Monday, February 29, 2016

Camp Hyannis Marathon Weekend 2016 - Three Running Greats

Even though I do not eat pasta the night before I race, Tom and I still attend the pre-race pasta dinner to hear running greats speak.

We had an early dinner at the Roadhouse Cafe


I've discovered that I need to eat salmon before a race. We both had fish with garlic mashed potatoes and their classic Roadhouse salad with their home made Roadhouse salad dressing. It was warm and cozy but the energy was electric as everyone was asking everyone else, "Are you running tomorrow."

We entered the Hyannis Resort Conference and Convention Center Ballroom. I remembered the first time we walked in back in 2009, the night before my very first half marathon race. Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were there and I met Ric Beaudoin and the gang who connected Team McManus with L Street Running Club and the Merrimack Valley Striders. There's something magical that happens when you walk into that ballroom for the pre race pasta dinner and this year was certainly no different.

We looked around and saw some familiar faces and then we lighted upon Tony and Mary who have been faithful campers like we have been throughout these past 7 years. They were seated with Bill Rodgers, Geoff Smith and Jacqueline Hansen and they invited us to join them. Mary and I exchanged the warmest and longest hug and we got caught up on the past two years. Tony and Mary are like brother and sister from another mother and mister. They come to Hyannis together as best friends. Instead of sitting around a campfire we gather together at a round table.



The subject turned to running stories. Jacqueline shared with us how she was the guide for the Olympic Trials course in LA. She knew that Shalene and Amy Cragg were going to make the team because they asked to see the course twice. We were spellbound as she talked giving us the inside view of the Olympic Trials. LA is her home town.

Bill was delighted to hear of my running comeback.

Geoffrey Smith mentioned that he was there to promote his upcoming races and Paul Collyer, Event Director invited him to stay for supper and talk. He said he is never one to turn down a free meal. I asked him how he was feeling since his return from his home in Liverpool and he said he is slowly getting back on schedule. We talked about his upcoming races and recent controversy around race directors in Rhode Island.

Tony invited Jacqueline, Bill and Geoff to speak first individually about their running journeys and also speaking to life as older runners and then they came together to answer questions from the runners:



I was mesmerized at how Jacqueline shared with us that she was inspired by a runner named Cheryl Rogers who ran a 2:50 marathon. She mentioned that she and Cheryl remained friends for all these years and Cheryl married a man named Flanagan. Their daughter is Shalene and she hosted Cheryl during the Olympic Trials. She gave us more of the inside scoop about Shalene and said she would be fine.

Runners were hungry for advice from these three running greats. Bill Rodgers offered that we are all explorers. The cool thing is we are all here. Let's celebrate! Bill also asked the runners, "Has anyone dropped out of Boston more than me?" He shared with us at the table that a DNF is very smart! We took our annual photo together and he whispered to me, "You run with your heart. I've always said you run with your heart."



I was able to ask Bill at the starting line, how is it that with baseball or football fans can't get anywhere near the big names in the sport but here we are standing together receiving expert advice and support from the best of the best. "That's why we are the greatest sport," Bill replied.

As people asked Geoff Smith for training advice he was quick to offer that the most important part of any program is rest. Consistency is the only key to success. "The worst invention was the Garmin," Geoff said. Everyone is individual and you have to figure out what is optimum for you. He did share that you break into spread training through running hills. "It's a lifetime commitment. It's about going out and having fun. Leave the Garmin at home," Geoff advised in his wonderful British accent.

Jacqueline had this beautiful energy and aura around her. She is incredibly humble and fielded questions about Title IX as well as providing practical training advice and shared wonderful anecdotes about her experiences as a woman distance runner.

I felt as though as I was infused with a new perspective about my own running; that it's a beautiful sport where everyone discovers for themselves what is going to work best. There is no one formula that fits all and we are all explorers finding out what works best for us. This wisdom and knowledge would hold me in very good stead on race day.

After the talk, Tom and I went to buy Jacqueline's book, "A Long Time Coming."


I was moved to briefly share my journey with her and gave her my blogger business card. I was held in this beautiful space by her clear loving eyes. She told me there is a woman in Europe who is looking for women over the age of 50 who are blogging about their running journey and she was going to share my blog with her.

