Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Camp Hyannis 2017 Part II Running Friends are the Best!

After a long but incredibly inspiring day, Tom and I debated about whether or not I would do the Expo on the 2nd day. I knew that my table mate Paul was going to run the 10K and was not planning to be at the Expo. Because we shared the table, I couldn't put out everything that I had brought (no complaints just so grateful for the space at the Expo). We left everything at the table, went back to our room, meditated and got a good night's sleep. We woke up to sunshine streaming through the sheer curtain and the sound of Cape Cod bird songs...

I felt in every fiber of my Being that I was meant to be at the Expo on Race Day. Tom and I meditated and brought our race day breakfast of oatmeal, nuts and raisins to the lobby coffee shop and bought juice, a bagel and coffee. I talked with Tom about his plan for race day. Back in 2014, he was primed for a PR but honored the runner's code helping out new runners from the Spaulding Race for Rehab Team. He had the eye of the tiger. He went back to the room to put up his feet, meditate some more and get in the zone for his race. I headed to the Expo.

After posting a picture on Facebook from the Expo on Saturday, one of our friends who we met in Bermuda 2016, Rebekah said, "see you tomorrow." I said, "Can't wait." Somehow among 3500 runners we find our running friends. That's the beauty of Camp Hyannis! On my way to the Expo, I bumped into Rebekah. We hugged and although we had not seen each other since Camp Hyannis 2016, it felt as though no time had passed. She was walking the wrong way to bib pick up so we walked together back to the Expo and bib pick up.

Before long, Camp Hyannis was in high gear. I met so many wonderful runners who had inspiring stories of their own and resonated to my journey. Just as I was winding down my conversation with a runner training for Boston, I hear, "Excuse me!" It was Bob Balfour who gives the best bear hugs I've ever had...well with the exception of Jeffrey Spratt,MT. As a sidebar, through partnering with Jeffrey I am able to live a full, vibrant life with only whispers from the havoc that paralytic polio and trauma wreaked on my mind, body and soul.

Bob introduced me to Dino who was running his first Half Marathon. Bob talked with Dino about me on the ride from the North Shore to Cape Cod to inspire him! I was so humbled by their words.

Our L Street running family found me (one of the reasons I was so smart to keep the table at the Expo). My friend Jennifer had been at Bermuda Marathon Race Weekend but we kept missing each other. "We missed each other in Bermuda but I'm so glad I found you here." Our dear friend through the years, Bea, stopped by along with Kathy and Carla who had been a part of my pre-race experience last year.

It was getting close to gun time and time to head out to the starting line. On the way, we bumped into the Spaulding Rehab Race for Rehab Team. Amanda who Tom had helped finish her first Half Marathon race in 2014 and Suzanne Adams who I met ten years ago when I first started my incredible journey were there. It was a very emotional moment for me to realize how far I've traveled in these past 10 years; most notably the progress I have made since April of 2015 when I began to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life in earnest with Jeffrey.

Photos from the start:

It was the first time that I was support crew that I felt completely comfortable with my decision to not run the 10K and for Tom to have the opportunity to see what he could do in the Half.

Bea ran the 10K and what an absolute gift to be able to spend time together after she finished her race. She hadn't been training much because of the renovations and rebranding part of her restaurant the Red Parrot with Inspire. We went out to the finish together and cheered on Tom to his PR of 2:03; his redemption from 2014, and saw Bob cross at 1:59:59. Soon Dino crossed the finish line along with Carla and Kathy.

While I as at my table at the Expo I was blessed to meet David Johndrow. We have similar journeys and did a book trade.

One very shy and timid woman stopped by my table wondering what my story was. I told her and she said, "Wow you really put my life in perspective. I'm a quitter and I need inspiration." I told her she was not a quitter because she was open to reading about how others found their strength and perseverance. We hugged after she bought a copy of my book.

Running friends old and new are the best. Camp Hyannis is the best place to experience running family at its finest.

After posting photos on Facebook, Bob commented, "It was awesome to see you and Tom and chat a bit. Thanks for being a guiding light to anyone that gets put in your path!! We are all so Blessed to have you as a friend!!" I responded that we are blessed to be a part of each other's village helping us to be the best we can possibly be on the roads and off.

After our traditional apres race lunch at Bogey's where everybody knows our name after 7 years we checked out at the front desk. The manager gave us his card and said that when we make our reservations for next year to please work with him to ensure we get the room we want.

