Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Anticipatory Joy of Healing! Focus on the Healing Not on the Wound!



Ever since the diagnosis of Post-Polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards ten years ago, I have been on a quest to heal my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

Creating a new reality began with my writing poetry starting with the poem, "Running the Race" in February of 2007 as I faced a grim diagnosis, a poor prognosis and an uncertain future in life and in my career as an award winning social worker at the VA.

I did a wonderful job harnessing the power of my imagination through writing poetry to create a new reality for myself seeing myself running unencumbered and free, practicing an attitude of gratitude, allowing joy to flow AS IF everything I yearned for - reclaiming my life unshackled from the pain of my past - was in existence in my current reality. I was in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility; had never run a day in my life and was experiencing chronic pain and fatigue. I was depressed and anxious but when I wrote poetry I lived in the world I wanted to experience.

I worked so hard to heal mind, body and soul from the ravages of having contracted paralytic polio at age 5 followed by 9 years of unrelenting abuse and torture at the hands of family members beginning at the age of 8 years old. I sought out healers and did my absolute best to take the best of what they could offer me but everything fell short especially after the added stress of my nephew's suicide on 3/4/2011 and the traumatic events of 4/15/13.

A very serious knee injury turned into the greatest blessing of my life! All that I set forth in motion through the power of my pen, my Divining Rod for healing began to manifest in the wake of that knee injury in December of 2014.

First I met a chiropractor healer, Dr. Ryan J. Means. He was the one who urged me to read Dr. Joe Dispenza's book, "You Are the Placebo," Candace Pert, Ph.D.'s book, "Everything you need to know to feel Go(o)d" and to watch the movie, "What the bleep do we know...."

It was exactly what I needed!

There is also exhilaration to experience the transformation and the easing of the pain focusing on the healing not on the wounds!

I feel this incredible stirring in my soul to experience this power of creation and transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a whole, healthy, vibrant, radiant woman being able to now heal.

I could probably go to a doctor and get a diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or a resurgence of the cervical spine disease that caused radiating pain down my arm or carpel tunnel syndrome that was diagnosed on an EMG 10 years ago and nerve damage from the initial polio virus or some kind of "itis" in my elbow. Instead, I choose to harness the power of Divine Intelligence within me. Whenever I begin to doubt and there are times when the pain is quite intense, I think about that wound on my nose and remember how Dr. Joe healed the fractures in his spine after a devastating accident - yet an accident that would define his life's purpose and his work.



Having the goal of running my 3rd CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon is also a powerful stimulant for healing and leaves me with little time to focus on the pain and the wounds. Instead I experience the anticipatory joy of feeling only the soreness that comes with training, being able to get stronger and continue to build confidence memorizing this new self healed from the pain and horror of the past.

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary


Be sure to visit my newly designed website at marymcmanus.com

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 and a woman who refused to quit!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Going the Distance: The Healing Power of Goals



My goals after the 2017 Bermuda Half Marathon was to take some time off from training for a Half Marathon again, focus on the Hyannis 10K next February and then do a Half Marathon in the Fall of 2018.

But the Universe had other ideas .... and I sure am glad!

I have a goal - to run my 3rd CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon in January 2018. It's a goal that moves me to set the alarm for an early morning run with Tom - and I mean early morning run to continue to build a solid running base and do the mental training to run in any kind of weather. Whatever the weather outside and whatever the weather inside of myself!



You can read about how this goal manifested itself in my blog, Run Bermuda! Run Happy!

My goals are not about time and PR's anymore.

In Sunday's Run for the Troops 5K, it felt wonderful to not feel the pressure that used to spontaneously erupt about feeling left behind; residue from having to lug a heavy leg brace after contracting paralytic polio and working so very hard to not feel left out. I ran from the inside out without regard for the time on the clock and had the best time running with the pack enjoying the challenge. I was able to enjoy the neighborhoods we ran through and connecting with friends out on the course.

My goals are about endurance, going the distance and enjoying the journey.

Of setting goals that are just right to challenge me but not place me at risk for injury or leave me feeling miserable in the process of trying to attain them.

Training for 13.1 miles is a challenge for anyone but especially me whose body has been through so much!

I thought I would be a Bermuda Half Marathon once and done kinda gal once I checked it off of my bucket list but then we decided to go for my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. It was a rough race and one in which I learned many lessons that I will bring with me as I train for and get ready to run my third CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon.


Rather than put pressure on myself to exceed limits, I allow myself to move forward and meet and embrace challenges that make sense for me and my body right now.

