Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another AHA Moment - Excavating the Athlete Within

9:00 am I've been experiencing butterflies and knots in my stomach before every run and every work out with my personal trainer. Now she is phenomenal and an angel and we have an incredible relationship so why should I feel this way? Today, I got to the heart of the matter. These feelings which I am feeling even as I type this are how I felt in gym class or any time there was a physical challenge of any kind. I held these feelings in so tightly not wanting to show how hurt I felt as kids taunted and teased and as I battled against a body which had once been ravaged by disease. Once the brace came off, I still walked with a limp, had limited physical abilities and hated my deformed body. There was no one there to guide me through this maze and haze of emotion and I was trying to survive both at school and on the home front. It's not the truth to say no one was there - for the One who has always been there was there for me helping me to find my strengths in my intellectual abilities and finding ways to protect the gem of myself which I buried deep inside of me until it was safe to let it shine. She was guiding, guarding and protecting me and preparing me for this day.

Excavating the Athlete Within
Sweeping away the cobwebs of fear
A beautiful diamond shine
Healthy, whole overflowing with love
The kingdom of heaven now mine.
Gratitude reigns for each life lesson learned
Every struggle and challenge I face
No trauma too great to now be transformed
Through God's tender Love and Her Grace.
Knowing God's Love in the core of my heart
Feeling God replaces the knot
The decades not lost - it was all meant to be
To bring me to this very spot.
Beliefs from the past - unworthy unfit
An outcast with no right to live
Are now blown away with God's gentle breath
With God I have learned to forgive.
My heart opens wide with God I stand strong
I'm running as part of the pack
Healthy and whole, overflowing with love
Moving forward, no time to look back.

2 p.m.
What powerful healing experiences at the Hyannis Half Marathon as Ric of the L Street Running Club told me that he would like to run with me and to have Tim "Derv" write in his blog that any time I need someone to pace a half marathon, he would be happy to. As I release and transform the painful memories of polio, I shift my consciousness and move to a whole new level of health and fitness. I realize that the ambivalence I felt about playing full out (I know some of you may be saying what is she talking about? She is going to run the Boston Marathon but it's internal processes and feelings that I am referring to) is related to these early memories. It is/was easier to retreat into a safe comfort zone of I can't run that fast, I can't challenge myself like that; after the Marathon I am not gonna need a personal trainer rather than experience the pain of being incapacitated,of being different, of being 'behind' and then -- daring to move on and achieve a whole new level of fitness.

Today, for the first time since I hired Janine, I embraced the experience. I released the resistance and the old beliefs that I secretly harbored deep inside (so deep I had no idea that they were causing the knots in my stomach and the butterflies). I shared with her the aha moment I had before she arrived and I felt an amazing transformation during today's session. She said that we had not done hill training in awhile so let's go for it. She said I could set the pace as we ran to the hill - NOT - she manages to set a really good pace and I now embrace the challenge and know that with her loving guidance, we can train this body and bring it to new heights and there is no need to settle for anything less. I also have been watching The Biggest Loser and find that it really inspires me. So today, I released the resistance and placed my body in Janine's skilled and loving hands. Up the hill we went at her pace - oh my God - it was hard work as my heart race climbed into the 170-175 zone by the 8th hill. She talks with me and challenges me and guides me and knows exactly what to say as I push and test farther than I ever have in my entire life. As my heart rate climbed and I felt myself pushing, I said, 'help me get through this Janine' and she knew exactly what words I needed to hear - you already did 7 of these, you can do it, you can do it. Of course we had cut 6 seconds off of our longest time so we were going at a really fast pace. And dare I say this? IT WAS FUN! Having my daughter Ruth Anne there adds to the energy and support and she and Janine have a fabulous relationship. Without a doubt this was my best training session - ever! She is like a labor coach - and this journey is like being pregnant and we are giving birth to a marathon runner!

I am learning about my body and how to take exquisite care of it. I am learning that I can push and challenge and it is all about me and what I need to do to do better, run faster and more efficiently and become more fit. I no longer need to be concerned with what anyone else is doing and I release the feelings of being behind - this is truly MY race of life. Janine taught me that the actual time it takes to go up the hill doesn't matter; it is getting the heart rate into an uncomfortable zone for brief periods of time that helps to condition the cardiovascular system and ultimately make me stronger and more fit. I've learned that I can tolerate the discomfort because the ultimate goal is to become as finely tuned as I can - to allow this body to become the sacred space which holds my beautiful Spirit.

