Sunday, July 31, 2016

#RunBermuda 6 Sensational Miles - Momentum!

For the first time in my 10 year healing odyssey, I have steady positive momentum in leaving behind the effects of paralytic polio and childhood violence.

Healing trauma takes incredible courage. It takes incredible courage to live through the traumatic events in the first place although we have amazing protective mechanisms that help us to survive. And then it takes raw courage to become vulnerable and face those events without those protective mechanisms. And it takes tremendous courage to believe that total healing is possible!

After meeting Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer chiropractor, that place within me that yearned for and believed that total healing was mine to claim was reignited. I am now able to train once again for the Bermuda Marathon while continuing to cross train and strength train.

Yesterday was our first training run for the Bermuda Half Marathon.

It was a rather hot day but there was a sea breeze as we ran out and back from Carson Beach to U. Mass. Boston and then up to L Street in South Boston.

I remember how Tom and I used to imagine what it would be like to run in Bermuda as we did our training runs along the coast in Boston. During our training run yesterday we remembered that phenomenal half marathon in Bermuda. I feel greater ease in training for a half marathon this year after a year of treatment that transformed the effects of paralytic polio and violence and continues to heal the deepest wounds.

Six sensational miles deposited in the Bank of Bermuda as we build up to 12.5 miles and then taper two weeks before we leave for Bermuda in January.

After 10 years of incredibly hard work, of searching for a partner on this healing odyssey to help me reclaim my life and run unencumbered and free, it has all come into manifestation because I found that place inside of me where nothing is impossible.

To your health and wellness!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Going the Distance: Running Is My Freedom

I shudder to think of where I would be without running in my life.

When I run, I become One with all that is leaving my past behind. I discover my strength and my abilities, my edge and my limits. It's a time to unplug and experience my sacred body in all its glory.

My pace and my form are uniquely me. I am free to be me and express my beautiful Spirit through my running; a Spirit that could not be trampled by paralytic polio, 9 years of unrelenting violence, suicides, a diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease and 25+ surgeries.

Sometimes it seems so surreal to me that I am 62 1/2 years old writing about my enjoyment of the sport of running. Ten years ago I was told to prepare myself to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. One and a half years ago I was told to stop running and that I would need a total knee replacement and if I did run to cap it at a 5K well okay maybe a 5 miler.

Well the Universe and I had other plans and sure enough Dr. Ryan Means my beloved friend and chiropractor showed up in my life to remind me that I can go the distance in my life and on the roads.

Recently there has been tremendous stress in our lives.

Training again for the Bermuda Half Marathon

and having a training schedule to adhere to and knowing I am going to get out on the roads in practically all sorts of weather brings me a sense of stability, security, joy and challenge and freedom. It is a time carved out to be in nature, to breathe deeply, to savor all the sensations experiencing movement in all sorts of settings-by the ocean, by the reservoir, on the asphalt, on back roads and main streets.

Freedom is a state of mind and body and being...Running gives me all that and so much more!

To your health and wellness,

Monday, July 25, 2016

Going the Distance: The Satisfaction of a Great Run-"I couldn't kick a ball..."

It's a most remarkable feeling to experience the satisfaction of a great run. I believe this to be true for anyone but for me who came to the sport late in life (age 53) and who never experienced the joy of athletic endeavors as a result of contracting paralytic polio at the age of 5 followed by 9 years of unrelenting violence that did not give my body a chance to heal from the effects of paralytic polio, that feeling of satisfaction is intensified.

Shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome and being told I had a progressive neuromuscular disease, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance.

Here is the poem that flowed out of me with an introduction about what inspired the poem from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":
It was a cold, dark day in February 2007. I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility. I faced a grim and uncertain future as the doctors handed down the decree of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. They told me that if I had any hope of stabilizing the disease where it was, I would have to quit my full time award-winning career as a VA social worker three years shy of when I was eligible for retirement. It was a no brainer. I knew I had to take a leap of faith and leave my career. But what’s a social worker to do after almost 25 years? She opens her heart to the cadence of Dr. Seuss that brought her so much comfort during the painful physical therapy sessions as she recovered from paralytic polio. This is the first poem I penned. Bear in mind, I had never run a day in my life.

