Tuesday, July 16, 2019

She ran like it was midnight...And she ran happily ever after!



While growing up trying to recover from the ravages of paralytic polio and enduring years of abuse at the hands of family members, I harnessed the power of my imagination to see a future different from the hell I was living in. When I wasn't honing my intellectual prowess to immerse myself in school work, I watched TV. I had superpowers like Batman and could fold my arms and blink or twitch my nose to transport myself to another world following the lead of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched. I never fancied myself a princess and since I had contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 could never wear high heels or going to the ball kind of glass slipper shoes.

Dissociating from my body helped me to survive those growing up years but by the time I got to mid-life, my lack of connection to my body and lack of self-care led to a mind/body/soul crisis. I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December of 2006 (for those of you who are not regular readers of my blog).

I reconnected to the Divine, rekindling my deep connection to Source that I was blessed to experience at an early age, and Divine Guidance flowed through the power of my pen which became my Divining rod for healing. I started writing poetry!

As an aside, here's the back story to my theory of why poetry and why poetry in the cadence of Dr. Seuss emerged from my Being after the diagnosis. From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":

Miss Holly sat next to me in the waiting room and asked me to choose a Dr. Seuss book from the array of Dr. Seuss books spread out on the round coffee table next to my chair. My legs were outstretched; my left leg bore the hip to ankle metal leg brace inserted into my red polio shoes. My crutches were propped against the wall behind me. She read Dr. Seuss to me in the waiting room, led me into the treatment room and removed my leg brace. She placed heavy hot wool blankets on my legs. To this day I cannot bear to wear anything that is made of wool. As she coaxed my muscles and nerves back to health, she recited the first line from the Dr. Seuss book I had chosen (invariably “The Cat in the Hat”).

“The sun did not shine it was too wet to play…now it’s your turn.”

“So we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day.”

“I sat there with Sally….we sat there we two…your turn.”

“And I said how I wish we had something to do…”

We would recite in tandem throughout the treatment. She was a physical therapist ahead of her time. I often wonder what inspired her to use the rhythm of the poetry to distract me from the painful treatments. She tenderly put my leg brace back on after she finished the treatment. She commended me on my courage as she wrapped her hand around my hand on my crutch, and led me into Dr. Moskowitz’s office. He evaluated my progress, monitored me for scoliosis and gave me exercises to do at home. Picking up marbles with my toes was excruciatingly painful and difficult but even at my tender age, I loved the challenge of it all.


The first poem I wrote was called "Running the Race" from "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":
And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem:

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

I sobbed to write those words. I had never spoken about polio or the abuse I endured. I became curious. Why am I writing about winning a 10K race?


That was a VERY good question!

It foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run. Poetry poured out of me inspiring mind, body and soul to heal as I imagined myself running unencumbered and free.

These past 12+ years since I left behind my award winning career as a VA social worker to go on a quest to heal my life have been filled with trials and tribulations but so many more triumphs and running adventures!

After crossing the finish line of the 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K, and seeing the View from the Top, I plan to run happily ever after!



The journey of transformation:



From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.




Monday, July 15, 2019

The View From the Top



The 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 started with runners going down the ramps on the 100 level. It was easy to run down the ramps especially at the start of the race with the adrenaline pumping but the only thing we saw were the runners in front of us and the concrete walls of the Stadium surrounding us.



To get ready for the Finish at the 50, we did a lot of training on Heartbreak Hill. It was always a thrill to get to the top of Heartbreak at Boston College. One time, we experienced a mystical encounter as I wrote about in Sensational Serendipity on a Saturday Morning Run.

As we entered the Stadium after running the loop around the parking lot, we knew the long uphill climb was waiting for us. The ramps would challenge us especially in the heat. The elevation up the ramps lasts for about one-quarter of a mile and is a medium grade rise. But spectacular views were our sweet reward:{Photo credit: Tom McManus}


The view from the top became the pinnacle of all that I had trained for since February to arrive at that moment.

My breath caught as I paused to take in the views of the field and the landscape around Gillette Stadium.

It was an apex moment in my healing journey from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

After running 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons and with the stress of our daughter's severe psychiatric impairment, I wasn't sure if I still had it in me to set a lofty goal like training for Finish at the 50. True it was "only" a 5K but there is really no such thing as "just" or "only" a 5K. Those ramps are quite the challenge. I did speed work on flat surfaces and built up endurance with hills.

