Keeping an eye on the finish line

alliegraciemarathonRunning, for me, has always been cathartic and I’m pretty sure it’s what keeps me sane. It tires me out physically and energizes me mentally–both things that help me stay balanced. I also just plain love to run. Being in motion, running in the woods or down a country road, (especially with my dog) is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

So when I was starting to feel frustrated with the wait for an adoption match a few weeks ago, and feeling like I might be nearing my wit’s end, I went for a run. Instead of stopping at 3 miles like I usually do, I ran 5. That extra distance felt so good and was such a release that I decided to train for a half marathon. I’m up to 9 miles now and am feeling awesome. (My dog also loves to run–she’s up to 9 miles, too.)

A few years ago, I ran a full marathon. At that time in my life, I was going through some tough stuff and running provided a much-needed therapeutic outlet for me. I would go out to run and get lost in my thoughts, work through my feelings, push my body (sometimes quite painfully) to its absolute limits, measure my progress, and then be too tired later to worry much about anything. Running helped me stay healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally, then and it’s helping me now.


roadIf you are adopting and waiting to be matched, I would highly recommend starting a running program. Train for a 5k. Even if you’re starting from the couch. If you’re really not a runner (though anyone can become one), try power walking. It will be hard and you might hate it at first but I promise you it will get so much better. One day you will realize that you’re looking forward to it. There is something extremely empowering about working hard through sore muscles, pushing through perceived boundaries, feeling your body get stronger and stronger, and accomplishing a goal you once thought impossible.

I prefer running to going to the gym because it feels so good to rack up the miles and I love to be outside. But it’s not easy. It’s a long march to be able to run 13.1 miles. It’s filled with ups and downs, good runs and bad runs, easy days and extremely difficult days. You have to work hard to silence the voice in your head that tells you to quit when the going gets tough. You have to wrestle with the voice that says you’re not strong enough and you can’t do this and that it’d be much easier to just give up. You have to keep your eye on the finish line and just keep going… putting one foot in front of the other… taking it one step at a time.

Kind of like the wait to be matched.


14 thoughts on “Keeping an eye on the finish line

  1. Hali

    Good for you! Running or any sort of physical activity that you enjoy is soo needed to help keep balance through this process. My outlets are long brisk walks,with my dog on the beach, hikes and gardening. Being outside in Nature really does work wonders and clears out the clutter in my mind and helps me find peace in the moment. Before we started down the adoption journey we were on the path of “infertility” and trying everything short of the “big guns” like IUI and IVF. Included in the cups of green smoothies, acupuncture and herbs was this thought that i was exercising too much and needed to slow down and gain weight (even though i was at a normal weight and really didn’t exercise extremely). But if there was a chance that it would help it I figured i’d try. So after months of going easier and gaining weight, still no pregnancy and I felt awful. Now a year later it feels great to not stress that its all on me to do everything just so or else we will never have a baby. Now we know for sure we will be parents through adoption..we just have to wait. I have regained my love of exercise and stopped feeling guilty if i run or walk that extra mile. Now i just listen to my body and do what feels good. I’m happy to hear you are doing the same thing and finding joy and peace in this time or uncertainty and waiting!

  2. I experienced (and am experiencing) the exact same thing, Hali. When we were trying to get pregnant, I was scared to run or do anything physical, really. My acupuncturist even told me that any type of strength training was a bad idea as it would divert energy from my reproductive system. I really liked her but that sounded crazy to me. I was drinking whole milk and eating richer foods on her recommendation, too, and not exercising – I quickly gained a few pounds, which really only added to the misery. Not having the mental and emotional outlet of running and working out made it so much worse. Now, like you, I feel so much better and am no longer second guessing every little thing I do. I feel best when I’m physically active – I always have – and I really don’t think that’s the reason I wasn’t getting pregnant anyway. I am so relieved to have moved on from that time! I’m glad you have, too, and I hope everything works out for you soon. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Hali

    Allie I totally understand! I was really feeling bad about myself if i lost a pound or exercised because of all the info i was receiving about fertility. I switched from my years of vegetarian plant based diet to one with lots of fats and animal proteins (i’m talking westin price diet like liver and raw full fat milk etc!) I gained about five pounds of “baby making” fat quickly but felt so yucky! Combined with not exercising like i was used to it was a recipe for depression and anxiety! I too am now trying to find a balance between keeping myself nutritionally healthy (because with a diagnoses of unexplained infertility there is always a chance i may conceive naturally)and not stressing about it because i really don’t think that is the reason i wasn’t getting pregnant either. I am looking forward to the spring and warm weather..its been a long cold winter here in New England, and getting my self back, doing the things that i love outside and not worrying if i’m jeopardizing our chances of a baby. It certainly has been an emotional (4 years for us) learning experience but am now feeling light and optimistic about the future! This is why I know deep within my soul that adoption is exactly the right path for us to be on and have no doubt that it will all work out evidently for us.. and you too! I recently read a great book that said that “if you sincerely want a WILL have the baby that is meant for you one way or just might be taking the scenic route!”
    I agree 🙂

    1. We have such a similar story. I wish we had been in touch last year! I felt like I was the only one in the world going through that. So happy to be over that time in my life, and I’m happy you are, too!! All good things for you this year, Hali!

