Friday, April 29, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Exploring New Ways to Reclaim



During today's treatment with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, visionary, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and trusted confidante and friend, I was sharing how I noticed that my body was reacting to a recent stressful situation in my life. I could feel how I was contracting on my left side in response to the stress. Jeffrey suggested that I was protecting myself as I had when I was a child. I told him that I'd been meditating about clearing the energy out from the wounds from the past but was feeling stuck.

We talked about the process of reclaiming; how we had done a lot of clearing out of the gunk in my body plus bring awareness and compassion to the traumatic memories. Jeffrey pointed out that I'd done reclaiming of my upper body through swimming and I pointed out how running is my therapy; how I am deeply grateful to him for helping me to continue to run despite the fact that by all appearances I should not be able to run by now.

The Universe sets before us everything we need to heal and evolve and be the person we were always meant to be.

Yesterday I was blessed to meet Meghan Zipin. We had been Facebook friends for awhile and then she invited me to like her page, Peony and the Bee Yoga. I was intrigued. I went to her website and realized there are no accidents. She is a physical therapist by training who sought out her path to see how she could use her gifts and her life experiences for the highest good. Her philosophy of therapeutic yoga is a perfect complement to the work that Jeffrey does. I reached out to her and we met for a cup of tea. We could feel the Universe brought us together for a reason-if for no other reason than to share our journeys and bless each other's lives with the gift of our presence.

I am going to experience a therapeutic yoga session with her and she is going to come in to see Jeffrey for a ShakeOut (TM). We don't know where this may lead but it feels as though there may be an opportunity for us to bring our respective healing modalities to those who have experienced trauma. Why Meghan even uses the phrase reclaim on her website .... She is the program manager for Exhale to Inhale, a non-profit organization that empowers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assult to reclaim their lives through the healing practice of yoga.

Swimming, running, cross training, strength training and now therapeutic yoga ... I'm exploring new ways to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life feeling deeply blessed and grateful for this wonderful tapestry of people who are in my life to support me on this fantastic journey!

To your health and wellness,
Mary

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! The satisfaction of a tempo run in the morning



Yesterday morning I had to run solo because my life and running partner Tom was at a conference and had to leave early. It can be hard to get motivated for a run alone but I knew I wasn't going to think twice about it.

I did my core work, my clams, stretched, had a piece of toast and banana and out the door I went.

I wasn't going to focus on pace; just run from the inside out. I didn't even have a route in mind. I also forgot about the 15 degree rule and definitely over dressed for this beautiful Spring morning run but no matter I went on my way.

I had a "come to Jesus" meeting with God as I allowed all my thoughts and feelings about a recent stressful situation in my life pour out of me. I did not judge my thoughts or feelings, I let them flow and I allowed the beauty of the Reservoir, the birds singing, the sun glistening off of the water and the beautiful blue sky receive all that I had pent up inside of me. I didn't even think about the fact that everything changes and this would pass through or allow Tara Brach's mantra of "attend and befriend." I knew I needed to allow everything to surface for examination and exploration.

I started out doing a race walking pace and as I allowed the stew of my thoughts and feelings to cook, I found myself running very much in a Run Forrest Run kind of way. I wasn't running away from anything though; I was running toward myself to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life from this stressful situation.



My 2nd split was a 15:35 minute/mile pace. I haven't seen that pace since I was training for the Harvard Pilgrim 5K last summer. I felt One with all that is and let the sweat pour off of me cleansing everything in its wake.

I did a few hills and my overall pace was 16:03 which for me is quite impressive especially as I am just getting back into training. I know that the cross training on the arc trainer and the bike rather than doing a 2nd day of static strength training has definitely helped my running but more than that, I allowed my body to do what it needed to do to manage what I needed to manage through the run.

After the run I had this feeling of deep satisfaction. The time on the Nike+ was awesome yes but there was a sense that I'd gone out and confronted everything I needed to confront and transformed everything that was hurting inside of me.



It's such a blessing to still have the gift of running in my life especially after a knee injury in December 2014 that everyone said would permanently sideline me. I feel a deep appreciation for the work I do with Jeffrey Spratt,MT every week that helps to reclaim advantage and reclaim my life on and off the roads whatever the circumstances around me.