As we made our way across the top of Gillette Stadium, I could feel the sense of triumph and joy reverberate throughout my entire being. There were still runners behind us (and there were over a hundred runners who crossed the finish line after we did).



I could feel a bit of fatigue set in as we exited the Stadium to make our way to the tunnel that would take us to the finish on the 50 yard line. I got a boost from Scott Middlemiss giving us a high five as he set off on his 10K race.

I pushed with everything I had knowing victory was close at hand. The victory was more than crossing that finish line.

It was a victory over my past and the effects that paralytic polio and trauma once had on my mind, body and soul. It was a victory over allowing the circumstances of our daughter's challenges to drain me and interfere with my joy of life. It was a victory over limited thinking and was a victory for anyone who was ever told they shouldn't or couldn't or wouldn't be able to.

The view from the top has a great side effect:


Without having trained for and conquered the ramps at Gillette Stadium, I would have never experienced the utter exhilaration of whoosing down the ramps running on to the field at Gillette Stadium claiming my victory!



From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.







Friday, July 12, 2019

Beyond the Finisher's Mat!




Tom and I rarely purchase photos from a race especially if we have taken photos and video along the way but I felt compelled to purchase a few of our Finish at the 50 photos from Capstone Photography



The reactions on Facebook to this photo and the video of Erin and I finishing the race


filled me with gratitude, delight and happiness.

Twelve years ago, when I set out on this to heal my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma, I truly had no idea where the path would lead. It led to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon:


and while it was a moment of redemption for me, I knew deep in my soul that it was a moment that was far greater than me.

My story of healing, hope and possibility and my journey of transformation touched and continues to touch people's hearts and souls in profound ways.

As Dave McGillivray wrote in his book review for "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
A most unlikely runner stood to my right as I gave the oral command for the mobility impaired start of the 113th Boston Marathon on April 20, 2009. That most unlikely runner was Mary McManus. She overcame the childhood challenges of paralytic polio and years of childhood trauma to become a runner at the age of 53 years old and take on the challenge of the Boston Marathon at 55 years old. In “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” you’ll be inspired as I have been by her courage, resilience and determination to overcome whatever obstacles life put in her path. Mary’s life story set against the backdrop of running in “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” will leave you asking the question, “If Mary was able to accomplish all that in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds, what’s stopping me from being the best I can be?”

The cheers and outpouring of messages applauding my Finish at the 50 race feel wonderful but what is even more wonderful is the inspiration I bring.

At the age of 65 years old, I am still running strong taking on the challenge of running the ramps at Gillette Stadium for an evening race in the heat of summer. Heat and evening are typically not a good combination for someone living with neuromuscular challenges but that didn't stop me. People know that and they were inspired by the look of determination and persistence on my face.



Beyond the finisher's mat, I am still feeling the glow of that evening which was so much more than a race! Beyond the finisher's mat I reflect on the presence of angel Joseph Middlemiss and the blessing of being a part of Team Big Heart. Beyond the finisher's mat, I am reminded of how the body achieves what the mind believes, the power of believing in myself and my body's tremendous capacity to continue to heal. Beyond the finisher's mat, I am in awe of these past 12 years and the adventures I have been blessed to experience through running.

Beyond the finisher's mat I am deeply grateful for all the joy my body brings and the friendships forged through the sport of running.

Beyond the finisher's mat, I am happy with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and blessed that I can inspire others with what I achieved.

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.






Thursday, July 11, 2019

If it doesn't challenge you....



This morning a wonderful photo popped up in my Facebook feed:


From Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility (the first book in my Trilogy of Transformation):
Our first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 miler. It was a hot, steamy evening in July. We got lost on the way to the race. Tempers were running as hot as the thermometer because I was so anxious about running my first five mile race. My energy tended to wane by the evening as I was continuing to deal with the late effects of paralytic polio. We finally arrived and walked around trying to enjoy the pre race festivities. As everyone took their place at the start, I could see that this was a serious, competitive running crowd; quite a contrast to my first race ever, the Corrib Pub Run 5K in June.

