40 + 26.2

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I’ve learned that there are some pretty amazing things in life I can control. For the things I can’t, I chose to not let them break me. That’s all I wanted to prove today.

I wanted to write yesterday while this was fresh in my mind, but I just had nothing more to give.

I ran my first marathon.  I’d love to say that I nailed the time I was hoping for. I’d love to say I was pain-free. But neither would be the truth.  But I will do my best to describe the entire experience as best as I can recall.

I went to bed before 10pm, knowing it was at least an hour too late, but also knowing I’d lie in bed staring at the ceiling most of the night. My husband said by the time he came to bed, I didn’t stir.  It was definitely after 11pm and I remember hearing him but I tried to keep my eyes closed. 4am would come quick.

When the alarm went off, for once, I got up without thinking about being painfully tired, like I did every single Saturday during training.  I had everything out and ready the night before and the hour I needed before heading out the door, flew in the blink of an eye. I got to my sister’s house a few minutes late, thinking she’d kill me, but she seemed completely calm.  This was her third marathon. I was a nervous wreck.

We drove downtown but probably should have left sooner because we got caught in traffic due to blocked roads. It started feeling stressful. Turn by turn, we’d try a new route to find parking, and it would be blocked. With the race starting at 7am and it was 6:20, we started to feel panicked. Eventually we found our way to an open lot, but there wasn’t enough time to find the training group to see familiar faces that we trained with for the last five months. It was the kind of calming thing I needed, being a newbie, but it wasn’t meant to be.

My sister and I parted ways to our respective corrals. Even though I was surrounded by thousands of people, I suddenly felt alone. Thankfully, I eventually connected with my training buddy who lined up with me.  This was the first time I decided to wear a “throw-away” shirt so I could be warm at the start. It was one of my long-sleeve race t-shirts.  My friend watched me take it off and set it on a railing. I told her it happened to be the shirt from my 5k PR, so I guess it was sort of a rite of passage letting it go.

In the minutes before the start of the race, I thought about all sorts of things. Did I have enough songs? Should I have carefully constructed a playlist, or is the shuffle method I decided on, the way to go?  Did I eat enough?  Did I eat the right things on the right days?  Did I drink enough fluids?  Did I pack enough fuel?  Can I do this?  I can’t believe I’m here for a marathon.  A FULL freaking marathon!  I remember hearing my friend tell me how she likes to approach the race (this was her 4th), but I don’t really remember the words. I felt like I was in the ozone.

And then we were off.  The first two miles feel like you’re doing nothing but dodging people to get what feels like a somewhat normal stride. It takes a while. My pace was slowish. Sometimes I’d find a clearing and lose my friend, sometimes she’d find an opening and I was bottle-necked.  But we both knew that we wouldn’t always be side by side and that was fine. I thought it was nice that she was sort of looking out for me when she could.

The next two miles were quicker. Maybe too quick. I started thinking maybe it was too fast, so by mile 5, I slowed. But in the sixth mile, I must have sped up again, wanting a good 10k time.  Miles 9 and 10 were fast and by miles 11 and 12, I felt some tweakiness with my knee.  That familiar ache from my IT band was starting to flare.  I thought maybe I’d stop and readjust my knee band.  I was getting closer and closer to the halfway point so I waited. I wanted a good half time and ended up with my average time from my half-marathon experiences.  Probably not a good idea for a first time full.

And then it happened.

My knee went out.  Like completely gave out.  I hobbled over to the side and eventually lost my running buddy.  I don’t think she even realized and I’d never ask her to hang back anyway. I did some IT stretches. I cursed. I wanted to cry. Then I set out again, could run for a minute or two, and then spaghetti knee. I’d hobble to the side and repeat.  I couldn’t believe this. I couldn’t believe all this training. All these people who were so proud, waiting for me, had no idea I was about to fail. I begged and pleaded with God to let me have this.  Let me finish.

For the next two miles, I hobbled along, with a few nice runners stopping to ask if I was alright and if I wanted them to jog along with me. I wanted to cry because I thought that was so nice of them. Complete strangers wanting to help. This is why I love runners.  Just before mile marker 15, there was an aid station so I stopped to see them.  The physical therapist was an absolute godsend. She kept digging her thumbs in, using ice and working the tight areas where the IT band was messing with my knee. It hurt like a bitch but I said do what it takes to fix it and asked if she could find the magic spot to reapply my knee strap. At this point I sent a text to my husband, telling him what was going on and how defeated I felt. And I threw a status update on FB, expressing my defeat.  The physical therapy team all asked if I wanted to continue the race, while asking me to fill out a form. I turned and saw two young runners, both with ice strapped to their knees and was told they dropped out. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t quit. They marked my bib with what I call a “boo-boo report” noting MM15 and sent me on my way.

