My Strength: A 26.2 mile journey into finding myself…

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with DesigningReality

"I can do anything I put my mind to; I just can't give up..."

In February of 2006 I walked into the Bethpage Public Library to sit in on a fundraising meeting for Team in Training (TNT), an endurance training program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This meeting was for participants in TNT, in order to get tips from past participants on how to reach their fundraising goals. It was the most inspirational meeting I had ever been to, I was surrounded by so many genuinely real people who were all here for one reason, to fight and find a cure for Leukemia and related diseases. I had no idea that at the end of this meeting I would make a life changing decision.

After about an hour the meeting commenced and one of the coordinators pulled me aside. With a bright cheery happy face she said "So which event do you want to sign up for, I have all the paperwork right here for you." Without even so much as a second thought I signed my name on the dotted line and checked the box for the full marathon on June 4th, 2006, the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, a full 26.2 miles. I handed her my registration check and agreed to raise the $4000 fundraising minimum for this event. She handed me a package with a t-shirt, water bottle, informational packets and a Training Schedule!  "You'll do great Shannon and you will have so much fun doing this! You will be amazed at what you can accomplish!" she said. It wasn't until I walked to my car that I realized what I had just done. "Am I CRAZY! Am I insane?! I can't even run one mile let alone 20 something miles!" My legs started to get weak just realizing how nervous I was about the decision I had just made! "Could I really do something like this?!... of course I could, I can do anything... right? Right???"

I showed up for my first training at 7am at Stony Brook University that Saturday. There were about 12 others including my coach Tony. This had been the second long run practice for the TEAM and I was two weeks behind due to late registration. The TEAM looked great, but I couldn't even run one mile before I had to walk, I barely completed the 3 miles (walking the last two). I was in trouble! My legs and back hurt for a week afterward! I was 24, in good shape (I thought), a former competitive swimmer, how could I be this bad at running?! Maybe I should just give up now?

My Honored Patient Hero KevinAfter that practice I went out and bought a Garmin GPS Watch and tons of training gear. I followed the training guide, ate healthy, and ran alone for weeks and weeks (okay I slacked a little, a lot). I was too afraid to face another TEAM practice and fall behind, so I did all the training on my own (what a regrettable mistake!). I had no one to encourage me and all I kept hearing from everyone was "Why are you doing this Shannon? It's a waste of time." I was doing it for all Cancer survivors, all Cancer patients, especially my Honored Patient Hero Kevin (pictured with another TEAM participant), a 15 year old fellow Long Islander living with Leukemia. I was doing it for ME, to prove to myself that I really could do anything I put my mind to, no matter what anyone else said!

Not going to the TEAM practices, I kept falling further behind every week because I didn't have the coaches there to guide me along, I didn't have my fellow teammates there for the encouragement, I set my pace too fast and wasn't able to complete the long runs. I finished the Long Island Half Marathon in May (a training practice run for us) in 2 hours and 34 minutes, not bad for a first timer, and I felt GREAT afterwards! I felt so accomplished with that heavy medal around my neck; yet, everyone kept telling me "stop here, forget about the full marathon, it's too much."

It was about 4 weeks before the marathon when I decided to go back to the TEAMpractices, now being held at Bethpage State Park. I could not believe what I had been missing out on, such amazing people with so much encouragement. The ages ranged from 20-60, people from all backgrounds, from all races, all had different reasons for being there. Most, like me, had never run a day in their life before doing this. Some had children with Leukemia, one had a husband with Myeloma, and others just wanted to get in shape. TEAM pasta partyFor all of us, this was our first marathon. We trained as a TEAMand ran our last practice run (20 miles) the weekend before the race. I barely finished the mileage that day, only completing 18 miles of it, walking a lot... so I was scared to know what would happen during the real race in San Diego the following week. My coaches tried to convince me to only do the half marathon... but I was determined... I could do anything I said, I've come too far to give up now! For the next week I took it easy and ate a lot of pasta! I convinced myself that I really could do anything, no matter how much others tried to discourage me.

Marathon ExpoMy mom and I flew to San Diego that Friday, after sitting on the tarmac at JFK for 5 hours due to a bad thunderstorm we arrived in San Diego at 2am. We attended the Marathon Expo and the Team in Training Pasta Party at the Convention Center, where over one thousand participants gathered with their family and friends and fellow teammates. We heard emotional and inspirational stories from Cancer survivors... I prepared myself for what was to come the next morning.

5am In Balboa Park

 

 5am Balboa Park San Diego, its was dark and foggy and we had one hour to race time. I was so nervous. Would I finish?! Would I make it all the way? Would I get hurt? Would all of those negative comments I heard along the way about not being able to finish come true!?  Maybe everyone was right?!