So long Hyannis 2017 - another great weekend at Camp Hyannis! See you in 2018!

In tomorrow's blog I'll be sharing a Celebration of Healing as inspired by Camp Hyannis through the years.

To your health and wellness,

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.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Camp Hyannis 2017 Part I

It's never an easy decision to not run a race especially when it's the Hyannis 10K. After my grueling Bermuda Half Marathon, I realized that I needed time to recover and not put myself through another race even though it would have been a 10K and I certainly had the base for it.

I opted instead to work a table at the Expo and Tom would run the Half Marathon at his own pace. We each had our purpose and our destiny to fulfill.

Our adventure began the moment we crossed over the Sagamore Bridge on our way to Old Cape Cod:

I started singing Old Cape Cod and put on this Youtube Video:

We arrived at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center. Our room was ready but it was on the 2nd floor on the other side of the hotel. Tom asked the manager if there was anything closer. I chatted about how we've been coming almost every year since 2009! He gave us a room right off of the lobby.

The weather was spectacular and we sat out on our patio before it was time to set up for the Expo:

You never know what weather you are going to get on Cape Cod in February.

In 2011, this was the view from our room:

When we got to the Expo, Race Director Paul Collyer asked me if it was okay that he had me share a table with Paul Clerici who authored a book about the Boston Marathon mile by mile and The Falmouth Road Race. Of course it was! My table was right next to the T Shirt distribution table and just outside the Ballroom where there was packet pick up.

What an absolute joy to represent the life saving work of Jeffrey Spratt,MT and celebrate my ten years of healing and transformation. Unpacking my 2009 Hyannis Half Marathon Medal, the first half marathon I'd ever run, my Boston Marathon medal and then after a long hiatus from endurance running, setting out my Bermuda Half Marathon Medal and last year's Hyannis 10K Medal, I realized what a spectacular journey it has been; and how, since partnering with Jeffrey, I have been able to go the distance on the roads and in my life.

With each person I met, I realized what strength and courage I had to not give up. By sharing the innovative Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, people felt a sense of hope. One woman's boss' daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury and had physical limitations after a near fatal car crash. She'd been through Spaulding Rehab like myself and wondered what might be next. She bought a copy of Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life for this most courageous young woman and a copy of Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance for herself.

There were runners training for Boston who scooped up our $10 savings coupons and were enthralled to learn about the ShakeOut (TM) Massage and were so inspired to hear that I came out of a wheelchair and a leg brace to go on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

I was incredibly blessed to have Tom participate in the Expo although I was sure to tell him to get off of his feet so he would be race ready in the morning.

By 4:45 I was exhausted yet exhilarated. One of my goals for the weekend was to reconnect with Frank Shorter who I met in 2009 and then again in 2010 in Hyannis. In 2011 he shared how he was the survivor of severe child abuse. He inspired me to share my story and in my introduction to Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance, I share how Frank touched my life in so many ways. I went over to his table when there was a lull in the traffic at the Expo and reintroduced myself to him. He overflowed with compassion as I once again shared my story with him only this time I told him about my severe childhood trauma. Frank reminded me, as he had shared with me in 2009 that two of his family members suffered from polio. After I presented him with my book, I wanted to buy a copy of his book but he put them away and said, "I'll sell these later." Instead he took my book and held it close and then came around the table to wrap me in a hug of shared sorrow for what we had lived through yet triumph that we both found running as a source of healing. I could not find the poster he signed for me in 2009 and I asked him if he would sign another poster for me.

To Mary! Thank you! Frank Shorter 2017

It was time to get dinner before coming back to hear Frank Shorter speak. We went to our favorite restaurant during Camp Hyannis weekend, the Roadhouse Cafe. Tom had lasagna and I had their signature Cedar Planked Roasted Salmon with orange Jack Daniels glaze, sauteed spinach and jasmine rice:

We arrived back at the Ballroom to meet some of our camper friends Tony, Mary and another Mary and her husband. I should digress for a moment and let everyone know why we call Hyannis Marathon Weekend Camp Hyannis. Once a year we all make the pilgrimage to Hyannis. We stay in touch on and off during the year via Facebook but just like summer camp, we only see each other once a year. Friendship, fun and sportsmanship abound and when we leave Camp Hyannis we feel rejuvenated as though we drank from the fountain of youth. Before getting ready to run the Hyannis Half in 2009, I emailed Paul Collyer, the race director to let him know my story and to ask him if the race would be appropriate for me. Since it's both a Half and a Full Marathon with two loops, as long as I finished under 6 hours I'd be fine. I remember meeting Paul for the first time. He was so supportive and encouraging of my journey and has been ever since February of 2009!