I prayed. I started praying Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Mumbling to myself. Sometimes I’d finish a prayer and other times I’d be distracted and have to start over. I found moments where I was calm again.  When I’d feel a tweak, I’d pray.  Miles 15, 16 and 17 were slow.  I’d lost a lot of time at the aid station and was nervous about pushing it, plus it was a hilly stretch.  Miles 18, 19, and 20 got better. It was a nice part of the course, very residential, with tons of people out on their lawns cheering the runners. It was here that I started to get a boost.  A little girl holding a sign, read my name off my bib, telling me to “go!” I started to cry. At that same moment, a perfectly timed song from my shuffle playlist came up.  The emotions finally hit me. I was going to do this.

The spectators were amazing. Especially through that residential area.  They camped out with fresh sliced fruit and bowls of grapes for the runners. Pushing us on with signs that had the most inspirational quotes I’ve ever seen. I could barely hold back the tears. At some point during mile 20, another one of the best songs from my random playlist came on, right when I needed it. It literally took my breath away.

Earlier in the week, my husband’s grandfather passed away. I had asked my husband to pick a mile to dedicate to him.  He selected 21 after the 21-gun salute they had at the funeral.  I was there, about to start mile 21, the furthest I’d ever gone, so I sent him a quick text, which was the first he’d heard back from me after learning I was hurt. He started informing everyone I was still in the race.  From that point on, it was like he was right there with me, “talking” me through via texts. After I finished mile 21, I told him 22 would be for my grandpa. Then he suggested mile 23 for his dad and 24 for mine. It really helped to dedicate miles to family members – some still with us, some not.

I kept praying, especially when I felt the pain creeping in again. Or when I started feeling fatigue from the temps that kept creeping up and up the longer I was out on the course.  Mile 25 I found myself thinking it’s only two more miles, but I was so drained.  I walked. Walked a little bit more. As I was getting closer to finishing, I can recall people talking to me from the side of the road. Encouraging me. Using my name. Strangers cheering for me. Again, I sort of heard them, and all I could do was nod my head.  Then I’d run some more and nod.  Mile 26 put me right near the stadium finish. I could hear the music and the crowds.  I knew my family was there still waiting, well over an hour after my sister’s finish. She had sent me a text saying the weather SUCKED for running but “you got this!”

I prayed some more.  Out loud. Didn’t care who heard me. Our Father, who art in heaven.  Hail Mary, full of grace.  Over and over until I rounded the last corner before the opening to the stadium. Then I started saying out loud to myself, “oh my God. Oh my God. I’m here.” It took my breath away to see the final stretch, lined with flags blowing in the breeze. I finally felt like air. I ran the final stretch and crossed the finish line. It was unbelievable. I just finished a MARATHON.

I honestly don’t know how I did it, as hurt and defeated as I was. I really don’t.

I’m not fast. I wanted to finish in 5 hours, but I finished in 5:35 and some change. While I wish it was better, I still did it. I really did it.

Later that day, I decided to post how I really felt. Not just about the day, but something that would sum up the journey I’ve been through, especially with ttc – when running was the only thing that got me through. If I wouldn’t be successful in pregnancy, I wanted to complete a marathon of a different kind.  Running gives you a lot of time to think, so when I posted a pic of my medal, I left it with this:

I’ve learned that there are some pretty amazing things in life I can control. For the things I can’t, I chose to not let them break me. That’s all I wanted to prove today.

Cycle #61 and couldn’t be happier

Thank God that last month’s cycle was a shorter one, which as I had hoped, shifted this one up by almost a week. This means that when I run my very first-ever marathon on Saturday, I won’t have to worry about a horrible, raging, crampy period getting in the way. The thought of trying to wedge several tampons alongside pretzel sticks and fuel chews into an already packed pouch on my belt was troubling.

Yes, it’s another period and while I say that I don’t count anymore, that’s true. Sort of. I really don’t sit and count days anymore. Hubs has a better sense of what day it is than I do! I log day one into my FF app and don’t really check it until I start spotting before the next cycle. I mainly do this to have a record of if/when my cycle lengths start changing. Other than that, it’s just about noting the cycle number. I don’t know that I will ever be able to stop that. Every month the number ticks up by one and while it’s sad, I try not to think much about it any more. Trying to move on to new things.

