The race against the clock

“Why are you doing this?”

My friend asked me that question this morning when I told her that I totally bombed this weekend’s run.

That question has had me pondering all day to the point where I totally scrapped what I was going to type for this blog and gave some real thought to the questions.

EXACTLY why am I running 21 kilometers?!

About ten weeks ago when I decided sign up for a half marathon, I set a goal to complete the race in a specific time.

All my runs have been focused on time.

TIME – anyone who struggles with infertility knows this is one of the worst four letter words out there!

Time – I struggle with this. I struggle with the process of time.

In order to get faster, run longer, and accomplish my goals I have to plug in the time. I have to be dedicated to the process…and that isn’t always fun.

Just like IVF, sometimes you start at IUIs, proceed to IVF and for some the next advance is to egg/sperm donation or adoption.

In the fertility world “time” is a big word.

Timed intercourse, the timing of medical injections, time of ovulation, the big two week wait.

TIME, TIME TIME! Honestly some days this 4 letter word trumps all others!

But the thing about time is that it is necessary for progression and we can’t fight against it.

This weekend time was not my friend. This weekend the clock was my enemy. Instead of coming in where my training was indicating, I ran the slowest times I have EVER run – EVER!

It was at 18k that the rain, sweat and tears all started to mix together and there at the top of that hill I stopped. I stopped my watch, put my hands on my hips and slumped over. Then out of the blue I heard this voice from a homeless man at the side of the road – he squeezed his fingers together and looked me in the eye and said, “ Dig deeper, only a little further”.

I wiped my face and with a grimacing smile and with every fiber of my aching body I put one foot in front of the next and slowly…very slowly I started down the last three km.

My coach says you run the first part of the race with your head, the middle with your personality and the end with your heart. In digging deep like that old man said I had to find what inspired me, what was in my heart. As my body screamed at me to quit and my head not far behind, I remembered a patient who came in the clinic last week.

She has not given up on her dream and her hope of having a family.

She hasn’t quit.

When you are at rock bottom you figure out some truths and my truth was that it was my patients who were inspiring me. There I was with my heart wanting to go ahead and my body failing me – but since that question this morning I have thought of that patient and the following lessons from that run:

  • The first step is having that goal/dream and holding on to it even when the storms of disappointment come crashing down. A dream cannot be achieved however without action. To get the best results, you need a plan, support and the right tools. And then you need to get up and act.
  • It is okay to tap out: As I got to the top of that hill and wanted to quit ever so badly, I had to take that moment. The moment to STOP. To stop and regroup my thoughts; to remember my goal and to remind myself not to give up. It’s okay to acknowledge that we can’t take anymore and just need to take a break and breathe; this action of “tapping out” can actually be the one thing that helps you more than anything to keep going.
  • You have to do some of this journey alone: On Saturday no one could run that distance but me and like many of you, this fertility journey is yours and yours alone but what I will tell you is that you don’t have to do it ALL alone. As we finished the run I felt like my soul was destroyed and I was beyond upset. There was a very small group of people I could trust with my emotions and be vulnerable in that place. All of these people encouraged me and reminded me that one bad run didn’t take away from the entire process. When you are on your fertility journey there will be good days and bad days but we have to be intentional with pushing forward. When you look inside and see who you are and what you are made of it is here that your faith and your personality will strengthen you and give you that fuel to press on.
  • Trust the training: Perhaps this is one of the hardest lessons to learn as it goes back to the time factor. I am very close to the end of this regime but I felt like my training had let me down. It was now that my friends reminded me that this is the exact time when you want to give up that you don’t. DO NOT GIVE UP – they don’t call this a journey for nothing! Stick to your plan. Make sure you are in the hands of the best fertility specialists to guide you through.
  • Lastly, join a community of support: On Sunday I watched the Chicago Marathon and listened to stories of participants who through struggle after struggle made their way to the end of that race, many of them running for close to five hours (an unfathomable time in my world to be on your legs!). Ten members of our running group participated in that race and as each of their bibs cross that finish line I screamed from my kitchen with elation of their accomplishment! I was so proud of their success, many of them first timers. Find someone or a group who can identify with your struggles and who can encourage you. You will find inspiration to keep going when you surround yourself with people who are on this journey just like you. These people will find a way into your heart and the times when you need to dig deep they will be the inspiration to keep going.

 

So to answer my friend’s question as to why I am doing this – I am now doing this race now not so much for a goal time but because I am inspired by our IVF community and our fertility patients. You inspire me and to you I dedicate this race!

 

Rachel de Gale

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