Monday, September 16, 2019

The Power of Running



Shortly after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome now over 12 years ago, I wrote a poem called "Running the Race." It foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run. That poem turned on a spigot of healing in my soul and opened the portal to a world in which I imagined myself running unencumbered and free and in which I was healthy and whole breaking the shackles from my past. My running shoes became my erasers and every foot strike, as John "The Penguin" Bingham also said, carried me forward.



Our daughter Ruth Anne joined us on this running journey for the 2009 Boston Marathon and the 2018 Bermuda Half Marathon but in January of 2018 she had a very serious relapse of her psychiatric condition. We have been blessed and are so grateful to have many of the pieces of the puzzle solved as to what has been going on with her and found a great combination of meds that as we say, just for today, are holding her in good stead. She is fighting with all that she has in her to recover this time and while she couldn't seem to get any momentum to go out and run, last Saturday we asked her if she wanted to join us and run/walk the 6th Annual Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart 5K.

She sprang up out of bed and said would she ever.

She knew about the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation and when she is not in the throes of a psychiatric condition episode, she is a kind and loving soul. Their mission resonates deep within her.

After the 5K on Saturday, she was absolutely exhausted (as she is recovering from a urinary tract infection as well as we lost count of how many hospitalizations since January of 2018) but what a joy to see her enjoying being outdoors and moving!


She slept for a lot of the day on Saturday but rather than it being a sleep of deep depression and anxiety, it was a restorative sleep.

This morning when the alarm went off at 6:00am, she was refreshed after a good night's sleep from a day of a lot of activity including a 1.5 mile run at a 12 minute/mile pace with her father.

She loves the early morning hours and the beauty of a sunrise and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir did not disappoint this morning.



While Tom ran at his pace, training for the BAA Half, Ruth Anne and I did our 5K together. It was a magical time together and one that I thought I would never know again given the course that Ruth Anne's condition had taken.

She insisted that in addition to the selfie we took at the Reservoir, that we take a selfie of just the two of us while Tom finished his run as we paused at the top of a hill:


Ruth Anne's energy is slowly coming back. Her desire to live has returned. Every day she struggles to heal her brain that had been affected by chronic infections she had as a child (a condition known as PANS) as well as heal from traumatic events and cope with chronic pain from a bladder condition called chronic interstitial cystitis. She has hope that she can heal, and get through the challenging moments that occur throughout the day. She has a sense of purpose and being a part of Team Big Heart ignites passion and compassion within her.

A big part of my healing journey that is now a part of Ruth Anne's healing journey is the power of running; a sport that brings together community and like hearted people with unconditional love and acceptance. A sport that takes us out into nature and brings us close to the Divine. The power of running helps to erase the past and each foot strike carries us forward.

Experience the power of running with us on September 28th at the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K.

You can register to run at the race or to do a virtual 5K by following this link.

There's a Celebrity Mile:


and an after race party sure to delight children of all ages.

The race beneficiaries are Ali and Kevin LaCoste, two very special superheroes. Kevin is recovering from a traumatic spinal cord injury that happened in July. We have an Army of supporters known as #lacostestrong that are supporting their recovery. Kevin is a beloved Principal, husband, father, brother and friend. He is a beloved member of Team Big Heart. Ali is a 5th grade teacher in Haverhill and has embraced the role of caregiver, advocate, wife, spokesperson while being a mom to their two children with incredible grace and grit.

The power of running will bring together the community of Team Big Heart and #lacostestrong to raise funds and create powerful ripples of healing, Love and kindness.

Team McManus is blessed and grateful to be a part of this incredible sport!

To your health and wellness
With love from my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.




Saturday, September 14, 2019

My Morning Run and The Elements of Healing



The time when I don't feel like getting out of bed to go on a morning run or get in my workout is the very time I know I need it the most. Advocating for Ruth Anne and helping her to navigate an unwieldy and at times incompetent medical and behavioral health system is exhausting. We have dear friends whose daughter is recovering from PANS and another friend who is recovering from a traumatic spinal cord injury after a fall this past July. Sometimes, these conditions seem overwhelming and it becomes difficult to experience light and love, healing, hope and possibilities when one is immersed in the daily grind of symptoms and therapies.

