Thursday, February 19, 2015

#tbt Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and Relay: It's So Much More Than a Race

For the past four out of six years, Team McManus made the pilgrimage over the Sagamore Bridge in the middle of February to travel to what we affectionately call Camp Hyannis for the Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and Relay.

In 2009 I emailed Paul Collyer, the race director, letting him know this was my first half marathon and that I was running with the late effects of paralytic polio. He reassured me that because there was also the full marathon happening at the same time, that I only needed to finish in under 6 hours.

The Expo and the pre-race pasta dinner was our introduction into the wonderful world of running or as Dick Beardsley said at last year's pre-race pasta dinner, "Running is a fantastic sport! In fact, many of the stories we runners tell have nothing to do with our races on the road but of the bonds that we as a running community share."

It was the beginning of friendships with people who are now like family.

In 2009 we met running greats Boston Billy Rodgers and Frank Shorter:

I shared my journey with Bill and Frank. When I came back into the ballroom after completing the half I was shivering and a little dehydrated having ditched my fueling and racing plan for the last several miles. It started sleeting and we just wanted to finish. Frank signed my bib and put both of his hands on my upper arms, looked me straight in the eye and said, "I know you are going to finish the Boston Marathon." He told me to have the hot soup that the 99 Restaurant has for runners in the ballroom and hydrate.

The apres race spread includes bagels, peanut butter, water, fruit, soup and rolls from the 99 restaurant. In recent years, Paul has added a post race celebration in one of the function rooms at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center.

While waiting to talk with Frank Shorter and have him sign my poster, I met Ric Beaudoin. It was one of those not so chance meetings that sparked the beginning of a wonderful friendship not only with Ric but with two great running Clubs, L Street and the Merrimack Valley Striders who also make the pilgrimmage to Camp Hyannis. We don't see people throughout the year but when we gather at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center, it's as though no time has passed.

Here we are at "our table" in 2011 when I ran the 10K with my friend, Deb Doiron who I met through her husband, Tim in 2009. Tim and I met on line through the "Just Finish" community and found each other in person in Hyannis in 2009:

Tom ran the half in 2011 recovering from a gastroc tear injury as he had his sights set on Boston running for Children's Hospital. Hyannis is a great training run for Boston which is what drew us to the race in 2009. It's also a Boston Qualifier and an opportunity to put a relay team together and enjoy the thrill of running as part of a team. These days, Boston Billy runs as part of a medley team and is part of the Friday night fun run out of Hanlon shoes followed by a gathering at Palio Pizzeria. It's a time for beer, pizza and story telling.

In 2010 I was recovering from my 2009 Boston Marathon run and had to take a running hiatus. Paul generously donated a table at the Expo for me to share the work of Spaulding, Rotary's End Polio Now campaign and to sell my poetry book. I donated a portion of the proceeds to Spaulding:

Tom and Tim ran the 10K that year:

And in 2010, Frank and Bill signed my Boston Marathon bib. Hyannis set the stage for my Boston Marathon run and gave me the confidence I needed to go the distance. Here are my signed bib, singlet, medal, picture of me crossing the 2009 Boston Marathon finish line, our Race for Rehab team book, and a copy of the Cape Cod Times from 2009 where I had my 15 seconds of fame:

"Mary McManus, 55, of Brookline completed her first half-marathon after making a remarkable recovery from a life-long battle against post-polio syndrome.

She spent time at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and began running just last February. She competed in her first race in June 2008, finishing a 5K.

"It's like having a new lease on life," said McManus, who ran yesterday's half-marathon with husband Tom. "I was limping my way through life, but then decided to do something about it."

Through the years Paul has brought in running legends to educate and entertain us and for meet and greets with the greats.

Here we are with Dick Hoyt:

Here are Jack Fultz winner of the 1976 Boston Marathon and ultramarathoner Jimmy Garcia who were the guests in 2011:

We had the opportunity to ooh and aah over Jimmy's ultra bling:

Last year's pre-race pasta dinner brought together Boston Billy and Dick Beardsley who came in 2nd to Alberto Salazar in a duel in the sun:

We were invited to celebrate as Spaulding Race for Rehab alumni at the 586 Bistro and Bar. It was great to connect with our former teammates and encourage last year's runners as they trained for Boston.

It was a perfect weather day and a beautiful weekend.

The energy and excitement was palpable as we came together as a community that is Boston Stronger. Tom was on pace to PR but he came across members of the Race for Rehab team who were struggling through their first half marathon race. He got them safely to the finish line and gave them pointers for the rest of their training as well as tips for running Boston.

Everyone was eager and excited to return to Hyannis this year.

There was a feeding frenzy on Facebook about who was going, where are you staying, when are you coming down, how long you down for ... but all of that came to a halt when Mother Nature had other plans for Camp Hyannis this year.

Paul worked every which way but loose trying to make this year's Hyannis weekend happen. He had told me that last year registration was low but this year, he brought back the 10K and was at 90% registration for the race. When the storm hit last weekend, already tenuous conditions became unsafe for runners, for volunteers and for everyone involved in the race. Hyannis ran out of sand and salt.

The Facebook feed turned from excitement to anxiously waiting word on whether or not the race weekend could go on to sadness.

Team McManus has many treasured memories of Camp Hyannis from our first half marathon race ever, to PR'ing the 2011 10K with Deb to making new friends and having annual reunions and to being able to meet and greet the running greats. While I feel sad that there will be no Camp Hyannis this year, I'll take some time this weekend poring over my photos and treasured memories from Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and Relay weekend where it IS so much more than a race. Thank you to Paul Collyer for creating this truly unique racing and running experience and for all you did to try to make this year's race happen.

See you in 2016!

Journey well!

"Journey Well" and all of my inspirational books are available on Amazon.

"Journey Well" is a book about resilience, strength, courage and how we are able to journey well no matter what conditions life hands to us. I profile the people who are Boston Stronger and share how 4/15/13 was a wake up call to me to return to my healing path from contracting paralytic polio at age 5 and 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent.

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