Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Sweet View From the Back of the Pack: If you run slow, who cares - and what's slow anyway?

This morning on Facebook, a woman I connected with after running the Bermuda Marathon shared a link to this article, "If you run slow, who cares?" What followed was a fabulous Facebook stream of women championing other women for having the courage to be out on the roads whatever the pace, whatever the distance.

As a survivor of paralytic polio, I struggled with trying to keep up with others. As a 5-8 year old lugging a heavy metal brace on my left leg, I could never keep up with my older brother, his friends and my so called friends. Back in the 50's there was little disability awareness and ignorance sadly often breeds contempt.

I refused to participate in athletic endeavors except when I was forced to participate in gym class and it was, needless to say, a very painful experience.

But then after receiving the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease, a spark was lit within me to get moving and I discovered the wonderful world of running.

I was embraced in the running community regardless of when I finished and more often than not, I finished last.

From my memoir, "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 and I were in the back of the pack with a few other people. Even they took off and 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. 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.

It's been a running journey filled with trials, tribulations and most important of all triumphs.

At the Bermuda Half Marathon, I was at the back of the pack. I met some of the most amazing women in the back of the pack. We received support and blessings from the locals despite being in the back of the pack and what a sweet reward to watch the contest between the lead male marathoner with the lead female coming up from behind. We could see that his pace was faltering and she had him in her cross hairs. Were we not at the back of the pack we would have missed seeing this contest that resulted in the female marathoner winning the race.

It took me just under 4 hours to run the Bermuda Half Marathon; a time that it would take many to run a full marathon.

But I'm not your 'average' runner. I run with a body that had been ravaged by paralytic polio and trauma that is now transforming into a body that is factory new; a phrase coined by Jeffrey Spratt, MT, {pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies} my massage therapist and partner on this leg of my healing journey. It is a miracle that I am back on the roads and despite what a physiatrist, several physical therapists and the massage therapist I was working with at the time were telling me, I decided that I needed to set goals not limits and discard the results of the MRI and all the diagnoses that were in my medical record. Jeffrey has total confidence in the body's ability to heal and the power of the Spratt Method to facilitate fluid and energy movement, speed recovery time, aid the body's natural ability to heal and prevent injuries. His confidence and belief in the body's ability to heal and achieve what the mind believes are just what I needed to rededicate myself to my running career no matter the pace.

If I run slow, who cares? I am blessed with my running and life partner Tom and a running community that celebrates me as a runner knowing what it takes for me to just get out there and run. And besides, what's slow anyway? Whatever the time may be on the clock, every runner is the same in this as that wonderful article states, "Both worked hard, sacrificed to achieve their goal, and experienced the same challenges."

And let me tell you, the view from the back of the pack is just as sweet as the view from the front of the just may take me a little longer to cross the finish line.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Run for the Hills and Healing Trauma

I find all of this quite miraculous. Two weeks after crossing the finish line of the Bermuda Half Marathon, I'm running 4 miles on a hilly course. My body is resilient and recovered from the 6 months of training and running 13.1 miles on 1/17/16.

After previous endurance events or even after shorter distance races, my body could not recover. The chronic pain and fatigue would return and truth be told I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get traction on my healing journey.

As I write this I am smiling from ear to ear feeling deeply grateful that the Universe delivered me to Ryan J. Means, Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine who directed me to the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and then to the massage table of Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC.

So what's different this time?

During a recent meditation I reflected on all the twists and turns and detours I took on this healing odyssey. When I arrived at Boston University in September of 1971, one month after my father's suicide, the Resident Assistant at 700 Commonwealth Avenue sent me to the counseling center when I couldn't stop crying shortly after arriving to my dorm room. Of course it didn't exactly help that my roommate from Long Island had already decorated my side of the room with plastic flowers on my bulletin board and told me we would just have to do something about my hair and nails. I had individual counseling and was then referred to group counseling. The group therapist decided that I needed a specialized group for survivors of childhood incest. And so began what seemed like an endless line of talking therapists. There was bioenergetics, psychodrama, Gestalt therapy...and there was a wonderful social worker I met while in graduate school who was an angel in my life supporting me during my early years of motherhood.

