Running Infertile: Two Steps Forward, 100 Steps Back

Raccoons on my mind with just four weeks to “go time.”

I sit here in front of a warm fire with a hot cup of coffee, trying as hard as I can not to think about today’s double-header workout.  I can manage the cold, trying as it is, but the icy streets and snow-drift-covered track have presented some unique challenges this past training week.  I purposely wrote my recovery week into the Christmas/New Year holiday, which had the decency to coincide with the initial snowstorms. But here hits the first 100-mile week of my final peak phase before the Rocky Raccoon 100, and there’s literally nowhere to run.

That’s an apt analogy for the other thing I’ve been avoiding in my life.  Nowhere to run but a treadmill, staring straight ahead and just wishing it would end.

The truth of the matter is, I’m figuring my workouts out and I’m on track to have my 100 miles in this week.  Next week I travel to Florida for work, and while I’ll face different challenges, I know I’ll make it happen there as well.  By the time I return home, we will have had a warm spell – or a spell warm enough to melt down the ice – and I’ll have but one 90-mile week left before my taper.  Easy?  No.  Manageable?  Barely.  Possible?  Yes.

Today won’t be fun at all; first I face a slow and treacherous meander on icy streets that will be barely be fast enough to keep me warm.  I pacify myself by pretending it’s good practice for footing on the trails.  I’ll follow that with “simulation 800’s” on the treadmill, where I’ll use a little extra incline and a slightly faster pace to “mimick” my seven sub-3:10 800’s.  It’s not optimal, but the training plan is written and it simply has to happen.  DB and I call this “closing the book” after a phrase in the runner’s tome/Bible, “Once A Runner.”  It means that once you commit, you don’t “open the book” and question or re-write the training plan.  You follow it.  Circumstances may dictate adjustments, but unless injured or ill, you simply do the work.

Doing the work – and providing ice braids as evidence.

Well, DB is going to be 50 later this year, and after 3+ years of trying for a baby and on-and-off fertility treatments, we’re quite literally running out of time.  Yes, yes, certainly men can get the job done well into their 50’s and 60’s, but we want him to be able to be an active part of our child’s life, and joke in our moments of dark humor that we wouldn’t want a daughter to have to push her father down the aisle at her wedding.  We don’t regret waiting five years into our marriage to start a family; we do have to deal with time on it’s terms now.

Off the books is the double training plan I talked about; where I hoped to peak for Rocky and then recover, re-peak and re-taper for a fast Boston.  I will still run Boston, but likely not the sub 3:20 I had hoped for.  Instead, we’re going back on the juice.

With a new year often comes talk of resolutions, and with that, accountability.  And in fertility treatments as in running, I must now close the book.  We are committing to those four to six consecutive months of treatments, and that will mean a very different kind of running – and training – for young Clove here.  Rocky Raccoon will likely be my only 100-miler this year.  That’s a bitter pill to swallow right now.  I’ll have to reduce my mileage, gain weight, and pass up some stuff on the table.  And most difficult, I’ll have to face metaphorical workouts like the one I face today – dreaded, frustrating, soul-crushing workouts – that may not always go as planned.

The problem is, I can’t “open the book” and run away this time.  Because that’s what I do.  I run away to run a race, because at least my body can still do that.

The next six weeks of posting are going to be focused on Rocky Raccoon, my recent scoliosis diagnosis and some other fun stuff.  But after Rocky Raccoon (and the celebratory post-race Cabo trip), things are going to take a turn here.  It’s time.

Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has always had special significance to DB and I, and I’ve found myself turning to it again as I try to mentally prepare for two very different “races.”  I realize that I am not ultimately choosing one road or another; that whether successful or not in having a child, I can always return to running.  But like Frost’s poem said, I won’t return the same; I’ll return either way knowing that I finally closed the book, did everything I could, and found closure to this piece of my life.  But for now, it’s time to stop taking two steps down that road only to run back to the safety of the one I know.

Today, I have a nasty little workout to face.  What excellent practice it will be.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

Trail and adventure enthusiast. Girl who swears like a sailor but not when she's teaching Sunday School. Survived infertility without a successful pregnancy. Self-employed, primarily working for Clif Bar and Company. Thirteen 100-mile race finishes with seven top 3 placements. An original Saltine.

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  1. Wow sounds like you are going through a pretty tough time, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and hope for the best. Good Luck and keep your chin up!

  2. I will be thinking of you with your fertility treatment race as we find out on Friday morning if we can begin ours.

  3. Good luck with everything! My dad was in his mid 50s when I was born and I couldn’t ask for a better dad, age, patience and wisdom included. He was definitely walking and dancing at my wedding 3 years ago 🙂

  4. The last 3 years have been hard for you and the road ahead is daunting because it sounds like you feel as though it is your last hope. But I think you should cut yourself some slack. Running away? In the short time I’ve known you it has become easy to see you take on major challenges head on all.the.time – infertility is no exception. The road has simply led you to the next chapter, which is understandably scary and uncertain. But if anyone can make it through, it is you, Clove. I wish you health, love and a good attitude as you go through 2013. You are strong, you have DB, and you are both working hard for something you truly want. That in itself is something special. Try to embrace that process even if it is uncertain. Hopefully it will result in something wonderful. We Salties will be behind you every step of the way. Let us know whenever you need some more cowbell. I’ll have mine in hand for you. 🙂