Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My First Trip in 8 Years! Courage and Triumph!

I was reflecting on the difference between baggage claim at Logan Airport and the Bermuda Airport. "You step out of the plane and before you descend the steps you breathe in the fragrant tropical air," I told him. Baggage claim is small and quiet and everyone is so excited to be there. I paused for a moment and remembered how, 8 years ago, the last trip I took, there was a wheelchair waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. On January 14th, I will bound down the stairs ready to embrace our Bermuda adventure having spent these last 7 months training hard.

When I walked out of the door this morning, there was ice everywhere. Before Tom and I realized how slippery it was prompting him to go back in the house and put down sand, I navigated my way from the front door to the car in the driveway. I kept my balance and felt my core strength fire up as I walked carefully on the ice.

Fear of being outdoors in winter and walking on ice was finally conquered. I have the core strength and the balance now. I felt as though I was walking on water.

The doctors wanted me to take drugs for osteoporosis and told me a cautionary tale about going out in winter. They told me to use a cane with an ice gripper on the bottom.

I was always afraid of winter weather because I lacked confidence and strength in my body after contracting paralytic polio and then experiencing 9 years of severe trauma. After the diagnosis of post polio syndrome and osteoporosis, the fear initially spiked and I did have my blue cane with an ice gripper walking ever so gingerly but I met an angel of a personal trainer who said that I was old before my time and she worked with me to train for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It was the first time I was outdoors in winter for any significant length of time. Marathon Sports outfitted and continues to outfit Team McManus to make sure we had everything we needed for cold weather running. I harnessed the power of my imagination to visualize warm lava flowing through my legs as I trained through one of the most grueling New England winters in history (of course it was nothing compared to the winter of 2014 with its record breaking snows).

I wrote the poem Courage from "Feel the Heal, available on Amazon after a training run around Jamaica Pond:


The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.

A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movements as She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.

Branches now bejeweled though bare bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.

A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.

We have been so blessed that winter waited to arrive until now. Our last 11 miler should be in the 40's and sunny so we'll only have a few 3 mile runs to stay loose in cold weather. I believe that every step of this journey to the Bermuda Half Marathon has been showered with grace. Oh sure we trained in cool rain, chilly weather, heat and humidity during the summer. I even took a tumble on our 6.5 miler. Overall it's been an amazing training journey.

I was and am unstoppable! Two weeks from tomorrow I board a plane for Bermuda; my first trip in 8 years. After last December's knee injury I had to muster up the courage to start over again not knowing where I might land. Who knew it was going to be on that beautiful Island of Bermuda running a half marathon again! I am savoring every moment leading up to my Bermuda Half Marathon run. I feel a wellspring of joy bubble up within me. I feel triumphant and I am ready to ring in 2016 leaving the past behind.

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