Friday, October 30, 2015

The Power of a Hashtag #Give2Veterans

I know first hand that while the VA can provide many wonderful services to help veterans heal, it takes a village to help the heroes and their families heal on the home front. The veteran family is blessed to have the love, support and care of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. For those of you unfamiliar with how the Bob Woodruff Foundation came into existence:
While reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces for ABC’s “World News Tonight,” on Jan. 29, 2006, Bob was seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. In a miraculous recovery, just 13 months later, Bob returned to ABC News with “To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports.” Since then, he has reported from around the globe on a variety of subjects for the network. He was honored with a Peabody Award for his reporting on traumatic brain injury.

Bob and his wife Lee Woodruff knew that they had to do something to help those who served to protect and defend our freedom. Their mission:
Since September 11, 2001, 2.8 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, they’re coming home.

Yet even after they return to the love and support of their families and communities, many will struggle. Physical and hidden injuries are challenging on their own. But sometimes, these injuries can lead to a cascade of other trouble — unemployment, depression, substance abuse, even suicide. Our mission is to ensure injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home. That’s why we find and fund innovative programs in communities where veterans, their families and caregivers live and work. That’s how we tackle the problems that can prevent our veterans from fulfilling their dreams for the next chapter of their lives.

As we get ready to celebrate Veterans Day - which I believe should be every day - there is a way for you to help veterans and their families and it's simple and easy as Lee Woodruff explains in her blog post, "The Power of a Hashtag":

“How can we help a veteran?”

We get asked that question all the time. Now I have an answer that allows you to give without opening your wallet.

If you post #Give2veterans on social media, share it or retweet it, our foundation will earn $1.00 for EACH post, thanks to Love the GIVE.

Retweeting someone with that hashtag or sharing on facebook or instagram ALL COUNT as $1.00.

That’s easy. And it all adds up to help us do some good for the injured veteran community and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

You can cut and paste this post right now and ask your friends to share….

“Do something to help those who served for Veteran’s Day #Give2veterans with @Stand4Heroes — and pass this on!”

Thanks for making a difference on Veterans Day.

Let's #Give2Veterans and make a difference in the lives of those who served to protect and defend our freedom.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cape Cod Runcation - 7 Sweet Miles in Falmouth - Part 3

What a luxury to sleep in until 7:30 although we heard the rustling of runners in the hallways and outside our window. We had a leisurely breakfast at one of our favorite places in Falmouth, Mary Ellen's Portugese Bakery across from the Falmouth Inn. I usually fuel on oatmeal, banana, whole wheat toast and juice but since we were on runcation I opted to see how it would be to fuel on scrambled eggs and toast for a long run.

We donned our fuel belts and had no route planned. We decided to let Spirit lead. I was amazed at how well I felt despite the incredibly busy day we had on Saturday. The weather was overcast but warm. A pleasant surprise for a late October day on Cape Cod. We decided that we were not going to allow the hills along the coastline to deter us from the opportunity to have a run with a spectacular view. As I said to Tom, "While hills can be extremely challenging and sometimes it seems that the uphill is never going to end, just look at the spectacular view we get from the hill."

Yup that is me running the hills in Falmouth for a total of 7 sweet miles!

Who would have thought that Team McManus would be back on the roads training for the Bermuda Half Marathon but here we are.

I kept breathing deeply allowing the salty air fill my body and my Being. I drank in the views and listened to the sounds of the sea. We took it slow and steady and imagined how we are going to be feeling in Bermuda.

It's amazing to just run and not have any route planned but allowing Spirit to lead the way.

We wound through neighborhoods and along the Coast enjoying the sights, sounds and scents of old Cape Cod.

Runcations bring new adventures, surprises and a time to unplug and savor all that life has to offer.

It was a sacred and special time for Team McManus as we enter a new chapter in my healing journey and a new time in our lives running together and thoroughly enjoying life together - unencumbered and free.

What a difference from one year ago when I thought I would never run more than a 5K again ... Here's to many more runcations for Team McManus as we go the distance together.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cape Cod Runcation - Part 2 - Double Digits

At 5:30 am the alarm went off and it was time for Tom's 2nd half marathon in two weeks. We had our race day cereal and oatmeal breakfast in the hotel lobby and then fueled for the day with juice and whole wheat toast. I am usually a fanatic about arriving early for a race. Before we knew it, it was 7:00am and gun time was at 7:30. We hustled down Main Street and arrived 15 minutes before "cannon" time. Yes only on Old Cape Cod would they start a race with a cannon.

