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 and how, finding my way to Jeffrey Spratt, MT has been the game changer in my journey. Bill had gone around the table and asked everyone what they were going to run on Sunday.

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 the business cards I had on hand for Spratt Muscular Therapies and my personal cards with a link to this blog on it. There was supposed to be another massage therapist providing pre and post event sports massage so I didn't want to wear my Spratt Muscular Therapy shirt. I did change the outfit I was planning to wear for the day and changed into an outfit with Spratt Muscular Therapies colors.

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:

Paul told me that the massage therapist who was supposed to come was not coming so that gave me license to talk more directly about the pioneering work of Jeffrey Spratt.

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

It was noon and runners arrived.

I had the opportunity to share my inspirational journey and how partnering with Jeffrey has enabled me to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life. I had my iPad and shared our YouTube video about the ShakeOut:

Several runners said, "Oh I could use that right now!"

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!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reclaim Advantage - Reclaim Life: On Grieving, Gratitude and Celebration!

In my work with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and creator of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC, we are going layer by layer to heal everything from my past. The beauty is that once I share a traumatic memory I can feel the healing of the wound and don't need to keep going back over the same things again and again. Each time the grip of the past is loosened; I move forward in freedom and allow myself to recondition my body to a new mind.

As Jeffrey stood in tadasana, mountain pose before my most recent treatment, grounded with hands open to receive I told him the issues that were coming up for me and the areas that need healing. As I focused on his open hands I shared with him that when he places his open hands on my hands allowing energy to flow, I can feel The Force flow through him.

"Is that "The Force" and he motioned with quotation marks or is it the force of trauma?"

"Oh no," I said. "It is "The Force" and I can feel that my arms and hands are generating new neuromuscular connections and energy can now flow again."

"I need to let you have your way with my left leg," I went on to say.

"You still guarding it?" he asked with compassion.

"Yes," I said.

"You live with the effects of polio every day don't you?"

And with that he left me to get ready for my treatment.

As Jeffrey took my left leg and stretched it as he had so many times before for the past 10 months, I felt a gush of emotions flood me. I started sobbing and Jeffrey gently lowered my leg and rubbed my back as I talked about what it was like to experience polio. I was a vibrant, healthy, graceful and flexible 5 year old ballerina with shiny long pig tails that Miss Patricia my ballet teacher would pull into a pony tail for me before ballet class. I was running around the gym as a free spirited kindergartner when I dropped to the ground on June 3, 1959 with no warning. I never graduated kindergarten and when I returned to school in September I was in a full metal leg brace with crutches and my mother and grandmother decided my long hair was too much trouble so they had it chopped off into a pixie cut. But as Jeffrey worked with me, I could feel my beauty and my strength and that despite the horrific transformation after paralytic polio I can now transcend and transform.

"But I'm beautiful now," I said as I reclaimed the Truth about myself.

"You certainly are," Jeffrey quietly and warmly said to me.

Jeffrey took my left leg again and he said, "I want you to work with me. I am going to stretch your hamstrings and your IT band so I need you to gently push against my arm." "That's're doing great," he said to me.

And this morning on my drive into work and then to have a pre-event ShakeOut, I experienced the fear, the terror and confusion when my physical therapist and physiatrist would ask me to do something just like that, "Push against my hand," or "Move this way," or "Pick up these marbles with your toes" and I could not make the connection from my brain to my extremities. But now, partnering with Jeffrey and through the power of the Spratt Method, I CAN harness the power of my mind to make connections shedding the feelings of shame, fear and embarrassment about my limitations and transforming them into hope and healing.

"Oh my God," I said out loud to Jeffrey. "I am mourning the loss of my left leg."

I began to sob again. "Oh don't get me wrong. I am so grateful for all I have and that I do have a left leg but it's damaged although we are making into a factory new leg."

"It's okay. I get it. That's the duality that you're dealing with," Jeffrey affirmed.

I told him how hard it is to still not feel a calf stretch or to completely experience the left side of my body. He paid particular attention to my calf and gave me a very deep stretch using my toes to encourage the connections.

I told him about my conversation with Jack Fultz and his offer to train me on the Arc Trainer. "It's so frustrating in so many ways but how blessed am I to have the 1976 Boston Marathon Champion taking an interest in helping me to be the best possible runner I can be.

"Well that's your next goal, right?"

