Monday, May 4, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Call Me Crazy

"I've been called crazy for running another marathon tomorrow. But what's really crazy is limiting your potential." - Jess Lanzoni, marathoner and soon to be ultramarathoner

My dear friend Jess ran the LA Marathon in March, the Boston Marathon in April (with a PR) and yesterday ran the Providence Marathon with Dreamfar High School Marathon. She posted the above quote on her Facebook page.

This morning I woke up to my friend Christa's blog post, "This just in: Mark Twain encourages us to dream beyond the majority." Christa writes, "The best things I've done in life are the very things that people told me I was crazy to even consider, much less attempt."

When I announced to my team at the VA that I was going to quit my award winning social work career just 3 years shy of when I "could" retire to heal my life and follow my passion as a poet and writer, they called me crazy. In addition to being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, I had a breast cancer scare. From Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:

When I returned home {from getting a clean bill of health from the mammogram} my daughter asked me, “Mom if that would have been cancer what would you have done?”

“Well that’s a no brainer, I would have immediately given my notice at the VA.”

“Are you waiting for another disaster to happen? Come on. Let’s choose your last day at the VA. How many weeks notice do you have to give?”

“Six,” I answered.

“Here it is – May 25th. I circled it on the calendar. Give your notice tomorrow.”

I could hardly sleep that night. I had an appointment with Allison {my physical therapist at Spaulding who had been encouraging me to leave my job} before work the next morning. She was the first person I told outside of my family about setting the date for leaving the VA. She was relieved and joyous about my decision. After returning to work from my appointment, I called my nurse manager to ask if I could meet with her. I walked into her office, closed the door and told her I was leaving.

“I was wondering why we didn’t see you in the lunch room anymore and why you haven’t been available to us,” she said. “Where are you going?”

I explained to her that in part the reason I wasn’t eating with staff was because of the care I had to take when I ate as prescribed by my speech and language therapist. I told her that I was using my lunch hour to launch my new business and finish my poetry book. I told her about the abnormal mammogram and that I knew I had to get out of the VA for my emotional and physical well-being. Her eyes filled with tears and she said she was very happy for me. Her happiness was short lived.

The next morning she called me on the phone telling me that I had to reconsider my decision. She told me that I couldn’t just leave without a plan before I was eligible for retirement. What would we do for health insurance?

I had thought about all of these things and was terrified but also knew I had no other choice but to take this leap of faith. She suggested I work part time. I knew that with the demands of the position and my Type A personality, there was no way that I would end up working up part time. I had to make a clean break. After our phone conversation she came upstairs to my office. She looked around and was aghast to see how sparse it was. Most of my personal belongings were moved out.
“You’ve been planning this for awhile, haven’t you?”

“You know the equipment never came so I took that as a sign.”

I brought out the letter Allison had written. I told her that I was just beginning to feel better physically and I needed to get out in order to maximize my rehab potential.


Shortly after coming out of a leg brace and after 6 months of working with a personal trainer after meeting my initial goals of being able to get up off of a low toilet seat unassisted and being able to pass the assessment, I told my trainer that I wanted to run the 2009 Boston Marathon never having run a day in my life. She could have easily told me I was crazy and needed to set a more attainable goal given my still rather deconditioned state and my medical history along with the recommendations of the rehab team that if you use it, you lose it but instead she sent me on my way to get my first pair of running shoes.



After a knee injury in December, I was going to hang up my running shoes. But how could I leave the sport that is my therapy, my medicine and despite how challenging it is for me to run, brings me so much joy and happiness ...

And on the two year anniversary of 4/15/13, as I stood on the Boston Marathon finish line, I knew I had to run another marathon. Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge and I had a discussion about Why Set Limits. As he was also volunteering for One Boston Day, I told him that I have to run another marathon. He told me that he could see in my eyes that I could and would.

I can't be afraid that something will happen if I push myself too far. Partnering with Jeff Spratt of Spratt Muscular Therapies, we join together with the belief in working with me to encourage my body to heal itself.

I'm getting used to the wonderful sensation of feeling sore again as I do cross training to strengthen upper and lower body and core. I've decided that rather than doing rehab exercises in the pool, I am going to do strength training on land on Tuesdays. My current training plan is to build distance in my runs on Saturdays. Sundays is strength training. Mondays a 5k distance. Tuesdays strength training on land. Wednesday is lap swimming and eventually swapping out swimming for another run as I get stronger and my knee continues to heal. Thursday is massage and Friday is rest and recovery day.

So why do all of this? Why not just run a 5K and cap the distance at 5 miles which would be a much "safer" choice...because I can't. Because there is something deep in my soul that won't let me settle or play it safe. Because I know that I need to train for and run another marathon; I feel it in every fiber of my Being and once I said yes, the Universe answered so fast with the email I received from the Newport Marathon Event Director saying yes I could have an early start and yes they'd keep the finish line open for over 8 hours and by the way I can run for a cause of my choosing .... And the Universe said yes by having me find my way to Jeff through One Boston Day just when I needed to find my way to him.

Coincidentally, I'll be running for the Arredondo Family Foundation and here is a photo of Jeff with Carlos from One Boston Day:



So call me crazy for training for and running another marathon! I'll see you at the finish line.




Be blessed. Journey well. To all good things....

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.







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