I left the Ballroom feeling so blessed to reconnect with dear friends at Camp Hyannis and to feel touched by grace to meet Jacqueline Hansen, reconnect with Bill Rodgers and spend time with Geoffrey Smith who we flew to Bermuda with for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend...but more about that in tomorrow's blog - Race Day - Redemption Weekend.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Camp Hyannis 2016 - The Expo - "Live Your Life - Love Your Life - Wag Your Tail"

I woke up at 6:30am yesterday morning and received a notification that Dawn Feest of Wag Your Tail posted on Facebook, "Mary McManus your table is right across from Wag Your Tail."

I laughed. I was supposed to have a table at the Expo last year to share my journey and my book, "Journey Well." The race was cancelled due to bad weather. Since I was running the 10K this year, and so much has transformed since last year, I emailed Paul Collyer the Race Director and his assistant Jen to let them know I didn't need a table at the Expo. I replied, "OMG I guess Paul and Jen didn't get the memo that I didn't need the table." After my morning meditation I posted, "I think I have a plan B."

I gathered up my Hyannis Half Marathon medal from 2009, my Boston Marathon medal, the 113th Boston Marathon finisher's book, my book of poetry, "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life," and one copy that I had on hand, my Bermuda Marathon medal, all my personal business cards with a link to this blog on it.

I was getting so excited for this year's Camp Hyannis. It had been 5 years since I ran in Hyannis. With last year's race cancelled, I couldn't wait to see all of our friends at camp.

We had a smooth and easy drive toward Cape Cod and once we crossed the Sagamore Bridge I got really excited:



We arrived at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center and our room was ready! We unpacked and headed to the Expo. I saw Wag Your Tail's display:



and Dawn jumped out from behind the display. We hugged and cried. I told her that if she had not tagged me in that post I wouldn't have known I had a table and would have not had things put together to be a part of the Expo. Dawn, her sister and business partner for Wag Your Tail Heather and I met at the 2009 Hyannis Marathon Expo. We have seen each other throughout the years and stayed in close touch on Facebook. They have donated Wag Your Tail merchandise to our fund raisers and are just amazing people all around.



We both felt as though no time had passed since we were together 3 years ago.

I set up my table:



And Paul Collyer, Race Director and a dear friend of the past 7 years came by to snap this photo of Tom and me:



We were lighting up Facebook with our posts from the Expo and Dawn posted:



It was noon and runners arrived.

One woman who works at Kripalu's store was intrigued by my book. She purchased it and is going to present it to the staff at Kripalu to have in their store. Coincidentally they live in Lee and we told them about our son's farm. They said they could easily go to the Williamstown Farmer's Market where Diggers Bend Farm sells their goodies. We also told them about their CSA. A vocational teacher said that he has his students choose modern day heroes to write about and he would look up my memoir and see about adding both my poetry book and memoir to his library at school.

"Oh my God it's a sign!" One woman stopped dead in her tracks as she picked up my Bermuda Half Marathon medal and said, "We were just talking about the Bermuda Marathon and wanting to run it." I shared my story with her and her group of Mystic Runners from Wakefield.

The energy was absolutely electric and synergy and synchronicity was happening all around!

We connected with members of L Street and someone we met at the Bermuda Airport who was running the half. We registered two of our dear friends from L Street Running Club for the Half Marathon and I bought a coffee mug for another one of my dear running friends who is training for her first full marathon.

Tom was such a trooper and got us lunch from Bogey's at the hotel. We had our fried string beans that we eat only in Hyannis and I had my tuna melt on whole wheat bread.

During a bathroom break I bumped into Geoffrey Smith who was promoting his upcoming races. We traveled to Bermuda with Geoff.



By 3:30 my voice was hoarse and I had a full heart for the all the wonderful connections we made.

I was exhausted in a very good way and took a 45 minute nap because we were going to have dinner at The Roadhouse Cafe and then attend the pre race pasta dinner (without eating the pasta) to hear Jacqueline Hansen and Bill Rodgers speak.

Camp Hyannis 2016 to be continued....

To your health and wellness!
Mary

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Going the Distance: You have to start somewhere!



One year ago at this time I had to build up my running base again and begin a strength training program. I was blessed to partner with Ryan J. Means, DC who, in addition to being a chiropractor extraordinaire is also a personal trainer. He recommended exercises on a stabilizer:



I had to start somewhere working on balance and strength. I am now up to being able to balance on one leg for one minute with two reps. After building up to 1 minute and working at this for a year, I am able to put on my slacks standing up, one leg at a time with no need to hold onto anything for balance! It's very exciting.

