Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! There's been a change in me!

Well there's been a lot of change in me but after crossing the finish line of the 2017 Bermuda Half Marathon and after last week's profoundly transformative massage therapy session with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, I feel another change happening within me.

My default state was one of struggle (well duh whose wouldn't be after contracting paralytic polio followed by 9 years of unrelenting violence and torture at the hands of family members) in my body. Even with the struggle that happened during my Bermuda Half Marathon race, I did not feel trapped in my body. I was frustrated that my body cramped up and would not do what I needed it to do, but I felt a kind of freedom to be able to persevere and then triumphantly cross that finish line!

I told Jeffrey in my most recent session that I want to clean out all the gunk so I can get as fit and as healthy as I possibly can. "This work is messy and takes a lot of courage," Jeffrey said to me. I am so blessed and grateful that he is willing to go through the mess with me and help me to clean up the debris that paralytic polio and trauma left in its wake.

Tom had his post Bermuda Marathon weekend massage therapy session with Jeffrey today. On Sundays I usually either do a strength training session on land or do strength training in the pool. I decided that today I would get in a half hour swim and then do strength training on land when we got home. It is so new for me to experience joy in movement. There is this fire inside of me to work out. As I think back on where I was 10 years ago with the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome or even two years ago after a serious knee injury, I am in awe of how I feel inside. I have this image of myself completely healed and transformed, stronger than ever (and even told Jeffrey that I want to arm wrestle with him some day) able to build strength, fitness, speed and endurance completely shedding the skin of a person who contracted paralytic polio and then was battered, beaten, tortured, raped and faced death on many occasions.

It is so exciting and exhilarating to experience this most recent phase of my transformational journey.

This evening I am so sore and tired - "vibrant sore" is the phrase Jeffrey coined for how I felt after running the Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016. I feel new neuromuscular connections happening and space to be able to build strength and fitness. When I feel stressed or if a trigger happens, I am very patient, compassionate and kind to myself knowing that:

There's been a change in me and I'm ready to see what this body can do as we continue to clear out the baggage that once weighed me down as I reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life with passion, purpose, patience and joy!

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! I went too far and I'm fine!

I didn't take much time off after my triumphant Bermuda Half Marathon run. Last Wednesday I did a recovery work out in the pool, had an incredible recovery massage therapy session with Jeffrey Spratt, MT, took my usual rest days on Thursday and Friday and by Saturday started my new 5 day training cycle. I increased holding plank time by 5 seconds; I decided that weighted clams were the order of the day and did them for 4 days straight. We increased the reps for knee to elbow and bicycle. On Saturday we went for a run. On Sunday I did an all out strength training session. On Monday an hour in the pool. Because the weather was crummy on Tuesday, I hit the gym for a workout on the Arc Trainer and Bike. By Wednesday I was cooked. I was incredibly sore and realized that rather going on another run and continuing the intensity of daily core work, I needed to dial it back a bit and get into the pool for a good swim.

Before getting on Jeffrey's table last Wednesday I said to him, "Well somebody...I'm not mentioning any names...thought she didn't need to really recover from that grueling Bermuda Half Marathon she just ran."

Once I was on the table and Jeffrey was working to clear out the soreness and help me to continue to recover from Bermuda he commented, "Isn't it amazing how you could go too far and you're absolutely fine? Yes you're sore..."

We celebrated together. I reflected on my triumphant second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon and the testament to healing the effects of paralytic polio and violence that I could train for another half marathon within a year of running my first half marathon since the Boston Marathon in 2009.

The Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy hurt so good bringing relief to my incredibly sore muscles...and to healing trauma on an even deeper level.

I said to Jeffrey that I want to clear out all the gunk from trauma that used to weigh me down and led to not being able to get traction in my health and wellness journey. I want to have all that gunk cleared out so I can get really fit and feel the best I have ever felt in my life. It's all coming together and I will be more mindful this week with my training. Three days of weighted clams as opposed to four; maintaining reps and weights for now and keeping low mileage in my runs.

After two rest days, Team McManus tackled 3.63 miles with lots of cold headwind. We were planning on a 5K but had to reroute ourselves given the stiff wind off of the Reservoir.

It was a blessed and sacred time together. We were treated to the sight of this beautiful owl:

Tomorrow it's a combination of strength training on land and in the pool. Monday a swimming workout. Tuesday a morning run. Wednesday Bike and Arc Trainer and then back on Jeffrey's table to continue reclaiming my advantage and reclaiming my life. What a miracle that I could go too far in my training last week and that I'm absolutely fine able to get back to another 5 day training cycle. I lived under the rule of the most evil people growing up in my family. I just have to say that darkness.never.wins and that ultimately justice prevails. In my own little corner of the world, I have worked with faith and trust and with every fiber of my body and being to triumph over the most heinous acts committed against me. Last week I did not take enough recovery time after running the Bermuda Half Marathon...I went too far and I'm fine. Ten years ago I was told if I used it I would lose it and to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair...that was because of all the trauma gunk stuck in my body but partnering with Jeffrey and my own fiery determination changed the course of the history of my life.