Runners went out fast and Tom, Ruth Anne and I were in the back of the pack with a few other people. Even they took off and I told Ruth Anne to go out ahead of us. I experienced my first (of many) marathon training meltdowns. I cried as I shared with Tom all the memories of having kids take off and leave me behind that were bubbling to the surface. I was sweating and tired and hot. I couldn’t tell where my tears ended and sweat began. I told Tom I had no business training for the Boston Marathon. Tom was wonderful and he told me that I couldn’t quit. We would make it through this race and we would make it through every training run. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I did know, however, that if I didn’t finish that race, I would never make it to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Alison gave me water and a high five out on the course. She was worried about me in the heat and wanted to make sure I was okay.

Despite finishing dead last, members of the Marathon Sports family who knew the story of Team McManus, had air horns and a truck on the field honking and blowing and cheering us on to the finish. Ruth Anne circled back around to bring us into the finish line. She was there at the finish line to give me a hug and celebrate my first 5 mile road race ever. I knew training for Boston was not going to be easy, but I knew I had what it was going to take to make it happen.


At 65 years old, and having run the 2009 Boston Marathon, 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons and many other races, I could have easily put days of toeing a starting line behind me.

But with a stirring in my soul, I registered for the 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K.

It was hot and there were ramps. It was an evening race but I knew I was well trained and was going to meet the challenge head on.

I was blessed to experience magic, signs and synchronicity on race day.

And a thunderous round of applause from my village on Facebook after Tom posted this video that I uploaded to YouTube:


One post from a runner friend, Thor, said, "YES! I love this. Great job, Mary. You keep setting the bar high! You're doing amazing."

I feel amazing; amazed that I was able to challenge myself and be a part of the racing community again. I often forget how inspired people are when I cross a finish line given the challenges that I experience in the wake of having contracted paralytic polio and endured years of trauma as a child and adolescent. I was transformed by having the opportunity to support another runner getting to the finish line and transformed by the touches of grace that were a part of race day.

I am deeply grateful for every challenge I experienced throughout my life. Each challenge helped me to find my strength and feel my connection to the Divine guiding me every step of the way.

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you and you don't have the opportunity to find the gift - the treasure - that lies within the challenge.

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.





Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Celebration of Choices - A Celebration of Chance



As the fireworks display illuminated the night sky over Gillette Stadium after the Finish at the 50 races, I felt as though it was the Universe helping me celebrate the choices I made since the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006.





The first choice I made as I stood on the crossroads of my life was to get still and ask for Divine Guidance. The answer came in the form of a poem, "Running the Race." Poetry flowed out of me as though a spigot had been turned on in my soul. I imagined myself running free, feeling healthy and whole, dancing in the rain without a leg brace. My poetry focused on gratitude and forgiveness, well-being and expressed a profound connection to the Divine that I first experienced at the age of 5 after contracting paralytic polio.

I chose to quit my award winning career at the VA with the love and support of my husband to heal my life, dedicating myself to transcending a horrific past and transforming my life mind, body and soul. Chance led me to an incredible spine doctor who referred me to an angel of a physical therapist. She helped me to find the courage to take that leap of faith and led me to believe I could and would get stronger. I was not destined to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair!

When chance brought a personal trainer into my life, I chose to see if there was any way I could build on the program I received at Spaulding Rehab Outpatient Clinic.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
Shortly after being discharged from outpatient physical therapy I met Janine Hightower through Herb Simmons. He knew Janine through his participation in the Cardiac Rehab program at Boston Medical Center. I was launching my business New World Greeting Cards, original poetry for every occasion. She was a member of BNI, a professional networking group. As we sat in my living room, she talked about BNI and the benefits of being a member of this networking group. As she talked, I wasn’t focused on growing my business. My mind zeroed in on her sharing with us how she used BNI to promote her in home personal training business.

“You know I’m curious,” I said to Janine. “Do you think you could help me? I was just discharged from Spaulding Rehab.”

I went on to tell her about my journey.

“I don’t know,” she said “but I’d certainly be happy to set up an assessment with you.”

I couldn’t even pass the initial fitness assessment.

“You’re way too young to not be able to get off of the toilet seat without holding on to the sink or to not be able to get off of the couch,” she said to me.

It was a statement of fact without judgment. She spoke the truth about my deconditioned physical state. I signed on to work with her once a week in personal training. I had no idea what or why I was doing this. I did know that if I was going to be in pain, I’d prefer to feel the pain of recovery instead of the pain of decline. Janine held enough faith for both of us that I could come out of my leg brace and have a good quality of life despite the diagnosis and prognosis I received.

