Friday, January 20, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Bermuda Marathon Weekend: Part III - A Time to Celebrate!

Team McManus had so much to celebrate once we finally crossed the finish line of the Bermuda Half Marathon on Sunday.

Tom ran a 7:59 mile in the Front Street Mile. It was a joy to be a part of the crowd experiencing the excitement of the kickoff race of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge.

We bumped into our fellow Merrimack Valley Striders, John and Diane Jannetti:

Here's Tom before the race:

With his bling:

The video of him finishing strong:

On Saturday, our friends Diane and John came to our hotel to take a cab with Tom to the start of the 2nd leg of the Triangle Half Challenge - the 10K with all hills! Here's Tom getting himself psyched up to take on the challenge:

This was my view while I waited for our returning runners:

I used to lament the fact that I couldn't keep pace with the pack and have to carefully choose what races I participate in. During one of my meditations in Bermuda I had the epiphany that I was not trailing behind -- I was a trailblazer having the courage to defy what the medical establishment was telling me about Post-Polio Syndrome, "If you use it you will lose it." I'm a trailblazer in using the power of positive quality touch with Jeffrey Spratt,MT's pioneering Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy to heal the effects of childhood trauma.

Tom's race photo with the eye of the tiger:

I know he takes me out on every run with him!

All hail the conquering hero:

What made the 10K incredibly special was that Tom helped to get our friend Shawn Whalen to the finish line. He is undergoing total knee replacement surgery today. You can see from these photos that he was struggling but there's nothing like the strength of another runner to help get us to the finish line:

As the above quote says, "The celebration of success overshadows the challenges that were encountered along the way!"

One of the staff from The Rosedon Hotel took these photos that underscore the challenge I experienced coming into the final miles along with the beauty and grace of Jamie-Lee Wright, islandgirl and the angel at mile 12. For the full race report, follow this link:

After crossing that finish line and emerging triumphant from the medical tent

it was time to get our party on.

We had brunch at the Pickled Onion where Jamie-Lee and The Weekenders (the Bermudian running club she is a part of) were celebrating. Jamie-Lee posted her celebration drink on Facebook with this celebratory post "3 events, 3 days, 3 PBs and a cheeky drink or 3 post race.... to celebrate the completion of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge (International Race weekend) 🍾
Didn't make 6,6,6 - I made 6,6,10 (referencing how many minutes she PR'ed by) and broke the two hour mark - BOOM!! 🍾
Taking off 17 mins for these 20 miles, not too shabby":

After Tom and I refueled with eggs, toast, sparkling water and OJ, we walked .... slowly ... back to the hotel. We were going to go for a recovery swim but opted for a nap. I took a long hot shower and then as Jeffrey, my master muscular therapist taught me, to finish with an ice cold flush. We had a hand held shower in our room which made it easy for me to focus on my back and legs.

Time to head over to the Southampton Princess or South P as the locals call it for the post race weekend celebration!

There was music and dancing...

hanging with running legends, Geoff Smith, Bart Yasso, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Steve Jones, bumping into old friends and making new friends, celebrating with a couple we met from Sweden who were staying at The Rosedon and celebrating everyone's successful races:

When we got back to the Hotel, I curled up with a great book, Brotherhood by Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra and had the best sleep.

We had one more day of our Bermuda Marathon Weekend Adventure .... to be continued ...

To your health and wellness!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Bermuda Half Marathon Race Report: Part II - Running with Heart

I posted a picture on Facebook that I was rereading Jacqueline Hansen's book, "A Long Time Coming," to inspire me for race day. "A perfect way to manage taper time... reading about inspirational pioneers in women's running. Poignant since Joan Benoit Samuelson is running this weekend! It's my second reading and must say it's even more enjoyable the second time around!"

Jacqueline, who has been gracious enough to write the Foreword to my soon to be released book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," posted, "Thank you Mary! I loved that Joanie wrote my foreward, and now I have written yours.❤ Have a good race, stay the course and, as always, run with heart. Love, JQ"

I replied, "Will do."

Little did I know how much I would have to run with all my heart to get me to the finish line after the "wheels came off the wagon," one of my favorite Aaron Sorkinisms.

Shortly after mile 11, we met a volunteer out on the course. He could see that I was struggling and got right in my face and said with his rich Bermudian accent, "The race is not for those who are swift. The race is for those who can endure. You're the winner. You can do this. Now go finish!" He was preaching and infusing me with strength and positive energy. I reassured him that I was going to finish the race set before me.