To learn more about Janine Hightower and Boston Homebodies, log onto
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God bless and see you at the finish line,

Monday, February 23, 2009

From Hyannis to Hopkinton - Getting Ready!

A little over a year ago I answered God's call to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab. I found myself in the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center milling among tons of people wearing BAA Marathon jackets, buying running shoes and running gear and found myself feeling totally out of place. God would not let those thoughts and feelings last for long; as soon as I started feeling that I did not belong here (clearly a belief which no longer serves me) my cell phone rang. My son was doing a delivery for TJ's Vegan House of Pizza where he is part of the collective, and he told me his CD was skipping; he popped it out and the radio came on. It was tuned to WERS FM and at that very moment, they were promoting our benefit concert on March 14th. He just had to call me and it was God calling me to say - you do too belong here and here, I'm gonna show you....

I was expecting our room to be a small double room as we had stayed at the Conference Center just a year ago to see Bernie Siegel, MD at the health and fitness expo. We walked in to discover a spacious suite with a pull out couch in one room and a king size bed in the other along with a microwave, refrigerator and two flat screen TV's. I had a place to chill our clementines and our water bottles and knew that God was going to provide for our every need. Having the two rooms was an incredible blessing since the flu virus had decided to invade our house last week and both my husband Tom and daughter Ruth Anne had this residual cough - and my husband's snoring was at an all time high. But I was prepared for whatever - my husband was happy to have his own space to watch his TV shows before drifting off to sleep and their coughs awoke me a few times in the middle of the night. I did awake at 4 am with the pre race jitters and as I expressed my fears to God, She asked me, 'is that what you want to have happen?'. Instead I focused on believing and trusting that all is well and in Divine Order and to let go and let God. But back to the day's events --

We had lunch at the hotel restaurant, Bogey's. Not the best food on Cape Cod but we had a wonderful waitress and ate this amazing appetizer of green beans which were coated and fried. We all had tuna sandwiches for our protein and french fries. We also made sure to eat a lot of fruit we had brought throughout the day and drank a lot of water. Off to pick up our numbers and free swag at the Running Expo. We got to meet Dick and Rick Hoyt. I shared my story with Dick and he invited us to the pre Marathon expo for Boston.Talk about inspiration!

My husband decided to go to the Jacuzzi while Ruth Anne and I played air hockey. Then off to take a stroll around the grounds to see where the starting line was. As soon as Ruth Anne walked out into the cold air, she started coughing and when we came inside to have sodas in the hotel lobby we had a discussion about whether or not she could run the half marathon. She had been down for the count on Thursday and Friday but did not want to stay home. She was feeling better but hadn't really kept down a meal for two days. We bantered back and forth and decided to make a final decision on Sunday morning.

We all watched TV and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. I then got the feeling that I should call Tim from Just Finish - and he just happened to be in our hotel when I called. He was staying at another hotel a few miles from the race. I wanted to wish him luck on his run tomorrow. He is an inspiration - he began running just a year ago and is also going to run Boston. He has overcome his health challenges with a vigilant approach to taking care of himself. As a bonus, I got to meet his lovely wife and delightful son who told me he likes to run on Wii Fit.

Time for the pre-race Pasta Dinner - the ballroom was filled and we did not know anyone there. My daughter chose a table where there was a mother and baby and two other men. We had the most delightful dinner conversation with three siblings who had such a close loving family. and the baby added a delightful touch to our table selection. Time for the speakers - Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. I met with each of them afterwards and told them the story of Team McManus. We had a lot of photo ops, a poster signed from a 1960's Boston Marathon and then as I went to meet the race director, there were two gentleman from L Street Running Club in South Boston standing there. After the race director left, I just started talking and we became very fast friends. They even bought two tickets to our benefit concert. But they were so moved and inspired by my courage and faith and determination. Ric, one of the members told me that he wanted to join me in our corral to start the race with me the next day. Nobody has ever wanted to run with me before because I was always too slow...As we drifted off to sleep, I reflected on all of my blessings, the amazing synchronicity that happened and how God was showering us with love.

Ruth Anne awoke feeling ready to race - not her 13 minute mile which she had done on the 17.2 mile long run, but she wanted to do this. After all, she was determined to get her medal. One of my 4 am anxieties was around making sure we could have our usual pre race breakfast. I had email'ed the race director and he assured me they were serving breakfast. Only it was a buffet with scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon - not for us. I had brought our oatmeal packets and we went to the Starbucks station in the hotel lobby. I took spoons from the dining room and we improvised with hot tea water and cups. They also had 3 english muffins left so we were able to have our 'toast' equivalent. We went up to our room which had an area to eat our breakfast and we began to prepare for the race. The sun was shining although the forecast was for rain...

