Recently, I received four very special safety pins in the mail. They are worth all my dreams to date and more. I cradled each one and rubbed my fingers over each pin individually and stood for several moments thinking about just how special these little pins could be. I reviewed my life to date over the last 5 1/2 years. No they are not diamond studded, nor dipped in gold. They are plain and ordinary safety pins. So special are these four little pins however, that I have pondered them for several days now. I even looked up the origin and definition of the safety pin.
1. a pin bent back on itself to form a spring, with a guard to cover the point.
The modern safety pin was the invention of Walter Hunt. The very first pins used for clothing date back to the Mycenaeans during the 14th century BCE and were called fibulae.
Why all this fuss over 4 little pins? Let me explain.
This story starts with what most people already knows about me. I am a runner. To date I have completed well over 20 half marathons and 2 full marathons and three relay runs. Running helps me personally to be a better person. It gives me control, it inspires others and it helps my family to know I am happy and busy. It allows me to maintain my health so that I can continue my newest challenge which is teaching others the importance of maintaining their health and fitness, both at speaking forums and on the studio floor.
If you are a runner you know the significance of the Boston Marathon. It is a race all runners dream of, however many never get to run there. You have to qualify for that run by meeting a running standard set by the Boston Athletic Association or the B.A.A. This is a time restriction based on your age primarily or you may earn a spot by running for a charity but even that is very competitive and requires you to raise several thousand dollars. All runners no matter their ability, will at some point at the very least pause to ponder the possibly of running in the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day in Boston, MA.
My running allows me to live in a world of special events where I meet special people from all over the world. My dreams know few bounds even though they do sometimes face realistic limits. As the Ambassador of Dreams (a title I earned and was given to me by my coach, mentor, and friend Dane Boyle) I represent and in some cases carry the dreams of Dane Boyle Fitness to many places on my own as the team’s representative. Truly taking what we do locally, globally, this being one of our founding principles at Dane Boyle Fitness. Our biggest dream is to lead a healthy revolution and I have been both privileged and humbled to be one of our team of three that is doing just that. We inspire, motivate and educate lifelong healthy living where ever we go and within the walls of Dane Boyle Fitness Studio where we blend appreciation for fitness, music and art as a balanced approach to true lifestyle management.
Two things keep me running, as well as teaching and training. The promise I made to my husband Larry “to keep my running up” and the loyalty to a calling that truly transformed my life. It would be easy to live quietly and alone but that life is not my calling.
As I said I have meet folks from all over the world, in part, in person and many in online facebook group and friend pages. A bit over a year ago I met a man named Boyd Dunleavey. He is a runner from London, Canada. I first read about him on a group running site called Run Junkees.
Boyd had been on an all too familiar journey having been diagnosed with the same type of leukemia as Larry, my husband, and in almost the same time frame. I read more about Boyd and found that he had had a bone marrow transplant and had a miraculous and much unexpected recovery and healing. Boyd is a 2x cancer survivor!!! Then Boyd became a runner.
This intrigued me and I began to reach out to Boyd. We instantly had a connection, a bond, because of the road we had been on with leukemia. Truly only folks that have walked this path with a loved one can really understand the depths of despair this disease can take on the mind, body and soul. I absolutely began to read and post to every one of Boyd’s posts and we are now very close friends. Soon we began to instant message and share our respctive journeys
He uses a hashtag #cancerdidnotwin. That really got my attention. Even though Larry died due to complications from the chemotherapy allowing his illness to become terminal after a brief remission we too believed that we did not let cancer win over our quality of the life, thus winning over leukemia’s evil hold.
Soon Boyd and I became dedicated to meeting face to face and Boyd surprised me with news that he had qualified for Boston and he wanted me to see if I could as well. That is where realistic limits hit me in the face. I am not at a level of running to qualify on my own and the amount of donations needed to be a charity runner was frankly more than I believed I should ask of my friends and family. Dane Boyle Fitness is in its infancy and funding me is not on the table, because so many other goals for supplies and equipment have to come first.
So nothing more was said about Boston for many months. However ,there is a 5k that happens on Saturday before the full on Monday. It did come up in discussions between the team and Boyd but I just could not face running a 5K. I am a distance runner. Secretly I peeked at the 5K rules.
On January 27th the B.A.A opened registration for one day for the 5K registration. It is limited to the first 10,000. I found myself understanding east coast time and sitting at my computer at exactly the moment it opened, having hit refresh a couple of times and then immediately being able to register. I was both shaking and misty eyed.
After hitting the send button I received an email from the B.A.A. stating that they had received the entry and that it was under review. If I were to be accepted I would receive a second email in a few hours with the details. I did receive an email two hours later accepting me…I WAS IN! I could run a 5K in Boston.
I was stunned and awestruck as if I had been accepted for the full. I had goosebumps. I told no one for a couple of weeks. It was just mine to ponder and wonder about. Could I feel proud of a 5K? Did I have any business going up there to run when there are 5K’s all around me?
Remember I am a dreamer. Dreamers are right brained I am sure. They would have to be. We create canvas after canvas of ‘could be” art in the misty vapors of our mind. So what was the dream?
Meeting a friend? Yes, a fellow runner, yes, but so much more than that. Meeting a soul mate of sorts on the road of healing from a life changing event became a goal for both Boyd and I. No not a romantic soul mate, but rather a fellow traveler in the galaxy that has sojourned the same path, but beat the evil that came into our lives.
This is not just a 5K I am running, it is rather a celebration of life, of renewed hope, that our paths shall cross and we will bond in person, in an epic moment of mutual understanding. Moments like that are truly rare and all my training, all my sweat, and all mine and Larry’s tears and loss will blossom into a beautiful story of life, overcoming the challenges to find new beauty in new journeys. Boyd represents the successful gladiator of life against the greatest foe, and a champion of what lifelong healthy living is all about.
Amazingly and much to my surprise after a couple of weeks Boyd and I began to have a visit in Messenger. I came clean and told him I had registered for the 5K. He said “I know”. What? Wait, I have told no one. He then explained he was awakened early that morning and felt his Lord telling him to get up and register for the 5K, Mary is coming. You cannot tell someone is weeping over messenger but I assure you we were in that moment. Truly we compared our times on our emails of acceptance and they were only brief minutes apart. Coincidence? You decide. As for Boyd and I we know(learn more about Boyd’s story below.
So, Boyd and I will run the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday April 16. Then my dear friend will run the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day. I will be there to cheer him along with his beautiful family. What an experience that will be.
So at the end of March in the mail from the B.A.A. came a Boston Athletic Association race bib in the mail with my NAME on it…Mary! In the race packet were four little pins that will help to pin the hopes and dreams of this woman to live (run) like she never lived (run) before! It won’t be about style, speed or PR’s. That’s for another time. This will be for celebrating the human spirit and how it brought us together to show others nothing else matters without your health. And it should be fun…not always easy…but always worth the effort.
It is not always about the distance, or the ability, this running thing. Maybe just maybe it will just be about fighting for every ounce of love and experience one can find in the challenging world we live. Maybe this is what we trained for. Maybe together we place the exclamation point on why people really run. Not for a medal, and not for fame and not because we are elite. But rather because there is life in movement and freedom that brings ultimate fulfillment to the blessing of living life to its fullest. And that is the calling we should all hear!