Saturday, October 4, 2014


After sharing yesterday's blog "I'm trading in my Scarlet letter for a race bib" on Facebook, my friend Susan wrote:
Love this. Wear that bib proudly Mary McManus!
And I replied:
Thanks Susan. I'm getting really excited. Trained hard for the event and I know I'm ready - one more week of staying loose, Aquatics and massage and I will feel like Seabiscuit.

My subconscious was speaking. I saw the movie "Seabiscuit" years ago and didn't really remember much about the story except that I know I will be feeling like a horse at the gate a week from Monday as I take the starting line at the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women. I refreshed my memory about the story of Seabiscuit.

From PBS American Experience:

Seabiscuit’s fame was unexpected. Overworked and underachieving, Seabiscuit had been struggling in horse racing’s minor leagues for the first three years of his life. But then Tom Smith, a taciturn, West Coast trainer and Red Pollard, a beat-up, failing jockey, turned the horse’s career around. Smith spotted him first and recognized his raw, untapped power. Pollard, whose undistinguished riding history had given him plenty of experience with mistreated and troubled mounts, knew how to ride him. Together, Pollard and Smith startled the racing establishment, turning out a tremendous athlete who became an overnight winner in race after race....

Mid-way through his third season, when Seabiscuit came under the care of owner Charles Howard and trainer Tom Smith, he was refusing to eat and weighed 200 pounds less than he should. He paced nervously in his stall and lunged at anyone who came near him. One jockey who had ridden the horse before he was sold to Howard described him as “mean, restive and ragged.”

Smith began Seabiscuit’s rehabilitation by feeding him a high-quality Timothy hay and letting him sleep as late as he wanted. The trainer, well aware that horses are fond of company, created a large stall for the new boarder, and moved in a sedate old horse named Pumpkin, a calming influence who would become Seabiscuit’s life-long companion. A stray dog named Pocatell took a liking to the stall and also moved in; so did a spider monkey living on the premises, named Jo-Jo. In the company of this strange menagerie, Seabiscuit relaxed, and the real work of training got underway.

This past year I have incorporated Aquatics Therapy through Spaulding Rehab and traded in KMI Structural Integration which forces change from the outside in for weekly massage treatments at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork. I have surrounded myself with wonderful people who provide me with support and unconditional love. The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women is my comeback race. It doesn't matter when I finish although I have my eye on beating my 1:36:09 time from the last time I ran Tufts in 2010. I am visualizing 1:35:35 and depending on conditions on race day, I should be able to nail it. But what does matter is that when I cross that starting line and run through the wonderful Tufts 10K course with over 10,000 other women I will have reclaimed the champion within myself.

The Thoroughbred

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

The first 7 years of my healing odyssey are chronicled in Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility available on Amazon. I donate 50% of royalty payments to The One Fund Boston to help survivors and their families who were affected by the tragic events of 4/15/13.

I'm working on my 2nd book, "Journey Well," due out later this year:

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