On our way to the race we saw one of our fellow L Street running club members and in unison called out, "Hassan." He is an amazing runner and a great friend of ours.

The energy of race day is always electric. My job as support crew was to take Tom's warm up clothes and put them in the backpack, cheer him on at the start and scream for him at the finish.

We took a pre race selfie:

What a difference from sending Tom off this year! Last year, while I was making progress in my healing journey, it was slow and halting. But this year - I am off the sidelines and training for the Bermuda Half Marathon in just a couple of months!

As I was walking back to the hotel, I realized he didn't have a Luna bar because he opted to not wear a fuel belt. Hmmm what's support crew supposed to do?

Let spirit guide. I rushed into the Expo and got a course map. After dropping things off in the room, I got into my car and headed out to mile 10. I knew that Tom would be fine because he had a great pre race meal the night before and a good breakfast but I was moved to go out and meet him with his fuel.

I saw the mile 11 mile marker and the volunteers told me I was welcome to park in a nearby lot but that spot didn't feel right to me. I drove down to where I thought mile 10 was supposed to be at the Falmouth Yacht Club but there was no mile marker. I was heading back to mile 11 when I saw the mile 10 mile marker. Perfect!

I arrived just in time to see the lead runner pass by. I sat in the car for a little bit and then as the back of the front packers and mid packers started to arrive, I got out and cheered them on.

I was wearing my 2009 Boston Marathon jacket. "Do you have any gel?" a woman runner asked me. "I have a Luna bar," I told her. "Great. I was feeling nauseous and dizzy and didn't think I'd make it to the finish without something." She broke off half off the Luna bar and off she went. As I shouted, double digits only a 5K to go, runners thanked me for being out there. I imagined how Tom and I will feel when we reach 10 miles in Bermuda Hassan came running by and I screamed for him. He smiled.

Tom came running up and said, "Hey what are you doing out here?" I told him I brought him his Luna bar. He felt fine but told me that more than the Luna bar, seeing me at mile 10 gave him an incredible boost. We checked his splits and his last 3 miles were his fastest splits and his last mile was a 9 minute mile.

Spirit guided me to the finish line, a parking space, and made it with time to spare to see Tom come down to the finish. He finished 16th in his division and took 1:05 off of last year's time.

We had heard about Boulangerie on Main St from Marcie DiLorenzo, a dear member of our running family. We refueled on delicious French pastry and hot coffee and headed back to the hotel for pool time.

I could feel the heal and pain moving through me. I was amazed at how energized I felt despite being up since 5:30 am and having a full morning. During my afternoon meditation I heard Spirit ask me, "How does it feel to be healed?"

I relish times where I am pain free and those moments happen with greater frequency.

Time to head into down for dinner. We returned to La Cucina Sul Mare where there were wall to wall people, mostly runners. There were marathoners eating with gusto fueling for Sunday's marathon and half marathoners proudly wearing their medals. We just happened to have the same waitress, Patricia, as we had on our first night in Falmouth and she said that we had to promise her we'd come down before next October.

Day 2 of our runcation was a rousing success blessed in every imaginable way.

One more day to go ...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Our Cape Cod Runcation - Part I

It happens every time we drive over the Bourne Bridge. Stress and tension melt away and we know we are transported to our happy place.

So much of what we were experiencing last year at this time had resolved and Tom and I were feeling incredibly grateful for the abundance, peace, happiness and health now manifesting in our lives.

Our first stop was the Expo:

once again presented by Marathon Sports:

After Tom picked up his bib and bag, we went to see our friends at Janji. Please take a few moments and check out their website. Their motto is Run For Another. It's a tradition that we buy something "Janji" whenever we see them at an Expo to support the incredible work they are doing. I opted for a new hat this year.

Do you have any idea how amazing it was to share with Mike, creator of Janji that I am back on the roads and up to 9 miles training for the Bermuda Half Marathon? Mike knows my journey and he was overjoyed to share in my return to the roads.

While we were talking our dear friend, Colin Peddie, Owner of Marathon Sports came over to say hello. We have been part of the Marathon Sports family since 2008 and Colin agrees that we are all running family. I told him that I am working now and back on the roads training for the Bermuda Half. It was one of those magical conversations that you just know was orchestrated by the Divine. I am so excited to see where that moment leads both of us in our passion for what we do!

It was time for pre race/pre support crew fueling and we went back to La Cucina Sul Mare.

