Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Camp Hyannis 2017 Part II Running Friends are the Best!

After a long but incredibly inspiring day, Tom and I debated about whether or not I would do the Expo on the 2nd day. I knew that my table mate Paul was going to run the 10K and was not planning to be at the Expo. Because we shared the table, I couldn't put out everything that I had brought (no complaints just so grateful for the space at the Expo). We left everything at the table, went back to our room, meditated and got a good night's sleep. We woke up to sunshine streaming through the sheer curtain and the sound of Cape Cod bird songs...

I felt in every fiber of my Being that I was meant to be at the Expo on Race Day. Tom and I meditated and brought our race day breakfast of oatmeal, nuts and raisins to the lobby coffee shop and bought juice, a bagel and coffee. I talked with Tom about his plan for race day. Back in 2014, he was primed for a PR but honored the runner's code helping out new runners from the Spaulding Race for Rehab Team. He had the eye of the tiger. He went back to the room to put up his feet, meditate some more and get in the zone for his race. I headed to the Expo.

After posting a picture on Facebook from the Expo on Saturday, one of our friends who we met in Bermuda 2016, Rebekah said, "see you tomorrow." I said, "Can't wait." Somehow among 3500 runners we find our running friends. That's the beauty of Camp Hyannis! On my way to the Expo, I bumped into Rebekah. We hugged and although we had not seen each other since Camp Hyannis 2016, it felt as though no time had passed. She was walking the wrong way to bib pick up so we walked together back to the Expo and bib pick up.

Before long, Camp Hyannis was in high gear. I met so many wonderful runners who had inspiring stories of their own and resonated to my journey. Just as I was winding down my conversation with a runner training for Boston, I hear, "Excuse me!" It was Bob Balfour who gives the best bear hugs I've ever had.

Bob introduced me to Dino who was running his first Half Marathon. Bob talked with Dino about me on the ride from the North Shore to Cape Cod to inspire him! I was so humbled by their words.

Our L Street running family found me (one of the reasons I was so smart to keep the table at the Expo). My friend Jennifer had been at Bermuda Marathon Race Weekend but we kept missing each other. "We missed each other in Bermuda but I'm so glad I found you here." Our dear friend through the years, Bea, stopped by along with Kathy and Carla who had been a part of my pre-race experience last year.

It was getting close to gun time and time to head out to the starting line. On the way, we bumped into the Spaulding Rehab Race for Rehab Team. Amanda who Tom had helped finish her first Half Marathon race in 2014 and Suzanne Adams who I met ten years ago when I first started my incredible journey were there. It was a very emotional moment for me to realize how far I've traveled in these past 10 years.

Photos from the start:

It was the first time that I was support crew that I felt completely comfortable with my decision to not run the 10K and for Tom to have the opportunity to see what he could do in the Half.

Bea ran the 10K and what an absolute gift to be able to spend time together after she finished her race. She hadn't been training much because of the renovations and rebranding part of her restaurant the Red Parrot with Inspire. We went out to the finish together and cheered on Tom to his PR of 2:03; his redemption from 2014, and saw Bob cross at 1:59:59. Soon Dino crossed the finish line along with Carla and Kathy.

While I as at my table at the Expo I was blessed to meet David Johndrow. We have similar journeys and did a book trade.

One very shy and timid woman stopped by my table wondering what my story was. I told her and she said, "Wow you really put my life in perspective. I'm a quitter and I need inspiration." I told her she was not a quitter because she was open to reading about how others found their strength and perseverance. We hugged after she bought a copy of my book.

Running friends old and new are the best. Camp Hyannis is the best place to experience running family at its finest.

After posting photos on Facebook, Bob commented, "It was awesome to see you and Tom and chat a bit. Thanks for being a guiding light to anyone that gets put in your path!! We are all so Blessed to have you as a friend!!" I responded that we are blessed to be a part of each other's village helping us to be the best we can possibly be on the roads and off.

After our traditional apres race lunch at Bogey's where everybody knows our name after 7 years we checked out at the front desk. The manager gave us his card and said that when we make our reservations for next year to please work with him to ensure we get the room we want.

So long Hyannis 2017 - another great weekend at Camp Hyannis! See you in 2018!

