Monday, August 31, 2020

It's Kind of Fun to do The Impossible!: Setting and Achieving Goals

In December of 2006, I was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and, if I used it I would lose it. Yes you read that right. I was given the advice to conserve my energy and not overuse my already rapidly declining muscles.

I did a review of the literature before writing this blog hoping that, given proven research about neuroplasticity and the power of the mind/body connection along with countless documented case studies of healing and transformation, that perhaps the medical community might have taken a new perspective on Post Polio Syndrome. As recently as 2019, the information and cautionary tales along with a profound lack of research or understanding of the mechanisms of Post Polio Syndrome still exists.

That is why I share my healing story!

On Saturday, while running the Virtual Becca Pizzi 5K, Tom took this photo:

I am sometimes self conscious about photos of me running. My two feet don't fly off the ground and I am not the personification of what one would think of when one thinks of a runner.

But with that photo, my breath caught. I was swept away by how strong my legs looked; especially my left leg.

After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, I briefly returned to Western Medicine to find out what I needed to heal. The MRI indicated shredded cartilage, degenerative osteoarthritis, and an atrophied gastroc (calf) muscle. When the results were reviewed with the physiatrist who specialized in Post Polio Syndrome, he off-handedly said that I'd probably need a total knee replacement in a few years, should stop running or cap my distance at a 5K and that there was nothing we could do about an atrophied gastroc muscle.

After a horrific appointment with a physical therapist, I turned to chiropractic care. My chiropractor revamped my strength training and cross training regimen, used chiropractic care with KT taping and I intensified my mind/body interventions through visualization and meditation. I went on to run 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Clearly there WAS something I could do to grow and strengthen a new gastroc muscle. One picture is worth a thousand words!

At the beginning of August, I set a new goal for myself. To run 50 miles during the month of August.

We got up at 6:30 this morning with only 3 miles to go to reach my goal.

We did 3.3 miles bringing my monthly total to 50.52 miles!

My goal for September is to run consistently for 40 miles at the 5K distance and to work on pace, and continuing to up my game with my strength training/cross training workout. While gyms remain closed and opportunities for in person races are on hold, I am using this as an opportunity to continue to do what I was once told was impossible.

After all, as Walt Disney said, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible!"

To learn more and be inspired of how I did "the impossible" going from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, be sure to visit my website at

My books are available on Amazon.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Race Report: The {Virtual} Becca Pizzi 5K - There's Still Magic on Heartbreak Hill

For those of you not familiar with Becca Pizzi, she is a legend!

While her athletic endurance accomplishments certainly place her in the category of a legend, what I believe makes her a legend are her humility, her incredibly big heart, compassion and a passion to give back to her community. This year was to be the 5th Annual Becca Pizzi 5K and 1 Mile kids run. Tom and I participated in the event last year. Becca warmly welcomed me to participate letting me know it was an all pace race and overflowed with compassion as I shared with her the struggles our daughter was having. Becca's race was the first race I ran in a long time given the stress of being in the caregiver role. She gave me the warmest hug as her eyes filled with tears of compassion that sprang from a fellow mother's heart.

But what a difference a year makes -- in many ways! Becca was hopeful that moving the date from May to August, she would be able to have an in person race. She considered staggered starts and ways to make it happen but then shifted to a virtual race. Ruth Anne has experienced a year of healing and recovery and is now running strong on the roads and in her life!

Even though the forecast was for thunderstorms and rain, given my training plan and August goal to run over 50 miles, we knew we had to get in our run yesterday.

It was misting when we considered where we wanted to run. It's a Team McManus tradition that we run on Heartbreak Hill the weekend before the Boston Marathon. As 2020 is unlike any other year, this is the weekend before the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience!

I wasn't sure what the vibe would be on Heartbreak Hill. It's usually a time when the energy and excitement is palpable as spectator barriers are placed on the grass getting ready for race day set up. Runners are getting in their last shake out runs and the question, "You running?" is accompanied by high fives.

There were a few runners out when we arrived. We decided to experience the joy of a race day and took a pre-race selfie:

We set out at a good pace enjoying being together and participating in another virtual race. Becca invited us to post pictures on the race's Facebook page to be entered to win a prize. Tom was game to take photos of interesting sights on our run.

I spotted a lamp post in the distance. It reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia. I suggested to Tom and Ruth Anne that Aslan aka Joe Biden is on the move and soon we will be rid of the White Witch!

A little further along we spotted this sign:

and then:

We made it to the famed Firehouse at the corner of Comm. Ave and Washington Street where the famed Newton Hills begin:

Coincidentally, that was our halfway mark for our 5K.

Ruth Anne suggested we take our mid run selfie:

We spotted a runner sporting an MR8 singlet and gave a shout out. "Good luck" we said instinctively knowing they would be running the Virtual Boston Marathon. "You too" he shouted back.

