Friday, June 15, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: On Faith and My First Race Medal



When I decided to leave my award winning career as a VA social worker just 3 years shy of when I was eligible for retirement in May of 2007 to heal my life from the effects of childhood paralytic polio and trauma, it was an act of faith. I couldn't see the whole staircase of what was ahead for me financially, physically (I'd just been diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards), emotionally or spiritually. When the words, "And I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital next year" fell out of my mouth when my personal trainer asked me what my next health and fitness goals were in February of 2008, I had no idea what I was doing. I was following a call.

When we arrived in Hyannis for the Hyannis Marathon Weekend in February of 2009, I felt like a fish out of water. Here I was among all these runners sporting their Boston Marathon jackets, shopping at the Expo and seeming far more knowledgeable than I about running. There were signs and synchronicity that let me know I was right where I was supposed to be instinctively sharing my inspirational story about coming out of a leg brace and a wheelchair to take on the running of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

I was in awe that people were in awe of my story. I didn't know that the running community was not only inclusive but embraced my courage to find my way to the sport of running at the age of 54 years old.

I was embraced by the running community AND running greats Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter.

The races leading up to running the Hyannis Half Marathon did not offer medals so you can well imagine my thrill at receiving a medal after I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon race:


As we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon and committed to our fund raising goal, I had to have the utmost trust and faith that I would succeed. I had no idea where the monies would come from when we first set out on the journey nor did I have any idea how I was going to run 26.2 miles when I'd never run a day in my life before March of 2008.

With patience, perseverance, taking it literally one step and then one mile at a time having the utmost faith in what I was doing, I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and we raised $10,535 for Spaulding Rehab.


Becoming a part of the running community, meeting running greats and earning my first race medal at the Hyannis Marathon Weekend are some of my fondest memories as I celebrate ten years of running!

From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness,
Mary

Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Enjoying the Fruits of My Labor



For the first time in 3 years, I am not training for an endurance event. I am not training by choice not because I am injured or feeling the effects of Post-Polio Syndrome. I am choosing to enjoy the fruits of my labor from the past 11 years since the diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease.

For the first time in my life, I can enjoy living in my body. Oh sure there is still pain at times and there is that delicious soreness that comes with working out and challenging myself. Overall I feel well and I love the feeling of Being in my body. I'm continuing to recover from 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in as many years:


I'm running without pain now as my hip/back/groin issue resolved and I am extremely happy with a 5K - for now. I want to work on my pace but I know that will come in time.

This is the time of year when I geared up for training for the Half Marathon. I am content, grateful and happy to not be training for any events right now. In September I will run the 5th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K Run, Walk, Roll. I signed up as a walker! I can relax and enjoy the day and see what this body will feel like doing come race day in September.

I'm going to be support crew for Tom as he trains for another Bermuda Marathon Weekend. He is debating whether he wants to do the Triangle Half Challenge again, the Half Marathon or the Full Marathon.

I am loving my time in the pool challenging myself with my swimming workouts and experiencing the joy of freedom in my body in the water. It's a time to experience stillness in my mind and the benefits of the healing waters as they continue to wash away the past and continue to create my feelings of health and wellness in my body.

I know that my body can achieve anything that I put my mind to and it has! We ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and many races leading up to that triumphant day:


After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, I harnessed the power of my mind with chiropractic care to heal what the physiatrist and physical therapists told me would lead to a total knee replacement in a few years. I went on to run the 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in as many years. This past year of training did take a lot out of me but I feel incredible gratitude that I pushed myself through to finish the trilogy of events.

Having accomplished so much in these past 11 years on the roads and in my life and celebrating ten years of running overcoming the odds of what I was told Post-Polio Syndrome would do to my body, it's time for me to enjoy this summer and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness,
Mary

Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: The Blessing of a Morning Run



Had I not contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 and then received the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome 11 years ago, I doubt I would have as much appreciation for my mobility and the gift of running in my life.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. Poetry began pouring out off my soul inspiring mind, body and soul to heal. One of the first steps in the process of my healing the effects of paralytic polio and childhood trauma was to bless my experiences and be grateful for what happened to me finding the gift wrapped inside of the challenges.

One of the first poems I wrote declared my gratitude for the gift of polio in my life:

The Gift of Polio
Thank you God for the gift of polio that brought me so close to you
while paralyzed I saw your face no matter what I’d do
Many wonderful healers you sent them to me at age 5
perseverance and triumph life’s lessons learned
but my Spirit could not yet thrive.

At age 53 the gift was sent to me a second time
having time to sit and feel to heal I started to rhyme.
The second time felt worse than the first
yet your love and wisdom I found
out of pain and weakness and fatigue a remarkable spirit rebound.

Reliving all the trauma of special shoes and such
I discovered remarkable healers who brought a loving touch.
I had no clue I had such strength and the ability to grow
no matter what the outcome deep gratitude I show.

This gift so precious I live a new life gratitude flows from me
my heart and soul are filled with grace each day’s a gift from thee.

from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life" available on Amazon

Monday morning was one of those perfect 10 weather running kind of mornings. I was still feeling the after glow off Saturday's Bourque Family Foundation's 7.7K Race. Tom and I donned our Team Big Heart shirts, did our core work, had a banana and water and went out the front door for a 5K.