I couldn't get up off of a toilet seat or out of a chair without holding on to something. Dr. Ryan told me I needed to do squats to build up strength to be independent in getting up and down from a chair or a toilet seat, otherwise I risked injury from the wear and tear on my upper body. I couldn't do a squat. Yup - I had to start somewhere and so Dr. Ryan started me at the wall showing me the proper mechanics of a squat. I remember the day I was able to move an inch away from the wall as he predicted would eventually happen. I also remember the day when I was able to stand up without needing to lean on anything. There was also an emotional component to my difficulty experiencing independence in standing up and that was related to the violence I experienced from my father. Once I was able to build the strength and confront and heal the abuse from the past, everything came together for me.

Starting to build a running base again was really hard at first. Dr. Ryan taped my left leg:


The MRI showed that the gastroc muscle had atrophied from paralytic polio. We decided we should grow a new one (sounds funny doesn't it?) and the kinesiotape would help to stimulate the growth of a new muscle. He gave me calf strengthening exercises. At first I could only imagine going up and down on my toes. Little by little the power of my imagination combined with using the concept of mirror neurons (teaching my left leg how to move and fire up a gastroc muscle by 'watching' what my right leg was doing) stimulated the growth of a new gastroc muscle. It's still a struggle but I've come a long way from where I started a year ago.

I could have been content to maintain and increase reps with the exercises I was doing and been content with the half marathon distance I am now able to run.

Something has happened inside of me since partnering with Dr. Ryan. as we clear out the debris from the polio and violence I am, in the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, conditioning my body to a new mind; a mind that believes in all possibilities and sheds the beliefs that were literally beaten into me. I feel this profound stirring in my soul that I need to continue to challenge myself in new ways building momentum in my health and wellness journey to strength train in new ways and to work on my pace in running. I feel as though there is a lot of lost time that I want to make up for. I want to enjoy my body and see just what this body can do.

To that end, I have to start somewhere again. This morning I worked out at Wave Health and Fitness while Tom went on a 10 mile run with our running family, L Street Running Club. Sure there was a part of me that would have loved to go out with them but I know running two days in a row and running a 10 miler this morning would have been tempting fate - for now and only for now.

I did squats using the barre to help with balance but did the last 3 squats free standing. I mixed up my core workout incorporating ab exercises that I've seen others do but didn't think that I could do them. I could only do a few reps but boy did I feel the burn. And then it was my moment of truth...I did my plank and I did my crunches and I decided that I needed to break that mental barrier about not being able to do a dolphin plank:



I held it for 5 seconds!

I have always admired people who can sit back on their heels:



I chose the image of a child here because before I contracted paralytic polio at age 5, I was incredibly flexible, graceful and my mind and body knew no bounds.

While I was on the mat at the gym I decided to move beyond another mental barrier I've had feeling so stiff in my body. I got really close to sitting back on my heels.

I feel that everything is accessible to me.

I've come so far in my healing journey and feel incredibly blessed and grateful ... I have so far to go but I know you have to start somewhere. It's an absolute miracle that at last reclaim my life and experience joy and freedom in my body even as I work so hard and embrace the challenges of setting and reaching new goals.

To your health and wellness!
Mary

Friday, February 19, 2016

Going the Distance: Life Outside the Comfort Zone - A New Challenge



One of my health and fitness goals for 2016 was, that after running the Bermuda Half Marathon and the Hyannis 10K that I was going to kick my strength training up a notch. Last week as I was doing sit ups, I felt bored and felt as if they were not doing anything for me. Sure enough when I googled core strengthening exercises to do instead of sit ups, there was a wealth of information about why sit ups were no longer an appropriate core strengthening exercise and it can also increase risk of back injury. Funny how when we listen to our bodies they know what they need.

I found two core strengthening exercises with lowering legs slowly and hovering above the floor both with legs straight up and down and to the side. This will strengthen all of the abdominal muscles. I could only do 3 reps of each but I felt the burn.

