Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Who's the runner in this family?



When you walk into our humble home, the first things to catch your eye are our Blue Diamond Athletic Displays. They hold our precious bling that reminds Team McManus of our running adventures through the years.

Yesterday we had a new dishwasher installed. We always trust our plumbing needs to Boston Standard. When the "regulars" come to our house, they ask if we've run any new races or what's next in our training plan. When we get someone who hasn't been to our house before, they will always ask, "Who's the runner in this family?"

Yesterday was no exception. I love having the opportunity to share my journey. It reminds me of the road I have traveled these past 10 years! I love the responses I receive and how I inspire others with my determination and fiery spirit!

Last night I posted a teaser about this blog on Facebook:
Good evening beautiful friends. I'm working on a blog post for tomorrow but thought I'd give you a teaser....."Who is the runner in the family?" our plumber asked as he installed our new dishwasher today as he spied Nell Posmer's Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, INC., medal displays. "We all are," I replied and went on to share with him my inspirational journey! Our Blue Diamond Athletic Displays are a showcase and a conversation piece! To be continued....


It's easy to forget the miracle of my healing and what I have accomplished until a moment like that happens especially when I have my eye on the next prize - my third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon!

Yet it is so very important to take a pause and appreciate how far I've come!



My Bermudian runner earth angel, Jamie-Lee Wright saw my Facebook post and said, "Wow! Boston!" with an emoji of an arm making a muscle symbolizing strength.

Yes indeed - wow Boston! I came out of a leg brace after being told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and expect to be on a steady decline given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome. Instead I foreshadowed my Boston Marathon run with the poem, "Running the Race":
Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear
despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
it tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

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

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.


Ten years ago as I contemplated an uncertain future having just left my award winning career as a VA social worker to "heal my life" "Who's the runner in this family?" was a most improbable if not impossible question. Now the answer is - we all are. Team McManus on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon 2018!

To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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 18, 2017

The Meaning of My New Pair of Kicks!



As a survivor of paralytic polio, I always struggled with finding shoes that fit me never mind being able to wear "stylish shoes." This is a stock photo but easily could have been a photo of me after I contracted polio at the age of 5 years old:


Ten years ago, after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, "a progressive neuromuscular disease" by Western Medicine standards, I needed to wear these shoes with a toe up leg brace:


But then, just like Cinderella at the ball, I was transformed through the power of running.

I met my "Prince Charming" of running shoes in March of 2008. Spencer Aston at Brookline Marathon Sports was enthralled with my journey and my desire to go the distance at the 2009 Boston Marathon. I had never run a day in my life!

He spent so much time with me fitting me with my first pair of running shoes - ever!

The discomfort and shame I used to feel around trying to buy shoes was magically whisked away by Spencer's care and attention to detail.

The staff at Brookline Marathon Sports has been helpful throughout these past 10 years as I went through different stages of running shoes. I found my way into minimalist shoes and now I'm wearing Altra Intuition.

Every time they changed the model of the shoe it was a wait with baited breath. Would the new style serve my unusual gait pattern and differences in my feet. I am not alone in this hold your breath when our favorite running shoe is upgraded but it does take on special significance for me.

Marathon Sports is no longer carrying Altra Intuition and my 3.0's that had seen me through two Bermuda marathons were about ready to bite the dust. I scoured the internet for any 3.0's or even a 3.5 without success. I went to Altra's on line store and decided to try the Intuition 4.0.

They arrived yesterday and I LOVE THEM!

I realized that I don't have to be concerned anymore about finding the right shoe. The Universe supports me in every imaginable way with everything I need to go the distance.

A man once said to me that there is nothing sexier than a woman in stilettos. He caught himself after he said it and said, "Well of course I wouldn't expect you to be in stilettos."

I smile in response to that comment now. For what could possibly be sexier than a woman sporting a pair of running shoes, fierce and focused, going the distance and giving it her all; pouring sweat - the essence of perfection and poetry in motion.

I LOVE my new kicks! And I plan to conquer the 13.1 distance in Bermuda in January...and the world!

To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):











Saturday, June 17, 2017

"This is gonna make a great blog post...Celebrating the miracle of healing!"



The title for this blog was said by our daughter Ruth Anne as we prepared to run 5 miles around Jamaica Pond on our road to the Bermuda Half Marathon.

Torrential downpours were the lullaby we feel asleep to last night. We planned to run our traditional Reservoir route but as Ruth Anne put on her new kicks and I looked at the puddles outside, I knew we needed a plan B! Spirit spoke to me and directed me to suggest we do our training run around Jamaica Pond.

Jamaica Pond holds so many special memories for us. It's where we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon. At the time I had not realized that Bill Rodgers trained at Jamaica Pond. His runs around Jamaica Pond are well documented in his book, "Marathon Man."

As so often happens during a Team McManus training run, we find something to laugh about and today proved to be the rule rather than the exception. I had trouble getting my arm band on and couldn't decide whether or not to wear my jacket given the "in between" kind of weather. We started our run and then realized we forgot to stretch. We started in one direction but there were throngs of runners going in the opposite direction and decided we'd rather swim with the salmon upstream than try to dodge runners.

