Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Going the Distance: Running is my Therapy

After a serious knee injury in December 2014, my non-runner friends and many in the Western medicine tradition (and even the massage therapist I was working with at the time) did not understand my passion and single mindedness to return to running no matter what.

I came to the sport of running later in life - at the age of 53 - after years of loathing my body and decades of neglect and dissociation as a result of paralytic polio and trauma.

Once I put the intention out there to bring into manifestation all that I had been yearning for and writing about in my poems, The Universe delivered my beloved friend, healer and chiropractor Dr. Ryan Means who turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and, even though he lives in China, he has left healing memories on mind, body and soul.

I've been able to sustain and build on my 5 day training cycle. I enjoyed my off season of recovery after running the Bermuda Half Marathon and the Hyannis 10K in January and February and am now amping up my training for the Bermuda Half Marathon next January.

We deposited 7.5 sweet miles in the Bank of Bermuda as we like to call it last Saturday and yesterday went out for a 5K tempo run after strength training on Sunday.

There's been a lot of family stress happening with our daughter's journey with mental illness.

We warmed up and then, as John "The Penguin" Bingham said, I let my feet process all of my feelings while talking and running with my life and running partner, Tom.

We did negative splits all the way and poured sweat leaving all of our troubles on the path around the Reservoir leaving everything up to the Divine. We offered up the Serenity Prayer while we ran and by the end of 3.11 miles we were ready to begin our day - refreshed, energized and with hearts filled with gratitude for this gift of running in our lives.

I am so blessed and grateful to have found my way to Dr. Ryan who, from the very beginning of my treatments with him, let me know that I could and would go the distance again, returning to the roads where I get heaping doses of the best medicine in the world!

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Going the Distance: How far ya goin' today?

I love our long runs on Saturday mornings at Castle Island. We always bump into someone we know and today we bumped into 3 someones we know from L Street Running Club.

Our dear friend Tina said, "Now there's a good looking couple." She and her 2 friends had just finished their long run getting ready to run the Chicago Marathon in a few months. "7 and a half today I replied."

"It's getting hot," Tina noted and offered us some ice water. We told her we are all set and went on our way.

There is something incredibly sweet and delicious about training for the Bermuda Half Marathon the 2nd time around. I feel such joy and confidence when I get out and run...even when it's a challenging run like today with the heat and a headwind. We went out too fast given the conditions but unlike a run last year when we went out too fast, I was able to regulate and regroup with relative ease.

Tom and I shared a lot of laughs and joy on this run.

I submitted an application to become a Reef Runner Ambassador for Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

I had always imagined myself being an Ambassador for something in the running world given my triumphs in overcoming the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. What sweet redemption it would be to go from "Easy out Alper" and all the taunting and jeers I experienced growing up as a survivor of paralytic polio to a Reef Runner Ambassador for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

Of course it really doesn't change anything. I'm celebrating the fact that I can get out there and run and go through a 5 day training cycle to experience positive momentum in my health and wellness journey. I'm so excited anticipating our time in Bermuda in January. We've extended our stay an extra day to thoroughly enjoy the day after we run the Half Marathon and hoping to get to the beach this time to experience that luscious pink sand and "crystal clear waters warmed by the Gulf Stream."

We've got another 7.5 miles in the Bank of Bermuda taking it slow and steady as we build miles and count down to a most magical Marathon weekend. Tom will be getting in his hill training because he is going to take on the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge - 3 races, 3 days and 4 medals!

How blessed am I to be able to go out on a training run, running partner by my side and a wonderful running tribe who asks, "How far ya goin' today?"

To your health & wellness,

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Going the Distance: Seven Sensational Miles - "Hey Bermuda!"

The sea air was pungent with the distinctive briny smell as we began our 7 mile training run from Castle Island to the JFK Library and back.

"I thought I spotted you two from a mile away," Tino, a member of our running club said. We paused for a few minutes and got caught up, fist pumped and went on our way. It felt wonderful to reconnect with Tino who reminded us that our L Street Running Club BBQ is next Sunday. With all of our time consumed with caring for our daughter in recent months, we'd been out of the loop. It was a wonderful reminder that Tom and I need to move forward in our lives now that all the services and help is in place for our daughter.

Despite the warmth and humidity of the day, we were comfortable with the sea breeze. We paused for a moment to acknowledge the spot where I had fallen just about a year ago at this time during our 6.5 mile training run. Tom and I reflected on how far I've come in my healing journey. Tom commented to me today how much lighter I seem and how the miles just seem to fly by. We know our fueling and hydration plan now. I have a new iPhone that has a much longer battery life than my old one that lasts during the training run and a new playlist.

I told him it's definitely lovelier the second time around.

We stopped at Carson Beach bathhouse for a pit stop. When I came out of the bathroom Tom was having a conversation with a woman on crutches. She's recovering from knee surgery. Tom was sharing my journey with her. She gave me a high five and her email address because she wanted to learn more about my healing journey.

