Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My First Trip in 8 Years! Courage and Triumph!

I was reflecting on the difference between baggage claim at Logan Airport and the Bermuda Airport. "You step out of the plane and before you descend the steps you breathe in the fragrant tropical air," I told him. Baggage claim is small and quiet and everyone is so excited to be there. I paused for a moment and remembered how, 8 years ago, the last trip I took, there was a wheelchair waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. On January 14th, I will bound down the stairs ready to embrace our Bermuda adventure having spent these last 7 months training hard.

When I walked out of the door this morning, there was ice everywhere. Before Tom and I realized how slippery it was prompting him to go back in the house and put down sand, I navigated my way from the front door to the car in the driveway. I kept my balance and felt my core strength fire up as I walked carefully on the ice.

Fear of being outdoors in winter and walking on ice was finally conquered. I have the core strength and the balance now. I felt as though I was walking on water.

The doctors wanted me to take drugs for osteoporosis and told me a cautionary tale about going out in winter. They told me to use a cane with an ice gripper on the bottom.

I was always afraid of winter weather because I lacked confidence and strength in my body after contracting paralytic polio and then experiencing 9 years of severe trauma. After the diagnosis of post polio syndrome and osteoporosis, the fear initially spiked and I did have my blue cane with an ice gripper walking ever so gingerly but I met an angel of a personal trainer who said that I was old before my time and she worked with me to train for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It was the first time I was outdoors in winter for any significant length of time. Marathon Sports outfitted and continues to outfit Team McManus to make sure we had everything we needed for cold weather running. I harnessed the power of my imagination to visualize warm lava flowing through my legs as I trained through one of the most grueling New England winters in history (of course it was nothing compared to the winter of 2014 with its record breaking snows).

I wrote the poem Courage from "Feel the Heal, available on Amazon after a training run around Jamaica Pond:


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.

Branches now bejeweled though bare 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 have been so blessed that winter waited to arrive until now. Our last 11 miler should be in the 40's and sunny so we'll only have a few 3 mile runs to stay loose in cold weather. I believe that every step of this journey to the Bermuda Half Marathon has been showered with grace. Oh sure we trained in cool rain, chilly weather, heat and humidity during the summer. I even took a tumble on our 6.5 miler. Overall it's been an amazing training journey.

I was and am unstoppable! Two weeks from tomorrow I board a plane for Bermuda; my first trip in 8 years. After last December's knee injury I had to muster up the courage to start over again not knowing where I might land. Who knew it was going to be on that beautiful Island of Bermuda running a half marathon again! I am savoring every moment leading up to my Bermuda Half Marathon run. I feel a wellspring of joy bubble up within me. I feel triumphant and I am ready to ring in 2016 leaving the past behind.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Accomplishments and Goals - 2015

When 2015 began I was once again facing uncertainty with my body. I was nursing a significant knee injury and had an MRI that revealed bone spurs, torn meniscus, degenerative joint changes, changes from previous surgeries, a lipoma, an atrophied gastroc muscle and indication that the only surgery that was possible would be a total knee replacement at some point in the future. "Here's a script for physical therapy. No running until the summer and cap your distance at a 5K - well okay a 5 miler if you insist."

The physical therapy encounter led me back on my path to self healing and right into the path of Dr. Ryan Means, my beloved chiropractor and dear friend. Armed with reading "You Are the Placebo" by Dr. Joe Dispenza and reminding myself what Dave McGillvray wrote in the copy of his book "The Last Pick" I set goals not limits.

I was going to run the Newport Marathon next October but then at the Finish at the 50 race on 7/3, we met the Bermudians promoting Bermuda Marathon Weekend. Somewhere between hello and good-bye I had a new goal for 2016; something that had been on my bucket list for 3 years to run the Bermuda Marathon only I modified it to the Bermuda Half.

Shortly after firing my physical therapists and previous massage therapist and leaving Spaulding Rehab's Aquatics Therapy classes, I met Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer chiropractor who reminded me that I could and would go the distance again!

In March, Dr. Ryan gave me a training plan. I couldn't squat or do crunches or sit ups or hold a plank for very long. With patience, persistence, perseverance and courage, I now plank for 3 minutes; can do 15 squats; use stabilizers to improve balance. I have increased weights and reps with upper and lower body strength training.

After I run and recover from the Bermuda Half, I am going to explore ways to increase core and strength training.

On February 28th, Team McManus toes the starting line for the Hyannis 10K. We haven't been to Camp Hyannis with me running since February 2011.

It's taper time and this morning I did an easy 3 mile run on the treadmill. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could use the words easy and run in the same sentence. It was icy and slushy outside and with two weeks to go until Bermuda, there was no way I was going to risk training outside.

I've had stellar accomplishments in 2015 and am so excited about my goals for 2016. 2015 was the first year that, despite a very stressful family situation, not only did I NOT have a relapse of post polio symptoms, but I successfully trained for the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon. I learned how to do squats and have conditioned myself mind, body and spirit to go the distance. 2015 - the year I reclaimed my life. 2016 - the year that my life keeps getting better and better.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Countdown to Bermuda: Let the Taper Madness Begin

It's wonderful to have this time with Tom to get ready for Bermuda. He is on vacation this week and today we enjoyed cross training in the pool at Wave Health and Fitness. He kicks my butt out on the roads and I get to return the favor when we cross train and strength train!

