Thursday, June 1, 2017

Celebrating My Race-iversary! The Corrib Pub Run

Thank goodness for Facebook memories that remind us of special occasions in our lives that otherwise might get past us! Today marks the 9 year anniversary of my first road race ever! I had laced up my first pair of running shoes in March of 2008 after declaring that I, Mary McManus, a woman who had been recently diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease was going to train for and run the 2009 Boston Marathon. Marathon Sports in Brookline's very own Spencer Aston, aka the running guru fitted me for my first pair of running shoes.

From "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

“What are you in now?” Spencer Aston asked me when I walked into Marathon Sports in March of 2008.

“Well, truth be told, I’m in ‘polio shoes.’ I borrowed these running shoes from my daughter. Let me give you the twitter version of my story.”

I told Spencer about my history of paralytic polio, my ‘remarkable recovery’ as was Spaulding’s tag line when I was a patient and how I was planning to run the Boston Marathon. He took so much time and care doing a gait assessment and working with me to find the perfect running shoes. We figured out that I needed an insert at my heel to ensure comfort.

I was up to 40 minutes of continuous running when Race Day 6/1/2008 dawned. I had no idea what to expect from the race or my body. I only knew that running felt so right for me even though it was a struggle and I had a very long way to go before I'd be Boston Marathon ready.

Here I am before the race:

This was my first experience with learning what the running community is all about. Strangers become fast friends as introductions are made and stories exchanged. People that I met for the first time were so excited for me and with me about my journey.

I smile and marvel at what a novice I was at the time. All I knew was that I was going to put one foot in front of the other and not stop until I crossed the finish line.

I was swept up by the support from the crowds. How amazing to go from having memories of being a survivor of paralytic polio, lugging a heavy leg brace, trying to keep up with my classmates, teased and taunted with the nickname "Easy Out Alper" (my maiden name) to experiencing the outpouring of cheers not jeers from the spectators along the route. Tom yelled out to the crowd that I was a survivor of paralytic polio and this was my first race. The high-fives and way to go's took my breath away.

It was a sense of freedom I had never known before in my life. Given the heat of the day we had the option to run through the sprinklers that spectators made for us with their garden hoses. It was a challenging course for me with the big uphill near the finish line but my personal trainer had started me on hill training early since after all, I was going to run the Boston Marathon!

Here I am after the race:

There was no bling. I wouldn't receive my first race medal until after I conquered my first Half Marathon race in Hyannis in February of 2009. But it didn't matter because I came out of a wheelchair and a leg brace having been told that I "had" Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

Despite the usual ups and downs that are part of every runner's journey, I continue to run long, strong and healthy!

And to quote Forrest Gump on this, my race-iversary:

Medal display created by Blue Diamond Athletic Displays.

To going the distance with strength and courage!

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):

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