Last year they did not have a mile 12 mile marker and it didn't matter because I was sailing through the final miles of the race. We knew we were coming close to the finish. This year I was so grateful to see Mile 12. The question was not would I make it to the finish line but how. I had to accept the fact that for whatever reason I could not straighten up and was leaning to my left side. My left arm was in some kind of spasm. I had lost muscle control over my upper body. We stopped and stretched every which way I could think of to get relief and hydrated.

"Are you okay? Do you need water?" a beautiful runner said with a delightful English accent.

"No we have enough water...I'm stretching trying to work out cramps. Thank you."

As we turned the corner I welcomed the downhill heading into Front Street. One foot in front of the other was all I could think about. At the wall in front of the Rosedon Hotel, a spot where I felt incredible triumph last year, I felt that I was losing control over my body and Tom supported me from collapsing. I dumped water on my head, took a big gulp of water and pulled myself together. I had to block out the trigger that was happening inside of me about the day I collapsed in gym class after contracting paralytic polio at age 5. I brought myself back to the present. Tom had the brilliant idea of having me put my arm around his shoulder and he braced my hip to give me support while I powered on.

"Come on. Put your arm around me. I'm going to help you."

It was the angel from mile 12.

She could tell I was stunned. "They did it for me when I cramped up in Chicago and Phila actually. It's okay. Let me know if you want me to go lower or higher." I powered up Bermudiana Road and then down Bermudiana Road...the final hill!

I just kept saying thank you amidst the conversation we were having to keep me distracted from what was happening in my body and to keep me focused on my single minded goal to cross that finish line.

"I'm going to step aside right before the finisher's chute so I'm not in your finish photo," this angel said to me.

I was never so happy to see a finish chute in my life! As we had planned and visualized so many times, Tom and I held hands high with a huge smile on our faces to celebrate that I ran my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. It wasn't pretty but I got it done and only took about 20 minutes more time than my time last year.

As soon as we crossed, I was greeted by medical tent volunteers. "Come in here and let us check you out," they said. Tom insisted! "Wait where are our medals?" Tom said he'd go see about them and came back to tell me that they ran out! My first thought from days gone by was I was too slow and missed out but we found out that a shipment of medals had disappeared and never arrived in Bermuda. I think they must have gotten lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

Tom had forgotten his wallet to pay for brunch back at the hotel so while I was being attended to, he ran back to the Rosedon to get the wallet. He bumped into our friends Diane and John from our running Club and asked where I was. When they heard I was in the medical tent, they asked if they should come see me. Tom said they didn't have to but true to runner's code and running family they came to see me. As soon as I sat down on the cot, I felt everything release. I was amazed at how I was not frightened about what happened and had total confidence in my body's ability to make a rapid and complete recovery.

This speaks to the work I have done with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. From his website, "Our belief in the power of positive touch transfers to you the power to RECLAIM YOUR ADVANTAGE and RECLAIM YOUR LIFE. Your time on the table translates into lasting results off the table." We are healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. What greater testament to the healing we have accomplished than my performance at Sunday's race! It was also a testament to how hard and well I trained for this event complementing my training with weekly sports massage therapy sessions with a supplemental ShakeOut (TM) Massage when we got into the longer distances.

Vitals were fine including blood sugar and one of the EMT's told me that I had fueled and hydrated well based on how well I was recovering given how I looked coming into the finish.

Diane and John were incredibly supportive and I asked if we could take a finisher's photo and borrow their medals. Without hesitation they said of course!

One of the Bermudians, Natalie, with whom I became good friends on Facebook saw me after I left the medical tent and asked me how I was. Word travels fast on that little island of Bermuda.

Our after the medical tent celebration photos with Natalie and Tim, Team McManus with Team Jannetti, and Team McManus (taken by Diane Jannetti) :

My angel, Jamie-Lee Wright, came back to see us and check in with me. She had a stellar running comeback at the Triangle Half Challenge after 6 months of not running due to an injury and training for 6 weeks prior to race weekend. After she PR'ed her half she went back to her house which is along the race course to cheer on a friend running the full marathon. He was struggling and she ran him to the finish. It was after she helped him to cross the finish line that she came to find us to help me finish!

I can look upon my race experience as something that can happen to all runners; hitting the wall, cramping up and the body just shuts down.

The Bermuda Half Marathon happening as it had became a profound mystical experience for me.