Tom and I indulged in savoring these two dishes which we couldn't finish because of the portion sizes:

We had impeccable service and even got to meet the co owner Mark on our way out. He is literally chief cook and bottle washer as our waitress Patricia explained to us.

We decided to unwind with a West Wing episode and chose, "Noel" which I wrote about in my recent post, "Compassionate Presence."

A perfect ending to the day and was a great way to unwind in anticipation of race day....

To be continued....

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Nine is Divine! - A Major Milestone in Going the Distance

It felt like Christmas morning to me as I was giving myself the gift of running the longest distance I have run since 2009! Right after I wrote my blog post about foregoing a taper this weekend and going for 9 miles, I felt excitement and joy in my mind, body and soul sensing that the Bermuda Marathon Weekend is fast approaching. Oh I know it's hard for anyone who doesn't run to understand this. And that's okay!

I knew that I would be doing most of my run solo since Tom had his BAA Half today.

I knew I needed to meet myself on the road again for a long run.

The weather was spectacular. We were going to go to Jamaica Pond but since we had a fund raiser in the afternoon we decided that I'd go around the Cleveland Circle Reservoir with Tom acting as support crew.

Geese, ducks and a beautiful swan accompanied me on my run. My playlist and lapping of the waves provided the soundtrack. I ran from the inside out and I did not care one lick about the time on Nike+. And by the way, none of the over 70 Facebook friends who liked my photo asked me what my time was.

I had a steady pace and felt that the world was my oyster. I felt invincible. Happy. Strong. Fierce. Determined with a deep knowing that this time I am going the distance on and off of the roads.

The beginning of a run is often a challenge for me to get my neuromuscular system engaged. I know this is true for many runners but the joy of setting out on this run far exceeded any physical sensations I might have experienced.

As I ran I reflected on the thought that there are hard runs (and last week was a hard 8.5 miler), easy runs, good runs and great runs. Yesterday was a great run for me.

There was something magical about crossing the threshold of running 9 miles again. I savored the sensation that yes indeed a half marathon is well within my reach with only 4 more miles to run to complete a half marathon.

I was free and unencumbered expressing what is possible when we partner with the Universe and set our minds, hearts and Spirits on a goal. It was, for me, an act of defiance and an act of liberation. To those who wanted me dead I was saying, "I am very much alive celebrating and living life to the full." To the medical community I was saying, "Please be open to what is possible rather than limiting those who come to you for help." I was saying a resounding YES to the Divine within me and YES to light, love, healing and possibility.

Every footstep of those nine miles was Divine. I feel satisfied. Complete and Whole. I wonder how I'll feel when we cross over into double digits....

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Running Long and Running Strong and Conquering the World

I was planning to do a mini taper for the next few weeks. Tom decided that he needs to take a rest day tomorrow in preparation for the BAA Half. I on the other hand need to get out there and run long and run strong tomorrow!

During this morning's meditation I felt in every fiber of my being I need to run 9 miles tomorrow. It's a half a mile increase from last week and I need to hit that milestone tomorrow. I remember what it felt like to run long although not so strong at the time, training for the 2009 Boston Marathon. And this go round my maximum distance is 13.1 miles. There is something about running farther than I did since 2009 that I just need to do at this point in my journey.

I am well trained, cross trained and I remind myself that the body achieves what the mind believes.

Tom is going to be my support crew and I will be going around Jamaica Pond; our training ground back in 2009.

Next week we are doing a 5K. The following week Tom is running the Cape Cod Half Marathon and will be doing only 7 miles in Falmouth after he runs his Half on Saturday.

Then we begin to build miles again leading up to the Bermuda Half Marathon. 97 days and counting!. Forget about everything I lived through. I am here now. And that is all that matters!

So I need to get a good night's rest and get out there and get it done tomorrow.

I plan to run steady, run strong and run with ease.

It's going to be a conquering the world kind of 9 miler....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

And the day came....

Healing trauma takes incredible courage. It takes incredible courage to live through the traumatic events in the first place although we have amazing protective mechanisms that help us to survive. And then it takes raw courage to become vulnerable and face those events without those protective mechanisms.

Yes I know the Force is strong in this one otherwise I would have perished years ago.

I struggled and I hurt and I felt anxious and could not name or claim what was happening to me. I had so many blockages in my Chi - my life Force continuing to protect myself against events that happened to me decades ago.

While experiencing the reality that my family wanted me dead during a recent meditation, I experienced how amazing and awesome and Divine I am. I receive so much validation and affirmation of this reality every day and I am beginning to allow this reality to edge out what I have held in my body, my mind and my soul for decades.

