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Photos taken by the author on her runs. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY LAURA FINCH

BY LAURA FINCH With a yellow marker, I highlighted two symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome on the printout from my doctor’s office: obesity and infertility. Taping it next to my bed, where I’d see it every morning, I remembered my doctor’s advice: “There’s not a lot you can do other than to try to lose some weight.” Then I started running. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is actually a hormonal imbalance which may be genetic and is thought to be linked to excess insulin. It can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain and a laundry list of other un-fun symptoms, but most importantly, it prevents ovulation — step number one for anyone trying to get pregnant. In fact, PCOS is the number one cause of infertility in women, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. And the hard thing about it is that it often exhibits no symptoms — until a cyst is rupturing while you’re at work and you think you might die, or until you’re trying to get pregnant. In my case, moves between cities, jobs and insurance plans had delayed my interest in starting a family until my late 20s. Meanwhile, the lack of a consistent doctor during all the transition delayed my diagnosis. I knew facing infertility at 30 could potentially be tough, but I really, really hoped to avoid facing it at 40. Luckily, I was living just a few blocks


from the National Mall. Bookended by the U.S. Capitol on the east and the Lincoln Memorial on the west, it’s the perfect inspirational route. I measured runs not in miles, but in landmarks that now feel like good friends: Capitol Hill was where I first huffed through a workout without walking. The Air and Space museum marked the turnaround point for a three- mile route. The Washington Monument was a major moment of victory, since I made it there and back without even a cramp on my first ever five-mile run. When I finally ran to Mr. Lincoln for a full six miles, about four months after starting training, I wanted to climb up and kiss those big granite lips. When you run in Washington, it’s impossible not to wonder who you’re running with. Here were, no doubt, chiefs of staff, White House officials and members of Congress, sneaking out pre-dawn for some stress relief before a long day of running… the country. I saw a certain female senator from New Hampshire on several occasions. Between the people watching and the stately Smithsonian Museums lining the route, every early morning was like a history lesson. I’d get into the office after a great run and pore over my RunKeeper routes, planning for the day I’d make it to the Kennedy Center — or even further. After a long summer of pounding the gravel, it was October, and time for the Army Ten-Miler — my first time racing anything longer than a 5k. A friend flew into town to run it with me. The day before the race, as we walked along the mall, he told me that he and

RunWashington Magazine Summer 2015  
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