To your health and wellness!
Mary

Monday, April 25, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! The joy of the long distance runner!



These past almost 10 years have been an amazing journey. I went from being told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair to the finish line of the Boston Marathon and beyond. But the beyond lacked a consistent training program where I could accomplish events, take some time off and then train again for more events. There was either injury or resurgence of symptoms of post polio syndrome.

Can you imagine how wonderful it feels to have fully recovered from my knee injury of December of 2014 and to have this new found confidence and strength in my body; to be able to find my threshold and even go beyond it at times yet no longer fearing what might happen? Because I know that no matter what, through my meditation and practicing the teachings of Dr. Joe Dispenza and partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the life saving-life changing-momentum changing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy I can reclaim my body and reclaim my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

I can't believe it's almost May. People are asking me - what's next now that my off season is nearing to an end.

First up - on June 10 is the Quonset Air Show 4 Miler - a race to benefit veterans in Rhode Island. What's really sweet about this race in addition to the fly over and the fact it will benefit veterans is that Jeffrey Spratt is going to be running in it!



This will be a prelude to the Finish at the 50 on July 3rd which was my comeback race last year after the knee injury that everyone - well those who were not in the know - said would be the injury that sidelined me from running for good.



I remember how I brought the course map in to Jeffrey and he coached me through the course. While he worked on me he gave me his pre-race gospel according to Jeffrey that focused on mental and contingency preparedness for race day that held me in excellent stead during the race. He attended to every detail right down to thinking about when I would pee before the race. I smile at how much I have learned from him throughout this past year healing mind, body and soul.

And then...after Finish at the 50 ... it's time to once again train for the Bermuda Half Marathon!

I'm up to 5 miles on Saturdays and will begin to build my miles again after 7/3.

It's going to be an entirely different experience running Finish at the 50 and then training for the Bermuda Half Marathon happening in January of 2017.



Rather than feeling the anxiety and the angst wondering if this body would be able to go the distance, I will be able to relish the experience feeling what Dr. George Sheehan describes for the distance runner: “The distance runner is mysteriously reconciling the separations of body and mind, of pain and pleasure, of the conscious and the unconscious. He is repairing the rent, and healing the wound in his divided self. He has found a way to make the ordinary extraordinary; the commonplace unique; the everyday eternal.”

To your health and wellness!
Mary

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! The Power of the ShakeOut (TM) Revisited




I was skeptical when Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the ShakeOut (TM) Masssage told me that you can experience all the benefits of a full body treatment while remaining clothed on the table for only 25 minutes. But last August, after a 7 mile training run, I experienced my first ShakeOut (TM). It was everything Jeffrey said it would be....and so much more!

Jeffrey was donating his time and talent at the Comfort Zone Camp Grief Relief 5K last October. He wanted me to experience the benefits of a 10 minute ShakeOut (TM) before and after racing.

I've had the ShakeOut (TM) before and after my big events and noticed the resiliency I experienced in my body.

This is the first year since I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, "a progressive neuromuscular disease" back in December of 2006 that I have not experienced what I call a 'relapse" of symptoms.

There has been an enormous family stressor in our lives (details not important) and I know that weekly 90 minute massages with Jeffrey with the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy (on which the ShakeOut (TM) is based) has enabled me to navigate this stress.

I've been pushing myself hard in training and in the marathon of my life and last Friday I experienced a whispering of a resurgence of symptoms. I experienced what I call phantom pains from polio and reconstructive leg surgery in my left leg. I experienced a lot of nerve pain in my left leg and foot, swelling all over and pain in both knee joints. I knew they would pass and pass they did and I had a wonderful 5 mile run yesterday. I could feel that the stress was beginning to take a toll. I reminded myself of the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and all the work I have done since March of last year. I am healed. I am healthy. I am strong. I have reconditioned my body to a new mind. My left leg is factory new.



I also knew that I needed a ShakeOut (TM) to give me a boost to ensure that I would continue my momentum on my health and wellness journey.