It became overcast at gun time but the temperature was moderate as we crossed the starting line. We were in the 14 min. corral just in front of the walkers. I had an energy healing session on Friday during which I worked with Janice to continue to transform the trauma of polio and abuse with God's love and to really open and get my energy flowing. We are an incredible team. I knew she was sending positive energy our way and so I was just out to enjoy this run. We took off at a fast pace - a 13 minute mile. Tom was feeling fantastic and with iPod music in place and a full recovery from the flu, he set the pace. I told myself to release all feelings of lack and limitation and go with the flow. This was a training run so I needed to push but I also monitored my heart rate: I knew it would take awhile to warm up but I also knew we had to run 13 miles. It was a balance but the most important part was that I overcame feeling victimized seeing him take off. Ruth Anne was happy to stay with me at my pace and we decided he needed his time to run a good race and not stay with me. However, he did wait up for us at certain points during the race and Team McManus crossed the finish line together having run a 15:38 minute mile.

The post race reception was awesome and Frank Shorter signed my number. I was so excited to receive my first medal for a sport - ever. I did not see Ric at the starting line or the post race reception. He called later that evening to tell me he was so sorry he couldn't be at the finish line to watch us cross. He wasn't feeling well after the race and needed time to recover. He told me that he had a hard race but he thought about me and he knew that if I could do it, so could he! There were swarms of people running so we couldn't find each other in the morning but he told me he told everyone about me and Team McManus. And speaking of the post race reception, I saw a reporter interviewing another runner. When he was through, I asked him if he were with a newspaper and when he said yes, I told him I had a great story for him. Today, I am in the Cape Cod Times:

But something happened to me after the race that never happened before and it is a wonderful learning opportunity as we plan for the Boston Marathon. I felt extremely nauseous and actually got sick; I had stopped at every water station and even got a banana and chips to fuel but I realized that I had not had enough fuel with my gel nor did I have enough clementines. I went into the race coming off of a week of caring for my children who were ill and also realized in retrospect, how hard I was pushing myself with my business and with fund raising. Another key factor - I was really,really anxious about participating in this race. After all, it was a half marathon - the longest distance we had ever run in a race. I wasn't concerned about the distance at all but in spite of myself, was focused on the time. We also really pushed at the end of the race to try to make a 15 minute mile - yes the spirit of competition took over and it was also rainy and windy and we just wanted to finish. I had completely tuned out what my body needed and focused on running fast and hard. We had also started out running fast and were very focused on trying to keep a 15 minute pace. I meditated and focused on calming down the peristalsis in my stomach as well as not fighting what was happening to my body. I went with it reflecting on all of the factors which contributed to my getting sick as well as releasing any judgment or fear that went along with it. It's all lessons and blessings as we look to the future. We went to the Roadhouse Cafe in Hyannis for a fabulous dinner. After about five pieces of homemade crusty bread, an incredible salad with a delicious creamy Italian dressing, salmon, garlic mashed potatoes and spinach and a coke as well as about 3 more glasses of water, I felt like a new woman. I even have leftovers for tonight's dinner .:)

It was a phenomenal weekend with God's love overflowing with events of synchronicity, laughter, joy, rain, and wind, connecting with amazing people - like my friend Tim from Just Finish and Ric from L Street and having the opportunity to shine my light! I am so proud of my daughter Ruth Anne for being able to just finish despite the physical challenges she experienced the previous week and I am so delighted that my husband had the opportunity to take off in the crowd and enjoy a great pace for part of the race. I am so blessed and now, with just 8 weeks left we look ahead to the starting line at Hopkinton.

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For a you tube video of my journey and for the opportunity to donate to Team McManus, visit

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See you at the finish line,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For Amber Waves of Healing

Being a poet, the image from our Star Spangled Banner, for amber waves of grain, came to mind as I reflect on this amazing journey on the Road to the Boston Marathon. My mind is drawn to nature images; a few days ago it was dandelion seeds blowing in the wind and today it is the beautiful image of waves of grain in the wind which bring waves of healing to my soul.

When last we left this marathoner polio/post polio runner, I was struggling with issues of being left behind and left out. What a blessing that the crew of the Childrens Hospital long run took up their water stations before we arrived because it is a wonderful opportunity to lighten my load as I run - and not just train, not just run races but run my life and run in life. Polio and childhood abuse left deep scars on mind, body and spirit. With the healing hands of Janice Wesley we are reprogramming cellular memory to feel at peace, to feel energized, to feel calm and drawing out the toxins which built up in my body. With prayer and meditation, I look deep inside to release the experiences which were so extraordinarily painful and with the love and support of so many, I move forward in joy. I am so grateful for the communities of my family and so many beautiful people I have met as a result of this undertaking; Twitter, Just Finish, my former patients at the VA,friends old and new and of course, the remarkable community at Spaulding Rehab Hospital.

