Friday, June 30, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! It's a Sign! A Quarter and a Penny From Heaven!



When Team McManus trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon we were sent so many signs with finding money during our training. I was waiting for my daughter to get off the train at Cleveland Circle one day and walked back and forth to stretch my legs. On the wall of the Citi Bank branch there was a pile of change. There was no one around to ask if the money belonged to them. We had lunch and when we came out the money was still there so I brought it home. As we sorted the pennies, nickels and dimes, they sorted out according to the mileage for our upcoming training runs.

One of my favorite memories that is chronicled in my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

As we were heading out along Beacon Street here in Brookline, Mass., I saw a penny. Those of you who have read my blog know that we have had a lot of signs with finding money while we trained. There were a herd of runners behind us and I knew that if I stopped to pick this penny up, I could get trampled and then where would I be after a year of training and being on the threshold of running the Marathon. So I felt God's Presence and ran on. While on Heartbreak Hill, my daughter stopped in her tracks. Buried in the crack in the sidewalk on Heartbreak Hill, my daughter spotted a quarter - not just any quarter but a quarter dedicated to Helen Keller. Her quotes and life story have always been a major source of inspiration to me and Bernie Siegel, MD (who through the years has been a guiding healing light for me) has quoted her so many times in his talks, books and on his forum. During the last two miles of our training run, we found two more pennies - 27 cents! Not 26 but 27 so God is letting us know that we have what we need to go the distance....




My dear friend, healer and chosen dad Bernie Siegel, MD who was so supportive of my 2009 Boston Marathon run in the wake of the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine Standards told me to look for the penny at the start....You'll know that I and God are with you! Well at a little past the halfway mark in Wellesley, I found "the penny!" It gave me that extra push to get through Heartbreak Hill and get to the finish line!

Last year I found a series of dimes.



FDR's image, the words Liberty and In God We Trust are on the dime; a reminder to trust in my healing journey and to stay focused on my freedom and liberation from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. FDR's wife Eleanor Roosevelt's quotes are inspiring!



The other day our daughter Ruth Anne who ran the 2009 Boston Marathon with us, found a quarter. She knew that she needed to keep her eyes open for a penny...a sign that once again Team McManus would go the distance together. Even though we are running the Bermuda Half Marathon (notice I deliberately did not say "only" the half marathon), we were ecstatic when she did, indeed, find the penny!



This is the beginning of a new journey for Team McManus as we train for the Bermuda Half Marathon and travel together as a Team to that beautiful Island in January.

Tomorrow we run another 5.5 miles. We are slowly building our miles with patience, trust and faith. I can do a threepeat of the Bermuda Half Marathon even though I have never run 3 consecutive half marathons in my life! I draw strength and confidence from the signs that surround! We are once again being showered by Grace and abundance on our journey's way.

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Favorite Runner Quotes and The Power of Endurance

"There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul." - Kristin Armstrong







This past week has been an intense and stressful week with transitions, changes and many demands all around. I reflected on the metaphor between running and life, and felt overwhelming gratitude that I am an endurance runner. The power of endurance has served me well this past week.

As an endurance runner, I know that I always have a little more in the tank than I think I do. I can always push myself knowing that there are less strenuous miles ahead. Next week with the Fourth of July holiday and a strenuous transition behind me, it is going to be a much easier week. I'm looking forward to sharing a cup of tea with a dear friend, going for a chiropractic adjustment to counter the stress I have been experiencing and my dear friend and healer, Dr. Ryan J. Means is going to be in Boston on leave from his job in China.

It would be easy to wish away the "stressful" miles and just get to next week but the tough miles in life or on the roads are the miles where our mettle is tested; the time when my strength, my fortitude and my very soul are refined like the gold in the crucible.