I told Jeffrey about what I experienced in my left leg and what I was experiencing mind, body and soul. After the initial compression, I could feel the tension melt away and my deep breath return. His warm hands on my left leg (the warmth went right through my running pants) reminded me to reclaim my left leg from the effects of paralytic polio and childhood rape. He worked with intention and concentration along the energy meridians of my body clearing out congestion and restoring a sense of balance, strength and confidence.

Jeffrey and I talked about his power point presentation on Training for Your Boston Marathon. "You talked about how runners have to be mindful of where they are vulnerable to injury," I said. "That's right," Jeffrey replied. "Everyone has areas that are vulnerable and you have to respect that." I realized that my vulnerability comes from having experienced a spinal cord injury and years of unrelenting violence. We both validated that I need to train smart and to also take exquisite care of myself because I give so much.

Prior to partnering with Jeffrey, that history was like an anchor on my ship and try as I might to break the mooring, I had been stuck at the shore.

The recent stress I have been experiencing has tested the strength of the healing but it is incumbent upon me to manage the stress and continue to, as Dr. Joe Dispenza says, "break the habit of being myself," and "recondition my body to a new mind."

While it is possible to create change by thought alone (and I sure did that when I first set sail on this journey), it is an incredible blessing that I found my way to Jeffrey where, through the power of positive touch, and his innovative ShakeOut(TM) Massage, I can continue to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life and navigate the turbulent waters around me without being anchored to my past.



I'm ready to begin a new week filled with strength, confidence, continuing to dream and believe and move forward in my health and wellness journey.

My hope is that everyone can experience the power of positive touch to at the very least, bring momentum and at its very best to be life saving!

To your health and wellness!
Mary

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Thankful Thursday - Transformation Thursday

I received an email this morning that said I would be receiving royalty payments for the sale of my books on Amazon.



I smiled and said a prayer of gratitude for this wonderful news. It's not about the money per se although it's wonderful to be paid for my craft. It's about being able to share my journey and touch the lives and hearts of others. It's about knowing that all of my pain was not in vain and I can share a message of healing, hope and possibility from the time of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome in December of 2006 to the finish line of the Boston Marathon and beyond in my memoir, "Coming Home: A Message of Healing, Hope and Possibility"and share how my gift of poetry turbocharged my journey to health and wellness as I could "Feel the Heal" by partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy

So how did I go from working at the Department of Veterans Affairs as an award winning social worker to becoming a poet, an author, a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher and, said with humility and grace, an inspiration to so many.

It all began with my poem, "Running the Race." From my memoir:
And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem foreshadowing my 2009 Boston Marathon run:

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's been an incredible almost 10 year journey now. I'm so excited to be working on my next book, "Going the Distance: Healing Trauma Through the Power of Positive Touch" which begins with me asking the question, "How will I ever reclaim my life?" and ends with "From the War Zone to the Comfort Zone."

Here is the working Table of Contents:

How Will I Ever Reclaim My Life?

You Have To Start Somewhere

“I want you to run unencumbered.”

Going the Distance – “Run with all your heart.”

From the War Zone to the Comfort Zone

It's Thankful Thursday and I am so deeply thankful to Jeffrey for all that we have accomplished during this past year of working together and am so excited to go the distance with him on the roads and in my life.

It's Transformation Thursday and a good time to take a look at where I was in December of 2007 one year after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a "progressive neuromuscular disease":


to receiving my Boston Marathon medal:


to running the Bermuda Half Marathon this year after being told I would not and should not run again after a knee injury in December 2014:


to the finish line of the Hyannis 10K in February:


My heart overflows with gratitude for the miracle of my healing; for the transformation I have been blessed to experience from a woman ravaged by paralytic polio and childhood violence to a woman who can now reclaim her advantage and reclaim her life!

To your health and wellness,
Mary

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! It's All "Write"!



As so often happens with healing, the changes are imperceptible until one day it seems the healing happened over night.

On Marathon Monday, I worked in the Constitution Room at the Seaport Boston Hotel checking in the returning Boston Marathoners and letting them know how long a wait they would have for their complimentary ShakeOut (TM) Massages.


Handwriting has been a challenge for me due to hand tremors. The tremors were a result of the damage from paralytic polio followed by 9 years of unrelenting childhood violence; assaults against my mind, body and soul.