Life got really busy and I focused on career, work and home until my mind, body and soul cried out for healing and my life came to a screeching halt with crippling symptoms of difficulty swallowing, breathing, limping, numbness and tingling, pain and fatigue; anxiety and depression. The diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromsucular disease in December of 2006 was my wake up call.

During these past 9 years I experienced energy healing, yoga teacher training, KMI Structural Integration, Zero Balancing and perhaps the greatest therapy for me was running as I sought out paths for healing.

None of those modalities and none of the therapists I met were dedicated to helping me heal. They were curious about this polio survivor and survivor of childhood domestic violence; intrigued by how my body expressed the trauma and both drawn to my fiery determination and Spirit and ill equipped to hold the space for me that I needed to heal.

Jeffrey set the intention after my first treatment with him last April that he wanted me to run unencumbered. He set an intention to help me heal the tremors and to heal all that went before. It took 7 months of working together before I would allow myself to let my guard down and to allow the trauma to surface; to allow myself to completely trust Jeffrey and to surrender yet feel incredibly empowered on his table.

Little by little and layer by layer we heal all that went before.

During Thursday's treatment with him, I found myself recounting with him different moments of the trauma of my childhood. He held a compassionate presence while allowing the power of his method of positive touch to heal. I'd never shared with anyone those particular gruesome details of the horror and my reaction to them but I knew it was time to no longer hold them in my mind or body. I then fast forwarded my story to 9 years ago and the pieces all began to fit together of the symptoms that manifested in my body under the guise of "post polio syndrome" and the tragic traumatic events of my childhood. Jeffrey's warm hands rhythmically working to clear out congestion and bring about healing relief, balance and harmony to me mind, body and soul helped me to continue to tune to the vibration of the Universe rather than the vibration of violence and terror. "It's time to reclaim all of this," Jeffrey said to me as he worked.

After sharing those memories, I could feel the physical pain manifest in my body. Jeffrey literally touched the pain and facilitated healing as my body and heart did what it needed to do when I was a little girl but could not do at the time. Peter A. Levine calls this completing the action to be able to heal the trauma and restore the body to goodness.

I read Dr. Levine's book a few years ago and now, partnering with Jeffrey, I am able to heal the trauma and restore my mind, body and soul to goodness.

How amazing that after 9 years of being on a healing odyssey I now have steady traction on my journey to health and wellness. While it is me doing the work and being brave enough to allow the past to surface and heal, I am incredibly blessed and deeply grateful to Jeffrey who brings healing hands, a compassionate heart and strength to listen to whatever I need to share through words, through my body and through emotions. I am so excited that we are going to change the way trauma is treated and bring hope and inspiration to so many who have suffered and struggled with the effects of trauma. He also gives a phenomenal runner's flush and knows exactly what rhythm and pace of the work I need each week. He allows the Divine to work through him to join with my powerful intention to heal; and through my healing journey we will bless the lives of so many.

And today, on a glorious end of January day in New England with moderate temperatures, sunshine and dry ground, I was able to run for the hills; run unencumbered with joy soaking up the energy of those training for Boston and passing some of my runner friends out on the course.

What a blessing to run for the hills as I heal the trauma and restore goodness to my life reclaiming my life and reclaiming my advantage!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Running to Heal: Creating Triumph Over Tragedy

This morning in my Facebook news feed, one of my dear sole sisters, Jane Lewis Brown posted this picture:

with this text: A day in History ... 7 years ago today ... As I reminded Tom, {her husband} he said to me, "You've come a long way ... look at you now, you're gonna run a marathon!" ... me, through my tears, "I hope so, Tom. I hope so." All I know is that every. DAY. is a Blessing!!!

This began an exchange between us and she wrote:
I can't believe it's been 7 years, when it just seems like yesterday. Two knee surgeries, and two years of recovery, and my first 5K with my daughter on Mother's Day 2011 ... countless races since ... and they said I'd never run again, or have full range of motion in my leg ... Nobody knows what the spirit and the heart know ... nobody can tell you what you can and cannot do ... all you have to do is believe and nothing is impossible!!

She has been a steadfast cheerleader and passionate follower of my journey seeing how everything is possible, the power of belief and the healing power of running! I am so blessed to call her my friend and sole sister.

