Monday, September 28, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Eight Magnificent Miles and Time With My Running Family - L Street Running Club

The last time we had attended the L Street BBQ it was September 14, 2011. I sat and I listened as fellow Club members regaled stories of marathons past, hopes and dreams for future events and remember how Mac, founder and former President of L Street made me feel so wonderful that I was "just" power walking and was not training for any event. He reminded me of the Club motto, "Maintain. Maintain. Maintain." and "No pace too slow. No Distance too short."

Fast forward to Sunday. Tom and I did another magnificent eight mile run as we train for the Bermuda Half Marathon coming up in January. I can feel the excitement build. This year I am embracing the change of seasons knowing that in just a few short months Team McManus will be Bermuda bound. We relish every mile of this wonderful journey. It is so exciting to be working again. I used to dread the winter months as a retired person but now I have energy and momentum to carry me through the cold weather in work and at play.

We ran 5 times around Jamaica Pond and took 4 minutes off of our time from the previous week thanks to 20 degree cooler temperatures. We also took much less time for water stops and were able to fuel on a half a Luna bar for the 8 miles. Tom wore his BAA Half Marathon shirt and I wore my Tufts 10K Start Strong Finish Stronger shirt. It seemed as though everyone was wearing either their BAA shirts or Tufts 10K shirts. We would nod and wave as we passed because that's what runners do.

Here we are after finishing our run:

I pushed hard during the run and I felt wonderful but could feel that even though the temperature outside was cooler, smart money said to take an Epsom Salts Ice Bath to help recover. Tom captured the moment:

After a hot shower, refueling with salad and a smoothie, we went to the Columbia Yacht Club for our end of summer BBQ with our L Street family.

Four years later! I was astounded by my transformation. Four years ago I couldn't run and wasn't training for events. I could feel that I was heading into a downward cycle after my nephew's suicide in March but felt a lot of comfort being surrounded by my L Street Family.

At Sunday's BBQ I was Boston's local empress of enthusiasm. I had so much energy despite having run 8 miles earlier in the day. It was wonderful to be with everyone and to be a part of the conversation about upcoming events. L Streeters are trained for the BAA Half, Chicago Marathon and a few other Fall races and some talked about their recent accomplishments as ultra marathoners.

It was a perfect weather day with a slight chill in the air but we could sit on the dock and enjoy the warm sun. The food as always was fabulous and I sampled foods that I ordinarily wouldn't eat. "That's why we run" was a common comment as we ate with gusto and sampled treats from the dessert table.

While the motto of our Club is No pace too slow. No distance too short. we should have another motto. No matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, when we get together it's like coming home and being with family.

Here are more photos that capture the love and Spirit of the day:

And even though Mac and Alma are now in Florida, their presence was palpable and they were able to enjoy the day vicariously through our Facebook photos.

We are running family. The bonds of love are strong. This wonderful Club fuels every step of my journey and we love and support each other to go the distance whatever the goal and whatever the challenge.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Running Chronicles: There's No Such Thing as Just a Half ...

There was a Facebook post about whether or not someone could pace someone for a marathon. There was a marathon and a half marathon happening on the same day. Someone responded with "I'm running just the half."

There is no such thing as just a half or just a 5K or just a 10K or just any distance. We are runners and as the motto of my L Street Running Club says, "No pace too slow. No distance too short."

After my wonderful 8 miler on Saturday, Tom and I started talking about our goals. I know in every fiber of my being that I could and he could and we could run another marathon if we put our minds to it.

There is a Japanese Proverb about climbing Mt. Fuji.

I googled it and found the following:
With over 300,000 people climbing her summit during the summer months, Mt Fuji thrives on the Japanese proverb “A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.”

I've run a marathon and not just any marathon the Boston Marathon. Been there. Done that and got the t shirt and the medal and blisters and black toenails and memories to last a lifetime.

It's a miracle that I am back on the roads and training for my first half marathon in 6 years!

I'm loving the journey and I'm loving experiencing the sense of both mastery and challenge as we get ready to run the Bermuda Half Marathon in January.