Having the goals of training for and running my 3rd CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon and then running the Hyannis 10K in February with no pressure for time goals allows my mind and body to heal from the ravages of polio and trauma while facilitating healing as I move beyond what would have been expected with the diagnosis of PTSD and Post-Polio Syndrome ten years ago.

Ahhh - the healing power of goals!

To going the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my newly designed website at marymcmanus.com

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 and a woman who refused to quit!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Race Report Run for the Troops 5K - The icing on the cake!



I am deeply grateful for the gift of running in my life! I came to the sport late in life and ran my first marathon - the 2009 Boston Marathon at the age of 55! It's been a very Forrest Gump kind of journey....



When good friends get together for a great cause and you have absolutely perfect running weather, you know it's going to be a great day!

I had not run a race since the 2017 Bermuda Half Marathon. I learned so many lessons during that race that I was able to apply during yesterday's Run for the Troops 5K.

Team McManus ran as part of the Merrimack Valley Striders team:


Our relationship with the Striders dates back to February 2009 when I met Ric Beaudoin who was enthralled with my journey on the road to the Boston Marathon. He brought me into the fold of the MVS running Club and L Street Running Club. I've been blessed to be the guest speaker at both Clubs sharing my journey from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond!

As a sidebar, after yesterday's race, I saw Steve Cooper with whom I shared the mic at an MVS meeting back in 2010:



Back to the race report....There was so much pre-race excitement and festivities that I did not have time to experience pre-race jitters until right before it was gun time.

We met up with Alan Dyer, Fisher House Boston's Boston Marathon runner and fundraiser extraordinaire and his son:


and one of the members of MVS snapped this photo of us with Lyn Licciardello, the wife of MVS' founder Tom Licciardello:


We got to meet one of our dear Facebook friends, Jacqui Kennedy in real life!



You can feel the joy of what happens when running family gets together at a race!

There were bagpipes and a parade to honor our military heroes:



As we were walking toward the starting line I felt those familiar pre-race butterflies. Tom reassured me that those were completely normal and healthy; everyone gets them he reassured me.

My pre-race jitters tended to have an extra kick to them as a survivor of paralytic polio. Memories of lugging a leg brace and being left behind along with the taunts and jeers of cruel children before disability awareness was a thing plagued me. It was deeply ingrained into my body and Being. Running the 2009 Boston Marathon surely helped with my transformation but it's something that comes up at every starting line.

I realized how, in Bermuda, with the announcement of a 4 hour time limit for the Bermuda Half Marathon this year, I pushed myself and raced when I didn't have to because the finish line would be open for the marathoners. In addition, I knew the Race Director and knew he wouldn't have denied me a medal or acknowledging my finish if I went over 4 hours!

But old habits and beliefs die hard ... until you have a race like yesterday's Run for the Troops 5K.

It was an incredibly crowded field with a lot of slower paced runners at the middle and back of the pack. There was no way I could go out too fast or have that memory kick up inside of me of seeing everyone take off and leave me in the dust. I've done a lot of mental training to heal that memory but it's funny how quickly it can rear its head. After yesterday's race in combination with receiving an invitational entry to the Bermuda Half Marathon 2018, that wound is beautifully healing!

It was exhilarating to see runners ahead of me and feel that I was running with the pack. I was able to push my pace and then back down when I needed to. What a joy to run from the inside out without pressure for a specific time.



What a joy to run side by side with some of my Strider family. Robin Lynn was pushing her daughter Molly in the stroller. There were other Striders who were running in our part of the pack and it was wonderful to share some conversation and the joy of running with them. It was a challenging course and a little after mile 2 there was a hill with 248' elevation. I was able to charge up the hill without stopping and only had a +.03 split on my pace. I was able to listen to my body and knew I had to bring my heart rate down after the concerted effort on the hill. For my last mile I had a -0.42" split. My pace was the best pace I'd had in over a year and with the hills I was very pleased with my time and how I ran the race.

I finished 39/67 in my age group, 60-64 years old!

Here's Team McManus at the finish:


I have a new appreciation for who I am as a runner. I am running for health and use the sport of running to run for great causes. I run for joy. What a gift to have contracted paralytic polio and then endure 9 years of unrelenting violence and then be diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome having been told I'd spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I appreciate everything I am able to do! I run for health and to see just what this 63 year old body can do after all I've been through!

Every step of running unencumbered and free is a gift!

So many things I love about running and training but I must agree with Bill Rodgers who says that racing is the icing on the cake.

To your health and wellness,
~Mary

Be sure to visit my newly designed website at marymcmanus.com

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 and a woman who refused to quit!












Saturday, April 22, 2017

Running for a Cause - Run For the Troops 5K

Run for the Troops 5K

An event to honor our Military and raise funds to address the needs of injured soldiers. Our donations help build homes designed for the specific injury of soldiers, other donations help combat veterans with PTSD issues.