When I found myself in a leg brace, using a wheelchair for mobility at times and facing a future of a progressive neuromuscular disease, it was a wake up call. As I prayed for guidance, the answer came in the form of a poem called, "Running the Race."

I watched the "Forrest Gump" scene run Forrest run over and over and over again to begin to get a sense of muscle memory to be able to visualize myself running. And now as I move forward in my journey of health and wellness, I continue to imagine a "factory new" body everywhere devoid of the effects of paralytic polio and violence. I remind myself with every breath, with each sip of water, with each workout and run that I am free. I am whole. I am healed and I have reclaimed my advantage and reclaimed my life from the thieves who tried to steal it away from me.

I claimed that I would run the 2009 Boston Marathon and on that road to the Boston Marathon I began to reclaim my life but until now could not seem to get the traction I needed to heal everything.

Last July I set the intention that I was going to run long and strong again and check off the Bermuda Half Marathon from my bucket list. There was powerful healing and transformation along the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon. I now have momentum and a sense of triumph and invincibility over the tragedy that happened in my childhood and a knowing I can heal it all through the gift of running.

Like Jane, the doctors have been repeatedly telling me to not run (and worse - that I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, possibly needing a feeding tube and needing a sleep apnea machine) especially after a serious knee injury last year. The power of belief trumps anything that doctors tell us:

Like me, Jane will be triumphant in her running of the Sugarloaf Marathon on Sunday May 15, 2016! Join me in cheering her on and sending her positive energy and giving thanks that she is another shining example of how we can indeed triumph over tragedy!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday: On Perspiration, Transformation and Inspiration

Just about a year ago, this is what I was sporting on my left leg thanks to the expert chiropractic and healing care I received from Ryan J. Means, DC:

Ryan used every technique in his chiropractic bag of healing tools to get me back on the roads running again. He recommended exercises on a Theraband stabilizer:

and gave me exercises to grow a new gastroc muscle. Yes you read that correctly I gave him the results of my MRI which showed an atrophied gastroc muscle with fatty infiltrate. That's not a judgment, just a statement of what appeared to the radiologist on the MRI. When I met with the post polio doc to go over the results he told me that it's been that way since I contracted polio and there was nothing we could do about it. After getting those results I thought to myself, dang, it is a bloody miracle that I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon.

Ryan and I poured over Dr. Joe Dispenza's You Are the Placebo book and Dr. Joe's story inspired me to realize there are no limits to healing once we connect with our innate Divine Intelligence and surround ourselves with people who believe as we do. Ryan prescribed core exercises (how did I happen upon a chiropractor who is also a personal trainer and taught Boot Camp classes - there are no accidents) and while he adjusted me every other week, I'd go in for weekly tapings as I ventured out on the roads again. When I'd experience post run knee pain he suggested icing before and after every run; a practice I continue today along with increasing the challenge for all the exercises he prescribed for me. We decided that twice/week running and the other days cross training in the pool and/or strength training would be the perfect balanced training schedule for me.

I knew I wanted to go the distance again but there were naysayers I had to fire from my life first. Once I said yes and made a firm commitment to setting goals not limits, I put out the call to the Universe for a new massage therapist. Boy oh boy did the Universe deliver with Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC.

It took a lot of sweat, a little bit of blood (who remembers that splat moment during our 6.5 miler?)

and a lot of tears to get me to the finish line of the Bermuda Half Marathon...but what a sweet journey of transformation from where I was in early 2015.

The journey continues as I continue to excavate the athlete within me; the athlete who was waiting to be born ever since I contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 years old. I grow stronger, freer and more determined with each training run and each workout.

And now I inspire others...

It's amazing yet humbling for people to tell me how much I inspire them or that they've told someone about me who believes they could not do something and it inspires them to get off the couch and do something. And what a miracle to reconnect with one of my veterans, introduce him to Jeffrey and Wave Health and Fitness and now he, at the age of 70, wants to work with a personal trainer. When he joked that he needed Boot Camp again to get back in shape, I told him that they have Boot Camp classes at Wave and he could let his personal trainer know that is his goal. He told me that he believes there is hope for him despite being in a deconditioned state because of my journey.