A runner passed us and Tom spotted him wearing a Virtual Falmouth Road Race bib. We shouted out "Go Falmouth." He waved in the air and said, 'Thank you.'

A runner with a BAA shirt passed us in the opposite direction.

"Great job Unicorn" Team McManus said in unison.

"Thanks! You too," he said.

While most of our run was spent without passing other runners on the quiet hills of Newton:

we experienced the magic that is always there on Heartbreak Hill. There was a magic to the mist without heavy down pours and no thunderstorms as was predicted. While the anticipation of Boston Marathon weekend was a shadow of its former self, there was a camaraderie and sense of anticipation and honor for not only the virtual Boston Marathon but other virtual races that have become part of the new norm.

I was thrilled with my time that was only 1 minute slower than last year's race. Becca's course is fast and flat. We ran on the Hills and I have increased my distance this month. As Ruth Anne was also quick to point out, "You are also a year older ma."

After a race, we ask the proverbial question, "What's to eat?" We each expressed our cravings and decided to head to Kupel's Bagels and make our own post race fueling sandwiches at home before heading to bib pick up.

Only in a virtual race do you run the race and then pick up your swag!

"Hey you guys," Becca yelled as we crossed the street to outdoor bib pick up.

Becca used the neck gaitor from the 5K swag as her mask and sported the race t-shirt shown in the above photo.

We are huggers by nature and it was incredibly hard to keep our distance but we stayed optimistic and shared in how virtual races fill a void for us as a running community. It felt wonderful to pick up a swag bag and t shirts and to see a dear friend from the running community.

She autographed our copy of Becca's Feat on Feet reminding us to follow our dreams.

Despite any circumstances happening around us, it is vital that we find ways to set goals, follow our dreams and remain hopeful experiencing the magic and wonder that's always there to be experienced when we open our hearts and believe.

To learn more about Becca and purchase her book, be sure to visit her website by following this link.

To be inspired by how I followed my dream to run the 2009 Boston Marathon after being told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, visit my website at

My books are available on Amazon.

From my heart to yours
In health, wellness and joy

Friday, August 28, 2020

A Perfect 10 Kind of Run

We knew a front moved through with cooler air for our Wednesday run. We usually get up early and head out to beat the heat but Ruth Anne had a Zoom Occupational Therapy session and wanted to take time to prepare for it. I had no qualms with us sleeping in a little later.

The weather was spectacular. Ruth Anne felt great after her session with her therapist as she prepares for a virtual tour at U Mass Boston Grad School in Urban Planning and Community Development. We both felt gratitude overflow in our hearts to Erin and for this past year of healing after 14 hospitalizations in two years. We were excited for Ruth Anne's Health-i-Versary that is happening today!

I was excited for being able to reach my goal of 50+ miles for August.

We chose to run 3 times around the small Reservoir on Route 9. There were two very dignified elegantly dressed older ladies walking in front of us. As we passed them, I wished them a wonderful day through my mask. "You too," one of them replied. "You're going at a pretty brisk pace there." Ruth Anne and I smiled.

We paused to take photos of the spectacular day savoring every precious moment of the perfect 10 weather:

There was a perfect mix of sun and clouds with cool, crisp air. I felt as though Source was kissing my face and blessing my run with gentle breezes.

We checked our mileage after two times around and I knew either we would go over or under the mileage if we did another loop. Since the weather was glorious and there was no one else out, we decided on the third loop. Our original calculation did not include the mileage to get home!

I deposited another 3.75 miles toward my goal of 50+ miles with only 6 miles to go divided between two runs.

Today's run was a celebration of life, of hope, of healing and possibilities despite all appearances to the contrary one year ago for Ruth Anne and 13 years ago for me.

We felt the glow of a perfect 10 kind of run for the rest of the day and had that energy reflected back to us in comments on our Facebook post.

The feeling after a good run is truly the best feeling in the world!

Be sure to visit my website to be inspired by my health and wellness journey at

My books are available on Amazon.

May you know the joy of a perfect 10 kind of run day!

From my heart to yours
In health, wellness and joy

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hope: A Collection of Poems and Essays From the Pandemic of 2020

My original title for my next book was "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life Volume 2."

During a meditation, I was inspired to change the title and include blog posts I have written since February before the world became locked in the grip of a pandemic.

My worlds as a writer, runner, poet and eternal optimist collide in my latest book which includes original poetry written after March 15th and reflections during an unprecedented time in our history.