Run for the Troops 5K – Sunday April 23rd, 2017
Most runners don’t go to most races for the cause but this event is different. This cause is one you can see the results of now. You helped us fund new homes for Joey, Josh, Kevin, Matt, Hans, and Christopher.
Now it’s Roger’s turn.




One of the things I love about running and being a part of the running community is that we run for causes. Tomorrow, Team McManus is going to lace up our running shoes for causes so very near and dear to our hearts - Veterans, Emergency Responders and their families. I was privileged and blessed to work with veterans and their families for almost 20 years at the VA. Tom's family served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I still have a powerful connection to the veteran community.

Tomorrow we run for those who are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice every day for our freedom.

Tomorrow we run to help give back just a fraction of what they and their families give to us each and every day.

Tomorrow we run with our running family as part of the Merrimack Valley Striders.

Tomorrow we run to help create better tomorrows for those willing to lay down their lives for our safety and freedom every day!

Come walk/run with us! There will be race day registration and the weather is looking fine!

To your health and wellness!
~Mary


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 and a woman who refused to quit!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Going the Distance: From "Easy Out Alper" to an Invitational Entry to Bermuda: A Three-Peat!




When I was working at Booth 2828 at the Boston Marathon Expo with Ken and Nell Posmer, creators, founders, CEO and the force behind Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc., a man wore a T-Shirt that said, "I was picked last in gym class...1970" and on the back, "But I've run the Boston Marathon 7 times." I wish I would have taken a picture of him and his T-shirt. I went over to him and we had a lovely conversation about starting to run later in life and the exhilaration of having run the Boston Marathon. When I shared my story with him, he was enthralled. We hugged and I wished him well in his Boston Marathon run.

In December of 2014, I thought I was going to be out of the sport of running. The MRI from a very serious knee injury indicated that I had no gastroc muscle on my left leg as a result of having contracted paralytic polio as a child, bone spurs, degenerative changes from reconstructive leg surgery, hardware removal, and 3 arthroscopic surgeries, a fatty lipoma, a torn cartilage and osteoarthritis. I was surrounded by a massage therapist, a physiatrist, a PT, PT assistants in the Aquatics Therapy program at Spaulding Rehab and fellow patients in the Aquatics Therapy class all of whom told me I was crazy to ever consider running again.



At first I surrendered and acquiesced to those messages and then I got mad...and then I got a plan.

I'd been feverishly writing poetry asking the Universe how will I ever reclaim my life and yearning to run unencumbered and free. "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life" (available on Amazon) is an anthology of all my poetry since beginning my quest to heal my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.



Well the Universe had a plan... First I met Ryan J. Means, DC, a chiropractor healer who, in addition to telling me to set goals not limits, turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Through meditation, harnessing the power of belief and experiencing Dr. Ryan's long distance healing once he moved to China to practice, I have run two CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathons.

This year's Half Marathon took a toll on me in part because of race and road conditions but also because I was focused on the 4 hour time limit for the race. Of course, Race Director Anthony Raynor would not want me to stress over the so called time limit. The finish line is open for the Marathoners as well as the Half Marathoners and it's all about experiencing the beauty of the Island and enjoying the day and the entire weekend.

But I had echoes of Easy Out Alper in the back of my mind and did not pace myself given weather and road conditions.

I was able to finish thanks to the help of my life and running partner Tom and Jamie Lee Wright, an earth angel who honored the runner's code that day of leaving no runner behind.


When Anthony Raynor came to Booth 2828 at the Boston Marathon Expo, I had no idea that he was genuinely concerned about my 2017 Bermuda Half Marathon Experience. Being conditioned to being "Easy Out Alper" and given my 2017 Bermuda Half Marathon Experience, Tom and I decided that we needed to look elsewhere for a race-cation. I was planning to dedicate my training to the Hyannis 10K in February and then run a Fall Half Marathon.

Those plans quickly changed when Anthony offered me an invitational entry to the Bermuda Half Marathon in 2018, told us about the phenomenal rates that he had negotiated with the Race Weekend Host Hotel, The Fairmont Southampton Princess Resort and at Tom's urging, that I have an early start.

I've come a long way since those days in gym class when I was picked last, picked on and taunted and teased with "Easy Out Alper."

I am going to train my hardest and be the absolute best I can be for the Bermuda Half Marathon in 2018. Tom is excited to train and run by my side. I am so honored and blessed to have received an invitational entry to Bermuda Marathon Weekend! All the time pressure is off so that I can run from the inside out and enjoy the race as I did Bermuda Marathon Weekend 2016.