And that makes it all worthwhile - the blood, sweat and tears; the constant work to build strength and to heal the past. I am so blessed to have an amazing team with Ryan and Jeffrey to partner with me, a phenomenal partner on and off the roads with my bestie Tom and all of you - my village and readers whose support fuels my journey to achieve the very best I can be.

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Treadmill Run....Climbing to Greater Heights

Even one year ago I did not have the strength, stamina or balance to run on a treadmill. While training for the Bermuda Half Marathon I did a treadmill run because it was incredibly rainy and cold outside. It was a struggle.

Now that I have crossed the finish line of the Bermuda Half Marathon, I am ready to take on new challenges and climb to greater heights in my health and wellness journey.

When I woke up at 6 am yesterday, the roads had black ice on them. I could have waited for the day to warm up and gone outside, but I was pumped and ready for my morning run. Tom and I did our core work together and then I fired up the treadmill.

I made sure I stretched before I ran and warmed up but then I kicked the pace up a notch. I had to lightly hold on to ensure my balance and stability on the treadmill but I was definitely feeling badass getting my pace down to 14:37 for the last mile!

Tom cheered me on and was my official photographer while I blared my tunes and at times sang along:

A little over 9 months ago Jeffrey Spratt, MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies set the intention for me to run unencumbered after my first session with him. My heart, mind, soul and body soaked up those words like a thirsty sponge. I'd been writing poetry about running unencumbered and free and asking the question how will I ever reclaim my life (after contracting paralytic polio and enduring 9 years of violence 3 years after contracting polio). With every workout I gain strength, confidence and more freedom in my body. What a joy to work up a sweat as I fearlessly pushed my body.

With every workout I reclaim my life and reclaim my advantage. Every week I clear away the rubble from the devastation of the past and see the new lush, prospering (Jeffrey's word) landscape of my earthly home partnering with Jeffrey through the power of positive touch using the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy; an innovative approach to bodywork. In a recent treatment Jeffrey shared with me how majestic and magnificent the landscape is in Alaska. He was quick to note that the land had a violent past yet out of that violence emerged beauty. He went on to comment, "and you certainly are beautiful."

After I posted the picture from yesterday's run, two of my friends commented about how they could see what a great run I had.

And that run was on a treadmill!

Yes I am climbing to greater heights healing all that went before gaining momentum and excited for crushing new old goals.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Climb That Mountain! - On Goals and Momentum

After I ran the Bermuda Half Marathon, my dear friend and sole sister Susan Stirrat posted this image and quote on Facebook and said, "You climbed that mountain."

Yesterday on Facebook I woke up to this quote by my dear friend, Chosen Dad and healer, bernie:

there are times in life when you gotta fall

lose your grip and stumble and fall

when you can't lean on no one else

that's when you find yourself

the going's easy when the road is flat

them danged old hills will get you every time

god gave us mountains so we'd learn how to climb
~ Bernie Siegel, MD

One year ago at this time a very large mountain loomed before me. I had an encounter with a physical therapist that veered me as far away from the medical model as I could get and steered me into the office of healer chiropractor Dr. Ryan Means. Things began to get strange with the massage therapist I was working with as I partnered with Dr. Ryan and I could feel promptings from the Universe that I would probably need to find someone new to partner with me if/since I was going to go the distance again.

As I looked up that mountain I wondered if I had it in me to come back after a serious knee injury and to go the distance in my healing journey; to plant my flag on that mountain summit and reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life. I'd written many poems about climbing mountains and reclaiming my homeland. While I may have experienced doubts and fears about climbing that mountain in front of me, my subconscious through the power of my pen, my divining rod for healing had already set the course in motion. I happened upon a wonderful sherpa on this climb, Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the highly effective Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies.

Little by little, step by step, I steady climbed that mountain. Every day, every week with intention and attention I worked out on my own and then partnered with Jeffrey to experience the power of positive touch for healing and momentum. I climbed that mountain to my goal of running the Bermuda Half Marathon. The view from the summit - exhilarating -

and now that I have conquered that mountain I am going to enjoy the next phase of my journey.