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, 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, alone and afraid tried 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.

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.

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.

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 couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good....I had the nickname "Easy Out Alper" (my maiden name). I bore the brunt of taunts and teasing that left deep emotional scars and feeling ashamed of my body and my Being.

But running changed all of that...

So you can well imagine when, in December of 2014 I was told I needed a total knee replacement and should not, could not and would not run anymore given the appearances on MRI of torn meniscus beyond repair, a fatty lipoma, bone spurs and an atrophied gastroc muscle I was devastated.... If I did run I had to set the limit at a 5K or maybe a 5 miler at most and I was once again given a cautionary tale about post polio syndrome....and then I got pissed and once again turned to the Universe for help.

I fired everyone who was a naysayer and lo and behold the Universe delivered to me a chiropractor, Ryan Means, DC and he reminded me to set goals not limits and of my body's enormous capacity to heal.

Dr. Ryan joined with my powerful intention to go the distance in my healing journey and transform from a disabled survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a runner and athlete.

When I woke up sore this morning and felt my calves and gluteus muscles that served me well on that steep hill at mile 1.86 and my quads were still singing to me letting me know I worked them hard; when I woke up this morning knowing I had run the entire course stopping to walk only to make sure I had adequate hydration on a hot and humid morning, I also woke up to that sense of satisfaction deep in my soul that only a great run in a great race can bring. I felt more healing, more strength and more confidence in my body's ability to heal and go the distance. I felt that sense of utter perfection in my Being.

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Going the Distance: Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

Today's Facebook feed was filled with the theme of never giving up.

My dear friend and elite runner Reno's post popped up in my news feed:

It's so easy to return to negative thoughts and old habits of thinking and being. I woke up this morning feeling tired, tight and sore. Well it's no wonder! Family stress, juggling work and caregiver needs and maintaining a rigorous training schedule do add up. But oh how amazing that I am the caregiver rather than needing to be cared for having left the diagnosis of post polio syndrome in the dust.

I reminded myself that I am strong, healthy, whole. My left leg is factory new despite sometimes sensations to the contrary.

I practiced my affirmations and opened my heart to gratitude.

Tomorrow Team McManus toes the starting line of the Narrangasset Bay 5K. We did bib pick up today and were blessed to meet Champion Steve Jones and reunite with Champion Geoff Smith:

As I was doing research about Steve Jones, I found this video:

It's been quite the 10 year healing odyssey. I am so grateful and blessed that I did not give up and did not surrender despite many setbacks, working with less than honorable and competent body workers and the trauma of my nephew's suicide and the tragic events of 4/15/13. I shudder to think about all the adventures I would have missed and all the amazing people I never would have had the chance to meet.

It's quite the miracle that I continue to experience positive momentum and once again tomorrow I get to experience the joy of the running community, and running with Champions.

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Runners World Classic Weekend - The Celebrity Mile - A Day Filled with Magic

A dear friend and member of my running family, Kelly told me about the Runners World Classic Weekend happening this weekend. I knew that life was just a little too hectic to fit one more thing in so I told her I'd help spread the word but there was no way I could see us getting up there for the event. Of course Kelly totally understood. And then I "just happened" to see Tom Licciardello's Facebook post putting out the call for volunteers for the Runners World Classic Weekend. How could we say no to our running family....We looked over the volunteer jobs and I thought volunteering for the Celebrity Mile might be a good spot for us. At the time I did not know that Tom's wife Lyn would be our Team Leader or the magic that was going to happen once we arrived on the Merrimack College Campus.