Heading back to Castle Island and our starting point, Tom yells out "Hey Bermuda." He spotted a runner wearing a Bermuda 10K race t shirt. We paused to chat for a few moments and Mike and his wife Mary live in South Boston so run the Pleasure Bay loop for training quite often. For the last two years he has run the Bermuda Half Challenge. He is in reinsurance. The trip is part business and a whole lot of pleasure.

"Where do you stay when you're down there?"

"Do you know where the Hamilton Princess is? Well there's this hotel right across the way."

"The Rosedon! Oh my God that's where we stay." We talked about how much we love Muriel Richardson, the hotelier who manages the property and the breakfast and tea and being so close to Front Street.....

Mike got Tom really pumped for the Front Street Mile saying how you feel like a celebrity runner being on Front Street with the flood lights and everyone cheering you on. We talked about the Pickled Onion which coincidentally is where Mike and his wife go on Sunday for post race brunch with a local Bermudian running group. That's where Tom and I went for our post Half Marathon celebratory brunch.

Not a half hour before, I was saying to Tom how proud I am of him doing the Half Challenge this year and how excited I am for his 4 medals. I joked about how he won't get through security at the airport. Mike commented about the medals and that we should bring an extra suitcase!

We were riding high for the last 2 miles of our training run feeling the excitement of returning to Bermuda this year.

We finished our run and were doing a cool down walk to our car. We couldn't quite seem to capture the light for our post run selfie so we decided to take it over by the car.

"Are those the McManuses?" my dear friend Jennifer called out!.....

Meeting up with another runner friend put the icing on the cake for this most magical day! We talked about her training for New York and shared in the beauty of the day. We just had to include her in our post run selfie:

One of my friend's on Facebook shared with me that she was with Anthony and Clarence, the Race Directors from Bermuda at the Falmouth Race Expo. The energy all around was electric and I was in awe of the synchronicity.

We took 5 minutes off of last week's 7 mile training run and thoroughly enjoyed 7 sensational miles filled with serendipity and synchronicity.

Hey Bermuda - we're coming for you.

To your health and wellness!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Going the Distance: The Spirit of the Olympics and the Birth of a Competitor

When I was 10 years old, just two years after coming out of a full leg brace after contracting paralytic polio, and suffering nightly sexual abuse at the hands of my father, I met a camp counselor, Joe Stetz, who was on his way to becoming an Olympian. He chose the path of becoming a physician but he had the energy and drive of a competitor that he wanted to instill in me. This is a photo of him with his Olympic training relay swim team - He is on the far left:

At the end of the summer, Badger Day Camp held their annual Olympics. Badger Day Camp has been in existence since 1933 and continues the tradition of training world class swimmers.
"The Badger Swim program is led by world recognized swim coach John Collins Jr. For the past 30 years John Collins has created a world class swim program in Westchester, New York. During that time John has coached 5 world champions, multiple NCAA champions and Olympic atheletes, including Westchester’s Olympic gold medalist Rick Carey. Himself a former Badger swimmer, Indiana University All American butterflier and American Record holder in the 200 Butterfly. John is currently a member of the United States National Team coaching staff." When I attended Badger, his father who is now deceased was the Camp Director. My first camp experience as a survivor of paralytic polio was horrible and so my physiatrist Dr. Eugene Moskowitz urged my parents to find a swimming camp for me. I was blessed that I found my way to Badger Day Camp with a supportive and all inclusive environment even back in the 60's.

There were only two campers who were competing in the butterfly event in my age group. Joe told me that he wanted me to swim the butterfly in the Olympics. I told him he was crazy. I had just come out of a leg brace and was recovering from paralytic polio. He told me that I was guaranteed a medal, that my time did not matter and I would be showing the other campers a lesson in courage. I told him I was afraid of jumping off the starting block and had no idea how to do a turn. At 21 years old (although in my eyes as a 10 year old he was a god of sorts), he had a very wise and kind soul. He told me to not worry about a thing; that he would coach me one on one in everything I needed to successfully compete in the race. Thus a competitor was born! I came in dead last but I finished and proudly took my place on the medal stand.

I've carried that Olympic Spirit with me after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome now almost 10 years ago. I carried Joe with me in my heart during my training for and running the 2009 Boston Marathon and every time I take my place at the start of a race.

After my nephew's suicide in March of 2011, I strayed off my healing path. After 4/15/13, I got back into running and watching Billy Mills' video of his 10000M victory at the 1964 Olympics lit the fire within me to up my game and go for a PR at Bill Rodgers 5K for Prostate Cancer.
"The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination."

I harnessed that Olympic Spirit and here is the result:

When I was only 10 years old, from the heart of an Olympian, Joe Stetz, the torch was lit within me and a competitor was born. That Olympic Flame still burns brightly within me.