In tomorrow's blog I'll be sharing a Celebration of Healing as inspired by Camp Hyannis through the years.

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Going the Distance: Camp Hyannis 2017 Part I

It's never an easy decision to not run a race especially when it's the Hyannis 10K. After my grueling Bermuda Half Marathon, I realized that I needed time to recover and not put myself through another race even though it would have been a 10K and I certainly had the base for it.

I opted instead to work a table at the Expo and Tom would run the Half Marathon at his own pace. We each had our purpose and our destiny to fulfill.

Our adventure began the moment we crossed over the Sagamore Bridge on our way to Old Cape Cod:

I started singing Old Cape Cod and put on this Youtube Video:

We arrived at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center. Our room was ready but it was on the 2nd floor on the other side of the hotel. Tom asked the manager if there was anything closer. I chatted about how we've been coming almost every year since 2009! He gave us a room right off of the lobby.

The weather was spectacular and we sat out on our patio before it was time to set up for the Expo:

You never know what weather you are going to get on Cape Cod in February.

In 2011, this was the view from our room:

When we got to the Expo, Race Director Paul Collyer asked me if it was okay that he had me share a table with Paul Clerici who authored a book about the Boston Marathon mile by mile and The Falmouth Road Race. Of course it was! My table was right next to the T Shirt distribution table and just outside the Ballroom where there was packet pick up.

What an absolute joy to celebrate my ten years of healing and transformation. Unpacking my 2009 Hyannis Half Marathon Medal, the first half marathon I'd ever run, my Boston Marathon medal and then after a long hiatus from endurance running, setting out my Bermuda Half Marathon Medal and last year's Hyannis 10K Medal, I realized what a spectacular journey it has been.

With each person I met, I realized what strength and courage I had to not give up.

There were runners training for Boston who were inspired by my 2009 Boston Marathon run.

By 4:45 I was exhausted yet exhilarated. One of my goals for the weekend was to reconnect with Frank Shorter who I met in 2009 and then again in 2010 in Hyannis. In 2011 he shared how he was the survivor of severe child abuse. He inspired me to share my story and in my introduction to Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance, I share how Frank touched my life in so many ways. I went over to his table when there was a lull in the traffic at the Expo and reintroduced myself to him. He overflowed with compassion as I once again shared my story with him only this time I told him about my severe childhood trauma. Frank reminded me, as he had shared with me in 2009 that two of his family members suffered from polio. After I presented him with my book, I wanted to buy a copy of his book but he put them away and said, "I'll sell these later." Instead he took my book and held it close and then came around the table to wrap me in a hug of shared sorrow for what we had lived through yet triumph that we both found running as a source of healing. I could not find the poster he signed for me in 2009 and I asked him if he would sign another poster for me.

To Mary! Thank you! Frank Shorter 2017

It was time to get dinner before coming back to hear Frank Shorter speak. We went to our favorite restaurant during Camp Hyannis weekend, the Roadhouse Cafe. Tom had lasagna and I had their signature Cedar Planked Roasted Salmon with orange Jack Daniels glaze, sauteed spinach and jasmine rice:

We arrived back at the Ballroom to meet some of our camper friends Tony, Mary and another Mary and her husband. I should digress for a moment and let everyone know why we call Hyannis Marathon Weekend Camp Hyannis. Once a year we all make the pilgrimage to Hyannis. We stay in touch on and off during the year via Facebook but just like summer camp, we only see each other once a year. Friendship, fun and sportsmanship abound and when we leave Camp Hyannis we feel rejuvenated as though we drank from the fountain of youth. Before getting ready to run the Hyannis Half in 2009, I emailed Paul Collyer, the race director to let him know my story and to ask him if the race would be appropriate for me. Since it's both a Half and a Full Marathon with two loops, as long as I finished under 6 hours I'd be fine. I remember meeting Paul for the first time. He was so supportive and encouraging of my journey and has been ever since February of 2009!

Frank talked about Sunday's races and gave the runners the night before a race pep talk. With warmth and wit he reminded everyone that eating pasta the night before a race really doesn't do anything for the glycogen stores. It's more a matter of feeding the mind that you are getting ready for the race. He reminded runners about the 3 rules of running a marathon...#1 Don't do anything new. #2 Don't do anything new and #3 Don't do anything new.

