This is gonna be a long post so sit back, pour yourself a cup of hot tea and read on to be inspired and to feel how God's grace unfolds in my life:
No one ever suggested to this polio survivor to get a head start when playing tag, or hide and seek or having to run and participate in gym class. I learned however, how to hold my head up high and maintain my dignity despite the ridicule and teasing and the feeling that I wasn't good enough and had to somehow try to catch up. I always felt God at my core - otherwise I could not face these situations and maintain my sanity and my drive to do well in school. During this past year of training, keeping up is an issue that I have had to wrestle and come to peace with. In most of our road races, I finished 'last'; in Hyannis, I did not know we had an option for an early start until we arrived and so we experienced comments such as 'well someone has to be in the last of the pack' and I would just stay focused, dig in and know that I was running my own race. My daughter had the grace to observe that when someone looks at me, you wouldn't know that I had polio and had been diagnosed with post polio syndrome. While I have made remarkable strides in overcoming this challenge, realistically speaking, it took its toll and I cannot run fast for long periods of time. When I shared my anxiety with our team trainer, Dom at a fund raiser for a mutual friend also running the Marathon, he asked me if I had talked with anyone about getting an early start. He email'ed the BAA and lo and behold, because of my diagnosis, I am eligible to start, along with my husband and daughter, with the mobility impaired. Now when I first signed on for this, I had asked someone in the BAA about being eligible as a mobility impaired runner and at that time we thought I did not meet the criteria. Divine Timing and Divine Intervention is everything. I would not have had the opportunity to address what I needed to address to grow into the endurance athlete I am today if I would have known that we would have gotten an early start and so it is to the total grace. Rather than having to wait two hours to cross the starting line, we will be out on the course running with the pack and I will be able to enjoy Marathon Monday knowing that I at last have a head start! It is also going to make a tremendous difference in terms of the fatigue factor - getting there and getting started will enable me to take full advantage of my peak energy time.
Please know that I was fully prepared to push myself and start with the pack and somehow finish the course in six hours. Dom believes that we may even finish in under six hours because he said we will be so well rested from our taper and the energy of the crowd carries you along in a way that you can't even imagine. He said it doesn't matter - I am to run my own race and to have the experience of a lifetime. And now I will be able to because for the first time in my life I am on a level playing field.
It's a wonderful time to share with you the first poem I wrote in February 2007 as I sat in a leg brace and used a cane contemplating my future - I had no idea when I wrote this that I would be sitting here one month away from running the Boston Marathon --
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 noone 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 and 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, isolated from friends-trying 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.
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.
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.
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 am so grateful to Dom and the response by the BAA and to all the incredible people I have met along the way whose wisdom, support, love, insight and advice have brought me to this point - poised and ready to take on the challenge of a lifetime.
To purchase a copy of my book of inspirational poetry, log onto my website at www.newworldgreetings.com and for customized poetry where it's more than a card it's a gift from the heart, give me a call or contact me via my website.
We are almost to our fund raising goal but if you are inspired to make a donation, you can do so by visiting www.firstgiving.com/teammcmanus. You can also watch my You Tube video - from crisis to transformation.
See you at the finish line and God bless!