As Jacqueline Hansen wrote in the Foreword of my book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

I have found this to be true throughout my life. I have also found that I am attracted to strong women friends, who are strong willed, strong minded, with lots of endurance. At least once a day I must tell myself, “thank goodness I’m a marathoner.” I am guessing that Mary McManus tells herself the same thing. She is certainly someone who has left indelible footprints in my heart. I have rarely met anyone with so many life-threatening challenges who portrays such an onward thinking attitude.

In fact, another Eleanor Roosevelt quotation reminds me of Mary: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”


Tomorrow is Friday! These past 10 days or so have been a marathon in my life in their own right. With my favorite runner quotes, and my power of endurance, I see the finish line and easier miles on the horizon. I am so grateful for all the lessons and blessings of the challenges of these past 10 days and look forward to moving forward!

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Where Quality Exceeds Expectations: Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Displays, Inc.

Please note that I received no compensation for writing this blog post! I was inspired to share the story of Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Displays, Inc. and my beautiful friendship with Ken and Nell that began with a contest on Facebook and has grown through the years!



When it comes to shopping for that perfect gift, it feels like everyone is hard to shop for. Especially athletes! They know what they want, and they would go to their running/Tri store and buy it….Now what? Another gift card for their dust collecting gift cards pile?

Thankfully, there are a handful of awesome, unique gifts under Blue Diamond Athletic Displays Products Umbrella. Gifts perfect for Runners and Triathletes. This brag worthy gift items promise to make the athletes in your life feel appreciated and brag about the gift you have given for the rest of their lives.
Shop:
Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.
Where Quality Exceeds Expectations…..


Made in America...family owned....innovation....commitment to quality and customer service and a back story that will give you goosebumps...



Click to enlarge the above photo to read more about Nell's journey as an artist! She was selected to be the official artist at the Inaugural Chicago Rock 'n Roll Marathon in 2009. She was chosen to create a piece that would raise money for the Chicago Cancer Society. Ken who is an engineer had designed a medal display with Nell's artistic input and they brought it to the Race Expo ... thus Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc. was born as the medal display was met with rave reviews! Nell's name in her mother language means blue diamonds and indeed, like her name, she is as precious and rare as a blue diamond.

From their website:
Meet the Posmers…

At Blue Diamond Athletic Displays INC., we design, engineer, and manufacture High End Athletic Displays. We specialize in combining Artistic Elements with state of the Art Design and Manufacturing Techniques to create a means for all athletes alike to celebrate their athletic journeys and accomplishments.

The best thing co-founders Ken and Nell Posmer did at the outset was to NOT look at the market and other existing products. In doing so, Ken with his 30 years of design and manufacturing experience teamed up with his professional artist wife Nell, and created something truly unique, something truly beautiful.

Their blend of experience and combined skill sets, enable them to create amazing Displays that are Art Quality and become instant conversation pieces wherever they are mounted for the price of a good pair of running shoes.

As endurance athletes, Ken & Nell understand the challenges, amount of effort, sacrifice and dedication their athletes face each and every day. This awareness fuels Blue Diamond’s customer focus to be the very best in the industry.

Although Ken & Nell are as “Mom and Pop” and as “Hands On” as it gets, and proud of it, Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, INC. is diverse in their product offerings. With a plethora of CAD/CAM and Graphics Software to work with, unsurpassed manufacturing horsepower, and a professional artist on staff, Blue Diamond has the ability to handle orders ranging from one special customized Display to high volume for larger events.


Like so many of my friendships these days, I 'met' Ken and Nell and Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Displays, Inc. on Facebook. They had a contest to guess what were the only states where, several years ago, they had not sold any medal displays. I won the contest. Of course now they sell medal displays in every state.

Shortly after receiving my "Loving Life One Mile at a Time," medal display


I was moved to write this testimonial:

Running races, especially marathons, for anyone is no easy feat but for me, as a survivor of paralytic polio, it was a challenge of a lifetime. I was transformed from one who thought of herself as disabled and unable to participate in athletic feats to a champion. It was a moment of redemption and now, thanks to Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, we have a special place in our home where I am reminded of my strength, courage and fortitude and can remember the joy of that special day.