While it is excruciating to experience all of what happened to me, it is incredibly liberating. I have almost full range of motion back in my left leg. I can experience my entire body and my entire Being as it was always meant to be experienced once I get through the muck and mire of the pain where everything happened. I am no longer afraid of feeling fear, rage, indignation that this could have happened to me - to anyone for that matter. I can experience the fullness of life.

While forgiveness is crucial for healing, freedom and moving forward

so too is being able to release the feelings of impotent rage that was trapped in the fiber of my Being. My journal and my divining rod of healing, my pen allow me to experience liberation from my past.

And the day came...and today was the day the culmination of many days when I could no longer hold everything tightly inside of me. It is time to grieve and allow those tears to water the beautiful garden of my soul and for me to blossom into my full potential. My heart is at once broken and healed. My energy can flow and every day I get stronger with new neuromuscular connections, new neurological connections and building new muscle through training and visualization and meditation.

And the day came...for me to shine!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Courage to Start

Before I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon, I found this quote by John Bingham. Truer words were never spoken. Yes I finished the 2009 Boston Marathon and it was a glorious journey from those first tentative running steps to the finish line on Boylston Street but I had to find the courage to start after I uttered those fateful words, "And I want to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital," even though I had never run a day in my life.

I was going to hang up my running shoes after a knee injury in December and then I was going to set a limit of only 5 miles if I were going to run again.

So how did I find the courage to start again after the knee injury? How did I find the courage to hold onto hope and not give up? The Universe sent me Dr. Ryan J.. Means, a healer chiropractor - a beautiful gift of a person in my life.

There's this fire that burns within me. I can't explain it. God knows that with all that happened to me, it should have been doused ages ago.

Dr. Ryan fans those flames.

The courage to start began as a flicker but with Divine Love and compassion and amazing healers who came into my life along with my partner Tom of almost 40 years I am burning ever so brightly; a beacon for others who may have lost hope and faith that in fact once you take that first step in the right direction, all things are possible.

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Running Chronicles: The Joy of Each Other's Success

When I posted on Facebook that I'd run my first 8.5 miles since 2009 no one asked me what my time was. I thought Tom was going to clock me one when I bemoaned the fact that it was my slowest run to date. He was quick to point out that there was wind, rain and raw weather conditions plus we had done some hills. He told me to let go of the time thing and feel the utter joy in what I had just accomplished. He was right.

There was an outpouring of joy and celebration in response to my Nike+ and blog post that I'd pushed past a limit that the doctors, physical therapists and even my previous massage therapist said would never happen again. It was Dr. Ryan Means, a chiropractor healer who teamed up with my fierce determination and fiery spirit to once again go the distance of a half marathon. My village on Facebook and in real life fuel every mile of this magnificent journey.

Bling and celebration abounded and resounded in my Facebook news feed this past weekend.

There was Nicole who decided the night before the race to trade in her 25K distance for a 50K. Her post about it was tucked away in another post and once we all found out about it there was jubilation and celebration. She posted her time but the time on the clock did not matter. We celebrate the joy of each other's success and pushing past limits in grand style.

Kathleen has been a cheerleader of mine celebrating in the joy of my PR last year at the Bill Rodgers 5K. She posted a photo of herself and her husband Tom after completing a half marathon. They are older runners like Team McManus and her Tom race walked his first half marathon ever. Such inspiration! Such joy! And no one asked how long did it take -- we were ecstatic to share in their success!

There were other posts from the Smuttynose Marathon and other Half Marathons as we experience the culmination of training for Fall events and photos of our dear friends Team Stirrat celebrating their place in their AG at a Team Masters 5K race.

Tanya, Mariama and Mike were at the front desk of WaveHealth this morning when I walked in to do my pool workout. They were overjoyed that I'd done my longest run yet. There had been a problem with the pool heater and they apologized for the colder water. I told them it was part of my mental toughness training to go the distance. I also shared with them about the fabulous Facebook news feed from the weekend.

My friend Stephanie (who ran Bermuda in January) arrived at the locker room after I'd finished my work out and asked me how the water was. "Cold," I said but if you swim along the left hand wall, you'll feel the warm water coming in through the jets. She shivered. We both agreed it was an exercise in mental toughness and training our minds as well as our bodies to go beyond immediate experiences and sensations. I showered and was drying my hair when she returned from her workout. We both agreed we were badass for staying committed and dedicated to our training plan despite the cold water in the pool.

"By the way how far did you run this weekend?" Stephanie asked me.