Through the power of positive touch administered by Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapies and Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies we have been healing the effects of paralytic polio and violence. He once told me that all he is providing are warm hands to guide my body to experience its natural capacity to heal. Well he is providing incredibly skilled touch with his innovative method of muscular therapy and compassionate presence as he bore witness and held the space for me to release and find relief in letting go of the past.

As I effortlessly and unselfconsciously wrote down names and email addresses marking time in and estimated wait time, I realized that my right hand was steady and my hand writing was clear!

Today marks the beginning of the 2nd year of treatment with Jeffrey. We began this journey together one year ago yesterday and as Jeffrey said to me today, "Just look at how much we have accomplished." He was referring to both my incredible journey as well as what we have done to grow the practice.

I've been able to accept all that happened to me feeling that it is all alright. There is nothing I can do to change the past but we are creating a different outcome through the power of positive touch and the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. We continue to clear the congestion from the past and to also flush out the congestion that accumulates from my very active lifestyle and working on the computer.

Jeffrey paid special attention to my arms and hands today working to continue to facilitate healing and enable my life force to flow. I can feel new neuromuscular connections growing and I interpret all sensations in my body as signs of healing and growth and repair.

There was a very deep wound in my back that we have been healing. Today, in my mind's eye, I could see how it is healed. It was almost like watching time lapse photography to remember when it was gaping and every time Jeffrey touched it I would jump involuntarily. By bringing the emotions to the surface that were connected to this wound plus Jeffrey working with the tissue and structure of my body to release my body's natural ability to heal, the wound is transformed; I can breathe deeply again no longer protecting the wound, afraid of the terror I experienced and my body can repair the damage.

One year - just one year of partnering with Jeffrey and I have reclaimed my advantage and reclaimed my life! I accept all that happened to me and can honestly say, it's alright and it's only going to keep getting better and better.

Remember there is always hope. There is always a way to heal you just have to keep on searching until you find the person and the method that is going to work for you!

To your health and wellness!
Mary

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! My Early Morning Run



During my "off season" of training for races, I focused on cross training with the Arc Trainer and the Bike at Wave Health and Fitness along with continuing my swimming. X does mark the spot with cross training and I have noticed that I am feeling stronger and more fit. It is so important that we introduce new ways of training and new activities to our bodies to keep positive momentum.

It's time for me to return to two runs a week and begin to increase mileage on the weekend.

When the alarm goes off at 6:00am on a Tuesday morning, especially when I hear rain on the window, it's seriously tempting to hit the snooze button. But I am seriously dedicated to my health and wellness. Instead of hitting the snooze on the alarm, Tom and I do a 20 minute meditation followed by plank, crunches and knee to elbow crunches.

A piece of toast, a small glass of OJ or a banana depending on what I feel like and we are out the front door.

It's such a sacred time to spend with Tom. We are unplugged except for tracking miles with my Nike+. The beauty of the Reservoir and the skyline in the distance as trees are poised to burst forth with the joy of Spring is so special in the early morning hours.

I can feel the benefits of cross training as I no longer need to stop at every mile and charge up the hill on the way home with confidence and strength.

A funny moment came when it seemed like forever to get to 3.11 with my Nike+. I did a quick turn to make sure we got to 3.11 and not just 3.10 and stepped into a muddy hole in our front yard. My ankle twisted, I grabbed onto Tom and managed to stay on my feet. I sent healing energy to my ankle right away, iced it when I got in the house and it feels fine.

I am so deeply grateful for the resilience I feel in my body. After one year of partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, I have reclaimed my advantage and reclaimed my life claiming my wellness and healing moving beyond the effects of paralytic polio and violence through the power of positive touch!

In the past, I was not able to begin another training cycle after a season of races. In the past I would have been intimidated to try any new equipment in the gym. In the past an early morning run would have been a struggle and something to slog through because I knew I had to but now, my early morning run is the in between space between yesterday's forgotten problems and today's beautiful possibilities.

To your health and wellness,
Mary

Monday, April 18, 2016

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Kicking Asphalt and Celebrating Boston Marathon Weekend

Every year I forget how magical Marathon Weekend is in Boston until I board the Green Line and head in town.

