Sunday, January 31, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

Our first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 miler. It was a hot, steamy evening in July. We got lost on the way to the race. Tempers were running as hot as the thermometer because I was so anxious about running my first five mile race. My energy tended to wane by the evening as I was continuing to deal with the late effects of paralytic polio. We finally arrived and walked around trying to enjoy the pre race festivities. As everyone took their place at the start, I could see that this was a serious, competitive running crowd; quite a contrast to my first race ever, the Corrib Pub Run 5K in June.

Runners went out fast and Tom and I were in the back of the pack with a few other people. Even they took off and I experienced my first (of many) marathon training meltdowns. I cried as I shared with Tom all the memories of having kids take off and leave me behind that were bubbling to the surface. I was sweating and tired and hot. I couldn’t tell where my tears ended and sweat began. I told Tom I had no business training for the Boston Marathon. Tom was wonderful and he told me that I couldn’t quit. We would make it through this race and we would make it through every training run. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I did know, however, that if I didn’t finish that race, I would never make it to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Alison gave me water and a high five out on the course. She was worried about me in the heat and wanted to make sure I was okay.

Despite finishing dead last, members of the Marathon Sports family who knew the story of Team McManus, had air horns and a truck on the field honking and blowing and cheering us on to the finish. I knew training for Boston was not going to be easy, but I knew I had what it was going to take to make it happen.

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

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

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

But I'm not your 'average' runner. I run with a body that had been ravaged by paralytic polio and trauma that is now transforming into a body that is new; reconditioning my body to a new mind, as Dr. Joe Dispenza says. It is a miracle that I am back on the roads and despite what a physiatrist, several physical therapists and the massage therapist I was working with at the time were telling me, I decided that I needed to set goals not limits and discard the results of the MRI and all the diagnoses that were in my medical record.

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

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday: On Perspiration, Transformation and Inspiration

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

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

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

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

I knew I wanted to go the distance again but there were naysayers I had to fire from my life first. Once I said yes and made a firm commitment to setting goals not limits, I put out the call to the Universe for a new healer to partner with me. The Universe answered the call with Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer chiropractor!

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

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

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

And now I inspire others...

It's amazing yet humbling for people to tell me how much I inspire them or that they've told someone about me who believes they could not do something and it inspires them to get off the couch and do something.

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

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Treadmill Run....Climbing to Greater Heights

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

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

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

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

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

With every workout I get stronger and climb to greater heights on my health and wellness journey.

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

And that run was on a treadmill!

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Climb That Mountain! - On Goals and Momentum

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

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

there are times in life when you gotta fall

lose your grip and stumble and fall

when you can't lean on no one else

that's when you find yourself

the going's easy when the road is flat

them danged old hills will get you every time

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

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

As I looked up that mountain I wondered if I had it in me to come back after a serious knee injury and to go the distance in my healing journey; to plant my flag on that mountain summit. I'd written many poems about climbing mountains and reclaiming my homeland. While I may have experienced doubts and fears about climbing that mountain in front of me, my subconscious through the power of my pen, my divining rod for healing had already set the course in motion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your health and wellness,

Monday, January 25, 2016

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

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

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

And then seemingly out of nowhere I wrote the poem:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Dr. Joe Dispenza:

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

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

I would meet Dr. Ryan, a chiropractor healer who reminded me that I can set goals not limits and turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe and all the teachers in What the bleep do we know? including the wonderful work of Dr. Candace Pert.

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

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

To your health and wellness

Sunday, January 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Each vista was more breathtaking than the one before:

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

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

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

I danced my way along part of the course:

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

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

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

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

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

What is so striking to me after running the Bermuda Half Marathon is how well I feel. I feel that I am ready to continue to build strength, endurance and improve speed on my shorter distances.

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

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

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

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

completed the winter gear outfit.

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

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

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

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

It will be amazing to compare how I feel this year versus last year. Everything was so new and uncertain given my journey of the past 9 years and especially after the December 2014 knee injury.

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

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: When Success is the Only Option

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

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

Thank you Denise! I did overcome so much to get to that starting line and was so blessed to go mile for mile with my running and life partner Tom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every finish line is a starting line ....

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: That Moment When

That moment when you are feeling serious pre-race jitters and trying to calm your nerves when the woman of the couple you flew with from Boston to Bermuda comes up to you at the starting line of the Bermuda Marathon and says, "Hey there. I was determined to find you this morning. What are the chances that we would have our bib numbers in sequence?" So you just have to take a selfie:

I was a little stunned to say the least.

"I was on Instagram and looked for the #runbermuda. I saw the pictures you posted."

