Often times in order to tell a good story one must start at the conclusion and work their way backwards. That is what you are about to read. It is a story told by Mary Shahan about how she runs the world. Mary was a runner-up in the first-ever More Magazine essay contest, How I Run the World.
Here is her winning essay.
Daily, I rise, place my feet to the floor, and lace my running shoes to begin my journey because I know others look to me for inspiration. Using my improved fitness, I faced cancer and controlled its brutal effects on my family. How I Run the World has inspired people around me and defined my destiny.
You won’t see my image as a RUNNER anywhere, but, at age 62, I am one. I am blessed to be afflicted with Adult On-Set Athlete Syndrome, a desire, not a disease, that has allowed me to become a respected member of a talented running community. My dedication to daily healthy movement helps show others the way.
With guidance from my personal trainer, Dane Boyle, we embarked on a journey of physicality. This was a life I had never lived before. Dane became my mentor, my coach, and my friend. Together we fulfilled my dream of being an athlete.
In 2012, my husband, Larry, and I weathered a health crisis, Leukemia. My lifestyle change came just in time to prepare me to care for us. My running inspired his recovery. He watched, applauded, and encouraged; he was my one man support crew.
Throughout the next year, we became interested in activities that taught us to cherish life and movement. We became leaders in the “Outdoor Experience”, an extension of our local hospital based Wellness Center. We engaged in a ropes challenge course, cycling, kayaking, and archery.
With Larry on the sideline encouraging every step, I continued to train and run. I crossed the finish line of numerous 5K & 10K events and 5 half marathons. Continuing to dream big, in 2013 we conceived of my entering, training and finishing a marathon, 26.2 miles.
Soon, Larry and I began to battle myelodysplastic syndrome, an incurable disease, caused by chemotherapy. We had been given only months to live. We chose to RUN THE WORLD together, focusing on my running to carry us through the dark days ahead, therefore, never allowing constant and unavoidable doctor visits and hospitalizations to rule our lives.
With Larry’s careful planning and mapping of my long runs, and the support from my trainer, Dane Boyle, we made our dream of 26.2 miles reality. On November 10, 2013, the course of the Fort Worth, Texas, Marathon led me into Larry’s welcoming arms where he awarded me my finisher’s medal. In that moment we embraced for the ages; we never wanted that moment to end. My running and physical conditioning had kept us moving forward, living every moment, involving our family, helping us to have an alternative to the atmosphere of medical chaos.
Larry Shahan, my husband of 44 years, passed away January 9, 2014. Larry did not lose his life, but rather lived his life fully until earning a rest day.
I continue daily movement, training for new goals, as Larry requested, and striving to be a “Living Guide to Surviving Cancer”.
I am Mary Shahan, and I RUN THE WORLD!
Mary competed in the 11th Annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon on Sunday, April 13, 2014!
There is so much more to this story. Stay tuned in the days and weeks to come to read more about her incredible story.
Coming soon: My Magnificent New York Adventure: A Fairy Tale for all us aging gals turned athlete!