I was able to release a powerful memory that initially was at the non verbal level triggered by Jeffrey's touch. It's a memory I never have to revisit again and my body can heal from the horror. After Wednesday's treatment, I experienced a peace, a calm and a comfort accepting all that happened and being filled with the clean energy that can now flow in the wake of the trauma.

I never thought I would run Hyannis again. The results of the MRI and the warnings from the doctor, physical therapists and the massage therapist I was working with at this time last year were all discouraging me from running again but if I did - 5 miles at the most. When I told the massage therapist that I was not going to have a total knee as the doctors said I would need in a few years especially if I kept running, he shrugged. During my pre-event ShakeOut today when I told Jeffrey I am not going to need a total knee thanks to the work we are doing together I could feel his smile through his hands. I added, "Well maybe I'll need one at 85 but then it will be a 3-D printer knee." We both laughed.

Seven years ago I ran my first half marathon in Hyannis. I shared with Jeffrey the wonderful stories from that time including using all of my strength to not hurl on Frank Shorter because I had ditched my pacing, hydration and fueling plan for the last part of the race and was feeling less than spectacular after 13.1 miles. Lessons learned during training runs. But I kept it together while Frank Shorter put his hands on my arms looking me dead in the eye as I was shivering to say, "I have every confidence that you are going to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. You have what it takes." And it was sheer will power to still be standing when I spoke with the reporter from the Cape Cod Times at Frank's urging to share my inspirational journey:

Mary McManus, 55, of Brookline completed her first half-marathon after making a remarkable recovery from a life-long battle against post-polio syndrome.

She spent time at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and began running just last February. She competed in her first race in June 2008, finishing a 5K.

"It's like having a new lease on life," said McManus, who ran yesterday's half-marathon with husband Tom. "I was limping my way through life, but then decided to do something about it."

I shared with Jeffrey memories of Camp Hyannis and how Hyannis Marathon Weekend came to be called Camp Hyannis as Jeffrey gave me a 25 minute runner's pre-event flush. After I got off the table I felt the strength of my core and felt this energy surging through me. While I grieve for myself and allow the pain of different memories to surface and heal, I also experience the deep gratitude I feel for how well I am and so thankful that the Universe led me to Jeffrey.

Camp Hyannis is going to be epic this year. Several of my dear friends from L Street are going to be running the Half. It's the first race that I've been able to run with my friends in L Street. That's the beauty of an all distance race. The weather is lookin good and I am race ready. Now it's time to enjoy every moment and to celebrate all that I have healed excited that the best is as I reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life back from paralytic polio and trauma.

To your health and wellness!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Countdown to Hyannis 2016-Momentum

I've got butterflies about running the Hyannis 10K on Sunday after a 5 year hiatus and I am feeling so much excitement about the weekend. As I visualize the race, I remember when we ran the Bermuda Half Marathon and we reached the 6 mile mark. I felt amazing and commented to Tom, "oh my goodness - we just ran the Hyannis 10K."

When I woke up this morning I was feeling sore all over; a good sore that comes after 5 days of training. I smiled realizing what a difference a year makes when I would wake up feeling tired and in pain regardless of how much sleep I may have gotten the night before. Despite going for weekly massage therapy, there was still a lot of sludge stuck in my body and paradoxically, there was more sludge being added in because of the therapist's issues that were coming into the sessions.

How blessed and grateful I feel that on April 19, 2015, I walked into Wave Health and Fitness at the Seaport Hotel to partner with Jeffrey Spratt, MT. I didn't know much about Jeffrey at the time other than what I gleaned from his very basic website.

I did know that from the moment I experienced his unique method of muscular therapy something was about to change in my healing journey.

With the precision of a surgeon's scalpel and the warm, tender hands of a healer, we partner together to clear out the blockages that caused chronic pain and fatigue. In recent treatments, as Jeffrey worked on my shoulders, neck and scapula, he reminded me of the burdens that I've carried since childhood and cleans out the areas where I experienced violence. He reminds me that it is time for me to let go and fully embody my body and Being. There is powerful healing and relief to have conversations about my past with Jeffrey who brings compassionate presence to the work completely focused on my healing. I can feel Divine energy flow through him to me to restore my mind, body and soul to their original factory settings.

And through the work, I am gaining momentum in my health and wellness journey. The focus is on moving through and clearing the traumatic memories from the past that were bound and held in my physical being.

Jeffrey's tag line of Reclaim Advantage and Reclaim Life is so much more than a marketing tool. The work brings profound results.

