On Sunday I ran in the First Annual Shawn Silvera 5K Memorial Run. A few close friends organized the event and I was impressed with their successful coordination. My week prior to the run was consumed with the sentencing trial regarding Shawn’s death. Honestly, I had little desire to focus on exercise, running or anything that would be “good for me.” My days during the trial ran together in a haze. And the days following didn’t offer me much motivation. I spent most of the week going to bed by 7:00 pm out of pure exhaustion.
Needless to say, this wasn’t an ideal set of circumstances when preparing for a race. I feel fortunate that I have a strong network of friends who believe in me more than I believe in myself. I was doubtful about even being able to participate in the run. My friends convinced me otherwise.
The morning of the run, I felt very empty. Jordan and I had a
difficult morning and I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t want to
be a mom anymore, I didn’t want to be a widow anymore, I didn’t want to
be positive anymore and I definitely didn’t want to be a runner. I
wanted to scream at my reality, but with children in the house I
swallowed my scream while choking down tears. As I drove to the park
to meet family and friends I kept thinking, “I can’t do this today, I am wounded”. Maybe not physically, but in every other sense I felt injured. I felt like staying home.
When I arrived at the park, I was in awe of everything that surrounded
me. Two women jogged by my car as part of their warm-up and I remember
thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is a real run!". Not that I had doubted
my friends’ efforts, I simply had never been to a run before and it was
very invigorating to see the competitors. Everything was
professionally organized from the registration tables to the fun
t-shirts to the children’s activities to the generous food donations.
There were over 200 people in attendance. I was encircled by dedicated
athletes, old and new friends, loving family and generous strangers. I
was so glad I came. The energy of the cool, sunny day told me I was
exactly where I was supposed to be.
I ran with two very close friends who graciously let me set the pace.
When I started to tire, they cheered me louder. When my side started
to ache, they told me to lift my arms and it would be ok. When I
wanted to quit, they lent me their faith and said I could do it.
There was a breaking point within the run where I had to answer, “Am I going to do this?”
It was a conscious decision made out of sheer determination. Once the
resolve was made, the fortitude followed. It was in this decision that
I felt the strength of my mind take over my physical strength.
After we passed the two mile marker, when I knew I was going to make
it, I felt myself starting to cry; inhaling tears. As we neared the
finish line my friends encouraged me to take the lead. They confidently coached
me to sprint ahead. I gave my moment to Shawn. Everything that owned
victory inside of me, I offered with love to him. It was the most
exhilarating feeling. I felt empowered, energized and engaged with
life. I felt strong.
When I heard the people cheering me at the end of the race, I ran
harder. When I noticed my children, Jordan and Madelynn at the finish
line, I ran prouder.
The parallels that running makes with my current life situation is one
of the most accurate analogies I have found to describe what I
encounter on a daily basis. To run takes pure discipline. I don’t
believe it is possible to find accomplishment in running without
meeting the challenge of hard work. For me the race symbolized my
determination to live well. I miss Shawn in each moment. Yet, I find
him in my every victory.
Striving, reaching, enduring, trying, hoping, believing, seeing,
overcoming, persisting, continuing and fighting. This is what it means
to be a runner. This is what it means to be a survivor. This is what
it means to be a competitor with life; someone who makes a conscious
decision to participate in the race set before them.
We have so many ways to participate in life. We can run, cheer, coach,
calm, encourage, give, donate, and love. We participate by showing
up. We participate when we offer support. We participate by preparing and training to meet our challenge and by continually pushing ourselves towards the finish line. We participate by not giving up. We participate by giving our best.
I hope when my life on this earth ends, I will be able to say, “I participated. I made a contribution. I did my best. I showed up.”