On February 28th, Team McManus toes the line at the Hyannis 10K Marathon. For several years I was on the sidelines cheering on Tom, runners training for the Boston Marathon with the Spaulding Rehab Race for Rehab team and enjoying being a part of the Camp Hyannis weekend. But I missed out on the thrill of participating in the race and hanging out after the race wearing my bling. It's been 5 years since I ran in Hyannis.

July 3rd will take us back to Finish at the 50 at Gillette Stadium where the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon weekend all began meeting race director Anthony Raynor and assistant Clarence Smith (although for years Clarence was the R.D.). What a different race it will be for me...from feeling anxious about running my first 5K after a knee injury in December of 2014 to running it after having run the Bermuda Half.

And after Finish at the 50, we start training all over again for:

I'm sitting here smiling from ear to ear as I sit atop the mountain of accomplishment enjoying the splendid view. I'm excited for reaching new heights in my health and wellness journey in 2016 and I'm so happy to have you along for the ride.

To your health and wellness,

Monday, January 25, 2016

I'm Now Off the Sidelines - On Creativity, the Power of Imagination and Healing

As I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility and contemplated a rather grim and uncertain future after receiving the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a "progressive neuromuscular disease" in December of 2006, I knew that I was at a crossroads in my life.

It was a cold, dark February day and I was in the dark night of my mind, body and soul. I got still. Surrounded by print outs from Bernie Siegel, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins and Lisa Nichols on my dining room table, the words from a Lisa Nichols newsletter jumped out at me, "I am so happy and grateful now that I can create...." I don't even remember the end of the sentence...create ... "create what?" I pondered. I'd been told my social work career must come to an end if I had any hope of stabilizing my functioning where it was. I was post menopausal so I wasn't going to create another baby.

And then seemingly out of nowhere I wrote the poem:

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear
despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
it tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends- trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

It was in the cadence of Dr. Seuss. My physical therapist, Miss Holly, read Dr. Seuss to me before every excruciatingly painful physical therapy session after I contracted paralytic polio and then while she was coaxing my muscles and nerves back to health, would have me recite it in tandem with her. I foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run with that poem.

From Dr. Joe Dispenza:

Poetry began pouring out of me at warped speed. I imagined myself healthy, whole and free. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote fueling my journey on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon and during these past several years conjuring up in my imagination reclaiming my life and running unencumbered and free. I wrote about reclaiming the land from the invaders, those who foisted sexual, mental and physical abuse on me. I would stop and start on my healing journey. I believed and then I struggled with my power of belief in my conscious mind but when I wrote poetry I tapped into that part of me that wanted healing more than anything I've ever wanted in my life.

You can experience the best of my poetry during these past 9 years in "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life," available on Amazon.

First I would meet Dr. Ryan, a chiropractor healer who reminded me that I can set goals not limits and turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe and all the teachers in What the bleep do we know? including the wonderful work of Dr. Candace Pert. A month later, Jeffrey Spratt, MT came into my life.

And just as Miss Holly read Dr. Seuss to me, as Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies worked with me he would tell me wonderful stories about his journey. We talk about movies and he would share his dreams with me about what he saw as the future of Spratt Muscular Therapies. Sometimes he even sings. His delightful personality and the cadence of his talking and the rhythm of the work moved that healing energy within me just as the cadence of Dr. Seuss helped to move that healing energy so I could walk again.

But it all began with me and feeling the creative urge within me to create a life different than the one doctors and therapists were predicting for me. I harnessed the power of my imagination and conjured up Jeffrey to partner with me to go the distance on my healing journey.

It is thrilling and a relief to now be able to have confidence in my body, to feel strength and to build strength; to have a training plan and enjoy the journey although as with any journey it is not always easy. It's a miracle that at last I am now off the sidelines celebrating my accomplishments with all the other runners after a race. While at times, the journey is not easy, the rewards are magnificent as I'll write more about in tomorrow's post, "Climb That Mountain."

To your health and wellness

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: "I want you to run unencumbered..."-On Foot Strikes, Taper Madness and Triumph!

I could feel the energy and intention coming through Jeffrey Spratt, MT's hands during my first treatment with him on April 19, 2015. As he checked in with me as he does with every client after a treatment making sure that the treatment met or exceeded expectations, he looked deep into my eyes and said, "I want you to run unencumbered."