Both my husband and I are later life runners. What a joy to be reminded of the gift of running and our accomplishments in our living room, with such a magnificent piece of work with the Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Display.


In addition to forging beautiful athletic medal displays, Ken and Nell forge special friendships with their customers.

When Tom and I helped out at their Boston Marathon Expo booth this year, people stopped by just to say hello to Ken and Nell.

They have been champions of my journey and spread the word about my books!

We chatted the other night about the priceless value of having a hand crafted medal display in one's home, a conversation inspired by my recent blog post, "Who's the runner in this family?"

There are so many powerful memories that medals evoke. There's a lot of mettle in the medal. It's an opportunity to relive and celebrate the triumph of conquering a course and remembering all the moments that led up to crossing the finish line.

Visit Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Displays, Inc. website, browse their blog, Ken's Korner, and their incredible array of medal displays. Have an idea for a customized display or have questions? You can use their contact page. Be sure to like and follow their page on Facebook.

You'll love being part of the Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Displays, Inc. family.

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):












Monday, June 26, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! Be a Hill Seeker!



The metaphors between running and life are truly magnificent! When I saw Bill Rodgers at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk for Prostate Cancer back in September of 2014, he said to me, "Life is hard. That's why we run. If we can tough it out on the roads, we know we can tough out whatever life sends our way!"



There are rolling hills along the Bermuda Half Marathon course and the start and the finish have a significant hill. It is vital to train on hills to be well prepared for my third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon.

Jamaica Pond has some rolling hills and when we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon our personal trainer had us do hill repeats and fartleks.

We were planning to train at Jamaica Pond last Saturday but with heavy rain and the threat of thunderstorms, we decided to train along the Boston Marathon course on Beacon Street. Now you may think that Heartbreak Hill is the only place on the Boston course that challenges you with hills but in fact an out and back run on Beacon Street after Cleveland Circle will give you quite the hill run for your money.

As in running and as in life, it's all about perspective, attitude and mind set.

If you approach an uphill with a sense of dread and drudgery, you'll never experience the joy of having conquered something that challenges you. For me, I experience a sense of satisfaction deep in my soul after exerting effort and giving something my all. My challenges of paralytic polio and being a trauma survivor helped to forge my fiery Spirit and sense of determination and a feeling that nothing can stop me now!

Life happens on the hills and I am sure we will be heading out to Heartbreak Hill for a few training runs on the road to Bermuda, repeating our Beacon Street out and back run and making sure we are well trained to take on the hills in Bermuda.

As in running as in life - you can't avoid the hard uphills so we may as well embrace them and become a hill seeker enjoying the thrill of swooshing down the other side!

From Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life:
"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them." -Marcus Aurelius

Born to Run

Born free
born to run
run free
unencumbered untethered unshackled
pouring energy into my running form
liquid gold once fired in the crucible
now my treasure born of my Spirit molded with alchemy
refining
my precious treasure once buried
the map safely tucked away
X marks the spot
a new starting line.

Poised and ready
to go the distance
all out without hesitation
all is healed at last
my pace swift
Mercury and Hermes pace me on winged feet
I AM
born to run
running free
joyfully crossing the finish line with ease.


Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):




Saturday, June 24, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! The body remembers....

Training officially began today for Team McManus on the road to the Bermuda Marathon Weekend January 2018.



As I lay in bed this morning meditating on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon, the thought came into my awareness....your body remembers how to train for and run a half marathon!



When I first set out on my quest to heal my body, mind and soul from the effects of paralytic polio followed by years of unrelenting abuse and torture at the hands of family members, I wrote a poem that had the line, "The body remembers what the mind forgets....until it's time to heal."

Throughout my healing journey, I have resurrected and healed traumatic memories while also reaching back into the recesses of my mind to resurrect positive memories from before polio and trauma. I was a graceful ballerina. I was strong and flexible. One morning as I put my feet on the wooden floor, I felt the energy of what it was like to be in ballet class before tragedy struck my life.

