As you may remember, I started training for a half marathon (which you can read about here) as a distraction from infertility as well as a coping mechanism for my life which had gone haywire. Having an achievable goal felt really good. Especially a goal that relies on my body which has failed me every month for the past several years. I was finally in control. Maybe I couldn't do anything about my body's inability to conceive but training for this run and accomplishing this goal was something that I could control.
Not so much.
A few weeks ago, I embarked on a 6 mile run with my girlfriend. At about 4 miles, I started experiencing menstrual-like cramping in my uterine area. I asked my friend as I have many other running companions if she ever experiences this pain. After clearing up that this is not "running" side-ache type cramps or GI distress cramping issues, she said no. Same answer I've heard from so many others. When I got home, I decided to do some research. Surely, someone else has experienced this. I can't be the only one.
Lo and behold, I found several runners forums with women expressing concern for the same issue that I'd been having. And almost all of these women have endometriosis and attribute the pain to the disease. Endometriosis typically goes undiagnosed for many years - a staggering 9 years. In a rather rare occurrence, one woman shared her story. She was a track runner in high school. But once she started her period, she started experiencing severe pain and cramping during intense workouts. After multiple trips to the doctor and an invasive surgery, she was diagnosed with endo at an early age of 17.
After further research, I discovered that the pain is caused when prostaglandins become inflamed. The inflammatory response causes restriction in blood vessels, inhibiting blood flow to the uterus and causing cramps.
Seriously?!?! Endo strikes again. All my life I've wanted to become a mother and endometriosis is preventing that dream from becoming a reality. Through this infertility journey, I discovered that I enjoy running. And now this stupid disease is threatening to take that away too. I felt so angry and discouraged.
When I told A about my discovery through huge sobs, he offered to buy me a horse so that I could go horseback riding instead of running (less intense so it won't cause pain). Yes, a horse....a huge investment and we don't even have horse property. But he wanted to give me hope and take my pain away. I'm so lucky to have a man who loves me enough to offer to buy me a horse!
So where does my running stand?
I'm pressing on. I'm not ready to throw in the towel. But I'm up against a huge obstacle - one that I hope I am able to overcome. When the cramping and pain kick in, it's hard to keeping running. Then afterwards, I feel extremely fatigued and the cramps continue throughout the day.
But I've already invested six weeks training for this half marathon so I just want to finish what I started. To accomplish this small feat despite my pain. I don't know if I'll make it through the rest of my training and the competition but I'm going to try. This Sunday, I'll be tackling my 8 mile run, likely in pain for the latter half. After this half-marathon, I may never run long distances again but I want to finish this one...just this one. I refuse to allow this disease to take more from me than it already has.