It’s been quite busy lately, so at some point I’ll hopefully have the time to sit and write more posts and decide where to go from here, but until then, I have more counting and numbers to think about. Five days until I log 26 more numbers. Oh, and a .2 – can’t forget the .2

40

Well, I made it.  So far, it’s not so bad. 

If I weren’t so busy right now, I’d even go so far as to say that it’s like there’s a weight being lifted from my shoulders. When I can fully comprehend and articulate this, I’ll explain…

Wishful thinking

For probably the first time since maybe my college days, I was thrilled to get my period today.  It was an early/short cycle. Hooray!  Why am I thrilled?  Because this hopefully means I won’t need to go on the pill next month. It’s quite possible that everything shifted up by several days. I hadn’t been keeping close track of what day of my cycle I’m on, but rather counting ahead to pinpoint when my periods would hit. It was not looking good for a while there.  There was no way I wanted to deal with my first ever marathon + a raging, heavy period, where I’d have to pack several tampons and liners and somehow carry them with me while running for FIVE hours!  Running while on the rag is no fun and let me just say that the last time I ran with a pantyliner, it was quite the experience. Chafing doesn’t even begin to describe it.  More like throwing an index card into your underwear and then running for a couple hours was a more accurate depiction. 

So that’s the good news. The bad news is, I’m not pregnant for the umpteenthieth time. But I’m fine. I’m determined to run this marathon. It will be the first great accomplishment at age 40 and I’m hoping it’s the best way to raise the bar on my next decade. It will be a time to move on to many other things.  I’m ready.  

One more period

The last couple cycles I haven’t paid much attention to. I realized I hadn’t logged them onto my calendar and haven’t counted days, which I mainly did just to see if the cycle length has started changing with age. So it took me a minute to realize that this coming period will be my last. Maybe not forever, but for now.

Several months ago I was trying to anticipate my future cycles, not so much for ttc purposes anymore, but for the timing of my first marathon. It was looking pretty good but all it took was a couple wonky cycles to throw everything off. Now it’s looking like I better go on the pill soon so that I can curb or ease my next period, because that’s the last thing I need is to deal with one of my ferocious periods while trying to run for 5 hours!

I realized this was it. The end of the road. The end of the “race” I’ve been battling for a long time – so many times, wondering if I should throw in the towel on running and focus on ttc while the factory still operates. Every time I’d have a painful run, dealing with either my knee or my leg or back, I’d secretly hope to be get pregnant instead.

Then something magical happened.

On my training run last week, my longest benchmark yet – 18.64 miles, I was pain free. Nothing. No knee pain. It felt like a dream. So I did it – I officially signed up for my first full marathon that I had been nervously and cautiously training for all these months.

And now, this is it. I need to shut down the factory. Maybe just one month, maybe more? I really don’t know what the future holds. But what I do know, by the time this next period rolls around, it will be cycle #60 since we first started ttc. I will be within days of turning 40, and about a month away from running 26.2 miles.

Maybe it’s time?…

Bad anniversary

On July 30 I checked my calendar from last year just to confirm what I already felt was true. It was the one-year anniversary of our fourth and final IVF attempt.  No wonder I’ve been subconsciously feeling down and off in the days leading up to it. It also marks the one-year anniversary of when my sciatica issue started. It either started the day of the transfer or the day after, but I’ve been in some degree of pain ever since.  

Fitting.

When I went to my physical therapy appointment, I told the therapist that it’s been a year since the pain started and ironically a year since the treatment. He said, “that’s a bad anniversary.”  I nodded and agreed that it sure was. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. 

It’s been a whole year since declaring we’re done. I mean, not done done, but done with IVF and other expensive and invasive procedures that get us no further along than trying on our own. A year. I’d like to say I’m doing better with moving on, and in some ways I am.  But the pain I feel either in my leg, back, or knee every single day is a constant reminder of this bad anniversary. 

I popped into a certain bed and bath store yesterday to look for a new shower curtain and I flashed back to another anniversary. The one that matters most. Ours. I thought about how we registered for our wedding gifts at this store and how fun that was. I thought about how it was as a couple just starting a life together before several painful and difficult years of ttc took over.

I miss that.  

So as I recover this weekend from another horribly painful period – cycle #58 maybe? I’ve lost count, I will try to continue moving on. It’s now officially less than a month until my 40th birthday and I’m starting to think that maybe going back on the pill to manage the pain might be the way to go. 

I’ll be 40 and carefree…

One monthish

Wow. It’s been almost a month since I last posted. It also happens to be about a month away from my big 4-0, but who’s counting?