Janine’s mantra for our work together was a quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”

At my six-month evaluation in February, I made dramatic improvements in every area of the assessment. I had come out of my leg brace. I knew I was on a healing path.

“Let’s write down your goals for the next six months,” Janine said feeling proud and satisfied with my progress.

“Well I want to feel free in my body. I want to dance. I want to be able to walk outside and feel unencumbered when I take a walk.”

Janine feverishly wrote down my goals, and we worked out a plan. She gathered up her belongings and had her hand on the door knob.

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Did you ever have one of those moments when words fell out of your mouth after rising up from the depths of your soul without going through any thought process?

Janine was non-plussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house, set down her things and without missing a beat said, “Well the first thing you are going to need is a pair of running shoes.”


"I did know that if I was going to be in pain, I’d prefer to feel the pain of recovery instead of the pain of decline."




I chose a path of pain, discipline and courage venturing into the unknown and doing so against medical advice. I was admonished with "If you use it, you will lose it" based on an outdated belief that the body cannot regenerate nerves and muscles.

After I ran the Boston Marathon in 2009, I was once again told I needed to not run anymore. Fortunately, as chance would have it, I met another wonderful physical therapist who told me I needed to take a break from running and helped me heal from the rigors of marathon training. I chose to return to the sport I had come to love and that was my medicine to heal the once devastating effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma.

On July 4, 2010, I ran the Inaugural Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 10K.

Fast forward to December 2014 when I suffered a very serious knee injury that the physiatrist, physical therapists, aquatics therapist and anyone who was not a runner in my circle said would be the end of my running days.

From 'The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953':
I went on line to get my MRI results before my appointment with Dr. Rosenberg in early January of 2015. The report indicated that I did indeed have a very badly torn meniscus and degenerative joint changes, bone spurs, a fatty lipoma, joint changes from multiple surgeries and fatty infiltrates into the left medial gastroc muscle as a result of denervation. That didn’t sound good but I know how appearances can and are deceiving. I remembered how I dissolved a breast tumor and rewired my entire body through the power of visualization. I transcended my past. I transformed from a survivor of paralytic polio to a woman who goes the distance on the roads and in my life.

Tom came with me for me follow up appointment. I didn’t betray to Dr. Rosenberg that I had already read my report. I listened as he told me the findings.

“Well we already knew you had an atrophied gastroc muscle from the polio. There’s nothing you can do about that. There is not enough cartilage to repair if you have arthroscopic surgery. I can tell you in all likelihood you are going to need a total knee replacement in a few years. You know my thoughts about running. I think you know my recommendation Mary. You really shouldn’t be running but if you are going to run please cap your distance. No more than a 5K. I am going to give you a prescription for physical therapy. I’d like to also highly recommend that you please come back to the Post-Polio clinic for a new evaluation. You know it’s only a matter of time before things start to progress again. Don’t overdo it!”

As I left the clinic with my prescription in hand, I watched myself making a follow up appointment for a re-evaluation with “the team.” I wasn’t sure that’s what I really needed.


As chance would have it, I had a physical therapist from hell BUT a chiropractor healer, Dr. Ryan J. Means was put in my path. I chose to partner with him, determined to get back on the roads.

On July 3, 2015, I had my comeback race: The Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K.

By chance, I met the Race Director for Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

I chose to once again defy a diagnosis and prognosis and go against medical advice, going with Divine Guidance and went on to run 3 Consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons.

I could have chosen to stop racing at the finish line of the 2018 Bermuda Half Marathon but this February, there was a stirring in my soul.

On July 3rd, I experienced all the magic that is Finish at the 50:



I crossed another finish line 12 and a half years after being told I "had" a progressive neuromuscular disease and should plan to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

I smiled as I looked down at this year's Finish at the 50 race shirt that I wore to the beach this weekend:


2010-2019 ... a lot of choices and a lot of "chance" happenings that led me to exactly where I'm supposed to be inspiring others with my message of healing, hope and possibility!

Now that's something to celebrate!

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.







Monday, July 8, 2019

Finish at the 50 Race Report: Part 3 - Mission Accomplished



During these past 12 years of healing the effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma, I have discovered that my mission in life is to inspire others with what I have been able to achieve and my transformation from a survivor of a horrific past to a runner and a woman who embodies strength, courage, resilience and faith!