The third time is the charm! It's an incredibly exhilarating new goal to be training for a 3rd CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. As my personal trainer said to me when I asked her if I could get a little stronger after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006, "Let's see what this body can do."

To your health and wellness,
~Mary

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 and a woman who refused to quit!






Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! - My Third Consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon

Tom and I kept saying that we should probably leave the Boston Marathon Expo on Saturday as our day of helping out our friends Ken and Nell of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays was drawing to a close, but there was a steady flow of customers and we were caught up in the magic and excitement of all that is the Boston Marathon. Be sure to visit Blue Diamond Athletic Displays website by following this link. Tom and I are proud owners of two of their displays with more to come given that we are both blessed to be running long and strong.



Tom and I were facing each other talking about our plans for the rest of the evening when Tom yelled out, "Anthony!"

Anthony said that Tom ruined the surprise when he called out his name. We hugged and Anthony introduced us to his cousin who is in Boston receiving treatment for breast cancer.

Although I was not planning on running Bermuda again and Tom and I were exploring other race-cations for 2018, once you make a friend in Bermuda, they are a friend for life. Anthony has been at the Boston Marathon Expo for several years representing his race, Bermuda Marathon Weekend. I remember how quickly Tom and I would walk by their booth believing that there was no way we'd ever go to Bermuda for Race Weekend....except that before my nephew's suicide in 2011 happened, it WAS on my bucket list.

I'd crossed it off my bucket list until first I met Ryan J. Means, DC who reminded me to set goals not limits.

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" available on Amazon:

As Dr. Ryan worked on my feet I said, "Wow." He asked me if the pressure was too much and I said, "Oh no. I just went to that place within me that ran the Boston Marathon." I told him there is nothing in the world like training for and running a marathon. As I thought about it, I felt exhilarated and then had a moment of "I can't run another marathon." I realized that I was remembering running a marathon in my body as it was then not the body I am today and certainly not the body that keeps changing, evolving, getting strong and healing all that went before. Dr. Dispenza cites with case studies including his own healing experience, proof that the body has tremendous capacities to heal. Dr. Ryan planted the seed for going the distance again as he asked the question, “Why set limits?” Why set limits indeed. I decided to ditch all the negative self talk, the naysayers who encourage me to set limits and to only take yes for an answer!


From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" when I had my comeback race, Finish at the 50 on July 3, 2015:

Next up was the Bermuda Marathon Weekend booth.

Now what's pretty amazing here is that I had set my sights on running the Bermuda Marathon for my 60th birthday in 2013. But then life happened. I never thought about it again. Tom and I had stopped by their booth at other Expos and quickly dismissed ever going back to Bermuda never mind running a race there. Never say never! Tom started chatting with Clarence "Stoker" Smith and I joined in the conversation. We both felt a tug at our souls and the more we talked with Clarence and Race Director Anthony, the stronger the tug. We reminisced about when we used to go there with Herb Simmons and the Sea and Surf Anglers Club who had a tournament with the Bermudian Blue Waters Angler Club. I felt goosebumps and a warm feeling all over. Anthony told me that I'd be better off running the Half Marathon rather than the 10K because of the steep hills on the course. I told them that the last time I was in Bermuda I was in a leg brace and using a wheelchair to travel. Clarence's wife said, "Look at you now girl."

We exchanged information. Clarence told us he'd take us out on his boat when we came down for the weekend. I chatted with Anthony about the weather in January. "Look," he said in that delicious Bermudian accent. "I was told you people still have piles of snow near the Seaport Hotel from this past winter. I can guarantee you this. You will have no snow in Bermuda in January."


And so began my journey on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon; a race that had been on my bucket list but seemed so unattainable until I met Dr. Ryan.

I emailed Anthony before this year's Boston Marathon Weekend and asked him if he'd be in Boston for the Marathon thinking he'd be at the Expo but I didn't see his name on the list of vendors. He told me, however, that he would be at Booth 2828, the Blue Diamond Athletic Displays booth, and see me. When he didn't come on Friday, I emailed him thinking that I probably wouldn't see him this trip since I hadn't heard back from him.



We hugged as only one hugs when a Bostonian and Bermudian reunite, and snapped the above photo. He told me that he was in town for the Race Directors Training Experience. He told us about running the 5K earlier in the day. He also shared that he is thinking about having a walking Half Marathon in Bermuda in the early Spring. He could see how excited Tom and I became. We talked about changes that happened on the Island, my reasons for not running Bermuda again but that I would be interested in returning to the Island for a walking Half Marathon. He told me what happened with this year's Bermuda Marathon Weekend race and steps he was going to take to prevent it from happening again next year.