My goal is to move from regular plank to dolphin plank. While I was doing plank with arms straight this morning I could feel myself getting stuck in my head. As a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, my default response used to be, "I can't do that. My body can't do that." As I was looking ahead to doing dolphin plank after I hit 3:30 for holding a plank with arms straight, everything froze within me. I did opt to do a side plank and shook and trembled as I fired up new muscles. As I returned to straight plank, I really had to push myself to hold for 3:20 but I did it! I went outside of my comfort zone and did something new and allowed myself to feel and embrace the challenge.

And then I remembered a post from my friend Michelle Kennis:

***Pull ups will continue to challenge me BUT I will NOT give up, that's not a option***

Getting stronger every day

What exercise is a challenge for you?



When I responded to her post with dolphin plank she was so supportive and encouraging. "Those are tough. You will get it," she said.

Now all I need to do is to start with my imagination and imagine my body doing these different things and allowing for the transformation to continue to happen. I am going to embrace and enjoy the struggle ditching those old beliefs about what my body can and can not do and reach new heights in my health and wellness journey.

I know I can do this because:


My dear friend Kathleen shared on Facebook that she saw my post with the quote that begins this blog post with another post:


I want and need to be great and feel great.

As Tara Brach wrote in True Refuge, "May [we all] know the natural joy of being alive!"



How do you take on a new challenge?




Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hyannis 2016 Ready





Two weeks from today Team McManus will be running the Hyannis 10K. So what's the big deal you may ask? Team McManus ran the Bermuda Half Marathon on January 17th.



It's not about the distance and it won't be about the time although we plan on having the best time yet in Hyannis.

It's about momentum. It's about health and wellness and it's about reclaiming my life.

For the first time since having been diagnosed with post polio syndrome, "a progressive neuromuscular disease" in December of 2006 which in fact was a result of damage from the polio virus and trauma being stuck in the very fiber of my body and being, I am feeling wonderful. I am running AND strength training.

Hyannis holds such special memories for us.

It was my first half marathon race in February of 2009. I was blessed to meet Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter and experience the love and support from champions for my Boston Marathon journey. It was my first bling:



In 2011, my friend Deborah Doiron and I ran the 10K and Tom ran the half training for Boston. You can read all about it in Camp Hyannis.

We reunited with Dick Hoyt at the Expo and I bought a copy of his book:


I met Jack Fultz for the first time:


and got to see Jimmy Garcia's ultramarathon bling collection:


I had a great run that year despite the slush under my feet and huge snow flakes falling down. The scene of the golf course outside our window when we woke up:


Race director Paul Collyer did away with the 10K for a few years and I cheered on Tom at the half in 2014. It was a difficult year for me to be on the sidelines in Hyannis. I had those old familiar yet very uncomfortable feelings of being left behind.

Last year the race was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions but my head was in a good place to experience the joy of Camp Hyannis even though I had no prospects of getting back on the roads.

If you were to ask me this time last year if I would be running in Hyannis again I would have told you no way. I had yet to meet the people who would be the game changers in my healing journey. I knew I wanted to run again but didn't dare imagine that I could run beyond a 5K or maybe a 5 miler distance given the results of the MRI in December of 2014.

But as my dear friend and sole sister Nicole Berglund wrote on Facebook today, "I also am so amazed to see what Mary has accomplished. In this modern world with doctors and technology there are some things you can't explain. I've learned how much stronger the mind is than the body."

I am able to harness the power of my mind and imagination to go the distance in my healing journey.

While I ran in cold temperatures training for the 2009 Boston Marathon, I opted to train indoors on the treadmill yesterday. I did a 10K. I am amazed at how resilient my body is; how after running a half on 1/17, I am ready to run a 10K in two weeks. I'll taper now but continue to train strong in my cross training and strength training. I've got a lot of distance to cover in building strength and healing and a lot of time to make up for.

I am thoroughly enjoying the journey and the sense of triumph over my past.

Team McManus is Hyannis 2016. Bring on the adventure! Time to make new memories in Hyannis!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Struggles, Taking a Leap of Faith and Triumph!



The other day I received a call from the Social Work Executive at the West Roxbury VA Medical Center. They are having a celebration of 90 years of social work at the VA. At the staff meeting on 2/29, they are going to honor those social workers who retired from the Boston VA Health Care system in recent years to honor their contribution to the mission and vision of social work at the VA.