He addressed the questions from older runners saying how we could honor our orthopedic structures and slow down as slowly as possible. He talked about acceptance of where our bodies are at any time while also allowing ourselves to over train on the easy days. Frank launched into one of the subjects he is most passionate about - the anti-doping movement. He talked about how opioid abuse begins in the locker room and said that if a doctor wants to offer any pain meds in the class of opioid drugs to stay as far away from that as possible. The only time Frank mentioned his history of child abuse was when he shared how the doctors were amazed at his pain tolerance. I got chills and my eyes filled with tears when he said how he developed that high pain threshold as a result of his father's beatings. He knew that the beatings wouldn't last forever and trained himself to tolerate the pain.

I almost lost the use of my right arm to a staph infection because of the high pain tolerance I developed growing up in response to both the polio and the abuse. I didn't seek medical attention until I lost complete mobility of my right arm. The infection had gone into the bone. But with an angel of an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy and an angel of a nurse healer, I made it through!

Frank came over after his talk and I asked him if he was selling his books. He said they were all gone but if I send him an email with my info, he'll get one out to me.

He then posed for pictures. As he put his arm around me I said, "Just like in 2009." "That's the last time I was here," he said. "No," I said. "You were here in 2010 and you signed my Boston Marathon bib. That's the last time you were here."

We went back to our room, meditated and got a good night's sleep. We woke up to sunshine streaming through the sheer curtain and the sound of Cape Cod bird songs...

To be continued....

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Going the Distance: On Motivation, Momentum and Accountability

When the alarm went off at 6:00am this morning, day 5 of my 5 day training cycle, I wanted to roll over, go back to sleep and take a day off. In a heartbeat one can go from positive momentum to negative momentum.

It looked like there may have been some black ice outside. Tom is in taper mode for the Hyannis Half this weekend. I debated about whether to go to Wave Health and Fitness, get on the treadmill at home or go outside. During the debate, after our morning meditation, I decided to get my core work done.

After getting the blood flowing with a plank, clams, bicycle and knee to elbow, I was ready for an early morning run. That's what was on the schedule and so an early morning run is what I was going to do. I gave myself a push to maintain the positive momentum I've been blessed to experience. How many mornings could I physically not get out of bed without pain everywhere and feeling that fatigue to the bone regardless of how many hours I was in bed? How many times could I not do core work or run or run on a treadmill experiencing heaviness throughout my body? Since meeting Dr. Ryan J. Means and reminding myself that I AM the placebo following the works of Dr. Joe Dispenza, I am moving forward with great intention and power.

My plan is to allow for the fullness of expression of my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and childhood trauma to a woman who fully embodies her potential as a runner; as one who challenges herself with strength training, swimming, cross training and running to achieve my fullest potential on my health and wellness journey.

Writing a blog and being "out there" on Facebook holds me accountable to my plan.

After I posted this photo on Facebook celebrating the completion of another 5 day training cycle:

I received an outpouring of likes, loves and "wow's" along with private messages about how I inspire people!

When the day began I did not feel like getting my workout done. I know how blessed I am with this miracle of healing I have created in my life.

To those who have been given much, much is asked of them. It is my moral imperative to stay motivated, maintain positive momentum on my health and wellness journey and be accountable to those who look to me for inspiration and hope.

To your health and wellness,

"Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" is now available on Amazon.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Going the Distance: #tbt A Triumphant Return to Camp Hyannis

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":

After crossing the finish line of my first half marathon, I came into the ballroom at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center filled with thousands of runners. Frank Shorter made sure he connected with me amidst the runners celebrating after the race. He could tell that the run had taken a lot of out of me. I was shivering from the sleet that had started falling during the last several miles of the race. He put both of his hands on either side of my arms, looked at me straight in the eye and told me how much courage and strength I had to do what I had just done. He told me he had no doubt that I was going to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. He told me to hydrate, get some hot soup and take a hot shower. He signed the back of my bib. Frank had seen me as a survivor of paralytic polio who came out of a wheelchair and leg brace to take on the Boston Marathon. I saw him through the starry eyes of a novice runner meeting an Olympic Gold Medalist and an elite runner in every sense of the word.