I'd written about running unencumbered and reclaiming my life (the tagline for Spratt Muscular Therapies is "Reclaim Advantage" "Reclaim Life") in my poetry years before I ever met Jeffrey.

Jeffrey's belief in the power of positive touch and his philosophy of massage therapy as: “Massage Therapy at its finest can be life changing and even life saving, and even at its very basic, massage therapy should be momentum changing.” springs forth from his very soul during treatments. Partnering with him has been a Divine experience in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word. The manifestation of all that I imagined and dreamed about for myself came into being on January 17th.

I wrote a race report but when one accomplishes something as epic as coming back from a knee injury and overcoming all the obstacles I have had to overcome, one race report does not suffice.

I thought I'd take you back to the Saturday before race day. On Friday evening we were blessed to be joined for dinner by Annie, a runner from Massachusetts who came down by herself to run the 10K. We were all staying at The Rosedon and we know what happens when runners get together. Friendships form like instant oatmeal - just add water and 2 minutes later it's done.

She got up early on race day to cheer us on at the start and snap this photo of Team McManus:

She shared with us that she had seen a PBS special about the Roosevelts. As pre-race jitters began to come to me full force on Saturday I wrote this in my journal (excerpted):
"Annie talked about how FDR contracted polio at age 38. Tom said, “Just imagine experiencing that at age 5.” His compassion was palpable. As monsoon like winds and rain swept across Bermuda, I experienced the awareness of the fear of being left behind lugging my leg brace. It's time for healing that wound. Tom said to me that I am no more a back of the packer. It’s all about perception. I could feel both the excruciating pain of being all alone to manage the leg brace, the shame, the humiliation, the bullying, the taunting and teasing and the triumph of crossing that finish line tomorrow. Everyone from around the globe is cheering me on and I run both in defiance of what family members tried to do to me and I run in celebration of my Spirit. I can feel the magic. I see myself through the wonder filled eyes of a child - a child of God who now knows that anything and everything is possible. I have gone from survival to creation; from doubting to believing having the courage to heal the pain of the past and create an amazing new present for myself.

I imagined all sorts of untoward events happening. And then coincidentally the sun came out and there was a huge tropical bird cawing as if beckoning me to focus on being there now.. Sitting by the pool listening to my marathon training playlist, the fears began to dissipate. It was a memory from a year ago when I injured my knee but as Jeffrey always tells me, It’s just a memory. I’ve got this and it’s as though every time he does energy work on my left leg he is draining the memories of polio, last year’s knee injury, the rape that pinned me down after being paralyzed and all the violence. But I HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE it all.

I realize that my body has stored all this energy to be released tomorrow...."

I imagined experiencing a ShakeOut with Jeffrey and just at the moment I posted on Facebook about feeling his presence, he sent me a text to wish Team McManus good luck on race day.

We were well trained and well prepared so that I could experience race day with unbridled joy.

Each vista was more breathtaking than the one before:

Tom teased me and said that I was having a runner's orgasm saying Oh my God as we'd turn a corner or have my breath catch at the beauty of the farms, the architecture and of course the blue water that is uniquely Bermuda. The roosters were crowing as we ran by cheering me along on my victory lap.

I felt strong and knew in every fiber of my being that all the fears of collapsing as I had without warning when I was 5 years old freely dancing around the gym, and not being able to trust my body melted away with each foot strike.

The locals made the race one big party celebrating life, running, the race and each runner. They expressed the true meaning of what the Bermuda Marathon is all about for every day runners who were not competing in the race: to enjoy their beautiful Island.

I danced my way along part of the course:

There was no jeers because of my pace; only cheers and celebration and great job and do you have enough water? would you like an orange slice? Be sure to enjoy the view.

I enjoyed every mile, every view, every sight, sound and scent along the Bermuda Marathon course. I felt unbridled joy and with each foot strike I was transformed. I went from experiencing taper madness in all of its glory to triumphantly crossing the finish line. I ran unencumbered going the distance!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Every Finish Line is a Starting Line: What's Next?

Mary McManus you ran the Bermuda Half Marathon, what are you going to do now?

I'm going to run the Hyannis 10K on February 28th!