BUT the Universe is vast with potential and possibilities greater than what our minds can comprehend. Twelve years ago, despite writing a poem about "Running the Race" I couldn't know with certainty that one day I would train for and cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. I'd been diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, possibly needing a feeding tube, a sleep apnea machine and that I was destined for a rapid decline in functioning at the age of 53 years old.

When I was at a crossroads in my life, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. When we go out on our morning runs, Tom and I get still tuning into the power of the elements: earth, air, water and fire (the sun) created by the Divine. Some mornings, we allow the still water to invite our minds to be calm and gain clarity on the experience we are going through with Ruth Anne. I use the hashtag #everystepisagift #everymileisablessing because I remember the days when I did not have the strength to walk upon the earth. I allow the earth to ground me and draw from its healing power to surround all those in need of healing.

One of the symptoms of PPS was difficulty taking a deep breath. I breathe in the morning air with gratitude and express gratitude to the Universe for all that I am able to do now.

The water brings such a delicious sense of calm whether it is in the stillness or the rhythm of the lapping of the waves. The wildlife that inhabits the Reservoir brings a sense of delight and play to our runs.

Whether the sun is shining or not shining, we know it is there. As the days get shorter with the change of seasons, we notice the change in how the light presents itself in the early morning hours and feast on nature's awesome ways.

We tap into the elements of healing and send out their healing power to our dear daughter, our friends close to our hearts and to anyone in the Universe in need of healing.

I am so blessed and grateful for our morning runs and to live in such close proximity to a sanctuary that offers all of the elements of healing.



Please be sure to register for the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K happening on 9/28. You can run a virtual race or have an incredibly family fun day for a great cause. Race beneficiaries are Ali and Kevin LaCoste.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Runners - We Inspire Each Other!



It's been a tough go of it with our daughter's health and mental health issues which, we are now discovering, have a profound effect on each other. The role of advocate and untangling a very wieldy health care and behavioral health care system coupled with incredibly painful physical and emotional states is exhausting beyond words at times.

When we laced up our running shoes and headed out to M Street Beach in South Boston to get on a run, I wasn't sure what my mind, body and soul were going to be able to do. Tom is training for the BAA Half and had 9 miles on his training schedule. We will both be running the 6th Annual Middlemiss Superhero 5K on September 28th. Last year we were so exhausted from the cycle of hospitalizations without relief that we did a virtual 5K instead of going to the race. That is NOT going to happen this year!

I had no expectations for myself other than to breathe deeply, get my heart rate up and enjoy the views of the beach allowing the waves and salty air to wash away the stress of the past few weeks.

Tom and I park across from M Street Beach and he warms up with me before he gets in his miles at his pace.

As we started out, we saw a woman with a half leg brace and a limp running in front of us. Tom nudged me and said, "Look."

"I know" I said and I flashed back to when I wore a toe up leg brace, used a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility:


Tom took off and as I started to pass the woman and her running partner I was moved to say, "You're awesome!"

"You're awesome!" she said back to me.

"May I ask why you wear the leg brace?"

"Sure you can. I have drop foot as a result of multiple sclerosis."

"Me - polio - Post Polio Syndrome 12 years ago but here I am."

I started to run ahead but heard her running mate say that she had another 3.6 miles to go for today.

"You training for something?"

"Yup running Dublin Marathon the end of October."

"I ran Boston 2009!"

"You raising money for MS?"

"Nope ... celebrating 20 years of living with MS."

We fist bumped and went on our ways. She was on a walking break but soon passed me.

"You're doing great...keep going."

"You too," I said and each of us did a fist pump in the air.

I had my fastest overall pace and fastest mile for my 3rd mile since focusing on shorter distances after running 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons.

I was inspired by my new runner friend transcending and transforming the last few weeks I had by celebrating overcoming challenges.

She was inspired by me; an older runner still going strong with a neuromuscular condition.

I hope she will take me with her to Dublin. I know her story will be in my heart and continue to inspire me.

Even though we didn't exchange names and might never see each other again, we touched each other's lives on Day Boulevard running along the beautiful Boston coast line.