"My longest run so far - 8.5."

We fist pumped.

"And you?"

"12" - my half is coming up on 10/25 down in Rhode Island.

We both smiled and radiated joy as we shared in each other's success moving forward to reach our goals.

Our village is a very special village. We understand each other. We support each other and we know what it takes to dig deep and go the distance whatever the challenge and whatever the goal. The joy we exude for one another's success makes the journey that much sweeter!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Running Chronicles: 13.1 - Because I'm Only Half Crazy

8.5 miles today! Crazy right?

It was windy, raw and rainy.

This was the first run for running tights and my Boston Marathon jacket, hats and gloves.

It wasn't a day that invited you to be outside and run 8.5 miles on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon in just a few months but Team McManus has a training plan and we stick to it no matter what. There was a report of a possible hurricane coming up the coast and if the weather was too bad, we would have either waited until tomorrow or gone to WaveHealth to get in our miles with an elliptical, bike and/or treadmill. While it wasn't pleasant, the weather was not going to deter us from getting in our miles.

Last year I won a t shirt at the Cape Cod Marathon weekend.

I told Tom I felt a little silly wearing it because after all, I wouldn't ever be running another half marathon and in fact only held it up in front of me:

After my ice bath and hot shower after my 8.5 mile run I am wearing it!

So why? Why am I doing this? I'm 62 years old and could easily have settled for running 5 and 10k's. Why go the distance?

One of my runner friend's posted this on Facebook the other day:

I thought about Prefontaine's quotes:

I don't ever want to be afraid of my body or of challenging my body again. I have runner affirmations now and have affirmations about recovery from long runs and cross training.

My gift lies not in running fast but it is in being able to set a goal and with fierce determination being totally undeterred, meeting that goal.

I love feeling sore, tired, cold, empty, hungry, full and totally satisfied with myself after achieving each rung on the ladder of success to my first half marathon since 2009. And I love experiencing how resilient my body is as I put it through the paces of training for a half.

Today was a hard run with the weather conditions and I debated whether or not I wanted to get into an ice bath. I harnessed the power of my mind during the run and then to muster the courage to take an ice bath despite feeling chilled after the run. I knew I needed it for recovery to flush the lactic acid out of my muscles and to also bring healing with Epsom Salts.

Every long run, every strength training session gathers and garners momentum in my healing journey. I am saying YES to my body. Yes you can do this. Yes you are healthy, strong, vibrant and whole and my body responds with building new connections and getting stronger healing all that went before.

So if I really stop to think about what I'm doing - it is crazy. But it's also epic and exhilarating and exciting and reminds me that I am fully alive, fearless, setting goals not limits. And after all I'm not running a full marathon - only 13.1 because I'm only half crazy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Find Your Treasure and Claim Your Essence

This morning on Facebook, Ryan Means, my dear friend and chiropractor who helped me out of the abyss where I stumbled to get back on my healing path posted this on Facebook:

Facebook needs a quantum field check-in - cause you're here with me. This is part of a beautiful exhibit titled "Humility and Majesty" at the Sichuan Museum.

I know what he meant. I felt the same way about him at last week's Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Chinese Edition Launch.

I was able to claim my essence through my poetry. It had been buried under the rubble and ravages of paralytic polio and trauma but it was always there! And now, every day in every way my essence shines brighter and brighter as we slough off the roughness of the past through the power of positive touch and polish the beautiful diamond that is uniquely me.

For decades I was terrified to go into that cave of my past. Memories would surface and emotions would erupt but until Dr. Ryan, there was no one there to facilitate the healing of those memories in my body and in my heart and no one to give me the tools I needed to heal.

My poetry takes on even more meaning as I re-read the poems in "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life" (available on Amazon). I imagined my healing and since meeting Dr. Ryan, we are bringing that healing into physical manifestation!

Here are two selections for you to enjoy:

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them." -Marcus Aurelius

Born to Run

Born free
born to run
run free
unencumbered untethered unshackled
pouring energy into my running form
liquid gold once fired in the crucible
now my treasure born of my Spirit molded with alchemy
my precious treasure once buried
the map safely tucked away
X marks the spot
a new starting line.

Poised and ready
to go the distance
all out without hesitation
all is healed at last
my pace swift
Mercury and Hermes pace me on winged feet
born to run
running free
joyfully crossing the finish line with ease.

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

"Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases some past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each foot strike rubs away a word, a look, or an event which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp." ~John Bingham

Have courage and go where you must to find your treasure and claim your essence.