I can cross train in the pool, do strength training and use the cardio equipment at WaveHealth. It is amazing how much energy is available now that the terror and pain of the past are not weighing me down.

I'm in the process of repairing and rebuilding and healing; building strength and momentum.

When Team McManus toes the starting line in Hyannis among our friends who are our running family, it's going to be another treasured moment in my comeback--and when we cross the finish line hands held high together and receive our bling, it will be another moment in time of at last being able to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life from the thieves who tried to steal it away from me.

To your health and wellness,

Monday, February 22, 2016

Reclaim Advantage Reclaim Life: Signs and Synchronicity-A Magical Monday

During my morning meditation I asked the Divine to help me create a wonderful day. It's Monday. The start of a new day and the start of a new week. I had a wonderful weekend pushing my limits getting ready to run the Hyannis 10K next Sunday. I cleared away the energy from a few trauma dreams and felt a smile come across my face. I reflected on gratitude and how my past is moving through and in its wake leaving healing and beautiful clean energy that helps to fuel happy and positive thoughts. Happy and positive thoughts facilitate healing.

I took this photo and posted on Facebook:

Good Monday Morning! Let the magic of a new day begin!

As I opened my work in box there was an email from one of our loyal clients at Spratt Muscular Therapies letting us know that she referred a friend to us and really hopes he calls. "He needs a really intense muscle massage." I let her know how referring a client to us is the highest compliment she could possibly give us.

Within a few moments, I received a notification that our newest staff member, Regina Fox liked our Facebook page which means we are only two likes away from 300 likes. My how our visibility has grown since I came on board as the Communications and Public Relations Director just 6 months ago when our Facebook page had only 40 something likes.

A word about magic and meeting Regina. We arrived super early to Logan Airport as we were getting ready to head to Bermuda last month. She was standing in the "Be Well" space that offers chair massage to travelers. I wanted to take a photo to post on Facebook of daybreak at Logan Airport. I asked her if I could come through to take a photo. I paused after I took the photo and as I so often do began a conversation with her. It was as though we were old friends; there was a wonderful connection happening. I told her about my journey and healing I am experiencing partnering with Jeffrey Spratt, MT at Spratt Muscular Therapies. We exchanged contact information. Regina shared with me how there are no accidents; how she does not work on Thursdays and never works at Terminal A but somehow she found herself there that day. She will be joining the Team at Spratt Muscular Therapies on March 1st.

I found a parking space as soon as I came down D Street.

Riding up in the elevator to Wave Health and Fitness I saw an advertisement for a book, "From Impossible to Inevitable." Impossible goals ... inevitable successes. Yes! That certainly is a powerful affirmation about my journey and what I blogged about this weekend. I checked in on Facebook about cross training for Hyannis 2016 and a wonderful stream followed filled with wonderful connections.

As I walked into Wave Health, one of the veterans I worked with at the VA was waiting for his appointment with a personal trainer and then to see Jeffrey. He is visually impaired so his cousin drives him to appointments. His cousin was also having a treatment with Jeffrey. My veteran said to me, "Oh my goodness. I was just asking about you." We hugged and he asked me if he could take me to lunch. He reminded me of how much I helped him when I worked at the VA and said, "Come on. I have to pay it back some way." I got choked up.

The pool was empty and a delicious 84 degrees yet they were refilling the pool with cold water at one end after a week and weekend of kids splashing and playing. As I did my laps it was refreshing to experience the contrast of the cold water. My heart overflowed with gratitude for all the bounty and blessings in my life. As I was getting ready in the locker room, Katy Perry's "Roar" came on - yet another reminder of the where I have come from and the path I am now on:

While my veteran's cousin was waiting for my veteran to finish his treatment, he told me that he could not believe how wonderful his legs felt. He said that it was the best massage he ever had! My veteran said that he feels very excited about working with a trainer and coming into town every couple of weeks to get himself back in shape and work with Jeffrey.

There were more emails and messages about scheduling appointments with Jeffrey for after Hyannis and everyone getting excited and making plans for meeting up this weekend.

I asked the Divine to help me co-create a wonderful day. When I took the photo of the sun, I put out the intention for a magical Monday. I had a wonderful workout in the pool and can feel how, since partnering with Jeffrey I am able to flow through life with ease and anticipating goodness...I am a champion who reclaims my advantage and reclaims my life after experiencing horrific events, now clear enough and unafraid partnering with the Divine to experience all the magic that life has to offer.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reclaim Advantage - Reclaim Life: 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.