This morning, the alarm went off at 7 am. Temperature was 25 degrees or so and the sun was shining. In order to get in a training run with my daughter, I needed to get up early so she would have time to get to her classes at Bunker Hill. I had a piece of toast, OJ and oatmeal; water and off we went. We decided we were going to take it easy since we have a half marathon to run on Saturday; it was cold and so we decided to pick up the pace. We did sprints and a tempo while we celebrated being outside in the sunshine. There was a hint of Spring in the air and the birds were singing their hearts out.This is just what God created for me as I was still dealing with the emotional (and physical) residuals of our run on Saturday--and then we met our running friend, Margie on her way to work.

Margie is an avid runner who saw us running this past summer at Wollaston Beach. She stopped my daughter at the end of the summer to tell her how proud she was of her commitment to running every weekend. (Our daughter would run ahead of us on long training runs). We had mentioned in passing we were training to run the Boston Marathon - oh my God - the reality of what is happening in just a few short weeks just hit me and it is magnificent.... Then this past fall and winter we saw Margie running around Jamaica Pond. When I told her my story, she was so moved and gave us her email address. We hadn't heard from her nor had our paths crossed running until this past Saturday. When she hadn't replied to my emails I thought, let go and let God. On Saturday, she seemed to appear out of nowhere; and then today - she asked how Saturday's run went and how much we were running today and she said, 'You are my Hero -- I hope you know that!' I had also received an email from a Twitter friend who is a cancer survivor and going through other health challenges right now and she said, 'You are my HERO'. This isn't about ego but about Spirit and about touching people's hearts with my courage, faith and determination. And it is about my belief and my love for myself and of myself - discovering, uncovering - unveiling the magnificent me whom God created.

I received an email from the Special Events Coordinator from Spaulding in response to the email I sent after Saturday's run expressing my concern about the post race party and she said, 'I am sorry that the water stations were down by the time you got there. And no need to worry about our after party, the hotel rooms will be open for showers and massages until every single person has had an opportunity to go through.
And Mary you are correct - you are in the pack. Doing this, you are part of the
pack! You are doing so much more than most people can say.'

My tears fall as I write this post - tears of liberation; tears of forgivness; tears of gratitude; tears of Truth; tears to bathe my soul and renew; tears of celebration and anticipation - cleansing tears which fall like rain as my soul experiences amber waves of healing.

To learn more about my gift of poetry, visit
To make a donation to Team McManus, visit

See you at the finish line!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No Mercy!

Before the appointment time with my trainer, Janine, I picked up Joe, to whom I am so grateful for filming my journey and making it into a documentary. We began shooting and when Janine arrived, decided where we were going to run. The ice and snow are melting and it's still soupy and mushy; Janine announced that Jamaica Pond looked great. So off we went, Joe, Janine and myself to do a training run. On the way over, Joe recorded our banter which included me sharing the 'aha' moment I had with Janice about the physical effects of my mom not being able to touch me during polio and how traumatic memories can get stored in the body's cells. In today's journaling, I saw Elliott from ET opening the cells of my body where traumatic memories were trapped to free them as he did the frogs in science class. And then, as kids blow away the dandelion seeds, these traumatic memories are carried away by the wind and transformed by God's love. So I was ready for the training run.