We fell into our rhythm and had our best training run to date.

We reminisced about our Boston Marathon training runs around Jamaica Pond which of course included this gem:

From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":
And who could EVER forget us losing each other around - emphasize the word a-round Jamaica Pond. Tom had stopped at the car to fill up the water bottles and get some snacks. He had his iPod on really loud. I was in the zone and ran by him. I saw him looking for me in the opposite direction and yelled to him that I was over here. I felt so great and the weather was wonderful that I did not want to interrupt my rhythm. Finally, my daughter who had been going at her own pace came running up to me - where were you she asked? (well duh, we're going around in a circle) Dad is worried sick about you. He thought that since you had to go to the bathroom (and the bathrooms were not open yet) that you went off the trail and went to pee in the woods). We finally all caught up with one another and laughed so hard.

Today, our daugher observed, "Dad paced us, I'm keeping by your side running stride for stride and, We are celebrating the miracle of healing!"

As we passed by the rocks that formed a wall, we remembered how our runs during the winter of 2009 inspired my poem:

Courage - January 5, 2009
The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.
A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movements,as She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.
The branches now bejeweled with ice bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow
hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.
A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.


We kept an eye on our pace to ensure we did not go too fast given that we were training for distance and we nailed our pace. We improved on our fueling and hydration. We filled our senses with the waves lapping against the shore, the sweet scent of late Spring/early Summer in Boston, the lush green trees and allowing our bodies to train on the trails and terrain. It was our first training run where I felt a surge of optimism that we are and will go the 13.1 distance together.

Today's training run at Jamaica Pond DID make for a great run and a great blog post. Team McManus celebrated the miracle of healing!



To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):






Friday, June 16, 2017

Life Outside the Comfort Zone!



My Facebook news feed is filled with my friends' thrilling summer racing adventures. 70.3's, Lake Placid Ironman, training and fund raising for Fall marathons and my contribution to this fabulous feed is Team McManus' training for my third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon next January.

As I saw my friends' posts and pondered my own undertaking, I began to wonder why do we do this?

We do this because life begins outside of our comfort zone. We affirm, through our epic undertakings, how life is meant to be lived.



We are all creatures of habit. Getting into a rut is incredibly easy as Dr. Joe Dispenza eloquently explains in this video:


Ten years ago I was in a terrible rut; a result of the conditioning from having contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 followed by years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards. My body had become what I experienced during a tragic childhood.

What helped me to begin to make a shift in my thinking?

A poem
- yes you read that right ... a poem!
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem foreshadowing my 2009 Boston Marathon run:

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear
despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
it tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

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

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.




I was off and running in my quest to heal my life from the effects of polio and trauma! Poetry flowed out of me at warped speed as I imagined myself in my poems as healthy, whole, running unencumbered and free!

Although I had never run a day in my life and I was in a leg brace, using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility AND was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and expect my body to continue to deteriorate, my Spirit awakened and spoke.

In February of 2008 I declared that I, Mary McManus, who had never run a day in her life, was going to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

Talk about stepping outside of my comfort zone!

As Dr. Joe explains, there is always a pull to go back to the familiar. We are literally wired that way.


I find that the best way to continue to recondition my body to a new mind as Dr. Joe likes to say, is to set goals that take me outside of my comfort zone. By surrounding myself with friends who take on epic adventures I am inspired to stay outside of my comfort zone!

Team McManus has one more 5 miler this Saturday and then we begin to slowly increase our mileage for the Bermuda Half Marathon.

I've never done a threepeat of any endurance race. I was once and done for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I was going to cap my distance at a 10K. I was scared to go the distance again. However, when I met Anthony Raynor, Race Director for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend at the Finish at the 50 Race Expo in July of 2015, he told me that I would be better off running the Half Marathon because the 10K in Bermuda is all hills. He fired up the endurance runner within me and I knew it was time, once again, to step outside of my comfort zone and go for the Half Marathon distance again.

I wasn't going to run a third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon, but once again R.D. Raynor was an agent of the Universe. He visited us at the Boston Marathon Expo and extended an invitational entry to Team McManus! To sweeten the deal, he let us know that he had negotiated a wonderful rate with the Race Weekend Host Hotel, The Fairmount Southampton Princess.



It is very enticing to forego the training through every kind of weather and to put my body through the rigors of training for a Half Marathon again and head to Bermuda to lounge on the beach and around the pool.

But what would that possibly serve? Life does indeed begin outside the comfort zone. My heart, my mind, my body and my soul all need the challenge of running a third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon. I'm so blessed and grateful that I have a lot of crazy friends in my village who feel the same way!

To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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 14, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Challenges, Determination and Mental Toughness: Nothing Can Stop Me Now!