13.1 miles challenges me but it's still fun and exhilarating. I don't have to worry about early starts because I just have to finish the half in the time it takes everyone to run a full marathon. I am planning on crushing it and having the best time of my life as we traverse the amazing course through Bermuda.

In Saturday's training run I experienced a beautiful duality of being kind and gentle with my body especially given the heat but also feeling a sense of fierceness and connection to all that is.

I am not setting a limit on what I choose to do. I am choosing a goal that I can enjoy and is very challenging for me.

I remember having a conversation with Bill Rodgers at the Hyannis Marathon Weekend. He said as only Billy can say, "I like the Half. It's a great distance especially as we get older. It's still challenging but you can have fun and you don't beat your body up as much as when you are training for and running a full marathon."

So there you have it - straight from the champion's mouth.. 13.1 miles is going to serve Team McManus just fine because there is no such thing as just a half ... we are going to crush the entire 13.1 miles and cherish every mile along the way.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Going the Distance: You'll Never Run Alone!

I remember watching the end of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon back in the day. He'd close every telethon with "You'll Never Walk Alone." It was always a box of tissues kind of moment.

The song was especially powerful for me given that I had contracted paralytic polio at age 5 and had to learn how to walk again first with the support of a leg brace and then without.

What a magnificent journey and what a privilege to be able to work with the Source of Divine Intelligence within me to experience total healing of mind, body and Spirit after contracting paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of unrelenting assaults against mind, body and Spirit. I never did walk alone. My guardian angel or angels were always with me to protect me and help me through the storms.

Writing poetry ignited this Source within me after I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome now 9 years ago. (I can hardly believe it). Spirit spoke through my pen, my divining rod of healing and lit the way of my healing path.

Spirit led me to Dr. Ryan Means, a chiropractor who reminded me about the Source and Power of Divine Intelligence within me that we would harness to get me back to running again. Ryan harnessed that Source as he did chiropractic adjustments and taped my knee unleashing the power within me to heal.

Despite the heat during yesterday's 8 mile run, I felt amazing. After mile 6 I found myself experiencing the zone. That place where you are running seemingly effortlessly having something else take over. The best way to describe it is it's the absolute opposite of hitting the wall.

Tom and I were chatting about the momentum I now have in my life on and off of the roads. I pointed out to him that it all started when I met Ryan; he said that this is the culmination of 9 years of incredibly hard work, dedication and discipline to healing and moving beyond the past.

There's really no logical reason for me to be training for the Bermuda Half Marathon in January but fortunately I don't listen to logic. I listen to my heart and the sound of my quickened heart rate as I train. I love feeling Spirit's energy pulse through me healing all that went before. It's counter intuitive I know but running heals my knee injury. It's a time when, as I connect with Spirit, I invite Her to heal the parts of me that were once brutalized and feel the pain of the past wash away.

I love the feeling after a long run:

and I confidently rest in the awareness that I never run alone!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Eight is Great!

When it's a perfect beach day in late September, it's hard to get motivated to go out on a run so what's a runner to do? Plan to run along Wollaston Beach in Quincy - our old training ground when we trained for the Boston Marathon!

It was a very special run dedicated to Billy Hartford, one of our beloved members of L Street Running Club. I didn't know him personally but we had wonderful exchanges on Facebook.

We started out the day with a plank, crunches and clams with weights to engage and strengthen what we need to in order to go the distance!

As we started out with our warm up, I could feel the heat of the day. I decided that today's run was going to be a take care of myself, run from the inside out and get those miles into my legs kind of run. I had prepared for the run in my morning meditation. I focused on my music, the beautiful ocean views and visualized what it was going to feel like to run in Bermuda.

We hydrated well, paced ourselves, learned how we want to fuel during Bermuda and enjoyed the gift of a very late summer's day in New England.

I took it mile by mile and Tom was gracious enough to listen to my sing alongs with my play list which, at times, included singing all parts of a particular musical number.

The joy was definitely in the journey. As I thought about Billy and what he contributed to the running community I felt goosebumps everywhere. I sent out love and prayers to everyone who was gathered for his Memorial Service.