So what’s been going on? Let’s see. We are still working on my dad’s situation. We try to visit him at the nursing home each week and thankfully his dementia hasn’t progressed too much yet. This is a blessing because his house still hasn’t sold. Not real thrilled with the realtor, but hopefully we’ll get a buyer soon and can close this horrific chapter in our lives.

I’ve been trying to continue my first-ever marathon training and it’s going so-so. Still dealing with a lot of pain. Not so much with the sciatica issue, but more with the IT band/knee issue – the issue I had before all the disc/sciatica nonsense. It finally got to the point that I pushed my sports med doctor to write my “new” old issue into my progress report so that physical therapy would be allowed to help me.

And ever since then, I think we’re finally onto something. The past few appointments have been enlightening. I told the therapist that as my mileage increases, I’m back to having the knee pain that I had before. I said I couldn’t help but think the two issues were related in some way. As he did a bunch of tests on me, he had a few theories.

First, he asked about my training in years past. I said first half-marathon, no issues. Every big race after that, I’ve been in pain. He asked what was different between my first and recent training attempts and I told him IVF. I always wondered if this was the root of my problems. He said that the medications used, particularly progesterone, can weaken ligaments – just as a pregnancy would. It’s quite possible that every time I tried to start training again after a failed attempt, it was with weakened ligaments, causing a whole domino effect of issues.

Then he said there’s several things going on. My left hip flexor is tight and that leg is stronger. My right side is weakened, which I’m sure the flared sciatica isn’t helping. My right knee also points inward, something I was born with. When I told him I would get self-conscious about how my foot points outward and try to point it straight, he said “don’t” and that was my body’s way of putting my knee in correct alignment. Ah-ha.

So as I run, I’ve tight problems on one side and weak problems on the other so the body tries to do all these things to compensate and over time, it’s quite possible the disc problem started, as a result. He said the spine is good about bending forward and back, and side to side, but with a diagonal pivoting motion that my body is forcing it to do, not so much. In time, the disc may just wiggle out and back surgery isn’t the answer. If we don’t correct the problems, he said the disc problem will just go right up the chain. Ah-ha!

The good news is, he thinks I can keep running and training, but we are really trying to work on the issues. He’s added some cushioning to the insole of my right shoe, to keep my foot from rolling inward, when my knee and hip flexor start to fatigue, and some specific stretches and strengthening exercises for me to work on.

Two weeks ago, I reached a new benchmark in mileage = 15.5 miles. I couldn’t believe it. I wish it were pain-free, but we’re working on that. I really hope I can complete this marathon because now that I’ve gotten a lot better at blocking out ttc at this point, this is what I want. This is my new goal and I’ll be pissed if it doesn’t happen. I don’t need more failure.

And lastly, the other thing that’s keeping us busy is that we decided to add a deck and patio on to our house. We kept putting it off because most of our money was going toward toward the bills for the 10 children we never got to meet, but now that we’re doing better, we decided it was time. It was a tough decision at first because we both went through phases where we wanted to move out of this neighborhood and start a new life “just the two of us” but doing that would be financially stupid. The market is showing improvement and we are in a newer development with several lots left to sell. It just makes more sense to wait it out a bit longer and not move hastily. So we are going to enjoy our house, throw lots of parties and cookouts, and do the best we can to move on.

Unfortunately, a certain big-box store has been screwing us over with the delivery of our decking materials and we’ve been patiently waiting to put the boards down on our deck frame for about a month now, because why would anything go smoothly for us, right? Ugh! So then there’s that, too.

Hopefully in a month from now, I’ll be kicking my feet up, relaxing on our deck, realizing 40 isn’t so bad, not needing to ice my knee too much, anticipating my first marathon. Perhaps life will be good.

No magic

Had a very candid conversation with the new OBGyn yesterday and there’s just no magic “thing” that will ensure a pregnancy. Logic has been barking this fact at me for years but my heart won’t listen. So to finally hear it very matter-of-factly was a bittersweet blessing, I guess.

So all my stessing over whether I would like this new doctor was really pointless. The fact was, I liked her. She’s blunt, but caring. But as one of my neighbors who sees her says, “don’t expect any hugs.” I was fine with that. In fact, maybe this is what I need to move on. A reality check.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom though. I’m still having somewhat normal cycles and even if the length wavers here and there, she’s not concerned. She seems to be in agreement that if I’m still ovulating, there’s always a chance. There just isn’t anything special I can do in the meantime. It is what it is. When I asked her opinion on my tests, AMH, etc, she said some people’s bodies just age quicker than others.

