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 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,

Be sure to visit my newly designed website at

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!

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