When Tom and I were watching underwater shots of Michael Phelps doing the butterfly I said, "That's not exactly how my butterfly looks." We laughed and celebrated what the Olympic Spirit is all about.

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Going the Distance: 7 Sweet Sweaty Miles at Jamaica Pond and Channeling Only Health

It still seems surreal that I am training for the Bermuda Half Marathon again! My body is feeling those sore muscles again and I remind myself this is part of the joy of the journey.

But I had this strange thing that happened once before on my left foot where it hurts on the pinky toe pad and then it turns black and blue and gets swollen. I use MICE - movement, ice, compression and elevation.

Now I suppose one could be concerned about what's going on, stay off of it and certainly not run 7 miles:

During this morning's meditation I wondered, what if we were programmed to only channel health? What if we saw everything that was happening in our bodies as a function of health and healing rather than worrying if we were injured or perhaps had a blood clot.

Last year my beloved healer and chiropractor, Dr. Ryan suggested I read Candace Pert's book, 'Everything you need to know to feel Go(o)d.' She talks about how our perception of what is happening in our bodies affects what messages we send to our bodies and we can turn healing on or off based on our thoughts and feelings.

At the end of the book, Candace writes, "Trust. Breathe. Let go. God is in control."

In her Epilogue, she reflects on fear.

"The root of fear, I concluded, is more about being alone, feeling unconnected to others and not realizing that we're all one. As my long-term massage therapist Adam Helfer poetically put it, 'If you're connected to the divine, you'll always feel fine.' Adam had also told me he thought the best universal advice to 'feel good' is to remain in the present moment as much is possible.'

And that's what I did on my 7 mile training run today.

Fortunately the weather was much cooler than it had been during the past several days. There was cloud cover and while it was warm and humid, it was not oppressive.

Tom and I went to our magical and happy place, Jamaica Pond where we remember training for the 2009 Boston Marathon, feeling the presence of Bill Rodgers who used to train around Jamaica Pond for his Boston Marathon and where mysticism and beauty abound. It has inspired many of my poems through the years and today inspired Tom and me to relish our time together.

After our run we went to the KooKoo Cafe in Brookline Village to refuel and then home for an ice bath with Epsom Salts:

The swelling has gone down on my foot and the pain is gone!

I don't know why my body needs to do this little thing with my left foot but I interpret it as needing to release and heal something. My left side was the side most affected by the polio virus.

I channeled only health and now have 7 sweet and sweaty miles in the Bank of Bermuda as we like to call it while we train for the Bermuda Half Marathon in January.

To your health and wellness!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Come Out and Play! Running in the Rain

When we began our 6.5 mile training run for the 2017 Bermuda Half Marathon, we were confident that we would outrun the forecast for rain. We didn't even bother to tie rain jackets around our waist.

Being out in the rain and feeling a sense of unbridled joy among my community of runners is a special feeling for me. I contracted paralytic polio when I was 5 and never experienced that feeling of running through puddles as a child. I didn't even start running until 2007.

When I was still in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at time for mobility now almost 10 years ago, I had a dream about splashing in the puddles without my leg brace a la Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain.

That dream prompted me to write this poem included in my latest poetry book, "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":

Come Out and Play
Arms flung open wide dancing in the rain
pure abiding joy to feel alive again
healing tears fall and blend in God’s puddle
no time to sit in a corner and huddle
all the old rules driven by fears
washed away now by God’s loving tears
the imprint dad left no longer remains
rain washes away all of the stains
baptized with love, Truth lights my way
the sun shines through on this rainy day
splashing and laughing my heart opens wide
embracing and flowing I’m one with the tide
God takes my hand release the old way
bathe in my glory come out and play!

Last year, just about this time, I was leaving the Seaport Hotel after lunch with a friend.

I had no jacket and no umbrella and within a few feet of stepping out of the lobby I heard the crack of thunder and bolts of lightning filled the sky. I could have easily taken shelter and waited for the storm to pass BUT

I splashed in the puddles and was soaked to the skin by the time I got to my car. I embraced every moment of running through the rain; the first time I ever felt free and unencumbered, fearless in being out in the intense elements.

Tom and I chose a challenging training run with hills. We welcomed the cloud cover as a break from the searing hot sun and humidity. There were a few plops plops of rain drops. As we were almost nearing the end of our run, the plops turned into a steady rain and then the downpours came!

There were other runners out for their training runs who were also caught in the rain without jackets or hats. We smiled and giggled as we passed each other giving each other high fives and a happy shrug as if to say, "What are you gonna do? We're out here so we may as well finish the run."