We weren't sure if we wanted to go once around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir or twice around the small Reservoir on Route 9. We decided that once around the big Reservoir would mix things up a little bit since we'd been running a lot around the small Reservoir.

My heart was open and overflowing with gratitude. I was grateful for every step I could take that was unencumbered and free. I was grateful to be able to take deep breaths and to take in the breathtaking view of the Reservoir in the morning. We said good morning to all the parents and children on their way to school and wished them a good day.

We had to stop and take a photo of the geese family appreciating God's presence in all Beings:


We kept a steady pace and we were both amazed at how quickly our run came to an end. Our time together out in nature, unplugged is precious time for us. It's the perfect way to begin a new day and a new week. I get chills and goosebumps when I think back to where I was 11 years ago facing a grim and uncertain future having been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Tom anticipated that he would have to be my caregiver; that we'd have to adapt our Cape home or move into a ranch and that I would experience an accelerated decline in functioning.

Instead, we are running together side by side and stride by stride in the roads and in our lives experiencing the blessing of a morning run.



From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness,
Mary

Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Running with Big Hearts



As Tom and I stood at the starting line of the 2018 Bermuda Half Marathon we couldn't help but notice the two runners standing next to us wearing Team Big Heart shirts.


I knew about the Middlemiss family through Dave McGillivray but it wasn't until we met Linda and Brad Gilbreth in Bermuda that Tom and I became a part of their mission and circle of love and kindness. Tom offered to take their photo at the starting line of the Half Marathon which for them was the culmination of 3 days of running the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge. Tom also snapped a photo of them with Town Crier, Ed Christopher:


I often say that friendships forged through running are the most precious as we are drawn together by a sport that values kindness, caring for each other and using running to support great causes.

Fast forward to Team Big Heart and the Boston Marathon. Tom and I supported runners with donations and sharing the All You Need Is Love Mission. We were blessed to meet several members of the Team at the Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc. at the Expo.

"I was immediately moved by Scott Middlemiss and his Foundation when they had the launch of Dream Big at my restaurant, Tresca," Ray Bourque said during the post-race program.

When Tom and I saw that the inaugural Bourque Family Foundation 7.7K was going to support the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation, we knew we needed to be a part of the day. Even though I could have walked the 5K, Tom and I decided that it would be best for me to volunteer and he would run the 7.7K. For those of you wondering why 7.7K - it's because 77 was Ray Bourque's number as a Hall of Famer hockey player. I was stationed at Bib Pick Up where I was able to meet and greet runners many of whom were my friends through the decade since I began my career as a runner.

We were blessed to have a Bermudaful reunion with the Gilbreths:


Laurie Miamis and Jennifer Sprague were two of the runners who we met at the Expo:


Jennifer lives with MS yet her Spirit and joy for life are infectious:


While we were waiting for the runners to come into the finish line, Nancy Feehrer stopped by to say hello. She wrote the manuscript for Dream Big

The Middlemiss Foundation has partnered with Dave and Nancy to distribute copies of Dream Big to children. Nancy told me that she is receiving messages from across the country with accolades and purchases of the book. I celebrated in the joy of the success of Dream Big and commented on the recent distribution of 1000 books to children in Massachusetts on Joseph Middlemiss' birthday thanks to the Middlemiss Foundation. I was deeply moved when Nancy told me that she saw a light in me from the moment we met at the book launch and is in awe of my journey. She is reading my book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance." We hugged as she went off to graduation parties for her twins.

After the race I let Ray Bourque know that Tom and I returned to Tresca after the Dream Big book launch. We told him what a wonderful dinner we experienced and look forward to going back again. He noticed my Team Big Heart shirt and said, "Be sure to stick around for the presentations. "They are going to be getting something."

Scott, Kate, Grace and Jack waited on the side of the stage. Jack is a reminder to us all that miracles happen and reminds us of the power of Love and Prayer. Fifteen weeks ago he underwent a heart transplant.

After Ray said a few words about the Middlemiss Family, before his presentation, Kate presented him with a certificate for a Buddy Bench or Kindness Library at the school of his choice. Ray was visibly moved by this gesture of kindness and love. I was moved to tears as Ray tenderly held Jack and then spoke about the power of family, love and kindness. He also said that his Foundation is looking for organizations to support that align with the mission of the Bourque Family Foundation.

Ray went on to present to the Middlemiss Family a check for $12,500! (Photos from Jennifer Sprague)

Kate and Jack's presentation to Ray:


Scott says a few words while Ray holds Jack:


Ray and Scott shaking hands:



Presentation of the check with members of the Bourque Family Foundation:


Additional photos from Kate:


The funds will be going toward the mission of the Foundation:

To expand "The Joseph Middlemiss All You Need is Love Mission," fostering the spread and documentation of Random Acts of Kindness on local, national and international fronts.


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


To contribute to research for and spread awareness of childhood heart conditions while providing financial, social and emotional assistance to families impacted by these (pizza parties, brunches and patient and parent care bags on the 8th floor at Boston Children's Hospital).


The sport of running has brought me healing from the effects of childhood paralytic polio and trauma, redemption, has helped me transform from seeing myself as physically limited and disabled to a woman of strength and endurance, health, wellness and many many joyful miles on the road. The greatest gift that running has given me is the friendships forged especially with an amazing circle of people who run with big hearts.


From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness!
Mary


Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):