The fear that I could collapse again and have no control over my body happened, and, instead of the experience crushing me, I was able to dig deep and move beyond it as a 63 year old woman. The deep wounds of having been bullied and teased and left behind while I was left to try to catch up with my peers lugging a hip to ankle heavy metal brace was Divinely transformed as Jamie-Lee came to find me, support me, reassure me and care for me as one's dearest loved one would do. I went from being an outcast in gym class known as "Easy out Alper" (my maiden name) to a woman celebrated and honored for being a source of inspiration for so many.

After the race, it was time to celebrate!

To be continued....

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Bermuda Half Marathon Race Report: Part I

It was a gorgeous morning in Bermuda. I am still wrapping my heart and head around the fact that I ran my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon given my state of affairs 10 years ago with the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome and two years ago with an MRI that indicated I should stop running or at the very least limit my running and to look forward to a total knee replacement in the not too distant future.

Once again we were treated to see the beautiful sunrise over Hamilton Harbor:

I experienced the thrill of supporting Tom in his Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge (more on that in another blog) and now Team McManus was ready to take on my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. I was stronger and trained harder. I remembered to be mindful as I ate my breakfast and we had our breakfast earlier than last year to give me time to digest it before the start. We left for the start later than we had last year. Unlike last year, I felt pure joy before gun time. I was blessed to meet Natalie Dyrli in person. We became Facebook friends. She is a social media maven sharing the joys of running with Bermuda's running group, "The Weekenders."

Thomas Glave decided to take on the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge this year after running the Half last year. He was also a guest at The Rosedon. His eyes filled with tears as he told me how much I inspire him. "If I hit a rough patch during the race, I am going to use the mantra, "Remember Mary Remember Mary and all she's been through.

"Hi Mary. It's Glenda from last year. You were kind enough to send me the photos from the start last year. I looked you up and was so inspired by you that I'm taking on the Half Challenge this year," she said as she proudly showed me her bib.

We found fellow Merrimack Valley Striders, Diane and John Jannetti and captured this fun moment at the start:

A few more photos from the start:

A moment of silence, the proclamation from the Town Crier and we were off on our 13.1 mile journey. Thomas asked if he could join us for the first few miles to warm up. Tom was concerned that I went out too fast (and in retrospect I had) but I felt so amazing in my body and did not feel that I was pushing my pace in any way. I'm usually struggling a little at the beginning of the race but not on Sunday. We paused at mile 1 to take a sip of water and then took the first hill. We were chatting and sailing through the first 6 miles taking in the uniquely Bermudian landscapes and after mile 5 the magnificent seascape. The conversation and the run were delightful except when cars went whizzing by us.

I had no pain anywhere in my body. The water stops seemed fewer and farther between than last year. We made sure to stop at the water stops.

"Hi Mary. I told you I'd be here," said a Bermudian woman who I met while cheering on Tom at the Front Street Mile. She used to be a runner despite having a foot that turned inward but she was injured and unable to run. We had a lovely chat at the Front Street Mile. That's how Bermuda is ... strangers quickly become friends. She embraced me knowing my story and told me to take plenty of water and have an orange slice. "Hello Mary's husband," she said to Tom.

We saw some spectators who lined the route last year and they remembered us. The reggae music was the accompaniment to the magnificent views of the Island and it was a dance party along parts of the route.

I was anticipating a smooth and easy run but as any endurance runner can tell you, things can often go south when you least expect them to. I had trained well on hills and asphalt this year. I incorporated more cardio into my training using the Arc Trainer and Bike and worked hard in my strength training on land.

Unlike last year and my hunch is because the America's Cup is coming to Bermuda in June, there was a lot of traffic on the roads. On the narrow streets of Bermuda, we had to hug into the left side of the road where the road had uneven pavement. I could feel that my gait and pace were off. Team McManus stuck to our hydration and fueling plan and fortunately, in addition to our two water running water bottles, we had brought along a bottle of Fuji water. Thomas said goodbye to us at some point along the way saying he was ready to run his own race and he would see us later. Tom and I shrugged off the fact that there seemed to be more traffic this year and focused on enjoying the race despite the extra challenges.