What's so remarkable this year is that I ran 5 miles on Saturday kicking serious asphalt before getting on the Green Line and heading to Fenway Park (Nike+ was a little off but we did do close to 5 miles).



This year we were especially blessed to go to a game at Fenway Park courtesy of John Hancock. Spratt Muscular Therapies provides massage to the John Hancock Employees Marathon Team and Tom and I were invited to the pre-game luncheon in the Champion's Room. What a surprise that Meb, Shalene, Desi and Amy were in the house! After the presentation, I went over to Meb to tell him about our Meb Won, Really sign stories. "I heard about that," Meb said to me. "I knew about the one at mile 17 at the Firehouse and how runners really got a boost when they heard I won and heard something about another sign but didn't know where it was." "May I get a photo with you?" as Meb started making notes in his iPhone about where we had our sign in 2014. "May I just go get my husband?" I asked. "Tom, Meb wants to have a photo with us."



The fab four of running who are going to the Olympics in Rio to run the marathon threw out the first pitch at Fenway:



And the Sox won 4-2!

We got up early on Sunday morning and did a strength training workout. After experiencing Meb's energy and being among Champions I felt a renewed commitment and dedication to my training and my health and wellness journey. We felt the City come alive with the pre-marathon excitement. "You running this year?" people would ask Tom and me as I wore my 2013 Boston Marathon jacket and Tom sported his 2011 jacket. It's so awesome to meet people from all over the country and all over the world. There are no strangers. We met people from Canada, Idaho, Kansas and everyone had a story to tell!

We stopped for lunch and sat outside on Boylston Street and a dear friend of ours just happened by. It was wonderful to connect with her and to feel the pulse of our beautiful City.

Back in 2014, I experienced a marathon moment to last a lifetime and it was time to meet the woman who thanked us for being a fan! Here we are with Maureen Jones from Rochester, Minnesota:


And as we were experiencing the happiness and joy of meeting in person after a 2 year on line friendship, Ginger Betty came over and placed a Gingerbread Peace Medal cookie around my neck. "Wait Maureen should have this." "I have one for her too." Of course she would:



We chatted like we were dear old friends - actually more like family - soul sisters and we said goodbye as Tom and I entered the First Ladies of Women Running Seminar where we were reunited with Jacqueline Hansen who blessed my Hyannis 10K.



Next up was The Expo and seeing our dear friends Ken and Nell of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays:


We headed out to experience the magic of the finish line and soak up the ambiance before the throngs of runners would experience what Team McManus experienced on 4/20/2009:



and to celebrate 50 years of women running:


One year ago on the Sunday before the Marathon, I began my partnership with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. Being able to go on a run, travel on the T, socialize, go to a ball game; get up the next morning and strength train, ride on the train, walk around Boylston Street, attend a seminar, go to the Expo, stand up on the train ride home and then wake up refreshed on Marathon Monday ready to greet the day is a miracle to me. I have reclaimed my advantage and reclaimed my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma including the events of 4/15/13 and how wondrous and wonderful to celebrate Boston Marathon weekend 2016!

To your health and wellness,
Mary

Friday, April 15, 2016

Flashback Friday: My 2009 Boston Marathon Run



Seeing all the posts from the Expo and bib pick up and the energy and excitement in the City brings back memories of our 2009 Boston Marathon run. There is really nothing like the experience of running the Boston Marathon.

If you would have told me in December of 2006 as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility and facing a rather grim and uncertain future shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome that I would cross the finish line of the 113th Boston Marathon I would have said you were crazy! Yet there was an endurance runner inside of me just waiting to make my debut on April 20, 2009.

I foreshadowed running a race in the first poem I wrote in February of 2007 in response to being told that I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease:

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.


I went through outpatient treatment at Spaulding Rehab and then hired a personal trainer to build on the program I received from Spaulding. Despite warnings from the medical community, I just knew I needed to move and so I told my personal trainer in February of 2008 that my next goals on my health and wellness journey were to feel free in my body, to dance, to walk outside unencumbered and I said, as Janine had her hand on the door knob ready to leave, "Wait I have one more goal. I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding next year."