My dear friend Stephanie who ran the Bermuda Half in January of 2015 was there and she vicariously lived through us remembering her training and counting down to Bermuda last year. We talked about the itchiness of taper time and how wonderful it is to enjoy every moment leading up to and then during the race. She told me we have to stop and take pictures!

I feel incredibly accomplished and deeply grateful to Ryan Means, DC that I am able to go the distance again. I remember taper madness from the 2009 Boston Marathon. I focused all of my anxiety of whether or not we were going to make it to the bus on time and terrified the roads would be closed before we got there.

With a runcation you have a whole different set of things to focus on for taper madness time. I dismiss each one and replace it with creating in my mind's eye exactly what I want to have happen knowing that God has blessed this journey from the start. I rewrote one of the poems I wrote on our road to the Boston Marathon to fit this most wonderful occasion:

Half Marathon Sunday

It's Half Marathon Sunday, it's our day to shine
on Front Street Bermuda Team McManus poised at starting line.
I know I can do this - there's no way to fail
tethered to God through this race I can sail.

For over six months, we've trained from our heart
mind, body, and spirit - we're ready to start.
We know the course and we know the terrain
we're primed for the challenge - so much we will gain.

The glory's far greater than what we may face
we're living examples of God's shining Grace.
Shake out all the nerves - there's nothing to fear
let in all the love from the crowds as they cheer.

With prayers and angels our feet feel so light
joy overflowing the finish in sight.
We'll conquer the course fueled by love in our heart
the race had been won blessed by God from the start.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Countdown to Bermuda: Watch me now! - Three Weeks From Today

Three weeks from today at this exact moment I will be sitting around the pool at the Rosedon Hotel wearing my bling (which begs the question does bling go with a bathing suit?) after having successfully run the Bermuda Half Marathon.

It's been 6 long years since I have gone the distance.

I have had to raise my voice above the nay sayers in my life since I was a little girl. I had to overcome the challenge of paralytic polio and then find a way to endure and survive 9 years of childhood violence. After being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease 9 years ago this month, I came out of my leg brace, rose from my wheelchair and went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It was a rocky road as I was finding my footing on my healing path. And then I met Ryan J. Means, DC who invited me um no it was stronger than that - who told me I MUST read "You Are the Placebo" by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Yes - I remember all of this! I know I am the placebo. I've healed so much in my life through thought alone. I've got this.

The doctor, PT's and my previous massage therapist said I couldn't run/shouldn't run anymore and if I did well cap it off at a 5K or at most 5 miles.

The hay is in the barn! 12.5 miles in the books and now it's maintain and taper time.

I sit here smiling from ear to ear feeling goosebumps everywhere! It's all happening. It's all possible. With courage, strength of Spirit and resilience I came back from a knee injury last December side stepping the mainstream medical community to find my path.

There were so many people out there throughout my life who told me I can't...and to each and every one of them I say, "Watch me now."

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Countdown to Bermuda: 12.5 on 12-25 on Setting and Achieving Goals

When I saw the weather forecast for December 25th - sunny and high of 60 degrees - it was a no brainer to move our 12.5 miler from Saturday to Friday. Our son and his girlfriend were coming at 1 pm so that meant we had to get up early and get our run on. It was a wonderful opportunity to simulate race day!

On Thursday, we skyped with Clarence "Stoker" Smith and as if I were not excited enough, talking with our Bermudian friend about race weekend got me really well stoked! He said that he will provide us transportation to the hotel if I could please forward the itinerary to him. That's what Bermudian hospitality is all about. We met Clarence at the Finish at the 50 Race Expo and became fast friends.

Thursday was my rest day and mental preparation for the last long run before taper time. I woke up at 3 am and meditated. I fell into a deep sleep before the alarm went off at 6:15. Tom and I meditated together. We did our plank, our crunches and our clams (thank you Dr. Ryan Means) to reinforce our core strength and to give our hip flexors a boost. We had the pre run meal that we will have in Bermuda although on race day we'll need to eat a little earlier because gun time is at 8:00 and we have to be at the starting line no later than 7:50. I wore the capris I plan to wear on race day unless it's warmer than yesterday then I'll be in shorts. I had on long sleeves but could have easily worn a t shirt. It was chilly when we started out but the day quickly warmed up.

Tom and I had no specific route planned. We had a general idea of the loops we wanted to run. I could feel how well trained I was and that I was definitely half marathon ready.

I've been working day in and day out, week in and week out for 6 months. Running, cross training, strength training, weekly massage and most importantly of all, listening to my body has been my recipe for success. As we built the miles, I would lessen the intensity of my pool workouts but continued to increase strength training.

As we ran in the glorious warm December sunshine and the miles flew by I said to Tom he needed to keep pinching me as I realized that I am trained for a half marathon after believing that I might never run again or if I did it would be a 5k but never more than 5 miles after I had run the 2009 Boston Marathon and after a knee injury one year ago this time, I thought that was it.