To your health and wellness,

Friday, January 27, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! To Freedom!

In the Introduction to my book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," I wrote:
Perhaps the greatest gift that Jeffrey Spratt, LMT has given to me is the permission to speak my Truth. His healing hands, compassionate presence, unconditional love and non-judgment of anything I share in our massage therapy sessions bathe the wounds to bring healing to all that went before.

Layer by layer we have been unearthing the wounds and healing them mind, body and soul. In last week's massage therapy session as Jeffrey hit a spot on my buttocks that had been beaten until it was raw by my father, I expressed my pain and sadness and then the most miraculous thing happened! I had an entirely new thought and new image. I asked Jeffrey if he would go back and work on the area so I could focus on the power of positive quality touch rather than having the trigger prevail. I imagined Jeffrey being back with me at 48 Oregon Avenue in Westchester NY and saying to my father, "You sonofa**** stop beating her." I felt incredible healing, release and relief in the area around my right hip. As Jeffrey continued to work using his unique method of muscular therapy I experienced profound healing throughout my body. As he worked deep in my left upper body near my left arm, I felt a flow of energy. Now, instead of feeling the tremors in my hands, I can feel the flow of energy from my back all the way down to my hands and a new neural net gaining momentum in its strength and healing.

After a flush of my legs while I was on my back, Jeffrey moved to my cervical spine and cranium. I often stiffen up (even after almost two years of working together) but in last week's session I completely let go and worked with him to work out the kinks in my cervical spine, upper back and release tension. I could feel powerful emotions swirling inside of me and I could feel how I was holding myself back from letting something surface. Jeffrey is an intuitive healer and he reminded me that I am safe now; to let it go. For the first time I was free to say what I always wanted to say to my father in the midst of those beatings but didn't dare for fear it would only make things worse. "I did nothing wrong!" I went on to shift from having embodied the terror and fear and beliefs of having been battered for 9 years to a woman liberated by truth, love, the power of positive quality touch, compassionate presence and my own courage to break free from the past.

Dr. Joe Dispenza
talks about crossing the river of change with fear at our back. He has wonderful videos and books about why change is so hard (because it is hardwired into the very fiber and neurochemistry of our being) but with meditation and awareness we are able to break the habit of being ourselves -- our memorized self.

Since last week's session I feel calmer and more free than I ever have in my life. I have more confidence and am finding my voice and the ability to speak my truth in a way I never have before. Fear, terror and anxiety recede into the background and in the foreground I emerge. A miracle of a woman transformed and healed after living through the most horrific abuse one child and adolescent could ever endure; the one two punch of paralytic polio and violence.

And there's that word - endurance.

I can feel the glory of triumph over the circumstances of my past and have unearthed a powerful purpose; to help free others from the chains of trauma through sharing my message of hope and healing and to partner with Jeffrey to spread the word about the life saving work we are doing. The early results of our research study, "The Efficacy of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy on Trauma Recovery," are very promising and then of course there's my anecdotal case study that I like to call Reclaim Life After Trauma: The New Normal.

My new normal is getting better and better. It's not just about my journey but about helping others to find their path to freedom and healing.

I am incredibly blessed and grateful that I have been able to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life and stake my claim on living free from the shackles of my past.

To your health and wellness,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! What's Next?

Nobody would have thought any the less of me if I was a DNF for the Bermuda Half Marathon. At last year's Hyannis Marathon Weekend pre-race pasta dinner, Bill Rodgers talked about his DNF's for Boston. He even quipped, "Has anyone here had more DNF's for Boston that I did. Sometimes a DNF is the smart thing to do."

At mile 10, I was listing to one side. At mile 11 I was cramping up. Shortly after mile 11, one of the volunteers preached to me right in my face. "The race is not for those who are swift. The race is for those who endure. You are the winner." He went on to infuse me with powerful energy from the Divine that I was going to finish the race set before me with endurance.

We met our angel at mile 12 and with the love and support of Tom and Jamie-Lee Wright out on the course:

and all the support and love coming from friends far and wide, I finished the race set before me with endurance.