This, however, was no ordinary training run - Janine explained to me that there is no mercy now as we are in the final stages of preparation for the Marathon. While she and I both know that I am ready for it, she wants me to be in top physical and psychological shape for the event of my life. She told me that I got to set the pace after a 5 minute warm up for our first time around Jamaica Pond - not - she actually was setting the pace and I kept up with her; after our first lap we did a 12 minute mile. Now it was time for her to set the pace - we went even faster but as she said, I may have to reign her in. She was feeling fantastic and as my heart rate climbed to about 168, I asked her how I could lower it. She said that we could slow down but she also suggested that I visualize my heart rate coming down to 166. It fluctuated and at one point, I was able to maintain it at 170. She pointed out that with pushing myself on the tempo run, I would feel uncomfortable and it's okay because it is all about exceeding perceived limits. She was amazed that I would not give up or give in and put myself in her hands as we got ready for the 3rd and final lap. The 2nd lap was an 11 minute mile. Once we did 2 full times around (starting from the point where we ran, not where we started our warm up) it was time to walk and then do 5, 30 second sprints. She told me that I had to run as fast as I possibly could. Now you have to appreciate this scene - a. It is still winter and there is slush and mud on the ground and the pond is covered in ice. But it is a beautiful scene with sea gulls dancing on the glazed ice. A scene that I never witnessed because I was afraid to go out in the middle of the winter except to go to work and come home.I also suffered from cold intolerance as a residual effect of polio. b. One year ago on 2/13, I declared that I would run the Boston Marathon but because I was afraid to go outside to train in the middle of winter, we began by intensifying the strength training and cardiovascular training indoors. When we began my running, I ran for 30 seconds and walked for 4:30 - and that was just one year ago. c. I never had the opportunity to truly break out into a run as fast as I could and to do it after 11 min. and 12 min. miles was downright incredible. d. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I used to feel this incredible energy drain by 4 pm every day but here I was outside, in winter, running my a** off. Janine would yell at me - move it, move it - go faster - I'm gonna catch up with you and it felt absolutely wonderful to have someone tell me - oh yes you can do this. As I did the sprint, I felt myself saying 'easy out Alper, huh? I don't think so' and I channeled all of the rage and all of the hurt of being teased and taunted because I had polio into running as fast as I could - run Forrest run! I did 'poop' out toward the end of one of the 30 second sprints as I felt my body get utterly fatigued so she gave me more time for my heart rate to recover and then I finished up the sprints. Once I recovered, we went back to a jog to finish up the run. We did the 3 times around in 3 minutes less than the first time we ran 3 times around Jamaica Pond. Janine told me that it seemed as though she had to push me more today than on previous runs - well yeah, I ran faster and longer than ever before. I had also been used to running in the freezing cold and today the temperatures were milder. It was difficult to know how to layer and dress because there was a strong wind but the temps were in the mid-40's. So my body had to not only adjust to the increased pace but the change in weather. We are hopeful that the weather will stabilize soon!

I pushed myself beyond all perceived limits. My legs felt fine during the run - it was the cardiovascular response that I needed to work on. Janine assured me that our lungs have unlimited capacity and the body is a phenomenal organism that can respond when pushed and tested. She also makes sure that I am safe and knows how to properly balance stressing my system and then giving me time to recover. The key in all of this is - be not afraid. When I look back to one year ago, when I claimed I would run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab, I had no idea of the journey which lay before me. I have learned so much about life, about myself, about my body and about my spirit. It was phenomenal to just allow my body to open up and run-to push and to test and to feel the discomfort and to feel safe and protected and most importantly of all - to keep on running.

For more on my journey and to support Team McManus, you can go to If you live in the greater Boston area, you can attend our Evening of A Capella music by purchasing your tickets at

To experience my gift of poetry and to learn more about New World Greeting Cards, log onto

And ---- see you at the finish line!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One Year Later - from Polio Shoes to Running Shoes

Such excitement filled room 324 of Brookline High School as Perfect Pitch and the Testostatones filed in to meet me in preparation for the March 14th An Evening of A Capella Music to Benefit Spaulding Rehab's Team McManus. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform before what we know will be a packed house and then to receive a workshop from one of their revered a capella groups, Ball In The House. They took tickets to sell, will put up the posters and help with publicity. One of the members of Perfect Pitch writes for the student newspaper and she is going to work on getting a feature put in the BHS newspaper. I told them I would talk with the headmaster, the infamous 'Dr Bob' as he likes to be called about getting the word out through his media contacts. With school vacation and a benefit concert on the horizon, the kids were pumped to say the least - and the energy was infectious.

As I walked the halls of Brookline High to get to a meeting with an administrator to do the paperwork for the concert, I bumped into one of my kids' teachers. She said she must come to the concert and would love to see the twins. I went into the Copy Center where my daughter worked and reconnected with the teacher in charge. I was even inspired to ask him if he will print the programs and he said a resounding yes. So ticket sales are on their way, the kids are so excited, Ball In The House is excited and it's all coming together.