Here we are after finishing our run:

Running Bermuda was on my bucket list 3 years ago. I had given up but then the spark first ignited with Dr. Ryan was set ablaze when we talked with Anthony, the race director and Clarence at the Finish at the 50 Expo. Did I ever doubt that I would go the distance again? There were moments sure but I learned to trust my body and feel confident and strong. Tom ran by my side, stride for stride and focused on my will and determination rather than the time on the clock.

And what a village!

The running community has embraced my journey and cheered me on every step of the way. One of my dear Facebook friends, Nicole is running her first Marathon in Houston the exact same day I run the Bermuda Half. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. We both start taper time and are counting down the days until we triumphantly cross the finish line of what we set out to do.

We set the goal. We have done the work and now we get ready to run our victory laps on 1/17/2016!

At 62 years old I decided that you're never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. I have made manifest what I set out to do 9 years ago after receiving the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease; to heal my life.

It's not going to be about the time that it takes me to finish it will be about crossing that finish line.

It will be a personal best because I will have achieved what I set out to do!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Countdown to Bermuda: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

"No matter how your heart is grieving..if you just keep believing...your dream that you wish will come true."

Three weeks from today at this very moment I will be on Delta Flight 561 traveling from Boston to Bermuda. It will be the manifestation of a wish - a dream of mine to run the Bermuda Half Marathon. Three years ago I had seen the Race Weekend advertised. I set forth the intention that one day I would return to Bermuda not only without a leg brace and using a wheelchair to travel but would run the Bermuda Marathon the year I turned 60. Okay so it will be the year I turn 63 and it will be the half but it is a dream come true!

Tomorrow I run 12.5 miles - 12.5 on 12/25 - my 62nd birthday.

Today I get to spend the day with Tom preparing mind, body and soul to go the farthest distance I have run since 4/20/09. It's only .5 miles farther than what we ran last Saturday.

I am totally confident in this undertaking.

Tomorrow is my 62nd birthday. I already have the best gifts! Tom is my running and life partner and we are getting up early to run 12.5 miles before our son and his girlfriend arrive for Christmas/birthday dinner. I am healing all that went before. I feel the transformation happening gaining momentum with each treatment turbo charged by my meditation and all that I do in my training.

My life is truly remarkable. It's been a phenomenal year of challenges, of growth, of transformation and of profound and lasting healing.

A wish is a dream your heart makes ...

What's your Christmas wish?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

For someone who was supposed to be in a wheelchair I run pretty fast!

As Tom and I added on our miles training for the Bermuda Half Marathon, I would often apologize for my pace. "If you were out here running alone, you'd be done in half the time," I'd tell him. This was especially true during our 10.5 miler in the rain. Tom reminds me how much he loves the time we spend together on our long runs and that I inspire him with my sheer will and determination.

As we get ready to run our 12.5 miles on Friday, I revisited my pace with Tom and he said, "For someone who was supposed to be in a wheelchair, you run pretty fast."

Well that certainly put things into perspective!

When I skype'd with Clarence "Stoker" Smith, Assistant Race Director for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend, he asked me my expected finish time. I told him under 4 hours for the half. His wife jumped up and down clapping her hands (no small feat for a 70+ woman) screaming, "Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Bless you. I'm comin' down to Front Street to cheer you on." He said that was an amazing projected time.

Most of the time I remember that I am a miracle; that after meeting Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer, chiropractor and now dear friend, he reignited the flame of going the distance within me. He turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza! Nine years ago I was in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility and was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Given the ravages that paralytic polio and trauma took on my body and what Western medicine knew about post polio syndrome, it was a reasonable assumption. God and I, however, had other plans.

It's been quite the healing odyssey with ups and downs and everything in between but now, at last, I have all the tools I need to go the distance; meditation, a kick ass cross training routine prescribed by my dear friend, healer and chiropractor Dr. Ryan Means, an amazing running and life partner with Tom and a village that cheers me on every mile of the way. As I post my runs on Nike+ no one has ever said to me, "well what was your pace." They all cheer me on inspired by what I have overcome knowing that for someone who was supposed to be in a wheelchair, I run pretty fast!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Countdown to Bermuda: Preparing for My Longest Run

Bermuda Tourism has been posting the 12 Days of Christmas Bermuda style:
On the 10th day of Christmas, Bermuda gave to me…
Ten marlins leaping
Nine golfers putting
Eight divers diving
Seven rum swizzles swizzlin'
Six yachts sailing
Five moon gates
Four rum cakes
Three exploring scooters
Two longtail birds
And endless pink sandy beaches surrounded by the bluest sparkling sea

This morning the post was 10 marlins leaping.

My heart started leaping and I felt goosebumps everywhere remembering when we would travel to Bermuda in July to cheer on the Sea and Surf Anglers Club from Boston as they competed against the Blue Waters Anglers Club of Bermuda. Of course it was no contest. The Bermudians were expert anglers and awesome hosts for their Bostonian friends and entourage (of which we were a part).

We are going to run by the Club when we run the Bermuda Half Marathon.

I smile and feel goosebumps all over when I think about it. We would go to the Club for a fish fry and sit out on the dock overlooking the blue waters of Bermuda. There were gentle warm breezes in the evening and ginger beer, dark ‘n stormies, rum punch and every imaginable libation flowed as easily as the conversation.