Frank talked about Sunday's races and gave the runners the night before a race pep talk. With warmth and wit he reminded everyone that eating pasta the night before a race really doesn't do anything for the glycogen stores. It's more a matter of feeding the mind that you are getting ready for the race. He reminded runners about the 3 rules of running a marathon...#1 Don't do anything new. #2 Don't do anything new and #3 Don't do anything new.

He addressed the questions from older runners saying how we could honor our orthopedic structures and slow down as slowly as possible. He talked about acceptance of where our bodies are at any time while also allowing ourselves to over train on the easy days. Frank launched into one of the subjects he is most passionate about - the anti-doping movement. He talked about how opioid abuse begins in the locker room and said that if a doctor wants to offer any pain meds in the class of opioid drugs to stay as far away from that as possible. The only time Frank mentioned his history of child abuse was when he shared how the doctors were amazed at his pain tolerance. I got chills and my eyes filled with tears when he said how he developed that high pain threshold as a result of his father's beatings. He knew that the beatings wouldn't last forever and trained himself to tolerate the pain.

I almost lost the use of my right arm to a staph infection because of the high pain tolerance I developed growing up in response to both the polio and the abuse. I didn't seek medical attention until I lost complete mobility of my right arm. The infection had gone into the bone. But with an angel of an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy and an angel of a nurse healer, I made it through!

Frank came over after his talk and I asked him if he was selling his books. He said they were all gone but if I send him an email with my info, he'll get one out to me.

He then posed for pictures. As he put his arm around me I said, "Just like in 2009." "That's the last time I was here," he said. "No," I said. "You were here in 2010 and you signed my Boston Marathon bib. That's the last time you were here."

We went back to our room, meditated and got a good night's sleep. We woke up to sunshine streaming through the sheer curtain and the sound of Cape Cod bird songs...

To be continued....

To your health and wellness,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Motivation, Momentum and Accountability

When the alarm went off at 6:00am this morning, day 5 of my 5 day training cycle, I wanted to roll over, go back to sleep and take a day off. In a heartbeat one can go from positive momentum to negative momentum.

It looked like there may have been some black ice outside. Tom is in taper mode for the Hyannis Half this weekend. I debated about whether to go to Wave Health and Fitness, get on the treadmill at home or go outside. During the debate, after our morning meditation, I decided to get my core work done.

After getting the blood flowing with a plank, clams, bicycle and knee to elbow, I was ready for an early morning run. That's what was on the schedule and so an early morning run is what I was going to do. I gave myself a push to maintain the positive momentum I've been blessed to experience since partnering with Jeffrey Spratt, MT during these past almost two years now. How many mornings could I physically not get out of bed without pain everywhere and feeling that fatigue to the bone regardless of how many hours I was in bed? How many times could I not do core work or run or run on a treadmill experiencing heaviness throughout my body? Until I found my way to Jeffrey's table, everything was just stuck in my body and I could not experience momentum trying to build a foundation of strength, health and wellness on sand. But now we are clearing out the gunk, transforming the beliefs I held as a result of those early childhood adverse experiences so that I am building a foundation on bedrock.

My plan is to allow for the fullness of expression of my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and childhood trauma to a woman who fully embodies her potential as a runner; as one who challenges herself with strength training, swimming, cross training and running to achieve my fullest potential on my health and wellness journey.

Writing a blog and being "out there" on Facebook holds me accountable to my plan.

After I posted this photo on Facebook celebrating the completion of another 5 day training cycle:

I received an outpouring of likes, loves and "wow's" along with private messages about how I inspire people!

When the day began I did not feel like getting my workout done. I know how blessed I am with the miracle of healing in my life thanks in great part to this man:

To those who have been given much, much is asked of them. It is my moral imperative to stay motivated, maintain positive momentum on my health and wellness journey and be accountable to those who look to me for inspiration and hope.