After this high energy experience, it was time for my training run. It was 36 degrees and cloudy with a headwind. I do not need any additional hill training after twice around Heart Break Hill on our long run last Saturday so decided to do a tempo run up to Winchester Street and back. Note to self - always zip up the jacket pocket - my cell phone flipped out when I went to get my water under my jacket. I realized it after my iPod fell out twice - God was telling me I had lost something else but I was so in the zone with my run that it wasn't until several blocks later that I realized my cell phone was no longer there. Oh well, I decided that I would run the same route back and find it - but it was nowhere to be found. I was exhilarated with the pace I was keeping; I also learned that I should carry gel or a clementine with me if I am running at an odd time (it was early afternoon and I had a piece of toast and clementine as a snack before the run) but no worries, I made it through just fine and even sprinted for the last five minutes. When I got home, my cell phone had not been left on the table as I'd hoped so God said, 'call it'. And a lovely lady answered the phone. Fortunately, she lives only ten minutes away from where I live. She told me that she could not answer the door because it was tied into her phone line which was tied into her computer system and she was upgrading her system so did I have another cell phone to call her on and she'll come downstairs....I grabbed one in the closet and it went on just fine but when I got to her condo building, I realized that there was no service on it. So, still sweaty and smelly from my run and R E A L L Y hungry by now, I set out to find someone who had a cell phone to use. Several dog walkers walked by but they did not have their phones. The sanitation truck that blocked traffic for what seemed like forever (when you're hungry and sweaty it does seem like forever) was my salvation as one of the workers graciously lent me his cell phone. So all's well that ends well and I finally ate and stretched and showered - all in God's time - all in God's plan.

I saw on a blog post from a Just Finish friend that there are only 68 days left until the Boston Marathon. How is this possible? It was a year ago when I said to Janine, "I want to run the Race for Rehab - the Boston Marathon for Spaulding" and I bought my first pair of running shoes. The excitement is building and I am letting in the joy of each and every moment trusting that God is providing us with every thing we need - physically, mentally and spiritually - to succeed on this journey. I am so grateful that I said Yes when I felt God call me. I am so grateful that my family said Yes and are so loving and supportive. I am so grateful we have found strength and love and joy and are bringing together communities to celebrate the miracle of healing! My poetry brings so much joy to others and helps to inspire and heal. I am so blessed with my book of inspirational poetry and New World Greeting Cards and I am so grateful to share these blessings with you.

For more information about our road to the Boston Marathon, check out &

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's Official!

Well - it's absolutely official - each member of Team McManus received this email today! I am beyond excited and realize that we are in the final stages of preparation for the big day - but every day is a big day as we prepare mentally, physically and spiritually for a 26.2 mile run. This Saturday the weather is supposed to be glorious and I am focused on us having one of our best training runs ever. On Valentine's Day - 16 mile run from Natick to the finish line. The following weekend it's off to Hyannis to meet Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter and run our first half marathon race. Tears of joy are springing forth from my soul as I realize that I have been blessed with an absolute miracle - I am so grateful.

Dear Mary A. McManus,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 113th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20, 2009 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

You can verify your acceptance into the field by searching the 113th Boston Marathon "Entrants" database on the B.A.A. web site, Additionally, an acceptance postcard will be mailed to you via US Postal Service mail.

In early April 2009, an official Number Pick-up Card and extensive information regarding the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and related race week activities will be mailed to you via US Postal Service first class mail. If you do not receive your Number Pick-up Card (required to claim number) and brochure by April 11, please contact our Registration Office at Registration related inquiries may also be directed to 508-435-6905.

Note that bib numbers will not be distributed on Race Day. Your travel arrangements should take into account picking up your number at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Friday, April 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., or Saturday, April 18 or Sunday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you in April! Best of luck in your training!


Boston Athletic Association

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

After Dashing Through the Snow - a Time for Honest Reflection

After my brother told me that he would be unable to attend the Boston Marathon, I was not a happy camper.I admit that the conflict between playing small and staying safe and continuing to expand and grow raged within. I allowed his actions to trigger feelings of unworthiness After all, I had visualized crossing the finish line to the cheers of he and his girlfriend. I visualized telling him, 'your little sister just ran the Boston Marathon'. And God, as always, knows what is for my best and highest good and this scene was not to be. It's been over a week now since he called to tell me the news and it's been a week blessed with opportunities for me to grow.

Running the Marathon is not about ego-it is about being driven by the Spirit and it is about answering God's call. It is about fulfilling my life's purpose. I was blessed with the gifts of polio and post polio syndrome for while my body was ravaged by disease, I discovered my relationship and connection with God - an everlasting, ever loving, overflowing Source of Divine Love, Divine Energy, Divine Wisdom and unlimited possibilities. Now, I am blessed with miraculous physical healing. I watched the PBS special, "The Polio Crusade" which Janine (my personal trainer) had email'ed me about. I realize how blessed I am for the gift of health and healing; I also honor myself for the tremendous courage I demonstrate with the undertaking of this journey to the Boston Marathon. Without the love and support of my family and friends, this would not be possible. I am so blessed to have found forums like Just Finish and Runner Insight to find people to support and bless my journey as I inspire them.