I cleared these thoughts from my head and just went with the flow. With our purple TNT singlets on, surrounded by tens of thousands, our TEAM started down the path towards our 26.2 mile journey that would change our lives forever. It was a beautiful tour of the city of San Diego. Half way into it I separated from my little group of 4 and slowed down my pace, the pain was setting in and I was fatigued, I had pebbles in my sneakers and I was hot and sunburned! I was now running alone, but still had the spirit of the TEAM with me. As I passed the Half Marathon finish line, I contemplated stopping there, but for some reason I kept going. With no one to talk to, with no one but myself to give me encouragement, I passed the 18 mile marker and just wanted to give up so bad, the pain was increasing, but I just kept telling myself "I can do anything, I can do this, just don't give up..."  

Running the marathonI stopped to get the pebbles out of my sneakers and accidentally tied my shoelace too tight, it put a crease in the front of the sneaker and pressed on my toes... it was painful and I had to just run with it!!

I started to walk and couldn't start running again, it was too painful, my toe felt broken, it was hot and I wanted to quit! At mile 25 or so I turned onto the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Point Loma and had one more mile to the finish. As I passed the military personnel cheering me on at the final water stations, hundreds of families in the stands cheering on their loved ones, I got the strength to run again. I saw my mom along the fence and she held up the flowers she bought for me... I crossed the finish line limping in stride in just under 7 hours! As they put that medal around my neck and handed me my hard earned slippers, I was filled with so much emotion.... I just ran a marathon!!!!  I actually did it! Nothing could ever take away this feeling of such accomplishment. No one could ever again tell me I couldn't do something. As I crossed the finish line I realized I did a whole lot more than just run 26.2 miles, I established a higher standard within myself.

That night we had our Team in Training victory party at the San Diego Convention Center. With our medals around our necks we gleamed with a happiness that no one else but our fellow teammates could understand. We wore our medals proudly in honor of all those in the fight again Cancer...The finish line

 

I went home from this Marathon with a new philosophy on life, that old saying that "you can do anything you put your mind to" had sunk into my mind finally, after 24 years. For so long I had let other people's doubts in me keep me from following my dreams and I finally broke down that wall. Never again would I let myself think, even for one minute, that anything was impossible.

 

 "Impossible is nothing." 

 

 

 When you truly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to, no matter what the obstacle, not matter how big or small, you will accomplish more than you ever imagined! Whether it's starting up a Staging and Design business as I am doing now, whether its selling the house everyone finds repulsive, the small things, the big things... you can conquer it all!

 

Comments (9)

Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Shannon... congratulations. I remember feeling just this way after the Los Angeles Marathon I ran. Well done!
May 07, 2007 10:46 AM
Beth Bastian
Rosemont Financial Inc - Simi Valley, CA
Simi Valley Real Estate
Oh My you rock!! I do the breast cancer walk of about 40 miles and I thought that was hard.  
May 07, 2007 11:01 AM
Debi Braulik
www.roundrealestate.com - Maple Valley, WA
Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale
Wow. What an inspiring post. Congrats on finishing the race and congrats on raising all that money for cancer research! Did you sleep with your medal and carry it around with you for a week? I would have. My goal is to do a triathalon this summer. You just recharged my batteries.
May 07, 2007 11:15 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
Shannon, Congratulations on your amazing marathon adventure.  This was truly inspirational to read and I'm sure you will never forget the lesson that you can do anything in life that you believe in!  Thanks for a wonderful post and incredible pictures!
May 07, 2007 11:59 AM
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Shannon, thank you for sharing the deep, personal insights you discovered about yourself through this process.  It's also good to remember that none of us conquers alone, we all need the support of a team.
May 08, 2007 04:54 AM
Shannon Elizabeth McInerney
DesigningReality - Dumfries, VA

Jeff: Thanks, and congrats on yours as well! It's such a great feeling isn't it!!? Have you run any other races since the LA Marathon?

Beth: 40 miles sounds just as rough, even if it's walking! Good for you for doing such a good thing!

Debi: You bet I kept that medal REAL close for awhile! Haha.. Good luck on your Tri this summer! You will do great! Just keep up the practice and don't ever doubt yourself! Just look forward to the feeling that your will feel once you cross the finish!! Its worth all the hard work, sweat, and TEARS!

Carole: Thanks! I just wanted to show that anyone could do anything they put their mind to as long as you dont give up, no matter how impossible it seems to others or your own self!

Lola: You're welcome Lola. Yes you're right, we do have to remember we all need the support of others in life, that's why I chose to share this story with my Active Rain TEAM!!

May 08, 2007 05:35 AM
Shannon Elizabeth McInerney
DesigningReality - Dumfries, VA

My first gold star!! Yea! :-) Thanks guys!

Have a happy Thursday!

May 10, 2007 05:36 AM
Dianne Barody
Century 21 AmeriSouth Realty - Pensacola, FL
Pensacola Florida Real Estate
Shannon, congratulations on your journey into yourself. What an awsome post. 
May 10, 2007 06:28 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals
Marathons - running in my zone - I remember - what ? you are relating that to home staging - ok - I can do that too.
May 11, 2007 05:45 PM