Just when I thought my body could not possibly go another step, I dug deep and drew from that well of fiery determination that got lit in response to the beatings I suffered at the hands of my father. Even though I was only a teenager and had contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 and from the ages of 8-13 I was sexually assaulted every night and then rape turned to nightly beatings, I stood up to him. I am so very blessed to unearth these treasures of my self through my weekly massage therapy sessions with Jeffrey Spratt, MT. Jeffrey was the one who pointed out to me that I kept getting up and would not allow him to ultimately beat me. I could not quit out on the Bermuda Half Marathon course for many reasons, one of which made Jeffrey smile when I told him after my session last week. "Our whole program was on the line. All the work we had done was on the line." What a powerful testament to the work we have done that this survivor of paralytic polio and trauma was able to cross the finish line of the Bermuda Half Marathon totally cramped up and triggered as a result of the race conditions.

Ten years ago I was in a very precarious situation following the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. My mind, body and soul were crying out for healing and the future looked rather grim. No one would have faulted me for yielding to what was happening in my body and accepting my fate of living the rest of my life in a wheelchair ultimately dependent on others for care. I could not and would not quit before the miracle happened.

Here is a photo of me as the caterpillar in December of 2007:

and then running the 2009 Boston Marathon:

Before partnering with Jeffrey, I could not experience the beauty and wonder of a complete healing and transformation being able to run and live unencumbered and free.

Crossing the finish line of my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon was a true test to see just how much healing and transformation has happened as I leave the effects of paralytic polio and trauma in the dust.

Which begs the question ... what's next?

As my friend Nicole asked me, "Will there be a threepeat?"

Yes but it won't be in Bermuda.

It's time for Team McManus to have a new adventure. Several of my running friends posted about their adventures in Key West which is the same weekend as Bermuda. There is absolutely no time pressure because they welcome walkers. Even with my cramping up and slowing down, my time was on par with the last person to finish in Key West. It's a flat course and I am presuming the roads are closed to traffic.

This is my off season time to get stronger and work on speed before adding on miles again beginning in July. I've already increased challenge in my core work and strength training work. Once I fully recover from the Half, I'll see what I can do to challenge myself on the Arc Trainer, the stationary bike and in the pool.

I feel good in my body now and am enjoying moving in my body. I want to see what this body can do - not so much in terms of external measurements but feeling "vibrant sore," a phrase that Jeffrey coined and feeling the best I can possibly feel in my body. This is a whole new starting line for me. I've done something I had not been able to do before - train for and run two endurance events within a year of one another.

There's no stopping me now!

What's next? A wonderful off season with a few shorter distance races; running for fun, health and wonderful causes. Cross training, strength training, swimming and learning how to enjoy and relish living in this earthly home reclaiming my life and reclaiming my advantage free from the shackles of my past!

To your health and wellness,

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Bermuda Marathon Weekend - Part IV - Welcome to Paradise

Team McManus decided to take an extra day in Bermuda this year to enjoy and celebrate 10 years of my healing odyssey, Tom's Triangle Half Challenge and my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. Little did I know how much we are going to need the extra day to recover from what turned out to be a grueling, yet magical and mystical race day for me.

Prior to race day, we stuck with our fueling plan for breakfast of oatmeal, banana, orange juice and toast. Fortunately The Rosedon Hotel's continental breakfast had the hot water, the juice and the bread for toast. We brought in our oatmeal and shopped at a little market to get our bananas. After our triumphant Bermuda Half Marathon run, we ordered the full English breakfast delivered to the porch of our room.

After a rain shower, the sun came out and we took advantage of The Rosedon Hotel's complimentary shuttle to Elbow Beach. When we arrived to get our beach chairs and towels, the woman behind the counter said, "Welcome to Paradise."

I went in the warm waters and allowed the powerful surf to help me recover from my race. Tom and I took a recovery walk on the beach and we sat with our feet up on lounge chairs covered with a luxurious towel reading for a few hours. There was a brief shower but as they say in Bermuda, "Not a problem." We put up our beach umbrella until the sun came out again. At 1pm our courtesy ride back to The Rosedon was right there where we had been dropped off.

When we got back to the hotel we went for a recovery swim in the hotel pool.

We showered and had our last tea time on the porch with friends we made during our stay regaling stories about our races and "what's next" on our running schedule. We took a leisurely walk into town to get gifts for our dear friends who were house and cat sitting for us.