We had just finished our 8 miles. I was crying to realize that I ran farther than I have since 2009 and we see a woman with an L Street singlet charging toward us. "I know you bums," Caitlin Doherty, Vice President of our Running Club and a dear friend of ours called out.

Her mom was driving and she spotted our L Street singlets which we wore in honor of Billy.

We high five'd and then talked about Billy, next week's club BBQ, her long run tomorrow in preparation for the Chicago Marathon and hugged and felt the L Street Love.

We asked someone sitting along the beach to take our photo:

It was beautiful synchronicity that Caitlin was wearing her L Street singlet even though she was not running today.

We went in for our ice bath in the ocean. I had to remind myself, "Oh so this is what running 8 miles feels like." And state my affirmation of how my body recovers from every challenge with ease.

We decided to head back into the Seaport area for lunch and went to Legal Seafood Test Kitchen. We apologized for our appearance to the hostess and asked if we could sit outside. She was nonplussed and offered suggestions for what might be a great way to fuel after our run. Our waiter Mike was exuberant and provided us with outstanding service. Tom and I sat in the sun basking in the glow of my first 8 mile run since 2009 and celebrating my healing and strength.

Tom mentioned that he knows I am training well and will be ready to run Bermuda. I've let go of any time goals and want to enjoy every moment of that weekend and that day. After I finished my run, Shalene Flanagan came on Nike+ to congratulate me on my longest run. "That distance is something to be celebrated," the prerecorded message told me. "Enjoy the party!"

That's exactly what I plan to do because eight miles are great miles!

To going the distance....

Monday, September 14, 2015

What's In A Name? From Journey Well to Going the Distance

The phrase journey well was coined the weekend before the 1st anniversary of 4/15/13 by a massage therapist I was seeing at the time. The phrase resonated deep in my soul at the time and served me well this past year and a half. Everything changes - everything should change otherwise we find ourselves in a state of stagnation. We need momentum in our lives. We need to move forward. During my meditation this morning I realized that I needed to change the name of my Facebook page and the title of my blog to Going the Distance. I changed my profile and my bio on social media.

I've known challenges since I was five years old beginning with contracting paralytic polio and then enduring nine years of violence at the hands of family members. But those early challenges helped me to grow into the woman that I am today. Paralytic polio and trauma made me stronger. In 2007 after receiving the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a "progressive neuromuscular disease" by Western Medicine standards, I took a leap of faith leaving my award winning almost 20 year career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs to heal my life. I landed right smack in the middle of the glorious life I lead today.

We can go the distance whatever the challenge and whatever the goal.

It's a great ride! Come with .....

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Joy in the Journey - I've Got This

As I let go of pushing myself and trying to achieve a certain time in yesterday's training run and as I focused on being so happy to be out there running with Tom, I felt incredible joy in my journey on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon in January. Whenever I go to their website I get goosebumps. I am so excited to be going back to that beautiful Island where Tom and I have so many wonderful memories and where we are going to make some amazing new memories in January.

My dear friend and a wonderful Coach, Reno Stirrat posted this on Facebook this morning from John "The Penguin" Bingham:

I need to honor what I've accomplished. In December, I couldn't bear weight on my left leg. I worked with incredible tenacity and determination building in strength training and cross training into my regimen. I slowly built the miles and will continue to build the miles until I reach 13.1 miles again - a half marathon.

I have my sights set on another full marathon in October but you better believe that I am going to pause and celebrate and relish the remarkable accomplishment of running another half marathon.

In L Street Running Club we have a motto coined by our first President, "Mac". "Maintain. Maintain. Maintain." My strength training regimen is quite rigorous and I am going to maintain at this level of intensity for now.

We decided that hill repeats are out for me - for now but I can certainly enjoy the thrill of tempo runs and fartleks and running hills.

Yesterday my life and running partner Tom looked at me as we were almost finished with our 7.5 miler. He said that we could have run the half marathon. We would have walked/run it but we would have easily finished.