But that's not who I am. It is, however, who I was. I never believed how much and how far I could test and push my body before partnering with Jeffrey Spratt, MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies and visionary renaissance man.

Something has happened inside of me since partnering with Jeffrey as we clear out the debris from the polio and violence of the past and condition 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 I can reclaim my advantage and 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!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Reclaim Advantage - Reclaim Life: Countdown to Hyannis 2016

Today was Team McManus' final training run before next Sunday's Hyannis 10K. It was a gorgeous day for a run and we were overdressed. The forecast was for rain but the clouds broke, blue skies and sunshine came through and we unzipped layers and soaked up the preview of Spring time.

During this morning's meditation I was able to get in touch with both the pain of contracting paralytic polio and how much the experience really sucked and the gift of experiencing paralytic polio and being diagnosed with post polio syndrome 9 years ago.

I allowed myself to grieve for a childhood interrupted and peeled back the layers of feeling shame, humiliation, an outcast, not being able to keep up and deep compassion for all that I had endured. The memory of Jeffrey Spratt, MT's healing hands and heart facilitate the continued healing and liberation from my past way beyond my time on the table. I breathed deeply, allowed tears to flow and then got my mind in gear to take on the day.

Tom and I did our plank. I played around in plank with lifting up one hand and then the other and even attempted a push up. After plank, crunches and then clams with weights.

It was supposed to be an easy shake out run. On Thursday I ran hard, especially in the cold. Something happened inside of me once we got outside as Tom ran beside me.

I pushed my pace and when all was said and done I had taken 4 seconds/mile off of Thursday's run.

I usually run on Tuesday and Saturdays with a massage therapy session with Jeffrey on Thursdays which is my rest day. Friday is an easy core workout and rest day. I did today's run after a rigorous strength training workout yesterday. My massage therapy session this week was on Tuesday because Jeffrey was going away for school vacation with his family.

I feel transformation happening and I have a vision for what this body looks like and feels like. Tom is so wonderful in that he constantly reminds me that for the effort I put out when I run, I am running the equivalent of an 8 or 9 minute mile for someone who has not experienced a spinal cord injury and then endured 9 years of violence.

But in the moments of our training run incorporating hills I embodied the transformation feeling that I was running swift, with ease, unencumbered and thoroughly enjoyed pushing myself to my edge. I reminded myself that just a month ago I ran the Bermuda Half Marathon and had trained intensely for 6 months before that. Prior to partnering with Jeffrey, I would have crashed and burned by now. Instead I feel that I am breathing new life into myself and that rather than aging and experiencing a contraction in my life, I am experiencing a blossoming of myself mind, body and soul.

Therein lies the combination of the power of positive touch and my own fiery Spirit and determination to go the distance and heal completely letting others know what is possible.

I will admit that yesterday, as I took on new strength training challenges, I was feeling frustrated and questioned why I was putting myself through all of this. Those feelings did not last long.

As I clear away the debris from the past I can feel how now I can reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life. I feel momentum and I feel such excitement for next weekend. The buzz on Facebook gives me goosebumps. We will be meeting up with Glenn who we met in the airport in Bermuda, several of my new dear running friends and then there is always the joy of reconnecting with our Camp Hyannis friends; friends who we see only once a year in Hyannis but stay in touch with on Facebook.

And then of course I get to see Bill Rodgers again! It is always such a joy to talk with him about running, reminiscing and getting caught up on what is happening in our lives. It was so amazing to meet Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers in Hyannis in 2009 when I was running my first half marathon training for Boston.

I have a few pre race jitters although I know I am very well trained going into the race. Jeffrey's help with my mental preparation for the Finish at the 50 5K last July, my comeback race and preparing for the Bermuda Half hold me in very good stead going into race weekend.

I'll have a massage therapy session with him on Wednesday and then have a ShakeOut Massage on Friday to keep me loose and make sure I am race ready mind, body and Spirit. We have printed out the map and Tom and I will drive the course once we arrive next Saturday.

I feel such joy and gratitude in my heart; strength in my body and deep in my bones and am counting down to Hyannis 2016 to running a race I have not been able to run in 5 years. But now I can because I reclaim advantage, reclaim life and experience powerful momentum in my healing journey.

To your health and wellness,

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reclaim Advantage - Reclaim Life: 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.