She was totally non plussed and said, "Okay but you are going to need a pair of running shoes." I was still wearing black tie shoes with a toe up leg brace.

And the rest as they say is history!

Here's a recap of our Boston Marathon run:



I thought that right after I ran the Boston Marathon I would be jumping on my blog to share all the magic of the day. I needed some time to really allow the enormity of what I have just accomplished to sink in. When I look back on April 2007, I was still wearing a leg brace and using a cane. When I look back on April 2008, I could not run for a minute straight and I remember running on Eliot Street toward home just for a minute and feeling as though I were really pushing myself. Janine, my beloved trainer, said - how are you going to handle it when the going gets tough during the Marathon? I remember seeing my heart rate at 168 - from just a minute of running. That was a far cry from the hill training we had done in preparation for the Marathon when my heart rate would go up to 175 and I was able to keep on with the training session. Sheer grit, faith, courage and determination and an amazing support network led Team McManus to the finish line of the 113th Boston Marathon - you know it had been such a long road of preparation and signing off blogs with see you at the finish line and everything pointing to Monday that there is a surreal quality to the Marathon run now being behind me.

The going never got tough during the Marathon. I felt the love and prayers and support from so many friends and people I never met face to face but who sent loving prayers for the 26.2 mile journey of Team McManus.I knew with every ounce of my fiber that once I made it to the starting line, I was going to finish. I knew that I was running for Spaulding Rehab patients, I knew that I was running for polio and post polio patients everywhere and....I knew I was running for me. I knew that my year of hard work was now coming to fruition and I had one mission - to reach the finish line in under 8 hours so that there would be someone there to take the chip off my shoe and give me the medal signifying that I had run the 113th Boston Marathon.

The day began like any other - not! The alarm went off at 5 am. Weird dreams and waking up at 1, 3 and finally 5 did not distress me because I had slept so well on Saturday night - the important night to get a good night's sleep. Team McManus was in perfect rhythm making oatmeal and coffee, getting toast and water, putting the chips on our shoes - no arguments about me wanting to leave too early - we were all very eager to just get to our bus at Spaulding Rehab. There were hugs in the lobby and the mixture of excitement and nervousness. On the bus ride out I listened to Bernie Siegel's Meditation on my iPod. I closed my eyes to hear his voice to focus on preparing for the day but also because I did not want to see how long we were traveling to get to Hopkinton. Spirits were high on the bus ride out and after finishing my meditation, we chatted about just about anything we could think of other than what we all were about to do.

Spaulding's team shared the tent with Mass General. It was a heated tent with pre race refreshments. We took team pictures and at 8:30 walked to the start with Ashley Bronson, our incredible events coordinator. The sun was peeking out and warmed the cool morning air. I was drinking in the entire scene in awe that I, Mary McManus was at the starting line of the 113th Boston Marathon. Dave McGilvrey, race director, had us take our place at the start - we were not going over the mats and I had a wonderful focus for my anxiety - how would people track us if our chips did not go off and most importantly, how would they know our time? But those thoughts were quickly dismissed as we received the oral command - runner take your marks, get set, go.....

The first several miles felt like any other training run - the crowds were sparse through Hopkinton and there was a chill in the air reminiscent of our February training runs. As we approached Framingham, we saw one of our friends exactly where he said he would be but he couldn't see us across the street. No matter, we knew he was rooting for us. And on into Natick where we knew more friends were near the corner of Speen St and 135. Their presence was felt even though we did not actually see them and we journeyed on. Once we got to the Natick Reservoir, we knew that we had done this route before and that the hardest part of the journey was behind us - taking those first steps into unfamiliar territory.

From Natick it is a long stretch into Wellesley but the rewards of the Wellesley College girls is indescribable. You truly can hear the screams from a mile back. Somewhere around Wellesley, our dear friend Alison, store manager from Marathon Sports had caught up to us - how did she ever find us in the crowd? and said I love you Team McManus and went on her way. Tim Doiron aka Derv from Just Finish had also found us - he gave me a huge hug and even ran a little way with us. Members of our Race for Rehab team had also found us and we all wished each other well as we journeyed toward Boston.