Yesterday on the blog talk radio show, It's All About You, Dr. Jonathan Ellerby talked about his book "Return to the Sacred". He talked about how my soul/our souls are growing and evolving but our labels are not. So it's important to keep what's worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away. He also talked about how we each have different spiritual personalities needing different sources of nourishment to grow. One person's book or way to achieve their connection to the Divine is no better or worse than other person's path. It's all about honoring the variety. They talked about The Secret - now when I first set out on this healing journey in January of 2007, it brought so much light and love and wisdom into my life. Since then, there have been a lot of critics (me being one of them) and Dr. Ellerby so eloquently reframed the criticism - let us be happy about what is said, what was helpful rather than focus on what's wrong and what's not said. Along these lines, he talks about making a choice - to live a life that is based on being scared - blame, regret, shame, fear, divisiveness, judgment or a life that is sacred - being thankful for what is there in a book, a relationship, a sermon, an experience - being thankful for what is being brought forward and again, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away. He also talked about the importance of inner intention - living the message of love and healing rather than focusing on the external world both in terms of what is happening with outer events and with other people. The message I took away was - clean up your own act and live your life in love and healing and the rest will take care of itself. I think of the saying in the Gospel - remove the plank from my own eye before trying to take out the splinter from someone else's eye. I also am so incredibly grateful to Margaret Bullitt Jonas for a sermon she preached last Sunday. She sends out an email copy of the sermon and she preached about Jesus casting out the 'unclean spirit' from the man in the Synagogue. The unclean spirit did not come out quietly and she talked about how sometimes we hold on so tightly to those thoughts and behaviors which come from an unclean spirit.

Just as the snow is making everything pristene white, I feel cleansed and refreshed by the events of this past week. I had an opportunity to examine my choices and my reactions and God sent me so many beautiful teachers - Darien and Darius of Its All About You, Jonathan Ellerby and Margaret just to name a few to support my choice to expand and grow regardless of any external events. Today, Tuesday, is training day and the flakes had just started falling when I ventured out to do my hill training. The hills still had black ice on them so God, once again, sent me another training plan - run up Dean Road, down to Cleveland Circle and then down Beacon Street - go for a half an hour, turn around and come back. I still had to negotiate through patches of ice and slush and zig zag across the streets to find the best route. The outbound side of Beacon Street was clear and I smiled as I passed other runners and listened to my iPod. I tried to keep a good pace with the snow and wind in my face, and then started wondering about my time and distance. As soon as I started focusing on those thoughts, I could feel my energy drain and I realized I needed to celebrate the fact that I, Mary McManus, polio and post polio survivor was out there running at a good pace in the SNOW!!!!! I was fearless - I was in running shoes and running gear and nothing was going to prevent me from doing my training run - nothing else mattered and besides, God had developed the plan for the training run - who am I to question God's plan?

So, I told myself to relax and enjoy the run and let go of time or distance or anything else because it is about the joy of exercise; the joy of being outdoors on a cold snowy day, the joy of being free, the joy of health, the joy of solitude and peace, the joy of seeing smiles on people's faces as they saw me run by and magically, I felt the energy flow through me. I thought about the snowflakes as angels doing a dance of celebration for the healing which I have experienced and they were dancing with jubilation for all the joy and light and love that is coming forth in the world. When it came time to run up Chestnut Hill Ave, I surged forward and used it as a hill training opportunity (as I had when I first set out on Dean Road after realizing that to run up and down the hills would be perilous given the black ice). As the snow fell harder and my glasses were steamed up, I felt angels surround me with their dance and they guided me safely back to my warm home. And by the way, just for the record, the total distance with a warm up and a cool down was 4.54 miles so I did keep a 15 minute/mile pace for the 4 miles of running - but it truly matters not for when I get out there on our 16 mile long run, our half marathon, our 21 mile long run and then 26.2 miles on Marathon Monday, there is only one thing that matters - that I run with God, for God to show the world that with God, all things are possible.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

A cold, the wind chill & a training plan from God

What to do? The weather forecast said that today, temperatures would climb into the 40's and there would be no wind chill but we needed to run on Saturday. Tom needs a day to recover from a long run before returning to work. The temperature yesterday was 27 degrees but 14 degrees with the wind chill. We have access to the indoor track at BU but doing 17.5 miles indoors just didn't do it for me especially since I was getting over a cold and the air is so stale at the track. On Friday night as I lay in bed getting ready to go to sleep, I was wrestling with whether or not I could even do a training run since I was feeling under the weather. And God spoke to me and said, expand and breathe deep and so I did. I knew I had to run on Saturday but what was going to be the best way to accomplish this. There was no way we could be outdoors in 14 degree wind chill weather for 17.5 miles....