I've let go of time and I've decided to honor where I am and what my body can safely do for now. My friend Nicole posted on Facebook this morning that the goal is to build the body stronger. Not tear it down.

So as long as I relax and let go of pushing myself and instead feel the exquisite joy in the journey, I've got this.

I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing odyssey in "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" and continue the journey in "Journey Well." These two inspirational books that will motivate you and move you to tears along with my books of inspirational poetry are available on Amazon.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Going the Distance: My Left Leg - I AM The Placebo

After a week of intense training, I was sore yesterday. My left knee was a little swollen. My first thought was, "Oh I wish Dr. Ryan were here to tape my knee again." He is a chiropractor in China now. But then I remembered what I read in Dr. Joe Dispenza's book, "You Are the Placebo," a book Dr. Ryan recommended to me. I have the power to change my body through thoughts alone. I've done it so many many times throughout my life and most recently during these past 8 years after being told I "had" "post polio syndrome," a progressive neuromuscular disease. Dr. Bernie Siegel was the first one to help me harness the power of my mind and Love to heal back in the 1980's.

Before I started reading "You Are the Placebo, Dr. Ryan sent me an email with an image from this page from the book that says, "Changing the body by thought alone" with an explanation of how thoughts create a new body:

I have it on our refrigerator with a magnet that says "We Can Do It!"

So I elevated my legs, iced and visualized while also remembering the rigors of this week's training.

The body achieves what the mind believes and so rather than remembering how I have felt in the past, I am creating a new present and a new future. It's a gift I am giving to myself.

I allow the pain from the past to surface and move through bringing new clear energy to flow and remove the blocked energy from polio, rape and surgeries. I remind myself that the only soreness I need to experience is that which comes with training for a marathon. I deserve this now. I am rewiring my brain from one who experienced unrelenting violence, intimidation and humiliation to claiming my birth right as a beautiful, free, intelligent, insanely talented and determined woman.

I no longer need to carry the burdens of the past with me. I am developing a new relationship with my left leg. It is healed!

This morning my knee hurt and so I went into my morning meditation. I could feel the energy flow and I could feel my left leg release. I remembered the treatments from Dr. Ryan and how the taping stimulated the flow of energy and I used my mind to re-experience those wonderful experiences.

I cry from the depths of my soul as I write this saying goodbye to all that went before. I feel the stirrings deep in my soul that I create a new left leg and a new me.

It's been an amazing week of training. 7.5 sweet savory miles, Hill Training and maintaining cross training in the pool and strength training on land.

And you know what? I can have total confidence that me and my left leg and all of me is going the distance. I am the placebo! Total healing is mine. Say hello to the new me! I feel great in my own skin shedding the skin of my past. I affirm that I am healthy, whole, and strong.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Holy Hill Repeats!

Standing at the bottom of the hill at Cleveland Road in 2008, it looked like Mt. Everest to me. My personal trainer took me there and said that it's never too soon to run hill repeats. I had never trained for a marathon before. Well I had never run before March of 2008 so I had no idea what this involved.

She took out her stopwatch and so began the hill training portion of my road to the Boston Marathon 2009.

Training for Boston 2009 was the last time I ran hill repeats -- until yesterday.

Tom and I did a tempo run around the Reservoir to warm up. He kept an eye on my Nike+ which was tracking us at a 14:40 minute/mile pace. I remember when I did an 11 mile pace around Jamaica Pond at the height of my training. I'll get there again!

We walked at a good pace to the hill on Eliot Crescent near our house to do hill repeats.

We decided to not use the stop watch but run from the inside out.

It was hot and I was determined!

Sure there is a small part of me that wonders can my left knee stand up to the grueling rigors of training for a half marathon and then a full marathon but I can not listen to those fears.

As I charged up the hill yesterday I felt a surge of strength; a feeling of my power as a runner, as a woman, as a woman who lived through a hellish childhood and young adult life to stand proudly and firmly in my life. I am experiencing an intimate connection to my body for the first time in my life and I can use positive self talk to heal everything.

It was a sacred experience to do a tempo run and hill repeats - just like all the big kid runners do.

