Saturday, February 29, 2020

Camp Hyannis 2020 - Part 5 - The Heart of a Champion

One of the first people to inspire me calling Hyannis Marathon Weekend, Camp Hyannis, was Mary Tyler. Her signature hairstyle and warm smile have been a staple at the Weekend for as long as we have been attending the weekend in February of 2009. This year her husband took a photo of us together at the Expo and she purchased a copy of my recent book, 'The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953.'

She heard my talk at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner.

"My first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 Miler," I shared with the audience.

"It was quite the contrast to my first road race ever, The Corrib Pub 5K, which was a friendly neighborhood race. Tom shouted as we ran, 'This is her first race. She is a polio survivor," and the neighborhoods cheered."

"But the Marathon Sports 5 Miler was an evening race and I was in the early stages of healing Post-Polio Syndrome. It was hot and a fast field!" I shared how I wanted to quit; how I didn't know where sweat began and tears ended. I wanted to quit as memories of being left behind lugging a full metal leg brace when I had polio reared their head.

Tom wouldn't let me quit and told me that if I quit that race, there was no way I would be able to run Boston. And so mile by mile we made our way through the back roads of Weston to the finish line, getting support from the Marathon Sports Team at the water stops.

As we came onto the field being the last finishers in the race, the Marathon Sports Team honked the horn of the sweep vehicle and made me feel as though I was the one to break the finisher's tape.

I encouraged everyone at the Dinner to think of themselves as Champions regardless of the time on the clock when they ran their Sunday races.

From Mary Tyler's Facebook Post:
Mini-vacation for the Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. Ted planned to photograph. I had signed up for the 10K months ago before knee problems and had no idea what I was going to do. We went to the expo and pasta dinner Saturday and talked with a bunch of people, took some pics with guest speakers Mary McManus and Bill Rodgers, plus Paul Clerici, Larry Cole, and Steve Bedsole. Sunday I started the race, thinking about just walking a mile and back since my knee was already hurting. HOWEVER, it loosened up a little and there were a few other walkers, so I continued on. Around 4 miles it got worse, but at that point nothing to do but carry on. I tried to put on a good face for Ted (see picture) and finished, but didn’t feel really great until bagel and hot soup (pic with fellow GFRC runner Joe Koziol) at the post-race festivities! 😀 😋 All in all a good weekend, knee's a little better today, so hoping the 10K hasn't set me back.

Tom excitedly told me after he crossed the finish line that he saw Mary and Ted out on the course. I was shocked and surprised! He said that Ted told him, "in her mind, she is a champion!" I got goosebumps and my eyes filled with tears that I was able to touch her heart with my words and inspire her to finish her race.

Mary experienced a serious fall several months ago and is still healing. She manages to still show up and participate in races whenever she can or supports others who are running. She finished the Hyannis 10K in 1:52 at age 72!

She does indeed have the heart of a champion.

I wrote this poem after my knee injury in December of 2014 while I had my sights set on going the distance again: {From Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life}
The Thoroughbred

A dark horse
dark past
finishing last
ready to quit
battered and bruised
a foal fouled
yet Spirit unbroken
a thoroughbred deep inside
despite appearances
all she needed was a chance
someone to believe in her
a horse whisperer
in the mist
amidst fog and foliage
she runs
breaking free
into the champion she was always meant to be.

On April 19th, at 10am, I will be a member of a panel as part of the Runners Seminar Series entitled, "Late Life Running and Whole Life Running," sharing how the sport of running transformed my life at the age of 53! I will be sure to include what it means to have the heart of a champion even when you haven't broken the finisher's tape!

From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness

Be sure to visit my website

My books are available on Amazon.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Camp Hyannis 2020 - Part 4 - Race Day!

I woke up early on Race Day and was treated to another glorious sunrise. The Starbucks in the Lobby of the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center tends to have long lines. I wanted Tom and Ruth Anne to have a little extra time to get ready for their 10K while I purchased our breakfast provisions. We bring our own oatmeal, bowls and spoons and toast bagels.

"Hey you!" I heard someone call out.

"!" I turned around as if to say, 'You talkin' to me?'

"You did such a great job on your talk last night!"

"Thank you!" I said. We went on to chat a little bit about different authors he has read that tied in with my journey. An older woman came along and said, "What did I miss?" He shared with her the essence of my talk at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner.

"It sounds like I really missed something!"

The barista chimed in and said that she was working the dinner as a waitress and kept trying to find ways to hear more of my talk. She said that I gave her goosebumps.

The line grew longer and Tom and Ruth Anne arrived. Tom stood in line to get his coffee and hot water for our oatmeal.

