Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Erasers and Foot Strikes

After contracting paralytic polio and growing up in a home rife with substance abuse and violence, I received a lot of negative messages. Why they even tried to kill me on several occasions. Fortunately, they obviously did not succeed but living under constant stress, fighting for my life, took a toll and eight and a half years ago my body started shutting down.

Writing poetry opened up the portal to possibility and healing. The first poem I penned in February 2007 was Running the Race which foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run even though I had never run a day in my life and was using a leg brace, a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility.

Last December, my knee blew out. It was a blessing in many ways letting me know that I needed to cross train and build core strength. But I almost let it end my running career.

Fortunately, that fire inside of me would not and could not die because running is my medicine and my therapy to heal trauma and to also nourish my neuromuscular system to replenish what the polio virus destroyed.

Today on my 4 mile run along Wollaston Beach I reflected on John Bingham's quotes about running shoes being erasers and how each foot strike carries us forward. I can only be in the present moment when I run. I can feel my wholeness, my health, my strength, my courage for all I have overcome. My heart overflows with gratitude that I am alive and made it through some of the most challenging and horrific circumstances that one can experience in this life.

I felt unbridled joy despite the heat and did not want to stop at 4 miles but know that I need to allow my body to get conditioned to running again and to be smart in how I build endurance this time as I train for the 2016 Newport Marathon to raise money and awareness for the Arredondo Family Foundation.

Everyday many Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers take their own lives. Many of these men and woman carry a burden associated with PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ) related to their military service. Most do not reach out for help and instead turn to suicide. Military family members are left devasted and have difficulty coping with a suicide death. The Arredondo Family Foundation supports our troops and military families to let them know they are not alone. The AFF provides emergency funds to Massachusetts families who have experienced a military related suicide, does outreach and education to prevent suicide and has also established the first ever military sibling scholarship for the sibling of a service man or woman who attends U Mass Boston.

Much happened to me in the past. My running shoes erase those experiences and each foot strike carries me forward.

Foot Strike

Each strike struck a chord of fear
How would I ever reclaim my life?
Holding onto hope
waiting for the day
when memories would no longer weigh heavy
free to run my own race.
Stomping in anger
striking back
shadow boxing with the thief
who stole away childhood innocence
a no win.
Each foot strike ignites my soul
fired up to run my best race
taking the lead
breaking finisher’s tape

today I won my race.

"We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate. Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless."
~Christopher Reeve

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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