We'll now incorporate hills into our training every other week and the ultimate test will come on November 1st when we run Falmouth in the Fall.

But right now, I have another week of training in the books and I am icing, stretching, and allowing my body to rest and recover. To going the distance! To the joy in the journey!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Going the Distance: Loving Life One Mile at a Time

We bought a beautiful medal display from Blue Diamond Athletic Display that says "Loving Life One Mile at a Time":

We had all of our bling hanging on it and loved the reminder to love life on and off the roads one mile at a time; living and being in the present moment and enjoying the journey.

One day on Facebook I saw their post with this medal display:

I just HAD to have it.

Forrest Gump has been an integral part of my healing journey.

I had never run a day in my life before I vowed to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

I couldn't access memory of running free in my body because I contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5. I could elicit memories of ballet class but running free was a stretch for me.

So I'd watch this scene from Forrest Gump over and over and over again allowing the phenomenon of mirror neurons to fire up the feeling of running in my mind:

We were going to wait to hang and use our 2nd medal display but one early morning I heard the jingle jangle of bling and came downstairs to see both medal displays adorning our living room.

There's plenty of room on both of them for lots more bling.

Yes I know I am going to be 62 years old but I know in every fiber of my Being that I have got a lot of races left in me. The first medal to adorn our new display will be from the Bermuda Half Marathon in January.

Last weekend we ran 7.5 miles - the longest run I've had since I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon!

With every week I embrace the joy and rigors of my new training schedule. I love going the distance and I have such confidence in my body's ability to train now. 7.5 miles was an incredible milestone for me...I am loving life and running one mile at a time. And from that day on, whenever I go somewhere - I am running!!!

Today it's a tempo run and hill be continued ...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Running Chronicles: My Longest Run Since 2009-Releasing Fear and Gaining Confidence

Fear and anxiety were my constant companions. Collapsing from paralytic polio at age 5 and then experiencing unrelenting abuse and violence for 9 years took a toll on mind, body and Spirit.

During these past 8 years on my healing journey after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards, I'd say fear has been the greatest challenge to overcome.

As I prepared to run the longest distance I've run since 2009 (I had run some 7 mile runs while training for 10K's), I felt a sense of panic come over me. I shared it with Tom who lovingly said to me, "Welcome it and by welcoming it you can also welcome all the beauty and love that surrounds you and us on this wonderful day."

He was right. It was the first time that I was able to identify, name and claim that experience and then let it go.

As we began our run, I could feel myself focusing on little twinges here and there. I shared with Tom my fears that mercifully no longer get a grip on me but still rear their little head. Can I really trust my body? Is something going to come along and try to wipe me out again? Well knowing as I do that the energy we put out there is what comes back to us, I certainly didn't want to dwell there but I wanted to honor what I was feeling. Once I was able to say it loud and not harbor the feelings or fear, I was able to move forward.

With each mile I gained more strength and confidence.

Tom and I talked about work, our kids, visualizing what it was going to be like to run the half marathon in Bermuda in January, my incredible healing and I also enjoyed my music.

I kept a steady pace and took less time to stop at water stops. At 6.46 miles, I felt an energy drop. We had fueled at 4 miles and our plan has been to fuel with a half a luna bar at 4, 8 and 12 miles and walk through every water stop but today, I needed an energy boost to get me through that last mile. I took a little bit of the luna bar and water and finished strong. We did the last mile at a 15:21 pace and that included an uphill to the finish.

I know that running long is helping me to heal. While many talk about the "dangers" of running long, I know in every fiber of my being it's the best medicine and the best therapy I could ask for given the experiences of my past and my desire to live long and run long and prosper. I love how my body is transforming now with the rigors of training for a half marathon. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel with every run and every workout.

I left a lot of fears on the road today and can feel that I am gaining confidence in myself that I CAN and WILL go the distance again.