When I saw Frank again in 2010 at Hyannis, I brought my bib from my Boston Marathon run for him and Bill Rodgers to sign. Frank Shorter signed it: “To Mary, You're unbelievable”

After the incredibly challenging Bermuda Half Marathon, I knew that I was not going to do a repeat performance of the Hyannis 10K this year. Team McManus debated back and forth about whether or not we were going to go Hyannis Marathon Weekend this year. Frank Shorter was going to be there again. Camp Hyannis is such a special weekend in February. It's where we have met so many running greats. Last year I was blessed to meet Jacqueline Hansen. She wrote the Foreword to my book. I share the story of when she came out on the race course to give me a hug and whisper in my ear, "Run with all your heart."

Tom turns 65 on March 2nd and we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary on March 4th (40 years of being together). We decided that if there was a room at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center, it was a sign we should go and Tom would run the Half Marathon at his race pace. There was a room and Tom is registered!

A week from Saturday Team McManus has a triumphant return to Camp Hyannis. Race Director Paul Collyer told me that there was availability of a table at the Expo where I can share my story to inspire runners and sign and sell copies of Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance.

Why triumphant you might ask? After 10 years of being on a quest to heal the effects from paralytic polio and trauma, I have positive momentum. In January I did something I have never done before - run two consecutive endurance events: The Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016 and 2017. While at the end of a long, challenging day I am sore and tired like everyone else, I am resilient and recover quickly.

It will be emotional for me to see Frank Shorter again who I have not seen since he signed my bib in 2010. Here I am at a table at the Expo still very much a patient at Spaulding Rehab and stuck in my health and wellness journey despite having run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It's always a joy to see Boston Billy. I will give signed copies of my book to both Frank and Bill. They each played a critical role in my running journey and are an integral part of my going the distance.

It's hard to believe that it's been 8 years since I first experienced the wonder and magic of the Hyannis Marathon Weekend.

I am excited and looking forward to celebrating Tom's 65th birthday with his Half Marathon run and our 40 years of being Team McManus. We'll also be celebrating the miracle of healing in my life that has taken me from a leg brace and a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond!

To your health and wellness,

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Going the Distance: A Winter Run on Heartbreak Hill - Courage & Confidence!

I am so grateful for my gym, Wave Health and Fitness, but yesterday I could not bear to do another treadmill run, especially with the forecast for another dumping of snow on Boston by tomorrow. It snowed again Friday evening. Where to go where we could get in a safe run with 19 degrees? We know that historically the carriage road on Heartbreak Hill is usually pretty clear. I'm focusing on building strength right now, not miles so instead of the 4 miles we plan for Saturdays, Team McManus decided to get in a good 5K.

Let me take you back for a moment to what winter had been like for this survivor of paralytic polio followed by 9 years of unrelenting family violence. Because I had no confidence in my body and, because of the messages I received from the medical community after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome 10 years ago, I hated winter. At one point, Tom and I had entertained the idea of retiring to Florida which would have been a death wish for both of us. Neverthless, we persevered. I was told I had osteoporosis and a slip on the ice could mean a fractured hip. "Use an ice gripper on your cane. Make sure your boots have good grip. Limit your exposure to the cold." I experienced cold intolerance because my thermostat was broken and my body could not adapt to changes in temperature. You can read all about it in my recent book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" available on Amazon.

Training for the 2009 Boston Marathon certainly gave me a huge boost of confidence in what I was able to do in winter. During my training I wrote this poem included in "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":


The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.

A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movements as She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.

Branches now bejeweled though bare bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.

A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.

These past ten years have been a journey with as many ups and downs as Heartbreak Hill but since meeting a healer chiropractor, Dr. Ryan J. Means, I have been experiencing a fire in my soul and a surge of confidence and courage that I choose to tap into and experience every chance I get.

It was a challenging run with slush and snow at times but I felt sure footed and confident. There were so many runners on Heartbreak Hill training for Boston. Tom and I were wearing our Boston Marathon Jackets. There was a sense of Oneness in purpose and passion and of course that craziness that you have to have when you're a runner in winter in New England.