Liz whose mother was a polio survivor whom we met after my talk came over to our table. She was heading out on a run while her husband, Tom, was going to run the marathon. The conversation got around to the fact that they are vegan. I asked if they were able to find any good places to eat.

'We just got in right before you spoke,' she said.

"Oh that's interesting because I spotted Tom in a suit jacket with an open collar and thought perhaps you had just come from work."

"Actually we had just come from Tom's mother's funeral in Connecticut on our way here!"

We collectively gasped. His mom had passed away last week and they knew the funeral would be on Saturday. Liz went on to say that the best way for him to heal would be to run the marathon and be with his community of runners. He joined us for a brief moment before heading out to warm up.

While Tom and Ruth Anne rested in the room, I went back to the Expo where I was able to greet many of my runner friends who drove down for the day.

At 9:15 we headed outside to see the Early Start for the Marathon and for Tom and Ruth Anne to warm up.

It was a very moving early start ceremony for those running the Marathon. Paulie told the runners that the finish line would be open when they came in even though the crowds might be more sparse. Before playing the Star Spangled Banner, he told the runners that he wanted to give them the same race experience as everyone else.

"This is your race and we will be here when you finish!"

The sun shone brightly and the temperatures quickly warmed up. It was a gift for a February day on Cape Cod:

A photographer offered to take our picture as he saw us struggling with a selfie:

As Tom, Ruth Anne and Ric (one of the first runners we met in Hyannis in 2009), took their place at the start, I made my way to the front of the pack to capture the start on video.

I bumped into Susie Comstock who I met at the Expo and she wanted to take a photo with me:

Paulie had Bill Rodgers say a few words before the start of the race. I was overwhelmed when he talked about me and my journey. "Mary's run this course before you know and you might want to draw inspiration from her journey while you are out there!"

After the Star Spangled Banner they were off:

"Look at everyone looking at their watches. Just have a great time out there!"

I went back to my Expo table and picked up a copy of "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953." I asked the barista for her name and signed the copy of my book. Her eyes filled with tears when I gifted it to her. My heart was full.

I love standing at the finish line of the race admiring runners who are swift of foot. I saw my friend Brian Baker cross the finish line in fine form.

I asked if I could move to the other side of the finish line to have a better view of when Tom, Ruth Anne and Ric would finish. They made me feel like royalty saying that I was a part of the race!

As the time went by, I was getting a little concerned about my Team. Ruth Anne had injured her hip, vacillated between whether or not she should run but felt her recent acupuncture treatment would hold her in good stead.

I was so relieved when Tom, Ruth Anne and Ric crossed the finish line. They honored the runner's code and stayed with Ric who was having a really rough day.

We went into the ballroom where the traditional 99 Restaurant soup was served along with bagels, peanut butter, fruit and water.

Memories of Camp Hyannis through the past 11 years washed through me while I savored the magical moments from Camp Hyannis 2020.

We packed up my Expo table and while Tom and Ruth Anne showered, I packed up the room.

Crossing over the Bridge to Boston is bittersweet:

but we will return in June to Falmouth for a 5K racecation!

As we unpacked our suitcases, I basked in the glow of a most memorable Camp Hyannis weekend and am so excited to welcome friends to Boston for the running of the Boston Marathon on April 20th.

On April 19th, at 10am, I will be a member of a panel as part of the Runners Seminar Series entitled, "Late Life Running and Whole Life Running," sharing how the sport of running transformed my life at the age of 53!

From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness

Be sure to visit my website

My books are available on Amazon.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Camp Hyannis 2020 Part 3 - Embrace the Possibilities

At the Expo, I huddled with Carolyn and Brian Baker, parents of Ainsley Baker who was turning 15 on Sunday. Brian posted on Facebook about how they had to balance out the celebration of their daughter's birthday with race weekend. I asked them if it would be okay to have everyone sing Happy Birthday to her before I began my speech at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner. They said she would be delightfully embarrassed. The ballroom filled with many of my runner friends including Dominic Herard who was inspired to come to Hyannis from my posts, Mary and Ted Tyler, Ric Beaudoin, and the Bakers with their friends (and my new friends) the Sims. What a wonderful way to begin my speech after a wonderful introduction by Tony Myatt.

I had carefully crafted my speech and rehearsed it but the Tuesday before the weekend, I knew that I needed to revamp the entire speech and I am so glad I did.

I began with sharing how my life came to a screeching halt in December of 2006 with the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I shared the power of the mind/body connection by having the audience members imagine taking a taste of a lemon. I could see from their faces that they understood the power of the imagination.