"We negotiated a great price with the Fairmont Southampton Princess," he told me. "$189/night." He shared with me that he could not negotiate a rate with The Rosedon and we talked about the changes that were happening at The Rosedon that was one of the reasons we were not going to return to that property and probably not the Island for awhile. Pictured below are photos from the Fairmont Southampton Princess.



We were there for the after party this year. It is the host hotel for Race Weekend.

"How about if I gave you a complimentary race entry," Anthony offered and Tom quickly asked, "Could we do an early start?" "Of course. We just need to work it out with the timing company," Anthony replied.

In addition to the traffic issue, I had also put a lot of pressure on myself because of the 4 hour limit for the Half Marathon that had been posted on the website and in social media. As I look back on it, I did go out too fast and was not honoring the weather conditions. I was racing rather than enjoying the truly uniquely Bermudian experience that is Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

I have fallen in love with the process and know the results are coming. I adapt the pace of nature - patience - and now, thanks to Anthony's compassion, generosity and truly Bermudian hospitality, I will be able to train for and run my 3rd CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. I will #runbermuda and #runhappy.

To your health and wellness,
~Mary

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 and a woman who refused to quit!








The Magic of Boston Marathon Weekend



How appropriate that the symbol for the Boston Marathon is a unicorn; a magical mythical creature that can never be caught. Yet it is in the act of chasing the Unicorn that we learn nothing is impossible and we can always strive for excellence.

There is a magic - an enchanted spell that descends on Boston during Boston Marathon weekend.



It's a time where where everyone talks with everyone else on the T. "You running?" "Where ya from?" "Who won the game?"

It's a time when you bump into people you haven't seen in awhile and it's as though no time has passed. You hug. You get caught up on each other's lives and then you let them know where you'll be watching on Marathon Monday.

Our Boston Marathon weekend adventure began with a stop at the Runners World Pop Up Store across the street from the Expo. We were blessed to meet Bart Yasso during the Bermuda Marathon Weekend.


He greeted us like we were dear old friends and gave us warm hugs. We told him we wanted to get a copy of his book. "My tag line is "Never limit where running can take you," he told us as he signed our book. We asked if we could get a photo with him and he said to Tom, "She makes two old guys look good."



One of the gazillion things I LOVE about the sport of running is that "famous" runners love to mix and mingle with runners of all ages, paces and abilities. I can't wait to dive into Bart's book. He had a crippling illness and was told he would never run again!

Team McManus was so blessed to be able to help out our dear friends Ken and Nell, creators and owners of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays in Booth 2828 at the Expo. Ken and Uncle "Night Train" Neil were driving in from Chicago because last year they ran out of inventory. It was a frenetic, frantic, frenzied Friday as runners were ooh'ing and aah'ing about these unique medal displays. Blue Diamond Athletic Displays is the official medal display of the Boston Marathon.



We helped with sales until Ken and Neil arrived, took a lunch break on Boylston Street and then returned to help them for a few more hours.

We were blessed to meet runners from all over the world each with their own why I run Boston stories. It was a perfect location for me to meet up with many of my friends who are running Boston this year!

We returned yesterday after going on a 5K run around the Reservoir:


Nell shared my story with members of the Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Display family. Customers who already purchased their medal displays from Blue Diamond come out to see Ken and Nell when they are at race Expos. Nell gave a copy of my book to one of her customers who is running his 17th Boston! He told me that my story would inspire him to go the distance tomorrow:


The announcement that gave me chills: "In just about 5 minutes we will be having a moment of silence at 2:49." The countdown to the moment of silence began with an announcement every minute or so. A hush came over the Hynes Convention Center that made the hair rise on the back of my neck. Tears streamed down my face as Tom and I held hands sharing this moment with our dear friends Ken and Nell and a community of runners united as One.

I was taken aback by how the moment of silence hit me hard. I was, for a brief moment, back in time to when time stood still 4 years ago for us at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel celebrating our 2009 Boston Marathon run as part of the Race for Rehab team and chaos and confusion ensued.

It was a great day when Boston ran again yesterday. Tom and I were blessed to cheer on the runners, give hugs, give away one of our fuel belt water bottles that we had for our own hydration while watching the race. We stayed until we saw all of the runners we made a promise to to be at the corner of Dean Road and Beacon Street just shy of mile 22.5.



So many inspirational stories; stories of grit and determination as runners made their way through grueling heat and then a sudden drop in temperature. I'm so proud to be a part of the magic of Boston Marathon Weekend. This is our City and we run Boston!

To your health and wellness!
~Mary


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 and a woman who refused to quit!