My first race was the Corrib Pub 5K on June 8, 2008
It was the most incredible experience of my life. I hadn't yet been running for 40 continuous minutes so I had to stop and walk for awhile but I finished and I'm not even going to bother to look up my time this year. I finished and felt a sense of accomplishment like nothing I had ever felt before. There would be many many more moments of exhilaration after crossing a finish line.
Last year, I was blessed to celebrate my race-i-versary with my husband Tom and two very dear friends, Julie and Margo Feeney.
From "Journey Well":
As promised, Julie, Margo and Tom let me set the pace. I felt good in my body and wasn't concerned in the least about my finishing time. We all wanted to enjoy each other's company and the day. I love how Margo said, “When you go at a slower pace, you really get to enjoy the race.” We talked about their Boston Marathon run, books, songs, and movies and drank in the neighborhood feel to the race. There were no mile markers. I didn't have my NikePlus on. I listened to my body. I stopped for water and made sure I kept myself well hydrated and cool. The sprinklers were out in full force.
We reminisced about when I first ran the Corrib Pub as I shared in my blog from June 1, 2008:
As we ran through the streets of West Roxbury, my wonderful life and running partner Tom shouted - first road race ever. She's a polio survivor! People cheered and I ran through the hoses that people sprayed the runners with, with a sense of play and freedom although each step was a challenge for me especially with the last long hill. I hadn't run for 40 continuous minutes yet in my training program. I had only been running outside since late April. But it didn't matter. I was on the road to the Boston Marathon and this was my first time being cheered rather than jeered as I ran.
I feel blessed to have traveled 3.1 miles today stride by stride with beautiful friends and my life and running partner Tom. Without mile markers and splits, I went within to run a mindful race. While I am delighted with my time, the only time that truly matters is the time well spent with loved ones on a beautiful summer's day running through neighborhoods and feeling a part of something much bigger than myself.
Last December my knee let me know that I needed to tweak (okay so sometimes I have a knack for understatement) my training plan. Not being able to walk for two days with a swollen knee told me that I needed to make some changes. I went through an MRI and started out with the Western medical model which I needed at the time. I quickly moved away from it because I found that I was reacting to the messages of fear and "Don't over do it.... Use a cane ..." which are all very well meaning. While I cannot throw caution to the wind and do need to be mindful, I can't not do what I love and what is now in my blood, my heart and my soul which is running and being a part of races.
I can't set arbitrary rules; I have to work with and listen to my body believing in my body's resiliency, recovery and how being a part of a race is so good for my mind and soul that it facilitates my body's healing. I've had long talks with Bill Rodgers about how running helps nourish and heal the neuromuscular system and how it enables us to enjoy and embrace life while enabling us to better manage whatever life throws our way.
I am already up to 2 miles and discovered that biking is aggravating my knee. While that is counterintuitive to what most people say and what people recommend for cross training, it seems to be true for my body. I am having a wonderful response to the taping and the work I am doing with Dr. Ryan
In my treatments with Joseph at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork, I will embrace myself as a runner once more partnering with him to heal not only my knee but continue the healing of all this physical form has gone through and using imagery and training to return to top form. I'll reset my belief system to move from injury to resiliency, recovery and experience the joy of anticipating being a part of a race once more.
I am already in better shape than I was a year ago. As a result of the injury I am doing strength training which had not been a part of my training plan.
And so...rather than handing down the decree of one race this year, I am going to run the 22nd Annual Corrib Pub 5K and celebrate my race-i-versary in style. I won't do Tufts and I certainly won't do two races in one month or 9 races over a 9 month period and will not be focusing on PR's. I will do the Ogunquit Beach Lobster Dash in September and then see what else may come along. With a focus on resiliency and recovery, partnering with two amazing holistic healers, I will be running races...do not put this old gray mare out to pasture just yet!
My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.
When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.