We’d walk down to the Club to watch the boats come in and the catch would get weighed and filleted. On the last night of the tournament there was the awards ceremony, music, dancing and a spread of food that of course included fish.

I can finally remember the wonderful times we had in Bermuda rather than remember how unwell I felt the last trip we made in December of 2007.

I'm returning to Bermuda as a woman transformed thanks in huge part to Dr. Ryan J. Means, a most remarkable healer/chiropractor and now a dear friend.

This has been quite a banner year for me in my running career. I have not run this far since I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon.

I am receiving the best gifts this Christmas and they don't come under the tree. I have and continue to reclaim my life. Three weeks from Thursday I travel for the first time since 2007 and I travel without a leg brace, without a wheelchair and WITH a pair of Altras to toe the starting line of the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon. I will return home with a medal around my neck and new amazing memories of that Bermudaful Island just two and half hours away from Boston.

On Friday, my 62nd birthday I run 12.5 miles - 12.5 on 12/25. It culminates a year of hard work, dedication and single mindedness focusing on getting ready for January 17th, 2016.

So much excitement awaits and there is such joy in the journey!

Thursday, Christmas Eve is a time of preparation to run the longest distance I have run since April 20, 2009 and Friday will be our last long run before we taper. I am smiling from ear to ear feeling an incredible sense of accomplishment; feeling touched by grace knowing that I have spent these last 8 months intensely preparing to reach my goal.

It is serious countdown time and time to get ready to embrace Bermuda once more!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


From Deepak Chopra, MD

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.

There are studies about the physical and emotional benefits of keeping a gratitude journal including healing GI issues and boosting the immune system.

Dr. Joe Dispenza
calls gratitude, the ultimate state of receivership.

Gratitude is being thankful for what we have - and that means the challenges!

Yes I have suffered and there are still situations that are quite challenging in my life however I choose to maintain a practice of gratitude being thankful for the blessings that are wrapped inside the challenges and focusing on all the grace, love and goodness that fills my life.

I know I would not be the woman I am today had I not lived through the experiences of contracting paralytic polio and 9 years of childhood domestic violence and all the challenges I faced and continue to face.

How wondrous and how wonderful that in the midst of grief, in the midst of the bittersweet emotions of the holiday season, I can meditate and get into a state of feeling gratitude overflow and fill every cell of my Being with happiness and joy.

I allow joy and gratitude to flow like champagne allowing happiness and contentment to bubble up inside of me. That wellspring of joy feeds my very essence and in its wake, creativity, inspiration and healing flow.

While it is easy to look at what others "have" and feel that we do not "have enough," it is just as easy to focus on gratitude and experience the wonder, magic and blessings of our lives observing how the alchemy of gratitude turns what we have into enough and so much more...I make it a point to express my gratitude to the people in my life and for my healing in every blog post. I love how my heart opens like a flower when I reflect on how blessed I am.

What are you grateful for?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I believe I can fly!

We were not planning to do our long run today. We did the annual Christmas Baskets event with L Street Running Club where we deliver Christmas dinner and gifts to 40 families and 120 kids in need. As always it is a most special and sacred event where our Club comes together to buy gifts, order food and then organize and orchestrate delivery.

After the work was done we have our time for coffee, pastries and conversation. I got really energized about running Bermuda and on the way home suggested to Tom that we get our 12 miler on today. I'd been up since 6:30am, had been standing on my feet socializing and worked with our Club Vice President to organize deliveries and get everyone on their way. We hadn't paid attention to having a pre long run dinner because we weren't planning on a long run today.

We usually get up, do plank, crunches and clams, have breakfast and then go on our run. We got up. Meditated and headed over to L Street.

We had fruit before we left on our run, did our plank, crunches and clams and decided to see what we needed running from the inside out listening to our bodies in an out of the routine long run.

It felt amazing to be courageous and trust in my body especially after my right knee and IT band were "barking" at me during Christmas Baskets. What I realized was I was having a flashback to a year ago when we did Christmas baskets. It was shortly after my knee injury and I could barely walk. I had to sit down and couldn't talk running because I thought my running days were over but loved feeling the camaraderie of my Club.

Rather than focus on what my right knee was feeling I told my right knee that nothing happens in this house unless I say it does, reminded myself of me as a powerful healer and said to my body, "Yes we can!" I thought of the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of my healing bible, You Are The Placebo who says that you have to think greater than current circumstances.

Yesterday I received a post card from China from my beloved chiropractor, Dr. Ryan Means. He said, "From March to 11/21/15 and double digits. I believe in your Spirit. Run girl run." His words echoed in my ears. I believed in my Spirit too.

As we set out to do our run around Jamaica Pond I said to Tom, "Bill Rodgers feet ran on this very path. I can feel his energy!"

There was a headwind and there are several hills around Jamaica Pond. Rather than focus on the cold head wind, we watched the leaves dance and swirl. We were reminded of when Team McManus trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon and marveled at how, on December 19th, even though it was chilly, the water still flowed freely and the ground was dry.