Runners - we inspire each other!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

To hear Race Director Dave McGillivray inspiring as only he can, he is going to be speaking at Whiraway Sports Center in Methuen on September 11th. Follow this link to register.

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K



Sometimes it's all about the bling. Sometimes it's all about a PR. Sometimes it's all about the cause and on September 28th, we run, walk or roll getting our Superheroes on for the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K. It's all about the cause!

Kate Middlemiss, Co-Founder of The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation posted this on Facebook yesterday:
September is a rough month all around. In a lot of ways, I’d love to just skip over it but I’m determined to continue creating beauty out of darkness and touching lives with kindness. Right around this time, I purposely throw myself into our 5k planning as a way to 1)keep my Mind extra busy, 2)raise funds to carry out our important mission/carry on Joseph’s legacy, and 3)recognize all the goodness still present in our lives while honoring the superheroes among us.

It keeps me going through September and is so much more than just a race to me. It’s a truly extraordinary and symbolic day. This year is extra special because we have decided to LIVE out our kindness mission and create a “race beneficiary” subset of our event. Each year we will use some of the race proceeds to support an individual or organization in our community as our way of “giving back” and spreading kindness. This year’s recipient is someone near and dear to so many and a man who has embodied the word SUPERHERO the past several months: Kevin LaCoste.

Many of you know Kevin suffered a severe spinal cord injury back in July and has been putting forth the most courageous battle. We are doing our best to flood the LaCoste family with love and support and hope our race can help honor him as a superhero among us while relieving a bit of the financial burden of the injury. 
I’m not great at promoting events. I’ve come a long way but it’s still way out of my comfort zone. I hate flooding everyone’s news feeds with advertisements of another “can’t miss event” but I promise you this one is truly special. It’s an important day for my family, our foundation, and community at large. It truly highlights all the good that is still present in the world and is my way of letting my beautiful, first-born son know that his lessons in love continue on and on.

We have a fun morning planned with many special touches: kids fun run, celebrity mile exclusive to our race, tons of special guests, superhero costumes, live music along the entire course, and a family fun after-race celebration. Please take a moment to check out our race website. Register as a runner/walker, sign up as a volunteer, support us as a sponsor, and come out and have some fun. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. www.middlemissbigheart5k.com

Thank you to all the people who work tirelessly to make this event a possibility. Build a team, join virtually, spread the word.


Joseph Scott Middlemiss died on September 23, 2013 but even though he lived for only six years, his life, his love, his legacy live on in perpetuity thanks to the Foundation Kate and Scott created that is a magnet for kind hearted, big hearted individuals many of whom also love to run!

Their Mission:

The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation honors Joseph's message of "All You Need is Love" by spreading kindness, empowering children, funding cardiomyopathy research, and supporting families dealing with pediatric cardiac conditions.


Their Goals:
1. To expand The Joseph Middlemiss "All You Need is Love" Mission, fostering the spread and documentation of Random Acts of Kindness on local, national, and international fronts. (https://www.facebook.com/JosephMiddlemissLove)

​2. To educate children on the power of kindness by supporting the efforts of schools (creating and leading motivational assemblies, providing books and related resources), and by empowering students through scholarships for music and martial arts.

​3. To contribute to research for and spread awareness of cardiomyopathy while providing financial, social, and emotional assistance to families impacted by these cardiac conditions.


There is always love, joy, community and special moments when we come together to honor Joseph. Here are a few scenes from last year's event:


Two years ago, this incredible moment happened:
September 23, 2017

So, today has been a day filled with mixed emotions. But, we continue to be blessed by the love and support of so many beautiful and wonderful people who continue to love Joseph and help us share his legacy of love and kindness. So, thank you all.

I have been looking through all the amazing pictures. And, this one just jumped out at me. I have gone back to look at it multiple times. There is so much inspiration, kindness, and beauty in this picture.

The other day, we asked our friend Rachel {who lives with cerebral palsy} to design a race that she wanted to participate in, to finish. This was her special race. And, she did such an amazing job and made the turn for the finish line with a big smile on her face and as strong as ever. This is Rachel crossing the finish line of HER race. And, it was amazing...topped off by the incredible Dick Hoyt presenting Rachel with a special "Superhero" medal.