It was my longest run since 2009. 7.5 sweet sweet miles!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Going the Distance: It Takes a Village

One of my dear Facebook friends shared with us that her mother made her transition last week. They had a beautiful tribute run to her mom who would sit on the porch of their house and wave back to the runners as they ran and waved by. My friend posted about how her running village is supporting her and helping her to get through the grieving process. One evening she was supposed to do a track workout but just needed to go out on a long run. A few of her friends accompanied her on the run. She has some challenging races coming up and she knows she can go the distance with the love and support of her village in real life and through the FB running community.

I am blessed to have her be a part of my village.

We runners are a rare breed. Your pace, your distance, none of it matters!

Last Saturday I set the send me cheers option on my Nike+. I thought that all that happens is people comment on your Facebook status. I had no idea that you actually get cheers to hear while you are out on your run. Knowing that my Facebook friends were cheering me on gave me such a boost along the way.

Runners share a common passion; a common understanding. We know the healing power of lacing up our shoes and going out on a run. In March of 2011 after my nephew took his life, I went out on a run. Somehow that stone of grief that weighs heavily upon our chest lightens when we go out on a run. We share our grief with our community and the crushing pain of grief becomes manageable.

Just as it says in the Bible, A sorrow shared is a sorrow divided; a joy shared is a joy multiplied....Our victories are made so much sweeter when we share our latest run or race with our village. While running may seem like a "solitary" sport, it's really all about being part of the running community!

I know that as I train for my first half marathon since 2009, I am going to go the distance because I have an incredible village surrounding me and am blessed to be able to lend my heart, energy and enthusiasm to my village.

Going the distance? It takes a village and we runners are a very special village indeed!

I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing odyssey in "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" and continue the journey in "Journey Well." These two inspirational books that will motivate you and move you to tears along with my books of inspirational poetry are available on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Running Chronicles: A Gratitude Run - On Strength!

I used to say that I'm strong in the broken places or stronger in the places they tried to break me but on Monday, I began to experience a shift in my perception. I am not strong where they did anything. I have strength.

As I was driving to WaveHealth for my cross training in the pool, I felt a new awareness in my legs; a strength in my legs and a connection to my legs I'd not sensed before. For many of you that may seem strange. The sensations were accompanied by the thought, "These are MY legs." That may seem even stranger to you.

But experiencing paralysis from paralytic polio at such a young age followed by repeated rape from the age of 8 until I was 13 and then being beaten and experiencing the sting of a strap and belt buckle at my knees to be "taken down a notch or two" for the next 4 years left me feeling as though my legs were not mine!

But they are mine and I had a great workout in the pool on Monday. I was so blessed to have the pool all to myself where I could move into the sunlight under the skylight and do my strength training after I did 70 minutes of laps. I drank in all the beauty that surrounded me and felt incredibly blessed and free.

For the rest of the day though I had phantom leg pain in my left leg. I knew it was all healing and I just let it be reminding myself that "It's like the sounds in a house. If you aren't familiar with them you panic and say oh my God what's that. But if you are familiar with it you say, oh yeah that's just the furnace and go about your day."

On Tuesday, Tom and I usually do our speed work together but he had a computer emergency at work. I set out to do my solo run. I could feel how, despite the heat and running alone, I really needed to push my pace. It was a hard run but incredibly exhilarating as I let my playlist fuel me and fill me along with a sense of deep of gratitude for all of my healing. I felt tension and scar tissue release in my left leg. I poured sweat. I would occasionally glance at my pace and see that I'd dropped into the 14:00 minute mile pace. I was mindful of the heat and took myself right to the edge.

As I ran around the Reservoir with the sun glistening and the trees the color of late summer, with my breath heaving and sweat glistening on my skin, I felt deep gratitude and a connection to Source that ran through every fiber of my Being. I was in the moment and nothing else mattered. There was nothing else.

My pace was 15'24" which was 10 seconds off of the previous week although in all fairness there were only two hills as opposed to all the hills we ran last week including the monster hill on Cleveland Road.

I feel momentum in my healing journey. I am filled with deep gratitude for Dr. Ryan J. Means a healer chiropractor who blessed me with his skill and knowledge.

And no I am not stronger in the broken places or strong where they tried to break me. I am a woman transformed.