After running 3 Bermuda Half Marathons and with the stress of our daughter's severe psychiatric illness, I took a long hiatus from toeing a starting line of a race. In February, I felt a stirring in my soul.

I can always count on Race Director Dave McGillivray to respond to my pre-race emails asking about his races! He told me there was no time limit for the race and that there were usually quite a few walkers who sign up for Finish at the 50.

After 11 years of being a part of the sport of running, I have finally embraced Dave's mottos of "My race, my pace ... My game, my rules!"



I was well trained when I lined up at the back of the pack at Gillette Stadium. Part of my mission for this race was to represent Team Big Heart: The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation's running Team.



We gathered pre-race and I could feel the love flowing among us!

I was amazed at how many walkers lined the 100 level concourse at Gillette Stadium and how, among the nearly 3000 runners, Dave McGillivray found us and thanked us for running!



It took us 8 minutes to cross the starting line. As we watched runners streaming out of the Stadium, I had to remind myself that there is no time limit and if, by chance, I didn't make it to the finish line in time to get my medal, I know the Account Executive for Ashworth Awards, John Breen, who I knew would hook me up.

I knew there was magic and synchronicity in the air and that my mission to represent Team Big Heart had begun at the starting line. Linda, the clinical coordinator for the Cardiac Cath Lab at Boston Childrens Hospital stood behind us and we shared a goosebump moment at the synchronicity that brought us together. While we were out on the course, I inspired Linda and her sister Rachel with my story.

I had no idea that there was another mission in store for me that day; to be a cheerleader for Erin Boudreau as she struggled with the heat of the day.

After she asked us if we were from Dracut noticing our Team Big Heart shirts, I just knew we were going to finish the race together despite her urging us to go ahead.

Somewhere between a little before mile 2 and the finish line, a friendship was forged, kindness shared and heart prints left on our hearts.

After I posted the video that Tom took on Facebook after I uploaded it to YouTube, Erin posted:

Thank you for being such great cheerleaders for me!! You guys were heaven sent just when I needed you
So thankful for my new friends! ❤️ thankful for you both for choosing to be kind❤️all you need is love!



I told Erin what a gift she gave to me by helping me to not push too hard in the heat and get all competitive with myself. She helped me to go beyond myself and being concerned about my finishing time and allowed me to experience the joy of being on the giving end of the runners code of leaving no runner behind!

Some may think that the glory of the finish line lies in breaking the tape or even having a great time according to the clock. And yes I will admit that I was very proud to have had 113 runners finish after us and to be 72/81 in my age group F60-69. I was thrilled that the announcer was praising the back of the pack runners for finishing strong.

But there's another kind of glory that happens at the finish line. There's glory in toughing out a challenge and not giving up. There's glory in transcending limitations and being open to possibility. There's glory in going the distance and achieving goals. There's glory in sharing kindness. And there is a wonderful feeling of glory of being able to say, mission accomplished!



From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Finish at the 50 Race Report - Part 2 - Pre-Gaming and Post-Race



...the same can be said for running. Since February, I put in all of the training to prepare for the 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K. We trained on Heartbreak Hill. I did speed work around the Reservoir and along the coast in South Boston. I did strength training and cross training and worked with Dr. Lizzie in weekly chiropractic treatment sessions.

But the most important part of my training was the mental preparation leading up to gun time.

As a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, I needed to repeatedly remind myself that I could trust in my body's tremendous capacity to heal and meet the demands of challenges. As different sensations arose especially in my right knee, I took myself back to how I recovered after a serious knee injury in December of 2014 to go on and run the 2015 Finish at the 50 5K.

I had to sweep aside the caregiver stress and focus on myself giving myself permission to embrace myself as a runner and to experience the joy and celebration that is a part of Finish at the 50.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
You may notice my pattern of pre-race panic and the need to email the Race Director to calm my pre-race jitters.

Here is the email exchange between Dave McGillivray and myself beginning on June 29 and concluding after the race:

Mary: Hi Dave…So in setting goals not limits, Friday is my comeback race and I’ve been training for a PR. I’m getting butterflies and just wanted to make sure the course is well marked for those of us who run a 14-15 minute/mile pace. We went out to Gillette yesterday for final mental preparation, and have trained on Heartbreak so I am ready but just need to make sure that there will either be course monitors or signs to direct us. File this under taper madness! Thank you Dave!