The crowds are truly amazing. They could see that I was not a fast runner and unlike any other road race we have been in, the crowds seemed to sense that I had a special challenge. They would chant "Go Mary Go Mary" (ahh the benefits of Ashley patiently writing on my singlet and down my arm- the weather had warmed enough so I could run in my short sleeves). The generosity of the crowds was overwhelming - orange slices and bananas - these families took their time and resources to peel oranges and bananas and some even had their orange slices in individual baggies so we could carry them along. There were also cups of water and as we got closer to Boston - bottles of beer - but I digress.

Once we were in Wellesley, we knew we had it made. I know, I know all that talk about Heartbreak Hill and all. The motto slow and steady wins the race is so true! We did a four hour half - runners may cringe at a four hour half but there was a 27 mph head wind and it was chilly. I knew that today with the weather, a 15 minute mile was not possible for me and no reason to risk an injury now. Our goal was to make it to the finish line healthy and happy. I also ran the entire way walking only to go through water stations - amazing - absolutely amazing.We had run the route from Wellesley to Boston so many times and had an incredible psychological edge. Our team trainer, Dom, made us run up Grossman's Hill going from Brookline to Wellesley; what a joy to only have to run down the hill and then to know that Newton was just up ahead.

After turning from Rt 16 to Commonwealth Avenue, I looked for my friends, the Reilly's in front of the fire station. I thought that perhaps with the cold and wind and their two little ones, they needed to go home but shortly after we had turned, Sharon called me. Everyone on Twitter was frantic because we could not be tracked. As one of my dear friends, Nicole Shuman said, God works in creative ways. So Sharon got on Twitter and email'ed my friend Nicole to let them know we were almost at mile 20 and goin' strong.Somewhere before mile 20, my husband saw a sign that said, "Go Team McManus, Go Mary" and there was Janice Wesley and her husband waiting patiently for us to come by. She gave me a hug and a kiss and gave us the sign to carry to the finish.

At mile 20, there was Dom, our team trainer. He had tears in his eyes as he embraced Team McManus. He put his hands on my shoulders and said, 'you're gonna qualify - go finish. I'm so proud of you.' And then my cell phone rang - it was Janine and we found out where she was - as I saw her standing atop one of the inclines on Heartbreak Hill with her Spaulding Rehab t shirt and a white long sleeve shirt underneath, I saw an angel who was coming to take us to the finish line. She said she was amazed at how well I looked; I told her we went out slow and steady so we could finish. She was so proud of us and told me to stop even thinking about not doing a 15 minute mile - she said I needed to leave that and all the baggage on the marathon course. She was right!

At Cleveland Circle, my son Tommy, Joe Presser, our documentarian and Johannes, a BU photojournalism major were patiently waiting for us to come down Chestnut Hill Avenue and as we crossed to the Dunkin' Donuts our neighbors were waiting with another sign. Oh and speaking of signs - Bernie Siegel, MD sent me an email telling me that I would find a penny - it would be from him and God telling me everything was all right. I found a penny in Wellesley. I told Janine this story as we were walking from the finish line back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and just then she looked down and there was another penny. I added it to the 27 cents and the Six Sense that I carried with me in the back pocket of my capris. The air was getting colder and more raw as we approached Kenmore Square but the crowds were really heating up, and we knew the finish was in sight. Running under the underpass on Comm Ave, Janine let out a scream and encouraged us to do the same just as we had at the Tufts 10K. And when we came up out of the underpass there was Hereford Street and one of Ruth Anne's dear friends, CG who had been a staunch supporter in so many ways during our journey. After getting a hug, Ruth Anne joined us to take the left on Boylston Street. I began to sob seeing the lights of the finish line in the distance. I ran down Boylston Street with all of my might and Team McManus crossed the finish line at 7:45 I believe. We don't have our official time yet and even though the chips could not be tracked, the BAA had all of our splits starting with the 5K. We went over to have our chips removed and receive the prize for which we had worked so hard - a pewter medal signifying that we ran 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston on April 20, 2009.





To your health and wellness!
Mary