As I read the poem I wrote after getting still and asking for Divine Guidance shortly after the diagnosis, a hush fell over the ballroom:
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, 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, alone and afraid tried 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.

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.

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.

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 painted a picture of how debilitated I was and the journey of transformation I experienced that culminated with my 2009 Boston Marathon run.

Every finish line is a starting line and I shared how I had to find the courage to start again after a debilitating knee injury in December of 2014 to go on and run the Bermuda Half Marathons in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

I was deeply moved as everyone stood up after my talk.

I stayed on the stage while Tony introduced Bill Rodgers and was quite overcome with emotion to hear him talk about my journey. He shared with the audience how he read my book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" that I gifted to him in 2017,mbefore coming down for the weekend and although he had known about my history of polio, he was unaware of the abuse I endured. He contrasted his running journey which started with him chasing butterflies to my journey.

"You know nowadays if you watch TV, you see all these advertisements for pills and that they will magically restore your health. But we runners know otherwise don't we?"

Bill said that one thing that struck him about my journey was that he didn't hear any anger. "I'd of been pretty pissed if I would have gotten polio." I shared with him and the audience that part of my healing was to use forgiveness and gratitude rather than anger.

Bill talked about the power of community and how my journey especially reminded him of Wilma Rudolph's quote, "No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helps you." He referenced how we runners sure do love our physical therapists and how fortunate I was to have found people to help me along the way especially since the people who were supposed to help me, hurt me.

"You know I loved Albert Einstein's quote that Mary used in her book. I wish I could have met him although I probably wouldn't have understood a word he said. You can either live your life as though nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle. Mary sure is a miracle."

During the Q & A period, one woman asked me for more specifics about my meditation practice. I told her about the Healing Resources page on my website while sharing the visualization techniques I used.

Bill wrapped up the evening by suggesting that everyone go home and get some rest. "You know," he said, "Coaches nowadays are just learning about how important it is to incorporate rest and not just push push push."

As I left the stage, people asked me if I had books for sale. They followed me out to the Expo Table where Tom and Ruth Anne helped me with book sales. Brian told me that he doesn't get moved that easily, but my talk brought him to tears. Bill told me someone should make a movie about my journey and that he would email Frank Shorter to let him know the impact he had on me in February of 2009.

Dageii was the woman who asked me the question about my meditation. She said that she had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. She was afraid to run again but said that my story inspired her! She was excited to read my book and took a photo of Dr. David Hamilton's book to purchase after the weekend.

I spotted Liz and Tom in the audience. He was wearing a suit with an open collar ... not your usual dress for a running event. As we walked out of the ballroom she said, "My mom was a polio survivor. She died 3 years ago and today was her birthday." We shared a moment of chills and goosebumps.

Her husband Tom told us about Liz's story as a runner. After the diagnosis of breast cancer, she decided she was going to go the distance of a marathon. Her friend was able to get her a number for the NYC Marathon. Tom told us of how he waited with their children to watch her come into the finish. "Mommy's strong now," he said with tears in his eyes "after seeing their mother so sick going through chemotherapy." They are from the same home town that I grew up in!

What a way to end the day!

To be continued....

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

Be sure to visit my website at

My books are available on Amazon

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Camp Hyannis Part 2 - Everyone Has Their Why!

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise in Hyannis on Saturday morning:

I should say I woke up to a beautiful sunrise while Tom and Ruth Anne slept. I checked in on Facebook and the energy was electric in anticipation of Race Weekend. My friends Carolyn and Brian Baker introduced me to two of their friends, Marianne and Ed Sims and told me that they encouraged them to hear me speak at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner. They were all staying in Falmouth. Brian and Carolyn have a house in Falmouth where they spend the summer. Marianne and Brian grew up together in upstate New York where they live today.

We went for breakfast at Mulligan's conveniently located in the hotel lobby.

While we enjoyed our food

we overheard the waitress ask an older couple wearing running clothes, “You here for the race?”
“Yes. We love coming here!”
The older woman said, “One year I ran the marathon and qualified for Boston!”

We chatted with them before we left! Camp Hyannis was getting into high gear!

I quieted my butterflies for the exciting day ahead with a 45 minute meditation.

Tom and Ruth Anne helped me get set up at the Expo:

They left for a day of fun in the sun in Hyannis while I got myself ready to greet the campers the runners.

Paulie came through and asked me if everything was okay! I thanked him for including me in this Weekend's festivities to which he replied, "You're thanking me? We are so excited to have you! Billy can use some help up on the stage after all these many years!"

I went across the room to meet my Expo neighbors, Flavanaturals. We ended doing a barter -- books for chocolate...nourishing each other mind, body and soul. Be sure to check out their website and experience their incredible product!