Dave: There will be! I’ll probably be running right behind you, too! Good luck! Dave

Mary: That's for the 5K. And I couldn't follow the course map on line. You just made my day Dave - you rock! Thank you -- it's going to be a great day and no rain :)

Dave: Oh, you are doing the 5K…I’m doing the 10K! The 5K goes in the stadium and up and down the ramps!

Mary: I know. It was a little confusing but it will be marked or there will be course monitors right?

Dave: Very confusing on a map because most of it is in the building. It will be marked, etc. I did it last year…no problems!

Mary: THANK YOUUUU! See you Friday. Can't wait ... you are awesome you know that right?

Dave: Don’t tell me, tell my wife and kids!!!

Mary: You can forward the email to them :)

Mary: As you promised it was an amazing day. Congrats on your great finish. (Dave pushed Rick Hoyt in his chair for the 10K). I manifested something far greater than a PR although I was within 27 seconds... It was a magical day. Thank you so much for allaying my fears before the race to clear the way for me to experience every moment of a very special day!

Until our paths cross again I'll be setting goals not limits - as in the Bermuda Half Marathon!

Dave: Congratulations Mary! Told you that you wouldn’t get lost!!!! Ha.


I had emailed Dave before registering for the 2019 race asking if there was a time limit.

I don’t recall us ever imposing a time limit so I think you will be good. I do think a number of folks actually walk it just so they can say they were on the field!!

When I saw the course map that was changed a month or so before the race, I told myself I was not going to email him again. Tom and I tried to decipher the map but it wasn't possible so we decided that we would just trust the course would be marked and we would be fine. We have never gotten lost at a race and now was not going to be the first time!

I kept calming my pre-race jitters in the week before the race reminding myself that taper time would serve me well on race day. Meditation using the soundtrack from Heal Documentary was a twice daily occurrence.

The evening before race day we went out for dinner at Legal Seafood. Char, baked potato and spinach were the perfect pre-game meal. We enjoyed unwinding with an episode of Psych and slept in on race day.

I felt my pre-race jitters kick into high gear but listened to the birds singing. Tom and I did a long morning meditation. We ate a leisurely breakfast in our yard and Tom got to work taping my knees:


We allowed ourselves plenty of time to get to Gillette Stadium and arrived about 20 minutes before bib pick up.

The line had already formed for bib pick up and we chatted with runners while we waited in line trying to distract ourselves from the searing heat:


The person who gave us our bibs had a message for me on the back of my bib:


My pre-race jitters were transformed into joy and excitement.

We enjoyed a healthy, leisurely pre-race lunch at Red Robin, walked around to soak up the pre-race excitement, had our photos taken with our bibs:


and with a Minion:


As we had in 2015, we turned the air conditioner on high in the car and set our meditation timer for 40 minutes. I did a full body scan meditation, listened to my breath and filled myself with positive self-talk and gratitude.

We had a luna bar and more hydration before heading to the start.

I had total trust that we were going to have a great race experience which we did. All of the training and mental preparation as well as setting powerful intentions created a magical and mystical race day experience which is recapped in Part 1 of my Race Report.

I was nauseous, sweaty yet exhilarated and in awe of the entire race experience.

We had 8:00pm dinner reservations at Skipjack's. I had forgotten how phenomenal and electric a post race atmosphere can be --- especially when it coincides with July 4th! Walking around Patriot Place with runners wearing their bling, live music blaring and the anticipation of Fireworks reminded me why I love to run and why I love Finish at the 50!

All of the mental and physical preparation along with managing the pre-race jitters was well worth experiencing those magical moments.

I savored our post-race meal especially sparkling water with lemon and those warm Skipjack rolls although I had to take most of it home.

We couldn't decide what to do before the fireworks display and in those moments of indecision were treated to a "chance" encounter with our race buddies and new running friends!

We changed into dry clothes and as we closed the car doors, heard the first burst of fireworks.



It was a spectacular show!



What a celebration of freedom! I felt my personal celebration of freedom from limited thinking, transforming and transcending limits offered by the medical community and freedom from external circumstances to experience joy, love and well-being!

Let freedom ring!

To be continued....

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.