In my most recent treatment with Jeffrey, I was able to experience the flexible, graceful, energetic, feeling joyful in my body ballerina before polio and before violence took its toll on me. I allow myself to grieve for the child whose life was interrupted while also feeling the joy of moving beyond my past - AT LAST!

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. I am so blessed to partner with Jeffrey who helps me to heal and feel wellness, wholeness and integration in mind, body and Spirit that allows me to move outside my comfort zone and embrace new challenges being patient, loving and kind with myself as I continue to move beyond all the limits from my past. With Jeffrey I reclaim advantage and reclaim life!

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

How do you reclaim advantage and reclaim life? How do you take on a new challenge?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reclaim Advantage - Reclaim Life: Will you run with me? - Finding my voice!


In my recent treatment with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, the emotions of what it meant for me to keep my silence after being molested along with the guilt, shame and shouldering the burdens of the "sins" of my family surfaced. It was incredibly liberating to share with Jeffrey the pain and suffering I endured in keeping my silence and the double life I lived.

When I first started working with Jeffrey, I was very timid in letting him know where I was hurting. Of course his seasoned and skilled intuitive hands and heart found the places that needed healing but it was a huge breakthrough for me in my healing journey when, in one treatment I said to him, "My IT band is hurting." I showed him where I was feeling discomfort and he said, "Got it." To have someone respond to my discomfort with such compassion and immediacy was a turning point in my healing. I would no longer need to endure whatever the body worker I was working with at the time decided was right for my body but rather I could engage and interact and truly partner with Jeffrey to take care of whatever needed to be attended to during the treatment.

Jeffrey is all about empowering his clients to fully participate in their own healing through education, through the power of positive touch and encouraging feedback and dialogue during the treatment. Of course he also honors when I need to be quiet and mindful and process whatever is happening inside of me.

Jeffrey works without product for a lot of the treatment which allows a powerful kinetic flow of energy from the Divine through him to me. One must experience it to understand the powerful healing that happens through touch and through the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy that Jeffrey pioneered to create transformative massage therapy sessions. As Jeffrey paused on my back for a moment with his large hands splayed out on my thoracic spine I asked him to just rest there for a minute and allow me to breathe into his hands. My instincts told me that's what I needed to facilitate healing of my respiratory system that had been compromised by paralytic polio and not had a chance to heal because of the beatings that I endured night after night. What a blessing and a miracle to be able to shift from being smothered, strangled and muzzled to being free to talk, to ask for what I need and to breathe deeply and heal through the laying on of hands.

This morning the alarm went off at 6:15am. Tom and I meditated, did our plank, crunches and clams and headed out the door on our run. Tom was power walking while I was pushing my pace despite the cold air and wind. I wanted to make sure that I am Hyannis 2016 ready! When I looked over and saw Tom power walking I felt an old familiar tug inside of me about being a survivor of polio and not being able to keep up; feelings of inadequacy because Tom could power walk at a relatively easy pace while I was pushing myself. It was all me; it had nothing to do with what Tom was doing. And so, rather than continue to experience those old feelings, I said to Tom, "Will you run with me?" "Of course," he said. "I'm glad you asked."

We talked about how new and important it is for me to find my voice; to express my needs and to move forward, embodying a new way of being mind, body and soul.

In my mind's eye, I run a 12:00 minute mile. I felt the cold sting my face and burn my lungs. My legs felt like frozen popsicles. It didn't matter. Team McManus pushed on. It had been two weeks since we were able to run outdoors and I totally embraced the good pain of the run.

I am so deeply blessed to now have men in my life who honor and respect me; who want to see me heal and to be the absolute best I can be.

Men who want me to reclaim my advantage, reclaim my life and find and use my voice so that I need not live my history again!

To your health and wellness!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reclaim Advantage - Reclaim Life: On Freedom and Transformation

Yesterday's treatment with Jeffrey Spratt, pioneer of the life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC was a profound transformative experience. I was able to move from experiencing the abuse to remember myself as a beautiful five-year-old ballerina.

As the the Muzak massage music played in the background it reminded me of a music box with a little ballerina twirling around and it helped to trigger the positive body memory of when I danced before being stricken by paralytic polio and before all the abuse happened. Jeffrey attended to both the emotional and the physical wounds of my past and I allowed myself to be fully aware of everything that was happening in my body as my subtle body worked to free myself from the shackles of the past. At one point Jeffrey touched the trigger point on my wrist using acupressure which is something he had not done before yesterday. I could feel the shackles of being held down during child molestation being released. After he touched the trigger point I moved my wrist in circles and I said to him the shackles are now off.