  4. I got into trail running a couple of years ago when I was interning at a National Park Service site and lived about 20 feet from a nice little trail. It was a great way to work off post-work stress, and I wish I had something like that near me now. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with a 35-mile (one way) commute that wipes out my evening hours – but now that it’s getting lighter outside, maybe I can change my routine. Hiking is really my thing – I’m looking forward to getting back to it once there’s not threats of ice and snow on trails…

    I’ve been on quite a few trails where you wonder where the top of the friggin’ mountain is, after eight false summits. But you’re too far in to back out – you’ve just got to see what’s coming around the corner – because it might just be that great view from the top. To me, that’s a lot like where we are with adoption – just trying our best to keep on chugging uphill – ready to reach that goal we’ve been working toward.

    1. Where did you intern for the NPS? How cool. I’m a huge park fan. I work for a national land conservation org that conserves/protects parks and open space, trails, etc. I lived in Colorado for 7 years, and Washington State and Northern California after that and was so lucky to be around such amazing hiking. Now that we are in Charlottesville, we’re not far from the Appalachian Trail. But it doesn’t quite compare to the thrill of hiking a 14er! What a great analogy for adoption.

      I was doing a lot of trail running before last year–I much prefer it to road running–but I have a weak left ankle and rolled it one too many times. Now if I’m not super vigilant on the trail I inevitably land wrong on a rock and twist it again. So I’ve had to cut way back on trail running and stick to the road or dirt if possible. But, there is nothing like running through the woods! I hope you can get back out there when spring finally shows up. And start looking for baby backpacks!

      1. I worked for the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina while I was finishing my M.A. in History. Sandburg was a writer who was from a town in Illinois not far from Chicago, but in his 60s decided he wanted a quieter life and moved his family, his 15,000 books, and his wife’s goat herd to Flat Rock. I think the park was 267 acres, and Sandburg really liked to be outdoors, so there were 3 or 4 trails around the property, which also included a decent large hill-sized “mountain.” It’s not like the parks out West, or even the Smokies, but it’s beautiful. And I lived in the park. Probably my best job to date. It’ll be a great place to take our Littlest one day to play with the baby goats – you should check it out sometime if you’re ever near Asheville! (

  5. Hali

    Awe your definitely not alone! We do share very similar experiences and it would have been nice to talk sooner.. but at least we can support each other now during this very exciting new chapter of our lives! I also happened to noticed we are using the same agency 🙂 check us out if you want (my husbands name is John)! All good things to you this year too!

  6. Megan

    I came across you blog while doing a Google search – desperately seeking a group, or even just a person, who “gets” where we are right now…. And the Internet brought me to you! Someone who’s in almost the identical adoption place that we are. Wow! We’ve had our family profile with our agency since the middle of October, so just a few weeks shy of 6 months, and as I read through your posts I couldn’t help but wonder if you’ve spent some time inside my head these last few months…. 🙂 Our agency also estimates a relatively short wait-time (6 months-ish if you are a childless couple, closer to 12 months for a couple [like us] who already has a child or children). And I also couldn’t help those hopes/dreams of a quick match from taking root in my heart. So just recently the “wait” has been taking a bit more of a toll…. Thus my search for someone who understands what *this* is like (I’m surrounded by extremely fertile friends and my sis, my very best friend in the whole world, just gave birth to her first baby so it definitely feels a bit lonely at times; we’re also keeping the adoption very much on the quiet side for now, our families know and 2 close friends but that’s it…). We were incredibly blessed by the birth of our daughter 5.5 years ago, but since then we’ve spent 4.5 years of unsuccessfully trying for baby #2. Like you we’ve chosen not to pursue any infertility treatments and instead to focus our efforts on an adoption. So when I say I feel like you’ve been in my head a bit, I really do mean it:) Anyway, I really appreciate you putting your story & thoughts out there. So nice to feel I’m not alone with the semi-obsessively researching of primal wounds and adoptee attachment (and formula feeling vs breast feeding!). I look forward to following your story – and to feeling a little less alone:)

    1. Hi Megan, Thank you so much for commenting and I’m so glad you found the blog! You are definitely not alone. It sounds like we have a very similar story, and I’ve been realizing there are more of us than I ever would have thought. Like you, everyone I know is having babies and never had any trouble doing so. When you are surrounded by that (even though you are happy for them) it can make you feel so alone, like you are left out of the club or something. I felt that way for a long time. But since I started writing this blog I have met people like you who are in the same spot as me and while I hate that any of us had to go through what we all went through to get here, it does help to know that we aren’t the only ones. And now that we are waiting for a match, it also helps to know that we all seem to be having very similar thoughts. I, for one, am glad to know it’s not just me and that this roller coaster of feelings I’ve been having is normal. I’m so happy to meet you and I’m so glad you reached out. I hope your adoption happens soon. I’m not sure why it takes longer for people with a child or children to be matched–siblings are such a gift! I know I’m not the only one who thinks that… I hope you get your match soon!

      1. msandiland

        I read your “Creating your Profile” post yesterday and just laughed and laughed (I left a comment there so I won’t repeat myself here) – but seriously, the degree to which we’ve experienced similar things throughout this whole adoption journey is pretty funny:)

        And thanks for your kind words about siblings. We also think it’s pretty special that the baby we bring home will have a big sister, but I do understand from a birthmom’s perspective that she might have some fears there (it makes me sad, but I do understand)…. It just reenforces my beliefs that when the right mom & baby come along the fact that we already have a kiddo will be something that she **likes** about us, not something she sees as a negative:)

      2. It’s really funny how similar our stories are — and I absolutely agree with you that the right mom and baby will come along and think your family is just perfect. There are several things about our family that I keep thinking, well, maybe most birthmothers don’t want this or that, or whatever, but, like you, I believe the right one will come along and see these things as positives like we do. Thanks for commenting, Megan!

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