On 5/25/2007, almost 9 years ago now, I walked away from my almost 20 year career as a VA social worker. In December of 2006 I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and told that I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. After intensive outpatient treatment at Spaulding Rehab with a physical therapist who would not treat me as a polio survivor but rather believed in the body's capacity to heal, writing poetry, meditating, visualizing, making dietary changes and finding the strength within me to take a leap of faith and leave my career



I began to feel better than when I walked into Spaulding in October of 2006.

I remember the day I gave my notice to my nurse manager at the VA. At first she was happy for me but within 24 hours she told me that I couldn't leave; that my plan to write poetry and heal my life made no sense whatsoever. In fact it did not make any sense if you look at the stark reality of what I was doing but I had a vision and was living in my imagination of what my future could hold for me despite all appearances: physical, emotional and financial. She wanted me to consider my options - work part time; give myself more time to make my decision but she could see that my mind was made up and in 6 weeks time I would separate from my job at the VA.

Wearing a leg brace and no longer needing a wheelchair I walked out of the Jamaica Plain Campus of the VA Healthcare System. (I write at length about this leg of my journey in my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility"available on Amazon)

I experienced triumph when I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon:



And since then it was a journey of more struggle than triumph.

Little did I know how much was going to manifest into reality from all those poems in which I visualized my healing.

The struggle was real and hard. Every day I feel greater ease.

And I have to tell you...when I return to the VA on Monday 2/29, I am going to experience the glorious triumph of my healing and to celebrate the work I did while I was at the VA serving those who served. And as my shero and fellow polio survivor Wilma Rudolph so eloquently stated, "The triumph can't be had without the struggle."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Alan Dyer's 2016 Boston Marathon Run for Fisher House Boston



"I run for Fisher House Boston. I run for the veterans and I run for their families for all the pain and suffering they go through as well. A little sacrifice on my part is nothing compared to what they go through...You gotta get out there. You gotta do it. There's no quit especially when it comes to the veterans who give everything they have and also their families."
~Alan Dyer, member of 2016 Boston Marathon team running for Fisher House Boston

I received a friend request on Facebook from Alan Dyer. We have several mutual friends in common and I accepted his friend request. I saw his timeline and felt goosebumps all over. As a retired VA social worker I knew about Fisher House Boston at the West Roxbury VA and the important work that they do.

Fisher House Boston is located at the VA Boston Healthcare Medical facility in West Roxbury, (www.boston.va.gov) and was the 46th Fisher House to be built in the country. We recognize not only the special sacrifices made by our men and women who serve in uniform, but also their loved ones. It is a privilege and honor to work with our military families. The Fisher House Boston is a home away from home where our military families can stay while a loved one is receiving in house treatment at one of our medical centers. Any family member or loved one of an active military or Veteran's family, wartime or peacetime, is eligible to stay at the Fisher House. These homes are built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers.

The homes enable family members to be close to loved ones at the most stressful times. There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. There is NO Charge for any family to stay at a Fisher House. We are completely committed to helping those who have served for us and for our country. We believe these men and women are our National Treasures! Fisher House is a Four Star Charity, with an A+ rating.


Watch and listen how Fisher House transformed and continues to transform the life of Nicolas Van Landeghem:



Alan recently posted this on his Facebook page:
Want to know how your Fisher House Boston donations are helping military families? This just came to me from the Executive Director of Fisher House Boston:
39 families are in Boston Hotels right now- Fisher House Boston covering all cost.

13 of those families have been here for over a month.

27 of the families have needed transportation... Fisher House Boston takes care of it

6 are babies of active duty military.

The Fisher House on VA property remains full to capacity- 20 suites with overflow families going to area hotels.

That's how your donation dollars are impacting military families! Imagine having to pay Boston hotel costs for a month.

So have a positive impact on the lives of military families and please make a donation today.


There is really no good reason why Alan should run the Boston Marathon AGAIN for the 2nd year for Fisher House Boston. Last year he braved driving winds and rain on Marathon Monday.

He has two very painful knees


and history of a surgically repaired broken neck...There is really no good reason except he is a veteran...and he cares...and he believes that his sacrifice of training for the Boston Marathon pales in comparison to the sacrifices that the men and women in our military make day in and day out.

Take a few more moments and watch this video:



and then, as Alan likes to say, "Good people - go to this link and please donate."

