Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Running Chronicles: #tbt My First 5 Mile Road Race - A Defining Moment

July 2008 - the Marathon Sports Annual 5 Mile Road Race. No time like the present to get acclimated to road racing. My first road race was in June 2008, the Corrib Pub Road Race. It was a 5K distance and the neighborhood came out in droves to cheer, to offer water and to hose us down. Tom, my husband, my life and running partner would shout out to the people cheering us on that I was a survivor of paralytic polio and this was my first road race ever. The time didn't matter. I was out there doing something I'd never done before and I was training for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I hadn't run for more than 40 minutes continuously so I had to walk for part of the race. There were still many people finishing with us and I felt triumphant finishing my first road race:

By July, we had become members of the Marathon Sports family. I was fitted for my first pair of running shoes at Marathon Sports in February and they were enthralled with my journey.

The atmosphere was quite different from the Corrib Pub and it was a very fast field. Everyone took off and Tom had to convince me that it was okay; that we were just going to run our race. There were a few back of the packers but there were no spectators and we had no idea where we were or where we were going. Talk about trust and faith.

From Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:

Our first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 miler. It was a hot, steamy evening in July. We got lost on the way to the race. Tempers were running as hot as the thermometer because I was so anxious about running my first five mile race. My energy tended to wane by the evening as I was continuing to deal with the late effects of paralytic polio. We finally arrived and walked around trying to enjoy the pre race festivities. As everyone took their place at the start, I could see that this was a serious, competitive running crowd; quite a contrast to my first race ever, the Corrib Pub Run 5K in June.

Runners went out fast and Tom, Ruth Anne and I were in the back of the pack with a few other people. Even they took off and I told Ruth Anne to go out ahead of us. I experienced my first (of many) marathon training meltdowns. I cried as I shared with Tom all the memories of having kids take off and leave me behind that were bubbling to the surface. I was sweating and tired and hot. I couldn’t tell where my tears ended and sweat began. I told Tom I had no business training for the Boston Marathon. Tom was wonderful and he told me that I couldn’t quit. We would make it through this race and we would make it through every training run. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I did know, however, that if I didn’t finish that race, I would never make it to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Alison gave me water and a high five out on the course. She was worried about me in the heat and wanted to make sure I was okay.

Despite finishing dead last, members of the Marathon Sports family who knew the story of Team McManus, had air horns and a truck on the field honking and blowing and cheering us on to the finish. Ruth Anne circled back around to bring us into the finish line. She was there at the finish line to give me a hug and celebrate my first 5 mile road race ever. I knew training for Boston was not going to be easy, but I knew I had what it was going to take to make it happen.

The Marathon Sports 5 Miler was a defining moment for me early on in my running career. I learned about how the running community celebrates the last runner as though they were the one to break the finisher's tape and how wonderful it feels to be celebrated for going beyond limits. I realized that I had to leave the past behind and could not carry the taunting and teasing voices from the past with me in my head. I learned that I was stronger than I thought I was and there is always something left in the tank especially when the journey is fueled by love, support and kindness.

I'm moving forward and carrying that defining moment in my heart on the road to the 2016 Newport Marathon along with the beautiful friendships that have blessed my life during these past 7 years. I'm excited to experience the thrill of racing again on July 3rd at the Finish at the 50 5K at Gillette Stadium and eager to begin building miles after the race. The joy is in the journey even when you don't have any idea where you are or how you are going to make it to the finish line.


I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing journey after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease as a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and 9 years of childhood domestic violence in Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility.

In Journey Well, the journey continues in the wake of my nephew's suicide on 3/4/11 and the events of 4/15/13. Through my journey of healing and transformation, we learn that no matter what life circumstances happen to us, we can always find a way to journey well.

50% of book proceeds from all of my books, available on Amazon are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center to support 4/15/13 Boston Strong survivors and their families.

I am working on my new book, Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems which brings together my best poems of the last 8 years and will include my latest poems as I continue to feel the heal and move forward in my life.

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