It's a sacred, magical,and mystical journey that I'm on.

I went to Jeffrey because I am a runner. I was injured and I wanted to run again. A huge part of that injury that I experienced was because I was still experiencing the residual effects from paralytic polio and abuse in my body.

I felt a strong connection to other polio survivors who are not as fortunate as I was. I shared with Jeffrey how sadly the research shows that polio survivors had a very high incidence of being abused. And Jeffrey said with such compassion because they were unable to fight back. And that was the truth. Unfortunately there are people who are predators and prey on the weak and the vulnerable. But there also heroes and amazing people like my physical therapist Miss Holly and Dr. Moskowitz from when I contracted polio and my first physical therapist Allison Lamarre Poole from Spaulding Rehab when I began my journey with post polio syndrome who are dedicated to helping people heal.

During the treatment I also felt a profound connection to women who have been abused and feel that my voice will lend a voice to the community of women who survived sexual assault especially as a child. I want us all to know in every fiber of our being that we no longer need to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Jeffrey has a deep understanding of what it means to have experienced childhood molestation and abuse and he uses his healing hands and heart to guide me on my fantastic voyage of healing. He tends to the hurt and battered child within and we put words to all the horror to release it and let it go. As he massaged my neck, shoulders and worked deep into my scapula he acknowledged the terrible burdens I carried as a child.

I realized that I worked with massage therapists and body workers who were predators and abusers and had their own pain and suffering that would get acted out in the treatment relationship. It's such a blessing to work with Jeffrey both on the table as his client and as his Communications and Public Relations Director who gives voice to the power of positive touch to heal trauma and to share the results of his practice being the leader in sports massage therapy in Boston. He is remarkably talented, incredibly intuitive, warm, compassionate, loving with a delightful sense of humor and play and clear about his intention for the work. He enjoys my sense of play when I sing or lip sync during our meetings at Cosi or if songs or pop culture randomly come to us either in our meetings or during a treatment. We have similar tastes in movies, music and TV shows. It's a wonderful partnership!

In yesterday's treatment I felt that we are rescuing me from my past. I have choices now. I am free to create every day. I am free to create my life and my choices and I am free to experience the joy of being back at work. I experience freedom to create the present moment rather than react with a conditioned response of fear and terror from the past. It is a miracle that indeed we can reclaim advantage and reclaim life no matter what circumstances we have experienced. I am conditioning my body to my new mind; to the memories of a graceful, incredibly flexible ballerina before anything happened to me and I transform from the terror of my childhood to an incredibly powerful, resilient, strong yet graceful woman. I am creating a healed, whole, integrated mind/body/Spirit. Through liberating myself from the shackles of my past my hope and my intention is to help liberate others for as Annie Lamott so eloquently states it, that is the purpose of freedom.

To your health and wellness!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Reclaim Advantage...Reclaim Life: Clearing and Healing

The process of healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma reminds me of the healing process for someone who has experienced burns. There is a painful process of debridement; going layer by layer so healthy tissue can grow. In addition to being the leader in sports massage therapy in Boston and weekly treatments help me to go the distance in running, Jeffrey Spratt is also trained in understanding the effects of trauma. He has combined his knowledge of trauma and how people recover from trauma with his knowledge and belief of how the power of positive touch, in the right hands, heals.

After 9 years of being on a healing quest, I have FINALLY found someone who uses a method that heals; someone willing and able to go the distance with me. It's a combination of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, Jeffrey's intention to help all who come to his table to reclaim advantage and reclaim life and using his intuition, and my powerful intention to heal; digging deep to find the courage to allow all that went before to surface and now at last heal.

For the first time in my healing journey I realize that in fact what happened to me really happened to me. There is awareness and clarity and I am no longer afraid to feel terror, grieving and to face how close I came to death and to being killed.

With clearing the landscape of my body from the effects of paralytic polio and moving out the debris and gunk from violence, my energy can flow. New neuromuscular connections are happening that enable me to get stronger, run on the roads and in my life with cleaner, more efficient energy.

There are moments of complete stillness in my body; a wellspring of happiness, joy and gratitude that I made it through that horrible mess. There is a feeling of invincibility combined with a greater sense of ease in my body and in my life.

