived marathon training one run at a time, one week at a time, one long run at a time. I survived the race, particularly at the end, one mile at a time. It still hurt, in fact, it hurt quite a bit. At the end my calves were so sore I literally hobbled to the car.
But I’d do it all over again. I’ll remember that day and who was with me for the rest of my life. All of the pain and exhaustion was absolutely, positively 100% worth it.
One day at a time, one mile at a time, I await the day I can say that again.
This post was created as part of The Analogy Project, started in order to help others better understand the infertility experience.
April 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm
Absolutely love this! I’ve only done one half but would love to do a full one day. Love how you’ve written this. Metaphorically, I feel like I’ve been hanging out around mile 20 for quite some time. Here’s to crossing the finish line.
April 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm
I totally agree with the mile 20 thing. I feel like I vary between the teens where periodically something keeps you going, and into the twenties when you start to wonder what the F you were thinking.
Here’s hoping we both finish, and soon.
April 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm
A perfect analogy. And you have plenty of company running right along side you.
April 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm
You are right, thanks especially to this community of women on the blogs!
April 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm
Fantastic post! I am currently on my third attempt to train for a marathon. Great work pushing through the pain, and relishing in its glow afterwords.
April 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm
Thanks! Best of luck training for your marathon – hope you get to cross the finish line on this one!
April 3, 2012 at 1:20 am
Perfect metaphor. About half way through, I found myself tearing up (and for once I am NOT on hormones, so this was not hormone induced!) because it was just really resonant. Really great post – thank you.
April 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm
Aww, thank you for saying that. It means a great deal to me to know that it resonates with others!!
April 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm
Couldn’t have said it any better. What a wonderful post! As a fellow marathon runner and IF-er, I know these feelings well. I am itching to run another marathon soon. Keep running!
April 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm
We need to run one together – with jogging strollers in tow!
April 4, 2012 at 12:22 am
Agreed. We will make this shit happen!
April 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm
They are so similar. You just have to keep going until the finish line. With infertility it’s a little harder to see, but you’ve got this!!!!
April 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm
Yeah this marathon is missing the frigging mile markers
April 4, 2012 at 7:28 am
and the pacer, but that’s what I’m here for!
April 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm
This is a great analogy. I like how you compared the number of people at the start of the race to the number at the end. This mirrors infertility perfectly.
April 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm
Agreed. The ones that stick with you end up being the most important, and the ones you remember for a long time,
April 3, 2012 at 8:28 pm
It’s the perfect metaphor, as an infertile turned runner, I often described our journey to have children as a war, something that others who have been through it can only really understand.
And now when I’m out there running those long runs, I often think of the years of inferility, surgeries, lawyers and doctors that have helped me on my way.
I’m glad I found your blog and I really hope you make it across the next finish line.
April 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm
A war is a good analogy too – maybe you should write a post about it for the project as well!
Thanks for visiting, and I too hope to see the finish line sooner rather than later!
April 3, 2012 at 11:07 pm
LOVE THIS! Such a perfect analogy. I hope we can all reach our finish line sooner rather than later.
I also really like the new layout!
April 7, 2012 at 10:42 am
I didn’t realize how obnoxious the old one was until I changed it. HAHA!
April 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm
I’m seriously impressed that you have finished not one but two marathons. It takes some great determination and focus on the goal. Just what you need for fertility treatments. Great analogy.
April 7, 2012 at 10:41 am
April 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Wonderful post and such a great analogy. I know nothing about running actual marathons, but I’m certainly caught right up in the middle of a metaphorical one….
Also I tagged you in a post so that I can learn more about you 🙂 http://futurefords.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/11-questions/
April 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm
I’m a bit behind on my blogging recently (still haven’t posted from thsi weekend) but I will get to it! Thanks!
April 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm
I’ve tagged you in a post so I can learn more about you:
April 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm
Awesome. I’m in tears now (partly because I’m so emotional today!) and I’m not sure why. lol! I decided that I want to start training for a marathon and gave myself permission to do that earlier this month since I was so confident that I wouldn’t ovulate naturally the next couple of months and wanted to wait on more treatments so I could get my body & mind ready for the next steps. And so I could RUN! Now that I have miraculously ovulated this month and I’m closing in on the end of my 2ww, I’m terrified to run and hurt any chance of a baby this month. But I want it again after reading this post. I remember running my first half and almost tearing up at that accomplishment, so I think I will seriously breakdown and sob after crossing the finish line of my first full marathon (given I actually have the energy to!). Thanks for inspiring me again and for the metaphor. It was perfect. Maybe my tears were for that.
April 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Absolutely! I will be here cheering you on!!