Trust the Process: Lessons Learned in Running, for Fertility

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This time next week it will be all over.

We have one more training run to do, and then all the early mornings and the miles come to a head for this one moment.

I am sure people will look at me and say, “Rachel, you will do fine!” “You are going to smash it,” but I can only hope that my face doesn’t belie my emotions.

Their reassurances aren’t just characteristic to pre-run jitters. They’re akin to what anyone trying to get pregnant gets.

“Just relax, it will happen”, “don’t worry, when the time is right you will get pregnant,” they say. Seriously? I dub this the “smile phase” because if you don’t laugh along, the tears will just flow.

On the past two Saturdays, I’ve had some of the best runs of this season. I attribute this to a simple tweak that my coach, the expert, suggested I incorporate into my pre-run routine. Each time, I spent 20 minutes rolling a golf ball under the arch of my foot.

The science behind this is that doing so relaxes the fascia – the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. I can’t even begin to explain how this one small tweak has changed everything! For the first time in 11 months, I could run without any pain. I remembered why I took up running to begin with – the exhilarating feeling of unbridled freedom and the rush of adrenaline. My times were quicker, and I could feel my body becoming my friend again.

But then as always, with every high comes a low.

In running her fastest 5K to date, my running partner Betty twisted her ankle as she rounded a corner at the end of a training run. The sprain wasn’t minor. It was the kind that swells to the size of a baby whale, and turns every color of the rainbow in its healing process. Needless to say, that split second of injury put her out of the race. The bigger impact though is that for first time in our running lives, we will not be doing a race together.

Saying that it feels weird to head out to a race without her or Karen, my other teammate, in some respects feels like I will be running with one leg. The journey to this race has thrown some real curveballs my way, but this was one I didn’t see coming.

We chatted this week, and she promised to be on the sideline cheering me on. I smile at the thought because I know she really will be the loudest person on the sidelines.

Every morning, before I begin the day, I try to grab a few moments to set my intentions for the day ahead. This morning as I was sipping my coffee, I reflected on the past few months training for the Run Barbados race.

One of the things that I do at the beginning of each year is choose a word to use as a compass to guide me when I need direction. When I am having a life wobble, I go back to this word.

Last year that word was growth, this year, it’s love. Love; a small word with very deep roots.

I have learnt this year that love isn’t always a bed of roses, it is often tough and raw. This year, I got to see love at its best and at its worst. I’m not talking about romantic – or even platonic – love. I’m talking about the love you put into yourself, into your hobbies, passions, and work. My challenge this year was to see if running was still something I loved.

After long contemplation, I’ve decided that the answer is yes.

Running is part of who I am, and the act pushes me to grow as a person. It challenges you mentally and physically. It strips you down to the bone, and forces you to come to an understanding with yourself and your body. You come face to face with the parts of yourself that you love, and the parts that need work. You learn endurance, dedication, and strength. But above all, you learn to love yourself and be amazed at what your body can do for you when you put it to the test and what it can do when you care for it.

It has made me rediscover the great love of friendship, of new and old friends.

Intertwined in this journey is the love for what I do and the admiration I have for my patients.

There are so many patients I think of on these runs when it is just me pounding the black asphalt for miles. I see the courage in them overtime as they walk into Barbados Fertility Centre.

They too share these same characteristics of dedication, strength and endurance. They share in the hope that when you combine love and science, miracles can happen. I am humbled by the trust they extended to us, the experts.

Just as I trusted my coach enough to tweak a running plan that I had followed for as long as I remember, our patients trust us everyday to tweak their fertility plans.

As I come to the close of this running journey, in the days leading up to the big race, all I can do now is trust the training. As I close off this running season, I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you who have messaged me and encouraged me to keep going. More importantly, I want to thank everyone who has entrusted your dreams to our team at the Barbados Fertility Centre.

To you I dedicate this run.

This race is for you.

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