Our first stop was at the Student Center to pick up our volunteer t shirts. We walked into the Expo and were greeted by Anthony Raynor's warm smile and green eyes. We first met Anthony at the Finish at the 50 Expo last year. I was heart broken that they weren't at this year's Finish at the 50 Expo thinking I would have to wait until January to be reunited with the Race Director for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend. Warm hugs and smiles all around and we were introduced to Elizabeth founder of a new company, "Runaway Bermuda." We chatted. I was able to get my Bermuda Marathon Weekend Postcard for my refrigerator to replace our 2016 card, a pink pen and goosebumps realizing that once again I am going to train for the Bermuda Half Marathon.

As we walked toward the Celebrity Mile Tent we had to pass through "Charity Village." Dana Ewan Seigel was standing underneath the "Voices of Hope" tent! We met Dana through our dear friend Jordan Rich a few years ago watching them in a performance of "Love Letters" to benefit "Voices of Hope" that benefits Mass General Hospital Cancer Center.

We went to the Celebrity Mile Tent and reunited with our Strider family. There was this cool lobster ice sculpture:

and everyone worked together as a team to get the tent ready to greet our guests.

Once the set up was complete and we were waiting for the arrival of the celebrities, I asked if anyone had seen our dear friends the DiLorenzos. Tom suggested I check her posts on Facebook to see where she might be. Sure enough she was posting Live from the Finish Line. It was so great to be reunited with her and to see the boys.

Tom waited to see if he could catch a glimpse of Paul finishing the 10K.

It's always a special day when Geoffrey Smith is in the house and we took this fun selfie:

We had so much fun being able to greet the celebrities, get their swag bags, t shirts and bibs and snap a few photos. Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans was incredibly generous with his time and kept thanking us for volunteering. I was honored and humbled to meet Bill Richard who also kept thanking us for all we did today. You could see how much he has healed and how proud he was to have a solid representation of Team MR8 at the event. I got goosebumps when I saw them gathered before the Celebrity Mile and the lengthy applause Bill received during the introduction. It's always a joy when I get to see Dave McGillvray who has inspired my life and running in so many ways.

Jeff Bauman arrived along with Adriane Haslet-Davis, Carlos and Mel. The media surrounded them and the energy was electric as Jeff was about to participate in his first road race since 4/15/13 walking his first mile. I was blessed and honored to talk with him before he ventured out on his challenge. We had met on the first anniversary of 4/15 at his book signing where I shared my journey with him and he was moved to tears to hear what is possible and then again on the 2nd anniversary of 4/15 as I was just in the beginning of my running comeback. I was thrilled to let him know I'd run the Bermuda Half Marathon in January.

Our dear friend David Brown was part of the Celebrity Mile along with friends we've met along the many miles on the road of life -- Amby Burfoot, Steve Cooper, Becca Pizzi and John Young just to name a few. Here are the celebrities gathered before the mile run:

After we saw the celebrities run the first loop, we headed toward the finish line and cheered on the celebrities. The crowd went wild as Jeff Bauman with Carlos in a wheelchair recovering from foot surgery and Melida came toward the finish line. Dave McGillvray had us clear a path saying, "He has one more lap to go," and Jeff echoed, "I have one more lap to go."

Dave encouraged the celebrities and volunteers to walk the 2nd lap with Jeff. Talk about magic!

As we neared the finish line, Tom captured this video of Jeff completing his first mile walk:

Three years ago Carlos pushed Jeff in a wheelchair and saved his life. Today Jeff pushed Carlos and as Dave McGillvray said, "It could not have been scripted better."

The whole day could not have been scripted better as we walked as a Boston Strong community celebrating healing, resilience, strength; as a community that gives back through running and weaves a tapestry of love that only gets stronger with greater resolve in the face of terrorist actions. As the brilliant July sun shined brightly, we as a community shined our light:

It was a day of love, of joy, of magic and one truly orchestrated by the Divine.

To your health and wellness,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thankful Thursday: A Tale of My Healer

As I'm writing my next book, "Going the Distance: Healing Trauma through the Power of Positive Touch (And Running) I have this wonderful opportunity to reflect on my healing journey these past almost 10 years. What was the difference? What was the game changer for me once I met Dr. Ryan Means?