After writing the poem, "Running the Race,", I watched the "Run Forrest Run" scene from Forrest Gump over and over and over again.



Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about the power of mirror neurons. By observing someone else performing an action our body responds as if we were performing that action. Immersing myself in the sport of running allowed my body to heal from the effects of paralytic polio.

With a 5 day training cycle and training for my 3rd consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon, I continue to encourage my mind, body and soul to heal from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

After my meditation, I was ready to embark on our training run.

The weather called for rain but the temperature was 77 degrees. It was cloudy as we had our breakfast, did our core work and stretched but by the time the water belts were packed, the rain started to fall. We ditched our plan to run around Jamaica Pond again, especially since there was a risk of thunderstorms and decided to head out to a part of the Boston Marathon course on Beacon Street.

The collective mind, body and soul memory of Team McManus' 2009 Boston Marathon run was experienced as we shared the good, the bad and the ugly memories of training for the Boston Marathon.



We embraced the challenge of the run with uphills and downhills, rain, humidity and moments of sun breaking through the clouds. We ignited the passion of being endurance runners - together - again - after a hiatus of 8 years. We began to imagine what it's going to be like to run the Bermuda Half Marathon together. Tom and I shared what the course is like with Ruth Anne who will be running her inaugural Bermuda Half Marathon. She did crush the Nashville Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in 2013!

We took 11 seconds per mile off of our pace from last week, ran hills and added .5 miles to the run.

It's all coming back to us now - because the body remembers - and we are finding so much joy in the journey!



Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):






Friday, June 23, 2017

Fundraising Friday: Spotlight on Thor Kirleis and the Inaugural Fenway Park Marathon



Thor Kirleis, whose first name means “Thunder,” has been involved in endurance sports for over 30 years. He is now 47 years old. The power of the run was something Thor learned about early on in his career. Competing in endurance events gave Thor the confidence that he could do whatever it was that he set his mind to and he has been living life outside of his comfort zone for over 3 decades.

While Thor’s individual accomplishments are quite impressive, over 100 Marathons, Ironman races, qualified and competed in TEAM USA in the ITU Long Course (Triathlon) World Championships proudly representing the US in international competition, Ultra runs across the Colorado Rockies, the Canadian Rockies, and the Grand Canyon (just to name a few), he is happiest and most proud of when he can use his passion to help others.

In May of 2014, Thor paced and guided Randy Pierce, a blind runner, to a Boston Qualifier at the Cox Providence Marathon. You can read their feel good to the goosebumps inspirational story by following this link. It was through this remarkable story that Randy, Thor and I became friends in social media land.

Instead of tailoring a training season to achieve a personal best by the time on the clock, Thor offered to pace friends in their races to help them achieve their goals.

Doing good, giving back and love of children is an integral part of who Thor is. Since having two children of his own, now 4 and 3 years old, he has made a concerted effort to do more for others, especially children, so that he can teach his children by example that helping others is a part of being human. He is passionate about equality and social justice and wears a rainbow singlet in his important races to support his LGBT friends and the broader community.

Flying kites with his beautiful children:




So one would think that given Thor’s incredible record of endurance events and his desire and passion to do good would make it somewhat easy for him to run the inaugural Fenway Marathon in September raising funds for the Red Sox Foundation. Raising funds was never something Thor has been comfortable doing and he is stepping way outside of his comfort zone to ask for donations.

But there’s a lot more to the story….

In the span of two months beginning in June of 2015, Thor went from finishing 6th place overall in a 55 mile ultra marathon to not being able to run at all. By the end of July, Thor knew something was very wrong with him. He was so fatigued that his body just could not get up and run. He went through a battery of tests and no one could find out what was happening to Thor’s body. He was given a diagnosis by Western Medicine of Sjogrens Syndrome, an autoimmune disease and treated him as though he were terminally ill. Thor had two thoughts as he stared at the tissue box on the table in the doctor’s office, “A syndrome is a collection of symptoms. It doesn’t tell you why and we never fully pursued Lyme. He found an Osteopath who was willing to look into Lyme and the rough road of healing began. Through sheer will and determination, Thor ran the 2017 Boston Marathon.