"Can we please go over the route for the finish of the Half Marathon?" I asked Tom. His initial response was a curt no since he was worried about my recovery and going up yet another hill but he quickly recanted and said, "of course." It felt so good to be walking under my own steam noticing how quickly my body recovered from this:

to this:

It's a true testament to how far I've come in these past 10 years since first receiving the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome with warnings that I would be experiencing a progressive neuromuscular disease. It's a testament to my training hard and to reclaiming my advantage and reclaiming my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma through partnering with my master muscular therapist, Jeffrey Spratt, MT. He is also a trailblazer and a risk taker having the courage to partner with me to go the distance and to claim his innovative method of muscular therapy. While I am a case study for the effectiveness of the work, we also have a research study to explore "The Efficacy of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy in Trauma Recovery."

Many people asked me how come, now that I feel well enough to travel, I don't just take a regular vacation where eating the English breakfast every day and going to the beach would be how I'd spend my time. The people who ask are not runners!

There's something incredibly wonderful about training for 6 months and exercising discipline, honing mind, body and Spirit to take on 13.1 miles and then thoroughly reaping the rewards for that hard work with great food, savoring the sunset with our view from the Pickled Onion patio and even a glass of wine after lounging on the beach and by the pool. I can't imagine doing it any other way.

Ten years after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease, and two years after a knee injury that "they said" would end my running career and that I needed a total knee replacement I crossed the finish line of my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. While my medal will be mailed to me, we came home with t-shirts and most of Tom's bling:

along with new friends and a heart filled with treasured memories.

What's next? You'll have to continue reading my blog to find out!

To your health and wellness,

Friday, January 20, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Bermuda Marathon Weekend: Part III - A Time to Celebrate!

Team McManus had so much to celebrate once we finally crossed the finish line of the Bermuda Half Marathon on Sunday.

Tom ran a 7:59 mile in the Front Street Mile. It was a joy to be a part of the crowd experiencing the excitement of the kickoff race of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge.

We bumped into our fellow Merrimack Valley Striders, John and Diane Jannetti:

Here's Tom before the race:

With his bling:

The video of him finishing strong:

On Saturday, our friends Diane and John came to our hotel to take a cab with Tom to the start of the 2nd leg of the Triangle Half Challenge - the 10K with all hills! Here's Tom getting himself psyched up to take on the challenge:

This was my view while I waited for our returning runners:

I used to lament the fact that I couldn't keep pace with the pack and have to carefully choose what races I participate in. During one of my meditations in Bermuda I had the epiphany that I was not trailing behind -- I was a trailblazer having the courage to defy what the medical establishment was telling me about Post-Polio Syndrome, "If you use it you will lose it." I'm a trailblazer in using the power of positive quality touch with Jeffrey Spratt,MT's pioneering Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy to heal the effects of childhood trauma.

Tom's race photo with the eye of the tiger:

I know he takes me out on every run with him!

All hail the conquering hero:

What made the 10K incredibly special was that Tom helped to get our friend Shawn Whalen to the finish line. He is undergoing total knee replacement surgery today. You can see from these photos that he was struggling but there's nothing like the strength of another runner to help get us to the finish line:

As the above quote says, "The celebration of success overshadows the challenges that were encountered along the way!"

One of the staff from The Rosedon Hotel took these photos that underscore the challenge I experienced coming into the final miles along with the beauty and grace of Jamie-Lee Wright, islandgirl and the angel at mile 12. For the full race report, follow this link:

After crossing that finish line and emerging triumphant from the medical tent

it was time to get our party on.

We had brunch at the Pickled Onion where Jamie-Lee and The Weekenders (the Bermudian running club she is a part of) were celebrating. Jamie-Lee posted her celebration drink on Facebook with this celebratory post "3 events, 3 days, 3 PBs and a cheeky drink or 3 post race.... to celebrate the completion of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge (International Race weekend) 🍾
Didn't make 6,6,6 - I made 6,6,10 (referencing how many minutes she PR'ed by) and broke the two hour mark - BOOM!! 🍾
Taking off 17 mins for these 20 miles, not too shabby":

After Tom and I refueled with eggs, toast, sparkling water and OJ, we walked .... slowly ... back to the hotel. We were going to go for a recovery swim but opted for a nap. I took a long hot shower and then as Jeffrey, my master muscular therapist taught me, to finish with an ice cold flush. We had a hand held shower in our room which made it easy for me to focus on my back and legs.

Time to head over to the Southampton Princess or South P as the locals call it for the post race weekend celebration!

There was music and dancing...

hanging with running legends, Geoff Smith, Bart Yasso, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Steve Jones, bumping into old friends and making new friends, celebrating with a couple we met from Sweden who were staying at The Rosedon and celebrating everyone's successful races:

When we got back to the Hotel, I curled up with a great book, Brotherhood by Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra and had the best sleep.

We had one more day of our Bermuda Marathon Weekend Adventure .... to be continued ...

To your health and wellness!