"Are you favoring your left side?" Tom asked me with some concern when we got to mile 9. "It's from the road angle," I said. "I'm doing fine. I'm not in any pain." The long hill between mile 9 and 10 with the sun getting hot was challenging for me and the right side of my back went into spasm. I massaged the spasm and imagined Jeffrey Spratt,MT's warm hands working the area during our weekly massage therapy treatments using the powerful Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy that brought me to this moment of being able to run my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. We had unearthed and cleared out so much trauma that allowed me to train better and harder for the Half. I felt more confident and comfortable in my body. By mile 10, I felt a release and said a prayer of gratitude that the tightness was gone.

Between mile 10 and mile 11, I could feel the toll that the heat, the hills and having to negotiate traffic was beginning to take on my body. I harnessed the power of my mind to think, in the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, greater than my circumstances and observed my body rather than embody what was happening which could have certainly sent off a sense of panic within me.

We stopped and stretched and made sure we had plenty of hydration. While I would experience moments of relief, I could sense that something untoward was happening in my body and so I harnessed the power of the mantra that I have used before in my runs if a part of my body was experiencing pain or swelling, "I created this so I can uncreate it."

To be continued....

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017: From the Fab Five to the Sensational Six - Meet the Fisher House Boston 2017 Boston Marathon Team

In December, I reported on the Fabulous Five running for Fisher House Boston. Since then, Matt Hurley joined the Team. I am delighted to present to you the Sensational Six running for Fisher House Boston.

Last year I was blessed to meet Alan Dyer, first on Facebook and then at his fund raiser at Loretta’s Last Call. As a retired VA social worker, Fisher House Boston is a cause near and dear to my heart. I remember when Fisher House Boston first broke ground on the West Roxbury VA Campus and one of my social work colleagues became the manager. The Fisher House Boston is a home away from home where our military families can stay while a loved one is receiving in house treatment at one of our medical centers. Any family member or loved one of an active military or Veteran's family, wartime or peacetime, is eligible to stay at the Fisher House. These homes are built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers.

The homes enable family members to be close to loved ones at the most stressful times. There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. There is NO Charge for any family to stay at a Fisher House. We are completely committed to helping those who have served for us and for our country. We believe these men and women are our National Treasures! Fisher House is a Four Star Charity, with an A+ rating.

Let’s meet the Fabulous Five who are going the distance of 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston on April 17th, 2017 to raise money for Fisher House Boston.

Alan Dyer: “I am a Viet Nam Era veteran who joined the cost guard in the early 70's. I spent 5 years in the service stationed in Woods Hole on a buoy tender, then Block Island doing search and rescue and drug interdiction.

My connection to Fisher House Boston is through Mark Langley. Mark and I met at a local gym where be both became fitness instructors. I teach spin and he teaches boot camps. The two of us just hit it off and became best of friends. He mentioned wanting to run the Ragnar Relay Race to raise money for Fisher House Boston. He introduced me to Jen Deluca, Executive Director and I became fast friends with Jen and committed to the Fisher House Boston cause.

Funny thing about that Ragnar Relay run, six weeks prior to running the race I had neck surgery to fuse C-4 and C-5. I fractured those vertebrae many weeks prior, but continued to train and exercise. Mark wanted to replace me and I flat out told him no way. I ran with a neck brace. The team was made up of my Physical Therapist and my Chiropractor. That was a very special run for Fisher House Boston.

In 2015 Mark said that Jen was going to try and get some bibs for Boston and I said I was all in. Mark, Joe and I are the original Marathon Team and we continue to this day running, raising awareness and money for Fisher House Boston. As long as Jen keeps getting bibs and my knees hold up i will keep running and raising money for our veterans and their families.

I was supposed to get my knees replaced last year, but Jen called and asked if I could postpone the surgery and run one more time for the 2016 Marathon. And this year I told Jen right up front I wanted a bib and tada she gave me one. What’s a little bit of pain that I go through training to run the Boston Marathon compared to what these guys and gals go through to defend our freedom….”

Alan with Nic L. whose family was supported by Fisher House Boston during his recovery

Alan during the Super Hero long run training for Boston 2016

Mark Langley
“I have once again been given the privilege to run the 2017 Boston Marathon as a member of Team Fisher House Boston. I run to raise money and awareness for Fisher House Boston because they take care of our military men and women and their families. My son was an active duty Army Infantryman, my Dad was active duty Air Force and many other family members have served. Our veterans and their families deserve our attention and help. FIsher House helps keep families together while eliminating some financial obligations. I ran the 2015 and 2016 Boston Marathon as a member of Team Fisher House Boston and our teams raised over $80000! Please help me this year so we can continue to support our veterans. So, I will run the miles through rain, snow, sleet and freezing weather and all you have to do is donate! Thank you for your support.”