I left my doubts and worries behind me as we racked up our miles. As the run went on, my right knee released and along with it I released traumatic memories and memories of having been in an ankle to hip cast for 6 weeks during the summer when I was 11 years old. Tom and I talked about many things. It felt so good to smile and laugh and be together enjoying a spectacular day in New England.

It's 1.52 miles around Jamaica Pond but something went wonky with the GPS and rather than hitting the mile mark when we got to our car, we had to go about .4 of a mile farther to reach the mile mark. We stayed with it and I believe that when all was said and done we probably did about 12.4 miles rather than 12 but I was not going to stop until Nike+ told us we hit the 12 mile mark!

By the time we finished I felt sore everywhere yet I also felt exhilarated. I had just gone out and run 12 miles without having my usual pre long run dinner, without the usual morning routine, after having been a part of the Christmas Baskets and most importantly setting my mind and heart on the task before me.

It was wonderful to envision Bermuda in just a few weeks; especially the enthusiasm of Clarence's (Assistant Race Director) wife with whom we skyped a few weeks ago. Energy flowed through me and I felt invincible. I felt that I had conquered something and felt my power and connection to Source putting into practice all that I had learned during these past 9 months.

I felt Ryan's presence on the run and I smiled and knew I could go the distance again even though I had yet to run more than a couple of miles.

Nine months of intense training mind, body and Soul.

When I set out on today's long run I believed I could fly. I believed that I could just go out and run 12 miles and we'd figure out fueling along the way. I believed that I am healed, healthy, whole and strong and that the power of belief trumps any physical reality; any appearance.

I used to think that I could not go on
And life was nothing but an awful song
But now I know the meaning of true love
I'm leaning on the everlasting arms

If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly...

If I can see it, then I can be it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it

Counting down the days to Bermuda. One more long run and then taper mode.

I've got this ... I believe I can fly!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Going the Distance: Is It Possible?

A year ago if you would have asked me if it would be possible for me to run another half marathon or even run period I would have said I don't think so. I think my running days are behind me or at the very best I might be able to run a 5K or a 5 miler.

And then I met Ryan J. Means,DC. DC stands for doctor of chiropractic medicine. I think it should stand for dismiss common beliefs.

From the moment I met him I could feel his passion for his work and his belief that as a healer, he facilitates the body's natural ability to heal.

Together we decided that I should set goals not limits and I felt the stirrings of being an endurance runner again.

As I sit here writing this, I am thinking about where I will be in one month in the afternoon. I could see myself with my medal from the Bermuda Half Marathon around my neck sitting by the pool feeling deeply satisfied with my accomplishment.

I'm feeling all sorts of new sensations in my body as I train in a way I haven't trained in 6 years and I never trained with this level of intensity. I remind myself that I am the Placebo and can and will go the distance. Tomorrow our running club has our annual charitable event for Christmas Baskets so we will do our long run on Sunday. 12 miles - 12 miles! It's the one year anniversary of when I experienced that serious knee injury and was told I shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't run again.

Is it possible? It is indeed possible for this survivor of paralytic polio and violence to heal and be transformed, transcending all that went before to go the distance on January 17, 2016.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 - What a Year! - You've got to Believe

Facebook has the Year in Review in photos for us to take a look back at where we've been in 2015.

When the year started out, I was recovering from a serious knee injury. I wasn't sure how or when I'd get back to running. I saw a physiatrist, a physical therapist, was working with a massage therapist all of whom were shrugging and doubting my ability to get back on the roads.

It was the night of the playoffs and just so happened to also be the night of the book release party for "Journey Well," the sequel to my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility."

It was cold and slushy outside and many people opted (and rightfully so) to watch the playoffs.

But not Ryan J. Means, DC who was renting office space where we had the book launch. From the moment I looked into those deep blue eyes and heard him talk about his passion for chiropractic care that wasn't just for the spine, I felt a spark ignite inside of me. As I initially walked the path of Western Medicine, Ryan reached out to me on Facebook saying he was intrigued by my journey and would I like to get together for coffee? I instantly knew he was going to partner with me to get me back on the roads. Through working with him, I had the courage to fire all the nay sayers and devoured Dr. Joe Dispenza's, "You Are the Placebo."

Here we are at his farewell lunch before he left to practice in China:

Even though Dr. Ryan lives halfway around the world now, he still does distance healing with me via Facebook messenger.

I crossed the finish line of the Harvard Pilgrim 5K Finish at the 50 - my comeback race with my bestie by my side:

The Bermuda Marathon Weekend was at the Expo. I on Facebook that I was going to go the distance and run the Bermuda Half Marathon.

Dr. Ryan was all in with me sharing in the journey in cyberspace with occasional chats.

The highlights of the rest of the year reflect how Team McManus built miles and strengthened our running family bonds now that we were going the distance again.

Facebook chose to incorporate this photo of me wearing a t-shirt from my dear friend and elite runner, Reno Stirrat that really sums up the year's highlights for me:

2016 is right around the corner and I am going to cross off something that has been on my bucket list for several years - the Bermuda Half Marathon. I had planned to run the full and was going to run it two years ago but this is going to be even sweeter and better than I could have imagined it.

While 2015 got off to an incredibly rough start for me and for so many with the record breaking snowfall in New England, it is ending on an incredibly high note.