What is so striking to me after running the Bermuda Half Marathon is how well I feel. With a ShakeOut treatment and a regular 90 minute session with Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, I feel that I am ready to continue to build strength, endurance and improve speed on my shorter distances.

It's quite the miracle when you stop and think about it.

For the first time in my healing journey I am experiencing momentum. Chronic fatigue and pain have been replaced with feeling "vibrant sore."

I am experiencing confidence in my body and I am finding joy in running.

This morning, less than one week after running the Bermuda Half Marathon, Team McManus was back out on the roads. We did a good stretch to warm up along with a plank (now increasing time and we are up to 3:05), clams with weights on and 65 crunches. I layered with running tights under my running pants and two layers on my upper body with my Boston Marathon jacket. A Brooks hat and glittens from Saucony

completed the winter gear outfit.

We decided to take the mileage down to a 5K and build back up to a 10K to continue to give my body the chance to continue its recovery from 6 months of intense training and then running the Half.

There was a strong wind and we decided we should not run around any bodies of water but stay on Beacon Street in an out and back route from our home.

After training for and running 13.1 miles, running 3.11 miles, despite the weather conditions, was a joy. I began to crank up the pace a little bit but listening to my body in the weather conditions I dialed it back. I did about a 16:00+ minute/mile pace overall. There were patches of black ice and little snow mounds here and there. During every training run of the past 6 months we would imagine how it would feel coming into the finish line on Front Street. In today's run we remembered that feeling of exhilaration and how it was exactly as we imagined it would be.

After the Hyannis 10K, we will maintain our 10K distance on the weekends and work on speed at the 5K distance as we get ready for the Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K on July 3rd - the race where my road to the Bermuda Marathon Weekend all began. And then Team McManus begins to train again for January 15, 2017.

It will be amazing to compare how I feel this year versus last year. Everything was so new and uncertain given my journey of the past 9 years and especially after the December 2014 knee injury. I know that I am going to find greater ease, and being able to run unencumbered as I continue to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life through partnering with Jeffrey.

Every finish line is a starting line and I am so excited to experience what's next.

Here's Team McManus after running 3.11 miles this morning:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: When Success is the Only Option

Despite taper madness and pre-race jitters I knew that success was my only option going into the Bermuda Half Marathon. Team McManus trained well and we trained hard. I trained with intention and focus undeterred by doubts, fears and the beliefs from my past.

This morning on Facebook Denise, who lives in Kentucky and was our plane mate from Boston to Bermuda along with her husband Ken, posted this on Facebook:
This couple sat with us on the plane to Boston, then I discovered our bib numbers were sequential, then we ran into them Friday night. Mary McManus has overcome so much to be at this starting line. I was determined to find her and wish her well the morning of the race, she had been in my thoughts and prayers the night before. I'm so glad I found them and that they are now in my world.

Thank you Denise! I did overcome so much to get to that starting line and was so blessed to go mile for mile with my running and life partner Tom and partner with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies.

I defied the odds of what my knee MRI showed and defied the advice of the doctor, the physical therapists and even my former massage therapist. I defied the diagnosis of post polio syndrome and the effects that paralytic polio and violence took on my body.

And what glorious sweet rewards as I focused on success being my only option.

I was blessed to experience a race course where each panoramic vista was more breathtaking than the one before.

We reconnected with old friends on the Island and made new friends.

There was magic, mysticism, synchronicity and so much joy.

I got in the pool on Tuesday and did a workout followed by Jeffrey's signature ShakeOut treatments to help with my recovery.

On Wednesday I did strength training and began to increase reps and time for holding plank.

In yesterday's 90 minute treatment with Jeffrey, Jeffrey coined a new term, "vibrant sore." I told him it reminded me of Dr. Joe Dispenza's phrase, "recondition your body to a new mind." Jeffrey also worked with me holding a compassionate presence as I continued to heal from the violence and violation from my past. I can feel how the Spratt Method encourages and stimulates regeneration of neuromuscular connections in my spinal cord and his touch is like an eraser. I feel the possibilities for healing are infinite and are happening every day in every way.

I believed with my entire Being that success was my only option and now I believe that success for complete healing is mine.

Every finish line is a starting line and I'll talk more about that in tomorrow's post....