The post-ultra-runnin’ blues

29 May

I have read a lot of stuff about how runners often get depressed following a big race/major accomplishment, particularly with marathons and ultras.  You spend months of your life training and working so hard to accomplish a huge goal, then you meet your goals, so you feel fabulous for a long time, but after the fabulous fades away you are left feeling aimless, uncertain, depressed.

 

I never experienced that after Corning or Buffalo. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it had to do with trying to have a baby. I was going from one major life goal to another, and there was so much hope and excitement both times.  I had something to look forward to and another major accomplishment to achieve.  That never happened, obviously, and part of the decision to run Buffalo was also to give my mind and body a break from the never-ending disappointment and achieve something pretty awesome.  We decided to register for and run our first 50k in large part for the same reasons.  It was never spoken, but I think a major underlying factor was that this was something we could do together–a mutual goal that we KNEW we could achieve, since the real goal we wanted was seemingly unattainable.

 

I felt amazing last week, after the Dirty German 50k!  I was already contemplating my next 50k before I even crossed the finish line. Making it even sweeter, Eric and I crossed that line holding hands, to cheers from some amazing friends (thanks, Kevin and Liz!).  Post-race, I had experienced minimal soreness, I ran on the Tuesday after with minimal discomfort (although hiking was far better).  It’s funny how completely reasonable and simple 50k seems now…it seems like ages ago when I jokingly said how I don’t know why anyone would run 5 miles.

marathon4

 

Saturday, we got to watch many of our friends from #TrailsRoc take on Sehgahunda Trail Marathon. Spectating is amazing–I have said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to feel motivated, inspired and feel a serious sense of community and love, spectate a race. There were a lot of emotional moments for me, and I felt kind of like all of the tears that I thought I’d cry at the end of the 50k would spill out at the finish line of Sehg, which would’ve been silly. I held it together, though, but damn was I proud to call these warriors my friends and watch them do something so difficult. Marathons are no joke. Trail running is no joke. Super mud is no joke. Saturday’s race was no joke. They are badasses to the core.

 

or an ultra...

or an ultra…

We left the race, and while I was feeling inspired and in awe of all of them, I was also feeling an overwhelming sense of sad aimlessness. What am I doing with my life? Where do we go from here?  Just like that, I had my first case of post-race blues.

 

I suppose the blues didn’t come out of nowhere.  The Monday after our race, we had a doctor appointment. It sucked to have an appointment right after such a great day, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bring me down just a notch or two. Luckily this time when the bad news came like it always does, as the doctor probed around with a worried look on her face while I held my breath and tried not to start crying prematurely,  I could distract myself with the race from the day before.  Basically this appointment was filled with bad news–my IUI didn’t work–and NOT because I ran.  Because the trigger shot didn’t work, so I never actually ovulated (which is extremely rare and seemed to confuse her a little bit).  Therefore, the IUI was a waste of time (as was the shot in the ass…fabulous).  Because of this and because of how long we’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) with oral medications, the doctor thinks the next move should be injectibles.  This means daily shots to the stomach (more than normal for me since my ovaries are being stubborn), along with even more monitoring (MORE ultrasounds AND bloodwork, too).  I am quickly getting over my dislike of needles.  We can’t start any of that yet, though, because the follicle that never ruptured to release an egg is still there–a lingering follicle that has to shrink before we can do anything else.  This is it–the last step before the only option remaining is IVF.  I have been saying for a long time that I don’t think IVF is something I’d ever be interested in, but when it becomes our only option, I wonder if I’ll change my mind…

 

truth

truth

I’ve struggled for a week now to put all of this into words that are comprehensible.  My thoughts and feelings are a jumble of junk.  We’ve had so many people tell me that running is bad for me, that it’s the reason why we can’t get pregnant, which insinuates that I’m being selfish and knowingly trying to sabotage our chances by running. It’s hurtful, because running is what I do. It’s who I am. My social network is almost exclusively other runners. Running is my sanity when everything else is shit. I can honestly say that I don’t know how I’d get through any of this if it weren’t for an amazing husband and running.  Post-RE-appointment runs make me feel a little better–traipsing through the woods alone and seeing the beauty around me reminds me that there IS good in the world, feeling the pain in my legs from a hard effort lets me know I can do things and that my body is not completely useless, and hanging with friends afterwards reminds me that I am more than a broken woman.

marathon2

 

And I guess that seems selfish to some people, who think that I should quit running and just sit around on the couch, which will miraculously make my ovaries function again. Except that I’ve consulted with numerous doctors. 5 to be exact. Almost 4 years ago, I sat down with my primary care doctor and explained that we were going to start trying to have a baby. I was concerned about my asthma/allergy medications, mostly (all fine to continue according to her), but I also brought up my running. She laughingly assured me that anything I heard about running being bad was not true. As long as it was what your body was already used to, you’re fine. Shortly thereafter, I asked my OB/GYN about it, when she first started me on Met. Later, I’d ask yet ANOTHER OB/GYN in the practice the same question when I had to go in for a “don’t explode the ovaries” check during a cycle of clomid. She told me that as long as I’m not severely underweight, she had no concerns and didn’t think that was the reason that we were having problems. When we made the appointment to go to see an RE, it was one of the first questions I asked.  As she took down mine and Eric’s medical histories and family information, the question of exercise came up, and I filled her in on my typical routine, which she assured me was perfectly fine to continue.  The day before my first IUI, I asked again, and was again told that I was free to do whatever I pleased. Immediately following my IUI, with tears still streaming down my face, I asked if it was ok if I ran long that weekend, fully expecting to be told to keep my feet up that weekend. Both she and the doctor shadowing her (to become a specialist, too) told me whatever I wanted. I nervously expressed exactly how much I was going to be running–a 20 and a 10. “Have fun, run some miles for me, too!” she encouraged, looking down at her own broken ankle.

 

So I’m running.

 

The post-ultra blues hit me, and I think it was a combination of more bad news from the doctor and a lack of a training plan/goals for the future.  I didn’t know where I’m going.  Having a baby isn’t looking too promising…but I’m all about focusing on changing what I CAN change and just dealing with what I can’t change.  So I did what any sane person would do.  I registered myself for the Mendon 50K on November 1st.  This is a major deal–I’ve never pulled the trigger on a race longer than 10k before.  I rely on Eric to do it for me.  It felt good to take charge of my running and make a decision.  It’s affordable, so if I need to drop down or drop out, I won’t feel badly about it.  I’ve spent months of my life not registering for races because I MIGHT get pregnant…and then regretting it on race day, when I was not running because I thought I would be pregnant.  We have made so many decisions around “might” and I can’t do it anymore.  It makes the disappointment that much greater every failed cycle.  I can’t let what MIGHT happen run my life.  I run my life.  I choose to live here and now and love every mile that I am able to run.

 

Thankful for what I have...

Thankful for what I have…

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One Response to “The post-ultra-runnin’ blues”

  1. nomeatbarefeet May 29, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Wonderfully open and honest–great post. While I am truly sorry to hear about the continuing difficulties you two are having you did hit the self-discovery nail on the head: you need to run your open life and worry about those things that you can change while letting go of those you can’t. Signing up for the Mauler is part of that. Oh yeah, and great job (to all three of you) on finishing the Dirty German. That is damn impressive!

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