I am excited to share with you the working draft of the Introduction:

Speaking at the Hyannis Marathon Pre-Race Pasta Dinner in February of 2020 and sharing my journey at the Expo was a highlight of my most unlikely running career. I reunited with friends I had met since I discovered the sport of running in February of 2008. Hugs and selfies were the order of the day. I made new friends at the Expo and after my talk at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner where I shared the podium with Bill Rodgers. We were all looking forward to a reunion in April in Boston for the Boston Marathon and for a year of exhilarating events.

We were excited to be hosting the water stop for our beloved running club, L Street on March 8th. We ignored any of the quiet warnings about COVID-19 and hugged sweaty runners, poured water and Gatorade into cups for runners to drink and congratulated runners on getting through one of their last long runs before taper time for the Boston Marathon.

On March 12th, I walked into my pregnant chiropractor’s office.

The airwaves and social media news feeds were beginning to fill with fear and panic. I had a sense in my gut that something was terribly wrong with the messages and the methods that surrounded COVID-19.

“I don’t think they have any plan for this,” I told Dr. Lizzie.

“I’m not worried about getting the virus,” Dr. Lizzie said. “I’m worried about what’s going to happen to my business.”

Always the commensurate professional, Dr. Lizzie gave me an outstanding treatment of chiropractic care. We hugged at the end of the treatment.

“As long as things are open, I will be here,” she said.

The first email she sent outlined the precautions she would take while keeping her practice open. Two days later she said that she would have to follow the State and City guidelines and temporarily close her practice. As numbers of cases spiked, she made the decision to close her practice until January 2021 giving herself an extended maternity leave.

I witnessed my friends who are small business owners shutter their shops. Since we were not financially affected by the shut down, we supported them as much as we could. We ordered take out from our favorite restaurants, shopped on line and bought gift certificates to our favorite stores to use once restrictions were lifted.

In March of 2020, there was an epidemic of fear and a time of chaos related to the COVID-19 virus. It inspired me to open my heart and soul to the gift of poetry and writing I discovered shortly after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome.

Victor Frankl said that “The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you become the plaything to circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity...”

I returned to harnessing the power of my pen, my divining rod for healing and am delighted to share with you this new collection of poetry and reflections of life during an unprecedented time of a pandemic, economic upheaval, a call to eliminate racial injustice and, in the United States, an election of epic historical proportions.

I discovered the gift of poetry in my soul in February of 2007 shortly after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and to expect an accelerated aging progress as a result of the polio virus I contracted when I was 5 years old in one of the last polio epidemics in the United States. Despite having had 5 vaccines, I still contracted the virus. But having had polio and then being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome were two of the greatest gifts in my life for which I am deeply grateful. I discovered the gift of poetry in my soul AND was led to the sport of running.

I call my pen my divining rod for healing as poems poured forth from my soul inspiring me to let go of the pain of the past through gratitude, love and forgiveness and imagine a beautiful future for myself; one in which my body was running – yes running – free and seeing myself as healthy, happy, whole and healed!

Running helped me to transform from a survivor of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma to a marathoner discovering strength, redemption, a most remarkable village of friends and most importantly, the truth of who I am.

While out on a morning run in March of 2020, I witnessed the stirring of new life with the beginning of Spring in New England. I felt a stirring in my soul. Despite the chaos and fear, I felt a sense of hope and possibility. A poem poked its way through me and I knew it was time to write another book. These poems and reflections are in chronological order of when they were written from March 15th through (date to be determined).

Although races and events were either postponed and eventually cancelled, or went to a virtual race format, running three times a week helped me to navigate the turbulent times. Those runs inspired poems and reflections. Those runs helped me to stay focused, grounded and optimistic always finding something to be grateful for and appreciate in the world around me.

As fear and anger filled the airwaves and social media streams, it was a time for deep breaths, connecting to the Divine, the Source of all, connecting to nature and to each other soul to soul, heart to heart without politics and divisiveness but with tenderness, love, kindness and compassion. Often times it takes a crisis to awaken us to healing, hope and possibilities. My hope is that this collection of poems and essays serve as a reminder that whatever the challenge, however dark and hopeless things may seem, there is always faith, hope and optimism to guide us through.

I feel wonderful when I am immersed in the creative process inspired by messages from Spirit. I am writing "Hope" in real time and will know when the arc of the story will be complete.

There have been several times throughout my life when life came to a screeching halt. I am filled with healing, hope and possibility that as individuals, as a community, as a country and a world we can move forward and heal.

To be inspired by my journey from having been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond be sure to visit my website at

My books are available on Amazon.

From my heart to yours
In health, hope and wellness

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The only time you should look back...Wollaston Beach Then and Now!

