The Stories Behind Our 12K Challenge- Caroline

Gosh, It feels like I could fill a book with the story of where life has taken us these last ten years, but I’ll do my best to keep it from becoming too long a read….

My husband Gareth and I have both just turned 40 (during covid – so very muted celebrations were had, though it was actually really rather wonderful to keep it simple and meaningful) and we’ve recently (ish) made the decision to embrace our lives as they are, just the two of us, and our two much loved Border collies, after almost a decade of fertility treatment.

Over the years, we’ve survived several rounds of clomid, four rounds of IVF (One in the UK and three abroad) two miscarriages, two laparoscopys, a diagnosis of severe endometriosis and countless broken hearts.

I choose my words here carefully, as it feels so important to acknowledged that we really did ‘Survive’ it.

We’ve made it through the other side, with the battle scars and bruises to prove it, and although we have a space in our lives that will never be filled, we both hope it will continue to feel smaller as a new life grows around it.

I hope that doesn’t read flippantly. Please believe that we’re not ‘over’ it. I don’t think it’s possible to ever get over the grief of childlessness, just the same way as It’s not possible to ever really get over losing someone who lived and then died. It’s a loss that equals that, and alongside that it’s also the loss of our hopes, our dreams, and our envisaged plans for the future. It’s a loss of identity, of who we thought we were going to grow up to be, and how life would look, and as much as it hurts to accept it - that’s a loss that we don’t ‘get over’ it’s one we have to learn to live alongside.

Throughout those years, the one thing that has kept me sane is running. I took up running when I moved to NZ in 2004, and it’s been part of who I am ever since.

For me, running reminds me to feel pride for my body after feeling that it had failed me through our IVF.

In 2018 I ran the Manchester Marathon as part of the Womens Running ‘Big Marathon Challenge Team’ which will remain one of my most treasured and incredible experiences of my entire life, without doubt. The following year, Gareth and I ran the Brighton Marathon together.

My love affair with running, though, definitely has had it’s up’s and down’s and after last year’s marathon and perhaps a little too much of a rest, I struggled to find my motivation to lace my trainers back up, and although I was still exercising, I had a strange feeling like I was losing myself a little, and my mental and physical health definitely suffered a little. Cue Lucy and her wonderful Instagram feed and amazing inspiration. As she documented and shared her running and how great it made her feel, it quietly seeped in to me, and one day, suddenly I was out there again.

Over the last few months, I’ve rediscovered my joy for and love of running. I've remembered the meditative benefit of pulling my trainers on and heading out to clear my head and take in some fresh air, and taking part in the 12k for 12 months challenge just felt like the perfect way to support and thank Lucy for her part in getting me back out there.

I’ll most likely run it on my own, and those 12 kilometres will be a magic time to reflect on the last decade and think about the next one. For me, running isn’t about time, or distance anymore, It’s about being outside in nature, and properly acknowledging how amazing our bodies are. I’m a whole lot slower than I ever used to be, and that’s okay with me.

I often think, when I’m running how incredible it is that we can do so many things all at once. We run, we think (often several thoughts at one if you’re anything like me!) we observe our surroundings – and we don’t really have to think about any of those things, our bodies and our minds just do it – we’re miracles aren’t we!

For me, I’ll be reminding myself that we SURVIVED! We made it through a decade that threw SO much at us. A decade that, If you’d told me I’d have to face it all ten years ago, I’d have been 100% convinced it would break me. Instead, I’m going to tentatively say I feel like I’m beginning to maybe even thrive. Not every day, there are many, many that still feel too hard to face, but there’s a chink of light seeping in through the cracks and I’m going to do my best to turn my face up to it.

Infertility is such a lonely road to travel and I love what Lucy does with the Running club, the Yoga club and the midweek mindfulness sessions. It’s so vital to be reminded that’s its possible not to lose ourselves in the fog of fertility struggles, if we can just remember to keep looking after ourselves and making ourselves a priority.

Good luck to everyone else who’s running, I’ll be thinking of you!

Caroline xx

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