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A fairy tale for all aging gals turned athlete - part 2

A fairy tale for all aging gals turned athlete - part 2
A fairy tale for all aging gals turned athlete - part 2
Mary Shahan

Mary Shahan's journey has captured the readers of San Antonio Fitness Examiner. Her journey continues daily and now her fairy tale for all aging gals turned athlete continues. The following is part 2 of her fairy tale journey.

A fairy tale for all aging gals turned athlete - part 1

Part 2 of Mary's fairy tale begins with her realizing she can and will write the essay according the rules for the inaugural 2014 More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s inaugural essay contest. Determined that I could enter the race, and write the essay in accordance with the rules. I would never have to really worry about going to New York City. You know I probably won’t be selected as a top five winner anyway. Then I would never have to go. Just stay safely tucked away here in my home.

I approached my trainer, Dane Boyle, and told him that I thought I could write my story as he had hoped I would and comply with the rules by entering, but not really have to go. Told him I thought there would only be about a 5% chance of actually having to go to New York City. Who would expect to actually win, anyway? The writing of the essay would be therapeutic for me and I would still remain tucked away safely and comfortably in my little world of loneliness and lost purpose.

I began to write with a 500 word limit for the contest essay. Soon it was evident I needed help with editing and so the Cardio Dance Instructor Michelle Johnson of the Guadalupe Regional Wellness Center of Seguin Texas, from my gym, agreed to use her English skills to help me. After several tries I had a pretty good story of “How I Run the World” written. It covered a time frame through my full marathon where I was able to inspire my husband and keep our focus on running goals and off his illness and allow control in our chaotic struggle.

It was at that point that my trainer and friend said to me “you have to find a way to tell them that Larry has passed away. I really did not want to write that. It seemed very depressing and how could that be inspiring. Living the pain of his being gone every day and now I have to put it on paper and stare at the words. But with their help I was able to get the story just right, with deep sensitivity but in an uplifting way, and I was able to submit it on time.

It felt good to explain our road of life and living it to the fullest and that someone my age, with dedication to health was not only able to train for and complete a full marathon, but offer care to her sick and dying husband as well.

Writing our story of training, running and cancer treatment was the most therapeutic thing I had done to that point to attempt to become comfortable with my loss. It felt good to explain our road of life and living it to the fullest and that someone my age, with dedication to health was not only able to train for and complete a full marathon, but offer care to her sick and dying husband as well. It is becoming important for me to show others in this struggle to have hope of living in the face of death.

With the essay done, I turned to the world I had used to for healing. I began running and working out at the gym. Hoping to find focus again and purpose for my life, I asked for help again from my personal trainer. Because he and I have a story of our own of commitment and trust with tenderness and understanding of each other’s challenges he was willing to reach out and offer physical training as a support base for me to find my focus again, make a plan for my movement when I could hardly get up and get dressed, so lost was I in my new widowhood.

Having aggravated my back while caring for my husband we started strength training and core work in the gym in order to protect my back. I continued to do training runs for a relay race that I had entered with my husband’s blessing before his passing. I lost myself in these activities finding a respite from the torture of loneliness I felt at home.

The deadline for the essay contest came and went. No word about the winners. I had all but given up. In fact I had admitted to myself that if God had wanted me in New York I would have heard something by now. My mentors would not ask about it. Then 6 days before the race I received an email from the contest sponsors informing me I had been selected as one of 5 finalists and was a runner up to the top winner. So unexpected was this email that I had not seen it till mid-day, and I continued to read and re-read the same sentences over and over, and blinking, to clear away my tears. I realized I was actually holding my breath so that my body was perfectly still to focus on the words. I began to speak out loud to myself at first lowly in a whisper, “oh shit”. Then finally louder until I could hear myself saying OH SHIT!

My mind began racing, about plane and hotel reservations. How do I get them this late in the process? Saying to myself “you can’t go”, “no you have to”, remember what you said about God!! Oh what to do? Oh yeah, call Dane, my trainer! Now without a thought that this man does have a real life, and a real job, and is often in meetings I just hit his number in my phone. Now while it is ringing I get a text from him, “I am in a meeting”. For a moment I am now in a panic, we don’t have time for that, “Oh man I just called him in a meeting”. I was so excited I could not think! So I text back, “I am so sorry, I am a winner”. Now an eternity it would seem goes by and he does not text back. Oh yeah, he is in a meeting, you dummy! So trying to be calm I sit there for a long time it seemed, I know now it was only seconds. Then, all of the sudden I found myself sending another text to him, but this time saying “OH SHIT”! Suddenly I get a text back from Dane “OH SHIT”! It would seem now suddenly we have the same limited vocabulary, but our excitement was electric.

The next few days were a blur of activity and quick planning. Luckily my daughter Michelle had earned enough leave time despite being off for her dad’s funeral to be able to take off time and assist me in learning how to make reservations and to go with me to share in the adventure. Everything happened so fast I had no time to really think but rather react. Pack and make the travel plans.
In the midst of the excitement what a pleasure and joy it was for me to find out from my personal trainer and mentor that he too wanted to be with me in New York to support me on race day. Moreover, he was very experienced with being in New York and wanted to be there to insure my enjoyment and safety. You see my joy of being selected was joyful for him as well. He has been there for me and seen me through the tough times and led me in my physical recovery. We shared in the adventure of our first full marathon while supported by my husband from the sideline. His belief in me and my abilities empowers me to believe in myself. He and I have a unique understanding of each other from working together and experiencing miracle breakthroughs in strength, stamina and triumph of the human spirit, we have overcome many challenges, I believe we have come to inspire each other as we discover just how far someone can come and how much we can accomplish in our story together. Dane and I continue to push the limits to attain a higher level of physical fitness coupled with a spirit of camaraderie that pushes us both to excellence. He is younger with his own goals and I am older with certain limitations, yet we find a formula that works for us both to stretch our limits.

Up to now all I knew of New York (other than 911) was from an old musical “ On The Town” You know the song, New York New York, it’s a wonderful town, the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down. Well I now know what that means. So now the little Texas country girl that grew up on the farm is going to New York City! How exciting for me to have just enough time to have one tour day to do the town just like the three sailors in the movie. My daughter managed to book tours for Saturday so I would be free for the race on Sunday.

Race day comes. The sunrises over New York's Central Park. Mary will be among almost 10,000 women running in the country's largest all women's half-marathon. How will this moment change Mary forever? To be continued...

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