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Posted Apr 15 2013 6:30am
Fit Moms & Full Plates:  Boston

Fit Moms & Full Plates: Boston

For those of us who are runners, or even loved ones of runners, today is like the Super Bowl of running–Marathon Monday! Today the eyes of the running world are set on the little Massachusetts town of Hopkinton and the 26.2-mile journey towards Boylston Street in downtown Boston. The Boston Marathon. Many people aspire to one day run Boston–whether it be as a member of one of the many charity teams that fundraise as part of the marathon or as a Qualifier. What is the allure of Boston that draws so many? Isn’t it after all just another marathon distance race? Aren’t there more difficult courses than Boston? Sure–but Boston is special. For me–as I hope to qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon later this year, I can tell you that it has different meaning than just a bucket list item. I could certainly run with a charity team and while that would be nobel, I instead am choosing to try and qualify. Two years ago, Pam was running Boston in honor of her dad with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute team. I had trained with Pam and had plans on meeting her at the base of Heartbreak Hill and get her to the top. However, the morning of Marathon Monday that plan changed.

I was in what I had decided was to be the last and final cycle of infertility treatments in attempt of getting pregnant with my second child. It took two years and obscene amounts of medication to get pregnant with Lil One. I had only been actively trying to conceive baby #2 for four months unassisted when me and The Hubs decided, at the urging of my OBGYN to go back to our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and jump right into fertility treatments where we left off with Lil One.

We knew that my “diagnosis” was unexplained infertility and that the likelihood of needing assitance again was high. So after four additinal months of the now familiar array of tests and medications and two unsuccessful IUIs (intrauterine insemination) The Hubs and I were faced with the decision that if we were unsuccessful once again with IUI #3 to either stop treatments or pursue a more aggressive infertility treatment with IVF. Ultimately we decided that IVF was not something we wanted to pursue. The decision was difficult. I had always envisioned out family having two kids; one just wasn’t in the cards in my mind. However, I had already been on what amounted to close to three solid years of fertility drugs and my RE couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t have consequences to pay later down the line in the form of an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Did it really matter that I would potentially have two kids if it meant that I may be sick with cancer in years to come and not get to see them grow up and have kids of their own? It wasn’t a risk I wanted to continue to take. I’m not a gambler. I cried–a lot. I prayed–a lot. Ultimately, I was led to the decision that if God wanted me to have two children I would, so as I embarked on the last round of fertility medication it was with a heavy heart.

FMFP:  Pam at Mile 16 of the 2011 Boston Marathon

FMFP: Pam at Mile 16 of the 2011 Boston Marathon

I wasn’t hopeful that round #3 would be successful. If I had a dollar for every ovulation predictor stick that I peed on over the course of the past three years I would have been a rich woman. I never had received a positive result. So, doesn’t it figure that as I woke up on Marathon Monday and peed on that silly stick a blue line stared back at me. A freaking blue line. I apparently was ovulating…on Marathon Monday. Hours before I was supposed to go and support Pam during what was likely going to be an emotional day for her as she ran in honor of her dad. Pam had supported me through my infertility journey and I needed to be there to support her during her time of need. But yet…there it was. A faint blue line. I’d be lying to you all if I said I almost threw the test away thinking that it was wrong. Maybe I was just imagining it. Maybe I was just seeing something I so wanted to see in the past. How could this be happening to me now? NOW?! I was supposed to leave for Heartbreak Hill in a matter of hours and now my body decides to ovulate. But how could I just throw that test away thinking that it was false when it could have been my last chance at conceiving a second child? I called The Hubs and asked him to look at the test and sure enough he agreed that it was positive. I cried. I cried because I was so certain that round #3 was going to end in a failure that I was angry! I would miss Pam running Boston why? So I can go and have a 3rd IUI with a failure result?! I was sad and angry. My third and final attempt at an IUI was here and I was angry as I picked up the phone and called my RE to schedule my appointment for later that morning.

As I lay there in the doctor’s office I knew that everything was now out of my hands. I apologized to God for my overemotional reaction. Not being in control and have things go according to plan was not something I was good at accepting. I hated to let go yet I prayed to the Blessed Virgin and asked Mary to intercede and begged God to let this work. I prayed and cried. I let it all go. I decided at that moment it was OK if this didn’t work. I was still a mom to a beautiful, healthy little girl whom I loved more than anything in the world. I was not going to let infertility define who I was (and still am) as a person. I was bigger than infertility. I had fought hard to be a mom and even if I failed at my second attempt at being a mom–nothing could take that away from me.

FMFP:  Mr. Man's Positive Stick

FMFP: Mr. Man’s Positive Stick

Even after the IUI that morning we still managed to have enough time to make it to Newton–a couple miles before Heartbreak Hill. Thanks to the text updates I knew that we were still ahead of Pam on the course. I also knew that I couldn’t run with her that day because of the IUI. I was placed on exercise restriction so charging up Heartbreak Hill was out of the question. As Pam approached I jumped out on to the course and yelled her name and hugged her. She had a perplexed look on her face since she was seeing me early and as her eyes drifted down to my flip-flop wearing feet with a look of confusion I yelled, “Go, go! I’ll tell you later! Just go!!” And off she ran. I was so proud at that moment–my friend was about to start Heartbreak Hill and she was going to do it on her own terms. Instead of being with me she was going to be with her dad and he was going to run her up that hill. That day everything was as it should be.

In the two weeks following Boston I found out that I was in fact pregnant. To say I was shocked would have been an understatement. I was 100% convinced that I would have failed for a third time. When I told Pam she decided that since I conceived Mr. Man on Marathon Monday if the baby was a boy he needed to be named Baby Ryan Hall in honor of Ryan Hall’s awesome performance at Boston the same day. And while I did run throughout my entire pregnancy with Mr. Man and despite being conceived on Marathon Monday, we did not name him Ryan Hall…though it was tempting.

So you see, for me running Boston is not just about a bucket list item. It isn’t even 100% about the reasons I mentioned in one of my last posts. It’s more about my ability to let go and conquer my fears. I feared failing at having a second child more than anything. I was allowing infertility to define me in those days leading up to Marathon Monday 2011. But I let go. I was free. I was no longer afraid.

Am I afraid at failing to qualify for Boston later this year. I sure as hell am. I think about it on every run–what if I don’t qualify? What if this is too hard and I can’t do it? What if, what if, what if? I cannot live in what if statements.

Fit Moms & Full Plates:  Boston

Fit Moms & Full Plates: Boston

Greatness was not built on “what if.” Greatness was built on accepting challenges and acknowleding that even if you fail the greater failure would be to never have tried in the first place. My ability or inability to qualify for Boston this year or in the future does not define me as a runner. I am a marathoner. I have finished four marathons–all without walking. All to date being PRs on the prior marathon. Nothing can take away my title of marathoner–like nothing could take away my title of mom.

Giving into fear gives fear permission to own us and define us. I will not give it permission. Infertility did not define me–my journey to motherhood did. I will run hard this year knowing that I may fail at my BQ attempt. But if I fail I will be proud of myself for trying. Boston is special. It represents success in the face of adversity. Right now I may be the only one of our ERP (Elite Running Posse) “captains” to not have run Boston (Pam in 2011 and Karen today)–but I hope to one day. Will it be in 2015? Maybe–we will have to wait and see in October. But even if I do not qualify for Boston. I am a marathoner. 3:40:00 will not define me–my training will.


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