In last week's treatment, Jeffrey and I identified how I was conditioned to beatings and other forms of violence and torture. But just as I was once conditioned, I can experience reconditioning of mind, body and soul. Jeffrey partners with me every week to heal the places that were once torched and scorched bringing a warm healing touch that nourishes the growth of new cells, nerves and muscles. He bears compassionate presence and is grounded and strong to steady my once frayed nervous system allowing my strength and power to surface and prevail.

While I always had my unseen helpers by my side to make it through, it is an incredible comfort and a blessing to have an earthly presence to now help me to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life clearing and healing and allowing clear, clean energy to flow nourishing my body back to health and wholeness.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Team McManus All The Way

For the past 5 years I have been support crew for Tom's races. The 2011 Boston Marathon with fund raising. Fund raising for the Falmouth Road Race. Spectating the Falmouth Road Race when he got in the lottery. The Cape Cod Half Marathon. The BAA Distance Medley. And I loved supporting Tom watching him go for his PR's and moving up in his standing in his age group in the BAA Distance Medley. The Marathon Sports 5 Miler...

After Tom's 14 miles training run for the Sugarloaf Marathon in May this weekend which took a lot of time and energy leaving me to do a lot of the household chores and cutting down on the time we had together, Team McManus sat down and took a long hard look at what Tom's training for another marathon would entail. I got weepy as the emotional hurts from being a survivor of polio came to the surface. We realized how each of us had been feeding into a two tier system in running. The assumption was that Tom would run races with me at my pace providing that he would be able to have his own race schedule. Part of that was because I had not yet reclaimed my advantage and reclaimed my life by partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy that helps me to heal mind, body and soul and go the distance on and off the roads. Part of it was because I felt as though I was holding Tom back from achieving his personal best on the roads. Working with Jeffrey has helped to empower me to express my needs to Tom.

After running the Bermuda Half Marathon together, things have shifted. Tom told me this morning that running Bermuda with me was one of the best races he has ever experienced. There is something beautiful and wonderful running at the back of the pack and there is something even more beautiful and wonderful that I am able to run the half marathon distance again. While both of us could train for and run another marathon if we chose and while Tom certainly could train for and run another marathon we asked ourselves why?

We recalled the words of Bill Rodgers, Boston Marathon champion in a conversation we had in Hyannis a few years ago. He told us to find your distance and talked about the benefits of running a half marathon - "especially at our age." He pointed out that a half marathon is still a challenge but it doesn't take quite the toll that running a full marathon does.

I remember talking with Jeff about my choice to stick with the half marathon distance. He told me about the saying about climbing Mt. Fuji:

Climbing Mt Fuji is a unique experience that only 1% of the Japanese ever experience. Gaijin have been told that there is an old saying about Mt Fuji. "If you never climb Mt Fuji you are a fool, and if you climb it more than once you are a fool."

The same could be said for running a marathon - at least for me!

Tom and I have been through a lot together; especially in the past two years with a difficult family situation.

We need time to heal and we need time to enjoy our time together as a couple. Tom will still run his own race in local races and train at his pace during the week. But we both appreciate what it means for us to be able to run together regardless of the pace.

We have had a blast running races together as you can see from these photos:

I am blessed and grateful that Tom is inspired by what I have accomplished on my healing journey; especially since 9 years ago I was told to prepare to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I am especially blessed and grateful that we enjoy each other's company on our long runs regardless of the pace. He sees my hard work, my dedication and my diligence to my healing and to being the best I can possibly be on and off the roads despite or maybe because of the experiences I had to endure.

Team McManus is casting aside the two tier system of our running. We are going to train and run together and each challenge ourselves in our own way but honor the fact that we need our precious time together. I enjoy cheering him on at a race and seeing what he can do in his age group but he is going to do shorter distance races on his own. We are looking forward to creating new memories during Hyannis Marathon Weekend and then enjoy our upcoming races together. After we cross the finish line at the Finish at the 50 again, we will start training for Bermuda again.

It's going to be Team McManus all the way now and we are going to enjoy the journey on and off of the roads!

To your health and wellness!

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 advantage and 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. I can feel how with each week of partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies that we are loosening the grip that the past had on me. The pain, fear and terror are being healed and my body finally has the opportunity to heal from the ravages of paralytic polio, violence and over 25 surgeries.

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 Jeffrey uses the power of positive touch to help me manifest complete healing and feeling that my body is, what we like to call, "factory new."

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!