While I may have strayed away from my healing path, I never lost faith. I'd like to close with this clip from Miracle on 34th Street - a reminder to us all. "Mommy told me that if things don't turn out the way you want the first time you've still got to believe!"

2015 - What a year. The year of quantum healing and going the distance. After looking back and seeing the magic and synchronicity you've just got to believe!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reflections on Courage and Perseverance

On an episode of the West Wing, Will Bailey says to Toby Ziegler, “You were raised in horror. How did you turn out to be one of the good guys.”

It’s a question I often ask myself. Perhaps the tone for my life was set when I was born on Christmas Day in a Catholic Hospital and named Mary even though both of my parents were Jewish. After contracting paralytic polio at age 5 I had a vision and a meeting with one of my guardian angels. Despite the precarious predicament I found myself in with a drug addicted mother who would glare at me while smoking a cigarette, I chose life. I made it through 9 years of unrelenting violence and neglect from the age of 8 until 17 when my father suicided.

Last night there were torrential downpours that I would hear as I’d come out of a deep sleep. Early this morning before my alarm went off I heard a gentle rain and allowed that to be the soundtrack for my meditation. When my alarm went off Tom and I looked at one another and then out of the window to see misty rain and a soaking wet ground with lots of puddles.

“It’s going to be sunny tomorrow,” Tom said to me. “Do you want to strength train today?”

I thought for a minute. “I already did two days of strength training and I need my muscles to recover….Let’s just do this.”

The misty rain stopped and the sky began to clear. It was a balmy 50 degrees - highly unusual for December 15th in Boston.

By the time we got to the Reservoir, blue skies emerged and we were blessed to witness this glorious scene:

Off in the distance we saw a troop of ducks gather. “It’s a reunion,” Tom remarked. Without any cue and with a seeming expression of unbridled joy, they all flew and dove into the water. “They think it’s Spring,” I commented to Tom and a woman passing by. “This is the kind of day that lifts the Spirit,” Tom remarked.

You would never have known that it had rained all night long and into the early morning hours except for the pattern of puddles that provided us with a fun little obstacle course. Many of the puddles were heart shaped.

As I ran strong and healthy running negative splits and a consistent tempo pace, I had the realization that I have changed my body through thought (image below from Dr. Joe Dispenza's You Are The Placebo):

As different sensations arise in my body I am mindful of how I interpret them and bring healing thoughts and energy to whatever areas of my body need attention and TLC as Candace Pert teaches us in “Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d.” I am no longer afraid and can trust in my body's ability to meet the challenge and go the distance.

Who would have ever believed that this girl who started out in a family rife with substance abuse and violence having to overcome the ravages of paralytic polio and trauma would turn out to be one of the good guys; to be running around the Reservoir training for the Bermuda Half Marathon happening in just a few weeks. Who would have believed that I would have found the courage, strength and perseverance to come back after a devastating knee injury last year and work my way back to the half marathon distance. How do I do it? What keeps me going? Perseverance and the knowledge deep within my soul that I AM one of the good guys and have a message of hope and healing to share with the world.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Imagine - Believe - Achieve

If you look at the word believe it contains the word belie. We often have to look beyond appearances that belie what it is that we want to achieve.

I imagined with all my mind running the Bermuda Half Marathon which I put back on my bucket list after meeting the team from the Marathon Weekend at the Finish at the 50 race in July. I studied the course, have the Bermuda Marathon Weekend website open on a tab on my computer. I created running affirmations that include the power of gratitude.

I run unencumbered swift with ease and free.
I live in a new mind body living only in the present moment.
My body is healthy, whole, and strong, and I am stronger in the places where they tried to break me.
I allow my beautiful pure chi to flow freely and easily.
I may remember things from the past to integrate them into my consciousness; I only believe truth, love, light, and that I am a whole healthy vibrant woman and runner.
I am grateful for this opportunity to run long and run strong again.
I trust in my body's ability to meet the challenge of every experience that I present.
I run with courage, strength, fierceness, and determination.
There is going to be soreness and new sensations as i train in a way I've never trained before. I trust in my body's ability to recover from long runs, speed work, hills, and strength training workouts with ease.
I am so happy and grateful that Tom and Dr. Ryan my partners on and off the roads.
I am so happy and grateful for the abundance of health and healing that is now mine to claim.
I love myself and consider only those thoughts that are going to propel me toward the finish line.
I am strong and I am determined and I am healthy and I am protected by divine love and angels and I am so grateful for their presence in my life.
I allow thoughts and fears to come and go and I greet them with kindness and compassion.
I am so happy and grateful for the amazing support of my running community and my village. And I know with their love, with their cheers, and with their support, Team McManus is going the distance.
I fall in love with the process and the results will come.
The universe has orchestrated everything that I need to be who I am truly meant to be which is a long distance runner.
Everything is healed. Everything is rewired. I see myself through the eyes of the person I've become.
I am filled with life and vibrancy and joy and gratitude and happiness so much happiness to be living this beautiful life that I live.
I grieve the past and I feel the sadness for what happened to me and then I feel a wellspring of joy bubbling up from deep within me knowing that spirit, Light, and love always win.