I was robbed of so much in my childhood that was fraught with struggles trying to overcome paralytic polio at age 5 followed by 9 years of torture and unrelenting violence. But moments like yesterday made up for all of that. Rather than listen to the cautionary tale I received from doctors throughout my life as a survivor of paralytic polio, Tom and I responded to the call of the Universe to, "Come out and play!"

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Going thee Distance: Pre-Race Report: The Hazelwood 5K Run

With the Bermuda Half Marathon 2017 on the horizon, I was not planning on running another race.

Until Jacqueline Hansen posted this on Facebook:
Kudos to my colleague Geoffrey Smith for saving the historical Hazelwood Women's 5K in New Bedford, MA from extinction. As well, there will be a separate men's only race. Pretty unique.
Check out their website and FB page for more information.

I'd seen Geoff's post about the race on Facebook but dismissed the possibility of running the race because of my training for Bermuda but after seeing Jaqi's post, I was moved to email my friend and race director Geoff Smith to see if it was an all paces race. Geoff immediately responded that it was!

The Hazelwood Women's 5K is one of the longest-running women's road races in the country.

It is a celebration of women and their participation in running.

The timing is exquisite as yesterday marked 32 years since Joan Benoit Samuelson won Gold at the 1984 Olympics and as the Olympic Games in Rio had their opening ceremony.

Joan's Olympic Marathon run was, as Jaqi eloquently writes about in her book, "A Long Time Coming."

The sport of running, while a competitive one for the elite runners, also offers a level playing field for us mid and back of the pack runners where the elite runners want everyone to experience all that the sport has to offer.

On October 15th, I will be toeing the line taking my place in a women's only race. It is a way for me to honor the pioneers like Jaqi who fought for equality for women in sports dispelling such myths like if a woman runs a marathon her uterus will fall out.

During these next two weeks all eyes will be on Rio as the best of the best compete in the XXI Olympiad.

The road was paved for women like Shalene, Desiree and Amy to compete in the Marathon representing the very best that the US has to offer in distance running. On the men's side, Meb will be going for the Gold.

Running is about so much more than running and racing and winning although it is indeed a beautiful spectator sport. Running is about a lifestyle and about who we are and I am so excited to be running the Hazelwood 5K Run in October. Hope you can join me.

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Going the Distance: From Duality to Wholeness

In the wake of the 45th anniversary of my father's suicide on August 1st and the trauma of our daughter's struggle with mental health, the habits, beliefs and behaviors from the past reared up. I realized how while on the surface I am an incredibly courageous, strong, resilient, intelligent, creative and awesome beautiful woman, there was a part of me that was shattered and broken. In the spaces of the brokenness were feelings of shame, unworthiness, embarrassment, feeling ugly and feeling less than. Recently with our daughter's illness, as I relived the trauma of mental illness in my family growing up, I could feel the boil of emotions fester and through my morning meditation, the boil was lanced.

I am whole and there is no room for fear, shame, or insecurity. I no longer need to live a double life being afraid of what emotions might break through or fearing what might happen.

It no longer serves me to play small and cower.

When I woke up this morning I felt strong, centered and empowered. I smiled and I breathed. That knot in my stomach was released. My hands were steady on my keyboard and during meditation there were no head tremors. I release all burdens, sense of guilt and responsibility and I reclaim all the things that are wondrous, right and good about me that no one can ever put asunder again What a miracle to move from harboring those toxic feelings in the very fiber of my body and Being to feeling whole, free and unencumbered from the shackles of my past.

To your health and wellness!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Going the Distance: Which Moments Define Your Life?

One of my friend's posted on Facebook the moments which defined her life.

I usually don't click on those links to see what mine would be but something moved me to do so.

Somehow Facebook got it right!

A photo of Dr. Ryan Means and me that we took right before he left for China was part of the video.

Talk about a defining moment!

We stood face to face at the book launch party for Journey Well coincidentally at the practice where I had been seeing the former massage therapist I was working with and it was kismet in January of 2015. Dr. Ryan as he likes to be called is a chiropractor and healer. Even though he is half a world away I can feel the work we did together. He told me to set goals not limits and worked with care, compassion and passion to get me on my healing path to go the distance. He was the first healer to help me believe that I was worthy of healing.

I set the goal to run the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon. What a defining shining moment it was to set the goal and then achieve it.

There were photos of my Boston Marathon run:

and taking on the Hyannis 10K 2016 after running the Bermuda Half:

Beautiful memories with friends at races and training runs with my bestie filled the screen with defining and special moments.

It was a defining moment for me, now almost 10 years ago, when I refused to accept the diagnosis of post polio syndrome and went on a healing odyssey, writing poetry, imagining, visualizing and manifesting what is in my life today. And to think it all began with the poem:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this… Sometimes you can feel such a moment coming. That’s the test, or so I tell myself. I tell myself that at times like that, strong people keep moving forward anyway, no matter what they’re going to find.
~John Hobbes - "Fallen"

To your health and wellness,