This alone is amazing and beautiful. But, it is not the whole story that this picture tells. There is another runner in the picture. #378. His name is Danforth Sullivan. He was coming in to finish the 5K first overall at some ridiculously fast pace. No doubt he was going to finish under 18 minutes, something I cannot even fully comprehend. He was finishing up strong and then came upon Rachel finishing her race. So he stopped, slowed down, and let her finish, have her moment, losing valuable seconds to his own personal finish. And, where some may have been upset or tried to finish ahead of Rachel, he slowed down to cheer her on. And finished with a smile...celebrating this special moment.

I didn't know that this happened until I saw the picture. Come to find out that Danforth is a member of Team Zoe, the biggest super team. Thank you, Danforth Sullivan, for being a special part of this amazing moment. Joseph was definitely smiling down at this exact moment. I can feel it.




This year there is going to be a LaCoste Strong Team. Kevin's Army, as his supporters are called, will be a part of this year's event to run, walk and volunteer and honor this superhero and his wife Ali who are the embodiment of all that Team Big Heart stands for. Team Zoe who has had the biggest superhero team for the past two years has no problem losing their title to LaCoste Strong.



The above tees raised over $13,000 and are on the 3rd round of sales. LaCoste strong bracelets, bumper stickers, lemonade stands and a GoFundMe page have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to offset the cost of medical bills and both Ali and Kevin being out of work for an indeterminate amount of time. Kevin and Ali have raised thousands of dollars for Team Big Heart when Kevin ran Boston twice and they ran the Falmouth Road Race as part of Team Big Heart.

They are going to need our ongoing love and financial support. By making the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K the best race year ever, The Foundation will be able to help the LaCoste family while continuing to fund their wonderful Foundation initiatives.

Get your Superhero on and run with all your heart on September 28th. If you are out of the greater Boston area, you can do a virtual run and if you are not a runner, come walk with us. Volunteers are also needed. Follow this link to be a part of this epic community event.

It's going to be your best day ever!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

To hear Race Director Dave McGillivray inspiring as only he can, he is going to be speaking at Whiraway Sports Center in Methuen on September 11th. Follow this link to register.

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.






Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Team Big Heart at the Second Annual MR8K Run for Gratitude



The Martin Richard Foundation helps young people to learn, grow and lead through volunteerism and community engagement. We look to advance sportsmanship, inclusion, kindness and peace.

By encouraging people to choose kindness, work for inclusion, and embrace diversity in local communities, we aim to influence a generation to live out these values through positive civic action.

OUR VISION
We envision a place where people recognize the humanity in others and model the decency needed for a united, compassionate, and inclusive community.


Martin Richard died at the age of 8 years old at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. His sister Jane lost a leg and his mother sustained serious injuries. Martin's father Bill had to leave his dying son to attend to his wife and daughter while ignoring his own injuries.

Joseph Scott Middlemiss died at the age of 6 years old in his father's arms from cardiomyopathy.

Each of these families could have turned their grief into rage and revenge for what was taken from them yet each chose to honor the legacies of their childrens' brief lives by establishing Foundations to create a kinder, more loving world.

The Mission Statement and Foundation Goals of The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation are:

MISSION STATEMENT
The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation honors Joseph's message of "All You Need is Love" by spreading kindness, empowering children, funding cardiomyopathy research, and supporting families dealing with pediatric cardiac conditions.

FOUNDATION GOALS
1. To expand The Joseph Middlemiss "All You Need is Love" Mission, fostering the spread and documentation of Random Acts of Kindness on local, national, and international fronts. (https://www.facebook.com/JosephMiddlemissLove)

2. To educate children on the power of kindness by supporting the efforts of schools (creating and leading motivational assemblies, providing books and related resources), and by empowering students through scholarships for music and martial arts.

3. To contribute to research for and spread awareness of cardiomyopathy while providing financial, social, and emotional assistance to families impacted by these cardiac conditions.