Running successfully is all about adopting a clear plan that includes easy, hard, and rest days. They are all important. Listen to your body. #RunHappy Geoff Smith

I have the affirmations on my fridge and say them before I go out on a run and also have them in my planner on my desk.

I believed with all my heart that I could go the distance again. I have trained with intention, dedication, single-mindedness focused on getting that bling when I cross the finish line but also enjoying every mile of the journey.

We have trained in heat, in cold, in rain and last Saturday we were so blessed to have conditions that will be what we will have in Bermuda in just a few weeks.

I am achieving with all my might using all my physical, mental and spiritual strength to go the distance.

Just a few more weeks of intense training and then taper time.

I can see the starting line!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I'm So Excited: Countdown to Bermuda

This morning on Facebook, Bermuda Marathon Weekend shared posts and pictures that gave me goosebumps and got me so excited for what is happening one month from tomorrow as we board our Delta flight to return to that magical and mystical Island off the coast of the Eastern United States.

The timing was Divine! Team McManus ran 11.5 miles yesterday and coincidentally talked about our itinerary while in Bermuda. Two more long runs and then taper time. You may laugh but I have my list of what we need to remember to pack with ***PASSPORTS*** at the top of the list.

You see packing for a runcation is very different than packing for your average trip. You need to make sure you have all the bases covered with running clothes for all kinds of weather and make sure you have everything necessary to ensure success on race day. I have sorted out what non-running clothes I am going to bring from my Spring/Summer wardrobe and feel the excitement build. I see myself walking down Front Street (photo compliments of Bermuda Marathon Weekend):

and around the City returning to our favorite dining spots and shopping to bring back treasures, tokens of deepest gratitude to dear friends.

We arrive on Thursday. We'll head to our beloved Rosedon Hotel and have lunch and relax by the pool. I have already made our reservations for The Pickled Onion.

On Friday we are going to go shopping and then take our complimentary taxi ride to the beach. Bermuda Marathon Weekend posted this photo this morning along with the caption, "When it's time to unwind, nothing is quite as hypnotizing as watching the ocean kiss the shore in beautiful Bermuda":

Friday evening we dine at Little Venice and I just sent an email making our reservation:

We'll head to Front Street after dinner to meet up with Clarence "Stoker" Smith and his wife after the Front Street Mile.

Saturday is rest day but we'll keep loose in the pool.

Dinner reservations have been made at the Hog Penny:

We won't be drinking before race day but we will enjoy the ambiance and great food at the pub that inspired Cheers in Boston.

And then Sunday --- what I have been working so hard for during these past 9 months - our victory lap. We will have an amazing breakfast at the Rosedon, lace up our running shoes, put on our bibs and head to Front Street for the start of the 2016 Bermuda Marathon and Half Marathon.

Out of all the posts that Bermuda Marathon Weekend posted on Facebook this morning, this one is still giving me goosebumps - A picture taken at Devil's Hole. About 5 miles and change into the Bermuda Marathon & Half Marathon. ~:

I am going to enjoy every moment and every mile of the 13.1 miles of the Bermuda Half Marathon. It's going to be amazing and a testament to what happens when you set your sights on a goal and combine it with intention and action every step of the way to create the outcome you desire. This time one year ago I was upstairs on bed rest unable to put any weight on my left leg. I was scared and I believed that my running days were over. I'd briefly forgotten all that I know and believe to be true and what I set out to do after receiving the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. Sunday evening we will celebrate as I proudly wear my bling around Hamilton and we dine at La Trattoria.

My heart overflows with gratitude to Dr. Ryan Means for reminding me of what I know is true and for partnering with me to go from a survivor of paralytic polio and violence to a woman transformed - strong, confident, an endurance runner again and one who is so excited to board that plane one month from tomorrow for Bermuda going the distance. Counting down the days. Continuing to work out and maintain and build on all the gains I have made during these past 9 months and getting ready to toe the line on January 17, 2016 at the start of the Bermuda Half Marathon! Yes I am so excited!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Miracle isn't that I'm going to finish...

It is incredibly hard for me to believe that exactly one year ago today, I couldn't finish the Miss Santa Holiday 5K because of a serious left knee injury. I waffled back and forth for two weeks about whether or not it was time for me to hang up my running shoes. I walked with a cane, went for an MRI, met with the physiatrist I had worked with at Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio, saw a physical therapist for two sessions and then took matters into my own hands. Or better said, the Universe catapulted me back onto my healing path by first sending Dr. Ryan J. Means, a chiropractor to me. We had a brief yet incredibly powerful journey together before he left to follow his bliss and go to China to practice. He reminded me about the truths I knew all along about the body's tremendous capacity to heal and allowed healing energy to flow through him to release my body's healing powers. We read Dr. Joe Dispenza's, "You Are the Placebo" together. He gave me cross training and strength training exercises and infused me with confidence that I could and would get back on the roads again.

My plan was to start training in April but decided to get out in March and begin my (I've lost count of how many) running comeback. It was so challenging and I was afraid but I knew deep down inside of me that I could not and would not quit until I worked my way back to the half marathon distance. Given what the MRI looked like, my history of paralytic polio and childhood domestic violence that took a toll on me mind, body and soul, the odds were stacked against me. I had a lot of people around me at the time who were nay sayers about my running comeback including the physiatrist, physical therapist, the Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab and the massage therapist I was working with at the time. I fired all of them.