To your health and wellness,

"Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" is now available on Amazon. It chronicles my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a woman who reclaimed her advantage and reclaimed her life through the power of positive quality touch partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT and his trail blazing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Upon This Rock

Before partnering with Jeffrey Spratt, MT who pioneered the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy I could not strength train on land, or experience any positive momentum in my health and wellness journey; I experienced chronic fatigue and chronic pain and incredible frustration in not feeling good in the skin I was in. I would be able to push myself only so far and then I'd end up injured or experiencing a slide into negative momentum.

As much as I focused on positive momentum, writing poetry to imagine myself healthy, whole, running free and unencumbered, and asking the question how will I ever reclaim my life, I could not move forward with any positive momentum.

Since partnering with Jeffrey, I understand why I was stuck.

I was trying to build my house on sand.

I was not able to heal from the ravages of paralytic polio because 3 years after contracting paralytic polio, my father sexually assaulted me. Rapes turned into beatings until his suicide when I was 17 years old. My grandmother subjected me to torture rituals on the weekend. I survived by developing my intellectual prowess and dissociating mind from body. All that gunk stuck in my body compromised from the polio virus left a weak foundation on which to build muscle and strength.

KMI Structural Integration, Zero Balancing, Energy Healing, regular massage therapy, meditation, visualization, writing poetry, PT, OT, running, yoga - I tried so many paths for healing and nothing was able to get the job done.

As Jeffrey explains it, we are now going layer by layer excavating the traumatic memories, healing the damage and getting down to bedrock so I can build a strong foundation. I am reconditioning my body to a new mind, blazing new trails of feeling, thinking and being using the wonderful work of Dr. Joe Dispenza to harness the power of the Divine Intelligence within me. Jeffrey's powerful positive quality touch and his compassionate presence meet my energy and intention for healing and together, upon this rock of faith, confidence, courage and strength, create the masterpiece of my life...it's the way me was always meant to be.

I've increased the resistance on the Bike and Arc Trainer at Wave Health and Fitness. I'm running hard and bringing down my time since finishing the Bermuda Half Marathon last month and loving every minute of all the physical challenges. I've also been able to use my workouts and runs to alleviate stress and tension from both the past and the present because after all,
to quote Jeffrey, nobody lives in Shangri La.

I've been wanting this for so long...10 years this month ... when I first started writing poetry to imagine myself and dream about the way I wanted to feel in my body. We still have more work to do but as Jeffrey said to me two weeks ago, "We'll get there." While getting from me right now to the "There" manifesting in physical reality, I share another one of Dr. Joe's sayings:

Remember to have faith, have courage, be kind to yourself. Have patience and know that anything and everything is possible!

To your health and wellness,

"Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" is now available on Amazon. It chronicles my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a woman who reclaimed her advantage and reclaimed her life through the power of positive quality touch partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT and his trail blazing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! #tbt A Triumphant Return to Camp Hyannis

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":

After crossing the finish line of my first half marathon, I came into the ballroom at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center filled with thousands of runners. Frank Shorter made sure he connected with me amidst the runners celebrating after the race. He could tell that the run had taken a lot of out of me. I was shivering from the sleet that had started falling during the last several miles of the race. He put both of his hands on either side of my arms, looked at me straight in the eye and told me how much courage and strength I had to do what I had just done. He told me he had no doubt that I was going to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. He told me to hydrate, get some hot soup and take a hot shower. He signed the back of my bib. Frank had seen me as a survivor of paralytic polio who came out of a wheelchair and leg brace to take on the Boston Marathon. I saw him through the starry eyes of a novice runner meeting an Olympic Gold Medalist and an elite runner in every sense of the word.

When I saw Frank again in 2010 at Hyannis, I brought my bib from my Boston Marathon run for him and Bill Rodgers to sign. Frank Shorter signed it: “To Mary, You're unbelievable”

After the incredibly challenging Bermuda Half Marathon, I knew that I was not going to do a repeat performance of the Hyannis 10K this year. Team McManus debated back and forth about whether or not we were going to go Hyannis Marathon Weekend this year. Frank Shorter was going to be there again. Camp Hyannis is such a special weekend in February. It's where we have met so many running greats. Last year I was blessed to meet Jacqueline Hansen. She wrote the Foreword to my book. I share the story of when she came out on the race course to give me a hug and whisper in my ear, "Run with all your heart."

Tom turns 65 on March 2nd and we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary on March 4th (40 years of being together). We decided that if there was a room at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center, it was a sign we should go and Tom would run the Half Marathon at his race pace. There was a room and Tom is registered!