Hmmmm -- so as I am having my breakfast, God sent me a training plan - why not split the training - get in 8 miles at a good pace on the indoor track and then take it outside for 9.5 miles. Tom found a route from Cleveland Circle to St Mary's Street which we could run four times. Armed with layers and layers of clothes off we went to BU. Ruth Anne's cold had gone into her chest and so she opted out from today's training run. She did do 10 miles on the bike today and was such a trooper last week as we trudged through snow and ice wielding our way through 17.5 miles on the Marathon Trail.

Eight miles seemed to fly by - especially since at times we were doing a 13:00 minute mile. I wanted to make sure we had enough left in the tank for the remainder of our training run so we slowed it down to a 15 minute mile. We changed into our outdoor running gear, got some extra fueling from the concession stand at the Fit/Rec Center and drove to Marathon Sports (strategically located near Cafe Nicholas). We were going to run to St Mary's St and out to Cleveland Circle when God redirected me to run from Marathon Sports to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I must note that as I sat in the warm car with my winter coat on, the last thing I felt like doing was getting out of the car and putting in the rest of our miles. A part of me was beckoning to go home and rest but I knew that I could not rest if I went home - I needed to finish what we set out to do this day.

It was freezing - as I read through my blog postings, I realize that this was the coldest weather I have ever run in. We had to negotiate our way around snow and ice and kept criss crossing streets to find the clearest route and then - turning right onto Hereford Street and left onto Boylston St. There were crowds of people milling about; they became a blur as all we could focus on was hearing how the crowds are going wild as Team McManus crosses the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I get this amazing feeling in my core when I imagine this scene. Joe is shooting the documentary; Spencer plays his trumpet; Janine who met us at Heartbreak Hill will be in the middle of the group hug; all of my friends from Spaulding will be there and I even imagined that Tommy Kelley, Johnny Kelley's nephew would place the medals around our necks. There will be strangers and familiar faces and the media will be there and it is going to be a triumphant celebration of what one woman can do with faith, surrounded by love, and support, courage, determination,and healing angels.

We ran back to Marathon Sports (power walking the last part of the way because the wind chill pierced my joints and I knew that it was crucial to listen to my body) and realized that given the hills, the wind chill, & the incredible pace on the indoor track that we had run the equivalent of 17.5 miles for this training run. I did map it on and it was an 8 mile run round trip given all the detours we had to take with snow and ice and trying to stay in the sun .:) Given the weather conditions, my feeling a little under the weather with a cold and the realization that running on the indoor track, while a blessing, creates a lot of wear and tear on the muscles-we are constantly taking right turns so the same muscles are working over and over again -we had an awesome workout.

In my 11/4 post, entitled "Labor of Love" I compared this experience to being pregnant - and it is - complete with food cravings- hence parking strategically at Cafe Nicholas in Washington Sq. We were both craving pizza so ordered a large mushroom pizza and while we were waiting, I caught a whiff of french fries and immediately needed to have an order. While we were waiting for our pizza, we scarfed down french fries with salt and ketchup. After we had our pizza back home, we had our clementines which my body has also been craving. A hot shower, watching "American Idol Rewind" with Ruth Anne -(our post long training run tradition), Tom's snoring while he naps and we fix dinner and to bed very early capped off this day.

I had been praying that this was going to be the mildest winter ever - moderate temperatures and dry roads. God in Her wisdom knows what is best for me and I am so grateful that this has been a harsh winter. I would never know that I can rise to the challenge of facing my fear of the cold and doing training runs. I would never know that I can conquer the fear of cold and pain and falling on the ice. I would never know that, despite having a cold, I could still run and work out. I would never know the contrast of feeling joy on this sun drenched 43 degree day (and are there any regrets that we ran yesterday instead of today? Not a one for if we were to have run today, we would have.) I have run in pouring rain, heat and humidity, freezing cold, cold rain & sleet and when those words fell out of my mouth 'I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab' I had no idea the adventure that I was about to embark upon. Had I thought out what I was about to do, I'm sure I would have run back to bed as fast as I could and pulled the covers over my head - but I chose to live from my heart and God is with me every step of the way loving, guiding, healing, helping, coaching, and yes, even sending training plans .:)

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