Alan Dyer's Fundraising Page for Fisher House

Run strong Alan and thank you for running on behalf of our veterans and their families.

May God bless you on your journey!







Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's My Duty

“Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.” Elie Weisel



"Is this for me?" I asked my Jeffrey Spratt, LMT? "Yes, it's addressed to you," he said as he slid it in my direction.

I didn't recognize the return address in Florida. It was addressed to me at Spratt Muscular Therapies.

Jeffrey watched my face as I skimmed through the letter wanting to make sure everything was okay. As I read excerpts he smiled warmly and said, "your first fan mail."

Some people wonder why I share my story. I have received criticism for being a truth teller. Growing up I received much more than criticism for speaking Truth but while they may have temporarily silenced me at the time, I could not and would not keep the silence.

I know how important it is to share healing stories and yesterday I received a powerful affirmation of the work that I do to spread a message of healing, hope and possibility.

Rewind to 2011 when I was answering inquires from HARO, Help a Reporter Out. I responded to Rick Smith's query about wanting inspirational stories for his book, Now: Embracing the Present Moment. I had completely forgotten that I contributed to it and that it was ever published.

But a 65 year old woman in Florida just happened to check out the book from her local library, found my story and "felt compelled" to reach out to me. She shared her struggles with me in elegant and eloquent detail and went on to say, "Lest you think I'm totally negative and full of self-pity, my saving grace has been my faith in God. On good mornings I spend a couple of hours in 'quiet time'. Most of that is reading. Anything inspirational, motivational, self-help. Whatever can fill my head with anything positive. Reasons to continue living. That was what led to my checking out that book from the library, and that was what led me to your story. And I get reminders all the time of 'synchronicity'. That there are no accidents in God's universe"

"Your story! Thank you so much. To imagine that you suffered through a terrible childhood illness, and then family abuse on top of that. And then when it seemed you had overcome all that, only to contract post illness...."

"Thank you for writing about the importance of slowing down and living in the present moment. Of appreciating life. Of creativity and the power of poetry. Thank you for sharing your courage, and your resilience. Especially for your account of running the Boston Marathon. How wonderful! ..."

She went on to highlight what parts of my story that I shared in Rick's book resonated with her and closed with, "Thank you for your story. And through your blog and Facebook page, and through your books you continue to inspire so many. And that is another lesson that I've learned from adversity. We just never know how our lives will impact others, whether it's through a "big" and obvious challenge like a physical disability, or whether it's through just a small gesture of kindness. We are, after all, interconnected, aren't we? Well please keep up the good work. And I will say a prayer for you that you will continue to be an inspiration for others and that God will fill you with peace. Your prayers for me, also would be much appreciated.
God bless."

Like so many who survived childhood rape, I was told if you tell anyone I will kill you. When I spoke Truth I was told that I was fresh and was severely abused. My brother was rageful after I spoke Truth at my nephew's memorial service following his suicide but the presiding Minister brought me healing and comfort telling me that if I had not said what I said she would have been moved to do so.

Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell his story. It's my duty ... it's my duty to continue to share my healing story that is now a story of joy and triumph. I am deeply moved, honored and humbled by this remarkable woman who took the time to seek me out and send me a letter 5 years after I published my story in Rick's book. It's each of our duty to share our healing stories for we never know how we may save or change a life when we do.

To your health and wellness,
Mary

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Let's see what this body can do...



After being discharged from Spaulding Rehab Outpatient Care in July of 2007, my body knew that I needed something more than the rehab exerccise program Spaulding gave me. In October I met a personal trainer, Janine Hightower and I wondered if maybe this body could get a little stronger. I couldn't even complete the initial evaluation with her yet she was incredibly compassionate and caring and believed that I was too young, at the age of 53, to not be able to get off of a couch or a low toilet seat and to be as deconditioned as I was. When I asked her if there was something we could do to help me she said let's see what this body can do. When I asked her do you think I really can get stronger she replied with Henry Ford's famous quote, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." So I decided to believe I could but it was a hard sell to myself. Fortunately, Janine had enough faith for the two of us that lifted me out of my leg brace, ditching a wheelchair and getting to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

Last year, after a serious knee injury, I had to find out once again what this body could do. At first I was discouraged and timid about seeing what this body could do. The Universe and my fiery Spirit would not let me stop...