Today was day 2/5 of my training cycle. I decided I would get my pool workout in. I must admit I felt the toll that yesterday's run had taken and the toll that this damp, bone chilling takes on everyone but I stuck to my plan.

The warm water is a wonderful place to get in a great workout. I continue to challenge myself and remember how I am transformed, transcending the once devastating effects that polio and violence had taken on me mind, body and soul.

After my workout, I was blessed to have a chance to talk with Alex Remorenko, one of the instructors at Wave Health. She has been following my journey on Facebook. It was warm and special to experience her support and validation of the work I am doing. She said how she loves the fact that I am incorporating the pool into my training. Her philosophy of teaching group fitness classes is to empower and help her students find confidence in their bodies. I love how her philosophy transcends the all to typical trend of how the body looks and focuses on what is happening inside the person mind, body and soul! When I told her about my strength training routine, I was almost apologetic for the fact that I still use the wall for squats. She was right there with me affirming how that doesn't matter; I am still getting the benefit I need. Her validation and affirmation is powerful fuel for anyone on a health and fitness journey.

Taking those first tentative steps on my healing journey 10 years ago took incredible courage. I defied what the medical community was telling me. I set out to forge my own path. Finding my way to the amazing people at Wave Health and Fitness and to Dr. Ryan has been a total gift of grace; people who accept me and embrace my journey and encourage me to move beyond any perceived limitations with strength and confidence.

Tomorrow - day 3 of 5 will be strength training at home and, in my blog more reflections on these past 10 years!

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Going the Distance: When I said goodbye to the medical model ...

At my last dental cleaning, the hygienist asked me about when I had my last colonoscopy, my last mammogram, was my primary care physician the one I had listed in my record....I took a deep breath and let her know that I walked away from the medical model several years ago. I did meet a wonderful nurse practitioner at MGH who honored my wish about 5 years ago to just have some blood work done and to have a physical exam but no preventive exams. I could tell that my hygienist got a little nervous but she was quite skilled in saying, "How come? You just had enough?"

I participated in Spaulding Rehab's Aquatics Therapy class for a couple of years. It served a wonderful purpose but the day I was in the women's locker room getting lectured to about my lack of commitment to the medical model, I knew it was time to move on.

In December of 2014, I suffered a very serious knee injury. Lack of cross training, working with an ineffective massage therapist,not being mindful of how much I was pushing my body and most importantly of all, having the residuals of trauma stuck in my body were all factors contributing to the injury. I went back to the physiatrist at Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio for an MRI and treatment plan. After two sessions with the physical therapist from hell, and the Universe blessing me with the gift of the presence of Dr. Ryan Means, a chiropractor, coming into my life, I walked away from the medical model. It was a slow process that seemed to happen all of a sudden.

Dr. Ryan turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Western Medicine's answer to my dilemma was that I was dealing with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

I know that a lot of people fear for me that I have not had my screenings or haven't had a complete physical in many years now. But this is the choice I have made given my experience with the medical model and what I know to be true for me and quantum healing. Fortunately I have a few wonderful physicians in my circle and know that if I did need anything I could always turn to them for guidance and assistance.

What I do know is that I have grown a new gastroc muscle, dissolved bone spurs, reversed degenerative osteoarthritis in my left knee and leg; I am making new neuromuscular connections to heal the effects of paralytic polio and healing the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

In yesterday's Washington Post, Tom Brady talks about his rejection of the NFL's medical culture. He partnered with a massage therapist, made nutritional changes, practices yoga and meditation.

After being told repeatedly, as a survivor of paralytic polio, that if I used it I would lose it, whatever was lost was lost forever without any hope of regaining functioning and that I was destined for a more rapid aging process because of my compromised neurological system I said goodbye to the medical model.

And hello to harnessing the power of Divine Intelligence within me, to meditation, to leaving the past behind and falling in love with how I will feel when all of this is cleaned out and the wounds are completely healed and being oh so very deeply grateful for the miracle of healing and transformation in my life in this very moment.

To your health and wellness,

Be sure to check out my latest book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," now available on Amazon