A week from Saturday Team McManus has a triumphant return to Camp Hyannis. Race Director Paul Collyer told me that there was availability of a table at the Expo where I can share my story to inspire runners and sign and sell copies of Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance.

Why triumphant you might ask? After 10 years of being on a quest to heal the effects from paralytic polio and trauma, I have positive momentum. In January I did something I have never done before - run two consecutive endurance events: The Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016 and 2017. While at the end of a long, challenging day I am sore and tired like everyone else, I am, in the words of my master muscular therapist Jeffrey Spratt, MT who has been the game changer for me on my journey, "1. You're able to have a marathon of a day now. 2. It doesn't debilitate you for a week and 3. You're resilient and recover quickly ready to get back at it the next day after a good night's sleep."

Chronic fatigue and pain were my constant companions. I so desperately wanted to get strong, to run faster and be the endurance runner I was always meant to be but it was like trying to build a house on sand. Through the power of positive quality touch using the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, we are clearing away the debris and getting right down to the bedrock of my mind, body and soul so I can build a beautiful earthly home on a strong and solid foundation.

It will be emotional for me to see Frank Shorter again who I have not seen since he signed my bib in 2010. Here I am at a table at the Expo still very much a patient at Spaulding Rehab and stuck in my health and wellness journey despite having run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It's always a joy to see Boston Billy. I will give signed copies of my book to both Frank and Bill. They each played a critical role in my running journey and are an integral part of my going the distance.

It's hard to believe that it's been 8 years since I first experienced the wonder and magic of the Hyannis Marathon Weekend.

I am excited and looking forward to celebrating Tom's 65th birthday with his Half Marathon run and our 40 years of being Team McManus. We'll also be celebrating the miracle of healing in my life that has taken me from a leg brace and a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond!

To your health and wellness,

Monday, February 13, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On blazing trails, healing and transformation. Ten Years Later

When I told my nurse manager at the VA that I was leaving my award winning social work career 3 years shy of when I was eligible to retire to write poetry and heal my life, she told me that I couldn't do that. Would I work part time? What was I going to do for money, for health insurance and there had to be another way because clearly I had not thought out my plan.

Clearly I had not thought out my plan.

Talk about a leap of faith! I took out my retirement account and yes paid an early withdrawal penalty but I knew that I would pay a much stiffer penalty if I continued to stay at the VA. I was burned out and all the years of neglecting and dissociating from my body due to the effects of paralytic polio and trauma finally caught up with me.

When, in February of 2007, now ten years ago, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance, the answer came in the form of a poem. Of many poems - many many many poems in which my heart and soul cried out to the Universe expressing what I dreamed about and hoped for: wholeness, health, healing, reclaiming my life, a healer to nurse my wounds, running unencumbered and free all the while expressing gratitude and finding the gift inside the challenge.

Eight years after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I was blessed to find my way to this master muscular therapist:

Jeffrey Spratt, MT blazes his own trail in the massage therapy profession with the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. His innovative ShakeOut (TM) Massage has transformed the way people experience massage therapy. As an efficient, economical and highly effective method of massage therapy, people can now experience the cumulative benefits of regular massage therapy as part of their health and wellness regimen.

Through the power of his positive quality touch, compassionate presence and intention to help me heal, I am a woman transformed. Oh sure I still have my days and there is still work to be done, but as Jeffrey said after my last treatment, "We'll get there."

Jeffrey was inspired to pilot an exploratory research study, "The Efficacy of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy on Trauma Recovery." We have an Emergency Responder/Veteran and a woman who experienced childhood sexual abuse and he will begin the study with Emergency Responders recovering from on the job trauma at On Site Academy. The early results of the study show that through the power of positive quality touch, trauma survivors heal and transform.

Ten years ago this month, during the dark night of my mind, body and soul I wrote my very first poem:
Running the Race

Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear.
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
it tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
with no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn’t pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp, everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
suffered in silence, alone and afraid tried to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body-creaks, groans and need for a brace
while in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
so much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

I reclaim my life and I reclaim my advantage and I am winning my race!

Foot Strike

Each strike struck a chord of fear
How would I ever reclaim my life?
Holding onto hope
waiting for the day
when memories would no longer weigh heavy
free to run my own race.
Stomping in anger
striking back
shadow boxing with the thief
who stole away childhood innocence
a no win.
Each foot strike ignites my soul
fired up to run my best race
taking the lead
breaking finisher’s tape

today I won my race.

To your health and wellness,