Here is a photo of Thor at the 2017 Doyles 5 Mile Race:


When the opportunity to run the inaugural Fenway Park Marathon presented itself, Thor decided to see if he would be one of the 50 runners chosen to participate and commit to raising $5,000 for The Red Sox Foundation. Even though he is from New York (so am I) he is a Red Sox convert (just like me) and was excited to embrace the opportunity to run laps inside Fenway Park for 26.2 miles. The Red Sox Foundation has always been a favorite charity of Thor’s because of its affiliation with the Jimmy Fund. The core of their work supports the children in our local community and also benefits The Home Base Foundation caring for our veterans.

He is currently in the throes of a flare of his symptoms. He is getting in miles any way he can feeling inspired by the company of his son Camden. Like me, and that is why we are kindred spirits, Thor refuses to be bound by his limitations of any moment. He wrote this on Facebook yesterday, “Come September 15th, I will have raised, with your help, $5000 for supporting local kids in our community, and I will participate in the Fenway Park Marathon.”

I have every confidence that Thor WILL cross that finish line of 26.2 miles in the inaugural Fenway Park Marathon. He needs your help to exceed his fund raising goal of $5000. Please follow this link and donate whatever you are able to donate for Thor, for the children, for the veterans and for yourself because life isn’t meant to be lived with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. It’s so important to be able to throw something back.

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):






Thursday, June 22, 2017

On Believing, Healing and Crushing Goals!



From January to late June, When I am not building miles for my annual Bermuda Half Marathon, I increase my work in cross training and strength training.

After working out on the Arc Trainer for a year, I decided it was time to set new goals. First, I increased the settings and worked at that level for 20 minutes for awhile. Then I decided I want to set a distance goal based on what/how I was doing and decided I'd go for .9 mile however long it took me. The next goal was to see if I could hit .9 mile within the 20 minute time limit. Oooh I came so close for the past several weeks.

We begin to increase mileage on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon on Saturday so I knew I had one more opportunity to really open it up and see if I could crush that goal.

As you read this, kindly remember that 10 years ago I was told I 'had' 'Post-Polio Syndrome' - a progressive neuromuscular disease. I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

In December of 2014, I was told that I should not run, could not run and would not run any distance more than a 5K - well maybe a 5 miler at most and should prepare to have a total knee replacement in a couple of years. That was based on an MRI of my left knee and leg - the leg more severely affected by paralytic polio that revealed a whole host of findings including degenerative joint changes, a fatty lipoma, torn miniscus, atrophied gastroc muscle and the list goes on and on. I started out using Western Medicine to try to get back on the roads but was redirected by the Universe to ditch my entire treatment team including a massage therapist I was working with at the time.

I was blessed to meet Dr. Ryan J. Means - a chiropractor who believed in the body's natural capacity to heal and reminded me about all teachings I had heard about before but somehow forgotten to practice their work. He added in the teachings of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Candace Pert, both teachers in "What the bleep do we know..."

I did not have the intention to set out and crush that goal on Tuesday. Something fired up within me and I was giving it my all. Sweat poured. Heart rate went way up. Once I set the intention to crush that goal, I had a single minded vision and focus. All that mattered in those moments was to see the distance change over as I increased my pace. My intention was clear and once I knew I was within striking distance, there was more and more momentum in my workout. It took on a life of its own and I hit .9 before the 20 minute mark. I kept going until 20 minutes:




From the beginning of my journey to heal my life 10 years ago, I had faith - I believed that I could and would heal. What a thrill to crush my goal on Tuesday.

I'm ready to take on 5.5 miles on Saturday on the road to my third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon. It will be a first for me to train for and run a third consecutive half marathon but that's what believing, healing and crushing goals is all about!

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):