One of the most striking things about Dr. Ryan is his passion for movement and his dedication to helping people experience comfort, ease and joy in their bodies. Ryan was teaching Boot Camp in addition to his having his private chiropractic practice and was working one on one doing personal training. I loved the stories he shared with me about his clients achieving improved functioning and saw the twinkle in his brilliant blue eyes as he shared his excitement about the outcomes of his work both as a trainer and a chiropractic physician.

He transferred to me a sense of confidence, strength and joy in my body and Being and gave me exercises that would help me to heal the effects of paralytic polio and violence. He let me know in no uncertain terms that I deserved to heal, that I can and would heal and that I should set goals not limits.

Dr. Ryan is the first healer I encountered in the past 10 years who truly loved being in his body and embodied and embraced what it means to experience health, wholeness and wellness, and to help people attain the quality of life they want and deserve.

He introduced me to the movie "What the bleep do we know..." and the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza!

Dr. Ryan treats the body boldly, with confidence, and incredible skill, yet as a humble servant of the Divine allowing and facilitating the body to return to its natural state of well being.

My healing and transformation continue and I am unleashing my body's natural capacity to heal from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma with deepest gratitude to Dr. Ryan and all he has taught me!

To your health and wellness!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Going the Distance: #tbt #thankfulthursday Do I belong here? Yes I do because "It's a Fantastic Sport!"

My friend Kevin Yetman posted his race report for Loon Mountain on Facebook this morning and he posed the question, "Do I belong running this race?' He also answers the question in his race report acknowledging how amazing it is to be part of a sport where whatever your pace may be, champions regale our participation in the sport.

My first 5 mile road race was the Marathon Sports 5 Miler. It was sheer will and determination and Tom not letting me quit that got me through that hot evening race where I couldn't tell where tears ended and sweat began. I remember asking and telling myself that I didn't belong there and what was I thinking when I said that I was going to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

Once I let go of all the memories of "Easy Out Alper" and the taunting and teasing I experienced in gym class being a survivor of paralytic polio, I found myself embraced with open arms by the running community.

In February of 2014, at the Hyannis Race Weekend pasta dinner, I was blessed to chat with Bill Rodgers and have him sign my copy of his book, "Marathon Man." He signed my book with, "We are lifetime runners. Let's run forever!" Bill Rodgers

As Tom took our photo, he gently placed his hand on my back and said to me, "Wow. Boston. You've got that mental toughness you know. You are one strong woman..."

Dick Beardsley was the guest speaker along with Boston Billy that year.

Dick talked briefly about the day he had his duel in the sun with Alberto Salazar and his relationship with Bill Rodgers. He focused on the outpouring of emotional and financial support he received after a near fatal farm accident followed by his battle with addiction to prescription pain killers. Dick has a beautiful, raw heart and yes, real runners and men do cry! And laugh, and regale stories of races of days gone by.

Dick said that running is a fantastic sport and that many of the stories we runners tell have nothing to do with our races on the road but of the bonds that we as a running community share.

I've been blessed to meet and be embraced by some of the greats in the running community, Frank Shorter, Geoffrey Smith, Jacqueline Hansen, Greg Meyer, Jack Fultz, Dave McGillvray along with Boston Billy and Dick Beardsley. My friends Reno and Susan Stirrat are Masters Champion and cheer me on at my pace and the distances I choose celebrating the miracle of me being able to run.

In December of 2014, when an MRI showed a really messed up left knee and I was told by the physiatrist, PT's and a previous massage therapist that I should not, could not and would not run again and if I did it would be for only a 5K or maybe a 5 miler at most, I was, at first devastated. And then I got pissed and I asked the Universe for help. I had not come that far on my healing journey to only go that far. Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer chiropractor came into my life and helped me to set goals not limits and go the distance once again on the roads and in my life.

On this throwback Thursday and thankful Thursday I can unequivocally answer the question in the affirmative of whether or not I belong in I the running community. It is after all a most fantastic sport!

To your health and wellness!