The beginning of my bio and book description for "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" states:
Mary McManus has known challenges since she was five years old beginning with contracting paralytic polio followed by nine years of enduring violence at the hands of family members. Those early challenges helped Mary to grow into the woman that she is today and prepared her to take on the challenge of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. Mary was diagnosed in December 2006 when she was at the height of her award winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. As Mary had done when faced with life’s trials and tribulations, she got still and asked for Divine Guidance. It came through her divining rod of healing, her pen, as poetry poured forth from her soul. She took a leap of faith leaving her career just three years shy of when she was eligible to retire to heal her life. The first poem she wrote, “Running the Race,” foreshadowed her 2009 Boston Marathon run as a mobility impaired runner. Mary feverishly wrote poetry asking the question, ‘How will I ever reclaim my life?’ and yearning for a healer that would partner with her to help her live her life and run unencumbered and free. Eight years after beginning her quest to heal the effects of paralytic polio and trauma, Mary was led to a chiropractor and muscular therapist who answered the call she put out to the Universe in her poetry.

Life is filled with challenges and as Vince Lombardi and Rocky like to say:


It takes determination, and mental toughness to go the distance on the roads and in life.

During today's muscular therapy with Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, as he was working on a very sore left leg after a 5 day training cycle, I said,

"It's funny Jeffrey. I'm remembering back to our first session together in April of 2015 when you asked me, 'What leg are we rehabbing?' {That was after a very serious knee injury in December of 2014 when the doctor, the PT's and even the massage therapist I was working with at the time were telling me that I would not/should not/could not ever run again and that I need a total knee replacement in a year or so.} As I began to experience your touch, I knew that I was going to be able to run again. Right now, I know that I can go 13.1 miles again."

"That's so neat," Jeffrey replied.

As with any new challenge, there are often doubts and fears especially at the end of a 5 day training cycle where I feel tired and sore from the challenges of training and the inevitable challenges that life presents.

But with the skill of a surgeon's scalpel and a powerful intention to bring healing and relief, Jeffrey helped me to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life knowing that I can and will do a threepeat at the Bermuda Marathon Weekend in January.

Training for an endurance event is 90% mental and the other 10% is in your head!


Part of me was having second thoughts about whether or not to run a third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon. I've never been one to shy away from challenges. The seeds of determination and mental toughness were planted early in my life and now they are bearing fruit.

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful gardeners who are helping me to reap the harvest of my life.

One more week at 5 miles and then Team McManus will begin to slowly build miles on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon.

Will I go the distance again? Hell yes because nothing can stop me now.

To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):




Monday, June 12, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! The Joy is in the Journey: The Joy of Healing



Last week presented many challenges and I found myself in high stress situations. Of course we all know that it's not about the events themselves but how we respond to them. I meditated on peace, equanimity and balance, saying the serenity prayer over and over again. Yet it was difficult for me to get ahead of my feelings and, as always happens with stress, I felt it in my body on Thursday and Friday.

A myriad of physical symptoms surfaced and I knew I needed to take charge of myself.

I returned to the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and rededicated myself to my healing journey with a passion knowing that I have marked a major milestone -- 10 years -- in my healing journey and I'm training for my 3rd consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon.



I reminded myself that I AM the placebo. My beloved friend, healer and chiropractor, Dr. Ryan sent me this photo early on in our work together in March of 2015. I have it posted on my refrigerator:


I read Candace Pert's book, "Everything you need to know to feel Go(o)d":


Throughout the book, Candace, known to her fans as the "Goddess of Neuroscience" and a major contributor to the field of mind/body medicine, talks about how we talk to our bodies influences our bodies at the cellular level. She just happened to give the example of what happens if you've had a knee injury. You experience pain and your first thought can either be, "Oh no. I am injured again." OR "I love how my body is healing. I can embrace this pain as a sign of healing."

At the end of the book, Candace writes, "Trust. Breathe. Let go. God is in control."

In her Epilogue, she reflects on fear.

"The root of fear, I concluded, is more about being alone, feeling unconnected to others and not realizing that we're all one. As my long-term massage therapist Adam Helfer poetically put it, 'If you're connected to the divine, you'll always feel fine.' Adam had also told me he thought the best universal advice to 'feel good' is to remain in the present moment as much is possible.'"

Throughout my healing journey I have called upon the power of Divine Intelligence that is within and around me. When I first set out on my journey, I imagined God as my master electrician helping me to rewire my body in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma. I harnessed the power of my imagination thinking beyond my circumstances of having a diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease using a leg brace, a cane and a wheelchair at times for mobility.

I have documented my journey through poetry and in two memoirs (see below) sharing how the power of my imagination and harnessing the teachings of Dr. Bernie Siegel, Dr. Joe, Candace Pert, and What the bleep do we know helped me to transform my physical state and alter the course of my diagnosis.

Since last Friday I have given myself more time for meditation going deep into that space that Dr. Dispenza notes is where we are able to create our physical, mental and spiritual reality.

I dismiss thoughts of injury and bathe myself with healing light knowing in every fiber of my being that I am and continue to heal from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

The road I have chosen is a difficult road. I could have easily succumbed to my diagnosis and my beliefs that were so deeply ingrained in mind, body and soul.

I experience so much joy when I am able to experience my power of self-healing; to transcend ingrained beliefs, move beyond habitual responses and open my heart and soul to feelings of gratitude for my strength, my courage and willingness to partner with the Divine to go the distance. The joy is in the journey and there is so much joy in experiencing and bearing witness to the miracle of healing in my life.

To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):