The first place I took my tentative steps walking outside after coming out of my leg brace in the summer of 2007 was Wollaston Beach. I had walked away from my award winning almost 20 year career at the VA to step into my healing odyssey. I remember walking for 15 minutes and feeling exhausted but so grateful that I was walking and walking outside in the sunshine.
By October of 2007, I decided that I had to take another step forward on my healing odyssey and I hired a personal trainer. I made up my mind that if I were going to be in pain then I may as well hurt on the side of health. Despite the admonition from the medical community that sadly is told to many with a presentation of a "progressive neuromuscular disease," if you use it you will lose it, I knew that my body was literally and metaphorically burning to move. I had to listen to what my gut was telling me. I could not even complete the initial assessment. Janine told me that I was too young to be in the state I was in and that she would work with me to build strength.
After 6 months I was able to surpass my initial goals of getting off of a low toilet seat and being able to diversify the basic rehab program prescribed for me once I was discharged from outpatient rehab care. And then something stirred in my soul and I declared that I would run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab as was foreshadowed in the first poem I wrote in February of 2007, "Running the Race." Here I am coming down Comm. Ave. and my dear friend Reno Stirrat put an excerpt from that poem with this photo:
Life took many twists and turns for me on my healing journey but I've arrived here now, training for the 2016 Newport Marathon to raise money for the Arredondo Family Foundation.
Today we took our training back to Wollaston Beach where we did numerous training runs on our road to the Boston Marathon.
It was chilly and there was a strong headwind but the joy of being back at Wollaston Beach which holds wonderful memories of training for Boston as well as a wonderful way to realize how far I've come since that first tentative walk 8 years ago surpassed the weather. It was bright and sunny and I was running stride for stride, side by side with Tom, my partner in running and in life. He has supported me every step of this crazy journey as I took twists and turns to arrive where I am today.
We ran 4.01 miles and then did a .4 mile cool down walk. We had tracked the length of Wollaston on the car odometer but the distance by car is different than running on the pavement. Fortunately I had my Nike+ to keep us on track to not run more than 4 miles until after our 5K race on 7/3. Then we will increase distance to prepare for the Ogunquit Beach Lobster Dash, a 5 miler in September.
We had a wonderful time using people as pacers and to do fartleks. I used run/walk pacing and kept reminding myself that I've only been back training for two months and I am way ahead of the schedule I had set for myself to begin training in April.
We ran happy and free. I cleaned out my iTunes from songs that had been with me since the beginning of my healing odyssey that no longer support me on my journey. I downloaded new music and updated my marathon training playlist.
At the end of our run, Tom and I practice and visualize what it will feel like to cross the finish line on July 3rd on the 50 yard line of Gillette Stadium as we sprint to the finish holding hands and raising our arms in triumph. People may think we look strange celebrating our imaginary finish but we don't care.
Here is our post run selfie:
Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge who helped me with my post injury recovery recommended that I ice after every run. Wollaston Beach is about a 30 minute ride from our home so I decided to pack my bathing suit and a sweatshirt and take my first ice bath compliments of Mother Nature!
The air temperature was about 60 degrees and the water temperature 55 degrees. One of the "symptoms" of "post polio syndrome" is cold intolerance and I used to be very sensitive to the cold. But I harnessed the power of my mind and the desire to experience the healing of cold salt water today and took a post run ice bath:
Wollaston Beach then and now...an amazing journey these past 8 years and the journey continues on my road to the Newport Marathon 2016.
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.