We did discuss the endometriosis issue and she broke the “tie” as to whether having another laparoscopy would be helpful. She agreed with the RE that if I’m in unbearable pain, we can take care of it. If it’s for the hope of improving fertility, it’s unproven to help at all. We also talked about the large fibroid and she agreed that leaving it be is best for now. Again, if we were to have surgery, it would compromise my uterus too much. It’s the lesser of two evils leaving it be. But if my periods are getting worse, it could be to blame. Just like the endo, when I get to the point where I can’t deal anymore, we’ll do something about it, but that something would likely be the end of ttc, so for now I’ll deal.

In some ways I felt a relief like this is my signal to move on, live my life, do other things without worry of interferring with ttc. But in other ways, it still stings. The finality is creeping in. In a strange turn of events, while I was at this appointment, I got a call from my physical therapist’s office that they had two cancellations this week and that I could take one of the sessions.

Guess marathon wins. I’ll focus on that for now. When I cross that finish line, I’ll be 40. We’ll see what happens then.

Tug-o-war

I’ve had two goals that have both increased in urgency lately. Or at least it seems that way. It couldn’t be because I turn 40 in two months (and one day), could it?

My marathon training has been a little sub-par. I ran a half at the end of May and have since been struggling a little with getting my mileage where it needs to be. It was super disheartening to have a ten-mile training run just two weeks after my half, nearly tear me apart. I wanted to lop off my leg, it was so bad. So I figured it was still early enough in the schedule to tone down training a little, to make sure I could heal before getting to the weeks of big mileage. I started with physical therapy to check the IT band issue that always seems to plague me. Unfortunately, his schedule has been jam-packed with no sign of getting in right away, so I resumed the class that he teaches. At least it’s something.

Then I went back to my sports med doctor to follow-up after my third back injection. It’s really frustrating knowing that it will be almost a year of disc/sciatica pain at the end of this month, with a sporadic IT band issue thrown in for shits and giggles, just when I’m starting to get back into a running groove. We discussed the option of a booster injection, even though they usually like to keep it to three shots. But since the first two were sort of a waste, not being injected in the right spot, he feels like one more from the new doc might help. So I need to decide if I’m still doing this marathon, and then when to strategically time this shot. If I play my cards right, it could get me through training and race day. But as my doctor pointed out, this is just masking the problem, not fixing it. My body should have healed this injury by now, and it hasn’t. Another big fail from my uncooperative body. No surprise there.

Then we discussed surgery. I do not want surgery but then I start to wonder about all the implications of this disc problem. What if it really is interfering with some miracle conception/pregnancy? What if I actually did get pregnant with a nagging bulging disc pressing on my nerve? Then what happens? It’s hard to really think about this because the reality of it happening is still pretty slim. But what if? I’m certainly not going for surgery before attempting a marathon, so do I consider it afterward? Right before winter so I can have plenty of time to recover before wanting to run in the spring? Does this mean I go back on the pill for a while? I’ll be 40 years old, what will that even do to me and my wacko hormones? It’s sad that I can’t even do the one thing that tries to keep my mind off ttc nonsense.

And then there’s my other “goal.” The one I’ve been trying to achieve for the past 4.5 years. To be honest, I don’t even know if I’m ovulating anymore and with more and more issues going on, I don’t know if I even want it anymore. I think I do, but I’ve grown numb. Or maybe that’s my sciatica talking. Today, after waiting months for an appointment, I’m finally seeing my new OB/GYN. I was so sad to move on from my OB but insurance dictated the change. I remember when I made the call for the appointment. I was desperate. I was in the middle of trying to decide if it’s worth another laparoscopy as my former OB felt it would help and my RE was dead-against it. My cycles and periods were horrific and I just wanted it for the pain relief and if there was any sliver of truth it could help fertility, then bonus. Now that my cycles magically seem more manageable (probably as I creep toward menopause), I wonder if I even need the new OB to be the tie-breaker. I will certainly bring it up though.

I don’t even know where to begin. How do I explain my history quickly in one visit, while the main reason I’m there is for my annual? I hope she looks at my history and I’ve heard she’s a really good doctor who specializes in fertility issues, so that’s good. So why am I not as excited about this? I’ve waited months. I just feel so defeated. Physically, mentally, reproductively. I really hope she can help. I hope she lets me run my marathon, too. This should be interesting.

My two goals couldn’t be any more mismatched, along with two potential surgeries to consider, one for each goal. Should be interesting.