At noon, it was showtime as the stream of runners began to fill the Expo.

Mary Tyler was one of the first to stop by and her husband Ted took this photo. She was one of the first people who inspired me to name Hyannis Marathon Weekend, Camp Hyannis.

While I was there to inspire runners, so many runners inspired me and, as one runner said, "Everyone has their why!" Here is a sampling of runners and their whys:

There was a woman with a heart condition whose doctor told her she should never run. She fired that doctor and now is part of a group of runners with heart conditions who go the distance.

I felt goosebumps all over when a mother and her adult daughter stopped by my table. She lives with Cystic Fibrosis and is running her first Boston Marathon for Boston Children’s Hospital. She has already raised over $11,000.

A woman donated a kidney and is running Boston to raise money and awareness for organ donation.

At 2pm Bill Rodgers arrived. He gave me the warmest hug letting me know that he read the book I gave him in 2017, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance." "I knew about the polio but had no idea all you lived through. Wow! Well we are going to have a great time at the Running Clinic tonight!"

I presented him with a copy of my most recent book, "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" while showing off his book,"Marathon Man":

While Amanda was waiting for her husband who was chatting away with Bill, she glanced over at my table. I shared my story with her and she said, "Oh so it's not too late to start!" I met her at the starting line on Sunday and she asked me about what running shoes I wore.

Matt stopped short as he saw my Race for Rehab book sharing with me that he is running for Spaulding this year for his 2nd year in a row. He suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was hit in the head with a softball. He had to learn how to walk and talk after the injury and is passionate about giving back to Spaulding where he made a complete recovery! He smiled when he saw the small size of our team compared to the 100+ runners they have this year.

Jenn is running her first marathon for Dana Farber. As serendipity would have it, she is good friends with David Storto, President of Spaulding Rehab and would like to run for Spaulding next year. She giggled when she saw David's photo in the Team Photo from 11 years ago. We've all aged a little since then. She is a survivor of Thyroid Cancer and had her five year milestone this past Fall which inspired her to run Boston.

A woman walked by my table and I called out to her, "Oh I love your scarf!" She was wearing a Boston Strong scarf that had been gifted to runners after the events of 4/15/13 at Old South Church. I got goosebumps.

She stopped and turned around.

"Well I need it to keep me warm." I could tell by her accent and the needing to keep warm comment that she was not from New England since we had unseasonably warm and dry temperatures with sunshine.

"Where are you from?"


I told her my story and she was moved by it and went on to say that she had a story too. We became fast friends in real life and on Facebook. Does she ever have a story:

Meeting up with old friends is part of the thrill of Camp Hyannis. Tom and Ruth Anne came by for a visit and were just about to leave when one of the first people we met in Hyannis 11 years ago, Ric Beaudoin, appeared.

I spotted MaryBeth and Michelle from the Mystic Runners who I met in 2016 at Camp Hyannis.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
“It’s a sign!” a group of runners exclaimed as they walked by my table at the Hyannis Race Expo.

They picked up my medal from the Bermuda Half Marathon.

“We were just talking about how we have to run Bermuda. We are putting it on our bucket list.”

The Mystic Runners from Wakefield, Massachusetts were deeply moved by my inspirational journey. In that moment of synchronicity, we became fast friends.

Tom and Ruth Anne had a wonderful day shopping and going to the beach:

We were getting ready to leave the Expo to have an early dinner before my Guest Speaker appearance at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner when the Baker Family arrived. It was the first time Carolyn and I met in person although she had photo bombed a photo of Brian, Rod Dixon, Tom and myself in Falmouth and was in a photo I took at Dave McGillivray's book launch party last August.

I felt as though we were old dear friends which often happens with runners. I shared with them that Marianne stopped by my table!

Earlier in the day, Michael stopped by my table. He was a dear sweet middle aged man who said that he was intrigued and inspired by my story but did not believe in impulse buying. Shortly before we left for dinner, he returned to my table.

"I'm going to say something and I hope you don't take it the wrong way. I'm going to curse you," he said with a smile.

"I am going to buy your book and I've been hesitating to run another marathon because I was afraid of how long it might take me but after hearing your story, I realize I have no excuses. So when I am in the middle of that marathon, I am going to curse you for inspiring me to run another marathon that I've been meaning to do for awhile but always making excuses. I'll be sure to send you an email after I register for it."

And with that, he bought my book and we headed to The Roadhouse Cafe to grab a bite before my appearance as Guest Speaker.

To be continued....
To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

Be sure to visit my website at to learn more about my inspirational journey from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

My books are available on Amazon.