Saturday, May 2, 2015

My Running Chronicles - Training for the 2016 Newport Marathon

One of the most delightful places to run in Spring and Summer in Boston is the loop around Castle Island and Pleasure Bay.

It's about a 30 minute drive from our house without traffic. Tom and I did our plank/crunch 5 minute workout followed by repetitions of the clam to strengthen our hip flexors. We stretched and I iced and off we went for what would be my longest (and as it turned out fastest) training run since I PR'ed the Tufts 10K.

I'm absolutely amazed at how well I am doing in my training. My original plan was to return to the roads in April and build mileage starting with one mile. But I started running again on 3/23. My body said just do it. I started out with 2 miles at an almost 19 minute mile pace. My pace improved and as my mileage increased, I eased off of my pace. I went from 2 miles to 2.5 to 2.75 to 3 to 3.22 to 3.34 and today 3.66 miles knocking almost a minute/mile off of my pace from Monday's run.

The weather was absolutely spectacular today. The day started off foggy with a cool sea breeze but the sun broke out before too long creating perfect running conditions.

I've been visualizing more of a running stride than a walking stride and today I could feel the running stride taking form. It reminded me of a potter's wheel as I am forming and forging myself as a runner out of the clay.

Tom and I did some speed work overtaking people who were walking. I took a few breaks as water stops but overall moved steady and well through the run.

It was one of those days when I felt as though I could have run a marathon today.

At the end of the run, Tom and I increased our speed and visualized crossing the finish line of the Finish at the 50 5K on July 3rd which will be my official comeback race after December's knee injury.

To think that I was going to hang up my running shoes ...

And after the run I reflected on what is it about running that I just can't say goodbye to? Why do I and so many work so hard to come back injury after injury and to stay at the top of our game ....

There are many wonderful quotes about running and runners but I want to put it into my own words ...

For decades I was disconnected from my body afraid and unable to undertake or participate in any sports. I swam at a Day Camp for a couple of summers and my camp counselor, Joe Stetz, planted the seeds for me to compete in sports on my own terms in my own unique way when he invited me to compete in the Olympics at the end of summer in the butterfly.

I paid a price for not paying attention to my wonderful earthly home and my body shut down. It was during that time of physical shut down that my Spirit was able to speak and I wrote the poem Running the Race ... Here's an excerpt:

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.

The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

The first time I ran my heart rate went up over 170 - yikes! And I wondered what I was thinking when I announced that I was going to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab's Race for Rehab Team.

Somewhere from that first 30 second run through many races and then the big one from Hopkinton to Boston, I became a runner and I fell in love with running and the running community.

I'm happy when I run even when it's a difficult and challenging run. I feel free and alive and myself. I feel connected to my Being and connected to everything in the world around me. Today we passed the rushing waters of the ocean and felt connected to the Power in the Universe. We passed a runner wearing an L Street T Shirt and went to give him a high five. He said it was his wife's t shirt and on the back was written the words of the founder of L Street, our beloved friend John "Mac" McDermott, "Maintain. Maintain. Maintain." During our second loop he said that he was considering joining the Club after seeing us.

The motto of L Street is no pace too slow, no distance too short.

Running is an all inclusive sport where elite runners mingle with us common runners. There is unconditional love and acceptance. We are a running family and everyone wants to see everyone else achieve a personal best in life and on the roads.

I do exceed all expectations every time I lace up my running shoes; I exceed the expectations for what happens in the body of a survivor of paralytic polio as they age. I feel joy - an unbridled joy - when I can push myself and breathe hard and feel wheezing and coughing knowing that with each run I am building cardiovascular strength and healing the effects of paralytic polio.

I was left behind when I had to lug a heavy leg brace for 3 years and was teased and taunted by my peers in gym class. When I run I compete with no one but myself to feel the best I can possibly feel in my body. I have this place inside of me where I feel my strength of Spirit in having overcome so much in my life ... and I am still going strong at 61 years of age....

Running and my cross training work outs give me an opportunity to transform my default setting of chronic fatigue and pain to one of strength and triumph; energy and empowerment.

When I wrote about training for and running the Newport Marathon, I posted this picture:

When I run and train for 26.2, there is a feeling of redemption and empowerment for all the people who have messed with me; who thought that they could take advantage of me and those that used control and manipulation and aggression to "keep me in my place."

You see when I run, I break free from all of those people who underestimated me and I will be running for those who have felt misunderstood or disenfranchised; who feel broken and battered and beaten down by life as I run to raise money and awareness for the Arredondo Family Foundation. I emerge from the clay of the potter's wheel to be a beacon of healing, hope and possibility probability that no matter what happens to us, we can always find a way to journey well.

For me - my path to journey well is training for 26.2 on the open roads ....

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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