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!

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