I clearly remember the day early in the summer of 2007 when I gingerly stepped out of our car to walk a little bit on the sidewalk adjacent to Wollaston Beach. Although I had been through intensive outpatient rehab at Spaulding Rehab following the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December of 2006, I was still deconditioned from the effects of childhood paralytic polio and trauma. I wore a toe up leg brace:

and was walking without a cane. I knew that the prediction the doctors made of me spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair would not come to be but I had a long road ahead of me to regain strength and a vibrant quality of life.

We did many training runs on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon at Wollaston Beach.

Since the pandemic, we had not been to the beach this summer. We desperately needed a change of scenery for our run, especially since we had the relief of Tom testing negative for the virus as mandated by BC.

I may have gotten emotional when I saw the sand and the expansiveness of the ocean, sun and sky and experienced these beauty moments on our run:

I recalled with Tom and Ruth Anne that first day we came to Wollaston Beach and the transformation I experienced through the sport of running; how we have all been transformed by running.

The 4 mile run was a bit challenging with people riding bikes, roller blading, and maintaining social distancing on the sometimes narrow sidewalk, but the views and breathing in sea air was well worth the trade offs.

Four miles in the books as I count down the miles my goal of 50+ miles for the month of August. In the summer of 2007, could I have ever imagined that 13 years later I would have run the 2009 Boston Marathon, with many races leading up to Boston; 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and been part of a panel for the Virtual Boston Marathon Expo in September? I imagined myself healthy, whole and free through my poetry and visualization but had no idea where the road would lead from those shaky steps to today.

I often say "Don't look back you're not going that way." The only time you should look back is to see how far you've come!

I am in awe and deeply grateful to see the miles I have traveled on the road and in my life during these past 13 years!

To learn more about my inspiring journey, please visit my website at

My books are available on Amazon

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness

Friday, August 21, 2020

When the going gets tough..

the tough get running!

These past several weeks have been very stressful for Team McManus. While I continue to practice an attitude of deep gratitude for all of our blessings including the strength and resilience to navigate stressful events, it is important to acknowledge that stress can take its toll and build up as different events occur.

Rather than share the litany of events that occurred, the tipping point came when Tom had to be tested for COVID at Boston College this past Monday. We know we are all healthy and well. We knew Ruth Anne tested negative when she went for an appointment for a possible UTI. We know that the symptoms of the virus can be very similar to how stress manifests in the body and we all know the role that the power of belief plays in our bodies. We focused on creating the outcome we wanted rather than focus on fear. {Spoiler alert: It was negative!} The testing site was well organized without any waiting at the site. They said Tom would get the results in 6-26 hours.

His colleagues starting getting their results and after 26 hours he called student health services. They said he would not get the results until late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

Let go and let God and get out the door to go on a run while trying to let thoughts of worry pass by like clouds as any person who meditates will do. Yet I also honored my feelings of being aware of the fragility of life and how life can change on a dime!

We were not worried about Tom getting ill but rather concerned about the disruption a positive test would cause in our lives. Ruth Anne is just getting back to volunteering and seeing her acupuncturist on a regular basis. She would not be able to go to either of those activities for 14 days. I didn't know if we would all need to quarantine or if I would be able to get out to get us groceries. As I observed my racing thoughts, Ruth Anne and I took in the spectacular scenes before us on a beautiful summer morning:

I felt a heaviness in my body and focused on releasing the weight I felt while being so grateful for the gift of being free to be able to get up, go out the door and get in a run.

The phone rang...spam call.

We focused on the geese that swooped in seemingly from out of nowhere landing with flappping wings. A bubble of joy rose up within me to see their movements with reckless abandon and the splashing of water.

The phone rang again as we were on our final loop around the Reservoir.

"It was negative," Tom said and the tears began to flow.

Nike+ said, "Pausing work out."

"The volunteer put in my wrong email address. The nurse at the Health Services got all of my information, called the testing lab and got the results. She was very chatty and I told her that I was sorry to cut her off but I have to call my wife." Even though Tom didn't tell me that only negative results would be sent via email, as a former social worker in health care, I knew that positive results would not be sent via email. Tom confirmed my suspicion after he received the results.

Ruth Anne and I laughed and cried for the rest of our 4.2 miles. She would be able to volunteer and see her acupuncturist later in the day and we would be able to move forward with living our lives as we have been since March mindful of masks and social distancing with a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness.

Tom was supposed to be on vacation last Monday and Tuesday but with the scheduling of the testing along with critical work that had deadlines, he moved his vacation days to yesterday and today. We are thoroughly enjoying this time together savoring the final days of summer.

We are taking deep breaths, looking forward to easier and lighter days giving thanks for the gifts of health, abundance and wonderful friendships.

We are looking forward to joyful and playful runs letting go of stress and take great comfort in knowing that when the going gets tough, the tough take to the roads!

Be sure to visit my website at to learn more about the power of the mind/body connection and visualization

My books are available on Amazon

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness...healing, hope and possibilities