"What? I deactivated my Instagram account yesterday because I was frustrated and couldn't figure out how to use it."

"You Instagram account is linked to Facebook so what you posted there automatically went to Instagram," Tom explained to me.

"So I saw your photos and I found out about you and I said prayers for your health last night and wished you a wonderful run but I was determined to find you this morning."

You get home and discover a Facebook message from her with this photo that her husband snapped at the starting line:

From the moment we met on the plane, through another "chance" meeting on Front Street to that moment at the starting line...yeah that moment!

That moment when you meet someone in the Bermuda Airport from Reading Massachusetts who is training for Boston and runs the Hyannis Half to train for Boston. You become Facebook friends and when you post the video from the start on Facebook he lets you know that he is the person in the sunglasses and blue t shirt standing right in front of you at the start...yeah that moment.

That moment you hobble up the stairs to The Pickled Onion with your race medal sharing in the excitement of crossing the finish line

with a community of racers and locals enjoying brunch and you ask Samantha, the manager of The Pickled Onion if it would be possible to get a bag of ice to put on your legs. She brings two beautifully wrapped ice packs done with so much care and love. Yeah that amazing moment.

There were so many "that moment when..." that happened during Bermuda Marathon Weekend but I'm going to leave you with this last one for now. That moment when what was on your bucket list for 3 years and what you always dreamed about but weren't quite sure it would or could ever happen - of going through the airport with race bling - comes into reality and you've had the most magical weekend of your life ...

Yeah - that moment when you know in every fiber of your being you are now off the sidelines and there is only momentum in moving forward in this amazing journey of healing and transformation.

Yeah that moment!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: A Bermudaful Friday - Bib Pick Up Day

We woke up to birds singing and the suns shining on Friday. After enjoying a traditional English breakfast served on the patio outside of our room at the Rosedon Hotel, we dressed for our shake out run from the hotel to past the finish line on Front Street. T shirt and capris were the order of the day. It was an emotional run realizing that I was now just two days away from fulfilling a dream that I had for 3 years in my heart and soul. Realizing that the last time I was in Bermuda I could barely walk down Front Street and was using a cane wearing a toe up leg brace fueled the emotion and a wave of gratitude and joy washed over me.

After every training run, Tom and I took runfies of ourselves and this last training run before the starting gun went off was no exception:

We did souvenir shopping and walked at an easy pace back to the Rosedon. Along the way we bumped into Shawn and Mona who were off to Dockyard for the afternoon and our plane mates. The energy of race weekend was building. We met Chris from Germany, the sisters from London (who were staying at the Rosedon) and Barbara from Minneapolis who was an older runner and a phys ed teacher whose students were eager to hear the lessons she would bring with her from running the Bermuda Triangle Challenge.

We went for a swim and I stretched in the pool. We put our feet up and soaked in the Bermudaful sunshine. I reflected on the miracle of the moment.

After a shower and change of clothes, it was time for bib pick up.

Tom snapped this action shot of me getting my bib:

The last time I was at the Hamilton Princess was on New Year's Eve shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. Everyone was dressed to the nines wearing high heels. I tried to muster as much dignity as I could wearing a leg brace and tie shoes facing an uncertain and what some would say was a rather grim future.

What a triumphant return to attend the Bermuda Marathon Expo and to pick up our bib numbers.

We had photos taken by the official race photographer in front of a course map and saw many familiar faces. Clarence was at the Expo and we had the wonderful opportunity of meeting his daughter Pam and her grandson. Bermudians have a strong sense of kinship and it is always heart warming to experience their sense of kinship.

We would have the opportunity to see Pam out on the Bermuda Half Marathon course. She videotaped us running just as we crested one of the hills out on the course. The smiles that seemed to be ever present on our faces throughout the race got even wider.

The t shirt was the best.swag.ever:

People were eager and delighted to capture Team McManus with their bibs:

We sat outside in the courtyard of the Princess where runners regaled stories of races past and hopes for what the weekend would bring.

You could feel the anticipation of those running the Bermuda Triangle Challenge and Half Challenge: The Front Street Mile on Friday, the 10K on Saturday and either a half or a full marathon on Sunday.

I was delighted, thrilled and over the moon excited to be among the international running community.

We had a cup of tea back at the Rosedon before heading in town for our second night at the Pickled Onion. The manager Stephanie warmly welcomed us back and said we were now officially regulars!

We asked about Sunday brunch after the race and inquired if we should make reservations.

"Don't worry - I'll take care of you," which is the Bermudian way of saying, "Not a problem."

After dining once again on Salmon, Brown Rice and String beans we leisurely strolled back to our hotel where we meditated and fell asleep to the sound of tree frogs.