Given the kindred spirits of these two Foundations, and how running is an integral part of their fundraising and community building efforts, it was natural for members of Team Big Heart to support The Martin Richard Foundation at Sunday's Second Annual MR8K Run for Gratitude.

We found Team Captains Linda Evans Gilbreth and Brad Gilbreth among the crowd at Boston Landing. We had a bit of an adventure getting a parkings pace and arrived later than we would have preferred but all's well that started well!

Laurie Miamis, another member of Team Big Heart found us and, we also "bumped" into Dr. Tim Carter who ran The Falmouth Road race with his daughter for The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation.

I asked a random person in the crowd if he would take our photo:


The energy of love, kindness and community was palpable on a beautiful end of summer day in Boston.

We watched the kids' races and Tom snapped these two great photos that captured the joy of the day:


The announcer called the runners to the start. While I knew that I could have walked the 5 mile race, I was incredibly happy with my role as spectator and support crew.

There was a sea of MR8 singlets and shirts.

Pre-race announcements by Dave McGillivray and Bill Richard, Martin's father reminded us all of Martin's legacy of kindness and peace and what a gift and blessing it is to be healthy to get out and run a race. Peace signs became the order of the day,

Team Big Heart at the start:


A member of MR8 Team who was not running stopped me and said, "Hi Team Big Heart. They are awesome!"

He ran the Boston Marathon for Team MR8 and said that Team Big Heart had the best water stops during training and appreciated them being out ohn the course on Marathon Monday.

Alain Ferry came along with his wife Kat and adorable two girls. We go way back to when we volunteered together at the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Running Festival in 2014. He always has my back at a race! We chatted for a few minutes and they went on their way.

The starting line was transformed to the finish line. Dave McGillivray came over and we chatted about the day, his incredible Book Launch for Running Across America and how I love writing blogs that share the goodness and kindness happening in the world.

I love watching Dave doing what he does best - directing a race for a cause that he is deeply passionate about:


The excitement of the DMSE crew was building as they prepared to wepelcome back the first runner. I was able to catch him breaking the tape:


I cheered and led the crowd in a chant when Dave's son Luke came into the finish:


Thirteen year old Luke gives an epic performance when he runs and his smile lights up the world. He easily won his age group and finished 18th out of 964 finishers.

We cheered on the runners as they finished their 5 mile run through Brighton. Friends met up with finishers to take photos and joy, sweat, love, kindness and community filled the air at Boston Landing.

I was thrilled I was able to capture Laurie coming into the finish:


and spotted Tom coming into the finish to capture this action shot:


After crossing the finish line, we waited for Linda and Brad, debriefed about the race, hugged and said we would see each other in a few weeks at the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K.

I took this photo of Tom with his bling:


Two families that experienced trauma and devastating loss have transformed tragedy into triumph; grief into goodness creating ripples of kindness throughout Boston and beyond!

On June 15, 2019, two years after its groundbreaking ceremony, Martin's Park was opened.

You'll need a wad of tissues watching Jane sing A Million Dreams at the Park's opening by following this link:

Bill Richard said he did not want the Park to be a Memorial but a loud, boisterous place where children of all abilities could play and imagine, and where adults could find peace and solace in the heart of Boston.

Here is Jane's moving speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Park:


Dave McGillivray gave Scott Middlemiss a bib for Boston shortly after the death of his son, to use running as therapy to emerge from the deep depression he experienced after Joseph's death. From one bib, Team Big Heart has grown exponentially. Team Big Heart raised over $250,000 with bibs they received for the 2019 Boston Marathon. With that money and money they raised from other races, they have funded all of their initiatives and were able to buy a van for a young man with mitochondrial disease so he could experience the joy of driving as any healthy teenager would.

We are a community of runners with BIG HEARTS supporting each other and the work of Foundations that were borne out of loss now creating kindness and beauty in the world.

On September 28th, Kate and Scott host the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K. The Race Director is Dave McGillivray supporting another cause near and dear to his heart.

More about that in my next blog post....

To hear Dave McGillivray in person inspiring as only he can, he is going to be speaking at Whiraway Sports Center in Methuen on September 11th. Follow this link to register.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.