It happened at Mile 9. A wave of emotion crashed over me, momentarily slowing the steady pace I’d been maintaining. My breath hitched as butterflies appeared in my stomach. Tears prickled my eyes. I’m here, I thought. I’m finally here.
At Mile 9, my heart finally caught up with my head.
I’d trained for the Mesa-Phoenix half-marathon three years prior. My Best Running Friend (BRF) had talked me into it with arguments like “It’ll be fun doing it together” and “Think of all the ice cream you can eat.” I’d logged the miles faithfully, complemented my running with strength training from Acosta Fitness, and determined how to fuel properly. I was in the best shape I’d been in since high school soccer 12 years earlier, and I was ready to conquer my first half-marathon.
But race day didn’t find me at the start line. Instead, it found me miles away, glued to my laptop as I tracked my BRF’s little blue line make its way through the 13.1 miles. The week of the race, I had started the stim cycle for my second planned ER in our attempt to get pregnant through IVF. While my RE encouraged me to live a healthy lifestyle during this time, he discouraged me from overtaxing my body. The needles I’d be stabbing myself with every day would stress my body just fine on their own.
I was ecstatic for my BRF, and so very proud. But I was as equally disappointed for myself. And angry. Running was yet another area of my life infertility had snaked its way into and wielded control over.
And that’s why I found myself having an uncharacteristically PDE (public display of emotion) as I wove my way through patches of runners with 4 miles to go. Running was the last tangible thing I had yet to fully wrest back from infertility. Yes, I’d been running consistently for a year. Yes, I’d completed two smaller-distance races. But this half-marathon carried with it more gravity. This was my redemption race, my last way of looking infertility in the face and saying, “No more. You have power over me no more.”
I took a deep breath and shook out my hands as I rapidly blinked away the prickles. There’s no crying in running, I told myself. I’d be damned if I shed one more tear over my incompetent lady parts. I took one more deep breath as I passed the Mile 10 marker. Then I picked up the pace. I had a goal to beat.