And into my life came Dr. Ryan J. Means -- a true healer and chiropractor, now a dear friend!

Today Team McManus ran the longest distance together since we ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. We were blessed by beautiful weather that is most unusual for December 12th. Temperatures were in the 50's, the sun was warm and there was absolutely no wind! We talked about Bermuda and it was easy to be transported there given today's weather conditions. I could feel the excitement and goosebumps.

We had no specific route planned. We drove our car to the Cleveland Circle Reservoir so we could have our water stop provisions handy and knew we were going to go around the big reservoir, go down Beacon Street and go from the big reservoir to the Route 9 Reservoir. We allowed Spirit to move us. The miles seemed to fly by.

Here's Team McManus after our Bermudaful run today:

The miracle is not that I am going to finish the Bermuda Half Marathon in just 36 days -- the miracle is that I had the courage to start over again right from square one, build my base, work hard in cross training and strength training and arrive in this moment! 11.5 miles in the Bank of Bermuda - I know I am ready!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Muscle Memory and Mirror Neurons

While I have to reach far back to before I contracted polio at the age of 5 to retrieve muscle memory of a healed and whole left side, all things are possible.

Dr. Joe Dispenza talked about helping people affected by stroke to regain movement of their paralyzed arm in one of his videos. Using the concept of mirror neurons and a mirror, the once paralyzed arm was able to regain functioning!

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.

I've been moving my right foot spreading all of my toes and concentrating while my left foot observes. When I first started this exercise, I imagined my left foot moving but nothing had moved initially. I've been getting increased movement with practicing this exercise twice a day AND can experience the neuromuscular connection from my brain all the way down my leg to the outer portion of my left foot.

Dr. Ryan Means, a beloved chiropractor and healer used kinesiotape to stimulate the growth of a new gastroc muscle after an MRI showed that it had long atrophied as a result of paralytic polio. He gave me gastroc strengthening exercises. At first I could not lift up and down on my toes doing the exercise on my left leg so I imagined it happening. Doing both legs together stimulated the growth of the gastroc muscle and little by little I was able to fire up the gastroc muscle and can now go up and down on my left toes continuing to nourish, strengthen and grow my gastroc muscle.

I have not run a half marathon since I ran the full 2009 Boston Marathon. Muscle memory takes over after about 8 miles or so and I remember how it feels to run long and strong.

I still pinch myself to realize that in just 37 days I will toe the starting line of the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon.

Tomorrow it's 11.5 miles - fire up that muscle memory and use the power of the mirror neurons as well as my inner Jedi to go the distance!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#tbt to 2007 and Countdown to Bermuda

This is me in December 2007 and how I looked the last time I went to Bermuda a year after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease:

You can't see the leg brace under my long skirt. I had to use a wheelchair to get around the airports and used a cane when we walked around Front Street.

Yesterday I received a Skype call from Clarence "Stoker" Smith, Assistant Race Director who Tom and I met along with Race Director Anthony Raynor at the Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 Race Expo in July.

I set the intention that I would run the Bermuda Half Marathon that had been on my bucket list for several years.

Clarence was checking in with me to see if I would need massage therapy during my time on the Island. Anthony's girlfriend, Sue is a massage therapist and specializes in sports massage and rehab so she is available to me for anything I need during our trip!

Clarence's wife was there and she was cheering me and blessing me in the background.

"What are you planning for your time?" Clarence asked.

"A sub four half," I declared.

His wife cheered me on and said that she is going to have to come down to Front Street to cheer us on.

I shared with them how we have been visualizing the race. During the final stretch of our long runs, I described to them how Tom and I imagine the announcer saying, "And here comes Team McManus from Boston Massachusetts coming into the finish line. They have been long time Island visitors and after a several year hiatus we are delighted to welcome them back."

More cheers and shrieks from Clarence's wife and a warm, hearty laugh and smile from Clarence.

Goosebumps were everywhere and I got emotional as I remembered how I felt the last time I visited the Island.

We talked about the weather in Bermuda. It was 70 degrees and sunny and Clarence was going to the chicken farm to get manure to put in his garden. I told him about how blessed we have been with the weather in Boston but we have trained in all kinds of weather. He told me one year they had hurricane like conditions but the race still went on. "But my wife here will be offering up prayers for perfect weather on race day so you have nothing to worry about."

He asked me about our flights and where we are staying. Bermuda hospitality at its finest - he called one of his friends on the Island to arrange for our cab from the airport to the Rosedon

and wants to get together with us Friday night after the Front Street Mile. We can find him sitting with the Premier. There is no such thing as a short story with a Bermudian - smile - and he gave me the history of how he came to sit with the Premier at the Front Street Mile.

To say I am getting excited about running the Bermuda Half Marathon in just 40 days is a gross understatement. In my mind's eye I have already run it and gotten my bling and yet I am savoring every moment of preparation for race day.

I have come a long way since 2007

I know how blessed I am every step of the way on this amazing journey as I go the distance once more counting down the days until Team McManus lands in Bermuda and crosses the finish line of the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon.