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,

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