Joe Mascariello
“After twice saying "Never again", I'm back for for my third year of running the Boston Marathon in support of Fisher House Boston. With no military experience of my own, I am indebted to those who have sacrificed so much and am honored to serve our military through this effort.

I've now completed 9 marathons and a small handful of longer trail races and from that experience two things are clear: Experience doesn't make you better and 26.2 miles is a long way to run. My running has brought me to some of the coolest places in the world and some of the coolest people in the world have filtered through my life as a result of being a runner. A little fatigue is a small price to pay for those experiences. I am fortunate to have this ability and grateful that I can use it to give back.

For those who don't know, Fisher House allows the families of veterans a free place to stay on the grounds of the VA while the service man/woman or family member is receiving treatment at the hospital. The Boston Fisher House is unique in that they will fund hotel stays for the families of servicemen and women when are they are receiving treatment at other Boston hospitals.

The links below will provide more information on the Fisher House and a compelling story about the importance of providing this resource to our veterans. Fisher House is a 4 star rated (their highest rating) charity by Charity Navigator.

Fisher House Boston

A compelling story about why you should donate to Fisher House Boston:

I know the choices for giving are endless and I hope you'll find that supporting Fisher House is worthy of your hard earned support.”

Breda O’Connor
“I ran my first race in the 7th grade when my mom and I participated in the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 5K. Oddly enough, that would be the first and only time I would place in my age division. I don't run for the medals. I sometimes run for the beer, but mostly I run because I can, because there are so many people who can't. Since that race, I have run for multiple charities, including the Boston Marathon in 2014 for a Marathon bombing survivor.

I am so excited to have been selected to run for the Fisher House Boston. Over the last year and a half, I have gained a new perspective of the aftermath of war and what military families must overcome. Through many events with The Warrior Foundation and interacting with my boyfriend's friends and colleagues, I have been able to witness first hand the village it takes to care for our veterans and their families. My boyfriend is a mechanical engineer at The United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, working closely with veterans to protect our soldiers currently overseas. Through him, I have had the great opportunity of meeting many of of our country's bravest and their amazing families. I am so excited to bring more awareness to the Fisher House and cross that finish line on April 17!”

Kat Anne

"I've been running since high school cross country but it has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Since 2011, I've been running races with a team of friends and family in memory of a close family friend, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly. Robert was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and was deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan when he was killed in action on November 9th, 2010. Most importantly, he was a husband, son, brother and a babysitter who probably let my brothers and I get away with way too much. Every race I've run, I'm always amazed by the number of people I get the share the Team Kelly story with and the incredible stories people share with me.

As I take on my 4th marathon, I'm so honored to be able to share the story of Fisher House as I run. The work they do to support military families is incredible. Instead of worrying about hotel bills, families can focus on healing in a supportive environment. Knowing that his memory lives on in the dedicated Fisher House healing garden, I'm so grateful for the chance to give back to Fisher House in Robert's memory and in thanks for the incredible work they do to support military and veteran families. Thank you for your support!"

Matt Hurley

Matt Hurley is taking on his first marathon ever running the Boston Marathon to raise money for Fisher House Boston. Matt connected with the Fisher House through the Warrior Thunder Foundation and their events. Their Motorcycle Ride each fall and many other events of theirs raise money to support the Fisher House Boston. From Matt's fundraising page, "HI Everyone! I have the unbelievable opportunity to run the Boston Marathon this year for the first time ever. Waaaay more exciting than that is the opportunity to run on behalf of the Fisher House in Boston. The Fisher House Boston's mission is especially close to my heart after 14 years of Civil Service to the Department of the Army and countless friendships with our war fighters along the way. After a career of developing equipment in support of potential threats our servicemen and servicewomen might face while deployed, this charity offers us all the opportunity to support these men and women, and as importantly their families, once they return. Additionally, it is fitting to raise funds for this cause on a day where we commemorate The Battle of Lexington and Concord where the first Americans took up arms to defend our freedom at the outset of the American Revolution.

Please consider the long line of men and women who have made defended our freedom and those who continue to serve when you choose to donate to Team Fisher House Boston."

Give a little…give a lot…give from your heart and let’s make this year the biggest year yet for the Sensational Six running from their hearts for Fisher House Boston.

Please donate to one or all of the Sensational Six by following this link.

To your health and wellness,