Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Running the Walt Disney Marathon was very personal for me, and represented overcoming the biggest challenge I've ever faced.
I have been running since 2009, when I started gaining weight from a thyroid condition. I started in the spring and my brother Josh was my inspiration, he had been running for several years and did a lot of races. He convinced me I could do races as well so I did my first three 5K's by the end of the year and then began training for my first half marathon in January 2010.
At the same time, my husband and I were trying to have a baby. We were married in 2003 and I was just starting nursing school so we waited to start trying to have a family. Between when we started trying in the spring of 2007 to august 2014 we had 2 miscarriages, 2 ectopic pregnancies which led to the removal of my fallopian tubes, and then five failed IVF cycles. By august 2014, we had had enough and made the difficult decision to stop trying.
Since 2011, my running was limited by our trying to have a baby. My in vitro fertilization (IVF) doctors told me not to run more than 2 or 3 miles and no racing. My acupuncturist told me no running at all. The one thing in my life that eased my heartache was something I was being told I couldn't do. In the breaks between cycles I would try to catch up, even aim for a half marathon if I could, but I couldn't get into a groove, I couldn't maintain my fitness. The IVF cycles were extremely stressful and hard on my body. My life was completely out of my control, I was a slave to the pursuit of trying to have a baby, constantly having to behave as if was already pregnant. I could make no long term plans for anything, because I might be pregnant, or I might be in a cycle. Besides, we had no money to do anything even if we had wanted or were able to.
So when we decided to stop trying in August 2014, it was the hardest decision we ever had to make. I felt like I needed to find myself again. I had been so wrapped up in our pursuit for the last 7 years that I didn't know who I was anymore. And more than anything, I wanted to run. I wanted to find the feeling I had lost, the feeling of being outside with the wind in my hair, music in my ears and my feet pounding the pavement. A long term goal I had set when I started doing races was to "someday" do a marathon. I had done 6 or 7 half marathons by this time, but I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to do something I sincerely thought I never would have been able to do. So I decided I was going to do a marathon. And why Disney? Because what better marathon to run than in the happiest place on earth! Full of distractions and happy people and Mickey Mouse!
So I asked my brother to come and race with me, and my sister and my nephew came as well. The Walt Disney Marathon is a whole weekend of races, starting with a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and the whole marathon on Sunday. My sister and nephew did the half marathon and my brother and I did the whole.
My brother had a very difficult time with the heat and he ended up hyperventilating and got very nauseous and was unable to finish. I ran with him from mile 10 to mile 18.5 when he was held by the EMT's and forced me to get going and finish my race. He told me his goal was to see me cross the finish line, and so I did.
When running toward the finish line after having to leave my brother behind, I was surrounded by all the spectators, and one sign someone was holding up caught my eye. It said "What are you running for?" and it brought tears to my eyes and I almost had to stop. I finished soon after and almost cried again when the volunteer put the medal around my neck. It was such a hard earned medal. Not only did I go through the 6 months of training, in cold, wet, rainy and snowy conditions but I had found myself again in the process and this made me so happy. I remembered who I was again. I felt like even though I would never be able to have a baby, I could say I was a marathon runner, and not just anyone can say that.
This was so much more than just a marathon for me. It was taking my life back.