I was blessed to meet Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer, chiropractor in February of 2015 shortly after a serious knee injury,

Yesterday during my cross training in the pool, I did "sprints" of laps using different strokes. I increased my reps of strength training in the pool. I have increased time holding plank, crunches and sit ups and increased weight for leg lifts and clams. I am going slowly and mindfully but I am pushing myself.

And my body is sore. There are times when I am beyond sore and I do feel pain. Sometimes muscles spasm and I can feel where the effects of trauma and paralytic polio are still stuck in my body.

I am also keenly aware of what is going on in my body and I have total confidence in my body's tremendous capacity to heal.

During my meditation I am able to go back to the source of the pain or spasm and intervene to create a new body. I can harness my imagination to counter the adverse effects of paralytic polio and violence.

I am gaining momentum in my healing journey. I am gaining strength and confidence and so excited to experience the joy of running, of working out, of testing and challenging myself and of seeing just what this 62 year old body once ravaged by paralytic polio, violence and 25 surgeries can do.

To your health and wellness,
Mary

Monday, February 1, 2016

Rise Above Paralysis: Tim Bopp's 2016 Boston Marathon Run

Tim Bopp is running the 2016 Boston Marathon for Rise Above Paralysis!

"Honestly I've always enjoyed a challenge and doing things that push me. Meeting Michelle and knowing that she's run the marathon 3 times definintely inspired me to go through with it. She helped me to find a charity. I originally planned on applying to Spaulding Rehab, but a friend introduced me to his friend that helps run Rise Above Paralysis and that's how I chose them as the charity I want to run for. Coming from the background of racing motocross I've seen first hand the effects of spinal cord injuries. Michelle's got me on a marathon training plan. I'm excited to train hard and push myself to finish the marathon and raise as much money as I can for Rise Above Paralysis."



When I saw my dear friend Michelle Kennis's post on Facebook that her boyfriend Tim would be running Boston for Rise Above Paralysis I was all in. As a survivor of paralytic polio and one who has had to work very hard to overcome the effects of a spinal cord injury, I was drawn to the mission and vision of Rise:

Reach individuals and families affected by spinal cord injury and disease
Inspire the newly injured through role models and peer mentors
Support individuals and families as they begin their post injury journeys
Empower individuals with spinal cord injury/disease to reach
their goals and dreams

"Who We Are:

We are the Greater Boston Chapter (GBC) of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association or, RISE Above Paralysis, Inc. We are comprised of individuals affected by a spinal cord injury including family members, loved ones, healthcare associates and many more. From the moment of injury, we offer hope through one-on-one support, understanding, and guidance. No other entity provides this depth of support. We work to Reach, Inspire, Support and Empower all those affected by a SCI through our nationally recognized Peer Visitation Program. Staff members and trained volunteers, who have successfully navigated post spinal cord injury life, serve as mentors to help the newly injured, and their families’ to better understand what happened, transition back into the community and meet their goals of leading a fulfilling life.

The Greater Boston Chapter (GBC) of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association –RISE Above Paralysis – was founded in 1992 by several individuals affected by spinal cord injury. They wanted to assist other individuals and family members affected by this traumatic injury and show them that they can continue to lead meaningful lives despite their injury. Each year, nearly 300 individuals in Massachusetts suffer an SCI. It can happen to anyone at anytime. It is both physically and emotionally devastating to the individual, family members and loved ones. The newly-injured, and those around them, must learn to cope with this dramatic change and gradually adjust to post-injury life.

Today, over two decades after the chapter was founded, the GBC has supported thousands of individuals. We have five part time staff members, over fifteen volunteers and two offices – one at New England Rehabilitation in Woburn, MA and one at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, MA.

We foster an “anything is possible” attitude and work to enable individuals to follow their dreams and fulfill. All of our services are offered free of charge. We are funded 100% through philanthropy."


Yesterday Tim ran long and strong - 16 miles and he is going the 26.2 distance to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by spinal cord injury.

With his grit and determination and girlfriend Michelle by his side we know he is going to go the distance from Hopkinton to Boston.


Let's take him the distance on his fund raising goal!

You can donate to Tim's Boston Marathon run by following this link: Run for Rise.

Thank you Tim for running for this organization that is near and dear to my heart and making a difference in the lives of those living with spinal cord injury. Run swift. Run smart. Run happy!